Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Grumpy Old Men Suck (Not Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Those guys were awesome.)

The Wall Street Journal recently did an article entitled "The Slowest Generation" in which the author laments that races are increasingly turning into parades. You can find it here. When I say "article" what I'm actually referring to is a series of loosely connected anecdotes from cranky old men some of whom who have a fiduciary interest in making sure road races remain a competitive endeavor, emphasis on competitive. The article fails to give any real insight into the changing demographics of running or mention the increasing participation of women in the sport.

I am not fast. My race times prove that. They also prove I need compression sleeves to stop my calves from cramping, but that's another issue. Every time I've said that upon returning from a race, my co-workers have asked, "You finished, though? I wouldn't have run thirteen miles." Of course the author finds that mentality disturbing.

My inner women's college graduate wants to discuss why women have slower times than men. There are biological reasons for this. Second, I would hazard a guess that most of the women out there running races have a life other than running. All those pesky children and jobs and educations to deal with. Not to mention their husbands or boyfriends who just can't take care of themselves. I'm not saying there's some super woman out there who can't do it all and if you are that woman, please let us know how you do it. Third, competitiveness. I'm not saying women aren't competitive, I'm just proposing that a lot of us don't see the point in killing ourselves to beat someone we don't know by two seconds. That's not to say everyone feels that way, I've seen a lot of women on message boards complain about other people half-assing it and chatting with their friends and instead of running. While I too hate when a group runs five abreast, usually one will find that these women have no friends. They also usually hate people in tutus or sparkly skirts, I often find that's because they desperately need one to offset their lamentable personalities. Yes, I learned all this at women's college.

Let me now discuss the value of competition which was also a tenet of the article. Yes, competition can be good, but let's go through the competitions I've won. The 2nd grade reading challenge, a couple of Spelling Bees, I was second in Girl Scout Cookies sold in San Antonio one year and I've been a Second Rounder at the Austin Film Festival Teleplay Competition. Now, about the Girl Scout cookies, I sold around 2,000 boxes the year that Desert Storm happened and my parents were head of the Council for Lackland Air Force Base and you might imagine, there were less parents available than usual that year. I did not get enough boxes to get the bike and I was sick of Girl Scout Cookies by the time it was over. The AFF Second Rounder thing I find irritating to no end. You'll notice none of these competitions are in athletics. Why? I'm never going to have a podium finish, in fact, I think my best chance of getting one may be to wait until I'm in my eighties and the competition has thinned out and then I'll need to find a small field. This is where the article and I reach the same conclusion, but disagree on whether that's a positive thing. Basically, if I'm not going to finish on the podium and I still get the same medal, why worry about beating people? The article thinks this mentality is responsible for the demise of America. I think I've got lots to worry about besides beating people at a race. I think competition is a construct designed to exclude people, hence why the author and his grumpy old friends would like us all to stay home.

That having been said, there was a girl at the Austin 1020 who kept trying to pick me off when I was basically having the worst race ever after my foot had fallen asleep for three miles which is apparently another reason I need compression calf sleeves. It just pissed me off because every time she went to pick me off she stopped just in front of me. She and I traded places for a while until I decided to smoke her. Keep in mind smoking her on that day meant just walking really fast until I couldn't see her anymore. Also, one time I ran way ahead of some Aggie girl because I was sick of listening to her talk to her boyfriend.

Also, the bling and being motivated by bling. Um, yeah? Why is that wrong? You wouldn't show up at school if they weren't going to give you a grade. You wouldn't show up at work if you weren't going to get money. Why the hell would I show up at a race where I did not expect to get a medal at the end? I mean a 5K, 10K, fine, but a half with no medal? I know, I know, the love of running, Forest Gump ran for two years... God bless him, but people forget that Forest Gump was not very smart and also, fictional.

So, I say we find the author's next event and join hands and prancercise in front of him in our sparkly skirts and tutus. At least it will make for a more interesting article.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Costume Choice, Part One: Choose Your Princess

Welcome to my new series on Disney Princess Half Marathon costume selection. If you're like me, you've just signed up for the Princess Half or Glass Slipper Challenge (two costumes) and you have all of training to look forward to, but why not start thinking about your costume? I personally am in for the half and the 5K. No GSC for me this year since I want to focus on my goal of beasting the Princess Half. Now, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Disney running costumes and yet my costume last year was a failure. Let me outline why.


