Saturday, April 22, 2017

12 Tips/Tricks for Affording and Enjoying Paris!

It's not like I'm Rick Steves or anything, but I do have a few trips to maximize your money and your fun in Paris. I lived there in college and just traveled there so basically I'm a travel expert (not).  I'm a huge fan of not being a typical tourist, and seeing the real ins and outs of how "real" people live in a place. Of course you've got to hit some of the tourist spots, just because you DO, but then it's fun to do things the locals do too. Here are some tips to actually be able to afford your trip and what to do once you're there:

1. Book Early: The one and only reason we could make Paris happen financially was that back in October I got wild hair and checked ticket prices. We could fly United/Lufthansa round trip for only $450 per ticket. That was insane. You can hardly go from Denver to anywhere, USA, for that. (btw, Lufthansa rocks. After they feed you, they come through with Baileys and Cognac. The flight attendants also wear cute hats).

Image result for lufthansa flight attendant
Not my flight attendant. Not my pillow.

2. Use VRBO, AirBnB or One of Those: There were going to be four of us, and the thought of being in a hotel room for a week with four people wasn't that attractive. Plus, hotels in Paris are stupidly expensive. So, to VRBO I went, having had good luck with this service in the past. Turns out we could rent a 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and amenities for $185 per night (that includes the cleaning fee). Way cheaper and roomier than a hotel.

Our Place - VRBO 432355
3. Know Where to Shop: I did some research on our neighborhood beforehand and found local grocery stores that were for "real" people, not tourists (we liked Carrefour). We shopped there for the basics like wine, cheese, bread, produce, coffee and snacks. I actually found a kick ass bottle of Chardonnay for 4.5 euros (about $5, I don't remember the name because maybe I had too much of it). A huge wedge of brie was $2 and baguettes were about $1, if that. While we didn't cook in many meals, we saved a lot by eating breakfast, snacks and coffee (Nespresso!) in the apartment.

One thing to remember! When buying produce, you weigh and price it yourself. Don't forget to do this or the check out person will be really mean to you (I took the wrath of that one).

4. Use Local/Public Transportation. We rode our butts off using the metro. Fares were about $1-$2 per person. Much cheaper than a cab or Uber. Plus, you really get to mingle with the locals (and smell their B.O.) and there are often musicians on the trains. We did use Uber twice when we were all so exhausted we could barely stand up. Uber rides were only about $13 for four people from one end of Paris to the other.

At first, the Paris metro is kind of intimidating because there are so many stops and lines, but you get the hang of it. There is an app (I'm sure most cities have them) where you can type in your location and where you are going and it tells you the best and most direct route.

Image result for paris metro map
Looks confusing, eh? The app helps. And glasses.

5. No Tipping! We weren't sure how this worked, but we did some research while we were there and found out that in general, the tip  is included (service compris!) in your meal price, so no extra for that. Certainly, if it's great service we would leave a couple of extra euros. Cab drivers do expect about 15%.

Just yum. I drank this in a minute.

6. Check Your Phone Plan Before You Go. If you have T-Mobile, for example all texting and data is included in your plan. Ken has Verizon and he had to pay an additional $10 per day for data, talk and text.

7. Consider a Mini Photo Shoot for a Special Occasion. My daughter, Emma, turned 16 the last day we were in Paris. I wanted to mark it by something special (cause you know, being in Paris isn't enough). I found a local photographer who did "photo shoots." I booked the day before and we met him at the Eiffel Tower on her birthday morning. It was really unforgettable. You can check out his work and website HERE at I Heart Paris Photography. Here are a couple of pictures I took (these are obviously not his professional photos!)

8. If You're Going for the Marathon, Also Do the Breakfast 5k. This is the best deal around. For about $10 you get a cool tech shirt and croissants/coffee at the end. Also, you get to run through the streets of Paris with a flag representing your country!

9. Avoid the lines at the Louvre. Okay, well it may be impossible to completely avoid the lines, but we went inside (underneath the Pyramid) waiting for about ten minutes to buy tickets and then waited in line inside to get in (about 10 minutes for security and another 5 minutes for the entrance). The longest lines were outside by the Pyramid.

My friend and his penis

It was crowded! By this time we were sick of all people!

10. Do the Fat Tire Tours! A friend recommended with do a bike tour in Paris with Fat Tire Tours. This meant having a guide to take us on about a 10 mile bike ride in the evening from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. We stopped at Berthillon the most famous ice cream place in France (omg the salted butter caramel is orgasmic). Then you take a one hour nighttime cruise on the Seine. If you add on a tour of the Eiffel Tower summit for another day (with no waiting in line) then you get an additional 30% off. Both were amazing tours.

