Monday, December 29, 2008

I Could Have Danced All Night

The year: 1997

The place: the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

The occasion: NPC President's Ball

Me: The Belle (of the NPC President's Ball)

I was 40 years old and this was my first-ever-dress-up-for-real dance. I was WORKING it, children.

That dude I'm with? Oh, he's incognito. Best to let sleeping dogs lie, as they say.

En fuego!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Morning After the Day After Christmas

I finally found my camera cable, but all the Christmas photos are on Number One Daughter's camera, which of course I don't know how to use. We had a great Christmas. I got an I-Pod AND an electric blanket and earrings and so many other things I can't even remember, and NOD got socks and sweaters. Hmmm....

I can't remember the last time I didn't have a workout scheduled for a Saturday morning. It's a weird feeling. I have no idea what to do with myself (here's a hint, Jeanne: WRITE YOUR DAMN CHRISTMAS CARDS!). Yesterday morning, I ran five miles at a numbingly slow pace (58 minutes. Come on!!!). I will never understand how I can get so slow in one week. NEVER. NOD has guests (elementary school friend and her husband) staying for the weekend, so she insisted we clean the house on Friday. So bossy. I spent the rest of Friday cleaning and baking. And baking. Tally so far: two loaves of yeast bread, two loaves of quick bread, lasagna, french toast, pecan pie. That's a lot of food to come out of this dump place:

I like to call this shot "Hell's Kitchen." You can clean this kitchen as much as you like but somehow it still looks like an unmade bed. Notice the artful tower of pots and pans. That I washed several hundred times. Notice also the missing drawer. It's much easier to the get to the second drawer this way. Eliminates all that sliding open and closed. It's possible that we're a bit behind on the renovation plan.

Lasagna, made from an authentic ancestral recipe, and Eggnog bread, on my NEW STOVE.

My Major Award for coming in 2nd place!

Major Award, frontal view.

There are many more photos showing off my homemaking skills, but you'll just have to wait for them.

P.S. Old School Runner has a fantastic post about unusual Christmas songs. I wish I'd thought of that. But I was far too busy cooking up the carbs. Leave him a comment with your nomination.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Don't overeat, and don't sweat the missed workouts(in other words, do as I say, not as I do).

Love to all of you!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Shave Your 5K and Win Second Place in Your Age Group

Back on January 22, 2008, I was dumb enough had enough foresight to enter the Shave Your 5k Challenge, sponsored by the twisted encouraging Half-Fast.

Had I known on January 1, 2008, the day I ran the 5k that set the time that I would need to shave, that I would be entering this challenge, it's entirely possible that I would have run much slower. However, I didn't know, because he hadn't invented it yet, so I awoke on Jan. 1 and ran my fastest 5k ever, in a blazing 30:15 (9:46 min./mile).

Except that the Shave Your 5k Challenge has been weighing on me ALL YEAR. For 354 (give or take) days, I've been walking around thinking, "Jeanne, you NEED to find another 5k before the year is out! And then you need to run it faster!"

HF laid out the terms and conditions in excruciating detail, but here's the essence:
The basic idea is to see who can shave the most time off their 5K time during 2008, so everyone will run a 5K at the beginning of the year and another one at the end of the year. The winner is the person that shows the greatest improvement.
At the very last minute, I managed to find a 5k with a $5 entrance fee: the Potomac Valley Track Club 5k Christmas Caper. I showed up Saturday morning at 8:00 for an 8:30 start on the lovely, windy, cold, godforsaken Hain's Point.

It was cold.

Cleverly, I had specifically designed my last post to set up all the reasons why I not only would NOT be shaving my 5k, it would in fact have grown a beard.

But hope springs eternal and the mind is a powerful tool as Number One Daughter's boyfriend is fond of pointing out. So I set my brain for 29:59.

There was a field of about 164 (or exactly 164). The start was a chalk line on the ground, and a piece of cardboard stuck on a stake, as were the mile markers. The start signal was someone yelling "go."

As always I had a carefully thought out strategy: Run like hell until you drop. You know, the same plan the experts recommend.

Mile 1: 9:13

My heart did feel like it was going to break, and I had to give myself a talking-to: "Don't worry about what will happen in mile 3, just keep going. Try to pass people."

So I did.

"That guy who is breathing up your arse? Do. Not. Let. Him. Bother. You."

So I didn't.

"Do NOT look at that watch or I will hurt you. DO. NOT. LOOK."

So I didn't.

I missed mile markers 2 and 3, but somewhere around mile 2.something, while I was busy bargaining with myself ("Just get to that tree and you can walk. O.K. you really don't need to walk we have BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE, no walking but you can slow down. A little. Oh forget it, you can't do this WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE") someone jumped out and took a photo. He yelled "Hi Jeanne!" None other than D.C. Spinster, coaching his crew in the half-marathon program. I have my own paparazzi. Just sayin'.

That jolted me awake. Now the mental calculations began. I allowed myself to glance at my watch and saw 26 minutes elapsed. I thought I had about half a mile to go (NOT) which I figured I could do in 5 minutes IF I KILLED MYSELF. "What's the point," I thought, "you've already lost." (I specialize in this kind of self help. Call me for a consultation.)

But as I neared the point of Hain's Point, I saw some people hanging around, some webbing, something looked different, holy shit the finish is right here, stopslackingturnitonRIGHTNOW!

I flew through the chute EXACTLY as the clock ticked over to 30:00. Or did I make it before? I checked my watch and it said 29:59. (No fancy technology at this race, just good ol' fashioned bib #s.)

How thrilled was I? Ecstatic. I started babbling to a woman standing at a picnic table about the Shave Your 5k, and making 29:59 and blah blah blah. Finally remembering my manners, I asked, "So, how'd you do?" "Ah," she replied, "I won."

(Longtime readers will remember my penchant for inadvertently picking the winners to brag to.)

I had looked at last year's results beforehand, and noticed a lack of speedsters in my age group. There were awards given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in 10-year age spans.


It was too much to hope for.

