Gettysburg Blue Gray Half Marathon Race Report

It wasn’t my fastest race ever, but I finished it! I at least met my goal of finishing in under 2:10, squeaking by with a 2:07:?? (I don’t remember the seconds, it’s not like it was a PR or anything).

Ready to go before the race!

Finishing the race. Apparently I was distracted. I wanted to post a hilarious picture of me taken by the race photographer at mile 12 looking like I’m about to die but it won’t let me link to itūüė¶

Overall, my impression of the race was good. The race didn’t have a lot of frills – no food/gels¬†on the course (great food afterwards!), very few “extras” given out – but for $60, I wasn’t really expecting too much. Besides, the shirt was fairly nice (unfortunately I don’t have a picture, and it’s dirty, but it’s a long sleeve tech tee), the medals are pretty cool, and, because the “North” won, I got a free coffee mug! Yes – you read that right – the race allows you to pick whether you are running for the North or the South, and then whichever side wins gets free coffee mugs! This was actually one of the number one reasons I signed up for this race.

I would say the only thing I did not like about the race (of factors that could be controlled) was its location. Rather than being in a historic area or taking complete advantage of the countryside, it was about 1/3 on country roads, 1/3 in random residential areas, and 1/3 on a busy road where we had to run nearly single file on. Ok, maybe less than 1/3 was like that, but it was still annoying. On the plus side, the race course was easy to follow because it was essentially a rectangle, and, for once, it was described as rolling hills, and was actually a course of several small, rolling hills rather than random mini-mountains.

I really have no complaints other than the weather – while warm and sunny, it was INCREDIBLY windy, but they obviously had no control over that. They actually handled it well – apparently the timing device blew over during the 5K and they still managed to only miss a few times using that method (they used photos to provide those individuals with times). It was certainly still better than in the dark, freezing rain, like my last half marathon in October.

By the way, my absolute favorite thing about the race:

Yes, that is a reenactor shooting off the starting gun.

“Wellness” Screening

I’m going to be SO HAPPY when I am no longer working 40 hours a week, taking a graduate level math course, and teaching a new course for the first time. Oh, and also training for a half marathon (side note: very glad I did not decide to train for my first marathon this fall…) I think I’m going to sleep the whole month of December.

THIS is what my business level at work is doing to my activity level, by the way:

I didn’t change elevation (well, except in an elevator, which doesn’t count for the fitbit) from 8-5.

Each year for my health insurance, I have to have a “wellness” screening. Basically, they determine if you are healthy or not, and then if you aren’t, they call and harass you. It’s very important to do this, however, as it cuts the cost of your insurance premium by more than 50%. Yes, that is right, you literally pay more than twice as much for your health insurance if you don’t go get some blood taken…even if you don’t cost the company less (note: my husband has an incredibly expensive chronic health condition and gets the same discount as I do… I haven’t been to a doctor except for contraceptive purposes in 2 years). I didn’t design this system, ok?

Anyway, today at work I had my screening (at least there is a convenient, free screening held at work…). It was fairly uneventful, except my hands were so cold they hand trouble getting blood out of my finger. By the way it was 75 degrees and I was wearing a wool sweater and pants. I’m apparently a popsicle.

I must say I was fairly surprised by some of these results, though:

  • Total cholesterol: 251
  • HDL: 77
  • Non-HDL: 174
  • Total/HDL: 3.3
  • Glucose: 74
  • Height: 5’4″‘
  • Weight: 141
  • BMI: 24.2
  • BP: 124/82

Ok, so the slightly high blood pressure is not surprising. Considering the workload I just described plus the second round of my two separate sets of jobs interviews, I’m surprised it’s not higher. It’s borderline, so unless it comes up again I probably won’t worry about it.

The cholesterol is a little baffling to me. My “good” cholesterol is like, twice as high as the target (which is a good thing). My cholesterol ratio (total/HDL) is also fantastic (apparently needs to be less than 5). However, the non-HDL is still very high. Not really sure what to do about that. I already exercise a ton and eat a like 90% vegetarian diet. Cut out the nightly ice cream I guess? Does ice cream even have a lot of cholesterol?!

