Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WWYD: What Would You Do?

If you were just about to head out for an 8 mile run, when all of a sudden the sky got dark and you heard thunder nearby, would you still go for your run?  If the wind started to pick up and raindrops the size of gumballs started falling from the sky, would you still go for your run?  If you knew that you would probably be running in the rain AND in the dark for over an hour, would you still go your run?

I cancelled my run tonight because my answer to all the above questions was NO.  But there is a part of me that wonders if I should have answered YES.  And as much as I love the man, DJ Research wasn't helping either.  Though he didn't explicitly say it, I could tell he thought I should go for my run.

I know that if it rains on race day, I will have to run in the rain.  So, one could argue, it might be a good idea to train in the rain.  Thing is, for a road marathon, I don't think anyone really needs to practice running in the rain (unless you were trying to BQ or PR, the latter of which I will earn anyway because this will be my first marathon. hehe).  Running on the road in the rain doesn't take any special skill; you just have to accept the fact that "Hey, I'm wet."

Still, should I have gone?  Am I a wuss to have stayed home and enjoyed pork tacos with my family instead?    What would you have done?  Tell me honestly, blogosphere.  I need to know where I fall on the bad-a** spectrum.

And while I wait for your response, I will enjoy this glass of red wine.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Riley's Rumble Half-Marathon

A few weeks ago I ran Riley's Rumble Half-Marathon, which is a low-key event put on by a local running club.  Note: low-key does not mean easy; this is a very challenging course!  It had hills.  It had heat.  And it had humidity.  As the race website states, "Riley's Rumble is the evil half that your mother warned you about."

The race was low-key in the sense that there is no race medal.  There is no race t-shirt.  You just show up, run, and go home.  They were still setting up when I arrived to register (for most runners, its race-day registration).  As much as I love the big races with their swag and hoopla, I really love the small races that you run because you love to race.  Its fun because you make friends along the course.  Or you just insert yourself into other people's conversations, without any introduction, leaving them to wonder, "Who the heck is this person?"  (oops.  More on that later).

I arrived around 6:00am to register.  There was no line yet, so the process was super quick.  I attached my bib and race chip and headed to the porta-potty (which was also lineless, thankfully).  Using a porta-potty is never fun.  Using a porta-potty that is sloped downhill is EVEN LESS FUN.  Granted, it was a very gentle decline, but the slope was very obvious from inside.  Talk about a balancing act.

I hung around and people-watched, waiting for the race to begin.  A few minutes before 7:00, they steered us towards the start, and though there were no corrals, they did encourage runners to line up according to their expected pace.  Since this was more of a training run for me rather than a big race, I planned to run about a 10:00m/m.  So I lined up in the back.

About to start!

The first few miles were downhill, which of course means we will be running back uphill towards the end of the race.  I kept that in mind as I ran.  Everything was going well, I was feeling strong...until mile 3.5.

Thats when I got stung by a bee.

All of a sudden the couple in front of me started yelping and hopping around, and just as I thought "What the..." I hear buzzzzz-buzzZZZZ-BUZZZZZZ from multiple directions and these little buzzing monsters start flying into me.  I start yelping and hopping around too, while also still trying to run (because, of course, through this mayhem I'm thinking, don't break your stride!)  I feel one hit me in the arm, and one hit in on the right thigh, and then I feel a sharp sting on my left calf.  Dammit.  They got me.

Even though I told myself this race was really a training run, I wasn't about to DNF (did not finish) all because of a "silly" bee sting.  So I kept running.  The man of the couple ahead of me got stung as well, but the women managed to escape sting free.  That sting really hurt and it took me another half-mile before I was mentally back in the race.

Luckily, there were no further encounters with wild animals for the rest of the race.  Around mile ???, I caught up to a group that was keeping a good pace.  It was too much effort to pass them, so I decided to run with them.  Like, literally, with them.  I just inserted myself in their conversation and everything, laughing at jokes and offering my own one-liners.  At the time I thought, "Hey, we're all runners.  We all like to chat and meet new people on the course, don't we?"  No, apparently not.  In hindsight, I think I just came off as that socially awkward dork who tries to fit in with the cool kids.  At a certain point their pace dropped and I felt I was running too slow, but because the road was narrow and they were running abreast, I couldn't pass them.  So I stuck with them longer than I would have wanted.

