Tag Archives: challenge

30 by 30 – Did I make it?

I turned 30 yesterday.  And no, I didn’t check everything off my list.  And I’m going to keep my list going.  It’s not going to grow to be a 40 by 40, I don’t think, although the idea of having another 10 years to reach a number of goals is nice, truthfully, I don’t know where I’ll be when I’m forty, but I certainly will not want to feel the judgment of 30 year old me telling myself that I have to do x, y, z.  I think I’m going to rework this list into a 30 by 35 list, and some of these goals are coming off.  Because while “visit Austrailia” is on there, it’s actually not my goal to get there by 35, since my daughter won’t be old enough to appreciate it, and if I’m shelling out the cash to take her to Australia, she needs to remember it.  Also, my priorities have shifted.  So while I still want to try boxing, I’m not as keen on trying CrossFit.  I won’t turn down the opportunity, but truthfully, the lifestyle isn’t going to work with my current lifestyle, so I’m not sure I want to bother trying it.  I do still want to do a century bike ride.  I still want to go on an overnight train trip with my husband, but we need a sitter or we need an older kiddo.

  1. Run a marathon (done)
  2. Do a century bike ride
  3. Do an Olympic distance triathlon (done!)
  4. Make my own cheese (done)
  5. Make my own yogurt (done)
  6. Go back to Egypt
  7. Do a trail race (done)
  8. Pace my friend E. on one of her Ultramarathons (done! twice!)
  9. Go diving in the pacific ocean (done)
  10. Take an overnight train trip with my husband
  11. Put a backsplash up in the kitchen (done!)
  12. Grow vegetables (done and delicious!)
  13. Go on a racecation (race + vacation)
  14. Volunteer at the nature center where we got married
  15. Try CrossFit
  16. Take a boxing class
  17. Take a photography class (done)
  18. Take baked goods to the new neighbors (done)
  19. Go to Australia
  20. Do a bike tour of Niagra wineries (we will be doing this as my 30th birthday trip but it will be in August so the baby is old enough for a bike)
  21. Do a beer tour somewhere new (done)
  22. See a Broadway play
  23. Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours
  24. Learn Spanish (I have made progress towards this goal, I’m not sure how I define “learn”.)
  25. Score the winning goal in a hockey game (done!)
  26. Earn a salary and have health insurance.(done!)
  27. Grow my hair out and donate it (done December 2014)
  28. Have a baby. (done October 29, 2014.)

In the end, I’m 9 goals short.  Which is not so bad.  And truthfully, everything that is on this list is things I’m really glad I’ve done, and I’m also really happy I sat down and made this list five years ago (really, in five years I couldn’t take a boxing class? jeez, self.) It has helped keep me focused and motivated.  It has helped keep me from feeling sad about turning 30, and instead thinking about all of the great things I got to do in the last decade and all the awesome things that await me in the next one.

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Big Changes

So, we’re going through some really big changes.  In 2010, we moved, got married, and I graduated and passed the bar.  Last year, my husband changed jobs and then we bought a house. It seems impossible to simply make one big life change every year, so this year we are having a baby, and on Wednesday, I start a new job.

I stopped writing about work here pretty much when I started my last job, mostly because it made me so uncomfortable for privacy reasons.  I don’t know whether I will write more about it with the new position.  I’m going from a family law to general civil practice, although I’ll be staying in the public interest sphere.

There are some things that happened to me during this job negotiation that I handled incorrectly, and that others thoroughly bungled.  I’m not going to talk about it publicly, but feel free to send me an email or leave a comment with your email address if you have specific questions about interviewing for and changing jobs during pregnancy – it’s very difficult to navigate.  All I will say is that I wish I had put my own needs first, instead of trying to make things convenient or easier for other people.  Negotiate hard for what you want, and when that is in writing, give your notice.  If that process takes longer than you had hoped, that’s not your problem.

I’m making a lot of sacrifices for this job – I’m giving up a great commute, fantastic coworkers, a boss who lets me run my own office, a lot of independence, and paid maternity leave.  Like any decision, you have to hope really, really hard, that what you are giving up is worth what you are getting.  With my longer commute comes a much bigger office, a support staff, a boss who is in the office, a higher salary and chance for promotion, training, and a very large organization, fancy things like a client database on the computer , and a broader practice area.

