Sunday, May 29, 2011

Biking 101: The photo companion

The helpful photo guide for the previous blog post:  Biking 101: Don't bike by yourself in a secluded area. Imagination is a killer.

And, go.
The beginning of the Cotton Valley Trail
So it looks like I go across the tracks...
...and onto this path. 
Nope. I had to get onto the tracks.
But then it turned into this and stayed mostly like this. Very nice.
This was where I had no clue where to go.
Off to the left are rocks.
To the right are the tracks, but no path. WTF?
My leprechaun led me down this path.
And then through this fence, where I was sure I was going to
hit my handle bars and go ass over tea kettle.
And then there was this beauty.
Water on each side.
Nice view, eh?
The end of the trail in downtown Wolfeboro
Then I biked back. For that visual, just scroll up and look at the pictures in the reverse order.

This is the Fernald station. Guarding the entrance to Creepyville

Signs informing where to go and how long it takes to get there. outhouse. I don't know if it's in working order. I didn't check.

I'll leave you with this one bit of helpful information. If a sign tells you to get off your bike and walk across the platform, you should probably listen. Especially if the railroad tracks aren't even with the path.

Like this...
Because something might happen...

Someone didn't read the sign.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Biking 101: Don't bike by yourself in a secluded area. Imagination is a killer.

I’ve been excited to bike the Cotton Valley Rail Trail in Wolfeboro, NH ever since I heard of it about 2 weeks ago. That’s a lie, I knew it existed before 2 weeks ago, but I have never been on it and I didn’t know anything about it. It was described to me as flat, paved & easy. I figured it would be a nice leisurely bike ride and that I could convince people to bike with me on it. I also have an upcoming 5K and duathlon that will be running along the same trail, so I wanted to check it out and see for myself how it looked.

I checked it out on Google maps and figured out where it started and ended so I had an idea of how long it was and how many miles I’d get out of it. It showed me that it was about 3 miles long, one way. So I knew that if I wanted to get any good mileage on it, I’d have to do an out and back at least twice.

Yesterday, I headed down to one end of the trail and became dinner for 472,389 mosquitos as I unloaded my bike. I kept telling myself that all I had to do was get moving and they wouldn’t be able to keep up with me and buzz in my ears (HATE that).

I started off and was a little surprised that it wasn’t paved. It was dirt and gravel. I figured that it would start off a dirt path, then turn into paved for the majority. Nope. Not one inch of the trail was paved. Luckily I have a hybrid bike and not a road bike. I don’t think I’d have been able to bike it if it was a road bike. About a 3rd of a mile down the path, it went across the railroad tracks. There was a sign that said, “Walk across the wooden bridge” for bikers, but then the path ended. Kinda. I could either bike down the middle of the tracks or cross over it and go into a wooded path. There was a sign pointing me towards the wooded path, so I figured that I should follow it and maybe it would even out and become paved at some point. I followed that for about 20 seconds before it became impossible to ride. There were roots everywhere and there was no way I could stay on the bike and make it out alive. I got off my bike and started walking. After about 2 minutes of walking and constant thoughts of, “This cannot be right”, I decided to go back to the car and head to the other end of the path in downtown Wolfeboro and start from there. When I got back to the railroad tracks, I looked up the tracks and saw the path continue further down the tracks. I thought maybe I was supposed to ride down the middle of the tracks and meet up with the path on the other side. That was exactly what I was supposed to do. So I continued on the trail.

It was strange to be riding on dirt and not pavement. I was worried that maybe I’d pop a tire on a stray rock of something, but everything held up okay. I was riding behind houses and along the water. It was a nice ride and there were some beautiful parts of the trail. But only as it headed towards downtown Wolfeboro. The other way? No. More on that later.

I got to one point on the trail where I was a little confused as to which way to go. Right at that moment, I heard a bell and someone informing me that they were “passing on the left”. It was a little old man with a big basket attached to the front of his bike.  As he passed I said, “I’m not sure where the trail goes from here, do you know?” No answer. He peddled off towards a trail that I wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for him. So I said “Oh, this way? Ok yeah, sure I’ll follow you”. It was a bit of an Alice in Wonderland moment and I was following the crazy white rabbit. Or a leprechaun. Either way, it was odd. I had no idea where I was and it looked like it might have been the right path. Maybe. This part of the trail wound back and forth, whereas the rest of the path was straight. With each bend of the path, my little leprechaun man disappeared and I had to hurry to catch up with him. Then as soon as the path straightened out again and started looking like it had earlier, he pulled over to take a rest on a bench and I kept going. I definitely had a “did that just happen?” moment.

I got to the end of the trail in downtown Wolfeboro and stopped for a moment to check out the map. It was there that I realized that the trail wasn’t just 3 miles. It was 3 miles from where I started to where I was at the moment, but if I had gone the other way, it was another 3 miles. I guess Google maps didn’t get that memo.

