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Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Got your attention didn't I?

No, not my poop: Norah's poop.

In the past few weeks, she's gone from warily regarding the toilet as a suspect place to poop to being an enthusiastic toilet-pooper.  So much so, that she wants to poop at any opportunity she can seize.  Maybe our incentives have been too grandiose, I don't know, but either way, she now regards pooping in the potty as the pinnacle of her daily achievements (really, don't we all?), so we've essentially created a monster here: She wants to sit on the pot and poop even when she doesn't have to poop.

Yesterday, following her dad's shining example, she requested that she have access to the iPad for potty-tainment.  My mistake was allowing her to sit there too long (in my defence, it's a fine line between her truly having to poop and her using poop as an excuse to play on the iPad, or post-pone bedtime, or naptime, or dinner...), and when she got up, her legs had fallen asleep.

There was a lot of crying over that. 

Parenting FAIL.

And, the poop-in-the-potty obsession has even extended to her babies, stuffed animals, princesses, etc.  Can they poop in the potty?  Yes?  Then that's what they should be doing!  Yesterday afternoon, I witnessed the most hilarious play-scenario unfold:

Big Baby (Norah's oldest, ugliest looking baby) was getting her diaper changed by Norah, and she'd pooped.  Norah sternly told her: "Big Baby, next time you have to poop, you have to tell me so you can go on the potty!"  A few seconds later, "What?  You have to poop some more, Big Baby?  Let's go to the potty!"

Big Baby was rushed into the bathroom to sit on the training toilet, where she had complete poop success!

I walk in, and Norah has Big Baby bent over in Down Dog to wipe Big Baby's butt (this is how teachers at school instruct the kids to "assume the position" and, honestly, I hadn't thought of it before, but once Norah starting doing it at home, I realized how handy it is for wiping somebody else's ass!).  Caleb had toddled in behind me (that dude is walking, yo!), and Norah took the chance to properly instruct Caleb about poop in the potty.

"See, Caleb, Big Baby pooped!  You wanna sniff it?  Here, smell!"

"Smells like poop, huh?  It's brown poop!"

Caleb leans in over the fictional brown poop and appreciates this tutorial.

"Don't eat it," Norah advises, "we just sniff poop, we don't eat it."

Right, Caleb, if there's anything from childhood that should remain an important lesson, it's that which your big sister has imparted: Poop is for smelling, not for eating.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Movie and Some Miles

This afternoon, Norah and I got in the car at 3:30 pm, and the car read 102 degrees.  I don't always trust the accuracy of a car's temp reading, but either way, it was HOT out.

We went to join some friends at the cheap theater to see "Brave."  Personally, I really liked it, and Norah did too (although, I think 90% of the story went right over her head), and it was the first movie theater movie that she sat* through in its entirety!  When we got out of the theater, and back in the car at about 5:50, the car then read 92 degrees -- cooler, but still brutal.

An hour later, I was lacing up my running shoes and heading back out there to get my day's 5 miler done.  I'm sure it was a few degrees cooler then, but not by much, and I didn't bother to check.  It was a warm one, but because I had waited until 7 pm, the sun was setting, and it was surprisingly not an awful run, especially considering that for dinner I'd basically eaten popcorn and Gummi savers -- not exactly ideal running fuel.  I did my share of sweating, and when I got home, Jerry declared: "Ugh!  Look at that boob sweat!" referring to my saturated sports bra.  Yummers.

So, that polished off my 35 mile week: Complete success!  Next up?  Bring on the 40 mile week this week!  Which means I have to average 5.7 miles a day.  I think I may just round up to 6 miles most days.

*"Sitting" is a relative term here.  I should just say that she saw the whole movie.  She was up and down in her seat plenty of times, and sat in my lap during a couple of the scary bear scenes, and we had to make one trip to the bathroom.  Still, I got to see the whole movie, and that was a delight!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Well, That's One Way to Get it Done

This summer, I've been using the treadmill at the campus gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays after my classes.  But, lately, I have just not been feelin' the 'mill.  And today, when I got done with class at 2 pm, I thought, "Hmmm, it's not that hot out is it?"  So, I decided to skip the treadmill in favor of heading home and doing my run at home.  Turns out, though, it was that hot out.

