Friend Makin’ Monday

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

This or That? 

1.  Meat and potatoes or pasta?  Pasta. I also like meat and potatoes, but I feel like I can have more variety with pasta. I also know that I tend to eat pasta more frequently.

2.  Do you prefer Apple or Android? Honestly, there probably isn’t that big of a difference anymore, but I have always had Android phones. They always just worked out better for me.

3.  Do you kiss and tell, or do you keep it private?  I’m married, so I don’t think it matters. NEWS FLASH!! Sometimes I kiss my husband!

4. If you had to choose one, would you choose Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook – I barely use Twitter, and I’m only recently going through a phase where I have been using it a lot. It’s ok. I like to be able to fully comment on things, so I much prefer Facebook.

5.  Christmas or Valentine’s Day?  Christmas. Valentine’s Day is boring. Neither Kris nor I care about it much and we usually aren’t even together for it. I like Christmas because I like cold weather and all the food and decorations and spending time with family.

6.  If you joined a band, would you prefer to do vocals or play an instrument?  Probably vocals, because I don’t play any band appropriate instruments – just the flute. I tried to play guitar but my hands were too small.

7.  Hot weather or cold weather?  I much prefer cold weather. I’m not the biggest fan of driving in the snow or walking in slush, but I like being able to layer up my clothes and wrap up in blankets and drink tea all day. I hate laying around sweating and being miserable while running because it is 90 degrees and I can only run 10 minute miles.

8.  Calorie counting or tracking points? I do calorie counting personally. I only chose it because it is free and WW costs money, though. I think both systems work equally well and I can see the benefit of WW because of the support groups.

9.  Yoga or kickboxing?  Neither? I’m not relaxed enough for yoga and I don’t know enough about kickboxing to have an opinion. I guess I like foam rolling, which is sort of like yoga?

10.  East Coast or West Coast?  I’m from the East Coast, so I should probably pick it out of pride or something. Also, I’ve never actually been to the west coast – the furthest west I’ve been is Vegas! I would love to visit the Pacific Northwest someday though after hearing all kinds of great things about it.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions!  Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments!  Happy Monday, friends!

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Heritage Trail Race Photos

Just a mini-update to add a couple of photos from my race.

Starting out! It looks REALLY dark here but it just looks that way because it was dawn and cloudy. It wasn’t exactly bright, but we could see. I’m the one in the apparently super-reflective clothes, namely the orange hat.

 

Finishing up! I’m glad they took this from far away – I was so muddy I was almost embarrassed to see the photo. My official chip time was 1:21:06 – we started 20 minutes after the marathoners. I would like to note that the route is actually closer to 7 than 6.55 miles (though that is a still a REALLY slow time due to the mud).

By the way – one more thing. I redact my misgivings about Planet Adventure that I voiced yesterday. I can no longer find that “horror story” I read, so maybe I dreamed about it. They also had all of the results and these photos (for free!) up on their website before I went to bed last night! Amazing!

Wabash Heritage Trail Quarter Marathon Race Report

Holy cow is that title a mouthful!

Before I begin with the long description, I guess I should tell you that it ended up going ok! I came in 6th out of the ladies (22nd out of 51, so I was at least in the top half) with a time of 1:21:06. Keep in mind that the quarter marathon was more like 7 miles than 6.5, by the way. The rain really slowed me down, but it slowed down EVERYONE.

I did trip SEVERAL times, but it only counts if you fall down into the mud, right?

As I’ve been mentioning for the last few days, I was REALLY nervous about this race. I’ve never done a trail race, and especially not one in the rain. I wasn’t quite sure how things would turn out and was even considering not doing the race. After seeing the bright orange shirts, though, I figured I should probably complete the race so that I could wear it. Also, since I was running it with a friend, I figured I shouldn’t make her go alone.

I tried to calm myself down by making sure I was fully prepped for the race. Last night, I packed a bag with a complete change of clothes, a towel, and my water bottle and laid out everything I was wearing for the race.  I’m glad I did this last night because I realized I had no safety pins and had time to go pick some up (By the way, did you know Target has a sewing section? Because that is where they keep the safety pins, FYI). I decided to wear running tights (so as to not scratch up my legs in the woods again), my favorite running shirt, and my running hat. I typically break out my expensive Balega socks for races, but opted not to this time so that I would not ruin them in the mud. I got a plastic bag to put my car keys in (there is a small zipper pocket in my tights for keys) and charged up my GPS watch. I figured that even if I can’t import from it right now, it would be the better option than my phone in the rain.

