Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Big One

So it's finally happening and the date approaches with little fanfare attached to it. I have to admit, though, that I am starting to get excited.

I'm referring to the 24-Hour Adventure Trail Run

I'm not looking at this as a race. I don't plan on racing it. I have no clue how to race it. The furthest I've ever run.. well, the most miles I've covered on foot at one time via running, walking, hiking, etc.. was 50 miles. I've accomplished that feat 3 times in 3 years. I have my sights set on a 50-miler next year and thought that would be my first "big ultra". I saw this race posted early March and jumped at the chance to do it. I knew the second I saw it that I would do it. The timing was perfect and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Since I'm not racing it, I'm basically going to see what I can do. What I can make my body do. What my body will or won't do after 12 hours, since that's the longest I've been on my feet.

It should be fun. Like I said, I'm excited.. excited about the unknown. Not nervous at all, either. I feel no pressure. Sure, I guess there's some pressure to stay up the entire 24 hours and to finish on my own terms. The only way to keep me from finishing is if I medically can't because of a fall or GI problems. This is my 3rd year in ultras and I've never had foot problems. If blisters do occur, I have a small 'med kit' I've slowly been creating to deal with any problems. With my luck, I won't need any of the stuff, but it's better to have it and not need it that to not have it and need it.. right?

I'm not feeling as "in shape" as I'd like to be, but hell, nothing like working out for 24 hours to get back into shape, eh? I should burn a good 10,000+ calories or so, but expect to gain a few pounds from bloating. Hooray. Add that to the additional bloating from "the month".. yippy skippy.

So here are some minor goals for the weekend and for the event.

2. Finish on my own terms
3. Complete at least 70 miles - 10 loops.
4. Stay on top of my nutrition.
6. Smile and joke around with crew and volunteers.
7. Quote "Tommy Boy" as much as I can.
8. Get a picture of a beaver.. I've seen a number of them while out on training runs.
9. Bring back a piece of the trail.. I like to grab a rock as a memento.
10. Leave it all out there.. literally and figuratively.
12. Gain respect for time, distance, the other runners, and Nature.
13. See how much guts, determination, Pride, and perseverance I have.

I'm sure I'll write a report of the days events, but not sure how soon after it will be composed. There will be pictures, too, of me in all my glory. Flattering as all get out I'm sure.

On a final note, my chest is freaking killing me today after my dumbass max effort Tuesday. I feel like I have walking pneumonia.. so help me God if I do.

It's days like this, after lifting days like that, when I mutter "dumbass" to myself all day as I rub my chest to ease the pain.. So I guess it's not all that bad. ;)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pain at the Pump

So the usual mini ulcer in my stomach started in the morning as I was already dreading going to my Tuesday night class. I put off doing my homework, knowing it was pretty easy, and started it while riding the metro to class. I finished it in class. I think the professor gave up on us after the midterm as most of the class did since whatever he taught was obsolete. We wouldn't be tested on it anyway.

So we got some good news yesterday - it was our last class. Granted, I have a huge project/paper due in 2 weeks, but no more lectures.

To celebrate, I went to the gym as I do after every class, and lifted. Had the room to myself and thought I'd make the most of my 30 minutes. I thought I'd try something new, too.

It's not the best thing to 1) lift the week of a race or 2) do heavy weights or even 3) do a new 'move'.

Figures I'd bust out all three at once.

I can't tell you the last time I bench pressed. I could guess and say it was sometime back in 1999. That's a pretty good guess, too. My usual weight regime includes mostly cables and dumbbells. I've shied away from the bench because of sore shoulders.

What the hell.

So I start off easy with the bar.. 45 lbs.. and knock out a set of 14. Cake. I do some tricep work then do another set of 14. I add a 5lb weight to either side and knock out 14 more. Bam. Move on to another, add 2.5 to either side, and start decreasing the reps. Eventually I take off the little stuff and add a 10 lb weight to either side and knock out a set of 7 reps and move on to squats and leg press. Again, the week of a race it's a bit of a no-no to be doing this stuff, but I figure it's good training. I continue to move quickly from machine to dumbbells and back to the bench. Finally, after moving up from the bar (45) to 80 lbs by 5 lb increments, I figure "whutthehell", take off the 2.5s on the end and add another 10 to either side. Why? Cuz it looks cool to have 2 10lb "plates" on the bar. Not as cool as the 45, 35, 25 racked on the bench across from me, but whatever.. I'm a chick. So with no one in the room to spot me, I do a final max push of 1 rep and call it good before moving on to my pull up work.

I feel nothing. No pain.

That's not a good sign cuz I knew I'd be feeling it today, if not 2 days later.. friggin DOMS.

In other news, with class being cancelled next week, like I did with last Thursday's class, I don't plan on telling my boss. I figure I'll leave at the usual time, but instead of going to the bar I'm going to get a massage. The chest should be fine my then, but if the massage therapist wants to work on it, that's all good. The legs will be sore, but not from the squats yesterday.. from the 24-hr run I have this weekend.

I can guarantee I won't be doing any squats next week.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Crossing the Line

There's only so much I'll do with my coworkers, and drinking is about it. The company has a happy hour ever other month and my department tries to have one ever month. I'd say they're low key gatherings, but the people here like their booze and in large quantities. I've heard stories of the top exes at the house party hosted by one of our clients and how they jumped from the roof of the garage into the hosts pool. This was because of a dare from the host. The worst part is it was reveiled to most of the company what type of underwear they wear - black boxer briefs and tighty whities - or don't wear.


