Spice it up

{warning, lots of running mumbo jumbo in this post. proceed with caution}

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." - Frank Shorter

Like I said in my last post, I've had an epiphany about running Chicago. I'll be the first to admit I've been very wishy-washy about this marathon; my heart isn't in it like last time, and before we finally hit the 'submit registration' button last week I honestly didn't care one way or the other about our big decision. Nate is the one who took the initiative this time around because he still has yet to experience the amazing-ness of a full marathon. I know he's going to rock it in October and I'm all about being the supportive wife....and running by his side in the process.

Training for a full is just such HUGE time commitment and I don't believe in doing it half-assed. This pretty much means our whole summer is going to revolve around running, yet again, because this goes with the territory of running The Marathon. I think the omnious 26.2 needs to be respected and it demands proper training.....or it will seriously rip you a new one without apologies. Like, 'whoops---you didn't really feel like putting in the time to train? Okay, then. Experience THIS injury/the wall/pure exaustion, fool!" [that was The Marathon talking, in case you were wondering. The Marathon still intimidates the heck out of me, obvi].

I just didn't know if I had another one in me and I guess you could say the newness of it all has worn off. Now that we've committed I've decided I have to spice things up with my training for two reasons: 1. Pounding the pavement over and over again, for a ridiculous amount of miles in an 18 week period gets rather monotonous, and 2. If I'm going to do this thang, I'm going to go big and attempt a big fatty PR. I know I can shave off some minutes from my 4:19....it's just a matter of how many.

In Hal Hidgon's awesome book called "Marathon: The Ultimate Training and Racing Guide" he mentions that there are three goals in marathon running: to finish, to improve, and to win. He says that for your first marathon you should only be concerned with finishing....no time goal, no pressure, but just to finish [whoops!]. Nate has appropriately categorized himself here despite the urge to set a personal time goal for himself. We'll see if that lasts:) But me? I've already finished a marathon. And I'm going to officially say I will NOT win the marathon because I could never imagine running as fast as the elite runners--I honestly thing they might be mutant human beings with special superhero powers. It's in their DNA for sure because I couldn't run ONE mile at a 6 minute pace. It makes me regurgiate just thinking about it.

This means I'm putting myself in the 'improve' category and Hal tells me this won't be easy. He says you have to work at it by increasing your mileage [barf!], adding speedwork [hmmmm], lifting weights [doh!], stretching [I know, I know], and paying closer attention to diet [oh, great]. As a Physical Therapist and a generally healthy person I KNOW these little extras are important in training but I've always gotten by without taking them to heart. I've never tried to vary my speed during a run because all I've cared about is finishing X amount of miles that day. I never lifted weights or stretched during training because quite frankly, I just didn't have energy reserves to do so after running so freaking much. I learned a lot about proper running diets through trial and error last summer but I know I could do better in this aspect, too.

So here's my new game plan:

1. Speedwork: I've started this on the dreaded treadmill and OMG...it kicks my arse but also makes the time go by so much faster. Basically, I'll run every quarter mile at a different pace---either slightly faster or slightly slower than my comfortable speed. So I might start at 7.0, then at 0.25 I'll bump up to 7.7 until 0.50 when I drop down to 6.0, and so on. I'm also going to make a few dates at a local track and attempt some of those 8x400 thingies, or 7x800, or whatever certain programs want me to do. I can't say that I'll like it but I will definitely try all in the name of kicking major A on race day [and hopefully recovering quicker, without so much limpage for the following week].

2. Resistance training: I've forced myself to begin a weight lifting routine at the gym and instead of cancelling my membership during the warm summer months, I think I'm going to keep that sucker just for the weights and classes. I cannot believe how weak I've gotten over the last year of 'pure cardio' indulgement. After just a few reps on my old favorite machines my arms seriously start shaking, as if to protest my new meathead-ism attitude. I know it will take a while but I really think this is going to help with muscle recovery again, and also make me buff. Let's hope I don't turn into a body builder on accident, right?

3. Cross-training: [aka not just running for cardio]. Why is this one so hard for me to do? I think part of me believes riding my bike, or hopping on the elliptical is wasting valuable 'running' time but I know the body needs variety. Actually, I think my mind needs it, too. I have a pimp road bike that is seriously collecting dust in the basement right now and my gym membership includes most classes---so a fun little spinning class, or kickboxing, or something like that would be very beneficial for me. I'm just too chicken to attend a class all by my lonesome, don't ask me why. Maybe I'll talk myself into it on a trial basis.