One of the many sites we took in on the bike tour. Le Louvre Pyramid at sunset.
I'm basically a professional iPhone photographer

11. Be Sure to Frequent the Patisseries and Boulangeries (bakeries). Here is where you get the best deals. Satisfying mini quiches, melt in your mouth almond and chocolate croissants, Croques Monsieurs (grilled ham and cheese) - all for each under $3. And, these are pretty much on almost every corner.

At the Patisserie up the street from us.
12. Always Wear a Scarf. Just trust me on this one. All men, women, children and babies do it.

Well, that's all I've got. I am in love with Paris, but more so, I'm simply in love with traveling. One of my favorite sayings is "Travel is the best education anyone can have."

What's the last place you've traveled to? Any tips to share?

Where would you go on your dream trip? Probably India or Africa


PS: And a bonus tip. If you eat a really big kebab sandwich for lunch and are walking around Paris and need a bathroom ASAP, Chipotle has nice, warm restrooms to accommodate your emergency. Not that this happened to me or anything. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

2017 Paris Marathon Race Report (aka "Personal Worst" Race Report)

We got back on Tuesday night after 12 hours of flying, which included:

  • Watching two movies (Why Him? and Manchester By the Sea. Why Him? had me busting a gut and nearly wetting myself. Sorry other Lufthansa passengers).
  • Eating two large helpings of pasta, 3 cookies, 2 glasses of wine and two beers. 
  • Finishing a book that had me sobbing in seat 33K (If you must know the book is called Lily and the Octopus and don't read it if you don't like books about loving dogs and then them dying).
  • Flying over Iceland, which made me want to claim I had actually been to Iceland. 

I still don't understand why the f&ck they call it Iceland

I have spent the past two days trying to wrap my head around what happened on marathon day. In the title of this post I wrote "Personal Worst" - which only refers to how I felt on the run physically and mentally. Honestly, in many other ways (running through the streets of Paris, having my family and best friends with me, the gorgeous weather) this race was actually a personal best. Just depends on your perspective and what the focus is.

What keeps running through my head is: why did I spend all that time training, all those Saturday mornings running my ass off, all those speed workouts on the treadmill - just to run a time I could run with likely no training at all? Why the eff did I PAY for a training plan for this personal worst scenario?

But, I suppose that's how it goes. The input we give does not guarantee a certain outcome.

I know my body pretty well. Going into the race I knew that running a sub-4 might not happen. This training cycle was not a strong one for me and I'm still not quite sure why. I could blame it on age, but I think it's more than that. Truly I think more the blame is linked to two words: BURN OUT.

Since I started running about 8 years ago, I've never taken a substantial break (except when injured, but even then I was training in any way I could). This past year alone I did 2 marathons, a 6 day/120 mile trail race, an ultra relay, a half marathon and a few shorter races. Then I jumped right in and started training for Paris.

Standing on the Champs Elysee (the start line for the race) I was in heaven despite jet lag, walking 10 miles per day in the days leading up to the race and feeling just generally tired. My goal/focus shifted from racing to enjoying the day and taking it in. There have been what feel like hundreds of times over the past few years when I was so fixated on my time. In that moment I was weary of all of that and sick of it too.

The first 10k felt effortless, cruising along with 47,000 of my friends (75% of them men!). I hit the 10k in about 55 minutes. Aid stations were every 5k and I would grab a bottle of water and carry it with me. The aid stations had water, oranges and bananas. Some had raisins and sugar cubes. The mixture of water and banana peels on the cobblestone made for the perfect storm to break a hip, which I nearly did a few times.

It was some time after the 8 mile mark that I could feel it happening. My pace was slowing and my drive to hold onto my goal was slipping away. Guys, it is the weirdest thing, but I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about my pace, my goals, running. I started slowly walking through the aid stations and in between. When I walked, a random woman would invariably come up behind me and gently put her hand on my back and say "Allez!" (go!). There was so much sweet encouragement from others and I loved that. I hit the half in about 2 hours. Still not caring.

I saw Emma and Ken at mile 15. Usually in a race I will dash by them with a quick wave and smile. This time I stopped and hung out for a bit, telling them that it wasn't my day, but I'd see them at the finish. Still not caring. My feet were killing me and some cramps were setting in. No bathroom emergencies, thank God. Taking a crap wouldn't have made the day any better.

It was getting hot, about 75 degrees. We were about 8 miles from the finish. I continued to not care about my slow pace.I took in the sights, the people. I listened to the spectators shouting "Allez Beth!" and telling me to have "courage" (the French way of saying "be strong!"). I felt the energy and good love from the crowds. At mile 18, my watch suddenly died out of the blue. WHAT? And, with that my music was gone too, since it's loaded onto my watch.

