Category Archives: Humor

A preggers pause

I’m about 2 weeks away from having this kiddo (eeek!), and I was feeling bad for neglecting Stride & Joy as it was such a big part of my life over the past couple of years. I fully intend that it will be again, but for now running has taken a backseat to teeny tiny clothes and trying not to go insane finishing things up at work. (Running is still a massive part of Hubby’s life, so I am living vicariously through him, but it’s not quite the same. Although part of me is grateful to be spending much less time sitting in parking lots.)

0.0

I am not planning on writing much about babies/parenthood once the big event happens as there are about a gazillion blogs that do that way better than I ever could, but I was on the train the other morning thinking about the past nine months, and I figured one preggers post would be OK. So, here goes …

The best and worst things I discovered about being pregnant

Best:
1. I can finally take that seat on the train right next to the door (you know the one) without feeling like I am going to get hairy-eyeballed by a little old lady.
2. I can enjoy watching my belly expand without worrying that it’s from too many dirty gin martinis.
3. I can claim a really, really good reason for only being able to run two miles of a half-marathon. (My usual reason is lame.)
4. I can spend inordinate amounts of time online looking up things like “breast pump bags that aren’t completely hideous” and “baby wall art that doesn’t make me want to barf” without feeling as though I am wasting my life on the internets.
5. My hair is awesome. I know it’s about to all fall out, but I’ll take it for now.
6. People are amazingly, astoundingly generous.

Worst:
1. I rarely get that aforementioned seat on the train because no one stands up. I can count the number of people who have given up a seat for me (or tried to) on one and a half hands. (Granted, I have been wearing a giant puffy jacket that until about two months ago revealed little unless I turned sideways. But still.)
2. The puffy jacket. It must be the least unflattering item of clothing I have ever put on my person. And I have spent a decent amount of time in running tights with shorts over the top.
3. I have been told that I am tiny. I have been told that I am big. I wish people would make up their minds. Or better yet, just stop commenting on my size. I don’t tell you you’re having a fat day.
4. I am at my sleepiest at 3.30 in the afternoon, which of course always seems to be just before a big meeting.
5. It takes me twice as long to walk anywhere right now, not because I am having to waddle—although that is true—but because I am so worried about slipping on the dang ice (it’s happened twice). No one can tell from behind that I’m preggers, so people get peeved when they get stuck behind me on the sidewalk in between impassable snow banks (I’ve heard the harrumphs). If I had a do-over, I’d make a sign and stick it on my back: “I’m this slow because I’m walking for two.” 

That’s all for now. Wish me luck!

  

A bump in the road …

preggers

Hello in there.

This is what happens when you stop running …

OK, perhaps not. But it sure does look that way.

Savvy readers may have noticed that there hasn’t been much striding on Stride & Joy lately. I have found that running for two isn’t nearly as easy (or fun) as eating for two. (I don’t like feeling as though my insides are about to fall out every time my foot hits gravel.)

Since entering this state of stomach expansion and new-found wobbly bits, I have done a couple half-marathons and a handful of smaller races, so at least I feel like I gave the whole running-while-preggers thing the old college try. (Although, given that what I normally do barely constitutes running, I’m not sure how to qualify what I was doing on my knocked-up races. But, hey, I always crossed the finish line.)

For the past couple of months, it’s been couch city for the most part, although I have been working out on Hubby’s new Elliptigo, which we turned into a stationary trainer (more on that later). I was swimming, but then our YMCA sprung a massive leak and ended up shuttered for three months. Perhaps it was a sign. I thought about yoga, and then thought about it some more. But by the time I get around to going to a class, this kid is going to be ready for higher education. I’m just not cut out to be bendy, especially not now, when putting on my shoes is about as unattainable as doing crane pose.

I fully intend to be back out there when I can (Stride & Bundle of Joy?), red-faced as ever, jogging stroller at the ready. Until then, happy 2014, everyone! May the road rise up to meet you.

