Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Baltimore Marathon Relay Leg One (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

This past weekend I was part of a relay team that ran the Baltimore Marathon.  The team was made of of Ana, Meg, and MerandaLacy decided to join us a few weeks ago to run the whole thing on her own.  This was the first time I had ever participated in a relay, so I really wasn't sure what to expect.

On Friday Lacy and I drove up from Virginia, while the others drove together from Pennsylvania.  Lacy and I were the first to arrive so we decided to take a quick walk through the Expo.  I went to pick up my bib and ended up picking up everyone's for the team as they were all in one envelope.  We walked through the Expo and Lacy picked up her shirt.  I wanted to wait for everyone else to get mine.  Shortly the rest of the gang joined us.  The Expo was good.  I really didn't want or need anything, so it was a quick trip through.  It really kinda reminded me of the Expos that we have here.  Nothing like Rock 'n Roll or Disney, but the Baltimore race really isn't that size, so that's not a fair comparison. 

We picked up our shirts and walked to the Inner Harbor to find some place to eat.  We ended up stopping at the first place to eat.  We had some good food, good wine, and great conversations.  We headed back to the hotel and called it a night. 

We had already decided who would run which leg.  Because I was very under trained and dealing with a knee issue, everyone was nice enough to let me run the shortest leg, which happened to be the first one.  I really had not looked at the map at all before the weekend.  I did take a peek at the elevation the night before and realized that I had very steep hills for the first 3 miles or so.  But then it did even out some with a few steep down hills.  Honestly, I was OK with that, mostly because the up hills were first.

Each person of the relay team had to take the bus once.  Leg 2 and 4 had to take a bus out and leg 1 and 3 had to take a bus back.  Seemed fair.  Since Meranda had the second leg, she had to take a bus out to where I would be meeting her.  She had to be on her bus by 7:30 and the race started at 8.  The race started outside Camden Yards where the Orioles play and the bus area was outside the M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play.  The two stadiums are just a few blocks away, so Lacy and I walked down to the buses with Meranda and dropped her off.  Then we headed back to the start line.

We still had about a half an hour before the race started so we stretched and sat near the bathrooms.  They actually opened up part of Camden Yards were the bathrooms were so we took advantaged of real toilets.  We both went 2-3 times even though we really didn't have to go.  The weather was a little cool, but it was quickly warming up.  The race probably started in the mid-50s.  Perfect weather for running.

We decided to head to the start and I walked Lacy up to the front and then headed back to my pace area.  There were no corrals, just signs with paces listed where you were supposed to line up.  I found a place in the 12 minute mile area, even though I know I am much slower then that.  I had found a nice empty space and just stayed there so I could do a few more stretches.

Right before the race started, Meranda texted me that I would be running through the zoo.  The zoo?!?  Wow, now I was really excited.  They played the national anthem and then we were off.

The race started through the inner part of the city.  We headed up one hill and it would even off and sometimes even go downhill for a little.  Then it would go up another hill steeper or longer then the last.  I kept looking back to see how many people were behind me and I kept seeing a stream of runners and then the police car that followed the last runner.  I felt like it was the balloon ladies stalking me.  Every time I got towards the top of a hill, I would look back and there was the police car.  I tried not to push it harder and hurt myself, but I was so terrified to be pulled off the course for going too slow and ruin the race for the other ladies.

I was running a 30:30 and was hitting every run interval.  I was proud that I kept up a pretty good pace, despite all of the up hills.  We ran through neighborhoods that were a bit sketchy.  Though there were a lot of people sitting on their steps and porches watching the race.  Like I do at all the other races, I wave and say hello and thank you to everyone that took the time to come out.  I very much appreciate anyone that comes out to watch and cheer us on.  I knew that the worst of the uphills would be over around mile 3, but they just felt like they went on forever.

We come up towards a park and I knew the Maryland Zoo had to be coming up.  I didn't know if we would be able to see any animals or how many.  But I just couldn't wait.

