Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm About to Do Something A Little Crazy

I have 2 young children, a husband, a full time job and a house that is in a certain amount of disrepair. I often break into tears over being behind on laundry or not having much time to pursue my running or working out (among other things !). I'm not exactly the first person you'd think of to call when you want to travel around the world on the spur of the moment. And I'm still technically in catch up mode from Scotland.

However, I did get that call, and with a lot of encouragement and support from the Hub, I am up for the challenge. Can you believe I am leaving July 9th for here?

This may be one of the craziest, coolest things I've ever attempted. (well right up there with deciding I wanted kids after all!)
Wish me luck. Details will certainly be forthcoming!! I know this makes me fairly inaccessible yet again, and probably will wreak havoc with running and dieting. I hope you will cut me some slack and realize nothing like this will probably ever happen again. :D

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fife Coast Trail Run

The day before we left St. Andrews, I learned that our hotel sat next to a trail that followed the cliffs all the way into town. I hadn't run in Scotland yet, and decided I had to give it a try. I had already walked 18 holes and Hub was going back for another 18. A free afternoon and time for my first real trail run!

I headed down the hill from the hotel to find a wall with a ladder over it. The trail started high on the cliff and was wide and grassy. For some reason I was expecting more of a bike path paved type of thing. Oh my, was I wrong. It soon became narrow and steep and there were some beautiful bridges and a nice section that was completely covered. I think you can see it in these pics.

I ended up going up and down several of the cliffs all the way to shoreline and back. At some points the trail was over heavy boulders, rocks, sand, and you just had to pick up the trail on the other side. I had no idea trail running was like this. I ran whatever I could. Sometimes the steps were too precarious and I had to pick my way carefully, but always went back to running. Some nice people snapped a pic of me about 2 miles in. There were some spots where you could see the trail going up the next cliff - oh my. At one point I had to climb over a little fence with a sign about the Fife Coast Trail.

I started taking some pics of the town in the distance. It looked like a really long way, especially by way of cliffs, but I did eventually make it down into St. Andrews harbor. I went through a really cool stone gate (below) and up through an old cemetary and cathedral ruins and proceeded to run through the entire town down to the Old Course. I knew there was a shuttle there back to the hotel. When I got there, I realized I had only gone 4 miles!! I still felt pretty good and wanted to go along the coast I had missed by running through town. I'm glad I did because I got to see the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, the University (where Prince William recently went) and the pier where the University students parade every Sunday in their red gowns.

I decided if I was going to make that treacherous, mostly uphill climb back I better have a sugar pop and some water. I sat at the harbor and enjoyed the gorgeous view and the fact that I had discovered a great trail. Finally I headed back and did more walking on the way back than I care to admit. The last picture is on the way back, looking back at the town. It shows the pier - I actually went about 3/4 a mile beyond that down to the course.

I decided I am really really bad at trail running, my Nemesis and his sidekick probably would have been rolling their eyes at me, but I had no idea how demanding it is. I did roll an ankle but it wasn't severe and got some nice scratches from thistles. All in all, I had a great sense of accomplishment and was so glad I found the trail. I'd say it was a pretty good first trail run!


Since getting back, I have done some very short, difficult runs. I'm not sure if it's the time off or the heat + humidity or perhaps the stricter diet but it's been tough. Many miles in the 13's - yikes. I still have difficulty with having enough energy to run with out overdoing the fueling. I am down about 8 or 9 pounds in Viv's Challenge and hope to keep up the new mentality of no matter how much you work out, 80% of the work is in the kitchen. Still I have to have enough energy to work out. Blah. I hope to be back to p90x on Monday.

Scotland Highlights

A few of you have been asking for a photo tour of our trip. This is not running related but you are welcome to enjoy the pictures. I did my first ever really real for reals trail run while in Scotland, the highlights of that will likely be my next post. There is a cool golf story a ways down if you are so inclined.

Let me just say that we packed a lot in and were thoroughly taken by Scotland even though I got really sick of the 3 jackets I took! We loved it and it might just be a place we would return to!

We arrived in Edinburgh and got out of town quickly to get used to the driving on the other side thingy while not in the city. We hit 3 castles right away - Glamis, Falkland Palace and Scone Palace. Scone is where several Kings were crowned. The driving was pretty touchy (or the wife was pretty touchy!) for awhile but we got used to it and the Hub did a fantastic job for 700+ miles of sight-seeing that we did over 4 days.

