Friday Free-For-All – 03/30/18

Friday Free-For-All

We’re having some downright springy weather in VT this week! Temps have been in the 40s and 50s since Monday, with no signs of dipping. I really hope it sticks around. I truly don’t like to complain about the weather, and try to enjoy all of the seasons as they come, but I’m READY for warmer temps and sunshine.

We’re about to kick off our quarterly reporting at work, and I realized that this will be my last time doing it. My last day at the office will be June 8, so I won’t be doing the reporting process for 2q18. My mind is blown! Obviously, leaving work will be bittersweet, but I’m happy to be noticing and celebrating these final countdown milestones.

Party leftovers are wonderful. We have so many snacks, treats, dips, and other miscellaneous party food left over from our housewarming, it’s been awesome! We hardly had to do any grocery shopping this week. Also, I think we have enough leftover beer that Ben will be a happy camper for a long, long time.

I stopped at my favorite bagel place this morning. I don’t often treat myself to breakfast out, but I just had to do it today. I got a sunflower seed bagel with ham, egg, cheese, peppers and onions, and it was everything I could have wanted. Happy Friday to me!

What’s your favorite type of bagel sandwich?

 

Weekend Update – Friends and Family

Hi friends! Since I’m no longer training for anything in particular, training logs are out, and Weekend Update is in!

Friday
Friday was a bit of a whirlwind. I ended up leaving work early to go look at a house with Ben (another big fat “no”), then met my friend Stacy at Burlington Bay Market for dinner before seeing the show. We ended up getting creemees and a bottle of whiskey (for after the show) as well 🙂

Ripcord was AWESOME. Laugh out loud funny and poignant too. The cast was phenomenal and the direction by our friend Abbie was spot-on. After the show, we headed to our accommodations for the evening: the Starlight Inn. It’s a delightful little motel that is Hollywood themed, and we stayed in the Elvis Presley room. So fun!

Photo Oct 14, 8 10 33 AM

Saturday
After a late night of laughing, talking, and drinking, we were up relatively early for breakfast at the Guilty Plate Diner right across the street. I had the most delicious breakfast burrito I’ve ever had, and then we parted ways.

I headed home to quickly re-pack my overnight bag for a trip to my parents’ house, and Ben and I were on the road by 10:30 am. We arrived in Quechee right around noon, and commenced a super lazy weekend. We had unseasonably warm weather this weekend, so we spent a lot of time lounging on the deck, talking and eating snacks.

Photo Oct 14, 3 10 48 PM

My dad made a heavenly dinner of pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, and a cheesy, spicy corn dish. We stuffed ourselves, then watched playoff baseball until I called it an early night around 9:30.

Sunday
I slept for almost 12 hours, which I needed after Friday night’s exertions. Dad whipped up a big breakfast, and then he and mom went off to a couple of yard sales, while Ben and I made a quick trip to the NH Liqour Outlet (no taxes!), then went for a long walk around the neighborhood.

Photo Oct 15, 1 31 59 PM

My folks were home by the time we got back, and we had another lazy afternoon of football watching and snack eating. Dad made an early dinner of grilled burgers with potato chips, and then Ben and I headed for home.

We unpacked all our stuff, watched one episode of a TV show, and were in bed by 10. Perfection.

Have you ever stayed at a themed hotel (other than Disney)?

Race Recap: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon 2017

What | Where |When: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon | Waterbury, VT | October 1, 2017

Weather: 50’s at the start, mid 60’s at the end. Breezy and sunny.

Pre-Race
I got up around 8, chugged some water, made eggs and toast, and got myself ready. The drive to Waterbury is about 35-40 minutes from my house, so I left around 9:30. I stopped for some iced coffee on the way, and continued to sip water as I drove.

Parking was well-marked and very easy. Also relatively close to the start/finish, which ended up being beneficial, as I went back and forth several times, forgetting stuff, fussing with my gear etc.

Getting my bib was super easy, and all runners also got a jar of Bove’s pasta sauce. I passed, as I didn’t feel like going back to my car again. As I was pinning my bib, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who was running the 5k. It was nice to see her, and she introduced me to a few women who were also running the half, who I ended up running near for quite a while during the middle miles of the race.

