Sherman Klump Runs a Marathon. Or, How to Avoid a Severe Allergic Reaction Before Running 26.2 Miles.

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The short answer is: Stay the hell out of goddamn 7-11.

I know exactly what you’re thinking:  What in the name of anaphylaxis is going on here?!?!?  Believe me, I was thinking it too. I may have even been screaming it out loud. Or at least I was in my head. I couldn’t alarm The Patient. All I can say to the makers of Benadryl is:

Thank You.
Thank you.
And did I say, Thank you?

I would send them a singing telegram if only I could hire Mr. Peanut to tap dance, juggle EpiPens and croon my deepest thanks. Instead this post will have suffice. Oh, I’ve got a story for ya.

Tina, our dear friend Diva Cindi, and I headed to Philadelphia this past weekend to get our Rocky on and run the full (Tina) and half (Colby and Diva Cindi) Philadelphia Marathon. We had this shit all planned for months. In fact, Tina has already posted her race recap which I strongly suggest you read HERE. Tina had registered for the full and I decided, “What the hell?” and registered for the half. I peer pressured Diva Cindi into it too. Like all BRFs do. (Best Running Friends, for those not “in the know”.) Perfect.

Girls Weekend at the Ritz!
Running!
Laughing!
Celebrating!
Drinking copious amounts of beer post race!
Hair braiding and tickle fights!
YEAY ESTROGEN!

This was our 2014 race season swan song. Secretly, I had planned on running my little heart out. I had my eye on a PR. But apparently my eye was also on an Achilles injury post ultra marathon, followed by an unrelated (surprise!) surgery which put me out of commission in the weeks leading up to the half. I’ll just put it this way: I haven’t had a good run lately. That is both literal and figurative. More on what is ailing me at another time. I promise. For me, this was either going to be the race of a lifetime or an absolute shit show. Total coin flip.

Tina on the other hand was prepared. Even though she said she didn’t feel like she was, I didn’t believe her. She always is. Trained and Tapered, Tina was ready. Somewhere along the Jersey Pike she exclaimed: I am really f*cking psyched for this marathon!  I *’ed out the profanity because it’s Tina. And she’s more Lady than Pirate, but put a couple of pints in that broad and she might as well have a patch on her eye and a hook for a hand. 20141126-061130-22290438.jpgSee us at the Expo all smilely and stuff? Christ, we are buzzing with excitement. That’s why it’s blurry. We mill around. Test stuff out. Buy a new, rad Janji cap from my friend Dave, laugh our heads off and realize we haven’t eaten. I glance at Tina. She is slightly dazed and pale.

What do you need?

She says she needs Gatorade. I suggest we eat. Because we haven’t. And someone is running awfully far in the morning. For as smart as our mother’s think we are, we are fools. Hypoglycemic, amateur fools. We head out. And walk promptly into a Goddamn Wawa 7-11. {Note: I now hate Goddamn 7-11s. I do love Wawas.) Tina makes a bee line for the Gatorade and chugs 32oz like she was at frat party in the mid-90s.

She heads to the nut aisle.

It is here Dear Reader, that our story takes a precipitous turn for the worst.
I hear this, with traces of a Boston accent:

{Perturbed} Plantah’s Almonds are $2 more?!?! I’m not paying two extra goddamn dollahs for a peanut wearin’ a top hat. No sir!!!

Instead of buying the brand she has eaten before, she buys the off brand nuts.

Meanwhile, en route to the Ritz, two dollahs richer, she reads the back of the bag as a PERSON WITH SEVERE ALLERGIES DOES, decides it’s fine, rips it open and downs the pack.

We leave.

{Small voice} I feel like I swallowed a nut wrong.

WHAT?

We walk.
She trips on a curb.
We make eye contact.
She’s quiet.
I arch an eyebrow.
We’re in the room.

{Wheezes calmly.} I am having an allergic reaction.

Diva Cindi and I look up from our race swag. sherman clump

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Holy allergic reaction. She has morphed into Sherman Klump, the Nutty Professor. Her eye BALLOONS. Right before our very eyes. This is serious. Diva Cindi dives in her purse and throws two Bendryl and a packet of Equal at her. OH MY GOD TINA GRAB YOUR EPIPEN! Her response as she swallows the two Benedryl and a Claritin?

{Rasps} NO! If I use my EpiPen, I’ll have to go to the hospital and then I won’t be able to run tomorrow.

Now. There are 100s of responses to make upon hearing that nonsense, beginning with: I’ve called 911. They’re admitting you to an insane asylum after the epinephrine shot and steroids because you are being totally OUT OF YOUR EFFEN MIND. I JUST 5150’d YOUR CRAZY ASS! Yet somehow that one didn’t make the short list.

Allergies are some scary stuff. They’re not funny. And believe me, if this story didn’t have a happy ending, I wouldn’t be calling her Sherman Klump. I’d be rocking in the corner, sucking my thumb, penning her eulogy and not posting this…

Because that’s what really happened. After several minutes post mega dose of Benedryl, she ASSURED us she could breathe. Her wheezing subsided. She still kind of looked like a starving puffer fish, but insisted she was feeling better. Instead, WE insisted she throw on her sunglasses for supper. For Christ sake, she was hideous. Besides, we needed to gain control of this ridiculous situation. Glasses on, Lady! We don’t care if it’s dark and you can barely see. We have an image to protect! BRFs. They RULE!