The timing, as with everything, was not spectacular.  I have a friend in the office I’m going to, and I’ve wanted to work there for awhile, and she sent me the job posting a week after I found out I was pregnant.  I interviewed when I was 8 weeks.  At 16 weeks, they called me for a second interview.  At 19 weeks, I went on the second interview. At 20 weeks, I was offered the position.  (If you are counting, yes, it’s been 8 weeks from when I was offered the position to when I’m starting at this job.)  I am pleased with how smooth the transition has been for my current office – I was able to give adequate notice and they were able to hire my replacement, and I was able to train her as best as I could.  This eased my anxiety about leaving a mess of files and notes that my replacement would not understand.

This change is terrifying for me.  I am about to take a job, work there for 11 weeks, and then  go out on maternity leave at some point.  I’ve been incredibly emotional the last few weeks, and every decision I have made has been second guessed and discussed to death, and then I’ve cried over it.  But, I remember the post I wrote two years and four months ago.  Success is scary, change is huge. My mantra for this week is, ships are safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.

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Pregnant Triathlete, Part II

I just finished my second triathlon of this pregnancy, and man, was it harder than the first.  I did the first at the very beginning of my second trimester, and my second at the very beginning of my third.  I hit 28 weeks on Friday, and the race was Sunday.  

I did this race last year, and it’s a fantastic race.  (Druid Hill Park Sprint Tri) So I knew when I signed up (before the January 1 price increase) that even if I was pregnant, I would probably hopefully maybe be able to handle it, as long as I was having a healthy pregnancy, which I fortunately am.  It’s a 300 yard pool swim, an 8 mile bike course, and a 3.1 mile run.  The run is completely flat, around a lake.  The bike course is challenging and hilly.  The swim is in a pool, which actually presents it’s own challenges but does not feel as endless as an open water swim of the same distance.  

When registering for a pool swim, it’s important to gauge your speed accurately.  I was generous with my time and put 2:30 for my 100m swim time.  Based on what my pace has been at the gym lately, I was spot on.  Last year I put 2:00, which was also fairly accurate.  I was passed by a couple of people but I also passed a few folks.  If you are pregnant, you should probably adjust your swim time down a bit – even though swimming is recommended for pregnant women, the reduced lung capacity and general lumbery-ness slows you down.  

I rode my Canondale Quick 3 for the bike course.  My normal road bike is a Giant Avail, but my sister, who did the race with me, has had custody of that since May.  I stopped riding my Canondale to work about a month ago (more on that later), because it was getting too challenging to swing my leg up over the rack to ride to work.  I was concerned about riding it for the race because when I’ve done long rides recently, the angle I have to sit at presses directly on my bladder.  The seat, which is normally very comfortable, was also uncomfortable on my SBR a few weeks ago.  I asked my husband to swap out the seat for a wider one, which helped considerably.  I would recommend a comfort saddle like this one for anyone who is cycling during pregnancy.  (I don’t actually have that one but it looks a lot like the one I do have and it’s nice.)  If you still have saddle discomfort, consider slightly tilting the nose down.

Like I said, the course was hilly.  I did not train hard enough for the hills.  My lungs were working at their capacity and I was having braxton hicks contractions on the steep uphills.  I coasted as much as I could on the downhills to give myself a break, and I didn’t push myself.  One guy that passed me kept cheering me on, which was lovely and was the extra push I needed to finish the bike course.  

The run course was where I felt the crappiest, at least for the first half.  I wore my camelbak hydration pack but forgot to bodyglide my arms.  So of course I started to experience chafing from my arms pumping against the wet straps.  I knew from my run last weekend that following my 2 min run 1 min walk pattern was going to be hard.  So I switched to a 1 min run, 1 min walk pattern.  Even that was too strenuous for the first mile and change – I was still having Braxton Hicks contractions, I was getting round ligament pain, and the chafing on my arms was really burning.  I stopped and walked for about five minutes.  Everytime I tried to run again, something hurt.  So I had a pack of Stinger gels and walked as fast as I could.  At the end of Mile 1, I saw my husband and brother in law on the course and handed off my Camelbak.  Once I did that, I was able to run again – I’m not sure whether it corrected my posture or just not chafing was such a relief, but at that point I picked up and stuck with the 1 min run / 1 min walk intervals.  Everyone was super encouraging and nice to me, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to total strangers when they say, “you are awesome!” So usually I just said “so are you!” or something else like that.  

