Things I suck at

Apparently, blogging in June.

Things I don’t suck at:

Signing up for more races.

This week kicks off a new 16 (well, 17, because I’m giving myself actually 2 weeks to get the first week’s workouts done) week training plan for yet another race…The Blues Cruise 50k.

Of course, I’m not going it alone–my partner in crime Helene will be with me again. I’m looking forward to this training cycle. My only 50k so far was the NJ Ultra which we used as a training run, and which was far too difficult for my preferences. This one seems a bit more do-able, even though there is an 8 hour time limit, which I think (read: hoping) will push me along.

I’m glad the plan starts off slowly, as June, not April, is the cruelest month. Especially with two graduations one graduation and one promotion ceremony. Thankfully (or maybe not, maybe it’s just one way to spread the busy-ness) graduation and 6th grade promotion bookend this month. First up was Thing 2 this past weekend. Thing 2 went to a very small girl’s high school; there were only 18 girls in her entire graduating class. That made the ceremony absolutely wonderful with both the Head of School and graduation speaker able to speak specifically about each and every student.

So while we’ve been in the throes of getting the house ready for visitors and a post-graduation lunch, Thing 3 has spent the past several weeks (and the upcoming two) on various field trips, field days, expeditions and the like building to her promotion ceremony at the end of the month.  Squished in between is a one-day trip to Chicago and my annual sojourn to my yarn trade show.

I wish June could be more like an ultra–both the training and race itself–yes, a challenge, but with ample time for aid stations and snacks, deliberate walking when necessary, camaraderie among participants, and beautiful views. We’re getting there…maybe.

Posted in family, Juneathon, running | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Little things and rebound races

Now that ultra is over (more on that later), I’ve got a whole lot of time to spend working on my other hobbies. I’ve got tons of projects all queued up, all of which were recently derailed for some little things.

Phil’s sweater:

Knitting this took all of a few hours (Phil’s only 13 lbs.) which is good because it’s been chilly so far this May for a recently shorn Phil.

Coworker’s (soon to be) Baby Boy

The kimono top is made from a double gauze and the pants are an organic knit. They’re the 3 month size, and the baby’s expected in late June, so I think they’ll work out fine. Baby clothing is a very quick and rewarding project. Sadly, I cut the double gauze with the print upside down (if you look closely, you’ll see the blobs are little lions), but that works as they face the baby.

All these little things are basically palate-cleaners…rebound projects if you will.  I’m a firm believer in rebounds. Just as you need that rebound boyfriend as sort of a ‘reboot’ after a good, long relationship ends, so do you need a rebounds in other facets of your life. Just finished an epic book, one with prose that just sang, characters you loved, and a captivating story? Well, whatever you read next will not fill any shoes, so pick something light and delightful, something that keeps your interest, but one that you know is transitory.

With this in mind, the past two weekends I ran some rebound races–the Japan Run (a 4 miler) on May 8 and the Newport 10,000 (10k, duh) on May 14. Both races were repeats for me. Both were light and delightful and kept my interest. I had no expectations for either, but both served the purpose of prepping my legs and mind for another round of training. I was curious to see after months and months of slow, long mileage if I actually had any turnover left .

I was pleased with my performance in each. Neither were PRs, but I finished both feeling much stronger than I had previously. I ran the Japan run in 37:52 (my previous effort was 37:38) and the Newport 10,000 in 59:44 (chip time; my 10k PR is in the 57 minute range). Usually for me, no matter the distance, the last little push is when I tend to peter out. But for both these races, I hung in there and held steady ’til the end. This is especially important for the Newport race, as it was quite sunny and the last two miles of the course is along the (completely exposed and eastward facing) waterfront.

These rebound races set me up nicely for a new training cycle with my goal race race being (drum roll please….) The Midland Mile! Yep, that would be a 180 change in distance. There is no method to my madness, and long distances are still in my future, but I really, really, really want to see if I can run a short distance fast (read: fast for me).  My two-year old 5k PR is at an 8:15 pace; so I’d like to see if I can break 8 minutes for that mile.

It’s the little things…

Posted in hobbies, knitting, running, sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best cure for the tapers?

My taper for Rock the Ridge was a self-imposed week longer than my plan had called for, and as I’m sure you all know, it’s hard to not second-guess yourself in advance of a goal race when you’re not running.

Here’s what got me through it:

Our new dog, Phil.

