Milestone achieved

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! 

Pain. Pride. Exhaustion. Elation. Those four words describe my run today. 
If you had told me two years ago I’d be covering 20+ miles I would have laughed in your face. If you had told me a year ago I’d be covering 20+ miles I would have been exceptionally suspicious. Even this morning rolling up to the parking lot there was a twinge of fear. Was I really going to do this?  I really didn’t have a choice. #ECSUT is coming up and my dry run at Eastern Divide (where I really don’t expect to make the time cut off) is even closer. 

Today was the first day in 16 where it was going to be sunny and this weekend (when I had planned to do this) was going to be miserable, again. I submitted a leave slip and told my boss I was calling out waterlogged. He’s a runner too so it’s fairly easy to get him on board. 

I got up at my regular time, had a quick breakfast and cup of coffee and was out the door by 0530. A stop for gas and Perry and I were on our way. After last weekends pain train of elevation I wanted something flat, soft and lengthy. That only left me with one option; the C&O canal. 

There are many places you can catch the C&O; I settled on Caderock. It’s far enough away from the city to avoid throngs of people, but still close enough for me to have an easy drive home. The plan was simple; 11 miles up 11 miles back alternating a mile of run and a mile of walk. 

Why the alternation? Well, if you didn’t know 20 miles is a long FUCKING way. I hadn’t crossed more than 16 previously and the number scared me a bit. I know I can walk 11 miles. I know I can run 11 miles. I’m just breaking the elephant down into bite sized pieces. 

We started off in the mist. At 0630 the only folks out were fellow runners and the occasional bike commuter. It truly was peaceful. 

Mile after mile we alternated running and walking. Enjoying the views and the peace. As we neared mile 8 a crowd of early morning senior citizen bird watchers came along. I didn’t have the heart to tell them all of the birds were already long since hiding. They’re old you’ve got to let them have hope. 

We flipped around at mile 11 heading back to the car. Half way! Hooray. 

At mile 15 there were starting to be gaggles of people. None of whom, that I could tell, had any trail etiquette. Perry and I bobbed and weaved for a bit until we got some distance from them. 

Mile 19-20 was a walk mile and I was grateful. I wanted to savor the moment I flipped to 20. At 19.99 I started to run. Purely symbolic I know but I wanted to run into 20. Ah, the mind games we play. 

Mile 20-22 were rough. I don’t think my knees had fully recovered from last weekend and I was starting to feel it. Plus the sun was out full bore and it was getting quite warm. 

We reached the car at 22.88 miles thanks to a slight detour I took in the AM to get to the trail. I loaded Perry up, who by the way was still raring to go, and I stretched. Taking my sneakers off felt so amazing. I did it. I flipped the 20 mile mark. Go me! Now a nap and food and not in that order. 

Miles: 21.88

Time: 5:13

Elevation: 73 feet

Water consumed; 140 (70 w/Tailwind) plus whatever extra Perry drank out of the puddles and river 

Food:Tailwind (Perry and I split), Picky Barsx2, Justin’s Hazelnut (for me), Justin’s Honey PB (for Perry) 

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12Ks of Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I was on the fence about trying to squeak one more race in this year.  It’s getting cold here in the mid-Atlantic and running in cold weather when you are an asthmatic is a huge NO NO.  During a conversation with Army brother, though, he told me about this mask that the guys wear in Alaska called a Cold Avenger.  He said it worked wonders for his guys in Alaska being able to PT outside when it was cold. I ordered one from REI hoping that it would allow me to keep running outside when it was cold.  Not only because I hate the treadmill, but also because I’m starting my next round of marathon training and I really don’t want to wind up cooped up inside for the next several months especially during my long run days.  I think I’ll go crazy.  So, what better way to test out whether it works or not then to actually sign up for a race; The 12Ks of Christmas.  Go big or go to the hospital, right?!

IMG_5355Race day came and it was a balmy 26 degrees.  This truly was going to be uncharted territory for me.  This particular race dressing up in a Christmas theme is encouraged.  Given my dislike for all things Christmas I had decided to go as the Grinch.  I even had the mom of a friend of mine make me a Grinch inspired hat. Oh and since I was going to need a green tutu for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March I might as well order my custom green tutu from Glam Runner.  I know, twist my arm, right?  I had even found Grinch pj pants that I was going to leave at the start line to wear over my running tights just until the race started.  The mask kind of made me look even more dorky than I already did, but the mask was the only reason why I was actually able to be there.

IMG_5357Several friends of mine had also signed up to do this race.  Bourbon’s Mom signed up for the 5K with several of her friends.  CrossFit gal who did the Across the Bay 10k run and Bella’s Mom had signed up to do the 12k with me.  It was really nice having company again.  Even better, this time I had someone cheering me in at the finish line since the 5k went first!

Many things went well during this race.  First, the Cold Avenger worked like a dream.  Not only was I able to breathe warm air, but I felt no ill effects of running with it on.  There was no degradation in my breathing at all.  CrossFit gal said it looked like I was running with one of those VO2 masks on.  My only complaints are that it went up and over my ears making me a little TOO warm and that since I mouth breathe I was pushing and pulling a great deal of water into the warming chamber.  But hey, I was out running on a 26 degree day!  I’ll take it!

Second, I had heard about this app called RaceJoy.  If a runner signs up to be tracked then your friends and family can sign up to track you (for 99 cents) and send your cheers.  It worked great!  Bourbon’s Mom signed up to track me and my other IMG_5363friends so that they knew when to be at the finish line waiting.  They were so confident they were able to go to Georgetown Cupcake while they were waiting for us.  It also allowed for me to get cheers along the race course which were really helpful in poking me in the hiney when I started to sag.  My only complaint is that only people who have smart phones can use this company.  I’d like to see them be able to integrate regular computers so that my parents who don’t have a smart phone (as well as some of my friends) could also have the option to cheer me on and watch my progress.

The race itself was a mixed bag.  I ran well-ish.  My time was down about a minute per mile over all from my half marathon time, but not as well as I would have liked it to have been.  I wound up finishing in 1:40 which is not a fantastic time given the folks that were running the race, but I was pleased.  That being said, the logistics of theIMG_5360 race were not exactly what I would call wonderful.  While there was water at the 2 mile mark there was no other water.  When CrossFit gal (who’s very broken and was walking) and Bella’s Mom got to the water station they weren’t able to get any water.  On the way back (which would have been the 5 mile mark) there was no water at all.  The turn around point was just a spray painted mark on the ground and was easily missed (which it was by both of them).  They wound up doing almost 8 miles vice the 7.45.  Not to mention the communications by the race were almost non-existent.  The only good thing I have to say is that they did get out prizes to both the first finishers and the last finishers.  Finishing for both of those girls was incredibly hard.  Getting a reward for finishing at all is HUGE.

I finished before either of them did.  Bourbon’s Mom was watching them approach the finish line via RaceJoy.  I was able to keep texting them both to tell them how much further.  I was also able to text them and keep encouraging them along.  As soon as they popped around the final corner and we could see them I jogged half way out to encourage them in.  I was dancing and making a fool of myself to get them to smile and finish strong.  (Not to mention the upside of getting warm again.) IMG_5364When Bella’s mom reached me I encouraged her to finish strong and run it to the finish line.  I was so proud of them both.  They did a great job!  I’m sure they are both cursing my name today, but they did an amazing job and should be proud of themselves.

I’m not 100% certain I will do this particular race again, but there were several good things I got out of it.  Sometimes you just have to take the good things out of an experience and move forward.  Onward to Shamrock Half Marathon training!!