Monday, May 31, 2010


Even at thirty years old, I am learning new things. This weekend, with an extra day away from the office, I had time to run and bike and rest over the long weekend.

Saturday Morning I ran the Appalachian Power 5k in downtown Roanoke. I learned some wonderfully important lessons during and after the race that I feel I should share with others who are trying to be more athletic, sporty, or just do stuff outside like walk/run a 5k.

1. If you leave the part of your chip with the actual timing device on your kitchen counter, and strap the instructions to your shoe instead of the chip, the timing people will not pick up your time. I know, who knew right?

2. If you eat alot the night before, and/or you drink too much prior to attempting a strenuous athletic activity like running a 5k,  you might throw up. Thankfully, this was not me or the gals who let me tag along during the race. The pukers were strangers to me but apparently many in Roanoke did not know full stomach + run = puke. Perhaps this post will spare others in the future from this unfortunate fate, so please pass along.

3. If you wear an IronMan hat to hold your gross uncombed hair back during the 5k, and then run like a Grandmother, people are not impressed. No really, they expect you not to suck so much when you wear the words Ironman.. apparently.

So the run went well, overall. My time? No idea. Probably not under 30 minutes but close. The good news is I felt like I could run more, which is a new and rare feeling. Not an athlete yet I suppose, but on my way.

So what else did I learn this weekend, you may be wondering? Other than how to make vegan berry cobbler (yum) and how to block out my black dog's whiny whimper as we drive to the Dog Park (gratuitous dog park shout out intended) hubby took me for a bike ride.... and I learned more stuff during the bike ride then I even did during the 5k Saturday morning.

1. If you stick your foot / boot between your peddle and tire, while your bike is moving, you might lose your balance and face plant.

2. Should you find your foot is wedged between your tire and peddle and the bike is moving, slow down, try not to hit a car and maybe you can stop before the face plant - yes. Glad to have learned that earlier today.

3. When someone suggests you gear down as relevant advice before climbing a hill, it would be helpful to know (a) what gear down means and (b) how one goes about gearing down.

4. Just because you can pull your bike shorts up to your chin, does not mean that is how they are suppose to be worn. Although I remain unclear as to why there is so much extra fabric, apparently it does not double as a built in sports bra. Sorry for the visual.

And last but not least, I learned the following about bike riding: It's hard. Just cause you get to stop and drink beer, does not make it any easier.

Perhaps I should have gone for a stroll in the spandex on my 2 wheels before this whole triathlon thing started... Perhaps I should learn how to use my pedals and gears and wear my shorts correctly before my next bike adventure.  The good news is I still have over 3 months and plenty of time to learn these important skills, and if I don't land on my face, it might even be fun.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Which am I? A soft core wussy 30 year old trying to do a triathlon as a soft core ATHELETE? or am I a 30 year old soft core Athlete?

According to Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, I am both. I am an Athelete here and an Athlete here.

Tomorrow I am going to run a 5k with this guy (the one on the right). He looks fast, doesn't he? He is fast, trust me. He was even fast at the end of a bike and swim when this photo was taken by yours truly.

If I can finish this 5k tomorrow morning in 30 minutes, I might consider myself an athlete.

If I beat this guy (husband) I will consider myself a superstar.

If neither happens, and I just finish - we will stick with athelete.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. Be safe, and I will see you soon, or soone. I think adding an extra e wherever possible is a good idea and I might try to follow suit, suite.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Coffee with coconut milk (yum) - Spring mornings - My new baby niece Ginny - sappy movies - good books- Home-cooked meals - exploring new places - Asheville, NC - Fat Earl and Emma - The list goes on. 

Although I am not a shopper by any means, there is a store here in Roanoke that I would also count as one of my favorite things: Fleet Feet on Franklin Road. Locally owned and operated by a husband and wife team, they will take care of all your running gear needs.

A few years ago, my friend Christa and I took a running class through Fleet Feet, and essentially learned to love running.

We trained to run a 5k and have been running (aka, talking and jogging slowly) ever since.

My love for Fleet Feet however, does not end at their great class or the wonderful people who work there.

