Monday, December 07, 2009

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

Well, what do we have here?

Oh yes, it's a blawg.

So, I have officially submitted all the things I need to submit to finally graduate. It's hard to believe! I defended in November. The weekend after, I saw Joe in Portland, and every time I did/said something dumb (which happens quite often), he enjoyed mocking my status.

Things in Seattle are pretty awesome. The Official Cliche Committee of Seattle made sure I was issued a MacBook upon arrival into the city and so I am writing this now from my shiny new Mac. I already had a fleece vest, so they didn't need to give me one of those. We have had five days of sunshine in a row here, so apparently the Perpetuating Myths Committee has been doing their job too.

Oh and did I mention there is a barrista on staff in my lab who makes us lattes in the morning?

I'm not even kidding.

Running! What's that again? I jest. I have been running a little, but man am I out of shape. A mile and a half winds me. And these stupid hills! Since it is getting cold, I joined a gym and so have been avoiding hills by running on the treadmill. I started going to yoga again too, since my gym is on the same block and it is so convenient. I am soooo sore. But a good sore.

And I need to keep going religiously, because you know what else is awesome about Seattle? The beer. And I swear everyone drinks beer all the time. I haven't had this much to drink, well, ever. I have actually had to declare a beer moratorium, just to detox.

In the meantime, I'm in the process of figuring out which relay(s) to run next summer. Jenny can't organize a van for the Cape Relay anymore, so I'm back to figuring out which one I can convince the most people to run!

Well, now that I am finally a doctor, I might be posting more frequently again. At least when I'm not out drinking beer.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Week-Late Race Report: Elmhurst Turkey Trot

Since I flew back to Illinois to see my family for Thanksgiving this year I decided to enter the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot in Elmhurst. It seems that things don't change much in Elmhurst between my visits... the Trot grows steadily every year. Some dude named Ogelthorpe gets some one-liner printed on some shirts and we all wonder who he is and why people think he's funny (this year's entry: "My kind of music? ... Plymouth Rock!"). And there's a race or something.

It was drizzling and cold when Dad and I walked over to downtown Elmhurst to register ourselves and my brother Lyndon, who was sleeping in. We got there early, before the crowds really rolled in, and apparently before they worked all the kinks out of their operation. They gave us child-size shirts! The effect was funniest on Lyndon, who was a gymnast and still is muscular and broad-of-shoulder. We were able, fortunately, to get them exchanged.

The three of us jogged back downtown for the race together, then split up. I ran into Matt and Dave Montgomery (HS cross teammates) and we started off running together. Matt and I weren't in great shape, and Dave was, having just finished his college cross-country season. Dave was rocking a classic Al Dimond look: a scraggly beard and pajama pants. As usual, we started way too far back in the pack and had to dodge little kids, people with stollers, dogs, cats, and the York High School swim team, which was running the race in Speedos. Splits at the first mile were called out by a guy that was walking back against the flow of the runners. As we approached a turn-around point about halfway through Dave realized that he would have had a shot at winning had he really raced it from the beginning... but that he still had a chance to be the first finisher wearing long pants. So he took off in pursuit of that goal. Matt dropped me with about a half-mile to go because, well, I'm kind of slow right now. A couple blocks before the finish I caught the guy Dave spotted as the first pants-wearer at the turn-around and put him away with my deadly kick. I'm pretty sure that the Montgomerys and I were the three first pants-wearing finishers. And that has to count for something. Final time: 17:47 (oof).

I saw my middle-school cross coach after the race -- he ran a few marathons and was glad to hear my dad was planning to run one. I ran into several other cross teammates as well. And we saw some other old classmates and found out where we were living and what we were doing with our lives. Just like every year at the old Turkey Trot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Paging Dr. Danielle"

Any news?
Inquiring minds want to know!!

Caroline

Monday, October 26, 2009

Helllloooo out there

*briefly popping her head up for a breath from her dissertation submersion*

I have hesitated posting since there hasn't been much to say lately.

Here is a brief list describing the past 2.5 weeks:
  • I have first drafts off all my science chapters!
  • I think my entire dissertation sucks.
  • I really hope everyone feels this way when they are a week out from submitting it.
  • I'M A WEEK OUT FROM SUBMITTING IT TO MY COMMITTEE!!!
  • So much work left to do.
  • Instead I'm blogging.
  • I started running again, yay!
  • But I'm only up to two miles, boo.
  • Also, the hills aggravate my butt, boo.
  • And the hills are unavoidable.
  • And they are big ass hills.
  • I love my new place.
  • Even though sometimes junkies shoot up behind the building and then yell things.
  • But in Ames, I lived less than a quarter mile from the fire station and hospital, so my city apartment is overall quieter than my Ames hous.
  • I officially no longer have a valid driver's license because this state is a big fat stupid dumb state that makes it impossible to prove residency.
  • This is awesomely not a huge deal since I can walk or bike everywhere I need to go quite easily.
  • I should probably go back to work.
On edit: I think I shall go to this bar mitzvah on Wednesday, in honor of Joe. This bar is like a quarter mile from me and really is like a beer snobs paradise (I'm looking at you Glaven).

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm in Seattle!

I'm here!

I took the scenic route through North Dakota.

It snowed in Montana.

I picked up my friend Tamara in Billings and she has been acting as my personal shopper, helping me figure out how to best lay out my room and what pieces I need from a combination of thrift stores, Ikea, and Target.

I got my first new bed ever and it is really nice.

My roommate is really nice. She has a framed award on the wall from when she won her division at the Vancouver Half-Marathon (1/216).

She's fast.

I live half a block from a Wine Warehouse.

I live five blocks from the Theo Chocolate Factory. They have a tasting room.

The weather has been gorgeous and sunny in Seattle every day and we have been able to see Mt. Rainier daily. It really is huge. If you look to the left out my bedroom window, you can watch the sun set over the Olympics.

On the bad side...

I still can't run.

And I have to get back to my stupid dissertation. I have 11 days to finish this chapter. That's not a lot.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Worst. Race. Ever.

OK, it wasn't really my worst race ever. That would be the Rattlensake Master in 2003, when I pulled a DNF due to stomach problems. This may have been my worst race that I finished since high school, though. I ran a 10k and finished with an even worse time than the 2007 New Years' Day 10k I did in Palo Alto after not running for a month due to a sprained ankle and hamstring problems (I didn't even think of that as a race, to the extent that I apparently didn't even blog about it). To be fair, the altitude of that race was about 5 feet with very few hills, and this was a moderately hilly course at about 5000 feet. Forget the time. I got smoked by a girl on a climb. That Does Not Happen.

Well, I won't forget the time completely. I came in at exactly 40:00, in 5th place. The course was exactly the same as the other 10k in July that I ran almost 3 minutes faster. I didn't warm up very well for this race, but that's not why I ran poorly. I just wasn't in good enough shape. I might have gone out a little fast; in the last half of the race my turnover felt good but I was in too much pain to extend my stride much.

Conclusion: I need to hit the track. I don't really like track work that much in the best of circumstances, and it's really hard a mile up in the air, but I need to do it. I have been doing tempo and segment runs occasionally, but I've been doing them on trails where I'm probably using sharp turns and hills to take breaks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Booooo!!!!!

I still can't run.

I limp when I walk.

This sucks!

Less than a week until the move! I'm freaking out here!

And this stupid chapter isn't done yet!

Because this post is otherwise boring and/or depressing, I leave you with this:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My butt is rebelling.

So I'm moving to Seattle in approximately two weeks.

I found a roommate in Fremont. That's near this here dude:

My roommate is also a civil engineer/hydrologist, but who apparently runs like 6 minute miles, based upon my internet stalking of her.

I found her on Craig's List, but because the world is way too small, it turns out she knows a friend of mine from the Peace Corps.

She has a kitty. His name is Beast.

I'll miss Lucky though:

SOOOO.....

In the meantime, I spend approximately 16 hours a day in my windowless office trying to get as much done of the diss as I can.

I was managing to get out to run or do weights 6/7 days a week.

All was good.

I was doing 11 and 12 mile long runs and my last 12 miler was a smidge under 10 minute pace.

Kori is doing the Fox Cities Marathon in Wisconsin this weekend, so a couple weeks ago, I signed up for the half. I have been running decently fast for me, so I totally had my eye on a PR for this race.

I was tapering.

All was good.

Then my long run on Saturday.

Eight miles. Easy peasy.

At Mile 6 I thought "Hmm, my pirioformus is sore."

At Mile 7 I thought "I don't know if I can run anymore."

I stopped and stretched and made it a quarter mile more before I started getting shooting pains all down my leg.

I decided to walk in the last 3/4 of a mile.

I got back to the car and could barely walk. I couldn't put any weight on my right leg. The rest of Saturday, I was immobile.

Sunday, it was a little better. A little better yet on Monday and Today.

But it is still a dull ache in my pirioformus. I'm afraid that if I try to run on it, the same thing will happen. The pirioformus gets inflamed and irritates the sciatic nerve, which causes the shooting pains.

