Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No More Messin' Around

It's just three and a half weeks to my next half marathon and it's time to start bumping up the mileage.  This, just when the heat has moved into the Houston area with a vengeance, too!

Last week I managed a 6.6 mile run the day before family arrived for the long holiday weekend.  I wasn't sure I'd get another run in for a while, but truly surprised myself by getting out both Saturday and Sunday mornings for short 3.25 mile runs.  Good.  This meant I could take Monday off from running.

Tuesday morning I was committed to being a prompter for rehearsals of an upcoming stage production put on by our little local Players group.  So no run for me that morning.  This meant my next long run must be done - rain or shine or hot temperatures - on Wednesday morning.  Today. Eight miles.  Okay, let's do it!

The alarm was set for 5:30 AM, a ridiculous time of the day to be getting up.  I'm trying to beat the heat, but it didn't matter.  It was already 75 degrees outside, with heavy humidity, and while the sky was light, the sun was not yet up over the horizon.  Argghh!

Suck it up, girly-girl!  As my good friend Steve always says, "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  And, boy, I need this high-temp training, too!  Half marathon in Milwaukee the end of June.  Another half marathon in Pennsylvania on Labor Day Weekend.  Both of these could be potentially hot races.

I was determined to make the most of the early part of the run, take advantage of the still-shady stretches of roadway, push hard knowing that later in the run I may be doing some walking.  Lots of dogs and their owners to greet and say good morning to as I worked my way through the first miles in my neighborhood.  One dog in particular - a giant bear of a Golden Retriever - always gets an extra bit of my attention and a few pets and hugs before I move on.

rabbit picture
Mile 1, mile 2, mile 3, mile 4...all the way out to the turnaround at Cullen Road. Along the way I ran past hole 10 of the golf course, with its extensive water hazards. Always lots of avian wildlife to admire along this stretch. And as I neared Cullen Road I spied a very large brown rabbit sitting in the grass alongside the sidewalk.   He just sat there watching me as I watched him, and he just hopped a little bit further away from the sidewalk as I drew near. Cute guy! When I turned around and headed back the other way, though, he was gone.

Now the long slog toward home.  The sun was getting higher.  Stretches that were shady earlier were now in full sun.  Not fun.  But I kept reminding myself of why I do this.  For the mental benefits, the physical benefits and, oh yeah, the bragging rights, too.  And then I remembered the motivational poster I found and posted at Facebook:  I don't stop because I'm tired.  I stop when I'm done.  So I pressed on, counting down the remaining miles in my head.

Now back in my neighborhood.  Now in mile 7.  Around the bend to where there's more shade.  Now in mile 8.  Around another bend and into the sun and into the last mile toward home.  Here the mental games must take over.  Run to that next small patch of shade.  Walk a bit in the shade.  Now run to that next patch of shade.  Take a little walk break.  Run to that next intersecton.  And then, finally, Turn right onto my street and just a tenth of a mile to go.  8.1 miles...done!

And for anyone who is a runner, you'll know what I mean when I say:

 "It feels so awful until I stop...and then it feels so good!"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Family Time!

Whew!  Where to begin?!  From late Thursday evening to Sunday evening, it's been a busy weekend with lots of family time...lots of memories made....and lots of sharing!

Son and family arrived late Thursday evening and eased the kids out of their car seats, into the house and into their beds where they promptly fell asleep after a very long day.  After brief hugs and greetings, my son and daughter-in-law disappeared into the guest room and crashed for the night.

Chalk artwork - a driveway keepsake!
Trevor creates some alphabet
Friday morning everyone was up surprisingly early for breakfast.  Trevor was getting restless so Christina put him in the car and drove down to Galveston to see the beach and have lunch.  The rest of us stayed close to the house, just hanging out.  We played games, we spent the afternoon in chairs under the big oaks in the front yard just chilling out.  When Trevor and his mom got home,  he rode his bicycle with his dad.

Mimi just loves the piano!
My son made a significant beer run to pick up the microbrews he's unable to find back home while I fired up the smoker and got a rack of babybacks going for supper that night.   Corn on the cob, salad, a loaf of fresh-out-of-the-grocery-store-oven bread, and we had a veritable feast!

