Ask the T-Rex, Part 2

I’m back today answering y’alls questions again, helping to break down the gigantic wall of mystery that shrouds my existence. Here goes round 2!

1. What is your height and weight?

In the interest of transparency, I am about 5’6″ (maybe a quarter inch less, but who’s counting?) and I weigh about 125 pounds right now. My weight when I am running a lot is anywhere from 123-130 pounds, and very few people notice a difference in that range except for me. When I am not working out, I actually weigh less and am consistently 115-120. Although I do own a scale, I rarely weigh myself and endeavor only to make sure that I can always button my jeans. If I am trying to lose weight, I do count calories and use a scale, but I have a tendency to get obsessive about it, so I try to just use common sense and weigh myself as little as possible.

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The non-running version.

2. I know you talk about being divorced, but are you currently in a relationship? How do you manage work, running and a relationship?

Yes, I am currently in a relationship and have been for over a year now with a very awesome guy named AJ. When I asked him to answer how I manage work, running and a relationship, he responded “I have a Playstation 3 and a big screen tv.” LOLZ.

AJ has had the fortune/misfortune of only knowing me as a completely crazy runner, so he doesn’t know what it is like to be with me when I am not running and traveling all the time. As a result, I tell him he has no right to complain since he knew what he was getting into, but he doesn’t always agree. As I said in Ask the T-Rex, Part 1, I travel a lot for work, so I am not home very much depending on the week. I am very lucky that he is generally pretty supportive of my schedule and ambition, but everyone has their limits. There were times this year where I did not have a single weekend off from racing or other travel for 6 weeks at a time, and that is crazy. As our relationship has gotten more serious and my bank account has grown increasingly pathetic, we’ve compromised on a racing schedule that suits us both – I travel for a race once a month on average, and local races do not count towards that. I’d be lying if I said I never get the itch to do more, but at this point that is not in anyone’s best interest. When I am home, we take other trips together, hang out with our friends, and even occasionally clean the house.

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Non-running related trip

Really, the answer to this question is that we compromise and most importantly, we communicate. AJ is an amazing golfer, but he’d pretty much rather die than go running with me. He doesn’t love coming to some of my races (hates the small ones but can tolerate the bigger ones) and I respect that. We make a concerted effort to do activities we both enjoy, which is pretty much anything except running and Playstation, and we are open about what we do and don’t want to do. We appreciate the fact that the time that I spend away gives us both time to do our own thing, and although we do miss each other when we’re apart, it’s really a blessing. I absolutely understand how this type of lifestyle could destroy a relationship, but we trust each other and he supports me and thinks I’m hot, so it is fine.

3I’m curious about the puppy.  As a runner & dog owner (and one who guiltily admits to preferring to run without my dog) I’m always wondering how he feels about the running.

Oh, my dog. Well, I used to run with my dog a lot when I ran by myself. I would get up verrrryyyy early in the morning and take Rocket, who is a Rottweiler, on runs with me. This was now almost 3 years ago, so he was about 5 years old at the time. I mostly did this for protection, as I live in the country and ran on dirt roads through the woods a lot, but he absolutely loved it and was overcome with joy every time he saw me put my shoes on. To this day, every time I so much as enter my closet, he thinks we are going running.

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He’s easily excited.

Sadly, Rocket and I don’t run together anymore, and this is for three reasons. First, I do most of my running downtown after work or at lunch instead of in the morning because I like to run with my friends and this fits better in my schedule. Second, he has gotten a lot older and although he can still run a couple miles just fine, he can’t do the type of mileage I’m doing anymore without trying to lay down in the road. Third, and really most importantly, my dog has gotten progressively worse and worse around other animals as he has gotten older, to the point that he will now go after any animal (squirrel, cat, dog, whatever) that he sees. He’s great with people but horrible with other animals. Two years ago, he went after something moving in the bushes while I was walking him, and he pulled me down hard in the process of going after it and cracked some of my ribs. He weighs about 100 pounds, which is not much less than me, and if he wants to go after something, I don’t really stand a chance, so at this point, I don’t take him in the interest of my own safety and the safety of neighborhood pets. This makes him very sad but fortunately he doesn’t notice too much since I usually go running from my office.  He does sometimes get to go running with my friend Tom, who will come over when he isn’t away doing Army stuff and take Rocket on a run for a mile. Tom weighs almost twice as much as me, so he is much better suited to the task.

