Beat the Blerch East, or My First Trail Race

If you’re familiar with The Oatmeal, you may know the Blerch. It almost seemed that in quick succession it became known that Matt Inman was a serious athlete, not a lazy slob like his comic characters indicated, that he ran ultra marathons, and that he wrote a comic-turn-book about his motivations for said running.

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via http://shop.theoatmeal.com/

Fast forward to a race series all about “beating the Blerch.” 2014 was the first race event launched in Seattle, but this year the event expanded to multiple locations, including the east coast. Jeremy and I signed up quickly, along with several of my coworkers and friends. While I though a half marathon would be a nice goal, I chose the 10k instead since I wasn’t sure I’d have time to train with my busy summer of weddings.

A few weeks before race day, the course was released and many people started rumblings about it being a serious trail race. If I’d been paying attention to sign up page, it does mention running on trails, but I didn’t think too hard about it. It became a bit of controversy, the reality of a legit trail race competing with the idea of a fun Blerch race with cake.

Two days before the race I was working on cleaning my apartment in Troy and driving a grumpy cat down to Princeton, so my attentions were elsewhere. Our friends drove down Friday night before the race, and kindly ignored all the boxes and very unfinished feel of our apartment. Once we got to the race early Saturday morning, we were ready to get our Blerch on. We spotted Matt Inman milling about (and Jeremy ended up running with him briefly during the half), got our swag, and took advantage of early bathroom stops. Once everyone left for the half I was lucky to run into my friend Tamra, and I had some lovely people to hang out with while waiting for the 10k to start.

The face of someone who knows how to crush trail races
The face of someone who knows how to crush trail races

The race itself: yep, that was a trail race. I definitely wish I had trail running shoes, because I have wobbly ankles on flat surfaces, and the more tired I got brought more slips. I managed to get almost to mile 6 before falling in great spectacular fashion. Luckily I didn’t hit my head but I scraped up my right leg and arm, left knee, and hands. Runners right behind me were so sweet, checking if I was okay and getting my handheld water bottle back to me. I think everyone knew it was a rough course and people were very helpful. Some people were trying to race seriously – and the people wearing headphones that couldn’t hear someone trying to pass definitely created a hazard. Trails are not the place to tune out! Of course I was probably too aware and maybe wobbled too much trying to stay out of the way of people I could hear coming up behind me. First trail race lessons!

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Trail wounds

I was embarrassed that I fell and I was so close to the finish that I resisted the urge to cry/give up and pushed through to the finish line. I was only able to mildly high-five one of the Blerches at the finish as I was trying not to get blood on anyone. I did love getting heckled by a Blerch at the water stop at mile 3. Really the best volunteers at this event! I finished, got my medal, and waited for Jeremy to finish. Then we found the rest of our crew, took a picture on the official couch, and booked it right to some delicious food downtown.

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Blerch = Beaten

Beat the Blerch was quite the adventure. My time wasn’t too bad but the course was definitely short. I’ll take it, though! And now I’ve done a trail race. I don’t know if I’ll do one again any time soon, and I’m hoping the swelling in my knee goes down and my scraped up arm heals soon. But I did it! Suck it, Blerch.

The Susie Q Memorial Half Marathon

We came, we ran, we died.

It’s pretty cool having a race named after you. It’s even cooler to have a race name after you in antemortem anticipation. I’m not sure on the right phrasing. But rest assured we had a lot of theories on when and how this race would earn it’s “memorial” title.

You see, when I started my new job back in August, I realized I was going to have a lot more free time to fit in running. Since October I’ve been following a beginner training plan for a half marathon. My initial plan was to complete the training plan as best I could (with room for exceptions like travel and being sick), and then basically keep going and/or start over until I could run a race in the spring. Best laid plans, and all that, you know how that goes…

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One of my Christmas presents from Jeremy was a half marathon race in my honor. And how can you not love that?! Jeremy decided we should celebrate the first time I reached that 13.1 milestone with a semi-certified race. We all had bibs and everything! It was very (semi) official.

