Monday, December 30, 2013

A look back at my year of running

Every time I do one of these, it makes me feel like I'm in middle school/high school again and am filling out those surveys you used to forward to all your friends.

But the slight discomfort with most early 2000s flashbacks is overpowered by the millennial love of sharing my special snowflake-ness with you all.

Also, it's nice when other bloggers help you write your own posts. So from Miss Zippy via Pavement Runner, here is my year of running.

Best race experience? Tough question, because I didn't do a single race by myself this year, I only truly bombed one, and I had three personal-record-setting races.

As far as the actual experiences go, though, I have to set the Woofin' It 5K and the Boone County History 5K Run/Walk apart.

Unlike with PR-setting races, or simply races that were freakin' hard, the challenges in these races were always inherently funny: Of course it's hard to run up a hill when an energetic large dog is pulling you (and you're not on roller skates)! Of course wearing an old towel that's masquerading as a toga will slow you down in the August heat and humidity!

I'm not knocking serious races or completely noncompetitive ones (like the Glow Run or Color Run), but both of these had the right combination of pushing myself and enjoying myself. Particularly because one came right after the Drake Relays disaster.

Plus, the causes were close to my heart: Furry Friends Refuge and our good buddy Pam's employer.

Best run? Either I'm getting old and forgetful, or I just run too much to keep many individual ones straight. So I'm going to pick the early spring run at Raccoon River Park with Regina, Emily and Zach, because of how it broke the seal on social running for me.

I rarely ran with others back in Rockton. In 1.5 years in Des Moines, I'm sure I've done as many group runs, if not more, than in the 3.5 years I ran in Illinois ... counting races.

I knew making plans to run with others would hold me more accountable, but I had no idea it would also prove to be a fun way to spend time with people.

Best new piece of gear? My Halo headband, which I bought for RAGBRAI and continued to use the rest of the year. It's officially my favorite sweatband.

Best piece of running advice you received? Definitely the rhythmic breathing method, which I read about in Runner's World this spring.

It's significantly reduced the aches and pains I would feel on one side of the body but not the other, and focusing on syncing my breath and feet helps pace me better. I don't even care if it turns out to be 100 percent placebo effect — the benefits for me are real.

Most inspirational runner? I should be able to list off Boston Marathon bombing survivors or any of the people who tend to be featured in a Runner's World article, but right now, the one that sticks in my brain the most is Katie of run this amazing day.

In her most recent Ironman attempt, another biker hit her, possibly breaking her arm, near the end of the bike portion of the race. And she still ran the marathon portion, passing people while she did it.

If I can continue to treat this like an essay test and not a fill-in-the-blank, though, I'd like to add that my friends who push their limits — either by starting to run, returning to running or taking the marathon plunge — inspire me as well. Thanks, guys!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Better than ever.

This was definitely a breakthrough year: I notched quite a few PRs; maybe more importantly, it seemed like most runs were generally good ones in terms of performance and how I felt; and I cultivated a group with whom I could run and do races.

When I realized that I'd been running for about five years this past fall, I half-believed it, but now, I fully believe it — because things are certainly clicking.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My 2014 race wish list

More fun than making New Year's resolutions is making a list of the races I'd like to do next year.

(And, not coincidentally, thinking about spring is more fun than worrying about staying safe during the winter.)

I of course have some general goals to go along with the races, but I haven't refined them yet or studied whether the training I'd have to do with each is feasible.

But if all the stars align and nothing unexpected happens (HA!), here's what I'd like to sign up for in 2013.

Friendly Sons of St. Patrick 5K: I know for sure that one 2014 goal is to break my 5K PR. However, I'm not sure whether I can do it at this one, because last year it was gun timing only, no chips.

The field was either noncompetitive enough or small enough for me to line up almost at the start line last year, but I want the benefit of every second I can get. And I want those seconds to be measured by something more official than my iPhone.

The timing of this one is the best one I can find in the springtime, though, so this might be it by default.

Grand Blue Mile: I never got around to doing Rockford's mile race, but I'd rather run hard later in the day and earlier in the year anyway.

* Woofin' It 5K: Furry Friends Refuge is my favorite charity to support, and who can argue with a race where you see dogs — in costume — of all sizes and breeds?

Dam to Dam: Before I realized this was going to be a half marathon, I figured I'd just run it to cross off my signature-Iowa-events checklist. Then I heard of the distance increase and remembered how much more pleasant the 2013 race's weather was than the Drake Relays half ...

RAGBRAI: Alright, it's not a race. It's definitely happening, though.

Boone County 5K History Run/Walk: Gotta defend last year's best costume title.

Maffitt Trail Race: I miss my occasional off-road adventures, so this should fill that void. It also has a decent chance of being a PR race, because I've never done a five-mile race, and I've only done one 10-mile one.

Either the Iowa Remembrance Run or the Capital Pursuit 5K: These races seem like good settings for PR attempts. If they're on different weekends, then I've got two chances; if they're on the same weekend, like they were in 2013, I have to balance my fondness for what I know I love against the feeling that I should try for variety ...

Des Moines Half Marathon: ... except sometimes I have no qualms whatsoever about saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If I train in my hilly 'hood and lace up for a flat half marathon, I LOVE my chances of setting another PR.

Sycamore 8: This is one of the bigger "maybes" on my list. My feet and/or my budget might be tired of running. Or I might just chicken out. This definitely fulfills the urge for variety, and the urge to desire variety as well.

Feel free to weigh in on what I'm missing or what I'm right about!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The ups and downs of the Holiday Running Streak

As it turns out, when I claimed the first run of the Holiday Running Streak was the toughest one, I was wrong. Or at least just not clairvoyant.

I actually almost broke my streak Friday. Almost.

The ice storm that day knocked out my power, and that in turn nearly knocked out my ambition to head outside and run a mile. (Holiday festivities meant I would not be able to do so after work, so it was now or never.)

Thankfully, the electricity was restored about an hour and a half before I had to be at work, and so was my desire to keep the streak alive. For as long as it took to reach the sidewalks, that is.

The first few steps were fine. The next few, and almost all the ones after that, were not. I eventually resorted to running back and forth on the snow-crusted grass — at least there was traction there.

Not my favorite run ever, but I got it done.

On the opposite end of the fun spectrum was last Monday's run ... or, rather, runs.

