Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! (Caution contains pumpkin porn)

Enjoy these pictures to celebrate Halloween...

Tristan and "Lobster" Sagwa
A hysterical sight from last years Steamtown Marathon

Gilligan: Winnie the Pooh as usual

A side view of Gilligan sporting his Halloween Best

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: Report

It's important to take the time to smell the roses, right?

This past Sunday I woke up at 4 a.m. to get ready for my 5th Marine Corps Marathon in 5years. It is a really fun race and travels through various neighborhoods and historic sights in Washington DC and Virginia. The race starts by the Pentagon, goes past Rosslyn, comes down George Washington Parkway, then travels across the Key Bridge into DC. Once in DC at about mile 7, we ran up the C&O Canal (up MacArthur Blvd), ran by the resevoir then traveled back towards DC through Georgetown. This year, at mile 14 the marathon changed a bit and we headed to Haines Point. Returning from Haines point, about mile 17, we headed up Constitution Avenue along the Mall past the White House to the Capitol Building. At the Capitol Building (mile 18 or so) we turned around and headed down Independence Avenue. At mile 20 we ran over the 14th Street Bridge past the Jefferson Memorial and over the Potomac River. Once back in Virginia we ran to Crystal City then retraced our steps heading towards the Pentagon, then ran our final few miles to the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington Cemetary.

After getting up at 4 (which felt like sleeping in to 10 a.m.), I got dressed and ready for the marathon. As I got dressed I made sure to glide everywhere (sadly at Baltimore I ended up missing spots so had some chaffing issues on my under arms and near my sports bra) and put on adequate layers. Again it was a real treat to not have to spend 30 minutes gliding my feet...I LOVE my drymax maximum protection socks.

It was bitterly cold (well in my world it was) with a temp of about 45 degree's when I left my house. Since I did not know when I would see my "people" I created a drop bag and made sure I had room to put my layers. Less than 30 minutes later I was heading off to the metro to catch the first one at 5 a.m. On the metro ride I chatted with a nice gentleman who was running his first marathon. He was concerned about his lack of training as well as a bout with the flu earlier in the week. I did my best to reassure him that he would do fine (my husband did his first marathon with the longest training run of 14 granted we spend alot of time on our feet hiking but I think training runs of 20 or 25 miles may be overkill, although certainly they do give runners confidence).

After a switch at Metro center and getting off the metro at Pentagon, I lurked in the station for a bit. Sadly some crazy wind tunnel seemed to form in that area so it was not warm and cozy. I chatted with another first timer for about half an hour and again offered some words of encouragement and advice. He was waiting for a training partner who evidently had caught a later metro and was dealing with massive crowds in trying to get to the start. Although MCM is a very large race, if you do arrive early, it does seem to be a bit less crowded (this is true for packet pickup, riding the metro and porta potty use). Closing in on 7, I decided to brave the cold and start heading to the start line. Last year I lurked in the station until about 7:45 and ended up completely missing the start (I think I was about 7th to last over the start line). This year I wanted to be at a minimum 10th from last:-)

A few pictures by the 10 km finish, one potty break later I was ready ...for another potty break. My breakfast of champions: a banana, an energy bar, a gatorade and 3 diet Mountain Dews caught up to me (well really the 3rd Mtn Dew). I got back in another long line and chatted with other runners. As I approached the potty, I heard my name. This was puzzling as when I chat in my head I don't say my name. It was my friend Angela. We chatted briefly. She was coming off an injury but seemed to be in good spirits. After this break, she headed to start while I headed to my drop bag truck. I took off my clothing (okay not all of it, just my long sleeve shirt and pants because people kept assuring me it WOULD be 70 degree's). I put on my trashy outfit (garbage bag on top and on bottom) and handed over my drop bag. In retrospect I should have kept my long sleeve shirt. But alas I did not know the temperature would not rise quickly and I did not know I would see my people at mile 14. My choice of outfit (I like to call it "Hefty Coutourre") led to many comments. People would cheer "Go Garbage Girl!", "Go Trashbag Lady" and my favorite "Way to go White Trash!" (which I found highly amusing).

I wandered to the starting area and heard the countdown for the start (as I recall the last few years I have been in the facilities when the gun/cannon went off). About 50% of the time this is where I can be found at the start of races (with chip times it is irrelevant what you are doing and when you are doing it and I take this mandate seriously). I walk forward slowly. With ~20,000 runners all trying to do this it does not go fast. About 10 minutes later I get to the starting line.

My first order of business as I cross the line is to immediately head off to the right where Miles the Mascot is hanging out. It is time for a picture. I have 300 pictures for the race (less then the 800 I should have had because I inadvertantly did not switch out my memory stick...this causes me alot of agitation during the race because I have not had to ration pictures in years!) Well, I try to think of picture strategies (only pictures with me or of exciting/humorous situations, no pictures of scenery). I try to think if I can recall any photo shops along the course but cannot (I now know there is a Best Buy in Pentagon City but at the time was unaware of this). A nice Marine takes my picture with Miles and I realize Miles-ette (the female mascot) is there as well. I get a picture with both critters. So far my conserving picture strategy is not going well!