Yeah, so apparently? Sitting at a computer for 16 hours a day is a mighty fine way to make your body rebel against you.

I hold out a small hope that by Friday, if I don't run, that it will stop hurting.

But seriously, how sucky of a friend would I be to go to WI to support Kori and two others running the marathon and then after the race THEY need to take care of ME because I can't walk because of ths stupid sciatica.

Sigh.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

What next?

So four years of relaying under our belt. Next year is going to be tricky. I'm not really sure people comprehend what goes into getting a full 12 person relay team. Seriously - I'm shameless. I ask people I barely know. I send e-mails to running clubs to recruit strangers (I managed to pick up our ringers, Al and Shaun, that way). I have failed to get 12 2 out of 4 times.

So I'm a little worried to be leaving my running base here in Ames. I'm sure I'll meet runners in Seattle, but tapping into a large group will depend on finding a running group I like. So I really have no clue what relays might be potential next year... Do I do the Pacific Northwest? Do I come back to the Midwest? I seem to be able to get a full team in Colorado, so that state works. How about near other places where I have multiple running friends?

Serena, the team captain of Girls Heart Rockets, who are a bunch of scientist ladies that run faster than anyone on our team besides Al and Shaun, have challenged us to the Canadian Death Race:
I'm actually totally game. This is only a five person relay, so theoretically it should be easier to recruit for. But it is in the middle of nowhere in Alberta, so that might be a challenge. It is only a 12 hour drive from Seattle though...

In typical Danielle style, I totally made a spreadsheet with potential relays for next year. In January-ish I'll send out an e-mail and people can vote on which one they would most likely do. Here are the ones on my list now. If anyone has any additions or comments on any of them, let me know!

Cape Relay Quincy to Provincetown MA May
MC200
Madison WI to Chicago IL June
Green Mountain Relay Jefferson to Bennington VT June
Prelay
Portland to Eugene OR July
Ragnar Northwest Passage Blaine to Langley WA July
Canadian Death Race Grand Cache Alberta August
Wild West Relay Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs CO August
Spokane to Sandpoint Spokane WA to Sandpoint ID August
Hood to Coast Mt. Hood OR to Seaside OR August
Ragnar Great River La Crosse WI to Minneapolis MN August
Colorado Relay Georgetown to Carbondale CO September
Ragnar New England New Haven CT to Boston MA September
Ragnar DC Cumberland MD to Washington DC September

Saturday, September 05, 2009

An unusual race report from Meeteetse, WY

Usually when I post a race report it's all about how much ass I kicked, the awesome schwag (sic?) I won, my pace average between 5 and 6 minutes per mile, and how I was close to the leader most of the way but couldn't hold on (I have finished second or third in an absurd number of races, and I think I've only won once). Not so this time. In the 15k race at the Meeteetse-Absaroka Challenge I ran 1:57:54. That's about 13 minutes per mile. And I finished about 25 minutes from the prizes.

I can say I was close to the leader for the first few miles. We were together through the 5k turnoff and I was close behind at the 10k turn-around. A young boy, probably in middle school, led the field for almost a mile -- he was really motoring up the hills and wound up winning the 5k. But that was merely the prologue. The road up to the 5k turnoff was pretty steep, and it leveled off a bit up to the 10k turnaround. Beyond that it got crazy. Too steep to run crazy (and I ran up 4.4 miles at a consistent 10% grade in training). The leader had a bit more legs than I did at this point and pulled away (though he wasn't running much either, at least up the initial ascent).

Then I had trouble seeing the course markers. They were the standard orange ribbons tied to trees, but the combination of exhaustion and mild color-blindness led me off the course several times. I never got too far off, but each time was costly. Pretty much every time I did I got passed by someone, that being one of the major ways I found my way back to the course. So after the long, steep climb we ran along a ridge for a while. A couple more short climbs, then a downhill section that occasionally got scary. For much of this time I was talking with a guy that had just passed me while I was lost, and we helped eachother find the course. And then, as the website put it, "one of the most RADICAL FINISHES around". I climbed, at times on all fours, up a rocky slope, ran on another ridge for a while, and then charged up a steep grassy hill (it was the last real climb of the race, so I showed some life) and headed for the big descent.

I don't really know how long the descent was other than "really long". Way too steep to run down, and I couldn't get enough traction half the time to stop from sliding and falling. My knees and ankles were on fire. I got the hang of it more the farther I got down, though I still looked like an idiot for the photographers. Yeah, that's where the photographers set up. I hope they had an easier time getting down with their equipment than I did. By the time I was at the bottom of the really steep part my knees, ankles, and small stabilizing muscles were so tired and sore I could hardly stumble around the trail without tripping. And I was so short of glucose and so terrified from sliding down the mountain I could hardly think. After getting lost twice around what was probably a really simple creek crossing I followed an older guy that looked like he had some idea what he was doing through the rest of the narrow trail. Then we spilled out onto the dirt road we started on for the last half-mile or so and I brought out my amazing kick. Have to show off the speed somewhere.

After the race everyone hung around, ate, and talked. Lots of nice people. As I told the race director, I had gone out to the area a few weeks before and run some of the trails before deciding on the hardcore 15k race, but since I didn't know exactly where the race was going to be I just picked random ones. I picked much, much easier ones than what we ran. If I'd known I would have either run the 10k or invested in some trail running shoes for more lateral support and better traction, and maybe some of those things that keep pine needles and rocks from getting in the shoes. Next year that's what I'll do. And I'll eat a bigger breakfast to avoid bonking. At least I brought gloves (not everyone did, they were useful when I was falling on my ass).

Overall: hell of a race they put on there out west of Meeteetse. The starting elevation is around 7000 feet, and I think it climbs up to about 8500 before the final drop. I could be wrong, though, as I have only a very faint idea where anything but the starting line is on a map. For anyone curious, Meeteetse is this town, which is very small but full of good people. And the race start is around here.

WWR: I should probably finish this race report up

So it's only been a month since the race and I'm still not done. I'm blaming the diss. It sucks all the will to write out of you. Except for now, when I am trying to procrastinate. But I'm going to keep this short, since... well... I can't remember much anymore.

When we last left our heroes, they had taken a shower and slept three hours.

We got up earlyish, and drove to Exchange 30 to wait for Van 1. We passed Van 1 on Ryan's last leg - Lauren had a keen eye for the stars tattooed on his calf. After wildly speculating as to whether each star had any significance, we continued on our way.

Kelsey had a rough leg, but ran it in to Shaun. Shaun climbed again to the top of Rabbit Ears. He was pretty beat at the top and handed off to me for an "easy" leg. Easy my ass. The leg started at about 9,500 feet above sea level and had like a 200 foot climb. I admit it was mostly rolling, but I was still beat. I passed off to Jamie, who at this point was still hooting and hollering. He had a great leg and then passed off Brady, who had to descend like 2000 feet in five miles. At 23, Brady wasn't the youngest on the team, but he had the youngest knees in our van. He passed off to Dede as the weather started getting pretty warm. Lauren was anchor and ran us in and we crossed the finish as one big happy family in about 33 hours.

Needless to say, we didn't hang around for the awards ceremony. The other three Flatlander teams were all men's teams. One was sponsored by Garmin. Yeah, team BOMIAS wasn't bringing home any bling this year...

We headed back the hotel where I was sad to learn that the bar no longer accepted the 50% off coupon that I get because my sister works there. Booo! Jamie bet The Worn Soles that we would beat them (we yoyoed with them the whole way, but they started a half hour after us). We got ahead in the last set of legs, but not a half hour ahead. So we enjoyed happy hour with their team at the hotel. They were fun people.

Then we went out for Mexican and I may or may not have had two margaritas and may or may not have molested Benjamin Franklin.

Friday, September 04, 2009

It's time to Rock'n'Roll

I'm a little nervous about this one; I'm doing the Rock'n'Roll half this weekend in VA Beach with some friends. It's the first solo race I've run since I pulled my hammy in spring 2005. Not sure how this one is gonna turn out. I've put in some solid training runs, though, and the weather is supposed to be beautiful, so we'll see what happens. Here's hopin'.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WWR: Working on our night moves

We arrived at Exchange 18 and attempted to catch a few Zs. We threw our sleeping bags down by the river. It was nice and peaceful... until some stupid ass team decided to all play movie trivia ten feet from our heads. Lauren camped out next to me did not notice this, but I couldn't sleep at all. Hey you stupid ass team - don't you see all the people trying to sleep?

By the time they got bored it was 8:30pm or so and I had no clue when our team would be coming in. The earliest estimates were 9:30 or so and that is if everyone ran their 10k pace. There were some really tough legs in that set though, so we weren't really expecting them then. But as captain, I wanted to be ready to roll.

So we waited. And some more. They finally came through about 11 pm or so and we set off.

