Sunday, April 26, 2015

Running with Turkeys

I know a lovely woman, Meagan, who writes a very fun blog called Turkey Runner -- representing her Virginia Tech background. (If you want a little background on the whole Virginia Tech/turkey/Hokie thing, I will refer you to Deb's very true and touching appreciation of her school, which spells it out just right.)

On my run yesterday morning with Linda and Melanie, who are NOT turkeys by any means, I had Meagan in mind. Coming around a bend on the W&OD trail, we heard a distinctive "gobble gobble," and sure enough, on the field below us were two beautiful turkeys with their tails all plumed up, looking like the decorations on someone's Thanksgiving table.

Melanie snapped a picture, but the toms had flattened themselves out to make themselves more aerodynamic and hustle after the two lady turkeys that we had not noticed at first. It's still pretty cool to see a couple of turkeys first thing in the morning.

Turkeys on the move!
Melanie and Linda are great fun. They've always got a story to tell, and they're genuinely nice people. They make the miles fly by. On our run yesterday we also spotted loads of deer, a couple of rabbits, a heron, and I was pretty sure my boss on a bike. We solved some world problems and Linda shared a new bit of running inspiration:

Don't tell me how rough the water is.
Just bring the ship in!

This bit of advice was offered when someone (me) was whining a little about legs feeling tired.

Me, Linda, and Melanie. They look too cute to have run 8 miles, but they did!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It Was 5K at Work Day

Take-your-child-to-work-day yesterday? Pish, posh. At Virginia's largest public research university, it was also the day for the annual Victims' Rights Run and Walk, where we have a 5K in the middle of work hours. It's great!

The race raises money for George Mason University's Victims of Violence Fund, administered by Mason's Wellness, Alcohol, and Violence Education and Services, and the Rape Aggression Defense program that is sponsored by the university's Department of Police and Public Safety. It is a very popular event and is one of my favorite things about spring around here.

Within the university, there are lucky 13 colleges and schools. The college I work for, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, gets a nice turnout for the race each year because we are awesome.

Oh yeah, I get to work with these people! And on this one day of the year I get to prance around in shorts with them.
I got a PR in this race a couple of years ago and hoped to beat it yesterday but the wind and the new course -- which was kind of hilly -- kept that from happening. I finished up at 26:11 which was good enough to come in 6th among the 78 women who came out, so I'm pretty cool with that.

But my colleague Jamie came in as the second fastest male walker!

He walked because he was teaching a boot camp class last night and another this morning. His fitness classes are hard but he's such a nice guy they are totally worth going to. And that's not even his day job -- he is also the academic dean of our college.

It's such a treat to get a chance to run around in the middle of the day. Like a lot of workplaces, Mason tries keep it positive for the people who work there, and this is my personal favorite among those efforts.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Senior Day

In the few years that I've done this blog, I have made it a point to never include photos of anyone under the age of 18, or include any pics of our kids.

Well, today is Senior Day for the Girls' Tennis Team at the kids' high school. I never played a varsity sport; this lady has played tennis for this team for four years. We are extremely proud of her.

If this player doesn't win her match, she sleeps outside!
(Just kidding.)
Thank goodness for this blog so I don't have to struggle on Facebook through these last few months before college! Like every parent, I guess, I'm finding this pretty darned challenging.

And the subject of this photo doesn't think it's a flattering shot and asked me not to put it on Facebook. Voila. Sneaky-ass mom. Glad she doesn't read this thing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's Rewarding about a Healthy Lifestyle?

It is Wednesday, and it's a Wednesday Word link-up with and a host of other terrific bloggers.

Deb Runs

Today, we're talking about


And I'm thinking about what's rewarding about exercise (or anything you do, really, because if you don't get something out of it, why do it?).

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a neighbor (who doesn't run) who was absolutely flummoxed that anyone would spend their good money to run a race. "I'm a scientist," the neighbor explained. "I need to know to satisfy my scientific curiosity."

That was the same weekend as the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, a race where you need to haul yourself to an inconveniently-located expo to get your bib, then schlep an hour each way to run with a very large group of people. There were times that weekend that I started to suspect that Dr. Neighbor, PhD, might be right.

But then of course you run the race and have a blast and you realize that science probably has very little to do with it. I don't think I'll ever be able to convince Dr. Neighbor, but on the other hand, I realize that what she thinks about racing and running doesn't matter very much. And that's as rewarding as it can get.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Best Reason to Work Out, IMHO

Baked goods.