Phil is about 4, and is thought to be a bichon mix. We think he’s as cute as a button, but best yet, Phil is chill. He (sometimes) goes to work. He also goes to Starbucks, physical therapy and school.  He likes eggs, muenster cheese, and spaghetti. He ran the last 300 yards of Rock the Ridge with me, which completely exhausted him. But he does like a good walk.

Phil came to us through our local shelter where Thing 3 and I volunteer. He was brought in as a stray, and was terrified and wouldn’t come out of his cage, but somehow Thing 3 was able to coax him out. With the Mister’s ok, we went back the next day to put in an application.  And then we sat on pins and needles for about 5 days.  This was much more stress-inducing than any taper!

Funny story–I gave the name of my friend (and former business partner) as a reference. When the shelter called her, they asked “Is she the type of pet owner who would visit a vet instead of ignore an injury or illness.”  My friend replied “Well, have I got a story for you,” and proceeded to tell them about how 7 years ago, Thing 2 was caring for her daughter’s gerbil Dude while they went on vacation. I came home from work, and Thing 2 was in tears by Dude’s cage, as Dude was clearly sick.  What a conundrum. Because on the one hand it’s only a small rodent. But it’s my friend’s daughter’s pet. So I looked up the address for the emergency vet clinic, and started calling my friend to see how much money they would be willing to drop at the vet. Of course, I’m not reaching my friend, so I load Dude into a shoebox and Things 2 and 3 and shoeboxed Dude into the car, and off we speed away to the vet, with Thing 2 auto-dialing my friend to try to reach her before we get there.

We weren’t able to get ahold of my friend, but the point was mute, as when we got to the clinic, the vet had us put Dude on the gurney, and the shock of the cold metal killed the gerbil upon contact.  She kindly packed him up in medical paper and a plastic bag and sent us on our way.

As we were leaving the clinic parking lot, my friend got through to us. Everyone was on speakerphone. “I’m so sorry, but I needed to know…” I started.  “NO VET,” yelled her husband, while simultaneously, my friend said “$8 bucks, that’s as high as we’ll go.” “No worries,” I finished. “Dude’s dead.” There was an audible sigh of relief from everyone.

Phil, thank goodness, is not a rodent. Although he is in need of a good grooming (which will happen on Saturday), but no vet, yet.


Posted in family, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

And just like that…


It’s over.

Well, I guess not “just like that,” but rather 14 hours and 9 minutes later, it’s over.

Participating (competing?) in a 50 mile challenge was everything I expected, and a lot of “whodda thunk.”  I expected the hills but thought there’d be a more severe grade to the ascents; instead the climbs just stretched on for what seemed like miles. I expected great views (I mean, c’mon, views from mountain tops are usually pretty good), but I had no idea how simply beautiful this entire region is.  I was expecting the typical trail runner camaraderie, but was blown away when the RD congratulated my running partner and I by name when giving us our medals.

In a nutshell? I loved this race. I loved that the terrain was “run-able” and not frustrating. I loved that for each incredibly long long climb, there was some amazing payoff at the end–either an awe-inspiring view, or fantastic volunteer-staffed aid station. I loved that the preserve was open to the public, and other day trippers, hikers, rock climbers, and cyclists were so enthusiastic and supportive.

That’s not to say there weren’t some very, very difficult patches. I knew my right shin was my achilles heel, and sure enough, it started bothering me about mile 15. By mile 16, I knew I needed some ibuprofen and took an 800mg pill.  About mile 35, it was still bothersome, so I doubled up with 1600mg. That was a mistake. By mile 39 I was so nauseated, and at mile 40, our support crew had us both sit down for some ginger ale (for my partner) and gatorade and pretzels (for me).  We still had one big hill to climb (at mile 45-46) before a 3+ mile coast to the end. I caught a second wind just before the hill and plowed through that, but the last three miles were agony. Lucky for us, all our support crew met us with under a mile left, and coached us in, just before darkness fell.

Finishing was surreal. You are exhausted, yet elated. And in my case, sick to your stomach. We cleaned up, gathered our drop bags, and left. My Mister and Thing 3 came to cheer for me, so we headed off to a local pub. I thought my stomach had settled a bit, so I ordered chocolate milk for myself while we were waiting for our food. My second big mistake of the day. Two sips later, I was frantically looking for the bathroom, judged the front door to be closer and bolted outside. I threw my medal over my shoulder and basically lost every single sweet potato and PB&J sandwich I’ve eaten since December.  A young and heavily tattooed young man was right behind me and said (clearly having seen the medal on my bent over back), “Hey, did you just do that crazy 50 mile race?” I nodded. “Whoa, badass!” he acknowledged while my stomach heaved again. Badass, indeed.

