Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make A Donation with PayPal

It's been tested and it works. For all of you asking for an easier way to make a donation to PolioPlus, you may now use PayPal or credit card to do so. Thanks, in advance, for helping us meet our fundraising goal.

Allez, Cours!

My supportive in-laws (my new favorite blog subject) purchased a book for my husband to help him learn some french. I like to think that I was fluent in french at one point in my life and that I don't need the assistance of this book, but boy-o-boy have we had fun. In our house, 9pm marks the time when I start speaking french to him and he starts reciting the book to me (in his very very very anglophone accent.) I try to understand what he has said and he generally looks at me with a glazed-over look (wtf did she just say???) As I fade off to sleep, I end up dreaming of him wearing a beret on the Champs d' Elysee - usually shouting some derivation of french encouragement.

Here are some of the phrases he must perfect before joining us in Paris: (Kari, please feel free to add any that you think are appropriate)

Ouah, Laura, comme tu es jolie! (Wow, Laura, how nice you look!)
C'est l'heure de manger! (It's time to eat!)
Allez, cours! (Come on, run)
As-tu soif, Laura? Bois beaucoup d'eau! (Are you thirsty, Laura. Drink a lot of water.)
Si tu termines tout, mais vraiment tout, je tu donnerai des fraises avec de la creme. (***taken straight from his book, but my personal favorite...if he yells this from the side of the street, I will probably lmao (mdr, in french) because it means: If you finish it all, and I mean all, I'll give you strawberries with cream.)

I better hit the treadmill - it is snowing to beat the band outside! I hope today's 5-miles are better than yesterday's 3!!! Geesh.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yoda - I need you!

So, it isn't really a secret that I am addicted to the internet and the texting that comes with it. I am a junkie! I love to see who is online and chat with them if I have time. My friend who also follows this blog, saw I was online and started the following conversation:

are you really blogging? I love the installments of "Runners of Our Lives"
I'm probably not going to blog today, I just had a horrible workout and people don't need to hear about that
Oh bummer. Here is my Yoda pep talk- You must have some bad work outs to really appreciate the good ones. You are awesome!
Awesome, you are.

I wish the yoda phrasing came across in the texting like it sounds in my head
Oh I heard in full Frank Oz voice with slightly cocked head
alright - I might blog that!!!
keep on running.
so says the word of Keb :)
are you hurt?
no, just couldn't get moving long enough and fast enough for my liking. I ran 9 miles on saturday and can't pump out 3 miles
Ok, well if I may quote Scarlett O'Hara "tomorrow is another day"
and this week you ran 9 miles!

AHHH yes, but didn't the south burn the next day?
details, details-

big picture- you are awesome. You ran 9 miles. You raised 2 k for a good charity. This is your week's highlights, focus on that!
I'm focusing. I'm focusing. All is good. Tomorrow I will run at the right time, with the right amount of fuel in my tank - should be better.
good attitude :)

Thanks, Keb, for helping me blog today - tomorrow should be better!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Can I Just Do It Now?

Looking at all that we need to do between now and April, I kinda think I just want to get it over with. Hell, I could at least run the half-marathon and walk the rest if need be. Today, I sent in my application for my Passport renewal, called to get my husband's birth certificate reissued (don't know where it went); sent off thousands of dollars to Rotary International; ordered my Eurail Pass for travel between Paris and Belgium; chatted with a friend who I show horses with who is living in Belgium now - try to cross paths when I get there; looked at numerous web sites to help get hubby psyched about being in Paris; ................... read someone else's blog about her training for the Paris Marathon - she swears that the juicer is going to revolutionize her training, hmmmmmmmm, I must check that out.

AND - I just put a PayPal button on our blog so that people can donate using their credit cards, if they want - thanks, Krissie, for that suggestion.

Alright, the Christmas tree must come down, gotta go. Keep posting and commenting, it keeps us happy and running.

The Gift that Keeps Giving

As I sit here watching my kids try to figure out how to move Remy around the Ratatouille game (they got a PlayStation for Christmas) I am reminded that I need to tell you all about the Christmas presents I got this year. As mentioned in a previous post, my in-laws gave my husband and I our plane tickets and hotel reservations for Christmas (do I need to say thank-you, again?) I did hint to them that should I find anything else wrapped and under the Christmas tree, I would be upset- enough is enough, right? I may have even told them that, while I wouldn't give back the plane tickets and posh hotel accommodations, I would be sufficiently upset with them! So, to see a gift bag shoved my way during our frantic unwrapping of presents fury, made me nervous. I carefully removed the tissue paper to find three handsome checks - my in-laws have also been busy helping us raise money for PolioPlus!!! Merry Christmas!!!

So, as I head off the the dentist today, I will be stopping by the post office to mail several thank-you notes, PolioPlus contributor buttons, a batch of checks totaling roughly $2,000.00 - - and I will have to remind myself to also pick up TWO passport applications (let's begin phase two of trip planning.)

