Monday, June 27, 2016

Marathon Training Week 1: Why, Again, Did I Sign Up For This?

The good news is that I survived Week 1 of Marathon Training!!!!

The bad news is that I have, like, 19 more weeks to go.

And why did I sign up for this again??

Oh yeah.

I didn't sign up for just ONE marathon - which would be my first, actually.

Oh, no. I NEVER do things easy. It's either go big or go home, I always say.

So, if I'm going to put in the training required to run 26.2 miles, I'm going to do not one, not two, but THREE marathons in a 3-month period…all so I can join the Marathon Maniacs group.

So, official fall marathon training began June 20th - and here's a recap on how it went:

Monday, June 20th

My first day of training called for an easy 4-5 mile run. Because temperatures were going to be brutal, I managed to get my a$$ out of bed and on the road by 6:15 a.m. This was probably due more to adrenaline & excitement about Day #1, than anything else, because I am normally SO not a morning person.

The run felt great - I felt great - and again, this was probably attributed more to Day 1 adrenaline. Let's see how long THAT lasts.

The Plan!! Welcome to Day #1!!

Oh yeah…I'm smiling NOW…but let's see who's smiling in a few months??!!


Tuesday, June 21st

Rest Day! So important to rest those legs, and I did JUST that.

Wednesday, June 22nd

Today's plan was to run 2 easy miles for a warm-up; then run 6 hill repeats at a quick pace for at least 25 seconds each, and then run another 2 miles easy for a cool down.

I was actually out on the road by 6:11 a.m., which is a small miracle. Was it the excitement of running hills? If that's the case, then I am truly one sick puppy - and should be receiving major psychiatric treatment.

Here's how the hills went, according to my log:

1st Hill: "I've got this."
2nd Hill: "Okay, maybe not."
3rd Hill: "Hmmmm….."
4th Hill: "Gah."
5th Hill: "Ugh."
6th Hill: "Okay, that sucked balls."

So, my legs were a bit mushy at the end, but a nice stretch when I got back home did the trick.

I've got this…I think...

A beautiful sunrise...

Thursday, June 23rd

Rest Day! My trainer's taking pity on my right now because she knows my legs aren't quite up for this torture. Trust me - I know I won't get as many rest days in the future.

Friday, June 24th

Today, I was scheduled to run 3-4 miles easy, and I did exactly that. Nothing super special or crazy about today's run, other than the neighbors are looking at me crazy, as I'm sweating and running along. The humidity is absolutely BRUTAL, but the weatherman says that next week looks to be cooler…thank GOD.

Saturday, June 25th

LONG RUN DAY! Yup, for distance runners, the long run day, normally on the weekend, is the day to be anticipated with joy or dread. Today, it was a mixture for me…on one hand, I was excited to keep up my distance running, but on the other hand, I knew the heat and humidity would take a toll.

Six miles…along the neighborhood roads…with two stops for water and for some nutrition/fuel.

Hubby was getting HIS long run in, as well, and we would pass each other and shout out, "I love you!" to keep up each other's spirits. Wait. Who am I kidding??!! Hubby NEVER needs his spirits kept up while running; he's like Forrest Gump and would just run, run, run the entire day and smile the entire time. It's ME who needs encouragement and morale boosters. :)

Speaking of morale boosters, one of my neighbors was washing down his garage with a hose…so as I ran by, I stopped briefly, threw out my arms, and pleaded, "Please, kind Sir! Have some mercy, and hose down this hot, miserable beast."

(Don't worry. My neighbors already think I'm nuts, so he didn't even blink twice at this request.)

And oh my goodness - that cool water of the hose, as it showered over my head, was delicious and refreshing and energizing…it felt SOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

I did manage to see two deer, 8 rabbits, 1 turtle, 12 cows, 2,320 squirrels, and 1 fox today along the route. That's a pretty good wildlife haul, if I do say so myself - and so I ALWAYS had someone to talk to…even if they didn't talk back.

Sunday, June 26th

The plan called for an easy 3-4 mile recovery run, so I put in four miles…but I'm not sure I "recovered." Even starting early didn't spare me from the heat and the humidity; not to mention, there was not ONE bit of breeze in the air. My only running companions this day were the horse flies, who teased and tortured me mercilessly. I think I expended more energy shoo-ing them away than I did actually running - gah.

When is fall, again?

I. Can't. Wait.

A beautiful sky this morning…it never gets old.

I leave for Florida in another week, and I'm thinking it's probably cooler in southern Florida than it is in Kansas City right now. That's rather scary.