On the way back, it was still light out, but the sun had gone down considerably and there was a lot of cover from the trees, so I didn’t need my sunglasses. But I noticed that there were swarms of mosquitos (or black flies, either way, not a good time) in the middle of the path, just hovering, waiting for someone to come by. Since I was moving, they couldn’t swarm me, but they sure as hell could swarm together and wait for me to run into them. I put my sunglasses back on as protection. A little later, I passed a woman on her bike and we smiled at each other. A bug flew into my mouth and I almost died. Not really, I just spit it out but, gross. From then on, anyone I passed got a closed mouth smile, which probably looked like a creepy grimace. But, no bugs!

By the time I made it back to my car, I was curious about the other side of the trail, so I decided to check it out. The easiest way for me to say this is: It. Was. Scary. It was secluded and mostly woods with a few houses and warehouses spread out along the trail. I had an uneasy feeling the entire time. It might have started when I saw a man sitting in his car in the parking lot to the trail. My imagination might have started to play games with me. Let’s just say I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being followed. About a mile in I came across a jogger, and then another biker, both women, so I felt a little better, but I still was a little nervous about my surroundings. I saw a warehouse that looked sketchy with a brand new SUV sitting out front and I immediately thought, “Why is there such a nice car parked at an old warehouse? That’s probably where they take people to torture them, then kill them”. I pedaled a little bit faster. Then I saw a rundown house and thought, “They probably keep a lookout for people on this path and come out here and kill them as they pass by”. For some reason, I kept going. My imagination had already taken a trip somewhere bad and there was apparently no talking myself out of it. As I continued on, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pair of jeans slung over a fence of some sort. I turned to look and realized it was a barbed wire fence. There was nothing around this area. No house, no road, no nothing. Just woods. So of course I thought, “Holy sh!t. There is a guy living in that house up there that took a woman off this trail and killed her and hung her jeans up over that barbed wire fence as a warning to all other people. And he might get me! But I’m not wearing jeans. Maybe he won’t want me”. Remember, I said there was no house anywhere? In my imagination, there was. Then I started singing to myself. You know like those little kids in movies when they are scared in the dark and they sing to themselves to make everything less scary? Yes, that was me.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I started seeing weird marks on the trail, like the dirt was darker in some places than it was for the majority of the trail. I’m sure it was from the recent rain in the area and the puddles hadn’t fully gone away, making the dirt darker, or you know, mud. But this crazy, insane, scary place that I was in at that moment had me convinced that they were bloodstains from people who were killed out on the trail in the past few months. That was the final straw. I turned around and hightailed it out of there. I tried not to look at the jeans on the barbed wire, the sketchy house or the warehouse with the new SUV in front of it, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to be sure no one was coming for me.

On my way back, I saw another jogger coming toward me. I muttered to her, “Good luck out there”. She smiled and said “Thanks”. She had no idea.

I made it back to my car and saw at the station that the sign said 3.1 miles to Wolfeboro and 7.8 miles to Route 16. Both via the trail. I had only ridden about 2 miles toward Route 16 before I freaked myself out enough to turn around. I can’t imagine almost 6 more miles of mental torture!  I’ll ride the 3.1 miles over and over. That part of the trail was nice. No way in hell am I riding 7.8 miles along that death trap the other way!

Of course for this adventure, I forgot my camera, and my phone. So, no pictures. However, I will try this trail again. Hopefully tomorrow and I’ll bring a camera to capture the picturesque views and oddities of the Cotton Valley Trail. I know you can hardly wait so I’ll try to be quick about it. For now, here’s a picture of the trail headquarters right near where I parked, AKA, entrance to CreepyVille.

Right behind that red building is the entrance to CreepyVille

Update: Check out the photo companion for this adventure!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stow Run for the Woods 2011 Race Report

I had planned this race because my chiropractor told me about it and that they would be at the race doing massages for the runners. I figured, why not? It’s local, not too hilly, they were giving medals to all finishers, and who doesn’t want a free massage after a 5K? If you answered, "I don't", we aren’t going to get along.

The day before, I was in bed all day with a stomach bug. I was so mad because I really wanted to do this race! And I had already paid for it. But as the day went on, I started rationalizing what would really happen if I couldn’t do it. I at least could get myself out of bed in the morning to pick up my free (kinda paid for) t-shirt. Then I figured if I could get out of bed for a t-shirt, I could at least stay and hang out for a bit and cheer on people that I know (and I suppose people I didn’t know). I debated setting my alarm for the morning and was really contemplating just skipping it when I suddenly remembered. Medals to all finishers. Problem solved. I set my alarm.

