Monday, November 14, 2016

Hot Cider Hustle 10K

It's been awhile since I've laced up a pair of running shoes, but an advertisement for the Hot Cider Hustle on facebook caught my attention, mostly because of the free hoodie promised to all registrants.  I sent out an email and actually got some interest from a few friends, and so I signed up.  The race offered a 5K, 10K and 15K, and I optimistically registered for the 10K, along with Sarah and Paula, while Dan, Sloan, Regal and Dave all signed up for the 5K.  I was excited for the group event, and more importantly, the post-race brunch that was sure to follow.
Orange theory!  I'm just to the right of the instructor who's holding the sign.
Now, when I say it's been awhile since I've put on my running shoes, I don't mean it's been a few weeks, or even a month.  I mean I cannot remember the last time I went out for a run!  Literally, I have been on the couch for months, from taking a break after Ironman to dealing with some back issues and life getting in the way.  Recently, I signed up for orange theory, a kind of interval training class where you spend time on the treadmill, the rower and floor strength exercises.  I do that twice a week, so those 20-25min sessions on the treadmill are the only run/walk training I have had lately.

It was a little chilly race morning and I felt that I had dressed inappropriately for the weather.  Sarah even said she had to scrape frost off her windshield - yikes!  I drove to RFK stadium and was forced to park a half mile away thanks to my lack of cash and the $15 parking fee (only one lot allowed credit cards).  I made a mental note to count the extra mile round trip as calories burned - that means one extra breakfast riesling!
Teammates Stacy and Beth (who you'll remember from the SwimFest).
I picked up my race number and free hoodie, and it didn't take long to find Sloan and Regal.  I also ran into a couple Team Z-mates and we hung out for a bit.  Sarah and Dave, and eventually Paula met up with us, though there was still no word from Dan...hmm...
Me, Regal, Sloan's dad (who got 2nd place age group!), Sloan, Dave and Sarah
We were off!  I'm not sure where the rest of our crew was in the photo below, but us three girls started off together.  It didn't take Sarah long to separate herself from us though, and then it was just Paula and I chugging along.  We ran about 0.8 mile before suggesting that we take a walk break.  The course went around the perimeter of RFK stadium, and was only marked with orange cones.  At one point we noticed that the crowds in front of us were cutting off a huge portion of the course as the cones were way to our left.  We came to get in the full 6.2 (or at least 3.1) miles, and decided to run along the cones.  A quick glance behind us and we noticed that a ton of people followed our lead - go us!
Paula and I didn't have any set run and walk intervals, so we made little goals for ourselves... OK, let's start running at that big tree and see if we can make it all the way to the water stop... Now, we'll run to the underpass but only until we get to that person sitting on a chair cheering... It worked.  As we came upon the finish line, we had both already determined that we were going to do the full 10K that we had signed up for.  After all, we were going to brunch and wanted to burn those extra calories!  We saw Sloan and Regal cheering as they had already finished their 5K, and we fought the temptation to run across the finish line and instead plodded our way to the turn around for the second half of our race.

The second half was much like the first, making small run and walk goals for ourselves.  We passed Sarah as she was heading into her final mile, and I realized my clothing choices were perfect, I was never too hot or too cold.  Paula and I kept at it and slowly made our way past the water stop and on our way to the finish.  I love that Paula and I are similar paces and I had a run buddy for the entire race.  We crossed the finish line, gave each other a high five, met back up with Sarah and Dave, and collected our mug and cider.

Dan never made it to the race, but he did join us for brunch before I went home and collapsed on the couch for the remainder of the day.  My body reminded me of just how little I had trained, and I realized Sunday morning that signing up for an orange theory class the day after the race was probably not my best idea.  But.. I got through it, and proud of myself for having such an active weekend.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Luray Swim Fest

