Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last Day of Vacation

*Sigh* Always tough when you realize that vacation is almost over and it's time to head back to reality! But before we do that, we had one last full day of fun down in NC.

Despite the fact that I really didn't want to, I got up early and was out the door around 7:10. I decided to just run the same 8 mile loop as I had run yesterday, if only because I could just do it and not have to think about how I was going to get the mileage in by wandering around aimlessly. The first two miles were slow, and I sure felt creaky, but nothing hurt, and I was able to loosen up and pick up the pace as I ran along. I was surprised to find I actually felt pretty decent, and managed to run the 8 miles in 1:15.

It was a lovely morning, cool and sunny, and as is always the case down here, there is a lot to see. With the mix of golf course, ponds, pine forests, grassy areas and the river, it's the perfect area for bird watching, and there are typically a few other creatures wandering around as well. This morning I spooked a male deer, his antlers still small, at the edge of the street, and then down along the path to the River Lodge, scared up a mother deer and her two fawn. Was scared myself but a Great Blue Heron soaring out of his roost in the tree along one of the ponds, croaking his annoyance at my presence. Saw another heron soaring overhead and a Great Egret as well. A bunny jumped across the path, and the bright red cardinals and mockingbirds chattered away in the brush. The pair of hummingbirds who reside in my parent's yard were out early, enjoying the purple flowers of the big mexican sage bush, and numerous butterflies flitted about. Little green lizards lounge in the sun on the porch railings and yesterday we saw two green tree frogs there too!

I was greeted by pancakes upon my return - yum! - and then we rushed about, getting ready to head to the beach. Still windy today, but not quite as cold, and Sam had a lot of fun digging in the sand with the big purple shovel and looking for minnows in the surf with her net. And of course, we stopped at Boombalatti's for a post-beach treat - can't miss their delicious ice cream!

All in all, a great last day of vacation. Many thanks to my parents for having us! We all had a great time!!

Sam building her "house"

Busy digging

Just waiting for the minnows to jump into the net :-)

Cupcakes at the beach!

Keeping Sam occupied on the way home - she wrote out all of our names :-) My smart little girl!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Solo Marathon

OK. Let's face it. 26.2 miles is a long way to run. Meaning anything beyond that is a really long way to run :-) (Insert, what was I thinking bubble here!!) And 26.2 miles and 4:24 (total time including stops) is a really long time to run alone. I really could have used some company today, but since I'm in NC and the partner I was hoping would be running with me is a bit derailed at the moment with a tight achilles :(, I was on my own. I had planned to get out at 7:00 but just as I was opening the front door, the door to Sam's room opened. It's as if she has some sort of telepathy that I'm about the go out and run, since that's exactly what happened yesterday too :-) So I got some hugs and sat for a bit with her before heading out around 7:15, which meant hopefully plenty of time to get home for lunch.

The plan was to run 3 ~8 mile loops with an add-on of 2 miles, give or take, to make 26 miles. I tried really hard to run as easily as I could in that first loop, but it was nice and cool, the roads are flat and what can I say, it was early in the run and I felt good. I don't *think* I was going too fast, but it's hard to know. Those first miles went by the quickest and easiest for sure, with just one potty stop at the bathroom at the River Lodge, and soon I was back to the house with the Garmin reading 7.88 miles. Ryan and Sam had set up an awesome aid station for me on the front steps, and were there to cheer me in. Made me smile :-) I'm very lucky!

Aid station all set up!

My awesome "Go Mommy" sign - I am so lucky!

Sam running me out of the aid station

Sam ran me down the driveway, and then just like that I was alone again. I decided to add on the additional miles in this second loop, thinking it would be easier mentally to do that than add them in on the 3rd lap when I was sure to be more tired and possibly hurting. Luckily the hip held up very well all morning, with only a few twinges here and there. I did a bit of googling, and found the pigeon pose and half lotus pose, both of which really have helped stretch out the outside of my leg/hip/butt the past few days. Whatever would we do without the internet? ;) In any event, the second lap went pretty well and the pace held fairly steady. I ran the loop the opposite direction as the first, with a 2.5 mile out-and-back added on out into the Bluffs. I did however, make a blunder on this loop. I didn't have my pack, only my small handheld, meaning I was stuffing my fuel into my pockets. I neglected to remember that I would be out for longer the 2nd time around with the add-on miles, and only brought one gu and one pack of chews. I've been trying to eat something every 30 minutes, so I should have had one more something. Which meant that by the time I got back to the house, I had missed one of my 30-minute fuelings and was well on my way to going an hour without anything to eat. I stopped and had a few grapes, some Gatorade and a few animal crackers, and headed back out. At almost 3 hours in, my stomach was feeling a bit wonky and I was starting to feel the miles. I really wished I had someone to run with.

