Wine + Half Marathon + Local = Why not?

Miles:  1,726
Sitting Strides (I was on the plane party peeps!)

I had a nice little flight home from Chicago and the marathon madness.  Settling back into work and of course see my precious cargo waiting at home for me.  They promptly cried, farted, and ignored me (in no particular order) so basically it was all pretty normal.

I was updating my race list last night and realized I only have one upcoming race planned.


I better rectify that. 

I stumbled across this little beauty:  SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half Marathon

The Dirty 30 cup - Ironically I never wear pink and am anti-sparkle. My family thought this was hilarious last year...


It’s a trail race through Temecula.  The post-race description:  FREE wine tastings while supplies last.

So you’re saying I have to run fast to get the free wine.  If that won’t get me to break 100 minutes, I don’t know what will….

Check out the swag:  All race participants will receive a custom race medal, technical race t-shirt, and commemorative race logo’d wine glass!

wine + running = love

On the fence on registering as I’ll be in the Dominican Republic the week before the race for a wedding.  Plus after this weekend’s festivities, forking over the race registration sorta kinda makes me cringe…

Any other So Cal-ers see this one?

Anyone registered?  (hint:  any OC carpoolers out there? )

Ever run a race after being at an all-inclusive resort with unlimited food and beverages for 7 days prior?  

Beyond the Bra

Today we’re going to talk about a little thing called support.

And I’m not talking about squeezing into your sports bra before a good run or break.

I’m talking about good ol’ fashioned on and off the course support.

This whole trip for the Illinois Marathon was so memorable – not as much about the race, but because of the support I had for it.

Do we look tired? It had been a few long days!

Not only did my fabulous support team make the long and super boring trip down to Champaign with me…but they got up at the crack of dawn at 4:45 so I could have oatmeal and coffee and listen to my “pump me up music”.

Then they sat out in the rain at the start line to see me off.

UFO haven or warm bathroom building - you decide!

Assembly Hall - Champaign, IL

Please note, I was hiding in the warmth of this building.

Yes building, not spaceship.

Eventually when the rain eased up they called me so I would come out to say hi.

As I mentioned before, they were there at the start, miles 5, 8, 10, 15, 16, 21, 22, & the finish.  This took nearly half a tank of gas, mass coordination and apparently a ridiculous amount of patience and humor.

Have I mentioned how I apparently have a group of rock stars in my life?

But every time I needed them they were there – even if it meant they had to speed, back track and sprint to get there.  And lucky for them that with the exception of the last 1.2 my pace only swayed about 5 seconds on either side of 8:10.

In addition to being totally punctual and right there when I needed them, they all will admit they had a BLAST.

I also had a friend from college drive 1.5 hours EACH WAY to see my finish (thanks

My Grandma, her husband...and me after I haven't brushed my hair...yay!

Mandi!).  And my grandmother wins the award for driving 10 hours (each way!) from Atlanta to Champaign to see my little bootay cross the finish line.  Thanks Gram!

On the course, I tried something new….a pace group.  Honestly I knew I was pushing myself to get this done so I decided to give it a shot.  It was the best decision yet.  Since the 3:35 mark is the BQ for 18-34 women there were quite a few of us there hoping to ease in just under that and unsure if we were going to pull it off.

Stacy, me and Jamie running...

I immediately paired off with a girl named Jamie (whom I still can’t track down on Facebook to share the pictures naturally)…and we stuck it together from start to finish.  We even sped up for 1.5 miles to get ahead of the pace group to pee then took a good mile to catch back up slowly.   When she got tired, I encouraged her on.  When I wanted to quit and told her to go ahead, she reached for my wrist and wouldn’t let me slip back.

We were also joined by another woman around mile 14 (Stacy).

Towel on my head head...don't mind if I do?

Without the on and off the course support from everyone who played a role, there’s no way I would have been able to sport this rockin’ shirt I found at TJ Maxx a few days before the race.

(Yes I secretly bought it hoping I’d BQ just so I could wear it post-race.  If not, it was going straight back….)

So…how about you…

What is your critical race support? 
On the course? 
Of the course?
Do you have a good sideline support story?
You ever run with a pace group?

I Came, I Ran, I Qualified

So today I lost my virginity.  It was quite exciting since everyone in my family was there watching and cheering me on.  I mean, they were able to set a spectator record of catching me in the act 9 times.

Yes, I ran my first marathon.  And it turns out that while I was able to hustle my booty to There we go!a 3:33:42 finish (YAY BQ!), my family and friends proved to be total and complete rock stars by seeing me off at the start, finding me in the finish and cheering me on at 7 different places along the way.

They. Are. Amazing.

