A Simple Running Log

November 29, 2013

Training for 11/29/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:35 pm

Yesterday was, of course, Thanksgiving. I got up late, ate some breakfast, watched the parade and finished up my cleaning. Finally, right after Santa Claus rode through to round out the parade, I was ready to run my interval workout.

It was cold and windy, but clear and sunny at least, after two days of gray rain. I haven’t run on the track in a long time, and I needed some last-minute things in town anyway, so I took the time to drive into Seaford.

I expected to have the place to myself, but much to my surprise, there was a walker. He was there just about the whole time I was, but he was using the outside lanes, so we were never in the other one’s way.

There was some other stuff in my way though. The pole vault pads, usually stored at one end of the field, had blown across the track, blocking all but the third lane. There was a single hurdle set up in the second lane on the frontstretch, and two benches in the middle of the fourth lane on the backstretch. I never move anything because I don’t know if it’s there for a reason, so I just run around it.

Anyway, I did a mile to warm up. The wind wasn’t as bad as I expected, and since I was on a track, I never had to run head-on into it for very long before I changed direction.

I was shooting for 3:30 on each of the four 800s I was to run. They went pretty well — actual splits were 3:27, 3:28, 3:28 and 3:25, and the pace felt OK. Challenging, but not all-out. I ran an easy lap of recovery after each repeat, and then two more miles to cool down, for a total of six miles.

I then went looking for my last-minute supplies: Wine. I wasn’t surprised when Liquid Assets was closed. I was sure Liquor Land would be open though. They’re open every minute allowable by law.

When Liquor Land was closed, I knew I was in trouble. Turns out Delaware forbids alcohol sales on designated holidays, including Thanksgiving. I knew I should have bought some the day before!

It turned out not to matter though. Everyone else brought over so much we had bottles that hadn’t even been opened at the end of the night.

There was also more than enough food (except asparagus — I decided to make some because we didn’t really have any other vegetables on the menu, thinking hardly anyone would want it anyway, but by the time I was making my plate, there were about seven pieces left.) We had a roast turkey, a deep-fried turkey, meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, in-the-bird stuffing, Stove Top stuffing (my personal fave haha), mac and cheese, broccoli casserole, asparagus, green beans, mixed fruit, cranberry sauce, sweet potato biscuits and yeast rolls, with pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin, sweet potato and apple pies for dessert.

The only thing missing, apparently, was the fake Ocean Spray cranberry sauce that holds the shape of the can. Aunt Helen really wanted a slice of that, but she had to settle for my mother-in-law’s delicious homemade cranberry sauce instead.

It worked out pretty well, hosting both of our families here for Thanksgiving. We had plenty of space to fit everyone, and Clark was able to borrow from work all the extra tables and chairs we needed. Everyone pitched in on the cooking, so I really didn’t have to worry about that. Aunt Helen might be right when she said this could be the start of a new tradition. If we have it here again next year, I’ll remember to roast more asparagus, buy the wine the day before and get a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

Today, I don’t have to work, so I’m bringing down all the Christmas decorations. With Rehoboth next weekend, my next chance to do this won’t be until a week and a half before Christmas, so I’m getting it done now.

Tomorrow, I’m running the Huffin’ for Pumpkin Pie 5K in Rehoboth. There are two untouched sweet potato pies and five slices of leftover pumpkin cheesecake in my fridge right now, so I really don’t need the pie age group award, but I want it anyway. Then TK and I are hitting up the outlets to start our Christmas shopping. Sunday, my long run is just an 8-miler.

November 27, 2013

Training for 11/27/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:54 pm

This morning, I had strength training and an easy 3-miler on the schedule.

I did my strength training upstairs, including ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weights. I also listened to a Christmas music station on Pandora for the first time this year.

I held off on the run though. It was pouring rain, and it didn’t seem worth it for a measly easy 3-miler to go out in that. I’m leaving work early today, so I should have enough daylight to get it done later. If not, no big deal.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I won’t be posting, but I will be running an interval workout first thing in the morning, four 800-meter repeats. Every interval workout in this plan is 800-meter repeats, so I’ll probably run Yassos. Bart Yasso figured out there’s some kind of corollary between how fast you can consistently run 800s and your marathon finish time — for example, I want to run a 3 hour, 30 minute marathon in March, so I should be running my 800s in 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

We’re hosting dinner at our house. I still have to pick up a few things at Walmart and finish up the cleaning, but other than that, we’re pretty much ready to go.

This morning, Clark made cranberry sauce to take to the big company lunch at work:

photo (1)

I love a man who can cook.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2013

Training for 11/26/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:20 pm

This morning, I had an easy 6-miler on the schedule. Clark asked if I was going to take Pepper with me. Since he just ran with me yesterday, I was going to let him off the hook. But then Clark made a joke about how Pepper needed to burn some more calories in advance of all the table scraps he’ll be given at Thanksgiving dinner (especially by Aunt Helen, who will then complain about how much the dog is farting), and I thought about how he’d probably rather run with me again than stay home alone anyway, so I changed my mind.

It was a gray, cold morning. There’s a big storm on the way, but the rain and wind hadn’t started yet when Pepper and I left to run. At least, I didn’t think it had, but it turned out there was already a light but steady drizzle falling. Luckily, there was still no wind. I crossed my fingers it wouldn’t rain any harder while we were out there.