I crossed the finish, happily. But then I couldn't find friends and family and I was emotionally/physically spent and hot. I kept holding back tears and borrowed someone's phone to text Ken. By the time I found them I was a bucket of tears.

But, nothing a beer and sitting spread eagle in a French cafe couldn't cure.

A cute French runner saw me rubbing my feet and gave me some cream for them. Then he commented, while looking at my disgusting black toenails, "But I don't know vhat to do with zee toes!" Made me laugh

Oh, and then a huge Moroccan chicken kebab sandwich in from of the Arc.

Congrats to my two dear friends Julie and Erika for finishing as well. Julie kicked ass doing a 3:32 and Erika ran her first marathon!

Right when Erika finished!

So, there you have it. During the race I swore off running for a minute, but now I just know I need a break to find the love again. I feel this drive to find some redemption emotionally and physically. There is always another race and always lessons to be learned. I could have dropped out and I didn't. I could have had a pity party and I didn't. I could be unable to run at all and I'm not.

I want to reclaim that girl who has that DRIVE. She'll be back.

In the meantime, time to rest. And, because this trip was bout SO much more than them marathon, in the next few days I'll post some general stuff about Paris and how we did the trip on a pretty decent budget. Let me tell you - we saw and did so much - and I've got some great tips (like don't change your dollars into Francs, because France uses Euros!! < someone in our group did this - honest mistake but he'll never live it down).

If you are at all considering this race, DO IT. The energy, the sights, the people - it was all a dream.

What was your personal worst race? What did you learn?


Monday, April 3, 2017

When Life Throws You Curve Balls and Off to Paris!

Life throws curve balls. I've gotten kind of used to it. There is truth in the fact that the things you worry about rarely happen, but other random shit that never occurred to you comes out of the woodwork. C'est la vie.

Did I tell you we leave for Paris in the morning? Paris Marathon is on Sunday.

In a sec I'll get into those curve balls that got thrown at my face, but first...there are firsts for me with this marathon:

  • Largest marathon I've ever run. 57,000 people.
  • Aid stations every 5k (3.1 miles). Longest distance between aid stations I've ever had in a marathon (that's not on trails). Carry water? Gonna be 73 degrees!
  • A doctor's note is required to run the race. First time I've ever had to have my doctor sign off that I am healthy enough to do this.
  • Aid stations have sugar cubes (maybe in lieu of gels?). First time for that - PS and BTW: I'm not a horse or a cup of hot tea.
  • Porta potties are apparently quite scarce. This could be the first time I squat on a marathon course.
And...follow me along on Instagram here for pictures and stories!  HERE

Now curve balls.

Curve ball #1: In case you are really young and don't know, when you turn 50, you're supposed to have a colonoscopy. That's when you prep by cleaning out your system until you basically poop water (but don't drink it), then you are sedated, then they stick a scope up your ass to see if you are healthy. I've had one before and it was no problem, so I was not expecting any surprises when I went in for my second one last week. At the point I was going in for the procedure, I was excited to be put under sedation and to have a nice nap. Then it would just be a matter or showing them I could fart in order to go home. I'm skilled at that for sure!

Yeah, didn't go that way. I was heavily sedated, but conscious. The procedure was excruciating. So painful I was crying and probably cussing up a storm, although it seems like a dream. The reason? Apparently I have an elongated colon (also called a tortuous colon < now I know why they call it that) that has many twists and turns. They had a hard time getting the scope around all the bends in my colon, thus the pain. Here's the thing - if they were putting a scope in my ear or down my throat that would be one thing. But this area is private and I somehow felt violated...all is fine now, but what the hell? Please tell me I'm not the only one who's had this experience.

Curve ball #2: Picture this. Last Tuesday, middle of the night. Ken is in excruciating pain (<seems to be a theme with us). He was saying the pain was in his stomach. Nothing was helping. We go to the ER hoping that he doesn't get checked in then lays one huge fart and feels better. Because with a $200 copay that's an expensive fart. After hours of them trying to get the pain under control (morphine did nothing to take the edge off) and a CT scan they found he had acute appendicitis. Into surgery he goes and we go home that night. 

The surgeon wasn't too fond of him traveling, given the risk of blood clots. But, his surgery was laparoscopic and very uncomplicated. He's doing great, energy is good, so we're going. He'll wear compression and get up every hour to move around. 

As for marathon goals...well, a PR will very likely not occur (sub 3:42). At this point I am just hoping for a sub four hour, but even that is feeling a bit questionable. Just not feeling the speed right now. But magical things can happen with 57,000 people and sugar cubes, so we'll see.

Last long run (15 miles). 

Wish me luck!

Ever had a colonoscopy? Any pain or just a super good nap and then a fart?

