The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘running’

Race Recap

This past weekend I did my second trail race, and it was not terribly fun. I’m glad I did it, and it was educational, but boy was it painful.

Here are a few moments/thoughts from the run:

  • On Trails vs Roads

Until moving to Colorado I only did road runs. These are very different, and I feel like I still haven’t fully appreciated how different. With roads I could get away with some bad habits: if I started too fast, some days I got away with it because I was just in a groove and I could end up faster than anticipated the whole time (see: every time I have PR’d), AND I could get away with not eating or drinking enough to replenish myself because I wasn’t out there that long …

For trails, neither of those work out well. My last training run that was good was 15 miles, and the last few miles of that my stomach felt very off. But, it was short enough and I had enough to eat and drink during the run that I got away with it. 15+ led to uncomfortable woes.

At the run on Saturday, a 25 miler, I hit my usual woes at mile 11 or 12, but this time I was in the middle of a 2 or 3 mile uphill climb. I should have sat down at the aid station at mile 6 and eaten more, and ditto the aid station at mile 10. But instead, I left 10 feeling good only to quickly go to: NOT GOOD status.

Thankfully the run boasted beautiful views, challenge galore, and friendly fellow runners. A woman asked me how I was doing, so I told her, and she and I walked together for a while and she informed me I wasn’t eating enough. She gave me a packet of goo (sounds weird, huh?) which was 100 calories of goodness. The trouble was, I think I had jumped on the eating enough bandwagon pretty late in the game and it was a struggle every time I tried to eat.

Lesson learned? Eat more, eat more sooner, eat more.

  • On Emotions

I ran a half marathon one time which was tough because it was very cold, raining, and I had been injured so I hadn’t trained up very well. The weekend prior I had flown to Arizona because my grandfather had passed away.

I crossed the finish line and immediately had to fight back tears. I was very confused by this, but then the fact that I was about to start crying and I was so cold my lips were blue and I was surrounded by strangers made me laugh at the absurd situation – it was odd. But, I realized later, the running probably took a lot out of me so I was more emotional.

Videos of dogs and soldiers make me want to cry, sappy things like that, but ordinarily it’s pretty rare that things will inspire tears. At the run, around mile 12 when I was feeling quite bad, I wondered if I would need to drop from the race … I thought about having 13 miles to go and it made me want to cry. I thought, “THE HELL? Who is this emotional demon who has invaded my body!?”

At around mile 23.5 I had already seen the finish in the distance. It was all downhill from where I was … not like, getting worse … but as in literally going down a hill. Anywho, I heard the crowd go nuts over someone finishing and again those pesky weakened body state inspired emotions popped up and I thought to myself, “wow, they’re cheering for some random person like every person is the winner.” And boom, the desire to cry was there.

(P.S. There was another group of true insano-s running FIFTY miles. They started 2.5 hours earlier than us 25 mile plebes, and it could be that the crowd WAS actually cheering for the first place 50 mile female finisher. That is one fast person.)

  • On Aid Station Snacks

Here are some things I had while jogging: pretzel bites, m&ms, some salted caramel goo (thank you again kind stranger), granola bar, lots of water with powdered stuff in it, grapes, and coke.

Ordinarily the menu of a coder (minus the workout goo) … but looking at that now, yeah, I definitely didn’t have enough calories. I was out there a bit over 7 hours, which meant I should’ve had lets say 1400 calories, I maybe got half that.

Mistakes were made.

  • On Friendly People

You know what was awesome throughout? How friendly everyone was, almost everyone there is not competing, they’re just wanting to finish. But even the fastest people were probably friendly too, I just never saw them.

The 50 milers went 25 one way, then 25 going the other way so us 25ers saw them rush past us. With almost every one of them I exchanged a pleasant, “good job” or “looking good” or when tired it was shortened to just “job.” The first place guy I just stared at because HOW ARE YOU GOING THIS FAST?

I ended up jogging/walking for a good while around the same people. One girl, graduating today (Sunday), who walked by a sign indicating we had 3.5 miles or so to go and she looked back at me and said the saddest ‘yay’ I’ve ever heard. It was hysterical.

Another girl I talked with after the run, she was friendly, smart, and I noticed she does not believe in shaving arm pits.

One guy, with about one mile to go, was going back and forth with me (passing each other) then we stopped and walked and he said, “we’ll finish together.” I said ok, cool. But then a half mile or so later he said, “ok, I need to stop, I don’t feel good.” He finished a few minutes after me, and we chit chatted after the run.