So maybe that’s not the finish I envisioned. But overall the entire experience was close to 100% positive. What I loved most? Proving to myself I had the strength to not only commit to five months of training, but to get to the finish line. Becoming good friends with the wonderful woman who first encouraged me to join her. How she had the foresight to figure out that we would compliment each other so nicely, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad she did.  I’m also so incredibly appreciative of the many, many folks who helped me with my training, offered words of encouragement throughout my training, during the challenge, and then afterwards. It’s so meaningful when people go out of their way to send good vibes, and it just makes you realize how lucky you are to have such sincere friends, colleagues, and even general acquaintances.

Will there be more? Who knows. Fifty miles was tough–not just the training, but the time it takes from family and other obligations; 50ks are a bit more plausible.  But, as I’m sure we all know, never say never.




Posted in running | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

U (for ultra) minus 4 days

and counting.

I guess that’s the thing about goals–eventually you get there. And “there” for me is Saturday, April 30th.  And that’s when the 804 miles of training, the kajillion calories of food, the hours of stretching and yoga will all come into play, and determine whether or not I actually make it to the finish line.

Going into this, I knew that running tons of mileage would be involved. You know what surprised me? The amount of thinking involved. Thinking about running (how many miles? when could i fit them in?  what routes? and the weather?), and thinking about food (what should I eat? when? is that enough carbs, fiber, protein? why am I so hungry ALL. THE. TIME?)

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that flexibility, both of body AND spirit, matters most. Especially today, when I learned the 50 mile route (which I’ve been staring at intently whenever I get a chance for the past five months) will most likely change because of wild fires in one of the parks.  This bothers me a bit. I like knowing what’s ahead. I’m that kid who used to read the last chapter of the book first (yes. really.)

So, I don’t know exactly where I’ll be running. But I do know that I’ve trained my legs, fueled my body and prepped my head for the distance, so I’m ready. The change in route? Well, it’s all part of the journey.



Posted in running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

No, I’m not freaking out

It’s April 12, and my goal race is in 17 days, and I’m taking a forced early taper.  Because after that 50K, I wanted to stay true to the letter of my training plan, and I hopped right back into the thick of things without thinking that perhaps the training plan was written for 20 and 30 somethings, not an about-to-be 50 something, and now have a bit of a tendinitis flair up. I had to cut my last long run short (only 10 miles of the prescribed 25), and I DNS’ed my 10k race the next morning.

BUT IT’S OK, I keep telling myself.  Missing that last long back-t0-back is not going to upend 5 months of training.

To keep my mind off the missed training, I’m heading to Aquatopia with Thing 3 and four of her friends to celebrate birthday number 12!  Honestly, I find nothing amusing about amusement parks, and I find indoor waterparks to be the Sodom and Gomorrah of American culture. I’m still not quite recovered from my last visit to Great Wolf Lodge in 2011. I’m hoping this visit will be better, as Thing 3 and her friends are all old enough to be in the water without me. And I was clever enough to reserve a pool side cabana that has its own waitress AND tv. So I’m bringing my knitting and maybe I’ll catch a nap or two.

Also on the home front–helping Thing 2 with her college decision. She’s been accepted at four schools, and starting this weekend, we begin the rounds of “accepted students days.” First up is Pratt, which is also her first choice. I have a feeling I should bring my checkbook to this one.  Ah, to be 18 and have the world as your oyster.

Which leads to some of the most unexpected news yet.  With Thing 1 out of the house, and Thing 2 about to launch, Thing 3 has been feeling slightly lonely.  After some discussions with the Mister, we decided to let Thing 3 bring a shelter dog into Chez Sato.   We’re now on the hunt for a non-puppy, medium-sized, cat-friendly cut dog.

And I’m lobbying for one that likes to run. Because I’ve still got 17 days of training left!

Posted in family, running | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Just in case you were wondering, that’s how many steps are in a 50k.

On April 2, my partner in crime and I set off for Hardwick, NJ to participate in the NJ Ultra Fest 50k as part of our training for our upcoming Rock the Ridge 50 miler.  It is a good thing the race was not on April 1, because I might have been lulled into thinking the course description was a joke. It wasn’t.

12916139_10154599373009918_6451331715473969829_o12440572_10154599372944918_3828814494733574668_o(It looks pretty harmless, but don’t let those pretty colors fool you).

