Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

Archive for the ‘Medoc Madness’

Published February 17th, 2008

Crafty McCrafterson

Medoc Shadowbox


I don’t consider myself a particularly artistic person; sure, I have spurts of creativity but I get easily bored. For a while I made a bunch of whimsical refrigerator magnets out of femo clay (my mom has begged me for one for years, but I moved on to my next project). I then got into making my own greeting cards using wooden stamps (I even made our wedding invitations). But again, that phase soon passed.

I started keeping a portfolio of my race numbers years ago (I even have the bib number from my very first 5K). They’re all contained within a basic black portfolio with plastic sleeves. If I received a medal or had a picture taken I’d add those to the page, but I wouldn’t do anything more elaborate.

Then I ran the Goofy Challenge.

Anyone who’s run Disney knows it’s all about the bling, and with Goofy I not only received medals for the half and for the full, I also received the coveted Goofy medal. We’re talking serious bling, people! Disney does not skimp on the medals. When I got home I couldn’t see just putting them in the portfolio; they needed to be shown off somehow. Sure, I could have purchased a pre-made shadowbox from one of the Disney vendors, but I had already spent a ton of money.

I then read a post in a Runner’s World discussion about a home-made race shadowbox. The poster had designed his own for a fraction of the cost of what most vendors charged. A lightbulb went on over my head: I can do that! And while I was at it, I decided I’d make up one for Medoc as well (after all, it was my first marathon).

As I was deciding on what color mat board to use, I remembered the piece of zebra cloth I picked up while putting my costume together. The creative juices really started flowing. I first checked out an artist’s supply store, but none of their frames — not even the custom ones — would be thick enough for what I wanted to include. But I then scored at Michael’s craft shop. Not only did they carry the perfect sized black shadowbox (16″ x 20″), it was 40% off! I also picked up two large sheets of mat board (one for Medoc, one for Disney).

Total cost of materials? Less than $40 (that includes the entire sheet of mat board; I only used about a quarter of it). Mind you, we already had spray mount and hot glue, and we also have a mat cutter. But I think it looks a heck of a lot better than what I could have gotten done “professionally”!

Stay tuned for the Disney version. It may take a while since my darling will most likely be making the frame.

(Oh, and my apologies to Angie. I totally stole her headline style!)

Published September 30th, 2007

Never bored in Bordeaux



I’m FINALLY getting around to posting about our adventures in Bordeaux. Given Paris was really about the food (other than the two runs, our primary exercise was walking from cafe to bistro to farmer’s market), you can read about that portion of the trip at Ovens to Betsy (definitely check out the name of the first restaurant we ate at upon arrival).

Not wanting to leave things to chance, I signed up for the Marathon du Medoc through Marathon Tours as we were not only guaranteed entry into the race, we’d also be getting tickets to the Mille-Pâtes (1,000 noodle) carbo-loading dinner and the 9K recovery walk the day after. Although not an inexpensive way to go, the package also included five nights’ stay at a hotel, breakfast each day, wine tastings and lunch at a couple of chateaux, a welcome dinner and a celebratory gala. Considering our last “real” vacation was our honeymoon to Thailand seven years ago, we decided to live it up. Turns out it was a very wise decision as the International Rugby World Cup is currently being held in France, and many of the hotels in both Bordeaux and Paris were sold out.

Right from the start I knew this would not be your typical tour group (my darling’s version of Hell would be getting stuck on either a tour bus to Branson, Missouri or on any cruise ship). Most of the 100 people in our group were running the marathon, and the majority didn’t think of themselves as “tour people.” I was amazed at their stories: for one 69-year-old gentleman Medoc was to be his 39th marathon; he ran his first at age 40! Another woman was pursuing her quest to run on all seven continents (Medoc would be her fourth and she’s signed up for the 2008 Antarctica marathon). The oldest in the group was 83 (it took a while before his doctor gave him the go-ahead. Although he was capable of finishing the full marathon, he decided to duck out at the halfway mark since he wouldn’t make our group’s cut-off time of seven hours).

But the person who truly astounded me was a tiny woman in her 60s (perhaps even 70s). All during the trip I thought she was there to cheer someone else on; I never suspected she’d be running it. But as they were handing out awards during the gala, I found out that Medoc was her 115th marathon! Simply incredible. (She won the award for the slowest person in our group).


Published September 17th, 2007

Marathon du Medoc 2007

Medoc finish
We interrupt this blog post for the following announcement:

“Happy 7-year anniversary Pooky Darling! Thank you for an absolutely FABULOUS trip. I love you!”