I woke up feeling much better. No stomach pains, no nausea. I was glad I didn’t have to try and endure a 5K while feeling yucky. I knew I had to eat something since all I had was soup the day before, so I went with a bland bagel with nothing on it and vanilla yogurt. I couldn’t finish the bagel and halfway to the race, I started getting stomach pains again. Excellent. I got my race number and t-shirt and went back to my car to sit and try to relax before the race.

Look at that. The date. Ten cool points.
Eventually I heard someone talking over a megaphone and I figured I should pay attention. I wasn’t even thinking about not doing the race at this point, because I still hadn’t forgotten about the medals to all finishers. Although, I was replaying the race route in my mind thinking, where I could possibly cut off part of the race and only do, like, a mile. Just kidding. Actually, no, I actually thought about it. But I knew I wouldn’t actually do it, so technically, still kidding. Maybe.

By race time I was feeling better, no stomach pains or nausea, so that was good. And of course there was a guy playing his bagpipes there, so that makes most things better. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.

Yes I sure did get right next to him as he was playing.
I did a fairly good walking warm up before the race so I didn’t have to start out walking. I was doing pretty good with my walking/running intervals and was faster per mile than I had ever been during a race, so I was feeling pretty confident that I’d be able to beat my previous time. Pretty awesome feeling, especially since they were giving medals to all finishers. It would be sweet to get a medal on a day I got a PR.

At one of the loops (the only loop) there was a volunteer cheering everyone on. She had a positive comment for every single person who passed by her and she was funny. I asked her what her name was because I knew that the second I got back to the finish line, I had to tell someone to give Maureen a raise, because she’s an amazing person. So nice, so encouraging, funny, and just amazing. But then I remembered that the race was sponsored by the Stow Conservation Trust, which is a committee, and most likely unpaid. AND, she was a volunteer. Duh. This is what running does to me. I get dumber. But she was awesome!

So, besides by blond moment, everything was great. Until I hit 1.4 miles. Sharp pains in stomach. Waves of nausea. Turning of the head, bending over the bushes. Almost puked. Almost. False alarm. Sucked down some more water to keep it all down. And kept moving.

And then I was fine. Until 2.5 miles. Same sharp pains in stomach. Same waves of nausea. Different bushes. Almost puked again. Almost. Same false alarm. OUT OF WATER. Kept moving anyway.  Then it was downhill for a while. Literally. On the downhill, there was a water station and some great volunteers hooking me up with that sweet, sweet (and much needed) H2O.

After that, I was okay until the end of the race and after, when I tried to eat an orange. Best diet ever, right? Put food in, get sick, and don’t want to eat. Besides the pain, I like it!

I finally heard the bagpipes again, so I knew I was getting close to the end of the race. I saw my friends near the finish line and then I saw the clock showing a time of 48:xx. I actually got excited, because I haven’t don’t a 5K under 50...ever.

The race results have me down for a time of 49:28, but with no chip timing and me crossing the start line after the actual start, my Garmin says I finished with a time of 49:03. As I was crossing the finish line, I was yelling to my friends “Look! Under 50! Under 50!” and I almost stopped. They had to remind me to keep going and actually cross the finish line instead of looking at my time. I’m smart. Right as I finished, there were volunteers handing out the medals. Yes, even with a time of 49:03, I got a medal!

Obviously I'm so proud of myself here.
And wicked excited about the medal!
And I was NOT LAST. I was second to last. But NOT LAST!

I beat my previous 5K time by 2:25. That’s pretty damn good right? 

After all that drama throughout the race, I looked around for my free massage. Yeah, they weren't there. Liars.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's my party and I'll freak out if I want to!

I just had a moment of freaking out. It was slight. Don’t worry I’m fine. But I just realized that my triathlon is less than 4 months away. Swimming, check (even though I discovered something tricky about the course). Biking, check. Running, stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

I’m on track for the swimming. Here’s the tricky part. The course is listed as being 1/4 mile. I wanted to see what the exact distance was because maybe it was 0.22 miles, maybe it was 0.26 miles, but the closest measurement was 1/4 mile. I also wanted to swim this summer in the lake near my house in NH, and I wanted a route to practice. So I had to measure. I used Map My Fitness to check the swim route.

0.30 miles
NOT 1/4 MILE.  It measures as 0.30 miles. That’s closer to 1/3 mile than 1/4. Why not round up? They rounded up for the bike route. That’s listed as 10 miles, but the route is really only 9.9 miles.

Glad I know. I’ll now train for 1/3 mile instead of 1/4. It may not seem like much, but lap-wise at the pool, it’s 9 laps for 1/4 mile and 12 laps for 1/3 mile. If I’m only prepared to swim “9 laps” on race day, those 3 extra “laps” aren’t gonna be fun. I want to be completely prepared. Luckily, at the lake I’d like to train in, in NH, beach to beach is 0.31 miles. Almost exactly the distance for race day. Score.