Thankfully, all ended well. After eating her height in pancakes, Chilly Willy put her swollen head on the table, and promptly nodded off in her syrup. She woke up radiant, with a killer Benedryl hangover and proceeded to run one hell of a marathon. I have to be honest. She qualified for Boston her first time running a marathon yet, I am more proud of her for running Philly. There is no one like her. And I’m honored she is my best friend.

Her allergist appointment is next week just after my cardiologist appointment and short stint in rehab to combat Xanax and alcohol addiction. She kills me that goddamn Tina.

City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Endurance

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Our weekend in Philadelphia was so epic that it would take 10 blog posts to sum up it, but fear not – we’ll limit it to 2…or 3.  This one is going to focus on the marathon itself. And It’s long – my apologies.

It was a tough race for me. This is an understatement. Let’s just say that the wheels started to come off the bus at the Expo…

THE EXPO you ask? Yes, the freaking Expo. Nothing against the Expo itself – it was fabulous, filled with great energy and interesting products. But I think it is also where I ate something that nearly sent me into anaphylaxis. It was either there or at the 7-11 across the street (now affectionately referred to by us as the “Goddamn 7-11.” Apologies to 7-11. I know they didn’t mean it. Even bigger apologies to WaWa, since Colby kept calling it the Goddamn Wawa, and they had no involvement with the “situation.”)

I have written before that I have food allergies that prevent me from eating anything Asian or from health food joints (soy), ever entering Bubba Gump’s (shrimp) and, most devastatingly, indulging in Nutella (hazelnuts). Despite reading the label of everything I put in my mouth on Saturday, I had a pretty severe allergic reaction to something around 4 PM. We have decided to let Colby write the details of my descent into allergy hell because she got to watch it unfold and frankly, we are twisted people who found humor in it and I want her to make me laugh about it again (now that we know I am not going to die). I will say that if you ever find yourself in an urgent medical situation, you could not have better people beside you than Colby and Diva Cindi. #truth. I was so, so lucky to have them with me.

So, from 4 PM Saturday until we left for the race at 5:30 AM Sunday, I really wasn’t sure whether I would be able to race. Being fully doped up on Benadryl, I wasn’t able to focus enough to obsess over it, but I was pretty anxious and bummed.

Getting ready for the race, I decided I could do it. Much of the swelling in my face had subsided, my breathing was totally normal and the nauseated feeling I had was probably more due to mainlining Benadryl than the allergic reaction itself. OK, Girls, It’s GO Time!!

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We strategically posed to block my right eye, which was still crazily swollen. The left one that is showing just looks like I broke up with my boyfriend and was crying all night. As a courtesy to fellow runners and spectators, I wore my sunglasses during the race.

We walked over under crisp dark skies. Bag check couldn’t have been easier. Porta-potties were a different story, but through perseverance and MacGyver-like strategy, we found some that had a manageable line and made it through before corral line up. Barely.

With only minutes to spare, the elites were off. Colby and I were in the second corral, so our group started about 10 minutes later. The sun was coming up, the skyline was gorgeous, and despite my residual nausea, I decided I was going to enjoy this race.

All I can say about the first half is that it was awesome. We wound through the city streets, past gorgeous buildings, supportive crowds, rollicking energy and even a few frat houses. My stomach did not feel great, but my mind felt happy and my running felt strong. It was sheer joy and exactly why I run.

Just before mile 13, Colby, Diva Cindi and the rest of the half marathoners split off to the right toward the finish and we marathoners headed left for a jaunt along the Schuylkill River. Shortly after the split, my stomach really started to give me trouble. I’m not the type to share details, so suffice it to say that I had to visit 4 separate porta-potties between mile 14 and mile 24. I was not happy. And being the true sicko runner that I am, I was less bothered that I was sick than by the fact that I was wasting time –serious time- waiting in line for porta-potties. During a marathon. Ugh. But when it comes down to it, what can you do but cover up your Garmin and move on? Which is exactly what I did.

Around mile 18, I realized that I was no longer going to be able to eat or drink during this journey, and that anything – including water – would just come back up on me, so thus concluded the fuel and hydration portion of my race. In case anyone was wondering, Benadryl is not a performance enhancer and you should make every effort to avoid having to dope yourself with it before an endurance event. My system was in chaos. I did stop at every water stop to wash my mouth out with Gatorade and water, but didn’t dare swallow anything.

The silver lining is that my stomach is my weak spot. Always. Knock wood, I never have problems with my muscles. I happily don’t even know where my IT band is. I walked around in 4 inch heels at work yesterday -2 days after a marathon – with nary a twinge in my calves or hamstrings. I am blessed with resilient muscles. But I also have an Irish stomach, so I know stomach problems. Quite well. And it is the rare training run that doesn’t leave me with some stomach problem or other, so I know I can power through it. Will I need a potty break? Yes. Will it slow me down? Yes. But it need not stop me, and my training has taught me this. So the fact that I was going to have to run 8 more miles with no gels or water and probably a visit or three to a porta-potty didn’t panic me as much as it might. It mostly just bummed me out because I knew I had to throw all hope of getting a great time out the window. And with all of my splits through mile 14 in the low to mid-8’s with even a high 7 thrown in, I had been pretty excited about seeing how fast I could cross the finish. Bummer.

