RR: Dirty Love 10K

The Dirty Trail Series continued this weekend with the Dirty Love, a 10K trail race through my very own North Chagrin Reservation.  This was my first official race as a 31 year-old, but since the series doesn’t discriminate by age (my division is <40) it really didn’t matter!  This race was so close to home and at our usual weekend stomping grounds, so the entire CIG (our self-titled running clan) was on hand to run, direct traffic, take pictures as you fell at the finish [not me!], wear annoyingly festive race outfits [totally me], and scream like banshees throughout the race [duh].

CIG (sans BMO)...we work out

Believe it or not, I actually drove myself to this race.  Zoom Zoom.  I got there with plenty of time to find the CIG crowd, shmooze it up with the Saucony rep, and take oodles of pictures with my twinny sister in our amazing Valentine’s Day slash Dirty Love ensembles.  (Thank God for the little girl’s department of Target!) 

Prepare to be chicked...by chics in pink tutus.

There was actually snow on the ground Sunday morning when my 224 dirty BFFs and I toed the imaginary starting line, headed across a field, hopped over a frozen creek, and slammed right into a 225 person traffic jam going up the first hill.  The CIG boys were long gone, and I stuck with my tutu twin for the first mile or so on the trails.  Even after we separated we kept each other company – screaming out LMFAO lyrics as we wound our way along the six-mile single track course and entertaining the cross country skiers we passed, who called us fairies as we each ran by.

Once I got through traffic I passed a lot of runners, picking them off one by one and rocketing by road runners on the hills in a pink blur.  I think I shocked a few dudes who didn’t take me seriously and should’ve been paying more attention to my dirty Sauconys than my pink glitter t-shirt and knee-high fashion socks.  I ran GarGar-free, breathed easy the whole race, and didn’t let anyone pass me.  A lot of the course was familiar (but backwards!), and I was disappointed to see that the snow had covered up most of the usual muddiness of our weekend course.  Mud makes me smile, but snow isn’t too bad either.

As I headed down towards the finish, I heard the CIG peeps yelling my name and sprinted towards them with a smile.  Too late I noticed a man with a fancy camera, so I politely asked for a redo and crossed the finish line again, this time with a big ol’ smile on my face and a spring in my step…literally.  Picture success.

Fabulously fake finishing photo

The CIG waited for our last three members to roll in, held a photo shoot, and headed inside to warm up by the fire, mingle, snuggle Molly the dog [me again], and give props to the Saucony rep…who just happened to win the race.  Beast.  As always we topped off CIG Sunday with a Starbucks run (where, btw, Doug refused to walk in the door with me because of my amazing outfit.  And lots of “Oh, I hate when someone has the same outfit on as me” jokes were told…repeatedly).

We are doing yoga...not ballet.

Why yes I am still looking badass in a tutu. That's how I roll.

My next two races are on the road – the Chili Classic 5K this weekend and the St. Malachi 5M on March 10, but the next race in the Dirty Trail Series is the Dirty Dash – a 10K on March 24 at the CVNP in Peninsula (why yes I did run a 50K there!  Thanks for asking!).  I haven’t registered…yet…

PROS: North Chagrin, race mug, stellar snacks, roaring fires, SNOW, CIG support

CONS: I really wanted a shirt that said Dirty Love.  Sad face.

STATS: Official time: 1:06:34; 11/67 in my division (women 0-39); 91/225 overall

Did you miss out on the Dirty Snowflake?  Click here to read my recap!

RR: Dirty Snowflake Prediction Run

My love of trail running is now being fueled by the Dirty Trail Series, a series of sixteen races in northeast Ohio with names so dirty I can’t wait to display them proudly on my race bling, names like Dirty Dash, Dirty Love, Dirty Secret, Dirty Dozen, and the Dirty Dirty. This weekend was the first race in the series, the Dirty Snowflake, a 4.? mile prediction run at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. That’s the same venue as Regis, which allows me to shamefully post a recently discovered picture of me running my first ultra marathon.