It wasn't until we hit the hills towards the end of the race that things opened up and I was able to pass.  I was feeling really good.  In fact, I was feeling REALLY great.  I felt strong going up all the hills and felt even stronger coming down.  Even on the last hill of the race, I managed to pass a runner who was already half-way up when I started my ascent.  We have a few hills in our neighborhood that DJ Research and I try to tackle regularly, and I'm happy that my hard work was paying off.

I crossed the finish line at 2:00:55.  I was a bit bummed that I didn't run sub-2:00, but considering the factors--I wasn't racing, I got stung by a bee, I ran at a slower pace for a while due to course congestion--I think I still ran a good race.  I'm pretty confident I can run my next half-marathon in under 2 hours.  But thats not my goal.  My next goal is to run finish a marathon.

So, with that in mind, and considering the fact that I felt great as I crossed the finish line, I kept going.  My long run for that week was supposed to be 15 miles, so I ran another two miles after I finished my half.  And let me tell you, those last two miles were the most difficult of the day.  My body knew to keep running, but my mind was screaming, "What do you mean we have to keep going?  We're done!  Get back to that finish line and have some oranges and watermelon!  This is insane!"  Needless to say, mile 14 was slow.  But once I started running mile 15, I told myself to grow a pair, this is your last mile so make it a good one.

Oh, and that "silly" bee sting.  Not so silly.  Admittedly, I probably didn't care for it as I should have; I just cleaned it and put a little cortisone on it.  By the end of the night, I had developed quite a large rash around the sting.  And by the next night, my leg from the sting downward, including my ankle, was completely swollen.

I was a little nervous, so I went to the doctor, but he said it was too early to tell if it was an infection or not.  He suggested I watch it for a few days, and if it doesn't improve, he would prescribe antibiotics.  Luckily, the swelling decreased significantly by Thursday night (5 days after the sting!), and by Friday my leg was back to normal (though the rash was still there).  Based on my reaction, I'm guessing this was a wasp and not a bee.  Either that or I've developed an allergy to bee stings in my old age.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Very Belated Thank You

In July I participated in a running care package swap hosted by Eat to Run. Run to Eat.  We were to send approximately $30 worth of our favorite running items to our assigned running buddy.  When I opened my care package I was blown away, not only by all the awesome items I received, but also by how thoughtful the care package was.  It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received (not including the pearl earrings and pearl necklace my husband gave me.  Keep 'em coming, honey! :)

I feel horrible that I am only now getting around to thanking her for the gift and her thoughtfulness.  But better late than never.  Thank you running care package buddy!

Here is what I received:

ABRA Therapeutic Bath - to help relax and soothe sore muscles (which I will probably use after I finish one of my scary long runs).

Banana Boat Sunblock - absolutely necessary on these hot, sunny days.

Clif Goodies - I've mentioned on my blog that I am a fan of Clif products, so she threw a few into the care package.  These were new flavors for me.  Tried them.  Loved them.  Arsenal expanded.  

Clif Bar - in addition to loving Clif products in general, I also mentioned that I want to run the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series in England and see those beautiful white cliffs.  Since a trip to Europe is slightly more than $30, she tossed in a few Clif bars for inspiration.  Loved them!

Pink Sport Beans - because I started running when I signed up for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, she included Susan G. Komen sport jelly beans.  Nice touch!

Hershey's Chocolate Bar - because I ran the Hershey Half-Marathon in 2011.  Needless to say, this was devoured by the end of the night.

I also received an issue of Runner's World, an issue of Competitor Magazine, and a pink Halo head band to help absorb and block the sweat that just pours down my face during spin class (and during these long summer runs).  I never even thought to try a sweat band, so I was especially thankful for this!

As you can see, this was an awesome care package.  Thank you running care package buddy!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Anniversary Run

I am a very lucky girl.

I married an amazing guy.  DJ Research is awesome, and for those of you who know him, you know this is Truth.  Though I can expound on his virtues for days, I will spare you the sappy sentiments and instead tell you how we celebrated our wedding anniversary.

We went for a long run TOGETHER!

We actually began this tradition last year when we ran 8 miles through Georgetown along the route we used to run before Nugget was born.  We both took the day off of work and relived some memories and miles as we traced our footsteps along the course that started it all.

DJ Research ready to run!

This year we decided to celebrate our anniversary with a long trail run.  We chose a trail that is part of the course for a race DJ Research may run this fall.  We ran down to the Potomac River and back, for a little over 12 miles.  Total running time was 2:25 hours.  Total time on the trail about 3.5 hours.  We took breaks. Some were walking breaks, some were "hey, that's pretty!" breaks, some were "shoot, I think we took a wrong turn back there" breaks, some were "ohmygod I just ran through a huge spider web getitoff! getitoff!" breaks (just for the record, both of us were guilty of the latter).

