Thursday, January 27, 2011


I was planning on the Hot Chocolate 10-K being a blip on my screen - one hard fun day that slipped seamlessly into my training plan.  Except that's not exactly how it's turning out so far.  Because I'm *still* not quite right.  (If you ride horses, you'll understand when I say I'm NQR.)  I was so sore I could barely walk through Tuesday (Sam had to slow down in the grocery store so I could keep up), and I was semi-mobile by Wednesday, but mysterious aches and pains keep cropping up as the soreness recedes.  First a weird low back/backside thing that felt strange and buzzy like a pinched nerve, then it migrated around to my hip, and has now settled rather painfully into my hip flexor.  Does that make any sense?  Not really.  And my left calf is still reallllly sore/painful.  So I think it was maybe a blessing in disguise that my new pup has been up most of the night every night this week with an upset stomach - because I've been too sleep-deprived to care all that much that I wasn't getting my workouts in.  (Seriously, I'm grasping for silver linings here.)

Obligatory pictures of cute new pup:

But today I went out for a bit of a jog, and things were definitely not ready to run again. The hip hurt running downhill, and the calf hurt running uphill, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say the big hill did me in.  Which is bizarre, because yes it's a big hill, but I thought I was in decent shape, and I run a fair number of hills.  But - I guess that's the thing about the human body, I find it's often somewhat hard to predict.  So I suppose I'll take it easy for a few more days and see how things are feeling.  I'm hoping it doesn't take too much longer to feel better, because I'm reallly hoping to run the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon on Feb. 19.  We'll see.

In other unrelated-but-still-athletic news, I'm now on the Board of the Asheville Triathlon Club.  I'm co-chair of the events committee, so if anyone has any ideas let me know.  We're definitely putting on some tried-and-true favorites, like the Indoor Tri and a transition clinic, but I'd be interested to hear any new ideas.  Check out the Tri Club blog to see the current cast of characters.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Hot Chocolate 10K - Or, How Not to Pace Your Race

So, this ended up being kind of a funny race for me. (And, as it turns out, a really long race report.)  The cold wasn't really too bad - I think it was probably around 25 at the start, and I had run to the school from our house so I was pretty warmed up.  Instead, the real problem was the big hill leading away from the school - the one you run down-down-down at the start and up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up at the finish.  (Did I mention the up?)

I'm usually a negative split kind of person.  Not that I'm Debbie Downer, but that I do best when I run the second half of races faster than the first half.  Thus - the negative split.  And knowing that as I do, you wouldn't really think I'd get sucked into the giant downhill at the start and run off like a banshee, and pass the first mile marker listening to them call out "6:27, 6:28, 6:29."  Except that's exactly what I did. And I started a ways back in the pack, so it was more like 6:20 when I went by.   And I can't run 6:20s for a 10-K.  In fact, my stretch goal was to be in the 7:00 pace range.  Oops.  And honestly, I just never recovered from the insanely fast start.  Because I didn't even slow down right at the first mile - oh no, I did kind of think I was going too fast, but I still rolled along for a ways until it finally hit me that this was just really not going to work.   But by then it was a little late.

So, I just hung on for the last half, and then for the finish you run up the hill from River Road up Hill Street, and then take a quick left into the bottom Dickson entrance, and about 50 feet later there's the finish.  So you only go up about half of the giant hill that you come down at the start.  So I pushed hard up Hill Street, saw the turn, thought "ok, just go hard to the turn and then you're done."  And I went hard, made the turn - and no f@&*ng finish line was to be seen.   Seriously.  They had moved the start a bit, which I knew, but I didn't think it looked much shorter - but apparently they had compensated by moving the finish allllllll the way back up to the top of the hill.  And I hadn't bothered to figure this out before the race.  Oops.

It seemed like some sort of alternate reality at that point - honestly, I had already gone way too hard, but had mustered up some sort of finishing kick effort only to discover - no finish.  So I just kept slogging along, and slogging along, and I was really beginning to wonder if I was going to make it to the finish - but then finally - FINALLY - I staggered across.  And then I staggered around for a second and finally just stretched out on the sidewalk for a couple of minutes.  I pretty much never do that.  And even as I was desperately trying to catch my breath I was thinking "this is a really bad idea, your IT band is not going to like this" - and I still totally didn't care.  And even when a few people wandered over to see if I was ok - still totally didn't care.  So, in summation, that hill totally kicked my a$$.

I ended up at 45:14, for 7:18 pace and 4th in my age group.  So when I died at the end I really died.  But - while I'm not too happy with race execution, I am pretty happy with race effort.  Even when things were getting particularly grim at the end, I still kept pushing, which I'm happy about.  Although, let's face it, I'd probably be happier if I hadn't acted like a total goober at the beginning, and instead had run a nice string of 7:00 miles.  I might not have been able to string them all together, but at least I'd have a better idea of where my fitness stands.  Oh well - live and learn.  Better to figure it out now than at the Half-Marathon in February.  Note to self - don't act like a dumba$$.

