A Simple Running Log

July 20, 2015

Training for 7/20/15

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 1:05 pm

Friday evening, Clark and I took Pepper to a restaurant in Easton for dinner. After we’d been there a while, I took Pepper for a walk around the block, and this woman asked to pet him. That’s pretty common. But she didn’t just pet him; she was practically burying her face in the fur around his neck, and then I realized she was almost in tears. It turned out she lives in the Czech Republic and was two weeks into a three-week visit to the U.S., and so hadn’t seen her own weimaraner in two weeks. Pepper was just what she needed!

The weather had been rather pleasant around here all week, but Saturday, it had gotten hot and humid again. I did a short 3-miler on the road at home, and it was slow and awful. I couldn’t help but remind myself I’d still have more than 12 miles to run at that point the next day.

I left home that afternoon to meet Jen and her friend Niki, who I first met at this same race a year ago, in Crystal City, right outside D.C. I got there around 5, and we took the Metro into the city.

We got dinner, where I had ramen for the first time. I’ve never even had one of those 99-cent Cup o’ Noodles, even when I was a broke-ass college student. It was really good!

Niki and Jen in the ramen restaurant.

Niki and Jen in the ramen restaurant.

After dinner, Niki wanted to do some touristy stuff and see the Washington Monument and the White House.

monument at night

Me, Jen and Niki at the Washington Monument, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Me, Jen and Niki at the Washington Monument, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

We all kept commenting on how freaking hot it was even after the sun had gone down, how much we were sweating through our clothes just strolling around, and how much worse it was going to be the next day. I was really glad I’d signed up for the 25K! Jen and Niki were both running the 50K.

We got back to the hotel around 10:30, and I was in bed a half-hour later, with the alarm set for 5:30 a.m.

I slept pretty well Saturday night. When the alarm went off, I got up and was dressed and ready to go in about 10 minutes.

I left Crystal City around 6, for the 35-minute drive to Rosaryville State Park outside Upper Marlboro. Niki was running a little behind, so she and Jen left later. I told Jen I’d get her race bib too when I got there. (Niki hadn’t pre-registered.) Last year, the lines to pick up bibs was really long, so I didn’t want to get there too late.

It was so humid that morning, my car’s defroster was having trouble keeping the windshield clear as I pulled into the state park. A great sign!

When I got to the pavilion, I was surprised to see there really weren’t that many cars parked already, at least not compared to last year, and there wasn’t much of a line at all to pick up race bibs or register that day. But, we’d gotten an unseasonably cool day last July, compared to the boiler we were going to be dealing with this time, so it made sense.

I got Jen’s and my bibs, and our timing chips, which we had to wear on straps around our ankles. They also had to be returned after the race. It was a $35 charge if you didn’t turn yours in.

I changed out of my flip flops into my shoes. I haven’t bought trail shoes since last year – the newest pair I have are the same ones I wore in this race last year, which started giving me terrible blisters on my Achilles tendons over the winter. The Rosaryville trails aren’t at all technical though, luckily, so instead of overnighting a pair of new trail runners to my house, I just wore the New Balance Fresh Foams I got last fall.

Jen and Niki pulled in right after that. Niki got signed up, and then it was time to get this party started.

Everyone gathered on the lawn next to the pavilion for pre-race instructions and a warning to slow their pace from the start if they wanted to get to the end of whichever distance they were running. (There were also 10K and 10-mile options.)

We all had a sheen of sweat before we even started running. I didn’t look at the weather app on my phone before we started, because I really didn’t want to know, but it was probably around 80 degrees and close to 100 percent humidity when the race started just after 7.

We got the start command, and the whole crowd lurched forward down a grassy hill. At the bottom of the hill, we got on the road we’d driven to the start, which led us to the trail head. The crowd formed a single file as we started down the trail.

The trail is a roughly 10-mile loop, split in two by a road. At both road crossings, there was an aid station, so we’d hit one every five miles or so, where we’d get water, Gatorade and the typical salty or sugary food, like pretzels and gummy bears, depending on which you needed a boost of at that moment.

I carried my 22-oz. water bottle and three salt caps. I figured I’d drink the bottle completely on each trail section, get it refilled at the aid stations, take a salt cap at each station and just eat whatever they were offering, instead of carrying GUs.

