Thursday, February 28, 2013

The sh.. hath hittith the fan. Ith

Chicago finally figured out how to "fairly and equitably" distribute the remaining 15,000 entries that weren't secured in the 3 hours registration was open. It took them 9 days to figure out a lottery. Well duh, I could have told them that last Tuesday.

Here's what they had to say:
Since suspending registration, we have been working on the best possible solution to offer the remaining 15,000 entries for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We have determined that on Tuesday, March 5, registration will reopen as a lottery. While this is a departure from our traditional registration process, we believe it is the most fair and efficient way to address this unique situation. 
For more lottery details and Q&A, go to: 
Interested runners can enter the lottery at starting on Tuesday, March 5, at 12:01 a.m. CST until Thursday, March 7, at 9 p.m. CST. From those entries, 15,000 names will be randomly selected to fill the remaining spots in the 2013 Chicago Marathon. Those individuals will be notified on Tuesday, March 12, and they will have until 9 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 14, to complete their official registration.
I can objectively agree that it's completely unfair to have one registration process for 2/3 the people, and a completely different process for the remaining 1/3. I get that. Yet, at the same time, I'm sooooo thankful that my mighty iMac somehow got me through. You know what they say.... Once you go Mac, you never go back... :D

Gold star to whomever can identify the reference point for my title, without looking it up!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm so OVER winter

Last winter was great. It barely snowed and I was able to run outside almost all winter, going inside only twice.

This winter is completely different and it SUCKS!!! I've lost count of how many times I've had to run inside and it's always awful!

Tuesday was another crappy weather induced indoor running day. It was 30 degrees, heavy rain that became sleet, high wind, just nasty. Grudgingly I went to the gym and hopped on the dreadmill.

Hal said to do 8. I did 5. Whatever. 5 mph is my comfortable pace on the dreadmill, so I set it at that and just kept going. And going. And going, until I was done. At first I started with the inner dialogue "I'll run a 5k then walk..... I'll walk 2 miles then walk.... 20 minutes and I can walk..."

Then when I got close to my "deadlines," I womaned up and kept going, and I found the longer I ran, the more determined I was to keep going and the easier it was to keep going. Inertia was working in my favor! The inner dialogue became "26 minutes to go... 17 more..." The last 10 minutes I maintained the speed and ramped up the incline to a 4.

It was great to run an hour without any walking, but I'm sooooooo over it!!! Unfortunately tomorrow is looking like another dreadmill day. Ugh!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Soooooooo glad I ran today

Last week my night school boss called. She has called me twice in the eight years I have worked there, and both times were to cancel a class, so my first thought was that she was canceling my only class this semester, three weeks in.

This call was quite different. The teacher they hired to teach GED and GED math had to leave, and did I want to teach either or both classes for the rest of the semester? Yes, absolutely, but I had to think with my legs and my training and rational ideas, not just think with my bank account. What would Hal Higdon do....? 

Naturally the classes were on Tuesday and Thursday, both of which are running days. It would be too easy if one of them was on "no exercise Monday." Last year I was there four nights a week and my  health and training both suffered. I spent way too much on spring races to let that happen again with seven weeks to go. So I said I would do the GED math, and if she still needed me for the traditional GED after spring break, I could do it then. Besides, the one class will finance my running habit for 2013 (with the exception of the Goofy, which already has the entry fee earmarked).

Long story to explain why I had to juggle my running schedule. It's no longer "no exercise Monday," but "no exercise Thursday." Today was my first running Monday in two years and it was an all around great day! It was sunny sunny sunny and 39 degrees. I wore leggings, but would have been fine in shorts. With the forecasted snow, it's likely the last good run I'll have for several days. 

It didn't matter that I was tired. It didn't matter that my quads were a little stiff from Saturday's monster run. They loosened up after a few miles. My legs weren't thrilled to be running again, but I fought off the "let's just walk" monster on my shoulder who kept whispering to me.

Pace wise I did my normal bell curve pattern of each mile getting progressively slower until the middle one, when they start getting progressively faster each mile. Final overall pace was 10:12. I'll take it!

Here Piggy Piggy.... I'm going to have so much fun with the Cincy marathon. I expect my best spring time at Toledo, but Cincy will be the most fun, the most entertaining by a landslide. This little piggy went to market... They published this picture to show the 2013 medal is bigger than ever, and women like big things LOL Besides, who doesn't want a pink ribbon????? Or be able to say "I'm doing a 4-way in Cincinnati." The double entendres are endless!!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monster runs - 2 down, 2 to go

I refer to any training run of 16 miles or longer as a "monster run." Hal scheduled four monsters for me this spring - 17, 18, 19 and 20. I modified it a little to 17, 18, 20, 22, in the attempt of pushing back or eliminating hitting "the wall" during races. I figure if I'm already running 20 miles, what's two more? Theoretically the more often my body gets pushed to or past the wall, the more acclimated it will be on race day.

