Saturday, December 3, 2011

JtFM: HC15KRR (Subtitle: An unnecessary acronym to lighten the mood.)

*JtFM: HC15KRR= Just the Facts, Ma'am: Hot Chocolate 15K Race Report

If you are a member of the DC sportz community, friends with anyone on Facebook who is a DC runner, follow runners on twitter, were anywhere near the bridge between Old Town Alexandria and Oxen Hill MD today, or tried to drive down RT 210 in MD this morning, you are well aware that there was a running event today at the National Harbor. You may also know that it did not go off as smoothly as it could have. Or, could it have? Was it doomed from the start? Let's examine some of the facts.

1.  One of the major problems for this particular event was transportation. Washingtonians are wary of crossing bridges, and for good reason. A bridge is a limitation - a narrow passageway that takes you one place. You can't bail out, you can't reroute, you can't do a U-turn, and they quickly get backed up when everyone is going the same place. A lot of people try to avoid this potential disaster and take public transportation. And here's our first problem. There WAS no public transportation to this event and on top of that, a majority of the racers were coming from VA and had to cross the bridge into MD, all onto the same exit, all funnelling into parking lots and limited garages.

Classification: Doomed from the start. The math on this is quite simple. There's no way 20,000 racers, plus spectators, plus race staff, plus volunteers, not to mention hotel and restaurant staff for the area were going to be able to get into this little village by the river this morning in a reasonable time frame, even witht he shuttle bus option. I actually got there quite easily, drove to Crystal City (which I did NOT have to pay for, despite their attempt to charge for it - I sincerely hope no one paid them for that), parked, walked outside and boarded one of probably 15 shuttle busses ready to roll out. The buses did hit the same gridlocked, bumper to bumper, miles upon miles of traffic that the other vehicles were in, but we took what I think was the HOV lanes across the bridge, drove past the Harbor and came in a back way. Very, very smart. So: if you left your house at an early hour and took the shuttle you were there with plenty of time to spare.

2. Something else that really upset racers was the very poor communication from race staff. Let's start off early this morning with the race officials announcing on facebook (and possibly over the loud speakers, though I didn't hear it) that an accident near the exit was contributing to the delays for the vehicles attempting to enter the Harbor. No one has been able to substantiate this claim. Either way, the traffic was clearly backed up for miles (it was easy to see) and it was ON the 5K race course. Yeah. This meant the 5K race, and therefore the 15K race was going to be delayed.

Lucky for me, I had friends with a car strategically parked in sight of the start and finish lines, so we waited, and listened, and watched, and checked facebook, and used the portapotties and waited some more. We first heard that the 5K race was going to be delayed for 15 minutes. We heard that several times. I think both races ended up going off an HOUR late.

There are a lot of other stories that I've read online that seem to be pretty ridiculous if they really happened, but I hate to put anything down that I didn't personally see. There are enough though that it seems like there wasn't a lot of cohesion from the race team.

Classification: Ugh. Don't lie to your customers. Not to say that other markets aren't, but DC folks are quite savvy and we have very little patience for bullshit. We know how to find out about traffic accidents (uh, follow DC EMT on twitter? ever heard of Dr Gridlock? WTOP Traffic Radio?), we know how to organize (there's already an angry facebook page set up - talk about grassroots organizing), and we know how to lead a good PR campaign (it's already a news story on one website, how long before the other healthy living news reporters pick up on it?) So, yeah, just a word of advice, play it smart in DC, because it's got the heaviest concentration of  type-A's on the entire planet. True story.

Also: Don't even get me started on the stupid Fun Fact Friday emails. How about a subject line of "Important Parking Information" or "Expo and Packet Pick up Details"? See above re: savvy, no patience.

3. But the race itself, how did that go? Oh the RACE! That's why we were doing this! That was fun! Well, fun for me. Remember, I was sitting in a warm car right up until the race start. We weaved our way into Corral B (our rightful place) and - after a few mins wait, boom, were off. Yeah, the course had some odd twists and turns, and yeah, there were way too many people on a far too narrow course which resulted in many people running into orange barrels and tripping over cones, but yours truly managed to avoid them since, after all, they were in a straight line so running in a different  straight line avoided the problem. (Math again!) While the first several miles were less than scenic (along a highway) and my vertigo didn't really care for the streams of people in each direction and cars everywhere, I was running a good pace, the weather was nice and shouting thank you to the cops and volunteers always makes me happy.

Here are some things the race did right:
-Each mile was marked with a clock (yay!)
-The volunteers were great and there were plenty of them.
-There was plenty of water and gatorade at each stop.
-Once you got on the back half of the course there was great spectator support and a much nicer view of the water and the Harbor neighborhood.
-There was a truck at one of the turnarounds blasting good music and a string of volunteers along the last long miles encouraging everyone and thanking them for coming out.

Here are some things the race did very wrong:
-The 5k point was on the back of an out and back. The timing mat was on the out part. So, we all have 2.2 mile splits instead of 5k splits. JV.
-The finish chute wasn't a chute, but a huge cluster f of people standing around just past the finish line. There was no fencing to speak of. This is not a complicated problem, just put up some fucking fencing. Also, fellow racers, get the F out of the chute after you finish racing, you KNOW BETTER than to clog that area. When people finish, they need a water and to walk around a bit, not to come to a dead standstill because people are all over the damn place and because the water bottles are not opened out of the plastic packaging yet. JV.

Classification: Barely passing grade. While this course was far to narrow for the number of runners (and shoot, in addition to the regular no-show percent, there were plenty who bailed out bc of traffic, so imagine if the actual number of registrants had shown up to run!) I personally had no problems. I was in the first 15% of people across the line though, so I am not sure how things went for the rest of the runners. I've read a lot of varying complaints, some of them are stupid (like, really, really, really stupid) and some of them are potentially valid, if they are true. All I know is what I saw. This race was oversold and that is a really stupid business move, espeically for a first time race in a new market.