The RD read through the winners of all the age groups, finally getting to Men 50-59, then, Women 50-59, "First place goes to.. Betty... and there are no other women in this category..."

"Um, hello?!? I'm here!"

RD: "Oh, are you here? C'mon up and get a prize."

It was a bit anticlimactic.

The prizes ran the gamut from candles to cookies to popcorn to Christmas kitchen towels. I choose a giant candle.

Then I picked up NOD and her BF and dragged them to breakfast so I could brag. After which I posted my (unoffical) time on Facebook. And called everyone I knew. And wrote to Half-Fast, "29:59!!!!!"

Life was sweet!

Then they posted the official times.

94/164 Jeanne McCann F 51 Bethesda MD 30:01 (9:40 min./mile) 32/83 women F50-59 2/6

30....say what???

I could end my long tale here, and you all could get on with your lives, but I feel it's my duty to provide you with the REAL END to this story.

At the top of the results page, it fatefully says, "Send additions or corrections," and provides a helpful e-mail.

Yes. I am pathetic enough to write to an overworked, volunteer race director about a difference of TWO SECONDS. Couldn't he please make a teensy tiny correction? Wasn't it possible that the clock was wrong?

And here was the thoughtful, immediate reply:
Let me think -- what would Rod Blagojevich charge for that adjustment? Hmmm ...

It's even less than 1 second -- they clocked you at 30:00.64 -- so the program rounded your time up to 30:01 -- so near and yet so far!

BTW they clocked Betsy Agnvall at exactly 29:59.96, so the program rounded her time up to 30:00.

If you hadn't had that little headwind on the way out ...
if you hadn't dodged around that 10K runner ...
so many ways to shave off 2 seconds ...
and the Time Machine was started exactly 5:00 late -- what if it was 5:01 late, or 5:02?

On the bright side, now you know you can run sub-29:59 on a good day with just a little more training. And maybe sub-29:00!

Congratulations on your award-winning finish!
Can I just say I heart this race? And this race director??!!

(But poor Betty!!!)

I started this blog in June 2005, and I can honestly say that I have been waiting since then to WIN MY AGE GROUP! And now I have! I have also been waiting since then to magically run a sub-30 5k.

So now, apparently, I have to run another one. Sigh.

Life is good people.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Party Animal

After my stunning victory in the Blue Gray Half-Marathon, I drove home on a total high, fueled by beer and french toast (an omen of things to come), even if it did hurt to press the gas pedal.

Later that day, Party Week began, beginning with
Sunday night and the oh-my-god-I've-never-been-in-a-mansion-before-party:
Me: Food! I just ran a half-marathon! I can eat anything I want!! Bring on the wine! OOOH COOKIES!

Monday morning: I am walking like Frankenstein. Have I ever run before? Really? I don't THINK so. Ouuuuch.

Monday night: It's farewell-to-bellringing-instructor-who-was-R.I.F.'d.(R.I.F.=LAID OFF, MADE REDUNDANT, SACKED)-Party:
Me: Hmmm. It's a potluck. Steak and oyster pie is the main course, along with green beans, and um, dip, and cookies and a pavlova! And wine! I just ran a half-marathon, plus, I'm not eating the main course, so bring on the desserts!

Tuesday morning: I think I'll skip spinning because um...I still can't walk. Hunt is on for a sports massage. Book one for Tuesday night.

Tuesday night: Hustle downtown for excellent sports massage. Get home late. Again. But less sore. Yes!

Wednesday morning: It's A MIRACLE, I CAN WALK!

Wednesday afternoon: Get e-mail from the Instigator, Sandy, "Are you going to the Christmas Light Run tonight?" Followed by increasingly insistent text messages. Result? I go!

Wednesday night: Drive home from work, change into running kit, scarf cheese and crackers, and drive to Metro to the annual (very fun) Christmas Light Run! Where I learn? That running=pain.

My peeps!

Wednesday late night: Do yoga poses and many stretches.

Thursday morning: Dear God, I. am. tired.

Thursday night: Official work Christmas party! Woot!!! Fifth night in a row that I will not be home.
Me: I just ran a half-marathon! I can eat anything I want! More wine! Cookies! Um...I don't feel so good....I may give birth. Owwwww. Need. Sleep. Immediately.

Sleep 12 hours straight.

Moral? Am now busy reading Skinny Bitch (I've got the bitch part's the other part I need to work on).

Meanwhile, run with me in the Fredericksburg Blue-Gray Half-Marathon (photos courtesy Susie):
Blue-Gray @3miles. This is CAKE!

Blue-Gray @6miles. Still cake! I am a ROCK STAR!

Blue-Gray @please let this end! 13 freaking miles

Heh. I so beat the clock.

First beer since 1979. Hey, I can't feel my legs!

Need. Massage. Now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Much Happiness! Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half Marathon

Cliffs Notes Version: I did it, it was hard, my legs felt like blocks of ice when they didn't feel like jello, it was NOT too windy (except for miles 8 & 9 where there was a lovely headwind), Susie was at just about every mile taking my photo when she wasn't busy videotaping me (oy), my shoelace came undone at mile 13.001 but she wisely talked me out of stopping to tie it, Number One Daughter was at mile 10 and at the finish, I had half a beer at the end (first beer, I think, since 1979), my legs hurt like hell, I literally begged a masseuse for a leg massage after they had officially closed up shop, and got one, and: I finally broke the 2:30 barrier.

My Storied Half-Marathon History

5. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 15, 2008 age 51
Unofficial results: 2:28:47 11:22 min/mile

2:28:43 11:21 min./mile (10/10 grrrrr) (am now officially qualified for the National Half OR Full Marathon)

4. National Half, March 29, 2008 age 51
2:31:57 11:36 min./mile (48/53)

3. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 9, 2007 age 50
2:34:26 11:47/min (8/9)

2. Philadelphia Distance Run, September 16, 2007 age 50
2:38:06 12:04 min./mile (221/303)

1. Parks Half Marathon, September 24, 2006 age 49
2:38:15 12:05 min./mile (55/64)

Today's splits:
22:53 (miles 6 & 7)
14:45 (big-ass hill)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Finally Won Something!

