Monday, February 25, 2008

Week # 15

I started the week out sick. Yep, sick again, this time it was a head cold with serious snot issues. Symptoms included a fever, headache, sinus pressure, congestion, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and body aches. At the advice of my “trainer and coach” Ryan, I took it pretty easy and rested (and ate) as much as possible. So, needless to say, I didn’t do much running during the week. The weather didn’t help either. Snow, rain, ice, sleet, snow, ice, more snow, more ice and really cold temperatures. This has definitely been the coldest, darkest and snowiest winter in the last 5 years. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to spring. By Friday I was feeling mildly better and got a 5 mile easy treadmill run in that evening after work. It didn’t feel great – I spent the whole time grasping for breath and dealing with snot. I spent the rest of the night hydrating and mentally preparing myself for Saturday’s long run of 20 miles.

The 20 mile long run would be my farthest run to date and my longest run leading up to the marathon. I’ve planned my schedule so I have at least two 20 milers (maybe three if I wanted) a few weeks apart in preparation for the race. The theory is that if you can run 20 miles during training, you can run 26.2 on race day (with all the endorphins, excitement and the cheering crowd to get you through the last 10k). I was pretty confident in my ability to run 20 miles. Last week’s 18 miler was almost euphoric and gave me a confidence boost that I didn’t expect. Although I’d heard people say that there’s a huge difference between 18 and 20, I just didn’t believe that the two extra miles would affect me much.

But 20 miles is a really really long run. Especially if you’re running by yourself, which is why I was really appreciative of having the support of TNT. Last week’s 18 miler went by so quickly with the help and conversation of my fellow teammate Abby and coach Rhonda. I was looking forward to having some company to help pass the miles and share this training experience with. I almost talked myself out of going that morning because I was so cold and tired, but the thought of having some running companionship got me out the door. So, you can imagine my shock and disappointment to show up at Forest Park at 6:45 am Saturday morning to no TNT.

Cancelled? Seriously? This can’t be happening. I know the weather had been bad the last few days, but I got no email, no phone call, no indication that the group run would be cancelled. We’d been told that they only cancel for really bad weather (dangerous conditions) – it was 16 degrees, but not snowing or raining. I’d run in much worse weather than this. Where was everyone?? How did they know it was cancelled? Was there a hotline or something? It didn’t even cross my mind that the run would be cancelled. I couldn’t believe it!! I waited impatiently in the Visitor’s Center until 7:10 when I was absolutely convinced no one else would show up and decided to try to do the 20 miles alone. Ugh.

The first few miles were spent fuming. I was very angry with TNT and very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do the whole 20 miles by myself. It was cold, I was still sick, Forest Park is really hilly. Whine, whine, whine…I know. But after a while, running does something (chemically, I guess) to you as you start to get into a groove. By mile 4 I was feeling a lot better, less bitter, and decided to just HTFU and get the 20 miles done. I didn’t want to go home and face telling Ryan (and all of you) that I couldn’t do 20 miles because I was cold and lonely. It was not an option.

The trails in the park were too icy to run on, so I ran in the streets – the same basic loop that I ran with Jenn and Victoria a few weeks earlier. I took my time and explored a few streets that I’ve never tried and stretched my first loop (usually about 5.7 miles) out to about 9 miles. Not bad. I stopped by my car and loaded my pockets with more Sport Beans, more tissues, and a large water bottle. The sun was starting to come out and it was getting a little warmer. I decided to run to Clayton via Wydown (a gorgeous street lined with enormous beautiful houses) and then back to the park through Washington University campus. Since the sidewalks were not cleared, I had to stick to the road and ended up running through some beautiful neighborhoods and side streets.

