Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Running in Circles

Okay.. so it's actually closer to 'running a course shaped similar to a lollipop'.. but you get the idea.

Or maybe not.

This weekend, I'll be participating in the 24-Hour Adventure Trail Run (or ATR) for the 2nd year in a row. I'm looking forward to it, but with mixed feelings. Motivation to train is lacking. I'm not sure if it's over training or what, but I find myself sleeping more.. sleeping on the sofa or on the floor, no less.. and training less. Things at work have been less than stellar, which makes it easy to just come home and flop on the sofa instead of getting on the bike or going for a run. And it's that time of the year for hockey playoffs and.. well, I like hockey.

I have modest goals for this weekend - no injuries, keep working on nutrition, and pace myself. It's a chance to get more time on my feet, continue to work on nutrition, and get some more headlamp time. I've been dealing with a bothersome back since Bull Run Run as well as a bothersome left knee. I've spent more time stretching and icing this week than I have in awhile, and it's probably best to continue doing so even if things feel okay. Why I wanted until know to realize this, I don't know.

It's hard to stay focused on this weekend. My mind often wanders to thoughts of MMT. I'm sure I will finish as my training has been sufficient, and hopefully just enough to get me to the finish line. Doubts creep in especially when I feel these twinges in my knee, groin, and back.

I am 24 days from MMT and should feel more ready than ever, but I don't. I am 3 days from the ATR. How do I feel? Like I'm just running in circles.. going nowhere.

Just in time for this weekend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What do you get when you cross a kangaroo..

.. or a 220 lb rugger?


That's just a sampling of the weekly bruises I get from practice 2x a week. This past weekend I played a full 80 minutes for the first time, and it feels like I got run over by a Mack truck. Doing a trail run the next day probably wasn't the smartest thing, but.. oh well.. it's what I do.

However, I am officially done with rugby for the Spring. It was a short season, but fun, none the less. It's tough to balance everything, but I enjoy being part of a team again.

Now it's on to trail running again.. but it's not like I ever stopped. I went on a hike/run with a group on Sunday, and I could still feel the effects of having played the day before while climbing the hills. My entire body was sore. Later, it flat out ached. I'm learning again - the hard way - the importance of stretching. I've had some bad spells where even sitting hurts, standing is a struggle, and trying to touch my toes is out of the question. Not the best time to happen, but I'm doing my best to take care of things so I'm ready for another big weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Night and Day

It was the tale of two races Saturday, or a tale of two different runners. The first half (32.5 miles) was sub par, but I rebounded emotionally on the last half to have a great race, setting a 35 minute PR from my 2004 battle when I finished in 11:07. I was very happy with my time, but happier that I made the necessary adjustments mid race to finish strong.

Goals included having a good nutrition plan, sticking to it, and adjusting when necessary; no injuries; get in/out of aid stations under 3 minutes; and to run within myself.

Here are some highlights and notes:

- Easier said that done, but don't go out too fast. It's so easy to get caught up running with others instead of going at your own pace. For me, the race didn't really 'start' until we reached Hemlock again at mile 16.6, so everything else before that point is just a warm up.

- When you have to go to the bathroom... GO! I spent too much time being ANALytical (ya puns!) and scientific while playing the mental guessing game of "Gas or Solid??". Finally, four hours into the race, I hit a porta john near the soccer fields on the way to Bull Run Marina (mile 21.1). Well worth the break.

- Address any issues early and often. I was experiencing chaffing under my bra strap and up front from the collar of my shirt. I kept telling myself to get the Aquaphor from sherpa at the aid stations, but forgot more than I remembered. I did remember enough that the chaffing wasn't too bad.. nor was the post race shower when I REALLY found out where I chaffed.

- Start drinking pop when you're feeling down. I skipped it at mile 28.1 when it was first suggested to me and the following 4.4 miles to the next aid station were miserable. I felt so down and a few 'why am I doing this' questions popped into my mind. It was SUCH a boost and I continued with 2 cups at the remaining four aid stations.

- Carry a small pack of tissues, Pepto tabs, and gas relief tabs. At some point in the day, all 3 will come in handy. I think the Ensure was bothering my stomach and the Pepto helped calm it down. The tissues were handy for when I didn't want to play the mental game of "Did I just shart?" anymore and I knew there was no way I was going to make it to a bathroom other than a 2 sided stall of downed trees. And praise be to the makers of Mylanta tabs. A few minutes after sucking on a mint flavored one, it was like my Grandfather was with me for the last 12 miles. I had to look behind me to make sure.. and to make sure there were no other runners immediately behind me.