I should start this off by saying that I had no business participating in a swim event!  At some point over the winter, Dawn sent out an email advertisement for this event and suggested that we do it.  It also turned into a Team Z event.  I was despite the fact I haven't swum consistently since Ironman, I went ahead and signed up for the 2250m swim, the longest single option they offered (you could also sign up for multiple events for a max total of 4500m, but that's just crazy!).  As the day drew nearer though, it became clear that 2250m was a bit optimistic for me.  I finally came to my senses and emailed the race director who was super helpful and switched me back to the 1500m.  Much more doable.  I hope.
Me, Dani, Dawn and Beth
It's been awhile since I've set my alarm for 4:20am...on a Saturday morning!  Yikes!  I pulled myself out of bed, grabbed my pre-packed bag and headed out.  There is NOTHING open at 4:50am, no McDonalds, no Starbucks.. luckily I found a 24-Hour CVS and was able to get some iced tea.  I arrived at Beth's house right at 5:15 and the 4 of us piled in her Jeep and made the drive down to Luray.  We pulled into Lake Arrowhead with plenty of time to get checked in, buy a towel (purple!) and hang out at the Team Z shelter for a bit before we had to get ready for the swim.  It turned out that 3 of my carpool crew had decided to drop down to the 1500m event, so it wasn't just me. Yay!
I'd packed my wetsuit but had zero intention of actually using it unless somehow a random mid-June freeze dipped the water temperatures below 70 degrees.  I had no interest in trying to stuff my body into my wetsuit.  None at all.  Luckily, the posted water temperature was 76 and I knew I would be just fine.  Coach Alexis snapped this pre-race photo of me just before it was time to get in and warm up.  The water felt amazing!  I got in a few strokes and was ready to go!
I didn't really have those pre-race jitters like I usually do before an event.  This was more like a curiosity of how 1500m was going to feel with very minimal training.  The last time I was in a pool was about 3 weeks ago, I swam for about 15 minutes, got frustrated, sat in the hot tub and promptly threw my cap, goggles and swimsuit into the garbage can.  This was gonna be interesting.  I got going though and found my groove pretty early on.  With the exception of having to stop a billion times to adjust my leaking goggles, I felt OK, but was questioning how long that was going to last, especially on the 2nd loop.  On the last leg of the first lap, I thought I caught a glimpse of Beth off the back of my right leg.  We were finishing up that first 750m and I noticed a kayaker right in my path.. what the hell, move out of my way!  Oh wait.. the kayaker was hanging out next to a roped off area.. I can't swim that way.. oops!  Will I ever learn to swim in a straight line???  Changing course, I walked up the ramp and headed out to start the 2nd half, and it was confirmed that Beth was right behind me as the announcer yelled her name right after mine.
This is actually the 2250m event swimming - they had to do 3 laps!
Very pleased with my decision to switch to the 1500m!
I still felt pretty decent as I started the 2nd loop and wondered if I could keep pace with Beth.  I didn't care how I finished in relation to her, but it was cool to have someone you know with you.  And who knows, maybe she's better at pacing than I am.  What she is definitely better at is hugging the buoys!  I glanced over and didn't see her.. where's Beth?  Oh wait, there she is... 20 feet to my right, where I should be!  Ugh!  I got myself back on course and we did manage to stay together most of the time.  She later told me that I dropped her on the last leg and we aren't sure if she slowed down or I sped up.  I was feeling it in my legs a little so maybe I was so ready to be done that I actually started kicking??  That would be a first :)  At any rate, we still finished within a minute of each other, and I was happy to be done, that I survived!
I hadn't worn ear plugs and didn't take any ginger pills, so I wasn't surprised I had that dizzy, death feeling when I finished.  I got my medal and some water and wandered over to the grass where Dani was hanging out before her event.  It's a very weird feeling where you think you are going to pass out, but it only lasts a few minutes and then I feel completely fine again.  Strange!  What I don't understand is how these goggles - the same brandI have trained and raced in for years (and this particular pair is practically brand new as I bought them for Ironman and they worked perfectly) were suddenly leaking so much, causing me to stop every few hundred meters?  No way my face changed shape that drastically, right?
Dawn, Beth and I watched the start of the 2250m event and then made our way back to the Team Z shelter.  Dawn headed out for a run, while Beth and I took a short stroll around the lake with our teammate, Wendy.  We watched the awards, got some food and set out for the drive home.  Fun day!  I'm definitely glad I decided to carpool with these ladies.. if I had been on my own, chances are I'd have skipped it.  Sore arms on Sunday were the only [expected] after-effects... no chaffing!  I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with the team.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Celebrate Fairfax 5K

