Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The 2013 Celtic Solstice 5-Mile Run

Subtitled, "Thank God it didn't sleet." At Druid Hill Park in Baltimore City.

I like to think the multi-colored potties are supposed to be a tribute to the multi-colored rowhouses around Druid Hill Park

This was my biggest (as in number of runners) so far. I have some crowd-anxiety, and I did not like being packed into the middle of 5,000 people ... growing more and more irritated as the start time of 0830 neared, and then passed. It turned out we were waiting for the pipers to pass through, and it was just as hard for them to get through 5,000 people as it was for us to stand there waiting! We did hear them coming, though, and they passed through quickly.

The pipers were also on the running route. The elder of the two walked it while piping, and the younger stood at the halfway point, playing Christmas carols. 

The Stieff Silver building in Baltimore City.

I wish I could take pictures and run at the same time! There were runners dressed as Santas, and lots of plaid and several kilts. Two women ran inside of gift-wrapped boxes with their arms poking through. I didn't dress up, but in retrospect I wish I had! I was so anxious about the weather (was supposed to sleet) I was trying to plan for rain or sleet, and didn't think about any of the sparkly fun skirts I bought just for events like this! Although I would have needed a plaid one to fit in.

The lady photobombing me is friends with the lady taking my picture. 

My finish time was 54:51. I'm not sure my Garmin functioned properly -- I looked at the graph, and it doesn't show where I stopped for water. Hmmm. 

Druid Hill Park, like all of Baltimore City, is very hilly. My Garmin tells me the route went up 404 feet, and dropped 414. The entire first half mile was uphill, pretty steep, but it was a there-and-back, so we got to charge back down that hill at the end. Most of the time, I was running in such a tight pack I couldn't tell if I was going up or down hill. It was like a stampeding herd. 

Doesn't this look like black coffee? Well ... it's not! Boordy's Vineyard employees were in the tent, dispensing generous servings of their wassail.  It was delicious and warmed me up for the long walk back to my car.

Post Wassail
Three-story rowhouses, from the rear

From an overpass

I'm glad I went out for this (I got a super technical shirt with a side zipper so cleverly hidden I didn't even see it till I was in the food line), but the crowd was really a bit much for me. It was difficult to maneuver on the park path, which is about 5 people wide, when there were thousands trying to get up to their running speed and the snow and ice prevented run-arounds. There were no corrals, and it wasn't even possible to line up according to your pace, which would have really helped -- we were all just crammed into this intersection, and it was a big bottleneck. I couldn't even run until I had actually crossed the start line.

On the plus side, the entire run was inside the park, so there were no cars to deal with. When we circled the lake, an older lady walked around us the opposite direction, yelling at us from what I presume was a Bible. I don't know what part she was reading, I just remember how grim and angry she was. Must have been Old Testament. Or Revelations. Anyway, it wasn't anything uplifting or encouraging, judging by her expression and tone! I was a bit irritated by her. We're just out there running, you know? We're not drinking and smashing bottles or watching strippers, we're just running. On a Saturday morning. Maybe she thought the Solstice part was pagan and was preaching against that. 

I don't have any more runs scheduled. There's a zombie run in March I've got my eye on, and the half marathon I'm hoping to do in April, but I haven't signed up for anything yet.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Really Cold 10K

The 2nd Annual Columbia Turkey Chase. I placed about halfway through my age group (40 - 49, seems kind of a big age group!) It was 25 degrees, but with the wind chill it felt like 14. And the wind ... oh, the wind. Look over my shoulder, to the left of the picture, at the silver sheet billowing off of that guy's shoulders. It was terrible. I was so bundled up I'm surprised I could move! My thighs were frozen for most of the day.

It was a great run, and spectators actually came out and braved the cold. I love to run in Columbia. It's so pretty, and the people who are stuck in their cars while we pass don't curse at us or blow their horns (like they do in Baltimore City, which, ironically, is nicknamed "Charm City.")

1:07:25, terrain had a 358-foot rise (it was marketed as a "relatively flat" 10k, to which I say bullarky!)

Next up: Baltimore City Celtic Solstice 5-mile run. 14 December. I never thought I'd see the day when a 5-mile run would be a shorter run for me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

To Your Good (Crunchy, Holistic) Health: Honey!