Shaun started with a 9 mile leg with 1800 feet of elevation gain. Because he is a rockstar, he passed a bunch of people. It was colder - probably below 50 or so at the top of the mountain where I had to wait for him. But I get warm fast when running, so I braved it in shorts and a t-shirt.

So I know Paul, the race director, occasionally reads here and I forgot to mention it on the evaluation form, but the spotters were really bad this year. Last time, they were excellent at spotting runners with enough time for teams to get ready ("There's a runner coming! We think he might be British!") This time there appeared to be no communication so teams just had to be ready and recognize their runner themselves.

Anyway, this led to hilarity while we were waiting. I was chatting with an ultra team while we waited for our runners. All of a sudden, this runner comes barreling up yelling "142! 142!" Nobody makes a move. Then the runner looks down at his bib and goes "124! 124!" which happened to be the ultra team we were chatting with.

Shaun followed pretty closely behind and I started running. It was a gorgeous cool crisp moonlit night. I was running in Wyoming, where there is actually a nice large shoulder, so you don't have to worry about traffic. My leg started out flat but then it was downhill for the last three miles or so. I was cruising somewhere around 9:30 minute miles for a good chunk of that. One of the men's teams, The Pipelayers, came into the exchange a little after me and he was on my tail the entire time.

So the thing about the night legs? When you are about to be passed, you know it for a while. You see your shadow in the bouncy headlamp of the runner behind you. To top it off, his van stopped every 100 m or so and would tell me "good job" and then talk to him so I could hear him behind me too.

But the thing is that the dude never passed me! I admit I did push a little harder knowing he was right there. I did get passed a lady from the Reapers. I managed to stay pretty close on her tail the rest of the way, with the dude right on mine. When the exchange was in sight, we all picked it up a bit. We had to cross to road - as soon as we did so, I could hear the dude decide to pick it up and so did the lady so we all sprinted into the exchange. (This is where the spotters needed to be doing their jobs better - no one knew which teams were all coming in together so their runners could be ready).

I was actually last of the three at this point, but fortunately just behind enough to hear someone yell "Cattle Guard!" The dude caught his foot in it and tripped (but was okay I think) and I stopped and walked over it - I decided Jamie could make up any lost time.

That leg was 4.3 miles, and I averaged about 10 min/miles (the first mile was slow since it wasn't downhill).

I found Jamie in the mess of runners and handed off to him. He had a great leg, despite a jump in a ditch (this happened to Pete on the same leg last time - CO needs some shoulders!). Brady also had an awesome leg.

Dede didn't feel well after her first leg and hadn't been able to keep much food down. We had a backup plan of Lauren running both their legs (about 10 miles total). But Dede decided she wasn't coming all the way to Colorado to run only 5 miles. So she toughed it out like a trooper.

Then Lauren ran into Walden and we finished up around 4am or so. For the first time during a relay, I actually bothered showering because I was so cold after my leg. At Exchange 30, the only sleeping area was the grass, which is what we did last time and got rained on. There was no way I was sleeping outside when I was that cold, so we decided to stay at Exchange 24, which made me nervous - there is no cell service, so if we overslept, Van 1 wouldn't be able to find us.

Anyway, it was the best shower ever. For real. Then we slept on a hard tile floor in a cafeteria. Best relay sleep I have ever gotten too. There were no snorers in the room! Can you believe it? Inevitably there is a snorer who keeps the rest of us up.

It was less than three hours of sleep, but we woke up ready to finish this mofo off.

Next up: There is no way in hell that this is an "easy" leg.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Alive, but more surgery

I appreciate all the people who have checked in with me this past year, while I've been struggling trying to recover from the surgery to fix my torn meniscus. It's been incredibly difficult to deal with reading about everyone doing all the things I can't do, like running, biking, even swimming, etc, so I haven't been hanging out much in the blogosphere.

Anyway, I just wanted to update everyone on what the situation is. I found out on Friday that the surgery I had in February didn't work. I am going back under the knife again, most likely this coming Thursday (at least I don't have to wait very long to get back in the surgical suite). I'm continuing to not handle things real well, so I don't expect this marks any substantial return to reading/writing running blog stuff, but I wanted to just let people know, I appreciate everyone who's checked in with me, it means a lot to know people care.

Thanks, and maybe I'll be on the road in 2010.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WWR: I'm serious - this really didn't look so bad when Jessica ran it.

What? You actually want me to finish this thing? Okay, well, the story continues.

We got up at the crack of dawn, piled into our vans and went to the start, at the Budweiser Center. True to team BOMIAS form, we missed the exit (last time one van went the wrong direction on the interstate). Apparently Fort Collins is on the edge of BFE since we had to drive like ten miles to teh next exit.

But we made it, with about a half hour before our start (we were supposed to be there an hour ahead of time). I enlisted Allison as Van 1 Captain and set her to work doing part of the check-in, while I stood in the long ass line for the waiver check.

Then, we hear "Will someone from Back off man, I'm a scientist come to the announcer's tent please." I sent Allison over, figuring there was a problem. But no, they just wanted to interview us over the announcement system. After Allison gave a few tepid answers, I rescued her and tried to be chipper at 5:45 in the morning. I believe John has this on video, but unless he You-tubes it, you will never see it :-)

Anyway, with a few minutes to spare, we got Marie all ready to start the party.
I totally stole this picture from Brady's Facebook page. I'm glad someone took pics!

That's Marie in the pink shorts. Marie is a friend of Kelsey, who is president of the ISU Nordic Ski Club and who I went to Minnesota with for this race. I spent approximately one hour with Marie the whole weekend, since I was in Van 2. I learned after the fact that Marie was famous for opening the minivan door and leaning out and yelling things like "You're so sexy and I want to have your babies!" at the other runners. John also has video of this, and I really hope he does You-tube it for everyone' enjoyment.

So went Marie off and then the long wait for Van 2 began.

We went to the Waffle House.

We went to a very rustic looking Walmart and bought random last minute supplies. Since starting the diss writing, I refuse to read anything of substance, so I got the third Twilight installment (or chick crack as Jamie calls it). I don't even really like the books and I don't like Bella yet I can't stop reading.

We also got some car chalk and for the first time in BOMIAS history, we actually decorated our vans. It only took 4 years. Of course, I am not sure there are any photos of the vans. Other people took photos of our vans. Little known fact: John is an art nerd for his job and once illustrated a book where Chuck Norris was pitted against Mr. T. So Van 1 had a pretty good rendition of Chuck Norris on the side. Van 2 was not as artistic, but the smart kids liked the "Hey there, nice asymptote!" on the side. Which leads me to believe that the next time we do this race that something like "This is my asymptoting over the pass" should be our slogan.

We went to exchange 6 and waited and chatted with the other teams. Roughly at about noon, Van 1 rolled in and Kelsey handed off to Shaun. Shaun is like a bullet and only had a 3 mile leg, so we got ourselves together and sped out of the exchange to make sure I was ready when he got there.

This was my hardest leg. I knew I just had to get through this one and then everything else would be easier. As team captain, I assigned myself relatively short legs (12 miles total), mostly since my running hadn't been as strong as I would have liked it to be. So this leg was 3.8 miles with 400 feet of elevation gain, most of it in the second half.

I started out at about 12:30ish. You notice right away that there is no oxygen. But I went into this leg with no time expectations, so I just focused on getting through it. I even passed someone in the first half! I was petrified they would pass me back on the hill, but they didn't. We chatted as I passed them and they were from San Diego, so they were also feeling the lack of oxygen.

That hill seemed to go on forever. I told myself that if I started running slower than 15 minute miles that I could walk, but I never got that slow, so running was still a faster alternative. I probably averaged 13 minute miles up that hill. As an evil blow, the "1 Mile left!" sign was about 1.6 miles from the exchange. Fortunately because of Garmin, I knew the sign was a lying liar.

When the exchange was in sight, the girl ahead of me (from the Sofa Kings, who we yoyoed with quite a bit) was walking so I decided to add one more piece of roadkill to my leg. At the moment I was passing her, some speedy dude came out of nowhere and said "C'mon girls, we're almost there!" He blew by us but inspired her to start running again, bastard! But I managed to stay ahead of her and finished my leg. 3.8 miles/11:56 min/mi - hey at least I kept it under 12 min/miles!

Then we sent Jamie off - he described his leg below.

Then Brady went off for a big climb. The dude from Team 11 "Can You Beer Me Now?" was determined to catch him (after Jamie passed their runner). That dude was working and was on Brady's tail. He finally passed Brady, but he looked like he was hurting. So that established that team as our nemesis, even though I don't think they knew that AND our Van 1 really liked their Van 1 and had nicknames for them.

Dede and Lauren finished up our set of legs and we went to the same restaurant we went to last time (the Pot Belly) and began the long drive to Exchange 18.

Next up: Seriously, you need to run a relay just to experience the joy of the middle of the night leg.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

WWR: The pre-game

So like usual, I am going to do this race report business in installments. Partly because I'm lazy, partly because the posts will get really long, and partly because it provides easy blog fodder so I don't have to think of other things to write.

