eat, move, think, feel

What I Can, When I Can April 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 11:30 pm
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One of the things that I appreciate about continuing to serve as a Weight Watchers leader, is the ongoing conversation that happens with my members each week. Each week, we revisit one aspect of healthy living and get the opportunity to focus on that one small thing. And as I prepare for my meeting, and then reflect on it afterward, I get to ask myself if I’m doing what I can in that little area.

This week, the theme of the week was about making time to move. Specifically, the importance of PLANNING to move, and to know when, how, where and with whom we were going to do it next. On the flip chart, there was a range of options from “I always plan my workouts,” to “Activity? What’s that?” and in between there were some in-between responses. I realized that I have been pretty in-between. I always have these good intentions, but I don’t have a regular schedule for working out these days. Sometimes a friend will spontaneously call me up and we’ll go for a little run. Or I’ll show up at my old gym for a group training. But these things are not hardwired onto my calendar. They’re not my routine, so often they just don’t happen.

This happened once last month, and it was great. But ... once.

This happened once last month, and it was great. But … once.

After this week’s meeting, I looked at the blank spots in my Weekly (our little mini magazine handout) and answered those questions. I did the homework that I’d passed out. I knew that I was going to have to do something easy and accessible. I also remembered that that night, Nashville was returning after a hiatus. I told myself, OK, tomorrow, you have a date on the elliptical with the latest episode! It was that easy. I made a plan.

Next morning, I hopped on the machine all ready. I had a great 50-minute workout because there was no way I was going to stop or step down before those closing credits rolled. It was a great one.

Thanks @nashvilleabc for keeping me glued to the elliptical today! #wycwyc

A photo posted by Susan Ito (@thesusanito) on

It didn’t take much. But it did take making a plan. These little things, they make all the difference.

Which reminded me of my friends’ Carla & Roni’s new book that’s coming out SOON: #wycwyc, or What You Can, When You Can. It’s such a beautiful, simple, supportive concept. Can’t go to the gym? Can’t train for a triathlon right now? Well, you CAN hop on that machine in your garage and get some sweat happening while you soak in some tele-drama. YES.

Here’s the trailer for their book. I love the idea of passing the #wycwyc baton, one to another. Check it out on Twitter and Instagram. Let us all know the next time you make a healthy choice, what you can and when you can. Wick-wick!!


The Week In Which I Cried A River, then Found Hope July 26, 2013


These are my actual hips.

So it’s been a rough couple of months out here. I’ve basically been having nonstop right hip pain ever since the Oakland half marathon, and it’s been bumming me out big time. The hardest part has been not knowing for sure what was wrong – was it a muscle pull? Bursitis? For a month or so I thought it might be due to some pretty big fibroids I have. But although they are clinically classified as “huge,” they have not grown or changed in size since 2009. So my gynecologist was not ready to do anything drastic until I got a complete workup from an orthopedist.

I finally went and had that evaluation on Wednesday. First he did a physical exam. He said he was pretty sure that I did have hip arthritis, and also based on my symptoms, pretty sure I am going to need a total hip replacement.


(that was my heart falling out of my body onto the floor)

I had been sort of bracing myself for this possibility. I tried to recover myself quickly and then I asked, “But what about running?” I think I had this picture in my head, like, as soon as I can just get FIXED, then I can carry on with all my usual stuff, that has, been by the way, on hold for a long time. He said, you know, people are going to do what they’re going to do, but we really do not recommend it. Especially for a young person, we want that new joint to last a long time, and the more you use it, the faster it will wear out.

And then I started crying. And pretty much didn’t stop for about eight hours, until I passed out from sobbing. I had to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. I drove past the site of See Jane Run and totally LOST MY SHIT.

I thought, that was my last race. Of my entire life. I thought, I was going to do that half marathon. And now I never will. I was choke-sobbing all the way to the parking lot of my WW center. I tried to pull myself together. A few of my observant members noticed that I looked like hell. They asked me if I was having a bad day. I really could not even talk about it for fear I would start hysterically wailing right there. I went and hid in a storage closet until the meeting was supposed to start, and miraculously I got through it more or less. It was frankly a relief to talk about SALADS for half an hour.