I was out of town a few weeks ago when D.C. Tri's New Triathlete Program held its graduation and we all turned from NTP'ers into OTP'ers (Old Triathletes). Prizes were bestowed, and although I have yet to get a definitive (or any) list I do know that my friend minime won the award for "Most Enthusiastic Swim Finisher."

(No that's not me. As if.) See? You can't argue with that award.

Naturally, I was mad jealous, although I had heard whispers that I too, had won something, and that it was "most spirit" or something. Which was so thrilling in itself to me that I made it my Facebook status and told everyone at work. I had NO IDEA there was like, an actual PRIZE or anything. I mean, I thought maybe I'd get some free body glide.

So this week when I got a cryptic e-mail from our club president, addressed to me, minime and another person, saying
Hey guys,

You've all won a free entry to Nation's Tri for next year. I don't have the code for you to sign in yet but I'll have it VERY soon. Just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about it.

Hope you're all well,

I was naturally baffled, skeptical, and unbelieving. So at last night's holiday party, I cornered said president and asked him: Say what??

It turns out that I won the "most inspirational" award! And FREE ENTRY into Nation's!! Which I was just the other day moaning about how expensive it is ($165 until January when it jumps to $190).

All I can say is: I am not worthy!!

And hell's bells. I haven't won anything since I won the inaugural "Martha Stewart" award at my company's annual cookie party (the title being slightly ironic).

This is the best present ever.


I guess this means I'm definitely in for Nation's!

Thanks, guys. Back atcha times infinity.

My other favorite NTP-er-now-OTP-er Sandy made this FANTASTIC video montage from all of NTPs escapades last spring and summer. This year was the best year of my life, bar none, all because of my D.C. Tri peeps, and I hope this video makes you cry as much as it made me

Late add: Don't forget to watch the Ironman World Championship (Kona) Sat. Dec. 13, from 2-4 p.m., on NBC! Need more inspiration? Check out the trailer.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ten Miles

On Saturday. It was oh, maybe 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was COLD.

But thank God, no wind.

So I bundled myself up, and met up with the trail snails across from Old Angler's Inn on the C&O Canal Towpath. I am digging running with this group. Because? I am fast in this group! Seriously. I've been running with one other chick, J., who is just a teensy bit faster than me, so she pushes me just enough. And we're totally in front of everyone else (not that that matters. But I gotta admit, it feels damn good!).

So, here's what we've done together:

11/15: 7.5 miles in 1:26:05 (11:29/ mile)

11/22: 8 miles in 1:37:00 (12:08 / mile) (OK, I totally slowed us down)

11/29: 9 miles in 1:47:13 (11:55 / mile) (Here, too)

And then this past Saturday, J. and I were joined by a jolly fellow, B., and his faithful dog. B. runs this route often and he said he is always trying to beat himself. So I prepared myself to be Left. Behind. Once. Again.

But no!

Instead what happened is he pushed us! But not too hard, and not too fast. He pushed us just enough so I didn't die.

On Saturday, we did:

10 miles in 1:56:00 (11:36/ mile)

Around mile 7 I whined asked if we could walk, and both J. and B. said "sure!" so I walked for about 10 seconds. I had been telling them about my never-ending quest to NOT walk, about how it's totally mental that I think I NEED to walk, but rarely if EVER do I actually NEED to walk, and on top of that, walking never does a THING for me! (Yes, I know: I'm a laugh riot on a run.) So after about ten seconds of walking I said, "Hey, don't say O.K.! I don't need to walk!" So we started running again.

I think this is the first time I've ever—EVER—run, really really RUN ten miles without screwing around walking!

That bodes well for my half on Sunday. Not to jinx things or anything. I am still aiming for 2:30, and am still woefully unprepared. (Please don't let it be windy.)

In other news, I'm faithfully following the 100 push up challenge, and—HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS—I am up to SIX PUSHUPS!!


So, here's Saturday's splits, just because I find them endlessly fascinating. Now you can too!
5: 6:23
mile 1: 12:02
2: 11:30
3: 11:09
4: 10:55
.5: 5: 5:26
break: 3:00 (O.K. people had to do things)
.5: 4:01
6: 10:51
7: 11:38
8 & 9: 23:40
.5: 5:40

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Half-Marys, Hail Mary's, Couches & Kitchens

So, two weeks out I finally bit the bullet and actually registered for the Fredericksburg Blue-Gray half mary that I sorta kinda have been half-assed training for. I go through this every year with this race: I'm not ready, I haven't trained enough, I'm going to come in last, blah blah. (Of course it's all true: I'm NOT ready, and I haven't trained enough, and I could actually come in last.) But I gots to have me some goals or else...well nothing happens, is what happens.

So, Dec. 14th I'll be down in hilly Fredericksburg, seeing if there's any way possible I can pull off a half in 2:30. I did 8 miles in a sad 1:37 a few weeks ago, but then 9 miles in 1:47 so who knows, miracles CAN happen.

Meanwhile, speaking of half-fast, I just signed up for the Montgomery County Road Runners Speed Development Program. It meets Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings starting Jan. 10. It's not exactly nearby, but they make it sound so alluring, I couldn't pass it up.

Now I just need to lock in my triathlons (nation's tri? $165!!!! who the hell has that kind of dough! I need a sponsor. Call me.) and all the other races I procrastinate about and get locked out of every year. Sigh.


I've lost my camera cable so you'll have to take my word for it, but remember the couch debacle? Well, it turns out if I turn the couch perpendicular to the wall, all my problems are solved! (You people are so damn smart.)

Plus? I ventured into Sears early on Black Friday and bought me a gently used (new, returned) dishwasher...AND a new range. Number One Daughter egged me on. They were both installed today and now the rest of the kitchen looks...really really bad.

You will all be much happier this year with my Christmas pictures when you see my new stove.

Late-breaking addendum

I forgot to mention that I FINALLY started the 100 push up challenge. I'm in week one, level one, day one. I expect I might be there for a while. But come spring, I'm gonna have me some guns!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Love Running!

