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Guest Blogger Teresa…


I met Teresa through Stephanie and she has had many adventures with the sisters. I always think Teresa and I seem to find our way into situations we don’t really belong: an entire hotel full of crazed marathon runners for the White Rock marathon, a wine bar full of netwoking-types (Teresa, remember the “fem-tasticks”?), and freezing our behinds off in Bandera as an ice storm was starting to name a few. Teresa is currently on the comeback after having her first baby, but I predict a marathon from her within the next year. So, in her own words, here is Teresa:

Favorite race: Madison Marathon
Favorite pre-race meal: not much; whatever doesn’t upset my stomach
Favorite post-race meal: any kind of breakfast, especially pancakes, breakfast pastries, breakfast tacos, and lots of coffee
I think my hardest races are always the warm, humid ones, regardless of the course.
I do have an embarrassing running story, but it’s way too embarrassing to relay, much less to post on a blog. I think only Travis knows about it.
The thing I find most ridiculous about running is how disgusting runners can be, me included. They eat and drink all sorts of inedible energy gels, powders, and bars, they are some of the most sweaty, smelly people in the world after long races, they push themselves to the point of sickness (I won’t elaborate), and then they head out to restaurants or other public places without cleaning up first. Believe me, I’m guilty of this too, but it doesn’t make it any less disgusting.
My favorite local run used to be Motive. Now, I’m not sure if I have one.
My favorite recent run was my first race with Joe – the Mardi Gras 5K. It was nice and cool, I had some great company, and I loved being able to bring Joe with me. Running with a stroller is MUCH more challenging, but having a new challenge is exciting!
Running has always kept me sane. Now that I’m not able to run as much, I’m working on relaxing about the fact that I can’t run as much. It’s taken some time, but I’m now happier running a little slower and a little shorter, especially now that I can run with the love of my life – little Joe (cheesy, I know, but true). I think what I miss most these days is being able to run with my friends. I really miss the sisters!
My dream race is St. George. I really hope to be able to run it someday.

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Guest blogger series…

I have asked the sisters to email me some running info to do a little series on other runners. I suggested some questions for them to answer, but they were free to say whatever they wanted, and send me a running photo of their choice. One of my favorite parts of Ultrarunner magazine is the question and answer with a runner. Usually the runner is a really “normal” person, and typically they are much more interesting than reading about an elite runner. I love reading about the training and races of the everyday average person….who just happens to do a lot of races! So please scroll down and enjoy. I would be happy to post some other runners’ posts if you read my blog and want to email me a list of info about yourself and a picutre (but you have to try and make it a little bit funny…)

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Guest Blogger Stephanie…

Stephanie is the first sister I met. She was my first running partner in Austin. We’ve done countless runs together, as I found I could usually talk Stephanie into doing just about anything. I have posted this pic before, of us in Boston one year, but she chose it as her picture so here it is again. As far as her running abilities, all the sisters agree Stephanie is the only one of us with any natural talent. She truly has the ability to be one of Texas’ top runners. One of Stephanie’s admirable traits is she puts much more emphasis on the social aspect of her running, and definitely downplays how competitive she could be. She also never gets tired, which I do admit can make her a little annoying at mile 40 of a 50 miler, when I am only thinking about how good finishing will feel. Anyhow, here she is in her own words. She also wrote a running essay, I will be posting a little later….

Okay, down to business. So here are my answers to the common runner questions:

Favorite Race: Boston Marathon. I love how you can suck energy from the huge cheering crowd.

Hardest Race: Miwok 100k. During that long trek through the California hills, I encountered my limits and ran right past them. I met a Stephanie that I had never met before. I survived the race, I crossed the finish line, and I couldn’t walk normally for at least a week. (Link to race report at: http://www.hillcountrytrailrunners.com/docs_reports/Miwok_stephanie_rpt_2006.html)

Most Embarrassing Running Moment: It’s a tie between the time I puked on Clea’s shoes during the Rocky Raccoon 25k or the time that I was disqualified from the Bandera 25k for “course cutting.” Really, it was an accident. (Link to race report at http://www.hillcountrytrailrunners.com/docs_reports/Bandera25K_stephanie_rpt_2006.html). I guess 25k is not my best distance.

A Long-Term “Dream Race”: I’d like to go back and do Miwok again someday. Yes, this is my “hardest race.” I guess that just proves that we runners are indeed a little crazy.