The day started out with a not so promising forecast of rain and 20-30 mph winds.  Hooray!  I anxiously stood in my corral wondering if I was ridiculous for putting myself with the 3:35 pacing group.

Yes,” I told myself, “I am insane and this will never work.”  Along came 5 other women who were all trying to BQ.  Many of them had missed by just minutes over the past year.  I was the only newbie…but we decided…

Not on our watch.

We were spot on (and a little ahead) for the first 12 miles (which was good because two of us had to speed up to account for a pee break).  We headed into mile 20 convinced the last 6k was going to be doable.

Mile 20- Great

Mile 21 - Notsomuch.  My family asked how I was, “I’m so tired I said” on video (Dad has that somewhere).  They decided I need encouragement at 22.

Mile 22 - Tired, but hanging in there.  My sister reminded me that I’ve had a baby across the entire course.  I yelled back, “I had two!” and got my second wind.

Mile 23 – Great

Mile 24 - I looked at my running partner and said, “I think I’m going to throw up now I just need to walk.”  She grabbed my wrist and told me it wasn’t happening.  My pacer somehow persuaded me that when I got to Mile 25  I’d be fine.

Mile 25 - Pacer didn’t lie.  Great mile – Sub 8

Mile 26 - Ran into Memorial Stadium and dashed across the 50 yard line to a crowd of cheers.  The announcer yells, “Sheila McDaniel just qualified for Boston.”  Of all the people they chose to announce as we crossed…I got to be the lucky one.  My dad had it on video and it’s pretty awesome – even if the wind blocked out my name on the video – we got to hear it!

I can't believe I'm posting this...but it captures the total and complete raw emotion we've all experienced before. Completely undone...

Mile 27 - Lots of hugs as our entire group qualified.  I then found my entourage and promptly burst into tears.

Women:  45/744
Age Div:  12/128
Overall:  258 / 1890

After I pulled it together :)

On Good Deeds, Car Seats & Advice

Adorable running partner and I embracing our inner flamingo

Miles 3.5
Slow & Steady Strides

I had the opportunity to go on not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 great running partners today.  Most of them were under the age of 10…

I flew out to Chicago yesterday evening.  I hopped on the plane and found a woman struggling with getting her daughter’s car seat into the overhead bin.  I knew exactly how to break it down to squeeze it in.

I offered her a sympathetic smile, and a quick, “You want to know how to do that?  The back pops off easily.

I helped her, sat down and didn’t think much of it.  I mean, a mom always helps another mom in need, right?

As I was walking through the terminal  a man came up to me and said, “I saw what you did for that woman and it was so nice you stood up, stepped out and helped her.”  I gave the obligatory smile, said it was really nothing and he started (key word started) to walk away.

I saw his bag and realized he was carrying the bag with the marathon tags.

@ the airport waiting for the parental pickup

“Oh you’re the marathoner!” I thought I said nicely, but likely forced out awkwardly.  Because clearly this is normal.  What?!  Right….

He spun around, and said, “Yeah, I’m actually a coach.”

Truth be told, I was starting to get back to my mental slump, the flurry of doubt, etc.  You know, typical, “I’m trying something new…let’s totally panic about it” type mode.  We engaged in a great conversation and I left feeling completely refreshed.

If I never did what a mother would always do, I’d have never seen marathon man’s bag, and he wouldn’t have approached me and I was singing (quietly inside) on my way for the proud parental peeps to pick me up from the airport!

You may think it’s funny, but it’S NOT


I'm such a snot!

Miles:  3
Time:  22:40
Get it Done Before Dinner Strides

I’m fighting a cold.

And after 3 days it’s finally winning.  Apparently there’s not enough Zicam and Emergen-C in the world to keep it at bay.

Oh and guess what?  There’s record high pollen counts in Illinois.  To the normal person it’s a nuisance…but to the woman who’s spend years of her life receiving hundreds (if not into the 4 digit category) of allergy shots this isn’t welcomed news for a marathon.

So needless to say, it’s highly likely that my nose will be running faster and furiouser (yes that’s a word today) than I will.

So what snotty advice do you have? 
Best allergy meds for race day?

You’re Only As Old As…

No miles today – early flight out.  Maybe I’ll get to do some yoga this evening….
Birthday Strides

If you ask my kids how old I am today, they’ll give you a straight answer:



Take that 22 year old legs....

Then about 30 seconds later they’ll look to see if I’m paying attention and they’ll quietly whisper,

“But she’s really 31”.

Bless them for humoring me, even if I’m betrayed with the truth moments later.

That said, my 31 year old legs are kicking my 22-year old legs a…errr…butt (edited as Strawberry has been reading the blog sometimes lately).  My last half was 20 minutes faster than my 2- year old self.  So take that body!