I got back in my car. The waterworks resumed. I had this image of coming into the house and seeing my beloved medal rack with all my race bling hanging there. I was wailing as if the world was over. Part of my world WAS over. I went home and crawled into bed. I felt like I was seventeen years old and the love of my life was breaking up with me. The love that I had never thought I’d have. Who ignored me my whole life and then finally turned their attention to me and said I was worthy.

Mr. McBody came in and held me as I carried on. I told him that he was not allowed to utter the words “swim” or “bike” until I deemed it acceptable. It was like when we lost our first child. People kept saying I would go on to have other wonderful children. Which turned out to be TRUE, but at that moment it was the last thing on earth I was able to hear. So, I might go on to have a wonderful biking or swimming life, but at that moment I needed to mourn the running.

Sometime during all this melee, I received a text from my dear friend Carla. She texted, Have you seen They have an e-Book….

my new community

my new community

I took a look at the site on Thursday, when my head was throbbing and my eyelids looked like giant waterbeds. I made some sort of wild noise of disbelief and joy as I read about other runners who had undergone hip replacements and who were… RUNNING! WHAT!?!?!?!?!? I immediately posted a comment of OMG OMG OMG are you kidding me?! I received a very warm welcome and an invitation to join the Hip Runners Club. Did I want to participate? HELL YES.

So. I have dried my tears. I am dusting myself off and looking toward the next whatever-it-is. I don’t know when this will actually happen because I need to find myself a new orthopedist (the one I saw this week is retiring) and I am going to find one who believes that some form of running post-op will be okay.

And I’m gonna order myself this T-shirt. Game on.

Bring it on.

Bring it on.


Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon March 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 1:07 pm
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IMG_1038It’s been a long time since I last posted, and so much has happened I’ve been wanting to blog about. But alas, lack of time. The biggest thing to happen recently was the culminating event for my last season of Team in Training – the Oakland Half Marathon.

I love the Oakland Running Festival. So far I have “race” in three out of the four years since it started. The first year I did the Marathon Team Relay, the next year I did the 5k, I skipped a year last year and this year I did the half marathon. I love this event so much. It brings me so much Oakland pride. The bling this year was so beautiful and yeah, someday I might join MizFitOnline in getting this image tattooed on my self.

I was happy because I was running this one “with” (I put in quotes because I knew they would finish way ahead of me) my beloved training buddy Lily, as well as with Junior. We went to the race expo the day before to pick up our packets and check out the gear. Always an exciting and fun time.

She IS.

She IS.

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small... :-(

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small… :-(

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

I also went to my TNT Inspiration lunch, where we got pumped up and remembered why were doing this. I raised over $1500 total for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After the lunch, I went home and decorated my shirt with the names of my personal honorees.


So this was my fourth half marathon. (!!!!!) And my second one this year! After coming in with a 3.04 finish time at the Tinkerbell Half, I set in my mind that I wanted to try to finish sub-three hours for this one.  I decided that I was going to try and keep up a good pace throughout and not stop at all (or much).

The half marathon had the latest start I’d ever had at a race – 9:15am. But we got there a lot earlier and were able to see both the start AND the finish of the 5k, and that was super fun. I got to cheer in my couch-t0-5k running buddy Mary, as well as Sofia and her brother James.


We got to hang around and soak up the general excitement near the start/finish line, and that was cool. I just love the happy, excited energy and races.

ready to go!

ready to go!

We got all lined up and took off. I didn’t really see much of Lily & Junior during the race because, as I said, they are both a lot faster than me. But it was okay. I was pretty happy just running through my city.

Miles 1-8 were, as I had expected, pretty steady and not too hard. But by the time we got to 8-9 (my usual Achilles heel) I was starting to flag a bit, and wondering if I might get some much needed support. Here I got caught by the official race photographers, digging out my phone to text my friend Lisa Marie. I knew she lived nearby and I was hoping to get a glimpse of her for some much needed energy.

calling for help

calling for help

The next stretch was along the Mandela Parkway. It’s a long, potentially lonely stretch and luckily there was some good stuff to pick me up along the way. First, I was out of my mind happy to see Lisa Marie! She was standing on a corner and gave me a quick hug and an encouraging cheer. I SOOOO needed that!

