Success…

Mmmmm
Mmmmm

The vegan pumpkin pie turned out awesome.  I got the recipe from this site.  I used the gluten free crust, even though I am not a gluten free person, but it sounded the tastiest to me.   I would go as far to say as this is my favorite pumpkin pie that I have ever had.    Mike was kinda meh on it, but pumpkin must be a girl thing.  Most women I know love all things pumpkin and most men I know could care less about pumpkin.   I really struggle to say no to any pumpkin dessert.   While I wouldn’t call this a “health” food, as it still has plenty of sugar, but no butter, cream, or eggs must count for something….or maybe I am just fooling myself.

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And now what?

This picture does not do justice to the pure happiness generated by a little boy jumping. I see a backyard eyesore purchase in our future…

With my big fall races in the books, like most obsessive compulsive runners, I immediately think, “what next?”  I have the Austin marathon pacing in February, and a practice pacing 30K in January.  Both lots of fun, but neither one are goals.  The stars aligned and it works out that I can run the Decker half marathon next weekend.  This is my kind of race.  A challenging course and no silly gimmicks.  And speaking of silly gimmicks, has anyone read this article yet?  While I realize going on about the good ol’ days of racing, I sound old and crotchety, I just can’t help myself.  The lamest race I’ve seen yet?  A run where you and running away from pretend police.  Ugg.  Just give me a pretty course, some gatorade and water, a decent shirt, and a banana at the end.   I’m willing to pay a little more for a better than average shirt, a nice finisher’s medal, and better than average goodies at the end.  But I don’t need zombies, colored chalk thrown at me, mud, extra fees to pick up a race packet, concerts, cheerleading squads, etc.  Dang, I really do sound crotchety.  Anyhow, Decker is a perfect race.   The weather is hit or miss.  The shirts are usually decent.  You get to wait indoors for the race to start.  Yay for being warm on a December morning.

Other running related projects:  This weekend is another Jasper run.  He’s doing a Christmas kids’ 1K run  under a new massive display of Christmas lights in Round Rock.  Race proceeds go to build a playground accessible for all ability levels.  Very cool.   The new light display is supposed to be one of the best in Texas.  It’s a mile and a half long.  Have I mentioned I love Christmas lights?  It should be fun…

Ok, spring time goal run.  Yep, time to starting planning.  Since our summer is pretty much raceless due to temps that are potentially lethal, I plan to get a lot of racing done in the 6 months our temperature won’t kill you.  I am pretty sure my spring biggie will be the Prickly Pear 50K.  Yeah, it’s an ultra and I said I wasn’t going to do those anymore, but 50K isn’t much different than a marathon.  The real deciding factor is peer pressure.  When a good friend is going to do his first ultra, I had to join in.  While we won’t be doing the same race, comparing training woes is always a good time.  Plus, it’s about an hour’s drive which is a much better option for me than hopping in a plane.

Well, how’s that for lots of running talk?  Coming up:  making a test vegan pumpkin pie to ensure perfection by Christmas, “speed” runs in hopes of making my Decker half marathon worth the money I am paying to do it, a much needed massage this weekend, swimming, jumping, and general Japerness….

The blue whale says it all…

Part of the reason the Route 66 marathon was such a big deal, is that is was a small miracle that Steve and Stephanie could both join me.   We’ve done numerous travel marathons over the years, but our lives have gotten much more complicated and just making it to a travel marathon on my own seemed tough.  Somehow it all came together and we could all  go.

While the three of us couldn’t be more different, there are fundamental similarities between us that allow to be great running partners and great travel partners.   We would all rather enjoy a really good meal while on a trip than eat “runner food” (as in mediocre pasta dinner), and so our trips always involve some good food.  We had a delicious pre-race meal of sushi appetizers and chicken ramen.  I am convinced that real ramen, not the starving student stuff, is the perfect pre-marathon meal.

We all believe if you travel to a race having fun in the first priority and running a good time is second.  Now I think we all have a certain level of pride and we train and don’t plan to loaf our way through, but it just wouldn’t be a fun trip if we were all worked up about hitting a certain time.

These runs are always vacation for us.  None of us gets a lot of time off, and we view a travel marathon as our vacation time.  We are usually not at one of these races very long, so we usually get to do one touristy thing and that’s about it.  Once again, despite how different we are, I knew Steve and Stephanie were my kindred spirits when they also wanted to see the Blue Whale.