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The Sisters…


This is the first in a series of installments about my anti-running group, The Sisters. I had been in Texas about 5 years before I started running with a group. Heck, I’d always been pretty embarrassed and ashamed to admit to anyone I went running. It just was a pretty dorky hobby (well, it still is…). Seems like about 10 years ago, there was a big boom in running’s popularity, and it is not quite so shameful to admit to folks….suddenly everyone runs. Anyhow, I always ran alone, and then I met Stephanie, and she told me about her “really fun running group”, so I met them one morning. Boy, was I surprised. This is a fun group?!? It consisted of all engineers, and I felt like I had nothing to say to anyone. Yet another example of my lifelong saga of being the outsider. Well, somehow I came back for another run, and the group morphed and shifted into what it is today.

We’ve had folks come and go, but a few core members of us remain. The name, “The Sisters” is stolen from the YaYa Sisterhood, but is really points fun at what wimps we kinda all are…but proud of it. First off, to be a sister, you must possess the ability to laugh at yourself. We are all a bit like the the misfit toys from the island of misfit toys (anyone remember that Christmas special?). We just don’t quite fit in with the other running groups, and don’t really want to. Not to come off as elitist…that is not the sister way at all. We just recognize our own geekiness, and don’t really feel the need to subject others to it. All the sisters have personality traits and backgrounds vastly different which is a bit of the group’s fun. As someone who spent my young adult years in punk rock shows, who used to have a subscription to Maximum Rock and Roll, I never thought a corporate lawyer would be counted amongst my best friends. But such is the beauty of the sisters. A world does exist where people just like each other for who they are…

The running is a big part of the sisterhood. We used to all do the same runs and races, and now things have changed with each of us having our own goals, but we support each other, and count on each other to help with long runs. I think each sister can name a time they had some reason the only way to get a run in was to start at 430 or 500 am, and found one or more sisters willing to get up that early just to keep them company.

The sisterhood has seen each other through births, deaths, weddings, and funerals. But through all of it we kept on running, and developed some classic inside jokes, which we still repeat to this day.

For a long time I always referred to the sisters as my “running friends”. I finally realized these are not my “running friends”, but my friends.

Rock on sisters….

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What next?


Did I really just finish my 50 miler and the marathon pacing? Since June or July I’d been planning on Rocky Raccoon. Pacing didn’t come up until December or so, but both events were huge undertakings for me. Now that they are over, I am “project-less” for awhile. Even though I stress out when I have a ton going on, the minute I finish up a project I start looking for a new one.

The immediate plan is Rocky Hill Ranch 50K. It is a fun, low key race, and it sounds like Meghan is in. Past that, I am not sure. I am going to try to make it to Alaska to visit my family this summer, and I would like to do it when there is a run, but we’ll see. I have a couple other travel obligations, and squeezing it all in on limited time off is proving to be challenging. Steve and Meghan are making noise about St George, and I would love to do it again, but once again, I have some family trips. Locally, there isn’t much past my next 50K. I might have to wait until fall for my next big thing.

There are other challenges and projects other than running. I have a couple ideas of some things I would like to do, but Mike had threatened to throw me out on the streets if I continue to take up hobbies and projects…

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#10…

Today marked my 10th year at the Austin marathon. One year I ran the half, so I can only claim 9 Austin marathons. If you’ve been following my blog then you know I was pacing the 5 hour group. If you have no clue what this is, in a nutshell, the marathon provides designated “pacers” to run a certain time, so if you have a goal, or are trying to qualify to get into Boston, you simply follow them, and they do all the work of running even mile splits the whole way. It is a good way to prevent yourself from going out too fast, and to run smoothly. The 5 hour pacers are the slowest of the pace groups. I had a fantastic partner , Korrie, to help me. Although a slower time, it is still a huge challenge to run evenly and hit the same time each mile, while adjusting for any bottlenecks encountered.

The pacing actually started Friday and Saturday with a lot time at the marathon Expo at the pacer’s booth answering runner’s questions. Most questions had nothing to do with pacing and were related to parking, street closures, and logistics I had nothing to do with. I did get a little lunch break Saturday to go eat the above pictured “carbs“. (can you believe it’s vegan?!?..only in Austin)

Saturday night I was super nervous. Sure, I have run a lot of marathons, but never have I had a lot of people counting on me. Plus, while I felt 100% recovered from RR 50 mile, you never know what might start to hurt after I had put some serious miles in. And, as a pacer, you are also a cheer leader. No matter what I couldn’t slow down, walk (other than to grab water), whine, or appear anything other than totally relaxed. Luckily the expo wore me out and I did sleep.

Sunday morning came, and the pacers were given VIP access. We met at a hotel, and had a breakfast buffet, indoor bathrooms, chairs, and heat! Wow, this was fantastic. Next we were on our way outside to line up. Now, it takes the slower runners awhile to get to the start, so we didn’t start our time until we crossed the mat (aka “chip” time), so I knew the clocks on the course were useless to us. My partner and I both had Garmins and wrist bands with the mile splits we were supposed to hit, so we could constantly check in and make little micro adjustments if we were too fast or too slow. We couldn’t get drastically ahead or behind the splits. The biggest challenge for us was not getting too fast, as the pace we were doing was easy for us both, and it was a constant pulling the reigns in.

