Join me as I travel around the country to fulfill my goal of running a marathon or half marathon in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Women

On their birthdays, some women like to spend lots of money at spas getting facials and mud wraps. Other women prefer to run over obstacles through the woods for 3 miles and then belly flop into a mud pit. You can probably guess which one I am. 

When people pass you in a race it can be kind of sucky. It's less sucky if they are yelling "Happy Birthday!" Which is why I made this:
Gettin Dirty on my Birthday!
 And after the Merrill Down and Dirty Richmond 5k:
awww, yeah - pretty hard core start to year 23.

Your "medal" is a dog tag :)

Then I had to shower off and head from Richmond down to Myrtle Beach to meet my family at my aunt's beach house. I'm pretty sure the race packet said they would have showers available. By "showers" they meant "hoses":
Shoot. Shoot. I was banking on a real shower. Gonna be a long car ride.

Every time you moved an inch you would find a gallon more mud. It was never ending. I even gave up hope of saving the old sneaks. Bye-Bye first marathon shoes. I hope you find a good home. (they had a donation pile). The socks and t-shirt went straight to the trash. 
Adios Mizunos

Cheeseburger and chocolate milk at 9:30 am? Don't mind if I do.
Well, my uncle just made me a vodka tonic so I'm off to celebrate the rest of my birthday. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

1. Have you ever done a mud race? If so, what was the hardest obstacle? Definitely the soapy wall for me - I have no upper body strength!
2. How did you celebrate your latest birthday?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You know you have a problem when...

you seriously consider spending 50 cents on a Nutrigrain bar just so you can get to the Reece's Pieces behind it in the vending machine at work. 
You can't hide from me Reece's
On the other hand, somehow (probably by the grace of God), I found these at the grocery store and managed to not walk out with them:
Haha! I like how they try to make these sound healthy. Ummm, you aint foolin' nobody with that gooey-cheesy goodness.
In addition to poor nutrition, I've also been a terribly lazy blogger. I'll have to just quickly re-cap the past week. It's okay, you guys really love my schmorgisborg of topics in blog posts, don't you? (Are you impressed that I just guessed how to spell schmorgisborg and Urban Dictionary confirmed that I have excellent phonetic skills? I am.) Oh geez, quit your cryin' - it's mostly pictures ;)

 I was supposed to do a 17 miler on Sunday, but I was too tired from singing along with this hunk: (by tired I mean hungover)
You get your nasty cigarette out of my picture and away from Tim McGraw's armpit!!

Don't worry, your armpits are safe now, Tim.
 Instead of running I went to visit my great-grandma:
Isn't she adorable?! Love her to pieces.
 ...and help my aunt pack:
 I tried to do my long run on Monday after work because I don't want to fall behind on marathon training at all.
I spent a significant amount of time mapping out this stupid run.
There were several things wrong with this plan. #1 being that I cannot mentally prepare myself for 17 miles after a full day of work. #2 being that I obviously went right after I got home from work and didn't eat dinner - my stomach doesn't know what it's like to not have food every 2 hours and revolted against me. #3 being that this put a little wrinkle in my plan: 
Dayumm, Feds are gettin' stingy. Who closes a park at 5? People work til 5, ya know?! I had 4.5 miles planned behind these gates :(
Anyways the jist of the story is that it was a sucky run. Walked a lot, almost puked from hunger, and only completed 14 of the 17 miles. Oh well, back on track next Sunday. Wait, that's my birthday. No promises.

In other randomness, I would like to profess my love for craigslist. My best friend and I are backpacking through Ireland in Oct/Nov and I wanted one of those legit, monstrous hiking backpacks. A woman on craigslist was selling the one she had fitted to her height of 5'8", which happens to be my height too! I got a $350 backpack for $70. Now that's what I'm talkin' about. I'll take on any of those crazy coupon people on TLC any day. Just kidding, their savings are no joke! :)
And because I love learning about y'all:
1. Have you ever tried to do a long run other than on a weekend morning? Even though I'll probably never do it again, do you have any tips?
2. Does marathon training ever get in the way of your social life?
3. What's the best deal you ever got on craigslist?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Race #8: Haulin Aspen Half Marathon - August 7th - Bend, OR - Finish Time: 2:41:42

