Category Archives: Beer

Race Report: Cottonmouth 8 Mile Beer Relay

Hands down, this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. Will really doesn’t race anymore after three ankle surgeries but I wrangled him into this one because it was a relay race, involved beer and was on trails rather than roads. The basic setup was that there is a two mile trail loop and teams of 1 to 4 had an option to drink a beer before the lap then set off for a 2 minute deduction in total time. The other component was that you had to carry a full beer “baton” for the whole race. There were age graded adjustments built in as well for final results. We did the relay as a two person team; I ran legs 1 and 3 and Will ran legs 2 and 4.

The night before the race, we had the arduous task of choosing our beer. It had to be >5% ABV, it had to be beer based (meaning ciders etc were excluded) and we wanted it to be in a bottle for easy drinking and something we would likely never want to drink again in case we got sick while running. We spent an inordinate amount of time in Ingles and finally settled on New Belgium’s Watermelon Lime Ale, coming in at 5% in bottle form. Our only mistake was not making sure they were twist off tops, which meant that we had to also remember to bring a bottle opener.

We got to Travelers Rest a little before 9 on Sunday morning and had an easy, breezy check in process. The Race Director was delightful and super welcoming, which was a nice change from my last attempt to get involved in the running community here. Will and I set out to preview the course which was marked with big arrow signs and after the first downhill (which, incidentally, was super technical), encountered two arrows that went like this –> <–. Hm. We tried to backtrack from the other side of the loop and still couldn’t make it work. We finished the course preview of the second half, a loop that included a football field and old asphalt track and let the Race Director know that something was up with the first loop. When he went out to check, he found that someone had reversed 5 of his arrows overnight! After he fixed it, we went back out to preview the first half of the course and it had magically turned into a great trail loop!

From the get-go, this race was low key and fun and prerace was no exception. People were hanging out, drinking beers and playing beer pong and corn hole. I didn’t drink before because I was already concerned about my ability to drink two beers and run 4 miles. I was also worried that I’d overload on fluid so despite the fact that it was in the 80s and sunny, I didn’t let myself have water and was PARCHED. My biggest prerace concern was chugging a beer at the start. I’ve never been one to chug anything, in part because of my inability to burp, and I was worried that it would take me 2 minutes to finish my beer and erase the 2 minutes that drinking a beer erased from each lap.

Chose an appropriate singlet for the morning! Cheers!

The start went WAY better than anticipated for me. I got the bottle open without difficulty and managed to drink it in ~25 seconds. I started to run in about 15th place and jogged out of the start area. Our plan was to take the whole race at about tempo effort but try to run intelligently on the course. The first mile was all trail and had sections with very technical footing and a big climb. The second mile was much more runnable and had a football field and lap on the old track, so was a perfect place to make up some time. The first downhill was MISERABLE. I was so full and had a sloshy stomach and desperately needed to burp, which is never my strong point. Since the whole idea was to have fun, I just kept jogging until I finally mercifully burped and felt 100% better. I found my tempo effort and started passing people quickly. When we came out of the woods, I found myself in 3rd place, solidly behind first (the race director who is a beast of a trail runner and beat us by 90 seconds) and about 30 seconds behind second. As we moved onto the faster part of the loop, I worked at closing the gap to second (our main competition) and ultimately got within 15 seconds of him. I finished the first lap in 15:35 and tagged off to Will, who put his beer down much more efficiently than me.

The man, the myth, the legend with better knee drive than I could ever hope for.

Will’s first lap was a beautiful thing. I’ve never seen him race and it was really fun to watch him pick his way over the course. He’s a great trail runner and a heck of a gamer in races and it was incredibly fun to get the chance to cheer for him for a change. The runner from the other team was very, very fast and Will did his best to hang close enough to him to keep us in it. At some point in his loop, Will passed the second runner from the team who had come in first (they were a 3 person team) as well and he came into the exchange zone in second by about 20 seconds.