Crazy mofos
Crazy mofos

While we considered the snow and the potential cold (IT WAS REALLY COLD), we didn’t really consider just how much of the Mohawk Hudson bike path would not be plowed. And how none of us had really trained for snow. I’d say somewhere around 10 of the miles we ran were in snow.

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It turned into a trail race kind of adventure instead of a PR/race time event. Jeremy is great at cheering me on with Rocky quotes, no matter how much I beg him to stop. (I’ll admit I secretly enjoy it.) We all basically froze almost to death, with no one being able to feel their fingers at the end. I was probably the most hobbled, but we all made it back together. We managed to revive enough back at my apartment to celebrate with some Flying Chicken. And best of all, I won the race! Winner winner, chicken dinner. …I’ll excuse myself now.

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Overall it was a challenging experience but I’m glad we did it. Plus now I can say I’ve run a half marathon distance. Now on to pick a race for the spring…

OMG It’s Like Totally 2015!

Well. Where the hell have I been? It has been a very busy couple of months. Busy in the sense of weddings, parties, trips on the weekends, and busy in the sense of doing so much at the office during the day that I don’t dare approach my computer when I get home. Busy in the sense of lazy, wherein my desktop computer bit the dust (in a fixable way, but you lug that giant 27″ iMac to the Apple store at the mall during holiday season!!), so I just made it work with the devices I had. Anyway. I’m currently writing from my wonderful, but holy-crap-I-just-spent-a-ton-of-money new macbook pro. It’s so pretty and fast and compact and I love it. Eventually I’ll get a monitor too for big screen TV and movie viewing. (The iMac will be fixed then sold for parts once I get around to taking care of it. My only 2015 resolution! ha) But for now it’s nice to have a normal working computer.

Anyway. Lets look at pictures. I’m not fully ready to blog again but here I am. So where was I?

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I was wine tasting in my best plaid before Jeremy’s wine glass marathon.

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I was cheering Corey on during his first ever marathon.

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I was getting hassled by an opossum while trying to get into my apartment.

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I was goofing about on Halloween with some lovely fun people.

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I was doing some serious leaf-peeping with my not-so-serious selfie skills. 

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I was turning 28 and celebrated with Bill Murray and another handsome talented man who made me a one-of-a-kind necklace.

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I was in Vegas for a work conference (and met Adam Savage!!)

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I was at the beach in California goofing with the boyfriend over Christmas.

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I was destroying French presses (ridiculous story) while goofing with my bestie and her puppy in Troy for NYE.

Lots of goofing you might say. It’s felt like a crazy time, but I’ll admit I’m enjoying it. Sometimes I wish I had more time to relax at night and do nothing, but I’m spending time with my favorite people and tackling some new goals. You may not have heard, but the First Annual Q Memorial Half Marathon is happening next weekend. Only the cool people are running it. (Also I’m terrified.) I’m working on fighting off a cold so hopefully I can still get some tapering runs in before the big day. Ahh!!

Running Again

Remember that time I ran a 10k last summer? Then decided to train for a half marathon I never did because I got injured? Yeah, me too. I kept up a low level of fitness over the winter and maybe a month or so ago I just decided to sign up for a 5 mile race. It’s not a 10k, and I can do at least 3 miles, so OBVIOUSLY I can do 5… right? So it’s fair to say I did not think this through. However in the week leading up to the race I had an epiphany about the Achilles tendon pain I’d been having — I realized the cause was being just a bit too short for my chair at work. I’m a fidgety person in general, and I think I got a new/different chair sometime last summer, which may have resulted in a difference that was just enough to cause my tendon to be out of whack. I bought a foot rest and that whole week everything started to feel better.

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I was lucky that on race day Jeremy decided to pace with me since he had done almost 20 miles on trails (and fought a bear) the day before. It was a ton of fun, despite being a bit chilly, and we got cool race shirts. Post race this morning, after completing the 5 miles at a respectable 11 minute pace, I feel sore but not debilitated. Hooray! I won’t start raising my expectations too much for my fitness, but I’d say another 10k race might be in my future in another month or two.