I am finish-time poor, but race-experience rich. State #8 can be checked off the list!
Clearly the Haulin Aspen half marathon I completed on Sunday was my slowest time ever, but honestly I could care less. Let me clarify - when I say that the finish time didn't concern me at all I could give you a bunch of excuses (the challenge of my first trail course, the jet-lag from a flight from the east coast, the fried oreos I ate the day before at a county fair, the altitude difference from D.C., the fact that I slept in a tent in a stranger's backyard the night before, etc), but that's not really what I mean. What I mean is that this race was not about time - it was about getting lost in the race experience; really letting yourself just enjoy the beauty of nature and be immersed in the accomplishment of taking your body 13 miles on foot.
Are fried Oreos on the approved carbo-loading list? Please say yes.

For some reason I didn't prepare for this race nearly as much as other races. Usually I'm extremely organized and knowledgeable about a race, but not this one. Maybe it was the excitement of my first vacation to the west coast that took away from my concentration, but nonetheless this race demanded a level of respect that I really didn't give it. I read the description of the race course the night before and it informed me that there was 699 feet of elevation gain and 899 feet of elevation loss.

When I got to the start line and saw almost every runner wearing a Nathan belt or Camelback, I got nervous. I was the genius who packed my bag the night before my flight while drunk and forgot my Nathan belt. I also noticed people wearing gaiters around their running shoes. For the first time in a long while I really felt out of my element at a race. It reminded me how as runners we should always congratulate and support a friend who signs up for his/her first race no matter how long the distance - races can be scary and overwhelming for newbies, and for good reason. At the start line my cousin stood among a few other spectators and said to me "this is like a whole other culture, a different world" and it's true. I love this running world I'm in.
I love races so much that I don't even mind if guys next to me blow snot rockets at the start line. psych.

When the race started I almost immediately turned off my music. That was no road race, folks. I quickly realized that along with the mental toughness you need to cross any finish line, trail races also demand a concentration that is crucial to the safety of yourself and other runners. "Keep your eyes and ears wide open," as my mom would say. Within 2 miles I saw 3 people face plant into dirt. No lie. They tripped over roots, rocks, stumps, and just ate it. I was instantly terrified for myself and my unstable little ankles. 
This is what trail concentration looks like...I never said it was a pretty sport!

I'm not sure if all trail races are like this, but on the Haulin Aspen course much of it was single-track (essentially no room to pass anyone). It's a little chaotic to start off like that without corrals because people are just trying to fall into their own paces. The entire first half of the race was uphill. Not uphill like "gentle incline of 1% on a treadmill," but more like, "here's a mountain. good luck."

Once the crowd thins out and you are amongst people of a similar pace it's quite motivational. A lot of maintaining your pace is simply for logistical reasons. It's amazing how long you can go without walking when walking means you either jump off the path into some prickly bush or you get  trampled by the people behind you. Once we got out of the woods I walked quite a bit, (hence the 2:40 finish) as my knees, hips, and lungs were starting to yell at me. The elevation change during the race and the fact that I'm not used to altitudes like that was no joke. I remember thinking "my god if you could see my lungs right now I bet they would look like shriveled little boiled peanuts. I'M SO WINDED." We headed back into the woods and then came the glorious downhill when the ridiculously fit full marathoners merged on to our trail (and flew past us). The next few miles were eerily tranquil - I mean there was that one point where I had to jump over a giant rock and almost slid down a mountain, but other than that it was quite peaceful.

As far as the eye could see it was forest. I had no idea what my pace was, how long I'd been running, what mile I was on, or where in the forest I was. I think that might be what running is supposed to be like. If you've never done it before, I recommend leaving your Garmin at home one day and finding a trail. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised :)
I'm either about to cross the finish line after 13.1 grueling miles or a skunk just sprayed in my face. Who knows.
Oh, hell yes. I feel legit now. That's some serious dirt.

That was the most refreshing watermelon of all time. Also, any race with Nutella and Peanut Butter at the finish festival is top of the line in my opinion.

