Friday, November 30, 2012

Five things Friday

List formats work so well when you have a bunch of random things to say.

1. This morning, Eric turned to me and said the words every (normal) woman always wants to hear.  "Let's make today our rest day". Last night, we got home at the late hour of 9pm after our Broomball game (we lost 0-1) but who am I kidding, I'll always love extra sleep in the morning.

2. I got a new haircut. Eric took a picture so you can all admire my looks and beauty.

Really not sure what I was looking at.

Kidding, I had to go straight to Broomball, so I just threw it in a ponytail, but I really did get a long overdue haircut. 

3. I couldn't decide which coffee to buy, so I got them all. I've been working my way through the Eggnog all week, and finished it today, which means that tonight I'm faced with the difficult decision of which one to have tomorrow morning. I think coffee + Christmas is the perfect marriage of things I love.

4. Yesterday we did P90X yoga (We're still following the program, at least for this week). After saying that I didn't really feel P90X was living up to its hype, the yoga was actually really tough - for yoga, anyway. I've never felt like I've gotten a workout doing yoga, unless it was of the hot variety. Anything else I thought was just for stretching. But this has you moving through the poses really fast, and after a few minutes I might have even had a bead of sweat on my brow and was wondering how I'd make it through an hour and a half. It ends with a bunch of tortuous ab work which was a major shock to my system. 

5. Confession: Sometimes I "save" things I feel are funny for the blog. I've erased things I've typed before posting them on Facebook, Twitter, or Daily Mile. I have a limited number of thoughts that I feel are fit for publishing, so rest assured, here on Chocolate is My Life you are getting the cream of the crop. Plus, now you can follow me on social media since I'm too lazy/don't care enough to provide buttons on my sidebar. Don't mind that my Daily Mileage weekly total is a whopping one right now.

Do you ever "save" things for your blog?

Which coffee should I try tomorrow? Saturday morning is when I enjoy my coffee to the maximum extent possible making this decision extra important.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nothing but tangents

Yesterday I worked and then had to go straight to a long, tedious grad class, so I thought it was going to be a so-so day. I was so wrong. I heard the good news on the radio on my way in, and then received emails, texts, and Facebook messages from friends who were also rejoicing all day long.

I know Fox news has its flaws, but they opted for a Cory and Topanga wedding picture.

I think I can safely say that only thing better would be a Full House reunion - whoa I just got goose bumps typing that.

I swear I am not trying to beat the whole "craving salad" thing to death, but I really wanted to return to it one last time to bring everyone's attention to this comment from my BFF IRL (best friend forever in real life, for those who aren't in the know) for two reasons.

I will admit, I have craved a salad before...but I realized that it's because I ate really poorly- gas station food, etc. for a few days and my body is trying to say that it needs vegetables. I know this means that we can't be best friends anymore, but I think the type of craving is very different; it's more my body trying to tell me something so I do say that I crave it, but it's not what I really want- I'm just sick of the nasty junk food.

1. I want to publicly announce that we are still BFF. We've survived a robbery, a marathon, and a dance class that teaches sexy moves to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" together, so I'm not cutting things off over salad. Now, I will, and have, ended a friendship if someone shuns chocolate. My friend's baby just turned one and refused to eat any birthday cake, and I've already warned my sister that Harrison is dead to me if he tries to pull that kind of shenanigans. She agreed. We feel confident this is an empty threat, and I'll repost one of my favorite pictures from all time as proof.

So tiny! He's huge now in comparison!
2. It's really bothering me that I can't seem to articulate my thoughts on the salad issue and I think she put it into words perfectly. Ok I'm done now.

Yesterday I had the dreaded P90X plyometrics looming over me all day long. I was warned by many how this workout was absolutely killer. As I said, Eric and I didn't get started until about 7:30pm, which is past my dinner time and closer to my bedtime. Despite all that, I was a bit underwhelmed. 

It was definitely a workout, and I was out of breath and sweating,  but I was far from that "I hope I fall and break something so I don't have to continue" feeling. This morning, we did shoulders and arms. Again, it wasn't easy, but I never cursed at the TV like I do during Jillian's No More Trouble Zones, or held back tears, like I've been known to do in Body Pump.

It's always good to try new workouts instead of always doing the exact same thing (like, um, five months of straight running?). I'll do a little more of P90X to give it a fair shot but I see more Body Pump in my future. Bottom line - it burns more calories so I can eat more chocolate. Sorry I'm not sorry.

What arbitrary thing would you end a friendship over?

Anyone tried P90X or know more about fitness than me (aka anything about fitness) and can weigh in?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A new and special shared experience

While I appreciate the responses to yesterday's post, it looks like most of us will have to agree to disagree. When in Rome. For the record, salads covered in blue cheese, bacon, and other similar ingredients were not what I was referring to. 

Sorry, but I think I've published enough horrible pictures of myself on this blog so far (feel free to check out any of my race recaps if you want proof, in fact, I just completely redid the page!). I will post this picture of me looking like I'm running a 35 minute mile from JFK as a concession.

Eric and I recently reached a new level in our marriage. First of all, he even sent me this text the other day.

I'm his wife, and I fully approve this message. Bacon is just ridiculously good. However, this is a big deal because we normally never, ever text unless it's of the "did you buy milk?" or "today is the last day of open enrollment, did you adjust our health insurance?" variety. Those of you who are in "here's what I ate for breakfast honey!" text type relationships may be judging, but that's how we roll. 

But that's not even what I'm talking about. We shared a wonderful new experience together. Monday morning, we worked out at 5am together. This is a big deal for several reasons.

