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I Beat a Pregnant Woman

Friday, August 15, 2014

Half the fun of trail races is how much we complain about them during and afterward. But how could I complain in the presence of her: 29 weeks pregnant and running a 25K!

Afterward, she admitted only to feeling “a bit sore.” (PS: This photo was taken post-race.)

And this race certainly had its share of reasons to complain about. Early on, I was thinking “Hiking boots!” as we ascended a hill so steep that we needed to use our hands. Halfway up another steep stretch, the runner (now “hiker”) in front of me called out “We just did mile 5 in 21 min 58 seconds.” (Note: That is a very bad pace for a runner. Or walkers for that matter.)

It is de rigueur to cross streams in a trail race. Usually, I can just tiptoe across the rocks - or, at worst, splash through. Examples of both ...

Here’s a pic of one crossing that was a little more difficult than I’m used to!

And we had to scale a 7’ rock wall more suited to an obstacle course. But unlike an obstacle race, this wall was permanent, wide, and there was no circling around it. We never did find out what it was doing there. Alien landing strip perhaps.

The rest of the course was straightforward - where “straightforward” means you have to decide which parts to (wisely) not run lest you twist an ankle. What would a trail run be without plenty of roots, rocks, and “Which way?” moments. Around mile 3, we found the RD adding more flags explaining “About 20 runners ahead of you took a wrong turn here!”

But all things considered, it was a really good event. Scenery was interesting.

Aid stations were fabulous.

Post-run food was amazing - far better than anything you’d find at a commercial race. We got:
- homemade veggie burgers
- homemade mussel stew (mussels still attached to their shells!)
- homemade fruit and veggie salads
- 20 different kinds of beer. (This even included root beer on tap!)

And the RD was in no rush to kick us out. I finished in about 4 hours and the time limit was 7! So we hung out and enjoyed the music, food, and cheering other runners in.

Price was good too. I registered 2 days earlier and the fee was only $50. Besides the unlimited food and drink, we got free massages. And here is where so many races waste money: No medals and no shirts except for people who explicitly wanted to pay extra. They also offered custom shorts. That was the popular extra. (Why do so many races force yet another shirt on people?)

The RD knew his audience. As if to make this even clearer, he posted many graphs about us. Here’s one.

He even supplied pre-race food, labeled with all the Nutrition Facts we needed to know.

The official finisher premium: popsicles, handed to us as we crossed the finish line. Given this was an August race, ice pops were the best finisher premium ever!

All that stuff I said at the start? I take it back. No complaints about this race. Can’t wait to do it again next year!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NDFOXEN 8/21/2014 1:24PM

    That sounds like MY KIND OF RACE!!!
I'm 35 weeks preggo right now, but when baby comes- I so want to get back into having that kind of FUN!

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MBTEPP 8/17/2014 8:15PM

    Kudos to mom-to-be. Playing tennis at 15 weeks threw off my center of balance so much that I fell, and I considered myself athletic. She was taking quite a chance on such a difficult trail run. But what a hike that trail would make. Beautiful. Congratulations on a fine finish, and all the cool extras to boot.

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BROOKLYN_BORN 8/16/2014 7:00AM

    My daughter runs ultras. All I've done is staff an aid station.

That pregnant woman reminded me of a 5K when I was walking up a steep hill only to notice a woman gaining on me - on CRUTCHES! Yeah, I picked up my pace. LOL

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JSTETSER 8/16/2014 6:47AM

emoticon emoticon

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SUNSHINE20113 8/16/2014 5:13AM

    The pregnant woman has stolen the show for me - that's pretty impressive! Looks like a great run, though - the food especially!! I also agree about the t-shirts. I have plenty of t-shirts, but never enough shorts, so it was clever thinking of them to include that. In fact, giving you the option is great, because I'd choose the medal, but don't need anything else, whereas other people might prefer something else and are totally over the medals!
Well done!

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SUSUSUZZZIE 8/15/2014 11:55PM

    Congratulations! I really enjoyed your blog. 10k is my greatest distance but I'm starting to consider more.

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    What? No chocolate covered bacon?

All that text (loved it) and pictures, and you never mentioned if you finished! I'm assuming you did, but still, your humility is touching.

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MARGARITTM 8/15/2014 3:30PM

    Looks like a lot of fun - love the bad ass shorts

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Lose 5 lbs fast

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ran 10M this afternoon. Probably not the wisest thing because the temp hit 90F by the end of my run (which ultimately involved some walking as I attempted to avoid overheating).

Curious about water loss, I weighed myself before and after. Despite consuming 24oz of gatorade, I lost 5 lbs during the run. (Had I not drank the 25oz, I would have lost 6.5 lbs! And 2/7 lb lost was from calories burned.)

