Monday, July 27, 2015

Endless Summer 6 Hour Race: Relay Time!

I've been doing running races for a few years now and I've done distances ranging from one mile to fifty, with odd distances like a metric marathon mixed in just for fun. Even with all that racing experience, I've never done a relay. I did my first relay on Saturday at the Endless Summer 6 Hour race in Annapolis, MD. It's one of my favorite races because it's at such a pretty park and it's exceptionally well organized with a low-key atmosphere.

 My friends are on a different level of race prep from me. When they picked me up at 4:55am on Saturday morning, I had an empty water bottle and an old towel. They had coolers full of snacks and drinks, a pop up tent, and chairs for everyone. We even had mason jars full of ice cold cucumber-mint water to sip as we sat in the shade. This was really more of a spa day than a race.

The weather was fantastic for July and I was actually chilly at the start. The race directors must have some ESP or control over the weather because the race premium this year was actually a pullover.

My kids are positive that's a spider as the logo

Since we had two relay teams, we ran in pairs. I went in the starting pair and I got to fully enjoy the rare cool summer morning. The first four mile loop seemed to go by really quickly and before I knew it, I was back at the start and done running for a bit. It felt a little like cheating to be sitting down and relaxing while the race was going on, but I pushed through and relaxed to the point of almost falling asleep.

My second time around the loop was quite a bit warmer, so we walked the inclines. Again, it went by really quickly (probably because the only other time I've run at this park has been for six hours at a time), and I was back at our tent/resort area. Due to relay team issues (no one wants those logistical details, right?), I ended up going out for a third loop early. I was happy to do that because sitting and then running and then sitting again wasn't my body's favorite activity.

By the time we finished that loop, it was almost at 5 hours on the race clock. We decided to have a snack and then go out as a whole team and walk until it was time to plant our flag markers at the end of the race. We had fun walking as a group and even took a detour to look at all the yachts on the river.

We haven't gotten the official results yet, but by our math we did about 28 miles as a team for the six hours. We also had a fantastic time, so it was a successful race.

Yeah, I don't follow outfit instruction well

I was supposed to wear black bottoms with a white top, but my laundry procrastination meant I was getting dressed from the dryer at 4:30am on Saturday morning and my give a damn was busted.

Don't worry, I was harassed all day for being a diva who isn't a team player.

As always, I highly recommend this race to anyone in the area. I don't think I'd do the relay again because I prefer to keep moving the whole time. Also a dude in the packet pick up line mocked relays and said he hasn't done a relay since elementary school, so clearly next year I need to beat him at the 6 hour solo race.

Which would you pick, a solo effort or a relay run for a 6 hour race? I don't know how people get through those Ragnar relays. My body is too old for that shit.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summertime Fun

One of the best parts of warm weather is being able to do more outside activities, especially where we live. In the winter, it's hard to come up with fun stuff for the kids to do inside. Summer time means playing outside and one of the best places to play is the beach. Luckily for us, the military rec center near our house has a beach!
That way Daddy, THAT WAY!

This is the beach? We aren't impressed

My kids are still warming up to the concept of enjoying the beach. I can't really blame them, I don't like having crabs crawl over my feet either!

Oh, and by "beach" I really mean "riverside." I'm peddling a lie, I know.
Questioning everything

Our summertime outings may skimp on actual beachiness, but at least there are refreshments.
Still pissed about the crab

Is there anything more refreshing than a silver pouch of sugar water dyed red? I get a twinge of parent guilt when I see their teeth stained red from the juice, but I know that a good brushing with a toothpaste like Aquafresh® Bubblemint Paste for kids will help protect their teeth from sugar acids. That way the kids can enjoy their summertime treat without worrying about the sugar damaging their teeth!

Also, it's good for the kids to stay hydrated since they want to go right from the beach to playing on the adjacent playground. It's funny to me that the playgrounds all over this area are aviation-themed, except for the playgrounds actually on military facilities.
Hey! Watch your altitude!

Abort mission!

I have the controls... No, I have the controls!

The beach/recreation center is really close to an Italian ice/frozen custard place, so of course we have to stop. Summer fun basically requires frozen treats.
Can we change our order from kid-size to extra-large?

Ugh, the tyranny of kid-size servings

Is her treat better than mine? Better whine just in case.

With all of these treats, it's great that my kids are excited and happy to brush their teeth twice a day. I do whatever I can to make dental hygiene more fun for them, even to the point of purchasing light up toothbrushes that flash for a minute so they know when to stop brushing. They were excited to learn about Captain Aquafresh, mostly because they love superheroes.
Loves America, hates cavities

As an adult, I don't need as many bells and whistles to enjoy brushing my teeth but I do enjoy the patriotic colors of Aquafresh® toothpaste. It's like brushing my teeth with freedom.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The problem is that I thought I knew something

I've spent years reading blogs where author is on a diet. I feel like I know a decent amount about nutrition. I'm not unaccustomed to hard work. All of this means that I felt like I knew what to do when my stupid too tight shorts started to bother me.