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post.

I’m sure no one forgets their first marathon, but the Marathon du Medoc is exceptionally memorable. Perhaps I’ve now set the bar so high — every marathon from this point on will pale in comparison — but I prefer to think this fabulous experience merely assures there’ll be more marathons in my future.

As many of you know, I’ve been planning this trip for more than a year. I read about the Marathon du Medoc in a “Runner’s World” article on the most fun marathons in the world, and given it combines two of our favorite pastimes — running and drinking wine — we were immediately hooked. Add on a few days in Paris and we now had an extraordinary trip to celebrate our 7-year anniversary.

Every article I read raved about the marathon, but I then stumbled across Vince’s blog on last year’s race. Mind you, he too had an incredible time, but temperatures in the 90s and a water shortage diminished the fun (during the first half of the race there was more wine available than water!) I was undeterred, but planned accordingly. I made sure my costume could withstand the heat and I planned on carrying extra water.

The race limits the number of racers to 8,500 — less than a quarter of whom can be from countries other than France. Once I set my mind to something I can’t let it go, so I researched ways of assuring I’d get in this year. Marathon Tours of Boston not only offers a guaranteed entry, they also offer five nights’ stay in a hotel (which can also be especially hard to find during race weekend), along with tickets to the Milles Pate carbo-loading dinner the night before and the 9K recovery walk the day after. The itinerary also included two days of wine tasting at several of the chateaux.

While certainly not a cheap way to go, it sounded like a fun trip (although considering we aren’t “tour people,” I was concerned my darling wouldn’t get as much enjoyment as he would if we were to just go ourselves). Fortunately, my concerns were quickly allayed when we met the group for a 40-minute warm-up run along the Garonne River in Bordeaux on Thursday (there’ll be more on our Bordeaux itinerary in a future post). I think the fact we were all like-minded people (aka crazy runners) helped.


Published September 8th, 2007

The French say “Merci,” but I say “Mercy”

We made it! My Garmin recorded a final time of 5 hours, 11 minutes, and 50-odd seconds (but believe me, the ENTIRE race was odd!), however, it also recorded a final distance of 26.94 miles. Merde! We’re now lounging in our hotel room eating chips and drinking one of the bottles of wine. Lots of pics, lots of stories, but that’ll have to wait for a bit.

I’m no longer a marathon virgin!

Published September 6th, 2007

Bonjour de Bordeaux!

Just a quick note to say my darling and I arrived in Bordeaux without incident. As befits the marathon, we’ve already partaken (partook?) of the local wines during the Marathon Tours initiation dinner. It looks like we have a terrific group. Tomorrow we start bright & early for more wine tasting at a local chateau, then we’ll hit the carbo-loading dinner tomorrow night.

The few days in Paris were fabulous; if I thought the scenery in Seattle was spectacular, it certainly doesn’t compare to the route we ran when we first arrived, including Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We’ve also taken in most of the sights on foot, recording at least 6-7 miles per day. Stay tuned for a full report!

Au Revoir!

Published August 30th, 2007

Women who run with the zebras

Zebra costumeEver since I was little, I’ve loved to dress up in costumes. My girlfriends and I would put on the 50s-style dresses in our attic and prance around on our patio. I adored the flapper dress in my mom’s closet with its luxurious ivory-colored fringe and couldn’t wait until I was big enough to fit into it properly (alas she gave it to Goodwill before that happened). I’d plan my Halloween costumes months in advance, and could barely contain my excitement at showing them off.

Rat costumeBack then there were few options for buying costumes off the rack; besides, I preferred making them myself. As a teenager I spooked the bejesus out of the kids my friend baby-sat when I showed up with a long black velvet coat and my face painted black & white. In the early 80s I found a deal on a red satin GunnySax dress for my Cyndi Lauper costume (I bought several lengths of chain to wrap around my waist and sprayed my hair brilliant orange). The dress was later repurposed in college for a slutty devil (I called her the Whore from Hell). I’ve gone the traditional witch route — green scaly skin, warts, knobby nose and all — and even tried dressing like Marilyn Monroe (I ended up looking more like a man in drag). One of my favorites was an evening dress with rats running up the back (I kept telling people I just found the dress in my attic and dusted it off).

So when I read about the Marathon du Medoc, I knew this would be the race for me (okay, so the wine part was the first thing that drew me in). I started thinking of my costume from the get-go — more than a full year before the race. I perused an online costume shop for ideas and found one that was promising: a Vineyard Vixen. However, I knew it wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of a marathon; I’d have to somehow recreate it using actual running gear.