Runner’s World Festival 2013 recap, aka, 10K is really, really far

Given that Runner’s World CRO Bart Yasso is currently stalking my husband (seriously, he seems to be at EVERY one of Hubby’s runs), it seemed only fitting that we should go to the Runner’s World Half and Festival in Bethlehem, PA.—Yasso’s hometown—last month.

OK, so I may have got that stalking bit backwards, but we were pretty excited about this event. Hubby especially, because he got to do the Hat Trick (there was even a hat to mark the accomplishment)—a 5K, 10K, and half-marathon over the two days of the fest, otherwise known as running for crazy people. I, on the other hand, was signed up for the 10K, which was possibly 10K more than I should have been signed up for, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival

Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania.

The festival was held at the SteelStacks, a cultural/recreation center that has been developed in the shadow of the former blast furnaces of the Bethlehem Steel Plant (Bethlehem is an old steel town that is being revitalized). It made for a very cool backdrop. I love how we keep winding up at these places we would never have visited otherwise.

Bart Yasso has a saying: “Never limit where running will take you.” (When he autographs something, he signs that. I know this because of the stalking.) It’s so true.

I put my name down for the 10K long before a 10K became out of my grasp due to a lack of preparation and other reasons. But I didn’t want to be a piker so I figured I’d do what I did for the Wineglass Half and walk the majority of it (the Wineglass tech shirt got quit a bit of love as I was waiting at the start).

Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival

Lining up for the 10K start, and not freaking out at all …

I think I jogged for about 10 minutes before I decided I’d had enough. I used to joke when I first started doing these races about coming last and being at the back of the pack. But now I really am at the back. I turned around at one point to see only a handful of people behind me. Crap! (On further observation, it turns out that there were also a handful of people behind them, so it wasn’t as dire as I thought. But still … )

Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival

Lovely old town.

Man, why is 10K so far all of a sudden? This run seemed to take an eternity. The route was great, very pretty, and flat, but such. a. long. way.  I’ve done two half-marathons in the past few months, and it STILL seemed like I would grow old and die before I finished this race. Man, I really need to start running my runs again.

When I got close to the finish, Hubby met me to encourage me in (read: give me a shove), which meant I went from a walk, to a slightly faster walk, to a sort-of run across the finish line. He even managed to capture some pictorial evidence of my, er, triumph.

Runner's World Half-Marathon and Festival

Check me out, I’m, um, running! I don’t look like a moose from this angle.

Apart from the 10K torture, the festival also had a bunch of panels and keynote speakers (Dan McGilvray, who directs the Boston Marathon, was there). We went to a few, including a talk by Yasso himself about his life on the run. The man is one compelling speaker. He’s a lot of fun to listen to,  and very passionate about what he does. I mean, his title is chief running officer! Everyone should make sure they get to one of his talks.

Oh, and there was also a dog run. You’ve got to love an event that has a dog run.

Hopefully we’ll be back next year. And hopefully by then I won’t feel like a complete running fraud!

RWfinishTA

One of us is a real runner. Can you guess who?

The event: Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival
The location: Bethlehem, PA
The date: October 18-20, 2013
My time: 1.30.22 (best not to think about it too much)
Hubby’s time
: 20.39; 43.42; 1.41.21
The T-shirt:
 Blue tech long-sleeved shirt
The aftermath: Lots of good eats at the expo

Wineglass Half Marathon recap, aka, Slow and very slow with hints of plodding

Last year, I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, New York, and did pretty OK. Of course, “pretty OK” is all relative, and my version of it is probably many other people’s “not so hot.” But I I set a PR that I have a feeling I’ll never be able to beat, and I was really happy.

The Wineglass is my kind of run. It’s mostly flat or downhill and you get a free glass and a bottle of bubbly along with the shirt and the other bits and pieces. No wonder I set a PR. Although, the PR may have had something to do with the fact  I had spent 2012 running so many races every weekend that I had by default trained for that one (shock!), but still, bubbly booze is a powerful motivator.

Wineglass Half Marathon

Smooshed way in the back at the Wineglass Half Marathon start.