If there’s one good thing about having to take off from running for an injury, it’s the feeling of pure gratitude when I’m physically able to run again. Especially when an injury stretches out as long as this last one had — it felt at times like it was never going to end, and my right foot was just doomed to be a whiny little jerk forever. Today was an ugly, cold, drizzly November morning, but I was running pain-free down my old familiar road with my dog, who often looks at me over his shoulder with a big grin on his face when we’re running together. I just felt happy to be out there.

The run went well. We did the 6.5-mile loop. Pepper found a stick around mile 4, so he was happy too. It never stopped drizzling, but it never rained any harder either.

When we got home, I dried Pepper off and gave him a treat, and he promptly curled up and fell asleep on the couch.

November 25, 2013

Training for 11/25/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:50 pm

I had a couple of really good runs this weekend!

Saturday morning, TK and I ran the second annual Ravens vs. Steelers 5K in Ocean City. We were both running on the Ravens’ side again this year. In case you forgot, this is the race where everyone picks a team and runs the race, and then the top 50 runners’ times on each team are added up, and the team with the fastest overall time is the winner.

The winning team gets the trophy to display in their bar for the next year; there’s a Ravens’ bar and a Steelers bar right across the street from each other around 28th Street in Ocean City, right near the end of the boardwalk, where the race began and ended.

TK met me at my house at 7:30 a.m. We got to Ocean City with plenty of time to pick up our race bibs and event T-shirts, and then I had just enough time for a quick warm-up mile.

Just like last year, race morning was cold, clear and windy. The course is a straight out-and-back on the boardwalk, from 26th to 4th Street and back. Just like last year, the wind was at my back on the way out on my warm up mile, and then in my face on the way back.

I got in line a few rows back from the front of the pack. Last year, I ran this race in 21:33. This year, considering all the time off and near complete dearth of speedwork over the last couple of months, I wasn’t expecting to run that fast, especially since we again had the wind to deal with. I was hoping to at least run under 22 minutes.

Panoramic view of the start.

Panoramic view of the start. My back is to the camera, and I’m next to a guy in a Ward jersey (Steelers), wearing a gray T-shirt over a long-sleeved purple shirt.

As you can see, there are a lot more Ravens fans than Steelers fans that run this thing, so the deck is stacked in our favor.

We got the commands to go and took off. Immediately, I had to side-step a couple of walkers who’d started right in front of me. (I should have seen that coming; I heard one of them ask someone else, right before the race started, if they planned on walking or running this thing. Again, why start at the front if you’re planning on walking??)

I started to pick up speed as we spread out and I got some room to run. It was already starting to hurt to run that fast in the first half mile! But I was picking off people, which is always fun, so I didn’t let off.

We’d been running what felt like an eternity when I started to wonder where the first mile marker was. I thought maybe I’d missed it, or there weren’t any, so I glanced at my watch: 5:31. Nope, definitely haven’t hit a mile yet! I tried not to remember I had the wind at my back at the moment too, so it was only going to get harder.

A few seconds later, I spotted the first mile marker just up ahead. My watch said 6:13 when I passed it. I laughed; there was no way that mile marker was in the right place. I’ve never run a single mile in a race under 6:30, even when I was in the best running shape of my life.

Soon we arrived at the cone marking the turnaround. I checked my watch as I made the U-turn: 10:06. Really, I’m on track for a 26-second 5K PR today? Give me a break. It was now obvious it wasn’t just the first mile marker that was off — the whole damn course was short.

After the turn, the wind wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. It was coming from enough of an angle that the buildings along the boardwalk were blocking it a little. It was still harder to run than it had been on the way out though.

I don’t think I passed or got passed by anyone the entire second half of the race. I passed two miles in 12:57 — a 6:29/mile average after two miles. Sure.

Approaching the finish line.

Approaching the finish line.

Races sure do fly by on a short course. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line in 20:32 by my watch, which, if it were real, would have beaten my 2-year-old PR by six seconds.

I just kept walking after I finished. I walked all the way back to my car, and dropped off the finisher’s ribbon they’d handed me after I’d crossed the line. I ran about another mile to cool down, and then found TK at the finish area.

She too had run a shockingly fast race haha. Of all the days for her to forget her Garmin! She normally wears hers in a race, so we would have known how long that course really was.

I spotted the runner who’d been the first overall woman, and asked her if the course had seemed short to her. She said maybe; she’d run sub-20 for the first time, which was a longterm goal she hadn’t expected to reach so quickly. Well, now I was really hoping the course had been accurate, because I felt like a jerk for telling someone her first sub-2o might not have been legit.

Then they posted the results, and this is where things got even weirder. My official chip time was 20:44 — 12 seconds slower than my watch. There’s usually a bit of a difference between chip time and my watch time, but not 12 seconds! TK’s time was even further off than the clock had been when she finished. I noticed the first place woman’s time was listed as 20:08, not the sub-20 she’d recorded on her watch.

Later, I measured the distance on USATF’s online route finder, which I’ve found to be pretty accurate, and it showed it was just under 3 miles. If I extrapolate my watch time to 3.1 miles, it would have been 21:21, which is still quite a bit faster than I expected to run, but at least a little more believable.

This coming Saturday, TK and I are running a 5K in Rehoboth, on a course they use multiple times a year, so I’ll definitely find out exactly where I am.

