Monday, April 30, 2007

It's Time to Call 911!

In Fairbanks, a 4 year old called 911 when his mom collapsed. He knew how to do this because one of his favorite books was "It's time to Call 911: What to Do in an Emergency". It's an incredible story --make sure to listen to the audio recording of the call.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Friday hodgepodge

Today's post is a grab bag of smaller posts, all that have been sitting in my post box for a while. It's Friday, and I"m ready to play a few games of pangya and get ready for the weekend.

Even Boston Marathoners get the blues...
Do you know what the worst thing about running a marathon is for me? Not running 26 miles :). I hate post-marathon let-down. Before the marathon, anything is possible! Afterwards, my mind is inconvenienced by reality and the body of course is also a bit shaky.

Which brings me to the bike ride :). Not wanting to subject our road bikes to the gravel and ick of spring ANC muck, we went on a mountain bike ride. I almost died -- I think my legs were telling me that perhaps I should take it easy for a few more days.

Despite my breakdown, we had to go out, because..Frank has a new awesome mountain bike! It's a Giant Trance -- the most important thing is that it has suspension on the front and back for an incredibly cushy ride. He is going to have so much fun riding on all of our favorite ski trails in the summer!

Planet Earth
In Boston, I got hooked on Planet Earth. Except when a fragile creature was on the losing side of the game of life, it provided to me the stressless entertainment I needed to be calm on the night before the marathon. I introduced Frank to it yesterday; needless to say, we are hooked on the incredible videography. The series is out on DVD, and you should all buy it :)

In Garden News...'s not time to plant things outside yet here in AK. The weather is warm, but it's still not warm enough to really keep plants outside all night. On the other hand, we bought pepper plants and tomato plants that we are starting inside -- we're hoping that we can get a jump start on these so that they actually produce fruit by the end of the season. I'm hopeful, because the tomato is already producing buds like it's at least "thinking" about growing fruit.

Anyways, I am going to try to update the blog more often :) Maybe we'll go looking for ptarmigans this weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2007

How does it feel to run in a Nor'easter?

As I said below a LOT can happen in almost five hours. It's been really hard to process all that happened and put it into a coherent story.

Marathon Day started at 5:30 am with ritualized race day prep. I always do the same things in the same order, just to make sure I don't forget anything. Monday, this ritual also included putting three layers on to keep warm during the anticipated wet,cold, and windy conditions.

Dad met me downstairs around 6:00 to walk to the hotel where the buses were waiting for the team. It was an ominous sign that it was already windy, rainy, and cold that morning and it did not look like it was going to warm up. I was extremely nervous, so it was really great that Dad was there to keep me calm.

After some waiting, we got on the bus and drove the 26 miles to Hopkington (which takes an hour or so). Once there, we were lucky enough to be able to wait on the bus (most other people had to wait outside or in the high school gym). On the bus, the talk of the morning was all about clothing and temperature, and the air was filled with the confidence that can only come BEFORE you run your marathon.

It was infectious! I contemplated a four-hour finish in epic conditions as I watched the rain while assembling my shoe solution (sock within taped grocery bag, grocery bag within shoe). Before I knew it, the first wave had started (those are the fast people) and it was time to put up my hood and start moseying down to the corralls.

Boston is the biggest marathon I have ever been in, and it was truly amazing at how many people were running. Like cows, we herded ourselves towards the start line, following the sound of a bullhorn.

People were incredibly friendly. Hopkington, where the race starts, was so geared up for bad weather that homes along the start corralls actually had opened up for people to take shelter from the rain. The entire town was out cheering us on as we got ready to race.

The gun started, but it was about 10 minutes before I actually got over the start line -- even then, we hadn't started running yet. Once people cleared out enough so that we could run, everyone around me took off downhill.

The first few miles of the marathon were downhill, wet, and warm. At around mile 3, I got started sweating, so I had to toss my REI vest.

Soon, but I guess not soon enough, we got out of Hopkington and into the next town. Suprisingly, everyone at that town also was cheering for us. Little did I know, this would be how the entire race course would be!

Somewhere around mile 6, despite all the cheering, my bad second quarter began, and I started to feel cold, queasy and out of juice. I was using a training-tested nutritional scheme, but it just did not seem to be working in this weather. I ducked into a bar for a restroom (everyone cheered me on as I left). About that time, I also decided to switch back to my tried and true gel (luckily, I had brought four gels along with me). Combining fuel I could stomach and a few more downhills, I started to feel better, and around mile 10 or so I finally got back to "normal".

Around mile 12, I started to hear this high pitched roar, and it took me a while to figure out that it was Wellesley college. The ladies of this college take it upon themselves every year to create the loudest, most inspirational mile of the course. This was the first time during the race that I got teary as I slapped the hands of all the kids. The fact that they were still out there, considering that we were now many hours into the race, was inspirational.

We climbed out of the Wellesly sound tunnel, and made our way closer to Boston. Along this way, I started really trying to realize that I was here, actually running the Boston Marathon, and that by golly I was going to have a great time! I continued the high-fives, especially to little kids, and also started sampling various confections that people were handing out on the side road. During the race, I also got interested in the baseball game (anything other than the marathon became interesting at this point), and eventually the Red Sox won. I also got a chance to encourage a few people who had fallen behind that I knew as well.

