>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
-Spider
-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…..

>Utah Schmootah

>Dear Ironman,

Please stop making more events.
Fix the entry process instead.
Exclusivity = awesomeness.

xoxo,

Alyssa

>besser essen, besser laufen.

>I have no idea what that means but it’s on the cover of the German Runner’s World.

This month, Ultrarunning magazine did its 2008 review which includes the male and female runner of the year (Jorge Pacheco and Kami Semick), as well as many other race stats – the largest race, the fastest race, significant course records, finishes by location, and then the top times (male and female) for 100 miles, 100K, 50 miles and 50K races throughout the year. They also publish the names of those ultrarunners who had 4 or more wins through the year. I think that’s pretty sweet, so I may have to go for that one next year. In the meantime, I am happy to settle for my name being on the list for the top 50 mile times. I am #48 (listed goes to 100) with my 8:05 from JFK. I think I was #49 last year with 8:07, so that makes sense. When I achieve my goal of a 7:45, that would put me in the top 25.

More interesting, for those of you who may question the validity of that list, is that they do a separate listing for “graded” performances of each race. This year I made the list for the 50 mile, at #24 (they only list the top 25). A graded performance takes the winning time and divides it by the median finishing time. They acknowledge that this too is slightly imperfect as it assumes that all fields are of equal strength, and gives some advantage to winners of events with generous cut-off times that attract a higher number of slower runners. Nonetheless, it’s a bit more accurate than just publishing a list of the fastest times which merely highlights those who have chosen fast courses in good weather. Last year I didn’t make the list, so it was pretty cool to see myself there this time

My 100K time was not even close to making the list, although the races from the times that did make the list are considerably easier. It will fun to see where I stand in the 100’s after WS this year….

>Postcards from yo momma

>I may or may not have told you about my infatuation with this internet site before: www.postcardsfromyomomma.com

In a nutshell, its a blog type page where people can submit e-mail, IM or text convos they have with their mom. If you do any of the 3 with your mom, then you probably realize how awesome it can be. My mom made me promise never to submit anything she sends to it, but this is too good I at least have to put it up here:

(via text)
mom: how r u? how is tv?
me: I’m at arjuns, tv is great
mom: has he seen tv?
me: not yet, but now it will feel like we are in The Wire!
mom: oh you mean because poor people have bling tv’s?