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Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Nov 26 2016

The Faithful Trotter

Posted by Mugs @ 2:45 pm in Family,Running Print This Post Print This Post

I’m very thankful for the faithful trotter in my home. Year in, year out for the 31+ years I have known him, no matter where he resides, he has run. He has run along the hills of the Hudson, in the mountains of Colorado, during the snowstorms of Wisconsin, along the river in Seoul, beneath the wide open sky of Canberra, behind the barbed wire in Iraq, and through the monuments of DC. Running slumps have been few and far between.

In the meantime, I will jump on the wagon, fall off the wagon, get run over by the wagon, or chase after the wagon halfheartedly. Faithfulness to fitness is not my strength – hence the admiration.

Dale ran the 5k turkey trot again this year, and as with all his races, had a goal. He wanted to finish in under 23 minutes. He achieved his goal with a time of 22:38. He was rewarded with a doughnut and cheers from his fans.


May 24 2016

Half a Marathon – Half a Mind

Posted by Mugs @ 6:36 pm in Family,Nature,Running,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

A few months back, Dale started looking for a half marathon to run. We determined May 21st was the day we could get away. He sent me the following email, “The choices for a half marathon are Richmond or Sunset Beach, NC. Which would you prefer?”

I responded, “Is this a joke? One of them is at a beach.” (No offense to all those who love Richmond, but I’ve seen the giant cigarette plenty of times.)

I quickly booked a hotel in nearby Ocean Isle Beach. I was hoping for a family get-a-way. Unfortunately, Christian Youth Theater hijacked our life back in September and has refused to budge. Gabe and Zeke had rehearsal. Abby (who is getting a teensy bit miffed about constantly having to cover for her parents while they go away on holiday) held down the fort.

We drove down to North Carolina on Friday. I remarked to Dale that since it was at the beach, at least the course would be flat. Friday night was still cloudy, but walking on the beach looking for shells, breathing in the sea air helped lift from me the heaviness of the week. We ate spaghetti and meatball for dinner. (I find it odd to get one giant meatball on my spaghetti instead of five normal sized meatballs. I have seen this giant meatball on several menus. I fear Mom may adopt this rule to settle a whole lot of squabbling and the counting out of meatballs.)

Saturday morning, Dale was up at 0500 eating microwave pancakes with peanut butter. I was in a daze. We drove on the causeway bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway to the start of the race. The humidity and the gnats were thick. There were 1500 runners. In the picture at the start, you can see Dale’s white hat on the far right. He started running and I walked to the start of the causeway (between mile two and three) to cheer him on. After he ran up the bridge, I walked towards the beach figuring I had an hour to wait while he ran the route on the mainland. The humidity was stifling, I got part way to the beach and thought, “I better bring some water.” When I got back to the car, it started to rain heavily and I thought, “I’ll take a nap instead.” Dale kept running in the pouring rain.

When the rain stopped, I went back to the causeway to watch the leader run down towards me. The woman next to me remarked, “I ran this last year. That bridge is a killer.” Suddenly, it dawned on me, “If Dale is running this bridge twice over the Intercoastal Waterway that large ships sail underneath, this is not a flat course.” When I finally saw him run back down the bridge (between mile eleven and twelve), he did not look very happy. I cheered loudly to pep him up.

When the half marathoners arrived back on the Island, they were joined by the 5K runners. The combined group ran south away from the finish line. Dale watched the turn point ahead with anticipation, but when he arrived, he was told it was only for the 5K, he had to keep going south. This was his moment of discouragement. Meanwhile, I was at the finish line watching all the happy finishers get their huge medals. The finish announcer loudly announced everyone’s name who crossed the line. One of the half marathon leaders (I think he finished third) looped back around to cross the finish line arm and arm with his granny who was running the 5K. It was a sweet moment.

Dale crossed the finish at 1:57:04 (official chip time) in 90th place. I cheered when his name was announced. He finished in under two hours which was great. It was not the time he hoped for but then again, the flat course wasn’t flat.

