Ramblings of a Twenty Something Year Old

If you haven’t noticed, there is a pattern to this blog, of which I do a race-recap after each race: reflections on what went well and what I could have done more to prepare for races.

Once again, I am going to focus on training and preparation, or in my case, lack there-of.

I just finished the Shires of Vermont Marathon this Sunday (perhaps you remember when I signed up for it a couple months ago). Kevin and I made a weekend trip out of it. He truly deserves a gold medal for his support in all my crazy sports endevours.

Indulging in mandatory hydration of team support at Madison Ales Brewery

Indulging in mandatory hydration of team support at Madison Ales Brewery

We stayed at the Four Chimneys Inn, a bed and breakfast less than a mile from the race start in Old Bennington. If you are ever in the area, you must stay there. The Inn keeper, Lynn, greeted us and made special arrangements so that I could eat breakfast early the day of the race. (Marathon man actually stayed there too, and ate breakfast next to us). It is within walking distance to downtown Bennington, as well as the Bennington Monument and Robert Frosts grave.

View of the Monument from behind the Inn

View of the Monument from behind the Inn

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Our room

Our room

Birthday running ribbon

Birthday running ribbon

At the start

At the start

I was not completely unprepared for this one–atleast I did some running in advance. At the half way point, when my legs began to hurt, I remember thinking to myself, “Man, it would have been good to get some more long runs in.” The longest “long run” I did in preparation for this event was a 14miler, back in the middle of April.

Where's Molly?

Where’s Molly?

At mile 18, when uncomfortable turned into pain, all I kept thinking about was the finish.

Honestly, once I passed the start, all I thought about was said finish, 26.2 miles away.

Super happy to see Kev

Super happy to see Kev

My not-too-shabby pace increased mile by mile until, at about mile 20, the running turned into a painful-attempt-to-run, then walk, back to painful-attempt-to-run. At that point, I turned off my iPod (there is just so much of Daft Punk’s TRON soundtrack one can listen to before they go mentally insane) and just focused on not keeling over.

The course, however, was very nice– only a few stretches were along roads with traffic. The rest were on country roads–some gravel/dirt roads. Too my surprise, it was a hilly course as well.

Having completed the Boston Marathon in 2008, I am aware of hilly marathons. The exception in that case was I was regularly running up Heartbreak Hill (easy when you go to school at Boston College). I never looked at the course elevation of this race. For future races, I think that is something I will plan on doing, to mentally “prepare” myself.

There were plenty of water stops, and two stops along the way had gels. We all know my thoughts on Gu (if you don’t, you can read about it here), and this race was an exception to my “no-gu-for-you” rule. I managed two gels during the race, and used them as a distraction more than anything else, as I knew well that no amount of caffeinated artificial gel would miraculously save my legs and make the pain dissapear. At mile 13, I consumed my first, which wasn’t horrific (A mocha flavored Cliff Bar gel). I decided to consume it slowly, over two miles, which helped pass the time. My second gel was over two miles as well, at around mile 20.

Yes, I stopped mid race to take a picture.

Yes, I stopped mid race to take a picture.

It was suprising to have Kevin meet me at different points throughout the race, which ended up giving me a bit of a second/third/fourth wind, considering the fact I was not expecting him to meet me anywhere along the course except for the end.

Finally, after what seemed like the longest half-mile of my life, the finish line was infront of me. No matter what pain you feel, you cannot walk across a finish line. (Well, you can, I just try not to). A nice touch to the small marathon was that as you finished, the MC announced your name and the town you were from. Time: 4:41. I cannot complain about my finishing time, as my goal was to simply finish the race in about five hours.

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Voila. Marathon completed. On the day I turned 27.

Eeeek so old!

Eeeek so old!

The finish had fresh Battenkill Creamery Chocolate milk, which I devoured, despite my feelings towards dairy milk, and, it was the most amazing chocolate milk I have ever tasted. (Infact, this chocolate milk is given to participants of the Tour of Battenkill).

