A Simple Running Log

March 31, 2015

Training for 3/31/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:33 pm

Yesterday evening, Clark, Pepper and I went out for a little run together. I had Pepper’s leash, and Pepper had the biggest stick in our yard at the moment.

After Sunday morning’s run in the icebox, yesterday evening was much nicer, shorts and long-sleeved shirt weather. I kept getting stupid gnats in my eyes, the first mile in particular, so it wasn’t perfect.

Anyway, the three of us did a lap around the 4.5-mile loop together. The first mile was about 9:25, the second and third sped up to 8:18 and 7:50 as Clark wanted to run a couple faster miles and Pepper kept trying to pull ahead of him, and then the last 1.5 slowed back down. I think we ran the whole loop at an 8:36/mile average according to my Garmin.

I never did any strength training last night like I’d been planning though. Then I stayed up late watching “Teen Mom,” because… well, I don’t know what exactly I find so mesmerizing about that show, but whatever. This morning, Clark got up early and asked if I wanted to do some strength training with him, but I pretty much just growled at him haha.

And then, this afternoon, I took Pepper to the trail for my last run of the month. I wanted to run a little farther than usual so I could make the month’s final mile total be a nice round number, so I wore the Garmin.

I never realized how freaking slow the first mile is with that dog, as he pees on EVERY LITTLE BUSH. 13:20! The second one was 10:25, which is still slow but that wasn’t his fault. There was a downed tree across the trail and we had to pick our way through the briars to get around it. I believe the third was 9:50 as he got distracted a few more times. Then we ran an additional 0.3 miles to bring today’s total to 3.3 miles.

Which brings me to my March summary.

Mileage:

  • Week 1 (March 1-7): 32.9 miles
  • Week 2 (March 8-`14): 25.1
  • Week 3 (March 15-21): 25
  • Week 4 (March 22-28): 39.2
  • Week 5 (March 29-31): 12.8

Total: 135 miles

My best mileage month since LAST JUNE! (148 miles.) Also, at the end of March last year, my entire year’s total to date was 208 miles; this year, I’m already at 357. I hope this upward trend continues!

Things went really well as far as racing went this month too. I ran a good 5K with Pepper, finished the Whale Challenge at Shamrock, including my first marathon in two years, and then ran the April Fools’ Day Challenge with Pepper. Those were my first four races since Rehoboth in early December.

On to April! I’d like to hit around 150 miles this month, and throw in some speed work to start getting ready for the upcoming summer series. The only race on my schedule is the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run on April 12. I’d thought about doing a cheap half marathon in Lewes a week after that, but my niece is getting baptized that morning, so that’s out.

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March 30, 2015

Training for 3/30/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:52 am

Happy birthday to my dad! He’s 55 today.

So, when I ran last Thursday, I was sweating in shorts and a tank top. By the time I ran again Saturday morning, the temperature had dropped, oh, about 50 degrees, and it was still really windy on top of it. January weather! I had to go back to full length tights, multiple layers on top, gloves and an earband. I got in an easy lap around the 5.5-mile loop.

That afternoon, I went to my friend’s sister’s Mary Kay party and then Pepper and I headed down to the beach, to meet Clark, who’d gone down earlier in the afternoon to go surfing.

When we got to the beach house, we found Clark huddled in front of a space heater, trying to get the feeling back in his feet! He said it was the coldest he’s ever been in the water, which is insane, considering he went surfing through the entire winter this year. The water is technically warming up, but he said the wind was the worst part.

The beach house doesn’t have heat beyond the space heaters. Clark had turned them on before he left to go surfing, but it was still pretty chilly in the house that evening. Pepper was not happy, but we tried to keep him warm:

cold pepper

I’m still wearing my heavy winter coat in this picture too. It finally warmed up enough I could take it off by about 10 p.m. or so.

Clark had asked me to bring down our little tailgating grill so he could grill some dinner outside, but he changed his mind about that when it got even colder after the sun went down. We got takeout from Ropewalk and fell asleep on the sectional in the living room.

Sunday morning, it was still bitterly cold and windy, but it was otherwise a nice day, so I took Pepper with me to Cape Henlopen State Park to run the April Fools’ Day Challenge.

The only thing I knew about this race was that they don’t tell you the distance — they just tell you it’s between 3 and 6 miles — and the course tends to cover just about every available surface in the park, including loose sand, wooded trails and paved roads and bike paths. I figured it was nothing Pepper couldn’t handle.

I got myself registered, and then Pepper and I did a little warmup mile. I was still cold enough after warming up I decided to stick with my warmest winter running jacket for the race. I have never had to wear that jacket in a race before. Stupid “spring.”

Anyway, at 10 a.m., Pepper and I joined the rest of the runners at the start line near the fishing pier. I was the only one who brought a dog. Pepper was putting out the vibe to all the competition.

pepper before april fools challenge

“I will destroy you.”

Or maybe he was just pissed because I was making him run outside in the cold. That’s probably it.

Anyway, there were a whopping 38 runners. The race director told us to get into four groups of six and two groups of seven, and then line up at the start line. The race this year was going to start with a little relay event!

The oldest runner in the group had to take a hula hoop. We had a 61-year-old woman in our group, so that went to her. The youngest had to take a jump rope. There was a 30-year-old woman in our group, so she got that.

The rest of us had to run the relay, with a golf ball in a plastic spoon. While those group members ran the relay race, the other two had to hula hoop and jump rope the whole time. Only when the relay race was complete could all group members start the course. And the clock started when the relay race began.

This of course meant I was going to have to run a short distance with a golf ball in a spoon in one hand and my hyperactive dog’s leash in the other, and my teammates were going to have to wait on me before they could start running.

I thought about asking one of the other teammates to hold Pepper’s leash for me while I did my part of the relay, but what’s the fun in that? Pepper’s running this race too!

We got the whistle. The relay runners took off while the hula hoopers and jump ropers started doing their thing.

Relay racers taking off.

jump roper and hula hoopers

I was the third of four relay runners on my team. I really thought I’d drop that ball at least once, or Pepper, who loves to chase balls, would try to take the golf ball from me, but much to my surprise, I didn’t have any trouble completing my lap with the ball and spoon.

He was definitely thinking about going for it though!

He was definitely thinking about going for it though!

Our team’s fourth and final relay runner finished her lap, and we were free to go! I think we were the third of six teams to start running.

The race director had gone over the course before the race, but I hadn’t paid much attention. I knew he said it started by running down a little gravel trail, but once I got to the parking lot at the end of that trail, I didn’t know where to go.