My second beer was not as smooth as my first but I got it down in about 30 seconds and took off again. Unfortunately, the team that we were chasing was much more proficient and he was gone from sight before I finished my beer. This time, I was able to burp almost immediately and pushed my effort to tempo effort from the get-go. Although I couldn’t see my actual competition, there were plenty of people to pass on course which made it very easy to stay focused. Unfortunately, the second lap was MUCH warmer than the first. When we were in the woods, it wasn’t too bad but when we came out into the full sun, woooooweeee it was hot. I worked hard to not give up on the track and through the final field and was happy yet again to find that I had the fitness to start in tempo/interval effort in the final part of the race. I came into the exchange zone in a solid second but quite a ways down from the first team. My lap time was 15:45, which I was happy with now that I had two beers sloshing around.

Will took off after another great beer exchange and I jogged to the corner at the end of the woods loop to await him. The runner for the first team is clearly a trail guy; he hammered the first half of the course and put a lot of distance on Will. When they hit the flats, however, Will started to close the gap again. They ultimately beat us handily but I think Will and I were both super happy with our efforts!

The final rule was that at the finish line, you had to shake up the full beer that had been your baton the whole time and crack it open and spray. I’ve rarely seen Will smile so easily as he did when the finish line official made him do it! I had to duck and run to avoid a full spray of warm, shaken Budweiser.

Good thing we brought a change of clothes!

All in all, it was an awesome experience for us and a decent workout to boot. After the race, we hung around for almost two hours and ate pizza and met lots of runners from the Greenville running community. I connected with a runner (incidentally the guy who ran my leg from the team who beat us) who works at Pace Running, which is a local running store in Travelers Rest that exclusively carries Skechers so it was fun to talk shop a bit. It was such a nice contrast from my first experience to feel welcome and included just by virtue of showing up.

From a race perspective, I’m just so grateful to continue forward progress. My laps were very close in time and our team average pace was 7:45, so my 7:47 and 7:52 didn’t hold us back too badly! Given that my mile pace for the Asheville half was 7:20, I feel very good about this performance on trails, in the hot sun post-beers!

My favorite part of the day, however, was getting to see Will in race mode. We met after his first ankle surgery when he was already in the long, long recovery process and he hasn’t raced much since then. He did one 5K as part of the VCM relay and paced another for one of my athletes but otherwise just runs for fun. Without putting too much of him on the blog without his permission, I’ve always thought that he was nervous about racing again because it might fall short of his prior performances. I think Sunday was a great step for him to realize that you can reinvent yourself and race for fun and still be a “runner.”

Just Be Nice

I hesitated to write this post for over a week. I talked it over with friends, both running and non, and mulled over it on multiple runs. I ultimately decided to post this fully knowing that some of the people involved may eventually read it (or may already have found my blog). If they do, perhaps this will serve as a wakeup call as to how they might be perceived.

Last week, I forced myself to go to a group run in Asheville. I am not opposed to running with other people but going as a stranger to a group run in a new town was terrifying. I was nervous all day and checked their website 10 times. Open to all. Social run. All welcome. Get out of your comfort zone Sarah. I showed up a little early for the 6:15 run in hopes that I could find some other attendees to connect with so I had a “friend’ for the run. As it turned out, there were two groups meeting to run that night, one for a birthday party (not the open one) and the open one I was supposed to meet up with. I walked over to a group of women and asked if they were there for the Thursday run and they confirmed that they were. Then, crickets. After some awkward silence, one asked if I was sponsored by Skechers (the gear and shoes give it away) and I answered yes. Again, crickets. One of the other women had to pee so I asked if I could go with her, since I had to pee too but wasn’t sure if we could use the bathrooms at the start.

