Category Archives: Running

This weekend . . .

There are weekends that simply kick your ass and leave you exhausted. This was one of them.

It all started on Friday. I was working (my part time job), but my boss is excellent and is also one of my best friends, so it is hardly like it’s work. We didn’t get together until 8:30pm, and I didn’t get home until midnight. We had a great time of laughter and work. I had tons of energy for some reason, which led to me having a hard time falling and staying asleep!

The two of us reconvened on Saturday morning for a 3.5 mile trail run on the mountain behind my house. I’m still getting out on flat, easy stuff and am loving it. We had an unusually cool morning with a beautiful breeze. It was truly perfect running weather. We found a baby turtle, no bigger than a quarter, in the middle of the trail and barely managed to miss stepping on it. We got him off the trail so he didn’t get squished. After the run we hit up on of my favorite spots in Harrisburg, Mellow Minded Cafe, for coffee. Coffee turned into quinoa pancakes (Ve & GF), tempeh bacon and fresh fruit.

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Yum, right??

After that, I had to hustle home to get showered and dressed for our baby shower. This was the second one that was thrown in our honor, and this one was hosted by my family. It was held at my dad’s fiancee’s house, which is wonderful and was perfect for such an occasion. My cousins and aunt put together a really beautiful day that was perfectly complemented by the gorgeous weather. It was a really special time with family and friends. We received lots of wonderful gifts, but the most special thing I received won’t be used to clothe or feed the baby. No one at the shower saw it because my cousin had my husband give it to me after we left.

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Here’s a closer look at the photo.

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I’d never seen this photo before. That’s me and my mom. Isn’t it wonderful? My cousin found it in her mother’s wedding album and they decided I could have it. I was speechless and shed some tears. I love it so much.

One of the fun things we did was take guesses from our guests regarding the baby’s name, delivery date, length and weight. We already have the name picked out, but haven’t told anyone. It’s fun to check out the guesses. My brother would be the one who predicted I’ll have a 13 lb baby. I sure hope not, but my maternal grandmother was allegedly that weight at birth, so I guess it’s possible!

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After we got home we all went for a walk with Little Dude on his bike. By the time we got home from that, I was beat. I felt like my midsection had been beaten and bruised. I took a spot on the couch and didn’t really leave it the rest of the night.

All of a sudden it was Sunday morning. I was still tired, but rolled out of bed to meet my dear friend Anne for a trail run on the other side of “my” mountain. I knew it would turn out to be more of a hike, but I really wanted to see a particular section of the trail again and knew it would probably be the last time I’d be up for it. We did hike quite a bit of the route, but it was fine. We had beautiful weather again and had a great time. The uphill gave me a hard time, but the steeper downhill was equally difficult. Gravity was pulling on my belly with every step so I ended up walking that part. All in all, though, it was great.

We went to church and then back home for another walk and to prep some food for a campfire event as part of our faith community (my part time job). We got to the campfire around 5pm and our son was GONE. He found the kids and was running around, playing with sticks, tubing in the creek, practicing cartwheels . . . it makes me tired just to think about it. Meanwhile, we socialized and ate a yummy dinner. We stayed well into the evening and enjoyed some fireworks. (If you’re not from PA, you might not think that’s a big deal. But if you live here, you know that you can’t get much more than sparklers here, so having a friend who brings fireworks to a party is pretty exciting.)

We got to bed super late again, and all of a sudden it was time to get up and head out again. Why do we keep doing this?  Today we were off to a trail run on the Appalachian Trail in Boiling Springs. Our running group’s founder and “coach” celebrates his birthday, and America’s, with a trail run every year on the 4th. We hung out afterwards for some snacks and socializing and then headed home. We just wrapped up a cookout with our neighbors and now I’m writing this. Whew!!

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The weekend

I have no idea if I’ve ever done a weekend wrap-up, and I certainly don’t intend to make them a habit, but I wanted to share a few highlights with you.

The weekend got off to a great start when there was a knock on the door late on Friday. After I got the dog to relax, I went to the door and saw a package waiting for me. It was my long-awaited, much-anticipated Vitamix!

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I have it sitting on the counter but haven’t been able to use it yet. I’m super excited, though. I think I’ll be making a smoothie tomorrow!

