Giving up a lung for Zion

Midlife Sentence | Top of Zion Relay

Once a year, a group of friends of ours gathers for a running relay event somewhere in the region. Mike and I haven’t been able to join them for the last couple of years for reasons that basically boil down to the fact that everything in our lives tends to happen all at once, and sometimes we have to prioritize as though we’re bonafide grownups.

If you don’t remember my talking about running with this group, here’s a little thing about the Grand Teton Relay, three years ago, and Hood to Coast, which we finished up on my birthday the year before that.

This year we were able to join the group for the Top of Zion Relay: 12 people split up between two vans winding 195 miles through southern Utah, with the opportunity to experience some of the best scenery the West has to offer.

Midlife Sentence | Top of Zion Relay

I was really nervous about this run, not because of the distance, nor the prospect of spending 36 hours in a van with five other sweaty runners, but because of the elevation. I’ve run in the mountains before, mostly when Mike and I have been camping with family and I realize I need to get away from the people I love before killing them. I’ve noticed three things:

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Which will be the Big Five-Oh

Midlife Sentence | My Next Half Marathon

Some of you already know this, but I started running fairly regularly again in 2006 after a twenty-year hiatus. Then in 2011 I decided the half marathon event was more or less my thing. A little later, I stole adopted Mike’s goal of running 50 half marathons by that age.

Well, my 50th is coming right on up. I have four events left to go by August if I’m going to make my goal. Plus we have another relay event in June we’ve signed up for. It’s a little tight, but doable.

This weekend’s the Race to Robie Creek (my 13th time in this event, and my latest “last time on that damn hill,” but probably not if we’re being honest). I’m also signed up for the Boise Women’s Classic, May 5, and the Tutu Run, May 12.

That brings us to 49 half marathons.

I’m shopping for the big five-oh now. And between our relay and summer plans, I left myself about a two week window in which to schedule the dang thing.

Here’s the other thing, it’s going to get warm around here soon, and lumbering along in the summer heat is about the least amount of fun I can imagine. I sweat. A lot. My muscles cramp. I whine. I look like one of the bad guys in that Indiana Jones movie who witnesses the opening of the Ark. Full on melty-face.

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A Bonafide Review of the Whole30

Midlife Sentence - A Whole30 Recap

I’ll admit, when I posted my little rant earlier about a particular diet, I was a little overwrought. I don’t normally go in for drama, but it had been a trying couple of weeks. Now that we’re at the end of the Whole30 and I’ve had some crackers and calmed down, I thought some of you might like more of straightforward review.

… You know, in case you’re here for bonafide advice instead a load of nonsense.

We’ve done an elimination diet before – where you leave out most or all high-allergen foods for a while, then re-introduce them, one at a time, to isolate any food issues. We thought the Whole30 would be familiar territory.

It wasn’t.

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Breakfast with Jerks: Musings on a #Whole30 Morning

Midlife Sentence Whole30 Breakfast

Who eats grapefruit at a pancake house? Actually, who eats grapefruit anyway?

You know what happens when you order grapefruit? You pay three bucks for an orb of sour water pustules on which you must perform delicate surgery with a weird, serrated spoon to excise each tiny bite full of kill-me-right-now.

This is currently my life. A table in a pancake house, smack in the middle of maple and bacon and bakery smells threatening my thirty-days-and-then-some of meal prep and healthy eating and a whole lotta’ pretending I wouldn’t kill someone for a pancake at any moment.

And I normally don’t even like pancakes.

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My Pre-Run Whine Session

Midlife Sentence - Pre-Run Whine Session

I admit I’m not feeling much into the running thing lately.

And here I just signed up for another half marathon. This one’s in April, and I have to tell you if the registration wasn’t almost as arduous as the actual event, I might not have.

That makes more sense the better you know me.

This particular run is a big deal around here. It sells out in a few minutes. And since I’m competitive about stupid stuff, I get kind of wound up around this time every year.

First thing that morning, I was online, watching the countdown clock and yelling at my family to stop streaming stuff so I wouldn’t have fight for bandwidth at noon when registration opened.

I’d signed up and forked over my money before I even thought about what I was doing. And then I thought “well crap. I should probably train now.”