My mind was really wandering at this point. Here’s a list of some of the things running through my head: (1) I wonder if Chris and Lindsey had a nice dinner at McD’s last weekend? What did they order? (2) What am I going to wear to Paige’s bridal shower next weekend…and I still need to get a card for the gift. (3) I really want to see Brooke sometime soon…I’m worried about her. (4) Why is this song on my iPod? I hate Pink Floyd. Ryan and I need to go to more concerts. I wonder who’s going to be at Riverport this summer? (5) I need to get some new running shoes asap – how long does it take to break in new shoes? I wonder if they’re open on Sundays? Oh, I hope they have pink ones. (6) I wonder if I’m going to feel good enough to go bowling tonight? If I beg, maybe they’ll let me bowl in my Uggs. I think I’ll wear pajamas the rest of the weekend. (7) Wow, I like that house…it’s huge…very pretty…I want to live there...I wonder how much it costs? I bet their utility bills are outrageous. (8) What am I going to eat for lunch? What am I hungry for? How about french fries, sushi, tomato soup, an omelet, pizza, fruit, chinese food, bagels, Panini, chips, donuts, veggie burger, salad, and cookies? That should be enough. (9) I’m so excited about my trip to Cabo San Lucas with the girls in April and to Florida with Ryan in May. Sunshine!! Must buy new bikini. Can’t wait to get a pedicure. New sandals! A daiquiri sounds really good right now. (10) Why are the miles going by so damn slow?! Am I finished yet??

Around mile 14 I knew I was running very slow – the hills were tough and I felt as if I was carrying 10 extra pounds with all my gear, sweaty clothes and water bottles – but I wasn’t really concerned with time…right? From the start of my training, I decided that I just wanted to run the marathon “to finish.” No time goal in mind, just a good run and a good overall experience. Since it’s my first marathon, whatever my time would be was guaranteed to be a PR. But at times like this, the competitive side of me comes out. I know myself well enough to know that on race day, I’ll be pushing myself to go faster because I don’t like getting passed. I will be aiming for a time goal, whether I want to admit it or not. So, the question becomes, do I set a time goal for myself for the race? If I set one, there’s a chance that I’ll push myself too hard to try to meet the goal and end up not having a great overall experience. And if I don’t make the time, I’ll be incredibly disappointed in myself…even though I finished a full marathon (which was all I wanted to do in the first place). On the other hand, it’s really motivating and encouraging to have a goal. And if I can be realistic (and not set my goal too fast) it would feel that much better when I meet the goal. I go back and forth with the concept. I just don’t know what to do…

At mile 17 I realized I was starting to get closer and closer to my car. This was bad. I knew that if I was close to the car, I would be tempted to stop a little early and not do the full 20 miles. “18’s good enough, right?” So, I turned around and tried to make the trip back a little longer…which didn’t quite work out the way I hoped. At mile 18.5 I passed my car. It was about this time that I mentally and physically lost the desire to keep running. My legs really hurt. My feet were soaking wet, frozen and hurting, with every step feeling like they were being pounded into the pavement. I could feel two massive blisters throbbing on my toes. My saving grace was Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream,” which came on my iPod at that moment. Listening to the words and knowing that I was running down my own dream got me to mile 19. And then I wanted to cry again. I tried to think about all the reasons I was doing this…for myself, for Ryan Brown, for all the Leukemia and Lymphoma patients and survivors that my fundraising would help. And I can honestly say that none of that really helped me…unfortunately. Actually, what got me through that last mile was the thought of lunch. I was SO hungry! The quicker I finished, the quicker I could eat!! Bring on the food!! Yes, it’s selfish, I know, but it worked.

I finished mile 20 about one hundred feet from my car. I walked very very slowly to the car and sat in the backseat for about half an hour, watching my legs twitch and trying to keep myself from throwing up. I felt terrible. After a Gatorade I finally felt good enough to drive myself home, although I was terrified that my legs would cramp up and hit the gas/breaks and cause an accident. Once home, I made myself another miserable ice bath. I can’t believe that something that hurts so much can actually be good for you. But amazingly, my legs felt great afterwards! Ryan and I had a nice lunch of soup and sandwiches and then I went back to bed for a wonderful nap.

20 miles down. I can do this marathon! Here are my super slow splits:
1 10:53
2 10:50
3 11:00
4 11:17
5 11:32
6 10:44
7 11:48
8 10:43
9 11:05
10 11:41
11 12:04
12 11:27
13 12:20
14 11:34
15 11:59
16 12:03
17 11:42
18 11:56
19 12:46
20 12:32

Weekly recap:
Monday: 4.0 miles
Friday: 5. 0
Saturday: 20.o

Total: 29.1 miles

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Catch of a Lifetime!