  1. We do not work out together. We ran about a mile together one time, that was a disaster, and when we used to go to the same gym, we maybe drove together and worked out at the same time here and there. 
  2. Eric does not work out in the morning.  This accounts for about 85% of #1. The other 15% is because we don't like the same workouts, and we don't get along if one of us tries to do the other's workout.
But I really wanted to try P90X after JFK for a change of pace, and Eric was having trouble fitting in evening workouts, so we found ourselves doing pull ups at the ungodly time of about 5:12 am. (I had to use a chair). The first day was chest and back. It felt weird to me because I wasn't gasping for breath like I'm used to, but Eric kept assuring me that as long as I felt pain, it was working. I feel pain typing this blog post, so I guess it worked. 

It was fun hanging out together first thing in the morning, but it seems we are really, really dumb at 5am. Here's some examples:
  • Monday, we finished our workout, then realized it was way before we needed to start getting ready, so we just went back to bed for like an hour (we weren't sweaty so judge us only for stupidity, not grossness).
  • Tuesday, we woke up a little later, but then realized the workout was plyometrics, aka jumping, and doing that in a third floor apartment before sunrise wasn't going to win us any friends. We went back to bed again and planned to do the workout tonight, but I have class so we can't start until super later, way past when I'm usually half passed out on the couch in my Forever Lazy.
  • Also on Tuesday, Eric didn't get up exactly when he said he was going to, so he got to wake up to me leaning over him, taking his pulse to see if he was alive. He's a lucky man.
Do you work out with your significant other? 

Are you in a non-texting relationship or a texting what you ate for breakfast relationship? You all know what I mean.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Craving salad is a lie

My fabulous adventure in NYC with Kari this past Saturday left me so exhausted I could barely get out of bed Sunday morning, even when Eric brought me eggnog coffee in bed. That's actually irrelevant to this post, but I just wanted to brag about having delicious eggnog flavored coffee and that my husband will bring it to me in bed.

All joking aside, Thanksgiving weekend is over, it's back to work, and it really is time to get back on track. You won't see me drinking any kale smoothies, but I am interested in not having to spend all of my Christmas/Hanukkah gift budget on new, bigger pants. We didn't really have much in the way of Thanksgiving leftovers, because it's awkward enough crashing a stranger's Thanksgiving without being like "Hey, thanks, we brought some tupperwear too because we'd like to not grocery shop for a week". So instead I had to seek out my own indulgent treats so I didn't feel left out when everyone was posting about their leftover pumpkin pie.

But let's be clear, I did not eat a salad instead of pizza for lunch today because "my body was craving some greens". Sorry, but I call BS on that. In my group of friends, we call a spade a spade.  My body was craving not having a muffin top hang over my jeans. Sure, I'll admit that sometimes I don't sleep too well after eating things like this to-die-for mac and cheese. But I can get used to that, or deal with it by drinking mass quantities of wine and sleeping like a baby, as I did on Thanksgiving. 

Since I estimate that I must have walked at least 6 miles around NYC without dying, I decided to return to the world of exercise. I did Jillian Michaels Boost Your Metabolism, which I probably haven't done in years. Eric was kind enough to provide photography. I was kind enough to slightly modify this picture to spare your eyes.

Some people say workout DVDs aren't a real workout, but since I've already accused people of lying in this post, I'll just go the whole nine yards and say that's a lie too. I'll admit I haven't lifted anything heavier than running shoes in the past 5 months and this was probably the first time my heart rate rose above like 120 in at least a month, but at one point I saw stars and had to pause it and lay down on the floor. Judge if you must.

I also ran a mile on the treadmill at work trying out some new shoes that we recently got in. I didn't  care for them, so I'll keep the brand to myself.

So back to the point of this post, I guess I'm saying there are many good reasons to eat healthy food,  but lets not pretend superior taste is one of them. I've enjoyed many a healthy dish in my day, but have I ever enjoyed one as much as, for example, when my mom visited and cooked me baked ziti and chocolate peanut butter pie? No, and I never will. Fattening food will always taste better, but I eat other stuff because I don't want a heart attack. 

Agree or disagree?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So busy being cool

I haven't worked out at all since my failed running attempt on Thanksgiving. Part of me is jealous of my JFK buddies already out there running again like champs, and antsy to return. But the other part is loving the freedom that comes from not training. I stayed out late Thursday night and even later Friday night, even though both were followed by early mornings. It was great not having to be a party pooper and rush home while everyone else was still having fun so I could fit in a run at the ass crack of dawn the next morning.

Even though we stayed in town for Thanksgiving this year, I've barely been home over the break. I'm just that busy being popular and having fun.

Friday morning, I went to work. After that, Eric, Casi and I went to Virginia to finally meet my BFF Katylin's beautiful daughter Nora, who was born in early September (aka Harrison's future girlfriend but not everyone knows/has agreed to that yet). 

She had the BEST facial expression.
Needless to say, she got along with Eric nicely.
It's such a relief that all my friends and family have absolutely gorgeous babies and I don't have to awkwardly pretend to think they're cute when I meet them. Seriously, so far everyone I know is batting a thousand. 

After getting in a good chunk of baby holding time, we rushed back to Baltimore to celebrate Carolyn's birthday at the magic bar. Yes, it's a bar where you drink and watch a magic comedy show.

Can you spot Eric and Casi?
Carolyn got to go onstage and help with the first trick.

It involved her hand in the magician's pants.
All the shows end with the magician doing a daring upside down straight jacket escape. He was on tour with America's Got Talent and did all sorts of crazy escapes!

Spoiler alert - he made it.
Then we went out dancing to a bar where the median age was 19. We were the anomalies who actually used our real IDs to get in.

