A Simple Running Log

October 16, 2017

Sea Gull Century recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 9:59 am


Friday afternoon, Clark and I went to Salisbury University to pick up our event shirts for the Sea Gull Century. They’re nice cotton long-sleeved shirts that feature the above race logo.

That took two seconds, and then we stopped by the pre-ride lawn party, where they had some free sandwiches, chips, hummus and veggies, and Evo Brewing beers for sale. Bart met us there too, along with his daughter. She’s a freshman at Salisbury, living on campus, so he stayed in her dorm room the night before the ride. I never lived in a dorm myself, but I had several friends who did, and I don’t think any of them would’ve been happy about their dad spending a (Friday) night there haha.

Anyway, we got some dinner at Texas Roadhouse with Bart and his daughter, had one more beer at Hopper’s and then headed home to hit the hay.

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. Saturday. As I was packing up all my stuff, I could hear water streaming through the gutters just outside the room where we keep our bikes. Great, still kinda raining. Oh well.

We got back to campus just before the beginning of the show-and-go start at 7 a.m. We all had until 9 a.m. to get rolling, but Clark and Bart had agreed to get started as early as possible.

Clark and I changed into our bike clothes. Though it was still misting, it wasn’t too chilly, so I was fine with my bike shorts, thankfully, as I don’t have any longer pants that have the padding in the butt — and I was going to need that padding! I could also wear my only cycling jersey, a short-sleeved one, which was good because it has all the pockets on the back for GUs, my cell phone, the ride cue sheet, etc. I did need some arm warmers for the first 44 miles of the race though.

So we got all our stuff together and made our way over to the start banner on Bateman Street, where Bart was waiting for us. We got our GPS watches and bike computers running, and we were off!

century start

Cyclists rolling toward the start line. Picture by Kathy Pusey/Salisbury University.

It was 23.5 miles to the first rest stop in Snow Hill. We rode out of Salisbury and onto some back roads.

It was so crowded! The ride is capped at 7,500 cyclists. I read about 5,300 registered this year. It felt like all 5,300 started at the exact same time we did.

I quickly got separated from Bart and Clark. Oh well. I figured I’d see them at the rest stop.

At mile 7, the metric century course (65 miles) split from the century course, but it seemed like the century was definitely the more popular distance.

I got to mile 10 — one 10th of the distance — and I realized it was like getting to mile 2.6 of a marathon. Boy did I still have a long way to go!

A couple miles later, I caught up with Clark. Bart had ridden ahead. Clark said he wasn’t really enjoying himself. Too many bikes. It really was a LOT of people out there. Most were riding in small groups, but every now and then, we’d get passed by a pace line of a couple dozen or more bikes, just flying.

We caught back up with Bart before Snow Hill, and we all got to the first rest stop in Byrd Park together. The place was a mad house. Again, it seemed like everyone got there at the same time. But they had plenty of real food, which was all I wanted. I scarfed down some Fig Newtons, a slice of banana bread and a banana. Then we got back on the road.

The next aid station with food wasn’t until mile 62.5, but there was a water-only stop at mile 44.3. Just 21 miles away.

Again, Clark and Bart got away from me as we wound through more scenic back roads (the whole course was really pretty, I have to say.) Just about the entire course was on secondary roads, but we did have to cross over major roads a few times. They had police out controlling traffic for that.

I think it was somewhere in this stretch, just after I got passed by a large group of cyclists, someone in the middle of that group went down HARD, so hard her shoes unclipped and her bike went flying through the air. It was scary to see! She was sitting up almost immediately though, and she had a ton of people already stopped to help her up, so I rolled on.

I’ve read there are two kinds of cyclists: Those that have had an accident, and those that will. So far I’m still in the second group.

Just before we got to the water stop in a park in Newark, volunteers were telling us to get off our bikes and walk them across a railroad crossing, which crossed the road at an angle. Just walking my bike over it, one of the wheels kinda slipped and got stuck in part of the track, which probably wouldn’t have ended well had I been trying to ride it. Clark later said a woman told him last year, she tried to ride over that track, fell off her bike and broke her arm.

I got to the water stop at mile 44.3 and found Clark and Bart. Since there was no food, I ate a GU there. I also topped off my water bottles, and then we were on our way again.

It was another 18-mile stretch to the next stop on Assateague Island at mile 62.5. Bart went ahead, but Clark and I rode most of that stretch together. I got away from Clark as we were riding around Berlin, but he caught back up with me just before we crossed the Verrazano Bridge to the island. That bridge, by the way, looked way steeper as we were coming up to it than it felt riding over it.

As soon as we were on the other side of the bridge, we saw a herd of the wild ponies that live on the island grazing just off the road. Then we were at the rest stop in the state park parking lot.

2017 sea gull century assateague island rest stop wide shot

I will never not find it funny that we pay so much for these fancy bikes and then lay them on the ground because a kickstand would just be silly!