4. Let's talk for a minute about hot chocolate. First of all, it was delicious. Second of all, it was hot. Third of all, they had plenty of it, and there were no lines. Win, win, win. Same goes for the fondue. They had prepared a tray with a few items for us to dip in a scoop of hot chocolate fondue. It was a good post-race snack, and plenty of chocolate for one person. The volunteers again were excellent, friendly and hard working. My problem was that the hot chocolate distracted me from the shuttle line. Remember how I had no problem getting to the race? Well, I was about to come face to face with a major problem.

The line for the shuttles back to VA slowly but surely wrapped all the way around the post race area, and started snaking around back into a spiral. I was wet, cold, and ready to get some dry clothes on and sit down. After all, I had been up and at it since 6. Thankfully, buses are large and I figured the line would roll along pretty quickly. After all, getting back out of the Harbor didn't present the same problem that getting in did. Right?

Wrong. An hour and a half and 3 new friends later, I was at the front of the line, where I was lucky enough to speak with a member of the race team. We chatted him up about the bus situation and a lot of other things. Turns out, he owns the race. Wow, now that's a guy who had a BAD DAY. His company is being bashed left and right online, on facebook, on twitter, and in media reports. He was very nice, and was doing a good job of managing the shuttle situation to the extent possible.

Classification: Just added insult to injury. We heard via the DJ and a staff member who walked through the line that the shuttle busses were all tied up due to an accident on the beltway, and that they were being rerouted, but it was like a cruel joke. Really, again? Another problem? I have to say, everyone was quite patient, well humored and agreeable during that added bonus 2 hours we got to hang out together. Cold, tired, and hungry for some real food, we stood, stretched, hopped around, chatted and tweeted.

The owner of the race knew there were a number of things that went wrong and he knew he was in big trouble with the DC race community. He told us several things:
-National Harbor wasn't his first choice for venue
-DC wouldn't let the race in for it's inaugural year
-They were originally told there were 10k parking spots onsite, but then the number changed to 5k

Here's what I wish I had asked him: WHY did you sell 20,000 spots to your race, knowing the parking situation, realizing the transportation scenarios and walking through that race course? You aren't new to this, far from it. Didn't you KNOW this was going to blow up in your face for about a million different reasons?

I am not looking for a refund (which so many people are asking for) but I'm just curious to see how they are going to handle this enormous PR nightmare. Still, I ran fast, I saw my friends, I had some chocolate and I took serious notes for the race that I'll be working out there in August of next year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That time I did a 100 yard dash

Thanksgiving is a big race day for runners, walkers and people who are into avoiding cooking, cleaning or setting the table. Runners all know that the local Turkey Trot is a good way to burn calories in advance of the big meal, get some sportz in for the day, and, you know, get out of doing chores. People who are into avoiding cooking, cleaning and setting the table should buy a pair of running shoes and sign up online. (You're welcome.)

Knowing I couldn't miss a chance to head south and see my little niece for the long weekend, I posted on Facebook to figure out what the race situation was in Raleigh. With multiple recommendations to do the Ridgewood Turkey Trot, I was sold. The RTT had the added benefit of three different distance options: 8k for people who wanted to sweat, a 1 mile fun run/walk for people interested in something a little less scary and best of all, a 100 yard dash for people 7 and under.

With her parent's permission, I signed my 1 year old niece up for her very first race. #hugewin

Thursday morning we put on our best running outfits and headed out. The 1 mile event went first, followed by the 8k run and then the kid's run. Not wanting to miss any of the fun, I decided the 1 mile walk would be a warm up for the 8k. 

We headed off into the fray with my niece in her stroller, cheering and waving her cowbell at everyone. My sister Nicole mentions to me that she can run one mile at her gym in 10 minutes. Big mistake! I had no idea she was interested in speed! 

"You'll never be able to run this in 10 mins if you are pushing a stroller!" I told her. 

"You're right," she said. "Kevin, she's all yours."

Her husband took over the stroller, but we were still moving a bit too slow for her 10 minute mile and as we approached the half mile turnaround, I offered to take over the stroller. I really never expected them to run, I just thought it would be fun for the crew to head out and get a bit of exercise...but with the stroller off their hands, and only a half mile to go, neither one had any excuse, so - I took off! 

I kept looking back over my shoulder to see how they were doing, and they were running! Side by side, and a bit behind me, so I slowed down a little to let them catch up. Once they were within shouting distance, I picked up the pace again and we ran it in. So. Much. Fun. We crossed the line in a little over 11 minutes.

I told Nicole we can definitely break 10 next year. We should probably shoot for 9!

Next up was the 8k. With some last minute encouragement from my fans, I was off.

Pre-race high five
I'm not sure how, but this was the fastest race pace I've ever done. Probably the super fun warm up. To top it off, I was met by screaming fans and a decorated parking lot with a huge chalk GO KAREN! Awesome.

Finally, after the race course cleared, bananas were consumed, trucks were played with, mulch was dug in, and we ran away screaming from some people dressed as turkeys (kind of scary if you are small) it was time for the 100 yard dash.
Pinning on her first race number
I had no idea how this would go off, but it was great. Once the kids figured out what was going on, even the really little ones started running. My niece ran with a handful of mulch (good luck charm?) and waved it at all her adoring fans cheering and screaming along the way.

Some little kids would just randomly stop and sit down in the middle of the course. They'd then hop back up and run a bit before sitting back down.

Please note the children behind us in this picture. One is sitting down and another is going the WRONG WAY. They have a lot to learn about racing.