Continuing on I run through Rosslyn. As usual it is a zoo. There are crowds of runners and lots of spectators. I love the energy of the race, it definitely makes up for the inconvenience of the crowds. In Rosslyn I notice some under-utilized porta potties. Knowing that the next 10 miles of porta potties are going to be a nightmare to use, I decide to take advantage although even with my excessive Dew and Gatorade drinking I do not really need it. As I exit the porta potty I decide to waste some more time by tying my shoe. This is all within the first mile of the race. Tihs is not looking to be my best performance!

The rest of Rosslyn goes by fairly uneventfully. The hill up to mile 2 is expected and not too bad (after Vermont 100 pretty much any hill is not too bad!). After cresting this hill we get our first chance at beverages. I take a large cup of gatorade and am excited to see it is is Cool Blue, my favorite flavor. It is my lucky day! After the aid station we take a sharp right and head into the wooded area on our way to the George Washington Parkway. I like this section as it is very pretty (and it is downhill!). There is a mist/fog over the river which makes for some very pretty views of the spires of Georgetown University. The folliage is still not peak, however there are many tree's which are yellow, orange and red. It is a cool crisp fall day, a perfect day for a marathon!

Pretty soon we are climbing up to the Key Bridge. After crossing the bridge we head up towards Georgetown along the C&O Canal. Again this is a very pretty section and the colorful fall leaves reflecting in the canal are just beautiful. After about 2 miles we climb our final major hill. It is a bit challenging particularly since so many runners in the pack I am in are walking leisurely up it. I try to powerwalk up it but don't really stress too much about this slow pace. If I wanted to run a marathon for time I would pick a small, obscure and really ugly course.

This year in Georgetown there seemed to be fewer spectators and festivities going on. Last year there seemed to be a huge block party with music blasting and lots of alcohol. After my puking post-Crystal City Hash Harriers Beer incident in 2004, I don't drink any alcohol during marathons, but I do appreciate when spectators at least offer up mimosa's, beer, bloody mary's etc. In fact the most enthusiastic cheerleaders at races tend to be a bit inebreited (VT100, I am sure the young ladies on the hilltop were quite sloshed...but regardless they were ENTHUSIASTIC, I don't care how I get enthusiasm I just really enjoy and embrace it!). Running by Georgetown University, panic sets in. I am about to get passed by Teddy Roosevelt, one of the Mascots of the Washington Nationals. I need to pick up my pace. No, no, I need to get out my camera! I take a few pictures then continue on.

Heading into the tidal basin I am suprised to see my sister Cindy and my mom. They are cheering enthusiastically. I stop and chat for a bit. I take a few pictures, find someone to take our picture and mention I am feeling pretty good. I give my mom a hug, but my sister suggests she prefers no hug because I might be stinky or sweaty. After a few minutes I mention that I should get going because people are passing me left and right. It takes me abou 3 miles to get back to the pack I had been running with after this break.

For the first time ever I head to Haines point at mile 12. It is a bizzare experience. It is made even more bizzare by the fact that the awakening statue is no longer there. It causes me some confusion and agitation. I like to pick up the pace at Haines point. And I like to get my picture by the statue. I feel lost. Well, I don't feel so lost that I skip the bathroom. This is one of the places along the course that is near a real bathroom with running water. I take advantage of it. I also retie my shoes. I have not gotten to the halfway point and it is nearly 3 hours since I started. I really don't want an over 6 hour finish so it is time to pick up the pace.

The course takes us back to downtown DC. I get to the Mall and there is Cindy and my mom. I take another picture and have another spectator take a group photo. Sadly although the Washington Monument is right behind us, it is cut out of the picture. I never know what to do when I select a poor photographer, I appreciate they tried to help me but clearly did not realize my vision. I end up taking the desirable picture with my mom and Cindy and ponder photoshopping myself into it. After a few minutes of chatting it is time for me to get back into the race. The course now takes us up Constitution Avenue.

It is now time for some sightseeing! First we approach the Washington Monument on our right. Then the White House is on our left. As we are passing these sights I hear my name. Apparently wearing the same outfit, flowers in my hair and a sparkeley fanny pack makes me easy to spot. It is some friends from the Frederick Marathon. I ran several miles with them in 2007. They observed me eating a HUGE ice cream cone the last mile of the race and were just amazed at my eating and running ability. Also they observed my picture taking during the race which enabled them to repeatedly pass me. This occurs again at MCM this year. We catch up briefly until I decide I need to run off course at the outdoor art museum (near what becomes a skating rink in the winter).

At the outdoor Art exhibit, I snag a few tourists to take my picture in this area. At one point I reciprocate by taking a cute couples picture. They have no idea I am running a race and it is only towards the end of our conversation that they realize they may have impacted my time. They are very apologetic. I am not running for time so it doesn't bother me. I pass the Museum of Natural History. I get some tourists to take my picture going up the stairs. Last year I went in this building for the public restroom but I have to say it is very far from the entrance (about 200-300 meters and you have to go through bag check). And my picture did not come out well because the museum is not well lit. I decide because I am conserving pictures to skip this museum. I get to the Capitol and a band is playing a song with a good beat. I take a moment and stop and appreciate the music.