Luckily, I have the best crew ever and they took out the golf cart and careened through the community, meeting up with me a number of times on the last loop. It was really nice to look up and see them at mile 19+, at 22 and then around mile 24. I needed it. I did stop at the River Lodge and take a bio break (weird, so many miles in) but I was having trouble eating (story of my long run life) and only managed a few extra grapes and a few chews between the house and mile 22 before accepting fueling defeat.

I was slowing. And I really wanted to be done. Did I really need to do 26 miles? I willed myself past the turn-off that would have taken me to my parent's house at mile 23 by simply walking and telling myself I was just out for a walk :-) and just kept going. The miles were feeling painfully slow, and while I won't tell you how much slower the final 7 miles were, let's just say I didn't quite keep on pace. I also willed myself past the turn-off at the end of the first pond along the berm, but when I saw the golf cart up ahead, I did ask Ryan if I could stop. He asked me if anything was hurting, and since the honest answer was no, except that my stomach didn't feel good, that's what I said. So, of course, he said no back ;) and I just sort of shrugged and continued on. Guess I knew the answer to that one!

When the Garmin finally beeped 25 miles, I told myself I was just being ridiculous and it wasn't helping me to go slowly. Just pick it up, Danielle! And I did, although pace was certainly relative at that point. Ha. When I got to the driveway at my parent's house, I realized I had miscalculated ever so slightly and still had 0.1 miles to go to get to a full marathon. Ryan was there, and I believe I said I'd be da*ned if I wasn't going to do that extra 0.1 miles to get to a f*&#!ing marathon! before continuing past the house and stopping just as the distance turned 26.2. There. I did it.

OK, so it wasn't entirely pretty. But despite my mind's desire to stop (many times), I kept going. I ran a marathon as a training run. Alone (with some awesome crew help, of course). Never thought I'd run a marathon as a training run! Oh, the places we go. So, I'm banking this for Stonecat. Of course, despite that, do I still think it's crazy and scary and unreal that I'll be lining up to run 50 miles in a month? You better believe it! But you can't know if you don't try.

I didn't have much appetite for lunch, but rallied for the early birthday celebration that followed. Never pass up cupcakes and ice cream :-)

Sam and Neenie keeping busy while I'm out running

These really need more sprinkles!

Almost 4!!!

Lots of candles to blow out :-)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cart Paths in Reverse

Ever have a run where 1 mile feels like it's really 3? That was this morning's run. Ryan's achilles has been hurting him since his run yesterday morning, so it was just me out there this morning. I headed out right after 7am, just as the sun was rising above the trees. The first golfers don't tee off until 8:00 so I had plenty of time going backwards on the course, but even though I was purposefully trying to go slowly, it just felt like I was moving in slow motion. Still, got in 6.25 miles before we headed down to Wilmington to the beach.

It was even more blustery than on Tuesday, with rough seas and whipping sands. I asked a surfer coming up from the beach if the surfing was good. He said, no, but it was better than a day at the office! Indeed :-) We still had fun collecting shells, outracing the waves and digging pools and trenches.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Else But Photos?

No running today, but a fun morning spent at the Fort Fisher Aquarium followed up by dinner out up at the club. Not too shabby a way to spend a vacation day :-)

Checking out the turtles


Looking at the animals in the touch pool

I think he's looking at us...

Playground fun

Queen of the playground!