50K…NBD

I have absolutely no idea who took this pic or when, but we were running with Mike but not Kelly, so it had to be taken between miles 13 and 18. Notice the bright red cheeks, frosty hat, and lack of gloves. I swear I’m not crazy; my hands are always on fire when I run. I got some strange looks at the Dirty Snowflake this weekend, too, due to my lack of winter apparel. One mile in I was still feeling good, and the rest of the pack was shedding layers like nobody’s business. So :P

Brian, Marcus, Mike, and I (Kelly was under the weather) drove to Boston together and tried to strategize about prediction times along the way. We had never run the exact course before, so we were picking times blindly. The elevation change was minimal (for the CVNP), so I figured I could hold a sub 10 minute mile on the trails. When we checked in at the Ledges shelter, I wrote down 38:13 as my predicted time and spent a little time schmoozing it up with the Saucony rep…and his Ford Flex.

Saucony Stalker on wheels

He was demo-ing the new Saucony Xodus 3′s (they’re purple!!), and Mike and I scored some bumper stickers and Saucony hats for being so darn cool rocking the Saucony brand and sporting the Xodus 2′s. You could actually try out a pair of the 3′s during the race, which I thought was an impressive offer from the stalker brand. We joke about the Saucony Stalkers (I don’t even remember how it all started), but not only did the guy remember my name, but he and his Flex also “accidentally” crossed our path as we were headed back to the car after an additional 8 miles on the trails. ***shiver***

When the race started BMO and Marcus jumped ahead and were never to be seen again. They both finished in rockstar fashion with times in the low to mid 30s. Mike was still having some hip/back/mystery pain, so we stuck together for all 4 muddy miles. The race was a cluster at the start, although passing people was fairly easy even on the skinny trails. But the MUD! This girl likes running on squishy ground and getting all mudded up, but with the number of people on the trails, mud flew everywhere – even on my face!

Heading to the trail!

It is totally acceptable to stop for photo opps when winning the race is not dependent on time

The race was dirty…but the weather was delightful

No Garmins were allowed. Surprisingly, running without knowing my pace didn’t bother me at all; I didn’t look down at my empty wrist once. However, I didn’t appreciate the lack of mile markers on the course. I like to know how far I’ve gone and what is left ahead so I know when to take it easy or push a little bit. The end of the race snuck up on me, and before I knew it I was running across the finish line – with no clock, which was pretty much torture. They didn’t release your time and the results until everyone was in, so we headed inside by the fire to warm up and get some grub…and avoid the stalker stares of the Saucony dude while I myself creeped on a lady wearing a $200 Lululemon running coat.

Finish!

Hanging with Molly the running dog after the race; I would like to steal her

I wasn’t expecting to win this race, but I wasn’t expecting to be so far off. The winning runner was less than FIVE SECONDS off of her predicted time. I’m not even sure how that is possible, unless that woman runs that same trail every day of the week. #notbitteratall

We topped off our trip to the CVNP with another eight miles and a trip to Starbucks before heading back east. The next race in the series is a 10K at my very own stomping ground, North Chagrin Reservation, on February 12. Who’s ready for some Dirty Love?

PROS: CVNP, perfect weather and scenery, 150 of my closest running buds (and Molly!), sweet arm sleeve swag, good food, fire, creative race format, Saucony love

CONS: less than 5 seconds off is just dumb

STATS: Official time: 41:54; Minutes over predicted time: 3:41.9; 31/68 (prediction results); 65/148 (overall)

RR: Run for Regis 50K

Things you may have overheard me saying recently:

  • I’m going to skip jump roping today.  I ran a 50K yesterday.  No, not 15.  FIFTY.
  • Cupcake?  I’ll have two.  I ran an ultra yesterday.
  • Did you know that 50K is 31 miles?
  • I know this vest is bright.  It’s my race swag…from the ultra I ran on Sunday.
  • Why yes, that is longer than a marathon.  That’s why it’s called an ultramarathon.
  • I can totally have another piece of baklawa.  Didn’t you hear?  I ran an ultra this weekend.
  • What do you mean you don’t have a 50K magnet for my car?  I can’t wear this vest every day…

I’m really not conceited, and I promise you I’m not trying to brag.  I’m just so damned excited I could pee rainbows.  I mean seriously – I ran for seven hours and forty two minutes.  That’s pretty flipping cool.  And insane.

The run started at 7:15 (when you have nine hours to run, you need all the daylight you can get), so my race day chauffeur picked me up stupid early so we could rendezvous at my sister’s and be on the road by 5:45.  I had of course stayed up too late the night before watching the Miss America pageant and violently searching for my misplaced running gloves and jacket (I must be only person on Earth that can lose an article of clothing that’s so bright it burns your retinas).  Somehow I still managed to shove a PB&J English muffin down my throat, along with my now routine “please let me breathe ” round of meds…all containing the word “air.”  In my backpack was everything I could never possibly need, from extra socks, cashews, deodorant, and Body Glide to Knuckle Lights, a dozen Gus, extra shirts, and a hairbrush.