So the good times began on Wednesday night when Allison and Ryan rolled into Ames. I graciously offered them my sweltering attic room while I crashed on the couch in the nice cool living room. Allison had been talking about Pokey Sticks upon the return to her alma mater town but then she totally wussed out and did not get them and now I have been thinking about Pokey Sticks for a week.

Mmm, pokey sticks.

We met Dede, Brady, and John at the car rental place. I give total props to Dede and Brady, who didn't know anyone on the team, but signed up to run anyway. Such brave souls!

Then began the driving. I got a GPS for my car right before the trip. We named her Phyllis.

To put it lightly, Phyllis was a bit... slow.

Seriously, I never want to see Lincoln Nebraska again. We saw it for about an hour, trying to find lunch. And ended up at Godfather's. Ridiculous!

(Phyllis got her ass returned as soon as we got back. Always go Garmin. End of story.)

Nebraska still takes forever. I'm surprised there aren't more suicides off the arch in Kearney. You get to Kearney and have been driving forever and you are STILL only halfway through Nebraska.

Despite our little setback, we still rolled into Fort Collins at 6:30 or so and met up with Jamie and Lauren, who were complete strangers until that day but had hours to chitchat while they were stuck in the hotel waiting for us.

The eight of us crowded into the mini-van and went to an Italian joint in FC for dinner. Weirdly, the same exact one we went to last time, and I didn't even mean to do it! We met up with Kelsey, Lindsay, and Marie who were CAMPING (crazy people). And then Shaun and Caroline rolled in from the airport halfway through.

Let me tell you - the fact that everyone was actually in the state of Colorado at dinner time, was a major improvement over last time already!

After a Target run, we all settled in for the night at the hotel. Our slow asses had a 6am start time, so we had to be up at 4:30, boo! Nothing like sleep deprivation to start a sleep deprived race!

Next up: This leg didn't look so hard when Jessica ran it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We looked pretty hot at the start for 5:55 AM

Hey Team,

Here's the start-of-race-pic to compliment Caroline's finish picture.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What'd you do this weekend?

(So, I'm kinda dumb and can't figure out how to force Blogger to split this up into a front-page piece and an after-the-jump piece. If someone else r smrtr, please feel free to do so and delete this. Otherwise, Jesus, this is long. Sorry.)

"What did you do this weekend?" The simple answer is "something stupid." The more complicated one? I ran the Wild West Relay, a 200-mile, 12-person race from Fort Collins, Colorado to Steamboat Springs, Colorado across the Continental Divide at Rabbit Ears Pass.

My friend Danielle organizes these teams fairly frequently (and better her than me), and had several runners for this year get injured, so when she came to me to ask for my help, I said, "Sure, why not?" This led directly to me arriving a few weeks later in Fort Collins to meet everyone else on the team for the first time at a tasty dinner at a local Italian restaurant.

The next morning, bright and early, we drove two vans to the start point, the Budweiser Tour Center in Fort Collins, to check in, put the race signs on our vehicles, and prove we belonged in our division as Flatlanders (folks who live where there's, y'know, oxygen, below 2500 ft). We divided up into our vans there, too: Van 1, with the runners for the first leg, Marie, Kelsey, Ally, Lindsay, and Ryan -- all from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul -- and John, from Iowa, and Van 2, with Shaun from LA, Lauren from Chicago, Danielle, Brady, and Dede, from Iowa, and li'l ol' me.

Marie had the first leg, so at 6 a.m. sharp, she and a handful of other teams' runners went flying out of the parking lot. I should pause here and mention the crazy team names and van decorations. We were Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist. We spent a lot of waiting and running time with teams like It's Only a Flesh Wound, a masters team who did up their vans in Monty Python quotes and fake body parts, We Race the Reaper, a group of ER nurses, Worn Soles, made up mostly of the Annapolis Trail Runners, and the Pipelayers, an all-male team of construction contractors.

After we saw off Marie, my van had nothing to do until the first van finished their set of legs (to reduce congestion on the legs and at the exchange points, the inactive vans couldn't shadow the active ones), so we ate breakfast, picked up a few supplies, then headed to the sixth exchange to wait.

That was the longest five-ish hours ever. We were pumped up, excited, ready to run, and had not a damn thing to do, so we passed the time trying unsuccessfully to relax enough to nap, chatting among ourselves and with teams around us, and checking our watches. When our sixth runner, Kelsey, finally made it in, she had had a terrible time with cramping and oxygen debt, so a couple of us when and ran with her to urge her in the last few hundred yards, whereupon Shaun took the bracelet that acted as our "baton" and took off like a scalded dog. We finished our hollerin', made sure everything had gone OK for Van 1, jumped in our own ride, and off we went! The race was now on in earnest for us.

We kept the windows down and whooped and shouted and banged on the side of the van at every runner we went by, a habit we kept the whole race (save when it would disturb people at night), and one which made us more than a few friends. Van 2 did the same thing. If the Wild West Relay had been high school, Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist would've gotten the school spirit award, hands down.

Danielle took the next leg and ran like a trooper on the first leg of the race classified as "hard." She passed off to me at the base of a hill the constituted the first big altitude rise of the race: 6300 to 6900 feet in 3.6 miles. It felt like running straight up a wall, though the grade wasn't actually that bad. For someone who hasn't run up a hill bigger than 40 feet tall in the better part of a decade, it was challenging. It seemed to go forever, and I got chicked very early, which was sort of discouraging. It wasn't discouraging for very long, though: I got another runner partway up, then passed the woman who'd chicked me before we reached the top of the hill. The top itself was sort of brutal: the road went through a cut that acted like a wind tunnel, creating a tangible wall of air that didn't let up for several hundred meters. The last mile was a gentle downslope, on which I picked off another runner, and fairly flew into the exchange point to hand the bracelet to Brady for his leg. It took just over 34 minutes, which surprised the Hell out of me, since I'm not in what I'd think of as very good condition. I was so pumped about that first leg that I spent the next several minutes just hollerin' and carrying on.

Brady's leg was even tougher, over 800 feet up in 5 miles. He did it like a bullet, finishing strong and handing over to Dede, who had another hard leg. She was hit really hard by the altitude, and felt crappy after she passed the bracelet to Lauren. Lauren breezed through the race's shortest leg and we turned over to the other van in a church parking lot around 2 pm. My voice was already starting to go from shouting and cheering more or less continuously at every runner in sight, louder than anybody else (thanks for the hollerin' genes, Ma).

After that, we went to the Pot Belly Restaurant, a quaint little sit-down joint in the middle of nowhere (not one of the East Coast chain of sammich shops) and snarfed down our chow like starving folks. Well, everyone but Dede, who ordered a salad, took a bite, and realized she couldn't eat. Her altitude sickness was worsened by the 60-mile dirt-road detour we had to take to keep the dust on the runners' route to a minimum. The poor thing sicked up a bunch of water -- that was the only thing in her stomach -- and felt terrible. The view on that route was amazing, however, and many of us got some terriffic pictures.

We reached the Woods Land Cafe and Bar, in Jelm, Wyoming, several hours before the earliest possible time Van 1 could be finished, found a spot to park, and tried to get some rest. It was going to be a long night, any way you cut it. We ate, drank, stretched out next to the creek on sleeping bags or curled up in the van, and waited. While we waited, night fell and the temperature plummeted, from a high of almost 90 when I ran into the 40s. There was no cell reception along most of that portion of the route, so there was no way to find out how far along Van 1 was; ten or fifteen minutes before we thought they possibly could have been there, we went to the exchange point proper to watch for them.

We could see almost a mile up the road, because it wound down the side of the mountain to get to us. All the runners were wearing headlamps or carrying flashlights, and the vans would drive past them. Every van that came into view was "Is that them? Are they here?" We waited, bouncing around to stay warm, and cheering for the other teams' runners as they came in and handed off to their next runner. We waited, wondering if something had gone wrong but knowing that they were out on the longest set of legs in the race. We waited, jogging back and forth from the exchange to the van to get drinks and snacks. Well into the wee hours, several hours after our earliest prediction, the other van pulled in, telling us that Kelsey had been having trouble again but was on her way down to us now. She rolled in to us hollerin' for her, tossed the bracelet to Shaun, and he was off, on a ridiculously hard leg, 9 miles continuously uphill, gaining almost 1700 feet.

He did it comparatively quickly and handed off to Danielle, who covered most of the remaining distance back to the Colorado border downhill. We were waiting for her in a rest stop by the side of the road in Medicine Bow National Forest, trying to stay warm and awake, as it was now past 3 a.m. She came trucking into the exchange neck and neck with two other runners, so I went flying out of the exchange with my counterparts from We Race the Reaper and the Pipelayers. The Pipelayer took off a bit and the Reaper almost immediately dropped the red blinky light we had to wear on our backs, breaking it, so I ran with her for a while until we got to where her van was waiting for her so she could get a new one from them.

