This Dog Don’t Walk

We lost the middle one here, Bandit, last July 😢
Leah’s in front

First the back story
A year ago we had three chihuahuas. Unexpectedly one of them, Bandit, died last July. He was 13 and the more independent of the three. The other were close… well mostly. When they weren’t snarling with each other over space in the bed they were spooning, or touching butt to butt. The younger, Demi, doesn’t like to be alone, so she was the one to initiate cuddling.

With great sadness we lost the older of these chihuahuas last week. This older dog, Leah, was almost 14 and not in good health. We’ve been concerned about her health for a long time, which made the death of Bandit so shocking.

Leah and Bandit both loved to go on walks. They weren’t fast walkers, mostly due to their desire to stop and smell and pee on every single bush or tree or piece of grass. Being little chihuahuas didn’t help much.

But this dog
Demi, the youngest (she’s almost 8), never liked to walk. She’d go along just to be with the others but unless she could bark at other dogs along the way she wasn’t into it.

But now Demi is all alone and I’ve been trying to give her a bit more attention. A couple times this week I’ve taken in to my office with me. She likes that! I ask, “Demi, want to go bye bye?” and she runs to the door barking in her excitement.

Stubborn!

Today, I didn’t take her to the office, but did need to go to the post office which is about half a mile away. Hmmm…she can walk with me there. Even if it’s too much I can carry her part way.

“Demi, want to go for a walk?”
Blank stare…or maybe a stare that meant “are you kidding me?”
“Demi, want to go bye bye?”
Bark Bark Bark in excitement.


“I can’t do it mom!”

Leash on we started walking and she wasn’t having it. I coaxed her to the end of the block…and around the corner, really just about a 10th of a mile and she stopped. Then she lied down. Threw in a bit of panting, “see mom, I’m tired and out of shape!”

I coaxed her a little farther, just to the opposite of our block. I picked her up to carry her, and thought better of it. She was just being stubborn as we hadn’t walked far enough for her to be tired. I put her down and headed home. She didn’t have any intention of walking home. “Why walk when mom can carry you!?!”

So, I removed her leash, started walking home and said, “see you at home Demi.” Of course she followed me home! Little Stinker!!!!

LA Marathon Race Recap

It was wonderful to be out on the course with my two kids

I finally made it to the LA Marathon. Way back in 2015 this was supposed to be my 2nd marathon, but I chickened out a few days before the race. It was going to be a hot day and I think I was still traumatized from the very hot conditions in my first marathon the previous September. Backing out was a good decision because I clearly wasn’t ready. A month later, I joined a running group to train for the 2015 Ventura Marathon and had a great experience.

That seems like so long and so many marathons ago! This was my 11th marathon. So how did it go? Not as good as I’d hoped and better than I’d hoped.

Achilles taped and happy. I do need to do more work on my posture

Training went well. I successfully pushed my volume to that I had a couple 50+ miles weeks and was averaging mid-40s for the bulk of the training. I had to be careful here because I have been dealing with an unhappy achilles and didn’t want to make it worse. So, working with both a chiropractor and a PT, I was able to carefully increase the mileage while healing. I had a couple of weeks that I had to back off and that’s ok. The therapy along with daily mobility work has given me some pretty healthy calves…and a happy achilles. Note: I don’t recommend running with an injury unless you are working with a professional who gives you the ok and is continuing to monitor. If I’d worked with my team sooner my achilles would have healed long ago.

Knowing that the LAM course is hilly, when my achilles felt ok, I also trained on hills as much as I could. A group of us even drove down to LA to get in a 20 mile course run.

I’ve done a good job of incorporating strength training and have been doing workouts from Jay Dicherry’s Running Rewired. All in all I felt prepared.

A last comment on training – it’s been colder than normal this winter. We had lots of training runs with temperatures in the 40s. It was great for training and totally not normal for SoCal.

Sleep and Diet
I attribute this to menopause, but I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I especially don’t sleep well when I’m away from home. The night before The San Francisco Marathon I slept horribly, in fact I don’t think I slept. I was hoping for something better, but just in case I got in some good quality rest in the week before the race. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well the night before this race either…but it wasn’t as bad as San Francisco. Thankfully I felt fine in the morning.