His recovery consisted of body surfing in the ocean and a really long walk on the beach with his wife at sunset. (They wouldn’t call it sunset beach if there wasn’t a sunset.) I got sunburned which was great because it meant there was actually a sun out to be burned by. I saw a guy who was fishing from the beach catch a three foot long shark. We had hoped to see a turtle digging her nest in the dunes, but we only saw a completed nest marked off with police tape. We also discovered a mailbox where people come to write notes of encouragement, thankfulness, memory… We heard one little girl explain to her friend, “Alls I know is there’s the dunes and then the mailbox.”

On Saturday evening, we went out to a seafood restaurant for dinner and the waitress took our drink and appetizer order. We decided what we were ordering for our entrees. After awhile, she came back and said, “Has anyone told you about our specials tonight?”

I replied, “We ordered already.”

Confusion spread across her face. Dale laughed and said, “No. We haven’t.”

She was our waitress after all. If we had ordered, she would know.

A half a marathon for Dale – A half a mind for me.

Feb 02 2016

The first 5’1″ Commandant of Cadets

Posted by Mugs @ 2:43 pm in Family,Nature,Running,school,Sightseeing,Work Print This Post Print This Post

Last month, Dale and I were thrilled to attend the ceremony in which Diana Holland, our friend, became the Commandant of Cadets at West Point.

During the ceremony, I was thinking: “Diana and Jim are the same down-to-earth people even if they live in a giant house and have aides bossing them around – Ralph (Diana’s dad) looks so very happy – Nora got on my case about not ‘hooting and hollering’ and there she is a couple rows in front of me ‘hooting and hollering’ – I’m so glad I convinced Dines to come even though she’s wearing her ridiculous Russian Spy hat, because we both got a shout out in the speech – Look, there is Paul Owen, he looks just the same – Wow, this is really happening – It is bitter cold here – hell really did freeze over.”

Maybe I only thought those things or maybe I whispered them to Dale and Dines sitting next to me during the hoopla.

Diana gave a great speech. Her line about Beth yelling “I told you so!” from miles away couldn’t have been more true. She also made a great joke about her and Jim discussing what a historic moment this was because she would be the first Commandant who couldn’t see over the poop deck. (The poop deck is a raised location in the center of the mess hall from which the announcements are made to the Corps during meals.) Downplaying, of course, the fact that she is the first woman to ever hold the job of Commandant of Cadets. Dale and I know her as a friend, fellow cadet, and Engineer Officer. We know she will work very hard and set a great example for the Corps.

Diana and Jim tried to enjoy the reception with family and friends, but Diana’s aide kept whispering in her ear about who she needed to hobnob with. (A long time ago, I thought it must be terrific to be a big wig, but as I’ve gotten older, the thought of having every moment of the day scheduled to accomodate the needs of others sounds quite unappealing to me. It’s too much like motherhood.)

Dale, Dines, and I had a lot of fun walking around the cadet area. (Because the signs said those authorized by the commandant were allowed, we figured we’d risk it since we had a reasonable chance to be authorized. The backup plan, if we got stopped was to tell security to check with the Com and see what she had to say about us.)

While shopping at the C- Store, Dale was finally able to buy a replacement greengirl. (He has never forgiven me for throwing out his old one.) John Brockhaus gave us a tour of the GIS lab, and Mark Gagnon let us admire his daughters “do not erase” art work in his office. The sky was blue, the stone was gray, it was 8 degrees, and a bitter wind was whipping off the Hudson trying to freeze us to death. Dines walked to the ceremony with a hot cup of coffee in her hand and by the time she arrived, it was cold.