4. Stretching: It feels so good and yet, I'm too lazy to actually stretch unless I'm sore after a run. One of Nate's new books is a Yoga book [written by someone with the most hilarious name ever---Sage Roundtree] and he's all over it. In fact, we bought little yoga mats from Target and have started to flip the pages of the book in efforts of becoming all Zen and bendy. My first and only experience with organized Yoga left a horrid taste in my mouth back in 2006. Hannah and I naively attended a Bikram Yoga class without understanding one important detail: that type is HOT Yoga and if you show up in long pants and a tee shirt you are about 10 times overdressed. Also, the room is basically a jungle containing sweltering heat and producing buckets of sweat from yourself and very intense strangers. It was not a plesant experience, probably because we were not mentally prepared to endure 90 minutes in actual Hell, but none-the-less....I'm giving Yoga a second chance. But within the confines of my own climate-controlled home, thankyouverymuch.

So those are my new ideas, little tid bits that I'm going to add into my training routine in hopes that my speed picks up and my soreness drops off, all the while avoiding the dreaded injury.

But now the big question is this: which program do I want to use, and how hard core do I want to be with this?

My first thought is to go all out and take on the actual Nike program that Chicago endorses. But holy crap that looks intense. Only one day of rest in whole week and a ridiculous amount of mileage combined with all the variety in the world [speedwork, stretching, cross training, strengthening]. My biggest dilemma with this one, besides whether or not it will kill me, is which level I'd choose---the 'beginner runner' or the 'intermediate runner'. I think I could actually qualify for the intermediate but I'm not sure that will really help me succeed any more than the basic program. Both are so freaking insane, you guys.

But my other thought is the polar opposite: less is more, simplicity is good, and chill out a little bit. I don't know where this one came from but Nate printed it off and it's intriguing to me. Basically, it includes only three running workouts per week: a speed workout on Tuesday, a tempo run on Thursday, and a long run on Saturday. Then they suggest you doing another two days of cross training for 45 minutes each time. Honestly, this sounds much more doable since I'm only working out about 3-4 days each week right now. I love my rest days and I worry that if I do the Nike program 6 days a week I'll burn out quickly.

But then again, isn't the Nike Chicago Marathon logo the freaking bomb? LOVE. It makes me want to do their program for sure, great marketing!

Even though at first glance I though it was 'runshee' which might be an exotic vegetable of some sort.

Whew, that was a long post, huh? Any thoughts on spicing up my training or different programs would be greatly appreciated. And let's always remember what the big O says [she doesn't know I kicked her A last fall, shhhhh!]

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
- Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and marathon finisher

And with that I'm off to St. Louis to kick off wedding season in style. Of course, it's supposed to rain down there just like last time, while remaining sunny up here. Typical.

The Big Two Eight

So, today is my birthday [please, no pressure to sing a tune for me] and I'm officially 28 years of age.


No, it's not ancient but it's not 'young' either. It's a nice in between age that definitely puts me over the 'mid-twenties' range and into the shocking 'late-twenties' bracket, because the jump from 27 to 28 seems enormous in my head. I'm not dramatic at all, am I? Birthdays make me introspective each year, and because I'm a diva and it's myyyyyy day, I get to ramble a little bit more on this post.

Anyway, today was literally like any other day because I worked a full 8 hours, then hit it hard at the gym, and then made myself some leftovers for dinner. You see, I didn't feel right asking off at work considering that I get the privilege of a three day work week anyway. Wedding season starts with a bang this weekend and we'll hold it down in the STL with intensity for sure. I love weddings, in case you didn't notice.

Then Nate had a volleyball game tonight and as much as I enjoyed smothering him with a guilt trip about missing an actual birthday dinner, it really wasn't a huge deal to me. We went to dinner with his parents on Saturday and just the two of us are going out tomorrow night, too, so really....what more could a girl ask for? Reheated stir fry alone will do for this old hag.

I decided to make use of my free time after work while Nate was being all athletic and stuff, and brought it at the gym. More on this later, but I had an epiphany about this next marathon. Big ideas, new thoughts, and a whole lotta renewed excitement over here. It might have something to do with my husband being a freaking psycho researcher with the following display of dork-ism. A few of these were purchased and most were rented from the 'brary. But dude, nobody could ever accuse him of jumping into something without analyzing every detail. [Yep, that quality makes my heart pitter patter. Was there any doubt?]

someone is a researcher
More on my newfound running mojo later. I'm so into it.