We got to a back entrance gate and they had two birds out for us to look at and take pictures.  They are Common Ravens named Rise and Conquer.  They are the live mascots of the Baltimore Ravens football team.  They are at every home game.

The next animal that they had out was the Lionhead Rabbit.  He was just a fluff ball of fur and so cute.

The next was another bird, the Kookaburra from Australia.

The last animal that they had out was a Penguin.  They actually had it set up with someone taking your picture.  This guy just kept looking at the person that was having their picture taken with him.  He just wouldn't turn around to face the camera.

So I decided to take a picture of him staring at me after our picture was done.

We ran through a little bit more of the zoo, but none of the actual exhibits were open or viewable.  All of the animals that we could see were the ones that they brought out to the course.  We exited the zoo and ran through a bit more of the park that surrounds the zoo. 

I noticed that because of being in the park and zoo and not having a strait shot behind me, I really didn't know how far back I was in the race.  I knew that I had spent some time taking pictures but I felt like I was making some good time.  There were still people around me, not tons, but enough to make me feel a little more comfortable.  Most everyone had pinned on the back of their shirts if they were running the relay or the full.  I do remember being very happy that I was only doing 6 miles instead of the full 26.  With my lack of training and only running once the 3 weeks before the race because of my knee injury I was getting tired and very happy to be about a mile from my end.

The park had a very beautiful lake.  It was starting to get a bit warm, but still a nice run.

And more hills.

And more hills.  At this point my knee was really hurting.  Hills are the trigger for my latest knee pain and I did a good bit of that.  I really couldn't wait for the end of my leg.

When I was about half a mile away from the relay exchange I texted Meranda to let her know.  She said that she was at the top of the hill.  Which hill?

I turned the corner of this last hill and I saw a bunch of people.  I knew that this must be the relay exchange.  Way down the road I saw someone waving frantically.  I thought it was someone on the side of the road to cheer for someone near me.  They were a bit away from the crowd and didn't pay too close attention.  I got a little closer and I realized that it was Meranda waving for me.  Yay!  I was done!  We had a quick hello and selfie.  She took the timing chip and I took her throw away and she was off.

I looked for some water and food, but all they had was the water station that was a few yards past the relay station.  Huh?  No water bottles to take with us on the bus back to the festival?  I couldn't believe that 'cause I was very thirsty.  They only had 2 water stations on my leg and I wanted water.  I walked down to the station and it looked like they were pouring the cups of water from gallon jugs.  There was one sitting on the table that was about a fourth full and I asked if I could take it and they said yes.  Yay, water for the ride home!

I headed to the buses.  They were using school buses to shuttle us around.  I got in and sat in the front.  There were still about 10 seats that needed to be filled before they would head back to the festival.  As we were waiting we talked to the bus driver.  He said that their instructions was to get as close to the football stadium as they could and good luck.  No instructions on the best route or what roads would be closed.  Thankfully our driver knew where he was going and got us back fairly quickly.

I went back to the festival and got my medal and food and more water.  By this point I was really hungry.  I don't eat much of anything before I run and after 6 miles and about an hour I needed some fuel.  I had about an hour before Lacy would pass the finish line so I headed back to the hotel for a quick shower.

I got back to the finish line and found Meranda.  By that time she had finished her leg and walked to the finish line.  As we were watching everyone and chatting, Lacy finished.  We both saw her but neither one of us were ready to take a picture.  Oh well.

We met Lacy in the medal/fuel area and headed towards the water.  She looked like she put almost everything on the course.  I made sure that I kept giving her another bottle of water when she was done with one.  We took a few pictures by the water and headed so that Lacy could get a massage.

Meranda and I left Lacy in good hands and headed back to the finish line.  We wanted to see Ana cross the finish line.  We knew that she was wearing a black tank top and black shorts.  Not long after, Meranda asked if that was her.  I looked, but she had already passed and all I could see was her back.  By the end of this race it was in the upper 70's, so very hot.  She had taken off her top and was running in her sports bra because of the heat.  We decided that we thought it was her and headed back to the medal/fuel area and as we were heading there we got a text saying that she was done.  It was her!

