but I just got over being sick LAST week

Oops, I lied about the whole productivity thing.

I had a conversation with our office manager this morning in which she mentioned how annoying she finds it when people show up at the office even though they are sick. I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Oh dear.

I spent the rest of the day trying to pretend there’s nothing wrong with me while I desperately consumed zinc lozenges, emergen-C, and mugs and mugs of tea. And while I got up to pee every 15 minutes. Of course. 

I’m trying everything I can possibly manage to cure myself in the next two days before this weekend’s crossfit competition. But, as I’ve never been sick for less than an entire week, I’m not entirely hopeful. Maybe that’s my problem: negative thinking.

I will be FINE on Saturday! Because I have decided to be. You know, just like all the days I decided I would be able to do a muscle up. Since that worked out so well for me. But I guess some positive thinking couldn’t make it any worse. And at least I’m not alone in my misery. Coach is sick too! Probably much sicker than I am. (It’s hard to tell exactly, since I’ve never heard him complain about anything, and I complain loudly and frequently about such things as being hungry, being tired, being hungry, being sore, or being hungry.) 

But it’s really not that much of a consolation since, even on his bad days, Coach is exceptional, and, on my very best days, I’m only pretty good. Thus, the overuse of cold remedies. I WILL be better. Because I said so. If not, Saturday will be … interesting. I’m bringing my sleeping bag either way. It’s supposed to be chilly. I have no shame.

 

 

this is what my life looks like

I’ve been so lax about writing since the race. It’s not because I haven’t done anything exciting; we all know that I can write novels about absolutely nothing anyway. I’ve just been lazy. It happens every once in a while. Couldn’t be helped. But I’m over it now. 

Dear productivity, welcome back. And as an apology for my non-appearance I offer this photo. You don’t get many photos out of me, so enjoy.

Image

This is what the women in my family were doing with their weekend: pretending to beat me with croquet mallets in a public park while wearing ball gowns. (Oh, and Roomie too.)

That’s all the explanation you’re going to get.

“26.2 miles, because 26.3 would be crazy”

That was one of my favorite signs at Saturday’s race. 

I feel like I should warn you that this post is about a million years long. But if you don’t have the time for a novel right now, my friend Paul kindly wrote a scarily accurate summary of my race for you without me even having to tell him about it:

“I ran, then I ran some more, then I ran up a hill, then I ran down a hill, then I had to pee, then I was thirsty, then I ran some more.”

How did he know exactly what happened?! It’s amazing. So yeah, that’s all you really need to know. Continue at your own risk . . .  

The funny thing about races is that, once they’re over, the edges tend to get a little blurred for me. I sort of start to suspect that maybe I dreamed the whole thing. And the longer I race for, the hazier my memory becomes.

The Baltimore Marathon was easily the longest I’ve ever run, and also the first time I ran anything longer than a 5k by myself.

So, I sat down to write this race report for you all, and realized that I have no idea what the hell happened while I was out there running for 26 miles. I think some stuff happened, and I’m pretty sure that some other stuff happened, and I’m sort of guessing that a few things happened. But this race report is going to be ALL over the place. No structure. A very loose timeline. Possibly fictional. Brace yourselves.

 

TYPICAL PROBLEMS AT THE STARTING LINE:

“Oh my God, I have to pee so badly right now.”

Poor Josh. I may have said ‘Hi’ or ‘Good morning,’ before I blurted out my current predicament. But probably not. I kept telling myself it was just nerves and that I didn’t need a pointless trip to the bathroom, until it was too late to actually make one anymore. Now, at 7:45 I was starting to wonder whether I would even make it to the first porta potty stop, which I was pretty sure didn’t show up until mile four. Too much information? Yup. Imagine how Josh felt.

Despite my less-than-conventional greeting, I was really quite pleased to have found Josh at all in the mass of people milling around the 4:30 start sign. I didn’t really think I was going to finish in four and a half hours; I hadn’t been training enough for that. But he was aiming for under four, and we had compromised to at least cross the start line together.

About two minutes before the gun went off, while we were standing in the gray, semi-dawn drizzle and I was fretting about my tiny bladder, Josh turned to me and said, “Thanks for talking me into this.”

I said, “Thanks for doing it,” and then, “You know you’ll be cursing my name around mile 20, right?”

“Yup. That’s why I thought I say it now.”

That conversation is the last thing that I’m absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent sure happened. I might have hallucinated the rest of this.

