Friday, October 29, 2010

Finally Got a Run in this Week!

  Our long runs are supposed to be on Sundays.  Well, Sunday we drove to the destination for our 10- miler-- Old Mine Rd in the Delaware Water Gap, and parked the car at Millbrook Village.  Sometimes wurvy curvy roads get my stomach a little iffy, especially when it's empty, and that's exactly how I felt when we started off on our warm-up walk.  Millbrook Village is a neat, old touristy town, and this coupled with that special feeling in my tummy made for an excellent excuse to skip the run, explore, walk around and take pictures.

Of course, the sun was setting and we did end up jogging a little ways back to the car.

   Fun Sunday. Then Monday, Tuesday, run. Did some other fun stuff like make donuts, play music, visit my sister and hang out in Times Square.  Thursday came, and it was a perfect day to finally get that long run in! Got off work relatively early, with plenty of daylight to spare.

  We drove over to the North Beach at Paulenskill Lake and hit the trail for some adventures.  I didn't set my expectations too high, after having not run for like four days straight, started off with a side stitch right away (which I never get), and felt generally uncomfortable.  Thankfully, that feeling went away after a couple miles, and I slipped right back into enjoying the run.  Listened to some running podcasts- Phedippidations and Run Run Live, both highly entertaining and distracting.  

  Running these trails are the best because you get so much change of scenery the entire time, while the course pretty much stays flat.  The old rail trails go through the woods, but also through some farms and behind large residential properties.  The deer were everywhere, watching us from ridges above, hills in the distance or darting across the trail in front of us.  We past lots of cows and horses..and even discovered an alpaca farm!! It was great..there were four of them hanging out on one side of a field having a stare-down with about five or six deer on the other side.  I'm sure as soon as we stopped watching them they continued whatever game they were playing.

  At one point, a beautiful red Irish setter ran down the hill and out of the woods toward us.  A very friendly dog, we got her to run with us for a little while.  We weren't sure if she was lost, but figured probably not, with the jingle bell on her collar and all.  A big barn was nearby, and we stopped to ask the lady grooming horses.  She assured us the dog was a neighbor's and frequently likes to run with people.  Someday it will be nice to have a dog of our own to bring with us!

  Other than that, what else stood out on this run? We saw another runner! That's always a rare gem!  He passed us twice, so he must have been out on a long run as well. What else? A giant, random flood in one chunk of the trail..difficult to get around. Lots and lots of horse doo doo. And the sun set fast on those last couple miles.. I think I was more worried about stepping right into one of those massive piles than encountering a black bear in the dark.  I guess that's about it. Oh, and I made Tom promise that he'd never let me not run for a long period of time straight..I didn't like how I felt after taking four days off and I really don't want to lose the progress I've made.  Can't imagine starting from scratch!  I enjoy running too much to let it go too easily and refuse to let myself forget it. So that's all. : )

Thursday, October 14, 2010

World Wide Festival of Races- Half Marathon Challenge

WWFoR Video    <---Watch our race here!

    Alright! Four days later and finally a chance to sit down and process Sunday's big race!  I've just finished my lunch here at Panera, asking myself why I had to order the soup in a bread bowl.  You know, when there's like nobody in line and they're just waiting on you? Well, I tend to get ordering anxiety and just ask for whatever happens to look good at first glance.  Not only was it just entirely too much bread, but somehow I managed to spill a spoonful of black bean soup all over myself trying to eat the thing. Nice.

     Switching gears. Sunday. 10-10-10.  I first heard about the WWFoR on The Runner's Round Table podcast, and was kind of confused about the whole thing.  After checking out the website, I began to get the feel of what this race was all about.  "Think global. Run local." Very cool. It's not every day you get to run a race with people from around the world.  Plus, I was really intrigued with the idea of seeing photos of where all these people run. At the time, my husband Tom and I were training for our first half marathon- the Philadelphia Rock N' Roll in September. So we decided, "Hey let's do the World Wide Half in October, too."  This will be the first race where we stick together for the whole thing.  Tom and I always train together, but on race day, he's wayyyy ahead of me.

      Tom mapped out our run ( to cover ground that, for the most part, we had never really gone over before. We left the car at Swartswood State Park, where we've actually run a 5K or two several years ago.  The temperature was nice and cool and the sky was perfectly clear. We took a bunch of pictures before heading to the 'starting line,' and planned to come back later for a picnic by the lake when we returned to pick up the car.  The course would take us 13.1 back to our home neighborhood.