Later that night we actually sent Little Dude to a friend’s house and went out for dinner. We rarely do this, but are trying to find a way to make it a monthly thing, especially before the baby comes. Some friends recently went to the soft opening of a new local restaurant, Vrai, and upon googling it, I found that they had vegan options. Not only did they have items that were easily modified to be vegan, but they had 3 vegan-gluten-ree options. Three! At one restaurant! Around here, that just doesn’t happen. They also had several vegan desserts . . . in fact, most were vegan and only one ice cream had dairy. I felt like it had to be in some sort of bizarro world.

Vrai was great. The atmosphere was great, and it was packed. I recognized a few people, and realized that a lot of locals were there. We were some of the few imports from across the river. The food was amazing . . . so amazing that I just ate it and really didn’t think about taking photos. I did snap one of my entree though. We split an order of brussels sprouts with crushed hazelnuts. It sounded weird but it was delicious. It came with some sort of lemon cream but we got that on the side so S could have it while I skipped it. My entree was a quinoa cake with an avocado cream, tomato jelly and a tangy cole slaw. It was super delicious, but I took a really bad picture. Sorry – I really wanted to eat it.

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S got a shrimp fettucine with a poached egg that he said was fantastic. The great meal was capped off with a ridiculously yummy vegan-gluten-free blondie with a side of sorbet. (It was supposed to be house made chocolate salted caramel but, sigh, they ran out.) The service overall was fine, but a little slow. And they overbooked their reservations, so people were waiting. But they’ve only been open for a little less than 4 weeks so I’m sure that will improve. If you live in the Lemoyne, PA area, get yourself a reservation now.

I got to squeeze in a great 7 mile run on the Appalachian Trail on Saturday morning. Unfortunately it still required gloves and a headband, but it was a nice morning so that was okay. I got in another 4 miles on Sunday on “my mountain” and it was a little better; I was in shorts, long sleeves, no gloves and no headband. Spring is coming.

We (Tree 4 Hope) held our first annual Zumbathon at our local Gold’s Gym on Saturday afternoon. I do not Zumba, but I helped at the event. It was great; we raised over $800 and everyone had a lot of fun. All of the money raised will go towards building Hope Academy. If you’ve missed out on what Hope Academy is, click here and learn how you can help.

I discovered a wonderful song a few weeks ago and ended up pairing with a guitarist at church to sing it at both Sunday services this week. I am not sharing the file of our rendition, but I just have to share the original. It’s just so good. We weren’t nearly this good, but we did our best.

So that was the weekend in a nutshell. I did a ton of other stuff, but most of it’s boring. And the busy weekend left this baby incubator exhausted, but it’s all good.

 

 

Fuel

Lots of people ask me about what I eat during ultras. Most assume I eat anything and everything that comes across my path – the vegan stuff, that is. That assumption is actually very far from the truth.

My biggest struggle during ultras isn’t the miles, it’s the nutrition. I’ve had a really hard time figuring out what I could eat or drink during a long run that would sit well in my stomach AND provide me the fuel I needed. I toyed with potato chips and M&Ms (before I was vegan), dates and almonds, GUs and Larabars. A combination of stuff would work on one run, but not another. I’d change my approach and would have success for another couple of runs but then I’d struggle again. In addition to the food I was taking, I would take S-Caps. These provided me with sodium and potassium. They worked, but I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I was a hot mess most of the time.

About a year ago I heard of a product called Tailwind. So many people were touting its benefits that I had to consider it. I heard that they would send a sample pack to new customers so I emailed them and asked. I received a response from them very quickly promising the delivery of a sample pack. Within a few days I had 5 stick packs (200 calories each) in my hand. The delivery came with a hand-written note, which was nice.

It took me a few weeks to nail down the right concentration for me, but then I figured it out: four scoops of the stuff (400 calories) mixed into my 70oz bladder was just right. Right after this revelation I injured my knee and quit running long distance for a while. I didn’t feel the need to carry anything beyond water. The large bag of Naked flavored Tailwind I bought sat in my closet, waiting to be used.

When I finally started getting high mileage in this year for Laurel I started mixing Tailwind into my bladder. Unfortunately this peak training only lasted 3 weeks, but during that time I noticed how well I was running. My energy level remained even, and I felt GREAT throughout. I didn’t have highs and lows like I used to. I didn’t feel hungry. I didn’t swell up after my runs, either. It was awesome. After my 30 mile training run I realized that Tailwind really was making a difference.

