Posts Tagged ‘DC’

h1

Taking Stock: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

April 2, 2012

My brain’s been on overdrive lately, and it occurred to me that I could probably classify a lot of these random thoughts as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (warning: some brooding ahead! Perhaps not in number, but the Good indeed outweighs the Bad/Ugly). (And how can you not dig that theme song? They don’t write ’em like they used to.)

THE GOOD

It’s damn nice in DC these days. Friday was a little dreary, but I took a friend to Ellicott City for some antiquing and cool-little-old-railroad-town-adventuring. Sunday was lovely and my first trip to the National Arboretum lovelier. Seriously – what a gem! I’m embarrassed that I’ve lived in the area for almost six years and only now made it out there.

Some of the azaleas are in bloom out at the arboretum. Judging by the number and size of the plants out there, when the entire azalea garden is in bloom, it's like a 5-year old's tea party exploded in the woods.

It’s good, damn good, to adventure locally.

I get to adventure not-so-locally soon, too! In two weeks I’ll be in Columbus, MS. It’s not near anything and apparently the town could stand some more attractions, but I have friends in the Air Force who are stationed there, and I’m excited to have a random week off to visit them. Looking forward to a week of relaxing, hanging out with my friends’ awesome baby, and heading up to Memphis. I’d like to, nay, neeto go to Graceland.

Why the random week off?

I start a new job in three weeks. This is a good move, but there’s a little bad involved, too. I’m trying to embrace the uncertainty inherent in transition and roll with the punches. It’s an incredible opportunity, but there are some challenges…

THE BAD

I’m going to be exhausted for the foreseeable future. This new opportunity is awesome, but pretty intense. Having recently finished grad school where I worked some crazy hours while trying to do school, too, I’m OK with intense. I’d feel more comfortable if the following weren’t also true:

My physical health is crap right now. The hip/knee/ass pain/crap/bah is bad right now. I know I shouldn’t run, so I haven’t been, and it’s starting to make me a little twitchy. Not because I think I’m some amazing, super runner girl or something, but because I’m a little stressed finishing up my current job and getting ready to start a new one. Running relives my stress. Much better than my historic alternative:

Hello, gorgeous. My mouth waters just thinking about you.

When the going gets tough, I get going in the direction of dark chocolate-covered almonds and cupcakes. Until recently, when I went in the direction of my running shoes and a nice trail.

I went for a walk with a friend today at lunch, and I was lamenting my current limited activity and pending maelstrom of life changes (oh, did I mention? In addition to changing jobs, I’ll need to move, too! Just a local move, but one more layer of things to think about). I told her that I was upset that I’d come so far (lost 30 pounds, gained ability to run double-digit miles), and I didn’t want to regress. Her response? “You’re not the same person now that you were 30 pounds ago.”

Trying to keep that in mind…not interested in growing backwards with time (excellent song; not an excellent direction for my waistline). In the past, I haven’t always managed transitions well, slipping back into old (bad) habits. It bothers me that I feel like crap. I’m a little anxious about diving into this new adventure when I don’t feel so great physically. Trying not to let the physical blah turn into a mental blah.

THE UGLY

I’m struggling to alleviate the pain. This is my only ugly, but it’s a big one. I’ve never had pain that I couldn’t alleviate. I can lay down or apply ice and feel better for a bit, but since going off of the prednisone, I think the pain is worse. I called my doctor today, and she’s out of town. So while I wait for her to come back, I’m to have my hip x-rayed. And…wait, I guess. I’ll try more foam rolling, stretching, etc., but nothing seems to make the discomfort go away. Sometimes it’s not quite pain, and I’m grateful for those times. Other times I wake up at night because it just freaking hurts.

To throw a small wrench into the problem (small because I’m grateful I have insurance at all), right now I have health insurance that I buy…and I haven’t made my deductible yet. So treatment is potentially quite costly. I’ll have new health insurance with the new job, but I’m not sure yet when that will start…and I hope that if I start in on a treatment that seems to be working, I won’t have to interrupt it because my insurance changes.

I’m a problem solver, a fixer, and not knowing what to do to ease what’s going on has me stumped.

[That crush on Eddie Vedder from 1994? Yeah, I still got it.]

I don’t know what I did, but I wish I could undo it. Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-Z!!

Except for the "good" things. Keep those!

Sorry for a somewhat Debbie Downer post. In general, I’m optimistic, and I keep reminding myself that I can choose my reaction, it will all work out in the end, blah blah blah [insert trite motivationalspeak].