Gotta be fully accessorized :-)

Ready for dinner out

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Morning 10

Ran with Ryan this morning out to the River Lodge and along the "nature" trail that winds through the woods between golf holes back to the club. We added on a mile out-and-back out to the Bluffs before heading down the main drag, where Ryan turned off around 6.5 miles and I continued down to the gatehouse and along the berm to finish up my run. I was planning to run slowly today, but even with .75 miles on the dirt nature trail and ~2 miles along the packed gravel path along the berm, it's hard to run slowly on a route that's basically flat as a pancake and mostly road :-) So we just went with it. I did stop briefly after Ryan turned off, mostly in an attempt to stretch out my right hip, which although feeling better still is tight, but also to open a gu, something I haven't quite perfected on the run without getting sticky gel all over my hands :-) Got in a decent 10 miles. Saw a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret along the big pond - such big wingspans - always fun to see in flight.

This afternoon, Ryan, Sam and I went up to the pool. I was freezing the second I got in and stayed that way during the entire 45 minutes that I lasted in the water. I did a number of laps in an attempt to get warm (can I call this crosstraining?! :) ), but it didn't really work :-0 While I'm definitely a better swimmer than Ryan, he can certainly outlast me in the water. Sam, of course, being 4 years old, is pretty much impervious to the cold and would stay in all day if she could. Ha!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Berm Run and Beach Fun

Didn't quite get up as early as planned this morning - it is vacation after all! - so I just went for a short run. Got in a nice 4 miles on a loop through the neighborhood that includes some running on the path along the berm that borders the community. One of the only places to run on dirt around here :-) Saw two Great Blue herons along the ponds, a cardinal, the resident mockingbirds, a Belted Kingfisher flying low along the water, and a number of large Garden Spiders. I do not ever want to run into one of their webs! *shudder*

After my run, we headed to Wrightsville Beach. It was high tide and a bit breezy, but the sun was shining, the beach was almost empty and we had a lot of fun collecting shells, splashing in the surf and building sandcastles and a castle "pond" that Sam played in. It's always a good day at the beach :-)

Walking the beach, looking for shells

Sam building her castle

"Helping" Daddy bring up water for the castle "pond"

Silly girl!

Fun in the sand and water

And of course, the traditional post-beach stop at Boombalati's!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Southern Cart Path Run

Got out on the cart paths this morning, but not my typical route :-) The golf course right outside my parent's house is closed for maintenance on Mondays, so Ryan and I headed out for a run along the cart paths around 9am. It was bright and sunny, with a cool breeze blowing. Pretty nice NC weather! As we ran along, we saw numerous bluebirds, a red-headed woodpecker, a Great Blue Heron at the edge of one of the many ponds along the course, several mockingbirds, and a number of turtles poking their little heads out of the water. Always something to see down here. Got in a nice 6.25 miles in under 54 minutes.

While we were out running, Sam was helping Neenie plant some lettuce, herbs and arugula. Think she was having fun!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

NC Fun

I've currently been up for 17 hours and it's only 8:45 pm. 3:45 am is not a happy wake up time. With the silly "not sleeping after a long run" thing, and the fact that I knew I had to get up at an ungodly hour, I was awake for half the night. I've since gotten a 2nd wind, but I spent the vast majority of the morning feeling pretty exhausted. Add in the traveling, and well, you get the picture :-) But we made it to NC without issue, and spent a few hours after we arrived playing at Pullen Park and the farmer's market in Raleigh before heading to my parent's house. Sam had a blast in the park, riding the carousel, playing on the playground, riding the train and perhaps getting the biggest grins of the day, riding on the toy boats. She was a great traveler and in very good spirits all day long, despite being pulled from her bed at 4:30 am. She even had enough energy to race around after dinner tonight on the golf course, playing in the sandtraps and jumping in the puddles. I swear, if I could figure out how to harness her energy, I'd make millions!!

On the playground at Pullen Park

Glam shot

On the carousel

Train ride

Ringing the bell on the boat

Driving the boat

Sandtrap fun

Yup, raking the sandtrap in a tutu :-)


Look at those toes!

This is just so Sam. Love the hair flip as she drives off - ha!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Running on the BBU Course

Kristen nicely agreed to watch Sam this morning, meaning we were happy that we could get in a long run together, and Sam was happy as she had recently been asking me "When are we going to see Morgan next?" We parked at the elementary school, as there was a mountain bike race going on in the park, and headed out around 8:45 into the fog. It was also quite chilly, but as it soon became evident, also very humid. A strange mix.