My 17-mile run was done on a dreadmill and it was boring boring boring. It was also nice to have a constant temperature and be able to run in shorts and a tank. Yet there was no way on earth I wanted to do it again.

Saturday was my 18-miler and I wanted to do it on the same route as the Martian. When I ran it in 2012 I was insanely bored on the course. I thought perhaps it was because my only point of reference for comparison was the Free Press marathon, which is huge with 20,000+ participants and thousands of spectators. The Martian had maybe 400 runners and 25 spectators.

I thought perhaps I had judged too harshly, but no, it really was that boring, and training on the same route was equally boring. I don't know what made it boring though, because I'm certainly familiar with running alone, both in training and at races like Columbia City.

Maybe the weather? Yesterday was cold. I didn't even look at the temperature online because knowing the temperature would have psyched out my attitude. Maybe if it was sunny it wouldn't be so terrible? Who knows?

I ran 9 miles, turned around and came back. At mile 13.4 my iPod battery died. Nooooo!!!! So I sang to myself, recited the Declaration of Independence, repeated a poem I had to memorize in 7th grade.

It got done. It was horribly slow, one of the worst average paces I've ever done. Many times I had to walk because of the snow. I've decided I just don't run in snow. What else would explain my slowness? The cold? Lack of sun? Boredom? No music? Boredom?

Took a long hot shower when I got home, but I was still shivering and shaking after, so I heated up a big cup of coffee and that helped. Most long and runs, and every race, one of my constant thoughts is ""

My "post long run and I refuse to feel guilty for eating this" dinner was a small Jets pizza - Hawaiian style with bacon, ham and pineapple. Yum!!!!

Any suggestions for dealing with boredom? When your mind and body are both fighting against a run, how do you still make it a good one?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No one ever said "I regret working out today"

Thursday was supposed to be an 8 mile day. It was also ridiculously cold and windy. The sun was nice, but it was cold cold cold, and I knew in my bones there was no way in the world I could / would run that far / that long in such cold. If I attempted it outside, 8 would become 5, would become 3 or less, essentially a wasted opportunity.

The other option was to hit the dreadmill AGAIN. Oh I just couldn't stomach the thought of going nowhere fast for 80 minutes.

I realized that between the two bad choices, I would inevitably choose option 3: do nothing. "If you choose not to decide, you still have a choice," and in this case - a terrible choice!!!!

She needs to raise the seat :)
I finally told myself I HAD to get off the couch and do something, and that biking would still work my legs and my heart. It was all I could handle today and it was GREAT!!!! Initially I had planned on doing 60 minutes. I wound up doing 45, then did some weights on my upper arms and my abs. It felt so great!!!! I'm sooooo glad I did something!

It might be justification, or it might be truth, but I feel like I can take a little leeway with the mid-week runs on Hal's program. I'm not building from scratch. I'm not even building. I'm just getting back in the groove. It's like riding a bike! lol I've said that to numerous marathoners who took years between races and it's funny but I absolutely believe it.

The body knows what to do! The hardest part is training your mind, and being disciplined to overrule the tired body. Once you can force yourself to finish a marathon, you can do ANYTHING!!! While 17 was abysmal on the treadmill last week, it wasn't difficult like it had been the first few attempts at such a distance.

Hal says:
(or in my case, the day you break 5 hours)
Yes, Hal, it's when you realize ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!! You realize all the limitations are in your head. Open your wings and fly!!!!!! If you fall, pick yourself up, learn how to do it better and try again!!!! Mulligans CAN be a way of life!!!! (Wow, I'm sure waxing philosophical while waiting for chicken to defrost lol)


In other news, the Chicago debacle rages on. Registration is still suspended while active sorts out the multiple entries. At one point I was on the "confirmed" list 6 times. My credit card was charged twice and Chicago sent an email that it should be credited within a few days. A very nice surprise caveat was "...if you have been charged overdraft or other bank fees due to the duplicate charges, please contact..."

