A Simple Running Log

October 15, 2012

Training for 10/15/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:12 pm

Saturday morning, I took Pepper with me for my 8-mile long run. It was pretty chilly that morning, and there was even a little frost on the ground in spots where the sun hadn’t reached it yet. Unfortunately for Pepper, that meant he had to wear his dork jacket for the first time this season.

It took me forever to wrestle him into it. He kept squirming away, and it’s impossible to get the zipper closed if he doesn’t stand still for five seconds. After a solid 10 minutes, I finally got him zipped up. I also took off his collar and put his harness on him, which was another struggle.

With all that finished, we went out for the run. It was a very pretty day, and all the wind from the night before had gone away.

Near the end of the run, we were running past a guard rail, and a bug must have flown into the rail or something, because there was a slight “ping” at that moment. Pepper reminds me of the guys on “Ghost Adventures,” who completely freak out at every noise. He heard that “ping” and almost wiped out, he tried so hard to get away from whatever was coming after him, haha. If dogs could swear, Pepper would have cussed a blue streak.

I didn’t time the run, but it was a nice, easy lap around the 8.2-mile loop. At home, I took a picture of Pepper in his jacket and harness. Mom thought he looked embarrassed in this picture, but he’s actually just confused, because he was expecting his usual post-run treat (which he got as soon as I was done taking this.)

Not long after that, Meredith met me at my house and we went to the Good Beer Festival in Salisbury.

It had warmed up considerably since the morning, and it turned out to be the perfect day for an outdoor beer festival. We ate lunch first, and took our time sampling all the beers. I’d already had before a lot of what was being offered, but there were still plenty of new things to try. My favorite new beer of the festival was New Belgium Brewing’s Lips of Faith Cocoa Mole Ale. Sounds weird, but it had cocoa, cinnamon and chili peppers, and there was a definite spicy, hot kick in the aftertaste. I also really liked Starr Hill Brewery’s All Access Saison. It was a light, sweet beer, but not overpoweringly so.

My Aunt Helen and her friend Kathy came out to the festival. Aunt Helen kept talking about the men wearing kilts in an Irish dancing show she and Kathy had seen the night before, and what do you know, there were two guys at the festival, in kilts, and they were happy to let us take Aunt Helen’s picture with them:

Made her whole day!

Aunt Helen and me.

Meredith and me.

Kathy and Aunt Helen.

The festival closed at 6:30 p.m., so Meredith and I went to Parkside High School for the Tournament of Bands competition. We were both pretty excited about returning to our band geek roots, so you can imagine our disappointment when we got to the school and found it completely deserted! I still don’t know what happened. We checked the website, and it said we were in the right place at the right time on the right day, but there definitely weren’t any marching bands.

So we just went to Specific Gravity and had pizza for dinner, and then went home. I saw the end of the NASCAR race and fell asleep on the couch not long after Meredith left. Around 12:30 a.m., Clark got back from Canada and woke me up on the couch. I was so glad to see him!

Sunday, Clark decided he not only wanted to go back to the beer festival, he wanted to run the 5K too. The festival allowed leashed dogs to attend, so I figured the rather informal little 5K run would let Pepper participate too, so all three of us wound up running the 5K.

We got to the festival site in plenty of time to get registered. There were probably about 50 runners who came out for the race. It dawned on me what I had just signed up for — running with Pepper on a narrow trail with other people. Crap. It’s hard enough keeping him out of everyone else’s way on a wide, flat road; how was this going to work on a narrow, root-covered trail?

The course map looked simple enough. There were no U-turns, so I didn’t have to worry about missing a turnaround. It looked like one big loop.

The race directors told us the start line was in a different place than what was shown on the map, so we all walked over there. After another five or 10 minutes of standing around, they came back and said no, we were all in the right place the first time, so we had to walk back.

Back at the actual start line, I tried to position myself and Pepper close enough to the front that we wouldn’t have to pass too many runners, but not too far up so all the really fast runners would have to get around us.

The race directors gave us some rather cryptic instructions, which included to never take your eyes off the trail because there’s always someone who fiddles with an iPod or watch for a second, goes down and comes up bloody. He also said every turn and intersection on the course was very well-marked with blue arrows, but if in doubt, to just go straight at every intersection.

Finally, they gave us the commands and we took off!

I let Pepper go at an all-out sprint from the line, as we didn’t have much time on a grassy field before we hit the trail. We cleared a bunch of runners before getting in line for the trail.

Pepper had never run on a trail with people in front of him and more people chasing him from behind, and the first section of trail got a little dicey. He was really excited, and instead of just running in a straight line, he kept stopping to turn around and look at me. I’d run past him and get him moving again every time, and I don’t think we got in anyone else’s way, but I was still getting frustrated, and hoped he wasn’t planning on acting like that through the whole race.