The Blue Whale is a Route 66 roadside America icon.  You cannot deny the Whale is pure kitsch, but we all agreed if you are running the Route 66 marathon, then we need to  experience Route 66.  So aching legs and all, we took quick post marathon showers, shoved some Subway in our faces, and off we went.

The Blue Whale was as expected:  tacky, and a little run down, but someone’s labor of love, someone who thought nothing of being a little quirky and original and that building a giant blue whale along the highway would be a good idea.

Seeing the Whale made me appreciate that I have two friends who went to a lot of trouble to fly out and run with me, and that they also see that the world needs things like the Blue Whale:  a little quirky and marching to beat of it’s own drum.  Sorta the way we do a marathon…

 

Route 66 marathon …

This race is really two blog posts:  one an actual race report/ review, and another about having a big birthday weekend.  This one is the race part.

I picked this race based on the date.  For about a year I knew I wanted to run a marathon for my 40th birthday when I realized it fell on a weekend.  There were a lot to choose from, but Route 66 in Tulsa was a short flight, looked interesting and seemed to have some personality, and it had great reviews.  I also managed to get two of my best friends to join me, Steve and Stephanie, but there will be more on that in the next post.

Tulsa turned out to be a nice little city.  It was incredibly pretty, and I was shocked that there were a ton of large hard wood trees with full fall colors.     We drove around a lot, and while there are a lot of abandoned buildings and warehouses in parts, overall, I felt it was a nice little weekend getaway town.

The race expo was small but well done.   This race gets an A ++++ for organization.  There was never any questions that came up about anything; they seemed to anticipate every need a runner could have.  The shirts were kinda meh, but I’m picky and Stephanie informed me the shirts were fine and I was being silly, so I gave her mine.

Race morning had plenty of parking available, and perfect weather.  It was super easy to get to the start, and we did one porta potty trip and it was time to line up.

This was a minor complaint, but the corrals made no sense.  They asked on the application for your most recent marathon time and your predicted finish time, and it had me in the ‘B’ corral which is probably correct.  Stephanie was in A, and Steve was in D!  Funny part is we all put more or less the same times down.   We also wanted to run together, so we resolved ourselves to corral D which was the last one.  Not a big deal, but I think we were estimating to finish about 2 hours ahead of most of the D corral.  Stephanie snuck us into the A corral at the last minute, so all was good.  The opening pace felt exactly like it should have, so she made a good call.

The first half of the course is super pretty.  Lots of fall color, beautiful homes, a trip through a private school campus that looked just like Hogwarts, and some pretty parks.  Then a long stretch along the river, which would have been nicer had there not been so much drought, but still nice.  There were well done water stops, and I even saw GU being offered fairly regularly.  We said good bye to Stephanie at mile 12, and headed onward.

Here’s where it got hard.  Immediately there was a really neat old Route 66 bridge we went under and then the headwind and hills started.  This part of the course was true old Route 66, complete with a lot of old, abandoned warehouses.  Although not as pretty as the first half of the course, it still felt very historic and still seemed interesting.  At mile 17 there is an optional out and back add on to go see the Center of the Universe.  Once there, you get a bonus Center of the Universe medallion.  It’s a neat little gimmick I’ve never done in another race, and was a fun way to throw in yet another hill against a headwind.

By now, I was thinking about the finish.  The next big section of the course was running through the university.  It would be the only part of the course I would change.  It was the dullest campus ever.  Lots of the same beige buildings over and over with no real character to them.

This was a hard one those last few miles.  The hills and headwind really took their toll.  I kinda like a challenging course, and this is not an easy one.  I was happy to finish and get my medal.  Route 66 prides itself on being voted the best marathon medal, and it really is.  Very cool art deco design, and very well made.  It’s a keeper for sure.  The finish line food was kinda meh.  Not that I need much, but they did such a good job with the rest of the race, I expected a little more.

This is one I would do again.  I doubt I will ever convince a friend to go to Tulsa with me again in my lifetime, so I will probably be solo if I ever do it again.  My final time with the Center of the Universe add on, was 4:05.  This was good enough for 15th in my new age group, so I think that speaks to how tough the course is.  But don’t let that scare you.  It’s fun to run on a historical landmark, enjoy the fall colors, and get the best medal you will ever get, so I would encourage anyone to give this one a try.