Saturday, I took the bus to New York City to meet Kari

I'm originally from a suburb in upstate New York, and that's really hard to explain to people in other parts of the country. I've blown many a mind with my insistence that New York is actually a whole entire state and there are parts that weren't seen on Friends or Sex and the City. So even though I grew up in New York state, I lived a lot further from Manhattan than I do now (maybe 7 hours then vs. 3 now) so I didn't spend much time there growing up. 

My main goal for going was that I've always wanted to see the Rockefeller tree. As usual, I did my research impeccably and it was just as wonderful as I'd always dreamed it would be. 

Such beauty. 
At least I got to see Rockefeller center and all the decorated Macy's windows.

I got to see this tree.
We spent a significant amount of time in the American Girl Doll store. If you are in your late 20s and ever feel too young and full of life and want to do something to really solidify the fact that your youth is over, go here. Like every American woman who is remotely normal, I grew up reading the books, and desperately wanted a doll. When we got there, all we saw was new "girls" that we'd never heard of (Caroline? Who the hell is that?) and couldn't find the standards like Kirsten, Samantha, and Felicity. We finally discovered the "historic" section (it was actually called that, yes). Mollie was there, but even the rest of the historic dolls were ones we had never even heard of. We left depressed, confused, and unsettled. 

Next up - Sephora. Kari made a new best friend.

We also spent a long time in Macy's, but since both of us wanted to browse more than get specific items, we didn't end up getting any Christmas presents because it was more packed than Breaking Dawn was on opening night. 

We walked what seemed like a long, long way to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes. The line went all the way outside and down the block, but we persisted and left with a red velvet and snickerdoodle cupcake. Again, we took another long walk back to Grand Central to get some coffee and sit inside out of the wind to enjoy our cupcakes. When we finally arrived, we realized there was a Magnolia Bakery there, and that one didn't have a line. 

Even more delicious than they looked.
Luckily, as we were chatting I double checked my confirmation email for my bus, and realized that the stop wasn't a few blocks away, as I'd thought, but more like two miles away. I'm revealing a lot of my anxieties lately and I have a major one about missing things like buses, planes, race starts, and the like, so I pretty much high tailed it out of the train station and race walked to the bus stop. This is the kind of walking I needed to be doing in JFK. It's crazy how your perception changes because I normally would never consider this exercise but after a week of nothing but sitting on my ass I was like "sweet, I totally worked out today".

Of course it was a total waste since I ended up standing on a random street corner in the middle of nowhere in below freezing weather with 30mph winds for about an hour wondering if this the Megabus company was real or an internet scam and trying to figure out who I knew in the area that could take me in until Eric could drive up and get me. Even after some random guy not in uniform told me to get on a bus with a handwritten "Megabus" sign in the window, I kept checking the GPS on my phone to see if we were actually heading towards Baltimore. 

Luckily for all you lucky readers, I made it, but I don't think I'll be giving Megabus my business again.

What was your favorite childhood book series? I also loved Goosebumps, Babysitter's Club, and Sweet Valley High.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Dark Side - literally

Whew, well that was a fun Thanksgiving, but now it's time to get back on track with some healthy eating today. Just kidding, I could never get back on track since I was never there in the first place. I do find it hilarious though how some people seem to think eating dessert on Thanksgiving is exciting and unusual and special, since it's something they never do. I'm pretty sure these people will have regrets on their death beds. I actually think yesterday was a healthier day for me than most, since I enjoyed some apple crisp for dessert. It had apples, ergo, healthy.

As I explained yesterday, I was a little nervous since Eric and I were going to spend Thanksgiving with virtual strangers.

You can see the apprehension of a looming social situation.
I had no need to worry, it couldn't have gone better. The family welcomed us with open arms, explained their inside jokes to us, and we all got along great. They had a similar sense of humor, meaning they laughed at That's What She Said jokes, rather than looking confused or offended. A match made in Heaven. 

Eric was pretty excited because deep fried turkey was on the menu. He'd never had it, but had always wanted to try it.

 You can't tell, but the bottom of the fryer was covered in bacon before the turkey went in. When I saw that, I decided I wanted to try it too.

I'm pretty sure the last time I had turkey on Thanksgiving (or any meat) was when I was 13. More recently, I've been shying away from the term "vegetarian", because it conjures up images of psychos throwing red paint on people coming out of steakhouses. I really want people to be clear on my reasons for not eating meat - it was in no way a moral or ethical stance. Everyone has foods they don't like for whatever reason, and meat was mine. I found the texture off-putting. My forays into the world of meat have had mixed results - bacon worked out fine, as long as it was crispy and in no way resembled dead pig. Sausage links and a cheese steak in Philly were spit out in disgust. Since poultry was the reason I went off meat in the first place, I was nervous, especially since I didn't want to offend our hosts. 

I took a tiny piece each of white meat and dark meat when the platter came around.

The verdict? Incredible. I couldn't believe how tasty and not gross it was. I preferred the dark meat, but I'm sure we all saw that one coming. I had a few more bites when the platter came around for seconds. Eric loved it so much that now all he wants for Christmas is deep fried turkey, so there's a good chance he'll find a fryer under the tree and we'll both get to repeat this delicious experience. 

In less exciting news, I also tried white port, and that was fantastic too. 

We had so much fun that we didn't get home until nearly midnight, so no Black Friday shopping here. I would have gone, because I do love it, but once again, I'm repeating the same sad story: I have no gift ideas (other than a deep fryer for Eric) and Black Friday isn't exactly the time to browse. I'll still get to participate though, because I'm off to work in a few minutes.

I honestly feel there could be a burger in my future. Any recommendations?

What was the best thing you ate this Thanksgiving? Anyone getting "back on track" today?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Story

Most of the cool kids don't post on Thanksgiving, but this year we aren't traveling OR hosting, so I am left with some free time, and I feel like blogging.