We didn't stop (though we might have paused a few times) and she definitely sprinted to the finish as the crowds got louder and she heard the word RUNNING shouted a lot - she knows what that means! Not to brag, but she did a sub 90 second 100 yard dash. 1:29 and change. AND, she got a medal - which she quickly explained to us was actually a necklace.
The mulch made it all the way to the finish line.
It went great with her purple sparkle hooded sweater and pink legwarmers. It was a pretty amazing day.

So this kid has done her first running race and she got swim lessons at the YMCA from me as her birthday gift this year. Can anyone guess what she might be getting for Christmas?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not my problem.

I am one of those people who happily gives directions to tourists, holds the door for people, lets courteous drivers into my lane (but not cabs, never cabs) {or people with Duke stickers on their cars}, helps newbies with sportz questions, loan things to friends, shovel snow out from old ladies' cars (not that they should be out driving anyway) but you know, an upstanding member of society. However, there are also plenty of times when I'm happy to just say, whoa, that's so not my problem, and walk away. Usually it entails people being jerks, people being loud and offensive, people being manipulative, people taking advantage of a situation, and did I mention people being jerks? But sometimes there's a gray area.

I read a post yesterday on Endurance Isn't Only Physical that got me thinking about something. Tricia wrote that she had once been overweight. Ok, actually she said this:

      "But I was obese. I was morbidly obese. I was dying from being fat."

She said she wished someone had said something to her. Ok, actually she said this:

      "Did I need someone to tell me? Emphatically yes!"

Also, she said this:

     "The dirty little secret behind being morbidly obese is you don’t get that way simply
     because you like food, you get that way because you're hurting over something. You
     aren't feeding your body, lord knows you don't actually need that much food, you're
     feeding your hurt. I know that better than most. So while weight is a symptom, I’m
     really addressing the hurt."

Wow. I've never had to deal with this. Not yet, and hopefully never. I definitely keep an eye on my weight in terms of how my clothes are fitting and reign in the candy corns when my pants get tight. Training for endurance races means you're pretty much always hungry, so what you choose to stuff your face with matters. But that's not even the point of this post.

The question I have for people who read this is: what do you do, if anything, if you see someone who is the opposite of obese? Someone who is clearly destroying their body by NOT eating? I mean, I guess the answer depends on how well you know the person. Which, in my case, although it's someone I see almost every day, is not at all. There's a girl who goes to my gym. She's always there when I am. She's usually doing a variety of sportz. She's not just thin, she's skin and bones.

The reason I really started to notice her is because we swam side by side one day and, I hate to say this, and I really don't mean it in a rude way, but she smelled funny. Not bad like Dude, take a shower, but just sort of off. Her body was clearly angry with her. I know it's none of my business, and I don't know her, and there's nothing I can do, but it's hitting me in the head and in the heart somewhere between "I really should sneak the phone number for a therapist into her locker" and "Not my problem."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Football and Feats of Strength before 7am

I'd like to say I'm going to go with the flow and do a Wordless Wednesday post, but I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. In fact, sometimes I have to type stuff out and delete it. But then I can't even leave it at that, I have to TELL people that I've typed stuff up and deleted it. You know what your mom said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

But these pictures ARE something nice, and so was my run and even though there's absolutely no need to explain any of these photos captured along the route of my morning run, I am going to.

<Unlrelated Tip> If you really do need to do an easy run, bring your camera (or your phone) and take pictures of stuff. It makes it difficult to go too fast when you are running, phone in hand ready to snap anything nifty or awesome that comes across your path. </unrelated tip>

Lucky me. I have an amazing morning run route. I get to go past all kinds of wonderful things that people travel from all around the country just to get a glimpse of, take pictures of, and experience. My run starts off with this view of the White House. The Monument is just peeking out from behind. Pretty cool. 

I headed down 15th street and got to see the Washington Monument just as the sun was just coming up. No words needed.

When I got over to the mall is when the fun began. Look at these dudes doing feats of strength. Shut up! They are carrying heavy things down the mall. This is so awesome for so many reasons. What you can't quite see is the guy on the right is holding something really large and presumably heavy over his head as he walks. The guy in the middle has 2 rather large kettlebells. RAR! I love feats of strength. They make me happy.

This is the merry-go-round near the Smithsonian. I didn't realize how sad they were if they weren't on and spinning around and playing music and kids weren't dancing around and laughing. Don't worry, merry-go-round, you will see some action this weekend. I'm sure of it. It's going to be another one of those super busy, lots of stuff going on, people everywhere, beautiful Washington, D.C. weekends.

Morning sportz! These people were playing football right in front of the Capitol. This also made me happy. Football! At 7am! In front of the Capitol! Imagine! I love it! Good job, footballers!

Here's the Capitol. Watching the game. Quietly glad neither team is "skins".

This guy wins for best running outfit, possibly ever. Neon orange arm warmers. Tattoos everywhere (you can't see them, but I promise they are there.) [And, I know tattoos aren't technically an outfit per se, but I am counting them as part of his ensemble. Because it's my list and I can.] Sort of camo, sort of weird patterned cargo shorts. Blue headband. Compression socks. Guy, I hope your run this morning was as awesome as your outfit. You win.

Why I can't get closer to the Washington Monument right now. (You probably can't read it but it's still shut down from the EARTHQUAKE, aka, when I saw my life flash before my eyes because I was on the 12th floor of a building that shook like crazy and I knew, just KNEW I was a goner.) [But everything was fine.] {Well, except for the Monument.}

But it's still looking pretty good. And all the flags are doing their job representing. So I took another picture. Mostly because I love America. Especially this morning.

