Monthly Archives: March 2011

3/31/10 The Right Words at the Right Time

Tuesday.  Sometimes people say just the right words at just the right time.

My friend Stacie told me a little trick to do when you are having trouble making a decision.  Put both resolutions on pieces of paper and fold them up.  Pick one randomly.  Notice your reaction to whichever one you picked up.  If it is a sigh of relief, you picked the right answer.  If if is a sigh of remorse it is the wrong answer.  The idea is you already know what you want, sometimes it is just about coming around to it.

I really had a hard time making my decision about Alcatraz.  I appreciate so much the time everyone took to give me advice and opinions.  I listened to everyone.   I know doing Alcatraz at this time is not the smartest thing to do.  I know I can come back next year and do it when I’m fitter, stronger and miraculously 20 years younger.  I agree that’s the right thing to do.  With a little cajoling I think I can get a letter from my doctor to defer.  Relief at not just tossing $400 to the wind.

Please don’t think I didn’t listen to my ever supportive friends who encouraged me to think outside of the box.  To find more creative ways to subsidize the trip.  Yes, I’ve thought of all these ideas.  There is no way I will take charity for doing a sporting event but I agree, there is more than one way to get it done.  But in the end a sunk cost is just that — a sunk cost.  Don’t go chasing good money after sunk money.  I get it.  I have an MBA tucked away in an old drawer somewhere….  I would tell my friends the same.

I will admit, however, that when I saw the first vote for postpone, I was a little sad.  Here we are again — another race off the docket.  And I will admit that I had to pull myself out of a race funk.  I was entertaining the idea of retiring from all racing altogether (is retiring the right word if you don’t make any money doing it?).  I wasn’t sure I could muster the energy for any more drama.  It’s time to play tennis — and believe me, I don’t think tennis is easy — just less if you want it to be.  I also got an email from a group out at Roosevelt Island asking if I was still playing and could I sub next week?  I felt a pang because this was a great group of players that I worked hard to get in with and now I wouldn’t be able to play anywhere near their court I have let my tennis go so far…  Yes, yes, time to go back to tennis.  And yoga.  I decided it is time for a kinder, gentler lifestyle.

The funny part came when I picked my Mom up for her doctor’s appointment.  She asked me if I had made my decision and I said I was going to try to get a doctor’s note and try to get a deferment for next year.   That was the best all around resolution. Imagine my surprise when she, of all people, said “Oh I would have voted for you to do Alcatraz.”  Really?  You the one who gets nervous whenever I go to a triathlon?  You?  The one who asks me every time it rains “you don’t really run in the rain do you?”  I thought that was so funny.  Of all people I would have expected to say no, my mother thought I should do it.  But then I found out she just thought it would be cool if they actually let me stay overnight in Alcatraz and I had to really escape.  Geesh.  No Mom, we don’t get to stay overnight there…..  Now you know from whence I get “it.”

Then last night I got a LA recap email from my Coach Hola.  He thinks I should do Alcatraz and not NJ marathon.  Nothing to prove by doing another marathon so soon and that really will take its toll on your body.  You are fit enough to do a short race and 8 weeks is plenty of time to get your spinning up to speed.  When I read it, I felt myself exhale a huge sigh of relief.  Ah that sigh of relief when someone gives you the answer you wanted.  Someone to say “you absolutely can do this now go do it.”   Short race.  Yes, I’m not doing an Ironman.  And yes, I know Alcatraz is one of the hardest races out there but that’s why I want to do it.  Coach Sox (my pet name for my coach who gave me her socks in St. Croix) told me to work on my swim.  Once I get out of the water the hard part was over.  I have been swimming all winter.  I have been wogging all winter.  It’s just the bike.  She told me last year everyone rented bikes, everyone walks the sand stairs anyway.  I do feel pretty good.  Hmmmm…. 8 Weeks…. That’s not a lot of time….. 8 Weeks….. That’s a lot of pressure…..  8 Weeks…. talk about cutting it close… Let me think.

So first this morning I booked my flight to San Francisco.  I am flying out at the crack of stupid on June 3rd  — flight leaves at 6 a.m. and I return after midnight.  That is NOT how I normally fly.  But I got the flight for $314 round trip including taxes.  Okay I was willing to fly at those ridiculous hours to save a couple  hundred bucks.  I was willing to think outside of the box.

