>Your Mom’s A Yurt.

>First, let me just say that Greenbrier State Park is the sheezy. Nestled in the mountains in Boonsboro, this little gem has everything you could ask for in a training weekend – a lake, beach, roads to ride on and plenty of trails.

That being said, what does 18 miles on the AT give you when it’s 95 degrees outside other than stomach cramps, dehydration and the worst run of your life? Great ideas. For awhile now, I have been tossing around the idea of purchasing some sort of real estate as an investment. I am mostly looking at vacation properties, namely cabins and such in the woods. However, it was on the run this weekend that the concept of a Yurt was brought to my attention. By definition, a Yurt is “a modern adaptation of the ancient shelter used by Central Asian nomads for centuries. The compact shape of the yurt and combination of lightweight members in tension and compression mean that the structure is highly efficient in maximizing strength while minimizing the use of materials.” In short, these things are awesome. So, the moral of the story is, I am going to buy me some land and build a yurt on top of it. Yurts have running water, AC, Heat, and you can make them permanent dwellings by including some sweet things like hardwood floor, a loft, a deck, etc. If you have had any experience with yurts, please let me know. Or, if you would like to look into this amazing concept to perhaps investigate the possibility of owning your own yurt, here are some links for your viewing pleasure:

>Blame it on the henny

>After running on Saturday I was able to realize how far I have come. From training, to recovery, I feel like I have most of my bases covered as I enter the final phase of my training for Western States. In fact, after looking at pictures from the race one of my biggest concerns is figuring out how to look cute while I run. So I’m not doing too bad. My goal is a sub-24 hour finish at WS, (well, let’s be honest, sub-22) and I do not want to give myself any excuses. I want to prepare as well as I can in the next 8 weeks so that I have no room for blame. When I toe the line I want to feel as if I have done everything I can to prepare, so on that day I can relax, and concentrate on just moving forward and nothing else.

Of course, one of my main concerns (as always) is nutrition. In my past few races I have survived on loads of fluids and electrolytes and Gu. After the finish, I can sense that my blood sugar is low (mostly the dizzy/nauseous feeling I have) but after a handful of chips or pretzels I bounce back quickly. While the Gus are enough for a 50 miler or 100K, I doubt that they will help me survive 100 miles. Or at least if they do, it will not be a pretty sight afterwards (and that might disrupt me looking cute in the pics afterwards). So, I have 1 ultra and 1 half-IM distance race to find something more substantial that doesn’t make me vom or poo. First try will be Ensure (vanilla). I have had this at races before, but I have never felt like I needed it. However, I think I will be able to get it down, as long as I can keep it cold. I will also try pringles, as these seem to be relatively okay with me on a long run. Finally, I may try to get some soup at the NF50 and see how my stomach does with that. If those options do not play out well, I will be forced to try something new at WS, and just pray.

If anyone out there has suggestions for things to try on an ultra, please let me know. I have tried pretzels, sandwiches, quesadillas, candy, etc, but nothing seems to be appetizing. That’s what makes me think I need to go for some sort of nutritional supplement drink.

Next thing I need to work on is being comfortable carrying loads of water. I do not like to race with a douchebag on, as my back gets tired and they get hot really quick. However, even just carrying one water bottle makes me want to cry when I’m at the end of a 50 and I’m doing climbs. The plan for WS is to carry two bottles, plus have a spare in a mini douchebag thing made by Nathan. I will attempt the 2-bottle carry during my long runs on the AT this weekend, and then most likely try to race with it at NF50.

All in all, as I iron these two things out and get in my long runs the next month or so I am beginning to feel ready. I put in about 35 miles since the race, with about 50 more coming this weekend. Unfortunately, with all this running I am not able to get on my bike outside much yet, but I will try to squeeze that in on some week nights coming up as well. My hope at this point is that the strength I am building from these long runs will ultimately pay off on the bike as well.

We shall see.

>Um yes, I’ll take that.

>My mileage went above 90 for the week for the first time this year. The big question is, how do I feel? The short answer: Awesome. The long answer: read on.