That was fun. Who knew that phone cameras would be able to take such clear pictures of wonderful things? Happy [Non]Wordless Wednesday, people. I tried. Well, not really.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday Fashion Facts

I've seen a lot of bad fashion this week (well, I guess there's a lot of bad fashion every week, but this week stood out.) This always happens when we're sort of in between seasons. It's chilly in the morning, and everyone hopefully wears their adorable tights and sweaters and then by the afternoon, it's sunny and warm and everyone is sweating. You just can't win. I've been wearing a lot of generic, boring, noncommittal outfits in an effort to stay under the fashion radar.

In my best effort at giving back, I've consolidated a list of Friday Fashion Facts to share with you. I feel ok admitting that some of these fashion disasters were of my own making. On the other hand, there are a couple of genius ideas in here, so it's turned out to be a very Seinfeldian (new word?) Even Steven kind of list.

Guess what I got in the mail this week from a one Ms. Ali on the Run?

If you guessed an I HEART SWEAT shirt, you guessed right. This shirt is proper for every occasion. Warm out? Wear it with shorts. Cool out? Wear it with arm warmers. Cold out? Wear it over an Under Armour shirt. Race day? Perfect. Training day? Also perfect. See? You can't lose.

Be glad that you can't smell this shirt, friends. I have already broken it in, and pulled it out of my laundry for this photo op.
  • Friday fashion fact: I HEART SWEAT shirts work like a charm to help you negative split your run. I knew those shirts were awesome, but I never dreamed they could help me with pacing. Thank you, Ali!  

The BAD:
I issued a PSA this week after I drove into the city for a pre-work spin class. It's obviously dark at that hour, but people (like me) are still out there getting their sportz on.

Trust me when I say I'm all about sportz at all hours, but you guys, wearing all black when it's dark out is a recipe for disaster. See this guy running down the sidewalk in my neighborhood?

No? My point exactly. He's wearing all black. In the dark. #notgenius
  • Friday fashion fact: Wear bright colors for sportz in the dark. Better yet: wear a LIGHT. Thank you in advance.

The Not That BAD:
I heard about Pilates in the Park this week from @washwellbeing . I easily convinced a couple of sporty chicks to join me. It was weird and wonderful. We were working our core in the middle of the rush hour chaos taking place around Farragut Square.

It was free of charge, but for some odd looks from passersby. There was one woman who walked through the park pointing and laughing at us, while she smoked a cigarette. Um, lady, you are SMOKING and we are doing sportz. 6 pack abs > lung cancer. #wewin

Scissors, anyone?
 However, the grass is itchy, and running shorts are not built for pilates.
  •  Friday fashion fact: When doing pilates in the grass with strangers during rush hour, wear tights.  

Whenever possible, I ride my commuter bike. I usually don't *need* to ride it, DC is quite walkable or metroable or (my personal favorite) bus-able. But, riding a bike is going to be the most fun option, and that's all I really need to say about that.

The main problem, of course, is that work clothes aren't usually condusive to biking. Still, I've ridden in the rain (and had to dry my work pants with a hair dryer before a meeting), I've ridden in a skirt (and realized that non-stretchy pencil skirts are not built for straddling bikes) and I've changed clothes in my garage to avoid the two aforementioned bikerideFAILS.

But today I came up with a truly genius way to keep my work pants out of my drivetrain:

  •  Friday fashion fact: Animal print binder clips make great pants clips for bike riders wearing work clothes. Reaow! Am fashion genius!
  • Related: Nikes look great with black work pants.

I had an epiphany this week while dealing with the after effects of a run and sporting some really awesome compression sleeves under my work pants. They were kind of peeking out of the bottom, and I really didn't feel like dealing with questions from my always curious co-workers. I had just ordered some new boots online and see where I am going with this, right?

  • Friday fashion fact: Those fashionable, fun, fall boots that we all love? They hide compression socks beautifully. You're welcome.

Hope your weekend is filled with sweaty spandex!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Confessions: I just ate a piece of popcorn off the floor

I feel like I'm under a lot of pressure to create an exciting blog post after my first "real" post got so many views. Whoa. But all I can come up with this rainy turned sunny turned happy hour Friday are some confessions. I know. We've barely met and I'm already airing my dirty laundry.

For example:

I think I just bonked at my desk. I felt so hungry I was dizzy and was feeling malnourished and stupid for being so hungry at work in the middle of the afternoon. That makes no sense. I actually went out and bought a sandwich and popcorn to rectify the situation. At 3:30 in the afternoon, I'm eating lunch again. Note to self: soup does not make a lunch. (You'll notice in the picture that the sandwich has already been consumed.)

Not in the picture? The fact that I just ate a piece of popcorn off the floor.

Also: I forgot to wear a helmet this morning when I rode my bike to the gym. The gym is only a few blocks from my office, but it's WAY faster and, ok, actually more fun to ride my bike. I didn't realize I wasn't wearing my helmet until I got there, so there was nothing I could do. I think as punishment for this crime, it was pouring rain when I went to leave. So...I rode my bike back in the pouring rain. In my work clothes. So that made me have to...

...take off my pants in the gym at my office and use a hair dryer to de-rainify them before my 9am meeting. That was fun. I'm actually very lucky that there IS a gym in my office and that there are hair dryers, because, let me tell you, I was DRENCHED. Almost as drenched as I was last night, when...

...I ran in the pouring rain, and I LIKED IT. It started off as a sprinkle, but within a half mile it was raining, and in the next few minutes it turned into a downpour. Once you're wet, you're wet, so I just kept running through puddles, dragging my friend with me (what a good sport!) One of the good things about running in the rain? You don't have to wash your hair after. Speaking of hair...

I'm considering blowing off happy hour because I'm having a bad hair day. Like, really bad. This is ridiculous, I know. But I am.

Whew. I feel better now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hello, my name is Karen and I'm a SportzJunkie.