It was a great holiday - I even got three pairs of running socks (moisture wicking and everything) with Eiffel Towers on them. [Kari - I'll save a pair for you - we'll include them in our uniform!]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That would have been a good bike ride...geesh

"That would have been a good bike ride..geesh" is what hubby said when I explained to him in detail the route that I ran today. He is right, of course. As a matter of fact, as I was running today, I realized that it was last year when a friend of mine asked me to help get him in shape for his Army Reserves physical test. He needed to be able to run 2 miles in 18 minutes. Unfortunately for him, every time I ran with him, his knees just buckled with pain. He assured me that when faced with the test, he would be able to run the two miles, but to get him into cardio-shape, he and I agreed that biking would help. Our first ( and only) outing was the exact same route that I ran today. Now, he had a hard time from about mile 4.5 to the end. At that point, I was in good shape and enjoyed the fact that I was showing up an Army Reserve guy. Two weeks later, he passed his running test, with time to spare. I like to think it was because of my exceptional guidance, but I know better.

My nine-mile run today was fantastic. I didn't light the pavement on fire, but I admit that I was concerned from the beginning that I would not be able to finish. I was careful to start off at a very reasonable pace. My nike/ipod kept me company as the gentle voice kept speaking to me ('you have just completed one mile.....your pace is 9:35 minutes....halfway point...). If ever I have felt like Forest Gump, it was today. I just kept running and running. Now, a week ago was an absolute BLIZZARD in my neck of the woods. Today, it reached 60 degrees so I was so happy to be outside and off the treadmill.

My powersong today: Kari's phone call at 7.5 miles. I wonder what you must think of me, knowing that I run with my cell phone. I do it for two reasons: (1) I want to be available if my kids have an emergency (2) I am still a bit weirded out about my hive/allergic reaction a few weeks ago. I saw WISCONSIN on my phone and knew that it had to be my training partner - subconsciously sensing that I needed her voice to carry me over the wall... "hello?" I said. She immediately said "ARE YOU RUNNING?" - ummmmmmm "yes" (I know, I know - psycho!!!) BUT, I am now adding a #3 to the list of why I carry my cell phone with me - - - (3) so that my training partner, who usually resides in Italy, can call me at a moment's notice to give me the inspirational 'YOU ROCK GIRL' in my ear instead of some unnamed ipod voice .... YEAH!!!!!

SO, it would have been a good bike ride - RIGHT? but it was an even better RUN!!! NINE 'EFFIN MILES WORTH of a great run (my longest to date.)

alright - so this may be the most disjointed post I have written so far, but I have to at least mention that my husband and I went out to Canandaigua last night (45 minute drive) just to see a friend of mine who was in town from DC. I admit that it was a long way to go to re-kindle a friendship with someone that I have seen twice in the past 10 years (both times have been in the past three months) - I'd do it again in a heartbeat - always good times when Lee's in the house! BUT, the coolest part was that we ran into another friend who I haven't seen in, gosh...., 18 years. He has become my new inspiration - (Paul, if you are reading this, don't freak out. It's not like I am obsessed with the fact that you completed the IRONMAN competition in Lake Placid this past year. It just helped put things into perspective for me.) He swam something like 2.5 miles, biked something like 120 miles, and ran a marathon in about 13 hours! I just can't imagine doing that - who DOES that?????? I mean, I'm met with the strangest looks when people discover that I am training for a marathon - who does THAT? So, not that he should eclipse the sense of accomplishment Kari and I are going to feel when we complete this marathon - but that is an amazing accomplishment! I am inspired by the fact that someone can do the Ironman - BRAVO!!! (now, let me continue bragging about my stinking 9-miles, OK?)

Fine - that's all you get for now. I must post about how great it has been to talk to Kari on the phone now that she's state-side for the holidays - that will be next.

Dress Like an Onion

Now I should tell you what got me in the gym in the first place. It all started on December 25. I looked out the window in the living room and saw the temperature, which was kind of covered up but I could tell it was just below zero (fahrenheit). Brr. But in my mom's house it's nice and warm so I decided I would just have to brave the cold, even if I only made it around the block, because we were going up to my brother, Lee's house, and his mother-in-law cooks up a storm (which I was planning on being in the eye of). So I put on: warm socks, running tights, wind pants, under armor t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, jacket, Sweetie's hat (left mine at home! How could I?!), mittens, and good luck gator. The trick of course was staying on top of my feet and not slipping as some sidewalks around here are better groomed than others (no names, but the lady on the corner with the big white house that only clears one shovel-width of snow instead of the whole sidewalk, so you have to practically run sideways to get to the corner comes to mind), but other than that I made it around the block, brought the paper in for Mummy and checked the temperature again. This time, when I leaned in more I saw that it was actually 5 degrees ABOVE zero. 

So I went back out and did another 40 minutes and it wasn't bad at all. I kind of loved it. I had eyelash-cicles, which I hadn't had in a while and the trees were snow covered and it was Christmas and I was in the euphoric I love Racine zone. Then sometime along Washington avenue I realized that my thighs were cold. Not my knees, not my shins. My thighs. When I got home they were really cold. And really itchy. and red. and the skin was kind of swollen. Not good. I took a shower, which helped, but the experience was unpleasant and to be avoided. So that's why I went to the gym yesterday. Ran in shorts there. No frozen thigh. 

