Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Out: swimming. In: running

Yesterday, I did my final swim, bike, run, in preparation for Saturday's triathlon. I'm planning on it being my final training swim until next triathlon season, because I'm so over swimming right now. Yesterday was an epic battle between me and the current. I swam the distance that measured 1,000 yards, but I really zigzagged so much I wouldn't be surprised if I swam an extra 100 yards. I couldn't sight because the waves kept crashing over my face every time I looked up, and I swallowed a minimum of 2 liters of lake water. If the water is like that on Saturday, I'm in trouble.

Next was a 14 mile bike ride and 2 mile run, which I don't have anything interesting to say about. Riding in wind is hard, it was hot, boo hoo, the elements are mean, etc, etc.

This weekend's triathlon is the Culpepper International Triathlon - a 1,500 meter swim, 24 mile bike (that is "not easy" according to the website), and 10K run (which they call a "challenging course"). I really could not be more excited for it, even though my training has been sub-par. Mainly because my half ironman dream team is back together - Lily, Jackie, and me. Try this on for inspiration - I'm driving down while Jackie sleeps in the car, because she is working from Thursday morning until Friday afternoon, then doing the race Saturday morning. Oh, and she just registered yesterday after coming off a 40 hour shift. I can pretty much never complain about being tired after work again. 

Moving forward, next week I'll be phasing out the swimming for sure, and most of the biking, to start focusing 100% of my efforts on JFK training. I just completed my fall training schedule by signing up for the Fire on the Mountain 50K, recommended by Abbi, who did it last year.  I'll be doing a the Wineglass marathon, followed two weeks later by the Hartford marathon, and the 50K two weeks after that. Hm, typing it all out like that makes me feel tired already. The 50K will be my last long run, and then I'll start a 3 week taper for JFK. 

I'm aiming to do what Kara did last year - taking the long runs from one plan, and combining them with weekday runs from a second plan. It's been awhile since I actually tried to follow a training plan exactly as it's written, but of course I'm oddly excited about it. Since this is my second 50 mile race, I wanted to incorporate some speedwork, which the second plan provides. 

I see JFK training being less time consuming than my half ironman training last spring. Sure, I'll be running a lot, but I'll also eliminate a lot of "transition" time. I won't have to drive to bike rides, get my bike set up, put a wetsuit on, switch between two (or three) sports, or do any two-a-days. I'll just fill in the extra free time by working at the running store to pay for all these races!

Do you like to incorporate shorter races as part of a training plan? I find it's a good way to avoid getting burnt out on the same long run routes by yourself all the time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The return of the pirates

The general consensus in my comments from Saturday's post was "enough about letting a bunch of strangers from the internet drive you into the mountains, and let's hear about this pirate ship". I couldn't agree more.
It's important to make your finger into a hook in every picture while being a pirate.
Last year, we celebrated my friend John's 29th birthday by taking a Pirate Cruise around the Baltimore Harbor. It's essentially a booze cruise (BYOG - Bring Your Own Grog) run by pirates. Sounds amazing, right? It ended up being such an epic night that John realized he'd screwed himself by having no where to go from there when he hit the big 3-0. So he devised the ultimate solution: repeat his 29th birthday. 

He took this very seriously. Everyone was required to wear the exact same outfit, meet at the same bar, drink the same drinks, and take the same pictures. He'd extensively studied the photos from last year so he could help direct people with decisions like which pirate garb to wear, or where to put their pirate tattoos. 
Me and the birthday boy, manning the cannons
He ran over when I was about to limbo and told me he was ending our friendship if I didn't win, so I was basically in a Hunger Games limbo situation.
It's a proven fact that sticking your tongue out during limbo allows you to get a minimum of 2 inches lower.
 If you ever come to Baltimore, I'll take you on this wonderful cruise. 

Since bike commuting worked out well for me last week, I decided to try it to go to my second job, which is about 12 miles away. I rode my bike down Saturday, and it went pretty well. The downside was that the running store is downtown, which meant fighting my way through city traffic. Please note that on my bike, I obey all rules of the road - stopping at traffic lights, signaling, etc. Sometimes, when there was no shoulder, I'd have to ride in one of the three of four lanes. A lot of drivers felt that having to slow down for 5-10 seconds before they could get into the other lane in order to spare my life was a major imposition, and decided to scare the crap out of my by driving right up next to me and blasting their own before flying by. I wanted to yell "I'm just trying to reduce my carbon footprint!" at them, because that would really show them. However, I have a strict policy about not yelling things at random Baltimore City drivers. In my mind, I pictured them as really fat, and they were just mad because I was causing their trip for their next Big Mac to take longer. Revenge is sweet.