It was bitter cold when Regina and I met at Water Works Park, but because of "my stupid streak" (as she confided she thought), we still got three miles in. During the run, I received a call from a number I didn't recognize, so I didn't answer.

Once my phone came back from the dead, I discovered what the call was: The Cheese Shop telling me that two spots were open at that night's holiday beer class. My Christmas present for Cory had arrived!

It meant delaying his run further, from after work to after a plate of cheese and a dozen beer samples, but I think we both agreed it was worth it. Because I'm a good sport — and easily made to feel guilty — I agreed to run that single mile with him.

So off we went around 8:30 or 9 p.m. with recently filled bellies. The switch out of jeans and into (elastic-waisted) running pants felt good, and so did the laughter over how ill-advised this decision probably was. I even got a side stitch from giggling, which didn't feel physically nice, but I didn't mind.

More importantly, no one threw up, and most importantly, no one broke their streak.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Crossing Polk Boulevard off my list

When I announced that I'd be moving to Des Moines, Mike at Running Is Funny sent me an article about the trails and good road routes.

Each time in the past year and a half that I've checked back, I think smugly, "Oh, yah, I know all about those rec paths," and then realize that once again, I haven't managed to hit up Polk Boulevard, the most intriguing (read: easy) of the road routes it mentions.

Co-worker Suzanne, a runner and longtime resident of Des Moines, has also mentioned its appeal. But despite willingly driving to Water Works Park or Gray's Lake from West Des Moines to meet friends, I couldn't manage to travel fewer miles to run Polk.

Then I moved close to Sherman Hill, and the obstacles disappeared. I've done a four-miler that covers about half of Polk and drops me off on an older part of Grand Avenue twice now, and I have to say — I can't wait to do it in the springtime!

OK, so that can be said of just about anywhere in the Midwest, given how dreary the dead grass and bare trees can look, even if you like running during the winter.

Cut me some slack; I'm clearly enjoying the switch from newer (albeit still lovely) suburban houses to older, stately ones. If anyone knows of running history or architecture tours in Des Moines, do share!

My favorite views from the runs:
Roosevelt High School — one of the prettier schools I've seen. Not on Polk, but close to it.
I love brick buildings, and I love cottage-like homes. So yes, I will take this as a Christmas gift.
The Butler House on Grand. I will also accept a yearlong reservation there as a gift, for when my lease runs out, if the Polk Boulevard home above isn't for sale. 
If I remember correctly, this is either a law firm or financial services office. Nothing wrong with our well-built, recently renovated office, but ... I wish I worked in a mock castle :( 
I appreciate the cheerful yellow on this one.
Other structures I liked from this run: the bridges over Interstate 235. Every time I drove to work, I'd admire the pretty blue arches as I went under them. And now I've conquered them.

The pedestrian-only one, as seen from the Polk Boulevard one. What a view!
I don't know what appeals to me so much about overpasses. Short flatlander syndrome?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The spoils of victory have arrived

Remember a few months back how I kept winning things, like competitions with boyfriends and free stuff from Another Mother Runner?

Well, the goodies — arm warmers and a baseball cap — arrived this week!

The obligatory selfie, before a four-mile test run:

No, I'm not chewing on a toothpick — that's a scratch in the mirror. Or a speck. Don't judge my housekeeping.
I was a little nervous about wearing so much new stuff on a run that definitely took me away from my place.

In particular, I wasn't sure that the arm warmers would fit properly — they're size medium, which in running tops I sometimes am, but which I almost never am in street clothes.

Also, the elastic on both ends brought back bad memories of my old iPhone arm case, which somehow both pinched and drooped/flopped all over.

Fortunately, this first-world problem did not occur. The warmers fit just fine and didn't creep anywhere; the hat, like all good hats, was adjustable. (And hot pink.)

So I'm happy with my free gear, but I do have to point out that this is a useless product review, because I didn't exactly test these in the conditions they're designed for.

The weather was just cool enough where I wanted to keep the sleeves on the entire time, rather than shed them midway through, and while being more visible to cars is a generally good idea, it wasn't exactly critical during a noon run along sidewalks in bright sunshine.

If nothing else, though, these freebies help the laundry rotation by converting two T-shirts into makeshift long-sleeved ones and adding one more forehead-sweat-catcher to my four sweatbands and one grubby baseball cap.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My new neighborhood is a little weird, and I like it

I've recently gone back to my dumbphone days and started running "naked" again — the cold weather kills my battery so fast that it's unnecessary dead weight in my pocket.

It's not like I'm training for anything, so I don't need to know my pace or splits; I'm also not doing solo night runs or venturing so far out into the wilderness that I fear for my safety when phone-free.

The most important purpose the iPhone has been serving, therefore, has been to take photos of the quirky things I find on my new routes. Such as:

A "little free library" outside someone's home. 
I've never seen an informal library outside of a coffee shop or a hotel, but I'm glad to find this — mostly because bookworms like to know they're not alone, but partly because then I have a backup plan if I run out of reading material while the library system is closed.

Traveling shrimp salesmen?
My parents live in the country, so I'm used to seeing roadside stands with produce. I've spent my entire life in the Midwest, so I'm *not* used to seafood tents. And no, I didn't buy any.

I think this was at the Jimmy John's on Grand.
I really hope someone has parked here illegally, and the business owner followed through with the graffiti's threat instead of calling a tow truck.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Things I've learned about running just one mile

I already knew from last year that running a single mile is an odd feeling at first, and that when you compare it with the misery you felt during the middle school mile run, it puts your fitness gains into amazing perspective.

The stretch of subzero wind chills and its corresponding single-mile-run streak have taught me a few more things about the experience:

1. Basically, my head will never not sweat if I'm moving faster than a brisk walk for more than a few steps.

2. My nose will still run, but I can make it back without a Kleenex break.

3. I still need to stretch afterwards. I'd gotten lazy about it, thanks to some poor time management, and after a few days of that, I woke up with my first charley horse in years.

I haven't skipped stretching since, and the charley horses haven't recurred. Correlation doesn't mean causation, but right now, I think my theory is a good one.

4. Though I happily miss out on the runger, I still catch a brief runner's high. That also might just be relief that the Holiday Run Streak lives another day, but hey, whatever lifts the spirits!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Two types of people I'm thankful for

As I wrote last year, I sometimes fear more than wintry conditions when I brave less-than-ideal weather to run outdoors. I worry that others' judgment could turn aggressive.