The runners who joined us were a varied and inspiring group. We had the winner of “The Biggest Loser” reality show, but the Mexican version with us. He is apparently quite a celebrity in Mexico and had lost something like 150 pounds and this was his first marathon. We had some first-timers, and some folks just looking to improve, or avoid going out too fast. We learned as many names as we could, encouraged folks as much as we could. We both knew there was no way we could be out there 5 hours and not hit a bathroom, so we took turns leaving the course dashing to a bathroom and then doing a mad sprint to catch up. This kinda screwed up our timing, as it added a little extra distance and it made figuring out the splits very tricky. We managed to stay about 1 minute fast the whole way. Ideally we would have been right on, but like I said, this was incredibly challenging!

Stephanie jumped in with our group at about mile 22. We still have at least 20 folks with us. We were at the point we were really pushing some folks to keep on with us. Unfortunately, there is a huge hill at mile 24. We lost almost everyone on it. But, we weren’t “hired” to coach. No matter what we had to stay on our pace, so we couldn’t wait for anyone. We ended with 2 runners going every step of the way, and one had done the practice runs with us, and really was struggling, and it was a thrill to see him hit his goal. Officially we made it in 4:58:30. So too fast. We agreed we did the very best we could, and hopefully a couple folks who fell off on the hill, still hit 5 hours with the cushion we built, but weren’t supposed too.

This was a really fun way to run the marathon. I felt great, since I really had no choice, but my feet are pretty crappy. Most is from last weekend’s fun run. Finishing and having the VIP amenities was another cool part of doing this. We got ushered right into the hotel for another buffet. I am disappointed more folks didn’t stay with us, but the course is tough if you don’t run lots of hills, and especially for first timers.

Next week, I am back to my normal running schedule for awhile, so no more cupcake feasts for me, as I return to the low cholesterol diet.

Congrats to all who ran today!

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Recovery…


Just a quick note before I have to dash off to work. Which, by the way, I just cannot get into this week. The high of running my race still lingers, and I’ve been so excited checking all my friends’ blogs about their races, who wants to read about traumas all day? Hehe, I better shift gears quick, got a lot to do.

Anyhow, I did a little 1 mile run Monday, and it was pure pain! I hobbled around at work all day. Yesterday I could walk normally, and I went to yoga after work. What a miracle cure. There was no way I was going to stretch my stiff muscles on my own that intensely. I felt like a new woman after I left class. Tonight is another little 2 mile jaunt or so, and tomorrow, I meet my awesome 5 hour pacing partner for one last practice. Friday is nothing, and Saturday is a little 2 mile jaunt again. I usually don’t worry so much about recovery, but I have other folks depending on my being 100% on Sunday for their marathons. Now that is a scary thought.

I got word of the weekend schedule, and I will be busy with the Expo and a long day Sunday. It will be a really fun time, and a chance to feel like I am running the marathon for the first time again, but I will be glad next weekend when I have nothing on my plate!

Ok, gotta run. Work calls….hope all my other running friends are recovering, or gearing up to have a great run this weekend.

Mike took the Pancake picture when I got home from Huntsville as he unpacked my camera. She was practicing her recovery. 🙂

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Rocky Raccoon…

So much to say about the weekend. I have to ask myself why do I keep signing up for these things when they aren’t that easy. This weekend was an example of why I return to the trails or roads to test myself: the time spent with old friends, meeting the most interesting people under the strangest circumstances, having moments of pure solitude and reflection,and digging deep when my body tells me to stop.

Mark and I left Austin Friday afternoon, and met up with blog friend Derek and Mark’s friend John. The trip to Huntsville was long, and I had a hotel mix up, got another room at the last minute, and spent forever trying to find it. How can such a little town as Huntsville be so confusing? Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were off for a great pre-race dinner.

I didn’t have the best pre-race week ever. Nothing emotionally disabling, but I had 2 nights of no sleep, and I had officially come down with a little head cold. I was totally beat when I made it back to the hotel. It was a strange experience there. There were a group of pro-wrestlers staying there, a huge feral cat fight in the middle of the night, and I got the first nosebleed I’ve had since I was in grade school. I had a fairly restless night, but I had booked Meghan to drive out Saturday am and run loop 3 with me, so I just had to suck it up.

Got to the race site, and it was going to be a beautiful day. A little warm, at close to 80, but I figured I could cope with that better than being cold and wet. I found Derek at the start, and he was nice enough to agree to start with me.