We stayed downtown at the birthday boy's house after the Pirate Cruise, and I coached my 5K group for the first time Sunday morning. It's only been one session, but I think it's safe to say I love coaching. Everyone was so nervous, but they all did great and were laughing and talking the whole time. My friend Kristin is in the group and wrote about our workout in her blog

Sunday was a rest day, meaning I didn't have any scheduled workouts planned, but I did walk 25 minutes with my 5K group, ran a mile from my friend's house to work (I think everyone really loves how I always show up sweaty), and then biked home. Biking there seemed so easy, but biking home was more of a challenge. 

I did take part of the Baltimore Marathon route, and even had a woman cheer for me. 

This morning, Lily and I ran a pathetic 10K, because it was humid and my ankles and calves are pretty sore from navigating the rocks on the Appalachian Trail. But, I got it done. They can't all be winners. 

What would your pirate name be? Mine was Awesome Ass Alyssa. Not even making this up, that's what the pirate in charge of naming people gave me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Training mashup

I started my Saturday in quite a typical American fashion: waking up at 4:30 am, driving an hour and a half to a secluded parking lot, and hopping in the car with a friend I met on the internet, and riding into the mountains with a bunch of strangers. I also plan to finish it as most 29 year old women do: dressed as a pirate, on a ship, squirting a water cannon at tourists. 

So let's backtrack - I have no idea what I'm doing as far as training right now. This week was some sort of 50K recovery/triathlon practice/JFK preview mashup. 

Thursday, I ran 10.5 miles. 

Friday, Lily and I did a swim/bike/run at Hammerman Lake. I swam 1,400 yards, and my upcominig triathlon (next weekend!) is around 1,600. The swim was really good, not necessarily in terms of speed or sighting, but in that I felt really strong. If I can feel like that in the race, I'll be extremely happy.

We biked 14 miles, then did a 5K run. We didn't start running until 11am, and I thought I was going to melt into the pavement. That's probably around the time we'll begin our 10K run during the tri, so that will certainly be interesting.

The only thing that got me to finish was knowing there was a treat at the end. I don't any strength training at the gym, but I did work on my guns a bit this week carrying my haul from the farmer's market to my car. Here's a tiny fraction of it.

This doesn't even show the vegetables,
which we now know I eat quite a few of.

Cold watermelon after a hot workout is amazing

My foray into the mountains in a car full of strangers this morning was for a very important reason: to preview the Appalachian Trail portion of the JFK 50. I met up with fellow blogger Abbi, another first time JFK-er, and a bunch of her running friends to do the 13 mile trail run.

This was almost at the end, which is why I look so happy. And sweaty.
 I'd heard different things about the trail portion of this race, and of course people's opinions about running terrain are all relative. One thing was for sure - it was certainly rocky.
This was an easier section, hence being able to stop and take pictures.
A little more telling, but the really tough sections you'll have to imagine
 And it didn't seem that anyone had exaggerated how steep the hills were.

Climb 800 feet of elevation then run 48 more miles?
Sounds fabulous!

We did take a little side trip to enjoy the view. While I was running, I was way too busy staring at my feet and praying I wouldn't fall and smash my head open.

The really scary parts were the steep downhills. Even trying to go slowly, the momentum pushed me and I was stumbling over the rocks much faster than I wanted to be. The idea of falling is a lot more frightening than on the trails I'm used to - it wouldn't end on a nice muddy path, maybe with a scraped knee. More likely, it would end with my head meeting a rock. 

So, overall, tough, but doable. Of course, I didn't exactly finish thinking "you know what would be fun now? running 35 more miles!". Maybe in time.

Do you like previewing tough race courses, or is ignorance bliss?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Running gear is fun

So yesterday I tried out a couple new things, photographing all my food for the blog, and biking to work. Biking to work gets a thumbs up, but I'm pretty excited to just be able to chow down today without trying to find the right angle for a picture. 