But the whole point of this post is this: how did people ever feel loved on their birthdays before facebook/the internets/text messaging/cell phones? Really. I don't know how I survived the multitude of birthdays before today. I feel so special, so important, so popular---which is exactly how a girl should feel on the day of her birth, right? A ridiculous amount of people left me a note on FB, I got a few emails, texts [and as a person that is NOT hip on the text messaging fad this is a big deal], and voicemails all of which did their job in making my day happier. I truly enjoy feeling 'connected' to people and technology makes it so much easier. Maybe I'm just now realizing this connection is why I spend a significant amount of time on the internet, especially at a time in my life when I'm geographically distant to my old comfort zone of home. See? There I go again, getting all deep on you again. I'll stop now but moral of the story is I heart technology because it makes me feel special.

Speaking of special, please don't be creeped out by my newest craft:
creepy much?
No, that isn't the creepy ghost lady from The Ring. That's Kim, my friend who is living in Korea. She is a part of our 'fab five' group of girls and since Kristen is getting married this weekend, making her number four out of five to don a wedding dress, our group will be severely lacking one important key member. We are all sad Kim will miss this occasion but I decided to take matters into my own hands. Now we will have the complete group in our pictures, at least!
kim on a stick

That is Kim's head on a stick and I'm sure she will make an appearance in many hilarious pictures this weekend. Isn't she fabulously creepy and awesome, all rolled into one? I love it.

So that's all I have for you on my first day of being 28. I'm off to play with my new toys now since Nate got me a tripod for the SLR, a new hot pink Nike running tank, and his parents gave me money for a new dress to wear on our many wedding excursions. Shopping?!?! Pink running attire??? AND something photography related? You'd think they would know me better than that by now:)

hack job

A few days ago, my dog looked like this:
this is how he rolls
Long ears, long beard, and about a month overdue for his routine hair cut. In my opinion, perfect in every way albeit a little shagtastic.

I broke down and finally scheduled him an appointment with the groomer and Nate took him in yesterday. When I pulled up to the house after work, I saw my little buddy peering down from the window like always. I saw him throw his head back and begin to howl, contorting his little mouth into an 'O' to signal that his mom was home at last. That is when I noticed something was different. As he flopped his head backwards, his ear immediately caught my attention....what the heck?? Did they.....no, that's not right.......OMG. HIS EARS ARE SO SHORT!!!!!
a little out of it

I'm used to this adorable face awaiting my arrival every evening:
little Hankster

And instead got this one:
where'd my ears go?

I'm used to this stringy tail, this shaggy torso:
fluffy tail before the chop job

And now we have a dog that is sleeker, to say the least. He's practically shaved you guys!
sleek and almost shaved

This is Henry's natural bang before I took the scissors out on my own, just a few days ago:
bangs before the chop job

And now? No bangs to be seen. And also no beard. My baby! What have they done to my baby?!
shortened mustache

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. I'm sure it will just take some time to get used to this new do, right? Apparently Henry's favorite groomer was not there yesterday and some new chick butchered him into this new strange sight. It's really not her fault, though. I guess my husband told her to 'leave an inch and a half all over.' I think she took that statement to the extremes and really, if it weren't for his incredibly short ears I think it wouldn't be such a shock. I cannot stop laughing at him and he's about had it with my chuckling:
very unhappy

His eyes seem to have bulged out and spaced apart without all that hair and I must admit that his cuteness factor jumped up a notch or two, don't you think?
absolute favorite

But can you just look at his dorky ears again, please?
little man

No more eyelashes, either:
bubbly tongue

I think he likes it. He is strutting around like he owns the place, even more so than usual. That is, until I start laughing at him again.

I call this next series "The Many Faces of Henry". Also known as, "If I Close My Eyes, Will You Go Away?" Please enjoy:




I know I've mentioned it before but Henry has never looked like Falkor more than he does in this next picture. Hold this one in your mind....
Then look at this and try not to laugh:
total falkor
Fly away, little Henry. Go find your fur:)

Even with this new hack job haircut I love him with all my heart. How can you not love this face?
hey buddy!
Thanks for the photo shoot, little buddy. I'm sorry I couldn't stop laughing.