Then last night I went to TJMAXX (God Bless America!) and bought a pair of those silky-like long johns. The layer I was missing the other day. I have them on now. So that's the key for winter outside running--as they say in Italy-- you have to dress like an onion. I'll let you know how it goes but I'm feeling confident. 

Sorry, Gym, for Talking Smack.

So I changed my mind about gyms. They're not so bad. The one in Racine that I went to yesterday with my brother and sister-in-law and Sweetie had three things that I didn't expect: lots of treadmills so you didn't have to wait in line, windows (yes. Natural light, in a gym! I didn't think it was possible, either!), and air (you could breath in there and it wasn't stinky!)! I think the eating marathon I have been training for and winning every day since my arrival turned my body into A RUNNING MACHINE when I got on the treadmill (so I better keep up the eating pace)! I was like lightning. I ran 7.18 miles in an hour, and then walked around the gym once in case someone wanted my treadmill (mostly beefy weight-lifting types tossing medicine balls at each other), but no one did so I went back and did another 5k at a more relaxed pace and finished in half an hour. So I did about 10.5 miles. Here's where I pat myself on the back. GO, Kar! 

p.s. The good thing about running on a treadmill is all the information you can obsess about! Distance in miles/km, Miles per hour, calories burned (let's see, how many pieces of pie can I eat when I get off this thing? Ten. At least...)...and when you get bored with that you can watch one of the FIVE television sets with no sound (I watched Martha Stewart make pumpkin ravioli yesterday). Plus, at the gym you may run into someone you know from school! I saw Julie Baumblatt yesterday!   

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


In keeping with the Rotary Exchange Student tradition, we have buttons to commemorate our road to Paris. For a small donation of $5.00 (and something similar in Euros), you can be the proud owner of one of these buttons. They have all four flags (Belgium, France, Italy, US), the Rotary Cog, Polio Plus, and the Eiffel Tower. ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO DIRECTLY TO POLIO PLUS!!!

(thank-you Busy Beaver Buttons for making these for us at a nicely reduced rate)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Am A Running Godess!!!

I looked at my running schedule this morning and was a bit dismayed at the fact that I have to run on Christmas. I don't know why that bothers me so, as I was so excited to trot with the Turkeys on Turkey Day. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I don't want to miss one expression of surprise on my kids' faces as they go from home to grandparents to other grandparents....

I decided that I will divide my Thursday running and tack it onto my runs on Tuesday and Wednesday - just this week, only. (Although, I have reason to believe that my body will like this...more to follow.) So, I was supposed to go only 3 miles today, I added 1.5 miles to that but ended rounding up to 5 miles as I FELT SO GREAT running today! When I say great, I mean G R E A T - all caps, all screaming at you, all happy to be on the page- GREAT. I felt great. I don't know that telling you this six or seven times makes you understand, but when I say that I could have run 12 miles, I probably could have done it - I felt that great. I thought to myself that I hope I feel this great on April 5th - that, too, would be great.

I am starting to wonder if my body enjoys the TWO days between long runs and short days. In other words, would my body respond better to a long run on Saturday, bike on Sunday, off on Monday, Run on Tuesday and Wednesday, off on Thursday and Friday (repeat.) I don't want to mess with Hot Hal's perfect recipe for marathon success, but it DOES make me scratch my head and question - do I know my own body better than Hal??? Having said that, I'll chicken out on my own plan and revert back to Hal's schedule, but I do feel slightly empowered to think that I am figuring out my own inner voice - it is telling me that I felt great today, I will feel great tomorrow and Thursday, I will be glad that I am not running (legs will be tired and angry at me for pushing so hard....)

On a side note, faithful readers, we are beginning to get attention from other Paris Marathoners and I should take a moment to say hello to all of them. This Paris Marathon Club is beginning to get very exciting. I truly believe that we need to start planning a post-marathon fete where we can all meet and eat and rub our sore muscles.

So - as Kari is on her way to Wisconsin, I am on my way to bed. And, I will have great dreams tonight because, yes, today I feel like a running Godess!!!

Piazza Unità all Done up for the Holidays

P.s. I know. She should totally be a model.

Maybe a Song isn't Enough!

You know, Laura, I've been thinking...when we get up to those really long runs, maybe a Power Song won't be enough! Maybe we will need a Power Concept Album.


Take Note!

Just one day to go! Here are my travel plans (thanks Don and Bonnie! :D just kidding)...

*Tomorrow morning wake up call at 4:30a.m. for my BFF Marco E. who is picking us up at 4:45 (note to self: don't forget to remove stinky running clothes from the line and throw them in a plastic grocery bag and shove into carry-on) so that we can be at the Trieste airport (which is not in Trieste, by the way, but half an hour away from Trieste) at 5:20 so that we can check in for our 6:35a.m. (1-hour) flight to Munich where we will have a few hours to drink early morning beers (can you do that?) before stepping on a plane (for a 10-hour flight) to Chicago O'hare which is set to arrive at 3:25p.m. Christmas Eve at Grandma Jeane's house.

Aren't you so excited? Me, too.