Today’s outfit is nothing special. After getting sushi post race and feeling really great (too great), everything started to catch up with me. I napped on my futon and then went to hang out while Jeremy and Corey made beer. A few hours later (barely 6pm) I was mostly asleep on my feet and decided to head home while I could still make it. A hazy evening and verrrryyy early bedtime still left me kind of out of it this morning. One day I want to be at the level where even 10 (okay, maybe 8) miles wouldn’t leave me destroyed for days. But for now, baby steps.

Running as Fast as I Can

me race pic

Once upon a time, I used to like running. But I also liked playing tennis. And dancing. I was never very good at committing to one thing in high school. Looking back, I wish I had started earlier trying to excel at one sport. But over the years I’ve spent my time bouncing around new challenges, returning to running  from time to time. Last year was the first time I actually started to get serious about running, creating a routine and improving my endurance. But then I hurt myself. Twice. Recovering from injury and then starting a new job with a long commute in the winter completely destroyed my momentum.

But then the spring came. I started to get back out running again. And then I met a cute guy named Jeremy (ooooooh) who encouraged me to do more. He went running with me and helped me stay positive. He then signed me up for a 10K race. Because hey, why not? I like challenges, and goals, and having something to look forward to. So I started training for my first race.

I don’t like feeling like I’m slow. Years of reading running blogs and seeing fast friends post results on Facebook makes me very competitive. But I’m coming to terms with accepting my slower pace and achieving endurance for longer distances. As an injury prone person in daily life, taking it easy is advice I can’t take often enough.

Anyway. Suddenly 10K weekend was upon us. We had a crew going out to Cooperstown to camp for the weekend. On Friday night, we accidentally all got a little crazy and didn’t exactly get the best night of sleep. Saturday we road tripped out to our camp site, filling up the car with food and belongings. The night was ridiculously cold for a weekend in August, so sleep was once again not ideal. But we all got our butts up at the 5 o’clock hour, prepping with bagels and coffee. I ate practically nothing, as my stomach is known for causing problems before big events. I pretty much felt like a bag of nerves, the anticipation ticking away, until we started.

Lucky for me, I started out running with Jeremy’s sister, who is a bit slower than me. Which was very helpful because we immediately started out way too fast, so she alerted us to slow down. Starting too fast is still a problem for me. After three miles, though, I was ready to pick up the pace. The race course was pretty much up and down with hills, and my legs were not pleased. But I kept up, trying to pace with some other people who seemed to be going as fast as I wanted to. However, during the last mile my left knee started to lock up. I’m still working on having a horribly tight IT band and considering 5 miles was the most I’ve ever run previously (and only twice), I’m not terribly surprised.

I powered through the pain and came through the last downhill to see Jeremy and the crew cheering. It was a great feeling. From cheering at other marathons I know how exciting it is just being on the sidelines, and even in this small race with few people cheering, it was still exhilarating. Best of all, I got to be part of the last cheering wave, and then we laid around to recover.  Plus Jeremy won a sweet bat for finishing first in his age group! I finished 63rd of 72 people running, at about 1 hour and 4 minutes. Wooo soooo fast. Pace-wise I ended up where I wanted, and hey, we all have to start somewhere.

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Afterward we went to Ommegang for beers (whoops don’t do a tasting first when you haven’t eaten) and lunch. It was a great weekend and has sparked my interest in racing for the future. Up next: potentially a half marathon in Vermont. We’ll see how that goes…

Falls, Sun, and Fun

It only looks like I might jump. I meant to do a super(wo)man pose.

It’s been so long since I’ve done a normal blog post, I’m not sure how to go about this. After being kind of irresponsible on Friday night (dear self, I thought you learned to always eat dinner before drinking tons of beer? fail time), I got up early and headed out to Barberville Falls with Brigette. It was a day of indulging in the sun, despite the high waters that made finding a way to get to a decent set of rocks for laying out kind of a challenge. And I may have totally slipped and ate it on a rock at one point. Only minor bruising though… it was more hilarious than painful really, just ask Brig.