Tribike transport wanted $300 to send my bike.  I followed Coach Sox’s advice and found a rental place in San Fran.  I’m renting a Trek 2.1 road bike for 3 days — cost $48 per day plus tax. Tina is staying home.  I could have done a Madone for $78 a day but then I might as well ship.  It’s not a fancy bike but for 18 hilly miles, I’m struggling anyway.  The only time aero bars help me is in a hunker-down route like St. A’s. This 18 miles of get ‘er done.

My hotel is already booked at a decent rate.  If I find someone to share the room with me it will be less than $300.  So I’m at $750 for the weekend race.  Originally I thought this would be $1,500 venture easily if not more.   All I have left is to look into a long-sleeved wetsuit.  Oh yeah, and get on the bike.

Final poll results.  I’m escaping…  If it freakin rains on race day, I reserve the right to bail.


One thing I didn’t think to do was watch this video first

can you say Harlem Hill repeats?

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3/26/10 Help Me Decide

Saturday.  I feel fine.  Better than fine.  I’m going for a run today as soon as it warms up to 30 degrees.  Is this the end of March or what?  Who shot the lamb?

I need help in making a decision.  Thought I had made it and then some factors changed.  I figured who better to help me decide than my supportive friends?

I am registered to do Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on June 5th in San Francisco.  My heart is telling me to defer Alcatraz and take one more stab at the Marathon on May 2nd in New Jersey.  I would like to give it another go and I think I feel just fine to keep running.  Here’s the problem.

+ Alcatraz has long been on my triathlon bucket list.  Once I do Alcatraz, Wildflower and Kona.  I can retire having done the most important races to me. (Plus one more time in St. Croix.) I have always wanted to do it and it scores at the top of my challenge meter.

+ I got into Alcatraz via the lottery.  It’s something like a 50% chance to get in from year to year with your chances getting better if you are a repeat contender.

+  I already paid the huge entry fee $400.  That’s a lot of money.

– I just found out you cannot defer.  Gasp.  Really?  That means if I don’t do it this year I lose my money I paid and I am back in the general pool for a 50% shot at getting in next year.

– I just blew out my race budget in Los Angeles.  I spent a lot of money out there and I will have more expenses to do Alcatraz including long sleeve wetsuit, bike transportation, air far (which I have not bought yet) and hotel. That is going to hurt to spend more money.

– I also just found out that I do not in fact have a trust fund. Turns out I will have to work for a living for a long time to come.

-I have not been on my bike except for 2 loops in the park and that hurt a lot but…

+ I have signed up for getting some coaching in two weeks.  It is a hilly bike course but it is only 18 miles.  So I could just start cramming and doing endless repeats of Harlem Hill for 11 weeks.  I think I can be bike ready in 11 weeks.

– Coaching will cost me more money too.

+ I have been swimming all winter.

– I have seen no improvement in my swimming.

+ I have been running all winter (okay, jog/walk but let’s not split hairs).

– My running sucks.

+ I think I can be physically ready to do it and live to tell about it.

–  Time wise it inconvenient (my one and only niece is getting married on the 10th and I should be around to help for that.)

– Financially this will be uncomfortable so soon after LA.  But it is doable.  I will just have to tighten the purse strings a little more than usual.

Curses on being a Libra.  I don’t know what to do.  Help me by taking my poll…..

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3/24/10 When the Party’s Over

Thursday.  I’m back.  First class upgrade on the way back.  Yesss… I feel shockingly fine. I actually don’t feel like I did anything (and yes, some might say ‘well you didn’t!’).   I am laughing at myself because on the plane ride home I actually caught myself thinking… well, I am technically signed up for the NJ Marathon in May.  I KNOW I could do better.  Maybe I should give it a try….. STOP.  I came up with a happy compromise.  Continue training but make no commitments right now — not to Alcatraz, not to another marathon, not to anything.  (But NJ Marathon would be so easy to sneak in…  STOP!)  I will continue to follow my Alcatraz training plan but I’m pretty sure I want to defer that to a year when I can do it better and afford to do it right.  I would be really cramming to get the bike in shape in time.  Although I had a great vacation week out in LA, I really went through a lot of money and I’m not sure I feel like doing that again so soon in June. But it cost a lot to get into the race and I paid that already….  Mull, mull, mull.

I do really feel fine.  I mean nothing hurts at all.  I feel really rested after my vacation. Maybe just a nice walk this afternoon.


I’m too cheap to actually buy these (and don’t really want them) but they made me laugh….

Crossing the finish line










Post race, not really smiling….  Maybe I knew what was coming.

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3/21/10 LA

Monday. As James Joyce said after he finished writing Finegan’s Wake  — “It took me a lifetime to write it, it should take them a lifetime to read it.”  (That’s not an actual quote, just something I remember reading once.)  So goes my race report about the LA Marathon.