I had originally envisaged running as Cinderella. I'm not sure I can latch on to why, but then I changed my mind. I can latch on to why I changed my mind: I re-watched Cinderella and frankly, I feel like she has Stockholm Syndrome. It's funny the things you don't notice when you're five. I still like the girl, I just wish she would see a shrink.

So, I had just seen Brave and decided to go as Merida because well, she's a badass and not suffering from mental illness. Also, she's voiced by Kelly MacDonald who was in a film called The Decoy Bride with David Tennant a.k.a. the Tenth Doctor so in my mind clearly Merida will eventually end up with a character voiced by David Tennant. Not that she needs him, you know, she'll just let him hang around. I use this David Tennant logic often. I once stood two feet from Anton Yelchin at the Austin Film Festival (he was in Fright Night with David Tennant) and had to resist the urge to ask what David Tennant was like and did he have his cell number? That wouldn't have been weird at all...

Cinderella was out. Merida was in, so this also created a choice. Standard Merida or Games Merida. Green or aqua? After much consideration, I decided I could pull of Games Merida by adding some gold ribbon to an Adidas tank and my Fuel Belt.

Let me just add, I am not crafty. I've made some decent Spurs ornaments with old tickets, confetti and beads, but that's about it. I made a Batgirl costume for the Herothon, but screwed up the tutu which still sits on a hook on my wall mocking me. I managed to make a Minnie Mouse tutu for the 5K with red tulle and white felt for the dots. I never did manage to do any of the fancy stuff with wrapping around the ribbon. So, because I am a procrastinator- which is a disastrous combination with not crafty- I bought some no sew glue before I left San Antonio, threw it in the bag with the ribbon and figured I could do it at the hotel.

Saturday night. Time to get serious. So I get out the ribbon I've selected, the scissors and the glue. This is when I discover that the Adidas tank seems to be wicking away the glue so all I'm doing is making a mess. I also meant to have an orange Bondi band with aqua ink to represent her hair and tiara but somehow it never got to the expo even though they said they would have it for me. So, I was forced to give up on the costume idea as I saw no adult sized Merida gowns in tech fabric available in the Everything Pop Shopping and Dining area. Also, remember to take a swim cover up when you go to Pop because people will stare at you if you walk in wearing a swimsuit. One, it's Florida. Two, the sign said to have shoes and a shirt, I had those. Three, it's right by the pool! How else was I supposed to get my forty Powerade refills?!

So, my first piece of advice is choose your princess, know your princess.

Princess choice is of course, deeply personal. It all relates back to what you felt when you first saw the movie in question as a small child and your connection to the princess. I'm not saying you have to be a princess per se, just any character. You then have to take this through a rubric of personal comfort and preference. For example, I identify with Belle as she is an avid reader and I can still sing all the songs from Beauty and the Beast, but her gown is yellow. I look awful in yellow, not just a little bad, like I have liver disease. I really didn't want to run the half with everyone telling me how brave I was. That might be an exaggeration but it happened in my head enough times. I could have been village Belle, but I didn't know how to work the basket and I saw a girl on the course with a basket complete with baguette! I can't believe she didn't eat the baguette, I know I would have. Then Ariel was suggested to me, I agree the Ariel costume is cute and recognizable, but I didn't want to put clam shells on my giant breasts. I know nothing would have really been showing, but, I feel like it would have been too in your face.

So, start thinking about what princess and why. I know the big ones: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and I know you probably want to run as those and you have your own reasons. I can also promise you that there will be 4,000 other women in the same outfit so try to be unique. I'll have more on that later. Or you could dress as another underrepresented princess:

Pocahontas: I'm telling you, I've only ever seen two pictures of someone dressed as Pocahontas.

Mulan: Again, only ever two of these, when there are so many possibilities! Do you go as Warrior Mulan or Pretty Mulan? What accessories?!

Tiana: Why aren't there more Tianas?! I guess it's a more recent movie, but look at the great potential in the costume!  That costume is just great, you need green and a flower! Maybe a frog, but we can get into details later.
If you need more ideas, check out my Princess costume Pinterest board  board and let me know what you think! Tell me who you want to go as!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gear Check: What New Runners Need to Know: Part One

When you start running, they tell you that the road is free. Well, it is and it isn't. Then there's the stuff besides the road. The shoes, the compression capris, the sports bra which will run you a small fortune in my case. Then there's all the other stuff.

