eat, move, think, feel



Race Recap: 100th Bay to Breakers 2011

Hayes st. Hillsenior runner @ BARTBarrel of Monkeys!not much clothesnot much clothesstarting corral
Crayons + Box100th yr birthday cake guy100th yr birthday cake guy100th yr birthday cake guyChicken FeetChicken Head
Mr. & Mrs. Beer CanAngel, WIlma & Fred, Beer canFred Flintstoneangelsflouncy skirtsman in tutu
starting linetutus! pink!smurfsbunny men passing out carrotsbuttsSalmon running against the stream

100th Bay to Breakers 2011, a set on Flickr.

I did it! I ran in and finished the 100th Bay to Breakers today! As you know, I had a lot of conflict over whether I should even do this race or not. But after figuring out schedules, I realized it was possible to enjoy 24 hours at the spa and still do the race. Which is exactly what I did. Verrrrrrrrrry relaxing.

soakin in the hot waters with Junior

I got home last night around 9pm and got my race pile together. While I was doing that, I realized to my dismay that I had left my sturdy ankle brace up at the spa hotel. ARGHHH. But then I remembered the nifty KTT tape I’d gotten at the Las Vegas marathon, and I whipped it out along with the instructional YouTube video on How to Tape An Ankle, and I figured it would have to do.

race pile

I got up at 5:30 and my helpful spouse helped me tape up the ankle. Then I put on some compression socks, had my whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter (breakfast of champions) and headed out to the BART station. First thing I saw was this elderly gentleman with his race bib and a big cane. Which put a lump in my throat!

The train was full of people with great costumes and a lively happy atmosphere. I did not wear a costume of any sort – not even my Totoro hat – because I thought it would be raining and I didn’t want to deal with a soggy costume. So I was just wearing my regular running stuff which felt pretty mundane.

We all piled out at the Embarcadero and just followed the massive hordes of people going toward the corrals and the start. It was so so so so much fun seeing everyone’s costume. There were more tutus than you could shake a stick at (@Mizfitonline, you would’ve LOVED THIS EVENT). And a bunch of crazier things. I think my favorite was the Barrel of Monkeys. ADORABLE.

barrel of monkeys!

For some reason, it’s tradition to start the Bay to Breakers by tossing thousands of tortillas in the air. I have no idea why, but the tortillas were definitely flying. Also big beach balls. Yeah, it was a party! It was fun inching up to the starting line with all the revelry. People were in very good moods.

Finally we got to the start and it was different from any other race I’d been in because at least half the people there did not pick up speed at ALL after crossing the line – they just kept ambling on in relaxed fashion. But I think I’m conditioned to pick it up after my foot crosses that line so I did start jogging right away. It felt really good! I was just having a great time looking at everyone. I passed a bunch of blue Smurfs and some guys in bunny costumes passing out carrots. Huh? Cute, though.

I did see quite a few naked people. How come the people who run naked have bodies that probably look a LOT BETTER in clothes?? LOL.

There has been a lot of talk in B2B lore about the dreaded HAYES STREET HILL and when we turned onto Hayes I was like, OH NO! but truly it was not so bad. It isn’t as steep as the hill around the corner from my house. I decided I’d walk up it just to save some energy but I walked FAST and passed a bunch of people. It did seem like so many people were just… strolling. Which was fun. So the left half of the street was running and the right half was just out for a slow amble through San Francisco.

Lots of people out on their steps and patios, partying it up and watching everyone. Many of them were also dressed up and that was fun too. Although I just read about some guy falling off his roof with “life-threatening-injuries.” Ugh. I actually have no sympathy for drunk people who get hurt doing stupid things. Sorry.

Miles 2 and 3 went by pretty quickly. I was so jazzed to get to the top of the hill and then sort of fly down the other side. I was feeling very good around mile 3.

Then when we started getting near the Golden Gate Park panhandle – mile 4ish – my left knee started talking to me. Then it started crying and I was like, WHAT? is this? It was unlike any other knee pain I’d ever had before – the back (posterior) part of my knee, right in the center. It sort of came and went over the next couple miles, and sometimes it felt worse to walk, sometimes it felt worse to run. I spent the second half of the race just trying to figure out a gait that was the most comfortable.

In spite of the pain, I loved running through Golden Gate Park. I lived on the outskirts of the park for the first four years I lived in San Francisco, and I just adored that park. Especially the buffalo, which were right in my neighborhood. I got very emotional when we passed the buffalo.

First glimpse of ocean!

Man, do I love Golden Gate park. I was happy to pass the mile 6 and 7 markers, and then at some point I saw the ocean I knew that was it – the breakers in Bay to Breakers! Woo hoooo!!! I went through the finish line and then I really started feeling the daggers in my knee. I limped pretty much the rest of the way. We had to go another MILE to pick up our medals and food. I have to say, the post-race snacks were awesome: chocolate milk (post-race nutrition of champions!), hummus and crackers, and Laughing Cow cheese. Which rocked.

I had bought a ticket for a bus to go back to the starting line, and I was hobbling pretty much at that point. Another 3/4 mile to the bus pickup! OWWW!