0.31 miles
Swimming, check.

The biking isn’t impressive, but it’s comfortable. I’d like to get out on the race course to get a feel for it and see how I can handle the hills it had to offer. I keep thinking, “Oh, I have time, it’s not until September”, but IT’s 4 MONTHS AWAY! I will plan a ride out there. I will. If only it would Just. Stop. Raining.

Or maybe I’ll hop on my brand new spin bike that I picked up on the way home tonight.

Sexy, isn't it?
And by picked up, I mean it was on the side of the road with a “FREE” sign on it. I don’t know if it works. We’ll find out, won’t we? Yes, you’ll hear about it, I’m sure. I’ve already injured myself with it and I haven’t even gotten on it yet.

The running business is still in slow mo. But I’m doing it. I decided to start Couch 2 5K again. This is my 3rd time trying it. I’m on track so far, but these 5Ks keep getting in the way. I know it’s good to have 5Ks to do to keep myself on track for the triathlon in September, but I’m starting to wonder if the 5Ks are messing up my rhythm with the C25K plan. I’ve seen running training plans where people to long runs one day a week. Could a 5K be my “long run” for now? Or is that too ambitious for right now? Thoughts? (I’m looking at you, you runner people)

Something is happening though. I’m not too sure if I like it. Today is my rest day. And I am adamant about my rest days. Trust. But I was actually slightly upset that I ran yesterday because, get ready for it, I wanted to run today. Who am I becoming?

I’ve read many places that you shouldn’t run back to back days, especially as a beginner, but I’ve seen running schedules in other people’s blogs where they run 6 days a week with one rest day. How are they not crippled, or dead, or both?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beach to Beach 5K Race Report

Today I got an e-mail from asking me what I thought of the Beach to Beach 5K event. It was pretty much a form letter, but I’ve registered for all of my 5Ks with Active and have never received this after a race before today. My first thought was, “Great, I’ve been flagged as a hostile racer and now they’re keeping an eye on me”. Ha! Well, if they want to know what I thought, I might as well not keep them waiting!

Yesterday was my third 5K of the 2011 season. Or ever. However you want to look at it.

The Beach to Beach 5K was in Marblehead, MA. I didn’t realize it until today, but it was further away from me than the 5K races in NH I’ve done. I figured being in MA it would be closer, but nope. Oh well, live and learn.

We got there around 8:30am. Race time was 10am. So we picked up our packets at the registration table. It was very organized. They had envelopes with everything we needed inside of it: Race bibs, safety pins, labels with the t-shirt size we ordered, plus coupons for Road ID bracelets, info packets on other races, and tips for running. Very cool.

We then decided to hit the bathrooms, but there weren’t any port-o-potties anywhere. Excellent. So we asked the registration people if there were bathrooms around, and there were. Right in the middle of the parking lot, there was a brick building. One ladies room. One men’s room. We took advantage of our early arrival and headed over. Out of two toilets, only one was working. Again, grateful for the early arrival. As people started to arrive, it got crazy! Maybe a few port-o-potties would help this situation!! This is the only race I've seen that didn't have adequate bathroom control. Of course because I've been to so many, I'm an expert, so you should listen to me.

Women's room line.
Men's room line.

Juice Plus table.
There were only a few tables set up for things other than the registration, but being sponsored by the Junior Aid society, I figured their goal was to raise money, and therefore, I didn’t expect much. However, they definitely went for quality over quantity! They had a booth set up by Juice Plus who made smoothies before and after the race for people to try.

They used a powder made from fruits and vegetables that had been juiced and then converted to powder for the smoothies. They were actually pretty good. The goal of their company was to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and be more healthy overall. I had a nice talk with the ladies who were manning the booth. We talked about the horrific lunches I see some of the kids in my class eat everyday. And they’re right; kids really do need to be healthier.

The Junior Aid society also had a raffle going on with some sweet baskets. I bought 6 raffle tickets.

I didn't win, but they had some pretty cool stuff in those baskets!
There was a DJ there playing music to hype up all the racers and all it did was result in some FANTASTIC dancing on my part. Be sad you missed it.

The race didn’t actually start where everything was set up. It started up the street a little bit. The DJ kept announcing how much longer to the race and even with him announcing the race start every 5 minutes, I was shocked to see that it was already 9:50 and we were still hanging out in the parking lot. Still dancing.

I decided to grab a few pictures of the set up before the race, so I quickly went over to the tables to snap a few shots. This took me about 2 minutes. When I got back to the spot where we were all standing, everyone was gone. And by everyone, I mean the group I was with. The bastards just left me! So I headed to the start line to find them.

Along my way, I saw two women with walking poles. I stopped to talk to them about them and one of them told me that the poles have helped her get back into walking and they take 40% of your weight as you walk.

Pretty cool to see them tackling a 5K!