The air wasn't cold once I was moving, and the night was positively beautiful. I reeled in a couple more runners, and the middle of the leg, a couple of miles, had no runners near me and no traffic on the road at all, so I switched off my flashlight and just reveled in the pure joy of the run alone in the quiet. Shortly after that, I was overhauled by a whole series of runners from faster teams which had started later as we crossed the border back into Colorado, but that couldn't dampen my spirits, and I kept up best I could until the end of the leg, my longest at 7.1 miles.

As I approached the end, I realized I had gone faster than what I'd told Brady I thought was my best possible time. I wasn't sure he'd be right by the exchange point, and the system of spotters the race used to let teams know their runner was approaching was unreliable at best. So, a few hundred meters out, moving fast and steady, I started hollerin' like a crazy man (and demolishing what was left of my voice) so they'd know who was coming, even though it only took me an hour and a minute. Sure enough, Brady was there just like he was supposed to be, took the bracelet, and away he went.

We had been kind of worried earlier about Dede and whether or not she'd be able to take her leg, but she insisted she was ready for it, so we hopscotched past Brady to wait for him at the next exchange -- which featured a very welcome fire pit right near the exchange point itself -- and she geared up to run again. She did her more-or-less flat segment like a trooper, finishing strong and passing on to Lauren, who brought us to our last exchange for that set, the Walden, Colorado high school, where she turned over to Marie again. We high-fived the other van, they took off, and we took advantage of the comparative luxuries of Walden High: a gym locker room with showers and a heated cafeteria in which we unrolled sleeping bags and passed out. Well, they did; I felt sleep was more important than a shower, so I just stayed curled up in the truck and slept through until it was time to move out for the next van exchange.

That was only a few hours, but I felt amazingly energized by that little bit of sleep, so when we got up at a quarter after 5 and went to a gas station to fuel up and get something to eat, I was really chipper. When I asked the nice old lady behind the counter "How are y'all today?" she was really excited about someone from the South, who'd lived in Carolina, passing through her station. Caffeine, donut holes, and bananas in hand, off we went again.

Van 2 had a short set of legs, so we got to the van exchange and got ready for some of the hardest parts of the race, over Rabbit Ears Pass and the Continental Divide itself. The exchange was near a field of sage that was set up as a camping spot -- a freakin' cold and poky camping spot, according to the other teams who slept there -- along the side of Highway 14. After we spent some time dodging the folks who didn't think that slowing down around all the runners and such was necessary and cheering for other teams' runners as they came and went, Steve, one of the runners from the Worn Soles, and I bet a round of beers on who was going to win between our teams. It added a little spice to the race. Van 1 rolled up and let us know that their runners had mostly done pretty well, but that Kelsey was struggling again. I went partway down the hill that led up to the exchange point and ran up with her again. She turned over to Shaun, then stumbled off the road, crying, and told us it was the hardest thing she'd ever done. She held up, though, and made it to the end. We made sure she was OK, congratulated Van 1 on finishing their part of the race, and jumped in our own vehicle, since Shaun wanted us to meet him 2 miles up the road to give him some water (there were no water stations or anything along the course; we provided everything for ourselves) before he got to the bad part of the hill heading up to Rabbit Ears Pass itself.

We stopped next to a beautiful mountain lake to wait for him -- in the process watching a guy from That's What She Said togged out in a lime-green mesh shirt, a fake handlebar mustache, a sky-blue wig, and absolutely scandalous tights fly up the hill -- and gave him some water. He told us it'd take him longer than he thought, as he was dead legs running. So we went up to the pass, took pictures of ourselves under the sign for the Continental Divide itself, used the porta-johns, and got Danielle ready to roll. Shaun came trucking up that murderous hill, 900 feet up in 3.7 miles, turned over, and we started leapingfrogging Danielle. We stopped twice for her in her 4 mile, to make sure she had enough water, so I started warming up and stretching while we were waiting on the side of the road. I was afraid of what the next leg, 6 miles down the side of the mountain, would do to me if I weren't warmed up properly. Brady did the same, since his upcoming leg was even worse than mine.

Danielle ran straight through, hit the exchange, handed off to me, and away I went, down the mountain. There were actually several nasty uphill spots in the early part of the leg, but by that time, there was nothing left to lose. So, no surrender, charge the hills, which put us over the west peak of Rabbit Ears Pass. There wasn't any question of going slower on the downhill, either: that would've resulted in me somersaulting to the exchange with Brady. My legs really started to feel it about this point; the roads were steeply crowned, which resulted in a lot of stress on the outer side of my left knee. By the time I'd started down from Rabbit Ears, though, it felt like both knees had been worked over with a ball-peen hammer and the rest of my legs hurt, too. No surrender, no slowing down: I trucked as fast as my body would let me down the hill, and came around the bend to see the exchange.

Midway between me and the exchange was a fella I thought was the spotter letting the teams know who was coming in, but he was acting weird and not responding to me when I held up my number so he could see it. So, I resorted to my favorite tactic for letting my team know I was coming: I started hollerin' when I was only 30 or so feet from him. Turned out he was a nature photographer or something, totally unrelated to the race, and I scared the bejeezus out of him. It had the intended effect, though, and Brady was there to take the bracelet. I had such a hard time slowing down that I actually ran about fifty or sixty meters with him before I could come to a stop, which is saying something, because he was flying. The leg only took me 49 minutes, and I was done. I stretched for about a minute, then we grabbed van and hauled ass to get past Brady and put Dede at the exchange.

Brady's leg was one of the more dangerous of the race, because there wasn't a shoulder on the left, so runners were forced to run with the flow of traffic. He had a nearly 7% grade, too. We got to the bottom, and waited, looking for his signature bright-red ballcap. I saw him and said, "Hey, I think that's him." A total stranger piped up next to me and said, "Yep, that's Brady." His aunt and uncle, who lived not too far away, had driven out to see him race. Pretty awesome. He'd been forced to walk for a couple minutes by the sheer punishment of the hill, but he still came barrelling down the hill and passed off to Dede, who was fully recovered from the day before and ready to go.

Dede had a nice, relatively straight stretch with a gentle downhill that took her into the town of Steamboat Springs, winding up along a bike trail. She came in and turned over, and Lauren took off on the last leg, headed for Steamboat Springs Middle School on the bike trail that followed the Yampa River (and boy, was she pissed about the folks taking their ease and tubing down the river). We waited for her at the finish anxiously, ready to call ourselves finishers, while chatting with folks from other teams and chugging chocolate milk, which sounds nasty but was actually kinda nice. She broke out of the woods and onto the track where we immediately joined her, all in our matching team shirts, for the last hundred meters or so, hollerin' and carryin' on the whole way as the announcer read off all our names. We crossed the finish line, together, after 33 hours and change of continuous running, an overall pace of 10:17.

What did I do this weekend? That's what I did this weekend. What'd you do?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Congratulations BOMIAS runners!!

The best-looking team ever got its ass over the pass and reached the finish line with a big smile!

Way to go!





-- Caroline

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Happy July 32nd!

I am in denial that it is August. It's not even possible. So I refuse to accept it.

So, in less than a week, team BOMIAS is off to the Wild West Relay!

No one on the team is injured.
Van and hotel reservations are made.
Awesome team shirts are ordered, courtesy of John:













Team number has been assigned: 3. Turns out that Paul gave #1 to the team that won last year, so Armed and Dangerous did not steal our number at the last minute. That seems fair. And it is probably good that we did not have to show them who's boss on the race course... Of the four Flatlander teams, we have the earliest start time - 6am - by several hours. Which probably means that we are by far the slowest Flatlander team. So sadly, our chances of bling are probably non-existent. Armed and Dangerous is next, with a 9:40 start time.

The bonus of the early start though is that, like last time, I expect we'll be one of the first teams to hit some of the exchanges, which means clean port-a-potties, w00t! Our team's average pace is 8.7 min/mile. If everyone actually runs what they say they run, then we'll actually be within minutes of hitting some of the exchanges after they open, which makes me a little nervous, but the hills and altitude will probably keep that from happening.

In other news, I had an excellent run this morning. I ran the first half with Megan from our MC200 team - then she left me in the dust. But I did 7.25 miles at 10:05 pace. My six mile runs up at the lake have been 30 seconds/mile slower than that! All those stupid hills! We have some hills in Ames, but nothing like Okoboji. The weather was beautiful and I felt like I was comfortably running the whole time without any heavy breathing.

In dissertation news, it is still not done. My goal is to make it to Seattle in time for this. I am totally doing the Brew Ha Ha 5k. AND THEY HAVE A SCAVENGER HUNT. I love Seattle and I don't even live there yet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

BOMIAS is overwhelming you with posts today

So Al reminded me we have a blog. Normally I would feel bad about posting right after him and burying his posts, but the sad reality is that anyone who used to bookmark this blog and look at it has long since jumped ship. Only our fair RSS readers (of which there are 54!) will actually see this. And since you can't really be buried in RSS world, I decided it was okay.