That mileage is mostly attributed to Saturday’s race, the Bull Run 50 Mile Run (actually 50.4…ha). Put on by the Virginia Happy Trails, this was a great spring race. Only 1.5 hours from Baltimore (at least when you do the drive at 4am) these trails are spectacular. I woke up Saturday morning around 3:30, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Brad would be accompanying me on the day’s adventure. After hearing that my parents had opted out of going to the race and I was lacking a crew, he skipping a wedding (although I think he was looking for an excuse not go) to drive down and help me out. This turned out to be crucial.

When we got to the park, I hopped out of the car into the dewy grass in my shorts and jacket, and was freezing. The temperature was below 40, and of course I hadn’t brough along any warm clothes. Such is life. Picked up my number, went over the course with Brad and we decided that I would let him know after the first 11 miles if I wanted him to run miles 16-26 and 40-50 with me. It was fun to see a lot of the same familiar faces at the race, and before I knew it we were off onto the trail (314 starters, 265 finishers). The first out and back portion of this race is “relatively” flat. I had been warned ahead of time to really make sure to take my time and save my legs for the last 30 miles where things get fun. Between that advice, the heat I knew would hit later in the day, and my own plans for the race (see post below), I managed to stick to my plan and ran 8:30ish on the dot for the first 11. I felt good at this point, but I definitely noticed the fact that I was racing on tired legs, and told Brad that yes, in fact he will be running with me today.

The day was warming up fast, and I was sticking to my plan of a bottle every hour (more if aid stations came sooner) plus 2 GUs an hour. I was also going to be using S! Caps as well as Hammer’s Anti-Fatigue pills. Feeling pretty good, I hit mile 26 at 4:10. Slightly faster than I wanted, but certainly close to where I hoped, so I’ll take it. I was walking a fine line between saving my energy for when it got hot, but still trying to get through as much of the course as I could before the sun really hit. After that, my stomach got a little ify, but after releasing the hostages I felt much better (my apologies go out to the canoers who got a full view of that action). I hit the 50K mark feeling pretty strong, but definitely starting to wear down under the heat (high temp was recorded at 79.6). Thank god they had ice at the aid stations…I filled my sports bra with it to keep me cool, filled my bottle with it, and doused myself in cool water to keep my core cooled at any point I could. This required stopping at a couple streams as well to splash water on my neck and face.

After that point was the Do Loop. Thank god I didn’t know what was coming. Although only 3 miles, half of which is downhill, the other half is torture. Straight up and straight down, so steep that it’s almost impossible to run either up or down. Not fun after 30 miles. At this point I was leap frogging with 2 other women, but coming out of the loop I was 6th. Knowing I was on my way home after that, I ran a little easier. I also was passing a lot of people still headed out for the loop, and exchanging words of encouragment helped keep me distracted.

Coming down a hill around 39 miles I managed to kick my foot into a rock, sending me on my face down the hill, and causing a huge cramp in my calf. I looked up and saw a woman I had just finally passed, half paniced and tried to do a limping half run. Luckily, what goes down always goes back up on the trail, so I was at a climb in another half minute or so which allowed me to walk it out and stretch the calf. But that was not fun. I made it back to 40 where Brad was ready for the last ten. The heat was really starting to hit everyone at this point. There were a few rocky sections that were really tiring me out mentally, and the urge to “just get to the finish” was there. The final sections of 5 miles each took about 50 minutes each, but I drank my bottle both times in less than 35 minutes. If they had been any further apart, I would have been screwed. I finished up the last run through the bluebells, made it up the last climb, and ran into the finish as the 5th place female, 35th overall, at 8:43:31. Amy Sproston blew the women’s field away finishing up in 7:34. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th women — all very impressive runners — were all within 13 minutes of me. A hot race on tired legs finishing close to some really awes runners? I’ll take that anyday.

There’s always room for improvement, and in the week to come I’ll go over that. In the meantime, today I woke up and walked around for a mile or so, before lacing up the running shoes at midday and doing the sugar factory/harbor loop. Then I ran with my lax girls at practice. My calves are certainly tight, but nothing like I have been in the past after a race. This is great news for my WS training, and is certainly encouraging that I’m heading in the right direction.