The volunteers at the aid stations were all friendly, weird, encouraging, helpful, and with an energy that my then tired brain could not comprehend. Plus, the snacks they had made were (presumably) amazing … snacks that, again, I should’ve eaten.

Let Me Get My Special Racing Shoes!

When I was very young, let’s say four years old, I had a pair of sneakers that I believed in. They were my Special Racing Shoes. If I was wearing regular shoes and we raced, you may very well beat me. That’s fine. It happens. But if I was wearing my Special Racing Shoes – I COULD NOT LOSE.

This was perhaps a theory developed by racing against my mom, or dad, or sister, and beating them while wearing my Special Racing Shoes.

Or, equally possible, I had bestowed this quality of speed improvement abilities based solely on how cool they look.

One day my brother (who is seven years older) and I were talking or maybe I just interrupted a conversation he was having with others – I have no memory of the conversation – I just know the outcome was him saying “let’s race” and me saying “let me get my Special Racing Shoes” because, ipso facto, I was going to win. I was excited. I knew I was about to win and this was a thrilling thought to beat my 11 year old brother.

Shoes on, laced up (Velcro-d?), ready to rock. And your mark. Get set. DREAMS CRUSHED.

My brother did not slow down one iota. My Special Racing Shoes became … sneakers.

Fast forward twenty-five-ish years. I’m running regularly and trying harder than I did even while in high school cross-country and track. I’m actually placing at running events (in my age bracket that is). And what do I owe it all to? My Special Racing Shoes!

When I go for a regular jog I wear a pair of New Balance shoes (I pretty much always stick with New Balance for jogging) and la de da I trot my merry self along until I become tired and not that merry and then questioning of my sanity and angry and then I near the finish and I’m pumped and I can do this! and then I’m burnt out and I’m tired again and just. want. to. finish. and then there I am, done. And I am a-ok with the idea of another jog. But on race days … oh, on race days I wear a different pair of New Balance. A pair with practically 0 drop and very little support (I reserve these for 5ks and 10ks). With these puppies on I’m not unbeatable, but honest to goodness, I tend to run faster.

A newer version of my race day shoes.

Why? Well, with the different shoe design my body has a good reason to strike the ground differently (more a mid or fore-foot strike).

Normally I might hit heel-toe-spring off to the next step. With my minimum support shoes I strike mid-foot-spring to the next step. You see that? That’s hit-go instead of hit-hit-go.

A necessary caveat: I have read various articles about running and rearfoot vs mid-foot strike and the conclusion is … inconclusive. Some articles say one is better, others say the other. In my opinion, it’s whatever works best for you. For me, I think when I focus on striking with mid-foot (vs my usual which I feel leans slightly rearfoot) I am faster because I’m focused on hitting the ground and getting my foot into the air quickly. The difference may purely be a result of higher cadence. Here’s one example article that says I’m dead wrong in saying midfoot is better.

Whatever it is, my dear friends, it is the magic of the Special Racing Shoes.

Was That You?

The area where my work is located is also great for jogging. It’s a suburb of Houston that has a lot of sidewalks and you can map out a bunch of different routes for different mileage. Plus, since I lived near work for so long, jogging around that area makes perfect sense.


Except for the occasional honk from a co-worker driving by. But wait, you might think, isn’t that nice? A little cheer from a co-worker? Yes, you’re right, it is nice.


But what if at that moment I’m doing something I’d rather a co-worker didn’t see?

  1. Getting angry at a car waiting for a light to turn green that has pulled up onto the walkway. (Darn you.)
  2. Getting angry at a car inching forward to turn right on red while only looking left (meanwhile I am to the driver’s right hoping he/she sees me and trying to determine what to do).
  3. Musical butt (sorry … but it’s true)
  4. The runner’s nose blow (where you use a finger to plug one nostril, then just BLOW from the other nostril and whala, nasal passage re-enabled!)
  5. That time I grew out my Abraham Lincoln/Amish facial hair and ran shirtless during the summer (6’3 of skinny whiteness with a thick tuft of neck beard … blech) (Thankfully this is not a current scene that can be witnessed, but I do can still easily look like a nut while running – as seen here)


Thank you for supporting your local jogging enthusiasts while they are out doing their thing, just please wipe the memory from your mind if I look crazy/mean/smelly.

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