But it wasn’t all misery. There were some great cheer sections and awesome bands. The Manayunk neighborhood was rocking and people were handing out beers (I declined, natch). The run along the river was pretty, and I was running the race, which was in question a mere 12 hours before. So I really was grateful, despite the difficulties.

By Mile 22, I was really feeling the effects of no fuel or hydration, so I went into autopilot. Not finishing was not an option. And I knew I could do it, even if it wouldn’t be pretty and it certainly wouldn’t be a PR. I set my mp3 to “repeat” and for each of the last 4 miles, I chose one song and played it over and over until the next mile. I recommend trying that if you find yourself in a tough spot. It really helped me to zone out and keep to a rhythm. At mile 26, headphones came off and I ran toward the finish line like it was my job. I did it! I freaking did it. I really felt like I earned that medal.

Done and Done! For some reason, I'm holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

Done and Done! For some reason, I’m holding up my orange juice cup instead of my medal. Possibly because I was hypo-glycemic.

This was my second marathon, and although I’m happier with my time from the Marine Corps Marathon last year, I think I’m prouder of my performance in this one. I didn’t give up. Not before the race and not during the race. I always want to think of myself as someone who doesn’t give up, and I feel like I proved it. And for that, I feel really, really proud.

I also can’t help but think back about how important training is. You think you’re just training for endurance, but you’re not. By running all sorts of distances in all sorts of conditions for months before a marathon, you’re also training to deal with all of the adversities that may befall you on race day – bad weather, twingy calves, tight hamstrings or an upset stomach. Dealing with your own weaknesses in training gives you the confidence to deal with them if they happen on raceday. Training sometimes feels like a chore, but really, it’s a gift.

So, Philly is in the books! Loved the city, loved the people and really enjoyed the course. So glad I did it.  And with that, I’m off to call my allergist to figure out which food I need to add to my no-no list.

Oh, and JUST WAIT until Colby posts her recap. Be prepared to spit your coffee out.

‘Twas the Night Before Race Day

20141126-222452-80692928.jpg‘Twas the night before race day, when all through the town
No sleep would be had by the runners around;
Their race clothes were laid by the door with care,
In hopes that a PR soon would be there.

The rest of the world – they were snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
But for runners like me, sleep would not come,
We tossed and we turned until up came the sun,

Only then did our bodies succumb to a nap,
But then – BOOM! Our alarms went off like a slap.
We frantically pulled our clocks to our faces,
To make sure we hadn’t slept through our races.

Next: Check the weather. Sunny or Snow?
Running through heat or twenty below?
Even though we’d stalked the forecast forever,
We needed that last minute check on the weather.

Time to get dressed, get stressed over layers,
Yes, it’s cold now, but what about later?
Sure we can shed some clothes as we go,
But where goes the damn race bib? We know it must show.

Once our wardrobe is finally complete,
It’s time for the Glide and to deal with our feet!
Glide is easy: everywhere it goes
More difficult is dealing with feet and with toes.

Long or short socks? Compression or not?
Too risky to try the new ones we’ve bought?
And no matter how much we adjust our right sock,
There’s a bump in it that feels like it’s hiding a rock.

Next come the sneakers, a whole different stress
One wrong lace and BINGO! Your feet are a mess.
First they’re too loose. Then they’re too tight.
On race day they never ever ever feel right.

Next up: some food, though it’s barely daylight
And who wants to eat when it’s still kind of night?
So we choke down bagels, maybe oatmeal instead,
And toss back some coffee to wake up our heads.

Breakfast is over, so now we must pack
Some fuel to eat for a mid-race snack.
Chompers or gel? Sport beans or Gu?
Too many choices, so we just grab a few.

We’re dressed! We’re packed! We finished our meal!
Time to head out – shit’s getting real!
But of course we cannot just head out the door,
Without visiting the loo, at least one time more.

Off to the race site, time to check in,
Stare at the elites – those guys might win!
Then straight to the porta potties – get in a line,
We know that is where we will spend most of our time.

After spending quality time at the John
We realize the moment has come to move on
And make our way over to the starting line;
Adjust our Garmin and pacebands one final time.

Do a few stretches, hand to your heart,
As the national anthem signals the start.
Excitement builds, you’re ready to burst,
Whether it’s your fiftieth race or your first.

The countdown begins and off goes the gun,
It’s finally here – the race has begun!.
So we look up and wish on the new morning star,
“HAPPY RACE DAY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A PR!!

Brighten Up! 6 High Visibility Items for Running in Low Light

driving scaredTo The Guy Running in All Black in the Pitch Dark:

I totally get that you need to get your run in. I’m a runner too. In fact, I just got my run on IN A HEAD LAMP AND LIGHT UP VEST. How’s about a little bit of reflective gear next time? A lil’ high visibility gear for running in low-light conditions. Low light = dark, in case you missed the equation. A bright shirt? A flashing light? A glow stick? Did the two cars honking, swerving and skidding to a stop because WE COULDN’T SEE YOU AT ALL scare the snot out of you? Good.

Thankfully, you’re in one piece. Now go get a goddamn light up vest. Here are 6 items you might wanna pick up for running in the dark. It’s either that or Roadkill. Your choice. Meanwhile, I’ll take a Xanax and wash it down with a glass of wine to get my heart rate down after nearly running your Ninja-ass over.