Monday, June 20, 2016

My Big Fat Fabulous Birthday

I love birthdays.

Birthdays are my favorite.

I celebrated my 54th birthday last Saturday, and YES, by golly, I'm telling you how old I am, because I'm DAMN proud of EACH and EVERY year that I've lived on this earth, and I'm not about to hide my age - or my wrinkles - that I have EARNED, thank you very much.


And although I've enjoyed EACH and EVERY one of those birthdays, I have to say that THIS birthday celebration, spent at home with my family, was extra special. Which is a pretty bold statement to make, considering that I have spent my birthdays past in such fabulous places as Rome (2009) and Paris (2015).

Perhaps this birthday was the Best. Birthday. Ever. because of the FABULOUS birthday present that Hubby presented me with…more on that later…but if you pay attention, I'll sprinkle some one or two clues throughout this and perhaps you can guess what he got me.

Or perhaps not.

We'll see. Hee.

Since celebrating a birthday is too FABULOUS to condense into a mere 24 hours, I decided to celebrate an entire birthday WEEKEND - because 72 hours is what is needed to pack in all the fun and fabulousness.

So, Friday night was spent at a Kansas City Royals game - because as I've said before, it's pretty much tradition from when I was 7 years old - spending my birthday at the ballpark. Although you'll be pleased to know that I no longer don my baseball glove when I head to the ballpark, in hopes of catching a fly ball. I always sorta' looked like a dork when I did that before, so those days are gone. And as I've said before, I have been a huge, HUGE, baseball fan as far back as I can remember (Hey look!! There's a clue!!).

It wasn't just ANY baseball game, though…it was the annual celebrity Big Slick weekend, where a bunch of big celebrities head to town to raise money for a local children's hospital here in town. We're talking Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Pollak, Jason Sudeikis, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, among others (What a hunk - and why did they have to kill Denny off on "Grey's Anatomy"??!! Gah. My heart died a little that day and the show was never the same. But I digress.)

Here's Paul Rudd (a Kansas City native, by the way) sporting a Kansas City Royals World Series ring…which brings us to Clue #2.

So, we watched a FABULOUS softball game with the celebs, and then afterwards, watched a FABULOUS game with the Royals, who trounced the Detroit Tigers, 10-3. Squee!

Saturday, the day of my ACTUAL birthday, I woke up and got in an early 7-mile training run. I wore a new bright and colorful running skirt for the occasion, as it was important to appear FABULOUS while drowning in sweat.

Can you see me now??!!

However, it became quickly evident that although I may have LOOKED fabulous, I must have smelled like rotting fruit, as every horse fly in five counties quickly surrounded and swarmed me while running. That might be okay if not for the fact that I run with my mouth open - which meant that I almost, ALMOST swallowed a few of those flies. Gah.

Thankfully, no flies were harmed during the run, and my youngest Daughter then treated me to a FABULOUS brunch at a little restaurant here in town. Gluten-free eggs benedict were on the menu, and I pretty much licked my plate clean. Hey - 7 miles will do that. And when the waitress heard it was my birthday, she presented me with a complimentary gluten-free chocolate cupcake, because EVERYONE should have a chocolate cupcake for brunch!!!

Um, YUM!

Saturday afternoon was spent chillaxin' at the house, acknowledging birthday wishes on Facebook, chatting with my Mom on the phone (she's in Florida), chatting with one of my sons on the phone (he's in St. Louis), and chatting with another son on the phone (he's at work).

That evening, Hubby and I headed down to the Westport area of Kansas City, to dine at a very small, but very delicious, restaurant, called Room 39. We did the tasting menu, which was TO DIE FOR. Seriously, four courses of FABULOUSNESS and deliciousness that was fresh, tasty and absolutely stunning in the presentation. And to finish, I indulged in an Expresso Martini, a concoction of 360 vodka, expresso, Bailey's, Kahlua - but mostly vodka.


I'm not sure what happened after dinner…I'm blaming it on the 360…but I'm sure it was all good. ;)

Sunday was Father's Day, and we were having a big party at the house to celebrate both holidays - because I've always been generous like that, sharing my birthday with Father's Day. I spent the first part of the day getting everything set up to PARTY - and by 3:00 pm, the kids, grandkids, nieces, and other family had arrived.

Being a FABULOUSLY hot day, Hubby took everyone out for a boat ride on the lake, while others kayaked or swam. We had the Royals game on the boob tube, and in true Royals fashion, they eked out a win, 2-1, in 13 innings.