The night before the ceremony, Dale and I had a lovely visit with Kristin, Mark, Ryan, Justin, Jonathan, Kathryn, Morgan, Maryann, Joseph, and Michael Gagnon. The Gagnon home is a happy home and Dale and I were uplifted to spend time with such a sweet family. Evan and Megan were not in attendance as they had decided to follow their parents footsteps and become cadets at West Point. Megan and Evan are still coming to grips with seeing a photo of their Mom with the Com. (For most cadets, it’s really best if the Com does not know your name.)

Throughout our two day trip, I enjoyed all things New York: the headlines of the New York Post, delicious diner food, and being able to talk in a loud and rude manner with no one looking askance.

Oct 29 2015

Threat Assessment

The day before Dale’s running of the Marine Corps Marathon, I thought it a brilliant idea to bring Dale’s large black military backpack for Gabe to carry around during the race. Rain was predicted and it was waterproof. Perfect.

On the morning of the race, I began throwing into the backpack everything that we could possible need or Dale could possibly need or any of the 30,000 runners could possibly need, or any stranger passing by could possibly need.

I packed the bag with eight water bottles, seven cheese-it and pretzel bags, six granola bars, five sharpies, four poster boards, three umbrellas, two Nintendo ds’s, one gallon bag full of candy, Dale’s jacket and gloves, and the poncho liner.

Why? Because I was convinced that I would be sitting for hours with two kids complaining of being “hungry, thirsty, cold, wet, bored, tired…”

We had to go through three security checkpoints on our walk to the start. At one, the irritated guy next to me said, “You’re slowing everybody up with that backpack.”

I put it down to “fear of missing the start.”

At every checkpoint, the backpack came off Gabe’s back and was thoroughly searched. Twice, I sent Gabe running ahead to the checkpoint, because I knew it would take him extra long to get through security.

We watched the start of the race from the Memorial Bridge. It provided a terrific view of the jumpers, the Ospreys, the cannon, the start line. We had no idea which side of the road Dale would run down. I scanned the right, Zeke scanned the left, and Gabe scanned both. Three minutes after the cannon fired, Gabe heard Dale yell at us and saw Dale run by. Zeke and I missed it in the mayhem.

Zeke was disappointed, but I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll see him at the 10 mile mark.”

We walked quickly across the bridge, paid a brief visit to Lincoln, and then walked down Ohio Drive past the water station to just before mile 11. Zeke was tired and sore with foot pain. (He had twisted his ankle playing flag football in PE.) I spread out the poncho liner under a big tree for Zeke to sit on. Gabe set the large black backpack next to him. In the pouring rain, under his umbrella, Zeke began coloring in my motivational sign (“The MCM GOT NOTHIN ON DALE MANRY IT’S 40 HE’S 50.”)

Gabe and I were standing on the sidewalk by the curb ten feet away from the tree, cheering for the wheelies, pushers, and leaders of the race (Go Army!) My phone notified me of Dale’s location, so I told Zeke (who had finished the coloring in while the rain finished the coloring off) that Dale was close. Zeke got up and joined us, leaving the large black backpack by the tree.

I glanced occasionally behind me at the large black backpack to make sure no one snuck up on us and stole it, but mostly I cheered the runners.

Suddenly, the woman next to me yelled, “Look out! There is a car coming behind you!”

I turned to see a large black SUV stop and two big men in kevlar with a bomb sniffing dog get out and move towards the large black backpack. Zeke got to the bag first. “It’s our bag!” I yelled.

“There’s Dad!” Gabe screamed. I whirled around to take Dale’s picture while Zeke got lectured by two scary men about the necessity of keeping your bags with you at all times.

(Someone has to take one for the team.)

Dale ran on, the black SUV backed up, and Zeke mournfully said, “I missed Dad.”

I showed Zeke the picture of Dale from the camera. Surprisingly, it didn’t help improve his mood.

(“What were you thinking?”…As Dines so aptly put it when I relayed this story to her.)

The idea that it might not be a smart choice to have my dark curly haired and bearded teenage son who wears a forbidding countenance carry a large black backpack to a marathon in Washington D.C. suddenly dawned on me.