This year, Hubby had the brilliant idea of suggesting this race as a destination run for our group at the Quincy Y. There ended up being nine of us who traveled from Boston. So fun! The rest of the group like to do wild and crazy things like train consistently, which means they were all infinitely more prepared than I was, so I said goodbye to them and sneaked into the back of the pack where I belonged (Hubby and our trainer Mary were doing the full marathon). Last year, I was propelled to the finish by the 2.30 pace runner, but once you consign yourself to 3:00 and above, I feel like you’re pretty much on your own.

wineglass2013#5

Into the mist.

I had decided that I was going to mostly walk this one, as I didn’t want to injure myself coming into the race cold. Unfortunately, there’s no such program as Couch to Half Marathon in Two Weeks. I could really use one of those.

I did start off jogging, for about a mile, but it felt pretty torturous, so I decided to stick with the original plan. I’m a pretty fast walker, so I thought I could maybe knock it over in about three hours. (I did the Mad Half Marathon last year in around that time, and figured that given that the Wineglass is a net downhill course and the Mad is crazy hilly, it would be a cakewalk.)

I guess I should learn how to bake.

I remembered this course really well from last year, and I remembered exactly where I was before I finally petered out and had to walk. It was at about the nine-mile mark. Man, nine miles is a long way when you’re walking as slowly as I was this time around. And don’t even get me started on 13.1. For the first time in many, many races I felt … and I can’t believe I’m saying this … kind of bored. Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing event. I love it and would happily do it every year regardless of the shape I’m in. But it was tough for me for many reasons.

wineglass2013#3

Thank goodness it’s pretty. I was out there long enough.

I kept going even though my legs were turning to jelly and my brain to mush. I was so relieved when I turned the second-to-last corner that I even broke out into a little jog (that may have been mostly for the camera), but I couldn’t sustain it. For the first time ever (apart from the Mad, where I was in a walkers division), I resigned myself to walking across the finish line.

But that’s OK. I was just so glad to cross it that I didn’t really care that the race wasn’t my finest hour. All the others from the Quincy contingent did amazingly well, and everyone had a great weekend. I’ll toast to that.

The event: Wineglass Marathon and Half Marathon
The location: Corning, NY
The date: October 6, 2013
My time: 3.28.40
Hubby’s time
: 4.02.29
The T-shirt:
Purple tech long-sleeved shirt
The aftermath: Bagels, soup, chocolate milk, bananas

New England Relay: 2 days, 6 states, 225 miles

I’ve been holding on to this post for way too long. It’s another guest appearance from my partner in all things Stride and Joy (the one who these days is actually doing all the running). Don’t worry, I haven’t hung up my sneakers altogether. I have a half-marathon coming up and a 5K or two (plus one in the bag that I’ll write about soon). In the meantime, enjoy …

Since the inception of Stride and Joy, we’ve run races all over New England. There’s been a jeans-based jaunt in R.I., a dizzying number of laps in CT, a truly Mad time in VT, AG awards for two in NH, an Old Port (or two) in Maine, and an abundance of miles at home in Massachusetts. So when the opportunity came to run across all six states in one weekend, it seemed like the easy thing to do. I mean we’d run there before, right? How hard could it be?

Um, really, really hard!

NER2

The New England Relay: How hard could it be? (That’s me on the right.)

For you see, the New England Relay (or NER, because “New England Relay” is a lot to type over and over again) is a team event that covers 225 miles across six states in two days. This is something that is really only possible in the tiny states of New England. Run 225 miles in Texas and you are still in Texas.

This odyssey is the brainchild of a man named Brian Hamill. He came up with the idea several years back and diligently worked to create what can rightly be called a piece of running genius. It’s all back roads with some trails thrown in. At night, the run is along roads with little traffic but wide shoulders to ensure everyone’s safety.

The race starts in North West Rhode Island at the Casimir Pulaski State Park and quickly heads to Connecticut. I think there’s about 400 yards in Rhode Island, but that’s enough to count and get it quickly struck off the list. Connecticut is also quickly completed, with the runner of the second leg crossing the state line into Massachusetts during their first five-mile leg. From there it crosses Massachusetts from south to north and winds its way into Vermont.