Everyone else was heading for the parking lot exit, which had a locked gate across it. Apparently we were supposed to jump over that gate. I knew Pepper wouldn’t have that, so I ducked under it. Pepper followed me.

We ran back up to the area where the relay race had been held, and then out to the beach.

beach

(I took this after the race.)

The sand was really loose and hard to run through. Hard if you only had two legs, that is. Pepper was flying through this stuff. It was all I could do to keep up with him.

The course turned off the beach, which I thought would be the end of the sand, but it continued a little farther. By the time we finally got out of the sand and back onto pavement, I was sapped, half a mile in! Thanks, Pep!

I managed to get my breathing back under control as we ran along a paved bike path toward a youth camp. When we got to the camp, we had to make a basket on the basketball court. The race volunteer there offered to hold Pepper’s leash for me, and I got a basket on the first attempt.

Other runners at the basketball court, and one selfie-taker haha.

Other runners at the basketball court, and one selfie-taker haha.

Right after the basketball court, we ran through a playground. On this playground was a piece of equipment, that kind of looked like two sloped rock walls for little kids, propped against each other to make a little “tent.” We had to crawl under it. For reference, here’s another runner coming out of it:

playground equipment

I dove right under it and crawled through, expecting Pepper to be right behind me. After all, it was tall enough he probably didn’t even need to crouch.

me crawling through

It turned out THIS was the obstacle that Pepper had trouble with. I stood up on the other side and saw Pepper at the end of his leash, still at the entrance, absolutely refusing to take one step farther.

Of course, there were other people waiting to crawl under it, which they couldn’t do until Pepper moved his ass. I tried to pull him through by his leash, but he dug in his heels, and pulled back so hard he actually pulled himself out of his harness completely!

I have never seen him manage to get out of that harness! As soon as he was free, he started to trot away, the way we came from, to get back to the Jeep, I’m sure haha. He was over it.

Another runner coming up to the playground grabbed him, and I got his harness untangled and clipped back on him, and the leash reattached. I let him go around the equipment, and we were back on track.

We were back on pavement now, but we were going uphill, toward the World War II-era Fort Miles lookout. When we were almost to the top, we turned off the pavement onto another sandy trail, still going uphill. It was tough! Pepper, of course, didn’t seem to notice, and just plowed on ahead, me dragging behind him.

As we came to a clearing, I saw what looked like cones marking the next part of the course to the right, but two runners coming from my left. I thought there was a little out-and-back here that they were finishing, but it turned out they’d just made a wrong turn. I pointed out the cones they hadn’t seen and let them go ahead of Pepper and me.

We ran through an empty building and then got on a wooded trail that would make up most of the remainder of the course. Pepper and I had passed one of the runners we’d let go ahead of us, but the other one pulled away from us as we ran through the woods.

Pepper loved the woods, but he didn’t do a great job of following the trail haha. He would leap right over logs laid along the side of the trail to mark it, or blow right by directional signs. I had to pull him back on course so many times! There were some muddy pits and a lot of roots in other spots, but overall it was a nice trail, and it was great to be out of the wind.

Pretty soon I could hear yelling, and figured we were getting close to the finish. As soon as we came out of the woods, I could see it.

Pepper looks like he's barely moving. I look like I'm gasping for air.

Pepper looks like he’s barely moving. I look like I’m gasping for air.

We had one more obstacle though — a big ditch filled with water, which we had to jump to get to the finish line.

the ditch

I didn’t realize it was there until we were pretty much on it. Pepper gave me a “what now?” look. I told him to jump, and we both did. He easily cleared it. I would have if I’d had any kind of running start, but jumping from a standstill like that, my right foot landed a little too close to the edge on the other side, and it got a little wet.

pepper and me after ditch jump

We ran up the field and crossed the line. I stopped my Garmin — 3.5 miles in 29:54, an 8:37/mile average. Our miles ranged from 8:06 to 9:24 (the first one, when he got out of his harness.)

It was a lot of fun! I’m glad I finally ran this race. I hope I get to do it again next year!

It was a short run back to the fishing pier where we’d parked. There was a guy making pancakes for everyone in the race director’s trailer. Since I’d forgotten to bring any post-run treats for Pepper, I shared my pancake with him. He seemed to like it just as much as anything.

Then they did the awards. Pepper and I finished eighth overall. I was second overall female of 18, and first of five in the F 30-39 age group. I got a little wooden award.

Pepper and I drove back to Fenwick. Clark and I got takeout from Papa Grande’s for lunch. After lunch, Clark wanted to go surfing again, so he went to the Indian River inlet while Pepper and I headed home. I was back in time for the second half of the Martinsville race, which Denny Hamlin won.

Last night, we went to Clark’s parents’ house to celebrate my birthday. His mom made me salmon, brown rice and asparagus, and a big chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. It was all delicious!

I also got some birthday cash, part ofwhich is going to get me a pair of the New Balance Fresh Foam Zantes.

w1980pb_nb_14_i

As for today, I’m going to do some strength training, and then take Pepper for a short run.

March 27, 2015

Training for 3/27/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:27 pm

I went for a short run yesterday afternoon, without Pepper since he was acting like his one front paw was so horribly maimed. He seemed genuinely shocked I ran anyway even though he “couldn’t” go.

It was warm and humid, shorts and a tank top weather, which was awesome! It was also really windy. Not so awesome. When I left the house, I found it was also lightly raining, even though the sun was out.

I did the 4.5-mile loop. I managed to leave the house right as another storm was moving through, apparently. By the end of the first mile, the sun had disappeared and I was in the middle of a full-on downpour in 20 mph wind. It actually felt pretty nice since it was so warm out, except for the stupid wind, of course.

When I got home, Pepper’s foot had magically healed and he was no longer limping around haha.

Today, I did something I haven’t done in a while — I went to a hot yoga class. It was a tough class! I was pouring sweat, and several times I could feel muscles starting to shake while trying to hold poses.

I thought I was just out of practice until I heard the instructor, talking to one of the other students after class, say she liked strengthening poses so she might have gone a little overboard on them today. The other student said something about how he thought he was dying a couple of times, which made me feel better. It wasn’t just me!

I had to go to Walmart after the class to do our grocery shopping. I hate Walmart. It actually didn’t take too long today, for once, and I thought I was home-free as I pushed my cart through the pouring rain to my car.

Ha, nope! While I was unloading the groceries, some guy came up and said he needed to ask me a question. I thought he had a real question, but it turned out it was just another sob story, probably completely made up, that was obviously going to end with him asking for money.