When I woke up this morning, it was POURING and still dark outside. A quick look at weather.com showed me that the rain was expected to end around 8:15 AM, though, which was good because my race was starting around 8:20. I figured the worst case scenario was light rain rather than the downpour we were currently having. I opted to wear a raincoat over my attire just in case. I was glad I made this decision – I wound up leaving it in the car, but it was able to keep me dry until the rain finally did stop. My hat also prevented my glasses from getting wet, thank goodness! The dark and rain did cause one problem I didn’t expect – parking was kind of a nightmare! They didn’t have enough space at the park where the race was starting for everyone to park, but they were trying to cram as many people in as possible in. I was afraid my car, which has quite pathetic skills when it comes to dealing with rough terrain, would get stuck in the mud if I parked in the grass where others were parking, though, and went to park on the “city streets,” as the race website had encouraged people to do. Battle Ground, IN is about the size of my hometown (read: there isn’t even a gas station), though, so finding on street parking was mildly difficult – not because there were a lot of cars, but because the streets don’t have space for people to park! Plus, it was dark and rainy and I could hardly see where I was going. It was quite unpleasant.

Now, the race was put on by Planet Adventure, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They promised all kinds of race support on their website, which seemed very thorough, but I have heard horror stories (I think I read a story on Reddit once where PA took everyone’s money but then canceled a race and didn’t tell anyone, but I am sure there has to be more to that story). I had only 2 minor complaints, though. The first is that the stuff they gave out is VERY branded. That is not THAT bad, though, as the stuff is pretty cute and I learned at the race that this is sort of one of their “big” events (it was the first trail event they ever did as a company, I think they said) so I am ok with them wanting to brag themselves up. The second complaint is that when I arrived, I noticed a Miller tent. Now, I always hear about these other people running races with beer, but I’ve never been to one, so I was pretty excited, even if it was gross Miller -I’ll take pretty much any free beer! When I got to the finish line, though, no beer was to be found. The only thing at the tent was bottled water. I’m not sure if they were saving beer for the full/half marathoners or if there was just no beer but they had to break out that tent due to the rain. Either way, I don’t consider it a major problem with the race because they never promised beer in the first place, and they did have all of the other support that they promised, such as water/powerade/trail mix stops pretty much every couple miles and great snacks like chocolate milk and bananas at the end (and also for some reason tiny potatoes?).

Bathroom selfie with my race swag. Sorry it is so blurry!

Close-up of the medal. Again, apologies – I am not a photographer. I tried to get River to model it but it was too big for her really and you can’t see it well in the photo. I really like that medal is a leaf – my friend joked that she is glad she did not finish in the top three, because she liked the medal more than the plaque they gave the winners!

They also did a fantastic job marking the course. I say this because they marked it well enough that I never got lost! This is already impressive (I have no sense of direction) but it is even more impressive if you consider that I was alone on the trail for TWO WHOLE MILES. Seriously, I am not sure what happened. When I was nearing the turnaround point, I was near a ton of people, and I was about 10 minutes behind my friend (I knew this because I saw her running back to the finish). After the turnaround, though, I started to pass TONS of people, and after I hit the marker indicating that I was two miles from the finish, I never saw another person, so I was quite nervous I had done something wrong. I also thought that maybe I had sped up a lot but I still finished about 10 minutes behind my friend so I don’t think I did. The only thing I can think is that the other quarter marathoners slowed WAY down. They must have slowed down quite a lot, because the person who “finished” after me was actually the guy in first place for the full marathon (he wasn’t finishing, they just had to run the course 2x so he was reaching his turnaround point). I think a lot of the quarter marathoners were a little underprepared or something. Near mile 2 of the race, we had to cross a creek. It said directly in the race description that we would need to do this. A lot of people were surprised and complaining when we reached it, though, because they had only brought one pair of shoes (who does that for a trail race in the rain?!). Then, after the creek, the trail was basically pure mud for the next mile and half to the turnaround point, which you had to promptly turn around and run/slide through again. I think at this point a lot of the quarter marathoners, many of which had also probably gone out too fast, were just like “Fuck it, I’m walking” because I was ZOOMING past them at my incredible 12:00/mile pace. By this point, I was tired and just wanted to get back, so I tried to run in the weeds and just keep my footing as much as possible. I think I handled the mud fairly well – as my meme indicates, I fell only once, and it was because the mud obscured a branch. I didn’t even get hurt because I fell on nothing but mud. So I just got muddy!

