Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


Race Report: NCR Trail 20 Miler

September is supposed to be one of the key peak periods for fall marathoners. Well, my body has decided that it’s going to do this whole marathon thing its way. Going into this race, I had walked 1.4 miles on Monday and run 3.4 miles on the Alter G. That’s it.

After having to bail out of last week’s 18 miler at mile 11 – knowing full well that I could’ve kept going, but that doing so would’ve put the 20 miler in jeopardy – I wasn’t exactly feeling confident about the 20 mile run. I had gotten PENS therapy twice last week and got dry needled and was mostly feeling “better” (a term I use very, very loosely), I didn’t think that the run would be a total disaster, but I wasn’t expecting success, either.

The one thing that made me feel confident about the race? The forecast. Unlike last year’s swampy August 20 miler, where I broke into a massive sweat just cheering on the runners, this year’s race-day forecast was damn near perfect – 60 in the am, going up to around 70, with low humidity and overcast skies. Yes!

It was, admittedly, pretty chilly at the start – being further north and in a valley will do that to you… but we all knew we’d love it once we got moving. I got to the start about 30 min before race time and chatted with my friends. It’s a small race, but many of my training partners were there because it’s 3 weeks out from the Baltimore Marathon – the perfect time for a last 20 miler.

While chatting, one of the women pointed out a runner warming up nearby – Dave Berden, the 2013 winner of the Baltimore Marathon. How cool is it that he was there?? And just before we headed up to the start line, a bus load of runners from the Naval Academy arrived – their marathon team. This race suddenly seemed like a much bigger deal than I thought it was!



It was about a 10 minute walk to the starting line – a perfect warm up. The race starts in northern Maryland, almost at the Mason-Dixon Line, and follows the NCR Trail nearly to the trailhead, and then some. It’s a net-downhill race, but most people would classify it as flat as a pancake if they had to judge by looking at it.

It's not nearly as jaggy as this elevation chart makes it look, but it does follow the general down-slight up-slight down trend.

It’s not nearly as jaggy as this elevation chart makes it look, but it does follow the general down-slight up-slight down trend.

This is a pretty simple race, with little pomp and circumstance, other than the excited nervousness of our last 20 miler of the year. Just a few minutes late, the race started with a bull horn

One of the narrowest points of the trail is near the beginning, which made it a bit crowded while everyone jostled to find the pace and their place, but after about a mile or so, the pack found its rhythm. I started out running with Tracey and Rebecca, my usual running partners (Jennie had run a half marathon the day prior, so she sat this one out), as well as with Anita and Bekky. Their pace is a bit quicker, so they peeled off somewhere around mile 2. We also picked up another woman, Traci-with-an-I, who is running Marine Corp and didn’t know anyone at the race. One of the best parts of running is the camaraderie among total strangers 🙂

Although this was a supported run, my mom was my pit crew for the day, just in case any of my nagging injuries acted up. The girls loved that she was at some of the major cross-roads waving and cheering for us 🙂 Fortunately, my legs were feeling astonishingly good (well, not in absolute terms, just relative to the last 5 weeks), so she just got to be a mobile cheering squad and photographer.

Just before mile 4, a guy in front of us turned to yell something at us, something which we couldn’t understand. It turned out someone had inadvertently kicked a bee hive or hornet nest and more than a few people got stung. Luckily we were all spared, but he had gotten stung, just yards in front of us. Yikes 😦

The next few miles were far less eventful. We chatted like runners are apt to do on a long run, but kept a pretty steady pace. Traci-with-an-I left us around mile 8 to start doing intervals. There were stops for porta-pots, we saw a few horses, and Rebecca’s husband and daughter came out to the trail on their bikes for a little bit.


The next few miles were very familiar, but that also made them feel somewhat long. My legs never really hurt, but they never really felt good either.


My mom definitely gets better pictures than any race photographer out there

I also tried using Fig Newtons as an addition to my usual gel, and I loved it! Gels are all well and good, but they don’t keep that hungry-tummy feel away, and it always creeps up around mile 14-15. I had my usual gel at 14.5 and had one cookie from a snack-pack – it sat a little heavy at first (I don’t think my stomach knew what to do with solid food), but after a few minutes I was very glad I added it to my fueling plan. I will definitely keep this in the rotation for the marathon.

