Wednesday, February 5, 2020

#100 Surf City Marathon Huntington Beach, California

February 2, 2020

My husband inadvertently pushes me into completing my 100th marathon distance at the Surf City Marathon. I ask what he thinks about signing up for the race a few days into the new year. He states, "I think it is too soon, we are not in shape and it may not be wise to run unprepared!" To me that sounds like a challenge...throw down that gauntlet. What do you mean "It's not your best idea!" I have no choice, but to prove him wrong. I can get ready to run a marathon in less than thirty days, right? Wisdom may not be my greatest strength, but pumped by one double digit 14 mile long run and a total of 91 miles for the month of January, I set out to run my 100th marathon in sunny southern California. 
The weather (the day before the race) does not disappoint! What better thing is there than spending some time on the beach right after picking up your bib from the big white tent in the beach parking lot. The air inside the tent is rather warm with nearly a record high for the day. We quickly make our rounds through the expo...minus the coveted chips and guacamole which requires a text and proof of a text to be granted the "free sample." Trends of the times must text in order to spin the wheel. The volunteers are shouting out no text, no chips...No thanks.
It turns into a glorious Saturday, the sun warms and strengthens us as we prepare to take on another 26.2 mile challenge. My husband elects to run the half because he is wiser and perfectly content with the idea of being able to walk after his race. I on the other hand, prefer to be completely spent and hobble after the run. It is not always sunny in California, but today typifies a true "California classic." We finish our day with a tasty burger and chicken sandwich at G Burger.
Sleep comes easy for me, which is nice for a change. A quiet hotel and a comfy bed doesn't hurt either.  In my dreams, I am just about to open a nicely wrapped present from my daughter that is going to reveal something very important when the alarm blares at 4:30 am.  Armed with the false belief the race begins at 6 am we are out the door by 5 and parked at the high school with the three other cars. Why aren't there any people on the buses yet? We get on the bus with four other people and the driver fires up the bus engine and takes (all six of us) to the start one mile away. The VIP bus ride is the fastest, easiest and most convenient marathon shuttle experience ever. As we make our way to the the host hotel, the lobby (beach side) is empty. We find comfortable chairs and an empty bathroom. Where is everyone? At 5:45 a.m. I peek out and nobody is even in the corral. It turns out the race starts at 6:30 a.m. The hallway never fills up and a line never forms for the potty. How much better can life get or at least race morning! 
The weather forecast is cool and cloudy, perfect running conditions. I leave my husband in a comfy chair to wait out his 7:45 a.m. half marathon start time as I walk out the door and straight into the corral at 6:15. It is my first marathon in seven months, not counting two pacer gigs. My body needed a rest from the endless miles in the last five years. The pep in my step is slowly coming back although a hard run today may take it away temporarily. It is worth it to knock out another milestone. My crazy marathon obsession is gradually coming to an end, but there are still a few miles left in me fingers crossed. 
Once the race begins we charge down the Pacific Coast Highway for three miles before turning for the only section of the race that veers away from the highway and the ocean trail. We are treated to volunteers, bands and people holding signs to cheer us along. The miles tick down as I approach mile six when my marathon running odometer reaches 2600 miles. The remaining 20 miles will be the equivalent of running the last .2 of each of the 100 marathons.
What can go wrong! Great question there are so many things, but for now it is a comfortable groove. The downhill at mile 5 is a thrill on the way out and turns into a climb at mile 8 as we make our way back to the Pacific Coast Highway where the remaining 16 miles take place. While the ocean is vaguely to the left the focus is the monotonous road that rises up to meet my striking running shoes.  With my phone in my pocket music or a podcast is a possibility, but my attention stays focused on the endless highway and getting to the first turnaround point. I envy the runners who are already on their way back. Having done the race in 2012 I remember the route.
There are no false illusions as I approach the finish line and deviate to turn around and continue back out for another 9.5 miles on the beach trail. The shared path is a concrete walkway for beach goers, bicyclists and surfers. I try and distract myself with ocean glances while dodging surfboards. My focus once again goes to reaching that final turnaround. My half marathon time is on pace for a four hours, but I know the lack of training miles will slow my pace in the second half. My goal of being slightly over four hours slowly dwindles with seven miles to go when my left knee radiates pain with each step. I alter my stride and slow the pace, but nothing works. When I reach the beer and bacon station I have nothing to lose and guzzle down a beer to the delight of the guys. It is a fun group and a Godsend for weary disillusioned runners. I am ready and expecting the last miles to be a tough grind, but the knee pain is an added bonus. As I reach the final turnaround point of the day, there are still over four miles to go. A stop  becomes ( a necessary evil) to massage my calf and It-band and I end up walking for half a mile. I call my mom and husband...what else is there to do during my respite. In my struggle and push to continue I  cross paths with another runner attempting to still reach the last turnaround as he screams into his phone that he is done...he just can't go on anymore.
At least no matter what...I will get to the finish. The beer station tempts me on the return trip. but I forgo another cup regretting it almost immediately. The remaining miles are tough, but I inch my way back onto the highway and join the masses of half marathoners as we trudge along to the finish line. I can't help but pick up the pace as I run through the final stretch. The pep in my step is definitely gone as I sit just outside the medical tent. They kindly give me ice and advice about my possible running retirement. Once I am reunited with my husband he walks just fine back to the bus while I hobble along in true sloth like form. No regrets...I am glad Surf City is proudly my 100th marathon and with a little time the pep will return just in time to do it all again...