Ever had your appendix out? No

What's the biggest race you've ever done? My biggest race prior to this one is the Bolder Boulder 10K

Biggest curve ball thrown at you lately?

Bon voyage!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Getting Unstuck - Advice and Stories from Me and 17 Others

I'm deviating a bit from running today to bring you some personal history of my early mom days - some of my hardest and most precious times. I'm doing this because I was interviewed as part of a summit called Moms Living a Life They Love and you can view interviews starting on April 3 (mine is on April 13). I think it's important to share struggles, triumphs and creative ways that moms balance kids, jobs, fitness and personal relationships. We're not alone and we can learn from each other.


Rewind to over 19 years ago. I had a five month old son (Sam) and a two year old marriage (Ken).

Right before Sam was born, Ken and I moved to a smallish town north east of Denver, Longmont, where we bought our first house and where we knew no one.

Having recently gotten my Masters of Social Work, I had been working as a caseworker for a social services agency and hated it. Staying home with Sam was not only something I wanted to do, but an escape from a job that was making me miserable.

Getting married and having a family was never a question. It was a given. I assumed all the other pieces would fall into place around my perfect family. Haha!! What the hell even is "perfect?"

Being a new mom was lonely. Not just because I felt isolated, but because the whole self identity I had previously in terms of being a student then a professional no longer existed. I was confused. I so wanted to be a mom and to be at home, yet I constantly felt the pull of needing something outside the four walls of my home. Play groups, baby swim lessons and Gymboree just weren't doing it for me.

I dabbled in doing some contract work that I could do from home. Then baby #2, Emma, came so my workload lessened. It's hard to have a baby sucking on your boob and a preschooler demanding a Skittle reward for the crap he'd just taken in his plastic potty whilst writing a professional document.

It wasn't until the kids were in full day school that I finally got my bearings, my groove. What I mean by that is that I started to have more balance with work, family and my interests. It's no coincidence that this is when running and writing this blog entered the picture. Running gave me something of my own, and this blog gave me adult interaction and an outlet. It still does.

Why am I telling you all this? I remember being up against fear, guilt, insecurity and parenting challenges. Some days I still am. And, maybe you are up against all of these things today.

That's why I was excited when Brooke Jean, coach and therapist, shared that she was hosting an interview series addressing these very topics, all of which she has faced in trying to balance life with kids. And...she wanted to interview me for the series. My interview will air on April 13 HERE.

The interview series is called: Moms Living a Life they LOVE: How to have a Flourishing Family, a Fulfilling Career and Fun in the process. It starts on April 3. Every day for 18 days, Brooke interviews an inspiring woman who has managed to find some sort of balance in all of these areas. You can hear from doctors, entrepreneurs, you name it. I have a free access pass for you to join and hear these experts' amazing stories which share their unique challenges and how they overcame these obstacles.

You can register HERE. I was not sponsored or paid for  this. I just love getting inspiration from others who are relatable and this is a great resource.

This is for moms who have a dream, idea or a skill they want to share but are wondering how to do it. It's also for women who are working, but want to grow their families and are up against some internal/external blocks preventing them from moving forward. I promise you'll gain insight and motivation.

Again, you can register for the Moms Living a Life they LOVE Summit HERE. Join us!

How were the early days of motherhood for you? Joyful, confusing, lonely, lovely.

Are you a working mom? Why or why not? Yes, I am but I've always found away to work from home, even now (teenagers - ugh, they need supervision more than 2 year olds sometimes).

What's one tip you have for balancing work, kids, etc? Being patient and gentle with yourself. Knowing you can have "it all" but not at the same time.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

5 Things to Remember When Running No Longer Excites You

Can you recall the good old days when you were a wide eyed runner with hopes and dreams? When you couldn't wait to hop out of bed and pound the pavement? When you felt you had no limitations to what you could do? Yeah, I can remember feeling that way too.

I am Beth and I am just so damn happy to be running I could crap myself.

Not to say that you've lost your boner for running, but maybe it is a bit fleeting (or flacid). Maybe you just need a reminder of why you fell in love with this sport in the first place. Personally, I need these reminders every time I am lacking in motivation or I have a sucky run/race or I simply am feeling a tad burned out.

So, here goes.

1. You started running for a reason. Think back. What was it that got your out there initially? Over time, our reasons for running can change. But in all likelihood, the intention you started back then is still relevant. For me, running represented freedom, accomplishment and something of my own. I started running when my kids were 7 and 10 (they are now 16 and 19!). Running was a way to literally run out the door, not kill anyone and get back a sense of self. Sure, there were health benefits, shots of adrenaline and cute clothes, but my reasons were more mental/emotional.