The last few miles were definitely a challenge. Having done the 20 miler before, I knew I could get through it, but with the lackluster training since then, my mind needed a whole lot of convincing. Rebecca started slowing up around mile 16 and told Tracy and I to keep going. I always feel a bit of guilt leaving a runner behind, even when they say to go on without them. She had her music though and insisted, so we kept going.

We kept running as much as we could, even when it hurt, because we both knew that stopping and starting would be more painful. I took one last gel at mile 17.5, because I knew the last mile would be a challenge. I started feeling a bit dehydrated, and the sun started coming out just as the shade on the trail opened up, which was an unwelcome change in plans, but we kept going. We passed one last water stop at what is normally the end of our training runs, and kept going. We crossed the main road and went another 100 yards or so to the turnaround, where Duff catapulted us back around towards the finish (thanks, Duff!). As we came back to the road we just crossed, we turned left and followed the road. The shoulder was pretty narrow, and the traffic was a little disconcerting, but we kept going. The road was mostly flat, but winding at this point, and the space available to us fluctuated. I kept an eye on the road, to make sure I didn’t trip, and an eye on traffic, in case someone felt like ignoring the runners and cones. As I passed my old pre-school, the road dipped down – which meant that the dreaded hill was just up ahead. My legs ached and it was a challenge, but I kept going, one leg in front of the other, when all I wanted to do was walk. Just as I crested the hill, I could hear the cheering and yelling, and I knew I was there. My coaches and some training partners were there cheering people in. I turned into the parking lot, made a u-turn around the island, and there it was – the finish!

IMG_2092 IMG_2082

In keeping with this being a training run, not a race, I figured my finish time would be somewhere between 3:50:xx and 4:00:xx. We finished in 3:53:01! Despite being tired and achey, I felt surprisingly good at the end. Nothing hurt. I could walk.

I grabbed some water and a few snacks, and went right back to the road to cheer on the remaining runners! It was great to see so many of my training partners looking so strong at the end of such a long run.

With this run done, we are officially in Tapertown!!! Woohoo!!!!



Leave a comment

Bulubox Review

So I’ll be honest – I’m not a huge fan of subscription boxes. Seeing as I’m kinda set in my ways, and don’t like gambling with my own money, there’s never really been any major appeal to me, unless I know they use (and only use) products that I like. But when I saw this opportunity to try out a BuluBox, it seemed like a great time to strike out of my fuddy-duddy ways!

For those of you who don’t know, BuluBox is a monthly subscription that sends you five samples each month of various health, nutrition, and weight-loss supplements. You can earn points each month by reviewing products, and these points can be applied to purchase full-size products that you like! Or, if subscriptions aren’t your thing, you can just go there to buy full-size versions of products you know and love!

Bulubox offers two plans – Original and Weight Loss. The Original box offers “4 to 5 premium samples such as sports nutrition, sleep, and healthy snacks. Plus lifestyle extras like gym gift cards or DVDs to cover all aspects of health!” while the Weight Loss box “offers 4 to 5 premium weight loss items such as energy aids, healthy snacks, sleep aids and fat-burners. Plus bonus weight loss items like fitness gear and kitchen tools.”


The first thing that got used when I opened it? The Earth’s Care Anti-Itch Cream. My mom had just come down with poison ivy the day before this box came, so perfect timing!


Now this didn’t make the poison ivy disappear over night. But, it did make it much more bearable and less itchy. The smell was pleasant and it went on nicely without feeling super greasy.

Next up? The Mediterra Savory Bar with Sundried Tomato and Basil.

IMG_1934I was really excited to try this one. As I’ve mentioned before, I am sooo over sweet bars and fuels. Everything is sweet. Ugh.  It’s amazing athletes aren’t more unhealthy. When the package was opened, the scent didn’t overwhelm. You can clearly see the sundried tomatoes in there (whoa!) and they really taste like sundried tomatoes (although, they are a bit leathery). I’ll be honest: it wasn’t great. But it wasn’t terrible, either. I have no intentions of going out and buying this myself, but if it was offered somewhere and I was hungry, I’d probably take it.