My eyes glazed over. I had finished loading my groceries in the car and was just standing there in the rain waiting for the end of this dumb story so I could say “Sorry, I don’t have any cash.”

Then there was a twist — the guy, who was black himself, said he’d stopped asking other black people in that parking lot because they’re all “too mean.” Maybe he thought I’d be like “Yeah, racism! Here’s a 20!” Instead I just continued to stare at him. I’m pretty sure they were all “mean” because they don’t like being shaken down for money in a downpour outside freaking Walmart when they’re just trying to get the hell out of there and go about their day, moron!

That got him to finally quit talking. I didn’t even have to tell him I didn’t have any cash. He said “If you don’t have anything to give me, that’s OK” and he high-tailed it out of there before I could answer. Weirdo.

Anyhow… I have a pretty quiet weekend to look forward to. Tomorrow, I’ll run something in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I have agreed to attend a Mary Kay party for a friend’s sister who’s trying to get into selling it. I made it pretty clear I won’t be buying anything, but I guess my friend’s sister has to do a certain number of “makeovers” or something so sure, I’ll let her spackle on some foundation.

Sunday, I might go to Cape Henlopen State Park and do an April Fool’s Challenge race. They don’t tell you the distance beforehand, and then they lead you through the woods, on the beach and on the paved trails and roads. It looks like fun, but every time I thought about doing it before, I wound up getting injured or something came up that kept me from being able to.

Then there’s the Martinsville race to watch, and then Clark’s parents are having us over for dinner that night to celebrate my birthday. I asked for salmon. I can’t wait!

March 26, 2015

Training for 3/26/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:45 am

Yesterday, I took Pepper out for an easy 3-miler. I didn’t feel like driving to the trail after all, so we just ran it on the road. Felt good to be out there again, and everything on me felt fine.

Pepper looked like he had a normal run and acted normal the rest of the evening as well, but this morning, he was limping around. It looked like he was favoring one of his front paws. I couldn’t see anything stuck in between the pads, so who knows.

About an hour ago, a neighbor’s dog wandered into the yard. Pepper went out and sprinted around with it for a while, looking totally fine. But then as soon as he came back inside, he was back to limping, and now he’s happily snoozing on the couch. I’m starting to wonder if this little con artist just doesn’t want to go for a run with me haha.

I’ve added another fall marathon to the list of maybes — the Anthem Richmond Marathon, Nov. 14, obviously in Richmond, Va. I’ve always heard very good things about this race, but for some reason I’ve never seriously considered doing it.

On the list of pros, it’s a Saturday morning race, which are great because then I don’t have to sit around all day Saturday worrying about how it’s going to go the next day; it’s a scenic course; it’s relatively inexpensive at “only” $85 through the end of this month; the super long runs will land in early fall instead of summer and the hilly Baltimore half marathon will fit in with training perfectly.

On the list of cons, it’s a big race (20,000 total in the half and full marathons, which partially share courses); it’s not terribly hilly but hilly enough that it makes me worry; and of course, it’s a little later in the fall than I normally prefer to run a marathon.

March 25, 2015

Training for 3/25/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:58 am

The last couple of days, I’ve been taking it easy. I haven’t done any running or strength training, but I have been enjoying replacing all those calories I burned off over the weekend!

I was a little sore Monday, but I felt 98 percent fine yesterday and now all the way back to normal today, other than where the chafing on my back has scabbed over and started to itch. I think I’ll take Pepper to the trail for a short run this afternoon, before school lets out so we don’t have to worry about running into any horny teenagers again.

Since Shamrock went so well, I’m already thinking about fall marathons (and the training that will go into them.) Right now I have four frontrunners, all within a reasonable driving distance:

Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon

Allentown, Pa.

Sept. 13

Pros:

  • Week before our trip to Chicago for the NASCAR race, so I won’t have to worry about training runs while we’re there
  • Small field (about 2,500 runners in the marathon)
  • Flat and fast course

Cons:

  • Training would start in May, so all the long runs will be in the hottest part of summer
  • $125 already; price goes up again in May

Steamtown Marathon

Oct. 11

Scranton, Pa.

Pros:

  • I’ve run it before, so I know exactly what to expect (and that it’s awesome)
  • Very fast course that’s all downhill for the first eight miles
  • Small field
  • Registration hasn’t opened yet, but I think it was about $80 when I ran it in 2011
  • Backyard Ale House in Scranton’s beer list

Cons:

  • One week before Baltimore Running Festival, where I wanted to run something, since it looks like several of my running friends are coming to town for it
  • I’d be in the middle of peak mileage in the training plan when we go to Chicago

Harrisburg Marathon

Nov. 8

Harrisburg, Pa.

Pros:

  • Not really sure yet, because the web site has minimal info at the moment as they revamp it
  • Training would start July 6, so all the really long runs won’t start until late September/October, when it won’t be so hot
  • The week of the Baltimore Running Festival would be a 12-miler on the marathon training plan, which means a nice, hilly half marathon would fit in perfectly

Cons:

  • Kinda late in the fall. I usually like to do a fall marathon earlier than this.

TowneBank Outer Banks Marathon

Nov. 8

Outer Banks, N.C.

Pros:

  • Small field
  • Point-to-point course with a variety of scenery, through neighborhoods and along the coast
  • Has an 8K+marathon challenge like Shamrock, which I love
  • Reasonably priced at $85 until June 1
  • The Outer Banks
  • Longest training runs would be in cooler weather; training half marathon at Baltimore

Cons:

  • Again, a little late in the year

I think it’ll probably come down between Steamtown and Outer Banks at this point. On the one hand, I’ve always wanted to do Steamtown again, but on the other, the timing works out better for the Outer Banks, and I haven’t been there in a long time so it would be nice to go back again. Not like I have to make a decision anytime soon, of course.

March 23, 2015

Shamrock Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:56 am

I did it! I ran a freaking marathon for the first time in two years!

After half-assing my way through my training plan all winter, I finished the Shamrock Marathon yesterday in 4:02. Much to my surprise, I didn’t really start to feel the lack of training until the final 10K or so, but when it did finally hit, it hit hard. I’m definitely training better for the next one!

The whole story starts back on Friday. It was the first day of spring, but we woke up to fresh snow on the ground and more coming down. It switched over to rain soon enough though, so it didn’t hamper travel plans, just made for a crappy start to spring.

I got all my stuff packed that morning, and then went to lunch at the Tidewater Inn with my mom, sisters and aunts. I had to pick up Clark on my way home because the stupid Crown Vic wouldn’t start for him when he went to leave work. So he was a little later than intended getting home and packed, which meant we left a little later than intended for Virginia Beach, but it was no big deal.