Here's my schedule for tonight: get home, run enough miles to cover today and tomorrow (8 miles), hang up wet, stinky clothes (outside, Sweetie's orders), put shoes in a plastic bag and stick them in carry-on (If I put them in suitcase I will have to call Samsonite gorilla to close it). Preheat oven for oatmeal cookies for BFF Marco for being so kind as to take us to airport on Christmas Eve at ungodly hour. Sweetie will make 4-cheese pasta to clean out fridge.
Take Luna to babysitter Ricky's house to stay with him, wife, two black labs. Sob sob for us as she runs off with Astor and Buio without even a glance back. Home. Clink clink, finish up that bottle of white. Plunk down in front of tv (Tuesday is two Desperate Housewives episodes dubbed into Italian back-to-back. Not to be missed). Night night.*

Friday, December 19, 2008

Travel Plans = Thanks Don and Bonnie!

First and foremost (and Bonnie, make sure Don reads this) I have to thank my in-laws for helping with my travel arrangements. (ok, cashing in MAJOR frequent flier / hotel points ) Without their offer, there is simply no way that we could afford this endeavor. I would still go, I just wouldn't be able to afford it!! (continue to max out the credit card.) There would be no way that my husband would be able to join us in Paris to cheer us to the finish line. (he really wouldn't go, what a shame that would have been.)

I know that there are many people who are trying to decide whether they will be able to join us in Paris. For you, I am posting my travel arrangements.

I am leaving Rochester mid-afternoon on April 2nd. My flight arrives at Charles deGaulle Airport in Paris on the morning of April 3rd (somewhere around 9:00 in the morning). By the time I fetch my luggage and get to the Centre de Ville, it may be closer to noon. I'll check into the hotel as soon as I can and maybe head off to the Marathon Expo Center (still trying to decide if it will be better to force myself to stay awake, or take a nap in the afternoon....thoughts?)

Justin will be arriving about the same time on April 4th. I imagine we'll spend the day resting and relaxing - nothing strenuous. April 5th is the marathon. While Kari and I are off doing what marathoners do, Justin and Kari's husband will hopefully visit some of the sights with our other friends who are planning on coming to Paris. I have glorious visions celebrations on the 5th and 6th, but I am accutely aware of the fact that we may feel somewhat like we've been run over by a Mack Truck - (we're going to have to play that one by ear, Kari.)

Justin will leave Paris at 8:30am on April 7th from Charles deGaulle. Once I get him off to the airport, I plan on heading north to Belgium to spend a week with my friends and spend the Easter weekend with one of my former host families.

My flight home will depart from Paris Charles deGaulle on the morning of April 15th. I will be back home by 5:00 the same afternoon.

While in Paris, Justin and I will be staying at the Hilton Hotel Paris - Arc de Triomphe. I am excited about staying here for several reasons. First of all - nice hotel (thanks again, Don and Bonnie). Second - nice location (thanks again, Don and Bonnie) Third - it's not the floor of some stranger's apartment in the 16th arrondissement (would have been thankful, but this will be more comfortable and private - thanks again, Don and Bonnie). I can go on and on - and I probably will in future posts, but that should suffice for now.

In any case, now that the travel plans are arranged, it is certain to happen. Now, I need to compare train prices to Eurail Passes and get my passport renewed - small details in the face of airfare and hotel rooms. THANKS AGAIN, DON and BONNIE.

Oh boy, now it occurs to me that I also need to figure out who is going to watch my kids while Justin and I are in Europe .............................. I think I've used up all my favor-cards on the Williams side of the family (thanks again, Don and Bonnie) ......................................... MOM?????? Call me, ok?

Here's the Shirt

In real life the shirt is a much richer black and you can't see the little Italian flag sewn into the side, but isn't it cute anyway? The Rotary Wheel has REAL GOLD THREAD.
My camera had that evil red low battery thing flashing and it took about a minute-a-piece to take these two breathtaking photos, but just to give you an idea...
Happy DAY OFF! Laura is home for a snow day (man, do I miss those!!!) but promises me she will be out there running her heart out tomorrow. Me, too!
By the way, that countdown clock is deceiving. I start to relax when I look at it... 107 days... no problem. But really, we are approaching the dawn of WEEK FOUR, after which we will have completed the first third of our Hal Higdon 18 week program.
You are right, Laura, "These are the times that try men's souls!" (That Tom Paine reference, by the way, is her mantra for marathon training. She is a social studies teacher, after all..)
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inspiration is found in strange places...

My week has been much better than last week. I don't know if the sense of accomplishment following my long Saturday run has set my mind in a better place, or what, but I posted two nice paces on Tuesday and Wednesday. I know that running an average pace of 9:16 doesn't sound lightening fast, but when you are training your muscles and brain to know a marathon pace, it is good.