I met up with my people, but none of us saw a starting line. Rewind. Earlier, we discovered that our race bibs did not have timing chips on them. So we were a bit confused as to how this was going to be “professionally timed” as it advertised during registration. Back to present. We didn’t see a starting line, because there wasn’t one. Hm. Confusing. At one point the started pushing the crowd back because people had gone past the starting point. There must have been a marking somewhere, because the race people knew where it started, but I never saw it. I just started my Garmin about 20 seconds after I started walking. I figured it was close enough.

The "start" line.
We were all standing around talking, mainly figuring out how we were supposed to all start, when everyone around us started taking off. I said, “I think that means GO”. And we started. I decided to approach this race differently that others. Since I clearly don’t warm up before races (because really how can you when you’re clustered together, not moving before a race?), I decided to start out walking and do my warm up as part of the race. I figured I could start my running intervals after I was warmed up, instead of trying to start out running and end up getting too tired too fast, or getting hurt. It worked out well for me. So until I’m up to actually running a full 5K (don’t get your hopes up...not any time soon), I’ll start out walking.

About 15 minutes into the race, I passed the finish line. They were setting up their timing system and it looked WAY complicated. I didn’t stop to look, because, I was in a race! But now that I knew it WAS being timed, I decided to maybe pick up the pace a bit. I had been toying with just walking the race, since I wasn’t feeling 100%, but then in typical Sara fashion, I gave myself a good talking to and decided to do some running intervals. 

Really what kept me going was my insane competitive nature. There was a girl about my age nearby and we kept passing each other. It was obvious she didn’t want me to beat her. And by hell, I was not going to let her beat me either. So chica, whoever you are, wherever you are, Thank you. You got me moving faster.

On the way back, I passed the lady with the walking poles again.  I spoke with her after the race and she said that she didn’t finish, but she got closer than she did the last time and she’s doing another 5K in August and plans to finish it. I’m going to look up that race and possibly go so I can cheer her on! I hope she gets to finish a race soon. She was so inspirational!

I finished the race with a time of 51:52 according to the race timing system (which, by the way, was very efficient given the lack of visible technology. I was impressed!) But according my to Garmin it was 51:28. I’m going with my Garmin since I’m sure they started the clock before I crossed over the invisible start line. Guess what. I WAS NOT LAST! And my time was a full 34 seconds faster than my previous personal best. Yes, I know, exciting.


And the best part of this race? The T-shirts had the year on them.

Beach to Beach 5K 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If you're complaining about me, you're still talking about me!

Today I got my first blog complaint. Kinda. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little excited. It means people are reading my blog!!

I got an e-mail from a Linda St. Laurent, a representative at Loco Sports, the company who put on the Margaritas 5K race on May 1st. She said she wanted to address some concerns I had about the race. I don’t remember being concerned about anything, but I read on. 

First, do me a favor and (if you haven’t already) check out my race report on the Margaritas 5K to see my thoughts about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Done? K thanks.

Here is the e-mail I received today:
Hi Sara,
Someone passed along to me some comments from your blog regarding the Margaritas 5K race. 
I would like to address some of your concerns.
The Stonyfield 5K was held in conjunction with an Earth Day Fair. Hence all the vendors that were present. 
The race was conducted by LOCO, the fair was hosted by Stonyfield Farms.
There was a start line at the Margaritas race.  The cones were set on either side and there was a blue line connecting the 2.
A PA system was used by the race announcer at the start.  The commands he gave, "on your mark, get set, go" are the standard commands for a road race.
We do not reuse race shirts the next year.  There were only 11 left and most were given to some volunteers.
We take pride in having wonderful volunteers at all of our LOCO races and I am glad you had a good experience with them.
There was plenty of food and water for all runners after the race finished. 
 Margaritas provided a wonderful feast for everyone with music blasting throughout to create a festive atmosphere. 
From your pictures it looks like you had a great time after the race. 
 Sorry you felt "there really wasn't much to it".
Best of luck to you in your training for the triathlon.
Linda St. Laurent 
LOCO Sports

Is it is just me or is that a really passive aggressive e-mail? And slightly defensive? I understand that as a representative of Loco Sports, you want your racers to be happy with everything and you want them to keep coming back. It generates revenue for the company. I get that. But I think this e-mail was a little unnecessary.

I was aware that these were two totally different races, under different hosts and I didn’t expect them to be the same. I mentioned in my race report that having the multiple vendors at the Stonyfield race definitely spoiled me. It was my first 5K, I didn’t know what to expect and they blew me away. Despite the cold and rain, it had an amazing time. In my opinion, it was better than the Margaritas 5K. Loco, please don’t attack me, or feel bad about yourselves, for my opinion. You know the saying: Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

I do, however, apologize to Loco for stating there was no start line. There was definitely a start line. What I meant was there was no mat across the start line to record chip start time like there was for the finish chip time. I thought that was self explanatory in how I described it in my original post. Again, I apologize for the confusion.