I should mention that I'm a member of the clean plate club, or in yesterday's case, the clean tupperware club. I've been making food and serving myself for quite a while now, so I think I'm a decent judge of how much I need to eat to feel full. I ate every last drop of everything I posted yesterday.

I know, I know, it's lame, I didn't realize quite how lame and HLB-ish it was until I saw it all posted together. Unfortunately, I really can't say this is atypical at all for me. I don't always have a second snack, it depends when I'm able to get home for dinner/how hungry I am. I do normally have dessert, obviously, but last week I was on vacation, and went a little crazy with desserts and drinks, as one should on vacation. So this week I'm trying to tone it down a tad. At least the general consensus was that, while boring and healthy, it was a lot of food. 

Moving on to more fun stuff - I tried out some new running gear yesterday! I'm not going to review it, because reviews are boring, and I hate reading long detailed descriptions of expensive products that I'm not going to buy. I'm just going to share some random thoughts.

I love Brooks, and got sucked into their PureProject, and bought a pair of Pure Flows. The Pure line is supposed to be lightweight and springy, and encourage a more natural stride. I've been dying to try them, but I've heard you are supposed to start with a shorter run. Yesterday, when I had a magic extra half hour, I couldn't get them on fast enough for a run.

For once, a before run, non sweaty pic.
I swear I didn't only buy them because they were pretty.
I could tell right away they were lighter, and felt the ground more than in my usual Adrenalines, which have a lot more cushioning. When going up hill, I felt all dainty, like a sprightly little nymph. In my mind, I was bouncing right up the hill on my toes, and I have no doubts that if you asked drivers who rode by me, they would have described me in those exact words.

I did feel a lot more impact on my midfoot, so maybe that's why you are supposed to ease in slowly to get used to it. I wouldn't run a 20 miler in these, but I still really loved them and I'm so glad I bought them. For the record, I ran a 5K at an 8:17 pace, which is quite fast for me, especially on a hilly route. 

That's not the only new thing I tried on this run, though! While I love, love, love my Garmin, I used a Nike + GPS watch. 

It didn't help me to run at a 7:27 pace.
I'll always have a special place in my heart for my Garmin, but I must admit, I really liked how much smaller the Nike + is.

It's almost like a normal watch!

It also says nice things to encourage you
The display is smaller, and split into two sections. The larger one shows whatever data you choose (in my case, distance) and the smaller one rotates between all the other stuff (pace, time, etc). Since I've been kind of over obsessing about my average pace, I enjoyed not having it staring at me the whole time.

It also plugs right into the computer, so you don't need a charger.

Apparently it compares you to others. After a whopping two runs, I came out pretty favorably, much better than I do on Daily Mile.  

   I don't know if I'll switch over entirely, but I'm enjoying having two GPS watches right now. My sister's due date is just 4 days away, so my Garmin is packed in my emergency drive 400 miles to meet my nephew bag.

It's basically running clothes and makeup. I can't be an ugly Aunt.
Oh wait, why would a poor teacher on a summer salary (hint: that means no salary) buy all these new running things she doesn't really need? 

The Nike + watch retails for $169, and the shoes are $90. Guess how much I paid for both?

Around $30. Maybe closer to $40 with shipping.

The shoes I got at a massive discount after doing a Brooks online training. Nike reps came to visit my running store to do a training, and the rumor was we'd get an "incentive" for attending. I was really hoping for some sweet moisture wicking socks. Instead, we all got the watches - for free!

FYI, this is not "disclosure", neither Nike nor Brooks know I have a blog, and I highly doubt they'd care if they did. These are both perks of my new wonderful job, and I just wanted to brag about them because I love deals.

Would you/have you tried all the new trendy, lightweight or minimalist shoes? This is probably as low as I'll go in terms of support. You won't see me in Vibrams.

Are you a member of the clean plate club?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Everything I eat tastes delicious, looks like slop

A popular trend in the healthy living blogging community is WIAW - What I Ate Wednesday. It usually entails a really boring blog post with everything that person ate that day which is usually nothing but tiny portions, salads, and maybe a teeny tiny ramekin with about a teaspoon of ice cream. Although I could be wrong, because I almost always ignore them, since they make me feel like a hippopotamus in comparison.