 

BUT WHERE’S THE DANG PORTA POTTY?:

The beginning of a run is never really my favorite bit. I’m a failure at short distances, because it takes my legs a good four or five miles to warm up. But THIS four or five miles was especially miserable because I was horribly distracted worrying that I might pee my pants.

I remembered reading in the race info that there would be porta potties at every even mile except mile two (Apparently, we were supposed to have enough sense to pee BEFORE we started. As if.), so I was overjoyed to see a couple of them only a mile or so after the start. Then I was less overjoyed to see the enormous line of people who were evidently having the same problem as I was. I decided that it just wasn’t worth five minutes off my time, and that I could persevere until mile four rolled around. Also, I felt smugly happy that I could pretend I was not one of those poor planners.

Except that I turned out to be the worst planner of all, because mile four came and went WITHOUT A PORTA POTTY. The race literature had LIED. I briefly considered joining the gangs of men who kept darting in and out of the woods when we got to the first park, but decided that this would not go over quite as well for me as it was for them.

The promised porta potties finally showed up about a half mile later. I still had to stand in line. It was totally worth it.

 

SOME SCARY GUYS AND MORE ON HAVING TO PEE (BUT NOT REALLY):

Remember how I said the timeline was going to be wonky or nonexistent in this post?

Okay, good. Just making sure. There are a few hilarious snapshots from this race that I’m pretty sure actually happened, but I have no idea WHEN they happened.

The running festival happens every year in Baltimore. More than 25,000 runners register. It’s very well publicized. Everyone knows about it. Almost everyone.

At one point, I was passing a street corner at the same time that two tough looking guys were trying to cross the street. Unsuccessfully. Because there were too many runners.

“What the fuck is this?!” Said one outraged tough guy to the other.

“I dunno man, breast cancer or something.” His buddy replied.

I started giggling, and then figured I’d better run faster, just in case the scary guys realized I was laughing at them. Then I saw a sign that said, “Smile if you’ve peed yourself running.” I immediately tried hard to look frowny, but this only made me laugh harder. The people holding the sing definitely noticed me. They waved. I waved back. Why not? I had ALMOST peed myself at mile four, after all.

 

DID YOU SAY CROSSFIT??:

Obviously, I cannot go anywhere these days without finding someone else who crossfits and then talking endlessly about it until some normal person in our vicinity interrupts with, “Wait, you hate snatches, love thrusters, and were cleaning and jerking what last night? Can you please talk about something APPROPRIATE?”

So, of course, when I heard the words “Sally up” crop up in a conversation going on behind me, I immediately spun around and blurted out, “You CrossFit?!?” to the two people behind me. For the next mile or so, we proceeded to have an enthusiastic conversation about weights, PRs, favorite wods, and how much we had NOT run in preparation for this race.

Crossfitters are great. I saw my new friends on and off for most of the race until we got to the worst of the hills, and I lost them for good.

 

A GU SHORTAGE AND MY INABILITY TO SPOT SOME REALLY OBVIOUS MILE MARKERS:

Running distance always creates an odd sort of battle between my stomach and the rest of my body. Gels and sports drinks have an immediate and magical effect on my energy level. They make me feel FANTASTIC about 30 seconds after I consume them. About two minutes after that, they also make my stomach dance an Irish jig. Not in a good way.

As my adopted running coach, L had stressed over and over again the importance eating enough during the race, and I had agreed that I would need at least four packets of Gu for the marathon. She thought this was enough, but just BARELY.

When I left the house, I brought along three packets of Gu, assuming that I would be able to pick one up along the course. I ate one at mile five. I ate one at mile ten. I thought it was odd that I only had one packet left, because I was pretty sure the first Gu stop was supposed to have happened at mile eight. I passed the halfway point. I started to worry. I’ve never “hit the wall” before, and I wasn’t really interested in trying it out today. I passed mile marker 14.

Then I stopped passing any mile markers at all. I’m serious, people. They just stopped showing up. For a lot of miles. And I was looking for them too, because I was in a panic of indecision about when would be the best time to eat my last remaining Gu. Finally, after running for about another hour, I had the presence of mind to ask one of the volunteers at a water table what mile I was at. He gave me kind of a funny look and said it was mile 19. About 30 seconds after that, I spotted the 19 mile marker. Ahh, yes. Well, you can never be too sure about these things.

I ate my last Gu and hoped for the best.