We stopped in Salisbury to pick up some beer from Cheers, and then made the long boring drive down the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We got to the expo at the same time as everyone else it seemed, because it took forever to get parked, but once I was in the convention center, packet pick-up was quick and painless and we were on our way again.

We checked into the Seahawk Motel and got a nice oceanfront room on the fifth floor, five blocks from the starting line of both races, and then went to dinner at Cactus Jack’s, where we had some really good tacos. I also had a couple beers, since I only had to run five miles the next morning.

Saturday morning, all the rain and crap weather from the day before had cleared out. I got up 45 minutes before the 8K start. Not having to drive and find parking turned out to be awesome. I didn’t think I’d care that much, but it was really nice staying so close to the start and finish of both races.

Though it was nice and sunny, it was probably the coldest it’s ever been in all the years I’ve been running Shamrock, and there was a bit of a breeze. I wore capri tights, a long-sleeved shirt and a short-sleeved shirt over top. Clark took this picture of me on our room’s balcony before I left.

me before 8k

I took my phone with me and got this picture of the Team Hoyt racers starting first:

8k starts

And then I got in the second corral (of 16!) and waited for the start.

8k starting corral

I didn’t have long to wait. The first corral was released, and then it was our turn. And the first leg of the Whale Challenge was under way!

I wore Clark’s Garmin, but I didn’t look at the pace while I was running. We had the wind at our backs the entire first two miles, which ran south down a street through downtown Virginia Beach. Then we got onto the boardwalk and ran back north, right into the wind. It was cold even after running two miles!

We ran past the Seahawk Motel and then turned off the boardwalk, continuing north on one of the streets. One last turn put us back on the boardwalk farther north, and we ran down it to the finish.

Coming to the finish line.

Coming to the finish line.

I crossed the line in 40:37, an 8:10/mile average pace, and the fastest I’ve ever run that 8K. Or any 8K, since that’s the only one I’ve ever run.

I got my first medal of the weekend, as well as some food and water and a can koozie, and walked right back to our motel. There were still plenty of runners streaming by on the boardwalk below our room when I got back:

8k passing by hotel

I changed into dry clothes and then Clark and I went to the beer tent. The past few years that I’ve run the 8K, we only got two beers each, but this year, they upped it to four. I was going to split them with Clark, but he didn’t want any yet because he wanted to work out when we got back to the room, so I downed four Yuenglings before 11 a.m.

post 8k beers

Jen got in town that afternoon. It was about lunchtime, so we walked down the boardwalk looking for an open restaurant with an ocean view. We wound up having to walk a lot farther than expected, but we finally found one. After lunch, Clark took this picture of the entire Loop representation at Shamrock this weekend:

jen and me saturday afternoon

Clark had asked me earlier that morning why I signed up for Shamrock even though I only knew one other person running it. Because it’s Shamrock! I hadn’t joined the Loop and didn’t know anyone else running it in 2010, the first year I went. It was a lot of fun the last few years when a ton of runners from the Loop came out for it, but that’s not why I kept going back. It’s my favorite race. As long as I’m running, I’ll keep doing this one, whether I know anyone else there or not.

The rest of the afternoon, Jen and I chilled out and guzzled water while Clark started on all the beer we’d bought in Salisbury. That evening, we met one of Jen’s friends, who was also in town for the marathon, for dinner at Mojito Cafe, this little Latin restaurant not far from the motel. The place was tiny and we had to wait more than an hour for a table, but once we finally got to eat, it was worth the wait!

We had appetizers of fried plantains, chorizo con pan and house salads. Clark also had a couple of spicy mojitos, which seemed to push him over the edge from happily buzzed to flat drunk. When the waitress cleared away the appetizer plates, he looked her right in the eye and said, “I don’t want any dessert.” She gave him a weird look and went on her way. When we told him we had entrees coming, he seemed really surprised haha. “There’s MORE?”

When the entrees came, I had shrimp in a garlic sauce with beans, rice and asparagus. It wasn’t the pasta dinner I’d normally eat before a marathon, but it was SO GOOD. I might have been a little worried about causing myself poop problems the next day during the marathon by trying something new, but I really didn’t care at that moment.

Back in the room, Jen and I laid out our stuff for the race the next morning and were in bed around 10 p.m.

I’m pretty sure we were all awake before our alarms started going off at 7:15 a.m. Once again, since we were staying so close to the start line, we didn’t have to give ourselves any time to drive in and find parking. And since we didn’t know anyone running the half, which started at 7 a.m., we didn’t have to get up in time for that either.

Sunday's sunrise from our room.

Sunday’s sunrise from our room.

As a result, it was a very leisurely marathon morning, so much so it didn’t really feel like I was about to go run 26.2 miles. I ate a plain bagel with almond butter and a banana and downed some more water.

It didn’t seem as chilly as Saturday morning, but it wasn’t supposed to warm up much more throughout the race, so I went with my capri tights again. Instead of a long-sleeved shirt though, I wore arm warmers with a short-sleeved shirt, and I wore throw away gloves, expecting to actually throw them away this time. (I’m pretty sure they’re the ones I bought for the 2013 Shamrock Marathon, which I wound up wearing all the way to the finish line.)

At 8:15 a.m., I kissed Clark goodbye and Jen and I walked down to the marathon start line. Since Clark would probably have to check out of the room before we finished, we checked bags for the marathon. That took two seconds to drop off and then we made our way to the corrals.

The marathon is the smallest race of the weekend, only 4,000 runners. (Compared to 10,000 each in the 8K and half marathon.) There were only four corrals. I was seeded in the first based on the 3:30 I’d put on my registration (back when I thought I was going to actually train — ha!) but I got in the back of the second corral instead.

The 4:00 pace group was starting right at the front of the third corral. I’d told Clark my pie-in-the-sky goal was to keep it under four hours, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It could take me four hours or it could take me six, for all I knew. The only thing I was sure of was that I wouldn’t be coming anywhere close to my PR of 3:40.

I think it finally hit me what I was about to do when I got in the corral and saw the big inflatable start line arch in front of me, with MARATHON printed on it. I got really nervous, really quick. Suddenly attempting a marathon after only running a few 10-milers sounded unbelievably dumb. It’s one thing when you’re sitting on your couch, weeks out from the race, thinking “Oh yeah, no problem, I’ve got this. Training shmaining. It’s too cold outside to run anyway.” It’s another thing when you’re standing in the corral, about to do it!