As I got to the end, I could see where the chute was to the finish, so I took my walk break and gave the baby a quick pep-talk.  We were going to walk until we saw the sign for the chute, and then we were going to sprint.  I did not think this was actually going to work, but it did, and we were able to come flying into the finish line, which I’m pretty proud of – usually I’m so spent from races that I have nothing left at the finish line, but the advantage of being conservative on this one was that I had plenty of legs left, even if I didn’t really have the lung capacity.  Also, the finish was downhill. That helped.  A lot of people congratulated me after the race and asked how I was feeling and commented on how great it was that I was out there.  

I also got to hang out with my tri club for a little bit, which was really nice.  My husband usually crews me for races but I feel like being in the club will make it easier next year when I have to go by myself and leave him at home with the kiddo.  Everyone in the club is really nice and super-supportive.  

My time last year was 1:16:25.  My time this year was closer to 1:35:37. I’m okay with that.  I felt a little uncomfortable with the attention I was getting (I wasn’t even the only pregnant athlete there – I overheard another girl saying she was 16 weeks), because I didn’t sign up for this race because I felt like I wanted to prove anything.  I really just wanted to do it, and I’ll admit that a part of me was curious if I could do it.  But it wasn’t like anyone told me I couldn’t and I needed to prove them wrong.  I will also say that I did not notice any judgmental looks, comments, or implications.  

What I wore: 

– De Soto Carrera Loose Top with Drawstring Waist – I ordered this top before my international tri, and I was so happy with it’s performance, even though it was snugger than I’d thought it would be and I knew I couldn’t wear it for this race, and when I went to review it I realized that De Soto had accidentally shipped me the Sprinter Top and I hadn’t realized it when I received it. I sent them a sheepish email asking if it was at all possible to exchange a used tri top for the one I had wanted and they shipped me the Carrera top right away.  The Medium accommodated the belly really well and also accommodated my increased chest, and although I probably would have been more comfortable in a Large, I will be able to wear the medium post-pregnancy as well.  A+, would highly recommend to any pregnant athlete looking for a good workout top.  

– Under Armour Compression Shorts (5″) – Last weekend, getting pretty desperate for something made of moisture wicking fabric to wear for this race, I hit the Under Armour Outlet. I really wanted these shorts in the longer 7″ version, but they only had the 5″. I bought them in a large, and because the waistband is wide and pretty flexible it was able to fit up and over my belly.  However, when I test rode them yesterday, they rode up quite a bit and so I needed to add gripper elastic to the bottom.  (I ordered 2 yards of Gripper Elastic from Quest Fabrics a month ago to add to my running skirt.)  It was a quick project and made a world of difference – my shorts stayed put and didn’t ride up, bunch, or chafe, and they were long enough to protect my thighs from my bike seat.  

Ultimate Maternity Belt – I’m a pretty comfortable person doing what I need when I need to, but even I was kind of embarassed to be pulling on my support belt before the bike course. However, I can’t run without it, so I sucked it up and put it on.  It stayed put and helped keep things in place for the run.  I actually have mixed feelings on whether it’s that helpful for the bike.  

Tri

 

And yes, I went home and took a nap.  

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Race Report: Shamrock Marathon Virginia Beach

We picked the Shamrock Marathon for a couple of reasons:

1) It was in March.  We wanted to train in the winter and run a springtime race because it wouldn’t be so hot to train for or run.
2) It is a pretty big race. We wanted a good crowd of people to keep us going.
3) It was flat.

I’m really really happy we picked Shamrock.  Mostly because of reason number 3, because reasons 1 and 2 turned out to not be so true.   I’ll start at the beginning.

When we woke up, it was pretty mild out.  We got dressed in shorts and t-shirts for the most part, because it was warmer than even the weather report had called for.  We made our way to the start line, which was pretty well organized and had pacers marking every 30 minute interval.  Two of us lined up with the 3:25 group and three of us lined up with the 4:30 group.  There were four starting corrals, but it was unclear what it meant or how they grouped us into them, but it helped keep stuff relatively organized.