Me thinks active won't be running their registration next year... I honestly think Chicago will have to go to a qualifying or lottery system, like the other Majors. They claim 30,000 were able to register in the few hours it was open and it sells out at 45, so there's definitely demand. So thankful I got in before the qualifying times hit the fan :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A debacle

Mom gave me a few dollars for Christmas. I bought three photographs from the Columbia City marathon, and kept the rest, earmarking it for the Chicago marathon. The entry fee was $175 and while really expensive, it's like the Goofy - something I'll do once. Also like the Goofy, everyone I know who has run Chicago has raved about it.

Registration opened today at 12:00 central time. I was online shortly after 1pm eastern time, and there was no place to register. Ok. I know it normally takes 4-5 days to sell out all 45,000 spots so I went to the post office and tried again when I got home.

What an absolute debacle!!! So many times I filled out the first page, then it crashed and the site was "unavailable." I got to the pay page, and it kept happening again. 40 minutes later I could finally click "pay now" and got the unavailable page again.

Was I registered? No idea! There was no confirmation page, no confirmation email, nothing! So I checked my credit card and I paid TWICE! I immediately emailed the marathon folks to report the error and ask that the duplicate be refunded asap.

I'm far from the only one with multiple registries. Some people reported on facebook being registered 6 or 8 times. The marathon finally had to suspend registration until gets their sh!t together. I've never been a fan of active and this only confirmed it.

From the marathon web site:

Our registration provider is still working to resolve the system-wide technical issues that have caused the temporary suspension of registration for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We will provide another registration update this evening at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time. 
Please note that the 2013 Chicago Marathon has not yet sold out. We will reopen registration once the issue has been resolved. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. 
For those who were able to successfully complete the registration process you can confirm you registration by clicking here.
Here's the update:
We are incredibly sorry that runners interested in signing up for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon experienced such difficulties today. We have been working nonstop with our registration provider to find the root of the problem and a solution. Many runners were able to sign up before the registration process was suspended. There are currently 15,000 entries remaining. Before we re-open registration, we need to make sure all technical issues are permanently resolved. We will provide ample notice regarding when the registration process will re-open.

For those who were able to successfully complete the registration process, you can confirm your registration by going to For those that were charged more than once, our registration provider is in the process of refunding any duplicate charges and will notify these participants.

We do not plan on reopening registration within the next two days. We will provide another update on registration by 5 p.m. Central Standard Time on Thursday.
Since my credit card was charged, I guess I'm registered, now just wait for my refund. Good thing I have a high credit limit because I assume they're going to take their sweet time with the refunds.

As soon as I emailed the race organizers, I had the biggest sense of deja vu, that this exact situation had happened before. (Guess they changed the Matrix...) In that version, I was on the phone with them explaining "No, don't refund BOTH entries. I want ONE entry! Just cancel the redundant one." Last time I checked I was the only Michelle Bemis in Southgate :)

Chicago is one of only five world major marathons and I think it's the only one with open entry (ie any one can enter, no qualifying standards or lotteries). I put myself in the "G" corral for those expecting to finish between 4:00 and 4:45. It's more than double the size of the Free Press and I'm so excited!!!!

Something funny that I'm really really looking forward to is the possibility of meeting my "boyfriend" Hal Higdon. He was a presenter at the expo last year, so I'm counting on him being there again!!!! (He lives really close.) Imagine meeting after so much time together! Awwwh!!!! *heart* you Hal!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Today is one of my four monster runs before the Martian. Hal scheduled 17 for today and he says rearranging runs is fine, skipping a short run every so often is ok, but don't miss the long runs, no matter what. They're the crux of training. Knowing this, all week I mentally geared up for a 3-hour run today. I had planned to drive to Dearborn and run the same route as the Martian. Perhaps if I'm acclimated to the boredom of the course, it won't be such a shock on race day. Ironman said it didn't bother him because he often bikes on Hines Drive. The idea has merit.

Woke up, had breakfast, then starting putting together my running clothing when I happened to look outside. It's a freaking blizzard!!!!! Arrrrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!! I have NO good choices. Run in the blizzard? Wait for tomorrow? Run 3 hours on a dreadmill? THIS SUCKS!!!!

I'll probably use the treadmill for 3 hours, and whether that's 17 miles or not isn't essential. I hate using the machine though because I pour sweat, so much worse than I do in any temperature outside. Then I continually use a towel to mop up the sweat and my face gets all gross and dirty and dried out.

I should have woken up early and run before the blizzard :(

What a mess! Stupid Michigan!!!!