I figure that instead of 24oz, I should have drank 99oz in 2 hours to remain well-hydrated.

That amounts to almost 1oz per minute (actually 5oz every 6 minutes) for 2 hours straight! I don't know how anyone can drink that much. Any advice?

If you want to try this yourself, the conversion factors are:
1 lb of water = 15.33oz

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARGARITTM 7/28/2014 9:23AM

    I am guilty of not hydrating well. so I will be following this to get some advise myself. Thanks for bringing up the subject

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JSTETSER 7/28/2014 6:34AM

    It usually takes me a few days to find my balance after a long run.
I always have my water pack on with my own combination of weak tea, citrus and salt.
I don't know if there are any easy answers to your problem. I will be checking back to other comments.

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KONRAD695 7/27/2014 10:53PM

    There is no way for me to drink my weight loss from a run. I can push down at max 8 ounces per mile, and that is with 24 ounces per loaded before run. Usually takes me the rest of the day to officially re-hydrate. There is no way for me to drink it all, do a lot of it through wet foods like fruits, oatmeal, and such.

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SUSUSUZZZIE 7/27/2014 9:36PM

    I'm nowhere near 10 miles runs but when it is hot or humid, I can drink about 50 oz in about an 1-1.5 hours just taking little sips as I go. I'll carry a hydration pack (that holds up to 50 oz. and I sip as I go to a flat area of descent - sort of part of anytime I feel I'm in a recovery rather than pushing up a hill. I also try to start off pretty hydrated (not over hydrated as I hate to stop for restroom breaks). Also can use electrolyte tablets to replace lost salt.

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    I'm assuming you drank no water as you were running - you would have reported it - so, would it be possible to drink 24 to 32 oz while running and carrying 1 or 2 pounds of water? Then drink the rest as you cool down and in the comfort of your home or office. Or could you cache water along your planned route?

hyponatremia-too little sodium in the blood is a condition that arises from too much water too fast ... need to research what is 'too fast'

There's also a term that starts with "hyper" and has some Latin or Greek that translates to 'water' and I've heard of it in the context of marathoners who drink too much water during the race.

Please accept my apologies for not having much advice, and my thanks for an interesting question.

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DMEYER4 7/26/2014 7:28PM

  great job and thanks for the info

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Another Hilly Half

Monday, May 12, 2014

Run my 4th Harpers Ferry Half Marathon this past weekend. I'll make this a short report because I've written about it before (see link at end). I won't repeat anything except to say it's a *very* hill course. Here's a pic comparing it to the HMs of Frederick and Baltimore - check out that red line:

This year, due to illness , I was only able to eat 800 calories the day before the race. Despite this, I had a good race - actually ran faster than last year finishing just a hair over 2 hours. This reinforces my belief that eating the day (and morning) before a race is one of the least significant aspects of race prep (if you've eaten properly during the rest of your taper).

One thing I did differently was to drink a LOT of water during the race. At the start, I listened to the RD warn about hyponatremia. So of course, I was a bit worried but it was hot (70F). I figure that people suffering from hyponatremia must really be overdoing it!

I also consumed gels on the course, something I haven't been too keen on in the past. Last year, I only had 1 gel. This year, I had a "Double Latte" at mile 6 and another at 11. I already knew that PowerBar gels taste horrible so I slammed them down as quickly as possible. Still not sure if it was the sugar or the caffeine but I finished strong.

Despite what I just said, I did take a brief walk break during a giant hill at 12 and another at 12.9 that's incredibly steep. It's a bit frustrating to walk so close to the end. But these hills are killer when you're so close to exhausted and I had walked them every year. In fairness, I must explain that *everyone* around me walked these same sections, too. I was not passed.

Also dumped a cup of water on my head and shirt. (Hope the aid station volunteers found that amusing.) Had never done that before but it was soooo hot.

My race report from last year:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Late seeing this but I enjoyed reading it. I like the graph comparisons, that is pretty neat. I have been using Honey Stinger gels on the long runs and races and I don't use the amount they say to use either. I do feel that they help me though if I use them timed out right. I need water afterwards, they make my mouth too goopy and that I don't like.
Thank you for inspiring! Happy running!

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MBTEPP 5/14/2014 2:04PM

    That kind of elevation would make me turn and run the other way emoticon .

Congratulations on an emoticon race!

emoticon on pushing yourself to the limit.

It is rewarding to beat your own time on the same course. emoticon

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    Thanks for the stories! I remember shinnying down the Appalachian Trail down Weaverton Cliffs. If you didn't have black toenails by then, Weaverton would give them to you.