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Redo #State 23 Erwin, Tennessee

June 6th 2019

 Mockingbird Marathon

To be certified or not to be certified, that is the question? Well of course we are going to be (officially certified) or certifiable as some may say. Yes, indeed we will not allow~a few tenths of a mile short~stop us from the goal. A misplaced marker at the Chattanooga Marathon in Tennessee will not be the reason the goal of running 26.2 miles in each state is classified as incomplete. Who wants to be considered an unofficial finisher. It just doesn't feel right! Thus it requires that we run another marathon in the state of Tennessee. A tireless search of various race calendars results in a potential double to redo Tennessee two days before our official 50th state in North Carolina. The race is a small one put on by a new race organization called, The Road to 50 Races. We take our chances and join the club and sign up for the race keeping our fingers crossed that there will be enough participants to count as a certified marathon course. The worst case scenario, we try out a small multi-loop race with a few other enthusiastic racers and it doesn't count or best case scenario,we try out a small multi-loop race with a few other enthusiastic racers and it does count. Either way we add a multiple loop course to our running resume. Twelve 2.2 mile loops on a scenic trail is where the battle to get certified takes place. A six a.m. start with an electronic wrist band to log in each hilly humid loop is the challenge for the day. The beginning of each new loop includes an incline and a tunnel just for fun.
 As the loops begin to add up, I become very familiar with every nuance of the course. The steep downward turn to the trail head on the outbound loop becomes a challenging climb and built-in walk break on the inbound loop. The moss covered bridge is a highlight as it symbolizes the nearness of the last quarter mile of another loop before reaching the park's parking lot. The location of the timer and the table where an array of snacks and beverages are placed ready to be consumed by any of the runners before beginning another out and back loop.
 I must say I enjoy the loops more than I thought I would.  Seeing the same runners time after time struggling along with me is oddly reassuring and a source of strength as I witness others in the same struggle. My fellow runners are the only constant. We are the cheerleader and the rooting crowd of encouragement for one another. As the early starters finish the trail becomes even more solitary allowing my inner thoughts to surface on the peaceful reflective path.  One fellow lady runner keeps making strides to catch me and in the final loop she gets closer and closer.  I want to beat her desperately as she maintains pace while my pace drops.
 I am not only racing her I am racing the clock. My body has slowed considerably during the last few marathons and that sub five hour marathon is in jeopardy today if I don't hustle. I am too close to accomplishing the goal to give up now. My head goes down and I push myself to keep going running through the tunnel one last time enjoying the assist from the downward gravitational pull of the slope into the finish area barely breaking the five hour mark. It is a sweet finish knowing I pushed past my desire to slow down in order to beat a longtime goal.

The joy of completing a marathon never diminishes. I may be getting old, but crossing the finish line is exciting and exhilarating each and every time and that never gets old. Now, I can sit back relax in a lawn chair and enjoy everyone else's finish line feeling. My husband's finish is extra sweet too. He overcomes the heat and humidity to take second place. We sit awhile afterwards recovering with nothing but time on our hands sharing marathon stories with a fellow runner from Florida. Once a race is done there are no regrets, I am always happy to run the distance!
See that...CERTIFIED...not CERTIFIABLE 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Recap of New River Marathon State #50 Fleetwood, North Carolina