# 27 is in the books!

I always wanted a poo-brown sweatshirt…

Auditioning for The Outsiders while in the tub…

It could still happen….I could still have to cancel my race this weekend.  Not to be fatalistic, but Jasp could get sick still, Mike could have a work thing come up, who knows.  Fingers and toes crossed it happens and I do not add it to my history of canceled races.

I’ve been getting tons of emails from the Route 66 marathon, and these people seem organized.  It sounds like it will be a good race.  One race rant though…does anyone else miss cotton t-shirts?  I know tech shirts are the norm now and runners expect them.  But, I loved the races that gave you the long sleeve t-shirts.  Those things are the best.  They are a relic of past times though.  I’ve gotten some good tech shirts from races and some that are hideously ugly and go straight to a donation bag.  You do wonder how a big race manages to make the ugliest shirt imaginable.  Don’t they have some kind of board that approves such a thing?  In my history of —gasp!—-25  years now of races I have had my share of ugly shirts.  I’ve had some I loved too, and mourned their departure when they just got too ratty or stinky to keep wearing.  I wish I had taken photos, but I would have to say the all time ugliest were last years 3M half marathon shirt:  dingy gray with big, bold words “Fast, Easy, Fun!”  I get it that it’s a light hearted attempt at innuendo, but I’ll pass on a pseudo advertisement that I am fast, easy, and fun.  Another stinker:  Rocky Raccoon 50 miler a few years ago.  You really want something nice to celebrate a 50 mile run.  Not sure how a poo-brown sweatshirt with a faux sheriff’s badge embroidered on it fits the bill.   Sunmart 50 miler was the best race in Texas for many years.  It also had the ugliest shirts.  A unisex polo shirt.  Gag.   My faves include the 3M half marathon shirts back when they gave long sleeve ts, my Estes park marathon shirt (another long sleeve t), the MiWok 100K gave a super cool tech shirt in a coral color with gray sleeves.  I wore it until it  got the perma-stink that tech shirts do.  I actually loved last year’s Austin marathon shirt despite it being a play on the Livestrong yellow jersey.  It has a great fit and a neat design of a map of the course with the Austin landmarks highlighted.   I really do need to start getting pictures of the winners and snoozers in the race shirt dept.  Note to self…

Ok…walking on eggshells the rest of the week hoping no one gets sick, no cars break down, no one gets an extra assignment at work, and no emergencies happen.  If all pans out, I’m off in a couple days to run #27.

New shoes and skittle stirfry…

 Try and picture these on someone with cellulite and you’ll get the idea…

If you are one of the two people who read this you may recall a rant I had awhile back that I can only get orthopedic spartan gray shoes.  Well, the execs at Nike must have started reading my blog.  I wear the Nike Pegasus.  I love, love, love them.  Unless Nike changes something in the fit, I’ll stay with them.  I kinda like the fact they are uber-unhip.  It’s like the ironic nerd look, or whatever you want to call it, but a bit of “I’m too cool to even care that I’m not cool.”  Until now…

They just came in out in neon yellow/ green.  As in they look just like the popular Olympic Nikes.   I ordered a pair.  They are the same cush-y shoes with my orthotics, but screaming fast yellow.  I may have drifted into the “you are super un-cool, because you are trying so hard to be cool” catagory, so I still remain a super dork.  And yes, this is a color not meant for those with cellulite, a shuffling gait, and those pushing a baby jogger, but such is my life.

The diet is going pretty good.  I just ate a tofu/ veggie stirfry with nutritional yeast (loving that stuff), but then ate a pack of Halloween Skittles.   They are cholesterol free though.

Glad’s it’s Friday.  Glad I have new shoes.  Glad I’ve got a marathon in a week!

It’s going to get interesting…

 

There ever present octopus shirt…
 

Jasper is in a phase where he will only wear a shirt with an octopus on in.  I actually found a few online.   The one exception is a pajama top with a snake on it that he calls a “stank”.  I also have given up any hope that he will let me cut his hair anytime in the near future.  After multiple failed attepts, he will be having long hair. He currently has a Bruce Lee thing going , so it’s pretty cute for now. 