Mile 6.1

Look! I'm running!

And ... the obligatory butt shot.

Tri-friend J. (also my erstwhile swimming coach) and his lovely wife M.

Nov. 27, 2008: Bethesda YMCA Turkey Chase (motto: all hills, all the time): 1:06:51 (10:47/mile) NOW UPDATED with even better official results:
59/89 3247 Jeanne McCann F 51 Bethesda MD 1:14:46(gun) 1:06:20(net) (10:41/mile)

May 14, 2006: Arlington (Va.) YMCA Mother's Day 10k (Did I mention this course was hilly?): 1:07:15 (10:49/mile)

Dec. 11, 2005: Jingle All the Way (on the beautiful FLAT Haine's Point in D.C.): 1:08:22 (11:00/mile)

It turns out that if you eliminate that swimming and biking stuff beforehand, you go waaaaay faster.

For a small town local race, this thing is huge. Why can't I find a race where there are no more than three people in my elderly age group and two of them are on crutches??? WHY?? It took 10 minutes to cross the mat, and it didn't start thinning out until mile 4. If I'm complaining about slower people in front, you KNOW it's crowded.

Since I started running sans headphones, I'm much more aware of my surroundings. This is not necessarily a good thing. I'm running along, and suddenly I hear an incessant squeak squeak squeak. I turn and ask the older gentleman running nearby: "Are you squeaking??" He responds: "Oh, that's just my METRONOME." Seriously?? "Yes, it helps me with my cadence." "Well it's driving ME crazy!"

I turn to the person next to me to say something snarky about metronome man, only she's plugged in, as is just about everyone else. All around me drift the sounds of garmins beeping and iPods blasting music so loud it comes out of the top of peoples' heads.

Is it possible I've become a running SNOB?!

My goal for this race was sub-1:15, because it has a lot of uphills and few downhills. So my strategery was: Go out fast, fly on the downhills, and limp my way to the finish.

Mile 1+ (missed mile marker): 11:31
Mile -2: 8:56
Mile 3: 11:21 (31:49)
Mile 4: 11:09
Mile 5: 11:02
Mile 6: 10:47
Mile .2 2:02

1:06:51 1:06:20 (just managing to miss qualifying for the National Half Marathon by 1:51 1:20. Sigh. Bastards.)

So much for strategy!

Sidebar: I've been in a funk for days now. In fact, Number One Daughter told me afterwards that she was afraid if I had a bad race I would be a real pill to live with. Turns out that my mood has magically lifted. Do you think it was the running, or the PR?


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Cornucopia of Minutiae

Big congrats to the always amazing and prodigious D.C. Rainmaker for winning Best of the Blogs. And for nailing the Philly Marathon today. Holy cow!

I think my bowling injury is gone, thankfully. But bowling did manage to totally TAKE out one of my younger colleagues--who threw her back out and had to take a week off from work. So much for group bonding. I'm going to propose that next time, we eschew physical pursuits and just go drink.

Meanwhile, I'm back training. My schedule looks like this:

Sunday: Swim class (loads of fun, and I still suck)
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Spin class 6 a.m. (this is supposed to be 60 minutes but barely hits 45, don't understand why.)
Tuesday night: run on YMCA treadmill, where you get kicked off after 30 minutes. I manage to crank out 3 9:30 minute miles, which is obviously a complete lie since there is no replicating this in REAL LIFE. Say, outdoors, for instance.
Wednesday: 6 a.m.: swim drills from class. Set new time for swimming 100: 3:30. Sigh.
Thursday: Spin class 6 a.m.
Thursday: run 4 miles outside in the cold, at 4:30 p.m., in the gathering dusk. Am hanging on around 10:30 minute miles.
Friday: OFF!
Saturday: Run with my newfound SnailTrail runners. I am waaay out front again, with two other women. Eight miles finished in....1:37!!! Which is a 12:08 minute mile. In my defense, it was 22 degrees out and windy. It turns out that I'm discouraged even when I'm leading. The good news that I successfully avoided the evil post-run petite heroin-laced Starbucks vanilla scones.

Here we are at Sunday again, gearing up for swim class tonight.

I'm in town for Thanksgiving for the first time in several years, so I have the opportunity to run the YMCA Turkey trot, a 10k. I've only run two 10ks ever (is that possible?? What do I have against 10ks???) and apparently my PR is 1:07. So I'm pretty sure that will stand, but hope springs eternal!

And I'm still pretending that I will be running the Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half Marathon on Dec 14 (Hi Susie and David!).

In other news: Apparently you can only watch my television ancien comfortably, from one chair in this house.

Just try watching TV from this couch. You'd need a chiropracter.

I can't move the TV bcs the cable is on that side. And I can't move the couch cuz that lounge-y part is part of the couch and won't work on any other wall.

Believe it or not, this leetle conundrum led to a fight with number one daughter last night! I have so many ridiculous's just ridiculous.

So, it's OPEN MIKE. I need advice on my training sked, and my furniture arranging skills. Don't be shy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Undone by Bowling

People, I'm a highly trained triathlete. I can swim, run and bike. I am in Good. Shape.


Comparatively speaking.

So imagine my surprise when last Thursday my office decided to treat us worker bees to a few hours of bowling, and I learned that: I have no leg muscles!

Apparently? Bowling is nothing more than a prolonged series of lunges, all on the same leg. Over and over and over.

So of course, I woke up Friday having pulled, strained, sprained or otherwise damaged something in my hamstring. Sort of up near my butt. (Or maybe I sprained my butt. Sigh.)

I'm still trying to train for the Fredericksburg Blue-Gray Half-Mary on December 14. Which it turns out, is like four weeks away.

I was up to 9 miles a few weekends ago, but got very little running done in the past three weeks.

