Friday, July 31, 2009

DirtDawg Does Cleveland!

I must give a special shout-out to DirtDawg, a fellow metro Detroit run-blogger who will take on the Burning River 100 (as in 100 miles!) starting tomorrow morning near my hometown in northeast Ohio. I have been listening to DirtDawg's podcast chronicling his training for Burning River from its beginning back in February, and I have been reading his blog for a couple of years. Last week I was pleased to finally meet DD and the rest of the Dawg family when they came all the way out to my part of the state to pick up some chickens from the amazing farm where I get a lot of my food. (Yes, the chickens are that good, good enough to drive an hour for.)

I wish DD all the best in the Burning River 100. If you're so inclined, drop by his blog or podcast page and wish him well as he embarks on this crazy adventure! He's going to run a HUNDRED MILES, PEOPLE!

I can't wait to hear the race report!


P.S. Tell Little Dirt Dawg that Darwin says "meow." :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lyn Yarows Memorial 5K: My Ass Is Grass

Smile! Running is FUN! (right?)

In order to complete my goal of "at least one race per month" in 2009, I had to find something to do, like, now, because July is fast approaching its end. With only one weekend left in the month, I scoured Run Michigan (my go-to race calendar) and found a local 5K race on Sunday, July 26. The race was being held only 15 minutes away from my house. Perfect! Even more attractive was the fact that it was a bonafide, honest-to-goodness cross-country race, something I haven't done since my high school days nigh on 18 years ago (yikes). How could I possibly resist?
Before the race.

So there I was at the starting line of this tiny little race at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter on Sunday morning. I was about to run the same 5K course the University of Michigan cross-country team uses. Katie McGregor ran here! A broad field of grass stretched in front of me. The starting line was painted white on the ground. I felt as if I were a teenager again, in a high school dual meet on some balmy Ohio September afternoon. There was no dramatic start, just a woman yelling "Runners, on your marks...get set...GO!"And we were off.

Charging along the grass after the start.

I had been feeling bogged down all week, and this day was no exception. I was struggling to keep my pace under 8:00/mile. I hit the first mile in 7:45, which was as fast as I would get. I don't know what made me feel as if I was wearing 20-pound shoes. I just didn't have it. My fleet feet of a week prior had flown away from me. The grass sucked at my shoes and every little incline drained more energy out of me. A cluster of high school girls passed me around mile 2. By then I was fighting for every step, breathing hard, and furious at myself.

The final loop, on the way toward the finish. I like this picture because my calf muscle looks awesome.

I didn't even want to look at Garmy. I had never wanted a race to end as badly as I did this one. Where was my strength, my verve, my running mojo? Gone. The blades of grass pulled at my feet like pawing, grasping hands, slowing me down. My heart thundered, my breathing was rapid and ragged. My legs felt like iron posts.

Closing in on the finish. Thank goodness.

I hit the line in 25:02, which was my slowest raced 5K in almost 2 years (I don't count the 2008 Big House Big Heart or the Flirt with Dirt last month because I wasn't really purposely racing either of those). I was trying extremely hard...I just wasn't getting it done.

Despite what I consider a subpar performance, it was still good for an age group win. (That's why I love these sparsely-attended local races.) Additionally, I won an exercise ball in the raffle!


I was lectured/admonished/scolded by FK and TC afterward that I am overtraining and that is why I crashed and burned during this race. I reluctantly agreed. I wore myself out last week, what with my 12 x 400m interval workout Monday followed by my failed tempo run Wednesday, then giving blood at work on Thursday, followed by a speed workout Thursday evening (dumb, yes, I know), running 11 miles Saturday...yes, yes, YES. I overdid it. Thus, this week, I have been taking it easy. I didn't do anything at all today. Lazy bum, that's me. Tomorrow, hills with the gang., I'm running another 5K race in the evening. It's only because I want the race T-shirt! That's all! I won't overexert myself, I swear! I won't 'fess up as to what race this is until after it's over, however. I guarantee, though, its name is fucking AWESOME. And that's the only reason I'm driving 30 miles on a Friday evening to run a road race.

Finally, here's a picture of me from the always-fantastic Michigan Brewers' Guild Summer Beer Festival last week:

Life is good. So is beer. Therefore, life = beer1. And really, that's all you need to know.

Thanks to FK for the great race pictures!

1: Copyright 2009, Glaven Q. Heisenberg.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Reward

Why I run: so I can drink good beer. Right now I am in Ypsilanti's Riverside Park at the Michigan Brewers' Guild Summer Beer Festival. I look forward to this event all year. In my left hand is a Scotch ale from Copper Canyon Brewery. I am happy. Life is good. So is beer.
Mobile Blogging from here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts: The Good, The Bad, and the Smelly

Long time, no blog. It's been almost two weeks! I've been spending the evenings, normally my waste-time-on-the-computer time, burning all of the stages of the Tour de France to DVDs for my dad, who is an avid cyclist but is without cable. I'm editing out all of the ads (the TDF broadcast is infested with them) because for all the magical and wonderful powers of TiVo, it has not yet figured out how to not record commercials. In doing so I can easily cut over an hour from the program time which is composed of nothing but ads. It's kind of appalling.

My reappearance after 13 days should do wonders to soothe some people's angst (expressed privately) at not having any of my sage words to read. Are you happy now? ;)

The good:

As a friend of mine likes to say to express amazement and excitement, "holy WAH." I have no idea what that means, but it neatly encapsulates what has happened since I began the FIRST program on June 29. After three weeks, the cumulative effects of this speed-heavy program have suddenly and spectacularly made themselves known. As in, "oh, I think I'll just go out for a nice and easy four-mile run" and the next thing I know I've done it at an 8:10 pace and was able to carry on a relaxed conversation the entire time.