My department likes to do fun events every quarter, such as laser tag and a Nationals baseball game last year and dodgeball earlier this year. It's somewhat athletic and drinking was afterwards, which was paid for by the company, so I couldn't turn it down. Some coworkers like to do things outside the office, such as going to sporting events, concerts, and movies. For the past few years I played on the same slowpitch softball team as a coworker, but she has left the company and the team has disbanded.

Recently, I have been asked to join a group going to see "RENT" and was asked if I'll be joining the company team to do the Race for the Cure 5K June 3th.

I've seen "RENT" before.

I'll run at work in shorts. I also wore shorts at dodgball. As did other coworkers.

THAT was close to crossing the line.

It was also close to crossing the line a few times after numerous happy hours when they try to get me dancing. Or talking about my personal life. They know enough as is and don't need to know more.

I like doing endurance events. A 5K? eh.. a 5K with 50,000 of my closest friends? eh.. a 5K with coworkers that the company might cover the cost for? eh.. okaymaybe. Even then, it's not really something I'm all that too thrilled about doing. We started a running/walking club the other week and I'm a leader by default because of my experience.

Besides, it's the week before a half-Ironman.

Didn't I post recently about priorities? Hmm..

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rare Form

Since January 17th, I have been dreading every Tuesday and Thursday. The only thing I have to look foward to those days is when I can get to the gym at night. I have a little more than 2 weeks to go with my classes and it couldn't come any faster.

This past Thursday was a nice treat.

Or so I thought..

I got an email Wednesday afternoon that my Thursday night professor was sick and couldn't get a replacement, so class would be cancelled. Conveniently, the tri club was holding the happy hour that night. On my way to the bar, I get a call from the electrician. He was calling to cancel the Friday AM appointment and move it to Saturday. I was bummed at first, but soon realized my boss didn't know 1.) my class was cancelled and I was on my way to get sauced and 2.) the electrician had cancelled. I had told her that I planned on coming in later and she was fine.. hell, she didn't really care since she was going to be out of the office Friday.


It was nice to be out.. and to see people I haven't seen in awhile since I've been in hibernation of sorts. However, in the process I got pretty sauced. Everyone seemed to clear out the upstairs area around 10:30pm or so (I have not clue really) and there were 4 of us left. We finally got kicked out of the upstairs area and moved the small gathering outside. The slured chatter continued and we kept an eye on the time, knowing that the 3 of us left needed to catch the metro, which closed at midnight. Midnight came and went and we started looking for cabs. Actually, they did, but I remained inside where I invited myself to join a couple at the bar. We played songs on the jukebox and talked about lord-knows-what. The woman I was with started to drag the guy out when he started talking to the golfing Marine that walked in about how he could beat him in a round of golf. He put $20,000 on the game and I kept telling her to get him out. Finally they left after much proding from all of us.

So at 2:15 or so the bartender kicked the rest of us out. I made it home and into bed at 2:45am..

.. up at 7:30am when I had set my alarm before going out for the night..

.. and then finally at 10:45am when I positioned myself on the sofa.


I'll leave out the details from Friday, but it was a bad day. I wasn't THAT hungover and I couldn't be since my coworkers didn't know I was out on the town.

So now it's Sunday and I'm getting sick.

Not good.

Part of it is lack of sleep. Part of it is drinking myself into oblivion. Part of it was being out in the rain Saturday. Most of it was being a dumb ass.

I was in rare form Thursday. I know I tried to carry over the fun I had from the past weekend at home back to DC with me. I can't do that. That's not me. That can't be me even though it wants to be.

It goes back to trying to grow up. Knowing my priorities.

I've basically given up on my classes or I would've stayed home and studied. I've basically given up on my training or else I would've gotten in the pool sometime this month. I thought I was on a roll swimming 3 or 4 times in the month of March after going one time a month since November. I still have a few days this week to get to the pool.

I have a huge race this weekend; the first of its kind for me. Right now, that is a priority. I have a shit load of work to catch up on, which is another priority. And I have 2 classes I want to finish strong in. My last priority. These are listed in no particular order.

I need to get my form back.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Step in the Right Direction

It's about fucking time

I first read about Rene Portland and her views was in the book Strong Women, Deep Closets when it first came out in 1998. The book also included personal accounts from players, coaches, and those in the athletic department of colleges and universities of all levels and what things were like at their school.

I was still in college and this book was an eye-opener to me.. because I realized how good I had it in school. My first year, the coach at the time had the team meet with a lesbian professor to talk to the team about homosexuality. The two deeply religious girls on the team showed up with their Bibles ready to quote passages and then six of us came out of the closet.. if it wasn't already that obvious. It was the first day of many great days of my college career and I'm glad that happened when it did. Sure, the bible thumpers had their beliefs as did I and the other 15 girls, but none of that mattered when we stepped between the lines. We had our fun, we had our jokes, but we also never worried about what the coaches thought.

At that time, I was also reading Sports Illustrated quite a bit and I remember an article about a couple of top basketball recruits. I'm sure I still have this article somewhere along with others similar to it. They were following 2 high-school senior girls and what things were like as they were looking at colleges. One of them flat out said she didn't want to play for a team where the coach and/or assistant coaches were gay. That's pretty ballsy for an 18 year old... and does that shit really matter? My choices of where I wanted to go to school were limited, but what mattered most was location, programs offered, and the softball team in that order. Okay, so I wasn't a top recruit.. big deal. Record didn't matter. Sexuality of the coaches/players didn't matter. But being comfortable in my own skin mattered and growing and learning to accept who I was mattered and I was fortunate to be surrounded by people that cared and were accepting.