Serene, when you’re not falling in it

We had the whole creek to ourselves, and it felt really nice to be out in nature and feel completely relaxed for a while. We then stopped for lunch at Jack’s Drive-In for burgers, cheese fries, and a milkshake. It was unbelievably delicious, and a perfect fit for our day of awesome. It stacks up pretty well against my tradition back home of LBJ’s burritos, Penguins frozen yogurt and walking on the beach. Then we extended the sun and fun in T & Z’s backyard. And yes, we even busted out a turtle kiddie pool. We’re adults. No really.

Splish splash I was playing in a turtle…

For the next two weeks, I get to spend more time out there (well… near it), since my friends who live in Averill Park are off getting married and I’m on cat entertainment duty. (Does that surprise anyone?) I love driving through the green back roads, blasting some tunes, and chilling out with kitties. They even have a porch! I’m excited. I’m even progressing in my running endeavors: managing to be injury free, getting a little faster, and building real endurance to run farther. Endorphins FTW!

Playing with cute cats is like exercise too.

The Hair Abuse Chronicles

Well, here we are. It’s been months since my first unfortunate foray into permanent hair lightening. As you may remember, I attempted to lighten my hair at home. Mistake number one. Then I attempted to try again. Mistake number two. Then I tried to fix it, which took several tries to appear decent. You see where this is going. I think I’ve dyed my hair about 5 times since, most recently being mid-June. Yeah, cringe with me on that. I chose a permanent black and it was harsh at first, but it’s evened out nicely now, and my roots growing out won’t look so drastically different. It’s safe to say that my hair is not a happy camper. My roots have grown out about half an inch, and I’ve made a super sexy discovery – gray hairs! I’m not sure why I’m going partially gray at 24, but I’m just going to have to assume it’s sexy. I won’t know the extent of how it will look once it all grows out, but feast your eyes on this awesomeness.

Emo MySpace shot alert: feel my sadness about gray hairs in front of this book shelf

The rest of my over dyed hair is definitely feeling more like straw some days. I’ve been researching options for hair repair conditioners or intensive treatments. I used one from John Freida and it was pretty good. This time I’ve ordered Morrocanoil, which I’ve heard good things about via my Facebook feed. See, acquaintances/random people you don’t remember but still have on Facebook can be useful!

In other news, I’m still running. I had some drop-off time when it was between 90 and 100 degrees but I’m back on track now. I think reading many running blogs has both inspired me and frustrated me. I like to be good at everything immediately and realizing that my speed and distance will only increase over time gives me the sads. But those other girls are so fast, waaahh. I’m hovering around a 9:30 minute mile, and I occasionally take short 30 second walks when I need them as long as I can make it an extra mile. Oh right, and by that I mean so I can make it to 3 miles instead of 2. I’M SO AWESOME. I’m currently blaming the sun and humidity for my lack of improvement (wah wah cries the Californian), so we’ll see what I can blame come fall. I do feel pretty good with the running business, and after a quiet day at the office (cube life is so quiet! ah!) I really need that run to let out tension and feel alive.

[Insert picture here. I don’t usually take pictures of myself before/after/during runs. Maybe I should start.]

Over the weekend Collin and I went on a 6.5 mile hike. I have yet to acquire proper hiking shoes, which can sometimes make me a grump on these. Plus, I kind of hate nature sometimes. Sorry, Oregonian friends. But it was still fun! We picnicked among a fleet of dragon flies, which was cool and creepy at the same time. Hooray!

Things and Stuff

This clever headline of mine (it took a while) made my brain go straight to one of my many favorite Ron Swansonisms. I’m overly investing in TV shows. It happens. Just ask me about that time I drunkenly fangirled Richard Kind at a theater bar and told him how much I loved his work in Scrubs. Yeah.

Since coming back from a long weekend away in Buffalo, I’ve done a lot of stuff. I’ve worked. I go home. I sometimes run. Sometimes I run and feel good. Sometimes I run and suck. Sometimes I run a trail that has many teenage boys hanging out and drinking, and they are surprisingly nice despite tackling each other before I run through. And sometimes, sadly, you have to tell a guy to eff off after his unleashed dog freaks out and runs after you. Dude, it doesn’t help that you know your dog is harmless, being chased is freaking SCARY. #runningramblingover

Two weekends ago Collin and I hung out with our friends and took a day trip to Indian Lake for some canoeing. It was pretty fun – especially the picnic lunch while docked on the water. Collin and I weren’t the best at coordination, but it was enjoyable anyway.