At the same time Meg was having a hard time getting back to the festival.  Her bus driver kept getting lost and it was taking them forever to get back to the festival area.  We found Lacy again (who looked much better after her massage) and Ana and Lacy went to find Meg and head back to the hotel to shower and get ready to check out.  Meranda wanted to get a massage, so I went down with her.

They were offering to do acupuncture as well as massage, so I decided to try it.  I've always been interested in trying it, but never got around to.  So I jumped at the chance.  I told her what was bothering me (at this point, my knee was fine, but my hips were stiff).  She had me lie on my back and she put the needles on a few places in my legs.  There wasn't any pain when she put the needles in.  I'm not sure if it helped or not, but she had stated usually only one treatment isn't very noticeable.

It was now after 1 and our checkout time was 2, so we headed back to the hotel to get ready to head out.  We checked out of the hotel and had Chipotle and Subway for lunch before we headed our respective ways home.

The weekend was so very quick, but it really was a lot of fun.  I wish we had more time hanging out.  This was the first time I had met Meg and Ana and I wish we had more time to get to know each other.  We will just have to do another race together then. :)

Meranda continued on to leg 2.

She passed the tracking chip on to Meg for leg 3.

And Ana took the last leg and ran to the finish line.

While we ran the relay, Lacy ran the whole 26.2 miles!

Have you ever been part of a relay?  Have you ever done any of the races in the Baltimore Festival (marathon, relay, half, or 5k)?  

Friday, October 6, 2017

What's For Lunch? (Friday Five Edition)

With my new job, we are located downtown and in a part of town where there is not a lot of lunch options.  We do have a cafeteria but it doesn't have a huge selection that I like and it's very expensive.  We have a Subway across the street and a pub a few blocks down.  For anything else we have to drive at least 15 minutes.  It makes it hard when you are hourly.  So I just bring my lunch.

Lately I have been making different casseroles on Sunday night and splitting it up for the week.  That way I have dinner for Sunday and don't have to figure out what to make each evening when I get home late.  Yes, sometimes by Friday, I am tired of it, but that rarely happens.  When it does, I bring a sandwich or plan on buying my lunch.   Here is what goes into the process.

1. Meat - I chose what type of meat.  I can't eat red meat, so I usually rotate between ground turkey and chicken.  I'll cook up the ground turkey and add some spices.  Once it's cooked thoroughly, I add salsa.  This gives it a little more flavor and makes it easier to stir in other ingredients.   

2. Carbs - I decide between pasta and rice.  I usually go for pasta, but sometimes I need to shake things up and I cook up some rice.  For the rice, I just use those boil a bag, just cause it's a lot easier.  If I use pasta I pick from any shape and style.

3. Vegetables - I usually pick whatever looks good in the grocery store.  A lot of my go-tos are broccoli, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and cauliflower.  I don't have a steamer (or even room for one in my tiny kitchen), but I found this basket thing that is boil proof. 

I just chop up the vegetables, put it in the basket, put the basket in the pot and cover for 5-10 minutes.  

The vegetables turn out great.  I have been getting cherry tomatoes and cutting those in froths.  I won't steam them, but just add them raw.

4. Cheese - Every casserole has to have cheese.  And I believe that more is better. :)  For all but one of my dishes I just buy a bag of shredded cheese at the store.  If I am making something with the ground turkey, I usually go for a nacho type mix.  If it's chicken, usually sharp cheddar.  I have a Mac & Cheese recipe from my grandmother that I do sometimes and add chicken and veggies if I feel like making it healthier.  For that one I get cubes of sharp cheddar and then sprinkle on some different shredded cheese on top.

5. Bake - I mix everything in a casserole dish and put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Everything has already been cooked, except the tomatoes, so it shouldn't take long for the cheese to melt and give it that nice crunch on the top.

