August/September Round-Up

August was one hell of a ride–life wise and training wise. Since I spent 11 days in Europe, cycling and running almost every day there, I feel like the first half of the month was a success!

Coming back from Europe…a whole other story. I blame the ridiculous amounts of candy and chocolate I brought back.

I  found myself smack-dab in the middle of week four of half-marathon training. My mileage was fine, it’s everything else that was out of sorts. Being back in training means giving up my oh, I only feel like going out for five miles today (or three. Or just sleeping).  It means facing up to the race and figuring out what my goals for Baltimore will be (more on that later)

While I was on the boat, I also read Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run, which I highly recommend. The parts about his running are fascinating. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian and certainly not an ultramarathoner but it was really interesting and overall a good story. I of course, totally thought I was an awesome runner while I was reading it and then came quickly back to reality while struggling through some hot and humid runs.

So overall…August was a good month for my general fitness and gave me some good food for thought. Which brings us to…

September

OMG FALL. That’s what I feel about September. I can’t WAIT for those cooler temps to start coming in and take my runs down from dripping dog sweaty to just regular sweaty.

#1 Food consumption: This is already going badly. But I did one of those calorie counter thingies and discovered I eat WAY too much food:

I am going over my daily allowance by about 300 calories–BEFORE I entered my chocolate and wine consumption. So I’m going to be spending the month trying to eat  in a way that doesn’t leave me hungry but also doesn’t make me gain weight!

#2 Speed Training

My half marathon plan has speed training on it (track and tempo runs) and I just.don’t.get.it. Like…how does one do 100 meter intervals around a track? Where is there a track? How far is 100m exactly?

I’ve been avoiding it so far but really, really, REALLY need to get my act together and try it out. Much googling will be needed.

#3 Avoiding Injury!

Things have been…twinging of late. I believe it’s a lack of crosstraining + extra running (due to a heavier half marathon training schedule). I cannot get injured. Again. Because then I have to say goodbye to my marathon. So the goal here is really to spend September resting when I should be resting, doing more strength training, doing crosstraining. All those good things.

What are you all working on this month?

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European Adventures!

My Long Absence is easily explained: I was not in this country. Nor did I have internet access for almost TWO WEEKS. Which is…crazy.

I went to Europe with my family to visit my grandmother. While we were there, we had the most A-mazing time. My dad decided he wanted to have an “active” vacation so my parents, my sisters, and I hopped onto a river boat cruise/cycling tour for a week. We went from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary and back. It was…breathtaking. And SO MUCH FUN.

There was a lot of this:

Views of the Donau River

And some of this:

 

And due to some badly applied sunscreen, I ended up with this:

 

 

In summary: AMAZING.

Not only did we cycle 25-45 miles almost every day (at a VERY leisurely pace, mind you. We had my six year old sister with us), but I also managed to keep up with my runs! And the running was also, at a nice, flat, leisurely pace.

I returned two weeks ago feeling refreshed and amazing. Of course, that feeling hasn’t completely lasted but I am definitely so grateful for the experience .

 

 

Race Report: Rosaryville Trail Race, 10 Miles/15k

You GUYS, I ran my first trail race on Sunday! And it was amazing, just as I thought it would be.

Aforemention ultra-trail runner friend convinced me I wanted to run some distance of the Rosaryville Trail Race. The big ticket item was the 50k but there was no way in hell I was doing that, for obvious reasons. I opted to sign up for the 10k instead.

The event was clearly small and locally run by the Kent Island Running Group, which I had never heard of, but whatever.  Registration was $35 not matter what distance you chose! A total bargain when you compare it to…every other race I’ve ever run.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5am (ish) and headed out to Rosaryville State Park. In the email sent out the day before, the race director had mentioned to key items: 1, the races would start at intervals around 7am. 2, we could switch distances mid-race if we wanted to. The course was a giant loop with the beginning/finish in the middle of it. So, the 10k went halfway around the course, the 10miler one whole loop, the 25K one and half times, and the 50k did it three times. So, it was definitely possible to do an easy up- or down-grade on the distance.