You’re only as old as your legs run fast.

Or you could use the other measure of age which is maturity.  This basically leaves me at 12.


Lie To Me

Miles:  4.1
Time:  31:45
Interval Innovating Strides
1 mile warmup, 3x800s (with 800’s in between)

A-freaking-dorable. Love him to pieces

First of all, how could you NOT want to run with this little fella?  I decided to spontaneously run today since tomorrow is out of the question with my work schedule.  I asked this little dude if he wanted to hit the park and do a few unexpected laps with me and he stepped out dressed like this.  Could you just die?

That said, I immediately regretted the Italian Beef sandwich I had for lunch approximately .02 seconds into my run.  And yes I totally justified the 40 grams of fat in that wonderful sandwich with the fact that it had almost 50 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs.  Apparently I got bang for my buck in basically tasting the entire sandwich twice.  *shudder*

Whatever.  My birthday’s tomorrow I get to eat whatever I want today.  End. of. story.

I did a musicless run and basically spent every fast interval mentally chanting, “This is Boston!  This is Boston!” and the slower ones saying, “This isn’t Boston!  This isn’t Boston!“.  Don’t judge.  it worked.

Anywho, I had my phone on with no headphones so that sexy little voice from the Map My Run app was singing to me.

Distance 1.6 miles.  Pace 7:45.  Current speed 11:45.

*insert screeching tire noise here*

First of all, let me begin by saying I LOVE this app.  The distance tracking is spot on and I LOVE that I can go out with the intention of running 16-20 miles and just run aimlessly.  I feel a little crazy, and perhaps a bit naughty doing that.  I play math games in my head with the distances.  It’s a sick distraction.  Whatevs.

The average pace calculator is spot on.

The current speed – Not.

But I’ve learned I have selective lying reasoning. When I’m sprinting and the little voice in my head (or earphones…the voices in my head are much more confusing), tells me I’m going 11:23 miles - LIE.

When I’m dragging my feet and she tells me I’m going 7:17.  CLEARLY TRUTH.

Trucking down a hill – 16:22 – LIE 

Trudging up a hill – 4:15 – TRUTH - Duh.  I mean, come on I can run 4:15’s in my sleep…

No really that’s the only place I’m running a 4:15.  Ever.

Sure, about 80% of the time it’s pretty close to being spot on.  But I can’t resist selectively trusting that sassy little woman whispering sweet somethings into my ear, because even if she’s right and I am running a 9:30 minute mile uphill…it actually makes me go faster.

Anyone who knows me knows I HATE being lied to.  But you, Map My Run voice, you can lie to me all day long.  Just be prepared for me to disown you when you make me look bad.

Taper Tantrums


Silly Strawberry and I “posing” for the camera

Miles:  3.2
Time:  27:02
Panic Stricken Strides

Miles:  5.4
Time:  47:01
Dreadmilly Nervous Miles

On Friday morning I woke up early to sneak in my last longer run – a quick 8-miler.  About 1.5 miles in my knee got a little tweaky.  By mile 2 it was downright painful and by mile 3 I knew I had to call it a morning.  The entire time I was panicking, imagining 26.2 miles of excruciating pain, imagining myself dropping out at mile 18 from crippling pain, disappointing my parents, my grandma, and all those who have followed my training, generally disappointing the ENTIRE WORLD…(I have a slight flair for the dramatic).

Anyway, I came home, iced it, hit up few message boards and found out that this is pretty normal in the final taper and it’s a phantom pain.  No one knows why they’re there, but they are.


Squeezing on for dear life?

So I took the night and went to the Mouse House with the kids.  Because nothing can reset your mood like an evening with 10,000 of your closest friends and smelly strangers, waiting in long lines to violently toss your body around twisted metal at the Happiest Place on Earth.

And it was exactly. what. I. Needed.  We eeked out about 4 miles of walking (no knee pain) and I got what I really needed – to remember my kids laughter, their silly sense of humor.  They tortured me on the ferris wheel (I’m petrified of heights), squealed with delight when they were tall enough to go on Indiana Jones for the first time, tango-ed through the crowds of people with  me, but mostly by the end they just needed me.

As we were leaving the park, each one of them took their turn walking next to me while clinging to my waist, arms not letting go for the world and head resting on my hip.  It’s the ultimate “mom” walk.  Shuffling with 4 legs trying to stay untangled as a sleepy little boy wordlessly says, “I love you and even though I’m kind of a big kid now, I’m really tired, and I just need to lean on you for a moment.”

And that’s kind of how I have felt about my training.  In the last few months I learned to really love those extra hours and miles, and during this taper period I don’t feel like I could run 15 if I had to and 26.2 seems impossible and like I’ll never be able to make it.  But in 6 short days, I get to cling back on the waist of all those hours and miles and hold on for dear life as I get to finally lay it all out on the road.