Congratulations on your run.

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AEROBISAURUS 5/12/2014 10:59PM


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JSTETSER 5/12/2014 6:50PM


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8K for only $20

Sunday, March 23, 2014

This is my kind of deal: In lovely Rockville, Maryland, an 8K for only $20. Includes t-shirt and, at the finish, free beer and all the food you can eat, live band, dancing, and a 50' high cool-down spray courtesy of the local fire dept.

8K is a nice distance for people who've done 5Ks and want to try something a bit longer.

To get this deal, you just have to register anytime on Sunday, March 23. At midnight, it goes to the regular price of $34 (which is still a darn good price but $20 is amazing).

What's the downside? Two:

1) The race is in July (kinda hot). But they have lots water stops (4!) and sprayers on the course. Check out these architectural water stop masterpieces:

2) Not the most scenic race. But it doesn't matter because it starts at twilight so you're not going to be looking around much anyway cause it will be dark! Some finish-in-the-dark photos:

For more info:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 4/16/2014 11:35AM

    If I lived close, I'd be there!

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KONRAD695 4/6/2014 11:04PM

    I'm late answering this, but I sure hope you signed up. That's to cheap to pass up. emoticon emoticon

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NASFKAB 3/25/2014 4:47AM

  sounds fun cant join broke my leg & still using a walker

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    Thanks for the pictures! I was really curious what a 50-foot cool-down spray looked like; I thought it would be a 50-foot-long tunnel with fire sprinklers. I can see myself toppling those towers of water cups.

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PINKNFITCARLA 3/23/2014 9:54PM

    Wow, that is a great price and it looks like a nice race!

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PDQ1203 3/23/2014 9:46AM


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MBTEPP 3/23/2014 8:50AM

    Love it! I am doing The Rotary Run in my town in June. Great food, good people, run with your neighbors, run through our neighborhood. It is a blast. Have fun!!

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POSITIVE41 3/23/2014 7:25AM

    That is a bargain and it looked like fun!

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JSTETSER 3/23/2014 6:29AM

    Looks like a great race where everyone wins!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/23/2014 6:09AM

    Looks like a real bargain. I'd join you if it wasn't so far from central FL. I'll be rooting you on. Enjoy!! -Marsha

Comment edited on: 3/23/2014 2:51:33 PM

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50K Mud Run Not Fun

Monday, March 17, 2014

I did the Seneca Creek 50K last week. This was the 2nd year I had done it. Last time, conditions were ideal. This year, not so much.

This year, it had snowed a week earlier so I considered using screwshoes or yaktrax. My friends speculated that several afternoons above freezing would leave the surface snow-free in which case trail shoes alone would be fine and anything additional would be annoying. I followed their advice.


In the first mile, I realized I had made a huge error. The snow had not melted from the last few days above freezing. And so began the start of miles of sliding around and hunting for secure footing. Tiny muscles throughout my entire lower body told me that they had not been trained for this.

People using yaktrax were having a better experience. But they complained that their yaks didn't work in the center of the trail - mostly ice or compacted snow - so they were running to the side on uncompacted snow. I stuck to the center where it was icier but had divot-like contours - my trail shoes gripped better. I still slipped a lot though.

Although I'm a natural heel-striker, my gait changed unconsciously to forefoot-striker. (On ice, you cannot land securely on your heels!) What's that they say about never doing anything new on race day?

What's Even Worse Than Ice

Things slowed down when, after an hour or so, snow/ice began to alternate with areas where the snow had melted entirely turning the ground muddy. I was partly prepared for this. But not for giant expanses of mud!

Imagine pillows of mud! The mud rose to the top of my shoe. I passed a runner who had stopped to clean the mud out from under his arch. After the race, I finally understood when I removed my shoes and found a sculpted bed of mud under each of my own feet. No wonder my shoes were so comfortable - a mud-bed orthotic!

Back to the race: At first, we were delicately picking our way through mudfields as we looked for solid footing. But swinging far to the side of the trail often put us in brambles or a tree. Everyone eventually did the same mental calculation - that running right through the middle, the deepest mud - made little difference.

I became an expert in mud running. I'm not saying it was easy. But there were times when I actually had a stride. I began to realize that I could make up time on the steepest downhills - each stride ended with a pleasant slide as I oozed my way even further down. Alas, due to roots and other obstacles, some of the downhills were not safe and I still had to gingerly step my way down. And the flats and uphills remained a shoe-sucking slog.

I felt sorry for runners doing this trail or distance for the first time. Trail races are rarely like this. And during good conditions, this was a particularly lovely trail. This was not a good way to experience it.