I'm not going to post a whole long list of things I'm thankful for because I really think it's boring to read tons of blogs just listing things people are thankful for. But in the interest of readers not thinking I'm a cold hearted bitch, I'll share a secret. I think about the things I'm thankful for every night before in bed because it helps me fall asleep, and there's a lot so I often don't even get to all of them. There, I'm not completely cynical.

If you want even more proof I didn't shed any tears at the JFK finish line, as I'd expected to, mainly because I couldn't find Eric at first and instead was hanging out with my friend Katrina but she's a new friend and I didn't want to look like a freak show. My social anxiety is so deeply rooted that it persists even after a 50 mile run when I can barely remember my own name. But after we got to the car and I called my family and they were all together getting ready for Fakesgiving (early Thanksgiving since they couldn't celebrate on the actual holiday - see my sister's blog for further information), the tears were flowing. 

Now I'd like to tell the random story of how we're spending our Thanksgiving. We made the decision a while ago not to travel, because the Thanksgiving traffic is so terrible that we only make the trek when enough time has passed for us to forget the horror. Since we traveled last year, the terror is still fresh so we decided to stay home. 

We went to San Francisco in September to attend our friends' wedding. 

At the wedding, we spent a lot of time chatting with a couple originally from Maryland. Somehow, through the course of the night we made a happy hour date with them and they invited us to their families' Thanksgiving, which is conveniently only 10 miles away!

We met up with them for hubcap margaritas last night, and while my day was such that I was really looking forward to the margarita before I'd even eaten breakfast, I was really nervous like it was a first date or something. I mean, anyone can be BFF at a wedding, where everyone is happy and in love and an open bar is provided, but what if they didn't like us in real life?

Luckily we had a great time (well, I did, and we didn't get uninvited, so hopefully they felt the same). Since all we have to do is bring two dishes and travel ten miles, I get to do some exciting stuff this year that I don't usually get to participate in. Last night I celebrated Blackout Wednesday. That's supposed to be when everyone parties like crazy on Thanksgiving Eve. My version involved finishing up our hubcap around 7pm, Eric went to work, then I walked to my BFF Casi's house, where she made me a grilled cheese sandwich and we watched Restaurant Impossible. So I may have executed that wrong, but it still beat spending 12 hours in the car.

This morning, I woke up in a panic and knew I couldn't relax until I finished the project I need to do for grad school (my anxiety is not only social, BTW). Luckily it was more tedious than thought provoking, so I was able to work on it while watching the Macy's parade. 

I attempted a 5 mile run this afternoon and thought I'd be all triumphant and JFK recovered but that's not how it went down. I know I said yesterday that I was taking it easy but the beautiful weather lured me outside with its siren's call. It turned into a 2 mile walk/run. My legs felt stiff, but the problem was my chest hurt and I was winded at the bottom of a hill. Last year I learned the hard way that if I try to screw with my lungs, my lungs will win and then punish me, so this year I'm not messing with them. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Returning to running - but only on ice

I made a tremendous mistake on Sunday. After watching the first half of season 2, we watched the new episode of The Office that we DVR'd. I thought I was ok with the new seasons, but it completely re-opened the wound of losing Michael Scott and I had to deal with the pain all over again. Don't ever mix old and new seasons recklessly like that. Just putting that out there as a PSA so others don't make the same mistake.

Last night was my first post JFK "run". I spent 18 minutes running around the ice, playing Broomball. We had a game Monday, but I wussed out, due to exhaustion more than soreness. Obviously a mistake, as our team lost (0-1). Tuesday, we played a tough team and managed to tie the game 0-0 (I told you it's not a high scoring sport). 

I even brought a secret weapon - my tights perfectly matched my Broomball shirt. I realized after taking this picture the tights were on backwards.

This is for those who complained about the lack of
whooty shots in previous posts

 I would say that if my mind got erased right now like in that Will Smith movie or The Maze Runner (for those who've read it), I would never guess my body ran 50 miles just a few days ago. I would notice a tiny bit of soreness and tightness and probably think it was from some sort of challenging, but typical workout.

Because why not?
I was nervous about how my legs would hold up on the ice so I tried to loosen them up before the game. I did 20 easy minutes on the elliptical, and then went to a yoga class. It felt really weird, because I'm pretty sure I haven't done any sort of exercise other than running or maybe bike commuting since probably July. In a good way though, my legs felt great after all the downward dogs and forward folds in yoga.

As far as returning to running, I really haven't decided when I want to do that yet. I'll admit I was tempted when I put on my running tights last night. Mainly I didn't this morning because our Broomball game didn't even begin until well after my bedtime - 9:15pm! I didn't go to sleep until nearly midnight, and one of the lovely things about not training is that I don't have to worry about dragging myself out of bed at 5am after a late night to get a run in. 

We all know I love any excuse to take it easy, and last year I really feel I jumped right back into running and training too quickly and felt sluggish and burnt out quickly. I spent my entire Christmas break laid up with horrible bronchitis - although of course I have no clue if that's at all related. Still, taking a few more days off than I need isn't going to hurt me, while there's a slight chance starting up again too soon will. As someone who spent less than $5 on gambling in the year when I went to both Vegas and Atlantic City, I don't like to take chances.

Plus, I can drive everywhere and still have bragging rights.
I am super jealous of everyone doing Turkey Trots, but there's no way I can run fast right now, so I might as well save my $30 and just run a 30 minute 5K around my neighborhood. Now I'm not saying I'll shift directly from ultramarathon training to Biggest Loser training. I just want to join #OperationTotalFitness with Ashley. Eric and I have even talked about doing P90X together, although that scares me.