Okay it’s over.  Epic as usual.  A lot of thoughts in my head not sure how to sort them all out so I’ll just put them out randomly.

The race could be summed up in a few words.  Torrential downpours, heavy winds, unrelenting.

It did occur to me that I am uniquely trained for such conditions yet at the same time I was unprepared.

I take full responsibility for not having the correct clothes which made a difficult situation almost unbearable.

It pisses me off to see the winner finishing in 2:06 in a race singlet.

So, how did it go?  My goal was to hit 6:30.  Maintain a 15 minute mile doing my run/walk and feel good and confident at the end.  I had been able to do that during my training runs and was hoping in the race environment I would be able to do it for 26.2.  Not out to PR, just out to be steady and feel good.

I thought the LA Marathon was flat.  I don’t know where the heck I got that idea.  Net/net it is downhill.  But the first half seems like there were a lot of long uphills to me.   More rollers.

The night before the race I went out looking for a rain jacket to wear.  I couldn’t find anything light enough to run in so I opted for a long-sleeved warm shirt over my short-sleeved shirt.  I was 100% okay with running in the rain in my short-sleeved ice breaker shirt.  As long as it was warm enough I would be okay.  Actually would prefer a little rain to sun.  So I dressed for the race in my short sleeved ice breaker (lightweight wool), a warmish over shirt, another cotton long-sleeved t-shirt I planned on tossing a couple of miles into the race.  I had compression sleeves on my calves so they acted as kind of pants.  (Good note:  I think the compression sleeves really helped.  I had zero calf cramping which a common complaint of mine).

Discovered my friend Gina was out there for the race so we got together before the race.  I thought the weather was just perfect for running.  On the cool side, overcast.  I was feeling good.  I did not catch a cold on the plane.  I was rested from the day before.  I had slathered my knee with pain reliever.  I was feeling pretty good.

First 10 miles I was really spot on.  Even a little better.  I was doing about a 14:45 per mile. 1 minute jog, 1 minute walk.  I was even breathing okay (though my inhaler was handy at my hip).  Even when the rain started.  It was okay.  I had dumped my third top shirt early and was just wearing my short-sleeved shirt with a long-sleeved shirt over it.  The rain was not that hard but it was consistent.  About mile 9 I realized my top shirt was soaked and was getting heavy and cold.  I decided time to dump it feeling my wool shirt would get rid of moisture faster without it.  Felt good to get rid of it.  Then the rain started to really come down.  And then the wind hit.  I thought I was going to die right then and there.  It was the wind carrying the heavy rain that was the killer.   I knew this was bad.  If this didn’t stop immediately I was in big trouble.

By mile 11 I knew it was time to get out of the race otherwise I would get sick. There was not question in my mind and I was okay with it.  Just as I made that decision a big truck came barreling down the road and pulled over on the side of the road.  A bunch of volunteers jumped out with huge rolls of Tyvek sheets (those things that they wrap around you at the finish line).   They started ripping them off as fast as they could and handing them out.  Everyone swarmed them.  I waited my turn and gratefully took one.  Okay I wasn’t going to die at exactly this moment after all — I’ll keep moving forward.

I immediately felt better and kept going.  Not bad.  Not comfortable either.  We hit a big downhill and my knee went out.  It was just too steep.  Took me forever to get down that hill.  Painful.  Memories of NYC marathon when my knee went out came flashing back to me.  Memories of my coach telling me that I should have DNF’d that race rather than risk further injury.  I didn’t know what to do.  In practice my knee had gone out but after walking for a mile or so it was okay.  I decided to continue on.

The rain got consistently heavier.  The wind got stronger.  My Tyvek wrap was starting to tear into pieces.  We were already in a death march at mile 13 (usually reserved for back of the packers at mile 20 or so).  I was picking up strips of Tyvek from the ground and wrapping them around my arms.  I must have looked like a silver mummy.  Because I was walking I wasn’t getting my body temperature up high enough to keep warm.  Two really nice guys were running behind me and asked me if they could help wrap me up.  Yes, please.  It was a moment from the TV show Top Design.  Two guys wrapping and tying the sheets around me.  One insisting I needed one wrapped around my head.  The other creating a kind of off the shoulder wrap.  I’m sure I looked marvelous.  Okay.  I’ll keep moving forward.