If you’ve ever met Ryan, you know how passionate he is about fly fishing. He lives and breathes fly fishing. He's gone after everything from tarpon to bass, but is fish of choice, is a trout, be it a Rainbow, Brown, Brooke or Cutthroat. He ties all his own flies; he reads only fly fishing books and magazines; he watches fly fishing on TV; he practices casting in the yard; he named his canoe "The Trout Stalker;" and he has a collection of fly rods that put my handbag collection to shame. He’s been a serious fly fisherman for over 10 years. He’s been on numerous fly fishing trips to Colorado, Pennsylvania, Montana, Florida, Arkansas, and will conquer Alaska this summer.

And after all of this, he’s still never caught his "dream fish." He’s been close more than a dozen times. He’s missed them, he’s hooked them, he’s battled them, he’s let his friends have the opportunity instead, but they’ve always gotten away from him. Don’t get me wrong…he’s caught a million absolutely beautiful large worthy fish that anyone would be more than proud of, but there’s always the potential for more. There’s always the "one" that got away.

This past weekend, Ryan and his buddies went to Arkansas for their annual "Beer Drinking, Trout Fishing Arkansas Man’s Weekend" (that’s my title, not theirs). Every year they go and have a great and manly time, but Ryan comes home once-again disappointed that someone else caught "the big fish." He usually catches "the most fish" (because he’s very talented), but that’s never good enough. So you can imagine my surprise when I get a message on Saturday exclaiming, "I CAUGHT THE FISH OF MY LIFE!!!"

Meet Walter:


After hooking Walter once and having the fish throw the fly, my most persistent boyfriend stalked, hunted and landed him again. His dream fish!! I am SO proud!! Walter (as Ryan’s father has affectionately named him) is a Brown Trout, wild (not stocked) to the White River in upper Arkansas. Although they didn’t have a tape measure, it’s estimated that Walter weighed nearly 25 pounds!!! This is calculated from some generic scientific formula based on the fish being about 34 inches long with a 22 inch girth. He was caught on a 10 foot 5 weight Sage Z-Axis rod with 4 pound tippet, which is incredibly hard to do without snapping the line. And no, he didn’t keep Walter. Ryan’s strictly catch-and-release, which means he’ll live to be caught another day.

Ryan, I am so incredibly happy for you!! You deserve this more than anyone!! And although this may be your biggest fish so far, you have a lifetime of incredible catches ahead of you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week # 14

This was a very tough week for me. As you can probably tell from my last post, I’m in desperate need of inspiration right now. I’ve really been struggling with staying motivated and on track with my running schedule. I just didn’t want to run this week. I’m not sure whether it’s the cold dreary weather or just burning out from so much running. Perhaps a combination of the two. I haven’t been able to get outside for many of my runs and the treadmill definitely takes a toll on my spirits.

I had a rough week at work. And that was coupled with (or the cause of) me skipping a handful of runs during the week. I was so completely stressed out about work and my training. By Wednesday I was at the end of my rapidly fraying rope and that night I had a meltdown. I just didn’t want to continue with the training schedule or run the marathon. Whether I could do it or not wasn’t the point, I just didn’t want the stress of it anymore. It was just causing problems and beating me up. So I decided to take a few days off and get ready for Saturday’s long run.

Thursday evening, Valentine’s Day, was spent home alone watching crappy reruns on TV and eating everything in the house. Ryan left earlier that day for a long weekend of trout fishing in Arkansas with the boys. I usually love being home alone, having time to myself to relax, read, and watch my favorite shows. But this night was just lonely. I hate to admit that I moped around and pouted about being alone, but that’s exactly what I did. Nothing like a stupid “romantic” holiday to make you feel sorry for yourself. And then Friday I woke up feeling sick again. Congestion, sneezing, coughing, achy body, and fever. This scared me to death. I could not afford to get sick this close to the marathon. I took loads of vitamins, ate soup and bananas, drank plenty of fluids, took two Airborne and prayed.