I've had lots of chances to test Des Moines' tolerance, unfortunately, given the bone-chilling cold that doesn't seem to be budging; but I'm happy to report that no one has even honked at me.

Late last week, as the temperatures took a nose dive, I kept an eye out and exhaled with relief each time I saw another runner. It's not like there's really safety in numbers, particularly when we're going in opposite directions — but maybe I subconsciously feel less conspicuous.

During this stretch of single-mile runs, though, I've noticed there's decent sidewalk traffic already in my stretch of Des Moines, no matter what the wind chill is: College students and dog owners are still out and about.

Beyond providing camouflage, they also reassure me that yes, it's still OK for humans to be outside in this weather, and we can even exchange a quick grimace that while it's OK, it's not fun. (More pragmatically: If the sidewalks are used, they're likely to be cleared in a timely, thorough manner.)

It's true that drivers are still likely to think I'm a pretentious, self-righteous jerk for being outdoors by choice, while they'll see the students/dog parents as just unlucky souls not dodging responsibility because it's cold.

But that's OK, because their misery is my company.

A look at the run streak since I last posted:

Friday: 1 mile. Obligatory observation that getting dressed for a single mile in single-digit temperatures takes more time than actually running.

Saturday: 1 mile. Cory joined me for this one. Out-and-back miles pass even faster when you have company.

Sunday: 2.5 miles. Cory and I were both pretty excited for our first snowy run of the season. We would've run longer, but we had plans later. Big, fluffy flakes make the hills seem slightly less awful.

Monday: 1 mile. I'd daydreamed about scattering a few short runs throughout the day, because I'd been feeling bad about the streak-within-a-streak of running less than three miles, but it just didn't happen. I also finally remembered, though, that these are runs I wouldn't have done were it not for the streak.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Running Streak: One week in the books

When I mentioned earlier this week that the first day of my streak was the hardest, I had no idea how wrong I was.

In descending order of ease/ascending order of difficulty, here's how the follow-up runs have gone.

Monday: 3 miles. I waited until later in the evening so I could have some company, so I missed another chance to do shorts in December. I took full advantage, however, of a chance to be a running despot.

We'd gone two miles (one lap around Gray's Lake), and I said I'd keep going if anyone else wanted to. Regina didn't want to and left; Cory didn't want to but continued for another mile with me.

I guess I just find two miles to be a weird increment — if I'm going to break a sweat, I might as well do it for three miles/30 minutes; if I'm aiming for a token run streak entry, no point in doing any more than a mile.

Tuesday: 4.7 miles. The target was closer to four, but I was set on reaching the intersection of two trails, and that point happened to be a slight downhill. No regrets, though, not even after the uphills.

My route took me through Greenwood Park, and even in the ugly transition period we're in (from fall to winter), it was so picturesque. There's a pond! A theater shell! Woods! I can't wait to run through it this spring.

This memorial caught me off-guard in Ashworth Park.
Wednesday: 3.25 miles. Our weather had started to turn slightly. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were long-sleeve days, but Wednesday added mist, fog, clouds and raw-at-times wind.

I was intent on getting at least three miles in at this point, however, because I'd seen what a cold front was going to do, and I was scared. So I ran to Salisbury House and back, admiring the many other majestic houses along the way.

Never mind the anachronistic cars outside the Tudor-style mansion.
Just as I was feeling incredibly grateful for having such a beautiful old neighborhood so close to me, I hit one of the steepest inclines I've found in Des Moines. I felt like I was running in sand, it was so dramatic, but fortunately it was short. Hill repeats in the spring?

Thursday: 1.03 miles. The Holiday Running Streak is now officially in peril. Our high was reached at 12:05 a.m., when I was most definitely NOT running, and it was a mere 19 degrees. I'd searched in vain for a relatively warm (emphasis on relatively) time to run and found nothing until next Tuesday, maybe.

So post-nap, I pulled on long johns underneath my tights, zipped my jacket over my warmer long-sleeved shirt all the way to my chin, and basically covered my entire head (fuzzy headband, face/neck warmer and sunglasses).

I did manage to avoid most of the wind gusts, either by smart route planning or procrastination, and I got an A- in dressing. (Socks should've overlapped my tights, or vice versa.) The worst part, though, was knowing how many more days I'll have to dump distance in favor of not catching hypothermia.

Yeah, I definitely take the streak too seriously.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I may be taking the run streak too seriously

I dream frequently, and more often than not, the contents of those dreams make some sort of twisted sense. 

Either I'm in a place I go to often, and/or with people I spend time with; or I'm feeling the same emotions I've been feeling recently.

That said, I don't dream about running very often; I can only think of a few occasions that I've done so, the most recent being about a week before the Des Moines Half Marathon.

Last night I did. I was preparing to leave town at the same time as a group of friends — maybe we'd been on vacation together? — and realized my Holiday Running Streak was in danger. 

The mode of transportation varied from car to plane, but the jist of it was, if I didn't run before leaving town, I would arrive at my destination the next day without having run.

All of my stuff was packed, and I couldn't find the vacation friend who was also doing the streak until almost the last minute. But we did find each other, and we just ran wherever we were, in our street clothes, to get that mile in.

Just like in conscious life, though, I think running was a metaphor in my dream. Still, I'm glad my stress dream had a happy ending — hopefully that bodes well for my real-life to-do list.

That said — in a few weeks, if I keep streaking successfully, I very well might have nightmares that truly are about forgetting to run until it's almost too late.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Running Streak kickoff: First step is the hardest

There was no reason for my Holiday Running Streak not to start strong.

I had the day off work; my family had visited me the previous weekend to help with moving; and the potluck I was attending didn't start until 2 p.m.

So naturally, it was after 10 p.m. before I got around to running. Fellow streakers Joel and Cory had long ago logged their runs and made sure I knew it, so the pressure was on.

But run I did — a single mile, but that's all you have to do to make it count. Funny how much better I felt after that, physically and mentally.

Here's a rundown of my streak so far.

Thursday: 1 mile. Hills are not fun on bellies that, until you moved, were comfortably full of food and wine. 

Hills are fun, however, for minds that remember how many desserts you ate (four small ones), approximately how much wine you drank (and still didn't catch a buzz, given the food baby you conceived) and how excited you were to finally explore your new neighborhood.