Got my medal. (yay!) Got on the bus (double yay!). Then I started feeling all sorts of post-race misery and general decomposition – upset stomach, chills and shakes, KNEE PAIN and overall fatigue. I dragged myself to the BART station and made my way home where I promptly took a very hot shower and passed out for a couple hours.

In spite of the orthopedic mess, I am really glad I did it. It was super duper fun and just festive and great. I didn’t see people being rowdy or drunk, just having a great time. I’d say about HALF the people were walking and just having a good old time. It was fun to be in a race like that – unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.

I want to do it again. And next year I’m definitely running in a costume! I saw lots of people wearing their pajamas which seemed very comfortable and easy. Next year: race in sushi pajamas! Yay!

Now… I reallllllllllllly hope my knee is better by Friday for the Fitbloggin‘ 5k….

I earned that finisher's medal!

Croissants, Walking, Cheese, Walking… Cheese.

Last night we returned from a ten-day trip to London and Paris, our very first trip to Europe, made possible by a miraculous and generous turn of events. Mr. McBody’s cousin and family were returning to France for the first time in ten years (he lived there for years, and she is from France) and they invited us to come along. At first it seemed completely impossible, what with our family logistics and everything. But then his completely amazing and wonderful aunt and uncle offered to fly cross-country to take care of Nana and Juniorette in our absence, no small feat, given everyone’s complex schedules, driving requirements and the like. It seemed like an offer we could not refuse.

So we went! I thought long and hard what to do about all the Food I was going to be encountering while I was there. On one hand, I didn’t want this trip to be an excuse for a total free-for-all. On the other hand, I wanted to be able to experience new and wonderful things. So I decided beforehand that I would do a lot of walking, that I would continue my no-sugar #7daychip challenge, and that hopefully it would all work out in the end.

I’d say it did. My Directlife activity monitor was probably stunned by the dramatic uptick in activity, and on a completely new time schedule. I averaged about 120% of my daily target while I was gone, and considering I was averaging around 80% in the weeks before I left, that was great. I managed to eat no sweets in London. In Paris, there were many, many temptations and I decided to forego them, because once that particular domino fell, I knew that was going to be that.

Until the last night. After five days of perusing all the sweet offerings to be had in Paris, I decided that what I really wanted to try was some famous Berthillon ice cream. After having a nice dinner for our final evening, we walked to a tiny island where all the ice creameries are. They sell ice cream by the “ball” and we chose vanilla, dark chocolate and coffee.

I was very excited for this moment.

I had a small spoonful of each flavor. It was very, very yummy. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have felt deprived if I hadn’t eaten it. But I was glad that I had. I did notice that after eating that ice cream I suddenly felt more “curious” about other sweets. But I stayed away.

The best, most awesome and wonderful thing that I ate in Paris (other than the cheese of course) was the crazy delicious falafel I discovered in the Marais (Jewish) neighborhood. This even beat the nice, white-tablecloth dinner we had.  It was so good, we even went back the 2nd night in a row and ate more falafel. YUM YUM YUM.

It was a long time to be eating out every single meal. In spite of all the walking (basically from morning until night) I did gain a few pounds. But it’s no more than I’ve gained (sometimes in a weekend) on other vacations and I know it’s manageable.

EDITED TO ADD: After 24 hours post-flight, the weight gain is ALL GONE! I am down to my pre-vacation weight! YAHOOO!

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am so grateful that we had this opportunity. But you know, there’s no place like home. I was so happy to wake up in my own bed today, and to go to our very own farmer’s market. The food in France is truly mind boggling, but so is the fresh beauty of a California farmer’s market. We took Aunt J there this morning and she was ECSTATIC to be eating raw oysters on the street, just like she remembered growing up as a little girl in New Orleans.

I’m just relieved and happy to be home. I am excited to get back into a workout routine. I want to lose my vacation pounds before Fitbloggin, and I want to be nice and ready for the 100th Bay to Breakers coming up. It was so awesome to get away, but even more awesome to come back.

I want to thank JackSh*t, Karen, Tracey and Tara for keeping the home fires burning by guest-blogging for me in my absence. I hope you’ll go back and read their fabulous posts and leave them some comment love.

Taking the #100daychipquest on Vacation

Photo credit: Lasse C via Flickr

I’m on day 35 of my 30-minutes-of-exercise chip and day 26 of my no-sugar chip. I’ve got to say. Having gotten to my 30th day of consistent exercise has been… challenging. And it’s not like it’s getting any easier. Every day. Here we go. But I am doing it, I’m super psyched I’m doing it and I know it’s a great thing to do.

My other challenge, the no-sugar challenge (I define this as someone I recently saw posted as “no obvious sugar”) – no candy, cookies, cupcakes (wahhh) or other things that are obviously “sweets” – is going really well. So well in fact that I’ve almost forgotten it. It’s been pretty easy, after the first few days when I kept ‘forgetting’ – to just eliminate that stuff. It’s easier to eliminate than cut back, I think. But I’m also trying to cut back on carbs in general.

