Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big On Display At Flyleaf Books In Chapel Hill

My good friend and uber-talented (seriously, so much skill it's ridiculous) writer friend Steve F. Cushman gave a reading last night at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and sent me an email saying they had my newest book displayed front and center. 

Steve's newest book is one of poetry called Hospital Work and it is... amazing doesn't cover it. This is not what I think of when I think of poetry. It's stories about his work in the hospital and some are raw and gritty and some touching but every one of them perfectly captures a moment or observation. I told him it's the perfect poetry book for people like me who think they don't like poetry.

I've got a book signing coming up at Barnes & Noble in Greensboro, I believe on Saturday, December 21st at 1 p.m., but I'll confirm and let everyone know. 





My First 40-Mile Bike Ride

My first time on the bike when I FROZE to death because I didn't know how to dress.My first 40-mile bike ride was actually 36 miles and I'd like to give a shout-out to Jesus for cutting off those last four miles. HOLY CRAP. I don't know if my legs were overworked or I wasn't fueled enough or I'm just a wuss but today's ride kicked my butt... and left a lasting imprint there. 

I knew I might be in trouble when, the night before, I asked my friend Kathi what I should wear for the ride. It was going to be windy and in the low to mid 50's. Her text reply:

Long sleeves and/or arm warmers, a cycyling jersey, a vest or light jacket, light gloves, toe caps and an ear band. Legs will need knee warmers or leg warmers or light tights or capris over your cycling shorts.

Uh-oh. So, I own no biking gloves, no toe caps, no ear bands, no knee or leg warmers and no cycling tights. I realized all this at about 10 pm last night. 

I did my best and pulled on yoga pants under my cycling shorts (because the yoga tights over the padded butt shorts is not a look I relish) and pulled on arm warmers and a jacket, stuck on a headband under my cycling helmet and hoped for the best. 

Temperature wise, I was fine. I actually peeled my arm warmers off half-way through the ride. But I knew I was in trouble when I was panting for breath and getting dropped on the hills around mile 18. 

Part of the issue was I hadn't probably learned to use my gears. I was in the small ring for most of the ride before Kathi coached me on staying more in the big ring with a higher cadence so I could keep up with everyone. At that point, however, the damage was done. I was wiped. 

For all that, I still had a great ride. I love being on the bike, love being out in the sun, love being with friends and talking/not talking as we cruise along. I even enjoy tackling hills, knowing how good the release will feel when the next downhill comes. 

I'm ready for my next REAL 40-mile ride. I have a better fuel strategy, better gear strategy and better "go out slow and don't try to act like a badass the first 10 miles of the ride" strategy. That, and I'm heading to the Trek store tomorrow to drop a small fortune on winter biking gear. 




The Dena Hunger Games

Blair and I were watching The Hunger Games today and as the tributes were racing off their platforms into the woods, Blair turned to me. "You would be good at that," he said. 

"Nah,"I replied. "I'd do myself in on the first day from the stress of it."

"Not true," he said. "You'd be like (and here he morphed into his high pitched "Dena voice"):'PICK ME! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!"

"And then," he continued, "the officials would be all like, 'Uh, Dena, you won last year. You can't compete again.' And you'd be all like (he lets out a primal wail): 'AAAIIIEEE!! I MUST KILL!!!" 

I was rolling. Whether or not it's because he completely nailed my personality, I'm not sure. 




Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic - Am I Ready?

Me at the 2012 Hinson 24-Hour Ultra Classic. I think this was around hour 6 or 7.This Saturday marks my return to Hinson Lake for the 24-hour Ultra Running Classic. Last year I ran 62 miles in 16 1/2 hours on the mile and a half loop course. I also ended the night in tears, as last year's race recap documents. 

This year I have, as always, 3 goals: 

  • Stretch Goal: 50 laps/76 miles
  • Moderate Goal: Anything over 62 miles is a win
  • Things Went Horribly Wrong Goal: Don't cause any lasting damage to my body

Here's the good news: With perhaps one exception, physically I'm in great shape. My running has never been faster and stronger. I've been doing some biking to cross-train and my abs are tuned up from Crossfit. (Never underestiamte the importance of a strong core for running!) 

Here's the not-bad-but-causing-some-concern-news. My ankles have been hurting for the past month or two, on and off my runs. My ankles are what took me out last year at Hinson and the year before at Crooked Road and that was when they felt fine going into the races. I'm not sure what to expect if my ankles are already sore before the first lap. 

At this point, there's nothing to be done about it. My plan this year is to start slow, take several extended (up to an hour or two) breaks, prop my feet up the wall often to pool blood away from my ankles and change shoes at least three times. That, and to eat. The best part of running ultras is the food. Lots and lots and lots of food.

I'm most excited because my friend Cindy will be running Hinson as well this year. And hubby Blair Harris makes a return appearance as crew member extraordinaire. 

A few people (bless you) have mentioned showing up to pace me on some laps. What I'd recommend is checking my Facebook page first, to make sure I'm still moving. Blair will post updates on my progress there. 

Of course, I'll have a full race recap for you next week. Until then... SLOW, STEADY and 75 MILES!!!


The White Jeans Coffee Disaster

Anytime I wear white, God takes it as a throw down.

Yesterday I'm sitting in a coffeeshop with a large coffee cooling beside me. I reach for my laptop bag and... BAM! I knock the full cup of coffee directly onto the right leg of my white jeans. 

After uttering a sedate, "Gee whilikers! What bad luck!" (Kidding--there were f-bombs dropping right and left), I hopped up and ran to the women's bathroom. I had a meeting in 30 minutes so there was no time to go home and change. 

My attempts to rub the stain out with paper towels resulted only in soggy towel bits clinging to the stained fabric. So I did what had to be done. I slipped the jeans off and stuck the right leg under cold running water, pumped a bunch of soap onto the jeans and started scrubbing. 

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