The Best Laid Plans

Man, I hated Steinbeck in high school.  Still not a fan… But, two things have certainly made my plans go awry.

1. My dog continues to try to kill me.

I am highly allergic to any skin affliction.  When I was little, in backwater Michigan where the mosquitoes will carry off your young if you aren’t careful, I would swell up from every single bite so badly that it looked like I had mumps.  One time, both of my eyes swelled entirely shut from one bite on my cheek!  I am also very allergic to poison ivy.

Three weeks ago, my legs began to itch a bit and I thought it was just some passing allergy.  Then they itched more.  Then I was drawing blood from itching so much.  Both of my lower legs looked like I was turning into the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Or I had leprosy.  Whoops, lost a leg!  Let me just grab that!  I thought it would clear up with enough calamine lotion/Benedryl/antibiotic cream but it was not.  And it was hurting. And it was affecting my plans for my tri.  I couldn’t very well go to a public pool looking like I had some sort of plague.  Plus, the chlorine!  I can’t even imagine.  So, I have not done any swim training for the past 3 weeks.  I also haven’t done much running because my long pants (no capris! See “plague” and “health risk”) hurt when they moved on the skin.  I finally went to urgent care yesterday, at my husband’s very vocal insistence.  Diagnosis – a nasty case of poison ivy!  I am now on steroids and am already feeling better.

But how?? I haven’t been on any trail runs!  Ah, but three weeks ago, when the weather was warm, I took the dog out for a pee while wearing capris and he went traipsing through some of the undergrowth in our back yard to find the perfect spot.  I investigated yesterday and…

If I hear "leave of 3, let it be" one more time...
If I hear “leave of 3, let it be” one more time…

Score one more for the dog!  This means that I need to reschedule my tri.  The same group has a bit of a longer race in June that I will do but I’m a bit bummed that I can’t do this one on my birthday.

2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Sucks

My next scheduled half was to be Rock ‘n’ Roll Pittsburgh.  I was so looking forward to this one!  We were going to make a little vacation of it.  See some of the cool museums.  Spend time with family.  And there was a chance that some family was going to run with me!

Yesterday I received an email from RnR: It is with great disappointment that we have been forced to postpone the event until 2014. We can no longer plan to organize an event without the support from the Mayor’s Office, Director of Public Safety and the Special Events Committee on the agreed upon date of August 4, 2013.  Blah, blah, blah.  Whatever.  I really wasn’t psyched about running with this group, per se, but the schedule was great.  Now what?

Now I’m going to do the Marine Corp (yes, again) Historic Half on May 19.  The Marines put on a great race and I always do really well with them.  My first 10K was a community run that was an absolute disaster (for me) and almost put me off running.  My second 10K was two months later with the Marines and I had a fabulous time – even while dodging Hurricane Sandy!

Now the crazy part – I ran my first half on April 13.  My second will be May 19.  If I can squeeze in one more before June 13, I qualify as a Half Marathon Fanatic!

I’ve had to make changes but all is not lost!

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Product Review: Simple Hydration Water Bottle

I am finally at the mileage point where I need to consider my hydration needs while running.  I already know that belts won’t work for me (wide hips and I hate things bouncing or riding up).  I tried using a handheld but it was awkward and I couldn’t imagine carrying it for length of time (sweaty hands!).  I thought about a Nathan’s vest or CamelBak but I’m not ready to be that girl yet.

Luckily, I recently learned about the Simple Hydration water bottle and decided to give it a try.

Simple Hydration Water Bottle

As you can see, it’s a bit unusual.  The design of the bottle allows for it to hook onto your shorts or tights and it is meant to be carried at the small of  your back.  It holds 13 oz. and has a wide mouth.  It will stand on the base after you’ve filled it.

I tried it for the first time on Sunday for a 5 mile run.  At first, the cold bottle was a bit uncomfortable against my back but I could see that as being a bonus in the summer.  The wide mouth allows for the addition of ice cubes in the summer – I plan to try that!  Also, the wide mouth means that I can refill it easily on a race course at the water stations.  I was aware of the weight and the bottle’s position for the first couple of miles but then forgot about it.  It did slosh a bit but it wasn’t distracting.  It was very easy to drink out of and reposition without slowing down.  Overall, I think this was a good choice for me.  I plan on buying another one and stashing it along my route for the longer runs – 13 oz. isn’t much in the summer heat but anything more would be too heavy.