The reason I’m eliminating is to get my blood glucose down to the level I want it at. What level do I want? Well, I’ll tell ya. Last week I went to my endocrinologist, and before that I had to get my blood drawn. One of the most important lab values a diabetic person pays attention to is their A1C levels. Which is a measure of their blood glucose over a period of THREE MONTHS. So you can’t really game it and be good the last few days or week. It’s a long period.

My previous A1C level was 5.8 I believe. And the one from last week was 6.0. Which is not DREADFUL but I saw this on my lab slip:

  • <5.7: decreased risk of diabetes
  • 5.7-6.0 Increased risk of diabetes
  • 6.1-6.4 Higher risk of diabetes
  • > or = 6.5 Consistent with diabetes

When I was first diagnosed, my A1C level was 6.8 (ie, “consistent with diabetes). Since I’ve been working on being healthy, I’ve been only in the “increased risk” range. How I would love to be in the “decreased risk” group! I know the daily activity is really going to help with that.

I have a really special vacation coming up next week. For one, Mr. McBody and I are going away alone together for the FIRST TIME IN TWENTY YEARS. Yeah, you read that right. Well, we’ve been away for overnights before, but this is TEN DAYS. Which is completely unprecedented.

I am excited because I know it will be no problem at ALL getting my 30 minutes of exercise in. We’re going to be walking and exploring all over the place and I am hoping to get some nice runs in.

But the tables will be turned in terms of what challenge is going to be “easier.” This place we’re going to is famous for amazing food. I considered deciding to just go to 30 days with the no-sugar thing, then taking a 10 day hiatus, then stepping back in when I return. But I realized a couple of things:

  1. I want to accomplish my #100daychip goal. Which I can’t if I stop next week.
  2. This is my LIFE. And I really want to accomplish my A1C goal as well. So I think I’m going to enjoy all the amazing savory treats and skip the sweet ones.  I hope I can stay strong!

Tell me: do you change or alter your habits when you go on vacation??

Letting Go

Next week at this time, the Oakland marathon will be happening and I won’t be there. 😦

Sometimes we make plans and they just don’t work out, and it’s important to be able to let go gracefully. It’s not like I’m not going to be participating in athletic events next weekend: I’m still doing the Fight for Air StairClimb (still time to donate for a chance on a quilt!) and the Twilight 5k portion of the Oakland Running Festival.

What happened is that I was hoping that my family (me, Mr and 2 girls) would be able to run as a family team for the marathon relay. As it got closer it became apparent that a few of Mr. McBody’s orthopedic woes were not going to allow it. I’ve been looking and looking for a 4th person but it just didn’t pan out, until last Thursday. I went to sign us all up and BAM – it was sold out. SOLD OUT! I was so crushed. Incredulous really. Damn.

For a while I bandied about the idea of signing up for the half. But I think it’s crazy to even try and walk a half marathon with no training. I’ve been diligent about my 30-minute minimum of exercise for 22 days now (YAY #7daychip) but that has not included distance running. I think I could’ve probably pulled out the 7.5 miles, but not 13.1. Wah.

Part of me was mad at myself. Part of me felt really embarrassed. Part of me was soooooooo sad about not getting the gorgeous new Oakland marathon medal. But in the end I have to let it go. I have to remind myself of my own mantra: “Be mindful and don’t suffer.” To push myself through a half marathon would be a suffering thing, I can tell you. This just isn’t the time.

I am proud of the other goal I’ve been working toward this month, my Project Consistency. It’s been a very good thing for me. It would be different if I’d just been sitting on the couch eating ice cream all month, but that hasn’t been the case. I still have something to feel proud about.

I do want to do at least one or maybe two half marathons this year. The Las Vegas to be sure (so excited – running the LV strip AT NIGHT!), but maybe also the Disneyland Half in September. (Edited to add: SOLD OUT! DAMN!!!!!!!!) It’s just going to take some planning.

Yeah, planning WAY AHEAD. Wow!

A Run, A Walk, and a Plankathon!

I’d say I am finally finally FINALLY getting to feeling better! I had an awesome workout on Friday with the trainer and gang. This involved a lot of lunging-with-weights (10 lb barbells) which believe me ended up being a lot tougher on the legs than the arms. I’ve been sore!!!!!!! since then. But good sore.

Yesterday I went out for a run, considering I have a 5k race next Saturday (ahem!). The route I took was one of my typical training runs before the half. This run used to be like, effortless! joyful! Painless! UM. After a month of inactivity, let’s say it was really effortful, kind of painful (not orthopedically but emotionally) and in retrospect, way too long. But when you park you car that far away, you kind of have to finish. It was a little under 6 miles and I think I probably ran about 50% of it, hopefully a slow 5k somewhere in there. It really knocked me out though. I should have aimed for a 4 mile thing. Ah well. Live and learn, right?

Today I just went for a nice, slow, restorative walk in the woods near our house. There were a ton of people and kids and dogs and bikes up there. EVERYone was out enjoying the warm weather and sun (cold-weather people, please avert your eyes, don’t mean to rub it in, honest). Including at the side of the trail, I a little kid sitting on a plastic potty. And parents hovering over kid with a roll of toilet paper and a bunch of plastic bags. They hauled that potty out here in your backpack? Wow.

