Saturday, December 31, 2011

Race Redemption

As you might recall, I decided to run the Fairfax Four Miler after a disastrous 15k experience as a chance end my racing year on a high note.  Up until earlier this week, I thought I was in good shape to take this race on and PR over last year's time.  A few painful runs on the treadmill had me believing otherwise, and if I wasn't annoyed at the thought of $35 going down the drain the smart move would have been to bag the race until after I saw my PT.

However, we all know I'm not that smart. I didn't run a step since Tuesday and spent the last 48 hours eating my way through Fort Lauderdale, FL. I slept for about 5 hours last night before getting up for a 7 am flight back to DC, but snagged a 3 hour nap later in the afternoon. I went to the race telling myself that I needed to take it easy and listen to my body. I was even tossing around the possibility of a DNF, given how much pain I was in on Tuesday.  Once there I ran into the CAR mafia and decided to start with them, as Liz told me they weren't out to race (thank God).  Chatting with the ladies took my mind off any nerves and soon enough we were on our way.

I'll spare you the mile by mile details and tell you that I finished in 35:55, a shiny PR over last year's inaugural attempt at this distance. I thought I had agreed with myself that I wasn't going to race it and for the first 3 miles I really don't think I did. But once I hit the three mile marker I saw that I had a chance to beat last year if I kicked it into gear. I wasn't experiencing any discomfort in my leg, so I threw caution to the wind and went for it. I'm really glad that I did. This has been an exciting racing year for me, a lot of ups and downs, but PRing in the last 3 of my 4 races really helped me end 2011 with some confidence in my potential as a runner.

I still need to keep an eye on my leg and I'm wondering if a combination of the treadmill and a pair of new shoes are to blame for the most recent incidences. I'm sending the shoes back this week but there isn't much to be done about the treadmill, as I can't train without it these days. I did foam roll and warm up a bit today, something that I don't generally do before a regular workout. Bad girl. I know that potential injuries tend to have multiple factors so I'm not ruling anything out.  You'll be the first ones to know as this situation continues, and thanks for the words of support earlier in the week. They were greatly appreciated.

This girl is beat and not planning on staying up until midnight. There is a hot shower in my future and then the comfort of my bed and its two purring denizens. Having a wonderful night, whatever your plans are, and congratulations on everything you've accomplished this year. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. See you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Florida, Day Two

Or, why my clothes don't fit...
The view during breakfast
Pre-lunch yogurt! Espresso, peanut butter, and dulce de leche with coconut, peanuts, and strawberries
Where the sunburn came from
Can't not have one of these on a beach, right?
Veg fajitas
Oops, a pit stop on the long walk back to the hotel...
Peanut butter, butterscotch, mint, capuccino, and coconut
Black garbanzo bean soup
Mushroom ravioli with cashew cream, roasted tomato butter and basil
Vanilla cake, coconut butter cream, and an almond tuile

Off to bed before my early flight tomorrow!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Florida, Day One

Or..... living with reckless abandon. There is no other way to describe my first day in Fort Lauderdale.  I'll spare you some of the dumber decisions I made during the day. These are the highlights:
 Spring rolls and a Veg roll at Sushi Rock Cafe

Tart Honey and Lavender, Peanut Butter, and Thin Mint frozen yogurt with coconut, almonds, and Oreos from Yogurt Ur Way
Passion Fruit Margaritas (yes, plural)
Mushroom tacos at Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

Guac, made to order
My new friend, Peter from South Africa, and my new favorite drink, coffee tequila
2 margaritas, a large shot, and 2 beers later, back at the hotel to sober up. 
Movie time! Workout and more eat-sploration tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pressing the pause button

I'm glad I decided to make dinner and sit down for a few minutes before I wrote this post. Had I done it as soon as I'd gotten home from the gym, you'd be reading something depressing and self-pitying. The long and the short of it is this.  I've been having some pain in my left leg since the tail-end of marathon training.  I took a considerable amount of time off running after the marathon and have been diving back into it these past couple of weeks. The leg pain has come back with a vengeance, culminating in a very bad run today.  I wasn't even one mile into it before I had to stop and stretch but as soon as I started up again the pain was right there.  I must have looked ridiculous, hopping on and off the treadmill belt several times until I finally stopped at 1.5 miles. Probably my shortest run ever.