Yesterday, with large bulky heals and an ill-fitting suit on my person, I stumbled into the store complaining of hip pain from a recent run. "Maybe new socks or shoes would help," I shared with the store owner, Robin. 

Within minutes, Robin found the perfect pair of shoes. While I would normally run around the store or outside to ensure a perfect fit, my skirt suit did not lend itself to much running, or activity of any kind other than sitting at a table. Although I passed on the run, Robin did make sure the shoes were the right size, width, etc. 

We talked about sports bras, and socks, triathlons and running - and woosh, I was out the door with these babies: 

Sweet kicks, eh?

I will start counting how many miles they get. I hope they will not last the summer - which would mean I was training as I should be. These sweet silver and hot pink Asics hug my boney feet with confidence, making each clumsy step feel strong and solid.

I love these shoes. They are at the top of my favorite thing list and as I keep running this summer - I am confident our love will grow. Don't you think Julie Andrews would have been singing about these if she could have shed the clogs and slipped them on...

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (see above kittens)... Girls in new Asics with sweet silver laces, These are a few of my favorite things..."

Friday, May 21, 2010


I have typically referred to "goggle death" as the event wherein one's goggles pop off, leak or do not work  during a swim race, competition etc. For years I would watch team mates dive in, and squirm as their protective eye wear would move to their chin, mouth or fall off all together. It is not fun, and I would guess, most swimmers have known the panic associated with mid race goggle death.

The phrase however has new meaning for me as my favorite goggles literally disintegrated, broke, snapped and fell apart on my face while swimming last evening.

For years I have been singing the praises of TYR's socket rockets - sleek, light weight and oh so cozy on one's eyeballs, the socket rockets have long held my affection and praise.

This morning, upon realizing that I live in a small town where socket rockets may not be readily available, I logged onto to purchase a few pairs of the world's best goggles.

14 pairs on the website - new sleek colors with metallic faces to shade your eyes from the bright summer sun.
Out of the 14 pairs on the website, TYR is OUT OF STOCK of 13 pairs. The only pair available for purchase is light pink with white straps.

Do I look like an 11 year old girl to you? (Rhetorical question, don't answer that please). PINK goggles. No self respecting athlete or pretend athlete would wear those, which is clearly the case since TYR can't sell them.

So Goggle death now has new meaning. Goggle death is what happens when your favorite goggles that have survived years of chlorine and neglect, die a terrible and traumatic death, and you are unable to replace them.

I can hear taps playing as I log onto another website in search of sleek swim eye wear.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Don't you just love NPR? I do. Do you know the show MarketPlace, a great show on economics from American Public Media? Before they give you the good or bad news on the day's various markets, they warn you by saying, "Let's Do the Numbers."

Well, here are my scary numbers.

Swim so far this week: 45 minutes
Still need to swim: 15 minutes

Run so far this week: 2.62 + 2.98  = 5.6 miles
Still need to run: 3.4 miles by Sat. Night
(and no, I sadly don't think my fun walk on Sat. morning to benefit RAM HOUSE in Roanoke counts - although I do encourage your attendance, for a great cause, and your online registration at

Bike so far this week: 0 miles.

No really, I haven't even found my helmet yet... That will hopefully occur Sunday - which means no biking on week 1.

So why do I share all this?
Because the numbers say alot . They say I need to exercise today and tomorrow and Saturday. They say "get your tail in gear Ellerman - less typing, more running."
They say I need to focus on what matters - a 2 hour race in September.
They also say, don't do the numbers any more, they seem too scary.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Do you recall the awful fad of the early 1990's where men or women would wear matching necklaces, often in heart the shape of 1/2 heart? The words "Best Friends" or "True Love" would be cut down the middle signifying that someone else very dear to you received this title and the other half of the second necklace.

Well, for those of you familiar with the trend, and trying to forget about it, I apologize for rehashing a painful memory. As I did not participate in the necklace exchange ritual, I have often wondered to myself, who would I give the other half of my metaphorical necklace to?

Until this week, that enduring question had gone unanswered, and then I met Scott. My friend Susan who is a nutrition and exercise superstar and also has two small girls (and shockingly a ton of free time because she reads the New York Times) sent me the following link. Read it, and then come back to me.