In other news, I booked my flight to Disney this morning. I depart Friday morning at 7:45, and depart for home Sunday night at 6 pm. I left huge time cushions on both flights in case of air traffic emergencies. Flying is an even bigger pain than snow :(

Friday, February 15, 2013

The horrible horrible dream :(

I don't normally plan races super far ahead of time, because there is so much that can happen in a year. Injury would be the biggest concern, but pregnancy could befall a race, no time to train, etc. Yet I committed in my head to the Goofy 1 1/2 years ahead of time. I made the final decision in June 2012 that I would run the race in January 2014 and that's a long long time to have something planned.

Flights aren't available yet, but as soon as they are, I'll buy my non-refundable ticket for the first flight on Friday morning, even though I can't register for the race until April. I don't love Orlando and I don't plan to go to the park. My trip is specifically to run the Goofy (because yes, I'm a little Goofy).

Last night I dreamed that I boarded the plane and everything was fine, until my engineer friend who happened to be on the same flight noticed that it was leaking oil. We had an emergency landing in Cincinnati, but rather than put us on another plane, they planned to drive the plane back to Detroit. What the heck???

I was immediately on the phone with the airline to get myself on the next flight to Orlando!!! The woman I spoke with was terribly unhelpful.

"There seems to be a lot of air traffic to Orlando today," she said.

"Yes! There are 60,000 people coming in for the race!"

"I can get you in tomorrow afternoon," she offered, as if that was helpful.

Noooooo I needed to get to Orlando on FRIDAY afternoon to pick up my race numbers. No numbers, no running, no Goofy medal. Getting to the park wasn't a priority, being there in time for the races was everything.

I reminded her of the passenger rights "law" that she had to get me on the next available plane, even if it was with a different airline.

I woke up before the story ended, but what a rotten dream. It's going to be a mega-expensive weekend and a cancelled flight would be abysmal, especially when it was too late to drive. Bummer. Lousy start to the day :(

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The very expensive run

Thursday is shaping up to be a really expensive run. My friend asked me to sub for her night class. Of course I said yes, but working my normal day job then teaching for her wouldn't leave enough time to run on a day that Hal has me running 8 miles.  I see my last student after school, so I told her I can't stay today. In making that choice, I give up $18 of work.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the night school called and asked me to sub for another teacher from 3-5. I certainly need the money, but I need to run too, especially since I didn't run on Wednesday because of work. After about a half second deliberation, I regretfully said I couldn't make the earlier class.

I have priorities, man! Hal wants me running four days a week, cutting it to three days this week is bad enough, but going down to twice this week would be really bad. Would it be the end of the world? Of course not, but running is really good for physical and mental health. That's worth more than a few extra dollars.
I took a funny picture of the juxtaposition of my lunch. I thought I had posted it here, but it's gone now. Let me see if I can figure it out. Anyway, I brought a super healthy lunch, but the teachers had a valentines day salad bar, with croissants, cheese, spinach pie, and a huge smorgasbord of desserts. They invited, even insisted that I eat. I took a cupcake and brownie bites, nothing more, thank you :) Funny contrast of a bowl of whole wheat cous cous, chicken and veggies with a red velvet cupcake. At least I took off the conversation hearts on top!

I could have done so much worse. Willpower - 1 point! Hal would be so proud :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Big calves :D

Are these not gorgeous???
My favorite boots are beige suede with white rabbit fur on the front. My brother and his wife have told me numerous times they're hideous, but I absolutely disagree! They're warm and pretty and so soft, I just want to pet the rabbit fur. I paid an arm and a leg for them, and of my 200+ pairs of shoes, they're my absolute favorite.

They also don't fit any longer because my calves have gotten too big. Likewise, my "hooker" boots that I bought from Gantos during college are a major struggle to zip closed. I'm bummed about the boots, yet I love having big calves as a result of so much running :)

Two Saturdays ago I went with Indy to his gym. After doing my 6 miles and horsing around with the chin-up equipment, I sat down to peel off my knee socks while we chatted about what to do for dinner.

"Oh my goodness," he interrupted himself, "Your calves are huge."

"Thank you," I replied.

"I meant it as a compliment," he clarified, reaching over to touch the muscle.

"That's how I took it," I said, flexing the muscle to make it harder.

Greatest compliment!!!! I take it for granted that I have big quads, but big calves is always a sign to me that I've become a real runner ;) Wheee!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday, what a day! I've waited all week for you!

In early January I realized I was showing the exhausting effects of overtraining, and my races were still 3.5 months away. I made the executive decision to immediately take the post-marathon break I should have taken in November, then use Hal's "reverse-tapering" program for four weeks to get back into training mode.