Kari, Kara, Emily and I decided to do our own, totally honest, WIAW. We took pictures of our food all day, like weirdos (well, apparently I was the only weirdo who had to do this in public) and are posting them so we can compare what real people eat.

Today actually ended up being a good day to document my eats because my day ended up being less like a summer vacation day and more like a school year day. I woke up, ran 5 miles, worked at my school, and went to grad class.

I tried something else new and exciting today - bike commuting to work! 
I've worn a variation of this outfit to work all summer. Life is sweet.

I’ve always wanted to, I’m just paranoid about my bike getting stolen. With no kids, there were plenty of extra rooms to lock my bike in. It was actually really fun, even though I had to deconstruct my iced coffee to take it in with me. 

Coffee, mug, and bag of ice
A note about my food: I avoid being caught hungry without food at all costs. Some teachers try to be all “OMG I’m WAY too busy to possibly eat during my lunch”. Yes, our lunch periods are brief, but I don’t play that. Hungry Alyssa is something no one should ever be subjected to, much less innocent children. I consider making a point to never let myself get too hungry to be a public service, much like wearing deodorant. What this amounts to is me bringing lots of food with me when I’ll be gone for a good chunk of the day, and having something quick that I can heat up for dinner when I get home.

My breakfast brings me so much shame, but in the spirit of being truthful, I didn't change it just because I had to photograph it. I hate to admit it, but I went through a period where I got really into reading Healthy Living Blogs. I've moved on, but my main takeaway was overnight oats. I eat them almost every day. If you are lucky enough never to have fallen into that trap, it’s just rolled oats, greek yogurt, and coconut milk (in my case) that you let sit overnight and the oats get soft. I added banana and frozen berries (fresh berries are ridiculously expensive).

I ate this at work around 9:30, since I slept through my alarm and barely had time to run and shower.

So ugly, so delicious
Lunch (1:30ish) - quinoa, pinto beans, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and Trader Joes enchilada sauce. I make random grain salads like this a lot because you can make a ton on Sunday and have lunch for the week. Also, they mean I don’t have waste half my lunch period elbowing people out of the way to use the dirty microwave from 1972.

Same scenic location as breakfast

My fellow teacher and I finished all we needed to do a little early, so we called it a day (I LOVE summer) and I ended up with about an extra half hour between work and class. Just enough time for a quick 5K, bringing me to 8.1 miles for the day. Unfortunately it required a second shower, but life can't be perfect.

As soon as class started at 5:00, I had carrots and Vampire Slayer hummus (that’s actually the name!) which means double garlic. I perform the public service of eating to avoid turning into a bitch, I make no promises about the state of my breath.

Crunching carrots while classmates are doing presentations
is how I make friends 
When it was nearly 7pm and there was no end in sight, I busted into snack number 2. My friend laughed at me when I took out more food, then she laughed even harder when she saw me photographing it.
Because I know you could never imagine what yogurt looks like
Dinner was around 8:30 pm - leftover Trader Joes tortelli with frozen broccoli, sundried tomatoes, sauce, and tons of parmesan cheese. Some sort of pasta/frozen broccoli is pretty much my go to meal when we are low on food and I have limited time (before I do bodily harm to my husband from hunger).

I tried to use my phone and a fork so you can see
this is like twice the size of a normal bowl
And that's it for WIAW! It turns out that photographing food is a lot less fun than just immediately eating it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canoeing is the best race recovery

So far, in my limited experience, recovering from 50Ks is easier than marathon recovery (knock on wood). The distance may be longer, but the slower pace, breaks at the aid stations, and soft running surface are all kinder to your body than 4 hours of pounding the pavement.

On Monday I didn't exactly bound out of bed feeling fantastic, but the diaper rash cream (the best cure for chafing) had done it's job, so I was no longer covered in burning welts. Now, my upper body just appears to have been mauled by a bear. 

I live in a flat, third floor apartment, which can be deceiving in terms of detecting soreness. My walk to the kitchen to get my coffee might feel fine. The true test is always when I leave for work, and go down several flights of stairs. I was running late (due to blogging, that's how devoted I am) and so the trip down the stairs didn't even register as anything unusual, which was a good sign.