Messing with Mini (tm?) continues on a relatively consistent basis.

Yesterday Collin and I took a day trip to Glens Falls. It has recently reemerged after being a bit of a desolate town previously. We picnicked at a random park and made a ground hog friend (not really, but that dude was cute). We explored the Hyde Collection, where I set off an alarm accidentally and which also had a cool NYC exhibit going on. I keep getting nostalgic for living in the city, even though I’m happy with the move – and looking forward to a future move somewhere west.

The Hyde House

We came across several cute animal related themes. It was a nice lazy afternoon. Might as well take advantage of all that is near now that we’re upstate, I believe.

Today was another busy day, but much less exciting overall. We did much necessary shopping and Collin and I visited Wal-Mart for the first time. I know it’s wrong, but super cheap clothes feel so right…

Running Power!

This headline comes from a subject line I emailed to Collin a few days ago. See, I’ve really committed to getting back into running, and I’ve become totally nerdily excited about it. I was never a fitness-focused girl growing up, even though I did spread my interests sporadically among running, dance and tennis. I’m bad at sport commitment, I guess. When I got to college I met people who liked to run and work out and sort of started to get into it. One of the reasons my friendship blossomed with my friend Maren was because we started having gym dates when I was going through a rough patch. She became one of my best friends after that period. And she showed me that I could lift weights! I learned pretty quickly the power of getting yourself out the door when you feel crappy – afterward, you almost always feel better.

Love this lady

When I first moved to NYC I started running again. Given that I was a casual runner who mostly ran in the easy climates of Oregon and California, I had no idea the real challenges of running in the heat and humidity of the East Coast. It wasn’t a problem for long, though, because I quickly injured myself. This is an honest-to-goodness true sober story: I was walking home from seeing In The Heights for the first time with Kim, I was wearing sandals with almost no traction, and in my excitement I slipped in a curb cut and twisted my knee. I’m stupid, so I continued to run and hurt myself more. I had just started my new job and sort of let fitness disappear in favor of my long hours and happy hours and friendships.

Holiday party with a wrapped knee. So cool.

A few months into dating Collin, his running enthusiasm got to me. I went to physical therapy briefly – it was awkward, one of the workers made fun of how my leg shook during the strength exercises, WTF – and managed to heal my knee somewhat. Over the winter Collin encouraged me to run in Prospect Park with him. It went pretty well, but I only went with him maybe once a month. Plus, it snowed. I’m not running in that! That spring I went for a run and stopped short, almost dying and gasping for air. I even wrote about my confusion with what the heck was wrong with me. I basically gave up on running, but my many doctor visits left clues in my head to figure this out.

I prefer to do this in the winter.

The best, and somewhat lame, reasoning I have is related to allergies and breathing. I’m not a seasoned runner, but I’ve always been competitive. I wanted to run as fast as I could because that’s what I thought I should do. When I stopped I was gasping in pain, not realizing that I pushed too hard and wasn’t breathing properly. Add in allergies I didn’t know I had, and it’s no wonder I though I couldn’t run anymore. I didn’t realize that going slower and building up mileage and speed would make a difference. I gave up running again in favor of fitness videos and general laziness.

Once we got to Troy, I decided to try again. I bought new running shoes, since my old ones were from 2006 or something, and figured out my allergy situation. I saw my doctor and accepted that I did in fact have seasonal allergies, and just needed to find the right pill. Most importantly, I went slow. As I wrote earlier, my first run was sad and pathetic. I barely made it a mile. Since then I’ve set up a 2-mile route. I had to walk at times at first, but now I’m running solidly the two miles, pushing through that voice in my head that says it’s too hard and I should stop. Plus, Collin and I are taking little day trips and hiking, and I’m definitely feeling good.