We got to the Ledges shelter at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with plenty of time to check in, test the air, and layer up as much as possible.  I ended up wearing my super warm Sugoi SubZero tights, one of my trusty Nike Pro LS Half Zips (with thumbs, of course!), an Old Navy fleece pullover, and my Saucony Vizipro jacket.  I topped it off with Smartwool socks, gloves, a hat, and my recently acquired baklava ninja mask balaclava.  It was freakin’ FREEZING when we started.  And still pretty dark!

There are three distances available to Regis runners – a half, full, and ultra marathon, and the course consists of two loops of 5 and 8 miles each.  Even though you select a distance when you register, you are allowed to change your mind as you run – going longer or stopping early without consequences.  Everyone that finishes at least eight miles gets the super sweet race swag: this year a yellow embroidered Brooks Nightlife Essential Run Vest ($60!).  I may or may not have worn that vest to work today.

We started as a group of five – Brian, Kali, Mike, Kelly, and me.  The pack thinned out very quickly, and the miles zoomed by as we completed one of each loop as a group.  The aid stations were stocked with PB&Js, Ramen, pretzels, cookies, candy, water, pop, HEED, Hammer gels, and super friendly and supportive volunteers.  I stuck with water, Gu, and PB&J and took advantage of the (2!) available indoor, heated bathrooms.  Each time we finished a loop, we returned to the Ledges Shelter to get our bibs marked and grab some fuel, before heading out again to the cheers of race volunteers.  Kelly finished the half, and then there were four.

Heading out for our first of five loops! Shouting "See you in 20 minutes" no doubt

Loving Kelly's socks!

Lots of time for photos in 8 hours!

It was a slippery winter wonderland

Still smiling after 18!

It only snowed a tiny bit during the race, but Saturday’s snowfall blanketed the ground and hung heavy on the trees.  I was happy for the snow, because running in the mud is a lot harder on the ankles and wetter on the feet than running on the white stuff.  That being said, after several loops on the trails – and the steps – the packed snow was more like ice, and keeping traction was nearly impossible at times.  I saw a lot of people fall, and my steady pace always slacked on the icy downhills (where no-fear BMO took the opportunity to pass me every time).  We took turns leading until Mike’s testosterone exploded around mile 19 and he blazed away from the group (taking the camera with him…and finishing twenty minutes ahead of us!).  And then there were three.

LOTS of stairs

STILL smiling...and shivering!

Kali pushed hard to finish her 26.2, and BMO and I headed back out to finish the last 5 mile loop.  And then there were two.

Checking in after 26! (which was really 27!)

It was during the last loop that I spent a lot of time in my head.  I ran ahead of Brian for a couple miles, wanting to soak up the reality of the race.  I thought back to the Cleveland Marathon and truly realized for the first time that I am not the same person – physically or mentally – that barely finished those 26.2 miles on May 15.  Although my body hurt at mile 29 of Regis, it wasn’t the crippling oh-my-God-I’m-not-going-to-make-it pain from mile 24 of Cleveland, but more of a heaviness in my legs.  Ultra me is infinitely stronger and more confident than marathon me.  And happier.  And more stubborn determined, if that is possible.  And a hell of a lot more badass. As an added bonus, despite all the asthma drama of recent months, my lungs behaved themselves the entire day, so it was also around mile 29 that I mentally gave props to my asthma guru, Dr. Kent Knauer (no joke).  I thought ahead to my next marathon (Cincinnati), giggling at the fact that I can say it’s only 26 miles and looking forward to scaling back to running only four days a week.  So for a couple miles on the last loop, while my feet pounded the trails with “perpetual forward motion” (a volunteer’s battle cry I took up as my own), I guess you could say “And then there was one.”

And then I got grumpy and tired.  But that’s why I run with BMO – he pushes me when I need it.  And I needed it.

Almost there!

Me...the ultramarathoner!

31 wut wut! Still smiling! In an amazing ensemble, I know!