More out of frustration than anything else, I cried my way over to the bike and through 5 miles before I decided it was best just to go home. You can in fact cry and bike at the same time, unlike running. The pain subsided on the bike and once I was a little calmer I sulked my way back to the car and home. I wish I knew what was wrong. My PT is a good friend but out of town until Saturday. I'm going to Florida for 2 days on Thursday and I see my plans to run along the beach disappearing. I am also registered to run a four mile race on New Years Eve, just a few days from now. Just the idea of not being able to run is really upsetting, even if it is only for a week or two. I'm frustrated by some recent weight gain and all I know is running to fight it. I feel like a considerable bit of my identity is wrapped up in running, so if I can't do it then who am I? Not a runner.

Rather than let my mind keep going down that path of self-doubt and self-loathing, I'm trying to just breathe. It might not be that bad. I took some Aleve, I'm icing and elevating.  There are other ways I can exercise and I can't eliminate them just because I do not enjoy them. Crosstraining is a definite weakness of mine and I should use this opportunity to keep moving in whatever manner I can. At least, that is what I am trying to convince myself of right now. There is still a large part of me that just wants to eat whatever I can get my hands on and wallow. I've been injured before and I don't want to experience that ever again. I don't like being out of control, not in the slightest. I'm going to sleep on it tonight and try a gentle run again tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me kids, hopefully this is nothing that some better stretching, foam rolling, or warming up can't cure.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A very merry blog-mas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope Santa was generous with you all!  I have a fair bit of info to post this Christmas evening, so let's get right down to it.  First off, I participated in Vitamin F's Virtual 5k this afternoon at the gym.  The final result was 26:44.  That is about 2 minutes slower than my Thanksgiving PR but I'm okay with that. I didn't feel like stretching or warming up, in addition to fueling earlier in the day with champagne and cinnamon rolls.

I ran the 5k in my new RunLove Compression Socks from Runningskirts.  I'd post a picture of me wearing them but my calves stretched the hearts out to kidney beans, ha!
I was a little skeptical about them because they were one size fits all, but they were perfectly snug. I'm still wearing them now, as I putter around the house. I also wore them yesterday at the Redskins game and they kept my legs toasty warm! Definitely 2 thumbs up!

Last week I finally tried out the Handful Bra that I won in Kayla's giveaway.  I've been wanting one for a while, and they seem to be the hottest running item in the blogosphere this year. I'm so happy that I was able to win one, as I am pretty pleased with it. I ran it in twice and as far as function goes it was great.  No chafing, no rubbing, no movement while I was running.  If you know me you know that my twins are small so I wasn't sure how much a sports bra could really accent them. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not a big fan of padding but it did its job, no uni-boob here. The only downside, and this was probably an isolated incident, is that the lining that holds the padding in place ripped at the seam. I don't know if it arrived that way or if it happened during the two times I wore it, but that was a bummer.

Last but not least, I opened my blogger secret Santa gift this morning from none other than the famous Rachelle Wardle of Runnning For Trevor. I don't think I need to tell you what a warm, kind, inspiring runner and writer she is. If you aren't following her already, stop reading this and go read her blog instead.  Fuel and Activebands make this girl very happy!  I'm so excited to try it all out, and if I'd been thinking clearly post-nap this afternoon I would have tried out the bands at the gym during the 5k. Oops. Thank you, Rachelle!!!!

That about wraps things up on my end. I ate, drank, napped, and ran. All in all a pretty good Christmas day.  I have the champagne from this morning to polish off and I think it will be the perfect complement to my homemade pizza for dinner. Basil pesto, onions, baby bella mushrooms, mozzerella, parmesan, goat cheese, and oregano on Trader Joe's readymade pizza dough. YUM. Hope you had an amazing day!

A Christmas in pictures

Snapshots from my Christmas morning, many loving blessings to you and yours!

 Santa came!
Me and elephant
Christmas Cats
My secret Santa gift!
 Goodies from my stocking
Tucker and his present
 Gifts a plenty

Mmmm mimosas....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Back on track?

I hope so!  After a bumpy start to the week, I've been able to hit the gym for the past three days.  I know it isn't necessary to run every day, that in fact the body does need time to recover. However, I have a lot of time of my hands for the next week or so and I'd like to make the most of it. Right now I plan on logging more treadmill miles tomorrow and on Christmas day. Why not, right? At the very least it will keep me from over indulging in some of my Christmas favorites.