This made me start considering the possibility of upgrading to the 10miler. Now, I haven’t run more than 7 miles since Frederick. But I felt that on trails, with a slower pace, I could handle it. Plus, it’s really not that big of a leap to 10 miles, right?

I got there, went through the bib/timing chip line, found Ashleigh, did all the prerace things. It was a warm morning and HUMID due to the constant rain we had received on Saturday. But people were milling around–a pretty small crowd but honestly way more than I expected.

What struck me was how…relaxed, the whole thing was. There weren’t people being assigned to coralls and we definitely didn’t start on time. The race director kinda just advised each group to amble over to the starting line depending on their distance and then it was GO.

The 10k (my original choice) was very much about settling into my rhythm. Since this was my first trail race I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the course and passing others on the trail was concerned. I would say I was averaging around 11 minute pace which seemed both epically slow and somehow speedy. After the first aid station at the 5 mile mark, I made my choice to continue on with the 10 mile group. Around mile 7 I came behind a couple of people who seemed to be rocking the same pace as I was and I stuck to them for the rest of the run.

The whole thing was a single-track around the perimeter of the park. The trail itself had some pretty good climbs–“rolling hills” is the term, I believe. Despite the consistent rain from the day before, the trail was not AS muddy as I was expecting, nor did I have to wade through any rivers (my Saucony’s would not have thanked me for that). There were definitely some slippery and sketchy parts. I nearly feel face first down a slope but somehow pulled balancing skillz out of NOWHERE and caught myself.

I think what I enjoyed the most was the lack of pressure to hit a time or pace–I had no expectations so just went with what felt good. I also didn’t want to push myself and trip on a root or burn out too early and have to walk so that helped a lot.

Here’s my garmin info:
Rosaryville 15 Trail Race by themalstrom at Garmin Connect – Details.

 

 

My overall place was:

-1st in my age group (out of four, hahahaha!)

-12th overall (out of thirty)

Trail running is still awesome and I’m considering a few fall races, as well as finding a place to just RUN. But I still want to continue on with road distances–mostly because of the lack of tripping and faster paces.

A Friday Full of Feelings

Some days, nothing really comes together. I woke up to grey skies and rain–a forecast that I am told will persist throughout the day. As a self diagnosed SAD sufferer, the world was already looking depressed.

And then the painful news about the shooting on Aurora, Colorado. It’s senseless events that make you truly question the people in this world and why and where and how. Sometimes (usually), there is no answer that doesn’t leave you feeling icky. And I feel that this will be one of those times.

I’ll update more running related things later today. But right now I am sad and I can’t shake it off.

Accidental Crosstraining

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the blag but I’m essentially a lazy person. Don’t let the getting up early to run part of me fool you–I really try to take the lazy way out of things as much as possible. Thus, I don’t do that whole…crosstraining things. I mean, I go on walks. And try to swim laps. And I would totally do yoga if I had time/money. But in general, I don’t crosstrain on purpose.

This weekend was no different–I didn’t crosstrain on PURPOSE. It just happened. More accurately, 46 miles of cycling through Northern Virginia happened.

My dad was in town for a conference! He happens to be training for Reno’s first ever Expedition Man triathlon so he’s all up into the swimming and the cycling places these days (not the running because he has some knee and back issues. And is clearly a loser. Kidding).  He also looks pretty awesome.

FUN DAD FACT: he graduated from West Point and was in the Army for 21 years. He is no stranger to the working out but since retirement he gradually got out of shape. Luckily, c’ircumstances have led him back to regular workouts and now he has not only signed up for the Expedition Man but he is also competing in the Tough Mudder race later this year.

So when Dad suggested renting some bikes on Saturday to “train” for our summer trip to Germany, I figured I was in for one of those hipster bike days. You know, jean shorts, cute top, cycling around The City looking at the sites. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

We rented bikes from Bike and Roll at Union Station and  embarked on a five and a half hour journey on what I imagine is every trail ever in Virginia. And despite not wearing the proper uniform, I had a BLAST.  I was a hot sweaty mess and hadn’t been on a bike in over a year but I LOVED it. Northern Virginia has a fantastic trail system that was definitely well maintained.