Pros

Easy to fill and clean, can add ice

Light

Not a hand-held

Cons

Relatively small

Price – $19.99 + S/H direct but Amazon Prime is $16.99

Bottom Line

This is a nice little bottle if you need some hydration but aren’t ready for a full-on pack.  I plan to use it extensively for my marathon training and at my races.  I will update this if my opinion changes at all.

 

We Are Runners!

Boston.  There have been a million blog posts and articles since Monday that completely capture my feelings about Boston.  Like most runners, I have been through the gambit of emotions since first learning of the bombs but now I’m just pissed.  And I’m not alone.  All across Facebook, I’m seeing posts of runners dedicating their miles to Boston, running extra races, buying race shirts to support the various charities that have sprung into action, donating blood, doing 26.2 random acts of kindness, giving back in any way they can.  Because Monday wasn’t about the runners.  It was about the spectators, supporters, families, and friends.  It was about our support crew.  Runners are now moving en masse to rally around our injured and give back the support that they have always given to us.  We can’t heal their wounds or restore their families but maybe we can ease their suffering and hurt just a tiny bit.

I decided to tell Little Runner about Boston on Monday – so he would be aware of the world and understand why I was not acting as I usually do.  First we talked about my race on Saturday – the distance, the small number of runners, and the fact that it was just a fun run for everyone – and then I told him about the Boston Marathon and how it is such a special race because only the best can do it and how it is a big party for the city and how wonderful it is.  I then told him that a bad person tried to ruin that wonderful things by setting bombs to hurt the runners and the families  and spectators.  He asked if anyone died and I told him that some had and that others were very badly injured.  He said that he really liked hearing about the Boston Marathon but he didn’t like that last part.  “Why would anyone want to hurt people like that? They’re just running a race!” he wanted to know.  Good question.

Registration opened for the Healthy Kids Run that precedes the Marine Corp Marathon.  Little Runner ran it last year and didn’t care for it much.  He’s not a fan of out-and-backs and this one was around the Pentagon parking lot so it was hardly scenic.  We talked about it and decided to not to that one this year.  I then asked him about the Marine Corp Turkey Trot.  We also ran that last year and had a good time running around the Quantico Base.  Same distance for him but it’s a loop so, no problem!  I asked if he still wanted to do it this year, as it will be on his birthday.  His response?  “That’s a great way to spend my birthday!  We are runners, after all!”

Yes, we are runners.  And we are strong.

remember_boston_logo
http://www.runjunkees.com/

Race Report: Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon

I ran the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon in Chesapeake, VA on Saturday, April 13.  This was the race’s 7th running and my first go at a half.  I saw the ad for the race somewhere (Runner’s World?) and was intrigued by the name and the promise of a flat course.  I think it was the perfect choice for my first half.

Registration, Packet Pick-Up, SWAG

The registration was handled by Active.  $77 got me in, as well as my son for the “Cub Run”.  Quite the bargain!  The packet pick up turned out to be at the hotel in which we were staying – the Hyatt Place Chesapeake.  After fighting horrendous DC traffic all the way down, we were very happy to not have to fight more crowds or drive all over Chesapeake.  Little Runner and I picked up our packets while DH checked us in.  It was a very smooth pick-up.  No line!  Little Runner received a cute “Cub Run” shirt that he insisted on wearing immediately and I received a nice fleece pull over.  My pull-over just had the Mettle Events logo on it.  I was disappointed that it was plain but discovered I received the wrong one and they are working on getting me one with the race logo.  We also received two little drawstring backpacks and some local literature and SoyJoy bars.  There were some race shirts, hats, etc. for sale but it was cash or check only so I had to pass.

The hotel itself was great!  We requested a handicap room so that I could take an ice bath after my race and the room was very spacious. It was also very quiet!  The bed was comfortable and I slept like a rock!  There were many restaurants within a mile of the hotel so we had no problems scrounging up dinner and breakfast.

Race Day

We were up at five and at the Cracker Barrel by 6.  Little Runner was a bit out of sorts and we had a huge fight before leaving the hotel.  We got our act together, though, and enjoyed a nice breakfast.  I had scrambled eggs, a banana, and half a blueberry muffin.  Perfect!  Race time was slotted for 8 so we left the restaurant by 7.  It was a short 15 minute drive to the Dismal Swamp and we parked with ease within a short walk to the start.  The temp was in the low 50s with a bit of a breeze.  I wore capris, short sleeve shirt, wool socks, my Saucony Ride 5, and sunglasses.

IMG_0719.JPG
Ready to Go!