We had agreed to start at a 10 minute pace, and we did.  We chugged along nicely behind the 4:30 group and skipped the first water stop (it was on the left, we were on the right, and we didn’t notice it.)  Somewhere around Mile 2 or 3 was the Bridge.  The bridge was the only real hill we encountered on the run.  We were told in advance to not be the sissies that walked over the Bridge, but after running Uwharrie, that bridge was a piece of cake both times we ran it.  After the bridge, we got to the next water stop, where we stopped and noticed that we were already sweating.  There were water stops every mile and a half, which seemed excessive when we first read through the book, but on race day, they were necessary.  The first ten miles took us south of VA beach, through one of the military bases that was there.  This was one of the coolest parts of the race – we got to run past crazy helicopters and all of the enlisted men came out to cheer us on and give us high-fives.  They were fantastic and totally made my day – I always consider military folk to be absolutely the most hardcore, badass people I’ve ever met, and here they were acting like we were awesome.

Around 9.5 miles, we hit the bridge again.  My friend J. fell down and S. stayed with her while I stayed with our pace group (I was too in the zone to see J. fall and we had agreed we would stay with the 4:30 runners and catch up to it if any of us fell behind at a water stop, etc.).  I was still feeling really good at this point.  We ran through downtown Virginia Beach again, through the boardwalk and then out onto Atlantic Avenue and hit the 13 mile mark.  Shortly after that was the 13.1 mark, and we started looking for S’s parents, who were cheering from the sidelines and waving giddily at us.  S’s mom joined us for a few short moments and checked in on how we were all doing.  Once we left them, we started looking for my sister, who I knew was going to camp out around Mile 14.  At Mile 14, there she was, with my husband and my brother-in-law.  I grabbed a handful of gummi bears from them, because my husband was on the other side of the course with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I was able to hang-ish with J. and S. for another two miles, but around Mile 16, J. and I went to the bathroom.  I could feel myself falling back, and I knew I was through the toughest part of the race and it was downhill from there, and I could do it on my own, so I told J. to go ahead and that I’d see them at the finish.  As I powered through Mile 16, I thought about my iPod Shuffle which was in my SpiBelt.  I had put together a playlist for the race, since I knew I would be running at least a portion of it on my own.  I decided that I would break out my shuffle at the next water stop if I really needed to, so I ran for the next mile, enjoying the cheesy shamrock and leprechaun jokes that were on the sides of the race course and enjoying the company of the crowd.  At mile 17, I had a bite of my cliff bar, but couldn’t even get it down because my mouth was so dry and I didn’t have enough water yet.  Around here, I passed the Lululemon race station, which was awesome and they were blasting music and waving signs and cheering everybody on, and we all picked up the pace for a bit at that.  At this point, I settled into a groove, but it was hard to ignore how much I was hurting.

Thanks to an utterly fantastic tape job on my knee by E’s husband, my right knee, which would usually be bothering me by now, wasn’t at all, but everything was just starting to hurt.  I was pleased to notice that my toenails weren’t hurting yet, which was good.  At mile 18, I thought with relief, “ah, only 6 more miles” and then realized that I cannot do math.  Around here, we went through Ft. Story, which my friend warned me was really boring.  It was true.  There was virtually no-one here, and we were all low on energy and just trying to get through to the end.  And it was HOT.  It was really hot out.  It was whatever my temperature threshold where I have to run slower because I get sick running fast in the heat.  One rest stop around Mile 20 had a table of food, including bananas, which I snagged, and jelly beans, which I tried to eat but instead got rid of.  I started walking at the water stops plus a bit at this point, because I was just feeling so leaden, but I realized pretty quickly that my body hurt more if I tried to walk than running, but my lungs hurt more if I ran.  So I kept running.  And I ran most of the way until Mile 23, which I knew would put us back on the crowd-heavy part of the course.

Around Mile 22-23 we came out of Ft. Story and back into the residential part, which wasn’t nearly as crowded as earlier – because a lot of people had finished, and even more people had gone to watch their racers cross the finish line, but I knew that my team was still going to be at Mile 25, so I kept going.  I wanted to look strong for them, and I felt like it was very important that I not let them down by walking the last three miles.  I felt my toenails and my feet felt so swollen.  My back had started to hurt, and my calves and hamstrings were incredibly tight.  I was running at the same pace that several people around me were walking at.