So, on Saturday morning, I put on my anti-anxiety cap, and wandered out to meet a new group of runners: the C&O Trail Snails, who bill themselves thusly:
Do you love running on the C&O canal towpath? [Yes!]
Are you more motivated when you know you will be running with others? [Most definitely.]
Are you happy to be running and not so concerned about your pace? [Err, I'm working on this one.]
Have you had trouble finding a group to run with that is not overly
competitive? [Hells yeah.]
I was there promptly at 8 a.m. on a rainy HOT (global warming) muggy November Saturday morning, and ran 7 miles with another woman who is a solid 11:30 min miler. (And hello, we turned out to be the FAST ones in this group. Woot. My kind of group! Although I do recognize that this might probably not be the best training for me. On the other hand, is always being LAST good for me??? I think not.)

By the end of 7 miles my butt/hamstring thing was screaming. I ended up limping to the car. And then limping to StarCrack where I had my usual decaf skim latte, and where the following convo took place (let's hope) in my head:

oh, don't those "petite vanilla scones" look cute! And small! And they're only $.75!! Or, three for $1.95. Might as well get three, I'll eat one here and give two to NOD when I get home.

Well, maybe I'll eat two. After all, I'm in PAIN.

You know what? You just ran 7 miles girlfriend! If anyone deserves a Petite Vanilla Scone, you do! NOD can get her own damn breakfast!
And before you could say Bob's yer uncle, I had consumed


They don't call it StarCrack for nothing.

Still to come:
A complete report on how my nutrition plan is coming along, plus updates on spinning and swimming, strength training, and not-heart-rate-training.

I can hardly wait.

(P.S. Everyone please stop blogging so I can catch up.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Edna Irene Lowrey Scott Capen

April 15, 1923 - Oct. 24, 2008

Mom was a leg model. c. 1949

Who knew my mother liked dogs?? Undated photo.

She did like to party though. Also, undated, but I'm taking a wild guess from the furniture (all Colonial, all the time), that this was in the '70s, when she finally got her own apartment.

"That's not the woman I knew," was my main thought as my eldest half-brother began sharing his memories of my mother at her funeral.

My brother spoke of my mother finally finding happiness with her third husband, after two failed marriages, with whom she lived in the Bay Area for many years, before moving to the wilds of West Virginia only seven or so years ago. He remembered her for her sense of humor (I do concede that she had one), and for a lightness that she had about her that he said he inherited (this is where he started losing me), and that she never held a grudge (OK, now we're talking about two different people).

Of course, she didn't raise him. He and my half-sister were raised by their father and step-mother in California, while my mother and father lived in New Haven, raising me and my brother.

(It's like that Facebook relationship status: It's complicated.)

It was a tough funeral—even as I write I realize how ridiculous a statement that is. Are there easy funerals? Where everyone has had a chance to, you know, make up and laugh and remember good times and there's no pain ... you know, like the Hallmark cards of funerals?

One week after Mom's funeral, I went on my church's yearly silent retreat here.

It's about a five-hour ride from D.C., so I rode up with three woman I had never met before, and none knew my mother had just died. One woman started talking about Whidbey Island, and about a relative's funeral she attended there. How the entire family helped dig the grave, how the mother's ashes were sprinkled in, how the grandchildren placed mementos in the grave, and how everyone then covered the ashes back up.

And I found myself feeling jealous—of a funeral.

Well, Mom's funeral wasn't like that. But then her life wasn't like that either, so what did I expect?

She was a Depression baby, the first high school graduate in her family of six, and determined to have the nicer things in life. And that led to a life of "creative financing," as she liked to call it. She worked at Yale Law School, first as an at-home typist, then as a legal secretary, when women didn't work. After her death I found a three-page letter from her bosses to Yale's human resource office commending her work, saying she was the "best secretary" they had ever had, did the work of "three people," often worked weekends and nights, and asking for a big raise for her.

I also found a handwritten note from President Gerald Ford, thanking my mother for all her help during some visit he made to Yale.

So many things I could write about her, but I won't.

The woman I knew as a child was desperately unhappy. DESPERATELY. She tried leaving once, when I was in 6th grade, but took me and my brother with her.

That didn't work.

She finally left for good—by herself—when I was in eighth grade. I found out when I saw her dresser had been cleaned out.

The innocent years. 1962. Me and my older brother T.

I saw her regularly throughout adolescence. She'd meet me and my brother at a local diner for breakfast every now and then.

Reconnecting with siblings: My one-year-older brother T., me, and my nine-year older brother, B.

There was a long drawn out divorce. Long, contested, bitter, bitter divorce.

But I'm straying.

My mother was a strong person. No question she followed her dreams. She loaded up her car and moved cross country to Oakland, Calif., (when she was in her late 50s) with her husband-to-be, while I was in college, and started a new career at Clorox, rising to executive secretary to the president, where she worked until she retired at age 75.

She had moxie, that one.

So when I was asked to speak, I was at a loss. So much to say that was better left unsaid. So much hurt.

Instead, I read this:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
--William Butler Yeats

Rest in peace, Mommy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Mom the Non-Planner

Hello good friends.

Many of you will have heard by now that my mother died last Friday, Oct. 24. Her funeral is Monday, Nov. 3, in West Virginia.

I don't think I can begin to express the depths of my appreciation to everyone who has written or called to express condolences, but I will try to thank you all individually.

Is it crass to notify people via blogger and Facebook? Maybe, but since that's where so many of my closest, dearest friends (some of whom I've never met) "live," that's where I chose to tell people.

Meanwhile, there is much family drama. Which, if you know anything about my family, you would expect. So far it's been at turns exceptionally painful, sad, hilarious, trying, infuriating, enraging, and so ridiculous that I fear no one will ever believe it. (If you ever watched "Six Feet Under," you have some small idea of the funeral home in West Virginia, just for starters. But that's actually one of the better parts to the saga.) I was allowed no role at all in planning her funeral, because of her manipulative control freak husband, and she is not being buried where she wished (hence the title of this post). Believe me, this is the ultimate exercise in letting go and letting God (please pardon the cliche).

I am trying valiantly to keep up some kind of exercise regimen because it is keeping me (somewhat) sane.

I returned to Bethesda this past Monday, went to work, but am taking Friday off to go to the beach with a friend for a day of rest and restorative yoga before traveling back for the funeral.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Thanks for all the heart rate training advice. I'm going to write all your advice in one post...later.