And then you have people like Rene Portland.

I wish more people felt this way towards her.

Here's the background from an article by Mechelle Voepel on

"Her first public acknowledgment that she didn't want gay players as part of her program came in 1986. Those sentiments were revealed again in newspaper stories in 1991. Penn State responded then by adding sexual orientation to its antidiscrimination policy, and Portland went through what was labeled as diversity-sensitivity training.

Penn State apparently thought that was enough. Portland's teams won games and her players graduated. If the rumble remained about how she still dealt with players who didn't quite fit her notion of what a woman was supposed to look and/or act like in terms of adhering to a so-called stereotypical heterosexual "norm," Penn State either did not hear it or chose to ignore it.

All coaches recruit players they think will "fit in their system," and for some that system is much more than just what happens on the court. For most of the time between 1991 and 2005, Portland perhaps weeded out recruits who might have conflicted with her alleged viewpoints, or they weeded themselves out. Also, Portland and some lesbian players who came to Penn State were able to coexist. After 1991, Portland avoided comment on the issue.

Harris played two seasons at Penn State. The night Penn State was upset in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Harris and fellow players Lisa Etienne and Amber Bland were told they were off the team.

That was followed by several days of bizarre rumors and speculation, because Portland initially did not state publicly that she'd removed them from the program. There were a series of releases and statements from the Penn State sports information department that were muddled and unclear. Message boards were rife with chatter.

The story Penn State wanted everyone to accept was that the three players left of their own accord. When the players denied that, the speculation only intensified. People who follow women's basketball wanted real explanations. Nobody at Penn State provided them.

If President Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley rue the headache that the last year has been involving the women's basketball program -- and you would assume they do -- then they need to look square in the mirror and think back to the spring of 2005 and their lack of an effective response to the situation.

Etienne and Bland went away without saying much, but Harris didn't."

I applaud Harris for standing up for herself yet feel sorry for the two girls that did nothing. I hope they go on to live happy lives no matter their sexuality. I doubt much will happen to Portland. I'm sure she'll continue to coach for a few more years and this will be no more than a footnote.

I highly recommend the book Strong Women, Deep Closets to anyone involved in sports at any level.

Coming out of my funk

Not sure what it was that 'flipped the switch' on things, but I'm slowly crawling out of a funk that I thought would last much longer. I'm still not in the clear, though.

I've immersed myself in what I like to call 'thinking music'. It's like when you break-up with someone and EVERY song you listen to reminds you of that person. You delve into the lyrics and find meaning in everything to everything.

Here's the latest CD I burned. Some good stuff.

1. My Old Friend - Tim McGraw
2. Devils and Dust - Bruce Springstein
3. Jackson - Lucinda Williams
4. Good Things - Kathleen Edwards
5. Long Ride Home - Patty Griffin
6. One Big Love - Emmylou Harris w/ Jill Cunniff and Julie Miller
7. Amazing Grace - Ani DiFranco
8. All I Want - Joni Mitchell
9. Do You Sleep - Lisa Loeb
10. Away - Kathleen Edwards
11. Get Right with God - Lucinda Williams
12. Passionate Kisses - Mary Chapin Carpenter
13. Wishing Heart - Lisa Loeb
14. Down in the River to Pray - Allison Krauss
15. Until We Die - Chantal Kreviazuk
16. Dreaming - Blondie
17. Back to Me - Kathleen Edwards
18. Breath Me - Sia
19. Truth - Lark Watts

An interesting mix.. but aside from it being thinking music, it's good studying music and sleeping music.

I think getting back into a routine has helped, too. I have to work, I have to go to class, and I have to train for the 24-Hour trail run next weekend. I've mentally switched gears. Sure, I had a good cry.. good enough to call it 'eye puking' as one gal put it. I have the pictures of my nephew and I have an idea of when I might see a few people again.. before October when I know I'll be home for sure. That'll have to be good enough for now.

Until then.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Represent.. baby, BABY!!

Sportin' some sweet digs, this is who I miss dearly.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Maybe it doesn't cure all

I just flew in from Michigan.. and boy are my arms.. yeah, please stop me cuz it's not even funny. I'd like to think I'm a pretty funny gal, too, but I'm in no mood to laugh. I'm not in much of a mood for anything.

I had a great trip home as they all are. I wish I could spend more time with family and friends, but there's never enough of me and there's never enough time. Not enough time to stay out all night boozin.. and not enough time to spend with my nephew.

This was probably the hardest trip. I'm not sure why, but I've never felt so depressed upon returning from a trip home. I have little motivation to do my work-work, my school work... I'm finding plenty of small projects around the house I could do.. and would rather do.

And it leads to me thinking a lot and comparing what I have in DC vs. MI. I do this everytime and I know I will come to the same conclusion.

Move on

When I go back to Michigan, I go back in time. I go back to the old me, the college me, the joker, the see how much I can drink, the good ol' fun-time Jakes. It was this life that started to chisel away at my latest relationship when she saw me with the Michigan clan. She didn't like it. I didn't want to give it up. The rest is now at rest. When in DC, I'm supposed to be grown-up. I have this super-important job to tend to, which I've been slacking at of late. I'm taking a couple classes, which are kicking my ass of late. I'm supposed to be training for ultra runs and triathlons, and my training has taken a backseat of late.