I am on a committee to turn my school into a Maryland Green School. Monday, the committee took a trip to an environmental nonprofit organization in Annapolis that works to preserve the Chesapeake Bay (Baltimore and Annapolis are located along the bay), looking to get some ideas on how to make our school more environmentally friendly.

The trip involved touring the facility and the grounds, and I felt a bit stiff after the hour long ride, especially on the stairs, but not too bad.

The trip also involved touring the bay. In a canoe.

Learning how to get the canoes in the water

 I ended up being in charge of steering, which was a lot more tricky than I expected. Our canoe traveled in a similar manner to my open water swims: zigzagging all over the place and covering approximately three times the distance we actually needed to.

This morning, I attempted some swimming. I was doing pretty well until I hit 1,500 yards and then got really nauseous. Probably because instead of hydrating, I spent the whole day after my 50K sweating my ass off (seriously, a grey shirt was a bad choice) outside. Then I came home and was working on my grad school project, and sat for hours thinking "I'm so thirsty!" but was too lazy to get up to get some water. 

Usually I'd try to push through for at least a bit, but I was all "I'm recovering! I don't even have to be working out! This is extra" so I did another 100 yards and left. But the guy who was sharing my lane stopped me and asked how long it took me to get to the point where I could swim for so long. For a second I thought he was being sarcastic, but then I realized that was stupid. So while I'm fairly certain I'll be one of the last swimmers finished in my triathlon next weekend, some random old guy at the YMCA thinks I'm special. It's all relative.

I needed to go to my friend's house today to work on our grad school project. She only lives about 3 miles away, so I decided it was time to start project "stop being a lazy piece of crap who drives everywhere even when it's totally unnecessary" and make use of my bike. 

I locked the door from the inside, then went to lock the deadbolt. Turns out the key I took off my key ring to put in my bento bag on my bike was to my mom's house. Extremely helpful. I called Eric, who was fishing on some dinky boat, and he told me it would take him hours to get to shore and get home. When Eric isn't working, he spends pretty much every spare second either at home or at the gym, which is like a mile away. So managing to lock myself out the ONE time he was actually unavailable was a bit of a feat.

However, Eric reminded that we live in an apartment complex, and all I had to do was go to the rental office and ask them to let me in. Duh. Crisis averted. I rode to my friend's house, and all was well.

Tonight is the informational meeting for my 5K training program! I'm terrified to address adults - hopefully I can sound legit!

What's the latest dumb thing you've done? I'm not sure which was dumber - bringing the key to my mom's house, or freaking out that I was actually locked out instead of just going the quarter mile to the leasing office right away.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My new BFF is a llama

It's really rare that I have a surplus of blog material, but such a thing happened today. Naturally, I knew all my adoring fans were dying to hear my 50K race report (I got emails!), but I also had requests to get the rest of my Tennessee trip up on the blog (my mom calling me counts as "requests").

My stepfather's best friend from middle school owns something like a 300 acre farm in Tennessee, and keeps llamas as pets. Even though I'm an animal hater through and through, and I'd never personally met the man or the animals, for some reason I've long been fascinated with these llamas. After we booked our trip to Tennessee, my stepfather realized we'd be close to his friend George, and suggested we pay him a visit. 

I realized this meant meeting the famous llamas, and went berserk. Little did I know, llamas were merely a small part of the amazement in store for me.

George lives on a super secluded farm in the rural mountains of Tennessee. He restored an authentic log cabin on the property, then built himself his dream house. It has an elevator. In his house.

He also has a toilet with a remote controlled bidet. Guess what guys, we are all wasting our time wiping our asses when we could have a delightful little fountain doing it for us, plus nice warm dryers when we are done. This sounds sarcastic, but I swear it's a true story.

We dug deep and tried to use what we'd learned on our trip to act like real Tennessee natives at the cabin.

The house is devoted to taxidermy, but not just any taxidermy. All the animals inside are ones George has killed himself, mainly with handguns.

He killed this giant buffalo with a single shot!

There's even a boar head from a boar he killed with a knife! He jumped on it's back and stabbed it. How freaking cool is that? I am fascinated by this bravery. Also, he uses all the meat to feed local families (usually in Africa) and uses every single part of the animal for something.