Aside from getting ready for a race next weekend I am really trying to put a halt to some legitimate weight gain. I could blame it on any number of factors but at the end of the day the fact remains that I've packed on a few pounds and it ends here. No time like the present to get back on track, holidays be damned. Come January 1st I'd like to be ahead of the New Years Resolvers.  As I've mentioned already, I have a fairly ambitious plan for 2012 and it is in my best interest to come prepared to work.

On the Christmas front, I think I've finally gotten into the holiday spirit. I woke up this morning free from the burden of work. The toughest decision I had to make was which coffee blend I wanted with breakfast. I got to open my first Christmas present during a sweet little gift exchange and I loved it.  I had Christmas cookies after dinner and I'm sipping soy nog as I write this. Tomorrow is wide open, I'm thinking another run at the gym and some baking. I have a little baking tradition that I started at my old apartment and I'm hoping to continue it this year. I made a Christmas music playlist to put on Sunday morning while I open presents. Bought the champagne and cinnamon rolls necessary for Christmas morning breakfast and mimosas.

How many more times can I use the word Christmas in a sentence? Sheesh. Guess I really am excited!  Does anyone have a special Christmas tradition that they'd like to share? Are you planning on running on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? I know there are some virtual 5ks out there for anyone interested. Before I go back to my nog and cookies, I just wanted to say from me to you, the warmest of holiday wishes! Cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

With Christmas just a few days away you think I would be up to my eyeballs in holiday spirit, but this is not the case. Not yet, anyways. The tree is decorated and has gifts underneath, tempting me with their flashy colors and pretty ribbons. I've been watching Christmas movies in bed the past few nights, trying to flip that switch inside that fills me with excitement. No dice. I think the fault lies in in work, mostly. I feel like I spend more of my energy and attention on being at the office and when I'm not at the office I'm stressed out about having to go back to the office. The adjustment to the new job is just not happening, alas. With all that in mind, I thought a quick list of things that I am thankful for this holiday season might help turn this frown upside down.

1. To love and be loved.
2. Christmas trees that fit on tables away from evil cats.
3. Offices that give you the entire holiday week off.
4. A gym that is open 24/7/365, so I can stay warm and get a run in.
5. Blogging friends.
6. Being able to afford gifts for friends and family.
7. My favorite Christmas movies being shown on television.
8. Homemade cookies from Mom.

This is going to be my first Christmas alone, sans family or significant other. I've gotten a lot of grief and expressions of concern from family and friends about it. I appreciate it but please don't try and convince me that there is something wrong with choosing to spending the holiday by myself. I think this is going to be a unique opportunity for me to spend time on my own, do things I haven't previously had time to do, and maybe start a new tradition or two. I don't have any set plans yet, aside from the 48 hour jaunt to FL. I'm hopeful that I'll sleep in, run often, attend a yoga class or two, start studying for the GRE, and meet friends for lunch dates. That doesn't sound so bad to me, so what is all the fuss?

If you have any suggestions on how to get in the holiday spirit, or something I should do with all my free time next week, I'd love to hear it! Anyone in town want to meet for coffee/lunch/a run?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

When the going gets tough, the weak cry and buy shoes.

Two new pairs, shipped straight to my office. Hopeless.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Stolen with thanks from Liz.

High-Low is a quick way update friends on your life and I like this idea so much that it might become a regular feature on this blog.  It also gives me a reason to keep posting until I get back into a regular training routine.

High workout: Getting back to the gym after a disastrous race performance the week prior. It wasn't anything special, a solid slow three miles, but it shook out some cobwebs and I needed it.

Low workout: Three miles on the treadmill last night. Shortly after the first mile that pre-marathon leg pain was back in full force.  Sharp and intense, I had to stop briefly to stretch but it didn't help. I almost stopped, probably should have, once I toughed it out to the second mile but my ego could not take it. Two miles? Too pathetic. Instead I decided to finish the three but up the speed to a sub-8 mile so it would be over faster. I do not recommend this strategy.