Next, some cool stuff. A fire-shooting Trojan horse thing. It was blasting flames about 20 feet into the sky. I was pretty impressed by that, and had to stop a second to take a picture.



IMG_1017Then, some cool spectators on this super nifty bicycle umbrella thingie. I don’t know what the heck it was, but what a great vantage point, huh?

THEN a wonderful neighbor lady with a bucket full of orange wedges. OH that made my day! I was very grateful.

IMG_1019Around mile 10 I was passed by my awesome racewalking coach Carolyn. “Is that Susan Ito?” she said, as she sped on by. Dude. I was “running.” She was “walking.” I tried to keep up with her. I tried to catch her. I just could not. DAMN. She’s good.

She was so fast I couldn’t even snap a picture of her swiveling little butt.

Finally we came up upon the lake, which I have run so many times. I thought about how I had had such a tough time on this stretch during the 2010 marathon relay. Lo and behold, I started feeling the same darn tingling in my hands, the same almost-nausea, the utter fatigue. The wall was starting to come up in my face. I had been pretty much running with the same group of people in this last part, and we started giving each other verbal encouragement. We were all going at the same pace and pretty much all gritting it out.

It was hard. Damn it was hard. But I had my eye on my watch and I really wanted to get there under my three hours. I just kept going.

I knew the final tenth of a mile was going to be up a little but not insigificant hill. WHYYYYYY? How cruel is that. You run 26 or 13 miles and then at the end, you have to chug up a hill to get to the finish.

Luckily for me, Junior was sitting on that hill (having finished about an hour ago!). She jumped up when she saw me and ran next to me. You got this mama! I started getting all crumbly and emotional. I am pretty sure I was crying. She held my hand. She might have even pulled me up the hill. When we got to the very final flat spot before the finish, I broke off and SPRINTED in. I was feeling so… RAWR. See?

finish lineThen it was over. I had a tiny little episode of almost-asthma. I was all wheezy for a minute. Then I got myself together and got my medal and found my peoples and found a bathroom (um, with NO TP. BOOOOO. So I had to run outside and find a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which I used instead. Haha) and then collapsed on the ground with our beautiful medals.

IMG_1021Then I found my buddy Estelle who had just completed her leg of the relay. How cool to see her there!

IMG_1027Then I saw my coach Al from Team in Training (“I knew you could do it!” he said) and I got some chocolate milk and my 13.1 Finishers’ Pin from the team manager at the TNT table.

IMG_1032 IMG_1033By then I was in a pretty jovial mood. I figured out that I had beat my PR by a whole bunch. My last PR was 3:04, and I finished this one in 2:49. Fifteen minutes! Woo hoooooo! Time to celebrate!

IMG_1036We gathered up our friends and family and headed over to Barney’s Burgers. I haven’t had a milkshake, in like, YEARS, but I was ready and felt very deserving. Lily and I split a Turkish coffee shake and enjoyed every last drop.

IMG_1042Junior, Josh (our housemate from last year who was back for a visit) and Juniorette enjoyed their Oreo coffee shake as well.

IMG_1044It was happy times. I was really happy to be doing this event surrounded by so many people I loved, in the city I love. I felt really happy with my time. I know that my struggle at the end had everything to do with how hard I pushed it.

After lunch, we headed back home. I took a much needed shower and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed with a gel pack on my butt/hip. Naptime.

IMG_1058I felt really proud of this one. Even though it was hard, I struggled a lot less than I did for the relay, half that distance, three years ago. I am definitely getting better.

My next half marathon is in June – the See Jane Run race which I will be doing with my friend Shannon. My goal for that one is to not break any speed records but instead to support her, to have FUN and to feel happy crossing that finish line. It doesn’t always have to be about pace. I am happy that I proved to myself I could break that three-hour mark. But next time, I’m in it for fun.












Race Recap: 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon January 22, 2013

IMG_0308I know that I’m wayyy behind on my blogging. I still want to post about my New Year’s Day 10k race, and my 4th Healthaversary. But while things are still fresh in my head I want to do my race recap for my 3rd half marathon and 2nd Tinker Bell race.

This race was really a do-over for Junior and me. Last year, she and I and Juniorette came down to Disneyland for the Inaugural Tinkerbell race, but she got really sick and in the end, only Juniorette and I got to run the race. So I promised her we’d come back and do it together this year.