Captain, my Captain

Soon, it was time for cake and presents - the BEST part!!! Boy, my family knows me well, as I received some really cool stuff:

FABULOUSLY cool coasters, portraying my love of Kansas City and baseball!!!

a FABULOUSLY stylish Kansas City Royals scarf, so I will be FABULOUSLY dressed at my next game!!!

a FABULOUS exquisite Pandora bracelet, complete with a Mickey Mouse charm and wings, to represent my running!!!

Soon, boo, everyone had left, and Hubby then presented me with his gift…and here is when I pretty much died, DIED, I'm telling you.

Inside a card is a piece of paper, folded up, with this poem on one side:

And on the other side of the paper, there was this:

You guys.

That's a World Series ring.

THAT'S A WORLD SERIES RING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was stunned. I was shocked. I was speechless.

For a second.

After I processed it, I was pretty much like someone who just won the lottery, but can't quite believe it.

"ARE YOU SERIOUS??!!" I squealed.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!" I squealed again.

"IS THIS A JOKE??!! PLEASE DON'T TELL ME THIS IS A JOKE!!!" I begged…as I literally broke out in goosebumps.

It's not a joke. My ring is on order, and I will receive it sometime this summer. No, it's not this exact ring, as that's the big honkin' men's version, and I would never be able to wear something that big. My ring will be the more dainty, but still FABULOUS, women's version.

And this is why this birthday was so amazing.

I loved spending time with the family. I loved the Facebook wishes. I loved the party and picnic on Father's Day. I love the fact that I have an amazing Hubby who totally gets it; totally gets that I am the biggest Kansas City Royals geek out there, and this gift was truly winning the lottery for me. I've stuck with my team for 40+ years, through the bad years (of which there were many), and the good years (of which there were few)…and my loyalty has never wavered.


Life is fabulous.



Friday, June 17, 2016

Driving My Dad Crazy: Three Things

It still hurts…but it's not quite the punch in the gut that it was a year ago.

I'm talking about Father's Day…to be celebrated this Sunday, June 19th.

Losing my father in October 2014 meant that last year, Father's Day was going to be GUT-wrenching. The first year of grief is such a bitch, with all of the "firsts" - "first" Christmas without him, "first" birthday without him - and yes, "first" Father's Day without the man whom I loved more than anything.


When we were presented with an opportunity to be in Europe last year during this time, I jumped on it - as I knew that the whirlwind of sightseeing and traveling would temporarily soften the blow of dealing with my first Father's Day without my father.

And it DID help, somewhat. I wasn't on Social Media that day, so I wasn't blitzed with thousands of "Happy Father's Day" posts from well-meaning friends and family, who were sending good-intentioned well wishes to their OWN dads on Facebook.

This year, though, we're here at home, and I've steeled myself to be strong on Sunday. It IS easier the second year of grief, for sure.

But all of these thoughts of the upcoming holiday had me thinking of my own father, and the other day, a picture I posted on Facebook reminded me of one of the things that my dad absolutely hated.

It was this picture, innocent enough at first glance, that brought all of the memories crashing through my soul.

Innocent, yes? Just me at a local 5k that I ran last Sunday…

Dad was, for the most part, pretty easy going…but there were three things that he absolutely hated, HATED, with a passion.

The first thing he hated was white pantyhose.


White pantyhose.

I have NO idea why white pantyhose sent him over the edge, but they did….I absolutely loved wearing lots and lots of colorful outfits (still do, actually!), and I absolutely loved wearing different colors of pantyhose - including white. (Hey - it was the 80's - don't judge.)

Every. Single. Time. that I would don a pair of white pantyhose, Dad would wrinkle his nose in disgust and say, "Only nurses should be wearing those."

So of course I would wear them as much as possible just to drive him crazy. (Because I was a loving daughter like that, you know.)

The second thing he hated was the word, "gross."

I know, crazy, right??!!

And of course, in the late 70's and early 80's, the word "gross" was embedded in our culture and language, and almost every sentence I spoke was punctuated with the word, "gross." As in, "That's SO gross." Or, directed at my little brother,"You're gross, you know that, right?"

Dad would wrinkle that nose again, and say, "That word is absolutely disgusting. Knock it off."

And I would laugh and tease him and get the word in twice by replying, "Oh silly Father, 'gross' is NOT gross!!", because again, I was a loving daughter like that.

And the third thing he hated is shown in that picture above…he hated biceps. On women.