Good luck tomorrow to everyone at Boston – just do what you do 🙂

>I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.

>I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.
I will not go out faster than 8:30 on Saturday.

In case you can’t tell, my goal is to start out running no faster than an 8:30 pace tomorrow at Bull Run. The past two 50Ks I’ve run – although successful – I did not start out as slow as I wanted, and by the end I felt it. For WS, I need to train myself to start slower and run even splits. I have a feeling that if I learn to do this, I’ll actually bring my race times down quite a bit. Unfortunately the learning curve has been a little rough so far. Knowing tomorrow may hit the low 80’s where I’m running though is a big help. I know that people will start out fast (the first 17 miles are relatively flat). By the time the sun comes up and the heat hits people many will already be hurting from starting fast. I am not trying to “race” this event for several reasons. However, I know that if I keep it slow and steady I have a good shot for a top 10 female which is my goal.

>THS: I do what I want

>As I look at the next 10 (and by 10 I mean 18) weeks of training, I start getting that “oh crap” feeling in my stomach. Not because I have 5 weekends planned of 50+ miles, or 3 weeks of 100+ miles. It’s not because of the competition that I know will be at any of my upcoming races, either. Instead, it’s because I know that in the next ten weeks I will have to put up with people offering fun weekend trips to the beach, sporadic happy hours that will surely last into the night, bachelorette parties and visits with friends I haven’t spent quality time with in years. After hearing “no, I can’t go…I’ll be running/biking/racing” a couple times a few things will happen. One, I’ll probably stop getting invited. I’ll hear the murmurs of “The fun alyssa is gone” and “The fun alyssa never comes out anymore” until I’m finally phased out of the mass texts announcing when and where the fun is to happen. I’ll get weird glances when I reply that I’m missing a friends wedding or something else that’s their once-in-a-lifetime moment for “a race.”

So why do I do it? Why do I dare ask my best friend Dani to schedule her wedding around my Ironman? Why do I RSVP ‘no’ to other important events…and not feel guilty about it? Why would I rather spend a free weekend at a race to support my friends, instead of spending that weekend with those who don’t run? What is it about what I do, that keeps me at peace with my selfish lifestyle?

I’m tempted to go with the old adage of “if you have you ask, you’ll never understand.” In many ways, that’s true. For instance, my old roommates really never will understand.

Yet in the search for a more substantial answer, I came up with the most simplistic realization. I love to compete, and I love to win. The personal satisfaction that I draw from pushing my body to the limit, and maybe – just maybe – coming out on top, is worth it. I have always known that I have a hard time feeling sympathetic for people about things that I don’t understand. For instance: allergies. I don’t get them. I don’t have them, I don’t know what it’s like, and it’s hard for me to feel bad for those who do. I think you’re making it all up. Same with people who have trouble sleeping. The only time that I ever had issues with that was because of roommates, and 2 Tylenol PMs later, boom, I’m asleep. On the other hand, the thrill of competition is something that I know well, and I value. I want to experience that as much as I can, and I want to help others experience it too – because I truly know how great it can be.

Now, I’m not completely heartless. I do wish that I could do it all. I wish that I could be at every party, every wedding, every whatever because I do care about my friends. And hopefully they know that. I also would love to be able to take true vacation time from my job, and not have to use it all for races. Maybe when I get married (gag me) I’ll rearrange my priorities and I’ll regret all the “me” time I take these days…But, maybe not.

>Survivor Audish

>Today between the hours of 11:45 and 3pm I attended the Survivor casting call. This becomes the 2nd reality show I have applied for (the first being the Bachelor). Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to have gotten out of there so quickly. However, it didn’t feel quickly at the time as my feet were sitting in my little work shoes in cold puddles of water, and my arms were involuntarily shaking with coldness in their 3-quarter length sleeve spring jacket. But let me start from the beginning.