Anyway, I know for sure I finished second of 32 runners in the F 30-39 age group, third of 101 women and 14th of 174 total finishers.

What really mattered, of course, was the team results. The Ravens spanked the Steelers again — our total time for the top 50 finishers was about two hours faster than the Steelers’!

The Ravens bar owners and Mr. Boh take back the trophy for the next year.

The Ravens bar owners and Mr. Boh take back the trophy for the next year.

All the runners got a ticket for a free beer at their team’s bar, so TK and I went to the Ravens bar. I had a pumpkin beer from Tall Tales, a local brewery. While we were drinking them, someone randomly handed us two unopened 16-oz. Natty Bohs, so, even though they taste only marginally better than Natty Light, we drank those too.

TK’s boyfriend, Parker, picked us up outside the bar and we drove down to Pickles Pub on 8th Street, where I had one more beer. I’d always heard Schlafly makes a really good pumpkin beer, but I’d never seen it. Pickles had it on tap, so I finally got to try it. It’s still not as good as Punkin Ale, but it’s solidly in second place on my list of all-time greatest pumpkin beers. Congrats, Schlafly.

We went home after lunch. I didn’t do much the rest of Saturday. I had plenty of stuff I intended to do, since we’re hosting Thanksgiving here this week for the first time, but I didn’t do any of it.

Overnight Saturday, a big cold front blew in. Sunday morning was much colder and a whole lot windier. I was really glad we’d run that race on the boardwalk the day before.

I lazed about most of the morning, and then I finally got up the motivation to go do my long run. I was supposed to do 11 miles this week.

I layered up in my strongest cold weather running outfit — tights, mock neck compression top, cold weather running jacket, fleece gloves and a hat. I also drove to Trap Pond State Park to run on the trails, so I could get at least a little relief from the wind.

The park was nearly totally deserted when I got there. I fired up the Garmin to measure 11 miles and took off.

The first mile was miserable. In spite of all my fancy cold weather gear, I was so cold! I kept reminding myself the first mile is always the worst, that I’d warm up soon and it would all be better.

It probably took a mile and a half, but I was right. I warmed up, and the run went fine after that. I ran the first 4.5-mile loop in 39-something, and stopped at the car to get a swig of water. After another stop in a public bathroom to pee, I took off for the second lap. That one went well too, though I was starting to wish I’d either not waited so long after breakfast to start running or brought a damn GU. I was hungry!

After the second lap, I took another swig of water and then did a mile out, turned around and came back, to finish 11 miles exactly in 1:35:54, an 8:43/mile average. That’s a good long run pace for me anyway, but especially on a trail. I did some stretching down by the pond.

As I was getting ready to leave the park, I saw another runner pass — an old guy wearing SHORTS and a single long-sleeved T-shirt! My mouth dropped open! I was tempted to tail him, just so I could call for help when he was inevitably so frozen he could no longer move in a mile.

My first stop after I left the park was Dunkin Donuts for a breakfast sandwich and some hot coffee. Unfortunately, I had to go to Walmart and go grocery shopping after that. The place was packed, but I saw that coming.

The rest of Sunday went about like Saturday had — a lot of lying around and avoiding housework haha.

Today, the wind had died, so I did my easy 3-miler on the road, with Pepper. I could see his breath the entire time. It is way too early to be this cold! When I got back, I didn’t feel like going to the freezing cold attic, but I did push-ups, ab exercises, invisible chair-sitting and stretching downstairs.

I’ve also already gotten done a lot of the housework I put off all weekend, and now I’m waiting on the Stanley Steemer guys to show up to steam clean the carpets.

November 22, 2013

Training for 11/22/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 8:23 pm

I didn’t do anything today. I thought about taking Pepper for a short trail run — actually I really intended to do it — but instead I got caught up writing something for work (I know) and now it’s too late, as I have to get in the shower.

Tonight, I’m going out to dinner with my mom and sisters to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday, and tomorrow morning, I’m running the Ravens vs. Steelers 5K in Ocean City. Obviously I’m running on the Ravens team again. I hope we can maintain our perfect record. (We won last year’s race, which was the first time they held it.)

TK’s running it too. I asked her if she wanted to go out and get hammered the night before the race again, like we did before the Seaside 10-Miler and 5K a few weeks ago, but she said hell no haha.

When I get home from Ocean City tomorrow, I have to start getting this house in order for Thanksgiving next week. We’re hosting my and Clark’s entire families here for dinner for the first time, about 25 people. We’ve got Stanley Steemer coming out here Monday to steam clean out of the carpets the well-marked routes where Pepper’s been tracking dirt for the last three years.


November 21, 2013

Training for 11/21/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:19 pm

This morning, I did something I haven’t done in a while. Right after Pepper was done with his breakfast and morning bathroom break, I got dressed and went for an early run.

It was pretty cold this morning, down around freezing. I had forgotten why morning running is best, especially in cold weather — the wind hasn’t picked up yet.

I had a tempo run on the schedule, but yesterday I remembered I’m signed up for a 5K on Saturday morning. So I decided to just do a couple of mile repeats today instead.

I felt pretty good during the warm up mile. I had on my Zeros for the first time in a while, and my foot wasn’t bothering me at all.

I also had the Garmin on for the first time in who knows how long. I watched for it to roll over the first mile, and then I picked it up for the next one.