The final thing: the BMI. First of all, they stole an inch of height from me. I’m between 5’4″ and 5’5″ to be fair, but I usually get measured as the latter, and the nurse looked at my height, went to write it down, made a face, looked up again, then wrote down the shorter measurement. That just isn’t fair! I’d also be very concerned about my weight/BMI but I am about 90% positive their scale was off. I know I have gained about 5 lbs and up to an inch on my waist…but this weight/height puts me at only 5 lbs from being overweight. I will note that today I was wearing size 4 pants that were too big. I accept that I have gained weight, but that measurement is just absurd (note: not that there is anything wrong with being my height/weight, it’s just that I’m fairly certain it’s not physically possible given my measurements unless I have a ton of secret muscle mass – the impossibility of it is absurd, not the BMI itself inherently).

The nurse very helpfully gave me a pamphlet and told me some numbers were outside the desirable range. The pamphlet advised me to exercise more. Ok, I’ll do that in between biking to and from work and running over 20 miles per week… at least I get to save money?

“Positive” Splits

In running, the term “negative splits” refers to running each mile (or whatever measurement your “split” is, i.e. 400m) faster than the previous mile. It isn’t necessarily a “good” or ¬†“bad” thing to do this – it’s just one workout method.

Lately, however, I haven’t felt very “positive” about my splits – I start out great, at a pace I am more used to running, especially now that it is fall, and then apparently I just can’t keep it up.

These are screenshots of the splits from some of my 3-5 mile runs over the last 2 weeks. As you can see, I start out great, sometimes running less than 9:00/mile for the first mile…and then I apparently just can’t keep up the pace. I just get slower and slower and slower (or, I go fast then slow then fast then slow). I know that I’m not really THAT slow, but in comparison to my running abilities at this time last year, it is difficult to see that going out at an 8:45/mile pace is “too fast” –¬†I’ve run entire half marathons at a faster pace!!!

I’m really trying to figure out why it is that I am struggling so much with running lately. I’ve been working out 5 days a week, even making sure to get 12,000 steps on rest days. I haven’t lost weight but I also haven’t gained weight, so I think I am eating an appropriate amount. The only thing I can really think of is that I am running after work, and am therefore worn out by the time I go running. I *might* be switching to morning runs for the fall/winter, though, so we will have to see if that helps.

In an attempt to stay positive despite my apparently declining running abilities, here are a some positive things that have happened over the last week:

  • Yesterday, Kris and I went to bike around Gettysburg. We went at the beginning of the summer, and at that time, we had to stop and walk up several hills and completely skipped little round top (it is a very hilly route compared to anything else we ride). Yesterday, we rode up not just little round top, but also big round top (one right after the other). I am happy to report that we walked up none of the hills, in fact!

Side note: The fitbit thinks hills are stairs. It thinks I climbed over 80 flights of stairs yesterday, and that I climbed 25 of them in 15 minutes.

  • PUMPKIN!! It’s everywhere. I am so happy. I might have bought both pumpkin M&M’s and pumpkin bagels today.
  • Pants! I found some pants! That fit over my thighs! I got a pair of skinny ankle length dress pants at JCP, and a pair of normal pants on clearance at Banana Republic. Now I won’t freeze (as much). Still haven’t found fleece lined tights, though…

Bike Commuting Updates!

Sorry for the lack of posting… I’ve been pretty busy with my classes, traveling, and the stress of having TWO (internal) job interviews next week. Eek!

On Monday morning, I woke to find that my regular commuter bike (my Specialized Vita that I bought last summer) had a flat tire. And not just flat – completely flat! I had to be at work in 20 minutes, and the bike also needs a light battery and the brakes replaced, so I decided to instead throw my things in a backpack and commute on the old Peugot I just bought and got fixed up.

Well, I ended up commuting on the Peugot all week. And then today I went and bought a rack and tail light for it. I think I’m going to change to using it as my regular commuter and stick with using my commuter bike as my bike for things like rail trails. Ironically, I bought them originally for the exact opposite purposes. The Peugot was, after all, bought so that I could keep up with my husband on the trails, but he now concedes a hybrid would probably be better for him for such rides and he will probably get one in the spring. That is if I don’t convince him we need to sell off the bikes we own and buy cross bikes¬†by then :p

Overall, the stuff I bought for the Peugot is pretty cool!