Friday: 3.75 miles. I tested out what I thought was the best route to pick up the Des Moines trail system. I glided through quiet, winding neighborhoods down to a gravel trail through Water Works Park, then huffed and puffed back up the downhills that were so relaxing earlier.

Des Moines continues to surprise me by how suddenly it turns rural. And how hilly it is.

Unrelated: This sign made me laugh.

Saturday: 3.25 miles. What those hills give, they also take. I'd noticed a steep uphill and sketched a path around it, reasoning that a hill at the end was good enough justification. 

But because I barely know the roads around my new place, I ended up picking a roller-coaster ride. With the relatively mild weather and the novelty of unfamiliar roads, though, I didn't mind at all.

Sunday: 2.66 miles. Sunday was a classic example of why Runner's World organized this run streak. Regina and I delayed our run so that we could do this:

That is a beer-and-cookie flight: a breakfast stout with the brownie, a vanilla oatmeal stout with the vanilla chocolate chip cookie, a citrusy IPA with the lemon bar, and a chocolate porter with the chocolate chocolate chip cookie.
I had no regrets (OK, I wish only one of us had gotten the brownie pairing so we could've split that), but I did need a few hours for the stomach to settle. And to be honest, during the run, I realized it wasn't at 100 percent.

However — I went, and given how lovely it was earlier in the day (yeah, when I was drinking beer and eating baked goods), I dared to bare the legs. Shorts in December!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Living History Farms Race photos

Yesterday we binged — on food and on words about running. Today we hold back.

The '80s, the '90s and the '60s, before we set off to find the '70s.
I made the bell bottoms. Seriously. That's how I prioritized my time during a cross-town move. 
We had our photo taken as a group after the race, but Regina's phone ate the evidence, and none of my neighbors were around to take a group shot in the hall of my soon-to-be-former apartment complex.  
To close the book on Living History Farms 2013: When Matt, our '70s representative, checked the weather shortly before race time, he found that the temperature was 13 ... but the wind chill was 6 below.

How did we flower children survive?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Belated race report: Living History Farms Race

What am I grateful for this Thanksgiving? Well, a number of things, but the most relevant one to this post and blog audience is that I did the Living History Farms Race and that I survived.

(I'm also grateful that if I had to plunk a race in the middle of a week's worth of moving/unpacking, it was one that didn't require a serious training plan. There's my excuse for my silence.)

So about Living History Farms. People warned me about the bottlenecks, the costumes and the water crossings. I listened closely and believed them, but there are some things one must experience to truly understand.

The bottlenecks worked to our advantage, in one respect, because one member of the team hadn't ever run more than three miles, and another had maxed out at four miles. There may have been equal parts running and walking in this race from our team, but almost none of it can be blamed on fitness.

The bad part of it, duh, was that we were moving slower in less-than-ideal conditions. Also, beyond the cold, the terrain made me nostalgic for the forest preserves back in Rockton and what a fun challenge running there was. When else will I look back on difficult running with such fondness?

As for the costumes, I was pleased with how well our team members managed to represent our respective decades -- yep, that was our theme -- despite our last-minute tendencies and the incredible cold.

Other runners definitely delivered on the costume front as well. I was surprised to see nearly naked guys committed to their plans of being nearly naked, but I guess I shouldn't have been. The costume that made me laugh the most, though, was the adult African-American man dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz."

Close runners-up were the people who wore plastic butt cheeks on the outside of their tights, but they lose points because I had to stare at that ridiculous image as I scrambled up a hill that I honestly was afraid I'd slide back down.

And now for the water crossings and, equally important, the actual weather reading. I'd read online that there would be eight crossings and that midday highs would be in the low 20s ... but very little prepares you for that reality.

Neither, honestly, was quite as bad as I expected. The first creek was fairly shallow; the second and third ones (back to back) were deep and made me yell for quite a few yards afterward; and after that, it became a point of pride.

The prerace warning of a crotch-deep creek never came to fruition, unless someone shorter than me was the measuring stick (unlikely), but the warning of "wear shoes you don't want anymore" was spot-on. RIP, pink Brooks Ghosts.

My biggest hurdle with the water and temperature was self-inflicted: The flares on my bell bottoms froze after the second-third creek crossing, so instead of merely kicking the cloth out of the way as I climbed a hill, I nearly tripped a few times. CLOP-CLOP-CLOP was how I sounded at the end.

Now for my great reveal, for those not there. The temperature at the end of the race? 16 degrees.

And by "end of the race," I mean that we took off at 9 a.m., ran/walked/climbed/waded for 2:23:01, had a bowl of beef stew and walked back to the car to check our phones ... at THAT point, it was 16 degrees.

Before the race, I was a little cold and a little whiny; during the race, I was a little cold when the wind blew and a little whiny; after the race, I was absolutely freezing -- like, my fingers were painful -- and absolutely insistent that we get into the car as soon as possible.

OK, so what does all this rambling mean, as far as my experience goes? As I said earlier, I'm glad I did it ... but I'm perfectly fine never doing it again.

I like completing/attending Des Moines' signature events, and having teams at them is definitely a bonus. Doing LHF this year -- without skipping a single water obstacle -- earns us some serious bragging rights, especially when more than 1,000 runners backed out because of the weather.

But I think I prefer the challenge of running the entire length, or of pushing myself to finish as fast as possible, to having the quirks of LHF or the Warrior Dash.

To come full (enormous) circle? I'm grateful for the discipline that training-required races provide, for the huge sense of accomplishment they give me afterward and for the light-hearted races in between that make me realize this.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm getting cold feet, literally

It was only a few days ago that I looked at the 10-day weather forecast and saw little chance of precipitation and highs in the 40s for Saturday's Living History Farms run.

My celebration was premature, however. Depending on which forecast I look at, the highs are in the mid-20s to maybe 30, if we're lucky.

A co-worker who's survived Living History Farms about four times offered some words of encouragement, when I suggested that perhaps this was not the best reason to use my final vacation day of 2013: "When it's that cold, the mud won't be muddy anymore. And the creeks might be frozen too!"

I'm not being sarcastic when I say that is somewhat comforting: I don't like getting my feet wet. (OK, I generally don't like being wet outside of the shower or the hot tub.)

That means the run will likely be fine — once I get going in the cold, I warm up pretty quickly. And on race day, getting going isn't as much of a challenge as it is during everyday runs ("just one more chapter/blog post, then I run").