High emotional moment: This is actually a tie and they both happened in the last 24 hours. Last night I got home after a long week at work and that terrible workout to find a box from home waiting for me. Opening it up, my mom had sent a GIANT tub of home-baked Christmas cookies. The kind we usually bake together when I'm home for the holidays.  Secondly, in the aftermath of the week's low emotional moment, there was a knock on my front door. The postman was there with a blogger Secret Santa present for me! I haven't opened it yet, which is taking a lot of willpower, but just the idea that someone else had been thinking about me and made an effort to do something kind for me was what I really needed in that moment.  My thanks in advance, dearest Secret Santa, come Christmas morning I'll be sending you a personal note as well.

Low emotional moment: This week has been a low one in general, thanks to work. I even brought home the office laptop to continue digging myself out over the weekend. Today however, I hit my limit and work had nothing to do with it. It was really a two-fer. I pulled on a pair of jeans to wear out tonight (an occasion in itself) and because I've gained weight post-marathon the jeans ripped in a huge and irreparable way. Shortly afterward someone dear to me spontaneously thought they had time to see me today and then just as suddenly had to cancel. Not unusual or a big deal but I was already frustrated about the jeans incident so I just fell apart. Cried for a half hour about being fat and alone. Normally I'd just eat my feelings away (thanks again for the cookies, Mom) but the idea of that made me cry harder because I have such a disfunctional relationship with food.

Several tissues and a pot of coffee later, I'm wearing pants I could actually zip up (for now) and writing this post. I feel better just getting some of this out of me and having to think of a high note reminds me that things aren't as bad as they feel. Tomorrow begins a new week where I hope to have a hard time choosing between the best high moment.  Right now my house smells like nutmeg and Christmas tree, I get to celebrate a dear friend's happiness tonight, and the cats have been feeling snuggly so all is really okay. 

Do you have a high or low that you'd like to share? I hope you're all having a great weekend in every way!  Happy Holidays :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Three Things Thursday on Friday

1.  Up until about two days ago I had totally forgotten that I agreed to participate in the blogger gift exchange. Oops. I'm a terrible person.  Generally I'm pretty good about things like this and I love giving gifts. My mistake was using this blog's email address to set up the exchange. Since I don't get a lot of traffic on that address I don't remember to check it too often. Yikes. Now Christmas is a week away and I have no clue what to buy this person.  I took a quick peek at her blog but no ideas jumped out at me.  With that in mind, I turn to you, dear followers.  As runners and bloggers, what is something you'd be happy to receive as a gift? Bear in mind that I do not know clothing sizes or fuel flavor preferences. All suggestions are absolutely welcome, as I'd like to get this squared away by the end of the weekend. I don't want my poor secret santa friend to be without a present on Christmas.

2. I made it to the gym twice this week. And I'm going again tonight after work.  This isn't exactly a huge feat, especially since I'm only logging three miles at a time. But this is the most often I've run since MCM on October 30th, so I'm pleased.  I signed up for one more race on December 31st because I refused to end my racing year on such a sour note. If anyone else is running the Fairfax Four Miler, please let me know! I'm also officially registered to participate in the newly announced Sun Trust DC Rock and Roll yada yada yada Half Marathon Relay on behalf of a fantastic charity called Back On My Feet.  The fundraising goal is a completely manageable $350 and the best part is that my teammate is my sister! I have a secret dream of our combined time breaking 2 hours but we'll have to see how training goes. If you're interested in supporting us I plan on getting the fundraising page set up soon.  It won't be in full swing until after the holidays though, I want to give people a chance to recover before I hit them up for money. :)

3. My 2012 racing schedule is starting to come together. With the exception of July and August, I think I've got a race for every month. Some I'm already registered for, others I'm still waiting for registration to open. It is a fairly ambitious year, with one full marathon and three half marathons, in addition to a ten miler and other assorted distances.  I haven't set my race goals for 2012 just yet but I've decided that regardless of what I want to achieve I will not be able to do it without officially committing to CAR and their training regimen. Come January 1st (and a new paycheck) I'll be paying my dues and showing up to work. 2011 was about seeing if I could run certain distances at all. 2012 is going to be about seeing what I'm really capable of at those distances. I'm not saying I plan to make it the year of the PR, but if I can stay healthy I am going to be fairly aggressive.  I'm actually excited at the thought of all these races, and I'm taking that as a sign that I'm on the right track.