The ultra fest offered every distance from a marathon to 100 miler, and the shorter the distance, the later you started.  Runners had to complete the Figure 8 circuit a prescribed number of times, and then either the “woods” loop (about 3.5 miles) or “lake” loop (about 2.3 miles) one extra time. For the 50k, that meant we started at 9:45 for our five circuits plus an extra lake loop.

I’ve done a few trail runs, but never an ultra, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of time and level of exhaustion. This was a single-track trail and fairly technical, in that it was either strewn with rocks or roots, and there were several water crossings, but not as many bridges as there were crossings.  Also, see those blue peaks–they were tough! Maybe this wasn’t the best bet for a first ultra, but the fact that we ran through the aid station after both the woods loop and lake loop did make it mentally easier.

But how can I describe this 10.5 hour trek (yes, it took me 10.5 hours!)? Difficult. Invigorating. Frustrating (at times).  Ten and a half hours is a lot of time to process lots of thoughts.

  • Difficult: it’s sooooo hard to judge a course by topographical maps and elevation profiles (at least for me).  The uphills on the woods portion of the circuit were killers. But the downhills almost equally so–especially for me with my insecure footing.  And at the bottom of each of those downhills? Water. There was lots of wading in this race.
  • Invigorating: Because of the loops, we got to see lots of the 50 milers, 100 k’ers and 100 milers go round and round. What skill they all had–effortlessly negotiating such difficult terrain. Yep, we got looped (a lot), but it was amazing to watch.
  • Frustrating: Really? Was it necessary to scrape my leg each time I tried to catapult myself over the same damn tree lying across the path? Really? Did I need to nearly trip on the same rock wall EVERY. SINGLE. LOOP?

What got me through this? Proper nutrition. A good training partner. Visions of Shaz in mud, and sheer stubbornness.

  • I’ve been seeing a sports RD (registered dietician) for this entire training cycle, and I credit her advice to my getting through this training. I’m sick to death of eating (and thinking about eating), and sweet potatoes are no longer my favorite food, but with one short exception, I felt FANTASTIC the entire race.
  • When a fellow running club friend asked if I could consider doing the 50 miler with her, I didn’t even think twice even though it wasn’t originally even on my radar.  Since we don’t live all that close to each other, we don’t train together all that often, but when we do, I consider so blessed. We are very different as people, but we compliment each other nicely on the trail. And she brings along with her an entire cadre of supportive people that I’m so happy to have gotten to know better.
  • Shaz (a reader from across the pond) bravely faced knee-deep mud in her Grizzly Run. So every time (yep, all 30 of them), I was wading across some river or lake, I just imagined Shaz knee-deep in mud, and thought, “It’s only water. Suck it up, Buttercup.” Thank you Shaz.
  • This race had amazing swag–and when it got dark on our last 1.2 miles and my headlamp wasn’t working well, and I had to use the flashlight on my iphone just to see a few inches in front of me and we slowed to a crawl after 10 hours of high energy, all I wanted was that damn orange jacket.

I haven’t taken it off yet.


Posted in race report, running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

in a nutshell

  • somehow I’m on week 20 of my 24-week training plan. Between weeks 16-19 I caught the most horrendous cough, resulting in missed work and missed workouts (3!). I’m trying not to freak out about having missed a major back-to-back weekend, and I know I should just be looking forward and not second-guessing at this point.
  • my cat got pecked by one of our neighborhood turkeys, which resulted in this new ‘do:


  • I don’t want to jinx anything, but our weather this winter into early spring has just been lovely. Yes, some cold days here and there, but lookie this: IMG_0735

yes, this is a cherry blossom. And yes, it’s still March. As a reminder, last year, I ran               our local Cherry Blossom 10k on April 12 and THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE BLOOM IN               SIGHT!

  • Thing 2 embarked upon her first overseas trip sans famille. She was invited to Crete and then London with her friend’s family, so the Mister, Thing 3 and I are getting a taste of what life will be like Chez Sato come September.


  • Thing 3 and I are working on convincing the Mister that a dog would be a lovely substitute for Thing 2. Here is our favorite puppy, Sasha, at our shelter. She’s a puggle. Which is actually a word.  And she’s full of energy! So far the Mister has agreed to adopt Sasha only if the turkeys get the best of our scalped cat.IMG_0725
  • Never in a million years would I have guessed that in 3 short months I will have completed one 20K, one 30K and then one 50K as training runs.  Yes, in addition to the trail race I did out in Cali in February, I got out of my deathbed two weeks ago for a 20K (Miles for Music) here in Jersey (and only lost about 4 minutes due to a coughing fit and some gu-induced GI issues), and this Saturday, I’m toeing the line for a 50k as part of the NJ Ultra Fest.  Even though Sasha the puggle’s legs are short, I’m thinking I may need her energy to get through all this!
Posted in family, hobbies, running | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I’m not slacking

I’m making cat name tags.


