October 16, 2014

Crusher Ridge, Nashville Half, and a new dog

When life throws you a hundred frisbees at once, you're going to drop some of them. You can guess at least one of the ones I dropped by my sporadic posting on el blog.

One of those frisbees (which I am hopefully not dropping) is the planning for Crusher Ridge 5K/21K/42K, wrapping up with race day in a week and a half. Go here to sign up or check out the competition. There will be prizes for the top men and women and a post-race raffle of Oiselle awesomeness and other Alabama Outdoors goodies.

Part of planning a race is exploring the race course. Which is always more fun with friends!




With a couple miles to go, we accidentally irritated some hornets. I got stung once on the leg, and I think it tried to sting my calf. But I was wearing my compression socks, and they blocked the sting. Take that, hornets. Well, sort of, except one week later, this is the size of the sting on the back of my leg. It was super itchy, on the same I-want-to-claw-my-skin-off level as poison ivy itchiness. Somehow, this was my first ever trail running stinging insect run-in. 


And on the not-race-planning side of things, I picked up this book from the Bell Center fundraiser at Resolute Running. Local artists donated their goods for auction, with all proceeds going to help the kids who use the Bell Center, an early intervention center for kids who are at risk for developmental delays. Trail Magic is a memoir, written by a Birmingham author/graphic artist, about an epic, 3K-mile bike ride. There is a possibility that by the end of the first chapter I was dreaming about a bike riding adventure. Between that and hiking the Appalachian Trail, my dreams are getting pretty booked.


And when I wasn't reading, running, dreaming up ridiculous adventures, and kitchen renovating (we are so close to being done!), I was spending time with family. 

Date night!

Grandpa visit in Kentucky

Aunt visit in Alabama

Pumpkin carving with the relatives!

And we are now the caretakers of a new-to-us dog. Our cousins found the sweetest dog in the woods by their farm. After trying unsuccessfully to locate the original owner (no tag, no chip, and no one contacting the Humane Society), they let us give him a new home. We don't know what type of dog he is, although some guesses are that he is a yorkie poo or a bichon frise. He is about four years old (vet estimate) and not fixed (don't worry, Bob Barker, he is now!), which is a little strange unless he was being bred by someone.


Gorki Chine Chocolate (Gorki for short) is pretty much the opposite of our last dog, calm and happy and doesn't like to attack our friends. My husband thinks he's too much like a cat, which is exactly what I like about him! 

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On the running front, I have a 17-mile trail race this weekend at Oak Mountain State Park. I'm just in it to enjoy it, so no crazy expectations. And after all of the racing in November and October, I'm taking a long desired and awaited break. Not from exercise in general, but from racing.

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Remember the giveaway that I hosted for the Women's Running Series Nashville Half. Our winner completed the course, a success for a hot day! Here's an excerpt from her race report:

Two things I would change about this race are 1) the horrid electrolyte drink served and 2) a race bib that was simply too large - large enough to be in the way. But, there was so many more positives.  We had plenty of water stops and tons of crowd support. TONS.  Every street was closed. No one-laners for us.  Sweet. [Think about those logistics in a big tourist city.] The support we received was truly spectacular. Never having been to Nashville, this was a great way to see the city.



For her full report, check out her blog at hohoruns.blogspot.com!

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How is your fall race schedule shaping up? Are you winding up or winding down? I really need this wind down time.

Ever been stung while out running? (don't try it!)

Are you a dog or cat family? Or a fish family? Or none of the above? We were a fish family after we lost our previous dog a few years ago. But hopefully we can merge seamlessly back into being a dog family.

October 3, 2014

I'm directing my first race (!!!) -- plus Red Mountain Xterra 9 Miler results/recap

I looked up, and suddenly, it's been two weeks since I've posted here. In the meantime, the following sliver of life has been happening, plus so much more (like ten million piles of laundry) that is not picture worthy.

1. Testing new headphones that I bought with some Life Time bucks (basically like free money you get for doing things like referring your friends to the gym -- which BTW, if you have Life Time in your area and are interested, I have a joining discount code for you if you message me!!). Pros: love the cloth cord and that they stay in my ear. Sound is decent to good, not as good as my last Klipsch headphones that got destroyed in the washing machine. And the yurbuds are waterproof, so no more death by washing machine. Cons: no volume/music controls on the headphones themselves. I think other models have that feature. 