I really like to run the start with someone else. It makes the early miles fly, and I don’t really think about the running until I am well into things. I had a nice little group to run with most of loop 1, and I realized it was a really warm day, and it would definitely knock everyone’s times down a bit. I also knew my race would take a backseat to next weekend’s marathon pacing, and I couldn’t do anything to risk not starting my pacing at 100%. No problem, not to worry, sometimes goals are readjusted.

Loop 1 was fun. The park is beautiful, it was fun seeing the 100 mile runners on the out and backs, I chatted with a group the whole way; it went by fast. I spent a little too long at the start/ finish as I was determined to coat myself in sunscreen…I haven’t spent a whole day in with so much skin exposed since last summer! (mission accomplished though…no sunburn). Loop 2 started great, but I definitely had to check in with myself a couple times. That extra gear just wasn’t there. I was staying positive though…getting mad at myself wouldn’t make things any easier. It was so enjoyable to see all the other runners out there. All ages, all sizes, but all with the common goal of pushing their limits. I could tell the heat was taking a toll on everyone. I felt it, but once again tried to remain positive and thankful it was 40 degrees and raining.

I was really happy I would have Meghan run with me on loop 3. Meghan loves to chat, so I knew it would keep my mind occupied. She also had a very stressful week, and so I think the run would be good for both of us. I was excited to see her as I ran in to start my final loop. I felt horrible when a couple miles in, she took a hard fall. She then developed what I have termed “sticky lung”, which is when you either have bad chest congestion and / or strained intercostal muscles (little paper thin muscles between your ribs), and every deep breath hurts. So poor Meghan endured the whole loop that way. We did have fun though. I had a few baby moments. It was hard not being 100%. Everyone wants to feel like they are flying on their race day. I did the best I could…when the distance gets long enough, just finishing with a smile is what the real goal is…and I kept that in mind as we sweated though the woods, trying to figure out how the different runners were doing we saw out there. It was always refreshing to see someone who kept smiling the despite the discomfort. It sounds a little cheesy, and simplistic, but there really is something to be said about staying positive. You just can’t get too upset when you’re the one who signed up for this silly run, and friends come out to help you meet your goals.

Meghan was great company and before my poor blistered feet knew it (it appears the Drymax socks are not a magic bullet for me) we were ready to finish. Another 50 miler done!!!! All the months of training (since August) were now over It was a little bittersweet in a sense. Both of us shifted gears to start wondering about the folks we knew who were still out there. Mark and Derek will still in limbo somewhere. We waited around a saw Mark come through. I think he was at a little low point, but it looked like he was on pace, and Meghan used her engineering brilliance to calculate when we needed to be back at the park to pick him up. We gathered my stuff and went back to the hotel.

Meghan decided it would work best if we showered , ate, and tried to sleep a few hours before picking Mark up about 330-400am. Poor Meghan was starving having eaten a power bar all day. My appetite was still developing, but I was happy to sit down somewhere. Got back to the hotel and by 1000, we were both in bed. I never slept…people in adjoining rooms were loud all night, and there was another feral cat fight. The alarm went off at 330 for a 4am park arrival. We crawled into Meghan’s car only to discover I somehow messed up the clock when I set the alarm and it was really 230. Screw it….we went to the park on a mission to find Mark’s ipod for him, so we could leave when he was done.

We stopped at the last aid station and figured out Mark would be finishing in another 30 minutes or so. It turned out to be perfect timing. We had a blast watching the joy finishing a huge goal brings people. We also watched pure determination as other runners went through who still had 1 more 20 mile loop to cover. All of a sudden, there’s Mark! Mark made his goal of 21:35. We were both so proud of him. We got permission to go into the the park’s lodge and get his award, and it was a Friday the 13th moment if ever I had one. Pitch black, lake in the distance, and we tried to figure out how to get into an old camp lodge.

Eventually, our very ragged trio made it back to the hotel for a quick nap, and then time to eat and head home. A big thanks for Mark for going along with getting on the road so early.

I learned some little lessons this weekend. Tums were a godsend. I was nauseated with a bloated, water slosh-y stomach, and not only did Tums cure it, the calcium and electrolytes in them gave me the extra oomph I needed to finish strong. I also learned to always double check a hotel reservation. It could have been a long night in my car…

I got word Derek made it, and still haven’t heard from another friend (Ryan…I hope you finished!) I really wanted all those who attempted this thing to finish, because at that moment, nothing feels better.

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Grrr…

Mike was sick all weekend with a sore throat/ sinus thing. Guess what started yesterday….Grrrr. Definitely not ideal, but nothing I can do about it. On the positive side, it is not an asthma thing, so at least I can run. I am down a few notches today, but hoping to be 100% by Saturday. It could be worse….