Because in all honesty, I was actually going to post today! I know you don't believe me. But I tell the truth.

I was going to post because I ran 6 miles, go me! It kinda sucked though. So six miles is my long run these days. I knocked it out at a 10:43 pace. I can run 3.5 miles at sub-10 minute pace, so I'm happy with that. So yeah... that is pretty much where my running stands right now.

The good news is that, as team captain, I get to assign myself short legs for the Wild West Relay. And in even better news, we actually have twelve people and I made an animal sacrifice to ensure that none get injured before the relay.

But in sad news, some KANSANS went and registered in the Flatlander division at the last minute under the name... Armed and Dangerous. Fucking Kansans. Don't they know that WE are Team Number 1? And they went and ruined it. Now we are Team Number 2. Don't worry Kansas, we're going to be all up in your ass on that course. What is it about Kansas? They were a problem last time too.

Also, there were only THREE teams in the Flatlander division before, which meant GUARANTEED BLING!!!! But now there are four. So we gotta take down at least one team.

In other Danielle in Iowa news - writing a dissertation sucks donkey balls.

And my stupid effing field work is GOING ALL WRONG and I am stuck at the field site still. And 12 hour field days and dissertation writing DON'T MIX.

So the defense has been pushed back. I'm starting to get stressed and mad and generally unhappy about all this. I'm on anti-virals to keep from getting the herp again, because it is trying its hardest to reappear. And the stupid pills have to be taken FIVE TIMES A DAY! Who remembers to do that shit?

Oh and did I mention the part about being on a boat for 12 hours a day when doing field work? Oh did I also mention how dehydrated I am, because I'm a girl. I'm on a lake. Where does one go to the bathroom? NOWHERE. So I just don't drink enough water.

Waaaah! All I want to do is move to Seattle.

Oh, yeah, and I found the race we should run in 2010 (as long as I don't have a wedding to go to)

The Headwaters Relay

It's a little different from most of the relays we've run, in that you camp overnight instead of running through the night. That's because it's run mostly on dirt and two-track roads, some of which are apparently pretty rough. The race website advises that you need "[a]t least one runner who is comfortable running rocky, steep mountain trails". And to keep an eye out for grizzly bears to allow for maximum possible time to make peace before your certain death (phrasing, here, is mine). There don't seem to be a whole lot of rules (this is Montana, after all): between 5 and 10 runners to a team, each team member must run at least 5 miles per day, and, you know, don't start your next runner until the one running has finished (it would seem to go without saying, but the results show that several teams have violated this simple rule in the past). No silly rotation rules or anything like that.

Well I think it sounds awesome, anyway. And their web designer is awesome, too.

Whoa, Al Fails At Internets. Also, two race reports. Small races rule!

So I moved to Wyoming not so long ago, and everyone thinks I've decided to go into hiding because I haven't been blogging or IMing or Facebooking very much (I've heard there's this thing called "Twitter" that all the kids use... I haven't been doing that either). So after finishing my first triathlon today I thought I should blog it. Yeah! I am not dead to the world!

But before the triathlon, my 10k. Yeah, it happened two weeks ago on July 4, the Cody Runners' Stampede. Stampede? Well, Cody is a big rodeo town. Rodeo Capital of the World (self-proclaimed), in fact! The race was a split 5k/10k, starting at the Rec Center downtown. About 200 runners showed up, and the race organizers seemed pretty happy with that. There were no mile markers on the course and I didn't have my watch with me, so I can't give any numbers on pacing. The altitude here in Cody is just about 5,000 feet even, which doesn't bother me at all unless I'm going fast; my track workouts have all been brutal, but my long runs and bike rides have been pretty good. No race website, but I made a map.

The split occurred at the first turn, so all those speedy 5k guys were out of our hair early. I was in second place after the first turn to a dude in a red and white jersey. He led most of the way up to the turn-around on Skyline Road. I took the lead shortly before the turn, on a climb, and he took it after the turn on the way back down the hill. We turned right off the road onto a dirt trail along a creek. On this trail we were running the opposite direction of the 5k runners, which would be fine if everyone just kept right. They didn't, and there were no other 10k runners near us, so we had to dodge through the crowd. I picked up some ground in this section, and I felt like I did a better job picking smooth routes through the congestion (something I had to do a lot in Chicago). Coming out of that section there was a short, steep climb and descent. I took the lead over the hill, but then on the long flat section around the lakes on the east side of town he overtook me and built a significant lead. I couldn't make up any ground on the way back into town and wound up in second place by 20 seconds, 36:57 to 37:17. The winner was under 20, so I did finish first in my age group and win a spiffy green camping chair!

Comments on this race: it was a nice course, too bad for all those pesky 5k runners we had to dodge. I'm pretty happy with my time considering the altitude. I would have been in second basically wire to wire had I not taken the lead twice because of hills (I'm a really strong climber and not so great on downhills) and traffic. Considering the altitude I'm pretty happy with the time. 2 minutes off my PR, but I may have to use a different set of PRs for high-altitude races. I don't think the altitude is worth two minutes, though; I'm in nowhere near the shape I was in when I ran 35:18 (maybe) in Golden Gate Park.

RACE REPORT THE SECOND

Today was the Cody Summer Tri, a sprint-distance triathlon. 500 yard pool swim, 13-mile bike, 3-mile run (they called it a 5k but the course was really only 3 miles). We started, finished, and transitioned at the rec center; there wasn't a big time clock or people keeping track of splits, so I don't have those exactly. I think there were about 40 entrants total, and at most 16 men.

The swim was pretty uneventful... or, if it wasn't I wouldn't have noticed anything, being under water and not having my glasses on. I've only been swimming for a few months, and with no instruction other than YouTube videos; in training I got just under 10 minutes for 500y, but I don't think I swam quite that well today... it's hard to say just why, but I didn't feel good in the water. Hopefully I have a lot of improvement ahead of me in this leg of the tri. I pulled out of the water at the same time as one other guy, and about 3 of the other 8 in my heat were already gone... maybe. Again, I couldn't really see much without my glasses on. The guy that finished with me got through the transition a lot faster than me; he probably had Real Bikey Shoes With Clips And Stuff that he could pull on faster than I could get my running shoes on. He probably also had an easier time seeing which bike was his. I put on my glasses and comically large sunglasses and jogged my bike out of the transition area.

I was a little unhappy with the start-of-race bike directions; coming out of the parking lot we had to make an uncontrolled left onto a fairly large (but, at this time of the morning, not heavily-trafficked) street, and then a right onto the major highway east out of town. They wanted us to ride the left shoulder of the first road, and then make the right at the light like some horrible vehicle-pedestrian hybrid, which is against every principle of safe and effective cycling. It's amazing how many people don't understand that you're most visible and predictable when acting like a vehicle on the road.

Anyway, I came out onto the highway chasing my swim buddy, who was now maybe 50m in front of me, but I quickly realized that I was losing ground and stopped worrying about him. We had a and slight tailwind and a few rolling hills with an overall slight incline on the way out, the opposite on the way back. I managed to get through my whole bottle of Gatorade and about half my bottle of water -- these things are necessary if I'm going to have a fast run left in my legs, so I tried to get lots of liquids down on climbs and other times when speed and wind resistance was relatively low. A nice guy that I was talking to before the race passed me on the way back and I managed to stay within 20-30m of him. We got stuck at a red light just before the finish of the ride... oh well. I didn't race very hard after the stop light, doing some stand-up riding and stretching to get my legs ready for the run. I came into the transition area several seconds after him but left well before, since I didn't have to change shoes. I just dropped the bike off, took off my helmet and ridiculous shades, and started running, just 30m or so behind my swim buddy. I did start my watch at the start of the bike, and checked my time at the exit of T2: 42:56.

Now supposedly triathlons are all about the bike, but I really made my big move in the run. After my quick T2 took back the place I lost on the bike I was in 4th in my heat. My form didn't feel very smooth, especially in my upper body, which was tight from riding, but I was at least able to at least get my stride length nice and long and force myself to turn over quickly. It only took me a couple minutes to catch 3rd (my swim buddy again), and then I was running alone until about halfway through, when I realized I was about 200m behind 2nd. It took me around a half-mile to make up the distance, and then for the last mile I was alone again. I felt like I finished pretty strong, and came in with a 3-mile run time of 17:49. I didn't see the first finisher until after it was over; he said he and the 3rd finisher were out of the pool around 8:30, and it sounded like the 3rd finisher really wore out his legs trying to keep up on the bike. The 1st finisher had a final time of 1:10:thirtysomething, and I was 1:12:07.

Most of the top competitors were in my heat, but one guy who registered late destroyed the field from the next heat, finishing under 1:02. So I think I came in third overall. I'll have to go check the final results later and verify all that, but I'm pretty sure it's right. I feel pretty good for a first-timer.