At the onset of our training, there was a strong possibility that one of my former students would be joining us in Paris. Jill is now a senior in high school. When I look at her, there is an odd sense that I am looking in a mirror and the reflection is a version of myself 20 years ago. She doesn't necessarily resemble me in the physical sense, but I see some ambition in her that I know I possessed at that young age. Disappointed, though, we were to discover that she would not be old enough to run the marathon, Jill continues to encourage and support me in my training efforts. Last night, I watched Jill do something that must have been terribly difficult. You see, at the beginning of this year, she decided to transfer from our public school, to a private (rival) school. This could not have been an easy decision for her, but I admire her convictions to stick with her decision. With her transfer, Jill took on the unbelievable burden of switching team loyalty from our school to theirs. Last night, Jill returned to the basketball court as a starting player for the rival team. She was and, I might argue, still is loved by her classmates at our school, but her dedication to her new team must not have been easy last night. To complicate matters, she was to play against her sister - who happened to start for our team. This game was one for the record books for many reasons. Perhaps many people will remember it for the 18 points that our starting 8th grader scored (silencing the jeers of the rival school's Dawg Pound); perhaps they will remember it because our small public school was never expected to win, let alone compete with Jill's new team- but WON; perhaps people will remember it for the sister vs. sister press that was witnessed from time to time; perhaps they will remember it for the first points of the game that were scored by the girl who switched teams her senior year. Me? I'm going to remember it for the sportsmanship that I saw Jill demonstrate as she stepped onto the court, in what was a difficult situation - going up against her former coach, teammates, school. I will remember it because she didn't cave to the pressure that she must have been feeling. Her stats were impeccable - carried her team in points. I will remember it because I watched a young lady (who reminds me of myself from time to time) rise to the occasion and do what she needed to do. Sure, her new team lost by 3 points, but she showed up and played what should be considered one of the hardest games of her life.

AGAIN, with the 'moral of the story' posts..... but seriously, I should be inspired by Jill's accomplishments in the face of difficulty last night - and I am. But DARN, if I'm not more disappointed than ever that she isn't joining us in Paris. She'd be a great person to have on our team - particularly to push us through the wall and on to the finish line.

Where is the Power?

Yesterday around mid afternoon all I wanted to do was run. Just get another run in, preferably a nice long one. I had all of this extra energy which was bordering on anxiety. I was so excited to take an hour and a half and just run my heart out. Cristian had a work dinner, so it would be just me and Luna. Cristian would definitely not have wanted to go on a second run for the day when it was all he could do to get out of bed that much earlier to run in the first place, so my plan was perfect.

Around 4pm I looked outside and it was pouring. I don’t mind running in rain, mind you, it’s the wet clothes the next day that I don’t appreciate (did I tell you that here in Italy I don’t have a dryer? Try it and you’ll understand why running in rain is a sad proposition...). For one second I felt like I had out-fooled the weather by running in the morning, then the next second I felt like the weather was getting me back for being so smug.

It was still pouring when I got home and Cristian went off to his work dinner. I was feeling a little blue so I did the only other thing besides running and eating Crab Rangoon (which is kind of like having a dryer in Italy...) that can cheer me up. I took a bath. I read for a bit in the tub (Ian McEwan in Italian, it was all I could find in the house that I hadn’t read and it was surprisingly good even translated) and then kept thinking about how I couldn’t wait to run the next morning. Maybe I would wake up EXTRA early and go EXTRA far! I knew that this cut-back week was for the birds. I need miles!!! Then I wrote in my journal about how this cut-back week was for the birds and how I needed miles, then I read my new Trieste trail running book (did you know that the whole railroad--- now a bike path—that I run on was built in 1870 in 19 months?? I have simple projects at my house that have taken longer) until I fell asleep.

Then, about two minutes later (or perhaps 8 hours) the alarm went off. I should have jumped out of bed, but I didn’t. I re-set the alarm to an hour later (Cristian didn’t seem to mind--didn’t even budge when the alarm sounded). Forget cut-back week, I thought... how about TAKE OFF A WEEK? Then I remembered Luna. What time was her last walk? Hmm...before the bath, before the diary writing, before the trail running book. She can hold it another hour, can't she?..

What? Was that a lament from the other room? A dog sob? Jeremy (dog owner, runner, Aussie exchange student with us in Belgium) was right when he said Luna would keep me honest during training. No choice. Upsy daisy...but contra volontà...

It took us forever, but we got a little over five miles in (on as flat a course as possible) and to tell you how hard it was, just think of what my Power Song was (I don’t have a Nike pod, so my Power Songs are the songs that repeat inside my head while I’m running): “You’ve got a Friend,” by James Taylor. I’m not kidding. It felt like a cruel joke, too, since I had had a long vivid nightmare last night about a Facebook Let’s hate Karoline conspiracy. Now imagine listening to that song on a cassette in your Walkman with batteries that need to be replaced and you will get an idea of my pace.

