>Mr. Brightside

>I got caught by a speeding camera on my way to the pool and now owe the city of Baltimore $40.
The brightside? I got this high-res pic of the trusty tracker:

I now spend a good portion of my time in the pool with my arms stuck on paddles, a buoy in my crotch, and my ankles tied together. I will draw a picture of this for your viewing pleasure:

The brightside? If I ever get kidnapped by foreigners who try to torture me with water boarding I will be able to survive for forever.

Stayed up late watching the Oscars with Ryan after a long day of racing and being awesome. Brennan – your disinterest towards this event was noted and will come back to haunt you the next time the Packers are in the Superbowl. Meg, you’re off the hook because you were so nice to Amelia.
The brightside? Facebook movie didn’t win so hopefully this is the beginning of the end and people can return to meeting people in real-life settings and becoming friends (or enemies, for that matter) with them by having conversations and partaking in activities together.

For the first time in years, I raced (and took seriously) a race that was less than 30 miles. My realistic goal was a 1:12:30 and the goal I raced for was sub 1:10. Decided to go big or go home, and ended up with a positive split of 6 minutes and had to run the last half of the race on the brink of total body failure, finishing in 1:12:15.
The brightside? A 7+ min PR on a super hard 10 mile course. A month after 100 miler. Booyah.

>Newsflash! Ultra Race of Champions

>You know that feeling you get when you’re hanging out with a friend who has a surprise birthday party that night and you can’t tell them, instead you have to pretend like you’re just going to boring old TGI Friday’s again? I have felt like that for months now, and FINALLY I can tell you! SURPRISE! It’s even better than a birthday party!

Today the press release came out for the Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (or UROC). This will take place in the Blue Ridge Mountains on September 24th, 2011. You can read all about it here on the Trail Runner website, but let me give you my own perspective.

As you know, I have been involved with the Bad to the Bone races since 2006 when I ran the Great Eastern Endurance Run 50K (oh, how far I’ve come…). GEER weekend is literally my favorite of the year. After winning the 100k in 2008, I became a different runner. It was that race and those trails that taught me the importance of training hard. Of having a plan. Of getting the work done. And of not being afraid to go big. Since then, I have been committed to helping grow that race and support it in any way I can. Usually that just means long hours in the mountains…and I’ll never complain about that. Year after year, we have met to brainstorm ideas for changes to the race. I’ll be the first to admit, I was nervous. I loved GEER. I didn’t want to see it change. I’m also quick to say though, I am 110% on board with these changes and I think that this will help GEER be here to stay.

So here it is, the Ultra Race of Champions. It will be a 100K championship race that attracts the top US (and hopefully international!) ultrarunners to compete for money. Wait…what? Yes folks, there will be a generous prize purse. Elite runners will be invited based on the recommendations of a Trail Runner UROC advisory panel (I am on that panel!!) and their performances at events such as: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, the four Grand Slam 100-mile events (Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run, Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run and Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run) and other select ultra races around the world.

But, my favorite part is this – while it is aimed at attracting top talent, anyone can enter. Anyone can win the money. There’s no lottery, and right now there’s no cap on entry numbers. By allowing everyone to compete, I have no doubt that this race will retain the “family” and “homegrown” feeling that we all love….but there is a pay off. Because we are competitors. And because it is fun and interesting to compete for money.

And, GEER is not lost. The Great Eastern Endurance Races will be the 50K and half-marathon options on the same day. Truly, anyone can be involved in this event. I hope to see many of you out on the trails!

>Yeah I’m sorry, I can’t afford a Ferrari

>

Dear Baltimore,
I’m sorry for getting so mad at you this weekend. I hope you will forgive me, and allow me to live harmoniously in the Greatest City in America.
xo,
Alyssa

Now, let me explain. The short version of the story is that on Saturday, my car was broken into and this time my work computer and wallet were stolen. Thus, the list of items that have been robbed from me grows. As I looked back on the list, which ranges from a laptop and a tri bike to a pair of used running shoes, I was angered by the fact that it’s not even like I can’t have nice things – I just can’t have any things.

I was not happy with the city on Saturday. Not a single part of it. And I feel that this is rightfully so. But, as they usually do, the tides turned and yesterday I drove down I-83, taking all my secret shortcuts through downtown, enjoying a nice sunset and a 50 degree day with the windows down and Beast of Burden playing in the car. I realized once again how much I enjoy Baltimore. I feel a sense of ownership over the city. And no, it’s not because I am a home owner. And it’s not because I go to Mother’s for the Ravens games (because I don’t). It’s not because I’ll live here for a few years while I work or go to school. It’s because this is my home, and it always has been.