I know that my two hard-charging, runner buddies Slick and Spinster Beth are pretty serious about their workout schedules, and both have 9-5 jobs they hold every day as well. I have a job too, but it is certainly not 9-5 and my "bosses" can make things difficult to get to the gym. Getting a good workout in, unfortunately, rarely means getting an elevated heart rate. I can get a bit of a weight-lifting workout in with the "Grow With Me" weight system (aka: 5 kids), but try taking a "fast" walk with kids all around!

So to counterbalance the lack of steady exercise, I pay closer attention to keeping my immune system strong. I am a pretty Crunchy person. I don't like going to the doctor, don't like immunizations (a whole 'nother story), I don't like pills - whether prescription or over the counter - you get the idea! So I tend towards holistic methods for health care, for me and the children!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stretching my Running Legs

Last May, I started moving away from 5ks and into slightly longer runs. I started with a 6k, then a 10k, then a 5-miler (which is 8k), then -- deep breath -- an 8 mile run. It feels really good to be stretching my runs out. I am currently working on a 12-week half-marathon training schedule, but since the halfs I want to run are in March and April 2014, I'm extending the schedule a bit. Instead of increasing one mile during the weekly long run, I'm just increasing a half mile; the other two runs per week are a 3-mile easy run, and a 4-mile run/4 mile run with hill training. There's an extra 3-mile easy run listed, but I am likely not going to run 4x a week.

I can't believe that I have stuck with this! I started "jog-walking" back in August 2011. My 5k time was 44 minutes. Now it's about 32. The winners in my age group tend to come in around 25, but to be honest, I'm only competing against myself, and right now, I'm more interested in distance than speed. And now that the weather is cooler, I can run a lot further.

I ran two races in September; the Navy-Air Force 5-miler (with half marathon), and an eight mile relay, which was half of the Howard County Striders Metric Marathon. The Navy 5-Miler required getting up extra early to drive from Baltimore to the nearest DC Metro Station, which was about a half hour. Then another half hour on the train. If you had told me two years ago that I would be willing to get up at 0500 on a Saturday morning ... to travel an hour to run 5 miles ... I wouldn't have believed it.

Navy 5-Miler (Washington, DC, Potomac Park) 14 September. I loved this run! I'm the one with my arms up, in a pink skirt, just about to enter the crosswalk. My friend Laura lives in DC and skateboarded over to take my picture along the route and cheer me on. Thanks, Laura!

Here I am afterward. I'm wearing my new Wonder Woman t-shirt. Behind me, you can see the Washington Monument in its scaffolding, being repaired finally from the earthquake.

This was an awesome run. It was flat and fast, and I kept a good pace throughout the race. If I remember correctly, I stayed under 11 minutes for the whole five miles, and for me, that's downright speedy.

Howard County Striders Metric Marathon and Relay, 21 September, Columbia, MD

Slick and I signed up for this relay back in July, I think ... and then Slick hurt her knee. The week before the run. Oh noes! I was panicky, she was bummed out, but the race master assured me we could transfer the registration to someone else. Okay -- great! Who do we know that is willing to run 8 miles early on a Saturday? With two days' notice?

Fortunately, our third friend Melissa knows half the people in the state of Maryland and about a quarter of the population of the East Coast. She immediately found someone who was willing to do it, but wasn't too sure she could manage 8 miles on such short notice (two days!), Stacy Y. Slick asked Stacy Wednesday night; Thursday, Stacy went out and ran six miles to see if she was in good enough shape, then she called and said she'd do it. YAY!!! Saved the day!

Slick volunteered at the race, and was at the relay station handing out water, Gatorade, and Power Bars. I started out at 0815 with the 11:30 pacers. Columbia is hilly -- the last two miles were uphill, and there was one really gruesome spot that was a very steep grade, uphill, and I could barely walk up it. It was awful. Then approaching the relay point was another uphill, but I found the strength to get the last of that 8.28 miles out and handed the relay tube to Stacy.

I was running. It doesn't look like it, but I was. 

Stacy Y., coming in to the finish at Warp One!


So, I don't have any more races planned except a Halloween run. I was hoping to run the Run Geek Run in DC this coming weekend, but I've had an unexpected interruption to my income, so I'm going to have to sit out the races until it gets straightened out. Even though I've moved past the 5ks ... a zombie run sounds *really* fun.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Summer Break

Just a quick post to let everyone know we're still around!

The three of us had an enjoyable vacation together in Scotland in July.

We visited the HMS Britannia ... 