In other news, remember how we signed up for the Chicago Marathon on Tuesday night? We BARELY made it under the wire because as of Thursday, registration was closed! Dang that was a close call. I guess it was meant to be.

Also, the St. Louis Marathon pics are up and let me just show you something:
Apparently everyone who crossed the finish line with us forgot to smile for the cameras. Dude with a pulled hammy looks particularly painful, no? I love looking through race photos because the facial expressions are always so animated.

Also, it was so freaking rainy. I think this pic shows the wetness quite well:

(from the Go!St. Louis website)

And wouldn't you know it? It's raining at this very moment, too. Of course yesterday was sunny and 80 degrees on a day I had to work indoors and today-- on a day off--it's miserable outside and in the 50s. Oh well, I'll take it. Even a rainy, cool weekend beats a sunny workday in my book.

Off to stare at my comedic dog again...

sugary sweet

Thanks for the support, dear readers. I realize I might be certifiably insane by registering for another marathon but it's very exciting as well. Nate is taking the whole thing quite serious as he just informed me about two new book purchases from Amazon: 1. something about yoga for athletes, and 2. Something about nutrition for endurance athletes. He tells me he really wants to avoid an injury this time around and he hears yoga does the trick....so he's going to read about it and let me know. He's such a nerd sometimes, but you gotta love him.

Okay, so onto the sugary sweetness from last weekend.

#1 After Nate, Keri and I went to the runners expo on Saturday Nate informed us that he has a 'secret errand' to run and was really creepy about where he was taking us. I, of course, automatically accused him of forcing us to enter a golf store where he most likely bought golf-related items behind my back, knowing that I would not approve. I figured he ordered something from a St. Louis store without me knowing about it and had to pick it up during our trip. I'm not sure why this was my first thought but I'm sure it symbolizes something deep about our marriage when I assume he bought golf crap without my consent.

He pointed the car towards the Central West End while Keri and I threw out guesses left and right: was he taking me to get a new puppy??? [his look of disdain told me this was not the surprise]. Was he taking us to Straabs? [besides being weird and totally unnecessary, going to a high-end grocery store was not even on his radar]. Was he taking us to church at the Basilica? [again, very odd and not likely but we had to guess SOMETHING]. I kept saying that there were no golf stores in the CWE, thus adding to my confusion. He just smiled and drove on, letting our imaginations run wild. I think I'd convinced myself he was taking us to Bar Louie to slam shots and dance on the bar---at 4 pm, by the way---when we rounded the corner and saw this sign:
So then I was all, "OMG....you ordered us cupcakes for our upcoming wedding anniversary! How thoughtful for you to remember we got our wedding cake from The Cakery, which has the same fabulous owners of The Cupcakery! {Ericka rules!} I bet you even got us the same flavors as our wedding cake!" Then I realized that although I love my husband dearly he just isn't one of those ultra-sensitive guys who would do something like that.

As we walked into the store Nate finally admitted the surprise: my mom had ordered me cupcakes for my birthday. But not just a dozen cupcakes would do----it's my mom, afterall. She just HAD to get me 28 cupcakes for my 28th birthday despite Nate trying to talk her out of such an obscene number. And let's remember that these cupcakes are neither small nor cheap, which makes 28 of them even more ridiculous. Here is her sneaky cohort with the motherload: yes, they required two whole boxes. And yes, my husband is a cutie:

the sneakster
During Nate's pleading with my mother on the phone, he asked her what in the heck we would do with 28 of these monsters? To which she replied, "I don't know....hand them out to your friends, take them into school/work, do what you want. But I'm buying 28 of them." You know it's a lot when you can't even fit all of them in one picture:
28 cupcakes

But you guys, they are so freaking amazing it makes my eyes bulge out of my skull. Can I get a little Will Farrell {a.k.a. Frank the Tank} here? "It's so good once it hits your lips." We managed to leave St. Louis with 18 of these babies and I was quite proud of our distribution skills to rid ourselves of 10 within less than 24 hours. It's a horrible problem to have, really....too many cupcakes, too little time:
28 cupcakes and so little time

Nate got to pick out the flavors and I must say that the "Tuxedo" might be one of my top picks. And as an FYI, we did have dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream for half of our wedding cake....and these cupcakes are JUST as good as the real deal wedding cakes. I think it's the real butter....
oreo sweetness