The sun sets early. Get your shit together. Fool.

XOXO,
Colby, A Runner Without A Death Wish.

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This actually has happened FOUR TIMES in the last two weeks, promoting this rant on our Facebook page. The odds are NEVER in your favor when you play the Running Ninja Game in the Northeast after Daylight Savings. Sun sets around 4:30pm. And it’s only going to get earlier, People. Something horrible is bound to happen. And I ain’t volunteering as Tribute. This troubles me as both a runner and driver. I have put together a list of high visibility gear for running during these dark days of winter. I have several of these items and I can tell you that they have saved my ass on many occasions. Multiple points of light are better. Drivers can then tell that you’re human, and not a fox who snatched a flashlight. Sweet Jesus, BRIGHTEN UP. More Running Bellagio Hotel and less Grim Reaper in Black Nike Frees. Got it? Good.

1. Tracer360, by Noxgear.
Wear it over a t-shirt in summer, or bulky jacket in winter. Finish up your run and head straight to a rave. It’s a vest and glow stick all rolled into one. LED. Fiber optic technology. Battery operated. Light. And super bright.

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2. Glow Beacon Jacket, by New Balance.
The color pops in low light and reflective trim gives 360-degree visibility at night. In pitch black, this baby glows. I need this. For real. I do.

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3. Glow in the Dark 1400, by New Balance.
These sneaks are at the corner of Awesome and Bombdiggity. High visibility colors, super reflective details. In my humble, non-proessional opinion, more running sneakers need reflective bits. Most have some, but I think they all could use more.

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4. StrobeLight, by Nathan Soorts
This little sucker clips right on you- belt, gear, or apparel. They also aren’t super expensive either. Get a few. High visibility blinking and steady light modes so drivers can see you at a distance. She’s also water-resistant. So you can run at night, in the rain. Joy.

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5. TIKKA® XP, by Petzl
I love my Petzl head lamp. This one is a multi-beam lamp that also has a Boost mode and red light and strobe mode. It also features constant lighting technology- the brightness does not decrease. I love my Petzl and have used it for camping, running, Ragnar relaying, taking out the trash, black outs, bank robbing, mining….

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6. Knuckle Lights
I have these. And they are badass. You will kick the shit out of The Night with your Knuckle Lights! You put them on your hands and they really do light your path. Bright, even, steady. Light the way!

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Photos of products were taken directly from their own respective website.

Do you run at night? What’s your favorite piece of reflective gear? Have you had a brush with death either running or riding at night?

Need more cowbell Colby?
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Taper Tips!!

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Yep – I’m in taper mode, and thought I’d jot down a few tips for dealing with this critical – yet oh, so difficult – period.

No, not for the runner. What the hell do I know? This is only my second taper. There are plenty of articles by experts on how to use your taper period for maximum performance. All I know is that my house is a lot cleaner than it has been in months and I’m officially obsessed with Homeland, now that I have the time to watch it.

What I have for you are some tips for the people who have to live with you, or deal with you every day, during your taper. Because I’m no expert on marathoning, but I’m well-versed in the crazy. And I think that the taper may be harder on your loved ones than on you. So let’s help them out a bit, shall we?

Without further ado, here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for loved ones of Crazy Taperers:

1. DON’T tell them they’re crazy to worry. Don’t tell them they’re crazy at all. They know they’re crazy. Broaching the subject is just poking the bear. And even sane people tend to worry about things that mean a lot to them. The upcoming marathon is worth running 18 miles in a windstorm with the remnants of a shiner from the previous week’s long run. It is worth getting up in the dark to “squeeze” in a 17-miler before a full day of work and other commitments. It is worth staying in on weekend nights to be fresh for a super-long run the next morning. Suffice it to say, the race is worth A LOT to them. The Crazy Taperer might be crazy, but the worry isn’t a sign of it – it is just a sign of how much the race means to them. And yes, even if they have knocked off 7 prior marathons, there is a part of them that worries that they might not finish. Yes, Really. So don’t look at them like they’re crazy for thinking that. Maybe don’t look at them at all.

2. DON’T ask them to do anything. Not the time to trot out the “Honey Do” list. Or ask if they’ve paid the mortgage, gone grocery shopping or picked up the kids from school. Or whether they can go to dinner with your boss, mother or friend from summer camp. Or whether they can hand you the remote. Leave them alone. Don’t poke the bear.

3. DON’T touch their food. You might see weird food in your house. If you see gels, goos, chews, algae bits, bars, powders, weird fruits, vegetables or juices, don’t touch ‘em. If you see something that was not regularly stocked in your parents’ home when you were growing up, don’t touch it. And if it was something your parents bought, but only because they were hippies, don’t touch that either. If you see any carb-heavy foods in your kitchen, back slowly away and DO NOT TOUCH them unless your beloved Crazy Taperer has told you that there are enough pancakes for both of you. Better to lose out on a bagel than lose a finger.

4. DON’T touch their gear. Maybe it is freezing and you want to run out and get the paper so the Crazy Taperer can get the New York Times and coffee delivered bedside. Don’t put on the Crazy Taperer’s running jacket or hat to do so. Crazy Taperer will notice if they have been touched and will freak. Maybe it’s Halloweeen and you want to throw on your Crazy Taperer Mom’s LED flashers to avoid being hit by cars in your black ninja costume. DON’T. Take your chances with the cars – you have better odds of survival.