Right now, I've got some stuff going on, so I'm taking a break. Hopefully it will be short, because I know how you people need me.

Not to be mother is very ill. Plus other stuff.

But for right now...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I dreamed last night that I ran a marathon and that was my time.

I was unbelievably happy. Like incredibly, indescribably happy.

And then I woke up. Bummer.

Is it an omen? A message? An invitation? A WARNING??

Who knows?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

'Splain It to Me

I've started Heart Rate Training. First thing I did was figure out my max heart rate by doing a 3-minute step test (outlined in the handy TIMEX book that came with the HRM they gave me): step up and down on a 8-inch step for 3 minutes, get a number, add 45 to it (45 if you're of average fitness, 55 if excellent) = 179. Just for kicks I checked out this NEW IMPROVED formula and got 172. (208 - .7(your age))

To run faster, you have to run faster. Can we all agree on this?

Here are my target heart rate zones (according to the same book):

z1 90-108 bpm
z2 108-126
z3 126-144
z4 144-162

When I run, my heart rate shoots to above the high end of z5 immediately, proving that 179 is most definitely NOT my Max Heart Rate. I slow down. I slow down more. I sloooooow waaaaay down. I'm now doing 12:30 min miles and I'm at the high end or above, of z4.Z4!!!

It gets worse. In spin class last week, my average heart rate was 166 and my max? 213. TWO HUNDRED THIRTEEN.

I had to stop. I could barely keep it under 180.

But the funny thing is I don't feel like I'm dying or anything.

Saturday while running? Average: 155 / Max: 176. And that was doing 12:28 minute miles, cuz if I went any faster, I was quickly in the 180s and above.

So, to summarize:
To run faster you have to run faster.
To run efficiently, you have to train your body to use fat so you have to stay in the correct zone (2 & 3) (??? Something like this??)
To stay in the correct zone, I have to run slower.
Which means, I'm not running faster.

Have I got this right?


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Answer: It's Like a Mini-Vacation

Question: What's a colonoscopy like?

[If you are under 50, you might want to come back later. If you are over 50, and you haven't had one yet, it's time. Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world.]

Here's how you do it.

First, go to spin class. Then spend the day fasting, drinking only clear liquids (including coffee, thank God). At the end of the day you will feel svelte and supermodelish and filled with willpower. Enjoy that part while it lasts.

In the evening, drink a gallon of stuff available only by prescription because it is very likely toxic and basically makes you explode for the next two hours.

Now you REALLY feel like a supermodel (no offense to all the supermodels reading this).

The morning of: Wake up Number One Daughter and ask if you can borrow her camera to document things because, after all, "Katie Couric had her colonoscopy done live on TV." Number One Daughter: "Mom, news flash: You are not Katie Couric." So literal, that one.

Have your only child drive you to the outpatient center and on the way there, discuss the fact that you don't have a living will ("Moooooom, stop it!")

Things happen like clockwork. Until the anesthesiologist sees my heart rate of 45. Which I'm guessing is elevated because I'm so nervous. (Am I actually alive?) People get concerned and run around for a while. They stick a thermometer on my forehead (see, now you wish you had photos).

They cover you with warm blankies, wheel you in, stick in an IV, and before you can say "Bob's your uncle," you're off to your happy place and done in 20 minutes. Another 20 minutes to come back to reality. More warm blankies, a cup of tea, and a few graham crackers and you're home, feeling all clean and shiny, ready to tackle the world, since it's only 11 a.m. and you have the day off. "I totally could have gone to work," you think, "since I'm feeling fine!" New plan: Do laundry, clean house, sort mail, go for a run!

What actually happens: Lay down. Wake up six hours later.


If you're putting this off because you think it's painful, think again. If you're putting it off because your health insurance doesn't cover it, don't forget to vote! And if you're putting it off because you're scared of what they might find, you need to HTFU and just do it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Now, 66.5% Fat-Free!

I had my first appointment with my tri-nutritionist yesterday. She measured my body fat with some newfangled piece of equipment that shoots electricity through your body (something like that). Result?

33.5 percent

Of FAT. (I share because I care!) Not the lovely 28.5 percent that the YMCA found at its so-called "fitness evaluation" back on March 1, 2008.

But the lovely Rebecca has a plan. I loves me a plan. My plan is to drop 10 pounds. Her plan is to get me to 30 percent body fat, and then skip on over to 25 percent body fat. Her plan will be delivered at my 2-week follow up, in um, 2 weeks. (It would have been one week but I have my COLONOSCOPY scheduled for this Friday. Is it strange that I'm looking forward to it because it means I get a day off from work?? Also, do stand by for complete coverage. If Katie Couric can do it, so can I.)

It's well established that people who log their food every day have a statistically higher percentage of weight loss than those who don't (not that that's ever convinced me). But this time, what the hey, I'm logging my intake over at, which has forums, workout logs, a database of every food item on the planet, and calculates everything automagically.

Nutritionist-to-the-Ironmen R. also said I only need to eat half a banana or a half-glass of orange juice before working out in the a.m. I had been eating a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts and soymilk. (So. Freaking. Healthy.) Then I'd workout. Then I'd get to work and have breakfast number 2. Apparently? That's one too many breakfasts.

Who know knww KNEW?

So far I am TOTALLY FOLLOWING THE PLAN. (Today is day one.)

This was also day one of return to spinning. I discovered that my YMCA has spinning classes. And attendance is included in my membership fee. That fee that I'm already paying monthly. So all last year I paid my YMCA fee and then paid again to go spin at another gym. Granted it was worth the money to indulge my spin-instructor crushes.

I don't think I'll develop much of a crush on this spin instructor, although she's very lovely. However, she only played two "real" songs: Coldplay and Eva Cassidy. The rest of the time she played that technoeuropeanfakemusic (no offense). I felt like the lights should have been off, I should have had a drink and a cig in my hand, and someone should have feeding me pickup lines. Other than that, it was great! One hour in the bank of what-do-I-do-during-off-season.

