29 August 2014

A little R'n'R: Freddie & Snowbie

Today's Flashback Friday:

I was reflecting on some of the people who have been with me throughout all of my USMC career and who remain dear and close friends today. I was fortunate to be roomed with two amazing women during The Basic School (TBS), and although we had different MOSs, we remained in close contact, attending each other's weddings, meeting babies and staying in constant contact via Facebook, phone calls and visits.
My birthday dinner (2002)
I am blessed to have these two in my life - Freddie and Snowbie - one a combat engineer officer, the other an air support control officer with multiple Iraq deployments. They got me through TBS with laughter, yoga, encouragement, tolerance for well...everything, a little grease paint, and lots of late night movies while folding laundry after a week of field exercises in the snow and mud. Snowbie now lives about 50 minutes away and we try to see each other monthly and I've spent recent holidays with her as well. Love them to pieces. Grateful.

I have no idea..... (Oct 2002)
Birthday Ball (Nov 2002)
Frozen Fox Company 
Recognize the big man, anyone?
At the National Cathedral for a choir performance. 
Picture that sits on one of my shelves, taken during Freddie's bday. 


27 August 2014

A little R'n'R: Got tape?

Today my day got away from me: physical therapy went long, which bumped my run from this morning to midday, I forgot that the Bubbaloo's school is out 45 minutes early this week and dashed frantically to retrieve him and while I loaded the washer and added detergent, I forgot to start it....sheesh!

I did run 9 miles today, which felt great, albeit slow as molasses, which I attribute to heeding my physical therapist, since I am not interested in having any flare-ups. The right side of my abdomen seems to be having muscle tension issues, which I understand to mean that the scar tissue is causing the healthy muscle to tighten intensively in compensation. Interestingly, this has little to do with my running and more to do with having to lift my son or other objects. If you read my red dress post, you may have noticed some black stripes on my legs. Those were for some lingering discomfort from a small tear in my left calf and an achy Achilles; I'm still on kinesio tape therapy to help heal. Today, I let my legs just go during the last 1.5 miles just to see and held about a 8:00 pace without any discomfort in my calf or Achilles tendon, so that was a bonus. 
Kinesio tape, calf on the left, achilles on the right.
Awesome tan lines.
If you've never been to the south, most lakes carry advisements of the creatures in the water, and our town is no exception. One of the larger lakes, Greenfield Lake, just over 4 miles around (following the trail, the road is closer to 5), has alligator denizens, yellow-bellied turtles and a wide variety of waterfowl as well as some mangrove-type outcroppings, if that a proper description. It was around 86F with full sun when I went out, so it was warm but also a lovely day to enjoy the lake. 

Was about a five footer. 
Cormorant? 
About two miles around.....

Mangrove-like.....something.
From the main dock with the paddle boats...a canoe is on the right. 
I will be taking the half-marathon this weekend strictly as a training race, to test the legs and to see how much of my previous speedwork still exists. Oh, yes, and I'll be sportin' tape to match my 12for12for1200 tank. Boom. 


26 August 2014

The phoenix

The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, 
and still defying fortune's spite, revive from ashes and rise.  
- Miguel de Cervantes
Jordan (May 2007)
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what and how much to share on this blog. Obviously, I have given you the origins of my injury, answers to FAQs, my wranglings with the Veterans Affairs' red tape and some insight into my life, recovery and training. I've also shared some stories of others who are friends and mentors, and who inspired me to take this journey.

But, in the interest of being honest and hoping that others will find their way forward when feeling overburdened or stressed, I will admit that this past month was difficult for me. I don't ask for help much, whether due to my upbringing or innate character/personality traits, I don't know; probably a combination of both. I don't share much about my childhood, college days or even early adulthood, even to close friends, and I realized that this created an interesting perception of me when I entered the Marine Corps. I don't really have anything of which I am ashamed, certainly, we've all made mistakes, but I have never felt need to reveal everything, either, although I am pretty transparent, which gives the illusion that one might think they know all about me, when just about the opposite is true. Weird juxtaposition, huh?