I had to pause about a quarter-mile into the first fast mile when I heard tiny dog paws cruising up behind me at full speed. I paused the Garmin and stopped to pet the little black pug mix who’d been chasing me, then shooed it back home so I could get going again.

The rest of the run was uninterrupted. I didn’t look at my pace on the Garmin the whole time, just the distance so I’d know when to speed up or back off.

I looked at the final numbers when I got home. I did the 5.5-mile loop in 44:34, an overall average of 8:06/mile. My two attempts at fast miles came in at 7:09 and 7:12.

I gotta admit it felt like I was running faster than that haha. But I can’t expect to do speed work for the first time in weeks after taking time off for my foot and be as fast as I was before the injury. It’d be nice if it worked like that, but it just doesn’t.

I was still really happy with the run though. It felt so good to run hard again, with the only pain being the burning in my lungs and leg muscles, and not in the bones of my right foot.

Based on today’s run, I fully expect this 5K in two days to be relatively slow yet still pretty painful!

November 20, 2013

Training for 11/20/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:34 pm

I’m back! 

Clark and I had a wonderful time in Nashville and Memphis. We saw some good live music, ate a lot of great food, drank a lot a lot of beer and saw some pretty cool sights. I even got in some (pain-free!) running!

Last Tuesday night, we drove to Washington, D.C., the night before we left for Tennessee. Clark had bought tickets a while ago to see Gary Clark Jr., a blues guitarist who hasn’t yet put out an album but is already building a reputation. He was doing two shows at the 9:30 Club in downtown D.C. last week.

If we were smart, we’d have packed for our trip that morning before work, driven to D.C. for the show, stayed at his brother’s place in Annapolis after and then driven from there to the airport outside Baltimore the next morning. We thought about it, and Clark’s brother had no problem with us staying with him. But we’re both really bad about waiting until the last second to pack for anything, so instead, we drove to D.C. after work, saw maybe an hour and a half of the show until we were both nodding off on our feet (it didn’t start until 10 p.m. and we’re old now, remember?), drove all the way back home, got to bed at 2 a.m., packed the next morning and drove to the airport for our 1:15 p.m. flight.

The flight went fine. We picked up our rental car, a 2012 Ford Fusion, and drove to our hotel.

Clark’s been to Nashville a few times before, and he was shocked to see how much the downtown hotels were charging last week. It turned out our timing was impeccable — there was a Titans home game Thursday night and a Justin Timberlake concert Friday night, which is why the hotels were charging three to four times more than he remembered. We got a room at a Best Western about a mile and a half from downtown instead, and just walked a lot.

As soon as we got checked in, we walked to a place called The Slider House that wasn’t far from the hotel for a late lunch. If you can’t tell from the name, their menu was a huge selection of sliders. They also serve beers only in cans, and let you take the can koozie with you. My favorite souvenir — free.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a short nap. Surprisingly, we actually woke up a couple of hours later and headed downtown.

Wednesday night was really unseasonably cold in Nashville, down in the 20s. I was bundled up in a winter coat, hat and gloves, and I could still feel things going numb. We made it down to the strip on Broadway, where all the bars are lined up, one after the other.

Nashville is kind of a weird place for me to go voluntarily, considering my vehement hatred for country music. I can’t pinpoint what it is about the genre as a whole that just sets my teeth on edge, but I really can’t stand it. However, Clark had promised me that even though Nashville is the destination for wannabe country music stars, there were all kinds of music acts there, trying to get discovered.

So we walked past bar after bar on Broadway, all with a live band right on the other side of the front window, all wearing cowboy boots and singing some annoying, twangy, stupid country song at top volume. We ducked into B.B. King’s Blues Bar for a late dinner and, thank you God, a blues act.

The band finished up soon after we arrived and the place was pretty dead though, so after we’d eaten, we headed out again. Clark said if I heard anything that caught my attention, we’d go in; otherwise, we’d just head back to the hotel.

We didn’t have to walk too far before I finally heard it — a kick-ass cover of Alice in Chains’s “Man in the Box.” We went in this little dive bar called Big Shotz, where a few people were watching a cover band that called itself Sex Panther, with a lead singer who had a pretty heavy Jack Black vibe.

Sex Panther was freaking awesome! They played everything from Jimi Hendrix to Ozzy Osbourne to AC/DC, without a lick of country music. Thank you, Sex Panther, for saving that first night in Nashville for me!

We stayed until the breaks between songs were getting longer and longer, as the Jack Black lookalike was getting drunker and drunker haha.

Thursday morning, I wanted to go for a run. My right foot, which had been bugging the hell out of me Tuesday, had felt totally fine walking around Wednesday.

Clark agreed to go with me. After breakfast, we bundled up (it was still unseasonably cold that morning) and headed out. 

Nashville is pretty hilly, especially compared to home. It seemed like we were always running uphill or downhill, rarely on a flat surface. We ran to Centennial Park, in midtown, the site of the city’s centennial celebration in 1897. One of the big attractions at that celebration was a plaster full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. After the celebration wrapped up, everyone wanted to keep the Parthenon because they felt like it made Nashville the “Athens of the South” or something.

However, the thing had been built to be temporary, and soon the plaster started falling off in chunks, so in 1920, they built a new full-scale Parthenon out of concrete.