The Houston Children's Museum was offering free admission for military families over the holiday weekend, so the plan was to get up early Saturday morning and head over there as soon as the doors opened. But Friday evening, we realized that my grandson only had flipflops and he'd need closed-toe shoes in order to play on many of the fun activities in the museum.  So daughter-in-law Christina made a late night run to the nearby Academy store to find some suitable shoes for him.    Disaster averted!
Mimi didn't feel well...
She and I had quiet time.

Watching kids programming
Saturday morning I woke up early and got a 3+ mile run in.  Then I started the coffee and soon Trevor came out of his bedroom to join me.  We were eating our cereal together when the rest of the family finally woke up.   At the breakfast table it was clear that little granddaughter Mimi was not feeling well.  I suggested that I stay behind with her while the rest of the family went to the museum.  This turned out to be the best option, since Mimi immediately went down for a 3 hour nap after breakfast.  We had fun together, just the two of us!  She woke up looking a little bit more rested and we had lunch, watched a few children's shows on Netflix, played the piano, had a snack.  But she soon "cratered" again and took another long nap in the afternoon. 

I grilled some chicken that afternoon while son and grandson went to the pool for a short swim.  It was a busy, busy day for Trevor and he was clearly exhausted at the dinner table.   The chicken came out great!  I'm not even sure I could duplicate that effort!  Christina made a wonderful salad to go with and we had another fantastic feast!  I have to stop eating like this!

The piano was a big hit all saw more use than it's seen in months. 

Mimi and her dad playing
a duet

Trevor and Mimi waiting to
go to the pool.
Mimi and her animals...
I got another 3+ mile run in Sunday morning and then got Trevor settled in front of a bowl of cereal as we waited for the rest of the house to wake up.  Then, undeterred by the heat and the mosquitos, we headed over to the pool, packing a light lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, Chex Mix, strawberries, and baby carrots.  The grandkids had a great time!  But for some reason, grandson Trevor was terrified when one of Mimi's little animal toys floated over to one of the pool filters and got lodged in the basket. 

Underwater Trevor!!
From that point forward, he was obsessed with keeping any of the toys we brought - and we had a bunch!  Wind-up floating bugs, Splash Balls, Mimi's little menagerie of floating tub animals - out of the pool.  Nothing we tried would distract him from this obsession.  We even took the cover off the filter basket so that he could see that none of the toys could get "sucked away."  Eventually it was disruptive enough that we had to pack up and go home.  He was clearly exhausted from the weekend, from being in a different house, from having a couple of very busy days, and from dealing with a different routine.
Mimi tries her out her swim legs
So back to the house, and we put Mimi down for a nap and tried to get a very tired Trevor to take a nap, as well, but with no success.   But Christina did manage to keep Trevor in his bedroom having "quiet time" until 3 PM. 

Mexican food for supper!  We all were in agreement that Mexican food sounded very good and, besides, mom was getting tired of kitchen duty.  So we headed over to Don Pico's - one of my favorites - for an early dinner with the promise to ourselves and to Trevor that we'd go to CherryBerry afterward for dessert if he ate his dinner. 

Well, everything was going well until Trevor's plate was delivered and on it was his taco - all good - but the taco shell was bright green.  Anyone with kids knows that "different is bad" when it comes to food.  So we finally flagged the waiter down and asked if the green taco shell could be traded out for a normal taco shell.  They were very helpful and ended up cooking a fresh tortilla, since they only had green taco shells, and preparing a new taco, which Trevor promptly dumped, contents and all, into his lap.  He picked it up and held it upside down - open slot facing down - and of course gravity won.  Suffice it to say that this meal was not going well for him.  But with lots of coaxing and cajoling, he finally calmed down and got what his parents deemed was enough food into his stomach that we could finally pay the bill and leave, and to fulfill the promise of CherryBerry for dessert.

Stuffed beyond full, we headed for home, where son and daughter-in-law started the sad task of getting things packed up, rounding up all of the toys that mysteriously got scattered all over the house and staging items near the front door.