When we got back from the bathroom, the group had circled up and the leader was describing the route. I, however, was on the complete outside of the circle with one other girl and we were neither included, nor able to hear. Thankfully, I knew the route from being in Asheville this summer. Then the run started, no, took off. The group literally took off from zero to 7 minute pace and left this other girl and I behind. As readers of this blog know, 7 minute pace isn’t a big deal for me. In a workout. When I want to do a workout. When I’m going to a social Thursday night run, however, I’m not running that pace. Thankfully this other girl who was also relatively new to Asheville was happy to run a more pedestrian pace of 8 minute miles and we did 5 miles together, chatting about endurance related things.

We waited for the rest of the group when we got back (the plan was to grab a beer as a group) but it turns out, no one would have cared if we did or not. No one could be bothered to acknowledge us and when we went to buy beer, they sat at a different table. It was the closest thing to my high school experience that I’ve had in 15 years and I coach high school!! We ultimately got up and went and stood awkwardly near the group for the remainder of our beers.  As soon as mine was done, I drove home and was mortified/sad/angry.

One of the things that I LOVE about the running community is that it is open and welcoming to all, regardless of pace. Yes, people may not run together during a run or workout, but before and after, we’re all runners. This experience rattled me enormously and it made me never want to attempt a running group again. As my sister said when I told her about it, “Jeez, I would quit running altogether!”

Now that a week has gone by, I find myself wondering if I should go back. In general, I have a pretty low threshold for people who treat me poorly but this is the post-collegiate USATF group in town and if I want to do USATF events, I’m almost obliged to join. Maybe they’ve been burned by newcomers before? Maybe everyone had a bad day before the run?

Have you ever had a negative group run experience? Am I overreacting?

Week in Review 7.6.15 to 7.12.15

It seems like I just wrote my Week in Review for last week, but apparently another week has passed! I lived through one week on Gyn Surgery and managed to get my runs in. They weren’t pretty, but they happened. Since not everyone goes to medical school, I thought for this week I would include the other bit of my schedule to give a more “full circle” view of my not-so-glamorous life.

Monday: Orientation from 7:30 til 3:30. 6.9 mile run afterward with Joey then studying/prepping for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday: Orientation from 7 til 2, break to run 9.7 miles in 70 degree dew point with 5 by 300 hard on the track. Incredibly miserable run. There was sweat pouring into my eyes and I wasn’t sure I could move. Then back to school from 6 to 8 for pelvic boot camp. It was what it sounded like…

Wednesday: Up at 4:30 am to prep for the day. 5 cases for the day, so I stood for 12.5 hours in the OR. Home at 6:30 and since my legs were throbbing, decided to take my scheduled rest day (prorated 7) for the week. Prepped until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Thursday: Up at 5 but only 3 cases today. 8.8 recovery miles afterward. SORE/ACHY.

Friday: Up early but no scheduled cases. Studied in the library with my legs up until we were released at 1. Napped, went to Burlington Beer Company with my best friend and her husband who were passing through then ran 8 miles home from there. Gotta do what you gotta do.

Saturday: 10 miles with 4 by 5 minutes at T pace (170 HR) on the Causeway and a lovely lake soak afterward. Legs at night.

See the trees on the horizon to the left? That's the incredible Causeway.

See the trees on the horizon to the left? That’s the incredible Causeway.

Sunday am: 15 mile with Annie absolutely dying in the heat, even at 8 am.

Sunday pm: 5 miles with the team. River soak planned!!

Total Miles: 70.4

This week was brutally painful on my legs. I wore compression socks and running shoes and tried to focus on good posture in the OR but am still in just an enormous amount of low grade pain from concrete floors. Just working on being kind to myself and going on effort with the reminder that in 5 weeks, I’m off to focus on training until Philly.

Leftover picture from last week on the Rail Trail. 16 miles of this!!

Leftover picture from last week on the Rail Trail. 16 mile trail, for 32 miles of amazing running if you need it.

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!