I used Tailwind as my primary fuel at Laurel with great success. I packed 5 4-scoop baggies and a 200-calorie stick pack. My crew had the 400 calorie (4 scoop) bags and I keep the stick pack in my pack. I ended up using 4 of the 400 calorie baggies and the 200 calorie stick pack. I learned that I need to finish the entire bladder and cannot “top off” a half empty bladder with plain water. I did that twice and realized that the calories and electrolytes were too low when I did it that way. As long as I was drinking that concentration (4 scoops to 70 oz water), though, I was good. I didn’t have much swelling, I wasn’t hungry, and I had a great, even energy. It was freaking awesome!

Tailwind will definitely be my fuel of choice in the future. It’s nice to get everything I need when I take a few sips from my hydration pack. I don’t have to look for a particular food when I enter an aid station, which is nice. If you find yourself craving a particular item and then can’t find it, it SUCKS. If your body needs salt but you can’t find the right salty food, you could be screwed for the next few miles or even the end of the race. It was great to enter the aid stations and just take the foods that looked good (watermelon, oranges, potatoes) rather than thinking hard about what my body NEEDED.

Overall, I’m really happy with Tailwind and what it does for me. It might not work for you, and that’s okay. There are plenty of other supplements out there that you can take to achieve your goals! In addition to really liking the actual product, I love their customer service. Each order is delivered very, very quickly. They send a hand-written, personalized note with it, along with stickers and temporary tattoos.  My last order even can’t with a bonus stick pack. You can’t beat that!

Lucky #13 – Laurel Highlands 70

*Wordpress is giving me issues with inserting photos, so you don’t get to see any photos of me looking gorgeous on the trails. I assure you: that was the case.

I mentioned earlier this year that I was training for the Laurel Highlands Ultra 70 Mile race. The plan was to train for it, anyway. After the wreck of the year I had last year, both personally and running-wise, I vowed to do my very best to stay healthy and train well for the Laurel 70 and Oil Creek 100 Mile races. Here’s the recap of 2015 thus far:

January – I pulled my right hamstring during the opening sequence of yoga class. My long runs for the month topped out at 10 miles.

February – The fricking winter weather made it so difficult to run on the trails that I ran on the roads . . . and fell and banged up my hip and sprained my wrist. My longest run for the month topped out at 16 miles.

March – March was okay until the last weekend when I twisted my knee during a 23 miler on a cold and freaking snowy day. After that I had a lot of knee pain and it took until early May to find out that I had tendinitis. My longest run of the year was that 23 miler . . . and it had been a jump from that 16 miler the previous month.

So during the month of April I would rest and then try to run, and then rest and try to run. It was frustrating. I did Broad Street with only a little discomfort, but then the following week was incredibly painful. On Mother’s Day weekend I could only muster up a 5 miler. By the next weekend I decided just to go for it. I went out for 13 and it was okay. Then on the 23rd I did 20. On the 30th I did 30. (And I did those 30 without my orthotics. While it felt AWESOME, it ended up giving me very pissed off Achilles tendons in both feet. I’ve had tendinitis in the left one, so I was worried.) And then I barely ran again until Laurel. It was nowhere near the training plan I wanted, nor what anyone would recommend. I should have pulled out of the race. But I didn’t.

I was signed up not only for the 70 mile race but as the first leg of the 5 person (also 70 mile) relay. My leg was 19 miles. Going into the race, the only expectation I set for myself was to finish those 19 miles. As long as I did that, my team could function as planned.

I mentally prepared myself to have my first official DNF (did not finish). It’s not that I wanted to quit the race, but I was so sure that I would be in so much pain from either my knee or Achilles. While I mentally prepared myself to be okay with quitting the race, I packed my bags as if I’d finish the 70 miles. I gave my crew all of the instructions they would need in case I made it to the end. I lined up Anne to pace me for the last 13 miles. I felt that it was all in vain.

While I assumed I wouldn’t finish, I paced myself as if I would. I took the early miles slowly and tried not to over-do it. I couldn’t help but power up the climbs and pass a whole bunch of people; it’s what I do. But it was dumb. My climbing muscles just aren’t as strong at this point as they should be. While I did well at the beginning of the race, I had no climbing game through the rest of the race. Oh – and did I mention that it was humid? I was SOAKED by mile 2. It was unbelievable. But thankfully there were storms all through the night on Friday and the temperature was much lower than it had been on Friday. Temperatures at the start of the race were in the 60s and topped out in the upper 70s. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we would have had that humidity with temps in the 80s like was originally forecasted. Those fierce storms left the trail wet, but nowhere near as muddy as expected.