Now it's Monday morning and they're packed up and gone, heading home after a great (for me) weekend with the kids!  But the house is way too quiet, the floor in the living room way too empty of toys and books, and the kitchen counters way too uncluttered.  I miss them already!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Such a week!

It's tough being retired...but someone has to do it!

So this past Sunday morning I got up early (no help from the cat) and took a little ride down south for a couple of photo ops. 

Monday morning I set the alarm for 6:15 - I didn't want to be doing a long run with the sun getting high in the sky.  Out the door by 6:30 AM and, with temperatures not too bad, I managed to get a 6.6 mile run in before it got too hot.  Some clouds on the eastern horizon helped a lot in this regard.  Lots of walkers out early.  Guess they all have the same idea as me. 

I really needed to go grocery shopping too, so, rather than wait until I was fed and cleaned up - which would have guaranteed that the store be busy - I pulled on a t-shirt over my running singlet and jumped in the car.  My strategy worked!  HEB wasn't busy at all and I was able to zip through the store quickly, throwing items into the cart and then heading to a checkout with no line!  Gross and sweaty?  Who cares!  At my age, efficiency trumps appearance.

Wednesday morning I thought I might get another run in but, yet again, the cat let me down!  7:30 AM wake-up and the temps were already 75 degrees!  Not a chance!  Anyway, I had tentative plans to ride one of my motorcycles over to Wild West BMW/Honda/Kawasaki in Katy TX to meet a friend for lunch.  Actually, to bring lunch and have a little picnic right there in the customer waiting area of the dealership.  So that's exactly what I did.  I hopped on the Zooty BMW and rode over to the Subway Sandwich shop near my house to pick up lunch.  Friend Steve emailed his order and, email printout in hand, I walked up to the counter and placed my order. 

Sandwiches safely tucked in my sidecase, I headed west toward the dealership in Katy. It's nearly 40 miles from my house, all freeway, but that's a good thing!  As hot as it was by 11:00 AM, stop-and-go would have been torture!  At least on the freeway the 65 mph wind coming at me felt pretty good.

At the dealership, Steve and I had a good visit for a couple of hours, interrupted periodically by another customer who, with only a little friendly chat initially, felt emboldened to come back and ask our advice on a BMW-branded GPS he wanted to buy, then to have a little discussion about bluetooth on his new Shuberth helmet, and then some talk about our riding experiences.

Eventually I felt the need to get back on the road before traffic picked up on the Beltway - it starts getting busy by 3:00 PM and nearly gridlocked by 4:00 PM - so I said goodbye to Steve and headed for home.  It was good.  Zooty BMW needed to stretch her "legs" a bit.


I absolutely had to get a run in this morning so, not trusting the cat to do her job, I set the alarm again for 6:15 AM.  I was out the door by 6:30 AM into temperatures that were already way too warm:  76 degrees at 6:30 AM!   Holy cat treats!!  It's still only May!  What's it going to be like in August?!

I expected to hear from my son the night before about their possible visit over the Memorial Weekend.  He didn't call last night, but I did have an email from him, waiting for me to log in this morning after my run.  It confirmed that they would be driving over tonight after work.  This means an 10:00-11:00 PM arrival.  I ate a quick breakfast, pulled a t-shirt on over my running singlet and headed back out to the grocery store, this time to stock up on grandkid provisions. 

Enroute to the store I called my daughter-in-law (hands-free bluetooth connection!) to get input on the shopping list.  I knew I needed to buy milk for the kids, since I never have it in the house, but what else will I need?  DIL added a few items, and cruising the aisles of the store added a few more things.  Store was nearly empty, so the shopping went quickly!!

Well, since there's a McDonald's right here in front of the store...what the heck!  Why not pick up a large latte to enjoy this morning?

I can't wait for their arrival tonight!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Didn't Sleep In This Morning!

Ha!  Take that, you lazy cat!