Case in point:
This ice chest was once a bull's testicles
Apparently Eric only likes Pumba in the Lion King

Even the guest room was decked out! We slept with this bear skin, and the floor had a deer skin on it. I was really scared to touch the eyes and noses, but once I gathered my courage it was kind of cool.

Finally, after Eric had enjoyed some beer George brewed with the hops he grew himself (wine for me) and we chatted on his hand made, wraparound front porch, it was LLAMA TIME.

You know how all you psychos are always telling me how great pets are? Here's how I react to really calm, well trained animals that I've been waiting YEARS to meet.

See why I don't want to pet your dog?

But over time, Cisco and I became friends. I'm not sure how he spells that, so I'm going with the way of the Thong song singer.

George has pet goats too. Look at the baby!

Even I find baby goats cute.
Dead stuffed animals and pets weren't the only type - wild animals were around too! Baby raccoons came to visit us! They weren't even scared of people and walked all around the yard and even climbed up to the porch!

It's looking right at me!
After a dinner of fresh picked farm vegetables and grilled salmon with spices that George brought back from Africa, he busted out some hardcore mountain moonshine. I tried about half a drop and my lips felt like they'd touched the sun. I'm not going to lie though, if I'd had that shot available to me before my post 50K shower from hell, I would have taken it to dull the chafing pain.

Last but not least....the llama made me his bitch.

Rosaryville 50K race recap

 I have so many amazing pictures to share from Tennessee, but first, a race report. Yesterday I ran the Rosaryville 50K race for my second year in a row. I signed up when I found out I got into the JFK 50 and wanted to get some long races scheduled for training. As the race got closer, I realized I had scheduled it way too close to my half ironman, and didn't leave myself enough time to really build up my running again. Going into the race, the longest run I had done since March was 18 miles.

I'd probably normally be terrified of going into a race undertrained, but instead I was super excited for it. I mean, it's a trail race, so if I got tired, I'd just start walking. Plus, it had really good food last year. 

I was planning to run with Ashley, which was a relatively last minute decision on her part. I was pretty happy she made it, since it meant I didn't have to listen to my own thoughts for 31 miles. Kara and I ran it together last year, but since she's currently busy spawning, she had to stick to volunteering this year. Still, we got some good treatment at her aid station. Having a blogger volunteering is great because you know they'll be on top of photography.

Saturday we drove back from Tennessee, I went to work, threw some random stuff in a bag around 11pm, and set my alarm for 4:15 Sunday morning. You know, the ideal race prep. 

Rosaryville is a super small race, about 80 people doing the 50K, and less than 200 overall (there were 3 other race distances). I love small races. The race began at 7, and arriving at 6:30 gave me plenty of time to park, get my bib, use the bathroom twice, and stand around chatting. Already having done the race last year gave me an extra leg up - I didn't get lost on the way there and have to call Kara in a panic. I don't even remember the last time we did a race together without that. 

At 7am, the 50Kers were off! 

We ran half a mile or so through the paved park roads and then hit the trail. Rosaryville has something like a 10 mile loop through the park, so 50K runners do the loop 3 times. We were on the trail for maybe 5 or 6 seconds when I got stung by a bee. 

The two other times I've gotten stung by a bee as an adult, I've completely flipped my shit. I don't remember what happened as a child, but I can only imagine it was about the same, based on the fact that my reaction to getting shots hasn't evolved at all. The most recent time was on an early morning run in my neighborhood, and I screamed. Like, at the top of my lungs. The construction workers were treated to a blood curdling scream at 6am. If I lived anywhere nice and classy, it may have led to problems, or at least concerned neighbors coming out to check on me, but luckily that's not the case, so I just kept running. 

I wasn't sure going into a full on panic attack was the right choice here, so I attempted to remain calm (a true challenge for me), and just stopped for a second to check out the sting. Before we started moving again, a woman behind me got stung in the leg. She said it really hurt, so then I felt better admitting that I was dying from bee sting pain. Once I got confirmation that I wasn't just being a baby, I was ready to continue. 