I just wanted more FOOD. I grabbed one of just about everything there — cookies, granola bars, grapes, cranberry-lemon bread. I also had a pickle and a shot of pickle juice, which both tasted absolutely amazing at the moment.

Pickle juice has become something of a thing among endurance athletes; I guess the sodium and potassium content is supposed to stave off muscle cramps. I’d never tried it myself before.

2017 sea gull century assateagueislandrest stop

We don’t lay our bikes on the ground. We walk farther than we have to so we can lean them against something.

We saw Bart there, but he was getting ready to leave just after we’d raided the food table.

Clark and I eventually got back on our bikes and started on the next stretch. We had 22 miles until the next (and final) rest stop at a VFW in Powellville.

Maybe there is something to that pickle juice, because I felt like a million bucks the whole way to Powellville. I mean, I hadn’t felt terrible before Assateague, but I was waning. Of course, part of the perk-up might have been because I was well into the second half of the ride and I knew I was going to finish soon.

The only thing that wasn’t feeling great was my butt. Having spent zero time in the saddle since riding 24 miles at the end of August, everything on me that was in contact with that damn thing was screaming in pain. The crowd had thinned out enough at this point that I could get down on my aero bars sometimes, which changed my sitting position enough to give me a little relief, but soon enough, that position started to hurt just as bad.

At mile 84.8, I got to the last rest stop. Bart had been there for a while and was about to leave. I thought Clark was right behind me, so Bart waited with me for a bit for Clark to get there. But then it was taking so long, Bart just went ahead to finish.

I stood by the road for a little longer to wait for Clark, but I was hungry again, so I decided it’d be better to wait for him by the food table. I clomped over there (I hate walking in bike shoes — they’re like ice skates without the blades) and got another pickle, a bag of chips and more banana bread.

Seriously, the best part about endurance events like long bike rides and trail ultras is the food!

Clark came around the corner as I was stuffing my face. He hadn’t felt so hot that last stretch. He got some food and used the bathroom, and then we left to polish off the final stretch, though neither of us were excited to sit on those bikes again.

I thought we’d ride the last stretch together, but Clark took off! He later said the bathroom break was the key haha.

I had my Garmin set to beep every five miles. I hit 90, then 95. Numbers I never thought I’d see on a freaking Garmin in one day!

I thought about all the runners I know who’ve run that distance. I thought about Ironman competitors who’d still have another 12 miles to bike when I was done, and then a marathon to run immediately following. I thought about this woman, who biked 86,500 miles in a year — averaging 235 a day for 365 days straight!! — to set a new world record.

I think about things like this because it makes me feel better. Other people go farther all the time, so I can finish 100 “measly” miles on a bike!

The Garmin was getting close to 100, and I knew I was nowhere near the campus yet. Ugh! I hate that.

I got to another major road crossing just as police were letting the cyclists cross. I saw Clark near the front of the group; I guess he’d had to wait there a little to cross, which let me nearly catch back up to him.

He got away from me again. But when we were almost to campus, I realized I was right behind him. Turned out the battery for his gear shifter had died when he was in a sorta low gear, so he’d slowed down.

The finish line was on the campus. We rode through a pedestrian tunnel that crosses under the highway just off campus. Everyone hollered as they passed through it to hear the echo. On the other side of the tunnel, we rode past the post-ride party and arrived at Red Square. And that was it — we were DONE.

I hit stop on my Garmin.

2017 sea gull century final stats

101.9 miles! No wonder my butt hurt so bad! And 3,640 calories burned — no wonder I was so ravenously hungry every time I stopped haha.

2017 sea gull century clark and me at finish

Guess which one of us wanted to take this picture haha.

We walked the bikes back to the truck and changed into dry clothes, then went to the post-ride party. We had to pay for everything there (there was free pie and ice cream at the finish line, but I didn’t feel like walking back there!), so we just got a couple of beers, then went to Specific Gravity to inhale a pizza — and more pickles. The deep-fried kind this time.

Two days later, I still haven’t decided exactly how I feel about riding a century. If I do one again, I definitely need to spend more time on the bike. Thanks to all the running I’ve been doing for marathon training, my cardio was fine, and I never felt like my muscles wanted to give up. But HOLY SHIT was I in pain thanks to that damn seat! Body Glide saved me from chafing, but I have actual bruises in some very sensitive areas. And I don’t bruise easy. So I need to just spend more time sitting on that seat to be ready to spend six hours on it.

Also, if I do another, I’d rather do a smaller ride. There’s a century course at the Six Pillars ride we did in Cambridge earlier this year. I remember talking to a guy after that ride who specifically said he liked Six Pillars because Sea Gull was just too big.

It was fun hitting triple digits though, I have to say.

After the ride, I overheard a woman on her phone, telling someone she’d just finished. She said, “I’m tired, but it’s not tired like after you finish a half marathon.”

I think part of that is because a century is not a race. At least, not the way most of us were riding it. You also don’t spend 15 or 20 minutes at a time at aid stations along the way during a typical road race, casually scarfing down real food.