I will say that if there is something negative going on in my life, I do everything possible to disentangle myself from it, right there and then, which sometimes leads to a couple of weeks both solution-seeking and of disgorging whatever is eating at me from my person until it is resolved. That's how I work; it's definitely not a method for everyone, but I can't hold on to the trouble, let it fester, shrug it off. I have to air out the grievance, work through the issue and find a resolution, and I most often do this on my own, although not always in a vacuum. I am a communicator and I know when I get in these modes it can seem as though I am reiterating an early argument, but I am simply walking around the map, looking for what I haven't seen, seeking answers and logical ways to solve what has become a vexation. 

There are those rare times when all my analytical grindings fail and emotion creeps in, and truly, this is when my mechanisms flounder. Growing up, if I didn't do it to help myself, no one else was going to help me, so there was little utility in getting emotional about it; I had to just find a way. In addition, I was wary of help, as it always seemed conditional, predicated on an expected return. In the Marine Corps, a lot of it was "put up and shut up" and deal with it, whether you thought it was a raw deal was immaterial. And, despite the fact that as pilots, we relied on each other, there was fierce competition, so asking for help was often seen as lacking in capability. So, with all of that being reinforced, coupled with my chronic mistrust of the intentions of others, a self-solution always seemed like the best solution. 

I was pointedly reminded about two Sundays ago that it is not. I'd been recently grappling with multiple things and they finally came to a head; I ended up making several phone calls because I just needed to have someone on the other end who I thought might understand. I spent over two hours on the phone that night with a friend whom I have known since my entry into the Corps in 2002, a Silver Star recipient who is no stranger to being in the shit and having to deal with the aftermath of it. The big thing he said to me that night was, 'Thank you for calling me and thank you for telling me all those things; I didn't know that about you. And I'll tell you what, you need to forgive yourself for not being as perfect as you think you should be. You need to realize that pretty much anyone else who's gone through what you've been through, not just in these past few years, but in your life - yeah, they're dead. You are here because you desire to to give, just as much as you desire to achieve, there is so much more you will be and that's astounding to me because who you are is really incredible, seriously.'

He didn't need to say that; I wasn't looking for an ego boost, I was simply hoping someone would tell me the emotional tsunami would recede and a steady tidal rhythm would return. I have been keeping those words inside my head when I have a bad moment - forgive - knowing that while I am fully capable of dissecting and engineering a stoic solution, sometimes just forgiving and releasing yields the result I have been seeking. 

Perspective on the size of the mountain rocks. (Jordan 2007)

24 August 2014

A little R'n'R: Col "Sideshow" Curtis

In one week's time, I should be knee-deep in post-race libations with several friends following my fourth race in the series - the Virginia Beach Rock'n'Roll Half-Marathon. It's a flat course, and I have never done a R'n'R race, so it should be interesting to see how they operate.

Why VA Beach? Well, it goes back to a gentleman called Sideshow - whom I met in 2006, when he took over as the Executive Officer (XO) for HMM-264 for my first deployment. He is a Cobra pilot by trade, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1982, took a break for college, and was commissioned in 1990. He currently serves as the Commanding Officer for the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic (EWTGLANT) in Norfolk, VA.
The man, Colonel of Marines, "Sideshow" Curtis
Sideshow was not only my XO, but he became my mentor and eventually, my friend. He watched over me, and when things got rough, noticed and asked the right questions without pushing too far. While we never got to fly together, he taught me about what it takes to be a professional aviator, and not just a pilot. He has a tremendous sense of humor and we ended up keeping a "zing" tally on his whiteboard throughout the float. (For the record, I won.)

Towards the end of that deployment, on May 25th, while conducting joint training exercises in Jordan, Sideshow and then 1stLt R. Voltin were out with a Huey, fully loaded with ammo and rockets, waiting for their turn to shoot on a range. Both aircraft were spinning on deck, position lights on, on the perimeter of the firing range, while the Harriers completed their training overhead. From the thousands of feet above, a Harrier pilot mistook the helo lights for sparkle, and dropped his 500 lb. bomb on the two birds, where it exploded just aft and to the right of the Cobra. The Huey, which was situated on the left of the Cobra, was also rocked by the explosion and suffered damage to its airframe but it was the Cobra which was immediately engulfed in flames as the ordnance began to cook off and explode in place.