At Mile 25, I was relieved to see that my sister was dressed in her running capris and her green t-shirt from our wedding weekend 5k.  She had told me she was bringing running clothes in case I needed a pacer, but I wasn’t sure she’d be ready.  I’ve never been so happy to see her, and as I passed them, I said, “are you coming?” and she jumped out to join me.  She gossiped with me, let me complain about my back, ankles, feet, legs, everything else, and got me through the last mile.  As we tore towards the finish line, she hopped off to the fenced in spectator areas and I crossed at 4:55 clock time (4:48 chip time) and hobbled to pick up my medal, hat, sweatshirt, and then got handed water, gatorade, a banana, and a shamrock shaped cookie.

I expected to feel something huge and powerful after finishing.  I expected it to feel as emotional as finishing Uwharrie.  I expected to let an incredible sense of accomplishment wash over me.  Instead, I just felt tired, and I felt a desperate need to put on the crocs I knew were in my dry bag.  My sister met up with me and got me my crocs and then we walked over to the beer tent and met up with everybody else.  Team in Training was selling cokes and I bought one and downed it, and after that I started to feel better.  We all hung out at the tent for a bit and then hobbled back to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express – can’t recommend it enough – clean, reasonably priced, nice showers, comfortable beds) where three of us made quick work of a bag of potato chips (my favorite post-race food, and especially important for our gluten-free friend.)  We also realized that we were all sunburned and chafed (I will write more about what to pack in your marathon race bag later.)

So that’s that.  I get to check it off my 30×30 list, and make a nifty race-medal/bib shadowbox, and put a sticker on my car, and all of those other annoying marathon-y things that people do.  And I think, much like being married and being a lawyer and being 26, being a marathon runner is something that I have to settle into a bit, because it is kind of huge.

 

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Race Report: Uwharrie Mountain Run

(Note: I wanted to write this up for any new trail runners who are considering doing Uwharrie, or who signed up for it and are wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into.  It’s very long and kind of rambling, but it’s the kind of thing I would have found pretty helpful.)

There are several ways you could react to coming in 200th (ish) in a field of 220 finishers.  Some might choose to react with horror at being so low in the pile.  Some might choose to laugh it off the way my friend does when he signs up to run a race, doesn’t train, and then comes in last in his age group.  Some might take it as a lesson for tomorrow.  I’m not really sure what my reaction is, except, “well, I guess that’s a little disappointing.”

Apparently what my reaction should be is that only crazy ultrarunners run the Uwharrie 20-miler and normal people who think it sounds “fun” do not.  After reading a few race reports written by other 20-mile runners about the difficult terrain and treacherous rocks and general  insanity of making this your first 20-miler or your first long distance trail race, I choose to believe I have confirmed this.  (Also, a guy at the finish line told me we picked a really tough race for our first long distance trail race.  Which made me feel badass.  I did not mention that we came in 200th-ish.)  So what you are reading is not the race report of an ultra-runner, but rather the race report of a normal 26 year old runner who runs standard road races at a 10 minute mile pace.  Let’s start with how we trained for this race.  We is me, my friend S., and my crazy ultrarunner friend E who talked us into this race and then took charge of training us up for it and making sure we bought good shoes.

Training: S. and I run almost all of our long runs together for training.  Since we were marathon training and 20-miler training, we alternated long runs on road and long runs on trail, and did a few combination runs at a local trail that has a 4.5 trail loop and then a 9-12 mile flat road loop.  The furthest either of us ran on a trail was about 13.5 to 14 miles, the furthest either of us ran at one time was 14.5 miles.  That being said, we did somewhere between 6 and 8 runs that were 10+ miles long.  I’ve been running 10+ miles every week or every other week since Thanksgiving, I think.  E., who came with us while she trained for the 40-miler, says that the most important part is spending a lot of time on your feet, and you shouldn’t stress too much about the mileage.  After this weekend, I believe she is right.

Race Weekend:  We had to drive down to North Carolina and did so the day before the race.  Ideally, make a four day weekend of any race you have to drive more than 7 hours to.  7 hours is a LONG time, especially in a Subaru Outback, which is a remarkably uncomfortable car.  We stayed at a Days Inn in Troy, NC.  It was okay.  It was not particularly clean (hair in the shower, soda can top on the floor), but the sheets were clean and the beds were pretty comfortable.  We stayed in Chapel Hill afterwards at a Hampton Inn.  Definitely stay in a nice hotel after the race, one with a good hearty breakfast and an ice machine.  We paid twice as much for the Hampton Inn and it was money well spent.