It's the waiting around before the race that I dread.

I'm doing night-before packet pickup, so that will shave some time off the amount I'll need to huddle with my teammates in hopes of not freezing.

But that walk to the start ... and any extra time we left to make sure we'd get there in time ... I have a feeling that some profane and grumpy language will be used.

End whining, cue bragging: At least I won't be alone — Regina and Cory will be braving the cold with me — and at least we came up with a cohesive, warm costume idea for our team.

My victory as Julius Caesar continues to inspire me, and I'm putting forth some actual effort on the costume. Stay tuned for the great reveal!

Monday, November 18, 2013

I need a change from this scenery

I've listed off the serious and facetious parts of West Des Moines running that I'll miss.

But don't worry; I'm not going to shed tears over this weekend's move. Besides my visual fatigue with the same roads and trails, here's what I'm looking forward to leaving behind:

5. The geese around my current apartment complex: I try to dodge their doo-doo along the sidewalks, within reason. In winter, with icy and snowy conditions, this becomes a real hazard.

Also, Doug's affirmative answer to my question of "do geese attack?" has reinforced my paranoia that they'll choose to herd ME off the sidewalk, instead of the other way around.

4. Construction all over: First it was the Jordan Creek Trail underneath Interstate 35. Then it was the Walnut Creek Trail under Interstate 235. Now it's the Jordan Creek Trail pretty much everywhere east of 60th Street, it seems.

Yes, I like safe and smooth infrastructure, but that doesn't mean I can't wish the trails could remain open when they're not being repaired.

3. That rough spot on the Jordan Creek Trail that I either had to detour around, or ride gingerly to avoid another pinch flat: After discovering two pinch flats either during or after a certain stretch along EP True Parkway, I reacted not by learning to change a flat tire, but by scouting out a detour that added miles and a crossing of EP True that didn't have a traffic light.

It's definitely one of the rougher spots on the trail, and compounding the issue is that the slope from sidewalk to street (of which there are several) isn't very smoothly done. I'd forgive lengthy construction closures if this were what was being fixed.

2. The 60th Street hill(s) and Westown Parkway overpass: When your parents' house/your apartment sits close to several hills, you become a stronger runner without even trying — unless, of course, you're motivated enough and organized enough to drive to a flatter starting point consistently. (I am not.)

Here, I have a dramatic downhill to the north and south on 60th Street, meaning there's a dramatic uphill if I do an out-and-back those directions. Then, to the east, is the Westown Parkway overpass. (And yes, there are hills to the west, but just not of the demonic sort.)

I've definitely developed a strategy for these hills, and I don't deny the value of running hills, even if your race courses will all be perfectly flat. And I even recognize that, with my new apartment being close to the Sherman Hill neighborhood, I'm not escaping all elevation increases.

Still — good riddance to these particular inclines. Familiarity breeds contempt, in this case.

1. The traffic lights at the beginning/end of these hills. Funny how when I'm flying downhill, they turn red, but when I'm crawling uphill, they turn green as soon as I reach the top — leaving no excuse not related to my fitness to linger.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What I'll miss about running in West Des Moines

I mentioned in an offhand way a few posts ago that I would be moving soon.

Soon came sooner than I thought: By Thanksgiving, I'll be out of my West Des Moines apartment and living in Des Moines proper.

There are, of course, many aspects of the new apartment that I'm excited about (otherwise I would've just renewed here), but, duh, one of them is fresh running scenery.

At the same time, I'll miss certain things about my current place, some of them related to running routes. I've been planning a few runs (not all of them) with the intention of hitting some spots I likely won't return to very soon.

The top five features of West Des Moines running that I'll miss:

5. Proximity to Raccoon River Park: I didn't even go there to run very often, but its gravel trail and heavy tree cover reminded me of a beloved trail back in my hometown (which in fact I want my ashes scattered along, some day far in the future).

It's where I set two 5K personal records at the past two Remembrance Runs, and it's also where I first went running with fellow "Scoop Chasers" Regina, Zach and Emily — setting the tone for a year of meeting up to run or bike.

4. Nearby restaurants: I frequently run past Biaggi's, Culver's, Taco John's, Arby's and a few other fast-food joints, and they all put out heavenly smells. Sometimes it's a cruel taunt, but mostly I just enjoy another reason to think about food.

3. The Ashworth Road overpass over Interstate 35: I just really like this overpass. I'm not sure whether it's because of the vines growing over the chain-link covering, or whether it's because I often cross it after coming up a long incline.

2. The variety of trails in all directions: I'm within a mile of the Jordan Creek Trail, within about 1.5 miles of the Clive Greenbelt Trail and at most seven miles from the Raccoon River Valley Trail. That doesn't even include the minitrails around the city.

Best of all — they're not all in the same direction, so I could pick based on where the wind was coming from. Or where I wanted to deal with hills.

1. Its wide, smooth, continuous sidewalks: In the part of the city where I live, West Des Moines' sidewalks are twice as wide as my new neighborhood's are; almost every street has nonstop sidewalk; and nearly every one is either smooth or along a road so quiet that I can just hop into the street.

Coming next week, to ward off any nostalgia as move-out approaches: what I'm ready to say goodbye to.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shivering ... with delight?

As I mentioned previously, dressing for winter runsand just getting excited about running, period — has been a struggle of late.

Once a week, though, I've relied on peer pressure to get me out there. The recent strategy is, after too much eating and sitting on a Saturday, I text Regina on a Sunday to make plans to run Monday.

Including this past Monday, we are three for three on following through on those plans. What's more impressive: Our most recent one was on the evening of Des Moines' first snow.

Throw on a blanket as you read the key figures from the Monday night run:

28: Actual temperature.

16: Feels-like temperature.

18: Wind, in mph.

10: Minutes after sunset that this run began.

1: Other people spotted during this lap around Gray's Lake. (Two other runners wrapped up before we started, and one biker took off before us.)

I arrived before Regina did and made the mistake of looking up these weather stats. If I hadn't thought it would be rude to bail while she was en route, I would have. (I made another mistake in confessing this to her, at which point she told me that it would've been OK this particular time.)

Instead, I went through with it. And you know what? It was actually kind of fun. Very cold, yes, and slippery in spots. But I'm glad I put on an extra layer instead of texting "actually never mind."

