The weather map when I went to dinner the night before the US Air Force Marathon.  The map looked like this all day.

Marathon weather


The map looked the same when I went to bed. Not much had changed when I got up, either. All signs pointed to a rainy marathon. I did not want to run 26.2 miles in the rain, but I would if it came down to it. Wetness wasn’t going to stop me after hundreds of miles of training.

Marathon pic 1


I prayed for a pressure system to push the moisture south and east. The precipitation was a steady drizzle as my friend, Kim, and I sat in traffic waiting to park. As soon as we got in the parking space, the rain slowed to a misty spittle. When I got to the start line, the rain was a light mist, barely felt. Did I start with dry feet? Uh, no. I stepped in a puddle not far from the car and another puddle almost to the start line. At least my feet were equally wet!

The weather was not the only thing putting a damper on my race start. There was no one directing traffic at the intersection off of the highway, so there was a huge traffic jam. I was an hour early, and I still got caught in traffic. The jam put me 45 minutes behind schedule, and we had to park almost two miles from the start line with 15 minutes left to get to there. I did not get to stretch, had to run/walk to the start, and I still did not make it for the gun. I fastened my race belt as I joined the back of the pack crossing the start.

While the start was not as I had planned, the race was wonderful! The volunteers and spectators were energetic, my feet did not blister, and the rain stayed away!


Yes, I do believe in miracles!

Marathon Map 3

Running for Change


When I told my friend that I was running in the United States Air Force Marathon, she got excited and showed me the album she made after running the Chicago Marathon. She had a graph of her training runs, pictures, her estimated finish time, a print out of her actual finish time, etc. She also had a plastic baggy with change in it (quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies); she said it was her prize purse. To break up the monotony of long training runs, she had picked up spare change she would find lying on the ground along the way.

When I told my husband about her prize purse, he said, “Where is she running? I never see change on the ground!”

I was thinking the same thing, but I started looking for change, anyway. For the first week or so, I only found a screw and two nails. They had no monetary value, but I pictured myself saving a poor driver from a flat tire. There were also plenty of cigarette butts and a dirty band-aid, but I wisely left them on the ground. About a week ago, I found a plastic bottle cap and a metal beer cap. My prize purse was looking pretty pathetic.

Then, last weekend at the beginning of my 16 mile run, I saw a bright, shiny penny on my path. My first currency for my prize purse! And, it was not just any penny; it was a 1999 penny. Significant because 1999 is when I started having symptoms of Meniere’s disease (vertigo, loss of balance, vomiting, hearing loss), had surgery to try to alleviate the symptoms, and lost the hearing in my left ear. That was 14 years ago, and look how far I have come.

As I completed my 16 mile training run, I reflected on what I had accomplished since 1999:  I lost 50 pounds, got my symptoms under control, started running, have run almost a dozen half marathons, a trail marathon, and I am now running a street marathon. That 1999 penny is a symbolic trophy worth more than any prize purse!

Zoo 7-2-13

I had the pleasure of my grandson’s company for the last two days. The grass was wet yesterday, and the air was cool, which limited our outside activity options. Being of a spontaneous nature, I said, “Gavin, let’s go to the zoo!” He did not seem too thrilled, but his Uncle Jonathon was game, so off we went.

The cheetahs walking up to the glass, the Kodiak bear catching a scent, and the baby elephant throwing a stick and chasing it down amazed the adults. The 3-year-old had a blast climbing decorative rocks, running around the playground, talking to the pictures of orangutans on the coming attraction posters, playing with the faucet sensor in the bathroom and splashing water, eating goldfish crackers, and weaving in and out of the posts holding up the sign at the elephant exhibit. He counted the giraffes and enjoyed them, but other than that, he did not seem too impressed with the actual zoo experience (aka animals).

Our last activity was a ride on the carousel, and he did squeal “weeeee” for about 10 seconds.  After the ride stopped, Gavin stood on the back of his polar bear, but instead of coming into my open arms, he shimmied quickly up the pole. He rather enjoyed that, giggling as I tried to pull him down. The elderly carousel attendant was not too impressed with my grandson’s athletic prowess, but he waited patiently as I finally tickled Gavin loose of the pole. I smiled with a shrug at the crowd waiting to get on the ride as I carried the wriggling 3-year-old to the exit. All in all, it was a fun couple of hours at the zoo, regardless of age or preferred activity!

Yesterday, I stopped by the local pharmacy to pick up something for my son. I was feeling a little hungry, so I looked for some plain, Lay’s potato chips. I only saw a large snack bag, so I asked the clerk if there were any smaller bags of chips, like single serving size.

Mustafa smiled, raised his arms, and with a happy accent said, “This is America! Everything is big!”

I slapped my leg and replied with feigned exasperation, “That is so true, darn it!”

His smile faded, and he gave me a perplexed look. After his initial shock over someone thinking big is not necessarily better, he led me to the chip aisle, and we looked in vain for a small bag of chips. I gave in and got the bigger bag, telling myself I would only eat part of it and save the rest for later. Yeah, right.

I ate part of the bag in the car and consumed the rest in the house after unloading groceries. I felt regret, and I thought I should look at the nutrition info and admonish myself. I guessed the bag contained two servings. Wrong! It contained almost three servings. After doing the math, I realized I had consumed 460 calories worth of chips and almost 30 grams of fat! How many calories have I been consuming eating chips without measuring a serving size (aka: eating out of the bag)? I stood dumbfounded in the kitchen, realizing that chips are not my friend. All this time they were my frenemy, looking all wholesome with that crunchy, salty taste. Potatoes, oil, and salt sound pretty harmless, but they can be devastating to the waistline. I mean, who can really eat just one, or one serving for that matter?

So today, I made a crunchy, sweet, salty wholesome snack. One with good fats, protein, and good nutrients. I have paired this snack (sans banana) with an apple, or other fruit, and almond milk for a lunchtime meal. Nutrition info: 258 calories, 11.5 grams of fat, 6.25 grams of protein, not to mention potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin E, etc. Wash it down with 1 cup of unsweetened, vanilla almond milk for 35 extra calories and added calcium and vitamin D. Take that, you low nutrient chips!

Crunchy, Sweet, Salty Snack

1 Coco Lite Pop Cake, original

1 1/2  T plain almond butter, unsalted, no added sugar (Whole Foods 365 is the best)

1 T roasted & salted sunflower seed kernels

1/2 ripe banana, thinly sliced

Spread almond butter 0n pop cake. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Place thinly sliced bananas on top. Thinly slicing the banana keeps the banana from over taking the rest of the flavors and lets the crunchy texture stand out.


Pop cakes

Pop cakes are found at Marsh (bakery) and Whole Foods, although all locations might not carry them. You can also order them online at: http://www.cocofoods.com/  They have the texture and flavor similar to a cake cone ice cream cone, only a little lighter. They are awesome, with only 16 calories and 4 carbs per pop cake! I use them as a crunchy vehicle for poached eggs, hummus, guacamole, and other snacks.

I try to plan my trips around town to save gas. Yesterday, I went to a meeting, got my hair cut on the way home, mowed the grass, and got a massage.

When my massage therapist greeted me, she said, “I like your hair!”

I laughed out loud and said, “Really? Thanks, I just got it cut, it has not been rewashed, and it is wind-blown from cutting grass.”

Ali, I hope you keep cutting hair for a long time! Below is my next morning look, after being washed and slept on.

bed head