2. Slowly freaking out less and less each time a foot or drop of food touches our new kitchen floors. Who here is so nervous for about two weeks that you have anything new? Then inevitably someone accidentally partially destroys it on day two, and you can relax knowing that it probably won't get any worse.



3. Still freaking out, but in a good way, for all my friends who are nailing their fall(ish) races. This lady set something like a 15-minute marathon PR. That's not messing around!


4. "Happily" standing in line dressed as pirates in exchange for free doughnuts. Four dozen free doughnut secured, and it took less than 12 hours to eat them all. That was not with permission, by the way. All four children claimed they had eaten two, but somehow four dozen were gone. The mysterious life of a pirate. Argghh!




5. Etch-a-sketching at church.


6. Finding out live at the party what your kids wrapped as presents for their little cousin's birthday. Random assortments picked from their own toy pile are the sweetest kid presents. 


7. Discovering great local art at the Bell Center fundraiser at Resolute Running. Loved all of the Alabama Theater art! Equally excited to be going there to see St. Paul & The Broken Bones there next month. 


8. Directing a race. This is the craziest of all the goings ons. My friend Mary and I just stepped up randomly to help with a great race that needed a little last-minute guidance this year, and suddenly, we are the race directors. Note to self: that's what happens when you open your saucy mouth with opinions. The race is Crusher Ridge 5K/21K/42K on October 26th. My favorite part so far is that we're partnering with the Exceptional Foundation whose participants are making custom medals for the race. 



Basically, we just love this race and Ruffner Mountain (the race location), and we want to see this race carry on long into the future. So go sign up here to run!

9. And of course, I have been racing!! My wobbly legs and insatiable appetite can vouch for that. This weekend was the three-day stage race (more on that in the next post), but before that, I decided to throw in another last-minute race at Red Mountain, the Xterra 9 Mile


I drove over expecting it to be a small, quiet affair, but the parking lot was packed from the moment I pulled in. 




You could choose between a 4.5 miler and a 9 miler. With the stage race coming up, which included a day at the same mountain, I decided to get in some distance with the 9-er.

The race started off fast down a mile-long, flat jeep road before you wind up onto the trail and into some elevation. The course was well marked with two aid stations per 4.5-mile loop. The first loop went around the outside of the park, where the trails are wider and easier to spread out on. After the shorter distance folks peeled off to finish, we doubled around to the interior loop of the park, aka Ike, aka the trail with the sign that reads "most difficult." The second loop was definitely more challenging than the first, but I was super happy that the long course wasn't just two identical loops and that they made use of more trails at the park.


I was in second place after the first loop, but on that long straight road, two girls passed me. Looks like I need to work on my flat-road-running game. Or just on my game in general. Because I knew those girls weren't too far in front of me and another lady was right behind me, I pushed myself pretty hard in the second half. I was full-on trail sprinting (not as fast as normal sprinting) the last mile. The whole time I tried to channel all the power I could from recent speedwork sessions. Move, legs, move. I ended up with 1:27:20 and in 4th place for the ladies, with another girl finishing about a minute ahead of me and one more finishing about 30 seconds behind me. Pretty tight finish times make for fun races!

Here's all of the race swag (minus the shirt!).




Run this race if: you want a mix of wide and single track trails with plenty of aid stations and enough elevation change to make it interesting. You'll get to compete against a relatively large field for a trail race, and the Dirty Spokes/Xterra race director, Tim, does a great job keeping things moving and on schedule!

September 16, 2014

Women's Running Series Nashville race winner

Checking in quickly to let Holly know that she won the entry to Women's Running Series Nashville Half via the number generator on random.org. Holly, email me by the end of today to get your race entry -- yomommaruns(at)gmail.com. (If I don't hear back from Holly by the end of today, I'll pick another winner tomorrow, so we can get the ball rolling on the race registration.) If you still want to sign up but need an incentive, here's a discount code for $10 off: YOMOMMA. 

And now back to my current regularly scheduled program: non-stop house fixing. At least my Tuesday night job as run lead at Life Time requires running, so I won't be totally MIA in the running world. 


Yesterday, we had these quartzite countertops installed. They look similar to marble, but the hardness/durability is between marble and granite. They are not quartz, even though all of my internet searches want to lead me to that when I want info about quartzite. 

Any backsplash recommendations from the masses? I'm running out of ideas that my husband likes. 

September 9, 2014

Starting out and starting over (+Women's Running Series Nashville Half/5K entry giveaway!)