I was up late-ish last night making chocolate cookies for the kids' school -- once a year, the PTA organizes a "This is for You" event where parents bring in loads of cookies and other deliciousness and distribute the booty at lunchtime. I've been one of those moms who carries the baked goods around and it's a great way to dip into your kids' world.

But if you are up late sampling cookies, you make darned sure that you're working out the next day. Even on a day that work kind of wins and you can't get a swim because you've got two morning meetings. Hokas are on deck for a lunchtime walk! Because with deadlines, meetings, and grouchy teenagers, stress relief might really be the best reason to work out.

Here's the recipe I used. It was easy and super good. I used minty M&Ms, too. Lucky kids!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Boston Marathon (Is Not Where I Am This Morning)

Because, just in case you didn't know, this race is for really fast people. People who run marathons about an hour faster than me.

I am proud to know a bunch of these speedy people who will be hitting the road in a little bit, including my neighbor, Matt, who is so fast you kind of can't even see him as he runs by. But I may be most excited about my friend Michelle.

This lady is super fast. Before I was even thinking of trying distance running, her husband, Steve, mentioned that they had been doing the Backyard Burn races put on by ex2adventures (you might recall that these are the races I've tried and have either complained here about how hard they are or have tripped and fallen and taken selfies with the beaver in the ranger hut). He did the 5-milers, he said, and Michelle did the 10-milers. They get age group prizes for these races.

Anyway, Michelle is a serious running boss, just like all of those people on the buses out to Hopkinton. Those folks are super human, in my eyes, and I will be thinking of all of them (all 30,000!) today.

Me? I had a little 6.2 in the rain in their honor, with a detour past Matt's house so I could salute the house. Good luck, Matt! Good luck, Michelle! Good luck, all the rest of you speedsters!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Race Report 2015 Shamrock Half Marathon

My long run yesterday morning was a little bit of an experiment. I did 11 miles, following on just short of 5 miles on Friday. This isn't a big deal for a lot of people, but I am experimenting with trying 2 days of not-too-tiny runs, in anticipation of dabbling in the Hanson Method for the fall races I signed up for.

So this one was a little challenging, and I consoled myself by thinking, hey at least I'm not doing a half Ironman in thunderstorms, like my friend John. He hit up the Try Charleston triathlon and about the time I was hauling my butt up and down Braddock Road, he was likely biking 50+ miles around the lowcountry. I sure hope he got some shrimp and grits after that effort!

I'm was not at all worried about him, though, because he's pretty much a boss at that stuff. And I got to joint him for a little tuneup about a month ago at the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon down in Virginia Beach.

I had wanted to do this race for a long time, but the date tends to interfere with one of my sacred non-running weekends: Jim's birthday. This year it was a week after Jim's day, so this was the year.

John and Sheri invited me to spend the night at their house in Norfolk, which only added to the awesomeness of the weekend. They are marvelous hosts, and I am convinced that the turkey lasagne that they made may be The perfect pre-race dinner.

And the race itself was terrific.

It starts right on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. John, his friend Mike, and I drove in, had no trouble parking and getting to bag drop-off and then right into the corrals.

The race website promises a flat course, and with the exception of one small elevation (I won't even call it a hill), it is completely correct. Much of the course is residential and tree-lined, and at around mile 7 the route takes you onto Ft. Story, a Navy base. The water views are beautiful, and you feel a little jealous of the people whose quarters are there (many of them were out in lawn chairs, cheering the runners).

The last 3/4 miles or so are on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, and as you're trying to charge to the finish you can hear the waves pounding along with the spirited spectators cheering. John, who runs quite a bit faster than me, stayed with me the whole time and not only encouraged me to carve almost a minute off my half marathon PR, he even let me cross the finish line first. Now THAT's a friend!

He also taught me to smile better when you see those photographers on the course.

After the finish, there is a veritable gauntlet of gifts -- we got a medal, a beach towel (that I won't let my kids use), a hat, and plenty of post-race nosh. Then, in the party tent, there was fresh and tasty beer, Irish stew, and very jolly race finishers. Picking up our bags was easy and quick, and the whole event was such a pleasure that I'm already signed up for next year.

In the party tent with hat, sweet medals, and beer.