Of course, we were not going particularly fast or really hitting any kind of goal but I think I satisfied the requirements for a good workout.

Dad and me, around mile 2. If only I had KNOWN

The In-Betweens

(According to Successful Blog People, one should have a writing schedule for blogs. Pshaw, I say! I live spontaneously and in the MOMENT!) (Lies, I’m so type-A, but have not made some schedule for this blog out of confusion as to what this blog should be about.) (Back to your regularly scheduled–butnotreally–programming).

I am in the dreaded in-betweens for running and training. It’s been almost THREE months since my last real race! And my training for the Baltimore half doesn’t kick off for another few weeks.

Overall, I’m feeling about as tired as usual! I decided, since I wasn’t planning on running SUPER long runs as usual, I would just add another day of regular runs (4-5 miles). My schedule looks a little like this:

Monday: 6 miles

Tuesday: 4-5 miles

Wednesday: 6 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 7 miles or so

Sunday: “Crosstraining”–usually swimming for about 25-30 mins.

I tried that running streak thing that Runner’s World was promoting on twitter and just.couldn’t.do.it. Everything hurt and I was getting cranky from it.

After taking stock of running five days a week, I think it’s definitely possible but I might cut back to four days again when I start hitting the longer parts of half training. We shall see. The number ONE PRIORITY: not getting injured. I have a marathon to run next spring!

Not a Race Report: North Face Endurance Challenge 50k

About, oh, six months ago? Maybe five? My friend was on the fence about signing up for the North Face Endurance Challenge in DC. She had just finished an awesome half marathon and was looking for the next challenge. But a traditional marathon was not really the challenge she wanted to go for–she had recently discovered trail running.

So over the course of many, many g-chat sessions I basically pressured her into signing up with the ULTIMATE promise that I would pace her for 8  miles if she did it (I certainly believe that my 8 mile promise must have done it).

For the past few months, this girl has (literally) trained her butt off. She gave up drinking for two weeks. She didn’t even come to my totally ridiculous Ocean City extravaganza because there was a 26 mile training run on the books. Yeah. She’s been dedicated. And crazy.

Friday, the DC area was treated to a monsoon and some tornadoes. So I’m sure you can imagine what the trails were like on Saturday morning. Rather muddy.

Leading up to Saturday, I was getting increasingly nervous about two things:

1. Pacing was not allowed for the 50k. I’d never run part of a distance race with someone for this purpose so I didn’t know if this was going to be strictly enforced or if all races say this or whatever. I didn’t want to get my friend in trouble though (or myself).

2. Trail running in general. I wasn’t a trail runner. I hadn’t trained on trails. The most “trail running”  I do is running in the dirt next to Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park. I didn’t want to hold my friend back because I was inexperienced and therefore slow.

I made her swear up and down that she would leave me behind if I was hindering her. And then I decided to let it go and try to get into a “what will be, will be” mindset. If I missed her, I missed her. If  I couldn’t run the course, I would be the best spectator she had ever had. And if I slowed her down…well, I would let it go and cut through the trails to head back to the park entrance.
I got to the park around 8:35am, already running five minutes late. Her half marathon PR is 1:40 and the Great Falls loop started 12 miles in, with a 7am start time…I was cutting it close. LITTLE DID I KNOW! Trail races are waaaaay slower than road races. Okay, I had heard this. I just didn’t realize how much slower they were! Panicking, I ran to the aid station while relieved to see plenty of normal people on the same trail marked Gore-Tex (good sign for being allowed to run with Ashleigh).

I waited around and secretly planned my attack. And then in distance, in a sea of runners, a bright pink tank top! It was her! So I of course start screaming and whooping and embarrasing myself no doubt. I’d like to think her face brightened when she saw me, but that could have been her seeing the aid station.

After the tank top I noticed, her legs were mud. Maybe some skin showing but from upper thigh down, all mud. Well, aren’t we going to have a fun time.