Well it was too late to back out now. The first corral was released, and then the second corral moved up to the start line. A minute later, the announcer counted us down and boom! I was running my first marathon in two years.

The first few miles were rough. Not physically — I felt totally fine — but mentally. I had no one to talk to and I never wear my iPod in races, so I had nothing to distract myself from the negative voices already filling my head. How far am I actually going to be able to run today? Ten miles? Fifteen? Twenty if I’m lucky? How long is it going to take to walk the rest of the way to the finish line? Why the hell am I here? Who am I kidding?

It was a miserable mental state to be in that early in a marathon! I talked myself out of dropping out so many times in those first few miles. In spite of that, those first miles slipped away easily enough. I was just below 9:00/mile pace.

I carried four GUs with me, planning to take one about every five miles, based on water stops. I also had salt caps, planning to take one after every GU.

I ate the first GU a little early, as there was a water stop at mile 4.5 but not again until 6.5. I walked through the water stop so I could make sure I actually swallowed some water, and to dig out a salt cap from the little pouch they were in.

We made a U-turn at about mile 5.4. Suddenly the wind was in our faces. A guy near me said “Geez, where did THAT come from?” The wind wasn’t as bad as it’s been the past couple of years, but it still sucks to go from running with it at your back to running into it like that.

After the U-turn, I looked for Jen, but I couldn’t find her, which, in that moment, was a devastating disappointment!

Right after that though, we passed the 10K mark, and a woman running near me said “Just a 20-miler now!” We were into training run territory! Not that I did anything close to a 20-miler in training for this one, but for some reason it really helped hearing that.

I started to come up out of my mental fog. I thanked volunteers controlling traffic and working the water stops. I gave little kids high fives. I smiled at spectators and they cheered me on by name, since it was printed on my bib. It was all helping, and I was finally happy to be running the marathon. Only took an hour or so!

After mile 7, we ran into Camp Pendleton, a small military installation. There were some DJs blaring music, and a lot of service members had come out, in uniform, to line the road and give the runners high fives. It was a pretty fun section of the course.

We left Camp Pendleton around mile 9, then headed back up and over the Rudee Inlet bridge. I ate my second GU on the way back down the bridge. There was a water stop right around the corner. I took some more water and took another salt cap.

Now we were past mile 10 and I was coming up on the longest distance I’d ran since the Rehoboth half marathon in early December. Those negative voices started to come up again. I tried to push them back down as we ran out onto the boardwalk.

It was the same stretch of boardwalk we’d run during the 8K the day before, just a lot less crowded! About halfway to the turn off from the boardwalk, I spotted my first half marathon runner on the side of the course, done with his race, draped in the beach towel they were giving finishers, with his shoes off. Oh my god I wished so hard I’d signed up for the half at that moment! I’d be done! But nooooo, I had another 15-plus miles to run. Oh well.

The crowds got thicker the closer to the turn off we got. Around 25th Street, we left the boardwalk and ran back through the downtown area. This was the best part of the course. There were plenty of spectators, including a ton of half marathon runners cheering on the marathoners.

The crowds thinned out again, we made a couple of turns, and then we were at the halfway point, where the half marathon had started. I walked through the water stop just before it, and crossed the halfway timing mat just under 1:58.

If I could do that again, I’d finish under 4:00, but I wasn’t sure I could do that again. I felt waaay better than I expected to at the halfway mark, but I could tell it wasn’t going to last another 13 miles.

Well now I had a new distraction — all the half marathon walkers heading back toward the boardwalk finish, as I ran out toward Fort Story. I also knew the marathon leader should be coming through soon, so I watched for him. I saw him pass mile 23 when I was at about mile 15.

Around mile 16, I ate my third GU, took another salt cap and drank some more water. I spotted a small bank of port-o-potties just ahead and thought maybe I should try to use the bathroom. I didn’t have emergency-level gut pangs, but I thought I might soon, so might as well take advantage of those nice empty port-o-potties. It turned out I only had to pee, but I felt a lot better after.

At this point, the course had left the out-and-back road, so there were no more half marathoners to watch. We ran along a tree-lined road, heading for the north gate of Fort Story.

I think it was around mile 19, just before we got into Fort Story, that I started to feel the first signs the wheels might be coming off. I was still running, but my legs were starting to get tight, and my feet were tired of being inside those socks and pounding the road.

I remember looking at my Garmin as I passed mile 20 in 3:02 and being amazed I had run that long, and I was still moving. At mile 21, we passed the lighthouse, which always makes me smile because it reminds me of Deirdre, who didn’t even realize there was a lighthouse there when she ran this marathon until she saw the photos haha.

I mean, look how small and inconspicuous it is!

I mean, look how small and inconspicuous it is!

I also took my fourth and final GU and salt cap at this point. I love the salted caramel GU, but damn I was sick of them after eating four in a little over three hours!

I managed to run the rest of the way out of Fort Story, past mile 22. I think it was just before mile 23 I had to take my first walk break that wasn’t at a water stop. I knew I only had a 5K to go, but things were really starting to hurt, especially my feet. It wasn’t the shoes themselves, and I didn’t have any blisters, but my feet hadn’t taken a beating like that for more than an hour and a half in a long time, and they were pissed.

Somehow I still managed to be running for all the photographers, which were pretty much all camped out along this stretch.

mile 23ish

But my face in this one, somewhere around mile 24ish I would guess, really says it all:

Everything hurts and I'm dying.

Everything hurts and I’m dying.

The 4:00 pace group passed me during one of my walk breaks. The pace group leader reached out to me as he passed and told me to run it in with them. My head was all “Yes! I’m coming with you!” but then my feet were all “LOL no you’re not.” I watched them disappear.

In spite of how much things were hurting, I didn’t feel too bad. I was only a couple of miles from the end! I really didn’t expect to make it that far before I felt like that.

So I was still smiling as I was passing spectators. Two women yelled my name as they saw me coming. One said “Look at you! You’re so perky and you’re running on your toes, this close to the end! There should be a law against that!” I wanted to tell her she should’ve seen my heel strike during the multiple walk breaks I’d taken just before I saw her watching me haha.

Now I was past the mile 25 marker and so close! I knew sub-4 wasn’t going to happen but who cares! I’m running this in the rest of the way!

OK, except for this last water stop at mile 25.5… gimme water. NOW I’m running it in the rest of the way!

Two quick turns and we were back on the boardwalk — the homestretch! I could see King Neptune on the left, just before that beautiful finish line arch, only six blocks away.