June 8th 2019

New River Marathon
No excuses, no prefacing, no self-deprecation...the time is now, the final state marathon (number 50) is here and it will be what it will be. It's also time to accept myself as I am. Time to embrace my flaws, imperfections, and mistakes. I must let go of the feeling of never measuring up to my own expectations. Always "the work" in progress status, but today I will run free and unencumbered by unrealistic whims of how I should be. I will run with respect and appreciation for the ability to run. I will run with gratitude...I am blessed my body can still carry me through such beautiful places.
With all the beauty to behold how can anyone run with anything but gratitude through nature's playground filled with a flowing river much of the way surrounded by fields and fields of Christmas tree farms on a mountainous course. Plenty of mud and monstrous hills are followed by miles of soaring winding downhills sections. 
 One thing we learn fairly early in the quest to run in all 50 states, you can't fight Mother Nature, prepare to accept whatever weather she hands out. We have run through snow in Pennsylvania, wind in New Jersey, extreme heat in Kentucky, but our running resume lacks a~state~run in the rain. CIM in 2012 was a crazy wet run, but not my official California marathon for the 50 states. North Carolina does not disappoint with rain, it blesses us with glorious downpours throughout the course. The harder and longer it rains, the more I smile and scream in delight. Tropical warm rain is the best kind! I can honestly say New River Marathon is my absolute favorite race~the course is stunning and the people are genuinely kind.
Hubby has bib #50 so why am I not holding it for pic?
In the final planning stages, I ask my husband if he wants to finish our last state in October 2019 with Hartford, Connecticut~the most popular one in that state~or power through with some smaller races and finish in June 2019. Of course he says, "Lets get it done!" As schedules and arrangements fall into place, I fail to consider the ramifications of running abundant marathons in rapid succession may have on the body, but soon find out. Once the plan is set, our bodies have no choice but to follow reluctantly along, we are dead-set on accomplishing the goal. Weariness and injuries be damned. We join the gym in January in hopes of cross-training to reduce our mileage, but that backfires real quick. I end up injuring my knees with lunges just in time for the Big Beach redo state in late January. Apparently, running knees don't like lunges in any form. Next, I pull a muscle in my back rib using too much weight for an abdominal exercise. The pull results in one of the most painful injuries to run through at Savin Rock, CT. Yes, it did take~just as my doctor stated...six weeks to heal! My advice...don't join a gym within six months of completing the fifty states. "Stick with running...wait until after the goal is accomplished to start something new," I tell myself in perfect hindsight. I rest and recover, but the downtime leads to some lackluster marathon 
efforts during the remaining states. I  make it to the final start line with my back and knees intact, but just barely. Good thing they can still carry me in spite of the increase in belly fat on extra jiggly legs. Okay sorry! I can't write a marathon blog without some self-deprecation. 
The weather does not cooperate for a drive up to Grandfather Mountain's suspension bridge. The fog and rain cancel our plan to walk on the bridge which normally provides panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains nor does it allow us to float down the river as planned on our free day before the marathon. Not to despair we find things to do, but mainly we snack. Maniac and fellow 50 Stater, Patti, talks about eating at Cracker Barrel on many of her marathon state trips. This being our last chance, we give it a try...turns out my mom and grandmother's southern cooking is still the best, but now we can check it off the "must do" list. We definitely indulge during most of our travels and I am not sure if that is good or a bad. It's a bad thing! Luckily, or maybe not so lucky, a Krispy Kreme
right next door to Cracker Barrel becomes a must stop. All I can say is thank goodness we do not have Krispy Kreme at home. With the "hot and now" sign illuminating, donuts become a pre-race carbohydrate loading fuel source. It turns out cold chocolate glazed is better than the plain hot glazed donuts. My knees and legs prefer I forgo the donuts and the added weight they cause, but what can I say...donuts win today. Maybe~with my delusional thinking~the extra sugar will fuel the numerous hills still to come. The rain puts a damper on our activities, but not our spirit and enthusiasm to finish the last state. The only thing of concern is the constant rain and lightning. The marathon officials put out a rain or shine statement. A delay or cancellation will be determined by the emergency management team in the event of severe weather only. By race morning the pouring rain turns into a light drizzle as we make our way to the "woodshed" extra early to get our bib and shirts and park at the bottom of the hill in the grass as directed. With a flight home right after the race I express my concern about getting stuck in the mud to my husband and one of the volunteers hears me and they allow us to move the car closer to the exit. The kindness we encounter from every volunteer and every person involved with the marathon makes it such a special event. I even run into a fellow 50 state runner, in the potty line, who I met one year ago to the day at the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon. Hey, John fun chatting with you again...enjoy your next 22 states! 
Marathon Winner!