The nice thing about doing the same race multiple times, is that you learn things the first time that either work or don’t. We learned that we most definitely wanted to repeat staying at the hotel which is basically a few hundred feet away from the Start AND the Finish lines. That works. Yay!

We got to town in plenty of time to go to the Expo. That was a great thing, because last year I got in late and didn’t get to go. I kind of love race expos.

I got to meet the awesome Jeff Galloway and buy his book. He’s so encouraging and inspiring. I figured I’d better read it, since I’m already more than halfway to 100 years old. ;-)


IMG_0225We looked around at tons of sparkly skirts and wings and stuff, but nothing really grabbed us as THE perfect outfit for Tinkerbell. So in the end we decided we liked the official race shirt enough to make that our race outfit. After the Expo we went to downtown Disney to find something for dinner. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to eat. The classic “carb loading” pasta dinner didn’t feel really like what I wanted. So we ended up with tilapia, Brussells sprouts (with bacon!) and a soft egg.  It was insanely yummy but not too filling.


Then we found a few carbs for dessert :-)


We set our alarms for 3:30am. (o boy!) Amazingly, we were able to fall asleep pretty quickly – before 10:00pm anyway -and the wakeup call came early enough. It was not really all that painful to wake up and get dressed. We were pretty excited.


I had brought a ton of warm clothes to wear to the start line, but in the end we just decided to go with our race shirts. We went downstairs and right in front of the hotel, there was the start line. PERFECT LOCATION.


I gave Junior a hug and she took off for Corral B (the fast people) and I headed back to E. (the END!) It wasn’t quite as cold as I remembered last year being, or nearly as cold as the New Year’s day 10k.

Back in the End, we could see the fireworks going off. That was exciting. But then we waited. And waited. We could sense the D, C and B groups taking off. FINALLY it was our turn – probably after 5:30am. We’d been out there for almost an hour.

First, we wound through Disney California and Disneyland Parks. It was pretty cool. The “Mickey Wheel” and the water-light show was all lit up and beautiful.

IMG_0270One of the things I loved about going through the parks was seeing all the Disney employees out there cheering us on. They were awesome, and so encouraging and enthusiastic. Big Mickey hands everywhere!

IMG_0323I’d say that the first five miles went pretty well. I didn’t feel super springy and awesome, but I didn’t feel bad either. It just felt pretty easy and relaxed. It was exciting to be going through Disneyland and seeing all the sights. I didn’t stand in any lines to get photos with any of the characters. I got pretty excited when I saw Mary Poppins though.


Running through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as the sun was coming up, and past the holiday lights of It’s a Small World were pretty great.

So. Around Mile 7, the front of my left ankle (tibialis anterior tendon, which has plagued me in the past) started hurting. And my stomach was feeling kind of bad. In fact, I was hungry. SUPER hungry. I had had some oatmeal at 4:30am, but that felt like an eon ago. I suddenly got it in my head, I have almost halfway to go. In other words, I have to do what I JUST DID. It seemed kind of impossible. I was feeling a little down. I pulled out my Mickey Mouse pretzels (saltzed pretzels is one of my “must haves” during a race, and I forgot to bring my own from home this time).


I ate some of them, but I think they had been in the hotel gift shop for a long time. They weren’t stellar. I was still hungry. Or something. I remembered that my buddies Ayala and Becky, from my TNT Triathlon Team, were running too. I wondered if they were anywhere near me. I pulled out my phone and texted Ayala. Where are u? I am between mile 7-8.

I really needed something at that moment. I was feeling pretty bleak. Not HOPELESS, but not awesome. I think my actual physical discomfort was in the 3-out-of-10 range, but my mental distress was about at an 8. I was freaking out a little bit inside. I was worried, what if it gets worse? How am I going to deal with 5-6 more miles of THIS? I was starting to unravel a little.

After the mile 8 marker, it was Gu time! Volunteers were handing out packets of Vanilla and Mocha. I really needed that blast of energy. I felt a little bit better.  Around mile 9, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Ayala! and Becky! I almost cried from joy. Ayala had been my buddy at the Wildflower Triathlon and she is truly one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I know. She kept me going during so many of the tough trainings last year.