This was the fourth time I’ve run these trails at Rosaryville – I’d previously done a 25K and two 50Ks – and every time before, the first 5-mile trail section flew by. Not this time! It felt like it was never going to end from the first step.

Niki ran that first section with me. Since she was doing 31 miles, she wanted to walk the uphills from the start, which sounded like a fine strategy to me.

There was a small stream crossing that was basically just a mud pit yesterday. There was no way around it, except to step right in it. A guy in front of us lost one of his shoes in the muck. My shoes got completely coated, and my socks got soaked, but at least everything stayed on.

Not too far from the end of the first section, this guy ran past me on a wide turn. I thought he was going to pass Niki too, but when the trail narrowed back to single track right after that turn, he instead got in line between her and me.

The first thing I’d noticed about him when he ran by were his shoes, or rather his lack thereof. He was wearing sandals. It turned out that was hardly the most noticeable thing about him though.

This dude STUNK. I generally am not sensitive to other people’s body odor, which comes in handy during a race on a hot day, when no one smells like a bed of roses, but the smell wafting off this guy was slamming me right in the face. It was honestly hard to breathe. I was praying he’d go around Niki, but nope, he just ran along right in front of me for what felt like forever. It was horrible.

Finally, we hit a section Niki wanted to walk, and BO Guy ran past her. Relief!

Then I had a new but familiar concern – my butt. I hadn’t needed to go before the race started, so I was expecting it at some point, and here it was.

I knew we were getting close to the aid station, where there was supposed to be a port-o-potty, so I just kept up with Niki instead of running off trail like I wanted to.

When we got to the aid station, the 50K runners had to run a short out-and-back on the road before getting back on the trail, to get in their full distance. I told Niki I was using the bathroom and I’d meet her at the aid station after she finished her out-and-back.

Unfortunately, there was already someone in the port-o-potty and another guy waiting to use it. I got in line behind the guy, but my butt was getting impatient. I swear it can sense when it’s close to a toilet. I was so close to running off in the woods, but then the girl in the port-o-potty came out and the other guy waiting only had to pee, so I made it. I used a toilet like a civilized human being!

I felt so much better with that taken care of. At the aid station, I ate a few animal crackers, took a salt cap and got my water bottle refilled with a mix of water and Gatorade. I normally avoid sports drinks while running, because they tend to give me digestive problems, which I really don’t need any more of, but it didn’t feel like plain water was going to cut it yesterday.

I was surprised Niki hadn’t gotten back to the aid station yet. I was even more surprised when I saw Jen, who’d been behind us, finishing the out-and-back before Niki. Jen took off down the next section of the trail. Niki showed up soon after. Turned out the turn-around for the out-and-back was not well-marked and she’d run quite a bit farther than she had to.

We took off down the next section of trail, No. 2 of 3 for me. This was probably the best I felt the whole race. We caught up with Jen a little bit later. Niki ran on ahead, but I ran the rest of that section with Jen.

Jen asked me if I’d seen a guy wearing an orange shirt on the first section, and I knew immediately what she was getting at. I asked if he’d been wearing sandals. Yup. Jen had encountered BO Guy too, and had gagged on the unbelievable smell coming off him. Sir, I don’t know what homemade deodorant you’re using, if any, but when a seasoned ultra runner is offended by the smell you’re creating, you need to switch it up.

We rolled into the next aid station. One whole loop and 10 miles down! We were right around two hours into the race.

I got my bottle refilled with water and Gatorade again. I’d expected to have to force myself to finish off the bottle between aid stations, but I wound up having to ration it! I was guzzling fluids. I took another salt cap and ate some gummy bears and Twizzler bites.

Even though she’d gotten to the aid station before us, Niki went wandering by when I was about to leave, asking where the trail was haha. She has a horrible sense of direction.

I ran into the woods for my third and final trail section. I felt OK at the very beginning of that last section, but that feeling quickly faded.

I caught back up with Jen, who hadn’t lingered at the aid station as long as I had. We were doing the walk-the-uphills strategy and trying to keep some conversation going to keep our minds off how hot we were. Less than a mile from the end of that section though, I had to let her go ahead. I needed to walk more than just the uphills. I was so hot, and my legs were wearing out.