Hit up a distillery ...

Climbed a mountain ...

 Posed in front of some large majestic buildings ...

Went shopping ...

Drove on the wrong side of the road, in the wrong side of the car ...
 We drove down to Hadrian's Wall in England, where a Canadian man expressed astonishment that my friends' husbands "let" them take a vacation on their own.

And we did not eat Haggis.

Slick and I went for a run in Edinburgh, where we predictably enough got lost. Edinburgh is very, very, very hilly. We got a very good workout! We didn't need to exercise anymore after that, because aside from walking ten miles a day, we climbed a freakin' mountain. Seriously. Arthur's Seat. 250 meters! I was sore from that for days. Then at Melrose Abbey, we climbed up a winding circular staircase that was about a half-mile high. So we got *lots* of exercise!

So, on to the races ...

I have only ran four races so far this year, 3 5ks, a 6k, and a 10k. That's five races, isn't it? I'm not known for my math skills. For the remainder of the year, I have signed up for the Navy Air Force 5-Mile run in DC on 14 September, and Slick and I are going to run the Metric Marathon Relay in Columbia, MD, on 21 September. 8 miles each. I'm currently working up to that! I'm at 5 miles now.

Now that I'm in my stride, I'm probably going to stop running the 5ks (except for the Halloween Dash at work, where I hope to be Wonder Woman this year). At $25-$35 each, I'd rather save my money up and run the bigger races. I am hoping to run a half-marathon in April -- the 3rd Annual Irongirl Half Marathon, which is for women only. I have run the 5k portion the last two years. If I take it slowly and am careful, I am sure I can get up to 13 miles by the end of April 2014. It certainly gives me something to work towards.

The last couple months, every time I see one of those 13.1 stickers on someone's car, I am just filled with both envy and determination. I really want to earn one of those stickers!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Whoo hoooo! We ran a 10k!

On a beautiful, cool, sunny day in late May, Slick and I (Spinster Beth) ran the MCVET 10k. A first 10k for us both, but Slick has two half-marathons under her running belt, so this was just a little Sunday jog for her!

There was a 5k and a 10k. The runners were all fairly experienced, with a few people like me (newbies, slowpokes, meanderers).  I came in twelfth ... from last! Out of 238 people. When we first got there, I looked around at all the runners and had a feeling I would be dead last.  They just looked that good.

Also, these very serious runners ran both the 5k and the 10k. I heard a lot of the same names being read off at the winner's announcements. 

 MCVET is the Maryland Center for Veterans' Education and Training. A color guard (students from a local college) posted the colors, and a live choir sang the National Anthem. This is the 2nd time I was at a race where the Anthem was sung live, and I love to hear it live.The race was the best-organized of my experience -- four water tables, plenty of volunteers, and cops at every intersection.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a 10k; cool and dry, and the sunshine was just dazzling (I'm a little light sensitive, so any sun is dazzling for me). With the help of my new custom inserts, molded to my feet (thanks, Road Runner Sports in Columbia, MD) and a packet of Honey Stinger energy chews, I ran all but a half mile. I walked up the railroad overpass hill in the middle, both coming and going. The rest of it I jogged.  (Amusing note -- the energy chews are endorsed by a certain cyclist who has been immersed in controversy regarding doping/not doping. The following work day after the 10k, my number came up for drug testing at work.)

I particularly liked the part where the Baltimore PD held up traffic at major intersections while I jogged ... slowly ... through ... the ... intersection ... holding them all up until I was through. I waved cheerily at all the frustrated motorists. If not for the headphones I was wearing, I might have learned all the latest swear words!

Here I come! The last bit was downhill, and I was so grateful to the race organizers for that little detail. 

I look forward to running more 10ks! It was a good, accomplish-able distance, and this one cost the same as the 5k (which has a lot to do with why I chose the 10k!) 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hiking Red Rock

By Slick

Hey it’s me Slick again, here with another exciting tale of exercising.  And away we go…

Last fall my sister and I decided to surprise my mom for her birthday and join her on a girl’s weekend in Las Vegas. I am not much of a gambler, something about knowing how many hours I have to work to make X amount of money, takes the fun out of gambling. But we did go ziplining over Fremont Street while a Bon Jovi concert played on the screen over our heads.  And the day of her birthday we all put on our hiking gear and went to enjoy the great outdoors at Red Rock Canyon.  

Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation area about 30 minutes from the Strip.  Our first stop was the Visitor’s center were we picked up an handy dandy hiking map that also gave us the low-down on how strenuous the various trails are.  Though everyone in the group hikes often, we were not what you call serious athletes and no one wanted to face a 5 hour car ride back to SoCal with a leg brace or cast. 

We decided to pick three of the shorter trails.  The first was “Calico 1”.  I took most of my pictures on this trail.  I was just upset that my point and shoot camera wasn’t going to capture the multitude of colors or do justice to the formations. 

Here is another picture from the same trail…my sister is giving my poor mother a heart attack pretending to fall off.

For our second trail we decided on the Keystone Thrust.  As we could never find the Thrust…and I only have a vague idea of what a Thrust is or what it should look like, there are no pictures.   We gave up after a couple of miles and decided to detour to the pictograph before the final trail. 

The pictograph was right off the Willow Springs Loop, and an easy two minute walk from our parking spot.  The waterfall, though supposedly an easy to moderate trail, was actually a bit difficult to access…as there were lots of hikers (both serious hikers and the flip flop variety)  and a very narrow trail at several points.  But it was worth it.  My best picture is of my sister under the water, but as I didn’t ask her, and my birthday is coming up (she gives me the best gifts), I will refrain from posting it.  And you all will have to settle for an example what we climbed over in the “moderate trail” to get to the waterfall.

The next time I go to Vegas, I will definitely make time to return and maybe tackle one of the strenuous trails, how bad could it be?!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Year of 5ks, from a Former Couch Potato

Subtitle: How I lost 17% of my body weight! 

Well, Huzzah! It's the 1-year anniversary of my weight loss. 38 lbs. That is supposed to be significant, in terms of joint health, but I must also point out that between the running, healthier diet, and fish pills, my cholesterol went from 242 to 130 something. (Again--Huzzah!)

I don't have pictures for every 5k I ran in. I'm still waiting for today's photos, but I think I was ... not at my best when crossing the finish line, so those may not get posted.


Here I am in September 2011 (At a castle in Wales...Newton House?)

Above, at Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, same time...


Here I am now! (pardon the potty shot, my only other mirror is in a dark hallway)

Here I was one year ago at the First Annual Iron Girl Half and 5k, April 2012:

Spirit of Gettysburg 5k, June 2012:

With Slick and Mini-Slick (Mr. Slick took photo) at the Catonsville Fall Into Fitness, September 2012:
(With her do-rag and shades, Mini-Slick is far cooler than I can ever hope to be)

 The Howard County Strider's Metric Marathon and 5k, Veteran's Day 2012:

 (Slick and Mr. Slick were in San Antonio running the Rock and Roll Half)

Last weekend (April 20), at the Arbutus Spring Fling 5k:

They played the Whitney Houston version of the National Anthem, and I thought it would never end!)

And ... I really don't like this photo, but right now it's all I have ... here I am this morning, at the 2nd Annual Iron Girl 5k, 28 April:

 Missing: Two Monster Dashes and one Armed Forces Week 5k, Jingle Bell, New Year's Resolution.

Next weekend is the Port-to-Fort 6k.

My first 5k was in October 2011. I walked and ran when I could, and came in at 44:14. Today's "5k" was actually 3.37 miles, according to my Garmin ... at the 5k mark, I was at 33:23. When I crossed the finish line, it was 35:54. I'm a little peeved by this, even though it's minor, because Iron Girl posted that I ran 3.1 miles in 35:54, and it was more than two minutes faster than that! I started Garmin at the start gate, and turned it off at the gate. I was talking to a watchless woman who said she felt like it was a longer run than just 3.1. It's small potatoes, sure, but again -- my best 5k time will go unacknowledged because the official time is measuring the wrong distance! Very aggravating.

Today's event was all about Boston, of course -- it was delayed slightly so it could start at the same time the Boston Marathon started. Lots of memorial shirts and signs, and a moment of silence.

I want to thank everyone who clicks 'like' and watches my incessant status updates about running. I know in the world of running I'm just a snail, but the acknowledgement helps motivate me.

I didn't want to sabotage my weight loss or running by setting a goal that I would then fret over, so I set my first goal as just "run a 5k without stopping." I've done that several times. I would like to work my way up to a 10k. We'll see how it goes!  There are 6,7,8ks ... relays ... all sorts of races to aim for.