We headed back to Edinburgh for the night. We did the awesome Edinburgh Castle there, the Royal Mile (including the Whisky Museum and Mary Kings Close, which is a really cool and sort of creepy look at the underground city) and Holyroodhouse which is the castle where the Queen does business in Edinburgh.

The peacock greated us at Scone and the gardens are from there also. The bagpiper was playing for a wedding being held inside the small chapel at Edinburgh Castle while we were there. Stained glass and pics of us at the Wallace Monument. The picture of the road is to show how narrow many of the roads were that Garmin happened to be taking us!

We headed next to the Falkirk Wheel. This is a giant ferris wheel kind of dealio for boats. It replaces something like 11 locks and is quite the engineering sight. I didn't realize that the Scots have a long tradition of education and hence, invention. I'm really glad we found this and got to see and ride it. Then we trekked to Stirling to experience Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. I loved the little town of Stirling and we enjoyed a beautiful morning walk and even found the old bridge where Wallace tripped up his foes.

Next we headed up the lochs to Inverness and a gorgeous riverfront property. We went out to see if we could spot Nessy and took some pics at the castle ruins there called Urquhart - you can see the beautiful Loch Ness in the background. I had no idea how taken I would be with the beauty in this part of the country. We traveled back down through the Whisky Trail and got to see some biggies, notably The Macallan and Glen Fiddich. Then we headed to the organized part of the trip with colleagues at St. Andrews.

This was an award trip so we are well taken care of and got to choose some outtings. We chose two days of golf at the St. Andrews complex, a wonderful tour of a Whisky distillery - Glen Turret which also is a component in the Famous Grouse (wonderful tour and tasting!!), and we toured the Fife Coast villages.

Falkirk Wheel, Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness in background, barrels at the Famous Grouse Distillery, toasting at the Old Course Grill overlooking the famous Old Course at St. Andrews(!!), crab or lobster cages and boats on the Fife Coast.

The first afternoon in Scotland we were pretty fresh as everyone else was arriving. We went with another couple to check out the town of St. Andrews and see the Old Course and St. Andrews golf complex. Our friend saunters over to the starter at around 4:30pm and comes back in shock. They have time at 5:10 to PLAY THE OLD COURSE!! I convinced the HUB that he COULD NOT pass this up. It ended up being his Father's Day gift. This is the mecca of golf and something we wanted to SEE, it is amazing that he got to play this storied course. We also have some pictures of us with the famous views in the back on the finishing hole and on the bridge. Golfers will get this :D The other pics are us with our caddies, together we got to play their Eden and Jubilee courses. As you can imagine, we bought lots of towels, hats, shirts, etc from this place.

We also got to eat at the Old Course Grill overlooking the course and had a wonderful dinner with our friends. You can see us toasting in one of the shots. We also walked out on the roof and got to see the famous teeshot over the building on 17 and experienced some shots whizzing by. What a rush!! Other shots below include us hamming it up at a gala that included people in costume and lots of scotch.

One of my favorite shots is this Scotch Bar from the gala -- we tried them all!!

As you can imagine, it was quite an adventure. We loved it and couldn't believe we were there. On the opening night reception, bag pipers paraded in the room with a drum corp and I actually started crying! They have such a sorrowful sound and I was just reminiscing about our good fortune for winning this trip and experiencing this wonderful place. I have lots of advice for anyone planning a trip there (as I do Italy as well) and hope some day to return.
All this and I had my first amazing trail run too. I'll post that next.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Scotland or Scotch ??

Apparently Scotland was agreeing with me. Or perhaps it was the Scotch? You be the judge. :D

A quiz for you.

What is 800?
a. the number of posts you all managed while I was away
b. the number of loads of laundry I need to do
c. the number of shots of scotch I tried
d. the number of strokes I took on the golf courses
e. the number of pictures we took
f. the number of miles we drove exploring
g. the number of tubes of lipstick I took with me
h. the number of times Mary Queen of Scots was mentioned by a tour guide
i. the number of castles we saw
j. the number of round-a-bouts we took

I'll be back with more when I get a few things sorted out. "Sorting things out," it turns out, is a very Scottish thing to do.