The best part of the Shires of Vermont Marathon, other than being on the celebration of my birth, are the finishers medals. They were all made by a local potter. Definitely more meaningful than mass made bronze medals (although, those are always pretty sweet).

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The weather held up for the duration of the race–some of the misting/showers actually felt good mid race. After, though, it rained the rest of the day. So Kevin and I bummed around Manchester until a celebratory birthday dinner–an early bird special at the Seasons restarurant in Manchester. I had the most amazing veggie burger I have ever had in my life–even Kevin, an omnivore, agreed it was amazing.

Exhausted, achy, and feeling amazing

Exhausted, achy, and feeling amazing

Nothing beats a birthday sundae

Nothing beats a birthday sundae

The next morning, after enjoying fantastic homemade breakfasts, we explored a little more of Old Bennington before heading back to Rhinebeck.

Yummy yummy in my tummy

Yummy yummy in my tummy

Lilac love

Lilac love

For someone used to doing some sort of physical activity every day, “muscle recovery” and “complete rest days” are hard. With such nice weather awaiting our return, I decided to rest my “running muscles” and use my mountain bike muscles on a leisurely paced ride at Ferncliff. Plus, Kevin took a vacation day, so I could not have it go to waste!

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Channeling my inner beaver. Hard to imagine I turned 27, right?

Channeling my inner beaver. Hard to imagine I turned 27, right?

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Kevin playing with his newest bicycle project...Sporting the new Fats in the Cats jersey

Kevin playing with his newest bicycle project…Sporting the new Fats in the Cats jersey

After the marathon, I announed my accomplishment to my mother over the phone. She said something which really struck home: “Moll, imagine how you’d do if you actually trained.”

Hmm. Interesting. Actually train…

We’ll see how that goes.

😉

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This post is dedicated to my biggest supporter, endless motivator, chauffeur, personal race photographer, top rated at “I know how to annoy Molly,” and kick-ass best friend, Kevin.

(And also my folks…If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here today.Literally.)

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Swollen Glands and Mountain Bike Rides

I might be one of the worst people when it comes to taking care of themselves when they are sick. I just refuse to acknowledge that there is a possability of me being ill with something, and continue living my life as if I had a perfect immune system.  Then, after days of ignoring it, feeling like I am on my deathbed, I finally acknowledge the fact I am sick. Of course, this happens when I should be celebrating the fact I made it to the age of 25, and two weeks before the biggest race of my life.

beautiful birthday flowers from L.Geuss, best older sister in the world!

It started Monday when I felt unusually tired. I thought it was just a continuation of my lack of sleep, crazy stress at work, and adding stress to my body with training for Mooseman. Tuesday rolled around and that’s when the fever started. Chills. Vomiting. Gastrointestinal issues. Feeling like someone took a baseball bat and used my body as a baseball. The non-stop rain did not help. There was a new appliance on my face, a faucet, that I had forgotten how to turn off, so constant sniffling and nose blowing was occurring. As well as hot flashes and cold, profuse sweating. Every part of my body, including toe nails, ached. I’ve never felt so close to death before. Perfect timing when my race is so soon.

In retrospect, I should have called in from work both days, but I don’t like calling in. And, the quick ride in the rain on Thursday after work was a stupid idea. Friday morning rolled around at work, and the vomiting and fever started again, and as the shift progressed, so did the size of each gland in my neck.

“Hey V,” I asked my colleague at one point in the morning when we had a breather from non-stop insanity.

“Yes,”

“Come here. Feel my neck.” I took her hands and placed them on the sides of my neck.

“Wow, what’s wrong? You have insanely large glands.”

“I’m not feeling to great.”

“You should check that out.”

I finally took the advice of someone and right after work, barely able to move my body or swallow because I was in so much pain. The doctor had a similar reaction when she took one feel of my neck after I flinched away in pain, actually in tears at this point.