Anyway, we left Salisbury and went to my sister’s house for my youngest nephew’s birthday party. When that broke up, my brother wanted a burger somewhere, so we went with him to the Washington Street Pub. It was just after midnight when we got home.

I went straight to bed. When I woke up Sunday morning, I felt OK, other than the aforementioned bruised places, but I didn’t feel like running. I’ve got a very ambitious week coming up — the last big mileage week before Richmond, capped off by the Baltimore Marathon this coming Saturday — so I decided a rest day was a good idea. We spent the whole day watching football and NASCAR on the couch with Pepper.

Today, after I get my usual last-minute Monday crap done for work, I’ve got an easy 5-miler and strength training on the schedule.


October 13, 2017

Training for 10/13/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:57 pm

Happy Friday the 13th!  Very appropriate that one fell in October. Halloween is just a couple weeks away and it’s time to GET SPOOKY!

I love a good ghost story. I don’t have any of my own, but that doesn’t mean I can’t believe it’s never happened to anyone else. A few years ago, I stumbled across what turned out to be an annual feature on Jezebel, where they invite people to submit their real life scary stories. This year’s edition just went up yesterday.

A couple of them over the years have really creeped me out. Here’s one of my favorites, from 2014, submitted by a commenter called Gnomi Malone:

Never seen one myself but I have a story from someone I trust. A few years ago, I asked my SO if he had ever seen a ghost. He got really uncomfortable and squirrelly, lots of hemming and hawing. Annoyed, I said “Just say yes or no! I won’t judge if you think you have seen a ghost.” (I’m a skeptic and figured he didn’t want to sound like a rube or something). Turns out he was hesitant because he believes he saw one but it was while he was deployed on a mission in the Middle East, and he was trying to think of how he could describe it without giving up any classified info. The story is this:

He was in the spooky, vague “Middle East” when there was a commotion from the soldiers watching the perimeter. Apparently, they could see a man about 100 yards away from the camp. He had appeared out of nowhere, no one saw him walking up. The man was just standing there, not doing anything threatening. But since it was a strange man in a war zone, they broke out all the high tech gear to see what was going on. They could see his face, his clothes, his height, but he looked bizarrely distorted and was not giving off a heat signature (they have infrared jimjams and whatnot, it’s the freaking military not a piddling ghosthunting troupe here). He was not the temperature of a human being, he was the temperature of the air around him. They had no idea what was going on and people were freaking out.

At this point I said some obvious stuff- “Maybe it was a scarecrow or dummy. Or a shadow. Or the soldiers were really tired and delirious and their eyes were playing tricks on them. Or it was a hologram weapon shaped like a human”.

His response: They called different people up to come look at the man, it wasn’t just a few soldiers who saw this- dozens of people came to look and everyone confirmed that it was definitely a person. Eventually they decided to send out a team to check this guy out. When they got about 50 yards away, the man started walking- only it didn’t look like he was walking toward or away from them, only walking in place. They froze, expecting an attack. But the man never got any closer.

Me- “So he was, uh, moonwalking? OooooOOoohh a terrorist with dance moves, scary!”

His shaky response: It looked like it was trying to walk but instead of moving like a regular person, its bones were breaking and splintering backwards and forwards at the joints. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Its head was jerking around like a puppet. When the convoy got a few yards closer, it disappeared entirely. The team hauled ass back to camp and as soon as they returned, the man-thing reappeared in its spot. Everyone took turns watching it for an hour or so until it disappeared for good. Didn’t walk away, didn’t fly or melt or explode, just stood there for a looooong time then vanished.

The description of the bones breaking and bending the wrong way gets me every time. My SO still doesn’t like talking about it and he is not one to make up stories or lie, he doesn’t care about ghosts or proving their existence. But him and dozens of other soldiers were scared out of their minds by an inexplicable man-thing in the desert that night.

Something about the image conjured by “its bones were breaking and splintering backwards and forwards at the joints” just skeeves me right out.

This one’s also from 2014, from a commenter called theatreguy:

This happened in my junior year of high school.

One evening, my mother and stepfather had gone out to some event, maybe it was an extended dinner or a concert, it’s hard to remember. I had stayed at home to work on a paper that was due the next day (I was one of those kids who procrastinated until the last minute) and spent the whole night working at the desk in my room. To give you a picture of the room, my desk faces a wall and sits next to a small window that’s on the same wall, and from where I sit, my back faces my doorway. While I was working, I was wearing these great headphones that I had gotten for my birthday — the kind that are noise canceling.

My parents left the house around 6:00 PM, and the whole time they were gone, I sat at my desk, blasting music through my headphones and writing my essay. Occasionally, I would take breaks and watch the rain and lightning outside my window (we lived in Houston at the time and there was a big storm that night). I never left my desk.