Heading back along Independence Avenue, I immediately veer off course and take a side trip into the Botanical Gardens. This is a beautiful conservatory right next to the Capitol. I gamble on no security and am pleased to be able to just walk in. I ask some tourists to take my picture and everyone is very helpful. A few people try to congratulate me and I have to explain I have not finished (although in my mind I know the finish is likely in the bag). I make my way through the building and arrive a the restrooms. I use the facilities and savor the warm water and soap. I wash my hands and my face. I wish for a moment that I had brought a small toothbrush/toothpaste or small bottle of scope. But I am somewhat clean, I smell fresh and I am happy. I sit down and appreciate the moment. I then get up have some more tourists take a few more pictures of me then head out back to the course.

Getting back to the race I jog down Independence Avenue appreciating the Museum of American Indians, the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Modern Art among others. I take a few pictures along the way. As I approach Washington Monument, I run into Cindy and my mom. This is my last time to see them. My sister recently had foot surgery and is starting to have some pain. I understand and am suprised I saw them 3 times and that they have clearly traveled about 1-2 miles in their quest to see me. I get a final picture of us then I get back to running. It is the final push.

I cross the 14th street bridge well in advance of "the Bus". I am a little suprised when I run into my friend Tom who race walks most events (we met at Frederick, Baltimore and several other marathons this past year...walkers frequently pass me when I am making purchases or taking one of my numerous breaks: bathroom, pictures, sightseeing, etc.). He got rerouted at the start of Constitution Avenue. This is puzzling to both him and I because he really paces himself well and was never in any danger of getting passed/picked up by the lag vehicle. We catch up briefly, then I continue on. During one of my breaks with Cindy and my mom I notice my friend Amanda from George Washington Birthday, Baltimore, Frederick and many other local races has passed me. I end up catching up with her on the bridge. We chat and catch up briefly. She is pacing a friend who is clearly struggling but is definitely going to make it. I continue on.

As I enter Crystal City I hear my name again. It's Tristan! He's taking pictures of me, I'm taking pictures of him. It is not an ideal location because he is right in an aid station. Even this late in the race, the water stations are chaotic. I try to get out quickly. I run the out and back to Crystal City. The crowds are amazing. The energy is building and I am excited. I can taste the finish line. I finish the loop at Crystal City excited to cheer the runners whom I can see ahead of me and cheering those who are behind me. I don't see anyone I know but it is still crowded on the course. As I exit Crystal City I see Tristan again. I am really running low on memory (camera not personal). I ask Tristan if we can switch media sticks. He agree's so we spend a few minutes exchanging memory sticks. We give each other a quick hug and I am ready to resume my race. As I head off, Tristan mentions my friend Angela is not too far ahead of me. I decide I want to see her. I run fast. I catch up to Amanda. I chat with her again and wish her luck. I then catch up to Angela. She is in alot of pain but getting it done. We chat briefly but she is struggling. I continue on because my friends from Frederick are just a little further ahead. I do not catch them, but after the finish I do. In fact after the finish I stumble on my friend Peter from Reston Runners. He finished in about 5:20. He wanted to go faster but was satisfied with his race. After catching up it was time to experience the saga that was picking up my drop bag. It was tough to navigate the crowds but I finally got my bag back. I then headed backwards to mile 25. I successfully ran into Tristan. I asked if we could wait until the final "regulation" runners. He agreed. During this time I saw my friend John from Potomac River Run, 24 hour race, Lower Potomac Marathon. Ray from Reston Runners who always carries an American Flag arrived a few minutes later. I also saw my friend Betty from Montgomery County Runners. We had volunteered at several races together and have run several other marathons together. I jogged with Betty for about half a mile and we caught up just briefly. She has reduced her race schedule but is doing well.

I had a great race. It is amazing to think that I have only been doing this (marathoning) 5 years. I have been so incredible blessed to get to know so many wonderful people. It was icing on the cake to run into so many friends during this my 5th Marine Corps Marathon just 5 years into this journey that hopefully will continue for the rest of my life

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pre-Marine Corps Marathon Report including a huge thanks to Chris and Robyn Gault at Fleet Feet Gaithersburg!

Running along Haines point at about mile 13 (taken by a really sweet fellow runner during the race). In fact this runner noticed I was taking pictures along the course and he kindly volunteered to run ahead, then let me catch up.

I continue to be very jet-lagged from Slovenia (I am tired from about 2 p.m. on and wake up super early) but I am now alot less productive than I was my first two days. I can't figure out if it is because of residual tiredness from the change in time zones or a really slow recovery from the marathon.

Marine Corps Marathon was my first marathon. I remember it like it was yesterday. I trained for it using the tips, techniques and workouts outlined in the book by Jeff Galloway "Marathon: You Can Do It!".

This book was invaluable for the suggestions to accomplish a successful marathon finish. I still occasionally read it before a 100 miler because many of the hints are universal for all distances. It also gives excellent advice about what to bring to a marathon (trash-bag for wind/rain/warmth, disposable clothing, pain/stomach meds, extra money... and lots of other items). He also gives advice for the mental games one must play during the tough miles of a race (see the sights, chat with other runners, have semi-controversial topics to jumpstart conversations, give and solicit advice and most importantly enjoy the experience!)