“I think I’m sick,” I told her.

“Yes, I think you’re right. With a 101 fever, and the fact I can see your swollen glands in your neck and shoulders. How long have you been feeling this way?”

“Four days, it wasnt getting better so I came here.”

“Drink plenty of fluids, take the antibiotics, take pain killers for the body aches, and rest.”

“Okay, thank you so much.” I hobbled out of the room hunched over like an old hobbit.

I went home and then slept for 12 hours and woke up for the first time in three days being able to swallow without becoming teary eyed, and walk with a normal gait. I also woke up to blue sky, which I had not seen in a week. After going almost 5 days without doing any physical activity whatsoever, canceling get-togethers with friends, and still “resting” so I will be somewhat alive for my race in TWO weeks, I decided to go for a short spin on my new Scott since I didn’t want to push my body too hard (wow, I think that’s one of the first times I’ve allowed my body to somewhat rest).

Riding a mountain bike on a road is much different than riding a road bike on a road. My Contessa Spark has lock-out suspension in the front, which is perfect for riding on the roads, simply because, well, it locks out the front suspension for you. But, you go slower on a mountain bike than road bike. Then again, I was out to get fresh air, and not push myself so that I’d get sick again.

It was the first time I’ve ridden my mountain bike without my mountain bike buddy. I was a bit hesitant doing it all alone–what if I rode into a tree and broke my neck and no one knew? Or broke a bone somewhere else?Or fell into a ravine and could not get out?–but really wanted to ride it. And we’re far from ravines of any sort. So, I rode the 2.5miles down to Ferncliff Forest since I was (somewhat) familiar with the trails in there.

The beginning of the ride was great. From five days of non-stop rain, there were lots of large puddles, mud up to ankles, and the streams were now rivers. But I maneuvered through mud, puddles, over branches and rocks as I swatted mosquitos away. It was fun, and my heart noticed right away that I was doing some sort of physical activity.

Then, I came to the bridge. It’s not a huge bridge. X, who brought me to F.Forest first to show me the trails, thinks it’s about a yard in diameter, and it’s about 12 feet across. I think it’s much skinnier in diameter, like a foot and a half.

Anyway, my sense of balance and coordination have been slightly off with the fever and whatever infection my body was still battling over. “Just ride over it, don’t get off, you rode over it last time.”

So I rode up a couple of rocks to the wooden planks and did two rotations of my pedals when my faulty sense of balance came into play. “Uh ohh,” I said as I tried to put my foot down.

It was too late. Before I knew it, my bike had toppled over the side of the bridge, with me still on it, into the large stream. “Oopsies,” I stated and tried to get up out of the stream/puddle, but all the wet leaves and mud at the bottom seemed to make getting out a tad more difficult and wanted to keep me stuck to the bottom of the water’s floor. Once I climbed back onto the bridge, covered in leaves that decided to apply themselves to my face, legs, and arms, I pulled out my baby from the water.

I looked around. Please tell me no one saw that.  Infact, only tiny insects were laughing to themselves at my sight. There was no way I was going to attempt to dry off–I had nothing to dry off with–so I decided it would be best to just ride back home and cut the ride short, since I did just recover from a raging fever and was now drenched from head to toe. I did take a picture of my bike still in the stream, but alas, phones do not like being submerged in water, and mine broke, which lead me to purchasing a new iPhone (which is….amazing). So, I cannot post a picture of how large this small body of water that I fell into was.

I rode back home, and arrived to my neighbor who stared at me in shock, “Where did you ride? Was there a storm we missed?”

“Uhh, I fell off a bridge into water….”

Thankfully, she did not judge, even with the small pieces of leaves that were stuck to the sides of my face.

drenched, but still smiling

Even though the ride was cut short, it was fun. And, it gave me the opportunity to go upgrade my phone!

When was the last crazy post written?

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