I got to aid station #1 (11 miles) in great shape, though I knew I burned up a lot of energy when I decided to zip up the mountain. I saw my crew, which consisted of my husband and Little Dude, Anne and her husband, and our friend Ethan and his girlfriend. She was the only one (aside from Little Dude) who wasn’t running. What a saint she was to suffer through all of this madness for him! Little Dude was pretty groggy at this point since we got him out of bed at 4:30am, and wouldn’t give me a kiss or shake his tambourine. I didn’t take it personally, and instead got some energy from the rest of my team. I hate wasting time at aid stations, though, and was in and out in a matter of a couple of minutes with my water and a couple pieces of watermelon. I got back on the trail and headed for aid station #2 (19.3 miles). The next few miles were unremarkable, though beautiful. I can’t say that I had any issues, nor did I have any super high moments. I was just grateful that I was feeling really good.

At aid station #2 I ended my leg of the relay and tagged off to Anne. I was right on my target pace. She and John got my pack filled with water and my beloved Tailwind (my next blog post will cover this amazing stuff) while I grabbed a little more watermelon, and then she joined me on the trail. She decided to stay with me for her 13 mile section of the relay. It was so nice to have her company. She is the absolute best running partner! Staying with me helped to keep the relay team pretty close to me, making it easy for the gang to crew for me while running the relay. I was already hiking more than I would have liked, but Anne kept assuring me I was fine.

We came into aid station #3 at the Seven Springs Resort and I got super excited to see boiled potatoes and a big bowl of salt. I know that sounds disgusting, and it really is, but when I’m running long, it’s all I want. I gobbled down two baby potatoes with salt and some watermelon and then I saw it – the box of Oreos! I snatched up an Oreo so fast and crammed it in my mouth. Anne commented on how odd that was for me, but hey – those things are vegan so I was good, right? (Wrong – it made my stomach hurt for a few miles. But boy did it taste good.) Anne and I came into aid station #4 at mile 32 pretty happily. In my past two Laurel experiences I had only run sections 1 (once) and 2 (twice). My secondary goal for the day was to see all of section 3. I was very, very pleased to have finished the first 2 sections in my goal time, though I was a little worried that I might be going a little too fast.

Anne tagged off to Ethan for the relay while John got my Tailwind into my hydration pack. At this point I made the switch from watermelon to oranges. Thanks to Tailwind, I didn’t really need to eat; I just picked up whatever looked good and enjoyed a piece or two of it. It was great to approach aid stations this way, rather than scavenging for what I was craving or, worse, what my body really needed. After my oranges, Ethan and I headed out onto the trail. We stayed together for about 2 minutes and then he bounded off ahead of me.

Section 3 (miles 32 – 46) of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) is just amazing. There are sections lined with lush, vibrant green ferns, punctuated with beautiful white laurel. There was a cool rhododendron arch and several rock mazes. It was the most beautiful section of the trail! I was definitely hiking more than I had hoped at this point. As I said earlier, my uphill game was crap. I was pretty upset about that. I ran when I could and hiked the rest. I got to aid station #5 and couldn’t open my bladder. The slide was stuck on the stop of it. Thankfully my friend Don was there to be my angel and help me! Unfortunately he had to pull out of the race early, but at that point I was immensely thankful for his presence. He got my bladder filled up while I grabbed another orange segment. I was back on the trail quickly. The rest of section three was as beautiful as the first. The day was going so well. I felt great. I just felt like a shoe was going to drop.

I rolled into aid station #6 feeling great. I accomplished my goal of completing section 3 and felt good. I knew I would continue through section 4. My husband was running section 4 of the relay and John said he had only started a few minutes before I got there. He thought I could catch him. I thought about trying, so I would have some company, but I was too afraid that I would burn too much energy doing so. A big part of my strategy was energy conservation, so that wouldn’t work! As soon as I crammed a huge orange segment in my mouth a volunteer came up to me and told me I was the 10th place female. I dropped a bit of language with my child nearby, but thankfully the orange muffled it enough that only Ethan and his girlfriend Megan understood me! Telling me I was 10th was the worst thing that woman could have done at that moment! I never considered that I could do so well, and then I became obsessed with it! At that point I had to move on. I crossed the busy highway and got back on the “flat” trail, as John described it.

