>Just like a circus

>So I haven’t posted in a while. Mostly because I have been busy in my real-world life – trying to study for my Series 6 and trying to find my own place to live in a couple of months. This has kept me sufficiently stressed (mostly the test part), however, it has also given me some pretty good stories. For instance, I got to tour a miniature apartment in Fed Hill. Literally, the things were made for Tiny Tim – if you are above 5’8” and 150 lbs you would break things. And maybe hit your head on the ceiling. Supposedly this is because the circus used to come to Baltimore and the little circus midges would live in the houses there so often the houses were built midget size. However, I continue to question the validity of this story so if anyone can offer evidence that would be great. (Note: this is not related to the Midgetville of Pasadena. I know there are some good things on the internet about that one, but the only site I was allowed to pull up at work about it is this one)

I have also missed out on offering the roommate updates to the public recently, so here they are (names are changed for confidentiality):
-Trelly – Still plans on buying a house in the burbs with her horrible loud know-it-all boyfriend. It should be awesome. I wish I was going to law school so I could take on the case that they will have when she realizes he sucks and she wants to just keep the house.
-Parly – Is awaiting the reply from UMD grad school, and preparing to live with her overbearing mother in a few months. She’s pondering the idea of trying to secure extra graduate student loans to hopefully allow her to stay in the city and live with her brother, though.

For Parly, thinking about how to pay for grad school can be quite stressful, but this is something she’ll have to consider if this is the path she is looking to go down.

Anyway, in terms of her housing situation, we wouldn’t really be surprised if that happens to see as they are sort of like the creepily too-close siblings from that one ep of Friends.
-Carbon – Claims that Blake has asked her to move in with him for the summer. Obvi just a way for him to pay less rent since he lives by himself in a nice place in Harbor East. I hope I’m around for the conversation when he tells her to pay rent and she goes “wait…what?” In the meantime, she will continue to leave her dirty ass cups with her plastic straws still in them in the sink so that the rest of us can load them into the dishwasher for her.

In my own life things are not much more exciting than what was said in the first paragraph. In terms of training, I can honestly say I just haven’t been running too much the past couple weeks because I simply haven’t felt like it. And that’s fine. I have a long road ahead of me to WS, and if I take January easy I’m not worried. Running a bunch of ultras this spring for training will take a lot out of me mentally and physically (and monetarily, dammit) and one thing I have learned is that I can’t force the training runs for these. I have decided to try to get into the Bull Run 50 and the North Face Endurance Challenge 50, plus a few other randoms. I’m really pumped for Bull Run mostly because I think I can place well, and the prize money for NFEC is $1000 bones and a free trip to San Fran for the Championships in Dec so I will probably go all out for that one too. Considering 19/85 people even finished last year I suppose I have my work cut out for me.

While running is taking a backseat, I’ve ramped up my time on the bike and my time in the pool. Swimming is awes, I can feel myself getting stronger and faster every week, and I can churn out a 3500 workout without wanting to die now. Biking still hurts my crotch but hopefully, that will get better soon too.

If you’re bored check out ws100.com as they just added a new slideshow introduction which is pretty baller. Only 162 days away, holler.

>GU: Roctizzy

>Because eating on the run is a huge part of my racing/training, I am constantly searching for new ideas and products that I like. When given the opportunity to try out GU’s new Roctane gels, I was excited to see how they’d work out.

I took the Roctane out for the PHUNT 50K last weekend, knowing I’d be running for about 5 hours and would probably eat about (only, ha) 6-7 GU’s since it was a training run for me. For the regular GU, my favorite is the Tri Berry, but I’m also a big fan of vanilla. I steer clear of just about anything else, although I can handle the lemon-lime without having to vom.

I liked the orange more than the blueberry Roctane — the blueberry leaves a lingering aftertaste that I just don’t find too pleasant. I took a Roctane on the 45 minutes for 5.5 hours, and supplemented them with some chips and pretzels at the 2 aid stations. I felt good throughout the run, so I know that they were definitely giving me the calories and whatever else is in them to sustain throughout an endurance event. However, I didn’t feel like they had any more of an edge to them over the regular GUs. If given the chance, I would certainly prefer my usual tri-berry or vanilla flavors. Still, GU remains one of my top choices for fuel during my ultras, no questions about it.