The Huey crew grabbed the two Cobra pilots, and charging full speed back to base, called for emergency transfer. I was walking back from our operations ready room when I saw the explosion and knew something was wrong; I turned back with another pilot and as soon as we entered the spaces, we knew. All hands were on deck, executing the mishap drill as two Phrogs, out for their own training flights, hit the fueling station to refuel and prep for immediate casevac to Amman. They executed the transfer on the line and our flight doc, along with a recon doc, took charge of the two pilots and the Phrogs (one piloted by our CO) went off as fast as they could to Amman. (1stLt Voltin's story is here.)

Upon our return to the United States in early July, Col. Curtis was there to greet the squadron on the flight line. He had suffered burns across his arms, head and hands, but, swathed in bandages as he was, he was there to be our XO and welcome back the unit. I will never forget seeing him that day; that kind of leadership is rare, as is the tenacity it took to recover.

Following that, he deployed again to both Iraq and Afghanistan before being appointed to EWTGLANT. He's kind of a bad-ass.
The FECC Highland Games (FWD)
With EWTGLANT SgtMaj Herman, leading a boots and utes run in VA
 In 2010, when the Pumpkin Noodle was born, he was among the first group to receive a phone call and he and the family wanted to come to the hospital and visit. When he didn't get a call back from me, he called K. and upon learning my condition, raced to the hospital. Not only did he stay until I was airlifted out, but he also took the Pumpkin Noodle home, when she was two days old, and he and his family cared for her until the rest of our families arrived and she was able to come down to Wilmington. 
When the Pumpkin Noodle was just two months
 

He has remained a steadfast friend, whose loyalty one could not measure, as well as someone who always tells me the straight story, unvarnished and whose family I love with all my heart. When K. left last year, Sideshow was there to help me stand back up. We have spent three Thanksgivings with them and this race was intended to be our first race together - alas, a torn hamstring sidelined Sideshow, so he'll be providing the pre-race dinner, race course support and post-race alcohol.

At his eldest daughter's wedding, July 2013
Wedding!
Photo booth with the man-cub,
also on his way to being commissioned
And a few more pics, just because he's that awesome. Much respect. 
 





In not a small aside, the Curtis's were assisted by the Semper Fi Fund when he was injured, and Sideshow is a huge proponent of what they do, speaking at a fundraiser in 2012 and participating in activities. Full circle.

(I will also have good company in the form of Capt S. "Peter" Martinez, with whom I also deployed twice and who now flies with HMM-774. Sadly, my two Navy friends, LtCmdr A. Alvord and Cmdr M. Lenox, are not currently in Norfolk, the former is on her way to England for her next duty station and the latter is on deployment with his fighter squadron.)


21 August 2014

Got my red dress on-on...

hash house (slang), n.: 
a cheap restaurant. 
harrier, n.: 
1. any of an English breed of dog used for hunting rabbits. 
2. A cross-country runner 

Two evenings ago, I participated in the 2nd Annual Red Dress Run for charity, put on by the Downtown Wilmington Hash House Harriers (DWH3), which just happens to start and end at The Pour House, run by Joe A., who is a MARSOC Marine turned bar owner, and who also raises funds for the MARSOC Foundation through several events held at the bar each year.

For anyone who is not familiar with a Hash Run, the premise is simple, one person (the hare/harrier), marks a course using flour or chalk, and when it's time, the group (the hounds) follow the marks to various ends, some of them being false trails, some leading to beer, and some leading to drinking games, and ultimately ending up at the original starting spot for, yes, more drinking. The concept was created by the Brits, with its origins in cross-country running.
The logo of the Hash House Harriers
The history of "formal" hashing dates back to the 1930s in Kuala Lumpur by British civil servants and military personnel stationed there.  While a common theme of hashing is "there are no rules," the club registration was the original "Rules." Written with wry jest of a good Brit, the objectives of the Hash House Harriers were listed as:

(a) to promote physical fitness amongst its members 
(b) to get rid of weekend hangovers 
(c) to acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it with beer 
(d) to persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

In that vein, there was much imbibing before the run even commenced on Tuesday (caveat: not by me, hello, single motherhood), whose Red Dress theme was for the non-profit Dance Cooperative of Wilmington (a RDR must have a charity recipient). There is also a twist which reminds me of my rugby days in that crude, ok, really crude, nicknames are dispensed amongst the veteran hashers (others are either "virgins" or "just"), bawdy songs and NSFW chants are catcalled out in standard echo and response method. 