Wasn’t long before it became even colder, windier and wetter.  It was just ridiculous.  Forget it I cannot do this.  I am about to go hypothermic and I knew it.  Get out of this race and get out now.  This wasn’t a question in my mind.  It was self survival.  I went up to a tent on the side of the route and I said “I want to get out.  How do I get home?”  They told me they were not an official race station — the were the LA Runners or something like that.  They said I had to go to the next aid station and they would get me transportation back.  Meanwhile, they said, we can give you a garbage bag.  Okay, I’ll take the garbage bag.  They cut a triangle into the top of the bag and put it over me.  I immediately felt better.  Okay, I can make it to the next aid station and will duck out then.

At this point I was barely moving.  But I was not alone.  There were so many of us back of the packers just suffering.  So many of them doing their first marathon.  I felt so bad for them.  I wanted to say to them “It really is not always like this.”  But then I thought to myself “no it always sucks.”  Marathon are never fun.  You don’t take on a marathon for fun.  It’s painful on the best of days.  It’s an endurance event.  If you are having fun you should be working harder.

But then the real struggle began.  With the garbage bag over me and the tyvek strips underneath wrapped around me I was actually okay.  I couldn’t swing my arms as it was too cold if I took my arms out and I was carrying my hand-held water bottle (a system I came up with that would have worked GREAT had it not been so cold).  Okay now I didn’t know what to do.  Systemically I felt okay.  I was not bonking.  I was not dizzy.  My knee was okay as long as I was walking so I could move forward.  And, as long as I kept my arms inside of my garbage bag (which I came to think of as my turtle shell) I was okay.  Now what to do?  What to do?  Do I get out now?  I came to the next aid station and I still can’t tell you now why I decided to just keep going.

At mile 20 there was a coach who was helping her people she was jumping up and down and saying “see that? that’s mile 20!”   Mile 20?  How did that happen?  The last miles were just a blur. Every other mile marker was a big rectangular balloon with the mile marker.  This one had begun to deflate and was just flopping in the wind.  It was very symbolic.  The coach looked at me and said “are you okay?”  No, I said, can you help retie me?  She came running over and starting pulling the tyvek sheets out from under my turtle shell.  “Keep moving forward, I’ll wrap you.”  She reminded me of Coach Lisa — no matter what constant forward motion.  Even if you are crawling, keep moving forward, every inch counts.  I asked her to wrap one around my neck to keep the wind out of the neck hole and It felt so much better.  I’m good, I’m good.  Thank you thank you.  “When you get to the finish line, rip all of this stuff off before you go through the finish line.”  I nodded but I thought — no way.  I want this documented.

We had to run through a lot of flooded corners.  The roads were flooded with the rain.  I will say this about my socks.  They are amazing.  I chose my smartwool socks to run in.  I remember when I was in the desert I had to run through a stream of water and about two minutes after running through the water the water just wicked away.  I also remember running in St. Croix in non-wool socks and my feet getting totally water-logged and had to take  my socks off.  Smartwool rules.  [Another aside of something that worked really well.  I gave myself a little pedicure the night before making sure all my nails were trimmed and in the morning I gave them a coating of body glide and a dose of blistershield in my socks.  Though my feet are swollen this morning they actually look good.  Not a hint of a blister anywhere which is great.]

After running through about 3 puddles I didn’t even worry about it any more.  I could walk through a puddle and two minutes later my feet felt okay.

Around mile 21 I felt the rain let up a little.  I was able to take my arms out from my turtle shell and start to swing my arms.  I got going in a good little clip, kind of a speed-walk jog.  I actually felt fine.  No sooner would I think I was feeling good when another blast of heavy rain would come and I would retreat into my garbage bag.

By mile 22 I was booking again.  I was able to swing my arms and I just started to book to the finish.  I was counting off the half mile marks and before I knew it I was at the beach.  Wow if I could have done that pace for miles 12-20 I would have been great!

I finished in 7 hours and 40 minutes.  Inconceivable to me.  My goal had been 6:30. For some reason I thought it was going to end up a 6:36 just enough to annoy me.  I thought if my knee went out it might go to 7 but that would have been with a medical-attention rest stop.  7:40?  Geesh.  I would never have imagined.  And frankly, if someone told me ahead of time that is what it would be I probably wouldn’t have started.

What finally came to me is that every day we are put in situations that we don’t plan for or design.  People lose their children, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, bus crashes.  You can’t always control the challenges you face.   We take on a marathon for a personal challenge.  Of course we would like it to go our way.  It could have been worse.  It could have been 80 degrees and sunny and I most certainly would have been walking anyway and fainting from heat exhaustion surely.  But here it is.  This is the challenge that is presented to you today.  And now you decide, do you face the challenge?  Do you quit?   I decided that is wasn’t about finishing as much as it was about not quitting. I really don’t give a hoot about a medal or saying I did another marathon.  What I care about is did I do the best with what I had?  I think faltered a little, but with a few shreds of Tyvek, a garbage bag and a lot of kindness of strangers I got through.