Okay, I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter. I know lots of people are, but it’s just never done it for me, so making it into a shake was totally not an option. :-X But you know what I do like? Peanut butter cookies! Way back in middle school home ec class (do they even teach that anymore??), we had to make peanut butter cookies with a super simple, egg-free recipe, and this seemed like a perfect way to try it out! I swapped out a few tablespoons of the bisquick for the protein powder and made them like normal. You know what? They weren’t half bad! They definitely make a guilty pleasure feel slightly less guilty. The texture was a little bit different and the taste was definitely more peanuty than I’m used to, but it was a good substitute. I would add more condensed milk and/or peanut butter though – with the protein powder, they seemed just a bit drier than normal. (Unfortunately, the batches are small and go quick – I forgot to take pictures until the last one went down the hatch!)

Next up? YerbaPrima Daily Fiber Formula. I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t even know what to do with this stuff. I’ve never been one for supplements and couldn’t help but giggle at the bilberry extract and milk thistle extract (not judging, I promise). And it really lost me at the “internal cleansing,” “neutralizing toxins” claim. No. Just no.

Last up? Movit Energy Gummies. They have fewer carbs than my normal gels or chomps and a teeny bit of sodium. But 375% of the necessary daily vitamin c? 100% of B6 (which, of course, they had to be fancy with and call “pyridoxine hydrochloride”)? Meh. The smell though, is reminiscent of a candy from my childhood – I just can’t remember which one! The taste is good and they’re easily chewable. Again, I’m not giving up my usual gels or chews, but I’d consider these if they were free.


I’m glad I gave this Bulubox a try. I think it’s rare that someone likes everything sent to them in a subscription box every single month, so I don’t feel bad about the mixed reviews. But with that said, I’m still skeptical of subscription boxes that send me random things. I’m kinda stingy with my money and would rather spend it on things that I definitely know I like.

Does BuluBox seem like something you’d like to try?? You can use the code SWEATPINK to get 50% off of a 3-month subscription! 

1 Comment

I did it.

16 miles.

As much as I hurt this morning, I was prepared to bail at 5.

But I did it. I got through all 16 miles. I had yards of tape holding my leg together and my training partners were awesome about trying out a new route that didn’t involve crossing the major roadway, and we got through it together. Hills and rain and all.


You know what’s truly amazing? This badass chick ran 16 miles. SIX TIMES!!


Ortho Update

I swear sometimes I’m actually a 90 year old… the best damn looking 90 year old in town, but I digress…

This morning I met with my ortho to determine whether my aches and pains are something I can run through or something I need to sit my butt down for.

The good news? No stress fractures! My bones look purrrrrrdy. Yay!!

The not-so-good news? I’ve got a laundry list of issues…

  1. The thigh/femur pain is actually a very angry sartorius muscle.
    Remember that song from kindergarten, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”? (ha! now that song’s stuck in your head for the rest of the week, too! 😉 )Yeah, well, dem bones tendons are all connected…. which leads us to…
  2. Bursitis of the Pes anserine, and
  3. Distal hamstring tendinitis.


At least it’s not a stress fracture!! 😀

I get a cortisone injection for the bursitis next week, but this week’s long run is still in question. As the ortho said, if it hurts, don’t run. Ugh. But I can take OTC anti-inflamatories if they help. Yay! Well, not really yay, but you know… #runnerlogic

Luckily i was able to get in an awesome 5 mile run on the AlterG this afternoon. Started out at 70% body weight but was able to get up to 80% once the excedrin kicked in – and I did it in major PR territory! 43:43. Woo!!

Maybe I can break into the PT’s office this weekend and do my 16 miler on the AlterG so I don’t have to do it on the elliptical…. Only kinda sorta half joking….


Well, I wouldn’t actually break in, but I’m not above begging and crying. Seriously.


Race Report: Charles Street 12 Miler

After nearly 2 weeks off, my second run back was going to be a race. Good plan, right?

Because this is a point-to-point race, my mom dropped me off at the beginning of the race so I didn’t have to drive allllll the way downtown just to take a bus allllll the way back out to the suburbs. 4:45am was early enough, I didn’t need to make it 3:45.


The day before the race I received an email from one of my marathon coaches, letting us know that all training group participants were welcomed to use a local PT clinic as a pre-race gathering point – real bathrooms!! woohoo!! It was super nice of LifeStrength Physical Therapy to let us crash there and have a brekkie/fuel spread for us. It made meeting up with running buddies a whole lot easier and made the whole morning a lot less stressful.