I figured I'd just stay close to home and cut the run short if I felt like I was gonna burst into flames.  Sure enough, after 3 miles, I was running back home to seek the comfort of the A/C. 

Back inside and just look at that sweat glisten!  Yeah, I'm bringing sexy back...

I gave myself about 10 minutes to cool off and de-sweatify.  I drank a glass of water (I'd also drunk about 16 oz pre-run and about 6 oz during those 3 miles, so I needed a potty break too) and then I decided I couldn't let the day pass without getting all of my intended miles done.

So, I got my visor and sunglasses back on, refilled my water so it was cold, and prepped to head back out into Hades.

2 miles later, I was back at home and glad to be done with that!  Even my sunglasses seem to be wilting!

I had purposely not checked the weather before heading out for either run because I knew it would probably deter me, or at least make me second guess my dubious choice, but afterward, I checked and discovered that the temp was 97 degrees.  Uff-da!

Normally, I would never run an afternoon 5 miler in this heat, but I'm pleased I got it done and didn't let myself stop at that initial 3 miler.  And, afterward, a cool shower and tall glass of iced lemonade never felt nor tasted SO good!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


So, aside from streaking, I have a secondary goal I'm working toward: Mileage, baby, mileage.

Let me back up a little.  For me, a comfortable running week usually means 20-25 miles.  I generally consider 20 to be my "minimum" weekly mileage (although, I've definitely had weeks with FAR fewer miles than that ideal), and have happily trained for many races running no more than 25-30 miles a week.  And for the longest time, I thought that anything more than that was pure madness.

But, slowly, over the past year or so, my opinion has slowly changed. 

My principle influence?  Shelly.  She's been streaking for more than 2 years (801 days to be exact, but who's counting?  oh wait, she is!), AND she logs an average of 80 miles a week, AND she's a mother of 3, who -- up until just recently -- also worked full time.  And not only does she log those miles and do the same things the rest of us do, but she also does all this with THE most infectiously joyful attitude.

So, for the past 6 months or so, I've been using her as my "attitude idol" in terms of running, and I've secretly been internalizing her motto: "Running fills a place inside me that essential, not optional."  But, this month, I decided I was ready to proceed to the next level of modeling my running after hers: Time to streak, and time to pack in the miles.  Miles for miles' sake.

I have no races on the immediate horizon, so I am not training for anything.  Why not see how I can challenge myself in terms of volume?

For the past few weeks, I've been establishing a solid base by averaging 27-30 miles a week.  This week, then, is my intended "step up" week in which I'm shooting for 35 miles.  That means I have to average at least 5 miles a day.  Totally doable.  And, so far this week, I'm on track. 

So, where's this going? 

My intention is to build up to a 50 mile week.  I've never run such a week in my 7+ years of running.  Following my current plan of attack, I should reach that goal in mid-August.  From there?  I don't know.  We'll have to see.

Monday, July 23, 2012


On this evening's 5 miler, I experienced 4 of running's plagues:

Plague #1: Heat

It's July and it's hot everywhere, some places it's been much hotter than here, so I can't complain too much.  But still, heat is no friend for a runner, especially when combined with humidity.  Every run in the summer means that I return home with clothes completely saturated in sweat.  This evening was no different.

Plague #2: Insects

These damn small, black bugs crop up every summer.  I think they're gnats, but I'm no entomologist, so I'm not certain.  What I am certain of is that running through clouds of these small bastards = running hell.  They fly in my eyes, my nose, my mouth, and wiping them away just feels like I'm smearing their tiny carcases around my face, neck, and chest.  Combine the insects with the heat (and thus the sweat) and I am coated in disgusting layers of perspiration and pests.

Plague #3: Chafing

I blame Amazon for this. 