2. Your options aren't limited. Maybe you and running fell out of love because you got bored with it. Maybe you need to spice things up. If you run the same route all the time, try running in the opposite direction. Get really crazy and leave the roads and bike paths altogether and find some trails. Sick and tired of running long? Train for shorter distances and get faster. Or, do the opposite and take on a running distance that's new to you.

3. Everyone gets slower with age. Yeah, so there are those that actually improve with age like full bodied red wines and fruit cake, but the majority of us are going to slow down. Why? Because we're old motherf&ckers. And, our VO2 max and strength decline while our body fat may increase (you know - muffin top, beer belly, etc). In truth, we likely slow 7% per decade in our 40s, 50s and 60s (source). Yikes. I write this not to depress you, but to tell you that if part of why running no longer excites you is that you are frustrated by becoming slower: GET OVER IT. That's life. Do what you can to take care of yourself and keep plugging along. And, always consider the alternative (that means you could be dead).

4. Taking a break is allowed. Maybe you'd like running a hell of a lot more if you simply took a break from it for awhile. It's not a divorce, just a temporary separation so you can let your heart grow fonder again.

5. You've gotten spoiled. When we first take up running, we love everything about it. We are grateful for each milestone. The first mile we go without stopping. The first double digit run, The first time we cross a finish line. All of the firsts that come with being a running virgin. But, over time, we take it for granted. We forget to relish the fact that we CAN run, we don't HAVE to run. We begin to see it as a chore, rather than a gift. Change your perspective and make a shift towards gratitude. See what happens.

Are you cured? Are you falling in love again? Well, I did my best.

Why did you start running in the first place?

Are you getting slower with age? Yes. Dammit.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Random Sh*t You Don't Know About Me

I love to hear random things about people that you really wouldn't know unless they told you. I am not famous, I am not super interesting, but I do have some arbitrary things to share:

1. When the going gets tough in running, I talk a lot to myself. Out loud. If you were there to listen, you'd hear me say, "Get your shit together" or "C'mon you can do this" or just plain "f&ck!"

2. I have an extreme fear of vomit. This fear has a name: emetophobia. I can't even watch when people throw up in movies. Personally, I never throw up, so my phobia is more about the fear that someone will do it around me. Did you know that there is actually a website that tells you at what point in a movie someone will throw up? Just for people like me. Give me blood, piss, mucous, poop and I'm good. Just no vomit.

3. I used to hate to run. Like, a lot.

4. I've worked pretty much everywhere (well, not on the street corner, but I'm still young). 7-11, Subway, school dining hall, black jack dealer, American Cafe, Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, Brickskeller (if you live near or in DC you know this place), Bonfire Restaurant (Ocean City), as a French interpreter, office manager for an environmental firm, fabric store, Roy Rogers....I know I'm forgetting some.

5.When I was in the seventh grade I was part of a hula club (yeah, like where you learn to hula dance) and I got kicked out for having a dirty mouth (<not so surprising, I guess).

6. My first pet as an adult was a one eyed, three legged Cocker Spaniel named Lucky. He's dead now. You can read about his last day HERE (sniff).

You can's see that he only has three legs here, but trust me.
7. I went to high school in Athens, Greece.

This picture was taken in Greece. I swear.
8. I ran a marathon before I ran a half marathon.

9. My great uncle, Deke Slayton,  was selected as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts. He couldn't do the mission because they found he had an irregular heart rhythm. So, basically I'm an astronaut.

Can't you see the resemblance?
10. I almost drowned in the Atlantic Ocean when I was 23 years old.

11. In the 8th grade I got so mad at a kid named Jerry that I peed in a cup, hid behind a bush (at school!) and threw the pee on him. You do not want to make me mad. Urine is my weapon.

12. In the second grade I had a club. I would make (well, encouage) my three friends meet under a bridge and do an oath. I'm not sure what the meaning of the club was, but the oath had tons of bad language in it and if I posted it you would be appalled.  But, I still know it by heart.

13. My favorite movie is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. My least favorite movie is The Sound of Music.

14. I HATE it when people recite lines from Monty Python movies. "It's just a flesh wound!" SHUT UP.

15. I don't really like fruit. Or ice cream.

16.Every day I ask myself, "What would you do if you could't fail?" and I don't know the answer.

17. I've had two miscarriages. 

18. I'm named after Beth from Little Women. Better than Viola from Big Mama.

Tell me one random thing about you. Seriously. Please.

Where did you go to high school?

Ever almost died?

Who were you named after?

Do you have a phobia?


Friday, March 3, 2017

If We Were Having a Cocktail Together....

It's Friday, friends. You know what that means! Happy hour.

In the spirit of it's 5 o'clock somewhere, I've got my glass of wine. Have you got your mug of beer, shot of tequila or pour of wine?

I'll wait.