4. Have you decided what state will be your 50th? Why this state?

Although I have thought a lot about it, I haven’t decided which state will be my 50th state yet. At this point, I have three thoughts:

  1. Hawaii:  For one, it’s going to take me awhile to save up the money to get over to Hawaii, so it would make sense to plan to have this as my 50th state. Also, I definitely want AJ to be there, and he prefers to come to races where we have more time built in for things besides running (I know, can you imagine?) like when we went to Chicago. Besides, what better way to celebrate finishing my 50 states than with a lovely Hawaiian vacation, right? And the downside? It’s far away, meaning it’s unlikely most of my running friends and my family would be there, so I’d be celebrating with fewer members of Team T-Rex than I would prefer.
  2. Ohio: Ok, I know this is random, but stick with me. When I first started running, I signed up for a bunch of marathons before I even ran my first one, including the Flying Pig Marathon. Well, I got a femoral neck stress fracture about two weeks after my first marathon, which resulted in me being unable to run for 8 months, therefore missing the Pig. This year, I decided it was time to make my triumphant return to the Pig….and I ended up getting a DNF in the full marathon, but taking this sweet picture of Thomas while I hobbled my way through the half marathon. That means that twice I have made plans to run this stupid race and twice I have failed, but I know full well that if it is my 50th state, I will absolutely finish the damn thing no matter what. Downside to this? I’m finishing the 50 states in Ohio, which no offense, Ohio people, is not like Hawaii, and also, the Pig is a pretty big race and I’m afraid I wouldn’t really feel special when I finished. Ok, I know that’s obnoxious, but it’s true.
  3. Small race in a state TBD: I kind of like the idea of finishing my 50 states at a small race in a random state because I like to believe there would be lots of associated pomp and circumstance about it. I don’t want a party or anything, but there is something really fun about the community of a small race that you just don’t get at one with tens of thousands of people. I saw two 50 states finishers while I was running the Delaware Marathon, which is a great race and fairly small. There’s a lot of great small races out there and I’d love to draw some extra attention to one of them. Downside? It might suck. The race might not be the great. It might not be that exciting to finish in the middle of the nowhere. And there might not be a good vacation area nearby, or even worse – no brewery.

So yeah, I’ve decided nothing.

5. Which marathon is your favorite so far?

I spend entirely too much time thinking about this question on a regular basis because people ask me this a lot. It’s also the hardest question I can think of to answer about marathons. I can’t pick just one, so I’ll give you my top three in no particular order, and then maybe some honorable mentions because there are just so many races that I love. For the record, none of these are my PR race and my times on these courses range from really good to really bad, so that’s not a factor.

  • Hatfield-McCoy Marathon: This race is tiny but unquestionably one of my favorites and one of the few I would do again. The marathon centers on the famous feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia. From the free pre-race pasta party and historical skit the night before, to the amazing history you run through on the course, to the way the runners are broken into teams of Hatfields vs McCoys, this race is not to be missed if you love history, or even if you don’t. You will love history by the time you leave. The race director is a real Hatfield descendant (and a runner!) and the community is filled with the nicest people you will meet anywhere. I cannot say enough good things about it, so really, just read my race recaps and tell me you are not dying to do that race. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

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    Posing with historical figures? Check.

  • Columbia SC Marathon: My hometown marathon shocked the hell out of me when I ran it in its inaugural year. Being familiar with the Columbia racing scene, I expected literally nothing from this race but I was absolutely shocked when it became my favorite race I had run so far. The race director is an ultra runner who has actually never a run a marathon (too short, he says), but he’s clearly a serious runner and every detail of this race is perfect. Every single aid station has four flavors of Gatorade, every flavor of Gu they make (seriously!), real food, medical personnel, etc. The medal is outstanding, the shirt is great, the course is beautiful and the weather is perfect. Every review on marathonguide.com agrees with me, so I must be right. Even my friend Anders, who has run way more marathons than I have and just finished the 50 states, agrees that Columbia is one of his favorite marathons. He is even thinking about coming back from Sweden next year just to run it!

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    She wore the race shirt to the race, but I still love her anyway. Begrudgingly.

  • Chicago Marathon: As cliche as I feel saying it, Chicago is one of my favorite marathons, hands down. I fell in love with the city while I was there, and running through it was even better than I imagined. The crowd support is unparalleled for any race I have run (admittedly, I have not yet run NYC) and it is seriously just so much fun. For such a large race, it is incredibly well organized, and unlike NYC or Disney where you have to get to the event hours and hours early, I didn’t even get into my corral in Chicago until 20 minutes before my start time. The course is interesting, flat, and fast, and one of my favorite parts about it is how many international runners there are. I just love the crap out of this race and I will definitely do it again.

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    Amazing.

Honorable mentions without going into great detail:

  • Missoula Marathon: The course is gorgeous, the town is awesome, and there are events associated with the race all weekend.
  • Route 66 Marathon: This is probably the most fun marathon I’ve done so far. Not the prettiest course, but definitely a ton of fun and great organization and people!
  • Baton Rouge Beach Marathon: Lots of swag, beautiful course, great food!

I could honestly come up with something wonderful about every single marathon I’ve done, so this was a hard question, but I think these races are probably the best overall when all factors are taken into account.