One last funny note - I ran with my Garmin (which, incidentally, insisted that the race was 6.3 miles long rather than 6.2 - I knew we shouldn't have run so far up that hill!!) - but also it records heart rate.  And it recorded my heart rate at the finish as 244.  244!!!!   Technically I think my heart should have just exploded around 220.  So now I feel totally justified in collapsing on the sidewalk at the end.  It was probably a medical necessity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

C-c-c-cold Racing

Tomorrow's the Hot Chocolate 10-K.  I love this race - it supports Sam's school, it's a great fund raiser, it's the flattest race in town, and everyone I know does it.  But. . . it's going to be freezing tomorrow.  I don't really mind freezing in general, but I was hoping to actually race this one, as opposing to more moderately running about, and see what the run legs are looking like for January.  Which is not nearly as appetizing a thought in 20 degree weather.  In my experience, run legs don't necessarily show up when it gets that cold.  Jog legs - yes.  Run legs - maybe.  But. . . be that as may, we'll be out there, so I might as well make the best of it.  Full report to follow - fast or frozen??

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Studio Overhaul - or, Buried Alive!

It's that time of year - when the markets are on hiatus, and I explore a few creative ideas that have been pushed to the back burner, and read a few more trashy novels, and. . . clean out my studio.  Yipes.  It's a jungle in there.  For one, because there's way more stuff in there than will really fit, and for two, because I'm not the neatest person in the world, and for three, because I'm a total pack rat.

But this year I decided I was really going to clean things out - make some room, do some reorganization, feel organized.  Efficient.  Dare I say, neat.  And the first obstacle to this goal was. . . the yarn stash.  I pretty much knit and crochet mainly for fun these days, but I sometimes knit and crochet a lot.  Like - a lot. Here are a few examples:

So, as you can tell, I like to knit, and I like to knit a lot of different stuff.  And as any knitter will tell you, a lot of the fun in knitting lies in acquiring the yarn.  Also known, to the serious knittter, as the stash.   And my stash had gotten rather overwhelming.  So yesterday I was determined to take drastic measures - and find a new home for some of this yarn, which was occupying way too much room in a closet in my studio - a closet which really would be useful to store some actual work materials.  So - here's the photographic proof of what I was up against:

Yes, that's me, practically buried alive under yarn and supplies that I've drug out of the closet.  And if you look at that and think "Sumner, are you holding a pair of crocheted suede boy shorts for a bikini???",  the answer would be - Yes.  I actually did make a crocheted suede bikini with those bottoms.  And while a fun exercise, I would have to say it was not exactly the most functional bikini I've ever worn, and I'm not exactly the type to lounge in non-functional swimwear, so I guess functionally speaking it was kind of a bust.  But still fun.

So, after way longer than I would have thought possible, I dug my way out of the rubble. The yarn stash is now thinned to manageable levels (and a fellow member of Asheville Etsy is now the very happy owner of five (five!) free trash bags of yarn.)  And the rest of the studio awaits.  I'll post some after pictures once it's finally beaten into submission.  But first - a two hour ride on the trainer followed by a 3 mile run.  Woohoo!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm a Border Collie

So. . . this weather.  It's not bad exactly.  It's actually fun, in a different sort of way.  A way that, if I had unlimited supplies of cash and nothing to do with it, I'd totally go learn to snow board and buy a four wheel drive vehicle and a season pass to the nearest quasi-ski resort ("quasi", because this is WNC and I don't think we have any real ones), and spend my winter pretending to be Shaun White.  Because he's cooler than Kelly Clark.  They both have gold medals, but he also has a private half-pipe that Red Bull built for him, while she has a snowboard with Jesus painted on it.  I go to church and all, but I do not want Jesus painted on my snowboard.  And frankly, I doubt He'd care much if his name was on there anyway.  But, I digress.  And I don't have unlimited cash and thus no engaging new hobby to distract me.

What I do have, is that crazy-eyed feeling that a Border Collie gets if it hasn't run sufficient laps every day. And yes, this is an allusion to Modern Family.  In which Phil and his wife had the following exchange:

Phil: She has to run everyday or she goes crazy,
 she's like a Border Collie.
Claire: Did you just compare me to a dog?!?

Phil: The smartest in the world!

I'm so Claire these days.  And not because I feel like the smartest dog in the world. But because I feel like if I don't go run outside in the very near future I'm going to effing kill somebody. Which is odd, because I've run a lot on a treadmill (at the Y:  while watching snarky passive aggressive power plays for the best treadmills, at the Rush:  while my retinas were forever burned with the neon orange accents and the giant silvery word "LADYZ" that signifies the women's dressing room.)  And I've ridden my bike trainer like a woman possessed, only to discover that I'm still IN THE LIVING ROOM.  All that effort and sweat and  heart rate monitoring, and I'm still in the same damn place.  So. . . I've got to get outside.  Soon.  As soon as Clark walks in the door for lunch I'm strapping on the yaktrax and I'm out of here.  Running wild and free, like the Border Collie I'm apparently meant to be.