Published August 4th, 2007


26.2 milesQuestion: if you run 26.2 miles and there’s no one at the end to hand you a medal, have you just run a marathon? I know what MY answer is: Hell to the Yeah!

I suppose I should write this post tomorrow to make sure I’m still alive, but considering I can’t do anything more strenuous right now than lay on the couch and eat chips, I might as well do it now.

As you can see from my Garmin, today we ran our longest training run to date: 26.2 miles. That’s right, a full Freakin’ Marathon. We’re following Jeff Galloway’s “to finish” run/walk program; while most training programs limit you to 20-22 miles for your longest run, Jeff recommends going longer since he finds many people will hit The Wall at the point of their longest training run. But the key is to run MUCH slower than you could during the race (at least two minutes/mile). We certainly accomplished that — our average was 11:32/mile; our fastest mile was 10 minutes (mile 11-12), our slowest was 12:47 (mile 21-22).

Our route took us through some of the best scenery Seattle has to offer. We started at our home near Greenlake, wound our way north through the neighborhood and down to the beach at Golden Gardens, headed along Shilshole to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, crossed over to Commodore Park, headed south along the train tracks to Myrtle Edwards Park, continued along the waterfront to Jackson St., where we headed east to Lake Washington Blvd. We continued along the boulevard, then headed up Madison St. to the arboretum. Turned north toward University of Washington, where we picked up the Burke-Gilman trail. We then cut through Cowen Park and wound our way back to Greenlake. Ran around the north end, then stumbled our way back home (I’m getting tired just writing all that out!)

High points:

  • The weather — it started off cool & cloudy, and while we got a few sun breaks near the end, the temperature remained pleasurable
  • Coming to the aid of a woman in distress (she entered a stall without toilet paper and I handed her some underneath the door). Turns out she’s also doing the Danskin in a couple of weeks, so I gave her a pep talk.
  • The bagel and strawberry-banana smoothie break at Starbucks between miles 11 and 12 (I think the nourishment helped make that our fastest mile).
  • The little girl standing in front of me in the restroom on Lake Washington Blvd. who whispered to her mom asking if I was hurt (we had run about 16 1/2 miles by then and I was stretching my legs while waiting for a stall. I assured her that while my muscles were quite sore, I was indeed okay. I thanked her for her concern).
  • Catching several glimpses of the Blue Angels air show (this weekend is the culmination of the weeks-long Seafair; an annual Seattle tradition. The Blue Angels perform several shows over Lake Washington, just before the hydroplane races).
  • Spying the water fountain at the end of Cowen Park (we thought there was one where we first entered the park but were dismayed to find none. By then my water bottles were empty and we were both getting parched).
  • Having the course measure out to 26.2 miles pretty much at our doorstep (we just had to run past our house a 1/4 block and back).
  • Chowing down on home-made lobster rolls at the end.

Low points:

  • The hills! You can’t get to Lake Washington Blvd. from our house without going up one. Of course that heads back down again, so you have to go up another one to get home.
  • Seeing my darling suffer during our walk breaks starting at mile 18. His knees were really bothering him, and the transition from running to walking was particularly painful.
  • Realizing there wasn’t a water fountain at the entrance to Cowen Park.
  • The knot in my shoulder blade. It was particularly bad today; I may have pulled a muscle during my arm weight routine yesterday, so it was hurting for much of the run.
  • My teary breakdown at mile 25 due to the shooting pain of said shoulder blade (although the tears were a nice form of release).
  • Having my darling almost barf up the lobster roll lunch (fortunately a nap settled his poor tum-tum).

Hmmm… considering there were more high points than low points, I say today was a mighty successful run. Bordeaux, here we come!

Published July 27th, 2007


This past November I wrote a post about the significance of the number 43. That day was my 43rd birthday, there were 43 days until Christmas, and 43 WEEKS until the Marathon du Medoc. I just happened to consult my calendar, and you guessed it: there are just 43 DAYS until I’ll be winding my way through the vineyards in Bordeaux. Merde!

In my November post I stated I had to 1) learn French, 2) pick a costume, 3) educate my palate for Bordeaux wines and 4) train. Well, two out of four ain’t bad. I’ll probably spend the next few weeks cramming my French lessons, and perhaps quaff a few glasses of Bordeaux. But at least I have THE most important thing pretty much taken care of: I know what I’ll be wearing 🙂 (My costume is about 80% complete thanks to eBay).