Despite the pitch-black sky at 6 p.m., as I drove back, I felt cheerful and enthusiastic — OK, less negative — about winter running. I might not go into early hibernation after all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The puzzle of what to wear

The past two times I've gone running, I've had an uncomfortable realization:

Those people I secretly laughed at for being so overdressed? I, right now, am one of them.

Each time I've set out in tights, a windbreaker, a fuzzy hat and gloves, I've ended the run wishing I'd left at least two, if not three, of those items at home.

One run even found me bundling the gloves and hat in my windbreaker as I slogged up a hill, the sweat pouring unchecked down my face.

I bet those drivers on Westown Parkway were totally inspired to pick up running, after watching that spectacle. (Sarcasm.)

The offending hat and windbreaker. This is my "I-don't-wanna-go-run!" face. The "too-hot!" face is much redder and wetter.
Is this better or worse than the too-cold run to which my overdressing is reacting? Probably, because overdressing at least gets me out the door. Right now, this Viking princess is more princess than Viking.

But all self-deprecation aside — I know, when I'm not alternately thinking "SO HOT" and "I hate running," that it just takes a few runs to fine-tune my winter clothing strategy.

I'll also choose to believe, in lieu of lumping myself in with the springtime windbreaker-and-earmuff-wearers, that I overheated because I ran such smart routes: The same obsession with that uncovered "feels like 35," sending panic through my veins, also showed me the wind direction.

That meant I planned my loop going into the wind, then returning with it at my back, as running gurus have advised. So when my overheated body turned around to head home, it at least stayed too warm instead of turning into an icicle made of sweat (a sweatsicle?).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Resolutions for the rest of the year

The post-PR buzz has officially faded into a mild case of burnout.

It's nothing serious or new to runners — it's been an ambitious, busy year, and I've completed the last of my big events for the year. Now what?

Part of me wants to just spend the rest of the year on the couch, but the rest of me thinks that's a bad idea. So we're striking a compromise.

In three weeks, I've got the Living History Farms race, so aimless, mindless, directionless running won't fly. (I'll just end up running three miles a few times a week.) But because it's an adventure more than a race, I just need to make sure I still have functional muscles.

The compromise: run three times a week at minimum, without concern for time/speed, and add one or two days of cross-training. Also, I'm inspired enough by a recent post on about taking care of the little things to declare I'll foam roll more often.

After Living History, it's couch time until Thanksgiving, when the Runner's World Holiday Running Streak begins.

As amazing as hibernation sounds, I'm going to delay it until 2014 because I enjoyed the challenge last year. It gave me something different to focus on/strive for, and like it was designed to do, it kept me moving during prime eating season.

Tentative plans for the run streak are to have three one-mile days, and then to set an upper limit (I'm thinking four or five) for the other days.

And on Jan. 2, I will give up running for at least a week, if not two. Last year, that was easy because I caught a nasty sinus infection; this year, it might be easy because my lease runs out Dec. 31 and I intend to move and adopt a second cat.

But who knows. If we have a beautiful nonwinter like we did in 2011-12, laziness might turn out to be tough after all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

About those 20 seconds

I don't think I've addressed the 20 seconds in a blog post yet. Now it's time.

Don't worry. I'm not going to berate myself or demand sympathy, because I honestly don't see either of those as necessary.

I will admit to realizing, fairly early on, that I had a decent shot at hitting or breaking 2:00:00 during the Des Moines Half Marathon.

As the miles — and my strength — wound down, I checked back frequently to gauge the possibility. Around mile 12, as one of my cheerleaders biked past me on his way to the finish line, I shouted back at his words of encouragement that I thought I could break 2:00:00 still.

Obviously it didn't quite happen, and the instant that I realized that — probably a minute or so out — I was as disappointed as my low energy levels would allow me to be. Not devastated, but definitely negative.

But after the race, until I'd gotten the massage that I so desperately wanted, I was crabby in general. I don't know how much of it was disappointment, compared with fatigue, irritation with the crowds and anxiety over finding/waiting for the massage.

I can honestly say, though, that once I was on the table and telling the DMU student about my race, I no longer cared.

Even if the woman hadn't been stretching me in wonderful ways, it would've been difficult to tell her that I took eight full minutes off my previous best — set 2.5 years ago — and I finished 4.5 minutes ahead of my best-case-scenario goal, but I should've finished at least 20 seconds sooner.

Yeah, I can be a harsh critic of myself, and I can often find a reason to look past the fact that I trained diligently for two-plus months and finished a half marathon, sometimes in adverse conditions, to focus on the end numbers.

Not this time, though. The PR-breaking margin is enough to keep me from second-guessing anything, like the two nausea-fighting walk breaks or the post-gel-water-drinking walk break.

Sure, if I'd kept running, I might've been able to break two hours. But I also might've thrown up, spilled the entire beverage, choked or just missed a chance to catch my breath and refocus.

And if all I walked during a half marathon (more than a half marathon, because I haven't mastered running the tangents) is 20 freakin' seconds ... that's something to be proud of. Which I am.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The way to a runner's heart is through her foot

Confession: I don't usually use much, if anything, in my race-day bag.

If it *is* a bag, like my Drake Relays gear bag or my Boone County History 5K lunch pail, I'll use it. And I'll probably wear the shirt that comes along with it.

But all those ointment samples, coupons for fitness stores and magazines? Well, I appreciate the thought at least ...

So it is with much excitement that I found something to use and reuse in my Des Moines Half Marathon bag (I might've picked it up at the expo): a keyholder for your shoes.

Until now, the drawstring on shorts/tights has been my savior, but when I have to bring my car keys, that gets rather bulky. To my great surprise, the bundle of a car key, two apartment keys and two loyalty cards fit perfectly in the free keyholder.

I tested it on a recent run through Water Works Park (on a trail that wasn't part of the half) and figured that even if I hated it, I could use the clip on my waistband instead.

No need! The pouch didn't flop around, making me both annoyed and fearful that I'd lose it, and it didn't seem to keep the top of my foot from flexing.

Yeah, I could've bought one of those at any point over the past five years and avoided the complaints I just listed off. But I didn't, and now I don't have to — and I can catch one last post-race high weeks later.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A less technical look at the Des Moines Half

So I've already rambled about what I did right during the Des Moines Half; here's what other people did right.