The trail sections of the course were mostly flat, but rather treacherous. There were a ton of roots. It was impossible to avoid them, so I just had to try to land on a good spot every time and hope I didn’t turn an ankle. I saw one guy land on a root weird and very nearly wipe out. He got himself gathered up though.

Luckily, there were several clearings on the course, where we left the woods and ran through an open field. My strategy was to just keep Pepper off everyone else’s feet on the trails, and then sprint past as many runners as possible in the clearings. It was working pretty well.

Somewhere around the end of the second mile probably (there were no mile markers), Pepper and I caught up with a guy in front of us on the trail. I had no idea if we were going to get another clearing before the end of the race, so I tried to get Pepper around him. It was tough; Pepper has no idea about racing etiquette, so he didn’t understand I needed him to sprint past the guy so I could do the same and we could all run our preferred line on the narrow trail. For a couple of minutes, Pepper ran right next to the poor guy, who was trying not to run into the stupid dog trotting along and staring at him. Finally, I got Pepper past him so I could dart around the guy too, and offer an apology on the way.

Once we got past him, I realized there were no more runners in sight in front of us. This is always a dangerous position for me! I’m really good at leading myself, and others, off-course in a trail race.

I kept seeing blue markings along the trail, so I figured I was on the right track. I turned at a blue arrow, and looked up to see someone else wearing a race bib coming toward me!

I didn’t remember seeing anywhere on the course map that showed a section we ran twice. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Was I lost? I glanced behind me — that guy we’d passed had followed us. Did I get him lost too?

I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept running. Several runners passed us going the other way. I saw a clearing ahead and recognized it as one we’d run through earlier. I was sure at that point we were lost.

When I got to the clearing, I was about to stop and try to figure out where I’d gone wrong, when I saw something I hadn’t seen the first time through — a bridge off to the left. And there was a blue arrow pointing to it. I wasn’t lost at all!

Pepper and I ran across the bridge. On the other side, trails went off to the left and right, as well as straight ahead, but there weren’t any blue markings that I could see. I remembered the instruction to just go straight if in doubt, so I did. Not long past that intersection, I saw another blue arrow and turned left onto another trail.

Soon, I could hear the first live band of the day warming up, and I knew we were close. I had managed to successfully navigate the course on my own for once. Pepper and I emerged from the woods and sprinted through the grassy field back to the finish line. As we crossed, I stopped my watch at 22:53.

We did it! We ran a trail race together and didn’t piss off anyone. Success!

There were some refreshments in a building near the finish line. Pepper went through three bottles of water before he seemed satisfied. We waited at the finish for Clark, who came along soon enough. He had expected to finish DFL (dead f—ing last), so he was pleased there were still quite a few more runners behind him. He said he was still PFS (pretty f—ing slow, haha.)

Eventually, someone said they were holding a small awards ceremony in the room with the refreshments, and I walked back in just in time to get my little medal for being the first female younger than 30 to finish. I’m not sure how they figured out results; they didn’t even tear off bib tags as we crossed the line, and I didn’t see a race clock anywhere. And they didn’t award the overall top finishers, they just gave medals to the top three male and female runners under 30, and the top three of each over 30. I was pretty sure I was the overall first female finisher, but I’ll probably never know.

It doesn’t really matter though. I had a good run with Pepper, Clark finished his first cross country race and I got this cool shirt:

Quite possibly my favorite race T-shirt!

By that time, the festival had opened for the day. Clark and I changed our clothes in the car, and then went in to start sampling again.

Pepper was, as usual, a big attention draw. People admired him and petted him all day. One woman said she’d never seen such a beautiful dog “in real life, only in pictures.” People are always amazed to hear Pepper was a Craigslist freebie in need of a home when we got him.

I bought a T-shirt that said “Say no to diet beer — less alcohol, less flavor.” Light beer is one of my pet peeves. What’s the point? To save calories? Please. You have to guzzle six watery, flavorless light beers to get the effect of one or two really good, complex beers, so you probably drink more calories anyway. It annoys me that Bud Light is the No. 1 selling beer in America. We are a nation of bad beer drinkers.

We saw the end of the Ravens-Cowboys game on a big screen TV where a crowd had gathered. When the Cowboys’ kicker missed what would have been the game-winning field goal, the crowd went berserk. Pepper was so freaked out he pulled himself out of his collar, but he didn’t run away. He just froze in terror, haha.

They had several cornhole games set up we could play for free, so two women sitting near an open one held Pepper for us while I beat Clark in a game.

Pepper and his new buddies.

And of course I had to get some pictures of Clark and me with Pepper:

Pepper and me with a sample of a home brewer’s pumpkin beer.

Clark and Pepper had a serious conversation.

Pepper was ready to go home and get away from his adoring fans by the end of the afternoon.

We stayed until they kicked us out. We got Chipotle for dinner, which I spilled in my car, so it smells like a burrito now.

This morning, I wasn’t supposed to run, so I didn’t. I just did my strength training — abs, invisible chair-sitting, weights and stretching.

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