I ended up getting a very nice Blackburn rack. It is about 1000% nicer than the crappy rack I bought online for like, $20 last summer. That rack will still work well for carrying things while on short rides, but this one is super light, super durable, and will be much more sturdy for carrying all my shit to work (especially if I get one of these jobs I’m interviewing for and have to add a friggin laptop to my ever increasing stuff…do you think anyone would notice if I just started keeping a dresser in my cube?). Too bad it didn’t come with a vintage Blackburn rack like Kris’s did when I bought it off craigslist – that thing is worth like at least half of what I paid for the bike, and is still going strong after probably 30 years on the back of that bike!

Side note: that rack was a huge pain to install. I must have terrible luck with rack installation. Last year, when installing a rack on my Specialized Vita, I realized the pieces that attach to the seat stays weren’t long enough to reach the actual seat stays, and had to attach the rack to the seat post. This time, I had to manuever around a reflector that these French bike manufacturers somehow decided you cannot remove, as they integrated it into the brakes! Just look at this!!!!

I’m feeling incredibly grumpy about this, if you can’t tell.

THEN, on top of the reflector thing, I had a terrible time actually tightening the bolts that hold the rack on. One of them is still only like 80% tightened (the rack is still pretty stable, but I will need to fix it). The problem is that you cannot hand tighten the nuts to the bolts, so you have to use an adjustable wrench or something, and the only one I have is truly too large to put into the area between the seat stays (fyi, the seat stays are where the rack is attached by those little black clips). Also, the thing I used to attach the rack to the seat stays had to be held together with pliers to get the bolt to go through! At this point, I wish I would have paid for installation at the store, because I didn’t get a chance to fix flats on the other two bikes or install my light on this one, but the store was closing by the time I checked out. Also, I guess in retrospect the bike wasn’t with me. But still.

At least Misty “helped” by stealing a piece and kicking it all around the dining room.

Ok, enough negativity about the rack. Now that it’s installed, I am sure it will be great, and I got other exciting things! I bought a very nice taillight – it is so bright it hurts my eyes, and it is USB rechargeable. Therefore, I never have to worry about the battery dying, as long as I plug it into my computer once a month or so (the run time on a charge is like 100 hours). I am still looking for a headlight, though – the ones at the bike shop didn’t seem much different than the one I already have, but they were like twice the price! Note: nothing else at my bike shop is overpriced.¬†Most things are cheaper (or at least the same price) there than they are on the internet. I was very perplexed.

Also, I got pretty much the best thing ever: a reflective raincoat. I pretty much always shy away from riding in the rain, but there is no excuse now (husband already has reflective raincoat). This was only $25 at TJ Maxx. Side note: I was supposed to be buying slacks, black flats, and a new belt today, and this and a pair of running tights *might* have been the only clothing I bought. This is because I forgot about the belt, didn’t find shoes, and slacks are the worst invention ever. How can pants simultaneously be way too big and way too small?! I thought that by becoming skinny, this problem would disappear, but I swear it has actually become far worse.

Funny enough, I could have used a raincoat this morning. Eight miles in the rain was on my running schedule for today! Luckily it went relatively well – I was able to run without feeling sick to my stomach or at the pace of a turtle for the first time in a long time!

Biking Alone

Kris and I had a fairly relaxing Labor Day weekend – much needed, since we will probably be out of town at least 2, and possibly 3, weekends in September!

Highlights of the weekend: we found a new sushi place (not that there was anything wrong with the old one, just always nice to find additional good ones)… and we finally bought a bike rack for our car! Since I haven’t been blogging much this summer, you readers are probably not aware of how truly awesome this development is. You see, Kris and I had been attempting to shove the two bikes into the back of our SUV; this often led to HUGE arguments about bikes hitting into each other/grease getting on the carpet; bike parts potentially cutting the leather. I had been putting off the purchase though because holy cow a legit bike rack is expensive. The good news: we installed them this morning without any arguments. The bad news: we haven’t actually tried to attach a bicycle to one of these yet. The weird news: if the sunroof cover (not the actual sunroof) is open, we can hear them make a whistling noise while driving.