>PHUNT 50K

>I have to say, it’s a pretty cool thing when you can find 200+ people willing to meet early on a Saturday morning shortly after NYE binges and the like, to run anywhere from 12-31 miles in the cold. Before I even got to the Fair Hill area, I stopped at what is probably the sketchiest gas station/subway/reststop thingy I have ever been to in my entire life. I walked in, and I got the feeling I was in a scary movie and was never going to make it out alive, so I left and opted to pop a squat in the woods. When I got to the park, I ran into a quasi-friend Randy, a man who I ran a good potion of Highlands Sky with last June. We started out the run with numb fingers and toes as it was pretty chilly and it took awhile for us all to mobilize and get signed in. The first 15 miles of the course were awesome, several challenging hills but everything was runnable and I was making good time. After that halfway point, however, it was clear that the course was going to take a turn for the difficult. It would be pretty impossible to rerun this course on your own without any markings, as we often found ourselves running willy-nilly through fields and haphazardly bushwacking up and down the sides of hills that had no semblance to trails whatsoever. However, that’s the fun of an ultra.

They handed out maps to us before we had started, which made me a little nervous but the first half was pretty clearly marked so I had forgotten about that. I heard people chatting behind me for awhile, so I knew I was on the right track even though our larger group had slowly whittled down. Then, the chatter stopped. One of my better-known lessons from these races is that if suddenly the group that was behind you is not there, it’s most likely not because you’ve sped away. Sure enough, I went another half mile or so and found myself at a part of the course I had already run. Shoot. I turned around, and found where I had missed a turn, continued on and actually was able to catch up to that same group again. At about the 27 mile mark, I came to a fork in the trail that was unmarked. Uh oh. Again, I was all by myself. Option A, to the left, was indeed a trail, but in the 100 meters up it that I ran, I couldn’t find a flag anywhere. Option B, the right, was a knee-deep stream crossing. Across the stream was a post with a flag tied to it, but I wasn’t sure if it was again a part of the course I had already ran. Tired and ready to be done running, I didn’t want to get all wet and cold crossing the stream, but I also didn’t want to add another mile onto this run. So I did the best thing I could think of: start yelling “HELLOOOO?” to see if anyone was around. After about 3 yells, I heard a voice! I was saved! yay. So anyway, that dude and I stand and stare at our options, and he goes “well I know we need to head West now to get to the finish.” West, eh? So I used my girl scout training, found the sun, figured out what was west, and we decided to go with Option A. About 10 minutes down that trail was another flag, bringing some much needed confirmation that we were correct. I pushed out the last few miles and finished in 5:27. This is 13 minutes off of my 50K PR, and considering all the getting lost, in addition to all the drinking I accidently did the night before, I’m pretty pleased. I’m not sure how that put me overall, as many people did the marathon option, but I believe it put me as the second female which again, is nothing for me to complain about. I am happy to have it as a benchmark for me this spring as I plan to run at least another 2-3 50K’s before Western States.

>All life’s lessons can be found in Dawson’s Creek

>I’m serious – just think it over. And don’t discount the seasons where they are at college.

In other news, I am at my 2.5 week mark for getting back into training…and I’m already at a mental wall. There is a lot for me to get done in 24 weeks, not to mention everything going on in real life and not running life. Hopefully having a break from work for the next few days will leave me recharged and ready to continue to come back hard in 2009.

Happy New Year everyone!