All week I couldn’t stop thinking about (dreading) my 18 mile long run scheduled for Saturday morning. For some reason, this 18 mile run has been making me so nervous and scared. I had no problem with last week’s 16 miler and felt great afterwards, but 18 was a different story. This run would be my longest and hardest to date. It was a mental obstacle for me. I needed to be well-rested and hydrated. This was the one time I felt really confident that I could run it. I knew I could do the distance, I just didn’t want to. I wanted to give up and go back to bed. Where was my motivation?

Friday night my mom and Anna came to visit and spent the night with me. We had a nice dinner of tortellini and breadsticks, birthday cupcakes and gelato, then we played a few games and went to bed early. I was still feeling sick, tired and nervous. And of course, I couldn’t sleep at all that night. I woke up at 1:00, 2:30, 3:30 and finally I just got out of bed around 4:30 am. My run was at 7:00 and as I sat in the living room eating my breakfast, I tried to come up with any possible excuse not to go. I was so tired. I felt absolutely terrible. I knew I was sick again. It looked so cold and dark outside. My spirits were completely broken. I forced myself to get dressed. I got in the car with tears in my eyes.

I felt a little better when I pulled up the trail-head and saw all the other TNT runners. There were more people than I expected. A new group had joined that just started their training for the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon…newbies. When we were going over the distances we would each be running that day, I felt very proud to say I would be running 18 miles. And to my surprise, some of the other runners looked at me with excitement and awe. My heart absolutely lit up – I was so proud of myself at that moment. I couldn’t believe that just a few months ago I was in their place, running my 4-5 mile long run and admiring the runners that were close to their marathons and going super long distances that I only dreamed of. At that moment I realized just how far I have come and knew there was no way I wouldn’t finish this marathon.

I paired up with another girl who would be doing 14 miles that morning and also training for the St. Louis full marathon, Abby. What a blast I had running with this girl! We talked about everything from boys, to books, to Build-A-Bear, to bridesmaid dresses in our 14 miles together. I didn’t want to the run to end! When she finished her run, I turned around and headed back out on the course to get in 4 more miles. My coach Rhonda joined me for a while and I attempted to make small talk as my legs burned and my feet ached. She is so encouraging and got me through to the end! I finished my 18 miles in 3:12:15, with the following splits:

1 10:39
2 10:35
3 10:26
4 10:35
5 10:33
6 10:35
7 10:31
8 11:01
9 10:26
10 10:23
11 10:40
12 10:30
13 10:51
14 10:31
15 10:56
16 10:42
17 11:22
18 10:38

I got home and gave myself a 15 minute ice bath. I think the bath was more painful than the run! But after my steaming hot shower, I felt absolutely refreshed. My legs didn’t hurt at all – what a miracle! Mom, Anna and I treated ourselves to lunch and shopping. Easter came a little early, as you can tell from the pictures. And yes, you saw correctly, a new pair of bunny slippers, to make her fast!!

Weekly recap:

Tuesday: 5.0 miles
Wednesday: 5.0
Friday: 2.0
Saturday: 18.0

Total: 30.0 miles

I also got some fantastic and inspiring news...Marion finished her first marathon, Myrtle Beach Bi-Lo Marathon, Saturday morning with a time of 4 hours and 6 minutes!!! That is FAST!! I'm so incredibly proud of you Marion!! You have been such an inspiration to me. I know I'll never be able to beat a time like that, but you've helped me realize what's possible with hard work and determination. And Tim finished the Run the Reagan Half Marathon, his first half marathon, with a time of 1:55:46!! That is also FAST!! He had a great race - which is obvious b/c Tim's already scouting out the location of his first full marathon! I'm so proud of both of you two!! You are my heros!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Why?

Run, run, run. It seems that running has literally taken over my life lately. And I’m sure most of you think I’m absolutely crazy. Not too long ago, I would have agreed. All the time I hear from people that they just don’t understand. The most frequent comment I get when I tell people I’m training for a marathon is "Why?" Why put yourself through the pain, the sacrifice, the blisters, and the fatigue? There’s just something about running that non-runners don’t get. But to me, running is unbelievably amazing! You don’t have to be good at it - you don’t have to be fast. I recently read a quote from runner Kristen Armstrong from an article she wrote for Runner's World that summed up a lot of how I feel about running (slightly modified):