Once it's done, I usually have a bowl for dinner and then put the rest into tupperware for the week.  These that I use you can get from getting Chinese delivered, or do what I do and buy 25 for like $10.  They are the perfect size for a lunch and not too bulky to put a bunch in the fridge for the week.

With so many different choices I can make, I have yet to get bored with my lunch. 

Do you bring your lunch to work?  Do you have any lunch hacks that are good and easy?  

I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

Monday, October 2, 2017

Medal Monday - My First Medal (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

There are times when I walk down my hallway, I really start looking at all of my medals.  I don't know if I could honestly tell you if I had a favorite one, but each one has a story.  I thought I'd start a series of posts which shares these stories.

I had been running on an almost regular basis for a year and a half when I got this medal in May of 2012.  This was for The Race For the Cure 5k that always takes place Mother's Day weekend here.  I've only done this race once because my schedule never worked out to do it again (and it usually was on my birthday weekend as well).  

I had done a couple of 10k's (both the Ukrop's 10k) and a few 5k's before this in the year and a half.  I ran with a couple people from the gym and my race buddy.  We were running it because my gym teacher's wife was battling breast cancer (and won later that year).  One of the ladies from the gym was driving and she is a policewoman.  I remember her driving being very scary, but feeling very safe at the same time.  She would do these precision moves that you didn't think were possible and pulled them off.

The race is a course that by the river, downtown.  What I remember from the course are a few really steep hills up and one steep downhill at the end.  I would find out later that year that it's the same finish line as my first half marathon.

We didn't get the medal as we were finishing the race, but as we were leaving the after party and heading back to the car.  I didn't even know that they gave out medals at races as I had never gotten one before (the Ukrop's 10k only started giving medals out three years ago).  I thought they only gave them out if you won the race.  I am actually surprised I kept it and now I'm glad I did.

What was your first medal for?  Did you know that you got medals before you started entering races?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Upcoming Fall Plans (Friday Five Edition)

With my summer not being very interesting, I thought I'd try to highlight things that I want to do this fall.  That way I won't let the season get away from me without a little bit of excitement.

1. I have one real race this fall.  I really don't count the Bubble Run that I did last week as that is more of a fun run then a race.  I have joined a few other ladies and we will be doing the Baltimore Marathon Relay.  It's only 3 weeks away and with my lack of training, I hope I get the shortest distance. :)

2. I really need to get a massage or two or 50.  At least once a month my back tenses up so bad I have to spend a lot of time on my lacrosse ball.  I'm always saying how much easier it would be if I just scheduled regular massages.  I'm not sure if I like the idea of the big box places where you sign up for a membership.  I just don't know how reliable the masseuses will be.  But then if you find a nice independent one, they are only open during the week, during week hours.  So I go back and forth on what I want to do and then just don't do anything.  I need to get off my but and schedule one once a month.

3. I really want to try to keep biking over the winter.  I'm not talking like every weekend or anything like that, but it would be nice to keep riding even when it's a little on the chilly side.  I do have to say that more then anything I HATE the cold, so this will be a challenge.  I did buy a long pair of biking pants and a couple biking underwear.  Now don't laugh too hard at this.  They are basically very short biking shorts that make it easier to wear under normal (non-padded) pants.  This way I'm spending less money and able to use the tights and pants that I use for running.

4. I really want to try and get my house organized again.  I know this doesn't sound like fun, but it will really make me feel a lot better.  When I was out of work earlier this year, I really got some good cleaning done.  I didn't 100% finish everything and those rooms I did finish are starting to look a bit cluttered again.  I'd like to just pick something small in a room each weekend and get that done.  I'm hoping by the time winter comes around, I won't feel like I'm starting to lose control of the mess.  I just want to try and get ahead of it, just a little.