5. DON’T wake them up. Ever. Whether it is morning, noon or night. Just…don’t. They’re tired. Very, very tired. And while they are sleeping, you’ll get a break from the crazy.

6. DON’T ask them if it is really a good idea to do a Spartan followed by a night out with their drinking buddies the week before their marathon. Or a Warrior Dash that ends at a Shock Top tent the week before their first Ultra. We all know the answers and the questions need not be asked. They signed up, they don’t skip races, and they’re doing it even though it is stupid. There is nothing to discuss. Don’t poke the bear.

7. DO start weather stalking. Check the weather for the race location starting about 2 weeks out. No, it won’t be accurate. That’s not the point. The point is that the Crazy Taperer will also be checking and it will prepare you to deal with an even worse mood or, perhaps, a few moments of calm and happiness. Maybe even a ray of hope. Don’t discuss your findings, though. Just consider it useful reconnaissance. A weather-related conversation prior to race day will rarely go well. Trust me.

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8. DON’T ask if they have PMS. Or whether they think they might be going through “The Change” or “Manopause.” Unless you want to die a slow and painful death.

9. DO give them a lot of space. Like, a whole house full of space. Lots and lots of space. A business trip is not a bad idea. Nor is serving on a jury that requires sequestration.

10. DO tell them that you know they will do great. Tell them that you are so proud of how hard they have trained and what you know that they will accomplish on race day. Even though they will yell at you for saying it and tell you that you just don’t understand. They will argue, but they will hear you and appreciate it. They really will.

Most importantly DO keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and after the race, you will get to enjoy time with your loved one while they are on a runner’s high of EPIC proportions. Well worth the crazy of the Taper. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.

Taper on!

Mebnificent.

Just an ordinary Monday, you know, hanging with my buddy Meb, chit chatting about running and shit.

Me and My Buddy, Meb.

Me and My Buddy, Meb.

I met Meb. *faints*

Just one day after a 4th place finish at the TCS New York City Marathon, I freaking met Meb Keflezighi.  I have to admit, I got a little starry eyed. That’s a whole lot of greatness in one small, powerful package. Gracious, animated, elegant and so much more. Meb embodies what it means to be a champion. I was runner-struck.

I attended a Generation UCAN sponsored evening at Yale University with Meb, Adidas- Elite Coach Greg McMillan, who has coached Olympians and all runners in between, and a whole slew of local runners. Meb has been affiliated with UCAN since the Connecticut company’s inception. Generation UCAN is a powder-based energy sports drink containing “super starch,” which is a slow release carbohydrate that does not result in an insulin spike that comes from ingesting simple sugars and such. In short, UCAN translates into sustained energy release, key to an endurance athlete. Meb runs on UCAN. And based on the discussion, I can see why.

The Autograph. His father used to tell him to practice. "One day you'll be famous..."

The Autograph. His father used to tell him to practice. “One day you’ll be famous…”

What a humble guy. And so very approachable. He talked about his NY finish the day before and how proud he was to enter Central Park in 4th, with the crowd chanting U-S-A. He said he threw his arms up and cheered, soaking it all in, happy to be in the place he was in behind “The Greatest Runner in the World.”

{Incredulously} And there I was!

That made me giggle. He is clearly among The Greats. He is the only runner to have an Olympic Medal, and wins in both New York and Boston. So yeah. There’s that. Yet, The Excitement. It was genuine.

Cresting Heartbreak Hill. Boston Strong!

Cresting Heartbreak Hill. Boston Strong!

Of course, he talked about Boston. He thought about Boston for 365 days after the bombing. He hung around in the grandstands “chasing the sun to keep warm” after finishing in 2013 to cheer on the finishers. He wound up leaving after 4 hours- he had an appointment- and narrowly avoided the bombing. That I did not know. I wouldn’t have expected an Elite to linger at the finish, cheering. And yet, Meb did. For one full year he thought about Boston. He thought about how he “was going to fix Bolyston Street.” It choked me up. I immediately thought of Tina and I cheering him on at the crest of Heartbreak Hill this year, willing him to win. Such a moment. And win he did. With grace.

No showboating.
No gloating.
Just pride.

What a guy.

Have you ever met someone famous who left you star struck? Three Famous People You Want to Have Beers With. GO!

 

Sir Isaac Newton, Laverne and Shirley

L&S

 

“What on earth do they have to do with running,? you may be wondering.

Well, they all were a part of my long run Sunday. A beautiful 20-miler on a gorgeous fall day that I perfectly timed and mapped out to end at my daughter’s softball tournament.

Marred only by my spectacular, agony of defeat-style fall at mile 14. Sir Isaac was right: What goes up, must come down. Or to put it another way: Gravity is a Bitch.

I skidded across a pile of wet leaves to find that a rock was underneath. How did I find out? By faceplanting. Hard. Barely had time to put my hands out. My right shoulder and right knee took the brunt of the fall (was I attempting to Stop, Drop and Roll? Isn’t that for fires?), followed closely by the right side of my face. Ugh.