 

Not The Cool Kid

I spend so much of my time around runners or people I’ve bullied into being runners (or at least running regularly) that I sometimes forget that it’s not standard to run every day or to run for at least an hour every time you lace up. Asking me if I’m running today is akin to asking me if I brushed my teeth; almost guaranteed that I did or will on both. I was reminded of my relative eccentricity today when some of the residents and other medical students asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner. When I asked about time frame, they said 5 pm. In moments like these, I always have a rapid, painful internal struggle not unlike a middle school kid. Of course I want to go to dinner with my colleagues and be part of the club. Of course I want to destress and eat delicious food. But here in Lewiston, I run at 5 pm for at least an hour or until the light fades.

When I responded “Oh, I’d love to but I am planning on running this afternoon,” I was met with the familiar “But you can run tomorrow and dinner is way more fun!” This always puts me in an odd position. Of course I can run tomorrow (and I will) but I also need to run today because I have crazy goals and it’s all about the miles run…and no normal person gives a shit about this answer. And as I’ve done a hundred times, I thanked them so much for the invite and said I hoped I could make it next time. I do legitimately hope this, but the invite has to fall on a rest day or a day when I’ve run in the morning.

As I was running (and not socializing) this afternoon, I started to wonder about the repercussions of always saying no to such things. In my life at home, almost everyone assumes I’ll show up to things after my workout or doesn’t bother inviting me to things that are in direct conflict. What happens, however, in two short years when I’m out in a Residency trying to build important bonds with colleagues and Attendings? Am I hurting my career and networking by skipping out on these things? Will I miss out on the personal bonds that are so critical to sanity and survival in medicine?

Anyone have any experiences (positive or negative) with situations like these? How do you balance running and other social obligations?

It’s the Little Things

In the grand scheme of things, getting mileage in is sort of the easy part of training. It’s all the extra things that take additional time  and although you can skip them once in a while and get away with it, eventually avoiding core, flexibility, striders, nutrition (the list could go on and on) really catches up with you.

Over the past few weeks, my runs have felt really sluggish. At first I attributed it to heat and humidity then to the grind of high mileage and finally to school starting again. Even with these attributions, however, a voice in the back of my head started to worry that my slow pace was going to become a chronic condition. At the same time, one of my athletes began to have similarly sluggish legs. Without missing a beat, I asked if she was doing striders after easy runs and we made a plan to make sure she isn’t doing recovery paced days without them. On the drive home, I realized I couldn’t think of the last time I’d done striders. I always have them on my schedule but I don’t always get them done. After this realization, I started doing my striders again and miracle, my legs (and paces) feel much better. Science. It’s a thing.

Every training cycle is full of dropped little things. Now that I’m a little over 5 weeks away from Albany, however, the little things are basically all I have left. The vast majority of my mileage is done and I only have a few workouts left. I do, however, have 40 ish days to make sure the rest of me is ready to run. Here are the little things to which I’ll be attending over the next few weeks:

Nutrition

Tis the saddest time of the year with timing right around my birthday AND pumpkin beer season, but within 8 weeks of a goal race, I avoid all alcohol. If I were really serious, I would avoid it for the whole training cycle but I live in Vermont and near way too much delicious craft beer goodness. My compromise is that once I’m into the final stages, I don’t drink.

It’s also the time when I start avoiding any allergens (milk/dairy) and swap to low fiber versions of food. No more brown rice or veggie pasta; white rice and semolina for me!

Finally, it’s time to dial my in-race nutrition in. Albany doesn’t have bottles like VCM did, so I have to practice with lemon lime gatorade. Thankfully Will rides next to me on a bike and just hands me a bottle when “it’s my time,” so I don’t have to do a lot of thinking.

Strength Training

At this point, I’ve stopped lifting heavy legs in the gym. The muscle I have now is the muscle I’ll carry in the marathon and lifting doesn’t help me hit my workouts at my best. I will continue to do my hip core routine right up until about a week out. I will also continue to lift arms up until about a week out. Core work (which is on pause right now because I stupidly strained an intercostal muscle) will continue until a week out as well.