As a "virgin" I was paired with a veteran, whose real name is Max and who is a MARSOC Marine and well, he's HUGE.... During introductions, a virgin must state their name, where they're from, their occupation and something interesting about themselves and the crowd responds accordingly. I'll leave those unanswered here, but according to the DWH3, I am unemployed and meet a standard prerequisite to work at the Pour House. Excellent. 
And me in my muu-muu
Done with formalities downstairs, up to the start. 
The group thickens.
Market and 3rd Street crossing
The run started off just as another wave of rain began and we made our way through the downtown streets, looking for chalk marks. There are also symbols along the route, which give guidelines and directions and are prepped prior to the run. We found circles, arrows, lines and false routes. The first stop brought us to the Duck & Dive where another round of drinking commenced.

Sadly, at this point, it was nearing 8pm, and I hadn't realized that the run would go on longer than two hours (now, I am educated), and I had to get back home to the munchkins. I gave Joe a hug, thanked Max for his instruction and trotted back in my dress to my car. What a great cause and what a fun group of people; I will be back, with a better child-care plan next time! 

18 August 2014

Nothing is lost.....

Sometimes it's a positive to have an echo of the past, as long as it doesn't prevent you from seeing the future. 

Nothing is Lost by Noel Coward

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

And in a nod to those who ran the Falmouth Road Race this past Sunday, a few personal memories from one of my favorite places in the world.....Woods Hole, MA

Nobska Lighthouse, the road to the right is part of the race course...
Anchored sailboat off Stoney Beach
Entrance to the Woods Hole Yacht Club
The oar shed at WHYC
Row boat on the sand at Great Harbor
Chairs on a private beach at Penzance Point


Sunset reflected in the lighthouse window
Nobska Lighthouse


Sunset from Nobska Point 




17 August 2014

Wiped out....

The weekend is half over and I am already wiped. I am naturally more of an introvert, and while I don't eschew the company of others, I require time and space to retreat internally and regroup. I have to say that I have not really gotten that this summer; my only real alone time has been my race weekends, which of course, aren't truly restful (although they certainly can be internal!). I even had the sitter do a longer-than-normal stint yesterday just so I could get in my workout and see a movie, but as I finally settle into my role as a single mom (which role I have had since the Bubbaloo was 9-months old, so just over a year now), I am realizing that I need to be mindful of creating and maintaining balance in my life.

The running and exercise certainly helps, as well as providing consistency and has become part of our weekly household routine. I sometimes crave absolute solitude, though, and that is harder to come by. It's weird to literally pay for my free time and I also feel guilty for wanting it, even though I know that's absurd. I am looking forward to school starting this coming week, as I will gain almost four hours each morning. I will receive my first true respite (alas, not a vacation!) in a few weeks, though; I asked K. if he would take them for the week following Labor Day, which is a visitation weekend for him. He agreed. It will be the longest separation I have had from the munchkins since either of them was born, (but they'll be local, so if there's an issue, they can always come see me).

What will I do with a week of free time? Get my newest VA rebuttal together, clean the house fully, including those niggling things that never get done like a thorough purge of the fridge and freezer, sand and repaint the porch chairs (four months later), sleep, study for LSAT round two, and hopefully, have a good post-race recovery training week. Oh, yeah, and clear out too-small clothing from the munchkins and finally have a yard sale to clear out the piles of no longer used (or wanted) items. Whew! I also want to finally get through some books that have been on my nightstand for way too long.

All that being said, I hope that as I keep pressing, regardless of the outcome of my law school applications, I remember that I require moments of quiet and solitude and that I allow myself the latitude to create it (even if it means a financial outlay). It's all part of the larger picture, and I can't ever forget that.

It's gorgeous out and we are getting ready to go enjoy it! (A few pics from yet another non-running workout yesterday; planning to be back on the roads tomorrow.....)

60-90s, which really burn....sets of 50. 
They really do.....
The double mirrors which are great for ensuring form.