I began weight lifting in high school, and have continued to this day, so yes, of course, I developed biceps over the years. And Dad hated them - HATED them. He would look at my arms, shake his head, and mutter, "Only men should have biceps…NOT women." And I would fiercely disagree with him, saying that it was perfectly fine for women to not only BE strong, but to LOOK strong as well - and I would head off to the gym to develop my biceps even more. Because I was a loving daughter like that. And I wanted to look like Linda Hamilton in "Terminator." Heh.

So yes, that picture I posted of me brought back memories, as I saw those biceps…and knew that Dad would have had a conniption fit.

Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies…I look at some of the things that I hate, and I have to laugh, because in the scope of things, they're rather stupid. Like I hate the texture of fresh fruit in my mouth…gah. I can seriously gag on a piece of melon. Or, how I hate the sound of toenail clippers…I will have a nervous breakdown at the sound - seriously.

So, in the scope of things, white pantyhose, "gross", and biceps may sound silly, but they were what drove Dad over the edge, and I used that knowledge to tease him and drive him just a bit more crazy.

And how I wish I could go back in time now and maybe, just maybe, go easier on him.

Yes, it will be hard on Sunday…but I'll think of my Dad, and I'll think of his idiosyncrasies, and I'll chuckle. And I'll hold those memories tight so that I never, EVER, lose the essence of what was my funny, but lovable, Dad.



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hospital Hill 5k Recap - Captain America Battles the Crowds & Hills

Last weekend, I participated in the Hospital Hill Re-Run event, which combined a 5k on Friday night with a half-marathon (or 10k, your choice) on Saturday morning.

Hubby and I had done the 5k/10k combo in the past, but this year we stupidly decided to go all in and do the half-marathon. I mean, how hard could it be?? Sure, it says "Hill" in the title of the race, but come on…seriously?


Let's recap, shall we?

Friday afternoon, we headed to the downtown area of Kansas City, with the intention of hitting up the race expo and then checking into the official race hotel so we could spend Friday night. Our goal was to have eaten, donned our race outfits, and be warmed up so we'd be ready to race the 5k at 7:00 pm.

Studies have shown that the worst time for road rage is on a Friday afternoon, and I now know that to be true. Rush hour traffic was HORRENDOUS, and I could feel my blood pressure boiling as we traversed through a maze of traffic jams, idiot drivers, and brainless motorists for the what-was-supposed-to-be a 45-minute trip that turned into almost-90 minutes. GAH. GET OFF THE ROAD, PEOPLE - WE'VE GOT A RACE TO RUN!!!!!

Okay, now I feel better.

Anyway, the expo was nice and empty, which was actually rather dangerous, as it then gave Hubby and I a very-clear view of all of the amazing booths and all of the MUST-HAVE merchandise that was for sale. Like kids in a candy store, we wandered the near-empty aisles, oohing and ah-ing over shiny, blingy objects that promised to make us BIGGER, BETTER AND FASTER runners. As if.

After escaping the expo with minimal damage to our wallet, we then walked next door to check in to the Sheraton hotel, which offered runners an AH-MAZ-ING rate for Friday night. We live over 40 miles from the race site, and since we were doing a "double" - it would be easier on our gas tank and sanity if we just spent the night Friday night, before racing again Saturday.

We were given a room up on the 25th floor that not only offered a thrilling complete-with-ears-popping ride up the super fast elevators, it also offered an amazing view of the Kansas City downtown skyline, as well.

We had enough time to don an energy bar and don our racing outfits. The theme for the weekend was Super Hero, so I had a rather blah and boring Captain America outfit to wear.

Okay - so maybe it wasn't so blah and boring. But it was FUN, and I am all about the FUN!!!

Actually, everything but the socks were fun. Those little wingie things that stuck out?? Those were a PITA to run in. They kept rubbing on my legs, and could have led to some serious chafing issues if I'd had to run any longer in them. So, they may have looked awesome, and they have received lots and lots of compliments - but they basically sucked, and I don't know if I would ever run in those darned things again.

Meeting up with some friends in the lobby, we walked the short two blocks or so the Start Line, having some fun along the way. The music was blaring, the crowd was pumped, and the humidity was rising. Yay.

Friends. Yes. I have them.

The race organizers asked everyone to sort themselves in the unofficial corrals before the start of the race - faster runners to the front, walkers to the back, and I mistakenly assumed that participants would know if they were fast - or slow. I'd realize the error of my assumption in a short bit. In the meantime, knowing that I was going to take this race a bit slow and easy myself, I headed towards the back with some friends, stationing ourselves about 3/4 of the way from the Start Line.