The bee sting really hurt, and I ran for like 3 more miles before I realized that I had Advil in my hydration pack and didn't have to suffer. Despite the traumatizing start, I was having a great time chatting with Ashley. During trail runs, I like to try to ignore the Garmin and just enjoy the run. I guess I was doing pretty well with that because I was shocked when we hit the first aid station - I had no idea we'd already gone 5 miles. 

My goals for this race were to come in under 7 hours, and not waste time at aid stations. I think we did pretty well with that. At each one, we grabbed food, filled our water if needed, and then got going. It still could have been faster, but an improvement over my past trail races.

At that aid station, I randomly saw my friend Marie, who manages a Charm City Run (the local chain I work for) and trained me for my first marathon. She joined us for a little while, along with the manager of my store. I get really excited about seeing friends randomly in races. 

Again, before I knew it, we hit the ten mile mark, which I had been waiting for, since it has a porto-pottie. I know I was running in nature's bathroom, but since it wasn't an emergency, I figured I'd wait until we were stopping anyway.

This was Kara's aid station, and apparently seeing her made me happy, only in a really creepy way.

She was working her ass off, and reminded me of how I used to look working at starbucks during the morning rush. A million confused, needy people demanding your attention while you try to do 8 things at once. Volunteering looks hard.

After some Gatorade and Kara's homemade boiled potatoes, we were off for our second loop.

The second loop was pretty uneventful. In trail races, you typically walk the hills, but Rosaryville is nothing but rolling hills. I feel like every time I'm there I'm constantly debating "is this hill big enough to walk up? does this really count as a hill?". I was in front of Ashley most of the race (meaning, I'm slower so it makes more sense for me to set the pace), so I tried to only walk up big hills, and run the rest of the time.

We lucked out with the weather. It was relatively cool, the high was only around 86. The humidity was insane though, we were soaked before we reached the first aid station. There was no relief, since the air was just as soaked with moisture as we were, so all your wet clothes just clung to you. I was wearing smart wool socks, which, in my opinion, are the best moisture wicking socks out there, but they were so wet I could hear them sloshing. At mile 20, we changed our socks, and got at least 2 miles of dry feet, which was amazing.

Here's what my toes looked like post race

The third loop was a little rough, especially the second half. We were getting tired, and it was hot. We were getting pretty loopy, but still laughing, so we weren't miserable or anything. A guy at the 20 mile aid station even told us how impressed he was with how strong we were running!

When we exited the woods by the last aid station, a guy stopped us with two fresh pieces of watermelon, and told us we were half a mile from the finish. He was my new best friend. 

I had been dreading the last half mile on pavement, because it's all uphill and in the sun, and last year it was so awful that we walked until people at the finish could see us, then started running. It wasn't too bad this year though. 

I don't have an official time yet, but the clock said 6:16 when we finished! Last year, my time was 7:04, so that's a 48 minute PR. I was pretty thrilled.

We hosed off (literally), changed clothes, and hung out for awhile with a few other runners that we know through Kara, chatting about the race. They had tons of food, delicious looking desserts, burgers, hot dogs, and vegetarian egg rolls! I had an egg roll and some animal crackers.

Rosaryville is just a wonderful race - the volunteers work so hard, and yet are constantly cheerful and helpful. It's well organized, inexpensive, and, most importantly, has great food, both during and after the race. 

My entire hour + drive home I was dreading showering. Last year, at Rosaryville, I experienced the worst chafing of my life, and this year followed suit. I almost wish this were a different type of website just so I could show you. Basically any spot of my body that clothes touched now has a huge red welt. Even parts I've never had problems with, like where the waistband of my shorts hit, and where my hydration vest touched along my sides. I honestly considered doing a shot before getting in the shower. 

I know this report is already long, but for once I decided to pay attention to what I ate at aid stations and try to record it. During the race, I ate:

  • About 3/4 of a banana, with a tiny smear of peanut butter (I love PB, but I don't love having my mouth stuck together while trying to run)
  • One bit of a PB sandwich (had to throw the rest away, same problem as above)
  • Two pretzel rods
  • A small handful of oyster crackers
  • A bunch of boiled potatoes dipped in salt (maybe half a big potato? no way to tell)
  • One of those delicious grocery store holiday star shaped sugar cookies with the super sweet icing
  • A piece of watermelon
  • Two bites of rice crispy treat
  • Two salt pills
I drank a cup of gatorade or heed (whichever they had) at each aid station (5 in all) and probably 8-12 oz of ice cold coke. This mystifies me, because I don't like coke at all, but during trail races, I can't get enough. I love when the caffeine and sugar hits me a few minutes later. It's hard to really gauge if you are eating enough or too much during the race, but since we got a great time, I guess it worked out.