My parents returned around 11:00 PM. At some point late late in the evening, I had removed my headphones, so when my parents came home (coincidentally just a few minutes after I had taken off my headphones), I clearly heard the garage door open and my parents open the door to the house. Seconds after I hear them enter, I hear my mother shout my name. “Adrian!” she screams, “what on earth happened in here!?” Confused, I get out of my chair and start walking through the house to them. There’s only a small hallway that separates my room from the living room. Due to my rush to figure out why my mother was yelling, I paid little attention to the hall and the house. After a few moments, I get to my parents. My mom looks livid. She’s pointing at the carpet floor yelling, “Was this you!? Did you have friends over!?” I look down. The carpet is ruined. It’s covered in muddy footprints.

I frantically explain to her that I have no idea how those got there, that I spent the whole night at my desk working on my paper. I watch as her face goes from anger, to confusion, to fear. We realize that someone else must have entered the house. Quickly we scan the footprints, trying to make sense of the situation. It only takes us a few moments to figure out where they start: our back door, which we usually left unlocked. Then we noticed something else. The footprints started at the backdoor, but there were no footprints exiting the back door.

We hear something pounding through our house. We hear the front door get torn open, then slammed shut with a sharp WHAM!

We all run into the garage and lock the door. My mom starts shouting at the police through the phone, “Please come quickly! Someone’s broken into our house!”After what seems like hours, the police arrive. An officer stays with us in the garage as his partner goes through the house room by room. His partner tells us that it’s safe to go back in, that there’s no one in the house. Then she asks us a question. She asks us whose room is down the hall to the left. My parents look at me and I tell the officer that it’s mine. She asks us to follow her down the hall.

As we go, it’s easy to see that the footprints weave through my house from the back door. They go through the living room, through the small hallway, into my parents room (which is down the hall to the right) and then turn around towards my room. They stop in my doorway.

Then the officer points at my door, which I had left open the whole night. On it, in black sharpie, was written the following:

My Log

8:47: I see you

8:53: You forgot to lock the back door

8:59: You seem focused

9:24: Turn around

9:47: Look at me

10:15: Look at me

10:37: Look at me

10:49: Look at me

For nearly two hours, someone stood in my doorway watching me. To this day, I shutter to think about what would have happened if I had ever turned around and looked at them.

AHHHHH!! This one’s scary because it could happen to anyone. LOCK YOUR DOORS!

And finally, my all time favorite, from way back in 2011, submitted by Sorcia MacNasty. I hadn’t found this feature until a few years later, but someone mentioned it in the comments. Even now, six years later, it’s still brought up regularly because it’s so terrifying:

We have never figured this out. And now, the three living witnesses have to be good and fucking druuuunk to discuss the whole thing.

I was 7, my brother 10, my mom in her early 40s, my grandmother (her mom) in her 60’s. So we were all cogent. No one was too young or too senile to not recall this nonsense. Yet, still no bloody answer.

Grandma lived on an isolated country road in NC that was named after her family since they were the only crazy fuckers who lived on the land for about 1000 acres. And I *do* mean crazy. We have stories about relatives that start with, “You remember that time Uncle Bob was in the ditch with a shotgun?” “WHICH TIME?!”

Her house had been empty for several weeks while she’d been visiting us in Florida, but we were all back, spending the weekend with her before trekking back to the Sunshine state. The house is in the foreal country, literally over train-tracks, past a salvage yard and her nearest neighbor (a cousin — everyone is related to everyone who owns a house on the road) ain’t within screamin’ distance. Yes, that seems to be a real system of measurement — “screaming distance.”

It’s early in the AM, like just before daybreak. We’re awake because these are farm freaks who wake at the crack of dawn from sheer ingrained habit. We’re eating cereal when we hear someone pull up outside. Curious, we all run to the big picture window that looks onto the front yard. There is a strange truck there. No one seems to be behind the wheel, though the engine is idling. The truck is… well, old, for one thing. It’s old-timey like from maybe the 1930’s? You could picture the Joad Family heading to California in this thing. It’s rusted but it was probably once painted blue.

We stare at the thing, bewildered. Mom asks grandma if she knows who that is. Nope, not a clue, says grandma. She runs to get the phone to call her cousin and ask him to come up — she thinks maybe it’s a hired hand and he’s just at the wrong farm. Just as she asks him to come on down, the phone goes dead. Well, that’s unsettling.

All at once, there is a loud, insistent banging on the front door. We all scream. My grandma, who is terrifyingly resourceful, huddles us all into the living room, away from a window where anyone can see us. Then, while mom, me and my brother tremble there on the couch, she grabs a serrated bread knife from the kitchen and cautiously approaches the front door. She peeks out a side window, very stealthily. She turns back to us and looks confused. She shakes her head, like, “No one is there.” We all kind of breathe easier.

Then EVERY goddamn door in the house is banging — relentlessly. I can still hear it. Rhythmic and terrifying, like all the doors are about to splinter and crack. There were two doors in the basement beneath us, so the sound is also a reverberation at our feet. The three ground-floor doors are shaking — we can see them trembling and jerking on their hinges from our vantage point on the couch. Finally, mom runs to the window — either from a psychotic break with reality or terror, I have no clue. She cries, “Oh thank Christ — Cousin is here!” We run to her and peek out the picture window — there is no one that we can see in the yard, but we can’t see all the doors from our viewpoint.