If we were having a cocktail together, I'd tell you that I've spent the last ten days doing training to become a hospice volunteer. Heidi (Golden Retriever) and will do this as a pet companion team. I cannot tell you how much I've learned, how much I've been touched and how much this has broadened my world.

I came to this wanting to share the sweet, calming and joyous gift that is Heidi with someone who needs comfort. But through it, I learned that deep down I want to know more about death. I also want the honor of sitting with someone who is actively dying and to do what I can to provide something, anything that could be of help to the patient or the family. I just do.

Wow. That was deep. Refill my glass, would ya? Thanks.

If we were having a couple of drinks, I'd tell you that my 50th birthday was the bomb. My dear friend Clair surprised me by flying in from Richmond, VA. My son, Sam, surprised me by flying in from Phoenix. I surprised myself by getting on stage with an Eagle's tribute band and embarrassing everyone.

Kung Fu

I know the singer loves this. I'm very serious. And barefoot.

If we were a bottle of wine into the conversation I'd tell you that training for the Paris Marathon is going...BLAH. All of my runs have felt stupidly hard. You should have seen me after my 18 mile run the other day. You would have thought I just emerged from the trenches of a war zone. I am re-adjusting my goals a bit. Not counting on a PR (3:42 or under) and am gunning for a BQ (under 4 hours). C'est la vie.

Exactly NOT how I've been feeling lately

More like this

If we were now tipsy, I'd tell you I'm going to see Chris Rock tonight in Denver for his Total Blackout Tour. Hope I don't black out after all of this wine. Also, hope I don't feel compelled to get on the stage because Mr. Rock is probably not as laid back as imitation Glen Frey from the Eagles (pictured above).

Have a splendid weekend. Pray for me on my long run.

What's one thing you'd tell me if we were having a cocktail?

What are you training for? Does it suck or is it amazing?


PS: No, I did not really start drinking this early. 

PPS: Have you signed up for the Utah Valley Marathon or Half Marathon yet? Use code suar15 at checkout for 15% off. See you there, it's going to be a blast. Go HERE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why Turning 50 Doesn't Suck

The perfect thing about having a blog is it can be all about YOU, all of the time! And, your dog!

Today is my 50th birthday.


Think about that.

As my son told me, "You are half way there." Hmmm...not sure I have 50 more years in me, but I like that he thinks I might. I'm just glad to be in a new f&cking age group.

I started my day running and taking in views of my beautiful Rocky Mountains and thinking hard.

I had the best feeling come over me. Today, I am exactly where I want to be. And, exactly where I should be.

Naturally, mostly of what I write on this blog is about running. Sometimes other parts sneak in like my kids, my husband, my dog, my friends, my travels.

But, there is probably a lot about me you really don't know - like how I hate it when people quote Monty Python!

It's not like I'm some sage or something, but I can look back and recognize things I've learned over the years, things that have become personal mantras. Here are 50 of them.

1. In the middle of the night all problems are 10x as worse as they are when the sun comes up.

2. I don't understand pineapple on pizza.

3. Age does not define what I wear.

4. Travel is the best way to expand the mind.

5. Dogs make life happier.

6. Everyone should know how to swim.

7. One good friend means more than 100 acquaintances. 

8. The most soothing sound is rain on the roof.

9. The most important work may not come with a paycheck. 

10. Everyone should learn how to drive a stick shift.

11. Time doesn't heal everything. We just learn to live in a new normal

12. Confidence gained from running applies to all areas of life.

13. Being truly able to listen to someone is a gift.

14. It's okay to tell your kid, "because I said so."

15. Never trust a fart while running.

16. Airplane turbulence isn't dangerous. It's just unsettling. (Flying used to really scare me and I      would tell myself this).

17. The last six miles of a marathon suck balls.

18. Costco samples can be lunch.

20. Everyone still wants their mommy sometimes. 

21. You know you've got good kids when they send a thank you note without being reminded.

22. Donate anonymously.

23. Googling medical conditions will always make you think you are dying.

24. A broken heart can be mended.

25. You know you picked the right person when they give you the perfect gift you never had to ask for.

26. A fried egg is not is good Halloween costume (I know because I was one in 2nd grade)

27. OPI needs a nail color called "black toenail" for runners.

28. Gossip. What's the point but to hurt someone else or to make yourself feel better?

29. It's a good idea to let your kids feel uncomfortable and to let them fail.

30. Sometimes there is not a right decision, but just the decision you can live with more.

31. Running starts the day right.

32. Library books win over Kindle books.

33. You don't have to know what you want to do. You'll probably change careers 6+ times.

34. Your doctor doesn't know you like you know you. Take charge of your health care. Get second opinions if necessary and advocate for yourself.