Anyway. Whatever! It’s all cool!  You see all kinds of things out there in the woods. It felt good to just go out there at a nice amble pace, listen to my music and and think about stuff. And it did also feel good to move my bones around 3 days in a row. THAT was good. It’s sure been a while. I was starting to get worried there.

One thing that really lit a fire under my butt yesterday was realizing that I can be kind of … er… competitive! I saw that Josie (aka @yumyucky) had posted on Twitter that she had held a plank position for two minutes! This got me kind of curious. How long could I hold a plank? When we do planks with the trainer it is usually for 60 seconds OR we do a combo of plank-straight arms-plank-etc back and forth. So I had no idea what my maximum was. I decided to time myself, and I made a video. Three minutes!! (note: the video says 7 minutes because I am very techno-challenged and I ended up uploading it 2x) Yahoooooo! Then Josie saw that and SHE made another video (3:20) in response! The plankoff is on!!

I love this stuff. It was all in fun and yet both Josie and I got to really stretch our limits and realize we could do more than we had previously believed. Another limiting belief dissolved! Yay!!

I might try and go for 4 minutes this week. 🙂

EDITED TO ADD!!!!!!!!!!! We have had two more additions to the great Plank-Off of 2011! Check out videos by Julie and Reinaldo, who is competing all the way from Chile! Both amazingly impressive and cool. (and suspenseful!)

Events WishList for 2011


Okay, so I must be feeling better. I’m making up my wish list of active events for the coming year. And: I would LOVE COMPANY at any of these!!!!!! Tell me if you want to join in! Remember, the “company” is for before/after shmoozing. I go at my own pace which may be much slower or faster (<<ha ha unlikely!) than another person. But I love sharing events with people and especially reading race or event recaps where I shared the same experience.

  • January 29: Dam Run 5k (I downgraded from a 10k just because of my shaky health and that I still have not run a mile this year!!) — COMPLETED! YAY!

  • January 30: My Healthaversary! TWO YEARS of health and fitness, yahoo! A ritual hike to the labyrinth at Sibley Volcanic Park, followed by awesome lunch at my house. Email me if you want to attend.
  • March 27: Fight For Air Stair Climb – sign up for our team!! East Bay Fit Club! I am about to post about the amazing fundraiser I’m doing to raise some $$ for the American Lung Assocation.
  • March 28: Oakland Running Festival – not sure yet if I’m going to do a Team Relay or go for the Half-Marathon. It all depends on how my running goes in Jan/Feb.
  • May 15: Bay to Breakers! My first! Yahooo!
  • May 20: Fitbloggin! Including the Fitbloggin’ 5k! Yay!
  • September 4: Disneyland Half Marathon
  • December 4: Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon!


Longleat Hedge Maze

I had written this post in my head during a very funky run I did on Monday. I felt really messed up. After two days of eating and sloth, I felt really yucky on Monday. Can just two days produce such a change? Yes. But I was feeling funky for many reasons.

  1. Junior was enroute to her solo adventure in Thailand. Her landing and arrival in country was kind of on the bumpy side, resulting in Not Much Sleep the night before. Fretful.
  2. I’d eaten too much over the weekend, like I said, and it really took a toll. It wasn’t a HUGE amount but it was more than I am used to and different types of foods – more carbs – than I usually eat. So I felt like a bloated slug.
  3. My trainer is on vacation until 2011 and I really really miss him! Plus the combo of running and core/weights that seem to keep me in balance.
  4. The Garmin Forerunner that I’d asked Santa for had arrived. I was very excited about this, but when I took it out of the box and set it up, all kinds of weird things began happening to me, psychologically.  The reason I had wanted this device was so that I could track my pace and mileage and routes without draining my iPhone (on which I was using Runkeeper). But when I went to set it up, I was taken aback by the tininess of the numbers and buttons and things (old eyes, much?). THEN when I had to set up my profile I got to see their standards: their “walking” was pretty much equal to my “jogging” and their “slow jogging” was about the same pace as my breakneck sprint. As for “running,” I could not move that fast in my wildest dreams. For some reason this affected me WAY MORE than it should have. I mean it threw me into a downward spiral slump and made me develop an instant hatred for this poor inanimate gadget. Suddenly I felt inadequate and ridiculous and like such a stupid poser. (“You think you’re a runner? HAH!”) But it really, really affected me. So much so that when I went for my run, I was already in a terrible mood. I sat in the car at the starting point for an HOUR (I am not kidding) grumbling and cursing. Finally I got out of the car and pushed “START” on the Garmin. And: I kid you not, it took the thing SIX MINUTES to “locate satellites” to active the GPS. By this point I was really, really annoyed that my first 6 minutes were not being recorded. Then about 5 minutes later I realized I had to pee. Major discomfort. No bathroom. I walked, grumpily, a few miles to a nearby hotel. Used the bathroom and then sat down in the lobby to pout. At that moment, Junior texted me from Thailand which instantly perked me up. The rest of the run was better. Not stellar, but better. It was on the short side because I just wanted to get it OVER with.
  5. Much as I have longed for this week off from work, it was also fraught with expectation. I had plans to meet with friends I never see, exercise, rest, declutter my entire house (HA), buy a new car and get some writing done. It was completely unrealistic and the truth of this was sinking in to me big time.
  6. Much as I love having unstructured time, it also can be a tyrant.