I felt good when I got back, though, which is what usually happens. But I was wrong about cut-back week being no good. Sometimes cutting back is just what you need. Now let’s just hope that the reduced mileage will help put the Power back in Power Song because, no offense to James, but he’s not that fun to run with.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa Came Early

And here is what he brought me!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Quickly - I am seeing an inverse correlation between the time that I spend training and blogging and the integrity of the Christmas decorations in my house. As I flutter from treadmill to computer, my husband has decided to tackle the decorations HEAD ON! I promise I will post pictures but - perhaps he should glance over some of Martha Stewart's how-to magazines. I love his dedication to satisfying my children's desire for more holiday FLAIR around the house but I will put my foot down at the purchase of those inflatable lawn decorations! (unless, of course, it is the Notre Dame Cathedral)

Just one of the many sacrifices in the name of the Paris Marathon!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Early Morning Long Distance

I knew that I would need to plan my day down to the last minute today. I knew there were a few things that needed to be done. 1 - the boys needed to go to Webster to visit Santa (grandpa) 2 - Justin and I needed to get back home to help our friends move into their beautiful new home 3 - get the boys to Grandma's house for an overnighter 4 - Justin and I had to go to a Christmas Party and Becky and RJ's house 5 - I had to run seven miles. When I went to bed last night, I knew that today would be a marathon day (sorry for the pun, really) and by that I mean a day that would just keep going and going and going.

My feet are presently propped up on the footstool, and I am very happy to announce that I accomplished all this and more, on my marathon day. I got up at 5:30 and was on the treadmill by 6:50. At about 5 miles, my eldest boy came down the stairs and started cheering me on. At about 6 miles, my youngest boy joined his older brother and they both cheered me on to my 7 mile finish. I never thought I would make it, but with them sitting on the couch in front of me, still in their pajamas, I knew that I couldn't let them down.

By 8:00, all four of us were in the car heading toward what would be the funniest part of our day - the visit of Santa (aka Grandpa.) My husband's father was to be Santa at his local Elks Club (who, by the way, have agreed to donate money to PolioPlus!). With grandpa joining us for breakfast, and quickly ducking out to make the quick change into the jolly ole costume, you would think that our 3 and 5 year old boys would be sufficiently fooled. As 'Santa' entered the room, I watched my children turn their little faces to each other and say "that's grandpa!" Confused, they muddled through the ceremonial calling of names, accepting of presents, and sitting on the lap, etc... I watched my eldest son turn to my husband and say "Santa sounds a lot like Grandpa." Finally, to seal the deal, as we were walking out, Grandpa went into the coat room to grab his coat, followed a bit too closely by our youngest. When the Evan caught a glimpse of the red suit and white cuffs, I saw him poke his grandfather and say, "hey grandpa, there's your costume!" I am so glad I woke up at 5:30 and got my run in early so that I wouldn't miss this unforgettable exhibition of "yeah, I'm 3 years old BUT YOU CAN"T FOOL ME! "

Compared to that, the rest of my day was uneventful. I was on my feet the entire afternoon, and they are screaming about it right now, but I believe they would be screaming at me regardless. The 7 mile run wasn't exactly EUPHORIA, as Kari had said it would be, but it is satisfying to be on this end of the otherwise LONGEST distance I have ever run.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moment of Clarity

As you know, part of our training requires one long run per week. We usually do these on the weekends. Laura is doing her 7-miler tomorrow (which will be a new distance record for her if I’m not mistaken) and I will do my 9-miler on Sunday. The big mental hurdle for me is trying to come up with new routes that will take me as far as I want to go. What I tend to think of as REALLY REALLY far, once I map it, usually isn’t. Here is an example: “From work to Slovenia” sounds really far doesn’t it? In the car it feels far, too. But I can run it in about ten minutes. That’s the problem with Europe. Everything is close and makes you feel like you’re running REALLY REALLY far, but you’re not. A runner’s life in say, Wisconsin, is different. There you can say “My house to grandma’s house,” and you’ve got not only an automatic 9-miler in the bag, but probably some cookies, too! Okay okay, there is a downside to running in Wisconsin, however-- people who don’t shovel their sidewalks. On my mom’s block there are two houses with consistently icy front walks. Here I don’t have to worry about that.

In fact, I had a moment of clarity yesterday morning when I rolled out of bed and threw my running tights on to the sound of rain chiming (I’m not being poetic, it actually sounds like bells!) on the windows (baseball hat- check, jacket- check, leash- check, dog-check, plastic poop bag- check, keys-check).

Call the Dalai Llama, people, this might be Dharma! Here is my actual thought from yesterday morning: “Here it is rain, but somewhere else it is snow, and I don’t have to shovel it.” And I ran, happy. Let’s start the countdown: Twelve days until I’m running in Wisconsin again. Sunday, Trieste to Slovenia or bust.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Little Motivation Goes a Long Way

When I think back to almost two years ago, I am amazed at how far I have come emotionally, physically, and mentally. It was January of 2007 that I decided something had to be done about my ever-growing clothing size. When it came down to it, it was more than just worrying about my weight, it was my mental health and my physical health that was suffering. Now, with some of the muscle weight that I have gained back, my total weight loss hovers somewhere between 60 and 70 pounds. At one point, I nearly hit a total of 80 pounds shed. I would still like to get closer to that, and if I keep up this cardio/running detail, I am sure that will take care of itself. Even now, my clothes are hanging off me despite the fact that the scale says they should be tight.