Let me explain.  Earlier this summer, Jerry got himself a Kindle Fire, and we got introduced to the sweet nectar of Amazon Prime's free 2 day shipping.  I ordered the bejesus out of Amazon because I fell head over heals for the 2 day shipping.  Since then, we allowed the Prime trial to expire and buh-bye free 2 day shipping!  But my Amazon reliance remained.  So, lately, I've become accustomed to being a very lazy shopper, rather than taking the time to go to a nearby store to shop, I hop on Amazon and order just about anything we need.  Well, earlier today, I had both a Nathan handheld water bottle and some Body Glide in my Amazon cart.  But before checking out, I realized I would be paying nearly $6 in shipping for a $6 stick of Body Glide (and almost equally horrifying: $6 in shipping for a clearanced Nathan handheld that was only $14).  Ummm?  No.  I can swing by my local running store and get $0 in shipping.  So, I canceled my cart.

Thus, karma.  Or, I will just go ahead and directly blame Amazon for putting bad juju out in the universe for cancelling my Body Glide order:  I had THE worst thigh chafing, which is the worst kind of chafing because it hurts the body and the ego (no girl likes a reminder that her thighs are rubbing together uncomfortably).

Plague #4: Rain

Actually, with the heat and the bugs, this was almost a welcome relief.  Still, the extra moisture didn't help the above mentioned chafing, so: PLAGUE!

I don't think these plagues are predicting the end of the world, but man alive, after a string of runs that I feel like I've struggled through, I feel as thought he running gods owe me a gimme.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rude Awakening

This afternoon, when both kids were down for their naps, Jerry and I crawled into bed to take our own nap.  I was exhausted and, within minutes, was almost fully asleep.  But, then I heard Norah's bedroom door open and I could hear her softly padding across our bedroom floor to my side of the bed.

I opened my eyes, and she was standing directly in front of me, her index finger inches from my face; on the end, there was something I couldn't decipher, both because it was too close to my eyes to focus clearly and because my near-nap brain wasn't fully functioning.  Dear god, I moaned inwardly, please don't let that be what I think it is.

"I pooped in my underwear," she announced.

Yup, it was exactly what I had suspected.

Let's just fast forward here and say that I threw some underwear away.  It may sound wasteful to do so, but there are some messes that aren't worth the dry heaving, and a shitty pair of Ariel and Flounder panties are among them.

Besides, she won't even know they're missing: This girl has about 30+ pairs of panties, and about 10 of those feature Ariel.  I think she's good.

But to get to my point: this potty training business is a be-atch.

Just when we think she's on the verge of "getting" it, I get a poop finger in the face.

Anyhooooooo, today was day #22 of my running streak: Guess it's habit now, right?  Maybe if I can make daily running a habit, there's hope that Norah will eventually make potty training a habit.  Right?!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rookie Mistake

This evening I set out on a 6 miler and did the stupidest thing I've done...this week.  I didn't bring water.


At the 3 mile point, I was hot and thirsty.  It's July, for God's sake, I should know better, but I figured I could suck it up for 3 more miles.

At 4 miles, I was REALLY effing thirsty and was starting to think about alternatives to "sucking it up" and sweating to death.  I knew that at my 5 mile point, I had 3 potential options: A McDonald's, a Publix, and a 7-11.  Everyone knows that drinking fountains went the way of saber-toothed tigers and pay phones, so I wasn't expecting to find one of those; I was just hoping at one of those 3 stops, someone might take pity on a hot, sweaty runner and hand me a friggin drink of water.

My first, and closest, option was Mickey D's.  I ran in there and, with a thick tongue, asked the girl behind the counter if I could get a cup of water.  Honestly, I wasn't sure if McDonald's would A.) hand me a cup to go fill in the toilet myself (an option I was willing to take), B.) attempt to charge me, or C.) they'd just be plan ole sweet and hand me an iced water.

Thankfully, it turned out they kindly did option C.  Oh, water, glorious water! 
(BTW, did you ever read the book "The Search for Delicious" when you were a kid?  In it, the main character is tasked with defining the word "delicious" for a fictional king's dictionary; in the end, they define "delicious" as water.  This evening, I couldn't have agreed more!)