He lied.

The first half of section 4 was NOT flat. It’s not that it was overly hilly, but it was rolling and I hadn’t expected that. I started to lose a little momentum. I was hiking too much. Things were starting to stuck. Miles 46 – 51 just dragged on and on. It was awful. And then it started to rain. But it didn’t just rain. It POURED. It was ark-worthy. I hadn’t picked up my visor so water was getting in my eyes. I had, though, grabbed my flashlight, but it wasn’t quite dark enough to need that. During the first half of section 4 I was hiking a good bit and my knees were getting stiff. Once the rain hit, though, I was really motivated to keep moving. A guy passed me while trailing a beautiful girl with gorgeous hair. (Really, it’s unfair that she looked that good through the whole damned race. It was ridiculous.) He couldn’t keep up with her, though, and she soon bounded off, leaving both of us behind. He was running very slowly and I wanted to pass him, but whenever I started to walk up a hill, he’d push on ahead. I realized that I needed to adopt his approach. I’m sure it drove him absolutely nuts but I stayed right behind him for miles. That man pretty much saved me. Seriously. If I had kept up my hiking, my knees would have continued to stiffen up. It made the idea of running really unappealing. By keeping that very slow pace, though, I was able to get things to loosen up. I did some high-knees and some ass-kickers. The rain ended up giving me what I needed to get through that section. By the time I slogged into aid station #7 I was chafing everywhere from the wet clothes and I was fairly miserable. Everything hurt, but nothing was particularly painful. I just felt tired and wasted. I knew I was fine to continue, but the rain really sucked. If I didn’t have a pacer for section 5 I doubt I would have mustered up the guts to continue. But Anne was there waiting for me, so I didn’t have to make that decision. I grabbed my headlamp and visor and we took off. I was dead set on breaking 19 hours, so I said, “Anne. We have 4 hours to do this, okay?” Her reply? “Let’s go!” I just love her.

That last section was very muddy in parts – the kind of mud that can suck your shoes right off your feet. We managed to keep our shoes on, which can be surprisingly tricky at times!  Anne and I passed the time by chatting like we always do. I’ve talked to her probably more than I have talked to most human beings on this planet but yet we still find things to talk about. It always amazes me. We ran when I could and hiked everything else. I was intent on finishing as quickly as possible, so I hiked faster than I hiked in the early sections. At least I think I did. Maybe I was moving as slow as molasses. At any rate, I kept on moving. We got to aid station #8 which was on a very long section of dirt road. This was the most interesting aid station yet. It seemed unremarkable at first; it looked like all the others. When they offered me a grilled cheese, I politely declined. Anne told them that I was a vegan and didn’t eat gluten and the one guy said, “We have stuff for that!” It was an odd response, for sure. It turns out that the whole group of volunteers was vegetarian! They offered me a Tofurkey sandwich, but since I can’t really eat while running, I declined. It’s too bad I didn’t have a baggie on me. I would have taken it to go! I was absolutely stunned by that aid station, and it left me giggling on the way out.

The final 8 miles were long – very long. That last aid station came too early in the section, so it made those final miles drag on. With about 5 miles to go Anne told me it was all downhill to the finish. She lied. It must run in the family! We kept trudging on UP and down hills. I’ve been through this stage in an ultra several times now but it’s still hard. You feel like you will never get to the finish, but obviously you will. You simply must keep moving. When you put a dumb goal in front of yourself it’s, well, dumb and it makes things a little extra hard.

Finally, with about 1.5 miles to go, we really seemed to be descending. I told Anne that if we had to go up again I was quitting right then and there. I’m not sure how I thought I’d get home, but that didn’t matter at the time. We continued to descend and started to see the signs welcoming hikers to the Laurel Highlands. Anne said that once we saw “the big sign” we were all but home. Before we even saw it, though, I said, “Screw it. I’m RUNNING!” I picked up the pace and then found that big sign. I continued to run towards the finish line. Thankfully I was paying close attention to my feet because just before the finish line there was a big step with a log along the edge. (Could you imagine falling at that point? That would suck.) I was so glad to be done, but of course I had to find out if I beat my goal. I received my trophy and then asked the race director for the time. He looked at me and knew exactly what I wanted to know. He said, “You did it. You beat 19 hours.” I was so happy.