The running Gods have been kind to me this week.  I am on day three of successful stroller runs.  The time change really is what did it.  Jasper is getting up very early which gives me plenty of time to get us both out for a run while still having plenty of time to get ready.   The bubble thingie I bought to keep him warm really seems to work.  He still gets blankets, but those used to do nothing after a couple miles on a cold morning.  I now find myself wondering how many more years I’ll get out of stroller running.  Will he make it until he’s 4?   I’ve got a lot of years where he’s too young to leave alone and too big for a stroller to figure out.   I think this is why people buy treadmills…

 

Super Why…

My little Super Why

I was glad the NYC marathon came to its senses and cancelled.  They handled it horribly though, and I am certainly not the only one to say this!  It seems like overwhelmingly runners agreed they should cancel it, but when they said it’s on no matter what, I can’t really blame the foreign runners for keeping their travel plans.  But then to get there and at the 11th hour have it canceled?  Now not only are there storm victims, but really frustrated runners who spent a lot of money for no run.  I was very impressed with all the fantastic runs and charity efforts by runners that are springing up all over.  I hope people see this, and not blame the runners for a situation that they are also the victims in.

The whole debacle makes me really question the big mega marathon thing.  I’ve only done one:  Boston, and that is half the size of NYC.  It’s still quite the circus.  The smaller races don’t seem nearly as disrupting to a community and if something happens and you cannot race, you aren’t out as much.  I’ve thought about running Chicago sometime to experience one of these giant races, but I recall they had issues one year too and cancelled mid race.   Then there was a huge cluster with the Vegas marathon last year with people getting trapped at the finishing area, and a lot of runners getting sick from either a virus or bad water.  Running long distance is such a simple thing, I guess sometimes I think why make it so complicated by trying to put 40000 people on the street at one time?

Halloween was fun.  This year was the first Jasp was pretty into it.  Getting him to bed that night was not fun, but there is always a trade off at age 2.  Overall last week was one of those crazy ones though, and I am really, really looking forward to my birthday weekend for a break.  I won’t dive too much into the Jasper side of things, but last week had me in tears more than once over Jaspy issues.  Mike is out of town now, and I have my fingers crossed for a smooth week.  The weather is pretty mild, so running with the stroller should work out fine.  I swear, I never knew how much I would depend on that thing.  It’s a lifesaver.  It’s hard when Mike is out of town, and especially the weekdays with getting us out of the house and a dog walked by 730.  The evenings are a little wild too, but having that run helps so much.

I had a nice 15 miler yesterday.  It was pretty much a brutally humid and warm morning, but I finished feeling like I could easily do 10 more.   I don’t think running marathons back to back is that tricky.  The trick is to find the right formula to allow you to recover, but not too much since you still want to maintain your training.  The really fun thing about doing lots of back to back marathons, is you never end up grinding out a 20+ miler on your own.  Races end up replacing your long runs.  I am aiming to keep up a longish race per month throughout our whole Austin racing season and minimize my long solo runs, which are a love/ hate for me.  I enjoy it most of the time, but I have some that seem long and lonely.

On the diet front, Mike and I have totally been rocking a low cholesterol diet.  We are sorta modifying a vegan diet.  We eliminated dairy (minus non fat greek yogurt for me), and we do chicken breast and fish, and feta cheese only for cheese.  This instantly cuts down on your desserts.  After a couple weeks of it, I don’t really crave ice cream like I used to.  It feels good to try something that actually works, at least so far it is.

That’s all I got.  We’ve got swimming on tap for today, and a Black Star dinner tonight.  I feel treating myself to a craft brew and yummy salad is well deserved.  Lots of home yoga this week (I hope), the aforementioned stroller runs, and hopefully a happy little Super Why and border collie.

 

Updates later..

I’ll post Halloween pictures and other stuff later.  For now though, I feel I have to weigh in on the NYC marathon controvery.  I don’t think they should have it.    I understand how torn the runners must be.  This is such a huge event.   I was on the fence until I read about how devastated Staten Island still is.    What really got to me:  two little boys died right near the start.  Truly horrible stuff.  Out of respect, put the race on hold.   If you can afford the NYC marathon, you can probably afford to rebook a race somewhere else, and give a nice donation to help those affected by the storm. 

What I really hate is that a lot of people are going to see runners as insenstive assholes becasue of this controversy.  This is so not the case.  I know so many runners who have done charity fundraising.  I know when disaster strikes, or there is a need, runners are quick to organize a fundraiser. 

So I offer a challenge to my runner friends:  when you finish reading this, immediately go to the Red Cross’ site, or another charity and make a donation now…if you put it off you won’t end up doing it.  Yes, as runners we like our $25 socks, $100 race fees, and selfish time spent training.  But I also think we care about those who are in need.

Ok…next blog post will be my usual self absorbed BS…I promise.