Baltimore belongs to me because I can remember winters filled with ice skating on Rash field. I can remember getting elbowed in the face as a child while I sat in Federal Hill park watching the 4th of July fireworks. I went to Orioles games with my Dad before I was old enough to get the giveaways that they were giving out, and when Brady Anderson was super dreamy. Baltimore, to me, is sneaking into the Baja Beach Club to see O.A.R. before anyone knew who they were. It was going to Have a Nice Day Cafe when I was in high school and thinking I was super cool. It’s remembering the day I didn’t go to school because I went to the Raven’s parade instead after the Superbowl. It’s Senior Prom at the Hyatt. It’s the afterparty at a friend’s house in Pigtown. It’s going to Mad River when I was able to escape from school in Annapolis and then one day realizing that’s not cool. I grew up here. This is my home.

So, Baltimore, I do love you. But on Saturday, I didn’t like you very much.

>QOTD

>I have a love/hate relationship with my fannage of Chris McCormack, but he earned some points with a good interview with Slowtwitch yesterday. For once, he was using his undaunting arrogance (arguably well-founded and quite deserved arrogance) to make some good points:

ST: Are pros critical to the growth of the sport? Some race directors act as if they are irrelevant to the business of triathlon.
Chris: That kind of race promoters have to remember that lot of companies support their races. And their products are endorsed by the pros that race them. If a pro wins Chicago or an age grouper wins their division, people pay attention.

ST: Give us some examples?
Chris: Some race directors are acting as if the pros did not matter? That is BS. Kuota did not exist in the public’s mind until Normann Stadler put that bike on the map with his win in 2004 and sales with that company exploded. When I started riding Kestrels, sales increased. Successful companies support the pros and everyone benefits. I wonder why some race directors do not see that this is a triangular relationship. Age groupers, pros and races form a synergy like a food chain. You take one out and the whole thing can fall apart. If race directors are pushing that pros are not necessary, it hurts everyone. It is a mistake to make the assumption that people do not care who wins. Someone will win the race and raise his hands and people will notice and people will care. People are driven to push themselves harder to win. Age groupers too. Winners drive the whole sport. It is a complete circuit with its own synergy and you cannot just neglect it. I do think that some of the people in certain race series or federations may be tempted to try out models that are missing one of the elements. But the sport needs heroes to inspire people to continue to come in.

The entire interview is here.

>Ch Ch Ch Changes!

>So week one of being a real life triathlete is done. It’s definitely different. In the past, I just ran. Like, literally. Some days I had a plan, some days I didn’t. In the end I just wanted to get as many miles as I could in. Now I have workouts almost every day. I have a plan within each plan. I have more accountability than I have had in many years of competition. And, I like it. I think it’s good for me. The structure that has come from Hillary’s plan has already forced me to get all my ducks in a row, to say the least. It has forced me to be honest with myself about what will affect my training. It forces me to really look at my priorities. The great part is that Hillary has been there from Day Negative 15 (2 weeks before I “officially” started any sort of training plan, she was already touching base, getting to know me better, getting to know who I am). This honesty is something I’m not necessarily used to, but I think it’s something that I need right now. I think that has been what has caused me to shy away from triathlon coaches in the past. I can’t imagine myself telling the people I contacted in years past as potential coaches all of the things Hillary knows. But, it’s all part of the deal.
On a lighter note, here’s a few pros/cons of being a triathlete so far:
-Pro: I was able to add another seat in my living room.

-Con: The new seat is narrow and hard. And why hasn’t anyone invented warming Chamois butter yet? That shiz is cold!

-Pro: My apple bottom is shrinking.
-Con: My arms are going to get huge and manly from swimming.

-Pro: Amelia likes that I can do more of my training at home.
-Con: She’s crazy, and that just means I have to spend more time picking up the cups she knocks over.

-Pro: I sleep better, because swimming makes me so darn tired.
-Con: I sleep better, so I never want to get out of bed.

-Pro: Biking more means being strong enough to ride with the dudes. And ride well.
-Con: Swimming more means getting whooped by the 11 year olds at swim team in the lanes next to me.