 

MY BRAIN STARTS TO MELT, BUT REALLY, I WAS NEVER GREAT AT MATH ANYWAY:

At mile 19, I glanced at my watch for the first time in a while, since I finally had a distance to match my time with: it was 11:09. Crap. I felt like I had been running fast enough to hit my four-and-a-half-hour goal, but I should have been at mile 20 almost ten minutes ago if I wanted to finish by noon.

Just in case you’re wondering, the race started at 8a.m. A four-and-a-half-hour marathon would have me finishing at 12:30. Have you spotted where I went wrong yet? Yeah? Too bad I didn’t.

I heaved a sigh and took the only course of action I could think of: I sped up. I knew I was too far behind to make up enough time, but I could at least go a little bit faster, get a little bit closer to my goal time. Thankfully, this revelation took place at the top of a hill, otherwise I may have decided to give up altogether and just walk the rest of the way.

 

I AM A TOTAL ROCKSTAR, MOSTLY BY ACCIDENT:

Ever since L gave me my first real lesson on running efficiently, I have been able to run down hills so much faster. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but actually, I used to run down hills only marginally faster than I ran up them. So, once I decided to speed up, I was flying past most of the other runners on the way downhill. Except for this one girl who had obviously gotten the same efficiency lesson before, because we were running down the hill at exactly the same pace with exactly the same form, stride for stride. I’m pretty sure I muttered something like, “Thank God for gravity,” which made her laugh.

Once we got to the bottom, my new friend started to get ahead of me again. But since I was so far behind schedule (read: still couldn’t do math), I decided I would make an effort to pace with her. Which I did. For SEVERAL miles. I felt like I deserved a pat on the back. Then, while weaving in and out of the crowd, I finally got a look at the number she had pinned to the front of her shirt. And guys, get this: she was not running the full marathon. She was not even running the half. She was running the relay. I was pacing with someone who had STARTED running a couple of miles ago. Hell yeah! I deserved something better than a pat on the back. Stopping running, maybe? That would have been a nice reward.

Shortly after that, we got to a water stop, and I lost my pacer. (I guess she wasn’t thirsty.) It would have been a sad moment for me, but that was also the moment when I spotted the mile 22 race clock and realized that I was, in fact, 10 minutes ahead of schedule rather than 20 minutes behind. Hallelujah.

 

SUDDEN DEATH OR SOME SUCH NONSENSE:

Good thing I made up so much time on those hills because at some point between miles 23 and 24, I DIED. I went from feeling pretty much fine except for my sore quads, to feeling totally awful in the course of five minutes. If I had walked at all during the rest of the race, I would have started walking then. But I hadn’t, so I didn’t.

Except for some slight cheating at the last water stop.

I had decided it was ok to walk while I drank water because past experience suggests that you lose more time by choking than by walking, but up to this point I ran up to every water stop, got my drink, and started running immediately afterward. THIS time, I started walking as soon as I saw the stop, and only grudgingly started running again once I passed the last table. I’ve still been saying that I ran the whole thing. Shhhh, don’t tell on me! It sounds so much less cool if I ran ALMOST the whole thing.

 

WHO PUT THE FAKE FINISH LINE THERE?:

I have sprinted through the finish line of every race I’ve ever run. Well, maybe not a full on sprint, but I always speed up.

I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to run any faster at this finish line, but when I saw an arch up ahead, and everyone else started to speed up, and the crowd seemed pretty excited, I decided that I could run faster after all.

Only it turned out to be just some random archway, because I ran through it and, instead of shouting things like, “Well done! You’re finished!” the spectators were still shouting things like “Only 0.2 miles to go!” How the heck was I supposed to have known it wasn’t the end? (Okay, don’t answer that. I do realize that finish lines will obviously always be marked as such. But remember, I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time.)

I felt a little bit like I was going to throw up after that. Sprinting twice was more than I could manage. I ran the rest of the way, but didn’t sprint through the finish line. But, bonus, I also didn’t throw up.

4:21:16

I almost fell down a couple of times in the finish chute. Then I sat down in the parking lot for a while and decided that I didn’t feel TOO awful. I wondered briefly if that meant I could have run faster. Oh well, too late now. I went to find Kate (who was nice enough to bring me some dry clothes) and get some lunch.