Say what you will about the Evil Empire of McDonald's, with that cold cup of (free) water, they earned my eternal gratitude.  I will worship at the base of the golden arches for the rest of my days because of such a gift.

So, I made it the last mile home and vowed, as I have many times before when I've made such a mistake, that I'll never leave home without water again!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sleeping Babes

It is pertinent that, as a parent, I peek in on the kids while they're sleeping. 

You might assume that's for practical purposes: To check on them and make sure they're breathing or to make sure they haven't entangled themselves in bedding or haven't caught on fire (parenthetical aside: why do all these PJs have that declaration on the inside that says, "Wear snug fitting.  Not flame resistant."?!  Do many kids spontaneously burst into flames while sleeping?  This has long been a plaguing parenting question of mine).

Or, you might assume it's for sentimental reasons, like to give them a gentle mom-kiss goodnight while they slumber silently.

And those are good assumptions, and true to a point, but my principle reason for the nightly peek-in, is to remind myself of how cute they are and how much I love them. 

Because when they're awake, and one is standing on top of the kitchen counter trying to reach forbidden candy and the other is biting the dog, it's kinda hard to remember why I steered life down this road of madness.

But, when I peek-in, I suddenly have sleeping-child-induced-amnesia: What entire roll of toilet paper that got unspooled and flushed this morning thus causing the toilet to overflow and turn the master bathroom into Lake Superior?  Pfffftttt, no biggie!  Look at those itty-bitty toes! 

All sleeping children melt a heart: I bet even terrorists sigh and say, "Awwww!  Wook at the cutie-wootie!" at the sight of such sleeping babes.  It is an evolutionary advantage I'm sure.  If we didn't all do the peek-in and see sights such as this at nap time or at the end of the day --

-- there'd probably be a lot more kids left to be raised by wolves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ignition and a Lack Thereof

Today is my SIL's birthday, so we set the Barbie cake alight and crossed our fingers that she wouldn't go up in flames.

With fire extinguisher nearby, we were relieved that we didn't transform an innocent birthday celebration into a Barbie BBQ, and afterward, Norah was relieved to finally pry her Barbie free from her fondant prison.

The cake, however, was a metaphor for beauty itself -- sometimes it really is just skin deep -- because...ummm...blech!  The actual cake part was edible, but the frosting and fondant were Richy Rich.  The sugar levels that were present in both were only tolerable by the kids; for the adults, we picked at it and then ended up pitching most of it in the garbage. 

Sorry, Barbie, like most girls who emerge from birthday cakes, your use was superficial.

With some sugar pumping through their veins post-cake, the kids each took turns attempting to bench press one another and then crashed. 

Maybe if I'd had some more of that fondant, my evening run would've been a little better.  Instead, I felt like I slogged through my 3 miles.  It's day #17 of my baby running streak, and while I was pumped with enthusiasm about it at the beginning of the week, by today, I was simply dragging and just did my bare minimum.  Eh, some days that's how the running goes, right?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Last week, I got an iPad.  It was a purchase I made with some of my Prof. of the Year funds, and since getting it, I've put it to very professorial use:

There's an app that lets you "dress a princess" -- right up Norah's alley!

Caleb has been practicing his walking: Norah likes to help him, but she usually goes too fast, and often times, Caleb ends up getting dragged behind her.  Here, though, with a little Dad help, they're going the right speed:

And all that walking builds up an appetite.

Was that a sufficient transition?  Hope so: Norah is like most almost-3 year-olds in that meal time is best compared to a hostage negotiation -- we have to coerce her to eat at every meal, and typically, she takes about 2-3 bites of any given meal and then declares that she's "done."  But, with her favorite meal, we need no bribery and there's no "eat 2 more bites" from us.  So, what's her favorite meal?  Mussels.  Yeah, you heard that right.  Mussels.  She loves 'em.  And, yesterday, she beat her old record and ate 23! 

And the only reason she quit at that number was because we ran out.  What a strange kid, right?  She'll barely eat a chicken nugget, but she'll eat mussels like they're candy.