I heard some kind of weird crying-gasping noise near me, and noticed a woman, running, full-on sobbing. I couldn’t tell if she was in pain or just really happy or what. I said something encouraging to her, as did another guy running near us and pretty much every spectator who saw her coming.

Here, I’m crossing over a mat around mile 26, all smiles, with the crying woman just in front of me:

homestretch

I picked it up for the last .2 to the finish, left the crying woman in my dust and held off that other guy at the line.

marathon finish

And that was it! I finally feel a marathoner again!

Officially, my chip time was 4:02:38, a 9:16/mile overall average, which I am insanely happy with.

I crossed the line with a huge shit-eating grin on my face and smiled all the way down the finisher’s chute. After I’d collected my marathon AND whale challenge medals, I posed for a finisher’s picture:

finishers medals

I got my drop bag and changed into dry clothes, and then found Clark. We walked back to my car so I could throw my wet running clothes in it, and then stopped at a bar on the way back to the finisher’s area so he could use the bathroom and I could get my first post-marathon beer, a Starr Hill Reviver red IPA. It was appropriately named, and delicious.

By that time, Jen had finished. She has always run a PR in this marathon, dating back to 2011, but yesterday was not her day and the streak was broken. So we took this picture with the PR bell on the beach:

pr bell

Jen’s friend had also finished, and we all hung out in the beer tent, which wasn’t very crowded by that time, since most of the half marathon runners had left. Jen’s friend also just happens to be allergic to hops, which means he can’t drink beer, but he was more than happy to get all four of his free Yuenglings too, and let us have them.

It was so great to hang out and drink beer and talk about how my marathon went again! I really missed it!

jen and me after marathon

clark and me

Oh, Shamrock. You’re awesome. This is why I will always come back.

The four of us got some pizza, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. The drive back was just as long and boring, but we had the NASCAR race to listen to, so that helped.

We picked up Pepper from Clark’s parents’ house and were home by 9:30. I was so jazzed up I unpacked everything, and still had trouble falling asleep. It was a pretty great day.

Anyway, here’s all the stuff I got from this race this year:

8K and marathon race shirts, this year's finisher's hat and a koozie.

8K and marathon race shirts, this year’s finisher’s hat and a koozie.

Beach towel.

Beach towel.

Bibs, finisher's and Whale Challenge medals.

Bibs, finisher’s and Whale Challenge medals.

And my official stats:

TowneBank Shamrock 8K

  • 40:37
  • 8:10/mile avg
  • 27th/827 F 30-34
  • 168th/5,514 women
  • 689th/8,889 total

Yuengling Shamrock Marathon

  • 4:02:38
  • 9:16/mile avg
  • 57th/165 F 30-34
  • 267th/946 women
  • 810th/2,185 total

Whale Challenge

  • 53rd/213 finishers (4:43:16 total time)

Today, I’m sore, but not too bad. I didn’t get any blisters on my feet, but I did get a little chafing on my back from the closure on my sports bra strap. Other than that, I’m no worse for the wear.

Next on the schedule is the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run on April 12!

March 19, 2015

Training for 3/19/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:41 am

Guess who actually left the house right after breakfast to go in town and run intervals on the track today?

Me!

My old nemesis, the wind, was supposed to pick up again later in the morning (though not nearly as much as yesterday), so I got to the track while it was still just a very slight breeze. It was cold enough to need full-length tights, an earband and gloves again, but I really didn’t mind since it was so calm.

There were two people at the track when I got there, one in full military camo and the other in what looked like Army physical training gear. They were chitchatting when I walked in, but the one in PT gear started running laps almost immediately when they saw me.

There’s a Delaware National Guard armory not far from the track; I assumed the one in PT gear was either running his annual fitness test, or maybe he was a recruit getting ready for basic. The guy in camo sat on a bench on the outside edge of the frontstretch, timing the one running.

Anyway, I trotted off after the Army guy for my warm-up mile. He was hugging the very inside edge of the first lane, so every time I passed him, which was often, I had to swing around him into the second or third lane.

After my warm-up mile, I did the first of four 400-meter repeats. Realistically, I was looking for anything under 1:45, or 7:00/mile pace, but let’s be honest, even though it’s been who knows how long since I ran 400s, I wanted to be closer to 1:40 or better, like back when I used to run them regularly.

I felt like I was working pretty hard on the first repeat — not a good sign! It was a little disheartening to see all that effort had only resulted in a 1:43.

I did a recovery lap and then ran the second repeat. 1:44. Not getting better!

The Army guy was still running laps. As I came around the corner to finish the third repeat, the other guy, the one in camo running the stopwatch, started yelling something. I had my earbuds in and couldn’t tell if he was yelling at me or the other guy running, but I guess it took me back to basic training and lit a fire under my butt, because I finished that one in 1:41.

Another recovery lap, and then it was time for the last 400. As I was coming onto the backstretch, I could see the Army guy nearing the other end of it, heading into the final turn. I made it my goal to lap him one more time before I finished this last repeat.

Well, apparently that was also his final lap, because he started sprinting for the spot where the other guy was waiting with the stopwatch. I almost got him before he finished, but not quite. Still, that last repeat came in at 1:40, my best of the day.

As I did my final recovery lap, the Army guys left the stadium. I did two more miles to cool down, for a total of five miles.

And that’s it until the TowneBank Shamrock 8K on Saturday morning!

March 18, 2015

Training for 3/18/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:46 pm

Today, it was too windy, in my pansy opinion, to run intervals at the track or on the road, so I took Pepper to the trail for a short run instead. It’s not supposed to be so windy tomorrow, so I’ll do them then.

Anyway, I was expecting a routine run around our standard 3-mile loop. I was happy to see zero cars in the parking lot when we pulled in, which usually means the trails are empty.

Well, they weren’t. First, there was a white work van parked ON the trail, just inside the woods, which was odd, to say the least. I have no clue what it was doing there. One guy, who was outside the van, jumped in the passenger’s seat and shut the door when he saw Pepper and me coming. There were no markings on the van, but there were a couple ladders on a rack on top of it.

About a half-mile later, not long after Pepper had found a giant stick to run with, we came up on hands-down the most awkward moment of my life running on trails.

Two teens, in the middle of the trail, dry humping. Dry. Humping. ON A PUBLIC TRAIL. Come on!

My first thought was “maybe Pepper and I can sneak by and they won’t even notice us!” because holy shit I did not want to even acknowledge their existence, let alone accidentally make eye contact with one of them or something. The secondhand embarrassment was burning!