So this final week of the year has been kind of funky. I did manage to buy a new car (yay) but that in itself was very very stressful and took almost three entire days. I have not done an iota of decluttering. I have not sent out my holiday cards. And today I woke up with a sore throat and cough which was both distressing and a relief. I’m not doing anything for New Year’s eve tonight. Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to a lovely open house party, but… more food? Do I really need that? I think not.

Sunday morning I will be leading the very first WW meeting of the year! in our area and I am excited about that. I think I just need to take it very, very slowly and not pile too much on my schedule. I want to savor these last days of vacation and be ready for a very busy week ahead.

I Finished a Half Marathon!

(DISCLAIMER: This is the longest blog post I have EVER WRITTEN. It is an epic of a race recap. Feel free to scroll or skip)

This has been an amazing experience. An amazing, amazing, wonderful, incredible, challenging, painful and beautiful experience. I am never going to forget it. But just in case, I’m going to put down every single detail here. I hope you like lots of obsessive detail as well as a lot of pictures, because that’s what you’re going to get! See slideshow (scroll to end) for a trip through Foodie’s race weekend. Be aware that the slide show seems to have randomized my pictures so they are NOT in chronological order but hopefully you will recognize the images from the recap.

Where do I begin? I guess I begin on Friday night when I arrived here alone. I was all chompy at the bit so I went over the race Expo. WOW what a scene. It was very exciting. I checked-in and got my race number. The Brooks people had this giant area with prizes and a carnival atmosphere and stuff. They had a giant painted bus and a place where you could run on a treadmill and they took video of your feet running in slow-mo. That was pretty cool. I also won a bumper sticker and a hat.

I was a little sad but also a little relieved to be all alone in our giant 3-bedroom suite (which I had booked in July, thinking it was going to be Party Central, but alas, many people had to cancel). I was exhausted and I crashed very early Friday night.

I visited the Expo three times because frankly, I was kind of obsessed with my feet and ankles and determined to find whatever support I could to assure that I was going to finish this race in the best shape possible. I was worried. I’d had a good ten-mile run a week ago, but since then I was plagued by right ankle and heel pain. I was kind of freaked out.

So at the Expo I had my feet and ankles taped at the KTT booth, I bought an ankle wrap support doohickie, bought a pair of compression socks from Zensah and if they had had a shamanic healer booth, I would have gone there too. I also bought a pair of those rocker-bottom sneakers because they were 50% off (I am such a sucker for deals!). I don’t believe any of the hoo-hah that claims they make you lose weight or get buns of steel, but I think it’s probably worthwhile to change up your gait and posture. My cousin-in-law was wearing them for Thanksgiving and he swore by them and said they are great. So I got a pair. I also got a foam roller kit with a killer little roller, a foam block and a hard foam ball.

I met up with Brandon (aka @AHealthyDad) and @fitmacdaddy at the Expo and we took a fun photo at the faux finish line.  It was great to meet some other healthy Tweeters!

Julianne (aka @pubsgal) and Junior arrived on Saturday afternoon and we went through the Expo one more time. We especially had a hoot going through all the Tshirts at One More Mile (I didn’t buy any).  I did get some new sporty don’t-fall-out earbuds (more on those later).

After shopping-till-dropping, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner and our show night. Ended up at a fancy-shmancy place called Yellowtail where they served, of all things, crab sushi with POP ROCKS (yes, the CANDY) in it. It was like a weird episode of Top Chef. Did it “work?” Um, not really. But now we can say we’ve eaten sushi with candy in it. For the first and last time. See photo of @pubsgal’s facial response.

After dinner we went to see Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show. It was breathtaking and awesome and beautiful and dazzling and melancholy and just a wonderful experience. That afternoon, Dr. Mo had counseled me (among other things) to see something “physically inspiring” (she mentioned YouTube videos) and this certainly fit the bill.

We went home and I set up my pre-race pile o’stuff, put my race chip on my shoe, fastened my number to my waist belt, packed my little pack with money, Gu Chomps, etc.

I set my alarm for 5:00am but ended up waking at 3:45. I think this is pretty common. I debated going back to sleep for another hour but I was so wired I didn’t think it was going to happen. So I got up, stretched, had coffee and bagel with peanut butter.

Since the Strip was closed for the marathon, it was a bit of a nervewracking debacle getting down to the start line. (especially since I noted on Twitter that various people were heading over there starting at 4am when I woke up!!) Our plan was to leave our hotel at 6 to arrive there (4 miles away) well before 7:00am. But the hotel staff seemed rather perplexed by the whole thing and said they were having a hell of a time getting taxis to come around “the back way.” There were lots of people waiting around and no taxis. They recommended taking the Monorail, but that meant walking a few blocks from our hotel and then walking another MILE AND A HALF to the start line. I was not really interested in adding another 1.5-2 miles to our race distance, so we were holding out pretty much for a taxi.

We walked to a hotel across the street since one of our taxi drivers the night before had told us they would have taxis at their back entrance. We trudged through the casino and there were NO taxis to be seen. Anxiety increased. I kept bugging the valet guy who insisted he was putting out multiple calls and after what seemed like FOREVER, a taxi showed up. It was one of the jankiest taxis I have ever ridden in, but we did not care. It got us there.