- And I think it's common courtesy to look before farting. Running through someones fart cloud is disgusting. Curses to all of you in front of me!!

- I have to thank my employer for the Pepto tabs, too. The well stocked first aid kit really does come through in a pinch!

- Common sense. Sometimes an upset stomach isn't a nutritional thing. Loosening my waist pack made a world of difference. I keep it tight to keep it from moving around and chaffing my lower back, but it was doing more bad than good.

- Familiarity is nice. I knew a handful of people working aid stations and running, so the short conversations to check up on how the day was going was nice. The playful "I know you, you kicked my butt at MMT last week!" brought a smile to my face even though she was heading back as I was still on my way out. Even the casual 'good job' from the lead runners is welcomed even if it's passed on half heartedly. And knowing I had someone waiting for me at each aid station put a little more kick to my run. I didn't want to be out there any longer than she did, so the sooner I finish up, the better.

- I'm still undecided about wearing an ipod while running. I heard a guy behind me trip and I heard his comments as he tried to regain his footing. I made a comment and it took a few seconds before he replied, "I'm sorry.. what did you say?" I noticed the buds when he passed me prematurely on a flat. I have a hard enough time running and not tripping with my own thoughts in my head, I just don't know if I could do it with other peoples thoughts and beats and lyrics in there, too.

After fifty miles and a few rounds of icing the knees, I'm still here to talk about my fourth battle of Bull Run Run. I'm sure the additional soreness will creep in today, but I will do my best to keep it at bay. Again, I'm very happy with my performance physically and mentally. Yes, there are some kinks to still work out, and I'm trying to do so in the next month. But this close to MMT, I'm not sure how much more I can do.

MMT isn't Bull Run Run 50 X 2. It's a whole different beast. Night and day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wasting Away

In more ways than one..

A coworker commented on my appearance the other day. I tend to dress.. well, a little on the 'frumpy' side. I'm not up on the latest fashion trends, nor do I care to be. As long as the erogenous zones are covered, I'm in the clear. So laundry is piling up and I reached for something clean and on top of the clean pile. It happened to be a maroon, Columbia, long sleeve top from REI (yes!) that's a little on the tight side. I'm not much for revealing/tight clothing, either, but I figured "what the heck". I was a bit of a hermit in my cube that day until a 'team meeting' pulled me away late afternoon.

"With all that training, you're wasting away!" she said. I pat my little Buddha belly when no one is looking.

The 50k, of which I stopped after 26 miles, last Saturday was rough. Still recovering. I think part of it has to do with me burning the candle at both ends. More than once I've heard someone say "you do too much", and I've heard it more often of late. It hit me yesterday. I was exhausted. I had the "I'm getting sick" feeling, and that usually happens around taper time before a big race. I guess the problem is that I have a lot of big races and I'm not tapering for them or recovering from them properly. I'm wearing down my body and breaking it down before it has a chance to repair itself from the last trail beating.

And that's not a good thing as I have another 'big race' this weekend. I'm wiped out. I'm sure I'll do fine, though, as I usually only get 5 hrs of sleep before a big training day or a race. So why change? The title says it all.. I just can't keep this up..

.. and it doesn't help that hockey playoffs just started, either. GO WINGS!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tiresome and worrisome

It's been 24 hours and counting. I'm due for a 90 minute name or so pretty soon.

That's the tiresome part.

I participated in my first ever Chocolate Bunny 50k yesterday/today and am still recovering. Because of the cold temps, I, and many others wisely chose to end at the marathon distance. It started close to 7:45pm, and I arrived at Woodstock Tower a little after 4am. I had predicted close to 8 hours, but I didn't expect such cold temps. This was training run #5 of 5 in prep for MMT next month.

Next month. It seems too soon.

That's that the worrisome part.

This was my 3rd time covering Short Mountain, 2nd time covering Edinburg to Woodstock, and 1st time seeing 211 to Moreland. It was also my first time getting some headlamp time since the 24hr ATR last April.

My expectations for this training run were simple - don't eat the rocks (aka - fall), get in calories, and pace. I did well with the exception of getting calories. Simply put, it was cold out. I'm not talking cold, but 2AM.. butt numbing C.O.L.D. I kept moving to stay warm, and any forward progress was good. I felt good. Feet felt okay, but I have a hard time imagining doing this after having already covered 50 or so miles.

Another worrisome part.

Nutrition sucked because of the cold. Like I said, I moved to stay warm, so eating became secondary priority. Luckily, it didn't come back to haunt me. I do know what I need to do and hope to come closer to perfecting it at BRR 50 next weekend.