I used the potties a couple of times and did some dynamic stretching to warm up. The race started exactly on time at 11 am.

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Miles 1-3 (10:24, 11:15, 13:58)
These were without a doubt the hardest miles of the race. I had seen the elevation profile, and knew that the first three miles had a huge elevation gain, but knowing and seeing are two VERY different things. I ended up walking most of mile three because the hill was just.so.steep and LOOOOOONG. It was super demoralizing. When mile 3 beeped and I saw 13:48 on my Garmin, I pretty much figured my PR attempt was shot, but was determined to keep trying anyway.

Miles 4-8 (9:54, 9:27, 9:41, 10:32, 10:10)
These miles were largely downhill or flat, and I was able to significantly pick up the pace. Any time there was a downhill, I just opened up and let fly. I have long legs and strong quads, so downhills don’t really bother me at all. Around this time I passed Jennifer’s three friends, and we all shared a laugh at how freaking terrible the early hills had been.

I took my first package of sport beans at mile 4, and my second just after the turnaround at mile 8. I sipped water every mile, and felt very well hydrated and fueled the whole time. I wished fervently around mile 6 that I had paid more attention to the course map, because I kept getting faked out thinking “The turnaround MUST be soon,” but it was a lot later than I expected and I got a little frustrated with not knowing where I was.

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Miles 9-13.1 (9:36, 9:25, 9:31, 10:10, 9:12, 7:49)
After the turnaround, I knew that most of the remaining miles were downhill, so I just kept reminding myself that after the first three miles, anything else was easy. I started passing people at this point, which is unusual for me, but I just wanted to be done. I was fairly certain now that a PR was within reach, and I was determined not to somehow mess it up by getting hurt or blowing up.

Just after mile 11 beeped on my Garmin, I realized that I was about to head up another giant hill. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen this pop up on my stories:

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I think that pretty accurately sums up how I felt in that moment. Mile 12 took us out on to a dirt/grass trail that had a few very narrow sections. I got stuck briefly behind a girl, but managed to pass her when the trail opened up a bit.

Mile 13 connected back with our original “out” section, and was almost all downhill, which is likely why it was my fastest mile of the entire race. One of the things I really loved about this race is that they announce your name as you come into the finish. I sprinted across as they announced my name and knew that I had a PR in the bag.

Post-Race
My official time was 2:14:43, which is over three minutes under my old PR of 2:18:06, and I was ELATED. And also exhausted, sore, and hungry. I grabbed half a banana, some cheese, and a bagel, and hobbled over to some grass to stretch out.

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They started the awards ceremony shortly after I finished. They do a “King and Queen of the Hill” contest for the first man and woman to conquer the beastly hills at the beginning, as well as the usual age group and overall winners. As I was stretching on the grass, the most glorious thing happened. A woman approached me and asked if I wanted a gift certificate for a free pair of Saucony shoes. Apparently she had won it as part of an age group, but she wasn’t from the area and knew she wouldn’t use it. Score! The certificate is to a running/outdoor store that I’ve never been to, so I’m curious to see how their fitting process differs from Fleet Feet, and hopefully get some sweet new shoes.

Overall
This course was TOUGH, but beautiful, with great support.

Pros:
– 11 am start
– Cheap registration ($35 plus fees)
– Ample parking near start/finish
– Great on-course support, well marked route, plenty of food post-race

Cons:
– HILLS
– No bling! I somehow didn’t realize this prior to signing up. Maybe that’s why registration is so cheap?
– Shirts cost extra, are cotton

Would you run a half marathon that didn’t give out medals?

Race Recap: 100 on 100 Relay

This is going to be a long one, my friends, so buckle up and settle in! TL;DR, it was hot, we were on track to finish, but ended up with a DNF due to lightning storms.

What/Where/When:
The 100 on 100 Relay is a 100 mile relay race that takes place on Route 100 in Vermont, starting in Stowe, and making its way all the way down to Okemo resort in Ludlow. Teams of 6 runners each run 3 legs over the course of the day. This year’s race was on Saturday, August 13th, and my team started at 6:45 am (teams receive start times based on runners’ projected paces and finish times).