Around mile 20, I was thinking this was no longer any fun and having trouble remembering if I had experienced any fun that morning. I recall walking some of the flats at this point. And my feet were getting cold. Not a good sign. I stopped at an aid station to put a bandaid over a hot spot. Peeling my sock and shoe off was disgusting. Putting them back on was even less appealing. My white socks had turned brown. A pic of my tights taken afterward:


Time to talk about food! In my report from last year, I obsessed mostly about the food.
This year, I didn't worry about food. I was confident I was not going to bonk. Despite working harder due to the tricky footing and shoe-sucking mud, I figured I was still fat-burning my way through the course.

So I didn't try to eat as many calories as last year. I just kept picking up handfuls of salty things from the aid stations to keep me interested in drinking fluids. Drank a lot of gatorade with occasional water for variety and some caffeinated coke at mile 24. I probably should have imbibed coke earlier because when the caffeine kicked in, it was very apparent and I felt doing the last 10 miles than the middle 10.

Didn't bother with gels. I occasionally picked up cookies and M&Ms out of boredom. (Why do all aid stations have M&Ms? It's not as if anyone trains on M&Ms!) At mile 28, I remember coming to a very tiny aid station - a woman standing next to a chair with a two bags of open food. She handed me a single fig newton. It had been sitting in the sun for awhile so it was soft and I recall thinking it was the best tasting fig newton I had ever had. Admittedly my standard for trail highlights had gone way down by that point.

The worst patch was at mile 14. The promised aid station wasn't there. What? I had just run 8 miles - the biggest gap in the race - and needed to eat. I saw a friend standing there and burst out "Where the f*** is the aid station?" He said he was wondering the same thing. Fortunately, he was driving from spot to spot as he tracked his wife on the course and so he had a stash of her favorite foods. He let me indulge and I owe him big time! Can't imagine what other runners did at this point. Chew on twigs? The race director has gotta take some heat on this.

Enough with the Food

I ran with many different people. Swapping stories was fun although I heard more than I wanted to about injuries and undertraining. Example: One runner apologized for not running faster - explaining she had had a concussion two days earlier! And I came upon a runner puking. Asked him if he was okay, he said the gatorade wasn't mixed to the proper proportion. That made me feel a bit queasy until about 2 minutes later when my concentration (zapped by the miles) made it impossible to remember what he had just said to me! On the plus side, my stomach felt fine after forgetting his story.

Bonus Miles

The course was several miles longer than promised. Instead of 50K, it was 53K (33 miles). But trail courses are notorious for this and this race has a history of being long, so I didn't dwell on it. I made the aid station cutoffs - whew - and finished in 8½ hours. Frankly, I was relieved to finish at all. Of the 450 registered, 290 finished.

Another friend of mine got lost and finished last in 10 hours. DFL as we say. I hear many new runners say they need big races so they don't finish last. But my friend was ecstatic. We had a great time congratulating her on her hard-earned DFL title. She loved it! A popular running quote: DFL is always better than DNS.


This was a no-bling, no-t-shirt race. No one needs a medal to remember this race.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JSTETSER 4/10/2014 10:49AM

    Icky looking shoes!

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CELLOSONG 3/21/2014 7:55AM

    Oh man, that is quite a race! I hate even hiking through mud, I can't imagine running in it. But I'm also more of a road runner than a trail runner, so maybe I'd get used to it (or at least tolerate it) if I made the switch!

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SUSUSUZZZIE 3/20/2014 11:58PM

    WOW! So impressive. Thank you for sharing.

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MARGARITTM 3/19/2014 4:09PM

    That is a tough one...... I guess one to compare all others to!

We have a trail festival up here in Maine you might want to take look at : Memorial Day week end Pineland Farms - lots of distances and lots of fun.

You win the Most Beat Shoes Award on that one!

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MBTEPP 3/19/2014 12:25PM

    Wow, what a mudslide, obstacle race!

Congrats on finishing!


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PDQ1203 3/19/2014 10:39AM


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    Great story! Congratulations on finishing.

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MNCYCLIST 3/18/2014 9:44AM

    May not have been fun, but now you have a great story to tell! Congrats for finishing.

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JSTETSER 3/18/2014 5:59AM

    Nasty looking pants and shoes.
Way to go!

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PINKNFITCARLA 3/17/2014 9:38PM

    Great job finishing! What a course though. At least you know what it *should* have been like and hopefully will be next year, but so awesome you conquered it!

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PEZMOM1 3/17/2014 7:43PM


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KELLIEBEAN 3/17/2014 6:28PM

    Great read. Very impressive how you powered through all of that!


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