The run is timed to go through Brattleboro, VT, early on Saturday night, when far saner people are enjoying a leisurely stroll on a warm summer’s night out on the town (am sure they would rather be running!). It’s then across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. For a small state, there’s a lot of running (and a lot of hills) to be had. Finally, the race finishes at the water’s edge in Kittery, Maine, home to the world famous* (*may not actually be world famous, but they should be) Kittery Outlet Mall. There have got to be easier and less sweaty ways to get to this shopping nirvana.

Continue reading

SeaWheeze 2013 recap, aka, I’m not nearly color co-ordinated enough for this run

In August last year, I arrived at the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, British Columbia, with 30 or so races under my belt thanks to my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. So, even though I hadn’t exactly “trained” for SeaWheeze 2012 (faithful readers will recall my general crapness at sticking to any kind of training regimen), I felt prepared in an at-least-I’m-not-completely-out-of-shape-and-at-least-I-look-the-part kind of way.

SW2013yoga

One of the free yoga classes SeaWheeze put on the day before the run. The weather was beyond gorgeous. Look at that sky!

Fast-forward to last weekend. I had been looking forward to SeaWheeze 2013 for a number of reasons. 1) You get cute (but teeny) shorts in the mail to train in. (Ha!) 2) You get to hang out in Vancouver in the middle of summer, which is lovely, even if for one weekend the city looks as though Lululemon threw up all over it. 3) You get to shop in the exclusive SeaWheeze store, which is fun if damaging to the wallet (good thing we did the entire trip on points), and you end up with clothing in colors you may not have considered in the past: namely, orange. 4) You get free stuff like massages and yoga classes. (OK, so unlike Hubby, I didn’t avail myself of either, but I could have.) 5. And you get to go to the half-marathon after-party/concert, which this year was in Stanley Park and featured Xavier Rudd (I have no idea who that is, but apparently he’s Australian and kind of a big deal).

It’s almost a shame that there’s 13.1-mile run in there. Just sayin’ …

SW2013start

The SeaWheeze 2013 start. I was in the too-far-back-to-care-about wave, which, as usual, meant no speakers, so we had no idea what was going on until we finally got to the front (40 minutes later). At least we got a countdown and a Mexican wave this year.

So, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I wasn’t in shape for this race. I think I made peace with that fact about 30 minutes after I decided to throw myself into training (SeaWheeze puts out a very cool TackleBox schedule for runners) while I was at home in Australia. (I got bored.) I do better with racing-as-training. Hubby is the same way. I also wasn’t nearly as snappily dressed as I could/should have been. I forgot this run doubles as a giant advertisement for Lulu. I’m surprised they don’t funnel those of us not in the current season’s colors and styles to another event entirely. Or kick us out of the city.

Continue reading

Haven’t hung up my sneakers yet

I’m dismayed. It’s been two months since I last wrote—and that post wasn’t even mine! But thankfully, my feet haven’t been as lethargic as my fingers (which are getting a stern talking to, by the way). I’ve continued to do races, just in a somewhat less elegant fashion than before (and considering I’m the world’s least elegant runner to begin with, that’s saying something).

Rather than write an individual post about each event (my memory isn’t that good and they stretch back to May), here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to. Proof that I keep pinning on those bibs despite the fact that my form has seriously regressed.


Boston’s Run to Remember (5 miles)

RuntoRemember2013

Boston’s Run to Remember, 2013. Freezing!

Boston, May 26, 2013
The event: well-organized, poignant, cold
My performance: middling (53.26)
Hubby: 1.35.57 (half-marathon)

* Despite being so late in May, it was a seriously cold morning (I saved a screen grab of the weather, and it was 6C/42F. Brrrrrrrrr). The 5 mile race was late getting started so we all stood around shivering in short sleeves for what felt like forever.
* There was a great deal of significance attached to this race, as it was the first biggie in Boston since the marathon. Sean Collier, the MIT officer killed in the aftermath, was prominent on T-shirts and in speeches. The “Remember” part of the Run to Remember, which usually refers to fallen law enforcement officers, took on new meaning for many. The race itself was huge. In the weeks after the marathon, everyone was a runner!
* The shadow of the marathon hung over this race in its extreme security: significantly, no one was allowed at the finish line and the runners’ area was strictly controlled. It wasn’t inconvenient, but it was sad.