Going up Lunchbreak is a tough way to start a run, but it was (mostly) runnable with no miles on our legs. We followed the BBU course down into the park and across the street onto the east side trails. Our route corresponded for a few miles with the bikers, most of whom were very nice and pleasant. But I found it extremely nerve-wracking to be playing cat and mouse with them, and I was happy to get back to the west side. After a bathroom break, we headed on out, testing out the revised route which included Krista's. That stretch definitely made for much nicer running than the Boundary! Then out onto the Connector. 

By the time we hit the road, it was evident that Ryan's hard(er) effort in the Bruiser and his Thursday night hill session with Ian had taken a bit of a toll, but we kept it together and certainly both felt much better than when we had last been out on the course! I do love the stretch after you turn off the powerlines - it is good cruising ground. Back up from Lawrence Road to the Quarry and down, where we met up with Mindy, Val, Rick and Pete cruising on back to the Boundary. We hung with them and caught up for a bit before they went straight and we went right to make our way to the summit. 

I told Ryan at that point that I really didn't want to do the course again. I just wasn't feeling it. I was soaked with sweat and kind of grouchy. I was having a hard time getting into any sort of rhythm out there. I didn't feel badly, I just didn't feel great. But I knew I needed to get more miles in so we just kept chugging along. Ryan hit a down point as we finally hit the homestretch to the summit, saying he was done. I didn't have enough water to keep going for more miles without returning to the car, so we both continued down Lunchbreak. By the time we got to the car, even though Ryan's legs were really hurting, he had decided to keep going. After a brief stop to refill and regroup, we headed back out. I said I would be happy with 20. He said we were going out to Lawrence Road. A bit slower up Lunchbreak this time around :-) and then a bit of a course deviation to get back to the Connector. 

When we got up to the Quarry, I really wanted to turn back but Ryan was adamant and my whining fell of deaf ears. Well, I couldn't let him get in more miles than me :-) so I begrudgingly followed him down to the road. Then I just wanted to get back so I turned off the whining and decided I would power up all the hills and feel good about it. Well, it seemed like I was powering, although the pace tells otherwise. Ha :-) But I didn't walk but a few steps on the return trip. It felt good to know my legs could be strong even if my mind felt a bit weak. That final mile down Lunchbreak was slow - the downs hurt much more than the ups for me!

We finished up with 21 miles, feeling fairly wupped. Man, that course is a tough one! After changing and making a quick stop at Edna & Lucy's for some delicious soup in an attempt to revive ourselves, we headed south to pick up Sam. Of course, she could have stayed and played forever, so my guilt at being out a little longer than planned was quickly assuaged :-)

Now it's time to get off the computer and into bed, so we can get up at 0'dark'30 to get down to Boston for our flight to NC. No hills to complain about next week! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Route Finding

Went to see Dr. Jamie yesterday. He cracked and pulled away on a few things and when he got to the outer edge of my hip/thigh, he did some trigger point releasing and came away saying, "Oh, that really is tight, isn't it?" Indeed. Feels better today although things were still a bit tight on my run this afternoon. Still, headed in the right direction.

Warm out this afternoon! I headed out on a Snowplug 50k scouting trip and think I have come up with a good loop that doesn't repeat itself, will have a few hills, some nice singletrack along the river and some good easy dirt road running. Should be just over 6.2 miles a loop. I added in a few more miles and called it good at 8. Now it's time to pick up the kiddo and get to work getting organized for tomorrow's long run and Sunday's trip to NC!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Morning Run

Second morning in a row of tights, long sleeves and gloves. This morning, even though I headed out around the same time as yesterday, around 5:45 am, I took my headlamp. I planned to try a possible Snowplug 50k loop, which would take me into the woods right away and I knew I would need the light to actually see where I was going for the first few miles :-)

Up the trail to the summit and then out through the woods to Mountain Road. There I turned off my light and looked across to see a golden light on the horizon, the sky clear of clouds but still glowing as the sun rose. My route took me along the Heath and down to the river, the mist rising above the water. The return to the house isn't quite sorted out yet, as I was hoping not to have to repeat the Mountain Road/Mt. Ararat trail section, so I'll have to try again and see if I can figure things out to make a loop instead of the rather lopsided lollypop that I did this morning. On the flip side, if we do do this morning's route, it's clocking in at exactly 6.2 miles :-)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Wore long sleeves, tights and gloves this morning, and could have worn my winter running hat too - my ears were cold :-) It was only 41 degrees at first light, and it sure felt like fall out there.

