Beat the Blerch

Signed bibs!

This weekend was the inaugural Beat the Blerch marathon (and 10k and half) outside of Seattle. Also known as: the non-runners marathon. The “sit on the couch and eat cake and watch RoboCop” marathon.  Sure there were some fast runners there, but there were less than 300 full marathoners and most were there to have a good time. If you take racing really seriously, this isn’t for you. Move along, un-fun people and make room for us, those who like talking to people, wearing costumes, and eating cake.

MMM…CAKE.

Costumes!

It was unexpectedly popular (by the Oatmeal and the race director) and the site crashed almost immediately upon registration opening. I had a great team of family and friends registering and I got in! The website crash and very long wait-list showed the demand, and Oats and the RD got approval for a second race, on Saturday.

The Oatmeal ran in costume too.

Fast forward to this weekend…it was a quick trip just for the race. I did squeeze as much as I could, but I had friends doing the race both days, so I got to spectate Saturday and participate on Sunday.

Packet pickup: easy. It was at a big RoadRunner Sports store and we were in/out in less than 5 (ok, 10, got distracted by the goodies!) minutes. The shirt is AWESOME. Thick long sleeve 1/4 zip with tumbholes? Plus, a “0.0” Blerch sticker and magnet? Yes, please! (already getting our $100 worth!)

Schwag!

Parking was a breeze! We got nervous the week of the race since an email was sent out saying they oversold parking passes. However, there were schools and businesses across the street from the park with tons of overflow parking. But, the field had plenty of spaces. It was never an issue.

Even the parking lots are pretty in Washington! Ever done a race where they spray painted spots? Details make a difference!

I was so excited to see a huge bank of porta-potties! I was so impressed with how many they had. I’ve done marathons 5+times this size that only had half this number. NEVER any line to them. Not once. Anyone who walked up to them, found one that was open. And clean. Very, very clean.

tons of places to pre-race poop!

The race started at Tolt-McDonald park. Tons of room and a very charming barn that housed bag-check, post race food, and other logistics.

Gorgeous barn.

Ever seen one of these solar, cell-phone charging trailers? Yeah. He paid to have one out at the race. So cool!

Need juice?

From there, we ran about a mile and hit the river, then over some bridges to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. This was gorgeous. The crushed gravel had some rocks that were a little bigger than I’d like for crushed gravel, but it was fine. Nothing to complain about, especially since the scenery was gorgeous. It was 86 degrees by the time we finished, making for a really hot day, but I was so thankful for the trees.

Trail

Blerchy tu-tu and pretty trails.

Overall: WORTH IT. For the cost of an average marathon ($100), the race company and the Oatmeal went above and beyond. I do so many of these I never have any expectations. This ranks in my top 5 marathons. The shirt, FREE RACE PICS, the HOURS of book & bib signing by Oats, the abundance of food, the aid stations, the fun volunteers, the tons of porta potties, the ease of parking/logistics. All top notch. My mom even saw my race shirt and said, “Did you buy that too?!” (she meant in addition to my race packet). For her to comment on it…huge compliment that she didn’t think that it was the race shirt.

Cake.

 

Lots of Nutella pushing Blerches.

More cake.

Other stuff: BLERCH. The volunteers were so fun! They all embraced the “Blerchyness” of the event and pushed cake, Nutella, magical grape drink (explained in his book, and yes, it is magical), and then other regular race foods such as Gu shots, energy bars, chips and pretzels, bananas, etc. Due to it being on the trail, the aid stations were 3-4 miles apart because of the limited road access. This was fine for me, but the heat at the end had us wishing there were 1-2 more on the course. However, that was impossible. For people who haven’t done trails or ultras, I can see how it would be a shock to go from a road marathon with water every mile, to this. However, the aid stations were well stocked, and FUN.

Oats signing my book, fun spectators, me being chased by a Blerch, and a cute shirt.

Blerch. Blerchii.

The race/run itself was uneventful for me. I ran with my friend Carrie from El Paso. I had talked her into this race while visiting her and her husband for Bataan Death March, so I felt it was the right thing to do to stay with her. We ran her pace, then when she started slowing down and our walk breaks increasing in time and slowing in pace…I made the call to go to my interval timer (about halfway). Things got better after that and had a negative split overall. We were maintaining a consistent pace doing 3:1’s and picked up 2 nice ladies who where half-assed run/walking. They were lovely and fun. Then, over the miles, picked up 2 more and went down to a 2:1 interval based as a request of the ladies we picked up. We had a fun group during the hard miles of 15-20. The rest fell off by mile 23, but we waited for them at the finish.