Caleb hasn't tried mussels yet (we had been told to hold off on shellfish for kids until they're 2, but then we just read something that said you could try it anytime after 1 -- so, maybe he can have some next time), but he loves getting the buttered noodles.  But, goodness gracious, is it a MESS to clean up!

Lastly of note, Jerry decided to try his hand at creative birthday cake construction this weekend.  It's his sister's b-day on Wed and she's coming down to visit us tomorrow.  She'd requested a Barbie cake; this is what he managed to manufacture:
I think it's pretty impressive, don't you?  It was his first time working with fondant -- and Barbie -- and considering that, I think it sure turned out awesome!  Granted, Barbie's a bit crooked in there, but let's just assume she's lounging in her birthday ballgown.

As for me, I've been streaking.

Running streaking, that is.  Today is day #14.  More on that later this week -- I've got a mileage plan up my sleeve -- and I'll share more on that in a few days.  So, hold onto to your hats.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blankies and Binkies

Norah has Bo-Bo, her stuffed pink bear, and it seems that Caleb has adopted his blue blanket as his cuddle object. 

This evening, he was getting very sleepy, and his blankie was frustratingly still inside his crib from this morning:

Once he managed to pull it out (with a little help from Mom), he was a happier boy. 

Isn't that just the sweetest?

And, yeah, he's got some pink pacifiers.  No, they're not hand-me-downs from Norah (we're not that cruel; we do buy the boy his own "nooks" -- as we call them); see, he only likes one specific brand of Playtex Binkies, and for awhile, the only ones we could find were at Walgreens, and they seemed to only stock pink ones.  More recently, I ordered a few packages worth of blue ones via Amazon, but he still seems to favor the pink ones.

Whatevs.  It doesn't matter to us if he's sucking on a pink one or a blue one; he doesn't have a whole lotta Dude Credit when he's snuggling his blankie on the floor -- no matter the color of his nook.

Do your kids have favorite cuddle objects or "lovies"?  I know when I was a baby, I had my Big Kitty -- ugliest stuffed cat you've ever seen in your life -- but I hugged and snuggled the bejesus out of that thing until it had no stuffing left in its neck. 

Still no neck stuffing.  And, yes, I still have it.  No, I don't snuggle it anymore. 

That's what Jer-Bears are for.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kids: Want 'Em?

Today I had the essential conditions with the kids for a "perfect storm" kind of day -- rain, stuck at home because we were waiting for a service call, a moody preschooler, and a whiny toddler -- by lunch time, I was ready to set the two of them out by the curb with a "FREE" sign and see if I got any takers.

At lunch, Norah spilled her milk THREE times.  THREE times!  There isn't a font big enough to express my frustration during that meal.  I know that each spill was an accident, and I know that "there's no use crying over spilled milk," but christ on crutches, it felt like she was just trying to see if the vein in my head was going to burst.

Thankfully, after lunch, a fistful of Advil (for me), and a nice, long nap (for everyone), I felt much better.  And, the afternoon went much smoother than our morning: Rain cleared, service call was done, so we were free to escape to the park for awhile.  Everyone was happier.

Still, I was looking forward to getting out for my evening run.  Some days I need that run more than others, and I knew today was one of those REALLY-NEED-IT sort of days, and it did not disappoint.  4 miles later, I returned home feeling more sane than any amount of Advil can help me with.

I swear, for me, nuthin' is a better stress reliever than a good run. 

Well...an ice cold beer comes real close!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Moms Go Running

This evening, after Caleb had gone to bed, I found Norah in the kitchen getting two cups of water from the fridge.  On the counter, she'd already gotten out a bag of microwave popcorn and "the popcorn bowl." 

"What are you doing?" I asked her.

"I'm getting water and popcorn ready for Daddy and me," she told me, continuing with: "We're gonna play cards, eat popcorn, and watch some TV."

"You are?  Well, that sounds like fun," I told her.  "But what about me?  What's Mom gonna do?"

"Ummm," she paused before saying, "You're gonna go running."

True dat.