 

P.S. I didn’t bump into Josh again at the race, but I feel like he’s come up enough in most of my marathon-related posts, that you all might be interested in knowing that he also hit his goal time (under four hours) with 3:55:50.

the second-to-last time you all have to read about my marathon

I’m not really a runner. Not REALLY. You have to run a little more than I do to qualify as a runner. And you have to care a little bit more about your times and your results. So I’m a not-runner who just happens to be running a marathon tomorrow. Funny how these things happen.

In case you’re also not a runner, here’s the non-runner’s guide to marathon training:

STEP 1: Say the words, “I could never run a marathon,” to somebody you know will contradict you. It helps if this is a person whose opinion is important to you.

STEP 2: Change tactics with lightning speed, and start telling everybody you know that you want to run a marathon. Tell EVERYONE. The goal here is, of course, to eventually find someone, anyone, who will sign up for the marathon with you. Feel free to harass both fast and slow runners. They don’t have to be willing to run it with you, just to run the same race as you are. Remember, this step involves NO actual commitment on your part, so put your commitment issues aside to be dealt with later.

STEP 3: Have slightly too much to drink at your company Christmas party, and get into a conversation with one of your coworkers about how much you both like audiobooks, then seamlessly transition into your favorite conversation stopper: “Do you want to run a marathon?” Anyone who responds to this in any way that is not total confusion or immediate dismissal is worth getting your claws into. Spend the rest of the night telling everyone else at the party, “Guess what guys? Josh is going to sign up for a marathon with me!”

STEP 4: Trick your new race buddy into signing up first by saying that you are going to register one night and then realizing your don’t have the money for it at that particular point. Once your friend has already signed up, feelings of extreme guilt at the idea of not registering will override the commitment issues associated with actually paying for the race.

STEP 5: When you do sign up, make sure to do it so far in advance that the race doesn’t actually feel like a real thing. It’s still just one of those crazy ideas you had when you were bored: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if . . .”

STEP 6: At some point during the extraordinarily long time leading up to the marathon, befriend a bunch of triathletes who are all training for, or have previously completed, an Iron Man. This will have the slight drawback of making YOUR race seem like no big deal, but it will also provide the bonus of making your race seem like no big deal. How could you possibly NOT finish a marathon when half of your friends have done one AFTER swimming and biking for more than eight hours?

STEP 7: Get someone else to write a training plan for you. This will make it seem like you have less liberty to change (aka shorten) your distances once they are on paper.

STEP 8: Don’t worry when every long run leaves you feeling like you couldn’t possibly run another step. Don’t worry when you spend the last twenty minutes of those runs checking L’s GPS watch every 0.2 miles to see how much further you have to go. Don’t worry, because whatever distance you have to do is going to be the distance beyond which you could not possibly run another step. (Let’s hope that holds true for the jump from 20 to 26 miles.)

STEP 9: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Feel free to substitute crossfit wods for any/all of your shorter runs. Okay, maybe this isn’t the best advice ever. Skip this step. There is a chance that I may not be the best role model in terms of conventional marathon training. Probably you should run more than twice a week.

STEP 10: In the preceding weeks, talk incessantly with your race buddy about the marathon and how your training is not going quite as well as planned and how various parts of your body are self-destructing the closer you get to race day. It’s more fun to be miserable in pairs, and you’ll be pleased to realize that neither of you is much worse off than the other. Your coworkers will begin to groan and sigh with boredom whenever the words “run,” “miles,” or “Gu” crop up in a conversation.

STEP 11: Check the weather incessantly until about three days before the race, at which point you realize that the weather forecast is getting steadily worse. Stop checking the weather altogether so you can at least imagine that it’s going to be nice. When people start to ask whether your race is still going to happen if it’s pouring, look confused like don’t know what they’re talking about. “Pouring? What? The last time I checked there was only a 20% chance of rain.”

STEP 12: Pretend not to notice that there is and has been something seriously wrong with your left calf and/or Achilles ever since your 20 miler. Too late to do anything about it now. Whatever state your legs are in, they’re still going to have to carry you around 26 miles tomorrow.

STEP 13: Eat chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. To hell with this paleo challenge nonsense (only temporarily!). If you ever have an excuse to cheat and eat carbs, today is it.

does eating too much pumpkin turn you orange, or is that just carrots?

Okay, I think I’m having a pumpkin obsession lately. It’s pretty embarrassing because I’m still writing down everything I eat for our almost paleo challenge, and everyone in the challenge can read all about my pumpkin obsession; I can’t just secretly hole up in my apartment where no one but Roomie will see me (and let’s face it, by this time, she has SO many other things she could judge me for) and devour endless amounts of pumpkin baked goods. Now, the rest of the world gets to read about it too.