One of us (and it wasn't the cat!) woke up this morning with a mission.  Get one of the motorcycles out and go for a little ride.  Early.  In the morning.  Before it gets too hot.  The cat was - you guessed it - sound asleep on her back, legs all akimbo, in the bed next to me.  She barely stirred when I got up and got moving.

There's a little motorcycle photo "tag" game going on at the MTF Forum and yesterday's "tag" got my juices flowing.  I've not participated in this particular version of "tag" yet and, really, I can come up with no excuses for not doing so. 

There's another version of "tag" going on as well, but it's harder.  It requires that the rider go to the actual spot that's been tagged by the previous rider, take a photo of the location with bike, then move the "tag" to a new location.  This has proven too daunting for our MTF group, since we live all over the country.  The "tags" have sat "untagged" for months, unloved and unphotographed, simply because folks either can't find them, or don't have the time to get to them. 

But this other version - the one that I wanted to jump in on - only requires that the rider go to a site similar to the one left by the previous tagger.  Did the Tagger photograph a gravel pit?  Just find a similar gravel pit in your area, take a photo with bike, then go find another interesting location/sign/structure and move the "tag."

The last tag was of cows.  that was Friday.  I was already planning on getting out this morning (Sunday) to fire up the FZ - she's not been ridden in a while.  I wanted to grab that tag, since there are more than an abundance of cows within 2 miles of my house, but someone beat me to it, tagging some cows yesterday and moving the tag to an airplane. 

Well, undeterred, I kept my plans to get up early this morning, only this time I'd go find an airplane.  Easy to do, since there are at least 3 airports within a few miles of my house.  I opted to ride down to Brazoria County Airport - a location I knew and where I was sure of getting up close and personal to an airplane. 

The weather couldn't have been better!  Clear skies, low humidity, no wind (a rarity this close to the coast).  I zipped down SH-288 to Angleton, took the exit for the airport and easily slid into the parking lot next to a plane anchored on the other side of the fence.

Back onto 288 heading back north toward home, there's a giant statue of Stephen F. Austin right alongside the highway.  This will make a perfect new "tag."

All anyone has to do is find a large statue - anywhere in the country - and take a photo of their bike in front, and they'll capture the "tag!"

Oh, yeah.  One small detail.  The rules say that the rider's gloves must appear in the photo.  Thought I'd pass that along, just in case you got a wild idea to jump into this game.  ;-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Slept in....again!!

Where is that cat when I need her??  She wakes me up at the crack of dawn most mornings, whether I need to get up early or not.  Now, this morning...that was a different matter.  I woke with a start, realizing that the bedroom was flooded with sunlight and that I'd been hearing the noisy mockingbirds in my subconscious for quite some time now.  I sat up to see the clock - 7:30 AM - and it was then that I noticed that the cat was next to me in bed, sound asleep.  Darned cat!  Sleeping on the job!

You see, I wanted to get a run in this morning, possibly a slightly longer one.  You know, start building the miles up again as the Milwaukee Half Marathon draws near.  But here in south Texas, 7:30 AM in mid-May is way too late in the morning to think about anything more than an hour's worth of running.

So I crawled out of bed, went to the bathroom, and pulled on the running clothes that were still sitting in a pile next to the bathtub, left there after Thursday's morning run.  Shoes laced, watch strapped on, it was now or never. 

Already the sun was getting high.  Areas of my route that are normally shaded were in full sun.  There'd be no shady respite for me this morning.  I have several running route choices, and this morning I decided to do the "all the side streets" route and to stop at the carriage house at the midpoint to grab a drink of water.  This route ensured that I'd have a little bit of shade on a couple of the side streets.  It would also keep me as far away as possible from a bail-out point.  No sense tempting me with a chance to quit too soon. 

The run didn't take me as far as I wanted it to, but it did take me out the door and down the road a piece: 4.3 miles.  Maybe Monday I can get an earlier start and get a longer run in.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Pocket Challenge

Friend WendyVee posted a link on the MTF forum, so I followed it...Wocket in my pocket...and read it and decided to take the challenge!  It is interesting how we're all different when it comes to what we pack on the bike, what we feel absolutely essential to a safe and happy trip, and what we feel is unessential, frivolous, or downright inexplicable excess cargo.