35. Winter in Colorado is amazing and sunny (best kept secret).

36. Friendships can have an expiration date and change over time.

37. Don't feel guilty unless you did something truly wrong. Then, say you're sorry.

38. Being right is over rated.

39. I wish Kelly Ripa and I could hang out.

40. I wish Jimmy Fallon and I could hang out.

41. Learning to type in 9th grade was one of the best things I've ever done.

42. Your kids need you to look at them more than your phone needs you to look at it.

43. Running trails are my church.

44. Eating only when you're really hungry changes your attitude about food.

45. Chicken broth has healing qualities at mile 130 of an Ironman.

46. Social media life isn't real life.

47. Being ultra busy is not a badge of honor. 

48. A good night's sleep is everything.

49. Drinking a huge malt milkshake and eating a giant pastrami sandwich right before meeting your boyfriend's family = most embarrassing moment ever. 

50. You're only as old as you perceive yourself to be. 

Costa Rica. April 2016. Wait! Does that say, "VAG?"

So, I just gave you 50 things!! Can you give me at least one of yours?


PS: Follow me on Instagram HERE for more fun. I promise.

Monday, February 13, 2017

8 Tips to Make Your Long Run a Bit Less Hellish

Happy Monday! (<oxymoron)

I'll start this post off with a gross disclosure. I thought I'd make it to the age of 50 without having a hemorrhoid, but I was wrong! I'm officially 9 days short of turning 50, so DAMN, almost made it. You can do with that what you'd like. You are welcome.

So, I'm curious. Do you all have weird bodily stuff come up after your long runs?

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I did a 16 mile run this weekend. I love my IG stories. They are full of the most mundane shit. Did you also know I made shrimp scampi? That I took Heidi for a bath? That I wore a plunging neckline to a party and didn't care that there was no cleavage? You get all of this and more if you follow me in IG and look at my stories.

Moving on.

Let's talk about the long run. Let's talk about the mental fortitude needed to complete the long run.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, my head wasn't in the game. It was kind of a cool, grey morning. But, that wasn't really the problem. The problem was wrapping my head around the distance and how long I would be out there. It had been along time since I had done a 16 mile long, steady run on the road. I wasn't worried about finishing the run, I knew I could that. I was more in my head about the number "16" and how that seemed so far. I've run 16 miles so many times before, but it just felt different. I think it's because i wanted to nail a certain pace and that would mean plodding along, steadily, without many walk breaks like I find on the trails.

Just skipping along

There's no magic to getting motivated for the long run. You just do it. It can be mundane. You are out there a long time. It can get lonely. But, it can also be a time for reflection and zoning out. The long run is a test in perseverance, discipline and determination. And, believe it or not, there are some tips that can make it just a tad easier.

1. Plan a Route You Can Get Excited About. I like to use Map My Run to get creative. There’s nothing like starting a 20 mile run already bored to tears with where you are going. I’d rather drive a bit to start somewhere that inspires me versus following some old worn out route that puts me to sleep. Here was this weekend's run. I do love the back-roads of Boulder County.

 2. Drag Someone Along. Distraction is a wonderful tool. Bring a friend and talk about every mundane thing you can think of like Beyonce's even fuller breasts since getting pregnant or how long it takes corn to move through your system (this is very easy to figure out. Just keep a diary of when you had corn chowder and when it showed up later). A good friend will also share supplies with you like toilet paper, an extra gel, a tampon or condom (now that really would make your long run more fun).

3. Bring Happy Fuel. If you hate the taste of gels, but you eat them because you are “supposed to” or they were on sale, that’s no fun. Bring along your most favorite candy or gel flavor.  Maybe companies should market cocktail themed gummy treats for runners (jam packed with electrolytes and carbs of course) like Rum Runner (get it?), Sex on the Beach (for the wild crowd), Bloody Mary (for those running in the morning or during Sunday brunch time) and Mint Julep (for the Southerners).  My favorite choice these days:

4. Tell People Even If They Don’t Care. I like to let a few friends know if I’ve got a really long run (say 16-20 miles) because in my head I think they are cheering me on and that they really care if I finish or not. Somehow it holds me accountable. Ok, maybe my mom just cares, but so what?

5. Break the Mileage Up. Do not start the run and think “Yay! only 19.82 miles to go!” Think “Okay, only 5 miles until I can have my uncrustable”, then “Only 5 miles until half way” etc. I find that 5 miles feels manageable in my head, but use what increments work for you (three 10Ks plus a bit more, two 10 milers – you decide).

6. Get Lost in Your Head. If running alone, let your mind wander. Meditate as you listen to your breathing and the sound of your feet. Focus on the sights and sounds around you. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line of the race you are training for and how it will feel to meet your goal. 