I doubt I’ll ever go to Greece, so it was kind of cool to see a Parthenon, even if it wasn’t the Parthenon.

Clark on the steps in front of the Parthenon.

Clark on the steps in front of the Parthenon.

When we got back to the hotel, we’d covered 4.2 miles, and my foot still felt good!

Our hotel was really close to Music Row, a section of town that was lined with all the big recording companies’ offices. That afternoon, we walked by RCA Studio B, where a lot of huge hits were recorded:

Clark read you could still see the spot on the side of the building where Dolly Parton ran her car into it, but we couldn't find it.

Clark read you could still see the spot on the side of the building where Dolly Parton ran her car into it, but we couldn’t find it.

We had lunch at The Red Door Saloon, where we took full advantage of the beer selection, and then went to a place called the Patterson House. You walk into a normal-looking house, a hostess pulls back a curtain and there’s a bar that’s supposed to look like a prohibition-era speak-easy.

They specialized in very intricate cocktails that were as much fun to watch being made as they were to drink. We tried several from the list, and also got a couple of appetizers, some kind of tater tots and truffle deviled eggs:

patterson house

When we left the Patterson House, we figured we’d take a nap at the hotel and head back downtown. Well, we took a nap alright, but this time we slept right through Clark’s phone alarm, and didn’t wake up until almost 2 a.m. haha. So we stayed put that night.

Friday, I felt like going for a run again in the morning. It was finally starting to warm up to more seasonable temperatures. After breakfast, I ran downtown and along the riverfront. This is the only picture I took of Broadway, from the riverfront. It looks a lot dingier and, well, sadder in daylight. I never thought to take a picture of it when it was all lit up and full of people at night.



When I got back to the hotel, I’d covered 5.1 miles, and, according to the running app I’d used on my phone to track it, gained 532 feet in elevation, which is a lot for a flatlander like myself. By that afternoon, I could really feel all the hill climbing and descending in my shins.

After I got back from my run, Clark and I walked to the Pancake Pantry. Apparently it’s a pretty big deal. It was noon on a rainy November weekday, and there was still a line out the door waiting to get in:



We both got the sweet potato pancakes, which were served with powdered sugar and a cinnamon cream syrup. They were probably the best pancakes I’ve ever had. They disappeared too quickly for me to get their picture.

We walked back to the hotel in the rain, and took yet another food-induced nap. In the evening, we went back downtown.

The place was absolutely packed for Justin Timberlake’s concert at a big arena in the middle of downtown. The first three restaurants we tried for dinner had waits of 90 minutes to two hours. We finally fought our way through the crowds and put our name in for a table at this trendy little gastropub, where the wait was only an hour, and then walked down to a karaoke bar to get an appetizer and have a couple of beers before dinner.

I had to endure a couple of country songs at this place, but for the most part, the karaoke singers were sticking with pop.

We got back to the gastropub just as our names were being called, and they seated us upstairs on the roof (it had warmed up enough since Wednesday to sit outside.) I had rainbow trout, kale and quinoa, which was really good, and some of Clark’s roasted brussels sprouts.

After dinner, we struck out again in search of that elusive non-country live act. We squeezed ourselves into a place called Whiskey Bent when the band was playing Steve Miller, but not long after we sat down, a new act came on and started playing country. Peace out, Whiskey Bent.

I can’t remember the name of the next place we found, but we wound up staying there the rest of the night. The band wasn’t as entertaining as Sex Panther had been, but they stayed away from country crap, which was all I asked.

Saturday, I woke up a little hungover and not wanting to run. After breakfast, we checked out, loaded up the rental car and drove straight to Memphis, about a three-hour drive.

There were no NFL games or huge music acts in town in Memphis, so we stayed at a Holiday Inn right in the middle of downtown. After checking in, our first stop was Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, world-famous for their dry-rubbed pork ribs. We each got a slab with beans and coleslaw. They were amazing, probably the best thing I ate the whole trip. Clark plowed through his entire rack without coming up for air haha. When he was done, he looked up with this dazed expression and said, “I just couldn’t stop eating!”

We were right across the street from the historic Peabody Hotel, so around 4:15 p.m., we went over to get a drink and a spot to watch the daily duck march.

The Peabody has a huge fountain in the lobby. There’s a tradition that dates back to the ’30s, involving five ducks that live in the fountain during the day, and then in their own little duck house in the hotel at night. At 11 a.m. every day, they ride the elevator down to the lobby and are herded down a red carpet by the Duck Master to the fountain. At 5 p.m., they are herded back down the red carpet to the elevator to go home.

I couldn’t believe how many people packed into that lobby and on the balconies above it to see these ducks walk down a carpet! I took a video of the march, but this is the only picture of the ducks I got, while they were still in the fountain:

peabody ducks


After the ducks came through, we walked over to Beale Street, another strip of bars known for live music. In Memphis, it’s the blues.

Remembered to take a picture of this street at night.

Remembered to take a picture of this street at night.

They close the street to traffic, so people can just walk wherever. This was also the only place I’ve been, other than Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where alcohol was served in to-go cups:

drinks to go

Before we went to a bar, Clark wanted to go to the Gibson store, where he did a little drooling over Les Paul Standards:

clark guitars

And I found this:


I bet “Back in Black” sounds pretty hardcore on a ukelele!