A couple months ago, my friend, Sarah, told me she'd like to try a 5K.  She's never run more than a mile in her life, but after coming to support me at Ironman last fall, felt inspired.  Awesome!  So, we looked at our schedules and decided to do the Celebrate Fairfax 5K.
We agreed to meet at 7:15 to pick up our packets and get ready for the 8am start.  I should've been a little more thourough in reading the race instructions because first I drove to the wrong site - I assumed the race started and ended at Fairfax Corner, but nope!  It was all at the Fairfax Government Center.  Oops!  Then, because of the festival that's going on all weekend, there was no parking allowed at the race site.  Instead, we had to park at least half mile away.  All of this was very clearly indicated in the pre-race communication email that was sent out, if only I would've read that!  But alas, we both got to the race site with plenty of time to spare to grab our race packets, use the bathroom and take a few pre-race pictures.
As the race started, Sarah told me she wanted to aim to keep around a 12-13 min per mile pace.  I told her I would stay with her, but not to feel like she had to stay with me if she wanted to go ahead.  We ran the first mile and a half (maybe a little less) together right around a 11:50 pace, and then we got to a long uphill that I decided to walk.  I sent her ahead and she later told me she was able to hold that pace for the entire race, stopping only to walk a small amount at the final hill.
Meanwhile, I fell into my normal "run when I can, walk when I want to" rhythm and felt pretty decent except for the super hot sun that was already burning down.  There were very few areas of shade on the course.  I haven't been training much, esp since my pain management doctor told me I need to ease off the running for a bit, so I forgave myself for letting my pace slip to 14 min miles towards the end.  
I did find some energy as I approached the finish line and was challenged by the girl next to me in that photo to really push it at the end.  I immediately grabbed some cold water and headed to the shade to rest for a minute.  Other than the heat, it was a great event and Sarah did awesome!  In fact, I think she's hooked and is already asking when we can do another
We sat for a min and then made the long walk back to our cars and drove over to Silver Diner for breakfast. Then it was home for a shower and nap!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hard Cider Run 5K

I'm not sure what he was looking for, but Jon found this race about a month ago and suggested we do it.  5K.. sure!  At a cidery?  yes please!  And Jon is going to actually participate?  Absolutely!  Even better was that you can pick your wave start, and we picked 10:10am which means we didn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to Charlottesville super early (though Jon might argue that leaving at 7am *does* mark the crack of dawn).
That's the white ceiling of U-Hall (old basketball arena) in the distance...
That's where we pick up the shuttle after standing in this long line!
This was a trail run and there was rain in the forecast accompanied by concern that there would be a ton of mud.  Not to worry, I still have my dirty shoes from the North Face relay a couple weeks ago!  But, despite a few sections of rain on our drive down, it stayed pretty dry.  We arrived at the new UVA basketball arena around 9am where we were to pick up the shuttle over to the cidery.  They told us to allow about 15 min for the shuttle ride.  Factoring in that time, plus time to pick up our packets, check a bag, blah blah... we figured we were in good shape.
Nope!  Over an hour in that dang line to get to the shuttle - and I really think the reason we made the most forward movement in that line is because people bailed and found other rides.  We didn't even get on the shuttle until 10:15, 5 min after our wave was supposed to start.  Of course everybody else was in the same situation and they assured us we'd be able to run.  Sure enough, we got there, got our stuff situated and made our way over to the 10:50am wave start.  Ready to go!
Photographer stationed midway up the long hill from hell?  Mean!
I told Jon that we shouldn't worry about staying together and would meet up at the end - run your own race!  So he took off.  The trail consisted of tons of tall grass and uneven terrain which made it really hard to run.  I noticed I was running about 11:30/mile pace and keeping up with Jon... until he started walking and I passed him.  He signed up for the Hungry Apple challenge to eat a donut at every mile marker, so I pulled a little further in front when he stopped for that first snack.  Right after that first mile marker the trail turned upwards.  It looked daunting.  I was doing a run/walk pattern by now and decided to shift to just walking for this hill, thinking it wasn't too long.  And then we turned a corner and realized we weren't even halfway up! 
I'm not sure how he did it, but Jon powered up that hill and passed me right back!  I might have been standing still and resting when he passed me, that's how bad this hill was!  And I was not the only person who stopped for breaks.  I didn't see anybody actually running.  I mean, seriously... this was a 5K race marketed at beginners!  At least, what goes up must come down, and finally we were on top of the mountain (yes, I am pretty sure whatever that hill was called, it starts with "Mount" something) and on our way back down. 
I started running again and really minimized the walking on that last half.  Luckily the rain held off and it wasn't muddy at all (except for maybe a small part on top of the mountain).  The course took us winding through the orchards on more tall grass and slanted ground.  I was in front of Jon again, but not by much and I was a little jealous of the little snacks he was getting.  I was starting to get hungry!  
Finally I came out of the orchard and ran through the finish line - done!  That was a really hard course for a 5K!  I got my medal and some water and waited for the 2 more min for Jon to come in - we really were pretty close on pace.
...and of course he was munching on his 3rd and final donut as he crossed the timing mats!  This was only his 2nd running race ever, and much more challenging than the Baltimore 5K that he did over 10 years ago.
We got our cider and sat around for a little bit before getting back on the shuttle and going to lunch in Charlottesville.  And as it turns out, Joann and Daz were in town celebrating their anniversary, so we ended up meeting them at a winery for a bit.  Not a bad day!