Overall, this was a fun experience. I am now far less nervous about running in the rain and I am glad I have been able to experiment with trail running. Perhaps there will be more trail races in my future!

Moving Forward Slowly

Since my race is tomorrow, I wanted to work out a bit so that I wasn’t stiff and lethargic, but I didn’t want to wear myself out by running. I decided instead to take a long-ish bike ride. Typically, I ride about 6-8 miles in a day if I am commuting, but it is split in 2 and most of it is done very very slowly, so I wasn’t sure what “long-ish” would really be for me. I decided to do 10 miles because I was able to complete that distance not long after getting the bike, so I knew it wouldn’t be overly difficult, but it would still be longer than I typically ride.

It went really well! I probably could have ridden longer, but I didn’t really feel like riding on the street and I had run out of trail. The first time I did a 10 mile ride it was really difficult. Today, other than my legs feeling a bit weird to be standing on solid ground for a few minutes afterwards, I was fine. I was a little hungry afterwards (biking always makes me hungrier than running for some reason), but I don’t feel overly tired from the adventure. I was also able to maintain a much faster pace than that first time out. When Kris and I rode 10 miles the first time, it took something like 1 hour and 12 minutes; today, it took me about 55 minutes! I knew I was getting slightly faster on the bike but to have such a substantial difference really meant a lot to me, because going slightly faster for the mile-ish of my commute where I’m not dealing with weird campus issues that slow me down doesn’t actually decrease my commute time, so I don’t get to really see tangible improvements much.

I am really glad I got the chance to do this, because I tend to be really hard on myself. One of my friends recently picked up cycling and he is already WAY faster than me. But I have to remember that he bikes every single day like I run every single day. This is why I make so many improvements in running, and not as many improvements in biking. There are also less tangible things I should be measuring to remind myself I am improving at biking. I am WAY more comfortable with riding on the road, using hand signals, and in general moving my hands off the handlebars. Today I even got my water bottle out while moving (though, to be fair, I couldn’t get it back in)! I need to stop being so hard on myself about everything I do and remember that as long as I’m taking tiny steps forward, things will eventually improve.

I need to remind myself about this especially with my race tomorrow. I am nervous about it being my first trail race and my first race in the rain. I need to remember that the worst that will probably happen is that I slip in the mud and get dirty or that I have to walk some of it. I don’t want to chicken out and not do it, because I want to wear the shirt that I went to pick up! I get so nervous about races though, and for no reason. I was even nervous to go pick up my packet today! I was afraid that the people at the store would know I wasn’t a “real trail runner” because I can’t even pronounce “Wabash. “I was afraid I’d need to say something like “Is this where I can get the packet for the Wabash Heritage Trail race?” but I didn’t even have to do that. They were just like “Are you here for the race? Ok, here is your stuff.” It was that easy. I don’t know why I let myself get so stressed over silly things. I just need to keep moving forward, even if it’s slowly, and I’ll get there. I shouldn’t worry so much 🙂

Food Friday

A couple of weeks ago, my roomie/bff and I were at Target when we spotted a great deal.

Not only were the Dunkin’ Donuts coffees the CHEAPEST in the store – if you bought 2 of them, you got a free coffee mug! We couldn’t turn down that deal. We bought 2 types of coffee then went back a different day for more (though sadly, the second time they were out of mugs).

It has taken us a while to get through the various coffees, but last week, we opened the most amazing of them. Apparently, they make chocolate glazed donut coffee. And it seriously tastes like a chocolate donut! I highly recommend this coffee flavor (it is slightly better with milk and sugar).