Thirdly, the lovely people at Timex graciously sent me a heart rate monitor, which is terrific since I am too cheap to buy one.

They asked me to check out their triathlon training plans at, and tossed in a heart rate monitor. I haven't checked out the tri training plans yet, but I have tested the heart rate monitor. And my verdict is this: It works perfectly. Except it's a little basic. It reports 1) your heart rate while you're exercising (although you can tap a button to get elapsed time but that's kind of a pain), and 2) your elapsed time at the end along with 3) your max and average heart rates during your exercise. So no splits. And no storing of any data.

So I can use this, but then I'll need to wear a watch if I want to time splits. If you're going to spring for a heart rate monitor, the

Personal Heart Rate Monitor
Price: US $50.00
Product Code: T5G941F5
is probably not the one, unless you ONLY want your heart rate.

Fourthly, I found a new running trail. I've lived in Bethesda for 12 years. I don't know when this trail opened, but it's RIGHT ACROSS the street from the YMCA to which I've been going for years. Sometimes it actually pays to look up. Especially when you're driving.

Anyway, I found the Bethesda Trolley Trail. It has bridges over two highways, it goes up and it goes down. It abruptly stops at some places and then starts again. It's near home.

I don't know whether it's the newness factor, but I've been pumping out 4.31 miles (slowly) never even thinking about walking (jinx).

I could go on, but I got me a debate to watch. Don't think that I haven't been developing new skills though, people. NBTR is all about the skillz:
Wowing my knitting audience with mad guitar hero skillz

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Random Friday

1. I'm back from Austin.

2. Met AJ.

3. She's funny.

4. Austin is great.

5. Went on run with aj, and the entire TOWN was out running. At night.

6. Talked to the Ironwoman Coach Tammy (newly moved to Austin from Seattle--the last place I didn't see her) by phone--but she was TOO BUSY getting her ph.d. on to come to dinner with us.

7. Austin is not near Houston.

8. Austin should totally be on a coast. Preferably the east coast.

9. Got the best haircut of my life here.

10. Immediately put on a hat and ruined it by going running.

11. Sat in conference room all day yesterday.

12. Award for best snacks at a conference: Chocolate milk, ho-hos, twinkies, and those red snowball things. No actual food products were served.

13. I feel like a cow.

14. I have no training plan.

15. I found CrossFit near my house. It's intense. Not sure how much it costs.

16. I need to do the 100 pushup challenge

17. Or I could check out the Y.

18. Cuz don't forget I need to work on my swimming.

19. And running.

20. And biking.

21. Am seeing Tri nutritionist on Oct. 6.

22. And getting colonoscopy on Oct. 10.

23. David Byrne played in Austin last night. I could have gone, HAD I KNOWN.

24. How is it possible that I manage to leave town the DAY BEFORE Austin City Limits starts?

25. David Byrne is coming to D.C. the day my annual SILENT RETREAT ends.

26. David Byrne obviously has a thing for me.

27. Tomorrow I'm going to Bike D.C. ("a noncompetitive, community bike ride through 17 car-free miles of Washington, DC.") and then going to the National Book Festival where I hope to see Alexander McCall Smith (I'm a sucker for a man in a kilt). Wanna come?

28. It's supposed to rain tomorrow.

29. Am toying with thinking about doing this, which aj is doing next week.

30. Please stop me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Savageman Results

Click to enlarge. I will let you guess the name of our relay team. When our runner came in, the announcer said he couldn't say it out loud because there were children around. Z's response: "My work here is done."

Just back from the fab Savageman weekend and my relay. I did the 1.5 swim (shaving 6 minutes off my Nation's Tri swim last weekend, yay!), Z. did a ridiculously hilly 40k on the bike, and S. ran a mind-numbing hilly 10k. We might not be the speediest but we are DEFINITELY the most fun.

Here we are hanging with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. Or quite possibly hanging on.

Pre-swim in the foggy foggy morning. Deep Creek Lake.

Mayor Fenty sets off on the run of his half. Looking DAMN good.

More photos here; more details to come.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Draw your own conclusions.

I love a man who cooks. Someone marry this man.

Rockin' out. Deer in headlights.

It's business time.

Assistant chef Lindsey.


Smug? Or happy? You decide.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nation's Tri Race Report

This race was about the run for me. I knew I wouldn't PR on the swim, thought I might hold steady on the bike, but I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to nail the run. Nothing insane, just RUN it.

But, as we all know, you play the cards you are dealt, and you run the race that's before you.

I'll skip all the logistical crap, except to say: it was kind of a mess.

Saturday, the day before the race, was packet-pickup day at a downtown hotel, mandatory bike-racking day, scope-out parking day, practice-swim-in-Potomac day and D.C. Tri's athlete dinner. Too much.

Cleverly, I decided to pick up my packet on Friday afternoon. No crowds, no muss, no fuss, in and out!

Bike racking went fine.

None of my PEEPS were doing the practice swim and I almost bagged it but a last-minute call from this guy reminded me that I needed to do what I needed to do, nevermind what everyone else was doing (your mother: "if all your friends jump off a bridge (or in this case, DON'T jump) does that mean you have to??") So I went for it.

I stood by the floating docks trying to summon up my courage to jump into the river (I don't jump, people, ever. I climb), and promptly stepped into a hole, fell, and twisted my foot. Three elderly gents sat with their feet hanging over the riverbank, watching the shenanigans. They were extremely solicitous, asking if I was OK, and telling me not to get hurt before the race even started. Duh. If I were suspicious, I might have taken my fall as an omen and called it quits. What I am is stubborn. I was determined to get in that water.

So I just...jumped! I had a great swim and it helped build my confidence. I headed home, showered, took massive amounts of ibuprofen, and iced and taped my foot, on which I was now limping. I drove back downtown to the athlete's dinner, where I was a total grouch and left early because my foot hurt like a mo'fo. If I couldn't WALK, how the hell was I going to run??


Up at 4:00, at transition by 5:45. I parked about a mile away, and LIMPED my way there, trying not to think about running. My backup plan was to do the swim and the bike and see what my foot felt like after that.