We had to attach them backwards so they wouldn’t hit the hatch door when it’s open.


We didn’t get a chance to use the rack because Kris and I actually did not get to biking together this weekend. Yesterday, it was oppressively hot and humid; we couldn’t fathom installing the racks, let alone taking the bikes anywhere and riding them. Today, Kris’s arm was hurting when he woke up. He biked downtown with me (where we went mini-golfing!) but decided against doing a longer ride. This meant I had to go by myself!

For some reason, going on longerish rides by myself seems particularly difficult to me – almost like it’s not even an option. I always feel like if Kris can’t bike for some reason, this means that biking is just out for the weekend. A couple of weeks ago, I had done a ride by myself because he was sick, and it felt just as odd. I usually can’t bring myself to go more than 10-12 miles and I feel incredibly nervous the whole time.¬†

I really do not understand this particular issue. I commute all by myself (in the city! a city with no bike lanes!) every day and took rides of 10-12 miles with no issues at all when I lived in Indiana. I even feel guilty about how much faster Kris is at cycling than me that I slow him down when we bike together, so theoretically I should be out working harder so that I can get better at cycling and not hold him back so much and I should be happy to be doing that because it means I am not worrying about whether I am holding him back. For some reason, though, I absolutely dread going out on these solo rides.

Possible reasons:

  • I get lost easily. I know my way to work, and in Lafayette I usually only rode on trails I regularly ran, but driving to a rail trail or going out on the trail that surrounds my city are slightly unfamiliar. This is a somewhat legitimate concern; I missed a turn and took a wrong on my route today, but I had a GPS with me the entire time and immediately realized I was wrong in both instances (i.e. I wasn’t so oblivious that I continued in the wrong direction for miles).
  • Fear of getting in a wreck. I did wreck my bike a few weeks ago, and today I almost got run over by a car due to a careless mistake (Kris went through a light, so I assumed it was still green for me without checking – it wasn’t). There isn’t really anywhere nearby where I can completely avoid roads, and even on a rail-trail I’d have to deal with potholes and debris, but I don’t know why this would make me dread long rides when it doesn’t make me dread my commute (where I regularly have to blindly pass buses).
  • Not being comfortable on my new bike. I think this is part of it – I did recently get my old road bike completely fixed up and have been forcing myself to ride it around more. I’m not 100% comfortable with shifting the gears or going super fast on it yet, but again, this should be something that is easier for me to deal with on solo rides – I always feel a lot of anxiety about not being skilled at riding around Kris, so I should be happy for the opportunity to practice in private.¬†
  • Boredom. I have never taken a ride more than like, 12 miles, by myself. Additionally, when Kris and I take long rides, it is more for us to do something fun together than for fitness. Maybe I just dread the rides because I have to out alone in the afternoon sun and not talk to anyone for like, an hour. Then again, I do that with running all the time, and I’m not actually usually bored on the bike, so who knows?

Hopefully I figure this out – maybe I should just force myself to go on a solo 20 or 30 mile ride just so that I get over it. Exposure to things that worry me always helps!


FitBit Week 1 – “HOLD ME CHELSEA”

Sorry I’m about a day late with this post – I was busy running 4 miles in the 88 degree 90000000% humidity last night. But I have a lot to say about my first week with my FitBit, so I wanted to make sure I posted my experience, even if it is a whole day late (to be excused during the first week of the semester, right??)

The good:

  • Still mostly the data. I love seeing all the data!
  • Seeing how many steps I really do take. I am a lot more active than I expected, especially with this new office job. I have been walking over the 10,000 step goal almost every day (did not meet goal on Monday rest day). I walked over 50 miles in the last week!¬†This could also be bad, though, because¬†always feel like I’m bragging when I talk about it at work. Like, someone will be like “I took 9,000 steps yesterday!” and someone else will be like “Wow, that’s so many! Way more than I took!” and I’m just hiding in my cube¬†trying not to bring up that I took 22,000 steps like an asshole.
  • The ease of syncing (although more on this later….). Overall it works super well with MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. I still think it’s calorie count is a little high for me, but we will see. I am trying to lose that five lbs I gained anyway, so if I keep “undereating” like the FitBit thinks I am that should not be a problem; if the FitBit is overestimating, I should at least not GAIN weight. At least it will be an interesting experiment!
  • The alarm. I’m very surprised how much a silent vibrating alarm can wake you up. Also, I have been able to get up earlier than Kris while being somewhat less disturbing to his sleep (I’m still loud and clumsy, but at least there isn’t an alarm on top of all my noise!).