Conditions:
Hot, humid, and overcast, with intermittent rain. Forecast promised high likelihood of severe thunderstorms, and flash flood warnings.

Friday:
The team van picked me up around 3 on Friday afternoon, and we headed to Stowe. The scariest thing for me about this weekend was that I only knew one of my team mates, and the other four people were a) complete strangers to me, and b) had all done this race together numerous times, so I was an outsider. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. My teammates are all interesting, fun, kind people, and we got along great.

We arrived at our condo in Stowe around 4, and settled in for a bit, eating snacks and having a couple of beers. Team captain Chris and I went out around 6 to pick up the pizzas we had ordered, and check in at registration/packet pickup. It was well-organized, and we were done in less than 30 minutes.

For the rest of the evening, we ate pizza, watched the Olympics, and chatted, and then were all in bed before 11, because we had an early wake up call for Saturday.

Saturday: 

poppins reunion

Rob, center, is executive director of the race–he was also Burt in Mary Poppins with me and Chris!

Our official start time was 6:45 am, and there was plenty of coffee and some yogurt under the tent. Chris was runner number 1, so we lined up outside near the start at about 6:35 for final instructions. Just as we got outside, it started to rain a bit, but nothing too awful yet. Pre-race communications had made it clear that in the event of severe weather, the race would not be cancelled, but teams should pick up any runners if there was lightning/thunder, and make individual decisions about whether or not to finish, and that was pretty much what was reiterated here. Safety first.

Photo Aug 13, 6 45 02 AM

And they’re off!

The first leg is only 2.5 miles, and ends up looping around right back to the start for transition #1, so we hung out, using the portas, drinking our coffee, and giving Melissa, runner #2, a pep talk. Before we knew it, Chris was back and Melissa was off, and we piled into the van.

The way these relays work is that you can’t shadow your runner, so you end up leap frogging down the course, checking in with your runner if they need it, and then ultimately driving on to the next transition point. We made it through the first several legs, and then it was my turn. As runner number 5, my overall description was this:

This running experience is for your long distance runner seeking a “Postcard” tour of Vermont terrain. Yes, Vermont is very hilly and unpredictable, but the three legs for this runner aren’t either. The first leg is a very flat and enjoyable run of middle distance through beautiful Vermont farm land. This is a “Postcard” run that leaves you smiling and fulfilled, without having to work too hard. The second leg is the longest of the event, but mainly flat, with seemingly endless views. Be sure to stop towards the end of this leg at the river for a cooling dip, you will need it after the distance. The third leg is sure to satisfy with an intermediate distance and a lakeside finish. You’ll have seen it all and will be ready for the finish line! Total distance: 17.5 miles.

My first leg would be from Harwood Union High School to the Waitsfield Town Common, a distance of 5.2 miles.

elevation

I got a bit carried away by the downhill in the first few miles, and ended up running miles 1 and 2 in 9:34 and 9:22 respectively. I slowed down considerably in the flats, as it was disgustingly humid, but I still felt ok. My team met me at about mile 2.5 for some water, and I continued on my way. Unfortunately, I had completely underestimated the hill from mile 4 to the finish, and I was absolutely bagged by the time I got there. I power-walked most of the hill, but was able to run through the finish and hand off the slap bracelet to JP.

100on100

I managed a smile for the only course photographer I saw

After a quick stretch, we hopped back into the van. My right Achilles and calf were really bothering me, so I decided not to run in my Nikes anymore. I don’t think they’re going to work out :(. I refueled, drank a bunch of water mixed with Gatorade, and changed my clothes over the next few transitions. It continued to be really humid and spit rain, but we were grateful that at least the sun wasn’t out.

My next leg was from Rochester Elementary School to the Ted Green Ford in Stockbridge, a distance of 7.3 miles.

elevation (1)

This route was mercifully flat, dare I even say mostly downhill? A couple of small rollers mixed in were nothing to write home about, but it was one of the longer legs on the whole course, and it was still gross humid. I was sweating profusely, but I had my Amphipod and took sips of water every few minutes. My teammates met me at about the halfway point with extra water, and I took an unbelievably refreshing sip of sugar-free Red Bull, which totally hit the spot. I was on my projected pace for most of this leg due to the downhills, but I slowed down a bit toward the end because I was so hot. I made it to the transition area with an overall pace of 10:17, which I was super happy with.