Additionally, I tried a new recipe today. It is not often that something on Pinterest is truly inspiring. Either it is something that I would refer back to later (i.e. a good recipe in case a certain occasion comes up) or it is so difficult I don’t even want to attempt it (I have a recipe for creme brulee cheesecake pinned. Seriously.) The other day, though, I saw this recipe for a baked cinnamon quinoa dish, and IMMEDIATELY opened it to gauge the difficulty level. It didn’t seem too difficult, so I gave it a try today. It turned out rather well!

I ate it as an afternoon snack, but I think it would be better for breakfast. It also suggests serving it with nut butter but I thought that almond butter would taste better than peanut butter with it and I only had peanut butter so I just ate it plain. I think it would also go well with some nuts or dried fruit baked into it, so next time I’ll try that.

In non-food related news, I’m getting really nervous for my race on Sunday. It is supposed to be cool…but rainy. Every time I check the weather the chances of rain have increased, in fact – from 40% to 70%! I HATE running in the rain because of my glasses and I can only imagine what rain is going to do to the already muddy trail.  If it is too rainy, I might not go for my own safety – if I can’t see, I am sure to fall in the woods. I’m going to try really hard to go, though, because I am afraid I would just be chickening out because races make me nervous in the first place. I don’t know why – it’s not like I’m really “racing” anyone by myself! This being my “first” 10K (I mean, I’ve run 6.2 miles a billion times) and my first trail race isn’t helping, either. Plus I’m not sure where I’m going to park. Obviously I am worrying over a bunch of silly things, but that is how I am. I guess we will see how Sunday goes!

Biking on Campus: A Rant

As a pedestrian on Purdue’s campus, I often find myself dodging bikes that are on the sidewalk even though they should not be (especially those belonging to a company known for being “freaky fast*”….). I have even been hit by a bike (not badly) while running!

The good news: the police are apparently cracking down on this. I read an article (can’t seem to find it now) in the local news a few weeks ago talking about how they are beginning to ticket people who ride on the sidewalks, as it is illegal in business districts, such as on campus, or, I don’t know, near restaurants like Jimmy John’s *cough*. They are mostly giving warnings, as some students “don’t know” it is illegal, but at least it’s a start.

The bad news: even though I hate the other cyclists for doing it, and I could risk getting a ticket, I am just as guilty of sidewalk riding as some of them. Why? BECAUSE PURDUE FORCES ME TO WITH THEIR TERRIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE. You would think a university that has a civil engineering program could do a better job.

One may say to me “Hey, Chelsea, haven’t you only been biking on campus for like a month?” To that, I would reply “Yes, and everyday I learn something new I hate about biking on campus.” Or perhaps you would respond “Well, maybe Purdue isn’t the best, but you don’t have experience on other campuses, so maybe it is relatively better.” My response would be that that should not matter – just because everyone else does a shitty job it doesn’t mean Purdue has to (it would only mean I shouldn’t EXPECT more of them, not that I cannot wish that they would do more, see the difference?).

Here is my proof of why biking there stinks and I am justified in ranting: behold, a map of the campus “bike lanes.”

Note a few things about this map that are clear without you even seeing campus:

  • The vast majority of lanes are planned. As in, this map is mostly of things that don’t exist yet.
  • Many of the bike lanes are dead ends with one purpose. Like, you can only access them from a specific point (in many cases, a sidewalk) and then they end at like…a building?

Here are some of the things you can’t see:

  • Most of the “bike lanes on road” aren’t marked. They are assuming that cyclists and motorists will just know the shoulder is a “bike lane.”
  • Some of the bike lanes are on sidewalks. Like, not a separate path between the sidewalk and road, but just bikes painted on the sidewalk to let you know it’s ok to ride on this particular sidewalk.
  • They park shit in the bike lanes. Bloodmobiles. John Deere tractors. Maintenance trucks. You name it!
  • And finally, this:

“This” is an actual bike lane. Notice the abrupt curb. Yes, ALL of them are like this (there may be like one place where it is sloped). I suppose if I was a better cyclist, I could just hop these, but I’m not, so I have to dismount my bike. And that is the intention of the university, by the way – at most of these intersections, there is a sign that says “cyclists dismount.” This means that I have to cross the road at a place without a crosswalk (not illegal, but cars won’t be looking for me) and I have to do it slower than a pedestrian because I have the extra effort of pushing around a bicycle. I find this way more dangerous than if they just had cyclists stop there and look before crossing. I know that some would not stop and would therefore put themselves in danger, but then it would the fault of a cyclist’s poor decision, not of the infrastructure forcing them to make a poor decision.