We went back to Beale Street and watched a live blues band until their set ended. We were hungry again, so we went to another little gastropub, South of Beale. I think every hipster in Memphis was gathered there that night. There was ironic facial hair, glasses with no lenses and men in skinny jeans as far as the eye could see. The pumpkin beer was served with cinnamon and brown sugar on the rim and the seared scallops were really good though.

The restaurant wasn’t far from downtown, but it was already in a pretty rundown area, compared to downtown. We found that was the case no matter which direction we walked — downtown felt very modern and vibrant, but you were only a couple of blocks away from huge, abandoned buildings and long-forgotten businesses.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel for another power nap that, in my case, turned into just going to sleep for the night again. Clark said he tried to wake me up to go back to Beale Street, but I wasn’t having it. I don’t remember that.

Sunday morning, I wanted to go for a run, but it was supposed to rain at any moment, I hadn’t brought a running hat to keep it out of my eyes and, most importantly, I didn’t feel like looking for a running route. So I copped out and went to the hotel fitness room. It was just a muggy little room with a set of dumbbells, a weight bench, two treadmills, an elliptical and a stationary bike — all facing the mirror on the back wall instead of the TV on the front wall. Technically, I was supposed to do 10 miles, my first long run of marathon training, but I knew I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting through that on a treadmill.

I did some ab exercises and then fired up the treadmill, setting it to an 8:00/mile pace so I could at least say whatever I ran was at marathon goal pace. I was already sick of the treadmill after a mile, and almost turned it off at 1.5. I forced myself to at least get through a 5K before I finally let myself off the hook. That was the worst 25 minutes of the whole trip. I can’t stand running on treadmills!

After my “long” run (which was really the shortest of the whole trip), Clark and I went to a restaurant for brunch, where I got some eggs Benedict with crab cakes that were pretty good.

We walked down to Sun Studio, about a mile from the hotel, where artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash got their start.

sun studio


The smaller building, on the left, was the original Sun Studio, which first opened as Memphis Recording Service. Eventually the studio outgrew it and moved out. When it moved back, it acquired the building on the right for more space.

The smaller building, on the left, was the original Sun Studio, which first opened as Memphis Recording Service. Eventually the studio outgrew it and moved out. When it moved back, it acquired the building on the right for more space. (The picture above was taken from about where that person in the black shirt is standing to the right.)

We took a guided tour that started in a little exhibit that featured things like the first recording equipment from when the studio first opened as a recording service in the early ’50s, and Elvis’s social security card. I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but clearly some people on the tour were, as I saw a few wiping their eyes. I’d be doing the same thing if I was touring a Bobby Labonte museum, so go ahead, Elvis fans. You do you. No judgment here!

Then we were led to the recording studio itself. Even though the original space was rented out by a few different businesses after Sun Studio moved out for a while when it outgrew it, including a barber shop and a scuba/surf equipment supplier, no one had ever remodeled it, and the original acoustic tiles still hung on the ceiling and the original laminate was still on the floor. 

The recording studio.

The recording studio.

There was an ‘X’ on the floor where supposedly Elvis stood while he recorded his very first single in 1954, and they had a mic from the ’50s that the studio’s founder, Sam Phillips, swore Elvis himself had sung into. When the tour was wrapped up, we could pose with the mic.

That 'X' on the floor near my foot is where Elvis once stood.

That ‘X’ on the floor near my foot is where Elvis once stood.

In the afternoon, we went to the National Civil Rights Museum, located in part of the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony outside Room 306. That piece of the hotel has been preserved, and is attached to the rest of the building that now houses the museum:

National Civil Rights Museum

Closer to the balcony where he was killed by a gunshot from a second-story bathroom window in a boarding house across the street.

Closer to the balcony where he was killed by a gunshot from a second-story bathroom window in a boarding house across the street.

There’s also a protest that’s been going on outside the motel for nearly 26 years now. The sole protester, Jaqueline Smith, was the last tenant of the motel. She lived there from 1973, when she worked at the motel as a housekeeper, to March 1988, when she was evicted so the motel could be turned into the museum. She is protesting both the development of the area surrounding the motel to a point where it is pricing out the low-income people who predominately lived there, and the “Disney-style” tone of the museum itself. She thinks the former motel could be put to better use, and that Dr. King wouldn’t have wanted all that money spent on a building in his honor anyway.

She wasn’t there when we visited, but her signs still were:

MLK protester


Much of the exhibits in the rest of the museum were under renovation, so we didn’t go in.

It was late afternoon by that point, so we looked for a bar that was showing the NASCAR race. There was a slim chance the championship would go to anyone other than Jimmie stupid Johnson, but I just had to watch, just in case.

We finally found one, The Kooky Canuck, that had a bartender who didn’t give us a weird look when we asked him to change one of the nine TVs from one of the two NFL games to the race. I had a depressing side-by-side view of both the Ravens’ loss in OT to the Bears and the jerk’s sixth championship:

Not one of my better sports days.

Not one of my better sports days.

There was a shift change in the middle of this, and right as Johnson started celebrating his stupid championship after the crossing the finish line, the new bartender changed the TV back to the same damn football game that was on three more TVs within sight of the moron sitting next to Clark, who couldn’t let us have one TV for the race and requested it be changed to football. Not that I wanted to watch that celebration, but come on!

We’d paid our tab anyway, so we left and went to The Flying Saucer down the street. There’s one in Charlotte, and we always liked it because they have such a huge selection of beers on tap.