My point? Well, this week has been one of the more difficult ones, not too sure why. My legs feel tired, even with the low mileage that the week has brought. When I step on the treadmill each and every day, I think to myself and say to my running partner "please let my legs carry me to the end, today. I don't feel it!" Yesterday, I posted a great time - shocked as I was! Today, I allowed myself to run slow. I admit that I was disappointed with my time, but impressed that I fought off the urge to race myself and post another best time. Sometimes, it is good to go slower, at least that is what I am telling myself as I write this.

Still, my point? I remember in our early days of deciding if we were really going to go through with this crazy plan, Kari said to me "...are you serious? You lost 70 pounds. If you can do that, this marathon will be cake." (or something along those lines) I use those words to motivate me. It is about that time again for me to post one of my sentimental posts, right? I think about how hard it was sometimes to constantly watch what went into my mouth. I think about how exhausting it was, particularly in the early days of my eating plan, to constantly think and rethink about food. And, as I am typing this.....I still think that it was harder to lose 70 pounds than anything I have done thus far in my marathon training. So, as I head to bed after a difficult day on the treadmill, I am proud of myself for doing the hard work two years ago so I can do the fun work today. I will not lose sight of that important message, tonight or in the next few months - especially when I don't feel particularly motivated to run.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Road to Paris Polo

I went to a Rotary meeting last Thursday at a great wine-producing place near Cormons called Villa Luisa di Corona (it's actually in Romans d'Isonzo). I will put up a link tomorrow so that you can look for for their wines (may I suggest the Refosco or the Cabernet Sauvignon?). The best part of the evening, besides the excellent wine, great company and amazing food catered by Hotel Felcaro, which is owned by the family of a Rotarian who sat right next to me (Chestnut pie, people, with chestnut ice cream!! Love that guy!), was the part of the meeting where the president called me up and presented me (us, actually, since he mentioned Laura) with a box of 50 really nice Polos that we can sell for 30 euros each and give the proceeds to PolioPlus.

Wasn't that nice of them? Our very own ROAD TO PARIS POLO!!!

If anyone is interested in buying one, let us know. I will bring a few to the States when I go at the end of the month.

Week Two

Last week I did all of my miles, but I didn’t necessarily do them on the days I was supposed to. This left me with 17 miles to do between Saturday and Sunday. I do not recommend this approach. I don’t think procrastination and Marathon training get along very well. Thank GOD it was only week one (and not, say, week 16!) So I’m going for a new approach this week. Mornings. I am going to get the running out of the way before I can talk myself out of it or let other plans get in the way. Hopefully this will make my days start (even) better and I am going to follow my plan like a recipe for chocolate cake (something I am very good at following).

Here’s what I’m doing this week. Yesterday: NOTHING (not even work, some kind of holiday here, although I did run twice the day before and play tennis, see the note on procrastination above). Today: 40 minutes this morning. Tomorrow: 50 minutes, Thursday: 40 minutes, Friday: rest (party?), Saturday: 5 miles, Sunday 9 miles. And here is another thing I am doing this week: breakfast. You can’t train and not have it. So I was good today. I ran first thing in the morning and then I came home and ate breakfast, and that lasted me until lunch. Happy week two, partner! Only 17 to go!

AND - here is what my (Laura) week looks like: Yesterday: NOTHING (it's not a holiday here and my workout partner had a doctor's appointment. I ended up working on sub-plans so that I could go to a conference today.) Today: 3o minutes this afternoon. Tomorrow: 40 minutes, Thursday: 30 minutes. Friday: lifting (and party?), Saturday: 7 miles, Sunday: Cross training (stationary bike at a friend's house.) Our workout week looks quite the same, but my milage is a bit lower than Kari's. I may move into the intermediate workout schedule, but I don't feel quite ready for it yet. I run in the afternoon (usually at 3:15.) It is just the right amount of time between lunch and dinner. I can't do well on an empty stomach (before breakfast) and I don't do well on a full one, either. This works the best for me. Happy week to you, too, partner. 17 weeks to go - YIKES.

Saturday, December 6, 2008's cold up here!

I have had a great week of Jewelry sales. Many of my friends were all too happy to place orders. Many people have just said, here's some money - that's cool too. I just hope people understand that every penny that is donated goes directly to PolioPlus. Kari and I are not pocketing a single penny, euro, or peso for our own personal expenses. I can't wait for all of you to read what fun she has been up to. Her fundraising efforts are taking on a life of their own. I also chatted with our other 'silent' partner, Maegon. She is just starting to get her running mind back in place in order to meet us in Paris. She finished the Chicago marathon a few months ago and is on board to run with us in April, too. She isn't really hip to the blog thing, but she is in touch enough for us to feel her presence.

I looked at my training schedule for today and saw that I had to do a 6-mile run. I envisioned the same run as last week, until I looked at the weather station. It was 19 degrees when I was preparing to run. Needless to say, I dusted off my home treadmill (not quite as nice as the one I use at work) and got to work. Now, people ask why I love the treadmill workout. I guess there are two reasons. First off, my workout partner at school is about half my height. She loves to run with me, but you can very well imagine the image of me (the Clydsdale) and her (the American Miniature) as we head off down the road. It kills her, and it isn't a workout for me. The solution, of course, is for us to run on deuling treadmills. She gets a great workout, and so do I. At home, I enjoy having the readout in front of me - although I barely need it with my new ipod gadget. AND, picture this - as I don't have Chrissy to work out with me at home, I get quite bored, so I am plugged into the ipod (music, music, music) and I have the tv on in front of me (subtitles on, of course.) The true demonstration of multi-tasking. I am now sweating, singing, and catching up on the latest OJ Simpson garbage.