The aftermath.

I finished in 7:40 minutes which gave me 20 minutes to get to the last shuttle — should have been plenty of time.  Nobody could direct me to the shuttles.  I just kept going toward the festival.  Much too far to expect marathoners to walk after the race.  Finally a guy directed me and another gal to the location.  No shuttle buses.  Apparently they left two minutes early.  I was stranded.

My phone got water logged.  I had it in two little baggies and in my little essentials bag.  My money and credit cards stayed dry but for some reason my cell phone screen would not turn on.  I was officially stranded.  I made my way to the bag check to pick up my dry clothes.  They were in a plastic bag in a box in a POD container (like a little truck).  My dry clothes were all damp.  I put them on anyway.

I started to walk back to the finish to see if I could find the hotel where my friend was staying I couldn’t remember the name of it.  But I remember she said it was right at the finish line.  I had two tyvek sheets around me and I was freezing and starting to shake.  Not good.  Don’t tell me this is how I am going to die, in a rain storm in Santa Monica?  That’s so unimpressive.

Several of the hotels on the beach had their front doors locked and instructions for guests only to go around the back.   Unbelievable.  I just wanted someone to call me a cab.

I came across this really fancy hotel and I had no choice.  I looked like  a drowned rat but I was in trouble I might pass out any minute and I needed help.  I went into the hotel (doors unlocked) and walked up to the desk and asked if they could please help me.  I asked them if they could help me find a cab.  He said yes but it was a 45 minute wait for cabs.  I said okay but meanwhile could he call this hotel where I thought my friend was staying and see if she was there?  He called, not there, I must have had the name wrong.  Then it hit me.  The night before my friend Stacie had sent me a text message to put  my idea and money in my race belt and she said to write her phone number down on a piece of paper.  I had written on the back of my bib!!!  John, the clerk was being really nice but he said he had to help the other customers (the paying kind) and I said please just one more call.  I ripped off my bib and sure enough the number was still visable.  He called and Stacie answered.  She would come and get me.

I made my way to the gift shop and bought a really expensive tshirt and sweatshirt that say Fairmont Hotel.  I didn’t buy a single thing at the expo that says LA Marathon but I now own a tshirt and sweatshirt that actually mean more to me.  Big FAIL on the part of LA Marathon for not holding the shuttle buses for another few minutes in light of the rain.  Big FAIL on the part of LA Marathon for not having people in the parking lot directing to the shuttles.  Huge PROPS to Fairmont Hotel for saving my life.  And I mean literally.  Had they turned me away I might not be writing this.  I later found out that the Hotel had opened its doors, hallways and ballrooms to hundreds of runners who were hyp0thermic and gave them towels and blankets and hot cocoa.  This is a very fancy hotel and I think they were nothing short of amazing.  They had nothing to do with the race but they took care of the runners better than the race officials could.

I dried off in the ladies room with paper towels.  Removed my tri-shorts (another good choice) and tried to towel dry them.  I put on the dry shirt and sweatshirt and hobbled to the lobby after chatting with several people shuddering and bandaged in the hallways.  I waited about five minutes in the lobby and then next thing I knew there was Stacie carrying warm clothes, some food and water.  She took me to the bathroom and helped me get drier (she thought to bring a towel).  An extra shirt, a sweater, some sweat pants and a parka.  I put them all on on top of my new shirt and sweatshirt.  I have tears in my eyes thinking of this kindness.  I have been very blessed with kind friends over the years who have helped me in my times of trouble.  I can’t tell you what it meant to be rescued.

Back in my hotel my biggest concern was to get warm.  Cranked the heat to 85. Washed off.  Got into clean clothes and under the blankets.  I slept straight through.

Today I actually feel fine except my feet are swollen.  I have to get some ice for them.  They went through a lot.

I have a lot of reservations about whether or not I’m fit enough to continue with endurance events.  It might be time for me to go back to tennis and bridge.  I am seriously considering backing out of Escape from Alcatraz because I’m just not sure I can undergo another beating.

But all in all my final memories of the race were of the kindnesses bestowed upon me.  The initial Tyvek sheets. The guys who refashioned my tyvek strips.  The people who gave me the garbage bag.  The coach who retied my falling tyvek strips and told me to keep moving. John the clerk at the Fairmont and above all my friend Stacie who is just above and beyond.  To all of these people I wish their kindesses to be returned ten fold.


