What I’ve been doing (since I’ve not been blogging)

I wondered why I spent the first part of the week sleeping (and not blogging) but when I look back on my weekend I really should not wonder at all. I’m not 21 anymore, after all …

Thursday night/Friday morning

Chris came to town on Thursday evening and he and Jeff and I went for a late dinner at the new Big View Diner on 521 and Audrey Kell. If you haven’t tried it, it’s worth it. It’s not a “diner” really, more of a restaurant with a kick-ass bakery counter and a sports bar. Chris said it was the best blue cheeseburger he’d ever had, and I fell in love with the chocolate cheesecake. Yum. Good thing we were running a Miles for Marines 15K the next day to burn off those calories …

I’ve sort of given up on the idea of going to bed early the night before a race. If I try, it just stresses me out and I toss and turn all night and kick myself for not being able to fall asleep. So I figure, I’ll do my thing, go to bed when I can, and just plan to nap the next day. We got back to the house around midnight, put in Chasing Amy (Chris had never seen it!), and chilled out in front of the TV. At 5:30 a.m. when I got up to pee and realized I’d barely even dozed off by then, I was a little concerned, but what do you do?

The alarm went off at 6:10 and I was pretty much awake at that point. We had a cup of coffee and headed over to Kevin’s. I realized the night before that I was out of energy gel, which I like to carry with me on long runs, and thank goodness Kevin has a supply at his house. We fueled up at his house – I carried his Nathan’s belt and let Chris carry my Amphipod so I could test out the Nathan’s. Got some Hammer Gel (Apple cinnamon, which is way too sweet for me but it’s less thick and easier to eat than the espresso flavor). I was excited to be running my longest race ever.

Kevin, Mia, Chris and I headed out to the race, at Westminster Park in Rock Hill. When we got there I noticed something huge missing: Race numbers. And race packets. And anything really resembling a race, such as a start/finish line … Hmm.

Turns out this wasn’t a “race” so much as a “run.” The web site had billed it as a run/walk, so I suppose that’s my fault, but it was listed with all the other races so I was not too thrilled that they didn’t spell it out in the description. Another thing not spelled out was the fact that it was a trail run – in the woods. I had no idea. Glad I wasn’t wearing brand-new clean shoes.

Chris and I decided to “race” together this time – a sacrifice on his part because I’m sure he could have beat me. Lemme tell you, I was really glad to have him there – there’s a mental challenge involved when you’re running over roots and mud puddles and rocks, and it’s super-nice to have a teammate. We only separated once – he made a pit stop at a port-a-potty and I kept going, knowing he would easily catch me, which he did. I also ran past two of my former Herald colleagues covering the run, so that was a pleasant surprise. I called out hellos as I passed them – even if this wasn’t a timed race, I was still racing against my Garmin!

At one point the trail was not well-marked so we went the wrong way. Not just us – an entire group of us. So I’m not really sure how far we actually ran – my Garmin didn’t match the mile markers either, and I’m not sure if it was them that was off or if all the woods running threw the GPS off. It’s frustrating when paths aren’t clearly marked and volunteers aren’t really volunteering information (saw a LOT of bored pre-teens being not-that-helpful.)

As I saw Andrew Dys the reporter, my mind wandered into the stories he writes – the kind of stories that really touch your soul. I started thinking about the types of interview he must be getting for the run – about why people were there. I thought about the Marines we were running for (the run benefits the Injured Marines Semper Fi fund). I thought about my brother-in-law, Gray, serving his country in Iraq right now, and his wife, Katie, who is  patiently awaiting his return home. I thought about the 15K march the Marines do at the end of their time as recruits, called The Crucible. I thought about how everyone running was probably thinking about somebody else. Chris’ family is Army but his dad and brother have recently served or are serving in Iraq as well, and we were running for them. I am not surprised in the least, that Andrew’s story did not disappoint.

The thing about a trail run is that I spent so much time focusing on not injuring myself that I barely had time to decide whether it was physically challenging or not. I ran much slower than normal, about 11:25 minute miles, and my heart rate stayed a lot lower than the 10K I did with Kevin last month, but my watch told me I burned 965 calories. Not a bad thing to do before breakfast! Chris and I crossed the finish line 1:42:35 later, then we all went to IHOP for breakfast (Jeff had joined us by then.) Kevin posted pictures on his blog if you want to check them out.