It’s all Brandie’s fault. She started us all on the slippery pumpkin slide (Ew. That sounds like a really gross slide that I probably want to get off of pronto. But actually, it’s a delicious slide.) when she brought a loaf of the most AMAZING (almost) paleo chocolate chip pumpkin bread to crossfit a couple of weeks ago. So amazing. And I’m always starving at crossfit because I go pretty much exactly at what would be dinner time for a normal person. Brandie completed her healthy diet sabotage by posting the recipe on facebook so the rest of us could enjoy it too. Geesh. Who does thoughtful stuff that? It’s terrible.

I may not have gotten too inspired to make the bread for myself if I’d had to go to the store for any missing ingredients (aka the pumpkin itself), but I happened to already have a can that I had, uh, borrowed from my parents when I was pet sitting for them one night a few weeks ago. I figured they had said I could have any of the food in the house, and even though I’m pretty sure by “have” they meant “eat”—as is, while I was there—I took this as an open invitation to go cupboard shopping for anything interesting that I wanted to take with me. Like a can of pumpkin, because, well, why not? Okay, I really have NO idea why I took that particular item. But don’t worry Mom and Dad, it did not go to waste!

So  I made myself a loaf of the pumpkin bread (after consuming more than my fair share of the one Brandie brought to the gym) and then ate half of it in one go. And then ate the rest of it. Then Kate decided to use some of her unexpected furlough vacation make her own contribution to the pumpkin madness by baking a double batch of the same recipe in muffin form and bringing THOSE to the box. Notice how everyone else’s baked goods get shared around at crossfit, and somehow mine all get consumed immediately by one person? Yeah, I’m that good of a friend. Saving everyone else from poor life choices.

Poor life choices like the pumpkin walnut muffins that Zach brought to the wod last night. Yeah, about those …

This past weekend, I noticed that I still had over half of my can of pumpkin left in the fridge, and I couldn’t possibly WASTE it. What kind of human being would do that?? So I made some pumpkin spice scones. Which are pretty good on their own. But which are totally irresistible with coconut cream frosting on top. I’m trying to limit myself to one a day. I’ll let you know how that goes.

At least all of the debauchery is still allowed within the rules of our healthy eating challenge. Nothing like taking advantage of the system, right?

running, the dentist, and some other general ramblings

Quotes from last night’s crossfit:

“After I finish my last tri this weekend, I’m going to take a week off. And by ‘a week off,’ I mean just crossfit for a week. It will be very restful.”

This quote was actually not from last night (I wasn’t even at the box last night), but I thought of it because I’m mulling over how much crossfit I can squeeze into my taper for the marathon before my “rest” becomes entirely counterproductive. Many of my endurance friends are arguing for none at all; I’m going with the slightly more moderate (and ambiguous) some. Which, at the moment, means as much as I want until about three days before the race, at which point I have to go cold turkey.

Josh told me some statistics from last year’s race today: this race has 4,000 spots for the full marathon, and last year, just over 2,000 people finished it. Strangely, I’m not nervous. Yet. I certainly did not do everything I COULD do to ensure a perfect race (ahem, one long run a week and substituting crossfit for most of the other running is not a recommended training plan), but I have done everything I’m GOING to do, which somehow works out to the same thing in my head.

Anyway. I couldn’t go to crossfit last night because I had to go to the dentist (don’t worry, I woded at lunchtime … and possibly at 6:30am). It’s kind of sad when you’re at the dentist and the thing you’re most concerned about is whether your stomach is going to growl loudly and embarrass you. It’s especially sad when you’re still worried about your potentially noisy stomach even after you learn that you have SEVERAL cavities. But I had to go straight there from work, and I was hungry. And I ran out of snacks. And I couldn’t steal any food from my coworkers this time because their food is not paleo (and if I’m going to cheat on this challenge, I’m going to cheat on something that’s WORTH IT).

But I felt much better when it turned out that my dentist also had a growly stomach. Maybe he skipped dinner too? 

So now I have to skip crossfit for two more nights this month, so I can go back to the dentist and get fillings. Maybe I should learn to ACTUALLY floss my teeth every day, instead of just doing it for one week before I go to the dentist and pretending that it will make a difference that way.