Cousin walks by truck with a shotgun in his hand. Cousin, it should be noted, has pretty much every gun ever made. He looks puzzled, looking at the rear of the truck, then he glances in the cab window and he stops. He goes pale, runs a hand down his face. Then he RUNS towards to house, towards us.

My grandmother flings open the kitchen door as she sees him coming. He shouts, “Everyone get behind the couch! Get DOWN!” He runs past us as we bolt for the couch. The banging starts AGAIN, all the doors and now we can hear the windows rattle. It’s like a tornado or the end of the world. We are too scared to even scream. Cousin flings open the front door and fires the huge shotgun, once, BANG, deafening. As he does, the truck roars into life and it sounds like a train. We scramble up; the banging stops, mercifully. Cousin is advancing onto the lawn, gun leveled at the truck. We run behind him, wanting to be out of that shaking, quivering house and near the dude with the gun. The truck peals out, backwards, cutting across the yard and racing into a breakneck speed. Tires sqeal, rubber is burned. Cousin fires again and we all cower behind him. He blows out the back window with the sound of a thousand plates smashing into linoleum but the truck never even hiccups, just roars down the road. No tags, not even a vanity plate on the back.

There was NO ONE behind the wheel of that thing.

We all had a clear view. Everyone agreed. Not a driver in the cab.


Not anything we could SEE, anyhow.

The police were called. The phone line had been cut. There was not a single boot print in the entire yard except Cousin’s, from where he’d run into and out of the house. Cousin reported that there had been no plate but when he looked into the cab, it looked like “something from a horror movie.” He said there were all kinds of weird restraints — handcuffs, c-clamps, nylon straps — and he said the floorboards looked covered in what “smelled like” blood to him (Cousin was famous for his keen sense of smell and the window was down, so it’s possible).

Cousin said he thought he saw a blur of something out the picture window and ran to fire the first shot, but “missed” because, once he stood there, nothing or no one was on the lawn or in the truck. Then it shot backwards out of the yard and out of our lives, leaving no answers, just a deep sense of unease every time we’d visit.

Grandma and Cousin have passed. Deeply religious people, they stuck by their unchanging versions of the story until they died. My brother, mother and I have never been able to figure it out — neither did the cops, I think it should be noted. We don’t know how all the windows and doors were banging, and we don’t know why we never saw a SOUL anywhere or how they could get around the sides of the house without leaving a trace in the damp earth.

Anyway, there is PLENTY more where that came from, if you’re looking for a seasonally-appropriate way to kill several hours.

Moving on… yesterday afternoon, I went out and ran a lap around the 5.5-mile loop. It was kinda drizzly and gray, and windy, so I didn’t take the bike out when I got home like I said I was going to. I did do some strength training upstairs though.

This morning, it was still drizzly and windy. Since I’m signed up for that century tomorrow, I knocked out the 12-mile long run on this week’s schedule. I did a lap around the 12.3-mile loop. It went fine, except it felt like my socks, which were soaked, kept bunching up under my arches. The second time I stopped to pull off my shoes and straighten out the socks, I realized it was actually the insoles, which had separated, sliding around under my feet.

I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before. These were the Zantes I got at the end of June and was going to replace after Baltimore next weekend, but maybe I should just replace them now. That was pretty effing annoying.

So that took care of the long run. This afternoon, we’re heading to Salisbury University. The Sea Gull Century organizers already mailed us our race packets with our bibs and numbers for our helmets and bikes, but we have to pick up our race shirts in person. There’s also a pre-race lawn party, with New Belgium Fat Tire.

Tomorrow, the ride is a show-and-go start between 7 and 9 a.m. The weather might be drizzly still, but I don’t care about that. It’s not going to be 85 degrees like it was a week ago, but it’s also not supposed to be cold, and it’s not supposed to be windy either.

Sunday, I’ve got the other run on the weekend’s schedule, a 6-miler, but I’ll see how I feel. Might just be a rest day.

Other than all that, we’ve got a birthday party for my youngest nephew tomorrow evening, and there’s another NASCAR race, this time at Talladega, Sunday afternoon.

October 12, 2017

Training for 10/12/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:23 pm

Yesterday evening, I ran an easy lap around the 5.5-mile loop. It was cooler than it’d been the previous several days, but the humidity was still through the roof. So I sweated my face off, as usual, but overall, it was the most pleasant run I’d had in about a week.

Yesterday was also exactly one month until the Richmond Marathon, my goal race for the fall. I wrote 3:30 for my predicted finish time on my registration. Some days that feels possible (hard, but possible), other days it feels like I’ll be lucky to make it before they close the course. Running is like that.

This will be my 18th marathon, if you count Shamrock 2010 (my first attempt, which I DNF’d after I injured myself in training in a very stupid way.)

It’ll be my 17th if you only count back to my second attempt and first finish, the Marine Corps Marathon later that same year (and if I finish Baltimore next weekend.)