The Race Organization: This is a REALLY well organized race.  Apparently this has not been the case in the past, but they had well organized bag drop (you got handed a bag to put everything in) that you left at the start, not a half hour before the start and not before getting on the shuttle.  So we stood around in our warm clothes and then at 10 of 8, when we were starting, we took off our warm layers and checked our bags, then stood by the fire.  When we finished, we were immediately handed our bags by volunteers who had checked our bibs and gone to get our bags.  A field of 220 people apparently means you get really good service.  The aid stations were also fantastic, although after all of the 40-milers had come through and the 200ish 20-milers ahead of us, well, there wasn’t much food left (but I ate a lot at the 40-mile finish as we waited for our friend to finish).

The Race Itself:  I’m going to break this down in between the aid stations, because that’s how I organize things in my memory.  Aid stations start at Mile 5, and are every 3 miles.  This was pretty much perfect.  I carried my camelbak, but because I filled it at the hotel and the water tasted gross, I didn’t drink much from it.  (Tip: fill camelbak with filtered water at home, even if it is the day before, it will be better than hotel sink water.)

Miles 1-5: Mile 1 is straight uphill, and it’s 200 people getting onto a singletrack trail.  We walked for about half a mile, and then we finally were able to run along the ridge and admire the views and let the fast people who’d gotten stuck at the back pass us.  Eventually we went down the hill and then back up another hill.  Other than the uphills that were too steep to run, we were moving pretty well.  S. found she was more comfortably running slowly uphills, I found I could powerwalk at the same speed.  Contrary to our training, she stayed in front of me for most of the first half, and I struggled to pace myself with her, although I mostly kept up.  We hit the first aid station, grabbed water and some fruit, and then rolled onward, saying things like, “It’s only 9:00! We’re a quarter of the way done!” I stopped to put some body glide on my neck, where my CamelBak was chafing, and my feet, where my new shoes were starting to cause a couple hot spots.

Miles 6-8: We made some friends right around Mile 6 and spent some time leading a pack of runners who warned us about a tricky stream crossing after Mile 9.  This was also where we encountered our first stream crossings, which are challenging for S., but she didn’t fall in once.  We kept going up and down, and then we started to feel rain drops.  There had only been a 30% chance of rain, and it wasn’t supposed to start until noon, so I left my rain jacket in my drop bag.  It started to rain heavier, and I was concerned that the course would get really slippery or muddy.  The mud wasn’t too bad, and even the wet leaves weren’t slippery.  At this point, we realized just how varied the terrain was.  We had started in a pretty standard East Coast forest, but by now we were traveling through a beautiful pine area, and then we went through that back into regular trees.  This really made the most difference with the trees and how much leaves were on the ground – I’m not a fan of running through leaves, but this trail was mostly leaves.  The trail was pretty clearly marked up until about Mile 7, which was when things started to get dicey and the people in front of us had lost us.  Around Mile 7, we started to see the first of the 8-Mile runners come tearing through the forest.  Our strategy was to yield to everyone on this run, so we jumped out of the way and cheered for the 8-Milers.  At the 8-Mile stop was the only bathroom on the race course, along with plenty of food and drink, because it was the 8-Mile finish line.  It was raining a lot harder here, so we stopped pretty quickly to hydrate and I decided not to fix my sock at the time because it was raining.

Miles 9-11:  The rain started to really come down as we crossed the road (the course crosses the road twice – once at Mile 2 and once at Mile 8) and plunged back into the forest.  We were pretty much completely alone here, which freaked S. out about getting lost and made me finally start to feel comfortable and able to have a conversation – for some reason I felt self-conscious when we were surrounded by people.  Eventually, we caught up with a couple other runners and let them go ahead so we could follow them.  This is where the white marks on the trees really start to blend in with the bark.  The white gets covered in a kind of greenish-gray stuff (probably just mildew), and starts to really blend in with the lichen.  If you look closely, you can see the paint, and for the most part, if you look up ahead, you can almost always find another tree with a big white mark on it up ahead, even if it is about 100 yards away.  We found the tricky stream crossing where you don’t actually cross the stream, but instead make a sharp left and run alongside the stream.  There weren’t many steep uphills or downhills here, and we both felt good, and we tried to keep up a decent pace, although S. had to ask me to run a little faster a couple times because she was having trouble running so slowly.  (I was trying to conserve because I didn’t know how much we would need for the end.)  We didn’t have mile markers, but we were able to tell generally when we would be coming up on the aid station.  At the Mile 11 aid station, they were running low on a couple of things and we felt pretty good, so we paused briefly to grab a quarter sandwich and cookie and blow our noses, and then we were off.