Arrived to find thousands of people streaming toward the starting corrals. They had a “wave” start with people lined up in corrals based on estimated pace time. I was in one of the last ones. But what I did not realize is that the “gear bag check” area was not anywhere near the corrals, and I was in a bit of a panic that I was going to miss the start. By this time it was about 6:55. I needn’t have worried.

Finally found the gear check area, which was actually awesomely organized. I had packed a giant plastic bag (supplied by the race people) with warm dry clothes, an extra jacket, socks, etc. Then I rushed (I mean RAN) over to my corral. And then proceeded to stand there for like half an hour. I could tell by Tweets that Sue O (aka @mrsfatass) was in my same corral and I really wanted to meet her! But she was packed into the center of the corral like a sardine, and I was kind of claustrophic so I stayed outside the corral “fence” until the herd began moving forward.

FINALLY we started moving toward the start line which was way, way, way off. The anticipation was both killing and exciting. We kept seeing clumps of people hear the “GO!” signal ahead of us, and then we would trudge ahead a few more feet. This was a big adrenaline moment.

Then it was our turn. I was only about 3 people away from the actual start rope and the feeling at that spot was amazing. Then the 3…2…1… GO! And we were off.

I had a hard time “finding my feet” at first, trying to figure out what pace to go. I knew I wanted to walk but I was so tempted to run and I did run a very short distance before realizing that was a bad idea. I also used the first mile to figure out my electronic situation. I had an iPod shuffle which I had meticulously loaded with great music the night before. My plan was to use the Shuffle for my music, and to save my iPhone for occasional tweeting and to text Junior and possibly Mr. McBody during the race, but we had signed up for this service that gave pace and distance updates via texting during the race, so I figured he’d be updated.

Well. First problem I discovered that the NEW EARBUDS I had purchased at the Expo did NOT WORK with my Shuffle! It did not have the little volume and song-choice control button thing on it. It had a microphone, and I could swear the sales person told me or maybe I assumed, but I had NO control over the volume (it was so low I could barely hear it) and worse, I had no choice over what song I was listening to. It was NOT set to my Running playlist. AGHHH.

Music is one of the lifesavers of my running experience. It is super, super important to me and can make or break a race for me. So I immediately felt panicky about losing my best music. I had a choice: I could randomly listen to whatever the Shuffle turned up, or I could put the earbuds into my iPhone and access my playlist. But this would also suck up the battery life and then I might not be able to use the phone for actual communication.

For the first part of the race I just went with the Shuffle. I was amused that certain songs that I’d never consider “running songs” actually worked. Including “By My Side” from the Godspell soundtrack (ßnostalgia for high school era musicals).

Where are you going? Where are you going? Can you take me with you? I’ve got a pebble in my shoe. And watch me walk. I can walk, I can walllllllllllkkkkkkk…. (swelling chorus)

That kept me going for a while.

As we went down the strip I realized I had not seen any mile 1 marker. I don’t know if they didn’t have one, or I missed it because I was messing with my music. But I was really unhappy during the first 2 miles. My left arch was aching, I just wasn’t feeling GOOD, and I thought, holy mackerel, if this is the first mile, I am dead.

We passed the Mile 2 marker after what seemed like an eternity, and then I perked up because I realized I’d just finished 2/3 of a 5k. At that point I had still been seeking out the Mile ONE marker and I was beginning to freak out. But when I realized I’d gotten to Mile 2, I felt immediately better. I knew that in 1.1 mile I’d be at the first 5k.

I texted Mr. McBody to see if he was getting updates on Junior, who I knew was way ahead of me. He said he’d gotten nothing. Hmm. As it turned out the whole “auto-update” thing had technical problems and issued an apology and refund promise at the end of the day.

Texting him made me realize how much I needed that support. I began sending some updates to Twitter and it made me feel sooooo good to receive encouraging “Go Foodie!” tweets in response. It was HUGE.

Okay, so a little about the course. Basically it was my understanding (I did not study the map in huge detail and I thought I understood it) that we would run up the Strip past this giant landmark called the Stratosphere, then go a little ways past it, then turn around and come back down the Strip. So for the first part I was just focused on getting past the Stratosphere. I sort of thought of it as my halfway-ish point.

This is where the mental part of running comes in. What happened is that we passed the Stratosphere. Yay! Then a few blocks ahead I saw a bunch of runners going perpendicular on a cross street, and I thought, oh, just a couple blocks, then we’re going to turn left and come back down! WRONG. What happened is that we passed the Stratosphere and then went through this freaking long MAZE of streets, I mean it felt that Harry Potter maze of death. Within this maze we passed the 6 and 7 mile markers, the 10K etc. But it seemed to take FOREVER to get to that place of turning around and heading back down the strip.

In reality it was like this: 1/3 up the strip, 1/3 wandering around a horrible maze of downtown Las Vegas, including decrepit awful depressing liquor stores, strip bars, tacky Wedding Chapels (not the cute tacky kind, the truly bleak kind) $25-a-room crack dealer hotels, and just AGHHH, and then 1/3 down the strip. This was kind of horrific. Race planners, I think I would have preferred that 1/3 wandering around in a desert or a subdivision or the AIRPORT then that particular plot of geography. But whatever.