I did so for three weeks, then it made sense to jump back to the full on training program, rather than finish the fourth week of "reverse-tapering." Why it made sense was that yesterday's Saturday run was "only" 13 miles, rather than 17 for next week. It seemed tons easier to jump from 6 to 13 to 17, than from 6 directly to 17.

Saturday's forecast was really cold, and I couldn't handle the thought of using a treadmill for 13 miles, so I had pretty much decided to buy a day pass at the Y. Sure, I could handle 130 laps of the track...

The alternative would have been waiting for Sunday when it was supposed to be warmer. The question became which is better for my running - sunshine or 10 additional degrees? 

After breakfast and watching the UMich basketball game, I realized it really wasn't that cold, and 100% sunny so I bundled up and went out for my run. 

It got done. 

It was the longest run I've done since the Columbia City marathon on November 9. Pace-wise I averaged 11:00 over the entire distance, which is slower than my race goal pace, but I'm not too concerned, given the cold temperature and having to walk numerous times because of the snow / ice from people who didn't shovel.

My 2012 Free Press split was 2:25, so I guess a 2:27 yesterday wasn't bad at all. Huh I just realized how close it was. Yesterday was actually 13.44, which is longer than a half. Granted, my FP was slower than I wanted it to be because I had a stupid head cold, but it was pretty good to get close to what I did in a big race.

Got home and my butt was sooooooo cold and numb. My fingers were too cold to type, so I took a long hot shower, then got my "post-long-run-and-I-refuse-to-feel-guilty-for-eating-this" dinner. It's also the one free meal I take from eating well. Yesterday was two deep fried soft tacos and a fried ice cream. Yum! I ate it all and didn't feel one bit bad about it! Today I was back with the program.

Next up? 17 miles. I hope hope hope for good weather!!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Two points of irony...

If any man ever tried to tell me to lose weight, I'd kick him in his man parts and be out the door before he could stand up. Hurray for self esteem!

Yet I'm losing weight this spring only because my "boyfriend" Hal Higdon said to. He certainly didn't say "Michelle, you're overweight. You need to drop ten by April 13." All he said was that his runners generally have their best times at their lowest weights. In reading that, my brain processed LOSE WEIGHT => BEST MARATHON TIME. Reason enough :) Besides, I'm not losing weight to look better or to impress a man (pfft!). I'm doing it solely to improve my running!

To understand the other point of irony, I need to mention how much I DESPISE being cold!!! I'd rather be hungry, thirsty, hot, or all three. I'd rather sit on an airplane than be cold! Hal said to run 7 miles today and I pretty much resigned myself to doing it at the gym, because there wouldn't be enough time after I worked and went to an appointment. 7 miles on a dreadmill? Ugh, shoot me now :(

Imagine my great surprise when I finished my appointment and it was still light out. I knew if I ate a quick bite of food and went immediately, I should have just enough daylight to eek out the run. I didn't even have time to look for a clean bra. I just grabbed the one I wore yesterday, along with the same dirty pants and dirty socks. I was gross today. Yet I got out there and got it done.

It felt GREAT!!!!! I never ever imagined I could or would be so thrilled to run over an hour in the 30 degree cold! haha :)

Here are some great pictures of irony because they're just darn funny :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Whatchu talkin' 'bout?"

If you let your mind go in the gutter for a minute, a lot of comments about running sound blatantly sexual. So here is a little quiz for my readers - decide which of the following statements are about running, each of which I have personally said:

1. Real runners go all the way.

2. I'm slow, but I can go forever. (Ironman has the same attitude lol)

3. I go through a ton of vaseline so I buy the value size container.

4. I'm doing a 4-way in Cincinnati this spring.

I had coffee with my minister's wife and she said "There's really nothing else for such a good full body release."

What's the verdict? Get your minds out of the gutter, you sickos! They're ALL about running, they just sound overly sexual, which makes them funny :)

The actual points of reference were

1. when I thought about switching to half marathons but decided against it.

2. regarding my pace.

3. to prevent chafing.

4. 4-way race is the 10k on Saturday morning, the 5k an hour later, and the full marathon on Sunday.

She and I were talking about running and how I was climbing the walls when I took off two weeks to recover and because I was fighting bronchitis.

See? All perfectly innocent statements :)

Update: Cincinnati posted a teaser of the medal. They won't reveal the design until after the race, but it's significantly bigger than in past years. A woman commented on facebook: "Wow, that's big! Women like big things!" lol hilarious :P