7. Try Not To Stare At or Be Consumed By Your GPS. Watching your GPS and waiting for the miles to tick by is a bit like watching a pot of water until it boils. It feels like forever. Just let it go. Tell yourself you’ll check in every 30 minutes, every 3rd song on your iPod, whatever. But, don’t constantly check it or you will feel like you ran 40 miles, not just 20.

8. Make a new playlist that gets you all fired up. Or listen to podcasts. Personally,, I like listening to podcasts while driving, but not while running. If I listen to anything, it'll be music. In lieu of a playlist, sometimes I like to put on Pandora and to just be surprised by what comes on. 

Any tips you have for making long runs just a bit easier?

Weird body issues after long runs? 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 Phoenix Womens Half Marathon Race Report

For me, the best combination in life is family/friends + travel + running. Oh, and wine. And, maybe cheese and bread. Coffee is good too.

If I can put these things together then I stop caring so much about all the other bullshit going on in the world.

This excellent combination was in full effect this weekend when we traveled to Arizona for the Phoenix Women's Half. The main reason to go was to see Sam at Arizona State, but then of course it never hurts to add on a race, especially when it fits perfectly into my training plan.

Like I told you last week - my ass pain was kind of evident days before the race, but in my perfect denial style I figured I'd take a couple days off pre-race and miraculously all would be well. Magical thinking is fun. Until reality sets in (foreshadow).

We got in early on Saturday morning (the race was on Sunday) and visited Sam's dorm. Not much has changed since he left home:

  Ate something too big for my mouth:

Sat in the hot tub and watched the planes fly over because our hotel room was directly in the fight path of the Phoenix airport. TGFEP (Thank God For Ear Plugs):

Someone in this picture needs their own pair of sunglasses

Then I ate a large dose of Chick-fil-A right before bed because that is what you do when you want to risk a poop surprise episode on the race course (not a foreshadow, thank God).

Race morning involved showing up, pinning on a bib, freezing for a minute, then heading to the start. It was a small race (about 320 people) and supposedly was limited to women, but I did see about five men out there. Vagina envy?

The weather was perfection and running in a skirt and tank top instead of 29 layers was fantastic. We ran the first 4.5 miles or so on a combination of concrete and asphalt path along a canal. It was flat with the exception of about 10 under passes (fully stocked with a lovely urine smell). I can't say the course was overly scenic, but the sun was shining and I was running, so I didn't complain to anyone.

At about mile 2, my sore piriformis (right buttock to be precise) started acting up. I knew it would probably be a long 11 miles to come. The pain didn't slow me down much, but I thought about it. A lot. Pain when running equals no good.

After hitting a turn around spot at mile 4.5, we headed back to the start line where we would go out another 2 miles or so, then back. So this was basically a double out and back. Not sure what I think about that, but no one asked me.

I took a strawberry/banana GU at 6 miles and swigged water. Fascinating.

At this point I was hitting my mile splits consistently - about 8:30 - 8:40 min/miles. Being so flat it was pretty easy to stay consistent.

I finished up in 1:52 (8:35 average pace). My goal was to break two hours, so BOOM. Not a PR, but not a PW.

8th/49th in age group (45-49); 34th/313th female.

Now I show you the worst race photo ever. And, for once it's not because I'm crying or sweating or ugly, but because THIS DAMN WOMAN IN THE BLUE COAT IS IN THE WAY.

I saw the family. They were like blah, blah...yeah, another race. Can we go eat? You smell.

Yay for my hype extended knee!

Then I went to find Erika. She's my dear friend and auntie to the kids. She traveled with us to the race. I knew she'd been having hip problems, but she finished strong.

And, there was bling:

Pros of this race:

  • Small and manageable. No parking issues or traffic. Able to stay warm in the car until the start.
  • Great aid stations and support. Water/Gatorade every two miles and GUs a few times as well.
  • Good energy from the particpants
  • Plenty of porta potties
  • The weather!
  • Pretty fast course, being so flat and uncrowded

Cons of this race:

  • Almost no spectators along the way
  • Kind of a boring course
  • By the time I signed up, they were out of the race shirts, so they are sending me one.

After the race, well it was out to lunch to Pita Jungle for food and beers, then more hot tubbing and a nap. Pretty spectacular day overall.

So...with this ass pain, I'm taking a few days off to see if I can deal with this thing before it gets worse. How do you know a runner is injured (or staving off injury)? This picture:

That's funny. I never realized until now that by wearing this swim cap I am advertising for a condom company. Go ME!

Which do you prefer, small or larger races? I like smaller for the logistics and crowd control, but I like larger races for the spectators and other distractions.

Do you bring your family to races? Not always. I usually let them choose if they want to come or not unless it's some really big deal thing.