Let go

I'm not as young as I used to be. Trips like this happen as often, or as seldom as they do.. because I can't drink like that every weekend! If I came home more often it wouldn't be the same seeing everyone. It wouldn't mean the same. Or would it?

Grow up

I will forever be working on this last one. I am one of the few that's not married or in a relationship. I live a pretty care free life. I can come and go as I pretty much please. However, it all scares me. You'd think at my age I'd know what I want out of life. I don't.

When I got off the plane in DC, I called my parents to tell them I made it in okay. I always call them. This time, and even as I type it now, I cried when I told my dad how tough it was to leave and that I loved them. I feel like a friggin baby. Maybe it's the alcohol talking.. it did some talking this weekend, which wasn't a good thing. It's probably the lack of peanut butter, too, that's making me so emotional.

Whatever it is, I need something to get out of this funk that I feel like I'm spiraling out of control into.

There's no way to sum up the weekend.

I was so excited about coming home on Friday that I couldn't sleep. Yep. Pulled an all-nighter. It was great, though.. I picked up, did dishes, took care of laundry, packed.. and I STILL barely caught my flight! A friggin 6am flight and I'm standing in line waiting to get through security at 5:35, having just gotten my ticket 5 minutes prior. I made up for my missed sleep on that flight and did some homework on my connecting flight. Keeping with tradition, the 'rents and I stopped at IHOP before heading back to town and right to church for Good Friday mass.

The rest was a drunken blur. Well, not really.. but close.

Went to watch a couple softball games then out drinking afterwards. Instead of the usual case of Killian's, I stuck with just a 6-pack, but finished it in no time and moved on to the mixed drinks.

I gotta give props to the Magic Bullet as it is a drink mixing monster! The website has recipes you can make with The Bullet, but would you really use it to make bean dip or scrambled eggs? Seriously. After a conconction with the name of a "Bloody Tampon", would you consider eating anything else out of it? Okay, drinking something with the name "Bloody Tampon" doesn't sound pleasant, but after a few of them, and as the recipe changes each time to add more shots of alcohol, you don't seem to mind.

And if anyone is interested in the recipe, I'm sure its originator would let me publish it. I don't know what goes in the mixed drinks as I always say "surprise me". And THAT is how drinks like this get created. I don't know if she knows what goes into each drink, either. The drink could also be called the "Dirty Tampon". Variations of the drink include adding a jelly bean, also known as the "egg that did not attach", or adding a lolly pop, which would make it a "Bloody tampon with a cyst".

I did manage to get a good 10-mile run in Saturday morning before catching a few more games that afternoon. My nephew made an appearance and was dressed to impress in his Ferris attire. A few more former Bulldawgs made an appearance as well. It's always good to get a few of the girls back together. I know I'll be back at homecoming, but not sure if I'll see them again between now and then. It's great, though, that on a holiday weekend they were able to make it to Big Rapids for a bit. I hope they realize how much it means to me.

Then the drunken blur starts. Around 6pm. And ends around 2:30am.

Yours truly was up at 8:10am, showered, and ready at 8:35 for 9:00am mass. I think my eyelids were at half-mast the whole time, too. But I was there. And even though the official end to Lent was Thursday at sundown, I like to go until Sunday morning. So I could now eat peanut butter again. And the sad thing is I wasn't hungry for it. I think the 3 or 4 shots and the Dos Equis and the Miller Lite and Pete's Wicked strawberry blonde golden lager.. in no particular order.. might've had something to do with it. I won't look into it too much, though. It's just speculation.

So I'm to be up and ready to leave by 6:30am at the latest. Think I'm packed and ready?

I'm never ready to leave home.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

All My Bags Aren't Packed, but I'm Ready to Go!

After this weekend, I will have been home more times in the last 3 months than I was in all of last year.. I think. I have been planning this trip since Christmas and I finally booked the flight over a month ago. I have been thinking about it constantly the past 2 weeks.

I can't say enough about how much I love going home. I've received a number of pictures from my sister of my nephew and I can't wait to get ahold of him. He has grown so much since I last saw him at Christmas time and will be a year old in 3.5 weeks. He's so big and such a ham for the camera.

Going home also means getting together with the gals and boozin it up. I must admit that I've been slacking in the category of late, but I guess it's for the best. I'm sure I can pick up where I last left off. Besides, I need to get in drinking shape for the company Cinco de Mayo party on May 5th in which it is almost a given I will be drunk at. It is perfect timing because I will be done with school, which I am more than looking forward to.

It will be tough to enjoy the time away when I have sooo much school work to do. I have to do it, though. I also have a lot of work to do that I will be bringing home. Story of my life of late.

Nonetheless.. I will be home. I will be with my friends and family. I will be with my nephew. I will be drinking. I will run a little. I will relax.

And I will get to eat peanut butter and chocolate for the first time in 5.5 weeks.

Life is good, indeed!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This Picture Doesn't Do the Course Justice

This was taken about 10 minutes after I finished Saturday. Okay.. get away from the fact that I'm bow legged and have no calf muscle definition, this gives you an idea of how muddy it was out there.

On the inside of my left leg just above my sock, you can just start to see how thick the mud is. It's about a quarter inch thick and goes around the back of my leg. The splattered mud went up the back of my legs past my knees, as it did for most of the runners.