Well, the inconsiderate jerks were pretty much taking up the entire trail, so that wasn’t going to work. I mustered up all my courage and said “Um… excuse us?”

Both heads snapped up and looked at me. The guy, who was on top, then noticed Pepper and the enormous stick hanging out of his mouth.

“OH MY GOD HE HAS A STICK.” The way he said it, you’d have thought a masked man with a loaded gun was coming at them instead of a tiny weimaraner who’s afraid of dead leaves blowing across the road toward his fancy little paws.

Well that made me laugh. I promised them Pepper wouldn’t hurt them, which of course, he didn’t. He just stared at them curiously as we made our way around them.

For some reason, I apologized to them, even though they were the ones making asses out of themselves. Get a room!

So that was weird. I was so worried about having to repeat that scene I took a different route back to the parking lot. Normally I’d run that section of trail twice.

On our way out of the woods, Pepper and I ran into four more people, all of whom had dogs, headed in the direction of the lovebirds. Hopefully they moved their little tryst somewhere more private, or they were about to get interrupted a lot more.

When we got back to the parking lot, the white van was gone too.

March 17, 2015

Training for 3/17/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:18 am

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’ve gotten in a couple short runs since I posted yesterday. Late in the afternoon, I took Pepper out for a lap around the 4.5-mile loop, and today, since I’m in the middle of yet another long day of county meetings that started early, I did another lap around the 4.5-mile loop by myself first thing this morning.

My calves can still feel that 5K three freaking days ago! But every short run seems to loosen them up more. They’re almost back to normal now.

Speaking of the 5K, the complete results were posted today, and there were actually seven dogs in the dog division, but Pepper still beat the second fastest one by 10 minutes.

It dawned on me this morning after my run I only have two more runs between now and Shamrock, four 400-meter repeats tomorrow and a short easy run Thursday. I guess I’m ready!

I have my bib number for both races, the hotel is confirmed and the weather looks pretty good — no rain either day, a high of 62 on Saturday and a high of 48 on Sunday. I’ll be happy with that if it holds up.

March 16, 2015

Training for 3/16/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:02 pm

I had a lot of awesome beer and ran a pretty good 5K this weekend.

Friday night, Mike, Clark and I went to Dogfish Head’s brewpub in Rehoboth for dinner. This was their Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot, and there were some special beers on tap that night to kick it off.

They had cleared out most of the downstairs tables in anticipation of a crowd, which meant we had to wait quite a while for a table to open up for dinner upstairs, nearly two hours. Oh darn, that just meant more time to sit at the bar. Whatever should we do while we wait?

Cheers!

Cheers!

Since Clark and I are both members of the Mug Club, we got more beer per pour, and a 15 percent discount on top of it.

Mike and I both had stuff to do early Saturday — he teaches a welding class and I was signed up for that 5K — so we didn’t get too loaded. Clark, on the other hand, had absolutely nothing to do the next morning, so he took full advantage. Mike had to pull Clark out of his truck when we got home haha.

Saturday morning, I got up around 7 to feed Pepper and get ready for the race. It was raining its ass off, as expected, but it wasn’t as cold as they’d said it would be, which was a nice surprise. Rain doesn’t bother me, but a cold rain sucks.

Around 8, I was ready to go. Pepper was curled up in bed with Clark when I asked him if he wanted to go for a run with me. The look on his face clearly said “Are you stupid? It’s raining out there, idiot.” So I asked if he wanted to go for a ride with me. That got him moving haha. Pep got to ride in the Jeep, his favorite!

The race began and ended at the community center in Denton. Pepper didn’t recognize where we were, but the sight of all the other people milling around really got him worked up. I had to wait in line for a couple minutes to pick up my race bib, and he was leaping on me and darting all over the place, as much as his leash would allow. I was beginning to worry he was going to be a disaster when we had to run with the crowd.

After I’d pinned on my bib, we still had about 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. start. I hit a port-o-potty and figured a warm up would be a good idea. So Pepper and I sped around the side streets near the community center for about a mile. It was faster than I’d normally run a warm up, but Pepper seemed to think I’d just forgotten how to get back to the Jeep so we could go home, and was bent on leading me to it as soon as possible haha.

It looked like people were gathering near the start line, so Pepper and I joined them. Most people were trying to huddle under a couple of tents, but I was wet already and only going to continue to get rained on once the race started, so why bother? The look on Pepper’s face was priceless as we stood in the pouring rain for no apparent reason. He looked absolutely pitiful, like he couldn’t figure out what he’d done to deserve this. If cartoon thought bubbles were a real thing, he’d have had one above his head with a picture of Clark asleep in our nice warm (dry) bed at home haha.

About five minutes past 9, they were ready to get us going. We all moved onto the street behind the starting mats. Pepper and I started pretty close to the front, all the way to one side.

I had absolutely no time goal for the race, and didn’t wear a Garmin because I really didn’t care about pace. My only two goals were for Pepper to not piss off anyone else by getting in their way, and for neither of us to have a Code Abby. But just in case Pepper did, I carried a plastic bag to clean it up.

The race director was trying to give some last-minute instructions — this was the first year they had a 10K option, so 5K runners would have to be on the lookout for their turnaround — which was just getting Pepper more anxious. I was trying to keep him pointed forward but he kept turning around to look at everyone else. I was getting increasingly nervous he was going to just flip the hell out when everyone took off.

Then we got the start commands, and it was like Pepper had known exactly what to do the whole time. He took off in a straight line with the crowd, pretty as you please. No one came anywhere close to getting tangled up with him. That was a relief!

As soon as we were running, he went from a pathetic-looking basketcase to the happiest dog in the world! He was trotting along with this big grin on his face, so thrilled to be out there with all these other people who were running too.

We started picking off people from the beginning. Every time we’d pull up alongside someone else, Pepper would look over at them like he was trying to say “Hey, you’re running? ME TOO! Isn’t this great? I just love running! Alright then, see ya later!” And then he’d pull away and start running down the next person haha.

The 5K course was a simple out-and-back through Denton’s side streets from the community center to the elementary school. There were a few turns that Pepper didn’t seem interested in making, so I had to pull him in the right direction. And for a dog who normally hates water, he seemed to be going out of his way to splash through the biggest puddles, which meant I did too. It was fun!

By the time we passed the first mile marker, there weren’t many runners ahead of us. I didn’t look at the timer on my watch. I felt pretty good and I didn’t want to ruin it by finding out we were running really slow!

Only one 5K runner got to the turnaround before Pepper and me. The two guys who were running just ahead of us when we got to it continued straight, as they were doing the 10K, which really confused Pepper. I had a little trouble convincing him to turn around.