Are you all done with your holiday shopping?  Have you set up a plan for 2012 yet? Am I'm being too ambitious? Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A run and a new talent

Happy Tuesday everyone! I broke down and finally dragged my butt to the gym last night. I'd been avoiding running since the 15k and it was about time I did something about it. I don't know what it is that has me feeling like I don't want to run but I'm sick of it. My pants feel tight, my self-esteem is low, and I'm generally a less pleasant person to be around. I managed a paltry three miles before I'd had enough. It was exactly how someone would expect to feel if they'd essentially taken an entire month or more off of running and then started again without any kind of stretching or warmup. I arrived at the gym hungry, tired, and in a hurry to get home so any practical warming up seemed like a waste of time.

I discovered two things while I ran last night.  One, if a bruise is deep enough and about the size of a grapefruit, it will throb while you run with it.  Exhibit A:
No, I don't even have a good story for how I got it. Just a typical Saturday night with the band. Compared to previous outings, this one is pretty mild. Discovery number two? I can text and run at the same time!  The touch screen on my phone makes it a little iffy, but because it opens to a full keyboard I was able to have a conversation for most of my run. I probably looked ridiculous but I really needed the distraction and I didn't fall off the back of the machine. I call that a victory.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and picked up some stuff to restock my runners pantry. My eating has been far from ideal, same as my running, and I find that while they can both be hard to get under control they are also intricately related. Nothing fancy, really. Just some staples to get me through the week. Cottage cheese, yogurt, granola, nuts, salad fixings and a few lunches for work. If I manage to get myself into a groove again I might try and participate in WIAW. At the very least it will keep me honest one day a week, provided I remember to take the pictures. 

When you fall off the wagon with training or nutrition, what sorts of things work for you to get back on track? I can be pretty hard on myself but I'm working on it. I was really down about only being able to manage 3 miles last night but in reality that was a small victory. Getting to the gym again tonight would be another victory. I don't want to implement any kind of rewards system for myself, as I'm already a compulsive shopper but I definitely need some kind of motivation to keep forging ahead. I didn't get picked in the lottery for the 10 miler I wanted to race next April, so I don't have any goal races to train for until May. With these cold temperatures it can be so easy to bag a workout in favor of the couch and some hot cocoa.

Coming soon, a few product reviews (anyone in the market for a new sports bra?) and the prospect of making peace during the holiday season.  Happy running, friends!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A friday blogger survey

Thanks, Vanessa, for kicking this off! 

How often do you update your blog? It used to be every day, back when I was in the middle of marathon training and not working a job that tracked my time down to the second. Now I'm training less, feeling a bit introverted, and under a time crunch at the office.

How long do you spend writing each post? It depends on the topic and if I'm including pictures. Sometimes just 10-15 minutes, sometimes almost an hour as I read, re-read, and re-read again.

How long do you spend reading blogs each day? Not as much as I used to honestly, and through no fault of the bloggers I love to read. I have less time and sometimes when my own training is suffering it can be difficult to read about others' races and workouts without getting down on myself.

What other social media sites do you use? Facebook. I have a Twitter account but I don't use it.

What is the first blog you started reading? Shut Up and Run. If you don't read her yet, you're a freak. Seriously.

How do you read blogs? Phone/iPad, dashboard, Google Reader...? Nothing too fancy, I stick to clicking on them through my Dashboard.

How many blogs do you follow? Can't say as I've ever counted, but I read and frequently comment on somewhere around 20.

You're on a week-long vacation. Do you a) pre-set posts for the time you're away, b) blog every day on vacation, or c) organize guest posts in advance? None of the above, actually. So far I've only done one mini-vacation while this blog has been in existence and I just let it go for a few days. If I was going somewhere amazing for at least a week, I think a blog or two of pictures would have to make an appearance.

Have you made money off of your blog? Nope. Every once in a while I consider monetizing it but I honestly have no clue what that entails. That, and I don't think I'm popular enough yet to do so.

Would you quite your job to be a full-time blogger, if it meant cutting your salary in half? Hell to the no. I've tried to live off that amount before and it just doesn't work. I like having a roof over my head and an half-empty fridge in the kitchen. 