That might've been the last race for those shoes. Right now, they're stuffed with newspaper in front of the refrigerator trying to dry out. I'll see if I can salvage them and keep them as a back-up pair for later this month. One last hurrah!

After two trips through the wash, 2 rinse cycles on the first go-round and 1 on the second, both pairs of socks came out somewhat clean. The inner pair, which were white, will forever have a light brown tint to them. It was the first time I wore them, too.. a helluva maiden voyage.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Long Day and a Long Recap

I enjoy triathlons. I've been doing them since 2001, so of coure I enjoy them or else I wouldn't keep doing them. However, I don't like to do sprint triathlons. You're looking at a distance of 400 meter swim, 15 mile bike, and a 3 mile run for a basic sprint tri, but it can vary. I don't like doing sprints because they hurt. You're looking at 90 minutes of balls to the wall, red lining it racing. If done right, it hurts. I don't like to hurt like that.


I like half-Ironman and Ironman distance triathlons.

I enjoy running trails.

I prefer to suffer for as long as friggin possible. I like to get my entry fees worth. I like to EARN the schwag and feast at the aid station buffets. How often can you pig out like that without feeling guilty? Hell, it's 5 miles to the next pit stop, and I'll most likely burn off what I just ate.

The Bull Run Run 50-miler started Saturday morning at promptly 6:15am in 60 degree temps, which would be the highest for the day. I was one of 340 starters and 281 finishers. I am a proud owner of a finishers pin and a blue 3/4 zip fleece jacket, since I declared allegiance with the North. It's cool that this race keeps a Civil War theme to it as we are running on sacred ground.

At about 90 minutes into the race it started to rain.. and it didn't stop for 8+ hours. We're running on single track trails.. not a gravel packed alley or a fire road, we're talking single file. And when you're in the back of the pack, as I was, you're running through what everyone else as been through. And when 250+ people are leading the way, it gets messy. And when you're on an out and back course, the "back" portion is messier.

Post race, I overheard someone say, "the mud was cool at first, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly". It was cool at first.. like the first 11 miles or so. You see the lead runners coming back with their legs covered in mud from the knees down and it looks hardcore. The backside of some covered in mud from an errant step. Pretty sweet. Then it gets caked onto your shoes.. the mud and other grit works its way into your shoes and eventually your socks. That's not cool. Eventually you forget about what's in your shoes and where you're stepping.

I had hoped to do better than my previous times of 11:03 and 11:14. Today just wasn't that day. I was good about not getting too attached to a runner and falling in with their pace. I did, however, hook up with a chick that I met after a trail marathon in early March and again passed at the 50k a few weeks ago when I gave her some much needed salt tabs. We'd run together at times, but mostly try to keep the other in sight. I was feeling good up until mile 26 at the Wolf Run Shoals aid station. This is a fun one to get to since they have a theme every year, so it's always uplifting to see what the aid station volunteers are dressed as. My time at this point was 5:45. I finished the trail marathon in March in 5:50, so I figured I was doing well.

Basically, things went downhill from here.

Let's go back to the mud. It was muddier. You don't run down hills, you slide down them sideways. You don't power up hills, you walk up them duck footed (toes pointing out) in hopes of getting some form of traction. You cross a stream and your feet get wetter. Sock change? Forget it. It was like running through 2 sets of puddles with each step - the one on the course and the one in my shoes. They just couldn't drain. They wouldn't. You run through the mud and your foot sinks in over the ankle. You hope your shoe will be attached when you pull it out. It was that kind of mud. The mud that can suck the shoe off your foot and the energy from your body.

Aside from Wolf Run Shoals, the next aid station I was looking forward to was at the start of the Do-Loop. It was a long way out there from Fountain Head, too. I didn't know what the mileage was, but it just seemed like I was running in circles along the White Loop and not going anywhere. Very frustrating and mentally draining. Out at the Do-Loop, they served grilled cheese/cheese quesadillas. I ate a full one. I tried to keep most stops around 2:30 and I spent 3:30 here. It was worth it and damn was that ever tasty! The Do-Loop is 3 miles before you hit the aid station again and start heading back. It was a tough 3 miles with a lot of ups and downs.. literally and figuratively. It's nice to leave the Do-Loop since you're basically heading home at this point.

Weather wise.. at this point, the temp dropped to the high 40s/low 50s. It continued to rain off and on and the wind started blowing slightly. In just a Tshirt and shorts, I was cold, which is why I tried to limit how long I was at the aid stations since my body temp dropped quickly when I stopped. The attire of choice at this time was a garbage bag poncho. Think that's ghetto? I saw a chick at an aid station ask for bread bags for her hands. THAT's ghetto! I was feeling good and only my lips really felt cold. My arms were splotchy red, which was a good sign that blood was still flowing. If they were blue/pale, I knew I was in trouble. I'm pasty white to begin with, so it's hard to tell sometimes.

After leaving the Do-Loop aid station with the chick from earlier, we both had the "I just want to finish" mentality. We got into Fountainhead together and about 2.5 miles to Wolf Run Shoals. Along the way, I shared my salt tabs with her and we just soldiered on.. a fitting word. I left a little before her, but she soon caught up and passed me on a downhill section and never looked back. I tried to keep her in sight.. motivation to keep running, since I didn't want to get sucked in to walking.