I chugged a Red Bull and ate some popcorn, a meat stick, and a slice of cold pizza to refuel, while chugging more water and Gatorade. My clothes and shoes were soaked, and I was glad I had ended up packing three pairs of shoes. I got changed at the next transition, which was also the beginning of the third set of legs, meaning we were almost done.

Chris set off for his third and final leg, which was 6 miles of uphill going toward Killington. We met him at the halfway point, and gave him some water and chews. He was still looking strong and feeling positive, so we drove to the next transition area. A few minutes after we arrived, there was an insane flash of lightning and a huge boom of thunder–the storm was literally right on top of us. We piled back into the van just as a torrential downpour started, so we zipped back down the mountain to find Chris. We was only about half a mile from the transition, and he jumped into the van, soaking wet and exhausted. We drove back to the transition area to try to decide what to do. Technically, by picking Chris up and driving him to transition, we had already DNF’d. He was willing to be dropped off back down the hill and finish his leg, but the weather was looking really bad, and Melissa, who was up next, had decided that she wasn’t comfortable running with thunder and lightning around.

We pulled up a forecast, and the radar showed storm cell after storm cell rolling through pretty much on top of each other for the rest of the night. We decided to skip Melissa’s final leg and drive to the next transition to see if Todd wanted to run his final leg. When we arrived at transition, there appeared to be a break in the weather, so Todd put on his safety gear (reflective vest, rear flashing light, headlamp), and set off. Visibility during this leg was AWFUL. There was a ton of fog, and it was kind of scary thinking of him out running in that. We met him halfway to give him water, and he was fine, so we drove to transition. Ryan was game to try his final leg, so we got him suited up in safety gear and waited for Todd to arrive.

Not 5 minutes after Ryan set out for his final leg (we literally hadn’t even made it back to the van yet), there was a flash of lightning and accompanying thunder, so we drove straight to Ryan to make sure he was ok. It was almost full dark at this point, and spitting rain, but he waved us ahead and said to check in after another mile. More thunder, more lightning, more rain. We pulled over less than a mile ahead, and when Ryan found us, he jumped back in the van. We had a team conference on the way to the next transition, and JP and I, the final two runners, decided that we weren’t comfortable running our final legs with the storms. Things on the road had gotten pretty chaotic at this point; runners were running on both sides of the road, vans were pulling over left and right, and normal Route 100 drivers were NOT happy with the slowed down traffic. I saw several drivers make really abrupt and unsafe passes.

Feeling completely united in our decision, we drove to the finish. As we arrived, there was one of those insane, bright, forked flashes of lightning right over us, one that left afterimages on my eyeballs, and we all just looked at each other and said, “We made the right choice.” Thankfully, we were still able to get our medals, and we partook in the post-race buffet–chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, veggies, sandwiches, pasta salad, and cookies. You could also get a beer or hard cider for $3, or a beer plus commemorative pint glass for $6.

Photo Aug 13, 9 04 08 PM

Left to right: Melissa, Me, Chris, JP, Ryan, Todd

We ate our dinner and drank our beers, and headed to our condo for some showers, more beer, and sleep.

Overall:
Despite our DNF, I had an absolute blast with this race, and if it weren’t so damn expensive (registration, condo rentals Friday and Saturday nights, van rental, food etc), I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. That being said, I probably will do it again, I’ll just have to budget better for it 🙂

It was just such a cool adventure, and the atmosphere was completely supportive and fun. Every van that passed me while I was running honked the horn, rang cowbells, and/or shouted encouragement. Every runner who passed me murmured a “Looking great” or “Nice job” as they went by. Transition areas had a party atmosphere. I never once encountered a porta-potty without toilet paper. My team was awesome. And I know that if the weather conditions had been different, I absolutely would have finished my final 5 miles.