How much time do you take off after a big race? How much time do you think I should take off?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dramatic post race complaints

So now that I've done an actual 50 miler, the question is, would I do another one? Well, I'm not sure. In terms of training for and running the race, the answer is a resounding yes. However, I don't know that I can. So far, 100% of my 50 milers have taken place the morning after a new Twilight movie is released. Now that the series is finished, I'm not sure I'll be able to complete another one. 

Now these are true besties.
Just kidding, I can always just watch one of the DVDs the night before, so I certainly plan on doing more 50s. I feel much better after my second than my first. Now, there's a huge chance that's because I spent nearly FIVE FEWER HOURS running. Yes, that's right, I "took almost 5 hours off my PR". I have to put that in quotes because you can't really compare ultras, they are all on such varied terrain, and also it's not really fair to compare a time from a 55 miler to a 50 miler. But the fact remains that I'm in better shape. 

That's not to say I survived unscathed. I got a lot of compliments on how good I look in my finish line picture, which I really appreciate. I think that was just because I was radiating happiness because I didn't have to run anymore. I absolutely felt great right after crossing the finish line. However, that faded fast. 

The car ride home was miserable. As soon as we got in the car, I was famished and ate a few Cheeze-Its. I felt I could easily polish off the whole box before we got back, but all of the sudden my stomach turned. I rarely eat much directly after races and figured it would pass. We drove about an hour to drop Matt off at his car, and my legs quickly stiffened and started throbbing. My feet hurt too, which pretty much never happens after racing, so I blame the rocky AT trail. 

After we dropped Matt off, we discussed dinner options. I decided ordering pizza would be best because I couldn't fathom having the energy to walk into Qdoba and spend 5 minutes standing while ordering a burrito. Eric suggested ordering on my phone, and just looking at the menu was making me queasy. It also seemed to be taking a massive amount of mental energy to order a pizza, I felt like I was back in college physics or something. 

We finally arrived home and the task of getting out of the car, walking to the building, and climbing the three flights of stairs to our apartment nearly destroyed me. I was freezing and shivering but shivering hurt my muscles, so basically I was being attacked by problems on all fronts. 

I told Eric that I was taking a two hour shower, and due to my lack of chafing, the hot water felt amazing. Still, as lovely as it felt to finally be warm, I started thinking how much better it would feel better to be warm AND horizontal, and decided my next stop was bed. So I pulled a move that I hadn't pulled since college - ordering pizza, and falling asleep before it was delivered. 

So, for my post race celebration, I had wine ready (both red and white, since I didn't know what I'd be in the mood for), an amazing dinner planned, a huge dessert in the fridge, and I ignored all that and was asleep by 8pm. I thought at the very least I would enjoy some TV while wearing my medal, but I couldn't even handle that. I kept waking up because my legs hurt and my body temperature seemed to be way off - I would be freezing cold, put on an extra blanket, and wake up 10 minutes later sweating. Still, I slept until 6am and then woke up feeling nice and rested.

Even this couldn't keep me up Saturday night.
Sunday, I didn't feel like a million bucks, but I also didn't have to lift my legs out of bed one by one, so already I was in better shape than last year. My plans included couch, couch, and more couch.

Medal + coffee + Forever Lazy + POMA = bliss
While being lazy was wonderful, I could feel my legs getting stiffer and stiffer so in the interest of being able to walk tomorrow (plus I also have a Broomball game!), I decided some movement was in order.

Nothing drastic, just went to the YMCA and did a four mile treadmill walk in my new JFK shirt. No one noticed, but I plan to continue hoping to casually work it into conversation.
Hideous shirt that I'm wearing
for 95% of my workouts now.
After my walk I foam rolled like crazy and did Yoga for Runners. I think it made a difference since I was able to go all the way down to the basement numerous times to do some laundry. I also helped things along with some icing, compression, and Michael Scott.

This is the view I treat my husband to every weekend.

I ate a normal breakfast and lunch but after my walk my stomach felt pretty off and the thought of anything sweet sickened me. 

Eric couldn't wait for me anymore and requested permission to dig in.

I'm pretty much the opposite of a hippy in that I rely on Western medicine 100% and don't endorse anything New-Agey or natural, but I swear peppermint tea cures all stomach ailments better than any drugs. I had a mug and then was able to enjoy two pieces of stuffed crust pizza and some veggies.

Then it was finally time for dessert.

Eric was dissatisfied with his first picture and wanted to hold up the pie like Simba.
Epic, but still not as good as my mom's peanut butter pie.
FYI, Wegmans only had one mini peanut butter pie, and I knew that wasn't going to cut it for us fatties who spend our Tuesday nights in thin mint eating competitions, so I just went balls to the wall and got the huge one.

What's your worst post race experience? I know other people have much more serious problems like projectile vomiting and stuff but waiting more than 24 hours for dessert and wine is pretty bad in my book.

JFK 50 recap

Going into this race, people tried to psych me up (which I appreciated) by saying things like "you've already done this!". That seemed to make me more nervous, because having already done a 50 (55) miler, I had a clue what I was in for, and running 50 miles is no joke. But I did it, and running 50 miles was a lot easier than running 55 miles!

Here's how it all went down. We all know I'm pretty verbose so settle in.

Friday night I got about 4-5 hours of sleep and woke up at 3:45 am Saturday morning. I slathered Body Glide and sunscreen everywhere and gulped down some coffee. My friend Matt was supposed to meet us at our place at 4:15, but he overslept. That's my biggest race fear! Luckily he woke up, somehow, naturally at 4:15 and was able to meet us at a Park and Ride so we could still drive together. 