However, during the last 5.5 miles from the final aid station at Bull Run Marina, I did a lot of it. I left the aid station at 10:45 (running clock) into the race. By now, the fast runners have long since finished, showered, eaten, napped, and warmed up. The temps are in the low 40s but at least it's not raining. The course isn't as muddy these last miles, but the damage is done. Miles of sliding down hills and altering my stride and gait have taken a toll on my legs.. especially my hip flexors and groin. Think of going up a hill in cross country skies and that's what we did a lot of.

Based on the time I left the aid station, I thought I could finish in 11:45, but I just didn't have it in me. I kept moving, but I walked more than I wanted. I was just drained. My heartrate, which held steady in the high 140s/low 150s had dropped to 125. I had nuthin. I took a salt tab. I took a GU gel. I took a sip from the water bottle in my right hand.. then tried the gatorade in my left. Nuthin. I was thinking I could make in in under 12 hours and tried to pick it up a bit. I looked over my shoulder and tried to keep those behind me at bay and tried to use that as motivation. I tried to think of the god Mercury and my mom's note, which I wrote on my shoes but had long been washed off. I wasn't moving swiftly, but I was moving. I kept glancing at my watch and saw I had a chance to go sub 12 hrs, but I had no push as I lumbered up the stairs about a quarter mile from the end. Those stairs are just cruel.

Despite the cold temps, there was a good crowd at the finish. The race director was there to welcome all the runners home, and it was great to get a hug from him. I chatted with a few people before heading up to The Lodge for food.

An event like this wouldn't happen if it weren't for the many volunteers. On days like this, you say an extra 'thank you'. As crappy as it was to run in the mud, it was better than standing around in the rain. Kudos to them for catering to the needs of runners - filling water bottles, slathering on Vasiline in hard to reach spots, dumping out a garbage bag so one could have a poncho to stay warm, and getting you want you need. Much respect. I also chatted with a woman prerace who's boyfriend was running. We got to talking when she said she did triathlons. I saw her at almost every aid station and she was like my personal cheering section as she waited for her boyfriend. It's little things like that that make a world of difference even on the gloomiest, crummiest of days.

Post race thoughts and musings.
When I got up to the lodge, I couldn't help but eat the small cookies, pringles, and Tostidos. Hosed off my legs and headed back to the car after talking with Em for a bit. It was then, about an hour after finishing, that I finally took off my shoes for the first time since about 6 hours into the race. It was surprising to see how much mud and rocks and grit were not only in my shoes, but in my 2 pairs of socks.. and on my feet! Even with all that irritation, I had no cuts no blisters no nuthin. My hands get pruned if I take a long shower of.. say, 30 minutes. Can you imagine what my feet must've looked like after being in water logged shoes and socks for 12 hours? They were fine. They were however, fat and bloated as were my fingers. I've never noticed it with my feet, but my hands usually get puffy and both were just fat with sausage-like digits. I stayed at a hotel even though the race wasn't far from DC and picked up a few essentials on the way back - bananas, water, pasta, vanilla Tofutti cuties.. and a six pack of beer. I only made it through 3/4 of a bottle, but I did make a killing on that pasta and the tofutti cuties. The post race shower hurt and it's a good thing no one could hear the expliatives coming out of my mouth when the water hit my skin. It is then when I discover all the mysterious places I chaffed from my sports bra and shorts.

It's now two days later and I'm feeling good. I'm a little more sore today and will probably get more sore throughout the day as I sit at work. I'm not hurting too bad. It just feels like I did hard/heavy lower body weights over the weekend for the first time after six months. Actually, I've done that before and that hurts worse.

This is a good pain.
This is a "I was on my feet for 12 hours" pain.
This is a "I slogged through the rain and mud and all I got was this fleece and pin" pain.

This pain is a badge of honor that I wear with pride. It is well earned.

Here's a link to pictures and reports from the 14th battle.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Words of Wisdom

"May the god Mercury put wings on your feet so that they be swift and sure."

Saturday will be one of the first 'big' races I where I have no one there supporting me. Sure, I'll have my sister in Arizona who will be doing the Ironman on Sunday rooting from afar and my parents in Michigan waiting for me to call with results. There will also be the other runners that you get support from, but it's just not the same. I did a trail marathon early March where I was by myself, but that was a 'for shits and giggles' run just to get out on the trails and get a long run in. This race matters. It's the third year in a row I'll be doing the Bull Run Run 50 miler. After a good run at the HAT 50k a few weeks ago, I'm feeling ready for this one. I was in great shape for my first attempt and finished in 11:03. Last year I was in so-so shape and finished in 11:14. My problem was that I found someone to run with and ran at her pace, which was slower than what I wanted to go. I didn't realize how far off pace I was until the last aid station and by then it was too late to make up so much time in the last 6 miles.

This year, I'll put it out there and say that I hope to finish sub 11 hours. I like to better my previous years times, of course, but it's looking like it's gonna rain today (already is) and most of tomorrow morning, which means a sloppy course. Physically, I'm not really where I want to be, but after the 50K, I have increased confidence in my pacing and mental capabilities. I need to draw from that to keep me going at low times like when I'm cold and soaked or when things ache. I also draw from words of wisdom, such as what's listed at the top.

Since my mom can't be at the race, she sends me little notes like the one above. When I lived in Ann Arbor and would visit for the weekend, she'd always say "watch for deer and turkey" before I left. It's those little things that are cute now that I thought were stupid when I was a kid. It's pieces of home that I miss and carry with me as a constant reminder. I will never forget where I came from.. my roots. I will draw from that to keep me going...