Running with Carrie

I made some new running friends and had a delicious post-race burger with Ann from Kansas City. As a cancer surgeon, we hit it off and had lots to talk about besides racing. Turned out, she has a friend who was in the Army…who was one of K’s chemo providers when we lived in El Paso.  <3 SMALL WORLD. I love races where I have no goals other than to finish. It allows for maximum fun, and you never know who you’ll meet!

(My post tomorrow will be non-race food & fun during the quick trip)

Hello…hello…is this thing on?

Delicious

It’s been a hectic 1.5 months since we got back from the trail. Nothing terrible, but not “normal,” whatever that is.

K was busy on the job hunt. We were supposed to go to the Pikes Peak marathon and have a nice, break from the heat, trip to Colorado. K ended up not being able to go due to interviews and work commitments, and I got sick. Really sick. It’s awful to think about, but I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t walk. I deteriorated the whole week before I was supposed to leave (we had decided I was going alone, one of us should take the trip) culminating with a trip to the hospital the day before I was supposed to leave. So. There was no way I was running a marathon, much less one up to 14,000 ft. Anyway, I couldn’t function and was in horrendous pain. Fast forward a bit…we spent time in Ohio as a break from the heat, K could sail, I could get some hill training on the trails, see friends, and get some alone time.

Hard hills.

Big rocks and smells.

Safety first, little dog.

On the way I got another stamp on my National Parks Passport book. We camped at Mammoth Cave. I’ve always wanted to stop there, as we pass it every drive to/from Ohio. It is one of those things that we say, “We want to get going, we’ll stop next time.” And we never do. But we made the effort this time and it was worth it.

Mammoth Cave dork stamps and campsite.

So. Workouts! Now that most of my time is my own, I have no excuse. Before, I couldn’t justify going to a CrossFit box that was convenient, because K was working at one of the best facilities in the state. Unfortunately, that was an hour away and I loathe to drive an hour each way for a 1hr class. But, I also couldn’t justify paying for a place closer. Now, I can. I checked them out and it seems like it’ll do. Not the best, but the price is good and there are many class options and also “open gym” time for solo workouts or skill work.

9/16: (trying out a new box)
Time: 11:47, as Rx (35lbs)

I think that’s it for now. I know I’ve got some things I want to catch up on here, over time. Plenty to do today and tomorrow and a busy weekend! Now, time to do a workout.

We’re still alive!

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Somewhere around Hiawassee, GA

I had this grand plan of taking notes almost every evening about our day, adding in a couple photos, then editing & posting when we got to wi-fi. I’ve mostly done that. However, when we got to the town we’re in now, and I went to charge the camera (and download the pics), my lovely partner realized that he sent the cord home. So. Awesome. I’m so glad we bought a new camera just for this and he sent the lifeline home. The good news is I still have 8min of battery left. He wants me to buy a new cord and I refuse. We have the camera still and our 2 cell phones. I’ll make do.

Otherwise things are going fine. Some days are hard. Really hard. Like yesterday: 16miles and 3.5 mountain climbs. I say “3.5” because the map/guide named 4 mountains but we barely noticed the 4th, so it’s 3.5. Again, hard.
Then there was the day we took to come into this town: 2 miles. We planned it that way, so we wouldn’t arrive in late afternoon with little time to do our errands (grocery, laundry, EAT, sleep), so we stayed the night in the woods then arrived at 9am the next morning. BRILLIANT plan. A fellow hiker on the trail taught us that after our first night at a hostel we arrived at 3p, then couldn’t leave until 11am the next day before we got our resupply done.

The good: The views. Gorgeous. They’re mostly the same when we get to each peak, but they are no less impressive. Now, a week in, they are getting even better as the mountains are more dense. (read: more and more climbing)
The people: There are some fascinating people on the trail. Full-time volunteers, retirees, college students taking time off to hike the whole thing, drifters. Some very, very weird, and some really cool. All of them very nice.

Neels Gap, GA

Neels Gap, GA

Our original “big” goal was to make it to Damascus, VA. That’s 460miles. I don’t think that is going to happen. We could do it, but that would put us very close to mid-Aug (I think) and we have to be home before then. So, we are still on track to make it to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was our minimum. We haven’t decided if we’re stopping at the south end, the middle (Gatlinburg), or the top, but that will depend on what day we get there, how we feel, and how insanely crowded the park is.

The best part of all this? I lose track of what day it is. It doesn’t matter! We go by our miles per day and how many days it will take us to get to our next destination. I can’t remember not having any stress like this. It’s so liberating! I now know why people take 6 months to leave the real world and your only ‘job’ is to hike every day. What a way to live.

K admiring a view.

K admiring a view.

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Taking a break, studying our map, and enjoying yet another view.

“Carpe fucking diem”

A fortunate (or unfortunate) confluence of life changes and more free time than we expected, led us to the decision to “carpe fucking diem” (credit to Hollis, amazing adventure supporter) and run away for a while. We could keep the status quo and tread water for a while, or take advantage of the life limbo and do something fabulous.