After immediately shedding some wet layers and warming my frozen bum by the fire, I inhaled a bowl of vegan chili, devoured a grilled cheese sandwich, and topped it all of with a very slushy cup of ginger ale.  There are no awards because no one (or everyone?) wins Regis, so we picked up our vests, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and headed home to the nearest Starbucks.  I spent the rest of the day warming up in the tub, stretching, napping, and eating pizza.  Luckily I had Monday off, which allowed me a quick massage with the PT at Achilles, a pilgrimage to Whole Foods, retail recovery therapy, and an hour of [very easy] boxing to keep my legs loose.  And since I am a firm believer in the idea of rollover calories, I am now headed into the kitchen to indulge in my newest food addiction: Sensible Portions Veggie Straws.  #ultrasmakemehungry

PROS:  Absolutely everything.  Sweet swag, a good cause, amazing volunteers, yummy grub, indoor plumbing, breathtaking scenery, camaraderie, running BFFS, double bridges, trail markers hung on icicles, “if you can read this you’re going the wrong way” signs, slippery slopes, a dog wearing boots, men wearing shorts, icy beards, VFFs, fireplaces, frozen eyelashes, tied shoelaces, and easy breathing

CONS: Um…

STATS:  Time: 07:42:53.  Place: 53/60 overall, 11/14 female.  I am shocked at the small number of people that ran the 50K.

PS 04:45:20 won overall.  Holy shnikes.  (Woman: 05:21:20)

It’s not Christmas if the snow don’t fall

TITLE NOTE: “Mistletoe” by Colbie Caillat…I even excuse her use of “don’t” instead of “doesn’t.”  It’s that good.

I love holiday music.  There is SOOOO much good stuff out there, and every year I get irritated with local radio because they play the same 20 lame-o songs over and over again all season long.  Why listen to cheesecake Christmas songs when you can groove to some legit artists instead?  I do admit I rock out to some Britney, Christina, and Jessica this time of the year, along with Glee and Straight No Chaser.  But there is so much more.  In fact, here’s my top 5 10 list.  In no particular order.  Check it out.

1.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Colbie Caillat (duh)

2. Peppermint Winter – Owl City (double duh)

3.  Silver Bells – Meaghan Smith

4.  Silent Night – Priscilla Ahn

5.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Jack Johnson

6.  Christmas Tonight – Dave Barnes with Hillary Scott

7.  All I Want for Christmas is You – Michael Bublé (that man is so smooooooth…did you catch his Christmas special?  Yowzah)

8.  Winter Wonderland – Jason Mraz (triple duh)

9.  All My Bells Are Ringing – Lenka

10.  Welcome to Our World – Michael W. Smith (totally out of left field, but I had to give props to Jesus at least once…and this one always tugs at the heartstrings…tug tug)

Special mention goes out to Ben Rector for the ONLY VERSION of “Auld Lang Syne” that doesn’t make me want to jump off of a hotel balcony.  Well played, sir.

Back to my blog title…I live in a magical mystical place called the Snow Belt.  Here in the NE of the OH, we put snow tires on our cars, get 3-6 days off of school due to impassable roads, drive cars rusted out from road salt, and enjoy a special treat from Mr. Erie called lake effect snow.  HOWEVER this year…rien.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s starting to get irritating.

One of my family’s [newer] traditions is to go tubing the morning of the 24.

Last year's Christmas Eve Day Tubing...I'm in the green coat, in case you couldn't find me

This year's Christmas Eve Day...er...Tubing??

Obviously we had to change our plans just a little bit since Mother Nature and Dick Goddard weren’t cooperating.  Bowling was still fun and WAY warmer than tubing.

For the hubs and me, Christmas is a lot of house hopping, rushing around, and forgetting things and such.  We spend Christmas Eve with his dad’s side of the family, then we’re at my dad’s Christmas morning and his mom’s Christmas afternoon.  It’s always a relief to land back at home for a couple hours before heading back out [usually in the snow] to finish off the holiday with another of my family’s traditions: HIBACHI/SUSHI!  I must say that sushi is one of the only things I miss after going animal carcass-free this summer.  I ordered the vegetable hibachi dinner and a sweet potato tempura roll to curb my sushi tooth.  We were the only people in the restaurant (again), but the 16 of us drank enough saki for a whole restaurant full of people.

Saki anyone? Such a beautiful face. (:

Since no one else was there, we even got the cooks to help celebrate the season!

As a result, inappropriate jokes and phallic rice sculptures were enjoyed by all...

Lest you think I didn’t curb my sweat tooth as well this holiday weekend, rest assured that even though my mileage wasn’t as high as it was supposed to be, I did sneak in a run on Christmas Eve AND Christmas.  And tonight I got my box on…circuit style.  I wore my new sparkly headband and a hilarious tee my sister got me for Christmas…I just had to take a picture but of course forgot to do so BEFORE I got my sweat on.