As to diet, I quit eating meat about 5 weeks before the race. I note this, but also don’t think it had a big impact, which is fine. I do think that on none race nights I’ve been sleeping a bit better. Maybe from my diet? I’m not sure.

My daughter and me in our starting corral

Race Morning
We (my, son, and daughter) arrived at Dodger Stadium at about 5:30am. We went inside to look and take a photo. Lots of people were sitting (trying to sleep) in the stands. But the seats were wet, so we left. We walked around a little and found a place to hang out, eat a snack, and take of the clothes that would go in our drop bags.

We then did our warm ups, waited in line for the bathrooms, and then found our way to our corrals.

My daughter gave me this shirt on the day I qualified for my first Boston Marathon. I have to earn the right to wear it again! I was hoping to wear it last Sunday. Hopefully that will happen in July.

My Goal
One mistake I made was that my A (9:09 pace), B (9:15 pace), and C (9:20 pace) goals were too close together. All of them would have gotten me a Boston qualifying time and would have been a PR. My PR is 4:04:49, a 9:21 pace, run on a downhill course. I was optimistic because I believe I am in better shape than when I ran that PR.

The Race
Well…this didn’t turn out as I expected. I thought I started slow enough and was well within my goal paces, but I still had great struggles on those later hills.

One frustration was that my Garmin (Fenix) was off from the very beginning. I understand that this is always a possibility, but so far it has been off so much in races that my goals/training paces are way off target. This day I was very diligent about running the tangents and by the end of the race I was still off by .40 (why can’t it ever be in my favor? 😜)

When I reached the halfway point, I was on pace according to my watch but I knew that was meaningless and according to the race clock I was already 2 minutes behind. There’s no real making up that much of a gap. I really have to stop looking at time! Because then I had to convince myself to keep trying.

The hills in the second half were way harder than they were when we did our course run. I remembered that the climbing was hard in that run, but not as hard as I was currently experiencing. I also knew that when I got to Sepulveda, it would be even harder. And it was!

Thankfully there were a lot of people here cheering and encouraging us runners. I want to give a shout-out to the Pasadena Pacers Run Club. They had a huge group out there to support their runners. When the saw someone from their club coming they’d shout out that a Pacer was coming. Then a club member would go out and run with them for a few minutes. That was great! If I lived nearby I’d seriously think about joining their run club.

As I climbed Sepulveda and then Wilshire, I was looking forward to the downhill finish. I kept thinking that I would at least redeem a little bit of my time. Once I got there I did go faster, but my quads were on fire and what seemed fast to me was barely my easy run pace. So much for that!

I ended up completing the race in 4:26:16. This was 16 minutes slower than what I need to go back to Boston and thus 16 minutes (or more) slower than all of my goal paces for the day. Oh well. I think I will still get it at Jack and Jill.

Two More Observations

First – Street Preachers
There were two different street preachers out in the first third of the race. One man was standing on a bridge yelling down at us as we passed my. The other had a portable amp for his “preaching.” They were both sharing “hellfire and brimstone” messages. I wanted to yell at them both to “shut-up.” Seriously, what do they think they are doing except trying to bring attention to themselves? They were certainly not sharing anything remotely close to the love that God has for us…and for our world.

A better role model was found in the athletes who were running for World Vision and its mission of helping communities access clean water. That says a lot more about God and our sharing of God’s love.

Second – Road Conditions & Yeah for Trail Running
Overall I’d say that the course was nice. But there were a few spots where the road was buckled, or where there were unpatched holes. Considering all of our rain, I wasn’t surprised. I was also thankful that I occasionally run trails. I think that the experience of running on uneven surfaces helps to prepare your body to respond and thus prevent injury. I would definitely recommend occassionally hitting the trails for all runners.