The fall did have a few casualties: my beloved and now-discontinued Oakleys and my headphones. My stupid $10 water bottle holder, of course, never even left my hand. My Garmin has a tiny scratch but is otherwise fine and I’m not proud to admit that I remembered to stop the timer when I fell so I wouldn’t mess up my pace tracker. Maybe I deserved to fall.

I was lucky, though. Much luckier than Colby in her Spring fall, and I think I even fared better than she did in her VT50 fall. As for my own record, I place this is slightly worse than last year’s wipe-out – I definitely got a little more banged up on Sunday. Are you sensing a pattern here? Suspecting that there is a good reason Colby and I do not perform on the balance beam? More on this later.

Anyway, I took a quick assessment of the bodily damage (starting with my teeth, which were all intact and still in my mouth, thank god) and concluded that all of the cuts that I could see were gross but not dangerous and I didn’t appear to break anything. Phew. I couldn’t see my face, but since I don’t use it for running, I figured I’d deal with it later. I dusted myself off, attempted to restore my dignity and equilibrium, and finished the rest of my run.

It wasn’t until I got to the softball tournament that I realized how banged up my face was. Before I was able to look in a mirror, I looked into the horrified face of my daughter and realized that I might have more than a few facial scratches. I ran up to the fence to wave at her, high on the adrenaline of a 20-mile run, epic fall and more than a few caffeinated sports beans, only to see her recoil in horror. I quickly was informed that I had a shiner, was bleeding from my chin and had road rash on the right side of my cheek.

My poor tween. She was mortified. All the other moms were there on time, appropriately clad in lululemon and sipping chai from recycled paper cups. I know the bubble over her head was asking how she ended up with the fool who came late in sweaty pigtails, off-brand running shorts, bleeding from the face and sporting slightly crazy eyes. She doesn’t yet know that you are always better off with a Quarter Horse in your corner than a Show Pony. But she will, someday. Until then, I feel her pain. I was 11 once, too. I did my best to fade into the background for the rest of the game.

Today was the first time I ran since Sunday and I knocked off 8 miles pretty easily, which was great. I think that confirms that my knee is fine, despite the lack of skin. My shoulder still hurts, but as long as my knee is fine, I am fine. My face will heal (unlike my Oakleys. RIP).

I can’t help but think that Colby and I are the Laverne and Shirley of runners. Ready, Set…Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Or maybe Lucy and Ethel. Why the hell do we keep falling? Does everyone else fall and just not talk about it? Or is this just yet another way in which we are two very special snowflakes? Seriously – what is wrong with us??? Katniss would not be proud and would not want us on her team and this bothers me more than it should.

Please feel free to share your own epic fall stories. Please. Let us know we are not alone.

Product Review: Powered by ENERGYbits!

About a month ago, Jonathan, the Community Manager at ENERGYbits reached out to Tina and I and asked us if we’d like to try a sample of their ENERGYbits. Bits? Bits of what? Curious Runners Were Intrigued.

A high protein, high performance, all natural, 100% gluten free, non-GMO verified, organic, vegan, no sugar, no caffeine, no chemical, no belly ache SUPERFOOD that we can run long with, without hitting the proverbial wall?!?!?!

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Sign. Us. Up.

ENERGYbits are not a supplement, they are 100% natural organic green algae. WHA-WHAAT? Algae. As in spirulina algae which is 64% protein and chock full of nutrients. These little bits pack a punch. How do they process it? It’s very simple. The spirulina is grown hydroponically, harvested and dried. They’re “bits” as in “bits of food” – not pills. Even though they look like ‘em. They recommend that you swallow them, 30 tablets,10-15 minutes before your first run. You could chew them, but they’re very green and I’m guessing are an acquired taste.

Their website is full of benefits, testimonials and product information:
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ENERGYbits have the highest concentration of protein in the world and deliver a steady stream of energy, all naturally and all without sugar, caffeine, chemicals or stomach distress. Even better, ENERGYbits are the only protein in the world that also contain natural antioxidants and Omega 3 which reduce muscle inflammation, iron which prevents fatigue, chlorophyll which builds the immune system and electrolytes which replenish mineral imbalances, all for just one calorie per tab. No other protein offers all this.

Meet ENERGYbits. And my beagle Pearl, who nearly snatched those bits right out of my paw. Evil Beagle. Tina and I were both given jazzy tins of bits to review. So you, Dear Reader, are getting a DOUBLE review! Two points of view! Tina’s will be well written and cohesive and mine will be laden with obscenities and run on sentences. That’s just how we roll. We’re honest. And each have our own opinion. Stress own.   20141027-212852-77332348.jpg

Colby’s ENERGYbits Review:
I popped a handful of these little green gems the suggested 10-15 minutes before I ran a very hilly 13 miles. I swallowed them with water. I didn’t dare chew them as they sort of reminded me of the food I fed the goldfish I had in 3rd grade. Don’t feed him too much Colby. He’ll turn into a shark. Just a pinch. Swallowing them wasn’t a problem at all. They’re not that big. I had eaten a sensible breakfast with a big old cup of coffee 2hrs before embarking on my ENERGYbits journey. I ran with a bottle of Skratch labs and extra bits, no other food. No gels. No chomps. Off I went.