So I  run around to the part of the trail past the station and we were  off! I had the advantage of not having run 12 miles already, or slogged through streams and rivers and muddy trails so I was kinda hyper. The atmosphere was also intoxication–it reminded me of why I love races. We fell into the run and I did my very best to be an understanding, helpful pacer. Like, talking a lot to be distracting. Making random observances. You know, typical me stuff. Ashleigh was great and answered all my questions about how the race was going, why she was covered in mud, whether there were attractive men about. You know, typical her stuff.

We were going slowly but you didn’t really notice because there were some pretty wicked hills in that loop. When we hit the aid station on the loop, Ashleigh took off her shoes to get some rocks out and I noticed that her white socks were, well, brown. And WET. So I made her take my slightly sweaty socks. That basically made me feel like I had actually contributed to her race somewhat, as opposed to just being an annoying chattering presence.

And then, sooner than I would have guessed, I was done. We emerged from the loop and I had to head back to my car.

The Takeaway: a few weeks ago I was mentally drafting a post about losing my love for running. How after Frederick every run felt like a complete battle and hurt every part of my body and started hurting my soul. But, honestly, the past couple of weeks have been…amazing. Something about running those seven miles on the trails made me love running all over again. Trail running might be my new favorite thing and I can definitely see myself participating in the North Face Endurance Challenge in a more…official capacity next year.

 

Race Report: Frederick Half Marathon 2012

Better late than never?

Short Version: YESSSSSS! PR, baby!

Long Version: 

Act 1. The Training

I felt pretty…okay? with my training  for this half marathon. After the hurt that went into Rock n Roll, my goal was basically just to finish within my Baltimore and Rock n Roll times (1:55 and 1:52). I had one REALLY bad long run in the stretch between Rock n Roll and Frederick–I was supposed to run 11 miles but went out at 2:30 pm on a lovel, HOT Saturday. I made it to  8.5 and that was after a lot of nuun drinking, walking, and cursing.

I’ve been making the conscious decision to run without music lately. It was first due to not having a working mp3 player in my possession. And then it became a challenge to see if I could do it. Now I find music almost unpleasantly distracting for my runs. I save it for the races.

Act II. The Taper

I don’t really believe in tapering. I just kinda…don’t run for a few days before the race? This time around, I actually took an extra day off due to excessive drinking the Thursday before the race (let’s never mention tequila again, okaythanks). I can’t really tell if this helped or hurt me. I was more active in the days leading up to this one than RnR and I felt better for this one than RnR but it’s so hard to compare the two races, as well as the conditions during the taper.

Of course, I did go out for pasta with my friend Carly. This is a tradition and basically the only time I eat pasta (yes, I’m weird. I’ve been told this). It was full of deliciousness.

Other pre-race notes: drank far too much the Thursday before. And didn’t eat particularly healthfully any of the days preceding. Not sure if I could have made a difference. I did drink wine the night before–mostly because I was worried about the insomnia that hit me last time.

Act III. Race Morning

Ugh. I hate waking up. Like, being awake is cool. Being asleep is better. But that stupid inbetween wherethefuckamI feeling. Hate it. And this race started at…7 am. When picking up my packet at the Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan (remote pickup FTW!) I was told to plan to park at 6 am. AT THE LATEST. And given my experience with the Annapolis Half parking situation, I took them seriously.

Thank God I did.

I cruised into Frederick around 6:05am and hit stand.still.traffic. Not kidding. When I had looked up the directions the night before, it seemed that they gave people from each major “direction” (DC, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, etc) a different exit to get off at. And the DC exit was a mess. I sat in that traffic for 30 minutes while fiddling with my phone map and getting more anxious. NOT HELPFUL. So I took a chance, got out of the exit lane (oh yes, hadn’t even made it to the ramp) and went to the next exit. Best decision I made all day. There was some traffic but nothing even close to the other exit.

Parking lot, check! No time for gear check, whatevs. I headed straight to the port-a-potties and then to the starting line.

My coworker was running Frederick for his first half (spoiler alert, he rocked it) so I said hi to him and his buddies, we shared a fist bump and we were OFF!

ACT IV: THE RACE!

My Garmin had the audacity to not turn on at all before the race. I was relying on my super scientific Nike+ (a souped up pedometer) so was feeling kinda panicky and yet freeeee! So when I passed the 1:50 pace group around mile 3 I was concerned. But I felt pretty good so I just concentrated on keeping a comfortable, steady pace for as long as I could.