Friday evening/Saturday morning

After a nap (told you!) we packed up our packs and headed to the Anne Springs Close Greenway campsite Kevin had reserved. He was running an off-road triathlon on Saturday morning and he had the idea to camp out the night before. It was a relaxing evening in front of the fire, drinking some beers and watching the moon over the lake he would be racing in the next morning. I was planning to use my brand-new bivy sack for the first time and right as I got the courage to stick my toe inside of it, Chris came running out of the woods talking about glowing eyes looking at him … oh heck no. Turned out to be a cat, but still. I got in the bivy anyway, lasted about 5 minutes, then got up for another beer before I retreated to the tent. I’ll try again next time.

The great thing about camping with critters in the summer is if you can bring along your own critters. Kishin the dog stayed awake all night keeping watch over me – when I was in the bivy he was standing over me, and when I was in the tent he was laying right beside my head, alert all night long. I love the heck out of him.

The next morning we got up in time to get the camera out of the car, hit the bathrooms, and head down to the lake to watch the first leg of the triathlon, the 500m swim. It was the first one I’d ever been to, and it was really fun to watch! The swimmers all looked so exhausted after they came out of the water. I felt so bad for them, knowing they had only just begun … We cheered Kevin on as he came out and ran up to get his bike. Then we headed back to the campsite to have coffee and pack up while Kevin huffed it out over 12.5 miles of trail.

Jenn and Mia showed up and Jenn suggested we find the part of the race where the biking ends and the running begins. We sat on the hill and watched the cyclists come in. The funny part was when two guys that didn’t seem like the others (wearing cotton instead of tech tees or other race materials) biked through and said “We’re not racing! We’re trying to get home!” I was amazed at what they had to do during the transition. It was hard to see everything from where I was sitting but I would imagine a lot of stress would lie in transferring from bike shoes to running shoes, trading helmets for water belts or whatever they wanted to run with …

We cheered Kevin in as he biked to the transition area then headed off for his 3.1 mile run. Wow, that’s a race in and of itself. The highlight of him crossing the finish line was his 2-year-old daughter Mia getting her pom-poms ready. The crowd around her went wild. “That’s her daddy she’s cheering in!” someone said and they all cheered with her. What great energy!

Saturday night

Amy, a friend of mine and Chris’ (not to be confused with lifelong friend Amy) came to town from Chapel Hill and we headed up to the Epicenter via light rail. We decided to hit Wild Wing for dinner, a spot I would never normally take her since it’s a chain and she could get it in other cities (such as Athens, where she just moved from) but we were looking for cheap and somewhat inexpensive. Thank goodness I decided to order a beer and thank goodness the waitress decided to card me, because it was then I realized I’d left my ID at home. Doh! We would never be able to get into Howl at the Moon as we’d planned, or any other clubs, without my ID. Jeff was a trooper and went home to get it, and I enjoyed water with my dinner while I waited. Amy and Colleen ended up going to Howl at the Moon before Jeff got back to secure us a table, and Chris and I wanted wandered through uptown and caught the fireworks and grabbed an espresso. The espresso was worth it; the fireworks were not.

Howl at the Moon was a bit disappointing at first; people seemed to be requesting slower songs, more meant for crying your eyes out after a breakup and not partying on the Fourth of July. Later in the night, though, it was on … and the guy performers were hilarious, as they should be at a dueling piano bar. We partied till last call then headed to Melissa and Phil’s for another all-night-dance party. I swear I get a better cardio workout there than I do on my runs! Too bad all the beer I drank canceled it out …

So that’s where I’ve been

Have been spending the rest of the week sleeping, catching up on work, and running a couple of times. In the news of upcoming events:

– My sister’s baby boy is due July 23. For that reason, I have cleared my schedule starting, oh, now – so that I can be with Jenny and Chuck as soon as baby Cai is born!
– Marathon training starts next month! Wow, can’t believe it’s this soon. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time!
– Let’s see, what else … oh wait, after the “marathon training starts” bit, there’s no room for anything else!