The start was delayed five minutes to allow everyone to park.  The first ones out were the pushers.  This race was being run by Ansley’s Angels and had several pushers and hand crank racers.  Five minutes later, it was our turn!  Even though it was a smaller race, there were still pacers.  I lined up with the 2:30 group but left them after the first mile when they were staying around 12 minutes/mile.  Looking back, this was not wise.  Also, my right knee gave a twinge when I stepped on the start mat.  Duh, duh, duh!  Foreshadowing!!

The Race

The course certainly lived up to its description.  It was a flat as a pancake!  We ran through a tunnel of foliage for the the first 4 miles.  There were very few glimpses of water, which was a bit of a disappointment, but there was some shade and everything was very green.  I ran the first 3 miles without music but turned it on at the second water stop.  At mile 4, the elites passed me on their home stretch to the finish.  It is fun seeing the super fast runners but it made me feel like I was running in slow motion!  I cheered on the top runners and all of the pushers who passed by and some returned a wave or thumbs up.  Mile 6.5, turn around and do it again!  Miles 4ish-9ish were in the sun since the woods gave way to a flat open field on one side so it was a bit toasty.  There was also more of a headwind.  At first, that was refreshing but then it was just annoying.  Until mile 10, I was hanging around11 minutes/mile.  That would have given me a 2:20 finish.  But, right after mile 10, I started to slow so I decided to walk a bit.  BIG mistake.  My right  knee started hollering when I resumed my running.  I know I was unconsciously compensating but I couldn’t help it.  Before long, my adductor muscles (boy, that sounds so much better than groin!) started cramping and I had some serious spasms going on.  I kept slowing more and more until I was finally reduced to a walk.  I knew I was going to blow my goal time of 2:30.  When I heard the 2:30 pace group coming (the one runner was very chatty! 🙂 ), I pretty much started bawling like a baby.  I feel sorry for the poor guy working the water at mile 12.  I was a snotty, crying mess.   Thank goodness for sunglasses!  I limped through the last mile and Little Runner brought me home at 2:42:24.

I can’t get the video to embed but here’s my finish

http://results.bazumedia.com/athlete/index/e/3573329

Post Race

I almost went down once I crossed the last mat.  I am so thankful for the wonderful medical staff who were right there.  They had me seated, iced, and dosed with ibuprofen within minutes.  I rested there for a bit and waited for DH to find us.  I then shared some pizza with Little Runner and sat in the grass to stretch and wait for his Cub Run.  His run was a hoot!  He put on his Speedy McSpeedster face and went to town!  I think he had a great time!

Speedy McSpeedster
Speedy McSpeedster

Overall

This was a great race, overall!  There was plenty of on course support – water at 1,3, 5, 7, 9, 12 and Gatorade at two of the tables (I think).  There were also volunteers giving out Power Gels at some point (mile 4?).  Not a lot people cheering but it was barely noticeable with the heavy vegetation.   There were also 3 port-a-potties on the course.  I think there should have been a couple more at the first one since there was a long line and the men weren’t able to sneak off into the trees with the course!

I give this race a solid A.  My efforts, though, receive a C+, at best.  I hadn’t been as diligent about my training the past 2 weeks, I went out too fast, I should have stretched when things started seizing up, and I shouldn’t have had a finishing time in mind for my first race of this distance.  My top goal should have been to just finish.

sad
Sad Runner Girl

Oh, and I thought that I had had a bad race – they announced that 3 years ago, a woman collapsed at the finish line and was pronounced dead.  She was later revived and she ran the race on Saturday!  Holy crap!

I did it!
I did it!

Cue Freak-Out

My first half marathon is in 3 days and I am starting to … fret.  I always get this way before doing a new distance.  I develop a serious case of the self-doubts.  I worry that I won’t finish, that I’ll hurt myself, that I didn’t train enough.  None of this is ever true but it doesn’t stop it from worrying.  My goal for the next 3 days is to stop the negative talk.  Distraction helps so, let me tell you about the race!

My first half marathon will be the Dismal Swamp Stomp.  Last fall, when I was contemplating my first half, the Another Mother Runners had Bart  Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World, on their podcast.   The subject of the show was “does size matter”  (of a RACE!  Get your minds out of the gutter!)  Bart’s advice was to try to find a race that you think you will enjoy and a first that sounds cool is always good.

Around the same time, Nike Women’s Half announced that they would be offering an inaugural half in DC in 2013.   These are the same people who have local fire fighters give out Tiffany necklaces as the finisher swag.  Now, Nike Women’s is super popular – I’m sure the presence of hot firefighters is just a coincidence!  They have a lottery entry and it is still a big race.  I don’t mind crowded races too much.  Except when people line up at the front of the corral and then WALK from the start.  Or hold hands with their friends so no one can pass.  Or wear BELLS on their CamelBak so they jingle.  Okay, maybe I don’t like crowds.  But still, crowds mean lots of spectators and it’s nice to have cheering people out there, even though they aren’t necessarily cheering for you.