I have confidence that MMT will go well, but there are still a few minor things that worry me - nutrition, am I well trained?, taking care of my feet - that I hope will be ironed out this month.

I am tired. I got up around 8:30am on Saturday and my head hasn't touched a pillow yet. It rested slightly on the car head rest, it bobbed back and forth at Easter Sunday mass (yes - after finishing a little after 4am, we drove home and got in at 6:30am, showered, and went to 8AM mass), but it might lean again the wall of a metro train on my way to a Nationals game this afternoon. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

An Open Letter to Swimmers

To: Swimmers
From: Me
Re: Sharing a lane with me, specifically, circle swimming

Here's the deal.. when I swim, I'm in a zone. I wear earplugs since the chlorine f's up my throat and sinuses, but they also work to block out noise and distraction. I'm not a chatty swimmer. I'm actually a sucky swimmer, and since I'm a sucky swimmer, it takes me awhile to do a workout. I don't want to be at the pool longer than I need to be. So even though I'm wearing the earplugs, my other senses work, including my sense of vision.

I understand pool etiquette and if it's busy, you have to share a lane. And if it's really busy, you have to circle swim with two other people and sometimes up to four more.

That's cool. I get it. I'm fully aware and don't mind sharing a lane or circle swimming.

Here's what I do mind. Being touched.. more specifically - being grabbed.

There are multiple ways to get my attention when I'm swimming.. say, a 1000 or 2500 TT, like I was was night. The two that should not be used are grabbing my wrist as I touch the wall, or grabbing my ankle when pushing off the wall after completing a flip turn.

Here's what you should do. Just get in the water, or sit on the edge with your legs dangling in. I will see you, and then I will start circle swimming, assuming that the person I'm splitting the lane with, who might be thinking about grabbing me, knows your intentions. I might sight from time to time, but most times, my head is down. I still have my sense of vision even though my hearing is blocked. If we do happen to make eye contact, I will nod so you know I'm aware that we are going to circle swim.

You are doing more harm than good by grabbing my ankle. Don't do it.


Thank you kindly.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Open Season

Deep breaths... innnn.... ouuuuttt..

Again.. innn... ouuuuttt..

One more time and through your nose... aaaahhh...

Remind yourself, "this will be over in October, this will be over in October, this will be over in October.. this might slow down in September.. "

They are back with avengance.

If you're from the area, you know who I'm referring to.


Out in full force.

Thank you, Cherry Blossom Festival, for luring the stupid people to the District.

I swear..

Apparently it's cool to cross the road where ever and whenever you want to, especially if it's not a cross walk. If they do decide to use the designated "hey, I'm between the white lines while the white stick man is flashing at me" area, it's cool.. until they start sprinting across the street when the light turns green for me. Thanks, folks.

Maybe I'm just used to commuters doing this. I'm used to the "Working Girl" attire and messenger bags and the ipods.

I. just. don't. do. strollers.

Segue.. what's with the Stroller Brigade. It's cool that you bring your kids to the District. Fabulous. You probably shouldn't leave them fenced in the kitchen area with newspaper lining the floor "just in case of a poopie" with an over flowing bowl of Cheerios and note saying "back in a few days". However, that is why I love cats. But what's a 2 year old gonna get out of a week in DC? Do you think they'll remember the pandas? Do they know "The President's Song", or the "13 Colonies" song? (you're singing it to yourself.. I know it..) Do they really care about "the pretty flowers"? Do they understand The Wall? My guess is no. So leave the baby and the stroller at home and come when they can really apprecitate the city. Me? I was 23 yrs old when I first came here and I'm glad I waited so long. I have yet to see/do most "touristy" stuff.. and for good reason - t.o.u.r.i.s.t.s.

But I've noticed what an accessory this stroller is. It's to carry your crap. Your shopping bags and souvenirs.

And speaking of said 'crap', I don't know what makes spotting a tourist so easy..

Let's start with wearing DC themed clothing..

- "You don't know me" Tshirts
- "Witness Protection Program" Tshirts
- Anything cherry blossom related.
- FBI hats
- My favorite.. pink FBI hats
- Anything DC related on a Tshirt
- Smithsonian 'hoodies'.. seriously..


- Fanny packs - I love them as much as anything pink
- Talking on the metro. If you live here, you just know that's a no-no.
- Escalator etiquette and taking pictures in the metro/riding the escalators is just too obvious.
- Shoes - the taller, the more platform, the more dressy, the least practical to wear in such a walkable city.

I'm going to stop here. I feel my blood pressure rising.

Innn.... (breath.. ) Ouutttt...

I need to swim. There shouldn't be any tourists at the pool.