Bitching won’t help. Really, I just want a gin and tonic, a damn chocolate chip cookie, an uninflamed leg/hip/body part, and the knowledge that if I go pick up a new pair of running shoes, they won’t just as soon end up back on the shelf. I’ll settle for just trying to keep my head up and enjoying these damn fine days, one day at a time.

Would happily accept gifts of gin and cookies, though.

Advertisements
h1

Three Things Thursday: Billy Goat

March 22, 2012

High on a hill is a lonely…Billy Goat Trail. Well, not as lonely as I thought. I had the day off from work, and since there’s more to fitness that running, I went for a hike on one of the best trails in the DC area. Even midday on a spring Thursday, there were plenty of folks out there. Some reviews of this trail indicate that it’s good for beginners…I disagree. Section A has a lot of climbing and hopping on rocks high on a cliff above the Potomac. And today I had the shit scared out of me good fortune of seeing 9 snakes! And hearing the rustling in the grass of at least 3 more, but I didn’t hang around long enough to find out!

So today’s Three Things are some pictures from the hike. If you’re in the DC area and you’ve not been, get out there. You won’t believe you’re mere miles from the Beltway and downtown. Well, except for the weekend crowds…be prepared.

Those nice Carolina blue blazes mark the trail...much of which goes over big rocks like these.

You can park across MacArthur Blvd. from Angler's Inn for free (although they are doing construction there...hopefully that doesn't mean the free parking is going away), or head down to Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center (NPS). You can access the C&O Towpath and Billy Goat Trail from either, but if you go to the NPS visitors center, you walk past these gorgeous falls to get to the northern Billy Goat trailhead.

Sometimes your feet just want to break free of the confines of running shoes. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend Chacos on the Billy Goat...too many snakes way too close to my feet, and I felt a little less stable on some of the rocks than I typically do when I go out in hiking boots. But totally worth it to get started on my Z tan.

I hope that, wherever you are, you’re getting to enjoy some sunshine this fine spring.

h1

Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon…Part II!

March 20, 2012

Continued from Part I…here are some thoughts about my first half marathon.

Course

I’ve been in the DC area for almost six years…this time around. I’ve lived in the area a couple times before, and having grown up a military brat, DC is as much a home — maybe a little more — as just about any other place. So getting a quick (relatively speaking) foot tour of a large portion of my “hometown” was…awesome. I loved this course. With the exception of the streets immediately at the beginning and end of the race, I’d been on every part of the course over the years.

I pretty much zoned out on the ridiculous hill known as 18th Street NW/Connecticut Ave. NW. After the race, a friend that ran it said, “Sweet, now I know where Vapiano is!” I replied, “Oh, did someone tell you?” She countered, “No, we ran past it…” Right. I was just struggling up the hill…

There was a band at the end of Harvard Street NW, just after Mile 8, as you turned down onto 5th Street NW. Something about that band got me really fired up. I had a great time between Columbia Road and North Capitol. I’m guessing the folks partying hard on their well-decorated porches did, too. And, while I appreciated the offers, I politely declined their dixie cups of beer. Offers of post-race BBQs welcome, though.

By Mile 11, my feet were pretty sore, and by about Mile 12, the top of my right foot was cramping a bit. I walked some, and periodically stopped to stretch and massage my foot.

The end of the race? Wow…what a doozy. Coming down C Street, folks on the side of the course kept shouting that the finish was just around the corner. Then we turned the corner. And folks on the side of the course shouted that the finish was just around the corner. Whaaaaat?

It was. An uphill finish where you couldn’t see the finish line until you were almost on it. Tough 1/10 of a mile!

When you're not concerned with beating any particular time, it's easy to pull off for a second for photo ops.

Friends

As I mentioned in Part I, my friends are awesome. I started the race with a friend, had a few other friends running (like her and her), and saw friends between Miles 7 and 8 (surprise – I didn’t know they’d be out, or where they’d be – and they met me at the finish too!), just before Mile 10, just after Mile 11, and at the finish. They all told me I looked great, and seeing them made me ridiculously happy. Not-so-secret secret: I looked great when I ran past them because I knew they’d be there. Who wants to drag ass past your friends? Not this racy gal. Thanks for the boost, guys! The excitement of seeing my friends definitely added a spring to my step.