So here are the contents of my riding jacket and riding pants pockets - items that routinely come with me, safely tucked away in one of a variety of pockets on all of this armoured riding outerwear.

Three, and only three, items...

The tissues always live in the left lower pocket of my riding jacket, as do the earplugs when I walk away from the bike.  The key goes either into the right lower jacket pocket or into my right pants pocket (if I'm leaving the jacket on the bike). 

And so...that's it!  Nothing else lives in the pockets of my jacket and pants.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ferry and Plantation for Mother's Day

My son Jeremy had done his "homework" and had some very nice things planned which involved the kitchen, including making homemade-from-scratch pizza Saturday night and a full breakfast Sunday morning for Mother's Day.   He's such a wonderful son! 

We thought we'd go for a picnic lunch on Mother's day and my son had even thought of that, purchasing some nice wrap sandwiches and packing them in a cooler as we headed out the door, destination unknown.  What we did know is that we were going to ride the Plaquemine Ferry and give my grandson and granddaughter their first-ever ferry ride.  There were no plans from that point...we would just take it as it comes... look for a good picnic spot.

Trevor was suitably impressed with the ferry ride!  It's a very small ferry and the transit time across the Mississippi River is relatively short and interesting, just perfect to hold his attention and get him excited.  We were parked at the front of the ferry and could watch out across the "bow" at the river and the oncoming shore on the other side.  Waves sloshed up onto the deck right at our feet, which gave it a "primitive" feel, very different than the experience would be on a larger ferry.  We disembarked onto the muddy dirt road in Plaquemine and turned left onto pavement.

Then we headed down the River Road, destination unknown but we soon found ourselves coming up on the Nottoway Plantation.  Perfect!  We pulled in, found a little picnic area, and had a great little lunch, then turned the kids loose on the grounds of the plantation to explore, run, and have fun. 

We worked our way back toward Mandeville, shunning the interstate and taking tiny little back roads to Hammond, then east for a little bit on I-12 toward Mandeville, but not before stopping at the Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop for a treat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daylily Season

I love daylilies!  I consider them one of my "signature" flowers.  Roses are the other one.  The horticulture of these two flowering plants is similar and they share flower beds very nicely.

I have quite a few daylilies scattered about in my back flowerbeds, some of which have been in the ground for so many years that I've forgotten their names.  Some are very early bloomers, some bloom later in spring, and some are "repeat" bloomers.

Here are some photos taken this season:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Harriet Beecher Stowe

I had no idea!  I've run past a landmark two years in a row and not even noticed!

This year was different, however.  The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon/Half Marathon decided to eat my lunch this year and I found myself walking along bits and pieces of the route where I'd normally be running. 

As I came up onto a left-hand turn around mile 9 or 10, I noticed a fellow aiming a camera, not at us runners, but at a house up on a hill above us.  Next to him was an historical marker and - since I was walking at the time - I had enough time to read the sign and to look up at what he was photographing. 

It was the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. (link)  Well of course I had to Google it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PAC Attack and Pigs

It's done.

Another Flying Pig Half Marathon completed and I'm now home and "digesting" the eventful weekend.

I arrived into Cincinnati on Friday afternoon and got checked into my lovely room on the 18th floor of the Hyatt before walking across the street to the convention center and the Fitness Expo being held inside. 

I love how they have this event set up.  They do it the same way every point changing what works perfectly.  First stop is the packet pickup area.  I headed for the half-marathon tables and to the letter "S."  So here's the first problem of the weekend.  They can't find my packet.  The female volunteer looked through all of the "Smith's" but no packet with my name on it.  She identified where mine should have been:  Right before the one labeled "Becky Smith."  Then she looked through all of the packets in the box, but still came up empty. 

There were two other folks standing off to the side with, as it turns out, the exact same problem.  One was a young man named Mark Smith.  There was a "Mark Smith" packet but it clearly belonged to another person with that same name, since the age and home city/state was not his.  So she rounded us up and we waded our way through the lines of people to get to the "HELP" desk.  The solution for the three of us was to assign a new bib number and update our registrations in the computer.  This meant we lost our custom bibs with our names on them and it also meant notifying anyone who had signed up to track us live on race day, to give them our corrected bib numbers. 