Our Life Time run group has swelled the last couple of weeks with the addition of a couch-to-5K group. First of all, they are fun. I went out and ran some extra mileage tonight, and the people who were hanging and chatting when I left were still hanging and chatting when I came back. Now those are my kind of people! I am a real fan of the extended hang out. If your post-run hang out equals or exceeds your run time, we can be friends.

Last week's group -- wild 'n out.

Second, someone (I'm looking at you, Skip) helped me remember a very important running/life philosophy tonight. We were talking about starting over again after a long break or injury and about how when you are in the thick of marathon training, you just get used to bopping out and running 17 miles like it's no big deal. Or it is a huge deal at first (!!), but over time, if you get addicted as you surely will, it gets to be less and less of a big deal. And eventually you are running 20 miles like you used to walk around the block, and now 20 miles is just what you do. This applies to whatever it is that you "just do." Could be parenting, working at a crappy job, dealing with stressful family situations. Whatever it is that you just do is your new norm.

For example, let's say that you have four kids, and the youngest is five years old. Then you find out that you are pregnant (this is not a true story -- at least not a true story for me!) and realize that now you have to go all the way back to the beginning and start those baby steps again. And there's nothing wrong with that, but when you get so far away from that and are into the age of childhood where the kids feed themselves, this might not be the most exciting prospect. Unless you are one of those people who can't get enough of infants. And to that I say, bless you.  

The point of all this is to say that sometimes we get so deep into something like running or parenting, that we forget what it was like to be just starting out. And certain things can happen, like an injury or a new baby, to force us back to that point, where we may be required to practice extra patience with ourselves and the new path we are on. 

And isn't that life? Always reminding us of things we got so smug about. That happened to me at Run for Kids this year, when I was all, I can run whatever I want and eat whatever I want while running and survive, no problem. And my body was like, you are on crack -- and since you're not literally on crack I will now make you feel as sick as you would be if you were on crack to prove to you that you can't just do whatever you want when you want. That situation forced me to get back to the basics on a lot of things I took for granted in running and reevaluate my approach. The best lesson I have learned from it all is that it's OK to slow down sometimes. We won't always run as fast or as long as we want to, and we'll ebb and flow through highs and lows. And I personally believe that we can learn just as much and be just as content/peaceful in our lows as in our highs. That may just mean I haven't actually hit the lows in my life. 

So to all of the people who are getting back into running after a break or just starting out, don't get discouraged because you aren't where you want to be today. And practice contentment. Pretty sure I just became a yoga teacher in that last sentence. My yin teacher would be so proud. But at the same time as you are practicing contentment, dream of kicking arse.

For those of you who are wanting to get something on the calendar to make some of that kicking arse happen, I have a giveaway for you today. I am teaming up with the Women's Running Series to give one of you a chance to make something happen in Nashville, TN, at their half marathon or 5K on September 27th. 


I ran this course a couple of years ago, and for Nashville, it's relatively fast and flat. And when your quads and hammies are screaming at the end, remember that I said "relatively"! Also, it's much less crowded and chaotic than the Rock 'n Roll half. And for those of you who didn't already know, I'm totally obsessed with Nashville and would be running this race if it wasn't for a schedule conflict (three-day stage race). Check out my race recap here from 2012.

The only requirement to win is that you are willing take some pictures for me and tell me how your race went. (totally serious!)

To review. 

What: Free entry, Women's Running Series Half or 5K 

Where: In Nashville, TN. Possibly the greatest city on the planet.

When: September 27th.

To enter: Just leave a comment below telling me why you want to run this race (and check your schedule to make sure you can make it), and I'll use a random number generator next Monday, September 15th, to pick a winner from you butt-kicking people wanting to give it a shot. Trying to make this giveaway as simple and easy for you e-people as possible!

Bonus entry: Tweet the following (or something like unto it) and let me know that you have in a comment below: Win an entry to  Nashville Half/5K from ! Sept. 27  

And if you decide to go ahead and register, use the discount code YOMOMMA for $10 off of the half marathon (coupon expires 9/21/2014). 

September 8, 2014

Ridge to Ridge 10.5/21 Miler 2014

As I rolled up to the race this morning, I noticed (somehow for the first time ever -- after many races at this site) that our start line for a 21-mile race in 98% humidity and temps in the 90s would be on Tranquility Road. Touché, Ridge to Ridge.