The "Red Velvet" might be one of the prettiest and of course it's like a tiny bite of heaven melting in your mouth, with all that cream cheese icing. This is the flavor that made Nate grunt the loudest.....inappropriately, of course:
red velvet bliss

I think the french vanilla cake/vanilla buttercream "Confetti" combo is the loveliest in pictures....don't you? Our other half for wedding cake was similar to this minus the confetti, plus raspberry fruit filling between layers. Mmmmmmm.....
confetti fun

But the "Peanut Butter Cup" with peanut butter buttercream/dark chocolate cake is probably the richest and therefore my favorite. A girl can't have too much PB in my book...
peanunt butter delight
I could have taken a picture of each and every cupcake because they are just that beautiful, but I don't want you to be too envious of me. And besides, we attempted to freeze about 14 of these babies so that we can enjoy them on my actual birthday. We want to avoid a sugar overdose this week even though it's quite tempting to down one of these suckers every night after dinner. Isn't my mom the best?

#2 Speaking of moms and sugary sweetness, meet Clare:
yummy hand

My first real baby to shoot! My hands started tremoring as soon as she entered the room because all I saw was a new photography subject! One that isn't a dog or a flower or food. Yippee! In my honor she blew me some wicked bubbles, possibly gassy here?

She is about four months old and just the most squeezable little thing around. Her mommy and daddy are our good friends from college and we are so happy for them. I think they special ordered the most well-behaved baby in existence and I'll be picking their brains on that procedure some day. I want one just like this:)
love a girl in pink

I realized that shooting real live babies are tougher to capture than dogs. She was just so wiggly and adorable....it distracted me to no end. Also, my 1.8 had a hard time focusing on her in a lower light condition, which I find frustrating. But then again some of her shots turned out just fine. I personally love this one of Clare's daddy feeding her. If you could see the look of sheer adoration in his eyes it might make you feel a little weepy...or maybe that's just me:
bottle time

Chunky thighs! In a pink outfit! With the most adorable booties ever! Squeeeeeee!
chunky thighs

I had to include this picture because it makes me chuckle. You have Michael, who shares my love for photography, trying to capture Clare's beauty just like me. Then you have Conor, holding his lovely baby with pride. And then you'll notice a certain white dog in the middle looking utterly perplexed. He was beyond frightened of Clare and yet he was completely intrigued. He'd stare at me while I held her like, "WTF, MOM?!? What are you doing? Put that thing down! Don't you know she is a mutant human who is impossibly small? She will take over the world!" I'm sure he was jealous but instead, he took on the role of pensive Henry....as seen in this picture. He couldn't stop smelling her feet and really, can you blame him? I'm sure they smelled divine. Oh, I can't wait for the 'first born syndrome' to kick in with our little Henry someday when he has to share his parents with a little monster like Clare. What fun that will be.
Please note Henry freaking out about the baby

I think Clare was staring back at Henry in this picture which probably made him lose his mind. Please tell me her eyes aren't the most precious things ever. Those lashes!

Tiny little tongue and her baby blues...
tiny tongue

She finds my camera quite enthralling, obviously.

When she got all bundled up in her carseat/carrier thingy and went outside into natural light, you better believe I whipped out the SLR yet again. This one is a touch overexposed but I love it anyway. I tend to like my images on the brighter side anyway...so sue me:)
A little overexposed but I like

I had a hard time justifying making any of Clare's images black and white, just because we'd lose her gorgeous blue eyes. But this one was screaming B&W to me for some reason. Her mouth in this picture is my fave.....a near smile, I'd say:
Baby Clare

Agh, babies. Why are you everywhere? And do you have to be so freaking cute all the time [or at least for the 1-2 hours I get to see you?]. She made it look so easy, that Clare. I just want to eat her up!

And with that I think I'll go defrost another cupcake.....if I can't have the sugary sweet baby I think I'll settle for second best. This one just so happens to have about a bajillion calories, of course. :)


Dude, I'm totally freaking out over here. Please observe:

My husband and I will be two of 45,000 lunatic runners taking on the dreaded 26.2 this October. Holy crap, I can't believe I'm going to do this again....especially when I'm still still exhibiting a wicked pimp walk from a mere 13.1 mile run.