Before the flood:

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3/18/10 Exhale

Friday.  Okay everything is good.  My brothers arrived in New York City from Japan last night and settled into my apartment as I settled into my room in LA.  They had a bumpy flight and heard a lot of terrible stories from others on the plane.  Their flight was the first plane that was scanned for radioactivity and they had to be personally scanned once they got to the airport.  They passed all the tests and now they are settled in and everyone is happy — including me.  Exhale.

Reminds me of a funny memory. About a month after my radiation treatment I was at the dentist and before they took x-rays, I asked the dentist if she thought it was safe based on my recent dosage.  She thought about it and said “You’re fine.  I grew up in Chernobyl.  I still have more radiation in me than the maximum dose they could legally give you.”  We both laughed at the futility of trying to control this stuff.  You’re nuked if you do and you’re nuked if you don’t.  But you’ll understand why I am fighting hard to not have another radiation treatment.

LA update.  Really happy with my experience so far.  Flight was long but okay.  I have basically taken all of the LA Marathon recommendations. So far so good.  I chose one of their host hotels — the JW Marriott.  WOW, that’s all I can say.  $179 a night and in NYC this would be a $300-$400 room.  I looked it up online just for fun and sure enough the regular rate is $300 a night.  The hotel is just amazing.  The lobby is huge.  Behind the front desk there is a huge sitting area with a bar.  Behind it is a restaurant called LA Market and I guess they had some famous chef there (lost on me) from some TV show.  Then they have two other bars/lounges off of the lobby and that’s just the lobby.  It’s huge! This is where I am staying Click to see JW Marriot

My room is on the 4th floor.   On my floor is a rooftop pool (maybe 20 yards) with cabanas and personal tents and amazing lounge areas and a huge hot tub!  I have not checked out the health club yet (that will be Monday).

The Marathon people also arranged a car service from the airport (optional of course).  It was $55 which I paid for online.  As I was getting my bag my cell phone rang and the driver said he was pulling up out front.  I walked outside, threw my bags into a brand new luxury town car.  I think I might have been the first person in it.  I stretched out and relaxed on the ride.  When I got to the hotel, I expected him to give me something to sign and add a tip etc. and he said “It’s all taken care of, have a great race.”  Wow.  I couldn’t believe it.  (Yes, I could have taken Super Shuttle or the bus but for $55 after a 6 hour flight I was willing to fork over the dough). Then he said “I’ll be your driver for your return on Wednesday, I’ll see you then.” Well okay then.

I was a little floored when I walked into the hotel.  Wow, this is not just nice, this is NICE!  The staff couldn’t have been nicer.  I was really worried that they wouldn’t get it right and I would have to remind them about my race but they pulled up my record and immediately gave me a package of stuff about the race and my all-important race band.  If you stay at one of the host hotels, they give you a blue band and you can take a shuttle bus from the hotel to the start at Dodger Stadium on race morning.  Then after the race that same wrist band gets you on a shuttle from the race finish to your hotel.  Got my blue band and all set.

My room is gorgeous. Very roomy, quiet and extremely comfortable. I can totally hang out in this room.  I don’t feel cramped, I have a lovely sitting area and the most fabulous bed ever!    I walked into the room and I suddenly realized that I had really needed this.  A total break from everything.  A break from hidden stress.   A little luxury.  Yet it was still simple enough and kind of Zen in the decor.   The room seemed to be saying welcome to your meditation sanctuary. Exhale.

After a little lunch I took a walk around.  This hotel is downtown in the middle of everything.  LA is not really a walking city but I am in the most walking area of the city.  I walked around for about an hour and everything is here.  Stores, restaurants.  I don’t need to take a taxi, everything is right here.  Awesome.

My soon-to-be-famous-Movie-Star friend Stacie  drove out to meet me for dinner . Turns out there is a really nice restaurant in the hotel on called WP 24 in the building.  It’s a restaurant run by Wolfgang Puck and it was really delish.  And an amazing views!  We had a lovely nosh and catchup and by the time I hit the bed I was sufficiently wiped out.

There is a lot of hub bub about the marathon.  Signs everywhere, they gave me the runner and spectator guide at the hotel when I checked in and it actually looks like a very cool race.   We start at Dodgers Stadium and run by a lot of famous places to end up at Santa Monica Pier.  I won’t bore with the details but LA Marathon has all the deals.

This morning I am off to explore the Farmers market.  Click here to read about the Market . Turns out there is a metro right next to the hotel that will take me right to the farmers market.  Nice.   Then at 2 p.m. I’m heading over to the EXPO to pick up my race bib and swag bag.