I am going to admit, I was skeptical about them. {Insert arched eyebrow here.} Really? Algae? Ohhhhkay. I’ll give it a whirl. And?? They were fantastic. No joke. It was my longest run since my 50k and it was fast. I intentionally picked a route that was hard, and that I’d run 100 times. I know exactly how I feel when running it. Read: Shitty. This time however, I felt great. I usually crash after the 3rd big hill on this God awful run. I slow. I pop chews or gels, and the wind goes right out of my sails.

This time? Even. Even keeled. No peak. No crash. Just sustained energy. One of my complaints about gels is that The Boost is not prolonged. And since I’m all Little Miss Distance lately, I need sustained energy release. I was impressed. I popped a smaller handful more (15) after about 1hr and 10 minutes into the run and I sailed on home. They didn’t bother my stomach- but that fortunately has never been an issue for me. My only complaint would be that they need to come up with a better dispenser. I’m thinking a Pez knockoff or even a Tic-Tac container. The tin, although super cute, wasn’t fabulously functional on the road. But honestly, I felt so good and had such a great run, it was worth it.

The Verdict: I’m buying a bag of these bad boys. No doubt.

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Tina’s ENERGYbits Review:
As Colby mentioned, our friends at ENERGYbits sent us a tin of them to try, but we are not paid in any way for our review of the product – what follows is my honest, unbiased opinion. This morning, I gave ENERGYbits a try before my 18-mile training run – the last “long run” of my training for the Philly marathon. Three Word Review: TWO Thumbs Up!

I was very skeptical at first when Colby mentioned that we were going to try, ummmm, algae bits. I’m not a hippie. I’m not a wheatgrass person. I don’t even think I have chakras. And I was a little concerned that the folks at Shake Shack might catch wind that I was popping algae and take my VIP card away. (For our West Coast friends, Shake Shack is the NYC area’s answer to In-n-Out.) Being someone in desperate need of energy, though, I figured I would give them a try. Can’t hurt, right (unless my Shake Shack friends find out)?

I’m so glad I did.

My favorite thing about the ENERGYbits is that they did not bother my stomach. Everything I take for training energy bothers my stomach. At least, I thought everything bothered my stomach before I tried ENERGYbits. They definitely gave me a steady boost of energy throughout my run with no – I mean NO – digestive issues. This is like a Christmas miracle for me. And perfect timing, with the Philadelphia marathon a mere 3 weeks away. I now have a new go-to energy source.

I did not find them hard or weird to swallow. Yes, you take around 30 of them, which seems like a lot, but they are small. Call me a pill popper, but it didn’t bother me at all. I did not dare chew them, since the informational insert says algae is an acquired taste. Not something I would want to taste right before a long run.

I ran shortly after getting up this morning and forgot to eat before I left (I know, I know. Very bad. Very, very, bad.). I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through the run without the ENERGYbits. I did bring sports chews for a mid-run boost, but didn’t even need to dip into them until mile 12 or so. Had I eaten breakfast before I left, I think that the ENERGYbits would have been enough for the run and I could have ditched the chews altogether. For future runs, I think I might just bring an extra hit of ENERGYbits for a mid-run boost.

I have to admit that I tried them in large part to humor Colby, and whaddya know? I now plan on ordering a bag. Score one point for trying something new. I can see using these for daily energy when I’m dragging – not just for training runs – and I like that they have no caffeine or sugar. I definitely have days where I am so busy that I feel I need to grab a quick energy boost, and it usually is something that is caffeinated. I am going to try using these instead of an afternoon latte to see if they can serve as a more steady and healthy source of energy. I’ll be sure to report back.

Thank you ENERGYbits people, for sending these our way! I never – and I mean never – would have tried them otherwise and I am so very glad that I did!!

ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and their Community Manager, Jonathan, would be happy to share more info on their sample program. He gets an A+ for Customer Service. And for you, Our Dear Readers, Jonathan would like to offer us a 10% discount code. Just enter the word BLOG into the coupon box and a 10% discount will be applied to your order! :-)

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CSA-Ya Later, Gator!

Sad week in Colby Ville. It’s the final week of our local CSA. For 20 weeks we were happy as could be, buried in local produce.

Mae MobleyGoodbye fresh weekly vegetables. Toodles, magnificent tomatoes. Later, kohlrabi. You were weird, but you sure were tasty. Buh-bye, yummy butterkin squash. You kicked our risotto up ten notches. Even Giada was scared.

Until next season. {Sigh.}

I’m devastated. Now it’s back to crummy, zombie veggies from our local big ass superstore.

zombie veggiesThis was the first year we became shareholders, if you will, in our local Community Supported Agriculture program. CSA programs are fantastic. And as you can imagine, with the influx of people actually giving a damn about what they’re eating, they are gaining in popularity. Yahoo! 

20141024-203053-73853591.jpgCSAs link the consumer directly to the farmer. You commit at the beginning of the growing season to purchase a part of the farmers’ crop. It’s all paid up front. It boils down to roughly $20 per week. Which ain’t much, considering the quality and freshness of the veggies. Well worth it. Paying up front off sets production costs. The farmer plants exactly what is needed for their shareholders. So, less waste. In turn, the farmer gets cash way early on in the season, when they are typically cash poor, and have a guarantee that their produce is already sold. With our CSA, we had a Full Share or 2/3 share option. We opted for the 2/3 share and were SWIMMING in fruits and vegetables.