I may be blond, but I do realize that “On your mark, get set, go” is the standard phrase for the beginning of a race. Being a pre-school teacher, it’s the standard phrase for the start of almost everything, so I’m pretty familiar with it. I was just rather surprised with the way it was presented by the announcer. Not much warning before go time. Again, my opinion.

I’m glad to hear that you do not re-use race shirts and that the volunteers get to have the leftovers. It’s a fun gift for volunteers, who by the way, I will say again, were amazing. They really were. I even met the race director and she was very nice. If not for the volunteers, these races wouldn’t happen and I’m very grateful for all they do to help out the racers. I thanked many of them for their services along the route. I even got a free hat from one of the volunteers. How cool is that?

I’m glad my pictures were entertaining. I did have a good time. In my opinion, good times are made by who you surround yourself with, not where you are. I was with great people. I had a great time.

See? Great time!
Not to beat a dead horse with a stick or anything, but because this was my second 5K race event, the only thing I had to compare it to was my first 5K race event. So in comparison, the Stonyfield 5K was better than the Margaritas 5K. In my opinion. As far as extras go, Stonyfield was stacked, so there “really wasn’t much to” Margaritas except for a T-shirt and a Mexican meal. Thank you for the meal by the way. But technically, I paid for it. A registration fee of $25 bought it for me.

I’m doing another 5K tomorrow, sponsored by the Junior Aid Society in Marblehead, MA. I’ll let you know how they do how it goes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Girl trouble. Or rather: Trouble with the "girls"

Here’s a story for the ladies. I’m serious. Ladies only please. Guys, stop reading. Now.
Today while changing into a sports bra for my “run”, I noticed that I have 3 broken blood vessels on my left breast and one on my right breast. I’m assuming this is due to lack of support from my bras while running.
I’m well endowed in the breast department. Okay, let’s be honest, I’m well endowed in every department, but this here story is about the girls. My sports bras are from Target and I only have two really good ones. The others aren’t that great, but I’ve been wearing them lately while running. Stupid, I know. I won’t get graphic here, I’ll let you make your own visuals for this gem, but I will say that there’s a lot more bounce in my step while running. If you know what I mean.
I know the best sports bras are ones that allow the least amount of movement of the twins, but I also don’t want something that will cut off my air supply. I’d like something that will give me different results from what happened to me tonight, yet still be supportive.
I noticed the popped blood vessels as I was putting on one of my less effective sports bras. I then scoured my bra drawer for a better one. I found one from about 4 years ago that I had used when I was doing a boot camp class where they made us do jump rope drills. I wasn’t willing to get black eyes because of a stupid jump rope, so I went out and bought an “amazing sports bra for larger women”. It actually worked quite well, although I only used it a few times. As soon as I saw it in my drawer today, I thought “A-ha, I’ve got you now, suckers! You aren’t going anywhere now”. Well then.
I started my intervals, and instantly had trouble breathing. I could not get a full breath at all. I tried my trick of lifting my bra to get the girls up a little but since they were already squashed against me, that didn’t work too well. This “amazing sports bra for larger women” was equipped with a clasp, unlike other sports bras I have, so I unclasped it. It’s a crossover, so it was still on me pretty snug, and I ran with it half off me. With my slight wardrobe malfunction, I still had enough support to continue running, but it made this bra more like my other sports bras.
So here’s the impending question. What is the best sports bra you own? And why do you like it so much? Or rather, why should I get that specific one?
And all you men who didn’t follow my advice and stop reading at the beginning of this adventure - You can never unread this.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Would you risk your life for a sip of water?