Tonight I am going to a nice Italian restaurant for a pasta dinner. Tomorrow I plan on spending the entire day lounging by the pool (pending weather). If it rains I think I will go do a movie marathon. Just stay off my feet.

Sunday I will take a little jaunt with about 25,000 other runners. I hear it is going to rain but it won’t be as hot as NYC. I’ll take the rain over heat. As a matter of fact I have a new motto — “If it’s not raining, It’s not racing!” At the end of 26.2 that will be the end of this little chapter of training and time for one, huge exhale.

Short but sweet:

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3/14 Nausea

Monday.  I feel nauseous.  I have a big headache too.  Not because I have a marathon in six days (surprisingly that doesn’t really bother me.)  I’m nauseous over things I have no control over.

Woke up at 5 a .m. the other morning with a text from my brother saying not to worry he is okay.  Why wouldn’t he be okay?  I hadn’t heard about the earthquake that happened a world away while I slept.  He lives in Tokyo.  Subways were down and he and his partner were walking the 10k home.  Nausea set in.  He said he was fine.  They had been having lunch in a high-rise  built to handle earthquakes.  But you live in a rickety old wooden house on the outside of town, I said, what about that?  Turns out it held up just fine but they have been enduring constant aftershocks (earthquakes) ever since.  The 24 hours after the big quake they had 180 after shocks. Even more since then. I am nauseous.  He keeps saying he is okay.  My brother-in-law gives more frequent updates.  He gives me more details because my brother is not going to do that.  I’m sure he is busy trying to save ancient scrolls somewhere.   Watching video of the tsunami in northern Japan, just utter devastation. Watch the nuclear power plant blow up.  Nothing I can do. Just sit and be nauseous and tell them not to eat anything that hasn’t been vacuum sealed.  Tell them to not breathe the air.   I don’t know how far the nuclear reactor meltdown would reach.    Nausea.  Just pure nausea.  For everyone.  For all the people losing their loved ones, watching their homes floating away, watching their lives crumble.  All of these hard-working people who love their families and friends.  Devastation. Worry there is nothing I can do for my own family.  Nausea.

This morning reading an update on an old teammate.  She’s been battling cancer so valiantly.  I’ve been cheering for her.  I admire her fight.  I admire her attitude.  That’s the way you fight.  Stalwart.  Yes.  Mentally stalwart.  She has kept such a positive attitude through round after round after round of every treatment under the sun.  She continued to coach and work throughout.  She set an example for her athletes — this is how you fight.  She has a loving husband.  Her family is by her side.  The way it is supposed to work is you keep a positive attitude and you fight, fight, fight and you win.  But it doesn’t work that way.  She has done everything right.  And now the disease is getting worse.  She has to go back to square one and undergo body wracking treatments.  She gets one terrible diagnosis after another. Nausea.  This is so not fair.   This is NOT the way it is supposed to go.

Find out another former coach just lost his baby.  Just married.  Their first child.  No reason.  Born premature. Just taken away.  How do you deal with that?  Just pure sorrow.  I just don’t know.  Instead of being sorry for himself he is turning it outward.  He is raising money for the March of Dimes.

Watching Lisa Ling’s “Our America” last night.  Was about a faith healer and all these people who go to him.  One guy is paralyzed and he believes he has been given a message by God that he was going to walk on this certain day. (He has been paralyzed since falling off a roof).   His faith was unwavering.  His spirit so strong he even had Lisa Ling biting her nails and willing him to walk.  He didn’t walk.  I felt nauseous.  Poor guy.  He believed so much.  But then the really beautiful part was he said to Lisa it was not his day and he put his hands on Lisa’s head and prayed for her. Best way to deal with your own sorrow is to try to relieve someone else’s.

I guess that’s all we can do.  Try our best, hope for the best, pray for one another.  But there is no certainty.  There is only knowing that we are here for one another to pick up the pieces.  Be the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Today I must put some good out into the world.  More smiles to strangers.  More kindness.  Work harder. Stalwart is not enough.





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3/10/11 Back to the Bike

Thursday. If I could give just one piece of advice to my fellow cyclists it would be this. Do not go too long without sitting on your bike. I finally got out on my bike into Central Park yesterday and it was how can I put this? Painful.

I decided to take Betty my black Felt road bike and leave Tina my race bike set up on the trainer (that way no excuses for not jumping in and doing a spin). I was surprised that it actually only took about five minutes to find a set of pedals to put on her and pump up the tires. Really? That’s it? Five minutes and she’s ready to ride? Why did I make such a big to-do about it? (I know why but we’ll pretend that it was because I couldn’t find the pedals.)