To be fair to poor Purdue, I also read that they are going to invest some money in the future into making the campus as well as the commute to campus more bike friendly. Who knows if those plans will ever come to fruition? Are those planned bike lanes even really planned?

*If you’ve never heard of Jimmy John’s, they are basically a sandwich place that will deliver pretty much anywhere, and they do it quickly. They manage this by using cyclists instead of cars for most places, but the cyclists tend to be really aggressive and run over everyone and everything while doing like 15 illegal things at once. It’s probably not completely their fault, as they would probably get fired if they didn’t do these things to stay as fast as they are. It’s still annoying to have them run you over, though.

Adjusting a Goal

When I signed up for the Wabash Heritage Trail (Quarter) Marathon, I guessed I would be a bit slower than a typical 10K race pace. I have never officially run a 10K, but I am guessing I could finish a race in about 50 minutes (or at least very close to that – I think I’ve done like 52 minutes in training runs). I had never done any serious trail running before (there is about 1/4 mile of trail near my house that isn’t paved), but I had read a teeny tiny bit about trail running, and it said I would have to go slower, so I guessed I’d have to slow down and settle with a goal of finishing the race in about an hour.

My new goal: finish without getting injured and have a nice time. I mean, I’m guessing I’ll finish in about 1:10-1:15 minutes based on my runs yesterday and today, so I guess I theoretically have a time “goal” (more like a guesstimate of when I will finish), but the last two days of running the actual trail will the race will occur have taught me a lot. And it’s only been 2 days!

I mentioned yesterday that I was slower, and that my friend (who does cross-country skiing and orienteering and is all around more athletic and outdoorsy than me, so this is to be expected) was a bit faster than me. Today, however, I was lagging WAY behind her. Like, I was running so hard I was gasping for breath and she was having to stop to wait for me. She was worried I was embarrassed, and I was a little, but mostly I just felt like an ass in my head for thinking that trail running would only be a “little” harder. Now that I realize how difficult it is, I feel less embarrassed and more ready to face a new challenge! I also felt bad that she probably couldn’t enjoy the run as much because she had to keep waiting up for me! Then again, it is probably because we did over THREE THOUSAND feet of climbing. WTF!?

I had 10 miles on the schedule today, and I had thought about cutting a bit off since she and I ran 7 yesterday and I was only scheduled for 5, so I told her that maybe we should run about the same distance we did yesterday. We took a slightly different route on the trail, though, and wound up getting back to our cars at about mile 5. I was so exhausted from being on the trail that I could not fathom another mile on there and told her we didn’t need to worry about meeting my training goal. Instead, I headed back to my house to run my second 5 miles on a regular running path. It’s very enlightening to see the difference in my pace:

The five miles on trails: mile 3 was a climb up a mountain, and mile “6” (the last few yards) was precariously crossing a stream to get back to our cars, which explains the exceptionally bad paces there.

The five miles on a paved path. You can see that these are more in line with my long run pace (9:00-9:30/mile)…and this was the second half of my run, after I was already exhausted from climbing up giant hills!

I think I could get used to trail running and come to enjoy it quite a bit, after I get better at it. Already today, I found myself a bit more able to find my footing (it seems to help to look a few feet ahead instead of right at my feet, which I would have known had I done ANY research on trail running) and I managed to not get any additional injuries. There are also some nice things that you will see when running on a trail that you rarely (if ever) see on roads/sidewalks/paths. For example, we saw a deer today. I have seen them before on the paved section of this trail near my house, but it’s a pretty rare sight, whereas I see them almost every time I go on a real trail (like for hikes). Also, I got to take this picture:

It may not be the prettiest, but it’s about as pretty as Indiana gets.

To end this post, one funny store about climbing up the mountain to get this photo. While on a different section of the trail, my friend pointed towards the place where I am standing to take this photo and told me we could try a new section of the trail, where we would end up at the top of the clearing we could see. I thought she meant we were going to run up the grassy area that is cleared out between the trees and I was like “ok…but I cannot run up that hill.” I didn’t realize she meant there was a far less steep path through the woods that we could take and I could actually run up!