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!