I Almost Forgot the Better Than Expected Part
Although I did not run as fast as I’d hoped, it seems that many others did not either. So, I did way better than I imagined in the standings.
Division (F55-59): 35 out of 360 (top 10%)
Female: 1,153 of 8,224 (top 14%)
Overall: 4,801 of 20,029 (top 24%)

Given (photo-a-day)

Ash Wednesday. This is my thumb after standing out in front of my church with ashes for most of the day. A few days before I happened upon a discussion in a FB clergy group that was focused upon how horrible it is to offer “ashes to go.” This discussion led me to think about my own “why” I was willing to stand out in front of the church offering ashes to friends, neighbors, and strangers. Was this an exercise that because of its quick nature was devoid of any spiritual benefit? Was I contributing to something unhelpful?

We did not have as many people stop by this year as in year’s past. This I mostly attribute to the rainy and cold weather…I was certainly cold out there! But there was also a benefit in that I was able to have some great conversations.

One gentleman saw be out there, stopped his car, crossed the street, and received ashes. He told me that he used to be active in a church hadn’t been back in 15 years. We chatted until someone else came for receive their ashes. About 45 minutes later he came back, bringing a photo to share with me. He went inside the church, “to see what it looks like.” We chatted some more, until a homeless man who I’d been worried about came by…

I am thankful that the affirmation that this was a good thing to do was “given” to me by these two men.

Tempted (photo a day)

Today’s word is “tempted.” There are so many temptations but how do you photograph the temptation to give up? Or to yell at someone? Or to fail to forgive? One temptation that is always present and captured on photos is food. Some things I just need to keep out of my house…or never start eating. What tempts you? #rethinkchurch

Hammer Half Marathon – Race Recap


The Hammer Half Marathon in Ventura CA is a small race that raises funds for Habitat for Humanity. I had Sunday morning free and was happy to be able to participate. The course is a familiar out and back (or up and down) on the Ventura River Bike Trail.

For us Californians, it was a chilly and wet morning for a race (and I think it kept some people away). I ran my warmup, did some drills and strides and, wearing layers, was nice and warm…so I took off my jacket and long sleeve shirt and ran in a racing tank and shorts. It was funny to observe the looks of all those around me…they seemed to think I was crazy. It was about 46° at the start of the race. While waiting to start it was chilly and my hands were cold for the first mile but after that I was fine. HaHa…I was remembering how cold I was in Boston last April and today’s weather was nothing compared to that.

The First Half of the Race is a gradual climb up. I’ve never been a very good uphill runner so I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I wanted to run a pace that would be on par with a Boston Qualifying pace. As usual, I started way too fast, but was able to settle down pretty quickly. I felt good all the way up…except for almost slipping on some mud! As a few people passed me, I was tempted to speed up, especially as I was feeling pretty good. But I stuck with my goal of trying to run strong and steady.

Happily, when I hit the halfway point I looked at my average pace and it was 9:16. That was great! I need a 9:20 pace to run a marathon in just under 4:05 (my qualifying time and PR). That 6.5 miles was my best uphill effort ever! The Final Surge data says I did 9:19 instead of the 9:16 that I saw while running, but either way I met my goal for the climb.

The Second Half Downhill was a test of fitness. Immediately upon turning I picked up the pace and ran with a much harder effort than I did in the first half. I was trying to catch those runners who’d passed me on the way up…unfortunately I closed the gap but didn’t catch them. I usually dislike this portion of the course, because while it is downhill, it is very gradual and on tired legs it can actually feel like I’m going uphill. Last October I crashed and burned in this segment of the Ventura Marathon. So part of my run today was to prove to myself that I can indeed run well on this part of the course. I am very happy with my effort.

We’re standing in the rain for this celebratory photo

Overall…I placed 3rd in my age group (50-59). I would have gotten second if I could have chased down one of those people I was trying to catch! This was my 3rd fastest half marathon, but the other two were either flat (with a gradual descent towards the ocean – and I basically had the same time as this race…just 6 seconds slower) and the other race had an elevation drop of 3,000+ ft (a Revel downhill race). This was a far harder race as half of it was uphill so I am very happy. My daughter and son also placed in their age groups making it a very nice family outing.

Next up will be the LA Marathon…six weeks from today.