On our way back, we passed everyone running behind us. Pepper loved watching the parade of runners go by.

A bit less than a mile from the finish, we passed the walker bringing up the back of the pack, not quite to the first mile marker himself. He laughed when he saw Pepper and me coming, and said “That’s what I need, a dog to pull me along!”

One last left turn and we were in the homestretch. I could see the lights on the cop car leading the first runner way off in the distance, probably crossing the finish line.

I still felt great for this last stretch, much to my surprise! It’s been since last summer that I raced a 5K, and I haven’t done much speedwork since then. I really thought I was going to feel a lot worse by that point in the race.

Of course, for all I knew, I might have just been running a lot slower than last summer. As we approached the line, I tried to make out the numbers on the race clock. At first I thought it started with a 24. Holy crap, I WAS slow!

But then I got closer (OK, almost right to it) and I saw that it actually started with a 21. Officially, we ran 21:57, a 7:04/mile pace, and were second overall.

I was really happy with that! There were a couple places on the course, near the beginning, where we got a little hung up trying to pass other runners, and of course there were the times I’d had to pull Pepper back in the right direction, the confusion at the turnaround and all those puddles we’d had to go out of our way to splash through. We probably could have finished closer to 21:45, not that it mattered, but it’s nice to know where I am.

What did matter was that Pepper didn’t mess up anyone else’s race, I felt great the whole way and neither of us had a Code Abby! A big win all around.

Pepper and I did about another mile to cool down. Of course, now that the race was over, he went back to trying to get back to the Jeep as soon as possible.

I got a towel out of the Jeep and took him into the community center to try to dry him off a little. We hung around a little bit, but we had to leave before they did the awards. There were several other dogs on the course, but only one other dog signed up for the separate dog division, and Pepper absolutely creamed it — it finished 10 minutes behind us. The parks and rec director said she’d bring Pepper’s big award to the commissioners’ meeting tomorrow.

We finally got back in the Jeep. In spite of how much he’d seemed to enjoy the race, Pepper was back to looking annoyed at me for making him leave the house in the first place.

Ugh. I'm not looking at you.

Ugh. I’m not looking at you.

Unfortunately for Pepper, he couldn’t go with Clark and me to our next stop that afternoon, the big tasting at Dogfish Head’s brewery in Milton, the main event for the Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot.

It kept right on raining, but it didn’t really put a damper on the festivities. We each got a 4-oz. tasting glass and a beer log with all 16 samples printed on it. Each sample was served by a different employee, who signed our log.

Most of the samples were being served in a huge tent on the lawn. A lot of the samples were paired with food. For instance, the scrapple beer was paired with a teeny scrapple taco. I don’t even like scrapple and I liked that taco.

scrapple taco

Clark at WOCAAW

This was the first year two of the beer samples were actually spirits — Dogfish Head has distilled spirits at its Rehoboth brewpub for years, but now the operation has gotten big enough they built a distillery at its Milton brewery. We got to try a bit of their hop-infused gin straight up, and also in a mixed drink.

The last few samples were served in the brewery’s tasting room.

WOCAAW

Completed beer logs.

Selfies are fun after all those samples!

Selfies are fun after all those samples!

We bought a bunch of stuff from the gift shop, including a new collar for Pepper, which we gave him when we got home:

DFH collar

That evening, we picked up Mike and went to the Denton pub, which was holding its big St. Patrick’s Day party. They also debuted their first-ever in-house beer, the Colburn American Ale, named for former State Sen. Richard Colburn, who did a lot of the work to get the pub their brewing license.

Tap handle for the Colburn American Ale.

Tap handle for the Colburn American Ale.

Clark after trying it.

Clark after trying it.

It wasn’t too bad! I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

We stayed at the pub until about 10:30. Much to our surprise, Pepper hadn’t pooped in the back room when we got home! What a good dog!

When I woke up yesterday morning, I didn’t feel that awesome haha. I was really tired, and I’ve got a little bit of a cold going on.

We spent most of the day lounging on the couch. It had stopped raining outside, but had gotten really windy. Around 3 p.m., I decided to go for a short run, even though my calves were tight after that 5K the day before.

The run sucked! Mostly because of the wind. If it was blowing from the side, it was almost knocking me over. And forget running head-on into it. The gusts would almost stop me in my tracks. Oh well. They can’t all be awesome.

We watched the beginning of the NASCAR race from Phoenix, and then we met Clark’s parents and grandmother to drive up to Annapolis, to go out to dinner for Samira’s birthday.

We were all in Clark’s grandmother’s Lincoln Town Car. As we approached the intersection near McDonald’s in Federalsburg, coming from the direction of the circle, an old Chevy Blazer, coming from the direction of Preston, came screaming around that right turn at the intersection. It was going so fast the driver lost control and skidded into our lane, barreling right for us. I didn’t notice it until I saw the look on Clark’s face. Then I looked up, saw this old Blazer fishtailing all over the place on the wrong side of the road right in front of us, and my only thought was “Dammit, the one time I don’t put on my seatbelt!”

Thank God, the driver finally pulled the damn Blazer over to its side of the road and we didn’t actually have a head-on collision. We were all a little shaken up after that.

The rest of the drive to Annapolis was fine. We saw the progress that’s been made on Chad and Samira’s house, and then we all went to dinner at this really nice Italian restaurant downtown. After dinner, we went back to their house for dessert, a red velvet cake Clark’s mom made.

On the way home, we got stuck in traffic on Kent Island, right before the Kent Narrows bridge. All eastbound lanes were closed, and all the traffic had to get into a single-file line on the shoulder to pass an accident scene. There was a burned-out minivan and the crumpled shell of what used to be a small white car. Car parts were everywhere. It looked like cops were trying to recreate what exactly had happened by the time we got there.

We later found out that accident had happened more than three hours earlier, when the minivan, going the wrong way, ran head-on into the white car. The van burst into flames. The van’s driver was flown out to shock trauma, but both people in the car died at the scene.

Nothing has been confirmed, but I wouldn’t be at all shocked to find out the minivan’s driver was drunk. There’s not much else that can explain going the wrong way on Rt 50 and not noticing it until you’ve plowed into someone head-on. Plus, the drunks always seem to survive those crashes, since they’re so wasted they don’t realize what’s happening and don’t tense up.

So yeah, a pretty treacherous day on the roads yesterday. I’m glad we all made it back in one piece.

Today, I’m going to do some strength training and take Pepper for the short run on the schedule. Shamrock is next weekend!

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