And an interesting perspective from some of these friends: what it’s like to watch a whole race. I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a whole race before. When I’ve gone out to see friends run, I’ve pretty much just gone to see them, and didn’t hang around the whole time. But some of my friends hung out on North Capitol with food and drink and watched the whole thing. They said it was pretty awesome to watch the fastest folks go past, and then to notice the changes in pace and the differences in pacing between the marathoners and half marathoners.

And they confirmed, mercifully, that I was not the slowest one out there. But even if I was, I’d be OK with that. I mean, hey, I was out there, right?

So, new goal: go watch a whole race, from the elite folks at the front of the pack all the way to the folks at the end who need cheers just as much as the front runners.

I think my friends took this because they wanted to make fun of my "fanny pack." That belt came in pretty handy for stashing more than the microscopic pocket on my capris can hold.

Progression of Feelings

I am nothing if not sentimental, so I’d be remiss to not acknowledge my feelings about this race.

As I mentioned in Part I, I had serious doubts about my ability to run this race as late as the day before. I’d trained, but had some difficulty throughout, and benched myself for a few weeks. But in the few weeks before the race, I’d felt pretty good. Then I started experiencing some strange hip/pelvic pain unlike anything I’d experienced before (and for which I’m going to a doctor in a few days). So I had major apprehension about this race. If I attempted it, what might happen? I had terrible visions of my hip giving out and me collapsing in Dupont Circle…if I made it that far.

But during the run, I physically felt fine. Some soreness in my feet toward the end…pretty sure that’s the price you sometimes pay for pounding the pavement for mile after mile. When the going got rough, I looked at the mile markers, judged that I probably only had 20 minutes to go, and reminded myself of my favorite coach‘s mantra: You can do anything for 20 minutes.

So I did. And damn if I didn’t feel awesome when I crossed that finish line.

I promise I will never do this again. Total cheeseball move.

Random observations

Anyone else notice the banana stand in downtown DC? So many banana peels on the ground…clearly this would be a ridiculously tragic way to go down in a race…taken out by your fuel. Same goes with the GU packets. That shit’s slick.

My lucky green shirt? Probably being relegated to the yoga pile. I’d done a few runs in it with no issue, but I was Chafy Stacie during the half. Major red, painful blotch on my left arm. Really attractive at work this week when it’s been warm enough to wear short sleeves. I thought to Body Glide under the straps of my sports bra; guess I need to add inner upper arms to the Body Glide list. Or just relegate the shirt to the yoga pile.

I will never, ever run a race in a full bodysuit. I saw a few of those, and by Mile 7 or so, they appeared to be sweaty, sweltering masses of crazy runner. Anyone tried this before? Are there vents? Special wicking material?

So...add it to the necklace rotation? Maybe not?

So. That’s that. My first, slightly crappily-trained half marathon is in the books. I had an awesome day and it just reinforced the running bug I caught a little while back. My time was 2:32, and all things considered, I’m happy with that. It was a PDR and a PR, and I look forward to blowing that PR out of the electrolyte-enhanced water in future half marathons.

h1

Rock ‘n Roll USA Half Marathon…Part I!

March 18, 2012

Going to commit a big blogger sin here and write only half a post of thoughts on my first half marathon (Get it? Half a marathon, half of my thoughts? Yeah, that’s pretty bad…). After the race yesterday and for almost all of today, I’ve been going non-stop and haven’t sat down to put good words to my thoughts. So…here’s Part I! Forgive the incomplete post.

Yesterday was the Rock n’ Roll USA Half Marathon and, considering how my hip/pelvis was feeling earlier in the week, I rocked it! It wasn’t the race I thought it would be when I registered in November, but it was SO much better than the race I thought it would be on Friday.

All smiles at seeing some friends just after Mile 11.

More updates to come, but overall: great experience. Good weather, albeit a little hot. No crazy course mix-ups, straight-forward gear check, plenty of food and drink available at the finish. And, key for me: no hip or pelvis pain during the run. At. all. Any aches and pains seemed pretty standard; my feet were a little sore by Mile 11.

And I was only punched in the face once.

True story.

At about mile 12.5 or so, a very uncoordinated girl who was raised by wolves was probably not used to crowded courses stretched her hands out very quickly at 90 degree angles, sending her closed fist straight into my nose as I was passing her. She felt bad, but wanted to chat about it. No way, lady! I assured her it was fine, but sped up a little, checking for blood. No blood, no foul.