So having read about Scott, you can totally see why we should be bff's right? We have so much in common.

For example, Scott runs ultra marathons.
     I run 5k's.

Scott runs with his new friend who writes for the NY Times.
    I run with my friend Christa who writes a blog about retail stuff.

Scott's Mom and my Mom have MS (ok, a sad commonality I will admit)

Scott is Vegan
    I am vegan.

People all over the world are blown away by Scott's strength and odd diet choice. In fact, while I may be the only blogger wanting to send this married man friendship jewelery, I am not the only person writing about him.

Although the NYT article does not state it out right, it is inferred Scott's diet choice is somewhat related to his Mom's health. Well again, Scott, I'm with ya.

Why train, write and focus on a race? Because I see what MS can do to you, what it could potentially do to me if I am unlucky enough to inherit my Mom's genes.  For now, I am so grateful to be able to run bike and swim - to push my body - build muscle - and exercise.

So while I will not likely be training for an ultra marathon at any time, I do respect my new friend who can - and does, while eating well, and remembering what a terrible disease can do to your body.

It is also great to meet a new friend who has created a life where he can thrive and work doing something he loves, running,  while creating a lifestyle that he is proud of.

Good luck Scott.  I know you are busy running a 24 hour race in France right now, so I won't call or bug you this week.  I will however call you next time I am in Washington State and maybe if we don't swap cheap gold necklaces, we can swap recipes or tofu tips.

Monday, May 17, 2010


After the "I told you so" incident with my husband over the weekend, I decided I needed a triathlon plan. (read the Mule post if you were not unaware of my stubborn issues).

Why do I need a plan?

Because even lolly gaggers need to do the miles.... There I said it. I can't do this triathlon thing without training my body to swim, bike and run.

For now, I have set my training plan to be pretty general:
1 hour in the pool a week
10 miles running a week
20 miles on the bike (yes, a week)

Tonight I went for another fun run. I refuse to call it a run because statistically speaking, I wasn't running. According to (which by the way is a great website) I ran 2.73 miles. According to my Mother's stove, I was out for 30 minutes.

That's not very fast, thus the fun run title.

Again, my attempt to do math is pretty awful: 2.73 / 30 = 1/n .... So N, means I was running almost 11 min. miles. Wow. That might be a new speed record for slowest run of all times. I am pretty sure there were nursing home patients in the ER I passed walking faster. I saw at least one woman who was probably 8 months pregnant, pushing 2 kids in a stroller, jogging at a better pace that I was.

So while I felt good about my attempt at running 3 miles, and proud that I did not need to stop or ask to borrow the 2L of O2 the nursing home patient in the ER was pulling behind him, I have a room for improvement.

I also need to run 7.23 more miles this week... and walk my Dogs, bike 20 miles, clean my house, argue stuff for clients, wear a suit to work, swim for another 20 minutes and clean the hair out of my bathroom drain.

It could be a busy week. If my hip and knee get their way, I may also be going to buy new running shoes. Ok, I meant fun run shoes.

Until then, I may email that pregnant lady and ask if she wants to race. I could maybe take her if she goes into labor.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It's true. I am stubborn, about many things. Oh, and I don't like being told what to do. These facts will come as no surprise to those who know me well.

So when my beloved husband suggested I look into a triathlon training schedule, and even offered to design one for me, I said "Thank you."

Please note, I did not agree to a training schedule. I did not agree that I even needed one. I actually avoided the subject all together and politely changed the subject.

"Thank you," was my way of saying, "butt out," or "didn't you read my article Whit? I am not intense like you and don't want to do this your way. I want to lolly gag my way into a sprint triathlon."

Apparently my husband knew what my thank you meant when hours later he graciously said "I know you don't want to make this event a bid deal, but its not like a fun run (ok, so he didn't say fun run) you will need to do some planning on your workouts."

He may know what he is talking about as he has finished 2 triathlons in the last 4 months - 1 sprint and 1 Olympic distance. And, even if he wasn't speaking from experience, I am pretty sure he is right.

I haven't admitted that fact to him yet, but I can't just lolly gag my way into a 20 mile race. I may have to do some planning.