Also, that 'whooosh' you just heard was $250 flying out of our bank account with this registration. Nobody ever claimed torturing yourself for 4 hours was free, you know.

So I'm a little bit scared, a lot a bit nervous, and a teensy bit excited. Does this mean I'm addicted to marathons now? In the year from October 08-October 09 I will have done two full marathons and one half. My grand total will be 2 and 2 [fulls to halves, that is] in my lifetime. My running resume is still completly puny compared to most other runners out there and yet, I think I'd qualify as a 'marathoner' now....right?

We promised our friends we wouldn't become that psycho marathoning couple and yet, I think we've morphed into that very couple without even noticing. Oh well. I'm okay with that, I guess.

Here we go again...eeeek!

visual evidence of the weekend

{warning: long post alert, full of pictures and some narrative. come back later if you so choose.}

I got the perfect surprise today at work: I didn't have to stay past lunch and let's just say this was exactly what my body needed. I had big plans for my afternoon off [laundry, groceries, cleaning...all of the stupid stuff that can't get done when you are away all weekend long]. What did I do instead?

Treated myself to a little Panera for lunch and then passed out on the couch for a solid two hour nap, snuggled up next to a very tired fluff ball named Henry. Both of us slept so hard that we were a little delirious when we finally awoke. It was one of THOSE naps, you guys....the freaking bomb, even though I still have a pounding headache that is going strong since yesterday. I'm not going to let my neurotic self imagine it's brain cancer, or an aneurysm, or something else completely fatal. I'm going to use my realist side and say it's probably just fatigue, still, right?

Okay, so let's move onto the pictures. I was all ready to say, "I didn't take that many this weekend, and it felt kind of good not to be pressured to snap away the weekend." And then, I uploaded my pictures to find a total of 135 images. Whoops! Guess I did manage to go photog-crazy as usual. It was just odd to be without a camera at the actual race, but more on that later.

Our drive down: I got off work a tad early so we hit the road by 3:30 which might not seem like a big deal but it literally made the weekend SO much more tolerable. Arriving at 9:30 instead of our originally planned midnight was freaking huge.

Our family spends the six hour trip as follows: Me, the shutterbug:
then there is me

Nate, the annoyed driver:the driver
I must say this: I won 'wife of the year' by offering to drive halfway on the trip home. That was a stupid idea on my part, considering the horrid weather and my extreme fatigue. What can I say, I'm quite the catch---and he owes me big time. I hate that drive with a passion....but let's move on.

And finally Henry, the ever-stressed world traveler who pants the entire trip as if to say,"Where are you taking me, you crazy humans? Let me out of this forsaken car!" At least he's cute when he travels.
panting the trip away

Should we take this as an omen for the upcoming race?
interesting sign

The sunset was only decent on this day, but I took pictures anyway. Nothing like a little farmland to make a scenery shot.
sunset from I-55

Once we finally arrived at our destination on Friday night, we chatted with Hannah and Michael until the wee hours of the morning. It happens everytime no matter how tired we are. It's just so good to be in the presence of old friends again. Sigh.

Speaking of, on Saturday Keri came to town. Hannah, Keri and I went to eat lunch at McGurks and I almost passed out from the intense love I felt towards my Three Grilled Cheese. Then Keri and I went to get a pedicure, praying we wouldn't run it off the next day. I sometimes forget that Keri HATES when they use that holey stone thing to scrape the bottoms of your feet. She freaks out and squeals and giggles. And thus, I took pictures.
Keri loves pedicures part 2

Keri loves pedicures part 1
Now I don't know about you, but I think it's official: Keri got her groove back. Her eyes have that sparkle again, her laugh has that familiar happy pitch to it, and she looks freaking amazing. I'm so proud of my friend and I miss her dearly. Again....old friends just make my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Speaking of making my heart happy: it's definitely a season called 'Spring' in St. Louis. Which is funny because as I type this, it's a measly 39 degrees outside. And the forecast calls for the 'S-word' tomorrow. I cannot even type the word S-N-O-W without gagging in my mouth a little bit. So let's move onto a better climate: The STL, shown via these pretty images I loved taking:
Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Springtime flowers in STL

Love it. Can't wait for flowers of our own up in The Great North.