Feel free to answer these yourself in comments below or report on your own blog.  If you have another question you'd like to ask, go for it!  I love answering questions!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I need to get out of town. Seriously. My office decided to close for the duration of the holidays, so as of December 23rd I have nothing to do. For any number of reasons I have decided not to go home for Christmas, I'll be spending it here in VA instead. That being said, I also really have the urge to get away. Does anybody have suggestions on where I could go? Does anyone want a houseguest? :) I've been pricing flights to a number of different destinations and because of the time of the year they are super expensive. Not that I'm surprised. I'm not giving up hope yet, though. All I really need is someplace quiet to reflect and work through some things that have been going on in the last month or so. Regroup for the coming year. Put on your thinking caps and help a girl out!

2. Running and I are on a bit of a break right now. I'm not sure if it is because of the bad race experience last weekend or what, but neither of us is speaking to the other. I can definitely feel the effects of it, as my pants are getting tight and my emotions are less even-keeled. I'm a very emotional person and as I experience stress I tend to freak out a bit. Not running has me stressed but for some reason the idea of actually going for a run is also stressful. Similar to the fear I had before the 5k over Thanksgiving. Am I out of shape? Will it be too hard? Is that leg pain I had before the marathon going to come back? I don't have a race to train for right now, so there is less motivation to get back out there.  Meanwhile I'm turning into a gelatinous glob of fat with each passing day. Did I mention I tend to binge eat crap when I'm stressed too? No running + crap food is a perfect combination.

3. I don't really have a third thing to talk about today. I have some ideas for future blog posts between now and the end of the year that I am hoping you will enjoy.  I'm trying to get all my holiday shopping taken care of and decorate my home for the season. I keep finding presents to buy myself. Does that happen to anyone else? Yesterday it was a deal on RunningSkirts that scored me purple heart compression socks for $19 and free shipping.  Who could say no to that???? I also received a Handful bra in the mail this week for winning a giveaway. As soon as I can get myself out the door to run I will test it out and report back here with a review. It does seem to be the "it" accessory for running/working out these days and I hope I'm as satisfied with it as the rest of you are. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. Getting comments really makes my day, you have no idea.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I will NOT run for chocolate

As you might have seen from other race reports in the greater DC blogosphere, the 1st annual Run for Hot Chocolate 15k/5k was a total disaster. I was unaware of any problems that Ram Racing had been having leading up to the event, but if you're interested in more than this report please check out Cris's blog here.  From the looks of the race's Facebook page, my experience was not unique. It was hands down the worst race experience I have had this year, and probably ever. 

The morning started at 5 am, despite a scheduled race start of 8 am. I was staying over at Duyen's house, my training partner from MCM. We were out the door around 5:30 to head over to her sister's house to pick up Lili and her daughter. Why were we up so early? Apparently access to parking would be restricted by 6:30 because of road closures related to the race course.  Doesn't seem quite logical, now does it? Strike 1.

We make it to 90% of the way to the race start without incident, until we approach the highway offramp for National Harbor where the race was being held. Total gridlock. No one was moving.  I actually fell asleep in the car as we waited to move. Over an hour later, we approached what we thought was the parking area next to the start line that we'd paid an extra $10 to access. No such luck. Apparently that had filled up almost immediately so we were directed to one of several mall garages a mile from the start line. Strike 2.

By the time the car was parked and we were walking to the start line, it was well after 8 am. The clusterfuck of an entrance had not going unnoticed by the race organizers, as they chose to delay the start of both races. The 5k had just started and was coincidentally being run along the bike path bordering the harbor, also known as the only walking route to the start line. It was choked with runners forced to practically stop dead in their tracks because the path was so damn narrow even without hoards of late runners trying to reach the start line. Strike 3.

Once we finally reached the general area of the start line for the 15k we found that it overstuffed with angry runners. We couldn't even reach the street itself, much less our designated corrals, and were forced to stand in the grass behind the metal gates on the side of road. The start line itself wasn't even in site. Was registration capped? No clue, but last I knew the 15k had not sold out, meaning it could have been even worse. The race finally started well after 9 am, over an hour after it was supposed to. Did I mention it was about 30 degrees outside as well? We were all so cold and so frustrated that the idea of bagging the race sounded perfect, were it not for the fact that we couldn't leave because the parking garage was strategically placed on the course.