The gun sounded, and off we went - tearing down the first of few downhills along the course at breakneck speeds, running as if we were Superman, faster than a speeding bullet. It was GLORIOUS!!!!

Okay, not really. I WISH that's how it went. It actually went more like this:

The gun sounded, and the first 1/3 of the pack went tearing down the first of the few downhills at a breakneck speed.

The 2/3 of participants remaining began walking at a pace not much faster than a turtle using crutches - and I found myself trapped - TRAPPED - in a traffic jam that was worse than anything we'd encountered on our way down here in the car.

It was HORRIBLE!!!

I found myself dodging and weaving with skills better than Muhammad Ali in the boxing ring - trying desperately to find a hole - ANY hole - that would let me start running. Unfortunately, by the time I managed to break through of the hordes of the Walking Dead, I'd encountered the first of "The Hills" along the course - Hospital Hill.

Um, yeah - you KNOW it's bad when the hills have NAMES. And I'm sure there are official maps out there with the elevation, but when I'm running, I'm not particularly paying attention to those numbers…all I'm paying attention to is my screaming calves as I'm grinding up that hill.

I'd like to say that after making it to the top of the hill, that it would get better and you'd get some relief. But that's not the case. Because in an added bit of cruelty, the race organizers than add yet another, even STEEPER hill right after the first hill - as if they didn't think you suffered enough on Hospital Hill.


Fortunately, though, those first two back-to-back hills are the WORST, and once they're over, the course relatively smooths out for the most part, with some amazing downhills thrown in so you can pick up some speed - if you're not already too spent from climbing the initial hills.

Note Hill #1. Followed immediately by Hill #2.

About midway through the race, someone had set up a hose, which sprayed all of the runners with a refreshing shower - which was MUCH appreciated at this point, as I pretty much felt like my core temperature was 126-degrees at this point.

I soon caught up with Paula along the way. Paula is a friend who helped me during last year's Hospital Hill 10k, getting me across the Finish Line with a halfway decent finish time, so it was only fitting that I finish the 5k with her.

By now, the humidity was at an ungodly 167% (is that possible??), and my body was one giant sweaty mess. Crossing the Finish Line, I gladly accepted my medal and not one, but TWO chocolate milks, which are even better than medals, in my humble opinion, and gulped both of them down.

Yeah. Pretty much. Just substitute "Sherri" for "Mary."


We hung out for awhile at the after-race party, but eventually knew it was time to grab some dinner (baked potato and grilled chicken from Wendy's - don't be jealous), and then get to bed.

Saturday morning would be here before we knew it, and we had to conquer "The Hill."

Or would it conquer us???



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Dusting Off the Typewriter

Contrary to what you may believe, I did NOT drop off the face of the earth.

(Which is a pretty strange expression, if you ask me…I mean, really? Can someone truly DROP OFF the face of the earth???!! Doesn't that defy the law of, I don't know, GRAVITY??!!)

I am alive.

Very much so.

And I've been having lots and lots of adventures over the past year.

Very much so.

In fact, that's the problem. I've been so busy living life and having adventures that it has left very little time to sit down and write about them.


Oh, I'll compose GREAT blogs in my head, particularly after an amazing adventure, coming up with all sorts of creative and clever descriptions that I just KNOW are so epic that we're talking Pulitzer Prize stuff - ha ha - but then life moves by so fast, and before I know it, time has passed and nothing was written down.


I'm going to try to change that.

I can't promise EPIC stuff, or even Pulitzer Prize-worthy stuff, but I promise to do my best in recounting some of the crazy stuff running through my head. (Which sounds scary when put like that, but it is what it is.)

A lot of stuff is about running, because let's face it, that comprises a big part of my life at the moment. Some times it goes well, and some times, well…let's just say that all I can do is laugh about it later. It can be rather sad, at times.

A lot of stuff is about travel, because that, too, comprises a big part of my life. Besides future trips planned, I need to go back and reminisce about previous trips in the past year that got NO MENTION or ATTENTION, which is sad, really, because there's some epic stories there.

A lot of stuff is just about life in general…being a wife, a mom, a friend…someone who is still grieving the loss of her father, and all that that entails…and is dealing with growing older physically but refusing to grow up mentally and emotionally, no matter what the wrinkled face in the mirror may show.

So yeah…we'll see how this goes.

Bear with me…be patient…and we'll crank up the old typewriter and see if the creative writer juices start flowing, once again.