Once the race is underway, it begins with a climb as we make our way up the driveway to the main road. Initially, I feel fatigued with a heaviness in my chest. Thursday's redo state in Tennessee leaves me with a tired body. The first few miles are the roughest miles of the day, but the beauty of the course and the excitement of running and completing the last state snaps me out of the momentary lull. I stop thinking and immerse myself in the moment, the river, the greenness and the beauty all around me until the need to pee becomes my primary focus. I seize an open potty around mile 3 just before the rain makes an appearance. Glad I stopped when I did because pulling up wet running pants is no fun. In North Carolina, it seems, rain falls in buckets...forget about sprinkles, just bring on the downpour. As the rain persists, I find myself smiling from ear to ear. No longer an old lady...I am a seven year old running through puddles. It is funny and great all at the same time. The lady behind me laughs when I scream and cheer the rain as it sloshes in our shoes. I pull out the poncho in my pocket and try to put it on, but it is so hot and suffocating that it goes right back in my pocket. Now don't get me wrong my delight, would be an entirely different story full of despair with cold rain!
I catch up with my husband after my stop and we run together until we reach the first muddy climb. We walk awhile together, but I choose to start running again and my husband elects to wait for the downhill portion of the muddy rocky mess to run. I catch up to Caroline from Durham as the downhill flattens out; it is her first marathon since 2001. It is nice to share a few miles chatting and the conversation pushes me to run faster to keep up. Her family greets her at the turnaround in Todd, NC and I pull ahead for a few miles until she passes me as I walk the steepest hill. Most runner's are locked into their set paces and spread out on the course. I leap frog with Caroline and a dad and daughter duo. I elect to walk the massive hill between miles 13-15 and power down the downhill portion with ease hitting every tangent as the course winds down the mountain. I cut into the curves hopeful not to come face to face with a car as I sail through the blind corners. I thank the people working at the rainy aid stations, who are all encouraging and ever so helpful. The people and the rain make it a magical day!
Caroline, the dad and daughter duo, and I, run as a pack until we reach another spectator section where hugs and high fives are dispensed by their families. I run alone for a long stretch of time passing only a few struggling runners. The miles fly by (no mile countdown necessary today) as I relish every last second of heaven on earth...cherishing every last mile of my 50th state!
I even look forward to the upcoming hills between mile 23-25. Runners are diverted off the main road straight into a muddy trail section where I am still all alone until I pass one lady who is walking through the mud. It is hard to pick a running path, mud sticks to my shoes in the ruts, but the grass is uneven and unstable in the middle. Even with the challenges, I am loving every last moment of the day. I catch up to a young runner who lets out a sigh when he sees the next hill. I encourage him to keep going...  
We run together for the remainder of the race. He wants to win a bet made between his buddies. He bet them he can finish under 4:45 and he doesn't think he can make it. I tell him he can do it. We work to get up that last cruel steep hill together with .7 to go and fight our way to the final downhill slope to the finish line. I tell him to go for it as soon as he makes the final turn and he finishes strong crushing his bet time by five minutes. Pay up guys...I wonder what he won? I too enjoy the downhill  and power my way to the final timing mat. 
As I sit under the finisher's tent, enjoying the delicious cookies and strawberries, he comes over and gives me a hug and thanks me for pushing him in the last two miles; it the icing on my marathon cake. After taking a minute to breathe I make the trek back up to the car and change out of my wet clothes. Parked two feet from the finishers' shoot, I am unable to wrangle out of my soaked sport bra without giving tired runners a shocking sight! Dry clothes with the exception of the bra with have to suffice. I walk back down in time to take a photo as my husband finishes and quickly check the results. Lo and behold, I win second in my age group. A nice lady comes up to me and offers to get my award so I can avoid the mud. She hands me a Christmas tree craved out of a tree stump. I shriek with glee...I had my eye on that prize, but wasn't sure it was possible. The race director, Ken, comes over and thanks us for choosing The New River as our 50th marathon. He and his team are so gracious and welcoming and honored we selected their race. The honor is entirely ours, we could not have asked for anything better. I get a picture with one of the guys who is out there all day directing cars and runners and helping push stuck cars out of the mud. You can't find a better example of the American spirit (kind, caring, genuine) than the people of Fleetwood, North Carolina. It restores my faith in humanity.
The drive to the airport is like our second marathon of the day. There isn't a second to spare. My husband changes in the car while I order some Chick Fil A. I am forced to speed all the way to the airport and we run (the 14 minute walk time) to the gate, boarding the plane just in the nick of time. United changed the flight time~two hours earlier than my original booking. I shouldn't have accepted the schedule change; in hindsight, but we really want to get home the same day! Thanks to every passenger who allowed us to cut in front of them in the security line...we make it home to sleep in our very own bed. We agreed to assume the persona of "Tigger and Pooh," the night before the race and no matter what happened~race cancellations, delays, missed flights, fatigue~there will be no negativity! We embrace the day with unbridled happiness and joy and it makes our last run "magical." Sometimes life is a fairy tale.
I am not sure if Kitty believes in fairy tales...she just doesn't care as long as the 50 states business is done and the focus is back on her comfort.
  