I was happy and felt great. I couldn’t believe how well I felt after 70 miles and after the training season I had. That feeling lasted about 2 minutes. My crew hadn’t expected me so early, so they quickly dispersed to get my stuff. I was left holding my hydration pack and my trophy with Little Dude sitting there in a camp chair. I knew I needed to walk around for a few minutes and get some liquids, but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t leave him alone. By the time they got back I had to sit down. Then it was all over. I started feeling weird. I didn’t feel like I would vomit or anything, but standing seemed out of the question. I asked for a bowl of salted rice, but when John returned with it, it was if he gave me a bowl of . . . meat or something equally gross. The thought of food on on the whole was revolting, but during my 19 hours of movement I consumed: 1,600 calories from Tailwind, 6 wedges of watermelon, 4 orange slices, 3 baby potatoes (the small canned kind), 5 blue corn chips, the equivalent of probably a half of a sweet potato Anne had roasted for me, one date and one Oreo cookie. According to My Fitness Pal I probably burned about 5,500 calories, so I was certainly in a real deficit. I tried to get my protein shake (mixed with chocolate almond milk) down, but it was hard. It took a while. I told Anne I had to go to the bathroom and she walked there with me. Thank God she did. All of a sudden everything went black. She helped me to sit on the parking lot until that passed. After I was done at the bathroom, she helped me back to my chair. Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom again. What a freaking ordeal that was. I just felt miserable. I was so dizzy. When I got back to my chair again Anne and John urged me to change out of my wet clothes. I really wanted to but didn’t feel up to it. MISTAKE. Within a few minutes my lips were blue and I was shivering terribly. I was wrapped in two towels and a blanket and was still freezing. Finally Anne grabbed some baby wipes and started cleaning off my legs. Once that was done, I decided to get up and get changed. The simple act of getting out of those clothes changed the whole ballgame. I instantly felt better. I managed to walk over to the tent and get some vegan chili. I ate most of that, said goodbye and thank you to everyone, and then climbed in the car.

We were only 2 hours from home but by then it was 2 am and we had been up since 4am. My husband had snagged a short nap during the afternoon and said he was okay to head out. We stopped at a Sheetz for some fuel – not for the car but for us. My husband got a Red Bull, one of those sugary cappuccinos and fried cheese curds. (If that isn’t one of the most disgusting combinations of food, I’m not sure what is. I supposed there could have been bacon involved.) I had him order me some tater tots. I ate most of them and they were delightful. I chugged lots of water and then took a quick nap. I woke up in time to realize his Red Bull was wearing off, so I stayed awake to chat with him the rest of the way home.

This blog is already way too long, so I’ll spare all of the rest of the details. I’ll say that I was stiff and sore on Sunday but really wasn’t in any pain. I was mostly just tired. Generally after long runs I’ll retain 3-4 pounds for about 3 days. That didn’t happen this time. Sometimes I’l have swelling in my legs. That didn’t happen either. It was really a good experience all around with the exception of the rain and that period of time after I finished when I was all loopy. I’m super happy with how the whole day went. I did finish as the 10th place female, which was pretty cool. There were 25 females at the start and only 16 of them finished. When you think of it that way, 10th place doesn’t sound all that impressive, but if I don’t give the race statistics, no one knows!

Oh yeah – do you want to know the weirdest part of the race? It was before the start, at the bathrooms. The line for the men’s room was ridiculously long but there wasn’t one for the ladies room. How often do you see that? Not very often! On Sunday I looked at the race statistics. There were 98 men and 25 women. That’s a pretty huge disparity, don’t you think? I can’t figure out why there are so few women in this race.

The best part of the whole weekend was Little Dude. He was a champ and hung out with our team all day with a smile on his face. He’s been talking about the “adventure” ever since. Since it was hazy and rainy the whole time, he started calling it “Misty Island”, after a Thomas the Train episode. It was all “Misty Island” this and “Misty Island” that. Today he told me that when he’s bigger he’d like to go running on Misty Island too and he wants all the grown-ups to cheer and clap for him. Later when we were on a walk in our neighborhood, he looked at the mountain I train on and said, “Mama…..when I’m bigger….. you and I can go running on the mountain together.”