The sun rose softly this morning, simply emitting a peachy glow along the horizon. There were little wet footprints along the bog bridges at the end of the Heath but none clear enough that I could discern who had traveled them before me. The cotton sedge puff-balls looked like frost atop the golden grasses.

Got in a nice 4 miles to shake out the legs. A bit of tightness in my hip again but I'm headed to see Dr. Jamie on Thursday, so hopefully that will take care of it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Bradbury Bruiser Race Report Plus A Few Photos

Yesterday, after Irene and Dana arrived, we went to have lunch and then headed to Freeport to take a short walk at Wolfe's Neck State Park and to visit the farm. We capped off the day with dinner at Frontier, and what else but gelato :-) Perfect pre-race dinner, right?!

On the beach

Interesting sky

Sam decided to make a dam in the stream run-off headed down to the ocean

Ryan and Sam working on her project

This morning, I woke up not quite knowing how today's race would turn out. I stretched and rolled as much as I could and while the hip felt much better than earlier in the week, I was still a bit worried that it would act up out in the woods and cause an issue. To say I went into the race without much plan other than to not sabotage my Stonecat training pretty much sums it up. I didn't even do a warm-up. 

I started off near Jamie and Sean, which seemed ambitious, but Jamie was planning to start out slow and ramp it up as the run went along, and I figured Sean would be a good rabbit, as he's been beating me all season in these races. Turns out I got onto the singletrack ahead of them both, but they caught up not long after I turned into the Island Trail. We all ran together, both of them saying I was running a fine pace for the moment. As soon as we got out of the twisty Island Trail, Jamie was off like a shot. Sean stayed behind me, content for the time being. Luckily, the large crowd had thinned out nicely, and even just a few miles in, there wasn't much jockeying for position, just moving forward. Sean and I chatted on and off as we ran along, and it was nice to have him behind me - kept me moving, although with all the mud and puddles, I certainly wasn't moving gracefully :-)

I was feeling good. The hip wasn't an issue at the moment, and I felt like I was pushing without going nuts. Somewhere around 5 miles, Sean fell behind. And then since I was feeling good, I just decided to go for it. What did I have to lose? I hit the Snowmobile Trail hard, passing at least 4 or 5 people on the climb, and as I neared the Fox West turn off, I realized I could see the woman in green who had passed me way back at the beginning, before the Island Trail - she was just ahead. I passed her back somewhere in the singletrack area, and then since I didn't want her to pass me back, I just kept pushing. 

When I got to the last aid station, Jeremy and Zak kidded me that Ryan was just ahead, but I was too smart to believe them! Ryan might not have been feeling great, but I was sure he was far ahead. (Turns out he was too, beating me by 13 minutes. Nice!) I pushed up that darn hill on the Knights Woods Trail and then, into the "O." I really am not an "O" fan. Too twisty without much space to get into a rhythm. But I had a carrot ahead. I caught him. Then someone caught me. I caught him back. Ended up passing 3 people in the "O," which I'm going to consider an achievement :-) Darn the "O"! Then hurray, the wall, the wall! Only the final stretch to go. Finished in 1:58:17, in 50th place. I felt satisfied with my effort, which wasn't all out, but which ended up having more umph than I thought it would.

That being said, this whole series hasn't been the best for me. 2011 was just so awesome. I was fast that year! Last year was a bit of a bust with the whole stress fracture/reaction thing, and I was so hopeful that I could at the very least better those times this year. But I didn't, not during any of the races. *Sigh* It's never fun to feel like you're getting old and slow :-) Can't quite put my finger on why. I don't know if it's that I don't have that fire, that drive, like I did in 2011? I haven't felt really into any of the races this year, although that doesn't stop me from wanting to do well. Am I just a bit burnt out on racing at Bradbury, as much as I think the series is awesome? Or that I've just been running a lot more slow miles this year and have done no speed work at all? Well, whatever the case, it is what it is, and let's face it - in the end, I'm still proud to be a owner of a very cool Badass hoodie :-)

Many, many thanks to Ian and Ryan for the countless hours they put into putting on the Bradbury series! And to all the volunteers who do the same. It is an awesome trail running community that we are part of, and it is always fun to catch up with running friends before, after and during the races!

6th woman