We ran together for a while and by the time I was ready to take off again, I was feeling like a new person. I perked up and started paying more attention to the people around me. I saw this guy up ahead running in a suit. I wondered, is that for real? Why a suit? What kind of costume is that?? And then I caught up with him and… it was Walt Disney! Hahaha. Great.

"Cryogenics does wonders!" he said.

“Cryogenics does wonders!” he said.

A little bit further up, I saw a lovely trio. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell were taking turns pushing Captain Hook in a wheelchair. They all looked super chipper and glad to be together. I loved them. Captain Hook grinned and said, “Arr!” when I took their picture.

IMG_0319I had told Ayala and Becky that I wanted to take a picture together with them at the 10 mile mark, but when I got there suddenly I was feeling perkier than I had the whole race. I felt like I just couldn’t stop. I also knew that if I stopped or slowed down I might not be able to start up again.

Around this time I got a couple of worried text messages from Mr. McBody and Junior. He had been tracking my progress online. Apparently my 5k time was realllllly slow, and then for some reason my 10k marker didn’t show up. So like 2 hours had gone by and they’d heard nothing from me. (I heard all about this yesterday) I hadn’t heard their texting coming through my earbuds because I had decided to go the no-music route. (partly because the course was so entertaining I didn’t need it, and partly because I wanted to save my phone battery)

I sent them this picture as reassurance.

IMG_0282I remember a lot of the mile 10-13.1 from my other (two!) half marathons. During my first, the Las Vegas Half, I was pretty much dying at mile 11. I mean dying. I was in AWFUL pain and not sure I would make it. And at last year’s Tinkerbell, the last couple miles were the hardest.

This is the first half marathon where the last couple of miles felt the strongest and best. After I passed the ten mile mark, I knew I could do it. I relaxed. I stopped freaking out.


After mile 12, I was definitely on a mission. I wanted to get as close to the 3 hour mark as I could. My last year’s time had been 3:16 and I just wanted to shave as much time off of that as possible. Normally, my run pace for long races (and even for short races) is what most people would call ambling along.


But when I knew I just had a mile and a handful to go, I suddenly got determine. I started RUNNING.

game face!

game face!

Pretty soon the finish line was in sight (although – not happy! they moved it about 200 yards further from last year. Psych!). I saw Junior standing by the fence waving. And then I was through and I had my medal.


I found Junior. She had finished over an hour ahead of me (2 hours 45 seconds, my little rockstar!) and had had a great race.


Pretty soon I found Ayala and Becky. I was so happy to see them! They had really contributed to my big turning point near mile 9.

IMG_0309Junior and I decided to wait in the long line for the free massage tent. It turned out to be utterly and completely worth it!


We were pretty pumped full of endorphins at that point, feeling good, and hungry.


Junior was craving fajitas so we went to a Mexican restaurant in downtown Disney and enjoyed mass quantities of guacamole.

IMG_0313THEN it was time for a nice long nap.

IMG_0315We had bought all-day Park Hopper tickets, but in all honesty, there was no way we felt like hopping any parks. Happily, I was able to sell the tickets to a friend who is returning for the Disney Marathon in September. Whew.

So we went to the pool and soaked in the hot tub and lay in the SUN (wow! how awesome!).

IMG_0322All in all, it was a sweeeet race and a sweet weekend. I loved spending it with my girl. We had a great time and I was overall really pleased with how it went. Now I’m feeling pretty excited for the Oakland Half Marathon coming up in March, and…. looks like I will be doing the See Jane Run half with my dear Shannon in June!


Day 12 #NHBPM: My Favorite App(s) November 13, 2012

It’s a good thing that we get two “get out of jail free” days from NHBPM. It looks like I just took mine this weekend. I got SLAMMED, scheduled wise. On Saturday I drove four hours (ack!) for a Weight Watchers training (it was good, but more sitting! I paced a lot) and then four hours home.  I was FRIED when I got home. NO blogging Saturday.

Then, Sunday was filled with fun but time-eating social events: a clutterbusting gathering at a friend’s house (how great is that -a small group of us cleared out and organized a pantry, cupboard AND a big entry shelf/drawer thing) in the morning, then a very cool baby shower (books for baby! to build her library! I LOVE THIS IDEA) in the afternoon and then dinner and visit with Junior in the evening. That was my weekend. But no more slacking for me! I’m in it till the end.