I think I might have a problem. You tell me. Here are some of the symptoms.

I've been known to challenge friends to see who could amass the larger pile of sweat under a spin bike.

I think pictures in front of enormous Gatorade bottles are cool.

I get more excited for sales at than I do for Ann Taylor.

There are currently no less than five pair of smelly sporty shoes sitting at the front door to my house. (Under a bike.) (And two pair of animal print flats, but that's not really a problem though, is it?)

I own 5 pairs of the same long distance tri shorts because I keep wearing them out.

I have trouble keeping my belly full. I eat Lots Of Food. Constantly. (It's not always healthy.)

I own multiple bikes and I like to ride them all.

I think 5am is a reasonable time to wake up if there is something fun to do.

I sometimes go entire weeks without showering at home.

I have more plastic bike water bottles from races than I have cabinet space.

My car contains equipment for any swimming, biking, running, yoga or strength training that could occur at a moment's notice. And shower supplies, should they be required. Oh, and snax for sportz. It used to smell like a new car. Now it kind of smells like a sports car. No, I mean sportz car.

Since there is all this sporty stuff in my car, I sometimes throw in an extra workout rather than sit in rush hour traffic. Running > gridlock. #duh

I've run in the pouring rain, in the falling snow, in code red in the summer, in the mud, up hills, at sunrise, over bridges, gotten lost, and I've WALKED a MARATHON. (That is a bit of a long story.)

I know I am lucky to be able to do this stuff, and I am even luckier to have friends to do it with me. I'm going to keep it up as long as I can.

Hello, my name is Karen and I'm a SportzJunkie.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm not wasting a 545am wake up.

Remember that time I totally busted in the mud, but it turned out to be a good run anyway? No? Let me refresh your memory.

I'm excited that I can run again. No injuries, no rules or regulations about when or how far or how fast. It's nice. So, as unfun as it is to get out of the bed at o'dark thirty (which, by the way, why can't it be o'dark o'clock? huh? or 10 after o'dark? why?) running down the mall at sunrise usually outweighs those few minutes of slogginess at 545am...even if the sun is hidden behind a lot of clouds and the entire morning is a comedy of errors.

Yesterday, I got to work, dumped my stuff in the locker room, grabbed my hat because I thought it might rain a little and headed out. I very helpfully left my carefully packed hand held water bottle in my bag, but that's ok, I'd survive. Off I go, down 17th Street, easy warm up, this is great, but there's a dude that's just behind me and that's annoying. I decided to drop him. Done.

There's apparently a lot of construction going on down at Lincoln right now, leaving one side of the path closed off and the other side somewhat dark, at least for this dreary early morning, and crawling with runners. I deicded the dirt path alongside the paved trail sounded like the MOST fun, so I went that way. Did you notice how I mentioned it was dark? And crawling with runners?

Oh this is fun, I thought! Similar to a trail! Look at me, leaping over all these tree roots! I'm so agile! Look at all those Army guys running this morning! Look at - whooooooooooooooooooooa - the ground! It's muddy. And cold. And - geez, get up already. But first, turn off your Garmin. (No, really, I turned off my watch before I even scraped myself off the ground.)

I sat on a bench for a minute and thought I was probably going to have to go to the emergency room for a concussion for jarring my head and neck so hard until I realized, oh, actually, I'm fine. I got up and ran back to the WWII memorial, in hopes that the bathrooms were open and I could wash some of the mud off my legs and hands. They were...NOT. I cleaned up my bloody knee at a water fountain and got the dirt off of my watch (yes, I know! weird, right?) and just about then, it started to rain. Not like, a little bit of rain, but total downpour.

I could either go back where I had just come from, resulting in about a 2.5 mile run/fall/run event or I could continue on. Obviously, I continued on. I'm not wasting a 545 am wake up. Up Independence, down the mall towards the Capitol, puddle after puddle, the mud slowly washed away as I squished through mile after downpouring mile. Slowly, the rain eased up and the sun came out. And just as slowly, I made my way back to work, stopping to wring out my clothes at stoplights.

My shoes are still wet, and my ribs hurt like hell when I laugh. I've got a nasty bruise on my knee and the palms of my hands are a bit sore. But it's the farthest I've run since the Ironman, and I feel a little bit like a badass, so, yeah, it was a good run.

Monday, September 26, 2011

we scaled small mountains

i'm not entirely sure why i've never done this before, but sunday was my first trail run/hike/walk. i wish i knew why i'd never tried running on trails before, because now my main problem with trail running is that logistically i can really only figure out how to do it once a week. maybe twice. and that's not enough.

lucky for me, lindsey was more than happy to be dragged along on my quest for adventure and we meet up at 9 in rock creek park. unfortunately we missed cat, who was already out pounding the trails when we arrived. it was unforunate for two reasons: we would have loved to have her company and more problematically, neither lindsey nor i had any idea where these infamous trails WERE.

so, we did the only thing we could. we just started running around and looking for trails. fortunately for us, people who know about these things were right about the trails being easy to find (well, i mean when you are looking for them, they are. i've been to rcp many a time, and never noticed a single trail.)

so we found a trail and off we went! we quickly found ourselves in the middle of the woods, running up hills, running over tree roots, running across a creek (well i was gingerly hopping from rock to rock, afraid of getting my feet wet, but lindsey was far more agile), running, running, running, and boom: we're on connecticut avenue. it felt like we had been out there forever, considering how winded we were standing on that sidewalk, but my garmin said it was about a half a mile. so we dove back in.

we went down hills, over rocks, lept fallen trees, scaled small mountains (hey, you don't know, you weren't there), laughed, walked, and all of the sudden, boom: we're in a parking lot. we briefly discussed heading up to the road to see where we were, but why bother with that, when there's an option to go back in the trail and go another way?

we did this for an hour. we'd walk around a bit, see another trail and attack it. it was truly the most fun i've had in a long time and i'm so grateful that lindsey decided to join me, even though i apologized for probably 30% of the day about walking up hillz. in my defense, any time we came to a fork in the road, she said, let's go UP!