After my shower of torture, I enjoyed my favorite post race food - Mexican. Eric got us Qdoba, which is perfect, because their chips are so deliciously salty. Then I busted in to my birthday present from Nicole.

Add ice cream, I did

I don't ever remember being so tired after a race. Titanic was on TV, and I didn't even stay awake until it ended at 8pm. I was in bed, passed out by 8:30, and slept until 6:30 this morning.

So today, for work, I'm going on a teacher field trip, which includes kayaking. Not sure how that's going to go. My muscles aren't really sore (typical for trail races) but my chafing is making moving so painful.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

4 years later

2008 - I feel this picture sums up how
our wedding was the most fun of any wedding, ever
2009 - Annapolis Harbor
Fun fact - I later jumped in that harbor during GORUCK
2010 - Richmond, VA
2011 - Rosaryville 50K

Yesterday, we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. I'll skip the whole blah, blah, I love my husband, he has all these wonderful qualities, etc etc. I think I made that apparent in the fact that I married the guy, and besides, I've already written a blog post bitching about how I don't believe in marrying your best friend. Instead, I'll just post tons of pictures of us looking lovey dovey.

As I mentioned, we try to take an anniversary gift each year instead of exchanging gifts. This year, we went rural.

On Wednesday, our actual anniversary, we slept in and then drove into the mountains and spent the day hiking to a waterfall. 

We did a little off roading
The waterfall was about 2.5 miles from the trail head, but we wanted to go to the end of the trail, another mile and a half or so. Past the waterfall, the trail got a bit more rugged, and we stopped seeing other people. We walked about a half a mile until we started hearing thunder in the distance. I commented that it sounded really far away (all casually, like I might have some sort of meteorological knowledge). Literally moments after I closed my mouth from this statement, thunder appeared to boom right over our heads, like God himself was calling me out for pretending to know stuff.

Eric was leading and increased his pace approximately 100% after he heard the thunder. In his defense, I have no practical knowledge, so if anything happened to him, we'd be in trouble. We didn't have cell service on the trail, so my only option would be to use my phone to play music to him and cry.

We stopped and got dinner on the way home, and Eric enjoyed some authentic southern barbecue. I think he got 5 kinds of meat? I went across the street and got pizza.

Then we enjoyed our favorite anniversary tradition - watching our wedding video. It's gotten to the point where we each make the exact same comments at the exact same parts, and can predict each other's. So much fun.

Thursday, we headed back out again on a longer trail, that was supposed to take us up to a bluff with amazing views. If I thought yesterday's trail got a bit rugged, this trail was truly rugged, with a lot of elevation. You know, because we were climbing a mountain.

This was the trail

You can't tell, but this was at the edge of a huge precipice.

Not a real stream crossing, there was a rock bridge
We made it about a mile and a half and I could tell Eric was truly miserable. He was trying to put on a happy face for my benefit, which really impressed me, because had the tables been turned, I would have been whining nonstop and begging to go home. He refused to admit it or end the hike until I stopped in my tracks and demanded we go back to the resort to play mini golf. He still wouldn't admit defeat, but noticeably cheered up on the way back. We ended up with a 4 mile hike, and hours of laying at the pool.

 We also saw fresh bear poop on our way back, so fresh it hadn't been there when we passed the first time. So close to danger!

So, to sum things up, 10 miles of hiking on a mountain have been my only exercise on this trip. Normally I am fine with getting up early to run on vacation, but that also requires going to bed early. Since I came on this anniversary trip to actually spend time with my husband, going to bed way before him so I could get up and run before we hiked was, I'll admit, an option I considered, but ultimately counterproductive. Plus, my legs will be nice and rested for Sunday's 50K!

If you were on a mountain with no people for miles, with no cell service, and your companion got hit by lightening, what would you do?

If you are married, did you hire a videographer? I can't even believe people skip it. It's the only way I was able to see the ceremony!