1. Body Glide

Okay, if you're like me, you look at girls in regular running shorts and wonder why they don't chafe. Some of them do use Vaseline, but doesn't Vaseline and sweat sound like a truly disgusting combination? Come on! I first had the need for Body Glide when I did the Wounded Warrior Project 8K in the pouring rain. There was some truly painful arm chafing afterwards.

2. Sweaty Bands

I'm Greek. I have Greek hair and Greek hair problems, like keeping it out of the way and trying to stay cute. Sweaty Bands actually doesn't slip. Is it the velvet? Is it the elastic? Probably. The point is they are awesome.

Lately, I've been rocking this Run San Antonio Sweaty Band. 210 represent! (You would get that if you were from here.)   They are also selling some awesome Boston Sweaty Bands. The money goes to support the victims of the marathon bombings. You can also have them make a custom sweaty band. Also, if you were looking to get a Sweaty Band and some race bling, you might try entering my Virtual Run. There are lots of great prizes including Sweaty Bands and it's only $10.

3. Socks

This all depends on your shoes and I'm not going to pretend I have the knowledge to advise you on your shoes. My Brooks Pure Cadence fit tight so I used thin SofSoles. My new Asics GT-2000s are looser so I use Thorlos. They have some nice padding and compression. The point is get real socks.

I'm going to add to this list later. Comment with anything you think must be on it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Why, Run Disney, why?

Run Disney, why do you do this to me?

In January, they told me about Dumbo. Then Dumbo sold out in like an hour and the half in a day and I had to get a charity spot for the half to get my Coast to Coast. Don't get me wrong, it's a great charity and all, but it was a situation I didn't expect to find myself in. If you want to donate to said wonderful charity you can go here or maybe check out the Virtual Run I'm hosting at the top of this page???

Then Minnie. I love Minnie and would love to have a Minnie 10K medal.  Then it had to go and sell out before I got money for it and I decided I would go to Princess and get my revenge on the course.


Now I have to decide whether or not to do the 10K. Do I want a Glass Slipper medal? What does the 10K medal look like? Who will be on it? Would I get to dress as two different Princesses? Is the 5K on Friday? That would be four medals. Three outfits.

I have to say my intense dislike for Tinkerbell is the only think keeping me from the pink Coast to Coast Medal. The character not the race, but you get a medal of the character so... The only reason I can think of for it is that Julia Roberts played her in Hook and she gets on my nerves. Like that movie she did with Clive Owen, what was that?

So many decisions!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Runners Run: Frank Shorter

I'm starting a new series on the blog called "Runners Run." I intend for it to talk about all levels of runners, as the Doctor says, there's only one requirement, they have to be "amazing." Picture Matt Smith saying that last part, it works better.

Anyway, today, I am going to talk about Frank Shorter and in light of Boston, I think it's a good idea. I read about Frank last summer in Runner's World in anticipation of the Olympics. He is generally credited with starting the distance running boom and won a gold medal in the Marathon in Munich. If you don't know, Munich was marred by a terrorist attack. A group called Black September took nine members of the Israeli Olympic Team hostage. Two of them were killed immediately, the rest died during a botched rescue attempt. It was a black mark for the Olympics, the nation of Germany and the city of Munich, the latter two who were desperate to shake off the specter of the Second World War. Then terrorists came.

One of the consequences of this was that the Olympic Marathon was delayed by a day. The athletes had to wonder if they should race, if they could race, what was the point? I even read that one athlete had worked out his fueling strategy so scientifically that the delay was a disaster for him. This shook the athletes understandably, but Frank Shorter won the gold. What nobody knew for years was that Frank Shorter had grown up with an abusive father. Running had been his solace. Those terrorists couldn't shake him, he had lived in terror his whole life. To endure, to succeed after such abuse, that's pretty amazing to me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My First Virtual Run!

As you may know, I am fundraising for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation as part of Team For Life at the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. Lazarex helps cancer patients get to FDA clinical trials and get the treatment that may save their life when they don't have insurance or even transportation to get to the trial. Needless to say, I think this is a great organization and am thrilled to be a part of it.

Now, here comes the fundraising part. I will be hosting a virtual run this Flag Day. I've been participating in virtual races for a while and if you don't know, a virtual race is a fun way to get some bling. You pay and I send you a medal. On the day of the race which might vary according to your schedule, you do your mileage and hang up your race medal! The whole thing is on the honor system, the generally accepted rule is no hanging until you've done your miles. You can do the race anywhere, your neighborhood, your favorite trail, even the treadmill. There is no packet pickup, no course time limit, no waking up at 3 AM and of course, no balloon ladies. Unless of course you want a balloon lady. I don't know why you would, but you should totally get a medal for her. You can do it any time from June 7-17th. If that seems like a long time, remember, it's virtual so it's meant to fit into your schedule! I put two weekends in there, one of them is the same weekend as Father's Day just in case you need some flexibility. Better yet, do the race with Dad!