I got within earshot of the next aid station just in time to hear Jen yell to Niki, as Niki was running off back into the woods and Jen was starting her out-and-back. I waited at the aid station for Jen so I could wish her luck on the second half of her race, and I got my bottle filled with ice water for the last stretch to the finish line. After Jen had taken off back into the woods, I made the turn up the road for the end of the 25K.

It was uphill! Ughhhhh. Everyone in my line of sight was walking that uphill, so I did too.

I started running again when the road leveled out. The course then got on a dirt road through some woods. I passed everyone I’d been able to see in front of me on that dirt road.

When the woods ended, the dirt road ran through an open field in full sunlight. It’d felt hot in the woods, but it was downright unbearable in the sun. This guy came running up next to me and asked how much farther we had to go. I said it’d been three years since I’d run this, but I thought the finish line was just on the other side of another line of trees we were approaching, less than a half-mile to go.

We ran the rest of the way in together, until we got to the bottom of the grassy hill we’d run at the beginning. He dusted me on that hill haha.

And that was it! I was done. I could stop running and get in the shade.

When I ran this 25K in 2012, I finished in 2:44. I really thought I’d run about the same time this year, but I did not take into account the weather. I finished this year in 3:24:48, 40 minutes slower!

I felt like I must have been one of the last 25K finishers, but it turns out I was 39th of 81 finishers, so about halfway. The winning time was 2:09; the last 25K finisher came in at 7:19. At least I finished before the 50K winner came in at 4:03!

I was also fourth of 15 in the F 30-34 age group, and the 14th of 39 female finishers.

Considering my only goal was to get in a long run, I can write this down as a success. It might have been slow, but I got in almost 3.5 hours on my feet in heat and humidity.

Speaking of my feet, they felt pretty good, and I only had one teeny blister, on a random spot on the top of the fourth toe on my right foot. There were a couple times I’d wished I’d had real trail shoes with more traction, but for the most part, the Fresh Foams did just fine.

After I’d chilled out under the pavilion for a moment, I drenched myself with ice cold water from a garden hose and then changed into dry clothes. Not that they stayed dry. I don’t think I ever stopped sweating yesterday.

When I was running with Jen, she’d mentioned a couple times how great some watermelon would be, and I’d already told her and Niki before the race started I’d get some beers after I finished my race.

So while I was waiting for them to finish their 50Ks, I ran some errands. First stop was Dunkin’ Donuts, where I downed a Nestle Quik chocolate milk and got an iced coffee. Then I went to Safeway, where I took my sweet time picking out a container of cut watermelon, more chocolate milk, Gatorade, Larabars and a bag of ice, just because the air conditioning felt so amazing. The last stop was a liquor store for a six-pack of Blue Moon White IPAs.

When I got back to the pavilion, I thought to check the weather app. At 1 p.m., it was 93 degrees, with a “feels like” of 100, thanks to the humidity. Just gross.

I didn’t have to wait long before Niki and Jen finished, in 6:20 and 6:40 respectively. They both ran faster this year than last year, when it was much better conditions!

Niki coming to the line.

Niki coming to the line.

Jen crossing the line.

Jen finishing.

After Niki finished, I took this picture of her on a picnic table bench, declaring how much she hated running, and considering which hobby she should take up instead. I think she settled on writing romance novels.

Running is dumb.

Running is dumb.

After they’d both changed into dry clothes, it was beer time. I was a little worried the race directors would say something, since technically alcohol is not allowed in the park, but the guy running the timing software only asked if he could have one haha.

It was a good time – after the running was over!



Jen, Niki and me at the finish line.

Jen, Niki and me at the finish line.

I got home around 5:30, and took one of the best showers of my life. It felt so nice to scrub off multiple layers of dried-on sweaty scuzz. I was worried I was going to start smelling like BO Guy pretty soon.

Clark and I went to the Evo brewpub for dinner. We ordered a charcuterie board with three meats and three cheeses, bread, pickles, mustard, etc. The waiter asked if that was going to be it. I tried not to look offended haha. This is the appetizer, fool! The post-long run bottomless pit stomach had settled in by that time.

This morning, oddly enough, the sorest part on me is my upper back and shoulders, probably from just trying to stay upright while running up and down the hills yesterday. My legs are a little sore too. Overall I feel pretty good though! I don’t think I’ll have any foot problems like I did after this race last year either.

It’s so hot again though. I have a 3-miler on the schedule, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

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