In the Shadow of Winter

Shadow9This past weekend, we had planned on running the Groundhog Jog in Punxsutawney, PA. One of the many winter storms that marched through the area made us decide not to chance the 2 hour drive there to run to Gobbler’s Nob and back, We had enjoyed the run a couple of years ago and were really disappointed to not get to run with such great people again.

I doubt anyone is missing my weekly updates like I did last year. I have been running a lot less this winter. My work has sapped my energy and I am taking on as much of it as I can to help pay for my tuition for summer school. Yes, I have committed to going back to school, for a week. This time for the the interest and focus I should have stuck with in the first place, the arts. I will be spending a week in Vermont for an intensive on making comics and cartoons at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

The comics on this page are a few from what I drew on February 1 as part of a challenge to draw a comic every hour you are awake. It is called Hourly Comics Day and I have been wanting to try it for years. I ended up drawing 18 different panels and of course it had to be the day the storm cancelled our trip to Punxsutawney. As you will see at the bottom of the page, we swapped the 4 mile race for a nice 8 miles around the neighborhood as the winter storm set in.

I can say I really enjoy a break from the added commitment of making time to write, it has allowed me to try some new things and shift my focus. Obviously we are still running and one of the new things is a monthly, podcast style recording of running in central Pennsylvania called Run Pennsyltucky. For those of you who are interested, there is a week to still enter our contest that gives away an entry to Harrisburg’s Capital 10-miler. Listen in on our most recent recording as we run along the first half of the course in Harrisburg and describe the race.
Shadow9-11
We didn’t get to see the groundhog. The next morning Punxsutawney Phil, in the middle of the winter storm, still saw his shadow. Not early spring for us but we will try to make the best of it here in central PA.

2015 Running Resolutions

Do you have a running related resolution for 2015?

Thinking of checking out Couch to 5k in 2015? Ready to tackle your first marathon next year? Hoping to run a half marathon every month in the year 2015? I want to hear it! No, not read it in the comments – I want to HEAR it so I can add it to the January recording of myRun Pennsyltucky podcast.2015_res

Just click on the Speak Pipe link that is in the left sidebar of my Run Pennsyltucky blog. You might have to log in but they don’t send a bunch of emails, if they did I wouldn’t be using it. You are given 90 seconds to share what you have to say and even have a chance to preview the recording and re-record it if you aren’t happy with it before you send it.

You don’t have to share your name but certainly may if you want hold yourself accountable. You don’t even have to be a runner, share a fitness resolution instead. Bonus points if your resolution includes something in Central PA!!

I am trying to come up with mine and promise to share it on my January 2015 recording of Run Pennsyltucky. My hope is to take all of our resolutions and just run one after the other; a big pile of thoughts, hopes, ideas and dreams for running around in 2015.

Color Run & Trit-Trotting Around

photoHave you ever wanted to join me on a run… without running? You can do that by listening to my third recording of Run Pennsyltucky (a podcast about running in Central Pennsylvania).

Even better is the interview with my neighbor Jess who ran the Penn State Color Run. Listen to what a good time she had and consider signing up next year.

Lastly, I list a few local Turkey Trots that have a lot of character.

A Different Kind of Victory

#52toNYCmarathon
Week 32/52 recap

5.26 EX – 4 w/ 10 strides – Oakley Women’s Mini 10K
I had a great trip to NYC but am terribly burnt out right now. I will share that my finishing time at the Oakley Women’s Mini 10k wasn’t my best nor was it my worst. The victory came in not having any issues with my back afterward. I hope to write more about it but it may take a while. Until then, here is a slideshow of some highlights.

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Another great moment this past week was supporting Jim as he ran 10 miles in Central Park beating his race PR by 3 minutes!! He beat me back to the apartment even with Harlem Hills in his way! It was Father’s Day and he must have been using all of that love to power him along!

Two Years Different

#52toNYCmarathon
Week 27/52 recap

6.91 – 5.41 – 8LSR
x-train: 20 mile bike, 2 days of core work/weight/PT

Two years ago, almost to the day, I was finally able to do a unassisted chin up again. Even more of a coincidence now that I look it up is that it was two years ago exactly I took on Angie Spencer as my coach for training for my first marathon and I have just signed on as a client of hers again.