It was awesome.  It was hard.  Though the trail is more forgiving on your body than the road, it definitely takes greater effort to run on trail than it does to run on pavement.  For one, you always have to be alert to your footfalls, lest you eat dirt.  Literally.  Like I did around mile 2.5:

We were barely underway when I tripped over a root and found myself involuntarily inspecting a parade of ants as they marched in much better form than I had been running.  Luckily, this was the only time I actually fell, but there were MANY other near face-meet-ground incidents.  I tripped so many times that after the run DJ Research asked, "Seriously, what was up with that?"  I dunno.  Guess I'm just graceful.

We were the sole runners/people on the trail, but we did happen upon a number of "residents," if you will.  A toad.  Two deer.  4 billion sicadas (ok, we just heard them, thankfully).  And this guy:

Isn't he cute?

We also saw a big beautiful bird take flight just as we approached the creek bank.  I guess it had been enjoying the water, but as we came stumbling running through the woods, it flew away so we only got a glimpse of its back.  I'm no bird expert, and I wasn't wearing my glasses, but my uneducated guess is that it was a crane.  Whatever it was, it was quite a sight to see.

As for shoes (cause we're all gear geeks, right?), we were both running in Inov-8s.  I was running in the Inov-8 F-Lite 230s, which are a 6mm drop shoe, and the DJ was running in the F-Lite 195s, which are a 4mm drop shoe.  We love these shoes for on the road, and they performed really well on the trail too.  That said, I think I would prefer a sturdier trail shoe for more technical trails.  The technical sections today weren't actually that technical, and though the F-Lites held up, any course more technical would be too much.

Frankly, this run was perfect.  The weather was sunny, breezy, and not humid.  The conversation was fluid and light.  The scenery was calm and rejuvenating.  I feel so blessed to have an awesome husband who shares my running passion (indeed, who is a primary inspiration for said passion), and who also thinks running 12 miles on trail is the perfect date.

Potomac River

Lock House
 (in which you can stay overnight!)

Pennyfield Lock

To many more years of marital bliss! (so we can go on one of these adventures!)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Uncharted Territory

Last weekend I ran 16 miles.  Thats the farthest I have ever run.

I ran at a comfortable pace, so I can't say it was a difficult run.  I will say that around mile 11, it became a boring run.  And once I hit mile 13, I REALLY WANTED TO STOP.  The conversation I had with myself for the next 3 miles was, in hindsight, slightly hilarious but mostly pathetic.  Essentially I just begged myself to keep going.  There was nothing motivational or inspirational going through my head, just pure desperation:  Please, please just keep running!  Please!

I've found that in all my runs of 13+ miles, my body just wants to quit at mile 13.  I don't know why.  Maybe its because I've run 13 miles enough to know I can do it.  But anything beyond that is just scary.

13 miles doesn't seem that far to me.  14 miles seems like an eternity.  16 miles makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.

So I'm a little nervous for the remainder of my marathon training.  All of my weekend miles increase ever so slightly until I begin to taper for the race.  In other words, my long runs add another mile per weekend from now until mid-October.  *GULP*

I'm not sure if this is mental hurdle or a physical hurdle.  How do I get over this fear?  Anyone else ever felt this way?


Hello!...and Goodbye, Wishlist Wednesdays

Hello Blogosphere!

Oh, how I have missed you.  Sorry I've been MIA (not the rapper).  Things have been crazy busy around here.  Ok, thats not true.  Things have been normal busy.  And yet, even normal busy is too busy for me to post regularly.  Because thats the thing about blogging.  It takes time.  Not only do you have to think up (semi-)coherent blog posts, but you have to sit down at your computer and type them up.  What?!  Ludicrous! (not the rapper)  Why can't I just speak my blog posts to the wind and have them automatically appear on screen in perfect format?  Including pictures? (I'm talking to you, Siri.)   

Well, I'm still looking for that balance, and until I find it, you will be stuck with sporadic posts that may or may not have something to do with anything.  Or nothing to do with something.  Depends on how I'm feeling that day.

Speaking of sporadic, this will also be my last installment of Wishlist Wednesdays (did I just hear a sigh of relief!?)  I will still post about races, since I still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about racing, but I'll post on whim, rather than only on Wednesdays.  So you may very well be getting a bucket list race post Monday-Friday.  Consider yourself warned.