Monday morning I visited my local Circle of Doom (aka the high school track) for a taxing interval workout: 12 x 400m with a 90 second rest. Emboldened by my weekend of quality running, I attacked the track with a vengeance and hit my target time (1:40 +/- 2 seconds) on 11 of my 12 laps. I did the whole thing, including warm-up and cool-down, in under an hour and made it to work on time. For the record, my legs were complaining A LOT Tuersday and Wednesday after that, which may have contributed to the EPIC FAIL which was my tempo run on Wednesday morning. The less said about that the better.

Last night I attended a concert by one of my favorite artists, Neko Case. It was fabulous! In a couple of weeks I am going to see Fleet Foxes. At the end of August I will hear Great Lake Swimmers, and then at the end ofSeptember I will be able to see Grizzly Bear! As exciting as this lineup is, it pales in comparison to THE BIG ONE, the concert of the year (for me, anyway): DEPECHE MODE. AUGUST 12. OMG. OMG!

The bad:

I smashed my hand into a door as I was carrying a chair from one room to another. I thought to myself when I picked it up: "I need to be careful, because I could easily bang into a door." Um...yeah. The impact also planed a little curl of skin off the back of my hand. I now have a lovely bruise to remind me of how clumsy I can be sometimes.

Today's weather is the mortal enemy of my hair: warm, drizzly, and very humid (89% at the moment). You want to see the 'fro at its angriest, just make me go outside for five minutes today. Then stand back, because I'm not responsible for what happens if anyone gets too close to my hair. It's wild and dangerous, I tell you. Luckily it can be tamed (almost) with the strategic deployment of a hair elastic, a vital piece of grooming equipment which is never far from my reach. iPhone in one hand, elastic in the other, that's all I need to feel secure.

My aforementioned tempo run from Wednesday. Bah.

The smelly:

I realized something foul was afoot last Saturday morning when I got up to go running. L'eau de skunk was rather pungent. When I got home from my run, I knew something was really wrong because my house...ugh. And then I opened the basement door. OH MY GOD. The smell, it was very bad. I immediately called Critter Control. They were here that afternoon to set a trap. By 9:15 pm Saturday night there was a skunk in the trap. But wait, there's more! There was more than one skunk lurking in the crawlspace under my kitchen floor! I could hear them scratching around, fumbling against the heating duct, making squeaking noises. The cats were terribly intrigued and spent long periods of time staring at the baseboards and sniffing at the heating vent (which I had closed, because, you never know).

Critter Control returned Sunday afternoon to remove the trapped skunk, who responded to being moved by releasing a small but fierce blast of odor into the air. It was highly unpleasant. Let me repeat that: IT WAS HIGHLY UNPLEASANT. Two more traps were baited and set by the hole, but since then, nothing else has happened. I haven't heard any more noises, and my house does not stink any more (aside from the smell of sweaty running clothes, an odor which is normally kept quarantined in my Closet Command Center). The traps remain empty morning after morning. I am hoping the other members of the skunk family packed up and left town on their own.

Tomorrow I have something very exciting to do after work. More on that later!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

You'd think I'd never run before the way I have been staggering around today. NO, this is not a repeat performance of last week's ovarian symphony. This is DOMS from my group workout at the track last night. It was a fartlek extravaganza of 1.5-mile warm-up, then 100 yards each of walking lunges, high steps, high skips, and kick-butts (followed by a jog over the rest of the track). Repeat sequence twice for a total of two miles, followed by a 1.5-mile cool-down. 5 miles total. Temperature was hovering somewhere around 77 degrees.

I knew I was going to be in trouble when my legs felt like rubber after the first set of lunges. Nevertheless, it was one of those workouts which tests one's fortitude, but in a good way. I gave it my all, and returned home feeling tired but satisfied.

Today...just ouch. Aching quads, aching glutes, aching everywhere. It didn't help that I had to sit in my chair at work all day and was unable to move around very much. I'm hoping tomorrow's long run will sweep away some of the soreness. I can run miles and miles, but make me do a few drills and I turn into a puddle of goo. Clearly, I have some things on which to work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Of Dirty Laundry and Dilaudid

You know you're a runner when:
  • You transfer some laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, and there are safety pins scattered about the bottom of the empty washer drum. Similarly, you open the door to your dryer, and a handful of safety pins falls out. I have the cleanest safety pins in the world.
  • You are lying supine on a gurney in a hospital ER, moaning and shaking and panting uncontrollably as the worst pain you've ever felt rips through your abdomen over and over and over, and the only thing you can think of is "I wonder if I can still go for my long run tomorrow?" Of course, once the sweet, sweet nectar that is Dilaudid hits your brain like a ten-ton truck, you won't be thinking about much of anything. (I yelled, "Now I know why people get addicted to drugs!" before I floated quietly away on a heavenly cloud of narcotic painkiller.)
Yes, I spent part of the weekend in the hospital. It meant that my Friday evening and all of Saturday were completely shot. I didn't have appendicitis nor did I have a kidney stone. I had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Guys, be glad this can never happen to you. It was dreadful, excruciating. I was sternly forbidden from running for at least two days. TWO WHOLE DAYS? I'm training here! (I should add another "you know you're a runner when": "everyone in the ER knows you're a distance runner within 20 minutes of being admitted because you're incapable of talking about anything else, espcially when you're actively training for a marathon.") It was difficult, but I managed. I managed by going to the beach on Sunday with a book and lying in the sun for a few hours reading about Bella and Edward and Jacob (if you have to ask...well, just don't). A little swimming, a little sunning...I let the memory of the drama of the previous 36 hours drift away and I returned home happily sunbaked. Monday morning I was back on the road. Yes, I'm fine. No, I didn't have to have surgery. For now....

Stupid female bits. *grumble*