"…Something else entered my mind as I grunted through the final miles to finish 4 minutes slower than my PR. Something between gratitude and epiphany on the realization scale. I realized that I am out here, most days of every week, pursuing something that does not come naturally or easily to me. And I have been doing this for 5 years. Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily to me. I have always aspired to/excelled at things that I was already good at. This probably stems from fear, pride, laziness or some perfection compulsion. But running isn't like that for me. It's hard for me. I struggle. I suffer. I get discouraged. I get mad. I celebrate, sometimes. And when I chase after a zippy friend, it's not because I suck, it's because they don't. It isn't [a natural passion] of mine, and that is okay with me, because I love it anyway. I love it the way you love a rivalrous sibling, deep tissue massage, a session with your therapist, giving birth, or a big fight with someone you love. It doesn't always feel good in the moment, but ultimately you are a better person for it. So I may not always run the way I want to run, race the way I imagine myself racing, and my performance outside may only rarely reflect the runner on the inside, but there is a certain endurance rush reserved for those of us who have to work extra hard just to stand on the start line and dream."

I could never explain the "Why?" of running or how it’s changed my life. So, I’ll let Madeline explain it. Although I have yet to met her, Madeline is the younger sister of my good friend Alice. Alice and I met in law school and she is my running hero and guru. Madeline is a student at Xavier University and will be running the Chicago Marathon with Alice and the rest of their family in October.

Madeline’s New Cure-all Elixir
By: Madeline LaFave

What if I told you that I was using a miracle drug that can remedy obesity, depression, drug addiction, smoker’s lung, sleep troubles and many other impediments affecting your daily life? What if I told you that this drug can get you high, make you happy, improve your academic and social life and make your body run like a machine? And what if I told you that this drug was free and legal? Would you do it?

My name is Madeline and I am mild-to-moderately addicted to running. I come from a family of non-runners. Athletes, yes, but none of us have the lean, bony, fatless body that typical runners have. My siblings and I stuck to contact sports in high school, and all four of us began running in college to stay in shape. All three siblings have completed at least one marathon, including my brother who qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon.

I began running half-marathons my freshman year of college, and four or five later, I am ready to train for my first full. I quickly found out that running is neither easy nor boring, as I had once perceived it to be in high school, yet it has the potential to be the most energizing, spiritual, relaxing or challenging part of my day. My self-esteem and confidence sky-rocket during marathon training.My life changed drastically when I committed myself to the sport, and I have an intense desire to share this passion with others.

To those of you who feel unworthy of this miracle drug, I address you specifically.

For the over-stressed and over-worked: Studies have shown that distance running does wonders on the brain. Anxieties become mere annoyances on a run and are put out of the mind. Running provides the perfect mental environment to work out problems. It is one of the most efficient workouts for the schedule-oriented, giving you solid exercise in the least amount of time. Making time for this daily run will force you to improve time-management skills, therefore time is utilized more effectively.

For the smokers: It has been proven that even smokers can recover full lung potential through running. What an awesome gift. There is about 50 percent unused lung potential that can be utilized when running.

For the drug-users: There’s a well-known phenomena in the runner world called the "runner’s high." The runner’s high occurs when the natural chemical Anandamide crosses the blood-brain barrier, creating feelings commonly associated with those of Tetrahydrocannabinol—feelings of euphoria, relaxation and cessation of pain. Last week I spoke with a professional who described the runner’s high as similar to the endorphin high of heroin.

Finally, for the scared: If you have a desire to begin running, that is the first step. The hardest part is getting out the door. Throw on some athletic clothes and shoes and run up and down campus a few times if that is what fatigues you at first. Read up on tips for beginning runners online, head to the gym and try it out on a treadmill or enlist a friend to try it with you. The main thing is to get started and later you can define your goals more clearly.

So drug-addicts, smokers, fatties, skinnies, downers and normal people unite! Try out my drug to solve nearly any problem. Come on, everybody’s doing it!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Funny, but no...