Monday, April 11, 2016

North Face Marathon Relay

This was a tough race to pack for with rain and snow in the forecast (in April, mind you), knowing we'd be standing around for awhile before/after our turn to run, and positive the trails we would be running on would be a muddy mess.  So, we packed all the things!
Sure enough, Joann texted me first thing Saturday morning saying it was pouring rain with hail.  Awesome.  I stopped for a Chick-Fil-A breakfast (yum!) and drove out to the shuttle stop and met up with Jessie, Eileen and Henry.  We packed ourselves, our backpacks and chairs onto the shuttle and made our way to the race start.  Luckily it had stopped raining by this point, but we were sure the damage was done to the trails.  And it was cold.  Very cold.
We made it to the race start and started settling in, organizing our stuff, trying to figure out what to wear, how to stay warm.  The wind was really strong and made for some very cold weather.  We figured out our run order, and I was to be the 2nd runner.  I liked this idea, to let Jessie go and get a good start, and then since I'm slowest, Eileen and Henry could make up some time on the back end.
We met up with Paula's crew, and Paula told us that she was going to be her team's last runner because she was the slowest.  I asked about the rationale behind that and she said that there were cutoff times, and they aren't cumulative.  Every runner has 90 min, and if one runner falls behind, the rest of your team is screwed.  Hmm... OK... makes sense then that I also should be the final runner cause the last thing I'd want to do is DQ our team!  So now I'm going last, which means finding a way to stay warm all day until it's my turn.
Time for one more group shot before heading up to the start line to see Jessie off.  There were just over 100 relay teams, so it wasn't a super crowded start line, but a decent number.  Of course the other distances going on at the same time (started earlier) were the 50-miler, 50K and marathon, so we would see other runners out on the course with us throughout the day.
There they go!  You can Jessie in the blue hat just to the right of the guy in yellow who's blocking everyone's view.  Eileen, Henry and I actually lined up on the fence, thinking we were going to get a great view, and then at the last minute we realized the runners were taking a sharp left out of the gate... d'oh!
The first part of the course is a loop on grass.  From our current vantage point, it looks straight forward enough, but I would find out later that the back part of that grassy loop was basically a mud pit.
So, Eileen, Henry and I wandered around trying to stay warm.  Luckily, we stumbled upon the Top Golf tent who was giving away gloves and hats in exchange for liking them on social media - done!  And then, a good Samaritan offered us some much-needed toe warmers.  It wasn't too bad when the wind wasn't blowing, but when it was, it was freezing! 
Jessie crushed it, finishing her loop in exactly an hour, and suddenly Eileen was on her way!  I was super pleased with her time because everyone who finishes under 90 minutes gives me an extra buffer.  6.5 miles in 90 minutes is tough for me on roads in good condition... throw in trails and mud and it's a whole new ball game.  Jessie described the course to us, and it sounded like other than the mud, it wasn't too bad - mostly flat, some pavement, some gravel, some stream crossings.
I will say the waiting around wasn't too bad when your teammates are all super fast!  By the time we got a snack for the runner who just finished, visited the port-o-pots, stood around the fire pits, we didn't have too much extra time to kill.  Eileen came in at exactly and hour also, and Henry started his loop.  I was loving this huge buffer my teammates were giving me!