     We synced our iPods to listen to Phedippidations "As the World Cheers" together at the start.  Being cheered on from both new and familiar voices was so incredibly amazing! It pushed us forward, encouraged us, entertained and inspired us and made us laugh. Though, somebody called back with a joke, something about a comedian?  Tom and I just looked at each other and shrugged. Haha..maybe we missed something.  I really enjoyed the music- Black Lab and the special running song at the beginning..hehe.  Chris Russel's entry on the Mid-Packers was awesome.  Oh, and whoever said to give the next car a goofy thumbs up- I so did.

      Our course through Sussex County was beautiful.  We passed lakes, hills, horse farms and just amazing fall-foliage mountain views.  The first, and only, other half marathon we've run was pretty much flat the entire way.  This course was not, but we've done the distance before, and we weren't really pressuring ourselves for any particular finish time.  We ran the entire thing, though, and only stopped to give a couple drivers directions.

    We really enjoyed ourselves, but there are a few things I've taken away to learn from.  Somewhere, probably about five miles in, I felt blisters coming on.  I've discovered they're only a problem on the inside of my left foot, and only when I run hills. First half marathon- no blisters, but then I can run 5 miles on a hilly road and have several of them. Maybe this is a shoe issue? Or running form? I have no idea, but wow are they painful to run on.  Then there was the thigh chafing..oh my gosh. Again, sometimes it's a problem and sometimes not, even in the same shorts. It has seriously never been this bad.  I just had to keep my mind outside the pain. Going to have to get some other kind of shorts or try some anti-chafing products. Actually, yesterday I tried something from the last race goody bag.. it kind of helped.  Probably not so affective since my skin is still recovering from Sunday.

     It didn't really occur to us till the morning of the race that we would need to bring our own water or sports drink with us.  We typically never feel the need to bring anything, and for our longest run yet we had just taken water and Cytomax from the aid stations.  Tom decided to wear a shoulder bag type back pack and said it was comfortable the entire time.  We packed a bottle of water and a bottle of fruit punch flavored Cytomax, which was another goody bag sample.  The lemon-lime flavored Cytomax was great in Philly, so we didn't think twice about the fruit punch.  I asked Tom to pass me a drink around mile 6 and took a big swig.  How do I describe this?  All I can say is that for the next quarter of a mile I was seriously questioning whether that was laundry detergent I mixed with water or if it was, in fact, a sports drink.  I asked Tom, "Why does it taste like flowers????" And the taste stays with you for a bit as if you were drinking perfume. Needless to say, I stuck with water the rest of the way..

     Most of our run was on the road, but around mile 10 or 11, we headed into the Sussex Branch Rail Trails.  We run here all the time, but not typically 10 miles into a run.  The change of scenery was nice, but with the blister and chafing pain, my legs were not at their best. I felt a little lazy and actually tripped and fell once. Gotta pick up your feet a little more on the trails!  We exited the trail, back onto the road probably less than a quarter mile from our finishing line, but Tom had the course take us like half a mile or so the other way first before we turned around. Then it was a mile from the middle school to the post office- our blessed finish line, which we crossed at 2:24:36 (1 minute and 28 seconds longer than my first half marathon- not bad, considering the hills!)

     From the post office, we walked all the way up the hill to our home.  So many times I have walked up this hill, cooling down after a run, while beating myself up at how out of shape I've let myself become or just asking myself, "when does a person start to enjoy running?" All the while my husband has encouraged me," You look great" or "You just ran 3 miles. Not everyone can do that, you know."  It's so neat to look back and see how far you've come.

     By the time we got back to the house, the exhaustion set in. We were totally beat. I looked in the mirror and told Tom, "Wow, I look like death."  Never has a shower and a nap been so refreshing. Then after waking up, I discovered the sunburn! October in northern New Jersey, and I got a sunburn. Unbelievable. Everything is a learning experience.

     So, Branchville, this is where I trained for my first 5k over 5 years ago, and now, on the same stretch of road, I've finished my second half marathon with my husband and hundreds of other runners around the globe!  What a thrill! I've enjoyed so much looking at all the pictures that have been posted. Thanks to all of the entrants for their encouragement and thanks to Steve Runner and all you other running podcasters that have done so much to bring us together.  Already looking forward to next year!