5. Fix up some things outside my house.  Again, it doesn't sound very fun, but it will make me feel much better.  I need to do things like weed and cut back growth from this summer.  I need to power wash one side of my house, which has green stuff all over it.  I need to power wash and stain my front porch.  I'd like to find someone to move the tree/bush things in front of my house to the back.  I feel like it's a security issue not being able to see my front door, but I don't want to cut them down.  Or maybe I can find someone who can trim it better then me to make them a lot smaller.  I'm not sure how much I'll get done, but we will have some nice weekends coming up in the next month or two.

This is from 2 years ago, those are at least a foot taller

I'd like to also try to spend more time with my kitties.  My old lady is 18 years old this month.  All she wants to do is to lay in my lap.  But that means I will just have to sit on my couch some extra. :)

Do you get massages from those subscription places?  Do you like them?  What races do you have coming up?  What fun fall plans do you have?

I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Bubble Run (Tuesdays on the Run Edition)

This past Saturday I had done the Bubble Run.  This is something one of my friends wanted to do and asked me to join her.  We signed up for it last spring.  It's a traveling race, like most color runs, that put on the same race in different cities several times a month.

This past week I knew it was coming up and, honestly, I really was dreading it.  I just wasn't in the mood for a race, and really just wanted to hang out this past weekend and not do much of anything.  There was packet pickup on Friday and I told myself if my friend, Beverly, didn't contact me about it, I wouldn't bother with the race.  There was no way I was doing it on my own.

Friday had happened and I hadn't heard anything all day.  So I didn't plan on picking up my packet.  And then at 8 PM Friday night I heard from my friend.  She asked if I was doing the race tomorrow and I replied, "It's tomorrow?"  She said that she hadn't texted me earlier since she was in the Bahamas and had no cell service.  I really didn't feel bad for her at all.

So we made plans on carpooling and heading out there the next morning.  She was going to pick me up after her friend Ellen and be to my house sometime after 7, so I planned on being ready at 7.  The race was taking place at the Racetrack, which is across town.  As we drove there we talked about the race and wondered if it would be on the actual track.  I didn't think it would, but if it were I don't know if I'd like it as the track is banked and makes it hard on my knee.

We got to the Racetrack and found out that it was $10 per car to park.  Seriously?!?  It's not like it was limited to parking and trying to get people to carpool.  We asked the lady taking the money if it went to the charity of the race.  She said yes, but I still wonder if it really did.

Beverly had her packet mailed to her.  She got the wrong size shirt and didn't get the tutu that she ordered.  Both Ellen and I had to pick up our packet.  I showed my ID and he asked if I had the email to scan.  Huh?  Really, you can't type my name in.  He finally did when I just flat out said no.  Then they told us there was a $5 fee for picking up our packet on race day.  Gug, talk about gouging for every penny we had.  It made it feel like a runDisney race. :)  I got the shirt, headband, and tattoo that came with the packet.  I asked about the bib and he said they ran out.  What?!?  How do you run out of bibs for the registered runners?  Would we still be let into the race?

We went to the merchandise tent to get Beverly's tutu.  Apparently the extra merchandise that was being sold online was not sent to your house if you requested the packet to be mailed.  So she picked it up, but they didn't have pink, which is what she ordered.  Again, how do you run out of things that are pre-ordered?

We headed back to the car to drop things off and put on the race shirt.  I didn't want to wear it as it was cotton and it was getting hot out.  But I wanted to make sure I cold get into the starting corral without being questioned.

We headed to the port-a-potties for a last bathroom break and noticed that no one was checking for a bib.  So basically if you happened to be around and wanted to do the race, you wouldn't of had to sign up for it.

There were waves that were being let go about 5-10 minutes apart.  We just got up in line and waited our turn.  We saw two waves be let go before it was our turn.  They were letting the bubbles build up so that everyone would be able to run through them and not just the people in the middle.  Once it was filled up enough they had us go.