While we were waiting for Henry to get back, I decided to take a "before" picture of my pretty pink shoes.  I had a feeling they weren't going to be looking so pretty after my run.  Everyone was coming back so muddy!  I was wearing rubber crocs for most of the day to try to keep my feet dry, and it worked... not that the dryness would last more than 50 meters into my run...
Henry came in just under an hour.  I grabbed the timing chip and take off!!  I had been worried that I would have to walk most of the grass area, just because running on grass is so hard, and I'm not a great runner anyway.  I started off and was surprised that I felt really good!  In fact, I glanced at my watch and I was doing 11:30 min/mi, which for me is very very fast.  I knew I needed to slow down or else I'd be sorry later.  But I ran that entire grassy part, the first half mile of the course, including the parts where the mud got so deep that my shoes started slipping off of my feet.
Once off of the grass portion, we ran on pavement for awhile.  I did take a walk break but ended up running far more than I thought I would.  I finished the first mile in 13 min which I was happy about esp given the deep mud in the grass.  Then we turned onto the gravel portion, and I will admit I walked a little more than I should have.  I'm not sure why, I think it's a habit for me to take walk breaks and in this case I'm not really sure I needed it.  Gotta work on that.  Then the gravel ended and the single track trail begain.  Parts of the trail were really not that bad, and in fact, pretty scenic. 
And then parts of the trail looked like this.  I didn't even attempt to run through this.  I was slipping and sliding just trying to keep my balance while walking.  I really am surprised I didn't end up face down in the mud at some point.  So much for my 13 min/mi pace... my 2nd mile was 19 minutes long.  Oops. 
I really did enjoy running this trail, and as long as it wasn't muddy, I ran as much as I could.  After scolding myself for walking too much on the gravel, I got into the mindset of only walking when I really needed to.  On the way back, I was much better about the walk breaks.  Back over the bridge, through the mud, through the streams, on the gravel, and then the pavement.  For some reason I thought the pavement portion was much longer than it actually was, so I found myself nearing the finish line faster than I thought.  My "ON A BEER RUN" teammates were waiting for me with about a quarter mile to go, and joined me so we could all cross the finish line together!
I ended up finishing in 1:34:46 which I was pleased about.  My Garmin registered closer to 6 miles than 6.5 miles, but even with that, given all of the mud, I thought I would be slower.  And here is the "after" photo of my pretty pink shoes.  I kind of wish I had taken a "during" photo because after running through the final few streams of water, they actually got cleaned off quite a bit.  We were really lucky that it never rained on us, though there were some snow flurries at points during the day.  In April.  Not OK.
By now we were all starving.  I had wanted to wait and see Paula's team finish, but thanks to my super fast teammates, we finished a lot earlier than expected.  Paula and I are actually very similar speeds, but since I got to start so much earlier, I finished over an hour ahead of her.  And we were just so dang cold.  So we hopped on the shuttle back to the parking lot and then headed across the street for some post-race celebratory food and beverage.
Joann met us there for the celebration and the two of us stuck around for awhile after the others needed to go.  I am pretty sure we ate ALL THE FOOD.  I was so exhausted that I drove home, took a quick shower, and was fast asleep by around 8pm.  It was a fun day and I would definitely do this relay again.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Disney Half Marathon