Broad Street 2015

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I’m not much of a road runner. There are a select few road races, though, that I like to do on a regular or semi-regular basis. The Broad Street Run 10 Miler in Philadelphia is one of those races. It’s flat, fast and has spectators along the entire length of the 10 mile route. The energy is amazing. The only real downfall (aside from being on asphalt) is that the crowd is huge. There are 40,000+ runners plus their families, friends, residents and other random folks. For someone who doesn’t like crowds, it can be tough.

My husband and I have both done this race before; it was his 3rd time and my 4th. As we did in 2013, we used the race as an excuse to have a nice weekend in Philadelphia in celebration of our wedding anniversary. We cashed in some Marriott points and got a hotel super close to the finish line of the race. We also made plans to get some great vegan food. There are so few places in our local area where I can easily get vegan food, so when we travel, he knows that I’ll find us a vegan restaurant if there are any to be found. He can eat meat anywhere, anytime, so hitting up a veg place once or twice per year seems more than fair.

My dad picked up Little Dude and we hit the road just after lunch on Saturday. After checking into the hotel, we drove into the city to pick up our race packets. Aside from having some issues getting to the parking garage, that part of the evening was rather uneventful. They have a pretty smooth, easy format for packet pick-up. From there we hit up a wine bar to kill some time before our dinner reservation. It was nice to just be able to sit and drink a glass of wine with no distractions. That doesn’t happen often!

After the wine, we went next door to Charlie Was A Sinner, an all-vegan restaurant. I had heard good things about it, so I was pretty darned excited. The decor was pretty amazing, so right off the bat we were pretty impressed. We started by ordering drinks – a beer for him and a glass of wine for me. Then we started with the food. Their menu is full of small tapas-style, so the meal consisted of 5 small plates of food and dessert.

We started off with the marinated beet salad. It had red and golden beets, cauliflower panna cotta and apple horseradish vinaigrette.This dish was excellent, but the star of it was really the cauliflower panna cotta. I need a recipe for that. It was that good.

beet salad

After we demolished that, our crispy tofu roll came. It was made with dashi aioli, shiitake and chili relish.It was great – almost as good as the panna cotta on the salad!

tofu roll

Next came the Crab Cakes:

crab cakes

S looked at me and told me that he couldn’t tell that these weren’t veg! I asked him to try the crab cake without the roll and toppings to see if he felt the same way. He said that on its own he could tell that it was made with veggies, but when it was dressed up, he could be fooled!

The next 2 dishes came out t

ogether and photographed poorly. I blame thewine.

potato roll and tofu, bean sausage

The dish in the foreground is the confit potato cup with roasted wild mushrooms and sherry jus. It was very good, but it would have been better with a thinner potato cup and more mushrooms. The other dish was smoked tofu with bean sausage, parsnip mash and leek pesto. This one was tasty but tiny! The sausages weren’t too much bigger than crayons and there were only 3 of them. For $12 I would have liked closer to double the amount of food.

While we didn’t eat a ton of food, we decided to end the savory part of the meal there and move on to dessert. Again, getting vegan desserts out around here just doesn’t happen, so this was exciting. I ordered an espresso and a banana-chocolate pots de creme with rum, cocoa nibs and the lightest, fluffiest coconut whipped cream I ever had. This photo doesn’t do it justice in the least. (I was starting to feel self-conscious of all of the food photos I was taking, so I snapped this quickly.) It was so good. I would have eaten a vat of it. A vat.

pots de creme

S got the pear bourbon tart with vanilla bean ice cream and a pear chip. He really enjoyed it. I was eyeing up the pear chip, but of course I didn’t steal it.

bourbon tart

Fat and happy, we ambled outside to find that it was still daylight. Yay for springtime! We decided to just walk around for a while to get moving and burn off some of dinner. We ended up finding a little place called Open House that sold all sorts of fun stuff. We had a blast looking at the off-color office name plates. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into an office and see “Sit Yo Ass Down” on the admin’s name plate? The two items that were picture worthy were these doilies and the mitten flasks.

doily mitten flask

 