>Little Known Facts

>-I never ate a tomato (like, a slice of tomato) until I was in college.
-I don’t like the sound of macaroni and cheese being stirred.
-I can’t watch someone file their nails.
-I like to eat desserts for breakfast.
-I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to write desert or dessert and just had to google it. Actually, I Binged it.
-If I sleep past 8am I feel like I have wasted the day.
-One time, at the Naval Academy, I had to drink an entire bottle of A1 sauce. My stomach has never been the same.
-I tell people I’m allergic to mushrooms so I never have to eat them.
-Sometimes I dream about winning the lottery and it’s so realistic it honestly makes me angry that I didn’t win.
-I will never get a GPS because I enjoy using paper directions, and the thrill that brings when they are inevitably sketchy and confusing.
-When I was 10 I begged my mom to let me change the spelling of my name to Alissa, so I could dot the ‘i’ with different things, like hearts and smiley faces. Thank god she said no.
-Gmail addresses I have other than my own: AlaireIndustries (from when claire and I were going to start a party planning business), washingtonawards (from when we were going to host the Washington Awards), and HunterKemper (from one of the better pranks I ever played on Ryan. PS if anyone knows hunter please inform him that he can buy the e-mail address from me for the price of a twitter shoutout).
-I have applied for 2 reality shows in my life, Survivor and the Bachelor. I don’t think I’m dramatic enough.
-You could tell me that Taco Bell was made with only 2% meat and I’d still eat it.
-I always check myself out when I run by a reflective window.
-I think honesty really is the best policy. And if the honest answer isn’t nice, just giggle when you say it. And it’ll be okay.
-One of my “thoughts of the day” over plebe summer at the Naval Academy was “same shit, different day.” I got in trouble for writing “shit,” and to this day I get a knot in my stomach when I say it out loud because I feel like I’m going to get in trouble.
-I think swimming would be much more enjoyable if it didn’t always end up with streams of snot coming down my face. It ruins the pretty.
-One time in my college apartment I was robbed by a raccoon.
-Spontaneous human pyramids make the world a better place.
-I have seen Ted Nugent perform live before. And it wasn’t that bad.
-I believe the most valuable life skill a girl can have is to know how to drive stick.
-I used to believe that if I tried hard enough, I could get in the Guiness Book of World Records for pogo-sticking the longest.
-I have been told that I have an angry resting face, because my mouth turns down.
-I joined the tennis team in high school because I thought the skirts were cute.
-The degree to which I sustain my tan throughout winter is directly proportional to my happiness factor.

Raccoon being a thief (not the one that robbed me)

>QOTD

>

“I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.”
–From Social Animal in The New Yorkerentire article can be read here (Great read!)

>The Good, the Bad, and the Funny of Running 100 Miles

>I’ll start with the bad so I can end on a good note:

-No one really ever tells you exactly what your body will go through in the time after the race. You will have rashes in places you didn’t know existed. Toenails will fall off. You will feel fine for one minute, then for the next 10 it will feel like someone is repeatedly beating you with a bag of rocks and hammers. You will wake up soaked in your own sweat. You won’t be able to get to sleep. You’ll be hot. You’ll be shivering. Weird smells come out of you. From weird places. You will start to cross a road, realize you can’t make it all the way across in time, but you’re also too slow to get back and are thus stuck in an awkward “omg, I’m sorry I just ran 100 miles and walked out in front of your car like an idiot” moment. And, apparently really gross cold sores can happen. I thought about making a shirt that said “I ran 100 miles and all I got was herpes” but didn’t know how well that would go over with the general public.

-Eventually, the crewing has to stop and you have to get used to doing things for yourself again. It stinks. Seriously. Why can’t we always have someone who follows us around with bags of snacks and drinks?
-Some of the ugliest pictures you ever dreamed possible will surface. No lie, at one point Dave looked at me, laughed, and said “You look like a mess.” Then he proceeded to snap a picture. Once all the pictures are posted and I have a chance to make my ruling, I will post what I deem to be my most un-pretty race pic here.

The Funny.
-You will have to tell people who are almost strangers very personal things. Just after halfway, I had no choice but to look at my crew and tell them that I was sorry, but now I had to start farting and it was going to be really really gross. Luckily, some of the crew admitted to having experience watching other female endurance athletes “take a crap” so that put me somewhat at ease, hahaha.

-Falling. Even when it hurts, it is still pretty funny. Especially when it’s your pacer (sorry Andrew!)

-Watching people go to great lengths to make sure their hands don’t touch your food, or at least are super clean if they are going to. Then they place it in your mud/snot/sweat crusted handed for you to put in your mouth. Yum.
-The things people carry. This also goes along with watching drop bags in the morning. I manage to keep all my items to a minimum and fit them into one large ziplock per aid station. Others literally had SUITCASES larger than the one I flew out here with for all their stuff. They must have been keeping spare body parts in there or something.
– Banyan Trees. Not to be confused with Banging Trees, which I thought Dave was calling them for about 20 miles. Oops.
The Good.
-The people. Runners, crews, pacers, volunteers, race directors, hikers, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

-The trails. How many people get to see the sun rise in Honolulu, twice, from the view I had on top of a mountain?
-Having complete strangers tell you they are inspired by what you accomplished.
-The spirit of an ultra. Until you’ve experienced it, there is no way to describe it!
-Being able to say “I finished the HURT!”

Here are some random pictures from the race. I think they help complete my story. (Blogger was being annoying and not let me put them in order, sorry!)


Andrew’s sweet duct tape arm band!
Coming in after lap one, trying to get as naked as possible apparently.

My amazing crew post-race! All smiles.

My face as I saw my toes for the first time after the race

A wonderful woman rubbing my feet 93 miles in, and the Jackass Ginger mascot

Crossing the stream for the second to last time



My amazing crew pre-race! Dave got the memo on the dress code.
Putting on my shoes pre-race