I think that was the most miserable race experience of my entire life. I started off in a bad mood because I got to the start line kinda late and wasn’t able to meet up with the friend I’d intended to run with (never found her on the course either.) I couldn’t even work my way up to the 4:00 pacer in the un-corralled starting pack; the closest I could get was the 4:30 group. The course was so packed — 22,000 runners is a lot — I couldn’t pass when we did start moving. That just pissed me off more.

At mile 9, I finally started to feel good, which was when my digestive tract showed up to torture me for the entire final 17.2 miles of the race. I had to stop at three port-o-potties along the way, including one a mile from the finish.

Right around mile 20, my calf muscles joined the party and started cramping big time. I ran-shuffled the rest of the way to the finish line in 4:43 — 43 minutes past my goal time!

It wasn’t even over though. The finisher’s chute was packed elbow to elbow, partly because there were just so many runners, but also because so many idiot spectators were trying to force their way into it (they were supposed to wait outside the chute to meet their runners.) My legs were cramping even more once I’d stopped running, I could barely move an inch forward and it felt like I’d never escape.

When I did finally shove my way out, I found Clark, waiting where he was supposed to, and I cried into his shirt for a solid two minutes, mostly because I was so relieved to be done. The race had sucked, I felt like I’d been through a meat grinder, I was so sick of OTHER PEOPLE and I just wanted to go home. (But not after I finally found my friend and we had some tacos from Chipotle — I think that’s still my favorite post-race meal.)

I remember telling my mom about my race that evening. She said, “Boy, that sounds awful! I bet you never want to do that again!” and I said “I’ve already picked the next one!”

And I had — I went back and tried Shamrock again in 2011 and ran a 41-minute PR. The last two miles got a little ugly, but overall it was a 400 percent improvement over MCM.

Since then, I’ve run exactly one marathon, Steamtown 2011, in which everything came together — strong training cycle, no injuries, perfect race day weather — and I hit my goal pace and finish time square on the nose.

Every other marathon, I either hit a snag in training (injury, lack of motivation) or something didn’t go my way on race day (weather, my cranky digestive tract.)

I’m sure my mom would wonder why I’m still signing up for these things. One perfect outcome in 16 tries so far sounds pretty dumb, especially when you have to put in so much training for one day, knowing something out of your control can derail the whole thing.

Well, I don’t really have a good answer for that, but I do know this: In spite of everything that went wrong at MCM seven years ago, my strongest memory from that race was mile 12ish. We were running out along Haines Point, which is nearly devoid of spectators, so this guy dressed up like Mr. Incredible was riding a bicycle slowly along the course — right through the crowd of runners — blasting music through a speaker for us. He played Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Call Me the Breeze” when he went by me. I see myself surrounded by other runners on Haines Point every time I hear either of those songs.

I’m not really sure what my point is haha. I guess I block out the sucky parts of races because I enjoy the fun parts so much, even when they’re overwhelmingly outnumbered. Everything, the good and the bad, gets multiplied by the number of miles in a race and the number of weeks you trained specifically for it, which is why the marathon is such an event. Imagine what a 100-miler feels like! (I don’t want to imagine.)

Anyway, I’ve got another 5-miler on the schedule for today, and then I’m going to go for a short bike ride to try out my new computer.

October 11, 2017

Training for 10/11/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:02 pm

Yesterday afternoon, I ran a lap around the 6.5-mile loop. It was worse than the day before, mostly because in addition to the heat and humidity, the gnats were out in force. I don’t know what the big difference was between Monday, when I only ran into a couple, and yesterday, when I had to stop every 15 feet to dig one out of an eyeball, but it was extremely aggravating.

No dogs or idiots in big trucks bothered me though, so that was a plus.

Today cooled off a bit and it’s been raining off and on, so it should be a better time for a run when I go out here in a few minutes to take care of the easy 5-miler on the schedule.

I did something productive earlier though. It’d been a while since I went through my running clothes, and the piles, which are stacked all the way across a shelf that runs the entire length of my closet, were threatening to fall on my head every time I pulled out a shirt.

So I yanked everything down into the floor, sorted through it, pulled out two entire trash bags’ worth of stuff to donate, neatly folded everything else and restacked it along the shelf. It looks so much better! And I even found the black sports bra I haven’t seen in a few years haha.

Most of what I got rid of were old race shirts that were ugly, poorly-fitting or both. Every single one of my Baltimore race shirts went right back in the closet though. Those Under Armour shirts are the best I’ve ever gotten from a race.

Not long after I finished up with that, my new Garmin Edge 20 bike computer arrived in the mail. It took about three minutes to figure out how to set it up and get it attached to my bike. Super easy so far.

garmin 20

Ready to roll.

I should probably take the bike for a spin tomorrow, to test the computer — and everything else on the bike, since I haven’t ridden it since the end of August, and I’m signed up to ride it 100 miles Saturday.