"swiftly and surely"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How to cure what ales you

It's beer. Hands down. Beer. A Miller Lite in a can. I took 3 cans from the beer in the fridge at work. Best served in an insulated paper bag can coozie.


The coozie was a gift from a college bud. It's seen some better days and is clinging to life thanks to duct tape. I can't say the same for my Timex watch, though.

.. a moment of silence for the dearly departed..

So I've been cured. My ulcer is gone. Behold.. the power of beer. 2 of 'em on Tuesday night.. (and it's working on midnite now). I think I deserved it after a shitty day. At least that's how I'm trying to justify drinking this late. Alone. Let me 'splain.

I had a mid-term Tuesday night. I wasn't as prepared for it as I would've like to have been. I didn't know what the hell to study for, but we were allowed a sheet of equations; no definitions. I wrote a bunch down, but it wasn't very organized. I was up until 3:30am studying while listening to the soundtrack of "Shine" to keep calm. Went down on the sofa for a 'nap', set my watch alarm and another alarm for 5:30am and didn't hear either. Up at 7:30, but not a lot of time to do what I wanted to do. I still packed my super nutritious lunch and almost cut off the tip of my left thumb while chopping lettuce.. thanks again, youknowwho.

Same shit, different day at the office. I have billing due this week and I'm swamped. My boss and manager will be at an 'off site' for super important people the rest of the week. I'm in charge.. and I get to do her billing. Hooray. I tried to study when I could. A running club is starting up. When I attended the meeting, the organizer says, "Oh great" when I enter the room. I didn't want to make the day any worse, so I assumed she means it in a good way. So I'm a running leader. This should be fun. I tried to do some studying but can only keep my phone on 'do not distub' for so long. I work for a.. ahem.. "marketing company" and handle calls from people that don't want to be "marketed". It's fun stuff. Really. Especially when we market to dead people. Funner when they've been dead since 1968. Yep. The relatives that contact me are sooo nice and have an odd way of explaining it. My former boss, who got me involved in ultrarunning, passed on this job to me after he was called a "white washing son-of-a-bitch". That was the last straw. I haven't been called anything that bad. I think it's my sunny disposition. I'm a charmer. If they could only see my dimples. Didn't market dead people today, but a couple people don't want to get information for car insurance, so they had to tell me about it. I thought about playing minesweeper while on the phone, but I was nice, said "mm hmm" a lot, and explained how/why they got mailed. They thanked me for being so nice and helpful, but they never hear me mumble "fucker" when I hang up the phone. So on top of billing, I have these fuckers to deal with.

I swear I gave myself an ulcer worrying about the test. It'd kinda nice only having the class 1x a week, but that means a limited number of sessions. He didn't want to waste any time, so he lectured for the first hour. My stomach was in friggin knots! Finally it's time... 6 questions. "I don't know this shit," so I start thinking.. midterm is worth 25% of final grade.. final project is 40%.. homework is 15%.. "okay.. let's try for partial credit". It really wasn't that bad, but I was the last to leave. We were alloted 75 minutes, but he said, "don't feel constrained by the time, but I don't want to be here until midnight." I was out at 8:50.

It felt like a HUGE weight was lifted off my shoulders when I walked out of class. I couldn't wait to celebrate.. so I went to the gym to lift. There's just nuthin like adrenaline and lactic acid. I walked home from the gym, swinging my bags like Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music" as she sings "I Have Confidence" when she gets off the bus and heads to the mansion of Captain Von Trapp. It's a good tune. Really. I downloaded it awhile ago and am listening to it now. (wow that sounds sad..) I was singing aloud to BNL and remembering living on Warren and "study tables" in college. Bring your own "books" was the policy. I was also jamming with Tracy Bonham's "Bulldog".. and there's just something about "Dirty" by Christina Aguillera that makes me want to work a pole. It just brings out the whore in me I try to repress.

So of course when I get home, the ulcer that started earlier comes back as I'm a bag of nerves watching the Duke v. Maryland women's NCAA finals game. That's when I got the first beer. It worked. Nerves were calmed and the Terps won in OT in an awesome game.

So why #2? I had to celebrate the win somehow.

cheer, beers, and queers.


I am living proof why PhotoShop exists and why it is put to good use in some cases.. this pic is Exhibit A.

Here are a couple shots from the fashion show Sunday. The first is the first group of four models in the back staging area of the bar. Lining the wall to my right were kegs of Shiner... Mmm..

The Beav..

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Weekend in Review - #3

-So even though my Lady Vols didn't make it to the Final Four, it's good to have the local team, Lady Terps from University of Maryland in the finals. George Mason didn't fare as well on the men's side, but they still had a great run. I jumped on the bandwagon for a bit, but you won't catch me buying any Tshirts or other gear from either school.

-Today was the dog and pony.. er, fashion show, put on by local bike store Capitol Hill Bikes. I was a participant in the event which was held at Finn MacCool's bar next door to the shop. I was 3rd in line to strut my stuff the length of the bar (not ON the bar!) and walk a bike back down the aisle while showing off what I was wearing. I use the work "strut" loosely as I was wearing carbon soled shoes with no cleats. Here's the thing.. bike shoes aren't meant to be walked in. Some mountain bike shoes are, but road shoes have a harder sole.. mine were carbon.. which is supposed to help transfer power better or something like that. Here's what it looked like.. I heard someone say "Watch your step on the ice, Bambi," as I was walking on the hardwood floors. I almost went ass over tea kettle a few times, but I wasn't the only one who almost bit it.