Because I'm feeling so romantic on this Valentine's Day...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Week # 13

Short report this week - not a lot going on. My runs were good, a total of 37.5 miles, with my long run coming in at 16 miles! Way to go, me!! Nothing very exciting or interesting to report. I’m still very nervous about the marathon. I passed the "two months to go" point earlier this week and had a moment of sheer panic at the idea of running 26.2 miles. It’s funny how I can go from feeling very confident and strong one day to a total terrified meltdown the next. And with the weather being this dark and miserable, I'm just not motivated or feeling very confident. Ryan keeps talking to me about making plans for some kind of celebration lunch/dinner after the marathon, and I’m just not sure I can do it. I'm freaked out about the whole thing. I’m so nervous that I might not finish and I’ll be a wreck. And I’m nervous that I will finish and still be a wreck! I know finishing will be an amazing feeling and I’ll be on Cloud 9, but it’s so hard to know how my body will react and how I’ll feel afterwards. Either way, I’m not sure if I want to plan anything just yet.

My big exciting news this week was my trip to Chicago. For my birthday last month, Ryan bought us train tickets to Chicago and a weekend at the W Hotel, Lakeshore. We left Friday afternoon and boarded our train around 3:00, business class. The train took 5 hours and 40 minutes to arrive in downtown Chicago (only 40 more minutes than driving). We really enjoyed the train. Although it’s not as fast as flying, it was really nice having the time to read, work, talk, be able to walk around, and not have to deal with security check-ins, baggage, parking, cramped legs, etc. We dropped off our bags at the hotel and went to dinner at the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. We had a great table overlooking the lake and Navy Pier, although it was too cloudy to see much. The food was great and we had the most fantastic bottle of wine, Witness Tree pinot noir. You must try it.

Saturday morning I decided to postpone my long run and sleep in. I was so nervous that the run would be miserably cold (it was 5 degrees and snowy) and just too exhausting and draining. I wanted to be able to enjoy our weekend getaway and not have to beg Ryan to let me go back to the hotel at 7:00 pm to go to sleep. Ryan’s been so good to me with my training and spent a lot of money on the trip, I didn’t want to ruin it for him. So we slept in! It was fabulous! Once we got moving that morning, we had a great lunch at a little cafĂ© close to the theatre. And then we saw Wicked, at the Oriental. I really thought it was great. I read the book a few years ago, which I thought was complicated and dark, but the musical was funny and light. The plot lines were very different from the book, which of course bothered me, and I wasn’t familiar with the music, but all in all, I thought it was good. Saturday night we met up with Ryan’s brother and his girlfriend for dinner (at the Blue Water Grill) and drinks (lots and lots of drinks). :) We ended up dancing the night away! So much fun!

Sunday, the windchill in Chicago was -25 degrees. Yes, NEGATIVE 25 degrees. So we decided to skip the shopping and site seeing for a lazy day at the hotel, which we both really needed and enjoyed. We had a fabulously greasy lunch in bed and watched all kinds of terrible TV. We caught our train that evening and headed home. It was a really great weekend – thank you Ruby, ilyvm.

Weekly recap:
Monday: 4.0 miles
Tuesday: 8.0
Wednesday: 3.0
Thursday: 6.5
Saturday: 16.0

Total: 37.5 miles

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week # 12

Well, I ended the month of January with my highest mileage to date: 136 miles. That's 24 1/2 hours of running!! And two new PRs to boot. Wow. I'm impressed with myself! :) I started the week with a congratulations and strict orders from my coach, Rhonda, to take it easy after my Half Marathon last weekend. So, I had a nice and easy recovery week. I had three short weekday runs, outside while it was nice weather (although it was dark). I got my first lower back spasm Wednesday night (super fun) and decided to make myself another massage appointment and take the next few days off of running. With my longest run ever scheduled for the weekend, I needed all the rest I could get.

I decided to do my weekly long run on Sunday morning (although I’m considering it Saturday for weekly stats) because I had a baby shower for my law school friend Claire on Saturday morning (see below). It was 20 degrees when I woke up on Sunday and we had at least 5 inches of snow that had slightly melted and refroze. The plan was to meet Jenn at Forest Park at 9:00 am for 15 miles! This would be my longest run of my life and I was pretty nervous. My longest run had been 13.1 (a few times) and I’ve always been dead at the end of that. I couldn’t imagine tacking on another few miles.