15 August 2014

Find your adventure

I was wearing an old t-shirt the other day, nothing fancy or particularly special, just a t-shirt; but one gotten from my pre-USMC days, during my dot-com days, working with QuokkaSports, specifically in this instance, on online production of Eco Challenge 2000 Borneo. The shirt was from an online travel company for off-the-grid travelers, the company was Adventureseek, and their motto was "Find Your Adventure." I always found that line appealing, and not because I could imagine myself trekking across some remote outpost, austerely outfitted in only what I procured from the locals (which I have done and don't highly recommend).
Flashback Friday:
At Humboldt Redwoods State Park, 1998, I think!
It is because the notion of adventure to me is life-encompassing, that weird search for those things that both get your heart racing and keep you enthralled, long after the initial surge of adrenaline, whether because of memory or circumstance. We also tend to think of adventure on a grand scale, and when I reflect on my adventures, I've had many on that plane: traveling to Gili Trawangan on a whim and learning to scuba dive; dog-sledding and cross-country skiing on a November midnight in Alaska; running in the south of France and jumping off the cliffs at Cassis; a four-month solo tour of Europe and learning snowboard at Kleine-Scheidegg, walking through the streets of Paris at four a.m. and attending Las Fallas in Valencia; and hang-gliding off the top of Mt. Tamalpais onto Stinson Beach, among many others. (The list of my adventures with the Corps and with my running would carry on for days, so for the sake of brevity, I omit those.)

Other adventures are smaller, but no less impactful: finding a fabulous cafe with splendid coffee and a perfect croissant, opening a new book and being so absorbed that I lose track of everything else, completing the Friday NYT crossword (always in pen), finding a new running route, and, of course, teaching the munchkins' their "firsts" and seeing them fearlessly try something new.

An adventure is that thing that either opens me up to something new or pushes me out of my "known" zone - whether a nudge just outside the border or completely out of my comfort level. It is that thing that I risk trying, regardless of outcome - especially when I don't know the outcome. Saying "yes" is probably the greatest way to start an adventure. It doesn't mean you can't plan but it also means you shouldn't try to control where it takes you (unless it's swimming in crocodile-infested waters, then, you should reconsider....).

I think adventure is all about the willingness to try.... just to see... that maybe, this might be the coolest thing you've ever done. 

14 August 2014

VA headache: down the rabbit hole go I.....

Late last week, I received yet another letter from the VA telling me that they acted on their proposed decision (the one to which I submitted my letter of disagreement, along with evidence citing why the current rating should remain in place, and although I subsequently received a notice from them stating that my letter was rejected as it was not in the proper form, it is cited as evidence in the new paperwork I received, WTF?).

I now must utilize VA Form 21-0958, conveniently located on the VA website, submit additional evidence and try and fight this rating change. Ugh. I can't imagine what people who have more serious conditions have to go through. I will jump through the asinine hoops and submit my information.

What's really kind of disturbing is that of all the issues the VA has with people still waiting on benefits and appointments, they have been remarkable efficient at making a decision that would cut my entitlement (recall that when I first got that notice in May, I hadn't even been retired for a year).  In contrast, this is what the case load backlog looks like in Winston-Salem, NC,  for those who are still awaiting benefits (image courtesy of Office of the Inspector General/Dept of Veterans Affairs), as reported by WUNC:


In other news, I am on another mandatory "light" week (read that as "no running") due to various bodily impairment, namely issues in my abdomen and my left calf. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress, so I will gamely press on. I will venture back onto the road on Saturday for an easy test run.

My next race is end of August, in Virginia Beach - the Rock n' Roll Half-Marathon. The reason behind that race is connected to a 500-lb bomb dropped on my first deployment. More details on that next week.




12 August 2014

Avec courage

The etymology of courage, per the Online Etymology Dictionary (and its extensive sources) is that it first appears in Middle English circa 1300; it stems from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) "heart, innermost feelings; temper," from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor "heart" (see heart), thus "courage" remains a common metaphor for inner strength.

There are many famous quotes about courage, from Winston Churchill to Amelia Earhart to Nelson Mandela - many of which speak to courage as not an absence of fear, but the ability to push through that fear. If you look through the recent Facebook posts of MARSOC, you will see the names of those who reacted to horrifically fearful situations with absolute courage to save the lives of others, in some cases standing directly in the line of fire to do so. Courage of that nature is not just bravery, but selfless love of those who stand to the left and right of them. It is not something easily found, on or off the battlefield.

Courage to me is an everyday act to be able to fight whatever fear appears - that thing that is in our hearts giving us that intangible strength to go on through the unknown and, sometimes, the horrible known, and still keep fighting for good. My definitions of courage are best stated through the quotes below:

"It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and love it anyway." - Oscar Wilde

Someone whose intellect I value a great deal reminded me of this quote recently; he was talking about his belief in continuing to persist in making the world a safer place and why we must continue trying to do so.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

Whether you agree with it or not, I would rather climb the tree and venture out on a limb to see beyond the branches rather than stand holding the trunk and peering from my tiptoes. (Then again, I don't weigh that much, so odds are, the branch will hold.)