I have a question about hydration packs for you biking people out there. Or maybe hikers. I guess both could use it. Do you like it better than water bottles while biking? Can you grab your water bottle cleanly, drink from it, return it to the holder and feel comfortable about it while maintaining your pace? The reason I ask is I’ve been told that for a triathlon, the best time to hydrate yourself is on the bike portion of the race. My first bike ride, I attempted to grab a bottle while riding and it went a little something like this:
I mentally prepped myself for letting go of the bike with one hand by looking around to make sure no one was around. You know, in case something happened, other than what was supposed to happen. I waited for a straight stretch of the bike path and took one hand off of the handle. I immediately put it back on. Baby steps. I took it off again, for a few seconds longer than the first time, and then put it back on. I was building up. Finally I reached down and touched the water bottle, then panicked and lunged for the handlebar. I slowed down. I reached down, and grabbed at air. That didn’t work. I slowed down some more. I reached down, grasped the water bottle and yanked it out. Ha, gotcha! I managed to pull the top up with my teeth, drink some water, and then push the cap back on with my teeth. Now what? To get it back into the holder it would take more maneuvering than taking it out. I was afraid that I’d just place it around the area of the holder and assume I had it in, then hear a thunk as it landed on the ground behind me. It took me a while, and more than a few tries, but I finally got it back into the holder. Meanwhile I had swerved off course and almost ran into a family with 2 kids walking in the same direction along the path. It’s okay, I didn’t hit them and most importantly, they didn’t see me. I didn’t drink from the water bottle again until I was stopped.
In my subsequent bike rides, I didn’t even attempt to get my water bottle from the holder while riding. Mainly because my first attempt was on a bike path and my other rides were out on the road. I had visions of swerving into the road and getting hit by a passing car. No, thank you. While on a ride today, I was feeling parched and wanted, no, needed a drink. But I waited until I got to a safe place to stop before I got a drink. Is the “Grab, Gulp, and Return” (or GGR as I’ve lovingly named it) something that can be learned or should I just throw in the towel and get a hydration pack? I checked my backpack today and it seems that I’d be able to get a hydration pack in there and have it thread through the strap. In fact it might even be a hydration pack backpack, but it didn’t come with one.
Thoughts? Ideas? Emotions? Monetary donations?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

There's magic in the air. Or maybe it's the yogurt.

Eat me with peanut butter. Do it.

This morning I was running out the door (not to be confused with actual running) to meet up with some people. I didn’t have much time for a breakfast, but I wanted to make sure it would sustain me for a while and still be with me for an afternoon bike ride. I grabbed a vanilla Oikos Greek yogurt (which I discovered at the Stonyfield 5K) and then planned to have a half a bagel with some peanut butter on it. After I had the bagel already in the toaster, I remembered that I find plain bagels boring and buy only onion bagels. I didn’t think peanut butter on an onion bagel sounded too appetizing, so I put the peanut butter in my yogurt instead. Since I have weird OCD tendencies, I wanted to make sure it would mix well and not be lumpy, so I used a fork to get the peanut butter out of the jar instead of using a spoon and dirtying two utensils, even though in the near future I’d be using a spoon to actually eat the yogurt (there is a reason I’m mentioning this). (Also, I over-think things just a little bit.) I didn’t get a lot of peanut butter; it was maybe a ½ tablespoon. Okay, it was probably a whole tablespoon. Or, really, in this case, a tablefork. Heh, I just made myself laugh. Anyway. I put the peanut butter into my yogurt and stirred it around a bit. Then I tasted it. It was magic in my mouth. I ate the rest of it with my fork because I didn’t want to waste any time pausing to open the drawer, get a spoon, put the fork in the dishwasher and THEN get back to my yogurt. No, I wanted it all in my mouth. And I wanted it fast. (Get your mind out of the gutter. You know who you are.)
Seriously. Try it some time. It was magic. And I’m doing it again tomorrow. But this time I’ll be prepared with a spoon. Or maybe I won’t. I like to keep you people on your toes.
In other news, I started Couch to 5K again last week. I did one day of it, then had the Margaritas 5K. I timed it well, I think. Scoff. I did days 2 and 3 of week 1 this week and I was surprised. Day two was a good workout. I didn’t even want to do it, because, well, it’s running. We know how I feel about that. I did it anyway and I felt strong throughout. Surprisingly, the intervals seemed shorter than they actually were. I actually thought, "It's done already?" after one of the running intervals. I was definitely happy with the progress. I guess I had me one of them “good runs”. Who am I?

Today, it was raining in the afternoon, so I switched my planned bike ride to another C25K run, even though I didn’t want to get on the treadmill, again. Shockingly, it was another good running workout. Two in a row. Again, I ask you, who am I? (Don’t worry, I still didn’t like it.)

Now that I think about it, it might have been the yogurt. It really was magical.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Margaritas 5K Race Report

My 2nd 5K of 2011

So we all know by now that I’m not in this 5K business for the running. I'm in it for the T-shirts and the free stuff. Aren't most people? No? Okay, maybe it’s just me. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of running. I think I've mentioned it a few times before. However, I'm determined to complete my triathlon in September and running a 5K is part of it. My goal by September is to be able to run the entire 5K. I don't care how slow I go (that's a lie, I don't want to be last!), I just want to finish.

Anyway, about the Margaritas 5K race. Great concept. Not impressed. The Stonyfield Earth Day 5K was so well organized and filled with sponsors and volunteers who were on their game and it spoiled me. The Margaritas 5K had great volunteers, but it lacked everywhere else. Besides the free Mexican food and free margaritas after the race (no thanks, I'd rather not drink alcohol after sweating out my toxins) there wasn't really much to it. The T-shirts were bright orange with Margaritas 5K sprawled across the front. No date or other information to determine the time and place. I'm betting they'll use the same ones next year. I would rather it show something to distinguish it from year to year. But, obviously not my decision.