>Inside the mind of a genius

>I constantly get people asking me if I listen to music when I do my long runs/races, and when I say no they always want to know what I think about for all those hours. Thus, I’d like to shed some light onto what exactly are some of the things I think about when I run. Yesterday I spent about 2.5 hours at Susquehanna (NOTE – I did not see another human being this whole time, the trails are in great condition and it was awesome. Only 35 minutes away!), and here is what I thought about:
1. What are the odds of a deer running into me?
2. What are the odds of me running over a squirrel that darts out in front of me and killing it?
3. Would I hook up with Michael Phelps if I ran into him out in Baltimore? (Answer: yes, obvi. And I’d try to steal a medal.)
4. Would I hook up with Flacco if I ran into him out in Baltimore? (Answer: Probably…mostly because I would try to fix his unibrow….)
4. I am currently reading Outliers. One of the main points of the book is that people like professional athletes, or just very successful people – i.e. Bill Gates, have worked hard and have natural talent to get them to where they are now, but their success has also depended heavily on other factors. These factors are things like when they were born, where they went to college, who their mentors were, or any other lucky break they may have had. He proves that all of these factors culminate in that person having the opportunity for extensive experience and practice in their field. I’m not sure if that explanation makes sense, but basically after studying all these people, he discovered that people reach their peak abilities in whatever field after 10,000 hours of practice. He argues that more than that doesn’t really improve your abilities, but less than that can drastically hurt your performance. So I thought a lot about how long it would be until I logged 10,000 hours of running. I came up with the approximation of 35 years old. Interestingly, most female ultrarunners are about 35 at their peak. hmm.
5. I wish I didn’t fall in that stream in the first mile.
6. I wonder how long it would take people to find me here if I fell off the trail and down into the river.
7. I wish I brought a Snickers.
8. I wonder if I can make it through all of New Years in heels.
9. Do I even have flats to match my NYE dress?

>observash

>My roommates and I drank more bottles of wine this week (6) than boxes (1)….
Oh, how classy we have become.

>Add it to the list…

>In addition to my already awes list of things I am going to invent slash publish, I will add this:

A GPS that has a “please don’t take me through the projects to get me to my destination” button.

>Don’t take it forgranted

>In the spirit of Christmas (or maybe because I watched Marley & Me and am a bit weepy), this post is a bit sentimental. Today I was home for the holidays, and while the turkey was cooking I said I was going to go for a long run. Immediately, my dad chirped in and said “oh great, I’ll come with you!” My facial expressions must have divulged my initial reaction of “oh shoot, I wanted to make it a pretty hard run” and he offered that I didn’t have to go with him, or I could drop him after a bit if I needed to. Of course that wasn’t really an option, and I told him I’m happy to go with him and if I wanted to go longer afterwards I always could.

So we set out on our usual route down the bike trail. This is the first year where I have really started to notice how my own fitness has surpassed his. Don’t get me wrong – he’s still really active and in shape for a man in his mid-fifties, but when I run with him I always think it will be like when I was 10 and he was pushing me through 5k’s and 10k’s. I could feel him struggling at an 8:30 pace, so we backed it off to 9’s and I answered all his questions about my race plans and training, saying more than I probably had to so that he didn’t have to talk. We turned around and were able to pick it up a little more since we were warmed up. When we were about a mile from home, he asked me how far I was running, and I said that since we will have done about 5 miles, I’ll probably add on another 4 after. A half mile later, he told me to be safe and run smart, and that he was going to walk the rest in to the house. This caught me by surprise, as my dad is usually as competitive as I am and doesn’t cut a run short. I was pretty torn at first – walking would mean getting cold and having to warm back up for the 2nd half. However, I decided to stop and walk with him. Not only was it Christmas, but it was my dad after all. I went back to the house with him, chatting about the movie and the cats at home. When we got home, I said I’d see him in a few minutes and got back to the rest of my workout.

When I was running by myself, I realized I never want to allow myself to become so self-absorbed in my training and my race plans to skip out on that time with him. Even though the workout was not what I wanted initially, it was worth it to spend that time with my dad. Without him I probably would have never started running in the first place, and he’s certainly worth a half-mile walk back home.

>Quote of the day

>This little gem pretty much sums up my experiences of banking on Christmas Eve:

Customer speaking to me: Girl, I saw your ass and I know you get attention from black men, so let me just tell you if you ever get knocked up by a black man please bring that child to me to do its hair, because you know that white and black hair don’t mix. And girl you know that child would be cute…just something to think about.

Me: um, okay, thanks….Merry Christmas!