This made a lot of miles 13-20 a blur to me of hands, cheering, cookies and gatorade. I was having a blast, and to me, I was really going pretty fast. Mile 20 starts the infamous heartbreak hill, which is pretty substantial, but not as horribly long or difficult as people say it is, especially since the Boston College kids come out at the top to cheer you on while drinking beer -- imagine, they were lining the street five deep and overflowing the metal barricades.

I kept looking for the haunted mile -- the mile where there were supposed to be very few fans and a cemetery on one side, but I never found it. Miles 22 through 24 for me were really more high fives, cheering, gatorade and jolly ranchers. At one point, I got to play someone's gong on the side of the road; at another, I jumped up and down with my hands in the air along with a group of spectators. I was pretty loopy, and luckily, it was just like a very big (and long) party.

Suddenly, we went down an underpass for a street, and I knew we were really close to the finish! Around this time, another runner in a yellow rainsuit "befriended" me and decided to motivate me by cheering me on and slapping me on the back in a firm but friendly manner. This is not a good thing to do to someone at mile 25 of a marathon but honestly, I didn't have enough energy left to get upset. The throngs at the side of the road got louder -- I noticed there was a big left-hand turn coming up in front of us was Boyleston Street! "That's where the marathon finishes!" I shouted to my yellow friend. And I took off for that left hand turn with all I had left.

Around that bend, you could see the Boston Marathon finish line -- the most famous finish line in all of running. I got teary for the second time on the course, and had to stop sniffling because it makes me hyperventilate.

As usual, I "sprinted" the last 250m or so and as I crossed the finish line (4:49:37), I celebrated by screaming something inaudible and flinging my fists in the air. This awkward act at the end of a marathon produced a massive shock wave of pain throughout my entire back, rendering me incapable of moving my arms for a few minutes until (very very luckily) the pain subsided.

It's amazing how good it feels to stop running sometimes.

Immediately I focused on following the crowd through the post-marathon chute. I got a heat blanket and luckily since my arms were still immobile, they put a little happy sticker in the middle to keep it on my shoulders. The next thing was to get the chip off my leg, and after a bit of discussion with my leg, I was finally able to get my foot up high enough that the lady could get the chip off my foot and tie my shoe back up. We discussed the complete success of my grocery bag shoe solution, which kept my feet dry and blister-free. Then the shoe lady put the unicorn finisher's medal on me -- you can't imagine how excited I was to see that little guy!

After all of that, it was so very great to have Dad at the finish line. Of course it's always great to have someone at the finish line after a race, but especially great to have your Dad there. He'd just finished the Glass City Marathon the day before, and had flown all the way to Boston just for this moment!

So, to summarize, the weather in Boston was not great, but it wasn't as bad as everyone said it was going to be. The Boston Marathon is hands down the best marathon I have ever been in because of the spectator support. It might take until I'm 80, but I'm definitely going to try to run it again -- maybe qualify next time :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boston Marathon

When you run a marathon in 4:49, there is a whole lot to say. I'll try and come up with a more complete recap but some basics:
1) Weather was rainy and warm at the start, windy and cooler in the middle, and downright cold at the end.
2) The fans in Boston are the best anywhere! My hand is sore from high-fives.
3) I am unsure if any running event ever will beat making a left onto Boyleston street and seeing the most famous FINISH banner in the world in front of me.
4) I might never run a marathon without grocery bags on my feet again -- this is the first marathon I've ever finished blister-free.

More soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Boston Marathon Joke

What's Sad?
--Testing whether grocery bags taped to your feet are an effective dry-shoe solution
What's sadder than sad?
--Standing in the shower with rain gear on to determine just how waterproof your waterproof jacket is.

Happy Marathon Monday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There is no bad weather, just different types of good weather

Yikes! Imagine getting this in your mail a few days before a marathon...

As the Boston Athletic Association continues to make preparations for Monday's Boston Marathon, we are monitoring the upcoming weather conditions forecast for this area. Based on the National Weather Service's most recent report and in cooperation with the Executive Office of Public Safety (Commonwealth of Massachusetts) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, together with the eight cities and towns along the 26.2-mile marathon route, we are planning for likely heavy rain and windy conditions on race day. However, all race day plans remain the same. The Boston Athletic Association advises participants in Monday's race to plan accordingly for their run, bringing with them gear and apparel to suit the conditions. The B.A.A. will continue to update its web site as necessary.

Lovely! At least, I figure, the worse the weather, the better I'll be prepared at least!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Learn to read with Morgan Freeman

Before Morgan Freeman became super awesome, he was "Easy Reader" on Electric Company. You Tube is great, isn't it?

I really feel that he gets into his character there -- I totally believe that he loves to read.
Of course there's this one too:

a GIANT Morgan Freeman is pretty scary too!

Happy Good Friday!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Running to the beat of my own...nothing

I was reading the Runner's World -Boston edition last night and came across a note saying that headphones are not allowed for safety reasons.

They are kidding, right?

The last time I ran without headphones was a triathlon, because they don't work well in the water. But that was 3 miles, a half hour. Four hours is a whole different story.

I mean, kudos to the gazelles who need to concentrate on their form so that they can finish in two hours. I'm sure the no headphone rule does not phase them. Us "sturdy folk" will be out there twice as long, and geesh, having one more distraction available to use is a big deal.

Yes, I'm bitter. I'll get over it but that does not mean I like it.

Monday, April 02, 2007


OK, OK, Hawaii Pictures are

Oahu Vacation


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ski Championships!

Yesterday, Frank, Tara and I went to the US National Alpine Ski Championships here in Alyeska Ski resort. I FORGOT MY CAMERA. ARGH!