6. Are there any marathons you have run that you would not recommend?

Gah, I was really hoping no one would ask me this question, because I know how much work it takes to put on a race and I hate to say that I really wouldn’t recommend one at all. So let me preface by saying that there are good things about this race. My decision not to recommend it is based on me asking myself the question “would I feel like I had missed something if I had not done this race?” and answering with a resounding “No.” So that being said, I would have to say that I do not really recommend the Sioux Falls Marathon. I had a lot of fun at this race, but solely because of the people I was with. There are some parts of the course (about 6 miles) that are kind of pretty and interesting, but that’s it. The organization is fine. The medal is fine. The shirt is fine. Everything is just kind of…fine. When I think back to what stands out about the race, I think of the awesome group of people I ran with and the fact that we ran forever on a straight line through literally fields of nothing – not even fields of crops. Just barren fields of nothing. Knowing that there are other South Dakota races out there that receive great reviews, I’ve got to say I think this one is ok, but you’re not missing anything if you don’t do it.

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This is pretty much what we looked at most of the time.

I feel that way about Rock N Roll San Diego too. While the course is fairly pretty and interesting, there are so many other California races to be done that are way more scenic, have better organization and a better atmosphere, so I don’t think you would be missing out if you never did this race.

7. You travel for work and races a lot. Who watches your dog when you’re gone?

Now that AJ and I live together in sin, he watches Rocket most of the time unless he is going away as well. When neither of us will be home, his parents watch the dog because they are literally obsessed with him and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were hatching a plot to kidnap him. Whenever we go over to their house (they live about 10 minutes away) without the dog, they ask why we didn’t bring him. It’s very convenient. Before AJ and I lived together, when he lived about an hour away, I had a pet sitter in my neighborhood, an 8 year old boy who charged me $5 a day (you read that correctly), that walked Rocket and played with him and took care of him. The boy’s dad believed in teaching him the responsibility of hard work, so every time I went away, they watched the dog together. As he has gotten older, he hasn’t been available to watch Rocket as much, which is sad for him and the dog but happy for my bank account. Seriously, the boy always left me notes and one time he wrote something to the effect of “I have over $600 in my bank account right now. Most of it is yours.” I do still ask him to watch Rocket when AJ and I will both be away sometimes, but he is almost always busy camping, playing baseball, or whatever it is boys do, so now I just give him money by purchasing excessive amounts of Cub Scout popcorn when the season rolls around.

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AJ loves Rocket more than he is willing to admit.

8. What are your biggest running and non-running goals?

If you had asked me a year ago, I probably would have said my biggest running goal was to qualify for Boston. Right now, that seems so impossibly far away that I can’t even process it, so I’ll say my biggest running goal is to finish the 50 states. My next big fitness goal is to do a full Ironman triathlon one day. Right now, I am planning on doing one in the fall, but we will see what happens with my stomach. I would also like to do an ultra marathon – maybe a 50 miler – in the near future, but again, that’s sort of stomach dependent. I don’t have any time goals for right now since I never know what any given day will bring.

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I’m going to have to stop falling off my bike before I get serious about Ironman training.

For a non-running goal, I’d really like to get published in a magazine in the near future and actually write a book someday. I have been approached about writing a book, but at this point I do not have my thoughts organized enough yet (or enough free time) to do so. I’d also like to expand my travel and really see the world. Also, I’d like to avoid making AJ so crazy that he breaks up with me.

9. You referred in one of your previous posts to being an “honorary Jew.” What does that mean?

Ah, the honorary Jew thing. Not too many people ask me about that, so I’m surprised you did. I grew up in SouthFlorida, very close to Boca Raton, the world capitol of Jewish grandparents. I was in the “smart kid” classes when I was in school, and almost every single person I was friends with was Jewish. My parents are not religious at all and we never went to church as a family, so I spent a very significant amount of time in synagogues on holidays, Shabbat, etc and celebrated every Jewish holiday every year with my friends, even fasting with them on Yom Kippur in a gentile’s show of solidarity. I even joined J-Date in college, which my friends thought was the funniest thing ever. When I moved to South Carolina, I felt very alienated because in Florida and then in college in Maryland, all of my friends were Jewish, or at least the vast majority. I didn’t realize what a huge part of my identity the Jewish culture was until I left it behind, and I had a really hard time trying to figure out southern baptists (for the record, I have not made any progress in this area). It remains a really important part of who I am, and more importantly, how I view the world. I still celebrate the holidays and I actually have 4 menorahs in my house right now – one of which is next to my Christmas tree. My friends all say I’m a better Jew than they are. Anyway, it’s really weird, I know, but whatever. By the way, Happy Hanukkah!

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Festival of lights!

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So, that’s pretty much the story. I’d like to say I’m just your average 27 year old, but let’s be honest – I’m far more entertaining. Anyway, y’all are always welcome to ask me anything and I’m pretty much always happy to answer. By the way, my first name is Danielle.

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