Miles 11-14:  For the most part, this is the easy stretch.  We knew there was a big hill coming at Mile 16, and we knew there was a steep drop before it, so when we started going downhill we wondered how long it would be for.  To be honest, the uphills and downhills started to blend together and I tried to count the uphills as we went over them, but I lost track pretty quickly.  The terrain kept changing and I think this was where we went through the part where we could hear frogs loudly and as the rain tapered off and the trees continued to drip, it really felt like we were in some kind of rain forest.  We both sort of hit a wall around here, nothing as bad as some of our training runs, but more of a generally discouraged feeling.  We talked each other through it and reminded each other that we are awesome.  Around Mile 13, we started to see the first of the 40-mile runners coming the other way, and we tried to keep our pace up since we knew we would be walking Mile 16.  There were a few more stream crossings here, but most of them had pretty big rocks, or were narrow enough to jump over.  The course started to get pretty muddy here, from the rain, and the 40 milers who had run through it, and the 20 milers ahead of us who had already run through it.  We were going down and I started hoping we would go back up soon and be on higher, and dryer, ground.  Eventually it happened, since the 14 mile rest stop is at the top of a hill.  Mile 14 was where we really stopped to refuel, ate quite a bit, and I finally took off my sock and tried to get out the tiny stick that I was pretty sure was poking me.  There was no stick, but I added some more body glide and had a sandwich.  We chatted a little with some of the other runners, including a 40-miler coming back who had decided he was done.  (I didn’t realize at the time that he was dropping out, and so tried to be encouraging and tell him that 16 miles really wasn’t that far and he could do it – I felt like a jerk once I realized he was actually dropping out, although I saw him at the finish and he told me he was sitting in the car ready to go and then decided to finish the race instead and was really happy about it.)  At this point, I switched into thinking, “all we have left is a 10k. We can TOTALLY do that.”  My legs didn’t even feel anywhere near as badly as they did when we ran our last 14 mile run.

Miles 15-17: When we left the aid station, we came across a stream crossing pretty quickly.  It was a two-part stream crossing, and it was really deep.  We made it across the first part, and were staring at the second part when one of the 40s called out to us, “it’s much easier if you cross over here”.  When we went over to where he was, we saw that the “stream” was actually an inlet, and you could run around it.  Otherwise we would have been ankle deep in water, and I was already getting chilly.  This was the biggest obstacle around this section – we were wet and cold, and we kept having to stop and walk the hills, when I just wanted to run and warm up.  We knew that somewhere along here, we would see E. coming back, and this was also when we started to see the first female runners from the 40. We saw the three women who we would later see win, and then we saw a few more women and a lot more men, and finally we saw E.  We had just come up a pretty steep uphill, and we thought this was the beginning of the mountain at Mile 16.  E. was happy to see us, and we stopped for a minute to check in and take a picture.  E. told us not to hate her once we finished the mountain, which was good, because otherwise we would have been mighty upset when we realized that what we just climbed wasn’t the mountain.  We had a short downhill, and then we started up.  The first part was hard, and steep, and we ran up a bit of it and quickly admitted defeat and trekked up it.  Then we got to what we thought was the top, and started running.  We went downhill for a bit, and suddenly the terrain changed.  Instead of being straight up and steep, the course started to twist and turn, and we started to meet up with other runners who were currently being owned by the mountain.   We fell into a pattern where we would run a little, then need to stop and walk to get up fairly short, but incredibly steep, sections of trail.  They got a little slippery from the mud, so there was no way to get around them.  The train turned a lot, and you kept turning around a corner and suddenly needing to go up another hill (best expressed by one runner, who upon finding yet another hill, cried out, “SON OF A B*TCH”, which at least made the rest of us burst out laughing when it echoed across the forest).  I think that this was actually somehow the downhill section of the mountain.  We finally saw the aid station up ahead, which after being visited by almost all of the other runners in this race, was almost out of everything, but I grabbed some trail mix and water and we scurried onward to make up for lost time, and because if we stopped running for too long, our legs stopped working.  S. tried to take her inhaler here, but wasn’t able to get enough medicine in her lungs to actually be helpful.