This years marathon experience was exactly what I expected. It was GREAT! There of course were little glitches and things I learned to never do again, but 99% of my race was AMAZING).

On Saturday (the day before the race) I woke up about 2 a.m. I tried to sleep but jet-lag was rearing it's ugly head. At about 4 a.m. I went downstairs and caught up with e-mails to friends. At about 7:30 I went upstairs and climbed on top of Tristan (I was simulating our cat who climbs on Tristan alot). I guess Tristan did not entirely appreciate this, but it did get him up. I suggested I was ready for a day of adventure but the weather was a bit iffy (in fact at 4 a.m. it had torrentially rained). I suggested we go to the EXPO.

My mom, Tristan and I piled into the car and drove to the EXPO at RFK stadium. Sadly I was not entirely sure how to get there so a few wrong turns later we finally arrived (in my defense I have always traveled there using mass transit-the Metro). The line for the EXPO was HUGE!!! But Tristan pointed out that the sign for non-runners pointed to door with no people. We followed this sign and were in the EXPO within 1 minute. This would be the first and last time there were no lines in my marathon experience! This was the first time I had gone to the EXPO on Saturday and I have to say it was a zoo! I am glad I have always asked for all or some of Friday off so I can pick up my packet early.

The Marine Corps Marathon packet pick up and Health and Fitness EXPO is always very large. There were lots of vendors with clothing, food and booths promoting future marathons. I purchased a few items and ate at every food station. I never would have eaten the samples prior to marathon 1-10, but now I am a seasoned ultra-marathoner and all the rules are meant to be violated:-)

At the EXPO I was able to thank my friends Chris and Robyn Gault, who were working there. Chris and Robyn are the proprietors of Fleet Feet Gaithersburg (aka "my source"). They kindly picked up my packet earlier in the week and had left it at their store. They knew I was coming back from Slovenia and were happy to pick up my packet in case I missed any of my connections or had difficulty going to packet pick up. Both Chris and Robyn are really nice and I highly recommend a visit to their store if you are ever in the Gaithersburg area (especially Thursday night at 6:30 when they host a weekly fun run!)

While walking through the EXPO, I was lucky enough to run into several running friends. My friends, Will and Charlie from Annapolis were there. I ran ~5 hours in the last several B&A trail marathons (as well as George Washington Birthday). As Charlie mentioned you never really know someone until you have run 5 hours with them! This was just a sneak peak of all the friends I would run into during the marathon.

In the past 5 years I have met and run with so many nice people. I hope I can run (or at least walk at a fast clip) for the rest of my life so I can continue participating in this sport. This shared experiences and friendships are why I run. This year I have been very fortunate that in every race I have run I have had friends running that were relatively close to me in pace (and of course in most races there are other Marathon Maniacs listed on the Maniacs website...although most Maniacs are quite a bit faster than I). And at each race I have been lucky enough to make new friends. The camaraderie, shared challenges and experiences is what keeps me excited about running future races. I just hope my body can hold up!

Tommorrow I will post my race report.

More Pictures from Marine Corps Marathon

Here are a few more pictures from my MCM experience. As you can see I took many side trips during the marathon. I had a great time!

I still am still a bit stiff from the race (I think sitting about 14 hours straight on Friday before MCM flying back from Europe did not help at all) but hopefully I will fully recovered by this Sunday when I run the C&D Delaware towpath Marathon.

At the Capitol Building

In the Botanical Gardens during the Marathon

With the Sparkeley Guy in front of the Museum of Modern Art

At the Pyramid in front of the outdoor art exhibit

In front of the Museum of Natural History

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photo's from Marine Corps Marathon (MCM)

I am still really jet-lagged from my trip to Slovenia, so I am moving slower than usual in writing up my marathon report. In the meantime here are some pictures from the marathon.

Tammy and Miles, the MCM Mascot at the EXPO on Saturday

At the Start with Miles and the female mascot (not sure of her name:-(

At Georgetown....if you look to the right, you will see Teddy Roosevelt, one of Washington DC's National's baseball team mascots running
With my mom and my sister about mile 9 in the marathon

Trying to suck up to my sister (an Airforce Major) by getting a picture with a decorated airplane in Crystal City

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon...5 finishes in 5 years!

Tammy and Tristan near the Pentagon
My sister Cindy and Mom at mile 17

Recieving my medal

Approaching the finishline

Five years ago, I started my marathoning career in the Marine Corps Marathon in 2003. I cannot believe it has been that long. In some ways it feels like yesterday, but in other ways it feels like a long, long time ago. Marine Corps was my first marathon ever. Prior to this I was rehabing slowly from getting hit by a car. Several surgeries later I was able to walk. And it took me nearly 10 years to get back to running (albeit very slowly). After my first MCM I got addicted to running and now just can't stop. I love the sights I get to see, the people I meet and of course burning off calories (which proved very useful in Slovenia which I sort of ate my way through!).

Marine Corps Marathon has gone through some changes since I started it. In my first few years we went up by the National Zoo at mile 8. More recently we have gone through Georgetown. This year the course was modified further so we went to Haines point at mile 13 and then along the Mall up Independence and down Constitution at mile 18. Also, the awakening statue was no longer at Haines point. I may be one of the few, but I liked the old set up. I like to reflect at mile 18 about my journey, but in the gobs of spectators I was unable to do this.