We stayed there a while, and then went back to the hotel for another “power nap” that turned into — you guessed it — me falling asleep for good for the night. Sigh. Clark went back to Beale Street without me. Once again, the next morning, I didn’t remember him waking me up, and I also didn’t remember him leaving or coming back. I was done for the night.

Monday was our last day in Tennessee. We had breakfast at this little cafe, and then walked down by the Mississippi River. After we checked out of the hotel, we went to Graceland. On the way, we took a detour into Arkansas, just across the river, just so I could say I’d been there.

Again, I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but it just seemed wrong to go to Memphis and not see Graceland. It’s not too far from downtown, so why not?

Our tickets got us a tour of the house itself, as well as several exhibits set up across the highway from the house. A shuttle took us from that exhibit area to the house:



We were all given individual audio players with headsets for the tour, which was a great idea because you got to move along at your own pace, instead of with a group, and you could listen to only as much information as you wanted.

It started inside the house. We got to see all the downstairs rooms, including the living room, his parents’ bedroom (Elvis was very close to his parents, especially his mother), the dining room, the basement, the kitchen and the “jungle room.”

The living room.

The living room.

My favorite room in the house, the "professionally decorated" basement room, with three TVs. Elvis wanted those when he heard one of the presidents had three TVs so he could watch all three network evening newscasts at the same time.

My favorite room in the house, the “professionally decorated” basement room, with three TVs. Elvis wanted those when he heard one of the presidents had three TVs so he could watch all three network evening newscasts at the same time.

The "jungle room." That round chair on the right was said to be a favorite of Lisa Marie, Elvis's daughter.

The “jungle room.” That round chair on the right was said to be a favorite of Lisa Marie, Elvis’s daughter.

Outside the house, we saw a shed that was converted into an office, one of whose functions was to handle and sort all the fan mail Elvis received. There was another building that had been built just to showcase awards Elvis won for his music, gold and platinum records and other artifacts, including some of his performance costumes, movie costumes, a huge plaque honoring some of the charitable causes to which he regularly donated a ton of money, and even the tux and dress he and his wife, Priscilla, wore when they were married.

A room full of gold and platinum records to honor sales milestones. These weren't anywhere close to all of them.

A room full of gold and platinum records to honor sales milestones. These weren’t anywhere close to all of them.

There was another building that had been a racquetball court and hangout when Elvis lived there, but had partially been converted into yet another room featuring gold and platinum albums. There were also several of his jumpsuits on display, and a TV showing his 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” concert, which was shown on TV and watched by more people than the moon landing four years earlier.

graceland jumpsuits


The last stop outside the house itself was the meditation garden, where Elvis, his parents and his grandmother are all buried. There’s also a marker for his twin brother, who was stillborn, but was actually buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in their hometown of Tupelo, Miss., about 90 miles south of Memphis.

Left to right are Elvis's grandmother, Elvis, his dad, his mom and his brother.

Left to right are Elvis’s grandmother (who outlived them all), Elvis, his mom, his dad and his brother.

elvis grave

The shuttle took us back across the street to the rest of the exhibits, which included his personal car collection, his two personal planes and an exhibit about his early life in Tupelo.

I couldn’t get over all the gift shops though! You had to walk through a different one to get out of any exhibit. I bet Clark and I were among a very small minority of visitors who managed to leave without buying anything.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Graceland, and I’m glad I went. I’ve never known much about Elvis. He died six years before I was born, and I didn’t have anyone growing up who exposed me to his music, like my family practically spoon-fed me the Beatles’ entire catalogue. He always seemed almost like a caricature to me; I only knew him for those white jumpsuits and “Thank you; thank you very much.” I have more of an appreciation for Elvis now. He came from nothing, but had a true gift. He was also a real person who loved his family, loved his hometown and had deplorable taste when it came to home decorating. (Kidding! It was the ’70s. Graceland probably looked pretty swanky back then haha. Elvis fans, please don’t kill me.)

When we left Graceland, we drove a little farther south so I could also say I’d been to Mississippi, and then we drove back to Nashville for one last night before our flight Tuesday morning.

Clark had gotten the cheapest room he could find, at an Extended Stay America. Holy crap, do you get what you pay for! The room was “non-smoking,” but had definitely been inhabited by a smoker, for quite some time. It didn’t look like the cleaning staff had made any attempt to clean it either, judging by all the leaves on the floor and the pile of actual trash in the bathroom:

Can you see the sign about how they're so committed to being clean, and the balled up paper towel and straw in the floor directly beneath it?

Can you see the sign about how they’re so committed to being clean, and the balled up paper towel and straw in the floor directly beneath it?

We spent our last evening in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort hotel. I had no idea this place had multiple enormous indoor gardens, all connected by walkways. The place was also decorated for Christmas:

Huge tree in one of the gardens.

Huge tree in one of the gardens.

There were also several nice restaurants throughout the hotel. We ate a Mexican place that had a big buffet. You could make your own fajitas, or eat the prepared enchiladas or burritos. My favorite was a burrito with brisket and goat cheese. There was also a cold shrimp cocktail that was pretty amazing, and a big selection of cheesecakes for dessert. I definitely ate my money’s worth at that buffet! It was all really good.