Also, going with my favorite themes of dogs and flowers....here is another cute dog for your viewing pleasure. His name is Sampson, he's a Wheaton Terrier, and he is Hannah and Michael's dog....so I guess that makes him our host dog. He and Henry grew up together as puppies when Hannah and I lived together [before we each got hitched] and the dogs are obsessed with each other. Also, Sampson is obsessed with the camera and is a total poser. He rushed up to me as soon as he caught a glimpse of my camera and smiled for this shot:
Sampson the Wheaton Terrier

Oh, the boys. Seemingly innocent, aren't they?
the boys know how to sit

For our pre-run dinner we opted for Vitos and although it was pure torture to order anything besides their bomb pizza, the spaghetti and meatballs dish was pretty tasty and full of adequate carbs. I did not take pictures and I think Hannah was immediately disappointed in me, questioning how I would write a decent weekend post without pictures of my pre-game meal. She is right, you know. I'm a slacker:)

So we went to bed nice and early only to awake at 5 a.m. the next morning: half marathon morning. Did you know it's still dark out at 5 a.m.? Yep, sure is.
Marathon morning

The eluisve self-timer picture taken at 5:30 a.m. Do we look pumped?
Before, with the self-timer at 5:30 am

One really cool thing about being up before the sun is the gorgeous light. I believe this would be 'twlight', right? Love this shot of my boys:
My boys in the twilight

This shot is a little blurry [darn 1.8 lens doesn't like low light conditions much] but I still like it. I spy bokeh!
Before sunrise, blurry but fun

The race began at 7 a.m. and the rain started at 6:15....of course the weather men were right on this occasion, right? All I kept saying was, "At least it's not cold AND rainy....it could be 40 degrees right now and that would be pure hell." Instead it was a nice 50-60 degree day albeit sopping wet. Here is our view from the start line taken with Nate's wannabe iPhone camera:
start line at Go! St. Louis marathon 2009
So apparently there were 15,000 runners at this race which was freaking insane! It was awesome to run with so many people but a little challenging, too. Not a big fan of dodging other runners throughout the course [and all I kept thinking was that Chicago would be about 3 times as crowded]. I can't believe how many spectators there were enduring the horrible conditions to cheer us crazies on---I love big races for that feeling of unity, the knowledge that every runner has a story and every spectator has a desire to support these runners. It's so freaking awesome, you guys. Even when it sucks. :)

Because of the sheer number of people and the mad chaos in the morning of the race, I didn't get to meet up with Keri which is a bummer but I knew she'd be in good hands with her sister and some other friends. I know Ker was nervous about finishing but of course, she kicked major A and pushed through like a champ. It was her first half marathon and I bet she'll catch the bug and do more in the future. Again, so proud of her!

As far as our run goes, I am very pleased with our 1:57 time, which is a little less than a 9 minute mile pace as an average. In our 2005 half marathon we clocked a 2:10 time, or a 10 minute mile average, so this race we shaved a full minute off each mile...I'm impressed! I really didn't feel like I was pushing myself until mile 10 when I figured out we could actually go sub two hours...then it felt like we sprinted the remainder of the course. Which is probably why I'm the sorest I've been since my full marathon....except I'm actually functioning today instead of hobbling around like a cripple. I'd say it's only a slight limp today so that's good:)

Here is the only picture we have of us together at the race, and this is right after we finished. Again, Nate's camera phone isn't quite the same as my SLR but I didn't think running for two hours with a giant camera slung around my neck would be a good look:)
after, drenched but happy
We were very wet and started getting cold after we stopped running, and I must say that showers taken after half and full marathons are pretty much the best thing ever.

Here we are back at Hannah's before the shower. We don't even look that wet, do we? But I promise we were. Even Henry was annoyed with us dripping all over him.
The family, after a 13.1 race.

We cleaned up and my appetite came out to play with a vengance. We chose Square One Brewery for the specific purpose of order thier amazing pancakes. This meal DID deserve a photograph simply because it was so mouth watering.
Wheat germ pancakes at Square One Brewery

And after that we were back in the car for the world longest drive. If I ever try to pull this stunt again....running a half marathon and driving all the way home in the same day....someone please talk some sense into me. I knew it would suck but I had no idea how badly. I should know better, I'm practically geriatric with my birthday next week.

I have one more post full of even more pictures waiting in the wings---if you can handle it. I'm not sure posts like these are even interesting to most of you readers but I'm still running low on my 'witty tank' at the moment. Do forgive me:)
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