We emerged from the Maze and once again faced South. My first impression was, there’s the Stratosphere again. And OMG it is SO FAR AWAY. At this point I was completely disgusted with the volume and choice of musical offerings on my Shuffle so I switched to my iPhone.  This again perked me up immediately and I am sure I really sped up here. I was about at mile 9 and feeling pretty good. I passed the 15k and then Mr. McBody texted me that Junior had just finished, at 2 hours 24 minutes. I was so excited for her and feeling good.

I passed ten miles. At that point I knew I was getting into territory I’d never been before: running more than 10 miles. I told myself I had just one more 5k to go, one more lap around my beloved Lake Merritt.

It started getting really hard. My left arch, which had been aching virtually since mile 1, started feeling actual intense PAIN. I did not know what to do. My right ankle, which has plagued me since the dawn of time, was miraculously feeling good. The rest of me felt pretty good – no hip or knee pain. But my left foot! (hey, wasn’t that a movie? ;-)) was suddenly KILLING. I tweeted plaintively, “11 miles oh Jesus.” I wasn’t quite sure what I meant by that, but it was an SOS of sorts. It was like… I am not sure I can do this. It was my Faltering Point.

At that moment I can say, thank God for Twitter because the encouraging messages started popping up on my phone. I cranked up the best music I could find, watching my battery level sink lower and lower. I had to pull out all the guns. Then it occurred to me that maybe I had given my left foot TOO MUCH support (is there such a thing?) by wrapping it in that ankle wrap. I had done that prophylactically, to keep from injuring it, but something was killing my arch. So I pulled over to the side and undid the Velcro straps. I contemplated taking it off completely but I did not want to stop for too long because I knew it would make me start feeling weak and sick. So I just undid them and let the flop about. I think it may have helped me a little bit. It helped me psychologically.

Miles 11-13 were hard. They were damn freaking hard. I’d say the first two miles and the last two miles of this race were the worst ones for me emotionally. I stopped tweeting and texting and just put on my determined face and powered through the best I could. Junior came up to meet me about ½ mile out and gave me an encouraging rub on the shoulder and a “Go mama!” I kept going.

Damn that last tenth of a mile! When I saw the 13 mile sign I was SO READY to be done. But we had a final tenth to go and it was, I swear, mildly UPHILL – the only hill in the entire race. I was so not in the mood for a hill of even one degree grade at that point. The end of the race was kind of confusing because there was a half-marathon finish line, a marathon finish line and a big puffy arch thing. I wasn’t sure which point was the actual stopping point. I kept running even through the finish line because the puffy arch was still a ways a way and then I asked the people, “Am I done?”

When they said, “Yup, all finished!” I just burst into tears. I cried and cried. It was so emotional. It was a big moment. Then I went to get my gear and find Junior and Julianna and listen to a few minutes of Bret Michaels (his music is Not My Thing but I like him bc he’s now a diabetes advocate). One of the COOLEST thing they had at the Post-Race Village was this tent with big cushy benches and giant TUBS OF ICE where you could go soak your throbbing feet. I took huge advantage of this. They provided big thick plastic knee-high bags to put over your socks and when I put my feet in that tub… Ahhhhhh. Nothing had ever felt so good. It was just… ahhhhhhh.

Getting back to the hotel after the race proved to be… challenging. The taxi line at Mandalay Bay was INSANE so we decided to take the Monorail. Let me just say that this was not easy and it added a good 2-3 miles of walking to our race. Not a happy thing. We were hurting and tired and at this point I started feeling all the familiar gastrointestinal symptoms of running a long race. (I will not give TMI, but let me say I was not feeling very good)

It took us over an hour and a half to traverse the 4 miles to our hotel. (which we had already passed twice during the race) Got there, showered and then Junior and I went down to the hotel spa for our post-race massage that I’d scheduled earlier. I was so zonked at this point that I just said, “My feet hurt. Please rub them,” and then I passed out on the table. I think it felt good. But when I stood up my feet STILL hurt, so she did not manage to perform any miracles.

Then we went to the room to nap for a bit then headed over to Serendipity3 at Caesar’s Palace. I am a lifelong fan of Serendipity3 in New York City and I never pass up a chance to get a Frozen Hot Chocolate. We enjoyed an amazingly delicious dinner of Kobe Beef Sliders (adorable and delicious), sweet potato fries, Summer Bries (turkey apple and brie sandwich) crab cake salad (@pubsgal) and a foot-long hotdog (Junior). It was a perfect post-race meal. Then we sent Junior off to the airport and Julianna and I came back to the hotel. And CRASHED HARD.

I was so happy to wake up this morning with only very minor aches and pains (I’ve had worse pain after sessions with my trainer) and an extreeeeeeeeemely swollen face. My lips were gigantic. That’s from all the hydrating! But after some coffee and resuming my blood pressure meds and a lot of water and trips to the bathroom, I am balancing out. I got on the airplane and came home. The end!