800 is very close for a, e and f -- the others just seemed like 800. :D

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Flooding at Our House

Well, the Hub and I are off. We fly out of Chicago in a couple hours. We have watched a bunch of historical stuff and are ready to tackle Scotland with a decent understanding of what we are seeing! We plan to hit Edinburgh first and then head out into the countryside for castles and battles and lochs galore. I can't wait. Often we have another couple with us, this time it will just be us. I'm looking forward to it.

The little ones are probably lucky we are leaving. You've heard about all the flooding in Iowa? Well, we had a nice little incident in the back corner of our basement which involved a clogged gutter, bad landscaping that is waiting to be fixed, a window well and a sump pump that emptied about every 20 seconds. It was touch and go for awhile but we managed to keep it very contained.

After getting that all fixed up, we thought we were home free, if not a little tired. However, last night around 8:00, my five year old headed to the bathroom to wash off the residue from his favorite ribs. He proceeded to plug the sink and turn the faucets on full blast.....and leave. I will never forgot the site that awaited me. Literally gallons of water all over the bathroom and carpet that splashed me. My make up drawers were swimming! The water was coming through the floor to the basement.... you can imagine the night we had. My best joke of the night was, thank God I had all those maxi pads in the cupboard or this could have been so much worse. In truth, it is pretty bad.

Not sure what the damage will be but it is what it is. We will figure it all out. My poor little baby got in the biggest trouble of his life. He was asking me today if Santa watches every day. What a sweetheart. As he was starting to understand how much was really flooded and could be ruined, he wanted to know if the water got any of his Wii controllers. HA HA.. Grandma and Grandpa will give him lots of love while we are away.

Oh yeah, I did run this week, I stunk it up pretty good. It was hot and I only went 3 miles but I got it done. I also did several days of p90x. It was a heavy week of dieting in the Vivalicous Challenge and the scale rewarded me with 2 or 3 pounds. Now, to hang on to it on the trip. Does scotch have very many calories? :D :D

Bye for now. I'll miss you!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Adventures of the Bowling Pin and the Walking Stick

That was my back up title for my race report. :P Now you can see why lipstick is so near and dear to my heart (keep your eyes up top on the skinny half) and why Viv's weight loss challenge is a must for me. This is about 20 yards from the finish.

Early morning bus ride

Training pals: Nancy, Amy, Art

Nancy, Art, Tom and Amy

notice Tom was wearing his Runner's Lounge Tshirt and I was wearing one from Any Time Fitness. The guy that owns my gym said he'd reimburse me the race fee if I ran in his shirt. Since he gave me a cotton wife beater (DOH!!!), I elected to wear it at the start and then bag it. Amy took a pic for me for proof! :D Not sure if this will fit the criteria or not, but I'm used to paying for races anyway, so no biggie.

No, we did not need the ambulance. :D

Yes, my long last lipstick even lasts through a hot 20k race.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dam to Dam 2008 Race Report

Dam to Dam: The Biggest 20k Road Race in America. If you are a runner in Iowa you have to do this race. Okay, I guess, I will then! Been training with Art and Amy for several weeks and hoping for something in the 12's. We had a great run a few weeks ago that gave me lots of hope but it wasn't exactly meant to be. Still, we had a blast and we finished.

Besides Art and Amy, my friend Janna and my sis in law decided to do the race too. My SIL is a speedy mcspeedster who is very competitive and I figured she'd drop me at the first Dam, but not so. I shouldn't judge so quickly. She came to run with me from Chicago! and run with me she did. I was very touched that she stayed with this old snail. :D

We enjoyed the traditional bus ride out to the dam and took lots of pictures. It was pretty relaxed and fun. We were at the waaay back of the 5000+ pack, which is not great when the event is not chip timed but whatev. It took over 5 minutes with the clock running to get to the start!

We met lots of cool characters and joked that all the interesting stories are at the back. (the bride, the tae kwan do lady who has run out of people to spar with her in her age group - 50's!?, Brian who lost 105 pounds and has 100 to go, the very elderly gentleman who joked about his heavy breathing behind us) .