My manager was so excited I was going, she let me out of work an hour early to head to Catonsville where the casting call was. I arrive there and am quickly told that I actually have to park about a mile away at the Circuit City, and take the “shuttle” back to the car dealership. Whatever. The tent didn’t look very full, so no biggie. When I return, I hand in my completed application. In my application I made sure to convery the whole me. When asked what political office I would like to have if given the chance to have anything I wrote that I wouldn’t want any office because that’s too much responsibility and stress for my life. Who would I like to be stranded on a deserted island with? Obvi a hot dude (aka Clive Owen) to makeout with, or Lady GaGa so she can sing her jams and I’ll dance. What 3 things (non-survival related) would I bring with me when stranded? A ball to play catch with to pass the time. A blow up raft so I can tan and float. And tampons. Those questions are just a quick sampling of the gems that the CBS producers will get to read through later.

Anyway, so I get #257 and take a seat. That’s when I realize that IT’S FREEZING and my feet are already soaking wet. Obvi though you can’t complain when trying out for Survivor. So I upload my FB status and start to read my book. Then I get a call saying that my friends brother is there too! Thank god for facebook. So anyway we find each other and help pass the time by chatting. At one point I look back, and inside the tent there was a Jeep that the dealership had a sign on that said “Buy Me!”. I noticed a few heads in the car. Genius! I run back and ask if they’re waiting to audition (they are) and before I know it I find myself in the car with Spider and Alicia Keys. Actually the dude really did look like Spider, it was weird. So I got a littler warmer and was able to wait out the last hour before my number was called. I go in and I’m the 2nd person in the group to go in front of the cameras, and wouldn’t you know it I’m filmed not only by the audition crew, but also the local news people. Bonus! I did say bitch though while they filmed me so I’m not sure I’ll make the cut for the news tonight. We shall see.

Anyway, if they pick the cool kids for call-backs, I’ll def get to the next round. My fear, however, is that they are going to pick the “characters”. Let me describe a few:
-The dude with overalls, a tank top, tattoos and his own Survivor idol he built.
-The dude who carried around a box of ashes of his dead brother everywhere he went.
-The obese young adult who came wearing every peice of Survivor paraphinalia to exist
-The chick who came with some dude she had just married in Vegas last night…and had only met him 6 days ago.

I may not be as interesting as them, but as I told the camera today, at least people won’t cringe when they have to watch me do things for an hour every week.

Oh, and dear mom: be proud. I was not this girl: http://twitpic.com/35mbx

>Fav place to run


These are the steps leading up the dam to my favorite trails at Sherando Lake. I took this at the Bel Monte race a couple weeks ago…pretty dreary day but still looks amazing 🙂

>2 words

>The Montrail website gives the profiles for all their sponsored athletes. One of the questions on the profile is if they could take 2 words about themselves and combine them into one word to describe themselves, what would they be? I had a pretty fun time coming up with this for myself, and the final results is:

Abbreviator + giggle = Abbriggle.

What are your two words?

>Beats so big I’m steppin on leprechauns

>This past weekend I was in Charlottesville (well, Waynesboro), Virginia for the Bel Monte 50M/50K/25K races. This is one of my favorite eventsof the year, despite the fast that all 3 years I have attended the raceI haven’t run it. My first year there I was a course sweeper, meaning I followed the last runner and picked up the trail markers behind them. Last year I worked at the start/finish area, which was fun because it was the first year for the 50 mile. This year I got a promotion to oneof the most “popular” aid stations in the race. It is at the 17.4 milemark for the 50 Mile and 50K runners, and then the 50 milers also come through again at 22.2 and 32.2 miles.

Francesca, Gill and I woke up at 3:15 am on Saturday morning and headed down to Sherando Lake. Slowly the runners trickled in, and I got to see all of their faces as they checked in for the races. Some nervous, some cocky, some looking really scared. For someone who has little-to-no maternal instinct in her, it’s weird because I begin to think of these people as sort of my children for the rest of the day. I know what they are feeling, and I know what they are about to experience. I want each and every one of them to be successful in their race.