First of all, I really like Des Moines. So it stands to reason that I'd like the Des Moines Half's course. I liked passing familiar spots, like the Capitol, Court Avenue bars and my hair salon, and I also liked when we veered off the roads I always drive so that I could see a few landmarks I don't have memorized.

I know the race boasted about how much went through Water Works and Gray's Lake parks, and of course those were scenic, but weirdly enough I think I would've enjoyed more city running. 

(Then again, the familiarity with the Gray's Lake terrain was awfully nice. And as someone who works in downtown Des Moines, I probably shouldn't encourage more road closures/detours in a part of town that's already heavily one-way traffic.)

The spectator turnout always impresses me, no matter what race I do. Kids reached out for high-fives; strangers told us we were looking great; signs encouraged us to smile if we'd peed and reminded us that we were running better than the government.

Of course, this was one of the two best signs:

Zach (not pictured, because he's taking the picture), Emily and Regina made this sign for me, though I couldn't read it when I went by; after I'd finished, we came back out to the same spot to cheer on Cory, our marathoner. It was a crowd-pleaser in general.
Seriously, though, Zach, Emily and Regina were awake and dressed and out of their apartments at 8 a.m. on a Sunday trying to cheer me and Cory on. They missed us early on, but they found us at my mile 11/Cory's mile 24, and a block from the finish.

And here was the other best sign:

One thing they teach you at Truman State is how to make fantastic signs. Chelsea and I practiced this skill for Zach's weight-lifting meets, back in the day.
This one came via text from fellow Warriors Zach and Chelsea, who had initially thought they'd already be in Des Moines during the race weekend. (And again, because I got this at the race's start, this meant that a 20-something was coherent at 8 a.m.) It still did the trick.

Speaking of support, of course the volunteers at the aid stations were great (though as I mentioned I didn't really visit that often), and there was even one spectator who brought a box of Kleenex and handed out tissues. I run with my own, but I appreciated her effort.

The second-biggest boost I got was from another runner. Right after I passed Zach, Emily and Regina for the second time, as I prepared to cross the Locust Street bridge, nausea hit me. I could see the finish line, and I still clung to hope that I'd break 2:00:00, but my stomach ...

So I stopped. Maybe swore under my breath. And a woman in a lime-green shirt came up from behind, put her hand on my back, and chirped: "You can do it! We're almost there!"

I picked up my feet and started running again. Thanks, random runner. 

My only quibble was the opening/closing part of the Water Works Park section. You can see on this map that from about mile four to five, and from roughly eight to nine, that you had two-way traffic on your standard-width rec path.

I'm a little claustrophobic, and I was also feeling perky, so not being able to pass very well frustrated me. This was likely a good thing, to preserve some energy, but the crowd was big enough still at that point where it was physically difficult.

However, I will say that it was neat, and not at all discouraging, to watch an elite runner whiz by at his mile eight, which lined up around my pace group's mile four. Again, these guys literally run twice as fast as we mortals.

Last thing: I made sure to smile when I saw the race photographers. While I don't look like a monster, or a martyr, I still don't see why anyone would pay for these pictures ... but here's a link to them for your amusement.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Full race report: Des Moines Half Marathon

The theme of my Des Moines Half experience (2:00:20, to boast once more) was doing everything right.

When I told people my goals, their responses were either "Oh, you can totally do that" or "I think you'll do even better than that."

But previous races have shown me that executing my part of the plan isn't a given — nor is the continuation of the weather conditions that I've trained in.

That wasn't so Sunday. While it was cooler than the majority of my training, it was just about identical to the taper runs I'd done over the past week.

First good move: fighting off the paranoia about being too cold and trusting (correctly) that I'd warm up enough to appreciate a T-shirt and shorts.

I must've tapered properly, because the only body part that demanded "why are we running?" was my brain. My legs felt fresh and fluid, and I definitely did not get the sense early on that it wasn't going to be my day.

I feared starting off too fast and burning myself out. So once we got started — and wow was this a big race; I think it took about three minutes to cross the starting line — I kept an eagle eye on my phone until I settled into a comfortable pace.

Mission accomplished. MapMyRun says the first mile was my slowest, and it also says I stayed within a 40-second range.

Throughout the race, I mostly trusted my body. I've never taken so few water breaks during a half marathon, but I just wasn't thirsty, and I also really didn't want to stop and break my stride. I did have water around the halfway point, because I'd taken my gel, but that was it.

I've also never taken so few walk breaks. Again, I was in the zone and didn't want to leave it. There were times when I wanted to, but my practice telling myself "you got this" paid off.

The bargaining method ("you can walk at mile 10") worked even better than during training — as other runners have observed, once I reached whatever marker, I actually felt fine and just kept going.

On the converse side, I felt queasy twice. The first time was after the only hill in the half marathon, and after I passed some AWESOME friends who showed up to cheer me on with a sign; the second time was within sight of the finish line.

I let myself walk both times — embarrassing during the second time — and the nausea subsided.

Finally, to wrap this up, my post-race activities were mostly spot-on. I got the massage as soon as possible; I didn't go completely sedentary, but I didn't stay on my feet the entire time; I hit up a hot tub later in the day; and I went to bed at 9:30 p.m.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Early race report: Des Moines Half Marathon

As surely no one will blame me for, I'm not quite up to writing a full recap of yesterday's half marathon.

But for those who are curious — and to massage my own ego — I figured I could at least post some preliminary numbers:

My finish time was 2:00:20 (!), a pace of 9:12 overall. That placed me 162 out of 573 in my age/sex group, but more importantly, it's a personal record by 8:12.

No wonder I'm still tired today.

Waiting for the start, huddled together for warmth with temperatures in the 40s. Give me that over 60s any day, though.
The tl;dr version of the full post will be: This is the first half marathon that I'll repeat ... and I'm 97 percent sure that I'll never run Des Moines' other half marathon, the hilly and late-spring Drake Relays half, again.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Strange sights on Sunday runs

I went for a long stretch without seeing very many weird things out on runs.

The two Sundays leading up to today's race have broken that streak.

First, I saw what seemed to be a strangely high amount of clothing: Downtown, just off the Neal Smith Trail and near an apartment complex, there was a pair of tightie whities crumpled up on the sidewalk.

It reminded me of a pair I watched for months back off a country road in Rockton. I assume — without investigating — that people are discarding dirty pairs, but can't they just wait and put them in a garbage can?