The best part of this run is that it's designed to be for the whole family to do together. What do I mean by that? You still get a cute Flag Day medal with faux gem border and stars and stripes ribbon, but the more entries you get, the cheaper it is.

Registration Price Breakdown
1 Entry -   $10
2 Entries - $19
3 Entries - $27
4 Entries - $34
5 Entries - $40
6 Entries - $45

After 6, additional entries are going to be $5 each. I just can't keep going down to nothing, just in case the Duggars sign up or something, then I would owe them money. If you need more than the seven entries I've set on the payment button, please email me and I'll use Paypal to send you an invoice! In case you're wondering, I would like to go through Paypal because on a fee this small I don't want to have to add $3 in fees and I want to be able to have my employer match the proceeds from the race.

Also, if you would like me to ship internationally, I would prefer that you email me to send you an invoice with an added fee for shipping. Please give me time to check on costs.

What You Get:
Super Cute Flag Medal
Race Bib
Entry into a Random Drawing for FABULOUS PRIZES!!! (Fabulous Prizes TBD & TBA)

I want this race to be successful and that depends on getting as many people involved as I can. Tell your friends about this race, if they sign up and email me or tell me on the event Facebook page that you referred them, both of you get an extra entry into the random drawing.

Just so you know that I'm legitimate, you can visit My Lazarex Fundraising Page. If you are not interested in running, but would still like to help, you can donate there!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston 4.15.2013

I've tried to let this week sink in so I could say something poignant, but I haven't come up with anything poignant. As I write, suspect number two is hiding in a boat. Well, not really hiding. I don't know where the guy thinks he's going.

Let me start on Monday. Since I've taken up running I have also developed an interest in the sport of running and watching marathons. This is to my brother's dismay as he cannot stand a sport where people just run for two hours. I like it. There's something very tactical about it that I like. It's not enough to be fast because you see a lot of people jump to the lead of a marathon, then they drop off. You need cunning to win a marathon. I've been watching all the marathons offered by DirecTV and even woke up before I had to be at work to watch the London Olympic marathons. Keep in mind I usually have to be at work at 6 or 7. I had Monday off, though, so I could watch Boston in my pajamas while I ate Chick Fil A (That's how you know I'm a real athlete. I'm sure had Kara Goucher not been in the race, it's what she would have done.).  So, I watched the elites, the tactics and then I went on with my day: writing, grocery store, catching up on TV. I had just finished watching Call the Midwife when I heard the news about Boston.

What is the Boston Marathon to me? I'll be honest: when I see the Boston qualifying times for my age group, I usually burst out laughing. It works out to about an 8:03 mile. I'm sorry, I would be happy to be as fast as Jerry in Spirit of the Marathon. Ten minute miles you're talking crazy! EIGHT?! EIGHT FREAKING MINUTES?! It's just not happening. My mom has a friend that is a repeat Boston runner, I've tried suggesting that she run Princess with me. My basic plan is that she would run ahead and save my spot in line for pictures until I caught up, then she could go to the next photo op. She's done the JFK 50 Miler, it wouldn't even be hard. I personally think this could work and my contribution to the team could be finding the most interesting cupcakes in Disney World and selecting our costumes. As you can see my prioritization of running related tasks is just one of the reasons I have not yet qualified for Boston.

So, suppose in some reality I did qualify for Boston and run it and finish and then two bombs went off. Or suppose I got stopped five miles from the finish as some people did. Suppose you just ran Boston and lost a limb. It's unimaginable and those guys would have to hope that they got caught by the police and not me. Seriously, you want to deter this, leave this guy alone with the marathoners. Something about what these guys did offends me, really offends me in the most visceral way because they changed the meaning of this race, perhaps all races and I don't even think they had a reason. Jihad isn't a reason. There are no reasons. There are some lame excuses that correspond directly to you being a jackass who blew up an eight year old. I'm convinced there's a special place in Hell for these guys and people like them. I'm not being poignant, but those guys aren't serving a case, either.

Let's have Stephen Colbert do the talking.