SO, off for some Christmas shopping - what will Santa bring me, I wonder?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I don't know how to post this

click here for a link to today's run and a peek at the Nike+ipod website that I am using to help train for the marathon.

So, I told Kari that because she was going to run 45 minutes, I would run 45 minutes. I also said that I would try to post a map of my run - boring boring boring. And here is why: I RUN ON A TREADMILL MUCH OF THE TIME! Now, you tell me what kind of moron I would look like if I posted a map of me running on a treadmill - right! So, I am attempting to grab the link from my Nike ipod program and post it to our blog, so you can see what my last workout looks like. COOL?? Yes, Cool. Only if I can get it to work... I will keep trying. I think that the only thing you can do is click the link and go to a website - not really what I want. So, as I continue to play with my new gadget (thank you again Mark, my brother) I will continue to try and post some fun graphics that go along with the program.

How was the run? It was great. My days at work are stressful as of late - gloom and doom of failing economy. My runs keep me focused on a positive goal that I have - something that will not change, even if the economy continues to spiral downward.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day One Run One

For day one of week one of my 18-week program I was supposed to do three miles. But this weekend, I don’t know, maybe it was the cabernet that clouded my judgment, I asked my friend Marzio when we could run together. What I was really hoping he would say was: “Let me know when you do your 20-miler and I’m there!” That would give me until about March to become a faster runner and the distance could justify insisting on a flat course. See, Marzio is one of those runners who LOVES HILLS. He also has long legs which made it look like he was walking while I was huffing and puffing along just behind him the entire way. By the time we got halfway through the run my lungs were whistling (am I allergic to running, too?) but I felt pretty accomplished by the end, as this was probably the hardest run I've done so far. Thanks, Marzio. If I plotted the course right, we did 11.13K (6.91 miles) in 1:10:55.
Actually Marzio corrected me, which brought the run up to 11.42 (7.1 miles).. Wow! That never happens! Usually my corrections shorten the run! woo hoo!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why am I so itchy?

I went for a great run this Saturday. In my mind, it was the beginning of my 18 week marathon to the marathon. I decided to go for the 6 miles that Hot Hal recommended. I have to be honest that it seemed to go on for a while longer than I would have liked. Particularly when my hands began to itch so badly that I wanted to take the skin right off and throw it into the Oatka Creek. Seriously, when I say the itched, they ITCHED! When I got home, I also noticed that my feet were itchy, too. I thought that perhaps the extreme cold was causing this discomfort however, I jumped on the Internet and did some googling (is that a word?). I came across a medical journal that claims that there is such a thing as exercise induced anaphylaxis. WHAT? I said? I am allergic to running? That would put a serious damper on the training, I think. I read some more and came across a few indicators that pointed to this mysterious ailment. (1) running in extreme cold or heat; (2) consuming food that is know to contain allergens (shellfish, nuts, wheat, etc.); (3) taking an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (ie: Tylenol or aspirin) and; (4) being of the female gender. Alright, I said. This is just too crazy. (did I mention that I was also breaking out in hives along my torso?) (1) RAN in extreme cold; (2) shellfish allergies run in my family, although I have never experienced it. I had shrimp at Thanksgiving dinner. (3) I had a headache and took some Tylenol shortly before my run. (4) Alright, that one fits, too. SOOOO needless to say, I took some benadryl and watched the hives and felt the itching melt away.

I have an epipen for bee stings, I better start taking it with me on all my runs. But I must ask, has anyone ever heard of such a thing before? I must admit that the mere name of the syndrome makes me nervous - hypochondriac? perhaps.

Dear Santa,

I have been a good girl. I eat my vegetables. I follow my training guide. Um. If your elves aren’t too busy, can you have them make me one of these? Laura got the Nike pod, so I think it’s only fair. I promise I will be good all next year. Chocolate chip cookies for you and the reindeer okay? I will leave you grappa again this year, too, so make my house your last stop.

Love, Karoline

Oh yeah, I forgot ;)
P.s. Dear Santa, please grant my friend, Laura, whatever she wants. She let me talk her into running this marathon - I think that constitutes being a GOOD GIRL (and she totally didn't tell me to say this).

18 Weeks to go!

Today is day one of the 18-week marathon program. After a couple of months of regular training and tacking on miles, I think we're ready. I am following a mix of Hal Higdon's programs, but with this as the basic recipe for training. I will run today after work and let you know how it goes.

Good luck, partner! Happy Day One!

P.s. WHAT?! Monday is CROSSTRAINING day?? I don't know how to do anything else!! This is clearly the wrong program for me. I need something a little more flexible. Hmm. Let's just say Day One Week One: 6.91 Miles and leave it at that, shall we? Laura is clearly a better rule follower than I am. She does weight training on Cross days...