This long run was a step down week for me but Jim forged ahead and aced 12.8 miles on Mother’s Day. The route we took wasn’t particularly easy but it allowed us to start and end from our home. We ran the first 4 miles together, forced a slap-pappy and I turned around to head back home.

I felt pretty good the whole way and even wanted to push a bit at times. I remembered to just keep it easy since I have a plan to follow now and reminded myself that the one side of my back and right hip wasn’t feeling perfect. Either my psoas is tightening up again or it was the addition of a weight on my one exercise that made it act up and feel a little tweaked.image

My lower back/hip was not feeling so hot even after stretching out and my long run pace made me feel like a sad slug. I had been so happy until I saw my time – why do I let it get to me? Even the cute motivational message on my Bia-Sport failed to move me. I was set on moping.

The day shaped up to be pretty nice after all. My back stayed about the same. It was probably because I didn’t give it any rest but helped my folks get a bunch of stuff done around their house. That felt good in other ways and we all went out for a nice meal with Jim’s mom too.

I had to laugh and tell them how my Saturday was such a series of stupid disappointments that my slow pace that morning was laughable. We had to drive to Altoona to drop off my dad’s entry into the Arts Festival and planned a special stop along the way. There is one bakery in central PA that regularly makes vegan doughnuts and we could take that route because they were open on Saturday!

We tuned in to our favorite running podcast, Marathon Training Academy. Road trips and MTA make for happy times and I did my usual happy hand choreography to the theme song. We enjoyed the banter between Angie and Trevor and wondered what their guest would have to share. When the guest (I refuse to name him) was introduced, he said something that was so snarky in reply to his introduction that I was shocked. Trevor handled the comment with aplomb but this guy was really downright rude at times. Angie was absent for this podcast and Trevor remained poised through the whole interview, bringing out the best information for the listening audience from an author who seemed bent on being abrasive. At one point, the intervewee likened himself to another controversial author by throwing out the title of her book. Trevor didn’t miss a beat and interjected her correct name again lending credibility to a great podcast. I am sure some listeners may have been inspired by the author’s toughness but it was one time I almost turned it off with 15 minutes to go. I remembered that Angie would probably return for the sign off and then I could my traditional end of podcast dance. I made it through, but barely.

A bit glum that the topic wasn’t as uplifting as usual, I knew a vegan doughnut would really hit the spot. We had stopped in Spruce Creek Bakery when I had run the 16 mile length of Lower Trail on a non-hunting Saturday in August. I was training for my first marathon and the husband and wife owners had so many questions and wanted to hear back from me after I completed it. The husband was wanting to hear if I hit the wall or not. This was our first trip back to the bakery since then and I was excited to tell him that I had fueled and paced myself well enough to not bonk.

Sadly the owners weren’t there and, although the bakery provides myriad vegan baked goods for our local Otto’s Pub, there were only 4 unglazed vegan doughnuts in the case. We refused to leave without a treat so decided to get a doughnut each. Wanting to limit packaging, we shared a plate and chose to eat them in the little dining area. Jim and I sat down and crunched into our doughnuts. Yes, crunched. Typically a soft cake style, these vegan circles were biscotti-like. I looked at Jim and clanked my baked good on the plate, “It shouldn’t do that.” He agreed and looked at his as I tried one my bite and hurt my tooth. We agreed to take them back to the counter but waited until the toher customers left as to not make a scene.

The gals behind the counter didn’t seem to care much that we were dissatisfied, didn’t offer to check to see if the remaining two doughnuts were just as hard and asked if we wanted our money back almost as an afterthought. I might not be as tough as the author we heard interviewed but wasn’t going to make a big deal out of eight-bits ($1.25). It just wasn’t worth it for us but we wanted them to know for future customers. They didn’t make a move to check the remaining doughnuts and that is… sad.

My Saturday was filled with stupid stuff like that. I ruined my favorite rice heating pad in a comic moment. I was taking it out of the microwave with one hand and let the plate of pasta and sauce in my other hand tip. To try to catch it, I thrust the hand holding the rice pack under the falling pasta but failed. The pasta hit and ruined my rice pack but most of it continued to free fall. The comic moment? Our cat, Miles, was directly under the waterfall of pastaMiles. He got hit with warm pasta and sauce and sped out of the kitchen and down the hall, trailing pasta as he ran.