4.5 miles later, we made it back to our cars, dripping in sweat, filthy, with muddy shoes and smiles on our faces. i've got 2 trail running races on the calendar for the fall and i was considering a third. i think THAT decision has been made.

Friday, September 23, 2011

it didn't take

i got an idea today for how to award prizes in the off season tris. i won't give it all away, but a certain friend who will go by the name @plainiejanie and another certain friend who shall be called @emilysweats both claimed to be more sweaty after a certain particularly sweaty spinning class. i actually thought that i had won, based on the fact that every square inch of my body and the towel i brought into class was soaking wet, but both of those girls had puddles of sweat under their spin bikes. i'll have to try harder next time. gosh, makes you wonder why that room smells so bad. #notreally

i had hoped to go for a very short run after, purely because it sounded like fun, but as it turns out, i felt a little bit like death. #gettingbackinshapeishard

have you ever seen that seinfeld where george takes a shower and then immediately after finds himself still sweating? that was me. today's shower didn't cool me off. it didn't make me stop sweating. it didn't take. i was toweling off the entire time i tried to get ready. which didn't make me feel any less like death. so i put on a drywick shirt to wear until i got to the office, trying to prevent my work shirt from getting a) sweaty and b) rained on.

when i stopped down at the front desk of the y, the nice man at the front desk goes, wow, you really ARE dressing down today. i looked down at my outfit. a pacers half marathon shirt. brown pants. bright neon nikes. embarassing blue bike helmet. wet hair in a ponytail. i said, wait no! i'm just wearing my gym shirt because i thought it would be raining when i left. so my work shirt would stay dry. he was like, yeah, sure you are.

i have finally cooled off and stopped sweating, i'm wearing a jacket with my brown pants and work appropriate shoes, but my still wet hair is still pulled back and i just. don't. care.

speaking of - where can i find a job where neon nikes are work appropriate? because i'd like to apply.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


my alarm went off this morning at 530 am. everything was lined up for a bike ride at hains point with a friend. tires pumped, breakfast stuff ready, bag packed with work clothes and more after work sportz clothes. instead of hitting snooze for 5 minutes to adjust to the idea of getting up, like i always do, i hit DISMISS. what is that??????? i never hit dismiss.

i woke u abruptly an hour later and wondered what time it was. yikes! 630! after realizing there was no good way to salvage the morning for sportz, i just went back to sleep for 30 minutes. i think my body was trying to tell me something. it was very clearly saying: shhhhhhhhhh. stop it with the sportz. i want a break. and i believe that when your body is trying to tell you something, it's always good to listen.

however, i've now had an extra *90* minutes of sleep (unheard of!) so tonight i'll make up for this morning's sportzFail with a quick swim and some body pump. then tomorrow morning, i can do a short run and then spinning with @emilysweats! #win-win-win-win dismiss button, you are dismissed. i'm back with the program.

and of no interest to anyone but me: i remembered bread today, so i won't have to eat a pile of turkey, tomatoes, avacados and cheese for lunch. i can actually stack them up neatly and cover them in carbs. #yaylunch

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

this stuff is fun!

i'm currently on a training/exercise/sportz kick. i've been doing two a days whenever possible, lots of strength, speed work, extra swims. good grief, who am i? i'm sure this desire for extra sportz will eventually wear out its welcome, but for now, i'm just trying to enjoy myself and shoot, this stuff is fun!

tonight, for example, i was on the fence about joining in a group bike ride. i wasn't meeting anyone, i wasn't even sure if anyone i knew would be there. but, i had brought my bike this morning, i had a car full of spandex and i found myself driving over there. i was sort of just going through the motions. the part of my brain that knew that you never regret a workout was in charge. and guess what? it was fun. like, super fun. like, i ended up beating dudes up hills fun. i was right. (hey, at least i'm not having to admit someone ELSE was right.)

in related news: tonight was the first night i've showered in my own bathroom in weeks. i know, right? but it's almost as if the ymca is a second home, i've got so much stuff stashed there. thank goodness for the kit lockers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

wednesday whys

here are the questions that are floating around in my head this wednesday.

why is running so hard?
why can't i seem to get back in shape post-race?
why is it taking so long?
why am i complaining? i am not injured, i can run (albeit slowly and for shorter distances than i'd like) and the weather is actually quite nice latey. so, geez. i should zip it.

why is my new bike saddle giving me a pain in the *saddle area*?
why must it get dark so early and why does the sun take so long to come out?
why am i complaining? it's still warm, and i can still ride for an hour or so before work and i still have friends who are willing to meet me and ride. i should be thankful.

why am i signed up for another ironman?
did i let janie pressure me into doing that? or did i pressure myself? do i really want to do it? who can i ask to find out?

why am i not racing savageman this weekend? (wait, answered - see question 2.)
why did i get suckered into volunteering this weekend, when i volunteered for no less than 31 hours this weekend. no, not an exaggeration or typo. 31 hours. i just wanted to sit down and relax and play and enjoy the weekend and now all day saturday is basically tied up.

why is it so hard to get out of the bed but so easy to remember how fun it is to do sportz the second you start doing them?

Friday, September 2, 2011

fast but slow

i got a few little tastes of speed this year and i found out - it's fun to be fast!