Back at the hotel, we stayed up late watching TV and then woke up long before the alarm went off the next morning — the place was that gross, we just couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

The flight back was just as smooth, and we got home around 2:30 p.m. Pepper was so excited to see us he wouldn’t stand still, except to pee on the carpet — twice. Smooth!

As soon as I’d unpacked, I changed clothes and went out for a run. I had five easy miles on the schedule. I did the 5.5-mile loop, and in spite of the wind and all the junk I’d eaten and beer I’d downed over the last week, they actually felt easy! It was a really good run.

Yesterday was also the third anniversary of when we brought Pepper home. I got this picture of him and Clark on the couch:



This morning, I did strength training upstairs — ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weights — and then I took Pepper out for another easy 3-miler.

My foot feels the best it’s felt in weeks, and I’m really optimistic it’s ready to start marathon training for real now. Tomorrow is my first speed workout of the cycle, a 30-minute tempo run.


November 12, 2013

Training for 11/12/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 9:35 pm

Well, marathon training has gotten off to a not-great start.

After running the last three consecutive days, my right foot hurt like hell again this morning. I didn’t even consider running the five easy miles on the schedule.

I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to jump right back into running six days a week, especially after taking off all of last week because that foot was bothering me again, but I did.

What’s most frustrating about it now is that the pain seems to be in a different place every time. First it was consistently at the base of the big toe. After Indy, it was at the base of the pinky toe. This morning it hurt down the inside of the arch.

That’s in the past tense, because now, after walking around all day in boots with a slight heel, nothing hurts. (I’ve taken the boots off now.) I think the first few weeks of marathon training are going to have to be scaled down in terms of number of days of running, to give my foot enough rest in between runs.

It’s just frustrating. I was looking forward to finally getting back into training again, but I guess I just have to keep being patient.

Getting in the next week of training was going to be a little challenging anyway. Clark and I are heading to Nashville and Memphis for the next week. I’ll run what I can, but I’m not going to obsess about it. What’s a few more missed miles at this point?

November 11, 2013

Training for 11/11/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:12 pm

I actually ran some miles over the last few days!

Saturday, I met Kara in Easton. We drove a little ways down the road toward Oxford and parked in a little pull-off area along the road. We ran a little farther down that road to a development, where we got on its “nature trail.”

Kara said the trails go much farther than we did; we had run about a mile when we found the trail, and ran another on the trail. When her Garmin beeped two miles, we turned around and headed back. 

We’d been keeping a fairly easy pace the first three miles, but once we were in that final mile and on our way back to her Jeep, the pace just kept picking up. I don’t know which one of us was doing it. Probably both! We ran exactly four miles at an 8:09/mile average. Our last mile was 7:31, but it was definitely much faster at the end than the beginning.

My foot felt OK after that run. I could feel it, but it wasn’t painful. What was painful was running that fast at the end haha. It sucks how quickly I lose speed, compared to how long it takes me to build it up. Oh well.

We got sushi for lunch, and then I went home, where I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with Pepper. Clark got to come home from Chicago earlier than anticipated. He was home late that night.

Sunday morning, I took my time lazing about. I finally put on some running clothes and took Pepper to the trail for a trip around the 3-mile loop. We got there around noon. We ran into several other people out there on the trail, most of whom had dogs with them. There was an older couple with three huge, gorgeous greyhounds. One was marked like a dalmatian, and another was black and brown with brindle markings. The dalmatian-looking one wanted me to pet him, but Pepper was, as usual, crapping his pants in terror, so we had to keep going.

In the afternoon, I went to a friend’s kid’s fifth birthday party, and then in the evening, Clark and I went out to dinner with his parents, brother and sister-in-law to celebrate his dad’s birthday.

Today was the first day of Shamrock Marathon training. I waited all day to finally do my workout. I took Pepper for an “easy” 3-miler on the road, but he wasn’t in the mood to run easy. It was quite a bit faster than I would have run on my own. When I got home, I went upstairs and did my strength training — ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting and weights, finished up with plenty of stretching.

November 8, 2013

Training for 11/8/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:26 pm

Hey, I actually have something to record today!

I didn’t have to work at all today, so this morning, I went to a hot yoga class in Salisbury. Like the last time I went, on a Friday evening about a month and a half ago, there weren’t many people in the class. The teacher had a lot more time to work with all of us individually. I like having my form corrected, especially in poses I do to stretch out by myself at home. Ever since I had those IT band issues in both legs a few years ago, I’ve done what’s called a pigeon pose pretty regularly, as it does a good job of targeting them. Today, the teacher helped me get deeper than ever into that pose, on both legs. Felt so good!

Tomorrow morning, I’m meeting Kara in Easton to go for my first run in a week. She wants to show me a paved trail outside Easton, and then we’re going to a new sushi place in town for lunch. Unfortunately, the Waterfowl Festival is this weekend, which means Easton is going to be an absolute disaster as far as traffic and people milling around goes. However, this is the last chance we’ll have for a while to get together like this, so I just have to suck it up and try not to run over anyone in a fit of road rage.

If I do anything Sunday, it’ll just be to take Pepper for a short trail run. Gotta get rested back up for the start of Shamrock training Monday! I decided on the Advanced 1 plan. Just one planned speed workout per week, but there are also pace runs two out of every three weeks, and if I really want to, I can replace a middle distance easy run with some speed.


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