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Marathon #49 Cincinnati, Ohio

Flying Pig Marathon

May 5th 2019

Who needs time to rest and recover when there is another marathon to run. Quiet down aching hamstrings...Flying Pig only has a few hills. One spin class and a three mile jog let's me know "the pig" will be a slow and painful race.  I regret the three mile run...when shooting pains radiate down through the back of my legs forcing me to walk home. No time to second guess the redo state last weekend there is a bag to pack, a red-eye flight to catch  and a "finish swine"  to cross.  On the bright side we only have a short forty minute drive to the airport along with an upgraded premium row to ourselves. It is a pleasant enough night flight once
the little boy behind me quits crying and kicking my seat. Another quick layover in Chicago has us on the ground in Northern Kentucky by 8:30 am and in our hotel bed by 10 am for a little nap thanks to Marriott's AC hotel taking pity upon us. Maybe nodding off in the hotel lobby expedited the cleaning process. It only takes us 49 states to figure out the best ways to maximize our travel experience. Even though my husband gets frisked by TSA at our small local airport, I love sitting at the gate less than sixty minutes after our garage door goes down. We have a birds-eye view from our hotel window as 10k runners cross the finish line. The hotel is perfectly situated
between the start, finish and expo making everything an easy walk. As we walk over to the expo there are still races underway. Downtown Cincinnati is full of people and the excitement of the weekend is palpable. In its 21st year the "Flying Pig Marathon" is a well oiled machine.  It is ranked high as one of the best races and I agree, it really is a great event and lots of fun. 
We spend two hours at the expo walking around collecting all the goodies and freebies, soaking in the experience. Still sleep deprived we elect to eat our only meal of the day at Jefferson Social on the way back to the hotel. It is on bar row just outside the baseball stadium and one of the closest places to our hotel.  A burger will have to fuel my run. We stagger back to the hotel and collapse.  All race preparations will take place in the morning. With the elevator in close proximity I fear a noisy sleepless night, but sleep wins out only the fireworks from the night baseball game wakes me momentarily.  Still recovering from the hellishly, hot downhill run last weekend...my body does not fight sleep, thankfully.  In fact, I am in no hurry to get up and get ready for the hellishly hilly "Flying Pig" marathon,
but we can't help but join in on the madness just outside our window. Runners scurrying to the start near the Bengal's football stadium. The only thing rolling through my mind is...will I be able to run and will I be able to finish under five hours? Most days I take my body for granted, but today it is letting me know it needs to be treated extra kindly. As we take our place in Corral C next to the 3:50 pacer we both laugh at my ambition. Eight months ago when I signed up that time was plausible, today it is only laughable especially as I gingerly step closer and closer to the start on unstable legs. With each step my legs warn me not to push too hard or they will be forced to respond accordingly with sharp seizing pain. My brain reminds me of the shrieking hamstring pain in 2015 at mile 21 of the Two Cities Marathon when I had to employ a funny skip style run to make it to the finish. Okay legs...it will be slow and steady...no funny stuff today! 
With a flash of warm fire shooting out of the start line banner we begin the long trek. Hopefully, I will see the finish line in less than five hours without too much...anguish! Within the first mile we leave Ohio and run over the bridge leading into Kentucky.
My pace is very conservative as both hamstrings are clenched in tight balls. I fight to find a comfortable speed to keep them happy. It is fun to be among excited runners ready to put their training to the test. There is a lot of electric excited energy~horses chomping at the bit raring to go~at the beginning of every marathon and today is no exception. Well except for a few old grey mares~like myself~who are ready to be back at the barn!
I try to soak up the enthusiasm to propel my banged up body through the miles. The field of runners is good sized and the volunteers are very supportive and positive. If ever I need a marathon with lots of cheering crowds it is now. People along the way want to help with offerings of cookies, bacon, licorice, ice pops, beer, pickles, mimosas, music, signs, Elvis, a juggler and constant encouragement.  Thanks guys for the...BEER!
I take the beer and the constant encouragement as my fuel. By mile five my hamstrings are warmed up and the fear of them seizing up subsides into a subdued soreness.  It is a nice compromise, a slow and steady pace in exchange for a more comfortable pain in
What my Internal Mental Battle looks like...
the back of my thighs. I will take it.  In the first few miles I fear the muscles will balk and force me to walk or even stop, but with a few miles under my belt I work to reach milestones: 6 miles, double digits, halfway, single digits, to the final countdown~the finish.  There are lots of distractions along the way, but unfortunately when the body is worn out and damaged from the start it's a long freaking way to run. I limp the six tenths back to the hotel yesterday and now I expect myself to run 26.2 miles. Sometimes, I question my thinking. It is a constant battle between common sense and insanity. However; when your own mother says, "You can't stop now you are too close you have to finish!" I keep going. The last five miles I force myself to keep running in order to get my time. My slow pace is hard to maintain, but I must keep the legs in run motion even though walking would probably be faster.  I only walk on the steepest of inclines. When a football is placed in my hands, I toss it over a fence attempting to make a basket. I fail miserably and exert too much energy as it sails over the fence. I forgo throwing a basketball at the next station saving what little energy is left! The people of Ohio are incredibly encouraging especially in the last miles. It's a fun and busy time with the Kentucky Derby, baseball games, a concert along with the shenanigans of the marathon events all taking place in the same weekend! Even the bartender at the restaurant is exhausted and ready to go home...