Jon and I boarded the plane bright and early Friday morning, and with a three hour delay in Atlanta, we were racing to get to packet-pickup before it closed!  Luckily Jon had decided to get a rental car, so we didn't have to wait for the shuttle.  My teammate, Lucy, was on our flight so we offered her a ride and booked it over to ESPN Wide World of Sports.  When all was said and done, we made it with 25 min to spare.
Once I'd collected all that I needed to (and a few extras that I didn't need to spend money on), we checked into the Yacht Club, did a little exploring and went to dinner.  Then it was pretty much straight to bed for me.  3:15am is an awful time for an alarm clock to go off!  That was the single hardest part of this race, pulling myself out of bed in the middle of the night.
The look on my face says it all -- 13.1 miles untrained?! Yikes!!
I wasn't prepared for all the walking that was to be done before the race even started!  Quarter mile to the shuttles at the resort, half mile from the shuttle drop-off to the runner area, another quarter or so mile to find the Team Z hang-out, and then another half mile from there to the corral - geez!  It was all done pretty mindlessly though, and I chatted with teammates as we waited for the start time to approach.  The one thing I wish I'd done different was to have something to eat in the morning, but we didn't have anything in the room, and there wasn't anything that I could find at the race site.  I'm usually better prepared, but with all the racing around at the last minute, I forgot all about breakfast.
Pre-race Team Z team shot
Finally in the starting corral, we listed to some announcements, including one from Donald Duck, and soon the race was starting!  So many people!  We were in corral "I" out of "J" though I was surprised that it only took about 20 min for my group to reach the starting line.
Patty, Anne, Kate, Alison and I in the starting corral
Starting from the parking lot at Epcot, we ran to Magic Kingdom.  It was still dark and very foggy as we entered the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and then it was still THREE MORE MILES until I reached the entrance to the park!  Geez!  It was here that I recognized Laura from her blog that I've been following, and so I caught up with her, introduced myself, ran and chatted with her for awhile.  I felt good running, but finally decided to stop and walk or else I wasn't sure how my body was going to last.  I'd been drinking powerade at all the aid stations to try to get some calories, but I was getting hungry and knew my lack of nutrition was going to catch up to me.
Once inside the park, I reached the halfway point.  I passed all the character photo opportunities because the lines were so long, but stopped to take a few pictures at the mile marker signs.  I also texted Jon that I was halfway in case he wanted to come to the finish line and/or make sure he was awake and ready for brunch because I was getting hungry!  Only one of the aid stations had gels, so I grabbed one and forced down as much as I could, but it was disgusting.  Just had to get through a few more miles and I could go to breakfast.
Laura had done this race before and gave me some advice to wait until I got to the back side of the castle to take a picture, so that's what I did.  Then, the course took us through the tunnel of the castle and everyone came to a complete halt.  Annoying, even for me who was walking most of this part of the race, it slowed me way down, trying to get around all the people.  Not sure why so many folks thought this was the best place for a photo op?!
Out of the park and heading back to Epcot and I was pretty much ready for this race to be over.  The misty morning had made my socks damp and my feet were starting to hurt.  I should also mention that my knee was hurting and my hip had some pain, but really I was kind of asking for that with my complete lack of training!

Ohmigosh, when was this race going to end?!  It was becoming torture!  Once we got into Epcot, we knew we were close to the finish.  The fog was kind of letting up and there were a couple characters that didn't have long lines, but I was too ready to be done to consider stopping now.  Out of the park, mile 13 and then a sprint to the finish line.  Phew!  I made it!  It was basically torture walking through the crowds to the shuttle buses, and then from the drop-off back into the hotel and up to the room.
Jon didn't make it to the finish line, but he was awake and showered when I got back which meant that all I had to do was get clean and it was time to eat!  This was to be the warmest day for our entire stay at Disney, so we enjoyed shorts and t-shirts while we could.  I'm surprised that I was able to manage walking around all the parks for 4 days after that!  I wore my Garmin and calculated that we covered over 18 miles!
I think everybody needs a selfie with a goat!
We did a little of everything - Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, met up with Natalie for dinner, did some shopping at Disney Springs, and ate ALL THE FOOD!!