The other race under consideration was the Dismal Swamp Stomp.  It is a smaller race, it is in flat Chesapeake, VA, it has a lot of community support, and it’s an out-and-back.  In the end, DSS won.  I’m pretty pleased with the choice so far.  Packet pick-up will be a cinch and parking at the race won’t be a problem.  The race organizers have a good reputation and have been responsive to various issues.

Even though they are small, they will still have pacers.  If they have one at my pace, I plan to try to stick with them.  My goal is a 2:30 race.  If I’m with a pacer, I won’t go out too fast and it will give me an incentive to keep going.  They have awesome carved herons as the age group awards.  Maybe some day I can snag one of those!

My “B goal” is, as usual, to not finish last, to not hurt anyone, to not hurt myself.  Also, get a good race picture!!  No old ladies with canes or people blowing snot rockets in sight!

I know I can do this!  I just need my brain to get on-board…

My Dog is Trying to Kill Me

We adopted Eli, a “high energy” lab mix, at the end of January.  Our son has been after us for EVER to get a dog.  We’ve tried to have dogs twice before and both times ended poorly.  Eli was a very good choice for us.  He’s just over a year old (so still “puppy”), has had some training, and is okay with cats.  He is also very, very active.  “Great!” I thought, “a running partner!”  Yeah…

Eli_Deck
I am master of all I survey!

My Dog is Trying to Kill Me

Eli is very “ball driven”.  That is an understatement.  It would be more accurate to say that our arms will fall off before he is tired of play ball.  We purchased a treadmill in February so that I could train in the mornings that my husband is walking the dog – he doesn’t run well in the dark – and for bad weather days.  I was also using it for evening runs when my husband is in class.  Oh, did I mention that Eli is very smart?  It took him about two minutes to figure out that he could launch his balls down the treadmill belt and have them shoot across the room for him to chase.  Normally, not a huge deal but it is a recipe for a broken ankle when I’m trying to run at the same time!

Eli_treadmill
Weee!!

Cheating on the Dog

This dog is too smart for his own good.  He knows that I am going for a run when I put on a certain pair of shoes and strap on my Garmin.  He, of course, feels that he HAS to come.  OMGTAKEMETAKEME!!! We are working on him not pulling too much (we have to use a harness) and not chasing the birds/squirrels/other dogs/little old ladies too much.  The problem, though, is the poop.  He invariably has to answer nature’s call around mile 1.  That leave me with at least 2 more miles to run with a bag of crap.  Of course, it’s never at a spot where I can leave the bag until our return trip.  I’ve started tying the back to where the leash connects to the harness but then he has a bag of poop bumping him in the rear the entire time.  Eh, better him than me.

To try to get around this, I’ve been reduced to sneaking out of the house.  I put on my shoes and watch in the bathroom and then sneak out the front door when he isn’t watching.  He’s going to wise up pretty soon and start hiding my shoes.

PRs

Running with Eli isn’t all bad.  Today, I was a very bad “sneaker” so he went into his OMGTAKEMETAKEME! dance.  Instead of leaving my husband to deal with the insanity, I decided to bag my plans for 6 miles and grudgingly harness up Eli for 3.  He was full of vim this morning so I decided to see how fast we could go.  We managed the first mile in 9:19!  That totally blew away any previous records.  Granted, I practically pulled poor Eli the last couple of steps until my Garmin beeped (he had to poop!) but we did it!  We then finished our run at a more leisurely pace.  Now that I know that I am capable of a sub 10 mile and I know what it feels like, I am confident that I can do more.  That wouldn’t have happened with out Eli goading me on.

Going to the Dogs

Eli is a very good dog.  He is gentle, completely housebroken, good with animals and our son, and patient.  He is improving in the running department.  We’ll figure out waste issue.  We also need to get a collapsible water bowl now that warmer weather is here.  I think he would do well carrying a pack.

I read something on a running forum that I need to constantly remember: sometimes your running needs align with the dog’s and sometimes they don’t.  If they don’t, it is imperative that your put the dog’s needs first.  I read where some guy on the forum won’t let his dog go to the bathroom when they run.  That poor dog!  He can’t be enjoying that.  I now treat my runs with Eli as sprint interval training and leave the Garmin at home.  It makes the time much less frustrating for both of us!

Eli_bunny
You totally owe me!