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The Ten Emotional Phases of a CSA Subscriber

The Ten Emotional Phases of a CSA Subscriber - ManicMumbling.com | One of the best kept CSA secrets is nobody knows what to do with broccoli rabe except sauté it in butter and hide it in a glob of mashed potatoes.It’s that time of year when our grass has turned brown and crinkly and I’m giving serious thought to xeriscaping, or maybe installing a Brady-family era AstroTurf lawn.

August is also known in the life of a CSA subscriber as “isn’t it about time we get some freaking tomatoes?”

About six years ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, about the virtues of eating locally. Since then, I’ll admit I’ve been one of those moderately insufferable farmer’s market shoppers, paying exorbitant prices for grass-fed beef and organic beets. We’ve also been subscribers to one community supported agriculture (CSA) program or another each year, which means every spring we start picking up a weekly allotment of locally-grown seasonal vegetables, and I start combing the internet for new ways to make kale palatable, and for answers to what the hell one is supposed to do with kohlrabi.

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Blood drives and bucket lists

Photo: Rotary Global Network for Blood Donation. Not sure why the vampire capes were necessary.
Photo: Rotary Global Network for Blood Donation. Not sure why the vampire capes were necessary.

About a month ago, Jack saw a blood drive van and told me he wanted to donate – had been wanting too for a while, in fact – and now that he was seventeen he could do so without parental permission, which makes two whole things I didn’t know.

What he actually said was it was on his “bucket list.” I told him he and I had different understandings of the term, but then he told me another list item was traveling to all seven continents. So maybe he does get it and is just a weirdo.

I’m not totally surprised he’d include something altruistic on his list of things to do before he dies, but why not digging wells in Africa or something? Building a house? Letting someone poke around trying to find a vein is on a list I keep too. A list of things that make me woozy if I think about them too much. Heights are on that list. Cleaning toilets. Ebola.

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The half marathon taper and how I’m probably doing it wrong

Midlife Sentence | The Half Marathon Taper

Tomorrow, I’ll be running a half marathon, which means today is the last day of that period we call the taper.

If you’re not familiar with the taper, it’s the result of a whole bunch of running science that says it’s good to reduce your miles and intensity a few days before a big event. The length of taper can be as much as three weeks for a full marathon, two weeks for a half, and so on.

I’ve been running 6 to 8 half marathons annually for the past four years or so. Having an event on the calendar keeps me on a regular schedule. Otherwise, I really might just stop all together. BUT, if I’m doing what science says I should, I’m tapering about two weeks before every half marathon, which on my schedule, gives me a solid 14 to 16 weeks every year of taking it easy.

Yay science.

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Running tip #378: Know how to cope with event photos

fit_one race photo manicmumbling
The one, halfway decent race photo ever.

I saw a post recently in a fitness-oriented social media group: a woman running, wearing a race bib. The photo was taken from a low angle, the watermark of an official race photographer in one corner.

I expected a “yay me!” message underneath instead of the anguish this woman poured out. She’d been proud of finishing her first 5k – until she opened the results email with the event photos. She hadn’t realized her thighs were that big. She didn’t remember feeling as awful as she looked. Heck, she appeared to barely be moving.

Rookie move, that: expecting too much from race pics. They’re bound to disappoint. I don’t know the woman, but I’m familiar with the feeling.

I always eagerly open the post race results email hoping to finally find a picture to commemorate all my hard work actually making it across the finish line. A memento. Particularly one that fits my running self-image: something of a cross between Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Cheetara from Thundercats.

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A slacker parent’s guide to kids’ sports

umpire_2I talk a lot in this blog about running and skiing, but in the interest of complete disclosure, we’re not really a sporty family. Being a “meh” mom isn’t conducive to raising the next Carl Lewis or Shaun White.

Our experience with kid sports is miles wide and inches deep. This is because, while neither kid shows any phenomenal athletic ability, it feels like good parenting when whatever they’re doing doesn’t involve a screen and/or headphones. When someone shows half a mind to sign up for whatever’s in season, we’re supportive.

Track season just started again for our youngest, just as skiing season winds down. Before I tackle the three-page permission-slash-doctor’s-release-slash-fundraising-agreement Colin just handed me, I thought I’d share my parental perspective on various sports.

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