This morning (4 a.m. for most, but felt like 10 a.m. for me) I got up and started getting ready. After going to bed at 6 p.m. last night I was pretty well rested. I drove myself to the Metro and took the Metro to DC. I met many other runners on this trip and oddly they all seemed to be first timers (although I probably would have caught a later metro except I figured I would wake up early). I remember how anxious I was my first time, so I tried to reassure the runners. Slowly I made my way to the start line. At a potty break, I ran into my friend Angela who was my running mentor. We were co-workers in 2002-3 and she had really provided me lots of tips and suggestions for training and running a marathon (seamless sports bra, fanny pack with water bottle at an angle and of course the regular marathoning advice). We chatted briefly and wished each other luck. She is more concerned about time and this year has been fighting shin splints so she wanted to make sure she was at the start line in a timely manner...I figure with chip timing I can be pretty much anywhere when the gun goes off.

Soon enough the start arrived. Since I am exhausted (it feels like 11:40 now), I will write about my race tommorrow. But I will spoil the end for you, I did finish in about 5:30. This is not a PR or a PW, just an average run for me particularly since I took about 300 pictures and made many side trips during the race.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back to America

Today is my last day in Slovenia. It has been a great trip. And today while the worst weather day (it was cloudy and a bit chilly), it still was relatively nice. At least we did not have rain! Because my stuff is still in the hotel (including my running stuff), I just walked the afternoon away. Sadly I stumbled on City Park today which is a huge park with lots of trails. I walked at least 2-3 miles in the park and barely made a dent. I did see the two castles (this country has many) but did not go in. After City park, I went to the Castle on the hill. I walked up but took the furnicular (an escalator like contraption) to go down. It was a bit nerve-wracking but on the way down the views of the city were very impressive.

I leave tommorrow morning and get home tommorrow afternoon (having 30 hours for OCt 24th in my life...too bad it is not my birthday!).

I am just getting accustomed to the keyboard here. They have the "Y" in a completely different spot and some computers do not have all the 26 letters I grew up using.

It has been alot of fun and I think my presentations were a sucess, but it will be nice to be home with my critters and my husband. And on a positive note, when I have to get up at 4 a.m. for the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, it will feel like I am sleeping in to 10 a.m.!!!

Although by the time I finish (in 7 hours perhaps), it will feel like it is 8 p.m. (not looking forward to this part of my experience!). Maybe I will exert myself so I come in about 5 hours (then at least I will finish before my dinnertime of 6 p.m.)

Take čare and Happy Running!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Slovenia with the same hotel as the Queen of England

The last three days I have been staying in the same hotel as Queen Elizabeth (of England). I have not seen her, but have been very close several times. One day because I went jogging, I missed her by about 5 minutes. But jogging is more important, right?

Also, I have stepped on the red carpet (although the first day I would hop over it because I was unsure of protocol). One of the british attendees at the conference observed this and told me I could step on it, which made walking around the hotel a bit easier:-)

At the end of the day I have gone jogging. There is a castle on the hill right by my hotel. I try to jog it several times. It is tough but may prepare me for any upcoming hills in marathons.

I will post pictures of my adventures when I get back to America later this week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

At Slovenia


I am in Slovenia. I do not exactly have access to internet, but was able to get on for a few minutes. I am having a great time and plan to run around the city this evening. Although my plans may be foiled by a visit by the Queen (Elizabeth of England).

The weather has been delightful here and the people are very friendly. They do seem to be able to figure out I speak English without me saying a word...perhaps it is my clothing or facial features. This is not helping in my goal to speak and learn Slovene. I have 'Dober Dan', 'Pro Seem' and 'Havla' (Good day, please and thank you) down.

I will post pictures after I get back. Today I will plan to run up to the Castle and along the river. After I will have my nightly treat of Gelato (the desserts here are amazing).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slovenia Bound: And highlights of last years Breakers Marathon (which Slovenia vs Breakers; Slovenia always wins!)

Fishing for my post-race meal
What a beautiful Rocky shore, and HUGE houses!
I think I could take up surfing instead of running!
My post-race lobster "Pinchey"

Walking along the Cliff Walk after the race (what a beautiful trail!)

This weekend instead of running the Breakers Marathon (which I signed up for in January because I LOVED the race so much), I will be heading to Slovenia. Above are pictures from the Breakers Marathon, which I highly recommend. It is a beautiful course, very nice spectators along the course and of course you get a finishers lobster! I really enjoyed my race last year and this year Tristan and I were planning to stay almost a week in Newport RI. But alas in June I was approached to speak at an international conference and of course said yes!