October 10, 2017

Training for 10/10/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 1:41 pm

It was already 73 degrees with 95 percent humidity when I woke up to feed Pepper his breakfast this morning… before the sun even came up. So nope, I still haven’t run today. Still sulking about the stupid weather.

I did run yesterday though, and I almost got a dog killed! Well, it almost got itself killed, but I was the reason it put itself in that position.

It was around 4:30 p.m. yesterday when I finally went out for the lap around the 5.5-mile loop I’d been putting off all day. It was still miserably hot and humid.

About a mile and a quarter into the run, I passed a neighbor’s house just as one of the neighbors was letting out two dogs. These dogs ALWAYS come bounding after me when they see me run by. Yesterday was no different.

One is a large yellow Lab. The other is some kind of little yippy dog. They both come at me full speed, but only the yippy one has ever tried to nip my ankles, of course.

At the same moment those dogs were flying across their yard to “greet” me, I noticed an SUV coming up the road. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw a full-size pickup coming from the other direction.

So here we are: Two dogs, two vehicles and my dumb ass, all about to converge on the same small section of pavement on a narrow back road.

It felt a lot like the last panel of this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:


I stepped off the road completely, hoping the dogs would follow me. The little yippy one took a flying leap at my ankle, then darted back across the road into the yard (I think — it might have still been in the road on the other side.)

The Lab though — that idiot dog stopped right in the middle of the road. I was begging her to come “get” me, to get off the road, as I watched the SUV bearing down on her. The neighbor was yelling the Lab’s name from the yard while she tried to get a hold of the little dog.

The driver of the pickup had slowed to a near stop, but the driver of the SUV didn’t seem to have noticed any of us. I really thought I was about to have a front-row view of a dog getting run over. Finally, the driver saw the stupid dog in the road and slammed on the brakes, tires screeching, stopping in time.

The dog, of course, was completely unfazed by all of this. It just boofed at me one more time and then trotted back into the yard, while the vehicles slowly crept by. The neighbor looked pretty shaken and kept apologizing. I apologized too.

I started on my way again. No lie, the very next house I passed, THEIR idiot dog came running across the road at me. Luckily, there were no vehicles coming from either direction.

I didn’t get chased by any more dogs before I finished the run, but around the 2.5-mile mark, I was running along, minding my own business, when some jerk in a different giant pickup came flying around a bend from behind me and laid on their horn. This was not a friendly ‘beep beep!;’ it was more like a warning. It scared the crap out of me!

I was completely on the edge of the road on the opposite side — where I was supposed to be — so it’s not like I was doing anything to get myself run over. There were no other cars coming, no animals in the road, nothing. So I gave the guy the universal sign for “WTF was that?!” as he drove on.

Anyway, I finished the 5.5-mile loop without any further incident, though as thoroughly soaked in sweat as I am in the middle of summer. What an annoying run.

Soon I have to go out and get today’s 6-miler done, before an evening assignment. It’s even hotter today. This is so stupid.

October 9, 2017

Training for 10/9/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:29 am

I guess I should put “training” in quotations here…

I haven’t run a single step since I last posted Friday evening!

Saturday was supposed to be a rest day anyway. Good thing too, because we stopped by one of Clark’s coworker’s house Friday evening and wound up staying there way too late. We did not get up Saturday morning in time to go to Cambridge to watch any of the Ironman competitors.

We did get ourselves together in time to meet my friend Allison at the Easton Beer Fest. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to hang out with her! The last time I saw her, she wasn’t seriously dating anyone, and now she’s engaged. I finally got to meet her fiance, Paul. He seems like a really great guy and I couldn’t be happier for her!

easton beer fest 2017

Clark, Paul, Allison and me. No dogs allowed, so Pep had to sit this one out.

This was only the second year for the Easton Beer Fest, held by the volunteer fire company. They had a great lineup of breweries with a lot of local beers, many of which I’d not tried before. I think I voted for a chocolate-hazelnut porter to be named best of show. No surprise — anything that even kinda tastes like Nutella is always a hit with me.

When the festival closed at 4, Clark and I went to the Washington Street Pub with another of his coworkers, and then to the Brasserie, where my cousin Corey and his band, Some Kinda Druid Dudes, were going to play.

We wound up having to leave after Clark’s coworker fell asleep in the bathroom haha. We dropped him off and headed home. Much to my surprise, Pepper had not left a mess in the utility room after being home alone most of the day! What a good boy.

I didn’t sleep so great Saturday night. When I woke up Sunday, I didn’t feel terrible, just really tired from not sleeping well, except for this weird pressure in my ears. I guess that’s my new hangover? Great.

I watched the Chicago Marathon, which was fun, but did nothing to make me want to go out and run my own scheduled 20-miler. The weather was the final nail in the coffin — it’s practically summer here again. It felt like nearly 90 with the humidity. It’s October. I am DONE with this crap weather.

So yeah, I ran 20 fewer miles than I was supposed to yesterday. In fact, I barely left the couch. After the marathon ended, we watched the first Rambo movie, then the NASCAR race, then football. My ears were still bugging me after we ate dinner, so I went to bed early. Total waste of a day!