Flexibility

This is the big one and one I haven’t been as good about in the last few weeks. To rectify this, I’ve been foam rolling in the morning when the dogs eat breakfast and stretching my psoas as often as I remember to.

PT

I had surgery 10 months ago? Right. Right after I finish foam rolling, I spend a few minutes per foot on my foam pad to continue working on proprioception. My foot is feeling ok but I can tell when I’ve skipped my PT work.

Sleep

This is a hard one when I have to balance school, coaching, training and occasionally hanging out with my husband. As often as I can, I aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I knew when I signed up to coach again this fall that I have to give up some other things and school is one of the things that I have to be flexible on. We’re lucky to be on an Honors-Pass-Fail system and I constantly have to remind myself that I am not Supergirl and that if I want to be Supercoach and Superrunner, P = MD for me. Even with this attitude, there are days (and stretches of days) where 6 hours of sleep is a luxury.

What are your “little things?” What changes do you make as you begin your final approach to a big race?

Sh@& Runner Girls Eat

It took me a remarkably long time to bounce back after VCM this year. Only in the past week have I started to feel like my legs have spring and like I might be fast again. A big part of that was taking a frank look at my nutrition; for me, training and nutrition are linked. When I train hard, I eat well. When I’m not running much, however, I tend towards crappy food that makes me feel horrible. So over the past two weeks, I’ve worked hard to get back in a nutrition groove and it’s working. Even on the road last week, I stopped to get fruits, veggies and yogurt to snack on. And last night, I returned to my Sunday routine of making all my carbs and veggies for the week. Here’s hoping the recovery continues…

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You Might Be a Runner If…

…your shorts make other people uncomfortable and are one butterfly stretch away from indecent exposure

…you purchase more than 1 jar of peanut butter to get through the week

…you and your significant other’s idea of bedroom wear are matching Strassburg Socks

…you firmly believe that cotton kills baby animals

…the Stick and Body Glide in your bedroom have nothing to do with sex

…you talk about beer during your workouts and your workouts while drinking beer

…you have to remind yourself that snot rockets and spitting are not appropriate when you’re not running

…you don’t know what some of your running partners do for work, but you know their 5, 10, half and full PRs

…you’ll change anywhere, anytime. Same goes for bathroom breaks.

 

What silly things define you as a runner? How do you categorize “real” runners versus hobby joggers?

 

Snapshots of a Busy Runner

Anyone who knows me knows that my house is always neat as a pin. I can’t study if there are dishes in the sink or clothes on the floor. I can’t sleep if everything isn’t in its place. So, you know I’m busy when this is what my front door area looked like this morning: an actual explosion of my gym bag post-tempo run last night. I was so tired when I got home that I did enough so that the wet clothes didn’t mold in my bag…but not much else. I did manage this pile this morning, but not before I had a chance to grab evidence that my house isn’t always perfect.

And then there was breakfast this morning. In my rush to get out the door to the library, I decided to make breakfast in a red Solo cup. It’s not the first time I’ve done this and it won’t be the last. I threw together oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate syrup and almond protein powder and BAM, Reese’s Oatmeal to-go. The funny looks I get toting food around in a cup normally reserved for kegs is worth it.

And now back to studying…

Pulling It Back Together

I’m finally on Spring Break this week. Unlike Spring Break in college which usually involved a beach, a beer bong and a week of hungover running, I’m using this break to get caught up on sleep, running, life and school. Much less exciting, but much needed. While I’m getting my head out from under water, here are some links to keep you entertained that I meant to write on weeks ago and a new funny runner girl blog to read:

A Family Affair

Physics I can actually dig.

The Runs on My Run.

I’m so grateful for a free week to get caught up and the timing is perfect for New Bedford. I’m hopeful that another strong week of training with plenty of time to rest will result in a great performance next weekend.