I am looking forward to my business trip to Slovenia. I will be attending and presenting two sessions at the Drug Information Association (DIA) Clinical Forum. I am very excited about this opportunity and always enjoy DIA conferences (I was at Boston in June for the DIA Annual meeting). I think the conference is well organized, the sessions interesting and relevant and I always learn something. This time as speaker, hopefully attendees will be able to say the same about my sessions.
I hope to get some runs in at Slovenia. I suspect my first few days will be quite jet-lagged but after a few days my intention is to run at least 20 miles in the Slovenia countryside (to keep up training of course:-) as well as to see the sights. I think I will have a great time! But since I am unsure of internet availability this may be my last post for about 10 days.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Final summary of Baltimore

A swing chair is always a classic break spot for a marathon. I was shocked there was not a line 10 or 15 runners long. Guess it is their loss!
Here I am giving "Cake Love" some free was a good cupcake but not as good at Gingerbread Construction Company Cupcakes at the 24 hour race in Wakefield MA...I may have to run the 24 hour race even if it is only 1 week after VT100 for the cupcakes alone!
Oh...I should not have eaten that whole cupcake! New promise to self, no cupcakes at mile 14. Although I bet I succumb to the lure of the cupcake, donut, ice my next event that passes by a store that sells these products.
Enjoying Lake Montelbaln. It is a cute lake about mile 18 and like all lakes should be is flat the entire circumference. Sadly the Adirondack Marathon and New Hampshire Marathon violate this physics principal!

Now this is what a finishers medal should look like. Okay maybe not for a marathon, but definitely a 100 miler or 24 hour race! This is taken at my post-race trip to the Art Museum gift shop as I was instructed.
The Baltimore Marathon posted results today; however my name was not listed. This is very disappointing considering I talked to an official about my chip-stick issues. I hope they will post the results. I am sure I am not the only person with this issue as when I tried to get my splits printed there were several others whose times were not posted. I would give the chip stick a "C". It was not that environmentally friendly (it is a plastic disposable sticky item)that clearly has some electronic components). And timing chips can be re-used numerous times.
For those of us who retie our shoes numerous times (this mornings 7 mile run I re-tied both shoes 3 times and had Tristan not hassled me I would have gone for one more time but he wanted us to put some pep in our step)
I really enjoyed my long weekend and today was able to relax a bit. After a morning walk with my mom, Tristan, and Gilligan (after "Fractured Prune" donuts for breakfast); Tristan and I went for a slow jog. Afterwards, Tristan headed to Philadelphia for a concert (Hotel Lights--the former drummer from Ben Folds Five). I walked to Micheals to get some sparkely fabric paint so I could repaint some hydration packs. I have two fanny packs (one silver, one blue) and a backpack (purple). They need to be re-sparklerized about every 10-15 events depending on what happens during the events. My camera, fanny packs and I all hate rain for various reasons; the camera because it makes for poor quality pictures, my sparkely hydration packs because fabric paint loses its luster after getting wet and I just really hate getting wet because I think I might be part cat (well at least I associate with alot of cats so maybe their traits rub off on me!)
It was a beautiful long weekend, sunny and warm every day. It may be our last bit of warmth here. When I leave for Slovenia later this week, Slovenia is supposed to have a high of about 70 degree's and DC is supposed to have a high of 55. Brr...!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Baltimore Marathon (with more pictures) and Issues

With my mom at the start. We had "mother/ daughter" weekend at Baltimore including walking around the Inner Harbor, a trip to the Art Museum and eating seafood at the Inner Harbor
Taking a moment to hang out and relax for a moment...I think these are supposed to be the Blues Brothers. This section of the race being run through little Italy, which smelled really good: like fresh baked bread, Yum!
Hmm...stealing this car seemed like a good time at the moment, until I tried to get in! Well, I guess I had committed to running 26.2 miles not Grand Theft Auto!
With the Chicken man...
The glittery egg by the museum of modern art (is this where my sparkely fanny pack was born??)
The Art Museum is very cute, in fact at mile 14 (where it is located along the course) I chatted briefly with one of the runners because it was a really cute place to run by and a runner gave me the inside scoop, she said I had to go inside just to the Museum Gift Shop...I did after the race with my mom and it did not dissappoint, so if you go to Baltimore definitely put this on your list of Must Do Activities!)
The Baltimore Marathon was very nice. The course was very pretty, the spectators along the side very nice and the historic sites the course passed very inspirational (all of you should remember Fort McHenry of Star Spangled Banner fame).
I ran this race in ~5:20. Sadly my chip did not read so while my suspicion is that it was in fact about 5:19, I will never know; this is a bummer. Initially I had a great deal of trouble with the "strip chip", that was exacerbated by me retying my shoes several times (as my husband has mentioned during our runs, if shoe tying was an olympic sport I would win for quantity during any event). Ultimately I had to reassemble my chip so that it would stick but apparently must have bent the tiny antenae.
My other issue occured at about mile 18 and 20 when the aid station ran out of Gatorade (~18) and the next aid station ran out of water (~20). This brought back bad memories of Disney (no water/beverage for about 8 miles) and Charlottesville (no beverage for the first 10 miles). Each of these events were hot days and as a runner it becomes quite concerning because you don't know when the next fully stocked beverage station. I carry water in my fanny pack but I do not always have it full. The positive of Baltimore is that we were going through neighborhoods with houses and stores so I would have been able (and ultimately willing) to approach someone for help. I noticed my faster friends did not have this problem; however, it seems that it should not be a problem at all particularly since this race has been closed to entry for the past several days so they knew 18,000 of us would be competing in the various events. Out of nearly 50 marathons less than 4 have had beverage issues for me (a runner well ahead of the SAG vehicle).
It was great to see all my friends during this race and because the crowds had thinned to about 200 people in the 5:20-6:00 hour pace group I was sort of running with at times, I was able to meet lots of nice people and was never alone. Because of my picture taking I end up being with various pace groups depending on the number of photo opportunities (as well as bathroom breaks, treat breaks and sightseeing forays off course:-) The course, while hilly, was nothing compared to New Hampshire (or Adirondack now that I think about it). It definitely had hills but I think the clear statements throughout brochures made it clear that this was not a flat course (I think I would suggest they managed our expectations).
And the weather during the race was very nice. Because in my running it is all about my camera, I liked that the day was sunny and bright (my camera does not like clouds, rains or fog). Also by being warm, I did not have to decide if I should take a picture or have warm hands (a problem I faced in the Adirondack Marathon). So I really enjoyed my 26 miles running through Baltimore (and at least 2 extra miles wandering the course aimlessly after I finished).
It is a beautiful city with lots of sights. There were a few sections that were a bit sketchy but I think it gives runners a realistic perspective of the city and provides an appreciation of the sections that are so beautiful. Also, several sections clearly were working on revitalization and hopefully showcasing these portions gives the residents pride their obvious hard work in these efforts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baltimore Marathon