The best part of the run? (Outside of finishing it, of course!) I have amazing friends and family who support me. I had such a fun weekend with these tremendous folks.

They also make ridiculously awesome signs.

Esuper Esexy ESWEATY Estacie! It was hot out there!

h1

Three Things Thursday: Pre-Racy Thoughts

March 16, 2012

With less than 36 hours until the start of the Rock ‘n Roll USA Marathon and Half Marathon, it’s time for some pre-racy thoughts!

1. You can’t always get what you want. I already know that this race won’t be what I wanted it to be when I registered. I imagine I’ll probably learn soon enough that that’s not an uncommon feeling. And I don’t say that to sound defeatist, just realistic: I was out of commission for a few weeks of training, and in the last few days, I’ve developed some inflammation in my hip/pelvis area. I’m managing it (and in what will surely be a joyous occasion, I have a doctor’s appointment next week), and I’m going to try my best on Saturday, but I’m trying to take the long view and not push harder than I can. There are other halfs out there, and I intend on enjoying my first one, a little pain or not!

2. The weather is here, wish you were beautifulIt’s damn nice in DC these days. Hot, even. I went for a last, short run this afternoon and wanted to die. Then I Skyped my parents and learned that today’s record high of 84 at Dulles had nothing on Abu Dhabi’s 100. Fine, fine. But it’s truly quite nice. Wednesday afternoon was so nice that I wasn’t sure if my co-workers were calling out sick or “sick” (I work at an organization that tries to get people outside, so verdict is out on that one). But I wouldn’t be surprised if people are actually sick, too. My boys at CWG report high pollen counts Wednesday and today. So if you’re coming into town for the race and you’re from some place that isn’t a-bloomin’ yet, bring yer drugs.

Oh, sure, they're beautiful, but that shit'll invade your body. Hide ya lungs, hide ya sinuses, hide ya eyes.

3. When Irish eyes are smilin’, sure ’tis like the morn in spring.  With the race being on St. Patrick’s Day, I clearly need to rock a green shirt. But a friend got mad at me because she says I’ll be hard to find, what with my insanely bright red hair and incredibly slow pace what with probably lots of other folks participating in the wearin’ o’ the green. So I’m adding a little sparkly bling to my outfit, sort of a beacon of Irish spring for my admirers friends.

Just trying to be a nice piece of lass.

Best of (Irish) luck to all the folks running on Saturday! Rock on and race hard!

h1

Three Things Thursday: Bike/Ped Nerdom Edition

February 3, 2012

Well, it was a tough day for bicycle and pedestrian advocates today, as the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee voted down (by a narrow margin) an amendment that would keep funding for such programs as Safe Routes to Schools, Transportation Enhancements (think bike/ped infrastructure, landscaping, re-use of historic transportation facilities and more), and rail-trails. What will likely, and hopefully, happen is that the bill will not be passed anyway. It’s not, in my opinion, a good bill for our transportation future.

But! That’s neither here nor there. Trails are a great option for people to get out and get fit, and, in more urban areas, great alternatives for commuting.

For all you folks in the DC area, here are my three things for Thursday: rail-trails you should check out.

1. Capital Crescent Trail – Through the mid-1980s, a slow-moving freight train traveled from Bethesda to Georgetown every day. Now you can enjoy a nice run or ride between the two above the Potomac River and into the urban areas of Bethesda and Silver Spring (connect to the Georgetown Branch Trail to take you into downtown Silver Spring, and, eventually, to the Metropolitan Branch Trail).

2. Washington & Old Dominion Trail – Hop on the W&OD in Arlington and you can ride (or run!) west for 45 miles to Purcellville. Numerous trails connect to the W&OD from local neighborhoods and towns, making it accessible to a large segment of the Northern Virginia suburbs. It’s one of my favorites, and I did most of my training for the Hot Chocolate 15K on parts of the W&OD.

My parents' old neighborhood was also close to the W&OD. I'm getting ready to head out on ride during Summer 2010.

3. Baltimore and Annapolis Trail – So it’s a little trip from DC, but you can hop on this trail in Annapolis or Glen Burnie, and the trail is a solid 13+ miles, with options to connect to another trail near BWI.

I went out on a run tonight for the first time in about two and a half weeks. I walked a little, but had a pretty good 2.5 miles, part of which was on a trail that connects to the W&OD. I made it a good run, I guess out of my own little personal protest. Should you find yourself wanting to protest…or just get in a good workout, there are probably some great trails to explore, wherever you live.