Jim jumped to my rescue and cleaned the floor and I got my clothes into the washing machine. I foolishly thought I could wash the rice pack but realized it would never dry out completely. I threw it away as Jim wiped most of the sauce off of Miles. I got a fresh dish of pasta as Miles finished cleaning himself. Topped with nutritional yeast, I set it on our coffee table while I dug out a different heating pad. I returned to find Miles eating the yeast off of my pasta, as if everything he had groomed off of his fur wasn’t enough!

We laughed at the sight of Miles helping himself with dainty little licks until he started actually biting the noodles! Jim grabbed him up, again trailing pasta but this time from his mouth. Flakes of nutritional yeast fell over the table and a noodle fell into our vase filled with water. The day was starting to be a real series of crazy little events.

We went to bed early because of our planned long runs. In the dusk, I could see a cat toy lying in the doorway to our bedroom. I knew if I left it there that I would step on it in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom. My back was still stiff so I took my toe to fling the toy to the edge of the wall. Just as I touched it I realized it was less solid that I had imagined but momentum carried me though a warm and wet mess. Miles had deposited a hairball from grooming off all of that pasta earlier and my toes were in the thick of it.

Jim and I laugh and laughed at the whole series of grumpy little things (did I mention spilling my tonic water at supper?) that had been thrown my way all day. I think this was why I didn’t let my pace get too me for too long on Sunday morning. Being with our parents on Mother’s Day was a real bright spot. My dad has been home over a week and I can see how he and Mom are grateful for just the tiniest things. We were glad to help with the storm windows, shopping and lifting a few things. I will keep stretching out and my back will feel better eventually. I’m not the person I was a couple of years ago and I need to be ok with that. Life is good even when everything doesn’t fall into place.

Shadows

#52toNYCmarathon
Week 13/52 Recap

4.08 EZ – 2.77 – 8.5 LSR

It is probably a push to equate the street art photos I took to shadows that people cast but it’s Groundhog Day today. With Phil seeing his shadow, reflections of what we cast, outlines of ourselves and standing in the wake of or quite near the energies of others was on my mind.

Pretty much at the last minute, we decided to do our long run together today on part of the Capital 10-miler course in Harrisburg. The clincher was that I saw no rain in the forecast there, reasonable temperatures and next to no wind. The no wind is a rare thing along the broad Susquehanna River and I was finally up to hitting a distance that felt like a real long run. We were going for 8 miles this morning.

I was a bit conflicted because I had planned to try to include a visit with our good friends who live just on the other side of the Harvey Taylor Bridge on which we would be running. Things came together so quickly, I had no time to make that happen this time.

We were surprised by the amount of ice on the river and realized that the lower path along the river was littered with giant icebergs. This was the second time this week that we had to abruptly alter our plan. Our plan to run Yassos on Jim’s birthday at the indoor track was spoiled by the building closure for a track meet and I had a lousy reacquaintance with a treadmill.

Jim suggested doubling up our first lap out and back on the mile long bridge and that worked out really well. Each time I reached the Camp Hill side I felt so close, yet so far from our friends’ home. Kind of in their shadow without them knowing.

The second time across the Harvey Taylor Bridge, I told Jim to run his own pace for the last couple of miles. Since I am still recovering, I know I am holding him back and we aren’t planning on running side by side in the upcoming race. I was able to get some nice photos of him (and street art) on the bridge.

I shadowed him for about a half a mile and finally caught up to him. I was excited to take a photo of a Frank Zappa tag painted in the underpass and this gave my legs energy to pass him. He passed me just as I was shooting the photo. Because he was ahead of me again, I took a photo of him banking hard to recross the bridge as a cool train crossed by in the distance.

I had such a fun run! I know the Capital 10-miler doesn’t really have the tags and street art in mind when they call it a “run for the arts” but I just love the creativity. It reflects just a bit of the personalities of the people of the area and is a welcome distraction as the miles roll by.

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