About 15 minutes before the race we headed over to the start area and I ran in to one of the women I ran with last year. We all chatted and did our dynamic warmups, then headed up to the starting line.

Naturally, the joggler was there


two inflatable baseball bats and a football this time

And then I ran into a local runner (more accurately, he ran into me) who I’ve been chatting with on twitter and instagram for about a year but had never actually met. Smalltimore at its best!

Given that I really hadn’t run in nearly two weeks and my leg was questionable at best, I was pretty nervous through the announcements and the anthem. Luckily, the race started on time without much delay – much less time to worry!

My main goal for this race was getting through it. In one piece. As my PT (and mom, and running buddies, and friends) reminded me on Friday, this isn’t a race for me – it’s just a well-supported training run. No racing.


Tracy, Ivan, Jenni, and I all started together, but Ivan peeled off after about a half mile, as he was planning on doing a run/walk to get through it with his injury. Jenni was chomping at the bit from the get go, and although I could see her for the first mile or so, she pulled away in the second mile. Tracey ran with me the whole time, graciously putting up with my aches and pains and walking.

This race is billed as a downhill race (it is net-downhill), but the first couple of miles are full of uphills – and the first mile is all uphill! I knew this, though, and was well prepared for it.

We ran through the campus of my undergrad alma matter and finally hit the race’s namesake in the 3rd mile and hit a few more hills as we ran through Rolland Park, past the Cathedral, the College of Notre Dame of of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland. The pain I had in my femur after the 20 miler came back around mile three. The pain level held pretty steady, but it was enough to cause me to walk up a few hills (*tear*) and walk through every water stop.

As we approached Johns Hopkins University’s main campus, the route turns decidedly more urban. The road turns to the right as you leave Rolland Park and enter Homeland, which gives you your first glimpse of the Baltimore skyline – a view you keep the entire way downtown. It’s easily one of my favorite views in Baltimore.


I’ve honestly never seen so many cops on a race course as I did on this one – most of the intersections had 2-3 officers holding traffic for us. It’s been a rough year for officers in Baltimore (and around the country, really), so I made sure to thank as many as I could. Most of the cars they had stopped were being respectful and patient, but in certain areas they were getting mouthy with the officers. Maybe if they ran with us they’d be a bit more chilled out 😉 And they just might’ve gotten to their destination quicker…

It’s really amazing that this race goes on as it really does muck up one of Baltimore’s main arteries. We ran in the southbound lanes, allowing traffic to flow northbound, but cross-traffic was held up for quite a while as the pack spread out throughout the course of the run. It really says a lot about Charm City Run and Charm City that we get the opportunity to run down such a scenic route.

After wiping out on Charles Street during the St. Patrick’s Day 5k, I was a bit paranoid about tripping on the road again – unfortunately, this meant that I spent more time looking at the road than I did looking at the gorgeous scenery (seriously, I barely even remember running past the Washington Monument).


If only Charles Street was actually a flat surface!

Once we cleared the spot where I tripped in March, I was able to relax a bit. We ran through downtown and into the Federal Hill neighborhood, where we did a u-turn and headed back towards the Inner Harbor. The end was near! As we approached the finish, we veered off the road and onto the promenade (another known trip risk for me!), past Harbor Place and the World Trade Center, before heading back onto the road for the final approach. One of our coaches was there cheering us on, which helped take my mind off of the pain for a moment. One more turn and we were home free!

My goal for the race was to finish around 2:15 – which would mean I kept a comfortable pace, consistent with recent long runs. Tracey and I finished together in 2:13:35. Nearly perfect. 🙂

It felt weird to not race a race, but I knew why I was there. I got through it, without letting the rust legs and pain stop me. Jenni ended up finishing a few minutes before us, but we never saw Ivan again.


To top off a great race, they had a party for us at Power Plant Live, with a live band, boxed lunches (that were actually pretty good!), and free beer for those who wished to partake.

Despite being in pain for the rest of the weekend, I’m calling this race a success. I made it through the run and through the pain. I kept a good pace throughout and, other than the left thigh, felt pretty good.

But I’ll find out just how much of a success this truly was when I meet with the orthopedist tomorrow morning. I’m hoping to get an MRI to rule out (I hope, I pray) a femoral stress fracture. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!