-The gear I was modeling included a black/titanium colored Giro Eclipse helmet, Castelli PY2 Donna shorts (these are the newer version), a Hincapie sleeveless jersey, Rudy Project Rydon sunglasses, Nike Altea road shoes, and some fun beaver themed Sock Guy socks. I stopped in at the shop on Wednesday to pick out what I was going to wear and each person had a 'theme'. There were commuters, mountain bikers, road cyclists, and triathletes present, so the fashion show tries to touch on all genres... I guess you could call it that. I was in 'road wear'. When I went to the shop to try on what I might be wearing, I wanted to not only find something for that genre, but something I would normally wear. I think of when actors/actresses or athletes hawk some product.. like Kobe Bryant and Nutella. You can't tell me he actually eats it. That's me.. if I'm gonna promote something, it's gonna be because I like it and it's something I actually use.

The thing about being a model is that we could buy what we modeled at a really good discount. That's another reason to find something I'd normally wear as I had the option to buy it. I wasn't in need of a helmet, so I nixed getting that; the glasses were bitchin, so I bought those; and don't give me shit about the flower print jersey, because I bought it. I was standing around for so long I was sweating so much, I figured I just as well buy it since I pretty much owed it by then and they probably couldn't sell it again anyway. I bought the shorts since I went sans undies at the fashion show, as shorts are supposed to be worn, and.. well, it's like trying on swim suits as your 'parts' aren't supposed to touch the suit. A bit like "if you break it, you buy it" and I pretty much 'broke it' by having my parts on the chamois (pronounced like "shammy"). It was a nice fit, though, as chamois are supposed to be right on your skin. At least with those shorts I didn't feel like I was wearing a jumbo maxi pad because of the diaper-like padding, which is the main reason for buying them. As bad as my current shoes are and as nice as the shoes felt, there's no way I was buying them. Why? Because they were Nike. I was getting enough shit, as I should of course, for wearing my pink watch today. It didn't match my outfit, so I switched watches with a chick in a pink inspired get-up, and wore her blue Nike watch. Even that was tough. And I had to buy the socks. That was a given. It's a beaver.. c'mon.. the majestic beaver! Okay, and it's one of my favorite euphemisms.

-Aside from the gear, I came home with a Serfas mini tool kit, a container of HEED nutrition, yellow Giordana cycling gloves, and a pair of regular Sock Guy socks.. and a few other goodies. Here's the deal.. you stick around long enough and you're bound to come home with SOMETHING. Last year I was the lucky winner of some waterbottles, socks, and baseball hat that says "Mavic" on it that I never wear. Not a bad day.

-Even with the discount, I spent a lot of money. Not just today, but the past few weeks. I've had to rent a car the past couple weekends, so when I'm out I go shopping. I had the 50K March 25th, so we had to stop at REI on the way back from Northern Maryland.. and they we had to go to the REI in Virginia, plus Performance Bike, and Trader Joe's. I got a car this weekend so I could head down to Prince William Park, which is the site of the 24-hour ATR at the end of this month. I also ordered some nutrition and salt tabs to use race day as I don't know wtf I'll need to be eating or what my body will be craving, so I want to make sure I have some options. I'm also not sure how my feet will hold up, so I bought stuff for taping my feet and dealing with blisters. I'm hoping to avoid them, but bought stuff to treat blisters just in case. I needed new shoes, too, and had a 20% discount coupon to use before Sunday. This is the deal with races like this. I'm paying all this money - entry, lodging, transporation, food, supplies - so I can.. well, basically torture myself for 24 hours. And I'm going to enjoy it. There's no pot of gold at the end.. there's no camera crew following us.. there's not a lot of exposure.. and that's what makes it fun. Because when I finish, I'll maybe get a pat on the back, a handshake, and I'll thank the race director for putting on the event as they are the ones that deserve the credit. I hope to have a beer in my hand at 7am, too. Pics or it didn't happen.. I know.

-I've been listening to a lot of Kathleen Edwards and Sarah Harmer. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

-The reason behind wearing my pink watch, which I highlighted in a previous post, is that my usual trusty Timex finally stopped ticking. The battery finally died a couple weeks ago, so it has temporarily stopped ticking until I get a new battery. Here's the deal.. a new battery won't save it. I've been hanging on to this watch for over 6 months for nostalgic and somewhat selfish reasons. This was the first Timex watch I ever owned. It was a Christmas present from 'Santa' back in 1993. It has been through 3 batteries and 5 watchbands over the years. The Indiglo light hasn't worked for year and there are no longer words on the buttons, so I sort of guess as to what their function is.. or was. Last September or so, the buttons stopped working. I can switch from the current time to chrono, alarm, and timer, but I can't run the stopwatch, keep lap splits, or change the time. The watch died a few weeks too soon as the time would've been right with Daylight Savings since it's been an hour ahead since last October. Even if I did replace the battery I wouldn't be able to set the time. Alas, poor Yorick.. I must part with part with my dear friend. So on top of getting a new cell phone, I'm search for a new watch. I just can't deal with the pink one even if the chick at GNC said she liked it. And it's pink. And we're talking about me here...

-I'm ready for school to be over with.