Today was a typical Monday in that I had a ton of stuff left to finish for this week’s paper because I procrastinated all last week. When I get it done, I’ll go out for today’s short easy run, a 5-miler, that I can already tell is going to feel like shit because it’s still 80+ degrees and humid out there. WHERE IS FALL.

October 6, 2017

Training for 10/6/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:14 pm

Today was scheduled to be a rest day, but I won’t get a chance to run tomorrow, so I did the first of this weekend’s two scheduled runs today, a 10-miler.

It was after 3 p.m. when I finally got my lazy butt outside. It’s still unseasonably warm here. It wasn’t the most enjoyable lap around the 10.1-mile loop I’ve ever run, but it wasn’t too bad. It’s done, anyway.

Tomorrow, Clark and I are first going to Cambridge to spectate Ironman Maryland. This is the whole enchilada — 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run. Insane. It’s gonna be another warm day for them too. At least the course isn’t going to be flooded like last year, after it rained all week leading up to the race. Later in the afternoon, we’re meeting a friend at a beer festival in Easton.

Sunday, I’m supposed to run my second 20-miler. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get up and knock it out early. I’d also like to see the Chicago Marathon, and there’s another NASCAR race to watch that afternoon, from Charlotte.

October 5, 2017

Training for 10/5/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:04 pm

Last night was pretty cool.

breaking benjamin oct 4 2017

I got to see one of my all-time favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin, do an acoustic show at The Fillmore in Silver Spring!

Clark didn’t go, because while he and I agree on a lot of things, Breaking Benjamin is not one of them. So I went with one of his coworkers and his wife, who are both fans. My brother had said he wanted to go too, but then the milo-cutting schedule got in the way.

The last (and only other) time I saw them live was in 2005. The next tour they did that came close to our area was with freaking Nickelback, so I passed, figuring it wouldn’t be long until they did another one with literally anyone else. Joke was on me! Not long after that tour wrapped, the band members got pissy with each other and went on hiatus for a loooong time. The lead singer finally reformed the band with some guys he’d never sued and they started touring again a few years ago. Last night, I finally got my ass to one of their shows.

I loved every second of it. They didn’t get to all my favorites, but seriously, if they’d played all of them, we’d have been there all night. (Not that I would’ve complained.) They did play a lot of them though, and they even covered Alice in Chains’ “Down in a Hole” — the worst song for a running playlist that I just can’t bring myself to delete from my iPod because I love it so much, even if it does make me want to just sit down on the side of the road and be sad for a few minutes haha.

I think my brother got a serious case of FOMO. He called me when we were almost to Silver Spring, to tell me he’d just heard about an arena tour Breaking Benjamin is doing over the winter with Avenged Sevenfold. There are two shows in January in Pennsylvania. He said he wants to go to one. I’m in! I’ve learned you never know when these musician guys are going to start suing each other and break up. Gotta see ’em while you can.

Anyway, it was well past midnight when I got home and went to bed. I did not get up early for my run today. By the time I did get around to it this afternoon, it was another warm day. Luckily, the humidity is still reasonable, so it really wasn’t bad at all once I got going. I just did an easy lap around the 5.5-mile loop.

Also, earlier today, I ordered a bike computer. I don’t know why they call them that. It’s basically a GPS watch, minus the wrist band, that you strap to your bike, to track distance and speed. I got the most basic one Garmin makes. It should be here in time to track the Sea Gull Century.

October 4, 2017

Training for 10/4/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:00 pm

It warmed up here again, and I took my sweet time going out to run again. I definitely didn’t need the long sleeves and capris I wore for yesterday’s run; I didn’t even need a shirt at all.

Even though it was quite a bit warmer, the humidity didn’t come back, so it was still a pretty nice morning for this week’s middle distance run, a 10-miler. Other than another stop in that perfectly-placed port-o-potty around mile 4, I ran a nice and easy lap around the 10.1-mile loop.

When I got home, I was happy to see Pepper had not pooped in the utility room. I wasn’t as happy two minutes later, after he’d gulped a ton of water and sprinted around the house, when he retched on the bedroom carpet. Nice.

October 3, 2017

Training for 10/3/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:44 pm

Yesterday afternoon, I ran an easy lap around the 4.5-mile loop. It’s nice being able to put it off that late in the day and not feel like I’m going to die of heat exhaustion halfway through.

Technically, today I was supposed to do this week’s middle distance run, a 10-miler, but I had an early and evening assignment, so I just swapped it with tomorrow’s 5-miler so I could get it done before the first assignment without having to leave so early I needed my headlamp.

It was still about 25 minutes before sunrise when I left the house. The sky was lightening up to the east, there was some patchy fog and oh yeah, it was only about 45 degrees. I had to break out the capri-length tights and a long-sleeved shirt with thumbholes!

It was a really gorgeous morning for a run, and I sailed right through a lap around the 5.5-mile loop.

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