So here's what I can make of my splits:
500y swim + T1 (no idea what T1 was): 11:22
13mi bike + T2 (T2 couldn't have been more than 30 seconds): 42:56
3mi run: 17:49
Total: 1:12:07

Apparently there's a triathlon in August in Worland, so I might take my second dip then!

Monday, June 08, 2009

We're going to be so popular!

So yeah.

This whole trying to graduate thing kinda puts a damper on blogging.

But I'm alive.

I am still lumbering through 3-4 mile runs.

Getting ready for the Wild West Relay. We still need three runners or so, so if anyone in the blogosphere wants to run with us, let me know!

My defense has been set for 8/20, but there is a chance it won't happen that day due to field work. Unfortunately, this cold spell we've been having means that my lake is not staying stratified. No stratification = no internal waves = no research.

In other news, last night I watched Twister for the first time in a very long time, at least since I started grad school.

As someone whose research now requires her to mobilize a team quickly in response to weather, I found a whole new appreciation for the movie.

But my favorite line was at the end when they finally get their instrument to be sucked up into the tornado so that they can get the measurements they are trying to get. Everything comes together and they start getting one-of-a-kind data back from the sensors and it is making pretty plots on their computer and everyone is cheering and one of the nerdy grad students/lab techs exclaims:

"We're going to be so popular!"

So needless to say, the other grad students and I plan on exclaiming "We're going to be so popular!" every time we successfully collect data.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I suck at blogging

So, as you might have guessed, things are a little crazy around here.

I got back from San Francisco a week and a half ago, suffered from crazy jet lag/sleeping schedule readjustment (hello 4am!) and then spent all last weekend madly trying to write a conference abstract so that I can go gallivanting around Germany spend three days trapped on an island in the Baltic with a whole bunch of scientists in September.

(Note to LtK, take the job in Berlin! I have been to Paris way too many times (okay, twice). I know this is a tough problem to have, but all my friends keep moving to Paris and really I'd like to go other places in Europe before I return there).

I had to pull an all-nighter since I didn't get my hook for the abstract until 2:30pm. Which happened to be a half hour before I had to leave to go see these boys in MSP (and left a little bit sad I wasn't moving to NZ):

(This particular link is for Lisa)


So part of the reason I love science is that I actually do get excited about it. So I spent the drive up to MSP silently laying out my abstract while my friends chatted. We got back like at 2am and I got to work and busted it out. Stupid Germans and their being 7 time zones ahead meant that mofo had to be in by 10am.

So after that fun, I got ready to move to my new summer home at the lake.

We went up on Tuesday, are back for the weekend, but go up through June starting Monday.

Seriously people, I have the sweetest lakeside house EVAR. We have a spare bed. Come visit. Without meaning to be, I am up every morning as the sun is rising over the lake. This is going to be the dissertation writing retreat.

I'm living with the two other grad students, two 23 year old boys. After living with 23 boys for a month, this should be cake. We are currently in the disclosure phase of living with new people:

Me to J: You might as well just let me organize the kitchen instead of trying to be helpful, since I will reorganize anything you do because I am OCD like that.

M to me: I might as well tell you now. I swallow my toothpaste.

I only know this because we are both toothbrushing wanderers who stroll around the house while brushing our teeth, so yeah, I would notice.

Anyway...

Running.

I am trying to get back into the swing of things.

I am not signed up for anything so I have all the time in the world (well, except the Wild West Relay, but I'm captain so I get to pick which legs I run).

Taking six weeks off hurts.

The "Danielle doesn't have a spontaneous bone in her body so she either needs a training plan or a mathematical way to decide how far to run" plan goes as follows (it worked for National!):

During the week, I run short. The short runs are a distance a half mile farther than what I can run at a sub ten minute pace. I can do 1.5 miles now at that pace, so next week they will be 2 mile runs.

On the weekend, I run "long." This distance is twice the distance I can run at a sub ten minute pace. So, for the math incompetents out there, this means I ran three miles today. I do my long runs using heart rate and keep it in Zone 2 (146-156 for me).

I'm not going to lie. This week hurt. I got in four runs (for a total of 7 miles - ha!). My first run was the most painful mile ever. My lungs were searing, my legs hurt. It was not pretty. I PRed at a HM six weeks ago! What is this! At the lake, running will be easy, but boring. Given the location, there are two directions to go - north or south. One side of the road are fields. On the other is the lake (but hidden from site). There are no turns really. And it is exposed so my runs are going to have to be early morning.

Anyway, I might as well track my progress here, at least for my long runs:

Today: 3 miles (10:59 min/mile @ 154 avg HR)
Week: 7 miles

Running song of the day: Islands in the Stream (Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Rock on!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

She emerges from the sea, windburned and pudgier than before...

It seems like I can't leave anything to Joe.

Can he post once in the month I was gone?

Nooo. He is too involved with "healing" and shit.

Whatever man.

Anyway, I'm on land! Of course, this morning I swear my luxury king sized bed was moving up and down. In fact I am pretty sure I might be swaying still. No, I KNOW I am still swaying. The big question is whether or not I am swaying so obviously that people think I am crazy.

So now we summarize the month in bullet points:

  1. The herp is gone! And I am pretty sure I didn't infect anyone.

  2. Being the only girl was actually barely noticeable. And I am pretty amazed that the bathrooms stayed as clean as they did. Because seriously, moving target!

  3. And unlike when I spent all day working with only men in my two jobs before grad school, I didn't have to spend the day being hit on and/or listening to stories about visits to the strip club.

  4. Unfortunately, I did not get my own room but instead shared with the other postdoc (who may or may not have been a boy with a cute accent). But we were on opposite 12 hour watches, so we actually barely saw each other.

  5. We saw (in no particular order): orcas, humpbacks, gray whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, and dolphins. Orcas kinda are the assholes of the ocean world though (as we all know from watching the Planet Earth series on PBS). About a mile away from us a pod took down a baby gray whale while its mom stood by helpless. And apparently they just eat the tongue.

  6. My favorite part was running one of the instruments off the back of the boat because half the time seals or sea lions would hang out flipping around and just generally being cute. To all the jaded west coasters they were like "Argh! They'll bite the line!" To me, I just think "Aw, cutest menace to science EVAR!"

  7. My least favorite part was running one of the instruments off the back of the boat because half the time it was at night and the swell was huge and I swore there would be a headline "Iowa girl falls overboard chasing science."

  8. There was bacon EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm only human. Oh and homemade desserts. And candy bars. My willpower was not sufficient.

  9. Except for fried food - I skipped many a lunch because I couldn't even go near the galley. It would be useful if this disgust of fried food would stay on now that I am on land, but I am pretty sure that won't happen.

  10. There was no exercise the entire time. The boat was too small for running.

  11. On the plus side, it probably means my calf has atrophied healed!
Okay, now I have three months to run my way back into shape for the Wild West Relay!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dear DC, I owe you an aplogy.

Dear DC,

I know last time we spoke, I may have maligned you and suggested that I might have possibly gotten the herp from having to drink water from the same jugs as 8000 other runners, without cups.

But apparently, *I* am the one who brought the herp to DC.

Yes sir.

I have am having a bout of herpes zoster.

Or as known to most of the world: Shingles.

I was just getting the beginnings of an itchy spot on my back right before I went to DC.

The good news is that Shingles isn't contagious, so you don't have to worry too much.

Unless you haven't had chicken pox yet, in which case, I am sorry.

I'm blaming the Scottish dude since stress can wake up one's dormant chicken pox virus.

On the plus side, since it has now been confirmed that I will be the only girl on this boat, there will be no pregnant women around for me to infect in especially bad ways.

Anyway DC, I'm sorry for implying that you might possibly be a dirty ho, when really that ho is me.

From Iowa with love (and herpes),
Danielle

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sugar Induced Coma

So I have pretty much zero time, since I go to sea on THURSDAY, but I thought a race report was in order. At least before I pass out because of the sugar coursing through my system...

It was Donut Run Day!

I ran a 41 minute 5k and ate 8 Krispy Kremes.

My donut time deductions were nowhere near the time I lost eating donuts.

And once you commit to 8 donuts (one at each stop - my goal for my final time doing this race), speedy thoughts go out the window (well for me at least - Steve in a Speedo is the very obvious exception to this rule). You find yourself in a certain cohort of others that have similar plans so are at the donut stops at the same time as you and you end up chatting while eating your doughnuts.

It's really like a leisurely run where you feel like you might throw up with every donut you eat and you ask yourself "why am I doing this again?" and then you remember "oh yeah, because it's awesome!"

Seriously, I don't need another Krispy Kreme for a loooong time.

And, even more importantly, I finally have my set of 4 Donut Run pint glasses, which was the real motivation for signing up again this year...

This is short, but mostly because I really think I might crash from this sugar infusion. I'm barely holding on here!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It was like making out with every runner in DC.

I think Joe's sister summarized it perfectly (to paraphrase):

"So you PRed, but you also got the herp. It all about balances out."

Now that I have teased you into reading a long rambling race report, I probably should start.