I stuck around for 2 hands of Old Maid, and then I changed and headed out for my 4 miler.

Since I'd been home all day with the kidlets, and was feeling a little worn, it sure was tempting to hang out at home, watch some "Annie," and munch on some popcorn, but I always know that a run will serve me better.

So, I left them to their Daddy-Daughter time, and 40 minutes later, I returned home sweaty and satisfied.

Red Letter Weekend

For both kids, it was a big weekend in terms of milestones.

After about a year and a half of trying everything within our means to coerce her into potty training, she finally seems to be getting the hang of it, and for about a week, has spent 90% of her time in underwear (she's still going to bed at night in a Pull-Up, but is staying dry at nap time in undies), and her BIG news is that for the past 3 days in a row, she's pooped on the potty.

If you have, or have ever had, a 2 or 3 year old, you know that this is EPIC. 

We pretty much threw her a ticker tape parade and have been making a big hoopla over it all.  As rewards (bribes), she's been getting candy and princesses -- so she'll be potty trained, but spoiled and have rotten teeth, I guess, but whatever!  Huzzah, she might actually get potty trained!

This little dude took his first "real" steps yesterday.

He's been getting SO close lately, and we knew it was just a matter of providing him with the right motivation, and that also took the form of candy (so, his measly 4 teeth are already doomed), and he took about 2-3 small steps toward Jerry yesterday evening.

He repeated it a couple of times, once I even got some decent video, but I can't find either cord that I need to download the video from the video camera to the computer (I figure I'll eventually locate it; we once lost a TV remote for about 6 months, but it was eventually re-discovered), so I can't provide the proof.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

I imagine it'll still be a few weeks or a month before he's for realz walking around (at least that was the timeline for Norah from her first steps to her actual assurance that walking was a legit mode of transportation), but it too is an EPIC milestone.

Man, I've got one who's theeeeese close to walking and one that's theeeeeese close to being potty trained!  Goodness, I can't believe it.  I'm gonna have to do a lot more running to be able to chase after both of them now!

That, or duct tape them to chairs.

We'll call it a draw.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Mid Day Sun = Ideal Run

For me, as for any parent, there's not really much free time in any given day, so when it comes to running, I have to both plan ahead and be spontaneous.  So when a runortunity (that's "run" + "opportunity" coupled together for your reading pleasure) presents itself, I have to either seize it or lose it.

Today, such an runortunity appeared at what I would otherwise consider an inconvenient time: late morning.  In January, a perfectly acceptable time, in July?  Not so much.  But, I chose to seize it!

Caleb rode along in the stroller, for what I hope was a cooler ride than it was run, and we got a 3 miler done in the midday heat.  Afterward, we were both a little sweaty, but he'd snoozed, so he was in good spirits and didn't seem too cranky about being a sweaty little dude:

It wasn't an ideal time of day, and no one I know would opt to push 20 lbs of kid in 20+ lbs of stroller on a 90 degree day, but I rarely get to be picky when it comes to selecting "ideal" running options.  Since having kids, simply running is "ideal" to me!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Foto Friday: 4th of July Pics

Norah before the parade in the morning:

Caleb and I pre-parade as well:

Norah doing some jumping at our friend's house where we did pool/bbq/fireworks:  The pool was a welcome respite from the usual July heat (although, it was cooler here than it was for some of you!).

Caleb was more interested in playing with the big cars and trucks than he was in swimming:

Miller and Norah watching a fountain (this was the tamest 4th we've ever done in terms of explosives; our checking account appreciated that!):

Norah and I (and Erin, Miller, and Mason in the background) watching the firework finale:

It was a good 4th of July, in my opinion, but man alive, the day wore me out!  When we got home, at 9 pm, mind you, I went to bed with Norah.  I was beat!  And to return to work on Thursday?  Well, that was kinda cruel!  The 4th should always be finagled into some kind of long weekend.  That's my 2 cents.

While we're on it, I also think Nov. 1st should be a holiday and the Monday after the Super Bowl.  There.  I said it.  Now, someone make that happen!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Necessary Evil

This time of year, when temps everywhere are hellish, it's time to seek running solace inside, on the treadmill.