Once the race began we spent another ten minutes waiting for each corral to clear before they would move the runners stranded on the sidewalks onto the actual road. Unfortunately, my race experience continued to go downhill. The extra time cramped in a car, the cold temperatures, and the uncertainty surrounding the start time meant that I was neither stretched nor warmed up. This was only my fourth run since MCM and despite my 5k performance the week before I was not feeling confident at all. Everything felt stiff and sore. I hoped that taking the first couple of miles easy would help me loosen up but I couldn't have been more wrong.

I kept getting tighter with every step and pain began to set in. The course was clogged with runners to begin with so going at a slow pace was beyond my control. The next disappointment was literally around the corner. As we approached the first mile marker the course continued to move away from the harbor and onto a six lane divided highway. I then spent the next four miles running next to honking cars and inhaling copious amounts of exhaust. The sight of a hill was almost a relief as it the turn onto it meant a turn off of the disgusting highway.

The subsequent miles were unremarkable as the course attempted to make its way back towards the scenic harbor. I was in a fair amount of pain and felt like it was the last six miles of the marathon all over again.  After looping us onto a lovely construction site with a giant mound of dirt near the water, the course finally dropped the runners onto the path bordering the harbor. Better late than never, somewhere around mile 8. The pack of runners never seemed to thin out and I was constantly passing and being passed. I never found a comfortable pace. The last bit of the course had us climbing a hill back towards the start line but veering left before reaching the top.

If ever I wanted to walk, it was that moment. I have strong feelings about walking in races and I wasn't about to start then, although the desire to do so was quite strong. From the beginning I just wanted the race to be over. Technically it was a new distance and therefore an automatic PR but I couldn't give a shit. I was already in such a negative mindset before the start that I didn't bother using my watch. I just knew it was going to be a train wreck. I told myself not to check the results once posted either, but caved. As I suspected, it was a huge disappointment. Once we crossed the finish line I wanted nothing more than to go home.

No amount of Ghirardelli hot chocolate or fondue was going to make me feel better. Had I not depended on someone else for a ride home, I would have left. The actual post-race festival was located at the top of the hill near the start line, an additional uphill hike from the finish line and in the opposite direction of the parking. Yes, the hot chocolate was hot and the fondue tasted like fondue. Until the air temperature caused it to harden before I could finish dipping my treats into it. Figures.
Once my carpool regrouped, ate, drank, and sufficiently complained, it was time to begin the walk back to the car. We had plenty of time to admire the traffic backed up attempting to leave the area, looking forward to the moment when we'd join that hoard.  Perhaps it was due to being parked so far away, but by the time we reached the car and left the garage, it was almost smooth sailing out of the harbor and back onto the highway.  For a day that began at 5 that morning, I got home to my apartment at 1:30 in the afternoon. Seriously.

I could hardly walk and longed for my bed. Unfortunately I'd already planned out the rest of my day, assuming that I would have been home much earlier and in a completely different mood. A quick shower later, I was back out the door to brave the crowds at the shopping mall and grocery store. The holidays wait for no one. It really was a bad experience from beginning to end. I don't think a better run on the course would have made much of a difference. I could have won the damn thing and the major mistakes made by the organizers still would have outshined anything else. Even if the race were held in another location next year, I doubt I would do it again.

We did receive a jacket/windbreaker as part of the race packet, which I haven't even bothered to take out of the bag. I heard from other runners, however, that the quality leaves much to be desired and the sizing was dreadfully off.  I suppose I'll find out for myself soon enough. Not knowing enough about the nuts and bolts of race organization, I am not sure where to assign blame for the multiple failures. I decided not to complain in any official capacity as it appears from the race's Facebook page that hundreds of other runners have that cornered. The only thing I learned from the experience is that I've taken more than my fair share of time off since the marathon and it is time I got back into a regular routine. It was arrogant of me to think I could just go out and throw down 15k after not having run more than 4 miles at a time in over a month. I certainly paid for it, if the pain I still have today is any indication.

Did anyone else race this weekend? I know a lot of you were going to be in Vegas for RnR and I'm so jealous! I would love to meet you all in person. I hope you had a better race experience than I did, and here's to a fresh start this week.  I can't let my 2011 racing season end on such a bitter note, so I'm on the hunt for one more before the year ends.  Possibly the Fairfax Four, but I'm open to suggestions.