I was so happy my cousin Molly was there. She is quite the dedicated spectator - had to hitch hike to the finish line because the shuttles weren't on time!

I promise I did not intend to flick you off in this picture.

Post-race beans and rice with corn, sour cream, and cheese. Get in my belllyyyy.

Multi-tasking: 1/2 marathon recovery in your compression socks while sight seeing? Sounds good to me. Oregon is ridiculously beautiful.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Overcome Boredom on a Treadmill

Can I first say that I am blogging from 36,000 feet in the air? How exciting is that?! It would be much more exciting if it didn't cost me $12. Anyways, I'm on my flight to Portland and thought I'd recap my indoor half marathon.
In the clouds! I think we are somewhere over Utah or Idaho at the moment.

I'm not really sure how we survived before iPhones. I might have died on Saturday morning had I not had my iPhone and its Netflix app. My dilemma was that I had 13 miles on my training plan, but: I'm struggling with the heat wave in DC, I despise getting up at 5 am on Saturdays to try and beat the heat, and I hate treadmills. Basically, it's a no-win situation and/or I'm a ginormous baby. I texted The Almost Runner to cordially invite her to my funeral just in case I died of boredom. She politely accepted.
I took the lesser of the evils, which was the gym. I jerry-rigged a little home entertainment system on the treadmill. If there had been anyone else in the gym at 11:30 am on a Saturday they might have questioned whether I actually had a home or if I was planning on spending the night in the gym. I got one of those plastic magazine holders and a towel to make my eye-level platform for resting my phone. I set up my water bottle, towel, gu chomps, and cliff shot blocks. I had my training plan paper in front of me to. There was nothing else to pretend I had to do in order to procrastinate any longer. I pressed the start button on what would be a long run. 

RLRF calls for a slower pace on this run so I ended up doing it at about a 11:10 pace. I stopped twice to stretch and refill my water bottle. I think I drank a lot more water than in a usual half marathon - probably just because it was in front of my face.

Here are some tips for your netflix choice when running on the treadmill. Unless you want to end up like this...
...I suggest that you NOT pick a sad or funny movie. I don't care if this eliminates a lot of your choices. Nothing is worth flying off a treadmill. However, if you are more coordinated than I and you desire a more challenging work-out, then maybe crying or laughing while running is something you would like to try. I shall stick to random, grade B movies that I've never heard of such as 2 Days in Paris. It was actually kind of funny. I almost face planted a couple times. 

My other suggestion is to have your phone fully charged. Watching movies will drain your battery quicker than the cast of Jersey Shore disgraces America overseas.
Sorry Snooki, those are not welcome at the Coliseum.

What's the longest distance you've done on a treadmill?
How did you stay entertained?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Look What I found!!

At Marshalls. For only $60. Suhhhh-weeeeeeet.
All white with neon yellow laces and pink soles? So fresh and so clean, clean.

They are the Women's Nike Free XT Everyday Fit and they are super cute. I'm scared to actually do anything in them b/c they are so pretty.

Have you tried the Nike Free shoes?? Opinions?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Off the Beaten Path

A couple weekends ago I had the pleasure of watchin' these guys:
Thankfully they were too slow to run away like that other dog I watched a few weeks ago.

It was nice to stay in another area of the city (just about to the Maryland state line). I went for a run one evening and saw a runner in front of me dart off the sidewalk and into the woods. I was a little concerned until I got closer and spotted the trail she had taken off on. It wasn't marked or anything, but I went in for a look. I discovered the awesomeness of Sligo Creek Park. Shaded trails along creeks make me a happy runner. 

Recovery meal: 
No I am not feeding a 300 pound man, that is my normal portion size and then I go back for seconds. So?
 The next morning I took a walk to the local farmer's market. More awesomeness (I have quite the extensive vocabulary today, eh?). Anyways they had the best peaches and corn you could ever sink your teeth into. Just check out all the goods I got:

I love summer time. So many tasty & fresh foods to eat. 

What's your favorite farmer's market item? In Florida we have some pretty legit road-side stands with yummy strawberries. Up here in DC I love getting corn from local farmers.