I don't personally own a scale, but I do go to the gym and they have a scale in the bathroom. I decided that weighing myself once a week would probably be a good idea if I'm going through all the trouble of tracking my food. The scale isn't the most reliable number-wise (or so I'm choosing to believe because it's rudely insisting I weigh more than I think I do), but I only care about the delta, so that shouldn't matter.

I've been tracking my food for weeks now and I'm abstaining from Coke and lunch dessert. I work out six days a week. I'm eating stupid fucking salad for lunches. Guess how much difference that has made in my weight?

Obviously whatever I've been doing isn't going to cut it, so I have two choices.

1. Be more aggressive in my approach. I could do more food-wise to "eat clean".

To an extent, I'm already making efforts on this front. For example, I've ditched the flavored oatmeal packets and now I eat plain oatmeal and hardboiled eggs for breakfast, which is just an awesome way to start the day.

2. Just accept this as the new status quo. My body clearly wants this and it's not like anyone but me even cares about this whole endeavor.

I'm starting to really understand why the diet industry is so big. This whole thing is a mindfuck.

Diet people: How did you get "over the hump" and lose those last five or so vanity pounds? If it involves eating less than 1,400 calories a day, I probably don't want to know about it. Also, please don't let the answer be "drink Spark" or "replace a meal with Shakeology!"

Don't mind me. I haven't had enough carbs today.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rosaryville 25K Trail Race Recap: Sweaty Conga Line Time

One of the things that I'm known for it making fantastic life decisions. For once though, I was only halfway as stupid as I could be, so I'm calling it progress.

For a few days before the Rosaryville Trail races, the weather predictions were dire. The heat index was going to be crazy high due to the elevated humidity and general July-ness. There was also an air quality warning that instructed people to refrain from engaging in physical activity outdoors. Basically, shit was bad outside.

Fitting in nicely with my life choice making reputation, this wasn't the first time I've run in these kind of conditions. That didn't make me feel any more confident about it though.

Questioning everything at the start

My saving grace is that I decided at race registration that 25K was my goal. I'm not saying I would have tried to go further, but it was nice to not start the day with dropping down in distance or feeling like I wasn't going to hit my own arbitrarily set goals.


Going into this race, I knew I only had two things going for me: sheer stubbornness and experience doing stupid shit. I do a weekly "long" run, but only 8-10 miles so I'm not going to say I was well trained to run 16ish miles in the woods at one go. I figured if I could just stay on top of my hydration and heart rate, then I could finish the distance.

I travel so lightly

I drank Nathan Catalyst in my pack (three tablets over three liters of water for the morning), took two salt pills, and ate one Gu Roctane. All of this was enough salt to make me regret wearing my wedding ring, but I never cramped up so I regret nothing.

The race start was really crowded (comparatively) and the bulk of the runners were doing the 10 mile option. I opted for a starting point closer to the back so I wouldn't get stuck in a grouping of faster runners. On a single track trail, the runners form a sweaty conga line and it's really easy to ignore your own pacing needs to stay in sync with the herd.

The first 10 miles felt good body wise, but mentally the conga line was irritating. I like trail running for the lack of crowds, so spending the first 10 miles locked into a position for someone right my heels and staring at some woman's butt for hours isn't my ideal. At one point, the entire conga line came to a screeching halt. At first I assumed that someone fell. Then when I saw people ahead gingerly stepping over something on the trail, I assumed it must be a snake. When I got close enough to see, I was not pleased to see that we were all taking a break from running to avoid stepping in a mud puddle.

Life tip for aspiring trail runners: You are going to get dirty. Make your peace with that before crossing the trailhead and don't be holding up other runners because you don't want to get your fucking feet dirty.

By the time I started my second loop, I was mostly by myself. I was strongly tempted to drop down to the 10 mile option, but I had bribed myself with the promise of stopping for a large McDonald's fountain Coke on the way home if I just finished my intended distance. My clothing was literally dripping with sweat at this point and the stagnant, humid air in the woods felt too thick to breathe.

After about mile 12, I was walking more than I was running (I think) but I finally felt like I was going to finish the race and not die in the woods. At mile 15, I came out of the woods, had a quick cup of Gatorade at the aid station, and started the paved section back to the finish line. It starts with a long uphill, directly in the sun, and a woman passed me and encouragingly said "You can do it!" as I was walking.