Ok, so here is the plan.

Swim for 1 hour each week. This can be divided into 2 30 minute swims, or 1 1 hr. swim. Yesterday I swam for 45 minutes, so this week I need to get back to the pool at least once more.

And I need to run no less than 10 miles a week. For me that means 3-4 runs.

Oh, and biking. When my mechanic finishes my bike, I need to commit to 20 miles a week on the bike.

Perhaps my plan is too general. I may need to be more specific, but like most mules, I am unwilling to go all the way until I know there is a purpose.

So dearest husband, I admit you were right. I need a plan. "Thank you."

Love, Lauren

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I would like to share a gross generalization about men and women who drive Volkswagens.

VW Drivers are the nicest people in the world. 

They are probably more likely to brake for animals, be kind to small children, and pray for world peace. I would venture to say they have less sadness in their lives, and more of them were named "Nicest person in the class" in High School.

I have no actual statistics to support these conclusions, simply my personal experience this morning.

While trying to jog (and move beyond my terrible Fun Run experience of last week) around my neighborhood, I was passed by a VW golf. The car was light grey, no stickers, nondescript.

As I huffed and puffed up an incline a few blocks from home, I saw the VW driver extend his left thumb out of the driver side window.

"Thumbs up. Great job, well done," his thumb was saying. "Don't stop now - you are almost there, keep jogging. You can do it."

See, I told you VW owners were the nicest people in the world. I saw friends and acquaintances pass my pathetic form all morning, and they made no attempt at encouragement. I am quite sure they either did not recognize me, or did and were too embarrassed to admit it.

But my new friend, the left thumb on the white guy driving the grey VW golf, to you, I say thank you.

I ran for 23 minutes straight this morning, and right around the time you showed up, I was tempted to stop and walk.

I hope to hit the road on Thursday morning. Are you free? Perhaps you could drive along near by with an encouraging wave or a simple extended thumb.

Friday, May 7, 2010


When a race advertises itself as a "fun run," it generally means that runners are welcome, but most folks will be walking, or jogging and walking. It is basically code for "serious runners may not want to participate."

I know this because I have participated in many a fun run. I like fun runs because people jog, stop, snack, chat, walk and jog some more. Dogs and babies are welcome. People chat and exchange pleasantries. That's my kind of cardio, the kind where snacking and talking are welcome.

This morning however, it was my plan to start triathlon training in my running shoes with a bang. Ok, so bang is a strong word. It was my goal to at least JOG for 30 minutes straight.

Allow me to share how my morning exercise went instead.

7:32 am    
Said goodbye to cute droopy ear dogs and headed out front door, ipod in hand, cute blue running outfit ready to go.

7:32 am   
I pod shuffle started Stop and Stare - One Republic. 3 minutes and 42 seconds of soft music with  a decent beat. I felt pretty good - running down hill, across parking lots of numerous churches, toward the Roanoke River Greenway.

7:37 am   

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Since we are starting at the beginning, with swimming, I think it appropriate to speak about swim gear.

Thankfully, swimming normally requires minimal gear. I am thankful for this because I lose stuff with frequency. I will spend at least 3 hours this weekend looking through drawers, closets and chests for my bike shoes, gloves, etc...When I have found them, it will take me another 30 minutes to find my keys, sunglasses and I will worry I have locked a cat in one of the drawers, chests or closets and will reopen all to ensure cat safety.

At least with swimming, you need very little and can keep it in one place.

So what is required? Suit, goggles and maybe a cap. Now I say maybe knowing full well that caps are required in most triathlons. Notwithstanding, if you happen upon a local pool this summer where folks are swimming laps, you will see that swimmers disagree as to cap preference and usage.

As I see it, there are really only three options when it comes to head gear in swimming:
1. No cap
2. Latex
3. Silicone

Option 1. No cap.
For women or men with Fabio length hair, option one is not great. For starters, holding back long hair underwater while trying to swim in a straight line is tough. Try it and let me know how it goes.

In addition, you will find that frequent pool swimming can cause green hair and significant hair damage. This is not a joke. By September most years as a child, my hair was often light green despite frequent washes with expensive shampoo called Ultra Swim. At the very least, caps will minimize chlorine damage and save you money on special shampoos and conditioners.