Race prep: I put on lots of Skin Sake, froze my full Camelbak overnight, and wore my Mission Athletecare Enduracool headband (which I wear as a necklace/face wiper). Also wearing: North Face pocket bra, white hat (tick deflector), Oiselle tank and shorts (most comfortable ever), Swiftwick socks (lucky), and Pearl Izumi shoes (not too bulky). Mistake of the day: forgetting to put Skin Sake on my back where my Camelbak rubs and/or not wearing a shirt with more back coverage. Chafe like a motha! It only hurt after the race, so that's lucky (???). And now I have chafe wings on my back. 

Karen (Internet friend who I met for the first time on Saturday! Thank you for volunteering!), me, G-dilly

Pre-race: Easy number pick-up, lots of milling around, M Runs taking a million pictures, actual flushing toilets. The only thing I need to remember is that these Tosch races are getting more popular, and I need to get there earlier to find a good parking spot. I had to park at the far side of the lot, which was fine until I tried walking back to my car barefoot. Tiny gravel with small pieces of glass are not the best barefooting surface.


Weather: I'm just going to reiterate: 98% humidity, 91 degrees. My shoes were squishy like I had walked through a river before the end of the first loop. Sweat puddles.

The course: Two loops of 10 (or so) miles. Everything was well marked, and I had no trouble finding my way. There were some steep climbs in the first half, followed by a few miles of flat-ish trail that was neither up nor down nor flat. So it just felt like it was never going to end. Then it was downhill to the finish. Oh, and did I mention it was freaking hot?

Taking pictures while running: dangerous, definitely don't look up.

My race: My goal for every race this summer is to not bonk. I'm trying to perfect nutrition to help with that, and I learned at Hotter 'n Hell that salt tablets were a good thing for me. Why have I resisted salt pills for so long? Well, I figured that between gels and electrolyte drinks that I was getting enough. My body told me several times that it wasn't, so I'm finally trying to listen. Your body knows when it's had enough, and it will not react well until you give it what it needs. For me "not reacting well" means that my heart races when I am practically standing still, my legs turn into tree trunks rooted in the ground, and my mind starts looping out. Oh, and sometimes I vomit. When you are sweating buckets, your body is pretty much just shoveling salt out like my kids shovel food from their plates onto the floor (weird, right? are they even getting any in their mouth?). So I finally decided to start shoveling the salt back in.

A few of my Resolute Running buds. 

For this race, I took six Endurolytes -- two during the first loop and four during the second loop. I ran for a total of 4:37. My first loop was 2:11, so even though I worked much harder during the second loop, I was 15 minutes slower. Also, I ate two gels during the first loop and two gels and a pack of Honey Stinger chews on the second loop. I had one 50-oz. pack of plain water on the first loop, plus Heed at the aid stations. On the second loop, I had a 50-oz. pack full of water with Skratch powder in it (first time to try it), plus I drank Heed at the aid station and noshed an orange slice. The Skratch had a very mild flavor, which was a plus for me.

The lucky part of this race was that pretty much the entire race I had someone very cool to run with. That someone rotated throughout the race as I slowed down and other people sped up or vice versa. I can't say enough about the positive impact of running with people I like. It's basically why I keep running. 

One of my running compadres had this cool contraption for his gels. It's a Hydrapak soft flask. He said that he gets the giant containers of Hammer gel and then puts the gel in here, thinning it a little with water. Cheaper and smarter. 

Hydrapak soft flask

The good news is that I didn't bonk. Sure, my legs felt tired and sore, and I wanted to quit running multiple times on the second loop. But I did not bonk! That's two races in a row. The first one was shorter (relatively -- 21K), which got me thinking that I need to stick to shorter races. This one was longer, which got me thinking that I could actually survive longer races again with some new nutrition strategies. 

Post race: All I remember is that there were plenty of cold drinks and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Whoever brought those doughnuts is my personal hero! And there was a mister and a cold pool set up at the finish line. The best!

A mister should be required at every single race finish line in the AL summer months. Photo by MRuns.

I ended up getting third place for women, which was not at all expected. I have been trying not to think about anything except for not bonking my last few races, so anything beyond that is a huge bonus. 

Race prize!

David Tosch, race director/hill repeat ninja. Photo by MRuns.
Swag:  Soft cotton tees. I love them. They run small, so order a size up. 



Overall: Run this race if you are looking for a challenge and aren't afraid of heat and humidity.