As we cut through the FDR memorial on our way to mile 15, I continued to reassure Zeke that he would for sure see his Dad at the next spot – as long as we weren’t hustled into a black SUV and carted off.

We stood in the median of 15th street and cheered again the runners in front of Dale. “There’s box head guy!” Gabe shouted. “Dad should be coming soon.” We rang our cowbells shouted and cheered. Thankfully, this time, Zeke saw his Dad.

Next, we were supposed to move to mile 20, but I got all confused and followed the runners down 15th towards the Washington Monument. The band playing “Circle of Life” spurred me on. Eventually, I knew my direction was all wrong as was the band’s next choice of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

When we got back to where we started, I could see the runners crossing the 14th street bridge above us. We attempted to cut through to 14th street by walking next to the bureau of engraving and printing, but the sidewalk dead ended. Thinking my mistake might cost us seeing Dale, I sent Gabe at a sprint back out on 15th street to find another way through. Zeke and I limped behind. At the far side of the building, there was a vehicle entrance that said, “Do Not Enter.” I started jogging around the lift gate.

“Mom, I don’t think we’re supposed to go through here,” Zeke said. (He was trying to avoid another encounter with Scary Men in Kevlar.) “Run, son, run!” I shouted. “You’re small. When they grab me, you can squiggle through and see your Dad.”

We made it to 14th street without being arrested and heard the pounding of the most fabulous drum line ever. We turned, and jogged our way onto the bridge, but Gabe was no where in sight. I pulled out my phone to call and ask where he was and noticed I had 5 missed calls from him. I called, “Where are you? I can’t see you on the bridge.” I asked.

“You’re on the bridge!?” He yelled. “I just ran 6 blocks with this backpack on and you’re ahead of me!?” (He had not taken the cut through, but had run down to Independence, over to 14th street, and up to the bridge. I could hear the awesome drum line pounding in the background.)

We cheered again the runners in front of Dale – including the box head guy. We clanged and clanged the cowbells as Dale made it to the 20 mile mark. Dale kept on moving. I could tell that he was hurting. Gabe, Zeke, and I were exhausted.

“He has 6.2 miles to go. There’s no way he’s going to run faster than 10 minutes a mile. We’ve got an hour to make it back across the Memorial Bridge,” I said.

We trudged around the Tidal Basin and back up Ohio Drive. As we approached the grass hill to get up to the Memorial Bridge, Zeke could walk no longer. “Give me the backpack and put Zeke on your back,” I told Gabe.

With Zeke on his back and the backpack on mine we jogged up the grassy hill.

“Gabe’s gonna drop me. He’s gonna drop me!” Zeke shouted.

“He’s not gonna drop you!” I yelled. (I put my head down, jogged the slowest jog ever and thought, “Whose brilliant idea was it to bring this heavy backpack?”)

Two thirds of the way up the hill, Gabe stepped in a large hole, fell, and Zeke tumbled to the ground.

We staggered up onto the bridge laughing and crying, moaning and groaning. “Here, Gabe, take the camera and run up to security. Get to the finish. Take a picture of Dad. Zeke and I might not make it,” I said.

Gabe took off running. Zeke and I stumbled on. Zeke looked longingly at the pedicab. When we eventually arrived at the security checkpoint, Gabe was holding up the line with the inspection of his large black backpack. Finally, they cleared him and he raced on. Zeke and I made it quickly through security. We met Gabe near mile 26. We arrived 7 minutes before Dale.

The final photo, the trudge to the meet-up area, the walking downhill – knowing we would have to walk uphill – because the meet up banners are alphabetical and our last name starts with M, then the cheers and the smiles and the giant medal hanging around Dale’s neck.

He did it! We did it!