The race ends with a long grassy incline to the finish line, but it was nothing compared to the grassy scramble at the end of Stone Mill so I had that perspective to comfort me. Once I finished (3:27), I tossed my anklet timing chip in the box and stood in front of a fan for about 10 minutes. Then I realized I could be sitting in my car with the AC on, so I grabbed my medal and left.

Smile brought to you by "Max Cold" setting on my AC

I felt pretty good at the finish, and the only causality of the day was my right foot. I must have tied the laces too loose on that side? I don't know, but I can say that running in soaking wet socks is not a recipe for beautiful toes. It should be interesting this week to figure out how well moleskin works with high heels.

I would absolutely recommend the Rosaryville races to anyone in the VA/MD/DC area. It's a friendly, low key race that is staffed by great volunteers and the RD has a wealth of experience that really helps the race go smoothly. I'm actually going to get a similar style medal for the Frozen Heart 50K because the price point is reasonable and I can't get through another year of people complaining that a travel mug isn't a medal replacement.

Which would you choose for a trail race: super hot or super cold? Even after yesterday, I still think I'd rather have heat than cold (below 10 degrees).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Only Thing Smarter than Being Smart is Pretending to be Smart

Meetings are hard to avoid and some people (like my husband) spend more time sitting in meetings than at their actual desk. Since you can't avoid meetings with most jobs, here's a handy list on how to seem like the smartest person in the room when you're in a meeting.

Make sure you have a beverage in hand. Sip it thoughtfully throughout the meeting. Actually whenever you walk out of your office at work, carry something in your hand, preferrably a book or binder for scribbling down important notes.

Repeat the last smart thing someone said, as in, "I agree with Bob" but then use bigger words to say the exact same thing.

No matter how stupid something is, always say "Great idea!"

On the same theme, the answer to any potential tasking in a meeting is "Sure, I can do that!" It doesn't matter if you have no fucking clue what you just agreed to do.

Suggest things such as "small groups to vet the process" or "request evaluations from the field" to avoid work responsibility but still sound like you give a shit.

Always look skeptical. Then when someone asks for your feedback, say something like "It sounds intriguing, but I would like to know more about implementation" which puts it back on them. Eventually they will just stop asking you questions.

Say things like "We need to make sure we are effectively leveraging our full bandwidth."

Ask them to go back a slide. It doesn't matter if you have a real question. Just say "I wanted to double check those numbers" and everyone is impressed by how much attention you're paying to detail.

I can't take credit for all of these ideas, as I polled friends from various fields of work. Unless this post goes viral, then I'm totally deleting this statement and running with the idea that this is 100% my work.

I could watch that raccoon scurry away a thousand times and still giggle.

What are your "appear smart in a meeting" tips?

Monday, July 13, 2015

There are no bad ideas

As usual, our weekend was full of activities for the kids and working out for me. Buckle up, this is some thrilling shit.

Sure, it's only July but it's not too soon for some back to school shopping:

The Hulk is her favorite, of course

Faith is very into superheroes right now, mostly because of the boys at school talking it up. Cordelia is resistant to peer pressure and her tastes remain unchanged.


Don't worry, Faith hasn't changed her answer for her favorite animal yet.


You can look at the cat's face in this picture and really see true regret.

One of my friends moved away this weekend, but before she left we all went out one last time. I really, really wanted a bacon cheeseburger but I was an adult and ordered a salad.

It had dried fruit, nuts, and cheese on it so when I entered that all into my fitness tracker app, it turns out that I should have gotten the fucking burger I wanted. At least I got the mojito and according to the internet, that's a very diet friendly drink.

Drinking out of a jar like a hobo

Because I'm a good wife, I brought my husband home food from the restaurant and gave him food poisoning so he could stay up all night being sick. He probably wishes I was less nice to him. Since he was recovering from Puke-fest 2015, I spent the whole day on my own with both kids. It's weird that I rarely do that now when I used to do that all the time. Luckily for them I remembered how, so we had a fun day.

These things just happen
On Sunday morning I was able to slip out of the house for a run with friends. We went 8 miles and it was pretty humid, but not too hot. I felt OK during the run, which is good considering the fact that I'm signed up for a 25K this weekend. On the trails. In July.

I'm sure it will be totally fine. If it's not, I can definitely find redemption at the 6 hour race the following weekend.

I'm on a relay team for the 6 Hour Endless Summer race which should be much easier than running/walking the whole time. Unless I'm stiff and cranky after I've waited for my turn and I don't wanna move and my team is all "But it's your turn to run!"

Does anyone have relay running team tricks? How do you keep from tightening up when you're waiting? I know we are already planning on matching team headbands, but we may want even more through prep.