Friday, we had a little bloggy runner meetup and it was good times people. Since I am a lazy linker, I will link to Audrey, who posted a photo and linked to all the bloggers in it. It was fun to meet everyone in person, even if I have been a blogging slacker in the last month and don't really deserve the title of "blogger."

So like Jeanne, I made Ray tell me how I should run this race and then kind of ignored it. What I didn't ignore, was the advice to lay off the Adams Morgan hill. Anyway, who ignores advice that says "Go ahead, be lazy."

Definitely not this girl.

Joe was kind enough to drop me off at the start around 6:20ish. After hitting the portapottie line, begging the med tent for some motrin, which I had forgotten to take, I found my corral and bumped into Jeanne.

And then we were off! I tried to ease into things and lay off a little on the first mile and ended up with a 10:30, which was NOT in the plan. So then with the help of a downhill I ran mile 2 in like 9:40 to even it out. Then I managed to settle into a pretty regular pace through mile 6, coming through there at 61 minutes. Then the big hill began and I laid off, yielding me a nice 11 minute mile for mile 7.

So at this point, I kinda thought my chances of PRing were slim. I'd have to run 10 minute miles for the last six miles to get in under previous PR. And that seemed highly unlikely given my fitness theses days.

But you know what? Apparently that first half really was quite uphill even if it didn't feel that way too badly. Miles 8-11 I was easily cruising at like 9:45 pace. There was another uphill getting to Mile 12, but it was mostly downhill to the finish after that. Those downhills mentally saved me, since I knew I could handle running downhill for a mile at the end.

I hit Mile 12 at 2:02 and I realized I just needed to pull out an 11 min pace for the rest to PR, which seemed totally doable given the downhill (although I was fading fast). At that moment a little Beyonce came on the ipod and I got my groove on and finished this baby up in 2:12:58, about a minute PR. Looking at the race results, I averaged 10:14 through the first 10k and then 10:09 overall.

I finished at almost the same exact time as the marathon winner. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why there were police motorcycles blocking my way as I tried to get down the finisher's chute. Didn't they know I had a PR to get?!!!

And so now you may ask, where on earth do diseases come into this?

So I loved the course, but srsly National, get some effing cups. I got water at Mile 3 and took two clif blocks. I was going to take a swig of gatorade at Mile 5 but there were no cups so I just decided to hold out until Mile 7. I got to Mile 7 and there were no cups there either.

Ruh-roh.

So I followed suit with every other runner and chugged water straight out of gallon water bottles they had out. There was a concerted effort to not touch the bottle at all with one's mouth, but we are talking 8000 runners. Someone at some point hit the bottle.

Mile 9, still no cups.

Mile 11, STILL no cups.

Seriously, you would think that after they ran out of cups, someone would have gotten their ass to ANYWHERE that sells cups and bought a boatload and gotten them to the aid stations. Fortunately the weather was cool so there wasn't as much of a need for water, but I personally needed it to get my nutrition down.

So yeah, I was swigging left and right. If I end up with some weird ass disease, I'm totally sending my bill to the race director.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quote of the day

The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion.
- Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Saturday, March 14, 2009

5 Week Follow-up with Doc

Had my latest post-op with my doc on Friday. Overall, he is pretty pleased with my progress. I still have a little swelling, which he wants me to work on, and I can't quite straighten my leg all the way out (probably about 5 degrees short of straight), which he also wants me to specifically focus on.

Other than that, he told me to lose the knee brace, and wean off the crutches. It's going to take a few days to get my normal gait back, and it'll take probably a week or two before I have the strength to get through a whole normal day, so I'll probably not be back at work in the office for a few weeks yet, but I'm making progress.

I'll probably be in physical therapy for a few more months, but now that I can really start to bend and put weight on the leg, things will step up and really begin to move forward.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Swimming update

Just wanted to post a quick note (since apparently I don't have much else to do these days, as I've been laying on my couch for the last 5 weeks). I went swimming the other night again (second post-surgery swim). You might remember from my post last week about my first swim, I had a frustrating time. This time, though, It was so much better. I swam 200m warming up, then managed to do 500m. My leg didn't hurt, and I was able to actually stabilize it in the water so it wasn't flopping around like a dead fish. I felt fine in the pool, though when I got done and got out, I was completely spent. It actually took all my energy to make it back up to my sister's apartment. I kept tripping on the crutches, and almost fell a couple of times because I had no energy (I must have looked drunk). But anyway, the swimming felt good, so I am happy. I'll be happier when I can drive myself over to the pool again, so I can swim whenever I want, rather than being a burden on Sherri, but happiness from being able to swim without any real pain. :)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Crunch Time

So Danielle in Iowa needs descend deep down into a writing cave before she leaves in April to go to sea for a month. I haven't logged into google reader IN A WEEK so I haven't been around the internet leaving lovely pearls in the comments section of other blogs. I hope you'll all be able to bear my absence for the next couple of weeks.

A paper came out THIS MORNING that scoops a few elements of my dissertation (and several elements I of the paper I have been working my ass off to submit in the next couple of weeks). Since the paper is in a "rapid announcement" journal, the idea hasn't been fleshed out yet completely (it is essentially a 4 pager saying "we did this!") but it probably means a longer paper is in the works which means my paper needs to be out ASAP so alas I must go away for a bit.

Because I still procrastinate, so you can find me rambling on Twitter still.

So in running news, I did my last long run before National last night. It was only 10 miles, but it was a good run. It was a gorgeous 40-50 degree evening with a bright moon and I felt great the entire time. I did it at 10:14 pace in HR Zone 2, which is faster than any of my other long runs to date this season and is also PR pace for the half-mary distance, although I am not sure I could hold on for another 5k. What a difference actually taking gus does! I didn't bonk at all.

So yeah, training for National hasn't been ideal, but I have been trying to work on consistency and not ramping up miles too fast, which I was pretty successful at. I was getting in at least 20 miles a week, usually consisting of two 6-8 mile runs and 2-3 hard 3-4 mile runs.

Unfortunately, this did not work. My stupid injury prone self is having calf issues again. This feels almost exactly the same as the injury that sidelined me for Chicago 2005. It's on the base of my calf on the inside and calf stretches don't get at it. It can be sore all day and hurt right a lot when I start running, but once it is warmed up it is fine (last night it didn't bother me after the first mile).

So I am trying to figure out the game plan for the next two weeks. How often and far do I run so I don't irritate the calf yet don't lose fitness?

Anyway, sorry for the most boring post ever. My motivation to amuse others has been completely sucked away. I'll be back for sure, but I gotta take care of business so that I can force you all to call me Dr. Danielle in Iowa.

In the meantime:

1. Hey if you are running National, I think we are having a bloggy carb loading dinner the night before!

2. Hey, if you like doughnuts, come run the Doughnut Run!

3. Hey, if you like crazy races, come join our team for the Wild West Relay! Seriously, we only have 5 runners now so we need you! At least if you live below 2000 ft.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Hehehe

I was looking through some posts from last year leading up to my marathon attempt, and I had a really funny thought. All the comments about my knee being sore are pretty funny when you replace "knee pain" with "torn meniscus." They read really funny, in a "God, you're a retard, don't run a marathon on a torn meniscus, stupid!" kind of way.

One of the funniest may have been this quote from my Reflections post:

Injuries: I learned a lot about how to distinguish aches versus injuries. Along this journey, there were a few aches I mistook for injuries, and an injury that I mistook for an ache. I think this is one of the most important lessons I learned this year.

"...an injury that I mistook for an ache." Understatement of the year!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First post-op swim and other observations

So I went swimming for the first time today since surgery. I still have to wear the knee brace and use the crutches for at least another two weeks, so I had to use the pull buoy, though I expected that. Swimming was hard. I managed to do 4 laps (2, then stopping to catch my breath, then 2 more) before feeling enough pain that I had to stop. In defense of swimming, I was actually in pain before I went, but I wanted to at least see what it was like. I have lost so much mucscle control and use that my leg was literally flapping behind me as it was basically being dragged. I couldn't even stabilize it without hooking my feet together. It felt extremely weird. I also got really tired really quickly. I'm going to try to go back Thursday and see if it is any easier.

Also, I've made a few interesting observations. The other day, I thought about it, and I realize that for the last 3 1/2 weeks, I spend, on non physical therapy days, approximately 22-23 hours on my couch. On PT days, that's down to about 19-20 (woohoo!). This is having quite an interesting effect on my mood, and my view of the world. Mostly, it's not in a good way. I also noticed I am not eating a whole lot. I drink a lot of water b/c my apartment gets dry, but I just am not eating much. I think I was afraid that being totally sedentary would cause me to gain a bunch of weight, so I cut back on my eating. Anyway, I got on a scale today for the first time since the day before surgery. After being on my couch for 3 1/2 weeks, I am 2 pounds lighter than I was before surgery. It's pretty bad. I need to eat, probably a lot more.

Oh well. At least I know what I need to do -- keep swimming and it will get easier eventually, and eat more/smarter.