Well, that kinda took some wind out of my sails.  Someone has my bib and I wasn't sure what the ramifications of that would be on race day (I now know, and will report on that later). 

So the next area we pass through as we wend our way through the Expo is the Flying Pig Merchandise Store.  Normally I buy things I absolutely don't need, only because their selection is outstanding!  They use Brooks and Asics apparel and have some really cute and unique designs every year.  But this year I was so bummed about the bib situation, I couldn't get excited about shopping.

On to the Proctor & Gamble aisle!!  This is always awesome!  P&G is the major corporate sponsor for this race and they always give away copious amounts of retail-size products.  Last year I picked up, among other things, a full-size contact lens cleaning kit.  This year I picked up a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and some L'Oreal eye cream. 

I wandered aimlessly down the aisles, bought several packets of GU, then headed over to the last aisle to get my event shirt...always a great quality Asics shirt with a cute Flying Pig Marathon/Half Marathon graphic on the front and back. 

Last stop before exiting the hall at the far end was the chip check station.  Of course, the computer didn't recognize the chip, since it was just assigned to me less than 30 minutes ago.  That fact added to my funk.

Before heading out on foot to look for dinner, I stashed my packet in my hotel room and checked Google maps for the nearest Subway Sandwich shop.  It was just two blocks up and 2 blocks over - an easy walk - but alas!  It was "under new management" and would be "opening soon."  So on to plan B.  But I had no idea what that plan would be.  As I wandered around the downtown area looking for something suitable, I came upon an Indian restaurant.  Rice and Tandoori Chicken might make for a good dinner, so I stepped inside and ordered from their menu.  Take-out please!  Sag paneer and a cup of kheer for dessert were added to the order.  I also ordered some naan but, even though they charged me for it, they forgot to include it with my order.  I didn't discover this until I got back to the hotel.  Too late, now!  And I was so looking forward to it, too!
This year's cool volunteer shirts

Saturday morning I went back over to the Fitness Expo to try scanning my chip again...still no ID recognition.  And of course I stopped by the packet pickup area to see if someone realized they had the wrong packet and returned mine.  No luck there, either. 

While out and about, I headed over to the cupcake shop off the lobby of the Hilton Hotel and bought a dozen mixed cupcakes for my post-race lunch get-together at Skyline Chili.   I walked over to the parking garage and tucked the box safely into the back seat of my car then returned to my hotel room to chill out for the rest of the day, but not before picking up a burger at the hotel restaurant and taking it up to my room to nosh on for lunch. 

The Pasta Party was Saturday evening and I signed up for the 5:30 PM seating.  It's held in a big tent on Fountain Square, just a couple of blocks down 5th Street from the hotel and it's always festive on the square!  This year was no exception since Saturday was also Cinco de Mayo.  A stage was set up and live music played outside the tent while we chowed down on salad, ziti with meat- or meat-less sauce, and big hunks of garlic bread.  And those famous Flying Pig sugar cookies!

I chatted a bit with the folks who were sitting at the same table, but everyone seemed as eager as I was to eat and get back to the room to start winding down for the night.  When I returned to my room, I got my race gear organized so that I wouldn't have to think too hard about it the next morning.  Alarm set, clothes laid out, I began to fade in front of an HBO movie.


Race day morning was clear skies and perfect temperatures at the start:  58 degrees!  The reorganization of the corrals was a huge improvement over last year, which was when they introduced the corrals to the race start.  I complained in my post-race survey last year that the corrals were too hard to get to and created enormous congestion on the sidewalks trying to fight our way down to the appropriate corral.  This year they broke the field up into more corrals (A-H, versus A-E last year) and they staged the last two corrals - G and H - onto one of the side streets right near the start line.  I was in corral G and it was very easy getting into the corral.  They had jumbotron screens set up along the edges of the corrals so that we could watch the start of the race while we waited for our turn.  We could see the runners passing in front of us and then - 20 minutes after the initial start gun - our corral was turned loose. 