Rather than feeling disappointed in our DNF, I feel extremely proud of all we accomplished. It was a tough day and a tough course–high humidity, intermittent rain, and lots of hills. I’m even MORE proud of us making the best decision for us in the moment, for our safety and peace of mind. There is such a culture of “tough it out, no pain no gain” in running, it can be really hard to look objectively at a situation and keep yourself safe. I know lots of teams finished in spite of the storms, and that’s great for them, but it wouldn’t have been great for us. It’s ok not to continue when you don’t feel safe. It’s ok to get a DNF. At the end of the day, we were all safe and happy, if tired, and that’s what counts.

Have you ever chosen to DNF due to weather conditions? Would you race in a thunder storm?

Oh, right. I’m running a relay…

I signed up for the 100 on 100 Relay waaaaay back in February, when I was in the middle of marathon training. I figured that after finishing a marathon, a 100 mile relay race would be no big deal. Fast forward to today, and I haven’t run more than 7 miles in one go since May. I had intended to do several brick workouts, or at least two-a-day runs to prepare myself for the rigors of running 3 legs of the relay. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. Are we surprised? Not really. I kind of suck at sticking to training plans when I don’t have a Coach Suz in my corner.

I haven’t been talking or writing about it much because honestly, I haven’t really even been thinking about it much. I know it’s happening. Soon. August 13 to be exact. But I’m having a hard time conceptualizing it. Based on reading a dozen or so recaps of Ragnar Relays, I have some idea of what to expect, but not a whole lot of logistical details specific to this race. I’m sure that communications from my team captain will start to flow soon, but right now, I don’t have a lot to go on.

I can feel the edges of panic creeping in, but I also feel like at this point, there’s pretty much nothing I can do except suck it up and do my best. If nothing else, it will be a great memory of doing something fun and crazy.

Have you ever “forgotten” about a race you registered for?

 

 

Monday Check-In

This isn’t my normal Manic Monday training recap, because most of last week I was still sidelined with a tailbone injury. I did have a nearly miraculous improvement (which you can read about here), but I didn’t want to jump immediately back into rigorous training for fear of prolonging full recovery.

That’s not to say, however, that I was completely inactive. Although I wasn’t running, I walked a lot. I walked for nearly an hour on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday on my lunch breaks. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy just walking. It’s still pretty good exercise, but I don’t get nearly as sweaty, so it’s a lot easier to transition back to work clothes afterward.

Also, Ben and I hiked Mt. Mansfield on Saturday. This was the biggest hike I’ve attempted since we hiked Mt. Hunger two years ago, and it’s also the most vigorous activity I’ve undertaken since I fell on my tailbone. It was a pretty tough hike, but my tailbone didn’t hurt at all, so I count that as a win. And afterwards we took a dip at Jeffersonville Falls, so all in all it was a perfect VT summer day.

Now that I’m reasonably sure that my butt’s all healed up, I’ll be easing back into running this week with a few short runs, and hopefully a longish run this weekend while we’re in MA for July 4th festivities.

Did you do any hiking or swimming this weekend?

Friday Free-For-All – 06/24/16

FFFA (1)

I saw my doctor yesterday. It was my annual physical that I already had scheduled, which was a nice way to see a doctor about my tailbone without having to schedule an additional appointment and possibly pay an additional copay. I love my doc–she’s super cool, AND she’s a runner, so she gets it. We talked about what had been going on, and while she laughed a bit when I gave her my dislocation theory, she said that as long as I’m feeling ok, I can get back to running. I just need to make sure I’m healed enough that I don’t change my gait to try to avoid discomfort and potentially injure myself elsewhere. I’ll probably wait until next week to be sure I’m good to go, but this is very good news.

Ben and I are planning to hike Mt. Mansfield tomorrow. Ben has hiked Mansfield numerous times, because the trails begin practically in his parents’ backyard, but I can’t remember the last time I hiked Mansfield, if I ever did. I may have done it with my family when I was younger, but I honestly don’t know. It will be the biggest hike I’ve attempted in a couple of years, but I’m excited. It will be a good test to see if I’m ready to start running again.

I love my Gap Inc. employee discount card. In addition to getting a discount at Athleta, I also get sweet discounts at Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. After last weekend’s clothing purge, I realized that I only had one pair of casual shorts for summer (running shorts don’t count), so I headed to Old Navy after work last night. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a lot of shorts to choose from in my style, but I got one pair of shorts, a maxi skirt, and two tops for $40. Woo!