And my favorite:


The above being said, my last five days were a veritable chiffonade salad of life, some sweet ingredients, some bitter and some I had never before encountered. I am in the midst of forging a new life for myself and in that, dealing with uncertainty and unknowns, both personally and professionally. Add to that my responsibility for the lives of two other people and their needs and it is incredibly daunting if I stop and look up at the towering granite face of tomorrow.

I try not to do that, of course. I work for tomorrow by ensuring my chalk bag is full today, my shoes aren't slick and finding the right handhold to get me up my ascent for the next 24 hours. I measure my progress and maybe I have to move laterally for a day or week to find the next route upward. I don't think I have courage in doing so, I think it is simply what I have to do. I am more afraid of not trying than I am of failing. I am more fearful of living bereft of the range of life's emotions than I am of feeling them. I am not brave in this, as a matter of fact, I am probably more foolish than I might care to admit, but it's just who I am.

I think I have felt visceral fear for my life three times, and only one was in my military aircraft, at takeoff from the ship, when we were overloaded on a ridiculously hot day in an underpowered bird and upon sliding off the deck immediately began a downward dive toward the ocean. That time it was my training that allowed me to grab the controls from the co-pilot, fight gravity by using the water for extra power (ground effect) and coax the aircraft to a speed that allowed us to gain flight and eventually, elevation. The other two times, it was my will to live that drove me to action.

Much of life is uncontrollable, much of it is uncertain and certainly, much of it is not preordained. I do what I can today to try and shape tomorrow so that I will have a handhold to grasp in my journey upward. I have hope that those things I am working towards or putting the energy into come to fruition. Doesn't mean I am not terrified of slipping off the sheer wall to the ground below, but if it happens, well, I guess I'll have to just find a different route.

05 August 2014

Freight train on the track

It's been a hectic few days around here, my primary sitter is on vacation (hooray for the secondary!), the Bubbaloo's birthday is just a few days away, my mom's coming to town and it's been raining for over a week. Whew! The rain probably doesn't have that much to do with anything except that it requires much more creativity in channeling the munchkins' energy so it ebbs away appropriately throughout the course of the day, leaving them with just enough in their fun meters to brush their teeth, take a bath, read some stories and crash out at bedtime. This is a delicately calibrated operation, mind you, and trying to replicate it even once has been nigh impossible.
The Bubbaloo expending his energy meter 
Making frozen banana, fresh strawberry and chocolate swirl
(I add a smidge of milk, but that's it!)
The Pumpkin Noodle helps with blender ops
Yum!
On my end, I bounced back nicely from the Endless Summer Run and so, Monday decided to extend my typical 4-miler into an 8-miler, which ended up being a 9-miler. I was in good company with Mike D. and Kevin K.; Mike is training for his fall marathon under the tutelage of Tom Clifford of Without Limits, so he's been doing some serious mileage. He was kind enough to call me nuts (regarding the race series) and let me tag along for his run, which for that day was 13 miles.

We took off at a leisurely 8:35 pace, which we picked up slightly as we made the first turnaround at 2.5 miles. We then seemed to keep picking up the pace, depending on the topic of conversation, and so we did a lot of accordion running through the middle of the run, of which I am not a fan, but at least I know that I can pick it up without it really feeling terribly difficult. Of course, lest I start to feel like I am getting into some sort of real running shape, at 8.4m, Mike said, "Let's run it in," and started hoofing it. I foolishly followed and managed to stay within 20ft of him, and we ran the last bit at a very clean 6:45 pace (or he did, I was a couple of seconds back). Still, the overall pace for the entire run was 8:23, not too shabby. I'll take it.

Today was a brisk 4.5 miles but more significantly, I am adding (under the direction of my PT) some leg strengthening in with lunges, body-weight squats, step-downs and single leg sit-downs. This is in addition to all my stabilization exercises that I do for my core. Super excited about these as I think they will help greatly with both fatigue and recovery as I head into the longer training runs and races for the fall.

Coming back like a freight train. Boom.