A couple weeks of crash-planning, acquiring of gear, guidebooks, and getting boxes and boxes of food in order…we are ready to go.

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Find someone that gets your crazy.

I’ve been hesitant to write about it because until the last few days, I didn’t know if we could pull it off. Sure, we’d gotten so much ready (and spent a lot of money: did you know that while the actual act of getting away to nature and living off the grid is cheap, the prep is not), but we were ready to scrap or cut down the plan if we got calls to relocate or interviews or…whatever. Or a self-inflicted injury that would scrap our departure. Like my toe situation. Or kicking a stair and jamming my toe–one day before we left. (totally happened)

I stopped by a friends house last week to borrow a dehydrator. We were chatting and I told her our plan (she just thought I had veggies to dehydrate), expecting a “you’re crazy” or “ohmygod.” Instead she smiled and said, “you know, we did the same thing. After Katrina, my gov’t job was in limbo. We were told to expect to not have a job, or if we did, we didn’t know when it would start again. My husband was out of work. So, in Houston for the evacuation, we went to the airport and told the agent, “with our miles, send us somewhere cheap, and we must have seats next to each other on the plane.” We ended up in Costa Rica for about a month, when he got a job offer and my work had contacted with a report date.” I was in awe. Why would you sit around and wait, stress, and start an unnecessary spiral into depression or anxiety? They had done almost the same thing.

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A whole box of spinach from Costco. This is what it reduces to! And when it gets crushed, it’ll be even smaller.

 

    Beet murder.

Beet murder.

Mess.

Mess.

 

A whole pineapple.

Due to purposeful life decisions, we have the “luxury” of being open ended in our adventure. We can’t put a price on the experience, and appreciative that we can do this, but we figure to make the investment worthwhile, we will be gone at the minimum of 2 weeks. I’m shooting for a month. 4 solid weeks. In my effed up mind, it seems more “hardcore” or “epic” (hate that word) to say we ran away into the wilderness for a month.

Turn a less than ideal situation into something good. It just might lead you somewhere you least expect.

Don't worry, it's not all healthy. Not shown is the macaroni, grits, and Ramen.

Don’t worry, it’s not all healthy. Not shown is the macaroni, grits, and Ramen.

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postal drop box

Woe is my toe.

Dislaimer: this is gross for most of the population. Medical and morbid people will enjoy. You’ve been warned.

Here is the pretty version my friend TJ drew for me! She’s so talented.

Picasso.

 

So. Waaaay back in Dec I did that little long race thingy. It destroyed my big toes. I had other blisters but the blood blisters that resulted under my big toes were pretty horrific.

Not nail polish.

I got a pedicure a couple weeks after (and they just left those alone). I haven’t gotten a pedi since because I was missing 4 out of 10 toes.

Why would you come here?!

Seriously, this poor woman. She was dumbfounded and so confused. And probably disgusted. I tipped extra.

Ok, last one, promise.

Sweet relief.

Which brings me to today… I was thinking I’d get a pedicure this week or next. My big toe nails have mostly grown out! Enough to not be completely horrid and long enough that the old dead part could be cut off without them being too short.

Then I did a race this weekend. Marathon #50!! WHOOP!
(Still working on that race report. Oh, and Zion from April too. Oops)

It was hilly. Apparently not good for my still-growing big toenails. My toe was sore on Monday and Tues and I didn’t know why. I decided to trim my big toenail and made the decision I was going to get a manicure TODAY. That’s it. I’m tired of it. Let someone else deal with it. (Poor thing. I will tip extra)

While I was clipping the dead off, I was greeted with a nice, painful surprise!
See that dark line on the nail? That’s the new nail below it. The top is the old dead part that I was attempting to cut off.

Juicy.

I guess it goes without saying that I am not getting a much-needed pedicure today and I’m limping around. I’m super annoyed. It’s sore and a little red and it keeps filling with fluid, repeating the pain and leaking cycle. I’ve cleaned it and did an epsom salt bath. This needs to clear up ASAP. I’ve got training and things to do!

If the picture wasn’t enough for you, I took video! Hope you aren’t eating!

I hope this gets better in a couple days. I’ve shit to do!

Whole..day 8-10

Day 8:
Oh geez…I forgot to log it all. Dang. It was kind of a “down”, easy day.
I did have curry on lettuce for lunch!

Day 9:
AM: 1hr power walk
post walk: celery & cracksauce (avocado dip)

Nothing exciting.

Weight lifting:
bar warmup (5min)
sets of 5 reps
Hang Cleans: 55, 65, 75, 80
Bench Press: 65, 75, 80
Pullups (strict, banded) 3 sets of as many as possible. (Spoiler: not that many were possible. Arms: sore.)
Cool down: playing in the pool
Food:
Bowl of zoodles with basil pesto and chicken. Delicious!