At the Start Line (notice ticker tape parade action)

At Fort Mc Henry enjoying the Inner Harbor
At Mile 13 with my Mom
Purchasing a celebratory Cupcake at "Cake Love", Yum!
At the finish in a time of 5:20, which considering all my pit stops is pretty respectable, right?
This weekend I saw and caught up with many running friends from relatively recent races (less than 6 months ago) as well as runners I have know nearly 4 years.

At the start I ran into some friends I met at the Frederick Marathon (I have no idea their names but it is a father/daughter who were impressed by my lack of running but clear goals of taking lots of pictures). About a mile into the race, I saw a Marathon Maniac with a familiar gait. It was my friend Belinda from Umstead 100. It was a real treat to run into her and we actually ran the better part of 10-15 miles together. I would stop occasionally and lose her but ultimately I would catch up. She was pacing herself because she had the Steamtown Marathon tommorrow (insane, eh?). Another real treat for me was running into my friend Elvia and Lisa from the Niagara Ultra in 2006 (my first time at the Niagara Ultra). At about mile 8 I heard "is that you Tammy?" and looked around and it was my friends from Niagara Ultra. We had run the better part of 30 miles together that year. That was my best time at the Niagara Ultra when I came in 6:58, back when I did not realize they had an early start option and were pretty lenient about finishing on time. We ran several miles together during the race and after I finished, I walked the course backwards and found them and ran/jogged/walked about half a mile with them.

It was a great day for a race and I really had a great time. I will write more tommorrow but let me just give you a bit of advice: a Peanut Butter Iced Chocolate Cupcake from "Cake Love" at mile 14 might not be the best idea:-)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Hampshire Marathon more photos and memories

Enjoying a gatorade along the course around Newfound is a very pretty course and was a lovely day

At the Newfound Lake lighthouse, I am a bit puzzled why such a small lake needs a lighthouse but it is really cute!
Enjoying some time with my new friends at the Hebron Village General Store, they took several more pictures as I completed the race and I chatted with them briefly after finishing...they suggested I should get an award for having the best time during the race:-) A self picture with a Donkey along the course, he was really sweet and I got to pet him for a few minutes and feed him some grass

A self portrait at sculptured rocks (the second time through...I could not find any hikers to do this)
New Hampshire Marathon is a delightful small marathon. This year was my second time running this race and it definitely will be on my list again in the future. It is small and personal. The start at the Bristol school is convenient, has lots of real bathrooms and even shower facilities (although I did not make use of them).
The folks along the course are very cheerful and enthusiastic. Having water stations every 2 miles ensures the runners have cheering crowds at regular intervals. The race director shaking all finishers hands and giving the finishers medal is also a very nice touch.
The volunteers manning the aid stations are really impressed with the runners and act excited to see each runner arrive. At almost all the aid stations I felt like I was coming home, they were warm, welcoming and cheerful (even the aid station that was in a wind tunnel about mile 14/18).
Of course the beautiful course really adds to this experience. Leaves approaching peak, beautiful scenes including lakes, streams and reflections of the tree's along these water bodies were just spectacular. And the cliffs into the lake along the back section of the course form an impressive backdrop. I probably spent 10% of the race running backwards appreciating the views both coming and going (which always give a different and unique perspective).
And of course meeting new friends and catching up with others is typically difficult in larger marathons, but when you are one of 500 starters and 150 marathoners it is fairly easy to do.
I run marathons to enjoy scenery, get fit and meet other friendly runners. This marathon really enables me to fulfill all of these goals.
My next endeavor is the Baltimore Marathon this weekend. I may be able to post a bit about our New Hampshire Vacation. It was really alot of fun and we probably packed many activities in only 4 action packed days. The weather was a bummer (it rained a portion of at least 3 out of 4 days there), but we went on many hikes. Tristan climbed a ridge he had not previously done (which had 6 inches of snow about 4,000 feet above sea level). We went to Franconia Falls (which we had never been to...and we were lucky that because of all the rain it was quite full). We had a really great time on our trip.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Hampshire Marathon Recap