I met up with Nancy, and Minime (she goes by several names). Nancy and I were in the very last wave, 50+, scheduled for 8:30. We sat around and watched the sun rise. Minime sat with us and I talked her down a few times, since this her first Olympic and you know, I'm such an expert and all.

We waited 1 trillion more years, some of them in my wetsuit, which I think I lost 10 lbs in, just standing in the heat. Somewhere along the way, I noticed my foot had stopped hurting. Didn't want to jinx it, so I didn't think about it. I lurrrve my age group, because they are pretty damn laid back (at least in this race).

Jump! We hung in the water for a while, waiting for a horn or a countdown or something. At one point the official yelled for people to move back. Then he yelled "go" without a countdown. It was a weird start. The swim map was misleading.

I had memorized this map. Under the bridge, turn left, bridge on left, turn left, back.

Well ... no. Under the bridge and ....keep swimming til you get to the NEXT bridge. Further than expected. But I plowed on. The course was not well marked but if you kept the riverbank to your right, you were fine. Yay me, I managed to pass a few people. I've been trying to focus on how many strokes it takes me to get across the pool--something like 25. So I decided to just count to 25, and each 25 would be one length of the pool. That sort of helped. Unfortunately, I was so focused on finishing that I forgot to revel in the fact that I was swimming in the Potomac and I completely MISSED swimming past the Lincoln Memorial, a vantage point you don't often get. I freestyled the whole way, only stopping a few times to get my bearings.

It was hard to see the last buoy so I started heading for the ladders too soon. The last buoy was a little past the ladders (or so it seemed) and you had to go around it and then swim left into shore. Climb out into and BOING get your fab swim exit photo, exhibit A:

When does the short bus leave?

It was a long run back to transition, and I heard my name called, and there was Number One Daugher's Boyfriend! Awwww! So my transition time includes me running over in a rubber wetsuit with those goggles on to give him a kiss. The volunteers thought I'd lost my mind and was going the wrong way. Ha.

Nancy was gone, and I was slow. A long run to bike out.

It was hot, and a lot of the course was in the sun. I usually love riding, and especially on streets--MY STREETS!! MY TOWN!!!--that are closed to traffic. But I wasn't feeling it today. Past all the monuments, some twists and turns and then a long out and back.

It was gorgeous and any other time I would have been deliriously happy. Unlike New Jersey, I was NOT the last one and I was not alone. I even passed a few people. But I was just not feeling it, as evidenced by my speed of 14mph. I felt oddly detached but I tried VERY hard to appreciate the beauty around me, stay in the moment, not fret about time or worry about the run. A non-racing biker came up to me while out on Cabin John Parkway and said, "I hope you know how lucky you are to be riding these roads with no cars." Indeed I did know!

Yep. I was there!

Today was all about the run for me. My foot had miraculously healed, but unfortunately it was now hotter than Hades. I was SO DETERMINED to run this I can't even tell you. This was MY run, I've run Haine's point a million times, I KNEW this and I KNEW I could do it. I decided to just take it slow and not worry about time, but just not walk (aid stations excepted). Aid was promised every mile, but it was more like 1 1/2 miles apart. I was running with the lame and the halt. We were a sad bunch. Everyone was miserable, the sun was unrelenting, there was really no shade. D.C. Tri had a water station at 2 1/2 miles and my peeps B. and S. (ha ha, no not BS!) were there with words of encouragement. SO HAPPY TO SEE THEM! I kept up my trudge until about mile 5 where I gave in to walking. But my walks were short and I got RIGHT back into running. So props to me for that. There were two misting tents along the way--glorious! A lot of camaraderie on the run. About four blocks from the finish my savior N. saw me, jumped in and told me no more walking. I almost cried with gratitude. It's absolutely AMAZING what the encouragement of another person can do for you. I managed to pick up the pace a bit and hold onto it for a nice strong finish.

Sometimes it's really NOT about the time, it's about the effort. I was disappointed with my time, but I know I did my best. What more can you do?

More logistics:
I met up with Minime at the finish, and met her parents (Minime: "Mom, Dad, MEET MY 51-YEAR OLD FRIEND." I AM NOT KIDDING!) and could have joined the post-race D.C. Tri party, but I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. You had to wait in line for a bus back to transition. While waiting an ambulance came and took someone away who was busy passing out in the heat. The heat was nothing to fool around with. There was a lot of bitching about the logistics. Waiting 1/2 hour for a bus after racing for 4 hours--not fun. And the bus didn't drop us at transition, but more like 1/2 mile away (at the WWII Memorial). So it was along slog back, then another long slog back to the car walking my bike with wetsuit piled on top of it and a very heavy backpack on my back.

Someone asked me the next day if I had fun. Since I am still having trouble answering that question, I guess that means no. I wasn't miserable, but no, it wasn't fun. But I'm glad I did it and I'd definitely do it again. Because I know I can do better.

bib number: 3150
age: 51
gender: F
location: BETHESDA, MD
overall place: 2260 out of 2398
division (ATHENA, all ages) place: 66 out of 84 (had I competed in my age group, would have been 32/40)
gender place: 852 out of 955
time: 4:08:27
pace: 0:
swim: 48:07
t1: 5:11
bike: 1:45:43 (14.1 mph)
t2: 3:49
run: 1:25:39 (13.49 min/miles)

Meanwhile (still with me David?), I have one last tri this weekend: I'm doing the swim leg of a relay at Savageman, but more importantly am staying in a house with my great D.C. Tri friends. Fun will be had.

What's Next?
My goals for the "off" season? I'd like to keep focusing on running, maybe run the Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half; I absolutely MUST work on my swimming, and of course, I need to work on biking!

Plus I'd like to get some weight training in, and some yoga, and start meditating.

Right after I quit my day job.

Not the Race Report, Something Better

I just can't seem to get around to writing it. Oh well, it will come eventually. Meanwhile, get thee hither to this FANTASTIC BLOG written by Number One Daughter, detailing her European travels. It's hilarious (often unintentionally so) if I do say so myself. Go, leave her some comment love, she's new at this blogging thing.