Less gross but more oddly placed were the socks along the Jordan Creek Trail's 50th Street underpass. Without an apartment complex or laundromat nearby, there's not much explanation beyond a very unhygienic one: If there's no toilet paper to be found, I'm told, one's best bet is to use a sock.

But not everything I saw was bathroom-humor-related: I had a pleasant wildlife encounter not far from my complex.

I'm used to running up toward geese, which frankly scares me a little bit (do they attack?), so it was a pleasant change to see smaller birds hanging out on the sidewalk this past Sunday.

Most of them scattered as I approached, except for one bold one. As it turned out, s/he was lingering to pick up a half-eaten piece of pizza.

I suppose I could also demand who throws out a perfectly good piece of pizza, like I did with the laundry-litterers, but I was too amused by the bird's salvaging of it.

It was like something out of a cartoon, come to life. If only a dopey person had been holding the piece, gearing up to take a big bite ...

(Yes, I know birds eat people food, the prime example being bread crusts.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Race-day goals for the Des Moines Half

The latest issue of Runner's World magazine includes an article on how to create a race-day plan ... which you're supposed to have created three weeks out.

Oops. Well, I can at least set up my race-day goals for the Des Moines Half.

Optimistic goal: Finish in 2:05 or below, meaning a 9:30-mile pace. During my nine-miler, I kept a 9:16 pace; during my 10-miler, I was at 9:29; and during my 11-miler, I did 9:18.

Given that the middle of those two runs was the hottest and hilliest, you might think I'm selling myself short in this goal. (Cory does; after my 11-miler, he told me I could maybe hit 2:00. That's a goal for later)

However, we all have to remember that I have a history of choking on race day — going out too fast and having a subsequent mental meltdown as the speedy miles wear me down physically.

While I realize that unlike during the Hy-Vee Half, the weather should be cool, and the route should be flat, that doesn't mean fierce prairie winds can't sink me.

But back to optimism: Nowadays, I'm doing a much better job of keeping a sustainable pace for the first few miles, then speeding up as my muscles warm up and the terrain flattens, and talking myself through the tougher final miles.

With that in mind, if I keep the first few miles around 9:30, I can give myself permission to let "comfortably fast" happen. That could be 8:45; that could be 9:00 — whatever. Just as long as I don't burn myself out so that the final miles creep up to 10:00.

Acceptable/realistic goal: Beat my previous PR of 2:08:32, meaning a 9:48 pace. If this doesn't happen, I'd be ... well ... as shocked and pissed as I was this spring (2:10:33). Again — flat and cool this time.

Worst-case-scenario goal: Keep it above 2:10, but more importantly, don't suffer too much.

Goal(s) not related to time: Improve the pacing over previous races — i.e., don't fly out of the starting gate, walk most of the last 5K, and/or crawl across the finish line.

Keep positive, or at least neutral. The self-talk has become more encouraging, so I hope to continue that, and I really hope there's no repeat of "where the f*** is the finish line?"

And lastly: Take advantage of the post-race massage booth.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A possible half marathon first

Something special could happen for me at this weekend's half (gulp!) — I could have a cheering section.

To be specific, it would be a handful of friends who didn't already run an event that same day. It would be people who dealt with event traffic/road closures/early wake-up calls to watch my tomato face huff and puff.

It started with a regular conversation about the race with friend/emergency contact Ken, a former photographer who's still got the bug ... and a new camera. Maybe he would swing by at the start and take a few photos of me, he said. 

Then out-of-town friends who were already going to be in Des Moines that weekend anyway asked what I was up to; I told them that Friday night — not Saturday — would be the time to paint the town, because Cory and I would be racing Sunday. 

"What time does it start?" they responded. "It wouldn't hurt us to be sober enough to cheer you on."

Next was a discussion of when to catch up with a perpetually out-of-town friend. As we rattled off our various commitments, I mentioned the race, and how there might be a few cheerleaders there for me.

She lives downtown, not far from the start — "Oh, I should come cheer you and Cory on!" she said. 

And then, that night, as fellow runner Regina and I argued over whether she would be prepared for the Living History Farms race (I say she will; she disagrees), I reminded her that with my taper week coming and a recovery week to follow, we could run together, no problem.

"When's the race again?" she said. "I should come watch you guys."

My feelings wouldn't be hurt if every single one of them thought about being awake and out of bed at 10 a.m. on a Sunday; I'm honestly just touched that anyone would toss the idea out there. 

Still, I've shared the athlete update link with all of them and mentioned the app Ken told me about that lets people track you in real time (helpful with coordinating out-of-town guests' arrival, he says).

Monday, October 14, 2013

This is how I know race day is coming

The first sign that race day is nearing is, of course, seeing it pop up in your weather forecast.

It's still in the 10-day look, which I only put stock in if the predictions are favorable, but I'm glad that being neurotic has some sort of payoff.

The second sign is the stress dream. That came last Friday night.

In the dream — yep, I'm gonna be that person that yammers on about dreams — I was waiting for the half marathon to start with my friend Ashlee, who in the real world loves biking but dislikes running.

We had to wait, because the race course was actually just laps, and the marathoners got to go first. (In fact, did I start too early with them, and have to head back?)

But bad weather struck, and the start was delayed. Just an hour. Didn't seem bad. We went our separate ways, for some reason, and kept calling a hotline to see what was up.

I decided to pass my time at a bar/restaurant while grabbing something to eat — a hamburger or something, because it was around dinner time — and watched the radar.

Everyone agreed it looked promising. The skies were clearing. It was a false positive, though; next thing I knew, a serious storm was slamming the area, and the race director was postponing the race indefinitely.

So naturally I went to work from there. The dream co-workers greeted me with a request that I work some overtime shifts (reflection of real-life work busyness), and I responded ... by slamming a fist on the desk and yelling about how I didn't even know when the rescheduled race would be, and I'd been training for two months for this, and I'd spent X dollars on it, and I JUST WAS NOT GOING TO WORK, OK?

(This is not how I behave at work in real life. I promise.)

As far as stress dreams go, it's not a bad one. No forgetting things, no showing up naked, no oversleeping. I'm sure the latter will terrorize me on the night before, keeping me tossing and turning.

It just exaggerates the very mild, very normal race-week nerves I'm developing: Oh crap, I paid to run 13.1 miles soon.