The bad:

  • I am not a particularly huge fan of how it can be difficult to separate which activities you were doing at a particular time. Like, when did my walk with Belle start and end? All I see is the number of steps I took in each 15 minute interval.
  • Sometimes, despite the ease of syncing, the graphs on my phone will not update to reflect the numbers on my actual dashboard.
  • Can’t brag about my millions of steps, as already mentionedūüė•
  • I really wish it had a heart rate monitor, although I doubt I’d wear it anyway (main reason I haven’t shelled out money for a new GPS watch – I never use that very expensive part of it anyway).

The just plain confusing:

  • The greetings.
  • I’m still perplexed by the flower. I never know why it is big or small at any given time.

Fun story related to the greetings: the other day, I was having trouble getting my FitBit to sync to my phone. I was trying everything – restarting my phone, attempting to figure out how to restart the FitBit (side note: this fixed it), moving the FitBit closer to my phone, cycling through all of the screens, etc. Every time I set it down and picked it back up all it would say was “HOLD ME CHELSEA.” Kris and I are convinced this thing is my overly attached girlfriend. I mean, I should have known, it watches me sleep. By the way, when it started working again, it started saying normal things like “WOOT! CHELSEA.” Ok, maybe just normal in comparison to “hold me/hug me.”

Now, on to some fun screenshots!

There are two large green areas – first is a walk with Belle, the second is a 3 mile run. I think it’s interesting the dog walk is almost as intense!

I sleep pretty well and at pretty consistent times, I’d say. Please note the large pink area at 2:30 in the morning last night when some neighbors decided it was appropriate to argue in the middle of the streetūüė° On a lighter note, you can see where I forgot to turn it off of sleep mode when I woke up Wednesday morning.

Here is why you use appropriate axis on graphs. Monday looks ridiculously low compared to the other days. Per the FitBit, I still burnt over 2,000 calories!

Long Run and Kitchen Issues

I haven’t run a race ALL year – first, I had to cancel my plans to run a 10 mile race to go visit my ill grandfather (don’t worry, he’s back to 100%); then, I cancelled my plans to run the same half marathon I ran last June because Kris and I were going to do one of the bike tours instead, but for some reason that I can’t remember right now, we didn’t; then, I was just going to do a short 5K…and then found out we were planning to be out of town AGAIN (to see Kris’s extended family for the 1st time in a year). So now, I’m planning to run a half marathon in October, but obviously I am not in my peak running condition, here. I’m back to using Hal Higdon’s Novice II plan to train (what I used the very first time I ran a half).

Yesterday, I woke up excited to run my 6 miles. I saw the high was going to be in the low 70s and that it was supposed to be sporadically rainy, so I figured the weather would be great (cool and not too humid, and I could probably sneak in the run between rain showers). I must not have been stretching or something, though, because almost¬†the entire time, something in my legs felt tight, and by the time everything went back to normal in terms of tightness, I was just sweaty and miserable. I ran at a 10:00 pace, which is TERRIBLE for 6 miles for me – despite my general slacking on running, I’ve been regularly running 7-9 miles for my long runs with 10:00 being my slowest pace pretty much all summer.

I’m sure it was just an artifact of postponing my Thursday run until Friday night after work, not stretching, and then going out again the next morning for my long run, but I still had one pretty major concern. When I first started out, my right ankle felt really tight. I’ve been having some minor issues with it since I wrecked my bike a few weeks ago (slipped on loose gravel and skinned my knee – the bike and I were well enough to bike 4 miles home), but I can’t decide whether I should go to the doctor or not. When I first wrecked the bike, I think I like smooshed the area (my lower tibia, right above my ankle)¬†or something, because it hurt enough that I decided to take a whole week off running after the wreck. It seemed to get better, though – I had promised Kris I would go to the doctor if it didn’t start to improve after 2-3 days, and every day it did legitimately feel better. It was never swollen, and the only sign of injury was a small bruise that appeared out of nowhere 2 weeks later and only lasted a couple of days.