All the volunteers are called "grunts" and cheer every runner all the way to the finish. As downtown Cincinnati comes into view I can't wait to get to the finish line. There isn't any "get up and go" left in me, but the finish line announcer is loud and enthusiastically announces my name and city pulling me in as I complete the marathon. It takes a few minutes bent over to catch my breath before I can even think of moving on to collect my medal. They ask if I need assistant and I tell them I am good it is just my new "normal" when finishing lately.  As soon as I cross I am ready to drop and in need of time hunched over to recover! When I see other runners sitting on the tables, I do too! The thought of sitting on the curb is unappealing ~who will be there to pull me up, but the table as Goldilocks says..."is just right" to be able to stand again after a bit of rest.
I spot someone with pizza and immediately seek out a hot slice.  They actually cook it on the spot making it extra delicious. Just what I need~ don't worry my fat cells will make room. My husband crosses behind me and takes a seat on the table while I grab pizza for him too. The free beer is too far to walk to and we elect to go straight back to the hotel. A two pm checkout gives us plenty of time to shower and pack up.  The hotel graciously allows us to leave the car parked while we grab lunch before a fun baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and my husband's team the San Francisco Giants.  The weather is great for relaxing all afternoon at the ball park.  I am not much of a baseball fan, but it is the best day to sit and recover in the warmth of the stadium...The Giants win 6-5 making it a perfect late afternoon activity. 
After the game we check into a hotel in Kentucky and crash the rest of the evening. Well, after we rush back over the bridge to the other hotel to retrieve a bag I left behind next to where the car was parked when I was searching for the misplaced pig medal. Luckily the valet asks, "Are you looking for a bag" and quickly ends my misery. The bag contained two new pairs of glasses. It is never a dull moment with me in toe. Now bring on the post marathon aches. The price for 26.2 miles of fun is pure pain. Shockingly, we both sleep until ten in the morning. It is so dark in the room, I think it is super early. The much needed rest prepares us for a day at the zoo. We hear it is one of the "best in the nation" but it seems like an average zoo to me. We sample the mini chili dogs with heaping grated cheese at "Skyline Chili dogs" before the zoo. A staple of Cincinnati, but I find them to be average as well.  It is fun to see Fiona and her mom. She is not little anymore either! After our little zoo excursion we hit the hot tub. It is just what my aching feet need. After one final night we sample Graters ice cream another staple of the area before our flight home. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but we breezed out of the airport and sailed home in no time at all. Sorry I-5 and LAX, I don't miss you. The prospects of pulling it all together~recovering and properly preparing for our final trip and final state in four weeks is unlikely. I hope to spend my time eating healthy and healing my body, but somehow I have my doubts about that...
I have a lot in common with Fiona... the lazy lounger!
And her Mom (the hungry hippo)...always ready to eat!!