Miles 17-20: This is where it got fun.  I mentioned that early on I was trying to conserve some power in my legs, because I didn’t know how the race would end. It turns out this was the right move for me, because I had plenty of legs left at Mile 17 for the rest of the course.  Or I just got some kind of crazy third wind.  All I know is that after three miles of walking uphills, I suddenly started running them.  It seemed like it was just easier to keep running and I started having fun with it.  I was ahead of S. at this point and she was having trouble on the hills.  When she saw me tearing over them, she just said “wow!” and I said, “I have no idea where this came from, but I’m going to go with it.”  For the most part, she walked the small uphills that were left and then ran and caught up with me, but I kept losing her behind turns and then she would catch back up.  I walked a few of the steeper hills here and there, but for the most part, I ran the last three miles and I felt like it was the easiest 5k I’ve ever done.  Around mile 19, we saw two 40-milers who told us we were a 15-minute walk from the end.  Spurred on, we charged ahead.  At some point my husband called to make sure we hadn’t finished already, since he had watched about 200 people finish before us, and I assured him that we hadn’t.  Which brings me to another point – Verizon gets pretty decent service along the trail – and the Red Cross called around noon to remind me to come in and give blood.  I didn’t answer that one.  We started to hear the road, and then we saw a man in an orange jacket up ahead and we knew we were getting close to the finish line.  We were walking up a hill and saying, “okay, lets get up this hill and run to the end” and then we focused on the bunting they had at the finish, which was the same as every rest stop, and we knew we were there already, so we both sprinted towards the end.  Our final time was about 5:30, which was better than our guestimated time of 6 hours, and could have been far better if we hadn’t stopped for a good 5 minutes at every aid station.  However, I think for your first long distance trail race, it’s important to pace yourself well, so I’m pretty happy with how we did. I would also like to point out that we did not fall at all (S. touched her hands down in a mud pit near the end, but in figure skating it wouldn’t be a fall so I decided it didn’t count) and we did not get lost, and I attribute both of these to us taking our time.

Overall, I will definitely want to run this race in the future, but I need to find a new person to do it with because S. decided she can’t run for more than four and a half hours, so I either need a new running buddy for long trail races or we have to get faster.  Also running a 50k seems a lot less crazy.  I’m not sure what that says about me.

 

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Go Further: December Challenge

Boy was I glad for the challenge this week!  If I hadn’t had it, I would have slacked off and not exercised at least four days.  One or two days is okay, but if I go four days without working out, I start sleeping poorly and get crabby.  I did Ripped in 30 on Monday and it wasn’t even as annoying this time.  On Tuesday, I slept in and only did a 10-minute yoga video, and on Wednesday I finally got myself to the yoga class I desperately needed (14 mile runs are killer).  Thursday I went running and today I walked on the Treadmill.  I missed my run goal, but met my workout goal, so I’m pretty pleased.  Here’s hoping I can keep it up through the weekend.  The holidays are tough.

How is everybody else doing?  Are you also overindulging in the office tootsie roll bin?  (Seriously, the diet starts next week.  I’m planning to dramatically decrease my sugar intake so that I can finally get some energy and focus back.  I’ll probably talk about it here.)

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Go Further: December Challenge

Have you done something active today?  Because if you haven’t, or you’re having trouble getting motivated, check out this video.

The statement he makes that I love, love, love, is that if you are obese but still active, you can dramatically reduce your health problems.  I find this incredibly encouraging for overweight people that have trouble losing weight, but are active, and it also goes to show what the HAES movement has been talking about for years, which is that being fat doesn’t necessarily equal being unhealthy.  I’m not saying that everybody should go ahead and be overweight as long as they are active, but I am saying equating healthy with thin bothers me.

So maybe, we should instead look to equate being active with being healthy, which is part of what I’m trying to do with my own life.  This morning, I got up, put in 25 minutes of walking on the treadmill, and this evening, I’m going on a group bike ride. In which we put Christmas lights on our bikes.  Yeah, you wish you were coming.

How am I doing on my goals?

-I ran on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday this week.  Goal met.

-I exercised every day.  I did yoga twice, ran thrice, and today I walked on the treadmill.

-Have not done Ripped in 30 yet. Maybe next week.

How are you doing on yours? If you haven’t set a goal, just comment and say how you are going to be more active, or tell me why you don’t find all the fancypants numbers the video throws out compelling.

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