Day 12 – Monday, Nov. 12

Call BS on something. What’s something that is just ridiculous? OR “My favorite health app / device / game is…” and review it

OK. I will admit I am not in the mood to “call BS” on anything because I’m just not in the mood for controversy right now. But I could definitely do that in a few cases. I’m going to take the easier route (and more positive!) of discussing my favorite health app/device(s).

Everyone knows I am a big fan of movement devices. I’m loving my Weight Watchers ActiveLink, which is pretty much a WW linked device that is the same as the DirectLife activity monitor. Very similar. They work great.

I was looking at my phone and trying to figure out which app(s) I use and like the most. I think the one I use the most (other than SleepTime, which I already wrote about) is RunKeeper. I’ve been using it a few  years now and anticipate I’ll be using it a lot more now that I am on RUN TEAM (YAYY!).

I love Runkeeper. I love that you can GPS your route, measure time and pace, sync your music and also have audio reminders at time and/or distance markers (every 5 or 10 minutes, every half or quarter mile). It keeps me going to know that I am running an X minute mile. I love being able to link it to FB and Twitter. It’s a great and motivating app and I know I’m going to be using it a lot more.

So that was Day 12! Almost halfway through the month!!


Workout Clothes? For meeee??? (and you!) October 24, 2012

When I was at Fitbloggin’ I got to meet the cool people at PVbody. They were giving away some pretty nifty fitness duds, including this top which looked kinda silly on me…especially over my pajama top.

me and the best, goofiest roomie ever

but pretty awesome on Junior.

that’s my girl

Anyway, they have a great deal going, which reminds me of getting a weekly delivery of CSA veggies-in-a-box. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s pretty awesome to be surprised. Instead, they send a beautifully wrapped package of workout clothes each month, for not much $$. You know how expensive workout duds can get, right?

I got my first box yesterday. I was jumping up and down. All pretty, wrapped in tissue paper, like a present.

Is it my birthday?

I open it up and it’s a beautiful top! And some pants that looked, possibly, frighteningly too small. Oh well, it’s free returns/exchanges. These are seriously high-quality workout duds.

The V-neck top is made by ALO (Air Land Ocean) and is super comfy and flattering.

I love the cut of this top.

The bottoms are made by Nux. They are all scrunchy at the bottom (ruching?) and I feel a little dubious.

scrunchie-bottomed pants

But I put them on, and …. woweee! They fit!

I like the scrunchies!

O boy! I like these clothes.

Mr. McBody came through after I tried them on and said, “O boy! What are you wearing?!?” Needless to say, he approved. :-)

They are comfy. They are nifty. I’m all excited! And I get another box next month??

So, this is the deal. You, too, can get a box of awesome workout clothes every month. I can vouch for the super high quality. They are worth about $150 per box, but you pay less than $40. ANNNNNND… as a friend/blog reader of yours truly, you can get an extra 20% off. How cool is that. You fill out a little quiz where you indicate your size, the kind of sport(s) you like to do (running/yoga/cycle etc), your favorite colors and styles. Then voila, they put together a box for you, and when it arrives at your house it’s like your birthday. But every month. If something doesn’t fit, it gets returned super easy and free. I was sure those pants were not going to fit me, but I was wrong.

Click here for the special Foodie McBody deal!


Race Recap: The Muddy Buddy! October 2, 2012

I really worked hard for this bling.

One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar.  I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!

DJ really helped us get our butts in gear for this one.

Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.

I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.

We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!

pencils on the move!

“dirty words” – hahaha

Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.

We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!

We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53” I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.

Rawr!! Dirty Wordsters!

We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.

At the starting line: pretty nervous

The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.

At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.

Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.

What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.

The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).

The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.

For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.

waiting on the road for her buddy

Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.

thwarted by the soapy, slippery wall! This picture makes me laugh and laugh.

Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.

Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.

Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.

It helps to get a helping hand from one’s buddy.

Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!

I thought they were cups of water, and was very excited to find Oreos inside

Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.


To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?

So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.

Special shout-out to Mr McBody, star medic, bike tech support and paparazzi. Love!

What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?



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