It matched my pink boxing gloves PERFECTLY...please excuse the pic location - I was having lighting issues

Joyeux Noël from my family to yours.  And my family includes this cutsie pie.

14 point what! Oh, zero. (:

Today I was scheduled for 14 miles – my longest run EVER!

I’ve been going to North Chagrin for my Sunday long runs for the past month but wanted to change it up a little.  Since my B-in-L is on IR, I was runnin’ solo today.  I’m used to logging miles alone and enjoy running without having to constantly worry if I’m holding somebody back with my elephant pace (Runkeeper’s words, not mine).  So being the insanely perceptive person I am, I decided to head to CHARDON to hit the SOUTH Maple Highlands Trail.

This is what I found.

Not too bad, right?  A little slushy, but there’s…room for your feet.  I continued on…soon I found this.

No more packed snow, but there is still a path…sort of.  Keep on truckin,’ right?  Until I hit this.

ONE person’s crusty footprints.  And some deer tracks here and there.

No dice.  I turned around and headed to the Greenway Corridor – six miles north – for the remainder of my run (12.4 miles), which I completed on bone dry paths and city sidewalks.  14.00 miles.  No more, no less.

If you’re local, you’re laughing at my stupidity.  Friday we got DUMPED on with the white stuff, causing snow day numéro six. Even BP got sent home early – and then proceeded to get stuck in the driveway at work…and at home.  So even though today was a balmy 34 degrees, I should’ve thought twice before heading to Chardon, the BUCKLE of the Lake Erie snow belt. Silly me.

When I got home from my run, I made a Green Monster.

It still amazes me that you can’t find the spinach if you try!

I know what you’re thinking.  I look amazing.  And my blender is adorable.  AND why isn’t my green monster green?  Blueberries, my friend, can trump any color.

I’ve been fiddling around with the contents of my monster – today I put in some local berries (frozen strawberries and blueberries from last season), half of a local apple (from Chardon, I believe, lol), and a huge handful of – you guessed it – local spinach.  I added a few ounces of (are you getting the idea yet?) local milk and then ruined it all by putting in two scoops of powdered grossness.  If you have an alternative, please share.  Blech.  I’ve tried chia seeds and even oats, but the consistency is so yuck.  I’ve also discovered that blackberries are no good.  Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

What do you put in your Green Monster?

Now my plug for local foods.  Fresh Fork Market.  Click below and check it out. ‘Nuff said.  For now, that is…

Also, don’t forget to head on over to Eat:Watch:Run.  Can you say cutest giveaway ever?  On second thought, don’t.  I don’t want you to win instead of me…

In the lane, the snow is glistenin’…

Well, so much for being technically geeked out for my run today.  I guess you actually have to CHARGE the Garmin Forerunner 305 before using it…who knew?  The good news is I ran with my B-in-L today, who is the king of tech geekiness…well, maybe the prince.  This guy is the king.  He ran a marathon with 4 i-Phones, a Droid, and an i-Pad.  He also drew Hello Kitty in the streets of Tokyo using Runkeeper.  Money.

Although my B-in-L did admit to trying to write his initials  in a field with Runkeeper, his techiness came in handy today when mine was an epic fail.  And since he’s an “Elite” Runkeeper member, he snapped pictures along the route and posted them to his live running stream.  Pretty cool.  I yanked them off his RK to share with you…

Mile one of seven on a suddenly snowy Sunday!

Hills always look bigger in person!

Yesterday we had ZERO snowflakes on the ground.

I don't mind snowy runs - North Chagrin was a winter wonderland!

This is my first winter running outside.  Thing I’ve learned: my hands get overheated first, so I pretty much ditch the gloves after the first mile, my ears ache and throb and my derrière freezes in about two minutes, but I pretty much have the road (path, or trail) to myself.  I’ve also discovered a love of snowshoeing and hiking.

Don’t get me wrong: I cannot WAIT for the green of spring.  I’m excited for the outdoor soccer to start again and for fresh, local fruits and veggies and farmers’ markets.  Fall and spring are my favorite seasons to run in because our parks system is AMAZINGly beautiful [plus your lungs don't protest (winter) and your face doesn't melt (summer)].  But really, winter wasn’t all that bad.

It made me feel like a runner.  Hardcore.