I place my bets about who will win, as well as who will lose. I wonder how many this year will have to be pulled from the course due to time cutoffs. But there’s not much time for that, as my friend Rebecca and I leave shortly after the race begins to head into the mountains to set up our station. Driving the Jeep roads takes longer than it does to run them, but they are in surprisingly good condition despite the morning showers. Watching Rebecca and I set up is similar to a Troop Beverly Hills experience. This leads me to my first main awesome story of the post – my latest invention. We began expecting the first runners and were getting a little antsy because we still had some things to do, like make the soup. So I started making the soup as we chatted away, catching up on life. The soup was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle condensed soup. Being condensed, I was going back and forth to the water cooler to get cans of water to add to it. Or so I thought. After watching me dump the cans in, Rebecca burst out laughing and remarked that I was actually pouring Gatorade into the pan. Oops. At this point I decided that we had no choice but to heat it up and try it, and if it was acceptable we would still serve it. Now that we were out in the moutains, there was no way to access a store easily and quickly, and wasting that soup could have been a huge mistake (I was right about that). I tried it, and it was good! Except for the lemony smell, that is. Anyway, the first group of runners came through and not surprisingly were not interested in soup. However, as the back of the packers came through, I offered some of my “special” soup. A few people jumped at it, and much to my delight, RAVED about it, and even stayed for seconds. It was so popular, I am hereby using this blogpost as my public declaration of a copyright for Noodleade (expected on the shelves in 2010).

The runners kept us busy, coming from all directions and in all sorts of mental and physical conditions. We filled hand bottles and camel packs, and each and every runner was so grateful for the help you would have thought that we were doing something way nicer than what we were. But in a race like that, it does end up being the little things that make the difference. One such instance was when the 2nd place female was about 20 yards out from the station when she dropped her orange slice on the ground. Seeing that she looked about ready to burst into tears I ran a new one out to her and peeled it for her as we continued moving on the course. You would have thought I handed her the Holy Grail she was so happy. Then there was the extrememly hot dude I probably would have given anything to, but after mentioning he dropped his only GU a mile into the race, I dug into my purse in the car and found a replacement for him. He ended up doing really well and so I take credit for his success.

My second awesome story of the weekend comes from a little tidbit that Dave, our HAM radio helper told me. After watching us fill a bunch of camel packs, he waves me over and points to one, asking what we call it. A camel pack, I reply. Wanna know what we call it? he asks me. Giggling already, I say yes. A douchebag! he says. Needless to say, I will never look at a camel pack the same again.

It really was a great day, from getting to watch the course record on the 50 mile beat by over an hour on the mens side, to being there ready with a hug for the last finisher coming in just under the 13 hour time cutoff. Even though I didn’t run a step all weekend, I am coming back from the days refreshed and inspired. I take it forgranted all too often in a race that I am often done with the race, home and showered before many people even finish. Being able to spend the whole day out there with the runners is something that everyone should try and do if they have the chance. As small a gesture as it may be, not only is it appreciated tenfold by the runners, but it helps you appreciate what you have and what you can do a million times more than ever.

>Thoughts of the day slash week

>1. After barely being able to touch my toes last night, I realized I really do need to focus on stretching (I think I mentioned that a few posts back and then proceeded to ignore myself). Anyway, I will never go to a yoga class because they are never convienent since apparently the granola crunchers can’t do yoga before 9am, and in the afternoons I’d rather devote my training elsewhere. Plus an hour is a really long time to have to stretch. So I downloaded “Yoga for Runners” via iTunes. It’s 17 minutes long, about 6 different stretches, and tried it out for the first time this morning. I enjoyed it. It’s just the right time where I can do it after a run and not feel like I’m wasting my precious time, but its enough time to actually get good stretching in. Anyway, I’ll try to remember to do it daily and see what happens.

2. I’m addicted to Snickers Ice Cream bars.

3. I got 40% off coupons from all my favorite stores e-mailed to me this week. And I just paid off the ol’ credit card. Time for shopping!

4. Purple Drink + Balls = Grape Nuts

5. 93 days until Western States! yikes.

6. I was going to go to Mighty Taco today to satisfy a promise I made to the one and only Fun Jen. Howevs, I was at the gym and a commercial came on for their latest promotion. Apparently, they are allowing customers to trade in gold in exchange for tacos. The commersh had a girl literally taking off her earrings, handing them to the cashier, and recieving a bag ful of tacos in return. As awesome/befuttling as that is, I don’t think I can go to that establishment…..