Eric worked at the bar Friday night (after a full day of teaching), got home around 3:15am, and didn't sleep a wink until we were in the car on the way to the race. So that's a 17 hour workday, followed immediately by a 14 hour race spectating day on no sleep. He wins all the husband gold stars times infinity. 

We got to a local high school for packet pickup about 6am. I found Abbi right away. I'd emailed her the day before asking if she would pick up a JFK jacket for me at the expo - apparently if you don't get one there, you're out of luck, and I wanted one so bad. Abbi is amazing and was like "sure, random internet friend I've met one time, I'll shell out my hard earned money and trust that you'll magically find me in the crowd of 1,500 people to reimburse me". I'm so, so happy to have a jacket and I'm planning to wear it every day forever, because I didn't run 50 miles to not brag about it.

There was a pre-race safety meeting at 6:20, so Matt and I decided to get our packets, go to the meeting, then drop our stuff back off at the car and head to the start. This turned out to be a big mistake.

High school gym full of crazy runners

Taking iPhone pics during the meeting, like any good teacher
 After the meeting, there was a major bottleneck trying to get out of the gym, then we forgot where we parked, so it was about 6:50 before we went back to the school to head to the start. We woke Eric up and dragged him with us. I found Jessica here and was so happy to see her and get some last little tidbits of veteran advice before I was off!

Jessica and I leaving the school - do my Gus make my butt look lumpy?

I knew from the race website that the start was 900 yards from the school but good lord, I'm a runner, give it to me in mile increments! Apparently that's further than I realized, and we missed the start.

This is where we were when the race started. That little red arrow gives you an idea where we needed to be.

When we got up to where we thought the start was we were devastated to see there was no mat - the race was gun time, even though we had chips, meaning we'd just lost at least two minutes. We'd also spent those two minutes sprinting up a hill to the start, which was an excellent use of energy. Furthermore, this meant we'd be in the back of the pack on the AT trail, which has a lot of single track portions where you can't pass people. 

Despite our tremendous mistake, I still felt good at the start. The race starts on roads going up huge hills before you reach the trail, and nearly everyone walks. Matt kept asking me "is this the big hill?" and I kept telling him I was pretty sure it wasn't (and I was right). We were chatting and laughing and I was just excited that I was finally at the race after months and months of training!

After we entered the AT trail, we hit "the hill". I tried to take a picture of it, but hills never photograph well. Just trust me - it's killer. Walking up it had me gasping and my heart pounding like I was in a dead sprint.

I was pretty nervous about the AT trail section, which you may have guessed since my only goal here was "don't break any bones". It let me down. Compared to Fire on the Mountain, it was a freaking piece of cake, and I kept thinking "when do we get to the hard part?". Sure, it was rocky, but nothing like FOTM, and my Brooks Cascadias are super rock shields. I only fell once, and it was on a nice leafy part and there was no blood, so I'm not sure it even counts. I stumbled later and sent a huge rock flying into the side of my big toe (no rock shields there) which hurt like hell, but I screamed out "OW!" instead of "F$%7!" like I normally would have, and I was so proud of myself for controlling my potty mouth that I was able to ignore the pain. 

We were disappointed because we ended up doing a lot of walking when we couldn't pass people on sections that we considered runnable, due to our late start, but it was our own fault. Lesson learned.

At 15.5 miles, we exited the trail at the first spectator station. We had a major freak out moment when we couldn't find Eric, but I called him and he was just a little further down the course, away from the crowd. He had our bags with our road shoes to change in to, which wasted a little time but felt great on my feet and was so worth it. 
Shoe change!
While we'd been getting ready that morning, Matt showed me the bag he'd packed for Eric to bring with everything we could possibly need - bandaids, vaseline, KT tape, that cream that makes things that hurt stop hurting, etc. I told him I'd also considered our race needs and packed something for Eric to bring us.

Had a few of these babies on the trail and thought I was in heaven.
Good thing this was early on, bending like this was not possible later.
We said goodbye to Eric and headed out for a marathon on the C&O canal. I tried to pretend I was back at Hartford, just arriving for the start of the marathon, and it worked decently. Also, doing the math to figure out what mile I was on in my marathon distracted me a bit.

The canal basically all looks exactly the same, and it's boring. Sure, there's pretty views of the water, but those get old fast. Still, I didn't hate this section, I was determined not to let the monotony get me down. I refused to admit it out loud, but by mile 20 my legs were sore, and our conversation had dwindled a bit as we both started to feel the mileage. We ran a portion with three guys who were doing a 28/2 run/walk, and having some fresh faces to chat with helped. 

I was so excited to see Jessica at mile 27 and run with her, and that was really helping to keep me going. Unfortunately, we somehow missed each other, which was quite a blow. I tried not to let it get to me and at this point Matt and I switched to a 5/1 run/walk ratio. We determined that our pace per mile was actually faster this way, and mentally, it was much easier to tackle running for five minutes than running for 23 more miles. I hate to look at my watch during races though, and having to constantly check it was really irritating me.

At mile 32, it was time to split up. Heading out alone is always scary but 18 more miles felt extremely doable. I was feeling really good here, and decided to run to the next aid station. Tthey were all 2-4 miles apart on the canal, and I'd walked a bit through all of them. I passed a lot of people, got a lot of "wow, looking strong!" compliments, and even clocked a 9:15 mile. One guy seemed to think I was going to fast for that section, but in my experience, you have to take advantage of those times you feel good. I mean, 9:15 isn't exactly a sprint.