All. Summer. Long. 

Some weeks there were CRATES of extra veggies which you could help yourself to. Subsequently, we od’d on pears. And beets. You know that moment you wake up, hit the loo, and think you are dying? Nope. Just beets. Crisis averted. Here is just a short list of some of what we got. Stress SOME. There was a lot more. For real.

mayamo veggie Peaches, kale, green beans, sweet peas, beets, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, yummy peppers (That’s an actual kind. And, yes, they are yummy.), eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, apples, lettuces, fava beans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, pear cider, apple cider, cranberry beans, spinach, local honey, local cheese, basil plants, herbs, pumpkins, seckel pears, acorn squash, collard greens, butterkin squash, butternut squash, Brussel spounts, The Evil Kohlrabi and these little weirdos:

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Ground Cherries. Who knew?!?! Kind of like if a cherry tomato punched a tomatillo in the face then pelted her with mangos and pineapples. Weird? Yes. Tomatoe-y, mango-y goodness. Whatever the hell they were, I liked ‘em. I liked supporting our local farmers even more. :-) Here’s to 20 weeks of fresh, local, delicious, weird veggies! Until next year!

Have you ever participated in your local CSA? Do you have a local CSA? Have you ever eaten ground cherries? Kohlrabi? Cranberry beans?

I Hope You Can Stand Another Post About Body Image. (Because Here It Comes.)

Recently Jennifer Garner was asked if she was expecting because media types had noticed that she was sporting a “baby bump.” Her reply was pretty awesome – she said that while she is not pregnant, she does indeed have a baby bump – from her 3 existing kids – and it apparently is here to stay.

And THAT is how nice girls say “Stop commenting on my goddamn stomach and leave me alone.” Way to Go, Jen!

I was at a mothers’ coffee once where someone told me I was the perfect candidate for a tummy tuck. True Story. And I barely knew her. A group of women were complaining about getting their pre-kid bodies back and one of them commented that I wouldn’t know what they were talking about because I am a runner and in shape. I replied that I knew exactly what they were talking about, because all the running in the world wouldn’t get me back into my old jeans, especially given the – ahem – changes in my midsection after having 3 kids in 4 years. (Note: I didn’t say this in a way that suggested I wanted to do anything about it – I was merely pointing out that your body changes over time – Que Sera Sera.) At which point an almost-stranger turned to me and (after slo-o-o-o-wly looking me up and down) said, “Oh, you would be a perfect candidate for a tummy tuck! You should definitely do it!”

I almost spit my coffee out. What is the appropriate response to that?

Thank you?

Screw you?

Are you on commission for a local plastic surgeon?

While, let me tell you – I am NOT the perfect candidate for a tummy tuck. First, I don’t want one. Second, even though it is probably done in a pretty office, it’s surgery. I generally try to avoid surgery. Last, but certainly not least, I have an almost-11 year old daughter. She sees me as an athlete who honors and takes care of her body, and uses it to do all sorts of wonderful things. There is no way I would be ok with sending her the message that the body I have – which is strong enough to scale Spartan Race walls, climb mountains in snowshoes and run marathons – isn’t good enough. Is so “not good enough,” in fact, that it is in need of surgical intervention.

While I feel for Jen Garner having everyone think she is pregnant when she probably just has been eating a lot of Chinese food, she at least is in a field where scrutiny over her body is to be expected. And is probably part of why she handled the comments with the grace that she did.

I, however, am a freaking lawyer. I’m thin by nature and fit from running. But am I expected to be shredded as well? In my field, you don’t have to look perfect to get work. In fact, your clients like to see you looking like you have been putting in the hours at your desk, not the gym. So why should anyone expect me to look like looking good is my job?  I have a job, and that ain’t it. My body is the amazing vehicle through which I live my life, not a mannequin that exists only to be looked at.

I saw a piece in Glamour the other day on body image, and apparently women feel worse about their bodies than ever (Rest assured, the irony of a magazine called “Glamour” running a piece on body image is not lost on me. But stay with me here.).

Apparently, the biggest factor in the decline in positive body image over the years isn’t the effect of seeing celebrities with perfect bikini bodies. Nope, it’s the fact that lots of our neighbors are now jacked, shredded, tucked, liposuctioned, tightened – whatever combo of diet, workouts and surgeries gets people looking like models.

And it’s true. Nowadays, celebrities aren’t the only ones making it their job to look perfect. Especially in Type A suburbs where Colby and I live, lots of regular folk do it, too.

Well, I am not jumping on this bandwagon. When you get to that point, it’s NOT about being fit and NOT about being healthy, no matter what people claim. Hey, if you are happy working out like it’s your job, and want a little nip and tuck for that “perfect” body, that’s fine. But I refuse to buy in and anyone who suggests that I should can go screw themselves.

These “imperfections” on my body are the direct result of many happy decisions I have made, whether it was to have children, share great meals with friends, or hang out on the couch with loved ones instead of hitting the gym. And I’m not trading any of them for a body that looks perfect in a bathing suit.

So if you end up at one of our neighborhood coffees, feel free to come stand by me. I’ll happily point out my permanent baby bump, I’ll eat (not split!) a muffin with you and I will never, ever, suggest that you erase the visible evidence of some of your most positive life decisions by going under the knife.