And the good news – opened my knee up on the treadmill on Saturday (it was like 90 degrees out! ick…) and ran everything from a 9 minute mile to a 7:30 and all in between to see how it was and the knee seems to be cooperating.  Yay!


Miles:  3.42
Time:  29:03
Short, slow mostly uphill run
Dilly Dally Strides
Perhaps a little yoga tonight before bed….

Kindergarten get ready...He's 5....

It’s a time of transitions – in the marathon doldrums – that taper period, I’m getting the littles registered for kindergarten (WHAT?!?!  No seriously, they’re still 3 aren’t they?), lots of personal transitions, etc.  Basically lots of shifting.

Recently I’ve seen a lot of questions/comments about minimalist running in the blogosphere.

So I figured I’d take a moment (or a few, I’ve never been short on words), to talk about my transition to minimal shoes 15 months ago.

Back story:  I struggled with ITB for about 3 years.  Almost every time I ran I got to mile 1-2 and my knee would incredibly painful.  I kept my running to a minimum (*gasp* pick yourself up off the floor). 

I finally went to the PT who identified the issue, gots my gait analyzed and hit the interwebs (the source of all accurate information), and somehow decided to try the minimalist shoe.

Slightly frightened, I went to go try on the Vibram 5 Fingers.  Years of dancing and a funky

I *heart* my NB Minimus!

shaped toe left it impossible to fit into a pair and the helpful associate told me New Balance had a line coming out that had a regular shoe, but Vibram technology, so I tried it.

Here’s the challenge.  YOU HAVE TO EASE INTO THEM.

To most runners this means go from 0-20% and it feels good, you should just jump to 100% approximately five seconds later.  I went slowly and steadily for the first month, then dove in.

This 10% business is difficult.  What was I supposed to do, run half a mile carrying my shoes, then change on the side of the trail?  Uh…no.  So I stuck with the dreadmill for about 5-6 weeks to ease my way in.

Month 1 & 2:

Striding Mom became Waddling Mom

LOVED the lightness, LOATHED the tightness.

I felt so liberated and *mostly* well-behaved following the 10% interval regimen.  The transition to the minimal shoe forces you to have a mid-foot strike.  If you don’t, your calves will hate you.  Every half mile I was heel striking left me waddling like a back up singer from Happy Feet for a day or two.  So I learned to get on the treadmill in front of the mirror and run like a narcissistic masochist watching my every strike.  I also discovered new muscles in my feet I never knew existed which could be achy at times.

During this time, a new relationship in my life blossomed.  My Stick and I got incredibly close.  I literally kept it next to my bed, under my desk, in my car…anywhere.  And instead of singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to my kids, it was more “Roll, Roll, Roll My Calves” for a good month.

Month 3 & 4:

By this point in time, my Stick was getting a little lonely.  It no longer had a place right in my bed, but was only used when I was actually running, not several times a day.  One of the biggest surprises came by the end of month 4 was when I slipped into my skinny jeans and could hardly slide them over my legs.  I did a quick measurement  – turns out my calves grew TWO INCHES!   Straight up muscle – CA-RAY-ZEE.

My Stick got lonely as we spent less and less time together.  We got back to our normal date routine of before and after runs.  I think it’s still resentful.

Things I love about minimalist running:

Stride.  My stride has to be super in-check and I know immediately when I start slacking because my muscles let me know immediately.

Hips & Knees.  Way less issues with ITB & general soreness in my knees, back, shins, etc.

Rain Runs.  My NB Minimus Street Runners are all meshy and wonderful and the water runs out.  I ran the Pasadena half last May and everyone complained about how heavy their shoes were and the water seeped right out of mine.

Things I don’t love so much:

Tight Calves.  ‘Nuff said.

Tendonitis.  Apparently this isn’t uncommon with the transition and I’ve battled tendonitis in my feet since I started transitioning.  This probably stems from the tight calves.  When I keep it all in check, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Word’s out on the street as to whether or not people like their minimal shoes, but I’m a lover.  This runner went from barely making it 1.5 miles to finishing her marathon training in 14 months.  I’ll take it!


Meet Grumbly.

Miles:  4.14
Time:  32:12
Interval runs on the trail cut short by time constraints
Grumbly Strides

Two nights ago my kids found a long lost member of the family…Grumbly.

He’s a little rubbery kinda fella that came in a set of two – the other monster smiled, they named him Happy.  What I love about it is that his name is totally sufficient for the kind of mood we all get in every once in a while.  It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s mostly crabby with a little humor.  Grumbly.

And that, my friends was yesterday.

More later….