After the next aid station (which had little tiny mini sugar cookies with frosting - fabulous!), it was 4.3 miles until the mile 38 aid station, which I was looking forward to so much. It's the famed red velvet cake station, and was also my next meeting spot with Eric. Even so, my strong feeling had disappeared, so I went to a 10/2 run/walk ratio. I used pretty much every running strategy in existence for this race. This worked out better since I didn't have to look at my watch too much, and I was leapfrogging with people who were running the whole time.

It seemed to take forever, but when I finally arrived, a nice woman started telling me all the different options that aid station had, and I just pathetically demanded "isn't this the one with the red velvet cake?!". 
Red Velvet cake aid station!
She gave me a (luckily tiny, because I would have eaten any size she gave me and probably thrown up if it were any larger, that's what she said) piece and asked me if I wanted a fork, and I said no and threw the plate away and just started shoveling it into my mouth (that's what she said, sorry this race was a gold mine for them). Naturally I had to eat the cake part first and save the frosting, and just as I took my last bite of cake and was looking forward to licking all the frosting off my fingers (yes, I'm gross) I saw Eric coming towards me, and just held up my fingers and yelled "RED VELVET CAKE!" at him. 

He didn't get a frosting shot

He walked with me while I ate frosting and washed it down with some coke, then I gave him instructions for the finish and headed out. Leaving him was hard, but nothing like my horrific experience of barely being able to put together a sentence when I saw him at mile 39 at Stone Mill.

He asked me what I needed - I said a Segway
There were only 3 more miles of my "marathon" and I was thrilled to get off the trail soon, just because it was a milestone and change of scenery. I got to the "vest of shame" station at mile 41.8. Runners arriving here after 3pm were required to wear a reflective vest because it was assumed they would finish after dark, and while I'd known for awhile it was unlikely I'd avoid it, I'm good at denial and my heart sank when I saw tons of runners walking up the hills in vests. I had no idea what time it was and thought maybe I had been close, but it was 3:24. 

The vest was annoying but the girl who put it on me was nice and cheery, the station was blasting music, and I was OFF THE CANAL. The miles I had left were now in the single digits, and I started to get a little choked up realizing that I was actually getting close to finishing. 

There was a huge hill to start this section, which everyone walked up, and then there were just rolling hills. The hills weren't that big, which was kind of a disappointment because I wanted the mental break of walking up hills! The downhills were nice in terms of effort but they were killing my quads after 27 miles of completely flat running. This section had mile markers counting down to the finish, and each time I saw one it was wonderful. 

I was exhausted, bored, mentally drained, and my legs were killing me. I desperately wanted something to take my mind off running. I hadn't really thought about any of my pre-planned topics, my thoughts were 95% "keep running". I tried to strike up conversation with fellow runners but no one was really going the same pace as I was. 

At mile 44, a miracle happened - I found Kristin! I'd seen her briefly at the high school but with all the craziness I'd never found her again. I was ecstatic to have someone to talk to. Her sister was with her, but was leaving at mile 46, so she was equally happy (I think). We chatted for the entire rest of the race and it was an immense help getting through those last few miles. 

Spoiler alert - we did it!

Kristin figured out that we could still reach our A goal of under 10 hours (my watch died at mile 47) so we ran the rest of the way, other than two hills that I begged her to let me walk, and we walked through aid stations. Seeing the "1 mile" sign felt like Christmas morning, and about half a mile later we whipped off our vests of shame so we could look good (ha!) in the finish line pictures. 

Kristin was sprinting like a maniac to the finish and I nearly died trying to keep up. My official time was 9:53:16 (in daylight!), which I'm thrilled with. At mile 38 I told Eric I'd be at the finish in at least 2 hours, and apparently I beat that, so he wasn't even there yet! Luckily my friend Katrina was there cheering, and she let me use her phone to call Eric and gave me all sorts of congratulations and chatted with me as I regained some semblance of a brain. 

When Eric arrived a few minutes later, I was freezing my ass off but that didn't stop us from taking four different finish line pictures until we got it right. I took forever changing clothes, we cheered Matt on as he finished, and then walked the half mile (that's right - cruel!) to Eric's car.

So worth it to do 50 miles again for a medal!
Final thoughts:

I agonized over detail until the absolute last minute and everything I wore ended up being perfect. I was freezing at the start but warmed up quickly. I'm so glad I wore trail shoes for the AT section, and my socks didn't slide down and give me huge welts like at FOTM. I ditched my arm warmers, gloves, and ear warmer after the AT trail and felt completely comfortable for the rest of the race. I also ditched my hydration pack then and used a handheld, and I'm so happy that I did, it would have made me extra hot and my arms hurt today as it is!

I only peed twice in nearly 10 hours of running, and those who know me in real life (particularly Lily) know this is absolutely shocking. I have no way of knowing how much water I drank but I tried to keep it on the low end to avoid a million bathroom breaks. After the AT trail, I alternated between taking Gatorade and coke at each station, and drank about half of one of those little cups each time. Here's an attempt at listing what I think I ate:

  • About 3/4 of a bagel with almond butter and banana (pre-race)
  • Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Tiny sugar cookie
  • Red velvet cake
  • 3 potato chips
  • Pretzel sticks - no clue how many, I took two at a lot of aid stations
  • Several small handfuls of M&Ms 
  • 4 chocolate/vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 6 candy pumpkins
  • 2 Gus (although one I didn't finish, because I fell and lost it in the leaves)
  • Spearmint starlight mint at the mile 48.5 aid station, it was so delicious
  • Handful of Cheeze-Its on the car ride home from the race
  • Lots of salt pills - probably 5 or 6
And that's it - it's 9:30 am now and I haven't eaten anything else yet. My stomach is starting to feel better so that will change soon!