I have to admit, going through the bubbles were fun and it was lifting my mood.  They were soft and felt a little wet, but really was fun.  Once we were through the bubbles we had just a road to continue on.  No sight of any other bubbles that we could see from there.  Most people were walking, but we decided to run.  My friends had said that they were "out of shape" and that we all would stick together.  I told them that my peak was normally slow and I'm so far from my peak.  So I was usually about 5 steps behind them.

We came up to the first bubble color.  It was just like the bubbles from the start, but it was pink.  So we just run through and play with it and we are back out to the road of the run.  I thought there would be more of an obstacle type thing, but it was just bubbles dropping from above.

We were back on the actual course.  We were now on the field area where people park, so we were running mostly on a rocky trail.  I became even slower and even walked more of it.  At this point my friends mostly stuck with me.

We got to the second color, green.  Again, it was the same thing of bubbles dropping from above with green color to it.  We played around a little in this and headed on.  There was a water stop right after the green.  So we grabbed some water and rinsed off our hands and headed on.

We saw that there were people cutting through the field to save some of the mileage.  We were thinking of doing the same, but there was a part that we couldn't see beyond the trees that we decided to go along the path.  And of course when we got to the other side of the trees, there was no other bubble color.  We got back to the main field area and came across the third color, blue.  Not much to say about it, except same bubbles, different color.

The other two kept running and I just kinda had it with running, so at that point I just walked and let them go ahead of me.I did take a shortcut across the field while they ran the long way, which was fine with me.  We got to the blue bubbles and again just bubbles that fell from above.  At this point I was kinda getting bored of it all.  My IT Band was getting tight and I didn't want to push it and run too much more, especially on uneven trails.  So I would run a little and walk a lot.

We got to the yellow bubbles and both Ellen and I just walked through them with no playing.  Ellen said that she just didn't like yellow and I said I was just bored.  It really was getting hot at this point and doubly so with the cotton shirt on.  We knew that we were towards the end.  Beverly and Ellen kept running and there were no way I could take another short cut because there were fences around at this point.  I just let them take off and I just walked and took my time.

I assumed that they finished up without me so I stopped and took pictures and really was not worried about them.  And then I looked toward the finish and there they were waiting for me.  If I would have known they were gonna wait for me, I wouldn't have dilly-dallied.  The three of us crossed the line together.

We joined the after party, which really was a lot more fun then the race.  They had bubbles being shot at the crowd from both sides and you could tell the kids were having a ton of fun.  We got our finish picture.

Beverly wanted to get a "fun" picture of the three of us, so we walked into the foam and jumped around to get a fun picture.

Beverly insisted on getting a picture of me, since I had been the one taking pictures the whole race.  She was worried that I wasn't going to be in any, even though I told her I got plenty of selfies.  I stood by one of the cannons that was shooting the bubbles and the guy controlling it kept hitting the back of my head with the bubbles.  It just made me laugh as they were taking pictures of me.

We all had enough at that point and called it a day.  We headed to Starbucks for refreshments and chit chat before the fun came to an end.

My final thoughts on the race....
For a traveling race that is put on several times a month, it was very disorganized.  Running out of bibs for those that had already signed up is the most disorganized that I've ever seen a race.  I get it if you don't have bibs for those doing race day registration, but we had been registered since April.

It was a bit boring.  But I think that's a bit on my side.  I wasn't in a race mood to start with, but I also thought there were obstacles and not just bubbles being dropped on us.  The after party was so much more fun then the bubble stations during the race.

Race day add-on charges really made me feel like I was being ripped off.  Granted, I only paid $20 for the race (plus $650 handling fees), but the tack on of parking (and you couldn't park anywhere else) and race day packet pickup felt a bit over the top.

But I did have fun with a couple of friends.  I probably wouldn't do this particular race again, but it was fun to do it once.

Have you done The Bubble Run (or other traveling races)?  Have you done a race where they ran out of things for pre-registered participants that they shouldn't have run out of?  Do you get annoyed with those extra, out of the blue, fees?