Tammy and Dorothy, my friend from the 24 hour race in 2007 at the Starting line

Spooktators along the course
Taking a moment at Hebron Village
Tammy at Sculptured Rocks

Tammy and Erika the cat at the finish line

The New Hampshire Marathon is a great marathon! It is beautiful, has numerous aid stations along the course and has many very nice and enthusiastic volunteers. I unfortunately forgot about the massive hills. In fact the day before the marathon as Tristan and I drove past the Newfound Lake exit off I-93, Tristan mentioned he had read the review of the marathon and it apparantly is the toughest marathon in New England. Somehow I conveniently forgot how hilly it was. I commented to Tristan it was a little late to mention this as my check had cleared in January!

The coures is quite hilly. All along the 26 miles runners do spend alot of time going up or going down. But it is so pretty that I have almost already forgot about the hills only 4 days later (oh and the hiking in the White Mountains probably also diminished my memory of the hills).

Tristan and I flew Southwest to New Hampshire early Friday morning (BWI to Manchester for $ is good). We drove to the White Mountains and went for a hike to Bridal Veil Falls. It rained much of our hike. The waterfall was very full (as were all the waterfalls we went to through our long weekend) which was nice and we even met a cute small female Bernese Mountain Dog. After our hike we went to our cabin, checked in and then headed out for dinner. We decided the Woodstock Inn (which brews it's own beer and root beer) would be interesting. The rootbeer was really good. After our meal we headed to bed so we could get up early Saturday when I was running and Tristan was hiking the Franconia Ridge.

We got up about 6:30 (although only so I could drop Tristan off at the base of Flume Mt.) and I would have adequate time to get to the race. Because of using Drymax socks I no longer use half a bottle of glide on my feet which saves me time and $$. The race again started at a very reasonable 9 a.m. however we were at a hotel closer to the White Mountains rather than the lakes region. I arrived at the race location about 7:40, I picked up my packet and strolled around. My first interaction was with the Quick Bunny (pictured above). I am not sure what distance he was running but suspect he was doing the 10 km run or 2 mile fun walk. I got my first picture of the day posing with him. While I waited for the race I ran into many folks I knew from the Marathon Maniacs as well as the 50 States Club. I chatted with Paula from 50 states. And then I ran into my friend Dorothy from the 24 hour race at Wakefield, MA in 2007. Dorothy graciously lent me a bed in her room and the use of her bathroom in 2007 when Tristan had abandoned me at the race to go hiking in the White Mountains. I had run with her for a few miles at the B&A trail marathon in March 2008 but hadn't seen her since. It was great to catch up briefly!

Soon enough it was time for the start. After the runners were sent off, I jogged along and started my picture taking. It was a beautiful day and a lovely course. And I knew a fair number of runners and met a bunch of new runners. I told everyone in my pace group (4:30 or slower) that it was well worth the extra 5 minutes or so to detour to sculptured rocks. A little past the turn around point I ran into several folks who commented that they really thought the rocks were very pretty. Others mentioned they would drive the course after to see it. I hope they did because it is a very pretty little gorge!

The course starts by going up a hill. At the crest of the hill (about 1.5 miles later) you get the first view of the lake. It is very big and we circle it! During the first 3 miles the course was moderately crowded because there is a concurrent 10km race. After 3 miles I would guess only 25% of the runners remained. From this point on I ran the majority of the race alone. I was moderately near about 10 runners but tended to lose folks when I took pictures then caught up only to lose them again when I took more pictures. I ran into a nice gentleman from Southwestern VA, I ran into several fairly new runners, and I ran with three young ladies and one's mom who were on their first marathon on were sponsored by a restuarant they worked at. They really amused me because they were reciting the menu along the course (I think they were trying to generate some business because of being sponsored...they had shirts and everything:-). They made me hungry, particularly when they talked about mashed potatoes...I love mashed potatoes, especially after a race.

Continuing on the course I took lots of pictures. The fall folliage was getting close to peak and we passed lots of pretty views. I stopped briefly at the Hebron Village, then continued along the out and back. I really liked this section because I could cheer on other runners. During this 4 mile out and back I saw lots of friends. It was nice to see so many familiar faces. I also paid attention and saw some of my animal friends from last year. There was a donkey, some small horses, goats, lots of horses and turkeys. In this section we run along a pretty stream. This stream is what sculptured rocks was formed by. I was very excited to see it. I did take the slight detour on both the out and back to appreciate it.

A few more beautiful miles and the end was near. I finished in about 5:40 which I was very pleased with. At the finish, the race director shook my hand (as he does for all finishers), I grabbed a few munchkins and some pizza and cheered on the later finishers. As I was walking the course I noticed a cat who I met (stitch). I learned Stitch has a friend Erika. A few minutes later I stumbled on Erika (whom you can see above..she was a really sweet cat and sat in my lap for about 30 minutes...which did not help in my warm down but made me happy).

I will write up a bit more tommorrow (I hope) and include some more pictures.