The improvement in flow was immediately noticeable.  Last year I was in the last corral, which lumped everyone 12:00 minute mile or slower together.  This meant runners and walkers were starting together.  Last year it took me 20 minutes to run the first mile, dodging huge groups of walkers.  This year I ran my first mile in just over 12 minutes, so definitely a great improvement.
Running on first bridge
The route is great!  It is so varied, taking us past the baseball stadium, over the first of three bridges spanning the river, running along the quaint streets of Covington KY for a few miles before heading back over two more bridges and into downtown Cincinnati.  Things were going great.  I was getting into the groove of a comfortable pace; I was in among runners of approximately the same pace as me; the walkers were all well behind me. 

Somewhere around mile 4 I began to notice something was wrong.  I was suddenly short of breath and having a hard time keeping my pace.  It came on so suddenly and the breathlessness so severe, I had to slow down to a slow jog and then to a walk.  I was okay as long as I walked, but as soon as I tried to break into a run I would be gasping. 

Walking up steep hill toward the
overlook near mile 7
There was a row of Portalets at this point, and I really need to regroup and figure out what was wrong.  So I got in line and waited, using this delay to catch my breath.  It was here that I noticed that my heart was beating very fast and irregular.  An old demon raises its ugly head again!  I had an incident - my first - about 8 years ago while running a 10K race in Houston.  This led me to a cardiac workup.  I had been previously diagnosed with a slight mitral valve prolapse (heart murmur) and PAC and the cardiac workup didn't uncover anything different, but I started on a beta blocker to slow down my heart rate which would be easier on the mitral valves and reduce the incidence of PAC's. 

Ha!  Running and blowing
my nose at the same time!
Somewhere near mile 9
But I hated the side effects of the beta blocker, including poor sleep patterns and it exacerbated my asthma which is normally very mild and requiring no medication to control - just avoidance of triggers such as cigarette smoke and extreme animal environments.  So I weaned myself off of the beta blocker with my doctor's approval and cut out caffeine from my diet.  This seemed to work.  I had no more incidents.  That is, until this one.   I "noodled" on this, trying to think what might have been different, would have triggered this.  Hard to know.    Air quality?  Pollen levels in this city? 

So portalet stop done and back on the race route, I could run as long as the terrain was flat but just the slightest incline (and there are many on this route!) and I simply could not catch my breath.  This meant that I had to walk much of the next 7 miles of the route, miles that the previous two years I was able to run.  Once I got to mile 10, there was a long downhill stretch so I took full advantage of this, trying to make up precious time.  But then I had to walk the last two miles and had to walk across the finish line.  I was so disappointed.  And soooo wiped out!  I was exhausted!

I could hardly walk the three blocks uphill to 5th Street and my hotel.  Once back in my room, every movement was an effort: showering, drying my hair, packing up.  I was still short of breath and my heart rate still had not calmed down and stabilized into a normal rhythm.  It was still beating erratically.  But I needed to get checked out, get in the car, get over to the Skyline Chili restaurant just over the river in KY. 

Once I could settle into the car, sit quietly for the next 20 minutes as I drove out of the city, things began to settle down.  I was still a little breathless but my heart rhythm was settling down. 

We had a great turnout for the "Ride to Eat" at Skyline.  Friends from the MTF (motorcycle tourers forum) showed up and a couple of them brought friends so in all we had about 14-15 folks show up.  The cupcakes were a big hit and my Skyline "3-way" chili hit the spot perfectly.  Great race recovery food!  And great company!  The discomfort and disappointment just hours earlier were soon forgotten.

Oh, and about that purloined bib...someone else actually wore that bib and ran the race.  Their time is posted, but searchable only by bib number.  Because it was disassociated with my registration data, it appears as a "no name, no age group" with only a race time with splits.  I searched using "no name" as the criterion and pulled up almost two dozen such bibs.  Sounds like the race organizers may have a problem on their hands...a new way of becoming a quasi race bandit!!