The gun went off and we didn't move for a looong time. We joked, "this is easy, what's the big deal? We can hold this pace for a long time!" Yep all the stories are at the back. Or at least that is what we slow people say so that we enjoy the race ! :D

The view from the dam is fairly breathtaking, you can see some little buildings on the horizon just to the right of center (look very closely, they are small) that are the skyline in downtown Des Moines. Holy crap, we are going to run to

We started off fast for me and I was pretty much pouring sweat within one mile. I thought this might be a problem but I was full of hope. We started with Janna, Amy, Art, my SIL and me. Janna dropped us pretty quick as she felt great and went off to find her groove. I am soo excited for her as this was her first time running this event and really her first good sized race. She did absolutely great and finished strong.

We pulled off a few miles in the 11's which is pretty speedy for me and then took our first big potty stop where Art decided he didn't want to stop unless he had to. He went on and had a good inaugural race too -- yeahhh Art!!! After that we hit a stretch of very open, very hot road that slowly zapped us a bit and was followed by a good sized hill. We had plenty to drink but personally I think maybe the early miles a little fast and the heat started to take its toll.

Amy got progressively sicker and we walked more to accomodate some stops and recovery but seriously I don't think I could have continued the pace without the stops, in fact I welcomed them. That poor thing. I wish I had fully understood how sick she was...

There were several points with giant speakers and music blaring, live bands, people in their yards with sprinklers, dogs, cheerleaders, signs. What fun!! There weren't huge crowds on the route, but they were great people. The volunteers were fantastic and a lot of young kids were
handing me drinks. I tried really hard to thank them all!
At one point a guy was blaring Pretty Woman on some speakers and he was singing and talking some. Amy said she'd give me a dollar if I sang in his microphone. I probably would've just done it on a dare!!

The picture isn't as dramatic as it felt or sounds but I'm glad Amy got a pic!! Of course, right when I got to the microphone, I had no idea what the words were. Oh well, we all cracked up which we needed at this point.

My SIL was so fresh and unaffected by our slow pace that she gave the cheerleaders a show dancing and jumping around doing 360's. They cheered extra on seeing this and it helped to break up the grind and pain as we kept moving.

We trudged on and on, finishing with the fast 5kers at the end and just trying to stay out of their way while willing ourselves to keep moving. We rounded a last corner with about .4 or .5 to go. Amy picked it up, I know she was absolutely just dying to be done and go home, the poor thing. I felt so bad for her. What a trooper.

My SIL says, my HR is 124, are you wearing your monitor. Are you freaking kidding me? I cracked that I wasn't and if I was, I wouldn't tell her how much over 180 I probably was at the point. :P I thought the B word, but she was pretty nice to me and I decided not to say it even jokingly. I did later though when we recounted the siti-ation to the fam and she thought it was pretty funny. :D We started scanning the right side for my in laws and finally saw the finish shoot and the family with lenses up! (I am waiting for a few more pictures but this is getting old so I will post them later.)

I got a little teary about finishing, not finishing like I wanted, and mostly about speedy mcspeedster coming all that way from Chicago just to run with her snail SIL. She even told Amy that I was the one that inspired her to run and now she just can't stop! It meant so much to me to run this race with Amy and my SIL and to have my friends Janna and Art also in this thing with me for the first time. I've mentioned before that I've often been of awe of peeps who did this race and wished that I could be in shape enough to have 12.4 miles in me. What a difference a year makes!

We ran through to get medals, and THEY WERE OUT. We filled out mailing envelopes but, this significantly cuts down on the tears in the moment! HA HA. (that and seeing a guy go by half dead on a stretcher after the 5k. Oh man, he looked bad. I couldn't help but thinking that at least I'm standing but I also hope he is okay and have thought of him several times.) After a few pics with the fam, we headed off to the beer garden. Amy had headed straight for her car and we texted a few times to see how she was. I told her I would take one for the team and drink her celebratory beer for her. I only wish she could have enjoyed it with me. Never have I felt so much like I had earned a beer.


2:52:01 ~ 13:50 pace ~ 12.4 miles

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dam to Dam Update

The data center that houses my website literally blew up over the weekend, so the site has been down. I had this ready to go. My full report with pics will be forthcoming.

We finished !!!

It took over 5 minutes to get to the start and this wasn't chip timed. I had about 2:47 but my official time is 2:52:01 - 13:50

We ran the race we wanted for about half of it,
then things started to get rough. Amy's blog has some of the highlights.


More later....