While a man or someone with short hair may be able to pull off no-cap training, I can't and won't start now.

So the question then remains, do I go latex or silicone for the next 4 month of training?

Option 2. Latex.
Latex caps are usually cheaper, thinner, and more likely to need frequent replacement. They come in many sizes and colors, and generally are easy to put on.

I heart latex caps. Their uses in and outside of the pool are really endless. You can fling them at people who are not looking. You can shoot them like rubber bands at the manatee floating in your lane and then apologize when he looks up, realizing for the first time you want to pass him.  You can also order custom ones that have American flags and your name so the folks at the local pool are tricked into thinking you are one bad (bad as in good) swimmer.

I know a cute 7 year old boy who wears his Phelps caps to practice, meets and sometimes to the dinner table when company comes over. I think his family and teammates are most impressed.

I therefore conclude that latex caps come with amazing benefits other than just keeping your hair out of your face and I recommend them without hesitation.

In fact, here are a few latex caps I recommend you buy, own, and wear proudly today:

For $3.95 at, you can purchase the following vanity cap that speaks volumes to your teammates and or lane mates.

Want a cap with a very personal message? Team name, or mantra? You can actually custom order them at lovely websites like

In High School, we would pride ourselves on stealing other team's caps so that during the race, coaches and teammates would be most confused as to why the blue suit was wearing the Bolles cap, etc.

So there we have it. I support the use of Latex caps. They get the job done and allow a little creativity at the same time.

3. Silicone.
Now, on to silicone. When you think silicone, another image comes to mind. Something light weight, maybe even buoyant. There are folks out there who really like silicone caps. I am just not one of them. 

Frankly, I have a small head and they don't fit me well. In addition, they always make me think of the scene in the original parent trap where Sharon, pretending to be Susan, floats around in their California pool/ lake thing. She wears a cap that looks like this fine cap available on Speedo's website.  

So while I understand there are many who support the daily use of Silicone caps (they do last longer and keep your hair dry), I will stick with my cheaper latex cap.

Maybe just maybe, with enough flings of the cap, my lane mates will learn not to hog the middle.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Apparently the first part of a triathlon is the swim. I support this decision by the inventors of the triathlon for many reasons, the first of which is that swimming is the only one of the three sports that I don't totally suck at.

So, if one is going to compete in an event that combines three sports together in a certain order with a beginning middle and end, perhaps it would behoove me to start training at the beginning as well. 

And so I went swimming tonight.

Now, in the last 2 months, I can say I have strapped the TYR suit, latex cap (more on caps later) and goggles on to swim a few laps on maybe 4 occasions... clearly this means I am not a frequent swimmer. Rather, I am resting on my laurels, or my years and years of competitive swimming which as an aside, ended a long long time ago. 

So what does years of competitive swimming get you? Big shoulders, and little else, except that I am comfortable swimming and still have some basic rhythm and cadence when my pale white body enters the water.

The triathlon I hope to compete in begins with a 750 meter open water swim. How long is 750 meters? Well, its 30 laps in a pool - or less than 1/2 mile. The longest race I ever did in High school was the 500 - which is considered distance over sprint.

So in practical terms, 750 is not that far, but it is not to be completed with a few kicks and pulls. Its far enough where you need to work. 

My 750 in the pool this evening took 13 minutes and 21 seconds according to a borrowed Timex watch.
How slow am I? Well, the rough math is this - 100 / 750 = n / 13.35 (no judging on my algebra please). This means I was swimming 100 meters at an average of 1 minute 46 seconds.

Wow. That's slow. Even my cat can swim 100 meters in 1 minute 40...well, no. That's not true. My cat is obese and doesn't swim but the point remains the same. There is room for improvement here at the swim start. 

Good to know as I start at the beginning, swimming. 

It's early May. The race is in mid-September. 14 weeks to get my swimming skills back to a reasonable place. Goal. 1min 30 sec 100's for 750 meters. Ok, more reasonable goal? Suck less in September than I do now. 

Until then, I will blame the borrowed watch and say it was broken, or slow, or both.