It's funny how when you tell people you are doing these races you get comments like "wow, you're so healthy" and then I just spent a day eating the worst diet imaginable. At first, the M&Ms and cookies were delicious, but after awhile I was just grabbing them out of habit because I knew I needed them to keep going. I did feel hungry at all the aid stations until mile 41, and then I was force feeding myself.

I never got nauseous during this race, which was highly exciting. I'm also really proud of how strong I stayed mentally - my low points were nowhere near what I experienced at Stone Mill. I had times where I struggled and felt overwhelmed by the distance I had left but I really focused on staying positive and mentally chunking the race into distances between aid stations. Obviously I felt like hell consistently from maybe mile 35 on, but I still enjoyed the race as much as I reasonably could.

I got so many texts, Facebook messages, tweets, blog comments, and emails wishing me good luck, and I appreciate it so much! Having so much family, friend, and reader support is amazing and was definitely on my mind as I ran. I really don't know what I would have done without Eric. I can't get over how much I lucked out finding this one.

We didn't do four tries for this picture, I was fading fast after dark.

TL:DR - Holy crap, that was hard and fun. That's what she said. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

JFK goals

Warning: This post got really long - sorry - I guess I stored up a lot of final thoughts in 5 months of training.

24 hours from now, I'll finally be running JFK! I signed up in May, and ran my first 50 mile week back in June, so this has been a long time coming. I'm starting to get pretty excited, so I guess I'll talk about some goals. 

JFK is a strange bird due to the terrain. It's been really tough trying to figure out a reasonable pace goal. I realized I've been thinking of it almost like it's a triathlon, because there are three distinct parts. 

Part 1: The Appalachian Trail    Distance: 15.5 miles Goal: No broken bones
The race starts on a rocky, challenging mountain trail, similar to what I ran at FOTM. I ran this portion back in July and it starts out with an insane climb, the type where I'm gasping for breath just walking and it's difficult to stay upright. I will be walking this part. There is a 1,000 foot elevation drop at the end of this portion, but I don't remember being paralyzed from fear like at FOTM, so I think it's spread out over a little more distance. I'm not good with technical terrain like this, and it's really easy to fall and get hurt. My goal here is to take it easy and not be stupid, although I'm sure that will be frustrating tomorrow. Still, I'd rather lose time walking down a steep hill than fall, get hurt, and have to DNF. 

Part 2: The C&O canal  Distance: a marathon (26.3 miles)    
Goal: Keep up a comfortable pace and don't die of boredom 
After that terrifying mountain ordeal, we run a marathon on the easiest terrain imaginable - a flat, crushed stone path along a canal. It's boring, but if FOTM was any indication, the ability to take your eyes off your feet for a split second and not fearing instant death will be a welcome change. I've done two 20 milers on a similar path at about a 10:15 pace and it felt sustainable, so I'm thinking I'll aim for that. 

Part 3: Local road   Distance: 8.4 miles Goal: Walk the hills, run the downhills and flats
Historically, the last portion of a race has been my forte, so I'm just hoping to keep that going and feel good here knowing the end is in sight. 

I also have some time goals. I didn't do any math to see how the above actually lines up with those, but here they are.

A+: Beat Kara's time last year of 9:26. No idea if this is realistic or not based on my training, but she publicly challenged me, and it would be awesome.
A: Under 10 hours
B: Under 11 hours
C: To be alive at the end of the day

My next goal is to proactively tackle the problems I experienced in Stone Mill. Problem 1: it was more than 50 miles. Thank God that's not the case here.

Last year at the Stone Mill 55 miler, I really struggled mentally. Running 20 miles and having 30+ to go wore me down. I know this race will have similar highs and lows, and that the lows don't necessarily hit when you think they will. 

Last year, I had Lily to get me through them. I signed up for this race alone, which was scary (although I wasn't really alone, because I have an incredibly supportive husband willing to give up his entire Saturday to do the ridiculously boring job of crewing for me). Due to blogging and my running store job, I won't be alone. Jessica is nice enough to help pace me for some boring canal miles. We totally randomly met up in Ohio last year and did our first post 50 miler run together, so I'm guessing this will be just as fun. I'm super excited to see Abbi and meet Kristin, fellow JFK virgins. I'll be running at least a chunk of the race with fellow shoe seller Matt, and our friend Katrina is coming to cheer for us.   

Last year, Lily and I met for drinks a few weeks before the race and drafted a list of conversation topics to get us through. I've been informally thinking of some topics to occupy my mind during this race. The first and foremost is to think of some freaking Christmas gift ideas, because right now I've purchased a whopping ONE. During the lows, I'll get prepared for Thanksgiving early by focusing on all the things I'm thankful for in my life. If that doesn't work, I'll revert to what got me through in Stone Mill - telling Lily about the person I hate the most in the entire world and why I hate this person. Fun Fact - this person attended our wedding. Anger is a great motivator. 

I also experienced nausea, and Stone Mill had tons of ginger ale at the aid stations. Kara recommended mints and ginger for this race, so I packed those up last night.

I was afraid this was going to be a totally picture-less post.
Lastly, I can always motivate myself by thinking of dessert. Actually that's a lie, it usually makes me want to puke during a race. I'm very disappointed in myself for not doing anything home made this year, but I just didn't have time. The takeaway from that statement is not "OMG I'm the busiest of them all!!" but rather "wow, Alyssa is such a devoted Twi-hard that she will suffer eating a store bought dessert on the day of what will probably be the greatest calorie deficit she'll ever experience to continue her streak of seeing every Twilight movie on the night it opens". 

I'll be picking up this little gem before the movie tonight. As anyone who has been to Wegmans knows, Eric and I won't really be suffering tomorrow night.  

The quantity is listed as two, because we don't share.

Wow, that was a lot of thoughts. JFK 50, here I come!