Oct 26 2015

Marine Corps Marathon – My AAR

Posted by Dale @ 1:15 pm in Family,Running Print This Post Print This Post

Since we moved to Virginia in 2007, I’ve been trying to get into the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). Even though it has a field of 30,000 runners, it sells out very quickly, within minutes of registration opening online. I was able to get a slot this year by running the 17.75 km (~11 miles) race in Prince William Forest back on April 2nd. Finishers of that race were given guaranteed slots for MCM. So I finally got in.

Mugs took care of all the logistics and planning; all I had to do was run. So this after action review (AAR) post is just about running the race.

The weather on race day was a mixed bag. The temperature was perfect, around 57F, but it was raining off and on.


At the start

(Yes, I did shave.)

I planned on starting out with 9:00 minute miles and holding that as long as I could. So I lined up at the back of the corral that had an expected finish time of 3:59. This worked well because when the gun went off, right at 7:55 am, it took only a couple minutes to get to the start banner, and I never had to weave in and out of other runners or stop for congestion.

(I did not high five a single spectator along the entire route.)

The first 6 miles felt good, and I was right on pace. From the start to mile 3 was the biggest hill in the race. It was good to get that over with early. After mile 4, there was a small hill as we crossed the Potomac on the Key Bridge. I hit 10k (6.2 miles) in 53:31 (8:37 per mile). Only 20 miles to go!

( In the days leading up to this, Mugs kept reminding me to have fun.)

We had a little bit of a hill from mile 6 to 7.5, then turned around and ran back down to mile 9. Since this little leg was out and back, I could see the leaders coming down as I was going up. The top two were together and moving at a great pace. Then as I was going down, I got to see the masses of people that were just behind me. My legs still felt good, and my pace was steady.


At Mile 10

(Somewhere in this stretch is where I first saw the guy running with a cardboard box on his head.)

I saw Mugs, Gabe and Zeke at Mile 10. I was soaked head to toe from the rain and sweat but didn’t really notice it. From there we ran along the Potomac to Haines Point and the halfway mark, which I reached in 1:53:29 (8.40 per mile). From Mile 12 to Mile 13 is the “Wear Blue Mile”. The entire mile was lined on both sides of the road with volunteers holding American flags and signs with the faces of fallen service members. It was a pretty inspiring and humbling mile. The rest of the run around Haines Point was pretty lonely without many spectators. But I did see Mugs, Gabe and Zeke again after mile 15.


At Mile 15

(Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were ringing cowbells and screaming like crazy each time I saw them. That’s nothing new!)

For this next leg to mile 20, we ran back to Lincoln, past Washington, along the mall to the Capitol, back to Lincoln, then to Jefferson. Right around the Capitol was the 30k (18.6 miles) mark. I got there at 2:47:22 (8:59 per mile). Following Mugs’ advice to “Have fun”, I made sure to look at as many of the monuments, memorials, buildings and other landmarks as I could while running past. Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were waiting for me again at the 20 mile mark. I ended up hitting 20 miles in 3:01:30, which is 9:04 per mile.


At Mile 20

(I’m trying to convince myself that the last 10k will be a piece of cake! Do I looked convinced?)

From 20, we crossed back over the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge and ran a loop around Crystal City. This section had a little bit of a hill that seemed much larger than it really is! There was a 4 hour pace group that came past me in this section. I tried to pick up my speed to stay with them, but I had nothing left in the tank at this point. I made it to Mile 23 without walking at all, but then I started run-walk-run. Miles 23 and 24 both were about 15 minute miles, where I walked for 5 minutes and ran for 10.

( At the food station just before Mile 24, I passed on the Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins.)

After Crystal City, we ran around the Pentagon, then back to Arlington and to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima statue). Mugs, Gabe and Zeke were waiting at Mile 26.


At Mile 26

(Does it look like I had fun?)

My final time was 4:14:06 with 9:42 per mile. Thanks to Mugs, Gabe and Zeke for all of the encouragement along the way!

At the family link-up area

(Gabe really enjoyed carrying Zeke on his back. Ask him about it.)

As always, Mugs was my No. 1 fan!


No. 1 Fan