Jenn met me at the Forest Park Visitor’s Center that morning. This girl is a total trooper – she turned 30 on Friday and spent over 4 hours running 20 miles on her treadmill (b/c of bad weather)! Talk about impressive! I was so surprised that she did all that and still wanted to meet up with me and help me through my long run! Bless your heart!! Unfortunately, she showed up with a bloody knee from taking a nasty fall on the ice on her way there. The trails were completely covered with snow and ice and she had to run in the road and keep jumping onto the sidewalk when jerks wouldn’t give her any room and share. I really hate St. Louis drivers, sometimes. How hard is it to share the road?? But Jenn was a total trooper and ran the first 3 miles with me! Thanks again honey!

We were joined by Victoria, a former TNT runner whose training group didn’t show up to meet her. She was training to run the St. Louis Half Marathon and she ran the first 6 miles with me. After that, I was on my own. We had to run on the roads throughout the park and again, the drivers were not very generous. One car even went out of its way to hit a puddle and splash me. The sunshine finally made it’s way out around 11:30 and warmed things up (i.e. turned the ice/snow into slush), but the wind was still so cold that I was glad I had three layers of clothing on. My calves started cramping up around mile 12 and my hips were aching. I really wanted to walk the rest, but walking was more painful than running. And then I started running close to this woman with a little yellow lab puppy and I just watched that dog and smiled the rest of the way to my car. 2 hours and 47 minutes later I hit the 15 mile mark! Woo Hoo!!

I took Jenn’s advice and "treated" myself to my first ice bath when I got home. For those of you that don’t run, an ice bath is exactly what it sounds like…a bathtub full of ice water. It’s supposed to help with lactic acid soreness. So, I sat in the cold water and screamed while Ryan dumped in the ice and yelled at me (lovingly, of course) to "Suck it Up!" I can’t say whether it helped a lot, but it definitely couldn’t hurt as tight and sore as my legs felt.

In my non-running time this week, there was a lot going on. First of all, my law firm sent me to the St. Louis Business Journal’s Women’s Conference. I initially thought this was punishment for something, but it turned out to be a really great day. The conference was all about "finding your passion" and treating yourself right, following your dreams, etc. There were presentations on running your own business, managing your money, establishing a vineyard, becoming a writer, etc. And the guest speaker was Valerie Plame Wilson. Remember her? In a nutshell, Valerie was head of the CIA's counter-WMD unit, or senior operative working undercover to spy on WMD production around the world. After being asked to investigate the allegation, her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times pointing out that Bush lied in the State of the Union in 2003 about Saddam Hussein trying to get uranium from Africa. So Bush/Cheney publicly disclosed that his wife, Valerie, was a CIA agent, blowing her cover, getting our resources killed or compromised, all for political revenge. Scooter Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, was ultimately convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury for lying to investigators looking into the leak of Valerie's name, and then Bush commuted his sentence. She's currently suing them all in civil court. She spoke to us all about being a spy, CIA training, going undercover, being a woman/mother in a high security position, etc. Not only is she an amazing speaker, but she's pretty damn hot too! The first question asked in the Q&A after her speech was, "You're a blonde knock-out...how in the hell do you go undercover and not get noticed by people?" :) And I got an autographed copy of her new book, which I’m so excited to read it.

Saturday morning, I helped host a baby shower with my law school girlfriends, Alice and Lindsay for our friend Claire. Claire is the absolute cutest pregnant person alive! I was in charge of quiches and fruit dip for the party, which was good, but completely upstaged by the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever had!! My compliments and thanks to Claire’s sister Kathryn, chef extraordinaire! I am a cupcake-junkie and I’m not lying when I say these were the best I’ve EVER had. I must get that recipe!! I thought the party was so much fun. It was so good to see everyone again, it's been too long girls! Very successful shower - and great job planning Alice.

And unfortunately, we've also been dealing with the hospitalization and illness of a very close friend. I'm not sure whether she'd want any information disclosed at this time, but please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers at all times. Please do not hesitate to let me know if there's anything in world I can help with. You're such a good person and you've been such a sweetheart to me, I'd love to be able to help out. I love you and hope you're feeling better soon.

Weekly recap:
Monday: 4.6 miles
Tuesday: 5.0
Wednesday: 2.5
Saturday: 15.0

Total: 27.1 miles