Wishlist Wednesday: Zooma Annapolis

This race is totally runnable for me.  Its less than an hour from where I live, and its a half-marathon, a distance I am comfortable with.  Its not a challenging, high altitude, crazy elevation-gain, ridiculous mileage race that I tend to think about.  But I'm drawn to it because it geared towards women (though men are welcome too).  I like that.  Becoming a female runner/athlete can seem intimidating, especially if you are just blossoming into athleticism in your 30s/40s.  I like that this race (and other races like it, the Disney Princess Half-Marathon comes to mind) offers a supportive, female-focused race atmosphere.  I've never run in an all-women (mostly women) race, and I think it would be fun.  Plus you get a commemorative necklace!

The Zooma race series hosts half-marathon and 10K races around the country.  Check out their website for a race near you!

Have you ever run a Zooma race?  Or any other race for women?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday: Sogonapmit Marathon

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about races.  Seriously, if I could race very weekend, I would. On Wednesdays, I post about races that I wish/hope/dream I will/could run in the future.  Whether or not I am physically capable of completing some of these races is a different story altogether!

Wishlist Wednesday: Sogonapmit Marathon

I had never heard of the Sogonapmit Marathon until last week.  But as soon as I learned about it, I knew I wanted to run it.  Why?  Because the Sogonapmit Marathon is not just a marathon.  Its a race.

Now, hold on, you may say.  Aren't all marathons races?  Well, yes.  But most people running a marathon are usually just competing against themselves: trying to hit a certain time, trying to PR, trying to qualify for Boston, or just trying to finish.  And while I recognize that competing against yourself is completely legit and totally bad-a**, here's what I like about the Sogonapmit Marathon: you aren't just competing against yourself.  You are also competing against 2,000 half-marathoners.  


Ok, here's the race details: At the butt-crack of dawn (literally - the marathon starts at 3:20 AM), you take off and head towards the start of the half-marathon.  You have 2.5 hours to get there and head back before the gun goes off, and the half-marathoners hit the course.  You spend the next 13.1 miles trying to stay ahead of the fresh legs that were probably just waking up when you started your marathon.  

I don't know about you, but to me that sounds super fun.

Whats also super fun is that the first half of the race (the half where you are stumbling running in the dark) is all uphill.  Oh wait, thats not the fun part.  The fun part is that the second half of the race is ALL DOWNHILL.  Aka, super fast.

Course Map and Elevation

Technically, this race is the Timpanogos Half Marathon.  The Sogonapmit Marathon is just double that (duh), an added "challenge" for the crazies: start at the finish line of the half, run to the starting line, then head back to the finish.  Bonus: the bing is pretty cool too.


The Sogonapmit Marathon and Timpanogos Half Marathon will be held on July 27, 2013 in American Fork, Utah.  Registration opens Thanksgiving Day.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday: San Francisco Marathon

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about races.  Seriously, if I could race very weekend, I would. On Wednesdays, I post about races that I wish/hope/dream I will/could run in the future.  Whether or not I am physically capable of completing some of these races is a different story altogether!

Wishlist Wednesday: The San Francisco Marathon

I've run in San Francisco.  Once.  It was years ago.  I ran from Union Square, near where we were staying, up to Coit Tower and back.  I don't remember the mileage of that run--since I didn't consider myself a runner back then, just someone who ran occasionally--but I do remember really enjoying the streets, and hills, of San Francisco.

So I'm thinking that I should one day run the San Francisco Marathon.  Apparently the course takes you through Fisherman's Wharf, the Marina, Golden Gate Park, Haight Street, the Mission, and many other areas of beautiful San Francisco that I vaguely remember from my trip oh-so-long ago (there may or may not have been copious amounts of alcohol consumed on that trip).  Plus?  The course takes you out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge.  How awesome is that?

SFM Course Map

Not from the SF marathon, but an awesome picture nonetheless

From what I've read though, the San Francisco Marathon is not for the weak of heart.  Or legs.  Or for those with vertigo.  San Francisco is famous for its hills.  And thus, it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), the San Francisco marathon is a crazy hilly course.  Crazy hilly.  Did I mention there would be hills?

SFM  Elevation Chart

The 2012 race was this past weekend, and Devon Crosby-Helms won the women's event.  Her race recap is here.  And here's a hilarious race recap from 2011.  The 2013 race will be held in June due to the fact that America's Cup will be in San Francisco next year.  My birthday is in June next year (its in June every year).  Hmmmm.....

Have you ever run the San Francisco Marathon?  Is it worth the pain? :)