Mix it up. Eat.

Day 10 (today!)
AM: 45min walk.
Hitting the road!

We leave today for a quick weekend trip. I got a free entry to one of my most FAVORITE marathons: Hatfield & McCoy in Kentucky/WV. Yes, both states. It starts in one and runs along the border to West Virginia. It’s so gorgeous and exciting to see the 26 Hatfield & McCoy historical markers (and houses, and meet them!) along the route! It’s my fiftieth marathon/ultra. Number 50! WHOA. It’s low compared to many of my Maniac friends, but pretty damn high compared to the normal population. FIFTY! If there is moonshine on the course like last year, I just may partake.480447_400388846743578_32193635_n

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Whole…day 4-7

Day 4
AM: Tabata Airdyne (warmup)  + 45min olympic lifting.
Unimpressive numbers, but I can’t remember the last time I had a lifting session. Coach (K) really stressed I need to get back to a lifting routine, even if it’s just twice a week. This was pretty difficult. I think partly because of my change in eating this week, maybe not enough calories yesterday, but the bottom line is I just need to do it more often.
Back Squat: 75, 85, 90
Front Squat: 55, 65, 70
Military Press: 55, 65, 70
Push Press: 65, 75, 80

Don’t judge the light weight.

Food:
M1: (right after lifting weights) spring salad w/carrots & broccoli & tuna. 1/2 sweet potato. 2 pieces of bacon. 1/2 Harry & David pear.
This was a lot of food; I struggled to get it down, but I did it. I felt too weak & a little lightheaded this morning.

Delicious.

Crap…I forgot to log the rest of the day…let me think. Sorry, can’t remember. Damn.

Day 5 (Friday)
AM: 1hr walk, 4mi
20 single arm KB swings- M1: BIG salad: greens, broccoli, carrots, celery, can of tuna, 1.5 pieces bacon crumbled, 1 pickle,1/2 avocado, mustard.
M2 (walk around uptown): lettuce wrap sliders from District (locally sourced meats!). Cold coffee with shot of almond milk: the barista was awesome. She showed me their packages of almond milk (and soy, but, yuck) so I could see what didn’t have added sugar. Great service! I did not even want a donut! Knowing that I “can’t” have something is SOOO much easier than “i really shouldn’t…ok, I’ll have a little bit”…then…”oh, I feel like shit….”

PORK.

Love the vintage benches. And El Paso. <3

PM: HOT ASS RUN. 2.75mi, 27min/9:50 pace.
Mile 1: 9:54
Mile 2: 9:49
.75: 9:48
“Coach”/K/other half, told me to do an easy run to shake my legs out from lifting yesterday and to keep acclimating myself to the heat. Begrudgingly, I went. And farther than Wednesday. It still felt pretty bad, but I don’t think as bad as Wed, and I went farther. So, there is that.
Post run: 16oz of 10month expired coconut water. I don’t think it was supposed to be yellow, like urine, but it tasted fine. We’ll see how that feels later…

Ooops.

Yes. This is real.

90 degrees, 60% humidity (wow, that’s low), feels like 99.

Day 6 (Sat)
AM: 1hr walk
Big salad for breakfast

In the afternoon we went downtown for K to play volleyball. I browsed around some shops and picked up a couple things from the grocery. After that, the NOLA Jazz Symphony was giving a free concert! We hit that up hoping there would be some food trucks or local food vendors on the same street. No such luck. So, throughout the course of the afternoon I ate a 1/2 bag of grapes from Whole Foods and had some kombucha. Not ideal and not “real” meals, but it wasn’t junk. We got home at 7p (late for me) and I do not eat that late. So, only one real meal for the day, but I never felt overly hungry. Not terrible I guess.

PM: parking garage intervals! 6 story parking garage. We wanted to go 2-3 more times, but the building’s fire alarm went off and we didn’t feel comfortable staying. It was a good hill workout for this below-sea-level city!

I found where the Mercedes dealership stores their extra cars! $$$$$

Day 7 (Sun)
AM: mowing a big lawn. Yes, I’m counting this as a workout. It was hot. I didn’t wear a shirt. It took me 45 solid minutes without any breaks.
Food:
Salad (post mow): greens, broccoli, carrots, tuna, avocado dressing. Whole bell pepper with avocado crack sauce.

More of the same.

Fat. Get in me.

KB swings, SDHP: curry chicken! Slow-cooker meal that is so delicious and easy. I have Danielle to thank for that. I put it on lettuce with cilantro, shredded cabbage and some sriracha sauce.

 

So lost. Thankfully, Danielle called during my crisis.

Best thing I’ve made in a while.

Curry. Who knows the difference? I need to do some research!