**now, i'll back up and clarify, this speed of which i speak is all entirely karen-centric and not meant to be associated with my swim, bike, run colleagues who are light years faster than me. i guess i should edit that line above to say "it's fun to be fastER!" ok. yes, that's what i meant. **

however. fast is not what i am right now. i can't even do fast if i try. my legs just don'twanna. recovering from finishing 140.6 mile race is a long process and one of the things that is affected, not surprisingly, is your speed. not that speed is the only problem, or even the least of your worries, but it does affect fun. since i'm only in it for the fun, well, yes, i have a problem.

your mind thinks, how about an easy 10 miler? your mind is your enemy here. people training for a long race can toss around phrases like "easy 10 miler" and "recovery run" and "hill repeats" and "track workout." people recovering from long races cannot. well, you can toss them around, but they land with a thud on the ground.

people recovering from ridiculous races or injuries, or both, can toss around phrases like, "30 mintues non stop running" and "i'm back up to 4 miles" and "i'm pain free!" and be immensely proud and totally excited.

but here's the dilemma. fast is fun, right? the faster you do your allocated 4 miles, the more fun it is. BUT, the faster you go, the sooner you are done, and the less time you have spent crunching gravel on the mall, watching the sunrise, and giving that slight nod to other runners saying, yeah, i know, it's awesome, isn't it?

you want to go fast, but you want to take it all in...slowly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

this is taking forever

we had a lovely little storm pass through the area last night and this morning. i really love being stuck in the house and forced to entertain myself. i look so forward to these storms. rain, snow, whatever, it's all good to me. my house usually gets really clean (like, eat off the floors clean) and i get caught up on reading, sleeping and googling things. it's awesome.

the storm cleared up and moved north this morning, leaving us with a gorgeous late summer afternoon. it's odd not to get up and work out first thing. add to that the oddness of not *needing* to get up or work out at all and i almost missed out on a really pretty afternoon for a run. it could have been a travesty. but it wasn't.

it wasn't The Best Run Ever though, noooo, far from it. it was painful. i was out of breath, thirsty, tired, and i wanted to complain, despite some good company. it wasn't painful because i'm injured. it was painful because, and this may be breaking news to some people, running is HARD. it's even harder when you haven't run for a while because you have been injured. i also expect that i'm still slowly coming back from that little race i did a month ago.

but, in my typical, "hmmm, in retrospect, that wasn't so bad" memory, it was pretty fun to be running again, even if it is taking forever to get back where i think i should be, running-wise. i'm hoping to be back in shape enough to do a olympic distace triathlon in october, meaning i'd need to be ok with running a 10k on tired legs. which, wow, that just seems sad from someone whose preference is running much farther after swimming and biking. but i'm trying to roll with it. and then, run with it. #triathletehumor

Saturday, August 27, 2011

a little bit jealous

i've been reading lots of other people's blogs lately and really enjoying it. i dug this one up and realized, geez! there have been a lot of lost ideas and thoughts and funny musings! i'm really funny! but not to worry - a) i'm back and b) there's another ironman on the horizon. it's still a very tiny horizon, and the ironman is like a little dot and it's hard to see, even with bifocals, but it's out there, just like alaska is allegedly out there somewhere. i have no proof, and sometimes find it hard to believe, but people say it's true, so i'll just go along with it. for now.

today was a taper ride with the IMMOO girls. alejandro, another lake placidite, and i joined for fun and support, even though the weather was a bit suspect. we both owe these girls a lot - they trained with us, cheered for us, and made us sandwiches with love. they are amazing and they are all going to rock the course in wisconsin in a couple of weeks. they have NO IDEA how much fun they are going to have. but i do. and i'm secretly a little bit jealous.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Steroids (11)

I had an amazing run yesterday. This is not really that exciting, except that I've actually been sick, NEAR DEATH (ok, that's an exaggeration...) since FEBRUARY 14TH. I remember this date because I got sick when I was home visiting my one-year-old niece for her birthday. She was all sniffly, but still cute, and she helpfully wiped her face on my shirt several times. Oh, and gave me lots of kisses. Germ transfer: complete.

So, I returned home with that "it's going to hurt if i swallow" sore throat. I usually, luckily, can just ignore this and drink fluids and lay off the crazy workouts and feel better pretty quick. I think this time was payback for all of that easy livin.

The sore throat got so painful (and yes, my pain threshold is fairly high) that I went to the actual doctor. You don't have strep, she said. Go with advil cold and sinus, she said.

The following wednesday, I was back. I had turned my car around on my way in to a morning workout and admitted defeat. I couldn't take the pain, which had relocated itself to my sinus.

Let's fast forward here, because this story is getting boring, fast.

I counted. 5 different doctors visits. 6 different prescriptions. Various over the counter medicines. 1 trip to the urgent care. I took the last of my prescrptions yesterday. It just so happens, it was a steroid. Now, rememember how I said I had amazing run yesterday? Yeah.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That's me. (10)

I thought this was pretty funny, because...yes, I do these things. I try to keep them in my head, but alas:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Excuses, excuses

In the last 5 years of doing tris, I've always found a good excuse to avoid a swim, a run, or turn a brick into a solid bike ride (and ditch the run). I swore that with IM Moo looming in the distance (albeit far distance), my goal was to stick to the plan. To assist these efforts, I even started paying someone to reinforce the Catholic guilt that I have for missing a workout (thanks Coach K).

I was actually doing pretty well for a few months. November & December brought about the most consistent training that I've ever had. Yes, this includes swimming. (No, the snowstorm-induced pool closure doesn't count as skipping). Jan was a bit tougher due to a hip injury, but I was hanging in there and damn proud of it.

Then I discovered the best excuse ever for just...stopping altogether. This excuse came in the form of orders to Iraq. I can see myself running in 120 degrees and sandstorms. I may even be able to go to a spinning class once or twice a week. But swimming is out of the question. And I don't get back till after Moo.