Thing 3 and I volunteer at our town’s animal shelter. Actually, Thing 3 volunteers and I accompany her because at age 11, she can’t be there on her own.  The shelter is having an adoption event this weekend, so Thing 3 and I are baking cookies and making cat name tags to brighten up the cat room.  Because that’s Thing 3’s job–“socializing” the cats. I do laundry.

When I’m not making cat name tags, I’m running.  And coughing, sneezing, and sleeping. Because after 3 years of horrid snowy, cold winters, we’ve finally drawn the long straw and had just about the mildest winter ever. And after three incredibly healthy winters, this year, I’m sick as a dog. Meh.  Sucking it up through a 38 mile weekend (14 miles on Saturday, 24 on Sunday) didn’t help, and then the 5 mile recovery on Monday and 7 mile track workout on Tuesday were the straws that broke the camel’s back, resulting in three rest days (two unscheduled).  I’m not freaking out, and will scale back tomorrow’s long run by 20% (20 instead of 25 miles on Sat). Sunday, however, I’m signed up for a 20k race that I’m using as a training run. It’s the first day of spring, but it’s expected to snow.

Aside from this little glitch, the training is going well. I have learned I can plod along at incredibly long distances at incredibly slow paces for inane amounts of time. Any of my training runs over 14 miles, I walk for 1 minute after each mile. This really doesn’t slow me down all that much. My 24 mile run, I clocked at a 12:00 pace, and my 14 mile run the day after, at an 11:00 pace. Nope, I’m not breaking any records, but that I can get out of bed the day after doing 24 miles and chalk up another 5 and then a track workout the day after without being any worse for the wear is a pretty big deal in my book.

Let’s just hope I can hold up for the next six weeks.

Posted in family, hobbies, running | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Hobbling and Cobbling

First up–hobbling

Last week (week 15 of my training plan) was my highest mileage week. Ever. 59 miles. Sunday was my longest run ever–22 miles. Thankfully I had help–my teammate for the ultra and another friend (and photographer) who came along “just for fun.”


The nice thing about this training plan is that every 4th week is a “step back” week. So last Monday when I looked at the 6 straight days of workouts, I just set my sights on getting through Sunday.

The week went like this:

  • Mon: rest
  • Tues: 9 miles, middle 3 steady.  Well, after the trail race and the flight home, those middle 3 turned into a middle 2.
  • Wed: 5-7 steady. I opted for 5, and did 5.6
  • Thurs: 15′ w/u. Hill workout: 4x 6′ hill w/ 3′ recovery, 5′ easy, 3x 2′ hill/1′ recovery, 5′ easy, 3x 30sec hill/30 sec recovery, 15′ c/d. I did this on a treadmill.
  • Fri: 5-7 easy. I opted for 5
  • Sat: 20-22 long run. 22 in the books.
  • Sun: 9-11 easy: 9.3 on a beautiful Sunday!

The results of all this mileage? Eating All. The. Food. and sleeping All. The. Hours and rolling out All. The. Muscles. I am so thankful this week is only a 20 mile week.

Next up: Cobbling

Sleeping all the hours has put a bit of dent into my sewing and knitting, but two weeks ago, I finished whipped out this vest:

The exterior is a new fabric collection called Woodland Clearing, and the inside is…Liberty!  You may notice the inside back is pieced. It shouldn’t be. However, I was really excited that I figured out how to make the pockets a bit more structured (the fabric in the original pattern is a thicker knit wool and the Woodland Clearing is a quilting cotton, so the single layer pocket was a bit flimsy) by underlining it in the Liberty. So I cut the pocket interior out of what I thought was some leftover Liberty and proceeded along my merry way, stitching away oblivious to the fact that I had actually cut two pocket pieces out of the middle of the back piece.  Sigh. This is why you are supposed to set aside your pattern pieces. Thankfully I had enough leftover to cut the middle section of the back piece out and replace it.

Hopefully fewer miles on the road will mean more inches on the needles. I just started a great springtime sweater that I’d like to be wearing before summer.


Posted in hobbies, knitting, running, sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments