Category Archives: Running

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.

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Oreo cookie cows and bum knees

If you haven’t noticed, and you probably haven’t since I rarely actually write in this blog, I get injured quite frequently. I guess I’m just a fragile-princess kind of girl. Or maybe it’s just because I do a lot of stuff that can cause injury. Since I seem to be lacking a tiara, I guess the answer must be the latter.

Two weekends ago I aggravated my knee during the Tuscarora Trails 50K. I don’t like super steep, rocky, leaf-covered, slightly slippery descents to start with, but since I had those knee problems last fall, I’ve tried to steer clear of those routes entirely. Until that day, I had succeeded. Unfortunately, there was no way around this route. I took it slow, but still could feel my knee crying out for me to stop from the get-go. In the week that followed, I ran more than I normally do during the weekdays since the munchkin I watch was on vacation. By Sunday, I had logged 50 miles – a bit of an increase over what I had been doing. Also by Sunday, my knee was bugging me.

When I woke up on Monday I had some swelling and a lot of stiffness. I decided not to run for several days, but really running wasn’t an option due to my husband’s business trip and the weather (since Little Dude would have had to ride in the stroller). As the week wore on, I grew more and more concerned about my knee. It was more painful on Thursday than on Monday. It was frustrating, but since I know what causes it, I wasn’t as worked up as I was last fall.

I decided to try 3 miles on the roads around my house yesterday morning to see how things felt. The first 2 minutes had me scared. I felt like my knee was going to give out. That quickly passed, thank God, and things began to feel better – not great, but better. Later in the day, though, it seemed to be quite pissed off. Knowing I had a 25 mile run planned for today got me pretty worried. I’m only 8 weeks out from the Laurel 70, so every long run is crucial. I had already changed the route from a challenging, rocky one with a couple of big climbs and descents to a relatively flat, smooth one.

At the start this morning I told Anne that we might run 5 or we might run 25. It was all up in the air. After a couple of miles I decided that 25 probably wasn’t a good idea, but that we’d still shoot for 20. The longer I ran, the better I felt. It was around 50 degrees but windy – OF COURSE! – so it was still a little chilly when we started. But it was clearly spring time. And I was so damned excited! I think I have a form of running-related ADHD or something. I’d be running along, chatting with Anne, and then I’d yell “GREEN GRASS!!” or “Oh my God purple flowers!!” or “Daffodils? Are those DAFFODILS popping up?” and, my favorite, “COWS! I love cows!! MOOOOOO!!!”

What am I? 5 years old?

We hit the 10-mile turnaround, and since Anne is the doctor and my “running mom”, she made the call that, for my knee’s sake, we were definitely keeping the route at 20 miles, not 25. (She made the right call but in hindsight I wish we would have continued on.) With about 8 miles to go Anne was hitting the ladies’ room and I walked on a bit to prevent my knee from getting stiff. I decided to stop to check out the cows. I had a big, dumb grin on my face as I watched them mooove around. (I couldn’t help that.) One was literally frolicking. She’s happy it’s springtime too! Anne then pointed out a cow and told me it was an “oreo cookie” cow.

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She pointed out that one that’s just left of center . . . a brown front end and butt with a white middle. I thought surely she had made up that term for her kids when they were small. But no! I googled it and found out that it’s a Belted Galloway cow and that they are commonly known as “oreo cookie cows”. Is there anything that woman doesn’t know?

After saying goodbye to the cows, we continued on our way. The remaining miles were pain free, warm, sunny and just generally wonderful. I even ditched my long sleeves and ran the last 4 miles in a tank top. WOOHOO!!!!! We encountered a bunch of day hikers, a few section hikers, and several runners also out enjoying the beautiful weather. We reached the end of the run feeling great, and checked out some ducks by the creek. All in all, it was a great run.

As I write this, I’m feasting on a super-yummy post-run meal. I like to make lots of stuff in big batches once a week so I can just throw stuff in a bowl and squirt some sriracha on it when lunch time rolls around. It makes life easy with two hungry little ones. It also makes life easy when you’re tired and HUNGRY from a long run. Today I decided to warm everything up rather than just eating it cold on top of spinach. I melted some coconut oil in my cast iron skillet and added some cubed (previously sauteed) tofu, some roasted butternut squash, some roasted broccoli and a copious amount of turmeric. (My friend Ashleigh reminded me of it’s anti-inflammatory properties so I figured it could help my knee.) I’ve never used much turmeric, and threw a LOT in the pan. Everything turned yellow-orange. At the end I threw in a little spinach just to wilt it. I put that all on a plate and squirted some sriracha on top. It was absolutely delicious!!
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I hope it’s finally spring time where you are and that you are getting out to enjoy the sunshine!

It’s training time!

Spring is slowly springing around here. We had a few days of really nice weather, and now it’s chilly and damp again. But at least it’s staying above 40 degrees. Thank you, God.

With the 70 mile Laurel Highlands Ultra coming up mid-June, I have to kick up my training. I attempted a 50K two weeks ago, after not running more than 16 miles in more than 7 months, and DNF’d. It was my first DNF, and I blame a wicked case of bronchitis. I managed to eek out 23 miles, and realized I have a lot of work to do. Every run for the next 2 months is going to be critical if I am going to finish this thing. And every Saturday long run is going to need to be at least 20 miles. I knew that one of my favorite AT routes would be a great one to get me back into the long-run groove.

Last Thursday and Friday were pretty warm, so it was a surprise to wake up to chilly temperatures on Saturday morning. With the strong winds, the “real feel” was in the low 30s. Boy, was I disappointed. I was really looking forward to some warm temperatures and to ditching my winter clothes! It was so hard to know how to dress for temperatures in the upper 40s with wind chills around 30. I ended up with my lined headband (that covers my ears), a tank top topped with a light half-zip and knee pants. No gloves. That last part mattered.

We hit up the AT where it crosses route 325 at Clarks Creek. At the foot of the mountain, it was nice. It was sunny and it felt warm. I was with my usual trail buddy, Anne, and we brought my friend Andrea out for her first AT run. Andrea is a friend from church who is sorta-kinda-maybe considering her first trail ultra, so I invited her along to show her how awesome trail running is!

The first mile or so is a good, steady climb. Since we were out for 20 miles that day, and my legs were already tired from 20 miles and 2 gym workouts that week, we decided to hike it. Within minutes we were sweating our arses off. We were completely sheltered from the wind, so we were really feeling those near-50 degree temperatures. As soon as we got to the top, though, things changed drastically. It was freezing! Since we worked up a sweat on the climb, we were extra chilly. I was really regretting my decision not to bring gloves. I ended up wrapping one hand in my head band and switching that from hand to hand every few minutes . . . for nearly 5 hours.

We chatted about this and that, gave Andrea some intel about trail running, and whined a little bit (or maybe a lot) about the cold and wind. The miles passed along nicely, and we only had one little near-fall to speak of. Since it was a beautifully clear and sunny morning, we made sure to stop at the vistas along the way. We’ve run this route several times and it’s usually been too foggy to see very far. This was a treat.

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Andrea’s run ended when we reached route 225 on Peter’s Mountain. She had an awesome run and a great first experience on our beloved AT. As we bid her farewell, we waited for my ever-tardy friend Ethan. He was only 2 minutes late, which I think is like being early for him! (I tease, I tease.) Ethan hadn’t been running much during the winter, and his longest run in a good long while was 3 road miles we did the week before. He said that he might just run a short out-and-back, or he might decide to run the full 10-mile route back with us. I’ll admit that I was a little worried that the latter option might not go really well, but when he said that’s what he wanted to do, we cheered him on.

Running the route in this direction is great, and it’s always great to head that direction for the second half of a long run because it’s mostly “down”. We ended up walking more than normal because my bad knee was acting up and making any sort of uphill – no matter how slight – problematic.The good thing was that those moments were few and far between, because, like I said, it was “down” when it wasn’t flat.

Since Ethan had missed the vistas on the first half of the trip, we repeated one of the stops so he could check it out.

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Last year when we did this route (which was on the first day of trout season, just like this year, and we just happen to know this because the parking lot is a huge fishing spot) Anne took a nasty tumble on some rocks and got an awful bump on her head. We were thankful that the rocks weren’t slippery this time and that she could remain upright. The return trip passed blissfully and without incident.

It was so nice to be back out there and to have a good time with some good trails and good friends. I am so thankful that my feet remembered what to do, and that my body remembered how to run 20 miles. I am also thankful that each time I get back into training, it feels a little easier. It’s by no means easy, but my body more readily responds as if to say, “Oh yeah. I’ve done this before. Got it.”. It was awesome to take two friends out for some new experiences and to see them do well.

I’ve decided that this will be a good route to repeat every month or so to measure my progress. I guess we’ll see how the year goes as I do the Laurel Highlands 70 in June and then do the Oil Creek 100 mile race again in October.

Gulp.

Snow

I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last blog. Things have been busy around here. First it was the holidays, and then it was my new job. I’ll blog about that soon. Stay tuned.

We’ve been having a lot of winter weather for what seems like a long time. It seemed to get cold early this year, and we’ve had several small snows thus far. Thankfully they’ve melted pretty quickly, but I still hate it. I absolutely hate winter. We’ve had some snow this week/weekend, and while it wasn’t a lot, it was annoying.

My original plans were to run 17 miles on a local trail route yesterday and then 7 miles on the trails behind my house today. An overnight snow thwarted yesterday’s plans, so I had to figure out a plan B. Plan B involved running on the roads near me. I am not a big fan of road running anymore, but sometimes it is the solution. I NEED to get miles in or my training plan is going to fall apart. I didn’t think I would get as good of a workout yesterday in the snow, so I opted for snow-covered payment. I conned my neighbor into joining me for the first 4 miles and we had a good time. After we came back home, I checked in with my husband and told him I was heading out for 6 more. I knew at this point that I was overdressed (in a light pair of tights and a mid-weight half-zip), but I didn’t feel like going in to the hassle of changing. I did, however, ditch my super heavy gloves for a pair of throw-away race-day gloves that came out of the dryer during my first loop. I was roasting, so that minor change made a big difference. I returned home less than an hour later….sopping wet. In the 91 minutes I was outside the temperature changed quite a bit. There was a ton of slush and lots of puddles through the last few miles. It was messy. I was glad that I got out there, but I was glad to be done.

When today rolled around, I decided to stick with my plan to do 7 miles. While the roads were clear, the trails were still very snowy. While it wasn’t more than 3-4 inches, it was difficult to run in. I’m the idiot in shorts. The appropriately dressed gal with me is Anne. Our friend Roy was trying out some new app so he was snapping photos the whole time.

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I forgot how difficult it can be to run in snow. I didn’t really get out much in it last year, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve done it. It takes more energy that you’d think!

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Getting up the mountain quickly just wasn’t happening. We had to hike it. I’ll feel it in my glutes tomorrow, I’m sure of that.

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Once we got to the top of the mountain, running the ridge wasn’t too bad. We ran into some mountain bikers at our turnaround who gave us kudos for being out in that stuff. Running down the mountain in the tracks that were laid before ours was difficult so I took to running in the untouched stuff on the sides of the trails. That worked pretty well for the most part, and kept my slipping to a minimum. I nearly bit it once, but managed to stay upright. I fought hard to keep my bare legs from getting covered in snow! All in all, it was a good run, but 14 minutes slower than our normal pace.

We’re supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow between now and Tuesday morning. Ugh. Come on, spring!

I guess it’s kinda like Fight Club

I’ve never actually seen the movie, but I know the line: “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.” This run was kind of like that. You don’t talk about it. You have to be invited. You’re probably going to leave bloody. It’s all pretty hush-hush and messy.

I’m still easing back into running shape. I forgot how hard that process can be. The route for the day was 26 miles, but I opted for a 16 mile “short” version. I’m so thankful that I made that choice. 16 miles left me tired and sore – a feeling I haven’t had in a while. The route has some pretty good climbs, some off-trailing (is that a word), and a long-ass descent on hard packed stone. I guess that’s why my shins are abnormally sore.

The weather was cold and windy, but we managed to stay out the wind for most of the morning. The sun was shining so the cold wasn’t so horrible. BUT there were two water crossings that froze me. The first one was a wide crossing, but it was only to mid-shin. The second one was very muddy and short, but it was knee deep. Unfortunately we didn’t get to run after either of those crossings, so our feet stayed pretty cold for a while. Thankfully the water didn’t come until the last quarter of the run, so we only had to suffer with cold feet for less than an hour.

I managed not to fall or trip, however I got smacked pretty hard in the forehead with a pretty thick thorny branch. I screamed and put my hand up to my head to find blood. I can’t say I’ve ever bled from the head on a trail run! Stuff like that always stings a little bit more in the cold, so I think it felt worse than it was. With that said, I do have a small bump there, but it’s barely noticeable. I was pretty pissed that the blood was gone by the time we finished. I had no real war wounds to show! (I’m soooo thankful I didn’t take that hit in the eye. That idea alone gives me the heebie-jeebies.)

My feet didn’t get warm until about 8 hours after the run. Not only do I feel sore in odd places (shins, various small muscles in my calf and ankle regions), but I developed a nasty case of acid reflux from the run. Does anyone else deal with that? When I start back to training each year and start to hit miles between 10-20 (it varies) this happens. It generally only happens once and then I’m good to go for the rest of my training cycle. I know it will pass soon, but it sucks. Wah-wah. I’m glad I stocked up on So Delicious Coconut Milk “ice cream” a while back. Ice cream (even non-dairy) is pretty much the only thing that gives me relief. Guess who is having dessert for breakfast tomorrow?

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