I'm sad that I won't get to share the training trials & tribulations of my good tri club friends, and even more upset about not sharing that amazing day on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with them. I was looking forward to doing one of the toughest things I could imagine to remember that day; but maybe I will be, just not as initially imagined.

Well, after several weeks "off," several lbs on, the excuses are over. Started today with a wake-up call of a tough hike up the Manitou Springs Incline and remembered why I love working out to begin with. No more excuses. For now, anyway.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby germs (8)

This week I learned that vicious baby germs are no match for the finely tuned immune system that I've been working so hard to build up over the past few years.

My niece turned one this weekend, and she's so stinking cute that it's hard to put it into words, so I obviously went down to NC to see her. I have access to the YMCA when I'm out of town (it's so glorious!) so I was also going to kick it with the Raleigh Y people. It was going to be a grand weekend. And a grand weekend it was.

However, Sat night, my throat started hurting. I did what I usually do when I start to feel sick: IGNORED IT and kept doing my workouts. This works, I'd say 9 times out of 10, and that's actually a pretty decent record. But this time, by Wed morning, I felt like I had been hit by a train. I ended up at the drs worried I had caught strep, that had been floating around Raleigh. Thankfully, it was just a bug, but the dr informed me that I hadn't been in there since 2007.

Hmmm...2007. That's the first year I started doing triathlons. Coincidence? #ithinknot

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A smile is a smile (7)

I found myself smiling today, 8.5 miles into a run, with another mile of serious hills to go before I could stretch, take a warm shower, and finally eat breakfast. I couldn't tell if I was sort of laughing at the ridiculousness of what I was doing - I mean, it was freezing out, my face was numb, my hips were screaming, and for the last 40 minutes I had been heading straight into a gnarly headwind. Or if I was I laughing at the insanity of what lays ahead for me this summer, when a 90 minute run will be nothing- 90 minutes will be an off week. Or could it be that I was actually enjoying myself?

Regardless, a smile is a smile and a run is a run and I did both before most people had their first cup of coffee this morning.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Everything hurts. (6)

This seems to be a recurring theme. Lesson: lots of things that seem fun at the time result in varying degress of pain and inability to move very fast later. Not that there's anything wrong with that...especially if you can sit around on Sunday afternoons.

Yesterday we did the 100 push up challenge. Not as hard as it sounds. We also, over the course of an hour, did 200 squats and 200 crunches, in addition to several other strength building exercises. This was followed by an endurance brunch, where only the strong hung on to the bitter end. We got more than our money's worth of bottomless mimosas. Ridiculousness ensued.

For the record, I'm mostly blaming Rob for my current state, and not factoring the bottomless mimosas into the equation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not necessary for spinning. (5)

Here's a list of things not necessary for spin class.

1. Camoflauge cargo capri pants.
2. Arm warmers.
3. Hats.
4. Bike gloves.
5. Ipod with headphones.
6. Long sleeved shirts.
7. Blackberry.
8. Puffy coat.
9. Stevie Winwood.
10. Any knowledge whatsoever pertaining to riding bikes.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

C'mon, people. (4)

To the guy running down the middle of the road this morning (and by morning I mean 0615 am), yeah, I know your running shoes have a tiny swatch of reflective material on the heel. But you are running down the middle of the road. In the dark. Wearing dark clothes. Survival of the fittest doesn't always refer to an animal's ability to run fast; you also have to be smart enough to run somewhere where cars aren't competing for space. Like...a sidewalk?

To the girl in the locker room wearing tweed pants, a striped shirt and a flowery sweater: No.

C'mon, people. Get it together. I'm not even cranky! These people are just stupid, and I just thought I would share.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm not dead yet. (3)

This weekend was super fun. It started with Friday morning's 0645 am run in the cold, blustery wind. Saturday was the 2nd Off Season Tri, the "I don't really need to be able to walk on Sunday" edition: 2 solid hours of spin/run/strength work. As a prep for that Janie made me meet her at the pool for a short swim beforehand, because, you know, why sleep in if you can get up early and swim at the Y? Sunday was 3 hour spin. I got home from that, showered, ate, and settled in to catch up on tivo. I woke up around 5pm. I think I can safely classify this weekend under Total Destruction.

Rob emailed this morning to ask how I was feeling. I sent him a youtube clip from Monty Python.

I'm not dead yet! I think I'll go for a walk! I feel happy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Runny nose. (2)

Morning run. Miles: About 7. Temperature: 33. Wind: A rather lot. Complaining: quite a bit. Runny noses: 2. Isn't it always better with a friend?

Monday, January 10, 2011

blogFAIL (1)

I'm on a blog! I'm learning how to blog! I'm a blogger! If you say blog a lot of times doesn't turn into the strangest word? Blog. Ugh. Now I hate that word. I won't say it again.

Over the past several days I've come up with and promptly forgotten somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 brilliant ideas to write about. And I'm rounding DOWN. That was my problem last week. Lack of follow through = blogFAIL # 1.

This weekend it was my inability to figure out where this website was and how to log in. (Is this thing on? Hello?) Ignorance = blogFAIL # 2.

After a plea for help, I was saved tonight with log in information by not just one but two of my teammates. Yeah, that's right. I'm calling them teammates. Even though we aren't doing the same race, don't always train together, or even have similar training plans for that matter. But teammates cheer other teammates on, and help them out when they are dumb or lazy (Ahem) and generally offer support when called on. So. Thank you in advance, girls.

I'm going to hold the 700 brilliant ideas I have for future posts. One of the stories involves a high five and a snowy run. Shut up! I know! It's a great story! But, baby steps, people. Baby steps. After all, the journey to a blog with 140 (point 6) posts starts with a single post. Voila!