P.R.O.N.E. 5K

prone2013

P.R.O.N.E. 5K with Tonto (star of cutedogsandhugs.com).

Boston, MA, June 1, 2013
The event: cute, fuzzy, very hot!
My performance: I walked (leisurely) the whole way, so it doesn’t count, but for those keeping score (i.e., me): 1.01.24

* I did this event last year in soak-you-to-your-bones rain, so it was only fitting that this year it would be boiling!
* This race is for Pug Rescue of New England, so there were lots of cute dogs around to make me sneeze, although probably not as many as there would have been seeing it was so hot.
* Tiffany from Cute Dogs and Hugs, her hubby, and I met for the first time at this race last year so it was only fitting that we do it again. However, Tiffany was pregnant this time around, so she, I, and Tonto took a 5K stroll. There goes my average! I’ll never look at Athlinks again.


BAA (Boston Athletic Association) 10K

BAA10K2013

BAA 10K, 2013.

Boston, MA, June 23, 2013
The event: crowded, hot, poignant
My performance: dismal (1.16.31, a whopping seven minutes slower than my 10K PR)

* If any race deserved to be heavy on the “Boston strong” references it was this one. This was the BAA’s first run since the marathon, and it’s not surprising that their blue and gold signature colors, which had become ubiquitous across the city of Boston, were on prominent display here.
* It was heavier on the celebration than the emotion, which I appreciated, although there was a great moment after the race when the winner of the marathon, Lelisa Desisa, returned his winner’s medal to Boston Mayor Tom Menino and the city. There were some injured folk there from the marathon too, and they got an ovation from the huge crowd that stuck around.
* I also appreciated that this run wasn’t overzealous on the security. Hopefully a sign of things to come.
* Oh, my run was terrible. I walked a huge chunk (I didn’t have a dog with me, so there wasn’t really an excuse). It was hot and my heart and legs just weren’t in it. I’m beginning to think I dreamed 2012.


Mad Half-Marathon Walk

Mad Half Marathon, 2013.

Mad Half Marathon, 2013. Rural splendor.

Waitsfield, Vermont, July 7, 2013
The event: fabulous, picturesque, very hilly
My performance: decent; a little slower than 2012, but fourth overall in the walkers category (3.05.17)
Hubby: 1.44.57

* I love this event. We did it last year (it was the first time I had done a half-marathon distance—I was a walker) and knew we had to go back. It’s an extremely hilly course but worth it for the views (although not necessarily the barnyard odors).
* I can never quite tell how many walkers are in front of me, but I could see at least two, and I knew I had to get ‘em. They’re in the photo above, one is in bright pink and the other in the yellow scarf. It took me a while, but I eventually caught up with the pink lady. The woman in yellow was a formidable foe and we walked together for a few miles before I got slightly ahead at about mile 9 and spent the rest of the race alone. I mean, really alone. It’s a lonely walk at the end.
* I could barely move for three days.
* On the plus side, I kept all my toenails this year!


Shipyard Old Port 5K

oldport2013_1

Shipyard Old Port 5K. Blistering!

Portland, Maine, July 14, 2013
The event:
hot, damn hot
My performance:
I’d rather not talk about it (44.13)
Hubby:
1.43.05 (half-marathon)

* Beautiful setting, but man it was crazy hot this year. The half-marathon course was very hilly and there was a lot of moaning afterward that it was too hilly for the weather, which is just silly.
* Last year’s 5K had a stairwell that we had to run down. This year, we had to run up it, too. Seeing as it was so hot, quite a few runners switched to the 5K. The result: a HUGE bottleneck at the stairs in the first mile. I’m talking almost seven minutes of standing around. I like a good rest as much as the next person, but this … well, I though it was pretty funny, actually. Good thing I wasn’t looking for a PR. I think that ship may have sailed …

This coming weekend: I’m doing the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon in Vancouver. Training? I’m not even going to go there. Promise it won’t take me two months to write about it.