As long as I could was, predictably, mile 11. When I tripped over a tw0-year old. Yep. I’m awesome. I was feeling the pressure in my legs so I went to grab a water in an aid station, heard a woman cry, looked down, saw the little girl, and basically took her out. The ONLY thing that went well was that I didn’t step on her.

Oh my God, it was the worst thing ever. She started crying, I’m kneeling by her (in the middle of the aid station traffic) saying “ohmyGOD, I’m SO SO SORRY. Is she okay? Is she okay? I’m so sorry!” And her mom (?) says, “Just keep going. Just go.”

And then I finally got the message and turned with a final apology and kept going. While crying. But I kept going.

And in my only defense? There was no stopping it from happening. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. But my God, I still cringe at the memory.

Those last two miles were brutal. All that energy I burned through with my fast pace in the beginning was not returning to me.

The course was mostly flat but at the very end…there’s a hill. I’m talking, mile 12.95, there’s a hill. And it’s probably not even that bad! But I walked halfway up it. I couldn’t even try to run the whole thing. Finally, I got myself back in the game enough that I plodded up it, around the ankle-breaker of a race track and through the finish. There was no kick. I was spent.

Exciting moment: they announced my name as I was coming towards the finish line! AND it’s on video!

Even more exciting moment! PR BABY! 1:48:23. Uh yeah, that happened.

How it happened? My best theory is that it was a combination of tapering somewhat properly (not running but still being active in the three days leading up to the race), being pretty decently trained, and not having my Garmin to adjust my pace and speed to.

Am I hoping for a repeat? Yes and no. My next half is Baltimore and I ran it last year in 1:55. It’s pretty hilly though, while Frederick is lovely and mostly flat. I’m not expecting the meet/beat this PR but we will see!

Back from the Beach

I spent this past weekend in Ocean City, MD for my birthday (which is actually THIS weekend, on Memorial Day, but it’s much harder to get a beach house for that).

Beach pic!

It. Was. FABULOUS.

Oh, except for the fact that I ate a bunch of food I never eat and drank enough liquor to last me for the rest of the year and didn’t really exercise.

But I kinda think that’s why it was so awesome? I’ve been so good with the diet and the running and all that but sometimes you need to let loose and have fun.

Drunk Mallory gives a thumbs up to THAT!

I’ll have my plan for getting into shape this summer up soon but for now, enjoy my latest drunk picture!

Budget Runner

Last year, before I started my grown-up job, I decided to start a tumblr called Budget Runner. It was supposed to be a place for me to keep track of my spending and hold myself accountable week to week by looking very closely at what I was spending my money on and whether all that spending was necessary. Also, running. OBVIOUSLY. I started the tumblr because I was sick of being poor, essentially. And I knew that sooner rather than later, you have to grow up. Emergencies happen. Big purchases are sometimes necessary.

I deleted that tumblr when I got my grown up job. Partly because I was making more money and so the saving was easier. Partly because that tumblr did what it was supposed to and it helped me keep a very close eye on my bank account. I stopped shopping every weekend. I didn’t go out as often. I thought that those good habits were there to stay.

I should have known better.

Just like running and exercise, good habits are a constant work in progress. You can’t just expect them to keep up on their own.

It started with paying for a three night stay in Ocean City with my tax refund. Because why not? I deserve a nice weekend away…right? And tax refund is like FREE MONEY. Oh, silly Mallory….

The past few weeks have been  really tough for me. A personal emergency turned into two weeks of supporting friends by going out to dinner or drinks and driving all over the place. Of course, I would do it all again in a heartbeat–that’s why I saved the money and we all needed to have it happen. But that doesn’t mean that I can keep it up.

That event is compounded by the quote I received from my mechanic for necessary maintenance on my car: over $1000. I chose my top three that I could afford (tires, oil change, air filter). But I know the rest needs to be taken care of sooner, rather than later.

I’m announcing the return of Budget Runner. Not as a tumblr. Or even a new name for my blog. But…an extra feature in an already ADD blog.