I’m not gonna lie. I check out race details every time I sign up for one and if it says, "T-shirt to the first 500 registrants", I'll act as if I'm registering and if it doesn't give me a space to select my T-shirt size, I know they've surpassed 500 and I don't bother. Maybe that makes me a race snob, but it's one of my things. I want mementos to remember my races.

Back to the race. I didn't do so well. Well, I didn't do badly either. I did my thing, but I didn't feel so good doing it. I had played softball the day before and I was the pitcher. Every pitch is like a lunge, so my left ass cheek was a little sore in the muscle department (along with my right arm/pec/boob area, but that's a different story!). Before the race, I actually warmed up this time. Kinda. And was ready to go when they said go. Yes, they actually said "On your mark, get set, GO, go, go, go, go". Really? Okay. So we went. But there was no start line. They gave us bibs to record our chip time, but no start line. So when they said go, they set the clock off and when you cross the finish line, they get your time with a chip sensor. They set up two traffic barricades to act as the start line, but NO START LINE. I know I'm not exactly a race connoisseur, but uh, there's supposed to be a start line, right? 

Anyway, I had my Garmin on so I recorded my time myself. I started off running (HA…jogging…slowly) and didn't go very far, but probably farther (and longer) than I have before, only because there were crazy people running behind me and I didn't want to stop short in front of them. I'm considerate like that. I didn't glance at my Garmin to check the time, although I should have. I immediately felt pain and tightness in my shins. Excellent. As I was walking I felt like I was barely moving and the person I was with kept holding up her stride for me. I felt bad so I told her to go on with out me. But before she did, another one of our group members was off to the side waiting for us. I told her to leave me as well. I felt bad that I was holding up someone else's race time because I'm a slow walker, but she was having pains in her hip so she decided to walk with me and attempt some run intervals here and there. I was grateful to have her there and she definitely helped me keep a faster pace than I normally would have. (Thank you again, a million times, Jenn!!!!)

As we trudged on, my left knee started hurting as well. I was literally falling apart. My left side was not agreeing with the race, apparently. Every time we saw a mile marker sign - yes, all 3 of them - we ran (again, laughter, jogged slowly) to it then walked again. Towards the end of the second mile, I saw that someone had lost their jacket. I grabbed it to bring back to the volunteer stand and hopefully find its owner. About 30 seconds later, I found a set of headphones and grabbed those as well. Same pretenses. Each time I bent over to get them off the street, I fell apart some more. My hip started hurting, then my lower back – both on the left side. My hypochondriac self thought briefly, “Ohmigod, I'm having a stroke”. But I kept moving. I'm probably okay.

I saw a volunteer along the side of the road waving us on with a flag. I told him, "Hey, I like your flag!" because I like to make conversation with random people when I'm in pain and still have to run more in the near future. He responded "Oh come on, the jacket is much better", while gesturing to his police like glow-in-the-dark vest. I replied, "Actually the hat is the best! Wish I had one". He then took it off his head and GAVE IT TO ME. I said, "Seriously?" and he said, "Yeah, sure, why not?". So at this point, I had a jacket, headphones and a hat in my possession, while still doing this race. And here, I thought the point was to not carry anything while racing.

I crossed the finish line at 52:27. Twenty seconds slower than my PR (personal record) at Stonyfield. At first I was bummed, since the whole point of this 5K business is to improve, but then I realized that I walked a LOT more than I had at Stonyfield and I was limping for part of this race. Therefore, if I had run as much as I had at Stonyfield, I'd have beat my time. That made me feel a little bit better. I also know I'm not always going to do better than the last time, even though I want to see constant improvement. This will not happen overnight, though I wish it would so I could stop training! I also need to stop being so negative. Eventually I will embrace running, but first I have to overcome my mental hurdles about it. I'm working on it.

After the race, they had chicken burritos and margaritas for everyone who had participated. The margarita line was 5 times as long as the burrito line. I get that people like their drinks (as do I from time to time) but after a 5K? I just couldn't. I also don't like tequila, so there's that. Instead I had myself a Kiwi-Strawberry Propel, which was amazing. I must buy myself some of those. It was yum.

We all hung around and chatted about the race, upcoming races, and discussed why we weren’t already friends on Facebook. And of course we took tons of pictures.

Before the race. See how happy we look?
After the race. Post race meal and drinks. See how tired we look?

I was about halfway home when I realized that I threw my stuff in the car after the race and forgot to turn in the jacket and headphones I found. Plus side? Jacket is my size.

I also now have a shirt to wear to work on Cinco de Mayo!

**UPDATE** I received an e-mail from a representative at Loco Sports regarding this blog about the Margaritas 5K. I don't think they were too happy with my comments!! Check out her e-mail and my response to it here. :)
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