Like most runners, I dislike the treadmill -- no runner likes to feel like they're working hard at going no where -- however, in the past year, I've learned to embrace running opportunities, no matter their form.  So, when I have a treadmill chance, I take it.

I only have treadmill accessibility when I'm on campus, that's where I have access to the college's gym, so during the summer that means Tuesdays and Thursdays are treadmill days.

And, of course, the only way to make the treadmill tolerable is to make it a speed workout -- "speed" being a relative term around here -- so, today, I warmed up with a mile at a 10 min/mile pace and then gradually upped the hamster wheel until I was pounding out the last half mile at a 8:57 min/mile pace.  For me, that's lightning fast.

In the end, I did 3 miles in 29:03.  Anything sub-30 for me is satisfying, and even more satisfying, is walking out into the crippling heat and knowing that I don't have to get the run done out there!

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Bolder Boulder 10K Race Report, aka "The Best Race Ever"

I've run my share of races: Some have been awesome experiences, some not so much.  But the Bolder Boulder 10K was, hands down, the best race experience I've ever had.  From registration to post-race ammenities, this race was organized, accomodating, and fun!

For some, a great race experience is defined by a PR or maybe by the swag -- the t-shirt or the medal -- and to an extent, that's how I used to define a good race experience too.  But, anymore, I value more practical features of a race, and mostly, I just want to enjoy the opportunity to get out there with other runners and experience the joy of running.

Sorry.  Too cheesy? 

Well, pour yourself a glass of wine, because I'm likely to heavily layer the cheese in this post.  What can I say?  This race reminded me of all my ooey-gooey running/racing feelings!

Choices!  That was the essence of BB's registration.  Want to just register for the race, no shirt, nuthin'?  Excellent!  You can do that!  Want a shirt too?  Done!  Want a tech tee or a long sleeved tee?  Sure!  Wanna really fork over the moola and get a jacket?  You got it!

I loved such options.  For years, I've often opted to not even take a tee at many races.  Sometimes the sizes don't fit, the design isn't great, and/or I just know the shirt will languish in a drawer, so why waste my time and space by selecting one?

For me, I'd prefer, often times, to pay less for a race and have fewer extras.  But for this race, I did indeed want a tee, but I went with the cheapest cotton tee + race registration package, and I was satisfied with my choice.  Even more so, I was happy to get a choice.

The choices extended even further:  Want your packet mailed to you?  Sure!  They can do that.  Want to pick it up?  Want someone else to pick it up?  Done and done.  Even though my brother picked up my race packet on my behalf, I luh-ved the mailing option.

My brother, SIL, and I knew we didn't want to drive into Bolder on race morning -- and, thankfully, we didn't have to.  Denver's RTD bus system was working in conjunction with the race to provide transportation from a variety of park and ride locations.  Buses were leaving every 10 minutes or so from designated locations in the greater Boulder area.  We arrived at the closest park and ride to my bro's house, hopped on a bus, and 20 minutes later, bam!  We were at the start!

SO worth the $8 fee!

Once we arrived, we each grabbed some water and a cup of coffee: Both were complimentary as runners milled around the start line.  We also hit up the porta potties, and can I just pause and say that this was the best porta potty experience I've ever had?  I went twice before the race and neither time did I have to wait in line -- there were THAT many!  Every race should be equipped with that many facilities.

At 7 am, the race "began," but just the elites and the Speedy McSpeedsters started then.  The rest of us waited for our own wave to start.

I can't say enough good things about BB's wave system.  Why isn't every race in the world employing this method?

The Wave Start
To be honest, when I read about the "waves" on BB's website, I didn't fully understand it -- I figured it was parallel to corrals.  So, hopefully, my explanation is sufficient for your understanding; if not, run it next year, then you'll understand AND love it!

Unlike corrals, which are just ways of grouping runners, who all start at the same time, the waves are designated start times for each group of runners.  BB is one of the world's biggest 10Ks -- approximately 50K runners! -- and yet, with their wave system, it doesn't feel like there's 50,000 runners.