  • I learned a lot during this race. I think even though it had its Very Difficult Moments, it was one of my favorite races of all time. I learned:
  • I can pretty much run a half marathon. I think I walked a total of 2 (maximum) out of the 13.1 miles. Just knowing that is just an amazing feeling and it gets me all choked up just thinking about it. For most of the time leading up to this race I did not intend to run ANY of it, but something caught ahold of me just in the last month and I ended up shocking myself.
  • I’m getting the hang of this hydration thing. Drinking sports drinks instead of (or in addition to) water has made a HUGE HUGE difference in how I feel. Ditto on the nutrition. I had about 2/3 bag of Gu Chomps plus about ½ pack of regular Gu during the race and I think that was about right. This was the FIRST LONG RACE I’ve done in which I did not experience frightening numb/tingling hands, shortness of breath, dizziness or otherwise feeling like total death. So GO ME for figuring this out.
  • My final time was 3:09 so now I have a new goal of sub-three hours. Which is pretty modest but also I think quite attainable. And yes I am thinking of the Next One!! I do not think I want to go to full marathon level, but we shall see. I want to get better at doing halves.
  • My final race pace average was 14:26 minute mile, or 4.16mph. When I saw those stats I got very teary because my goal was 15 minute mile and I really did better than that. This is shocking to me because it means even though I walked a bit at probably 18-min pace, it means when I was running I was running quite a bit faster than 14:26 at some points. That’s like… wow.
  • I need to NOT TRY NEW STUFF on race day. Like wearing an ankle support thing just for the heck of it. Or trying new electronics. Those things both hindered me big time. On the other time, my new compression socks worked out just fine and I think the KTT taping was also a good thing.

It felt good. It felt soo gooooooood. To do something I really really did not think was possible. It’s such a mental thing! I cried (yeah I’m doing a lot of crying!) when I saw what Mr. McBody posted on my Facebook page (something he RARELY DOES):

  1. Overcoming adversity and numerous obstacles. 2. Overturning lifelong limiting beliefs. This required great bravery and internal fortitude. It’s a beautiful thing. Susan is my hero.

Overturning lifelong limiting beliefs! And boy, does he know this. He remembers when he’d try to coax me on a one-mile run and I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. He remembers when I’d go YEARS without exercise and was 40 lbs overweight.

I think he pretty much summed up why I feel so damn good about this weekend. How’s THAT for a Moby Dick of a race recap??

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Launch Week! Half Marathon Week! YOWWWWW!

He listens! He really listens!

What a week this is!! And it isn’t over! On Sunday, Weight Watchers launched its brand-spanking new PointsPlus program, which I am SO excited about. I have been so so many WW meetings this week and each one has been like a party. One of the most exciting ones was where I got to see the world’s most awesome CEO, aka Dave Kirchhoff, the CEO of Weight Watchers International. He’s been traveling around to different meetings durings launch week and I got wind (thank you Twitter) that he was headed for northern California. (can you say stalker? No, I’m not really- just a huge fan). The thing I admire most

me and the Big (lowfat) Cheese

about Dave K is that he is not only a giant big cheese executive, he is also a humble Weight Watchers member who attends meetings, tracks his food and HAS A HEALTHY LIVING BLOG. He *lives* Weight Watchers, day in and day out. He has struggles and victories. He shares them with us. He spent time really listening to the members in the room, and empathizing and telling us his thoughts. Here are his thoughts on the new PointsPlus program.

I got to launch my big meeting last night. I was SO HYPED UP on adrenaline that by the time the meeting was over, I was a totally limp noodle. My WWBFF and I staggered over to the sushi place next door and toasted the new plan with some miso soup and 007 Sushi roll. (<<< one point per piece! Yeah!)

A lot of people have had some very exciting and articulate responses to the new plan. I’m going to link them here, because I don’t have time to go into a lot of detail (let me just say I LOVE IT) and I also am not at liberty to go into the kind of detail that they do.

I’m excited to see peoples’ reactions after they’ve been following the plan for a while. I think they’re going to be very happy. My members didn’t have a ton of questions so I am very excited to hear their reactions next week.

And now my thoughts turn to Vegas. I’m leaving tomorrow! I have not really done a huge amount of workout since Sunday. I feel like I’ve sort of wrapped myself in bubble wrap because I so do not want to be injured for this race. My heel started some funny business yesterday and I was like Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! and right now it’s doing okay. But I’m feeling aches and twinges and little pains that are jumping around my body in bizarre fashion. Just to freak me out I’m sure.  Anyway, it’s after midnight, I’m still doing laundry, I am not packed and well…. that’s just how it is.

I’m sure I will be checking in again from Vegas but in the meantime I wanted to post a link to Kenz’s 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Swap. I am a total cheeseball for things like this. I encourage any of you to participate as well. I’ve been putting together my dozen gifts and whoever gets paired up withe me is going to love their gift package. I love being a Secret Santa and a Secret Valentine and oh YEAH, a not-so-secret GIVER OF NIFTY FITNESS GADGETS! Remember? the DirectLife Activity monitor giveaway?? Are you in? Because I’m going to pick the winner on MONDAY when I get back from Vegas!

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