The next morning was the race. We hopped on the Broad Street Line and arrived at the start area without major incident. The starting area is kind of nuts. There are tens of thousands of people, hundreds of port-a-johns, and lots of excitement. We got there early so we had lots of time to kill. It was a GORGEOUS day, so standing around and waiting really wasn’t too hard. I lined up in the orange corral, which was 4 corrals off of the starting line. (To explain: you have to predict your time on your application. They corral you – yes, like cattle – based on your expected finish time. If you are accurate in your prediction, and your pace is pretty consistent, there really shouldn’t be much of a backlog. You should be able to start running and keep that pace pretty easily. ) I looked around and noticed that a lot of folks who were supposed to be in the corrals behind us were in with us. (The bibs are color coded based on the color of the corrals.) Not cool. Last year I literally passed thousands of people who were slower than they predicted they would be, or who lined up in the wrong corral. One of the gals near me looked at me, as if reading my mind, and said, “Yeah, I know I’m in the wrong corral, but what does it matter? We’re all going to run our own pace anyway, right?” ARGH. It totally matters. Getting across the starting line and finding yourself in a mass of humanity can be frustrating.

My goal for the race had originally been to hit 1:20 . . . even if it was 1:20:59. My prior PR, set in 2013, was 1:26:17. I had taken about 4 minutes off my time in 2010, which was 4-ish minutes off my first attempt in 2008. I knew it was going to be tough, but my training was going well in the fall and winter. Then winter hit. With my husband gone so much and this winter absolutely sucking, my schedule got all out of whack and my pace started to suffer. Then at the end of March I aggravated my right knee and barely ran through the month of April. By race morning, I was simply hoping to get to the finish line without needing to hop on the subway. I was worried.

I forgot my Garmin, so I flew blind. Even though there were a few clocks along the course, I had no idea how many minutes behind the gun I started, so it was hard to gauge my pace. I made it past all of those folks who lined up in the wrong corral, and then found a comfortable pace.  I wasn’t experiencing much pain or discomfort in my knee, but I was definitely not in the shape I had hoped to be. It was disappointing, but I was thankful to be there and running. There was not one square foot that wasn’t lined with spectators. The energy is amazing, and there is no lack of motivation along the way.

When mile 9 hit, I realized the difference between a mile in an ultra and a mile in a short race. In an ultra, at my slow pace, knowing that there is a mile left is a joyful thing. It’s “just” one more mile. But when I’m running a shorter race, like this one, one more mile at that sort of effort feels like it will take forever. We hit what I knew to be 9.5 miles and I thought the remaining half mile was going to bring me to my knees. When we entered the Navy Yards, I wanted to speed up, but nothing happened. I had been slowing down since mile 7 and that trend continued. All I was concerned with was crossing the finish line. (I finished in 1:24:32 – a new PR.) And then that happened. Hard. Folks simply stopped. I wanted to scream, “KEEP WALKING,” but didn’t want to be a total asshole. I just kept walking quickly and weaving between folks. It was quite warm and I hadn’t had anything to drink since a small glass of water at 6am that morning. I just wanted to keep my legs moving and get a bottle of water. But there were so….many….people.

After I got a bottle of water and my snack bag, I wandered around the finish line area. I scored a free Kind bar, which was awesome because aside from the orange and banana, everything in the snack bag was crap. I ate the banana and the Kind bar and then went to the reunion area. (They have signs dividing the runners up alphabetically by last name.) It was a mess, a hot mess. Literally. The sun was shining and it was warm. I’m short and it seemed like everyone around me was 8 feet tall. My husband started 3 corrals and lots and lots of people behind me, which meant that he likely started 20-30 minutes after me. (I started about 15 minutes behind the gun.) I also knew that he would likely finish about 20-30 minutes behind me. I finally found him about an hour after I finish. He started 55 minutes after the gun and finish 35 minutes behind me. I can’t believe I wasn’t burned to a crisp!

We walked to our hotel and quickly got cleaned up. We headed to Ceder Point Bar and Kitchen for brunch. It was amazing! It was a fun little hipster place in Fishtown. We each got a great beer and a platter of food. I got an awesome dish called Red Flannel Hash. It was diced sweet potatoes, beets, poblanos, onions and apples. I got it with house made vegan sausage (which was amazing) and a plantain cake in lieu of the eggs. The great thing about this restaurant was that they listed how each dish (except for a handful) could be made vegan. It was perfect for a couple like us where one is veg and one is omni. I regret to say that there are no photos of the food; we were too hungry for that sort of thing.

We headed right home to pick up our son. He stayed with my dad and apparently had a ton of fun. This is what he looked like when we walked in:

sleeping E

The funny thing is that my husband was sleeping almost exactly like that in the car on the way home. Like father, like son.