It works like this:  When you register, you get assigned a wave -- this is assigned based on your predicted finish time and when you register; ie, the faster you are and the earlier you register, the earlier your wave.  Each wave has a designated start time.  So, the beginning of the race is 7 am, and from there, the waves are timed about 2 minutes apart, and because of the huge volume of participants, the race is "starting" all the way until about 9:30!  My wave started at 7:25.

So, at about 7:10 or so, we got in our wave and slowly strolled with the others in our wave to the start line.  There were multiple "check points," wherein volunteers scanned our bibs to double check that we were in the appropriate wave, and we were roped off from beginning too early and trying to sneak into an earlier wave.  Once it was our turn, we were positioned at the start, we got our own music, and then...the gun!  We were off!

The wave effect was magnificent.  Each wave only has a couple hundred runners, so it didn't feel like a typical congested start like most big races; at no point did it ever feel like I was on a course with 50K of other runners.  The waves are also accomodating: You can start in your assigned wave or in any wave that starts after your assigned wave.  So, did you oversleep race morning?  Late to your start?  No probs.  Just join another, later wave!  Doesn't matter.

6.2 Miles of Smiles
Honestly, I smiled the whole time I ran this race.  The course entertainment was varied and aplenty -- dozens of different kinds of bands, gymnasts, cheerleaders, belly dancers, you name it, they were there.  Plus, the spectators are their own entertainment, providing a HUGE variety of both refreshment and interaction for, and with, the runners.

There was everything from the 2.2 "Marshmallow Mile," where I caught (boo-ya!) a Stay-Puff that was tossed my way, to plates of freshly sizzled bacon being handed out near the race's final mile, to the organic popscicles that were being distributed by the hippie college students.
But my favorite "attraction" was, of course, a slip 'n slide!

BB is famous for its spectators setting up slip 'n slides -- sometimes there are several, sometimes maybe only one, it's up to the whim of the spectators who create them -- but before I raced, I had promised myself that if I came across a slip 'n slide, I would definitely do it.  Sure enough, somewhere between miles 3-4, I spotted one that was hosted in someone's front yard.

I took aim, and with no one waiting in line in front of me, I never broke my stride: I just ran at the sucker and dove!

Since it was only about 60 degrees at 8 am, the water, and the resulting mud puddle I slid through at the end, were frigid, but man alive, nuthin' wakes you up in the morning!  It was exhilerating, and I thought it was so dang fun that I almost circled back and did it again, but figured I'd race on and if I came upon another, I'd do it again.

Turns out, that was the only one and I'm glad I did it.  If there's one lesson I'd like to pass on to my kids, it's this: Always do the slip 'n slide!

The Big Finish
The elevation was a bit tough at first, but once I warmed up, I was fine.  The climb, however, was a bit tougher on me.  Considering that in FL, a crack in the sidewalk is a "hill," these Bolder hills were a challenge to me.  But, they were all gradual inclines that were manageable...until that last cruel climb into the CU stadium at the finish.

It was a brutal climb and I think that's the only place I had to trasnfer my energy from my smile to my legs; it took all the gas I had left to scale that steep hill.  But once up it, it was totally worth it.  We circled into the stadium and were greeted by thousands of roaring spectators -- IT. WAS. AWESOME.

We circled once around the track, and ta-da!  Finished!  My time was 1:03.

Definitely not a 10K PR.  Do I care?  Not a bit!

Afterward, runners were funneled into the CU fieldhouse to collect our goody bags, water, and free beer (my ONE complaint: Michelob Ultra?  Really?  Blech, it doesn't even taste like beer!).

We meandered through the outdoor expo -- got some free, delicious Evol burritos and sampled other free foods and drinks -- and then hitched a ride back to the park 'n ride on an RTD bus.  Smooth as buttah!

As you can tell from the length of this post, and all my gushing, I loved every aspect of this race, and after I finished, I told my brother I'd be back to run it again.  For sure.

Anyone wanna join me?