I would also recommend making a checklist and just putting it near your bike. It was hard for me to remember everything I might need.

Head Scarf, Helmet, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, base layer, jacket (please God, let it zip), cycling tights (didn’t they get tighter?), socks, boots, can’t find my boot covers so have to put duct tape over them, gloves, water bottle, ID, phone. Chamois Butter!! Whatever you do, don’t forget the Chamois Butter!! Would have been easier if I had a checklist instead of trying to do it all by memory.

First seconds of sitting on my bike on tenth avenue were nothing short of alarming. My butt was in alien territory immediately. Central Park? I’ll be lucky if I make it to 57th street.

I was also immediately aware of how all of my reflexes were gone. I saw hazards everywhere. Pieces of glass, holes in the road, car doors opening. It was stressful. I guess after riding for so long in the streets it had become second nature. I used to navigate all of this without an increase in heart beat. Now I was afraid for my life. What was I thinking? I can’t do this!!

But I made it to the park and met my ever-so-patient friend Jen who is a much better athlete than I.  I was so nervous. I didn’t think I could make it around the lower loop (I’m not exaggerating). I say all of this to warn myself and fellow bikers — don’t stop biking. You don’t just jump back on. It hurts and it’s scary. Jen says “let’s just decide now that if we make it around the park without a ticket it is a successful outing.” Reference to the crack down by police giving riders tickets for running red lights in Central Park.

Long story short (too late, I know), made it around two loops plus a lower loop. I think that’s 13 miles. Too funny, wiped out by 13 miles…. My legs were in shock. What the heck are you doing here? My knees were not happy. I’m mad at myself for not keeping up with my biking all winter — it would have been good for my knees. I’m worried that too much new stress on my legs was not a smart thing to do during my marathon taper. But then again I’m not even sure I deserve a marathon taper. Tapering is for real runners not for people who plan on walking half of it. I begged off the third loop not sure my poor sit bones could take any more.

So just what I needed a new project to focus on. I have to get back up to speed on my bike. I had no idea I had lost so much… But it will come back. This I know for sure. It will hurt but I will get it back.

Meanwhile, picked up a book that I heard about on Dr. Oz. It’s called “Why we get fat and what to do about it.” by Gary Taubes. Absolutely fascinating. A 100% must read for everyone interested in diet and losing weight. I highly recommend coaches and thin people who give advice to fat people to read it. Rob will like it because it promotes eating meat. (No I’m not going to start eating meat.) But he talks about carbs and insulin and fat. More importantly. for me at least, he answers a lot of questions that I have never been able to answer. He also talks about the history of fat. The idea we have that fat just came about with the invention of modern conveniences — debunked. Eat less, exercise more to lose weight — debunked. He goes through scientific study after scientific study examining our long-held beliefs about the old calories in and calories out myth. This book is really eye-opening. I still have a lot of questions for him but I’m only 1/3 of the way through the book. Go to the library and get this book.

This book is very interesting and I will have a ton of questions on how these theories will work with endurance sports for me. I say for me because the one thing I can assure you I already knew before reading this book is I have to work with the genetic makeup given to me. Therefore I must be my own scientist. I am not necessarily agreeing with everything he is saying but I am willing to do some experimenting to see what works. It’s not new theories but it is interesting to read the actual science behind them and debunking a lot of popular beliefs in the field of weight loss.

Yesterday I did a full day of no pasta, bread, potatoes, or high carb foods (nothing with sugar or refined flour). I don’t eat sweets usually anyway (though I do love a piece of dark chocolate now and then.) But I’m a rice, potato and whole grain toast gal. Queen of the salty chip. Pasha of the Potato. Went okay, I ate tofu and mixed veggies, kale and seeds, nice dressing. I did have my morning protein shake with banana and berries and protein powder and chia seeds but I left out my mid morning toast. I made it though the day with no real issues but I definitely would need to do a little more work on finding a bigger variety of low-carb vegan foods to eat. Dr. Furhman lists a ton of them, I just have to buy them and make them (there’s the rub.) I’m not against throwing in some cruelty-free, organic dairy products but I’m not really sure where I would find them and how to make sure they are cruelty-free. I think I’ll do a jaunt off to Westerly to explore some of their finer low carb options…..

I don’t have the answers but I’m feeling really good about the line up of questions.


Here is a little video from Dr. Weil who I think can sum this up much better than I can:

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