The issue, though, is that it still hurts if I touch it. It doesn’t hurt to walk or run on it – even yesterday, it didn’t hurt, it just felt like I needed to stretch it out – ¬†and it never hurts badly, but if I poke the affected area, it is still a bit sensitive, even though it’s been¬†nearly a month. It’s one of those things I do have mild concern about but I feel like it would be a giant pain in the ass to take off work, go to the doctor, have them refer me to another doctor, just for them to tell me that there is nothing wrong. Ok, maybe that isn’t the real reason –¬†I have good insurance, and like, a week of sick time, so this is a really lame excuse, this wouldn’t even cost me any money or be that big of an inconvenience. I think I’m mostly afraid if I ask a doctor about it they will think I am silly for even considering there might be a problem. It’s probably something I just need to get over and go ask about (side note: this fear stems from a terrible doctor I had in high school who would dismiss all my medical concerns as fabricated and literally laughed at me on multiple occasions; I haven’t seen this man in like 10 years but it’s still a huge issue for me).

Now on to the kitchen issues. Lately, for some reason, I have been having MAJOR kitchen organization issues. My mom keeps buying me tons of Tupperware, and I myself keep buying new gadgets, and I do not have room for any of this shit in my teeny tiny kitchen with cupboards that have only one shelf. My solution had been to just pretty much leave things laying on the dining room table, but we were having a board game day with some friends yesterday and we weren’t sure whether we were going to their house or they were coming to ours, and I had to clean up this mess because apparently you need a table to play board games on. I ended up throwing things into random cupboards or putting them into the storage area we have on our enclosed back porch…yeah, right beside the lawnmower. Very sanitary. I have no idea how to fix this organization problem, either. There are no more cupboards and all the places I have to keep this stuff (the backporch and the basement) are not very sanitary or good for things like appliances because moisture can get in. I’ve been trying to hold off on buying a standalone pantry or something because we are probably going to move out of this place in like, less than a year, but trying to deal with this yesterday was incredibly frustrating.¬†

Now, on to a couple of more lighthearted kitchen issues. After my long run yesterday, I¬†came home and decided to make homemade strombolis. Sorry for the lack of stromboli pictures; I was far too hungry to stop and take a picture of them before eating. A few weeks ago, I had bought a new “spice rack” for my kitchen. A key kitchen organization issue was that¬†the area that the spices was in was taken over by other food, and the spices slowly migrated to the top of my microwave, where they were always getting knocked over by the cat (or, more likely, by me because I’m clumsy and the plates are in the cupboard right above the microwave). I decided to buy a small shelf I could hang on the wall over my stove, and found the perfect one at a yard sale for $2!¬†

Well, I hadn’t had any problems with it until yesterday when I made these strombolis. As far as I knew, the oven in my gas stove vents through the rear right burner. None of the burners are directly below this shelf, and cooking has not seemed to affect the spices, so I didn’t think baking would either. This morning I came down and noticed that the chili powder was falling over in the rack. I picked it up, and saw that it, and several other spices, were completely warped! Upon further examination, my oven has a vent directly below this rack, so when I was baking the strombolis it melted the spices. Luckily, this thing is just hung on a couple of nails and can easily be lifted off while baking, but I can’t believe I melted like half my spices!

The label even fell off!

One final kitchen organization problem. I promise, this really is the last! I also went grocery shopping yesterday (wow, now I am sounding like I was really productive!). I’m not sure if it was the peanut butter recall or what, but the peanut butter I normally buy (which is NOT on the recall) was LESS THAN HALF PRICE. Seriously, it $1.21. Kris encouraged me to be a rational person because we already had some at home, so I only bought two, but I still don’t really have enough room for all this peanut butter. Is there such a thing as too much peanut butter?

Note: this is where I used to keep the spices, if you were wondering why I ran out of room for them.