HAHAHA whaaat? Another 2013 goal achieved: 5k PR smashed!

Saint, before I left for the hilly 5k yesterday morning: I think you’re going to run it in… 26:30.

Me: Are you kidding? I’m going for sub-25:00 [as that’s my 5k goal for 2013].

Saint: Oh, well then! I thought you didn’t like the course?

Me: [the course map was emailed to us late Friday night, so I knew it before I left] Nah, it’s not that I don’t like it per se… it’s just hilly, more so than I might like, but I’m familiar with it and I know how to run it. I may not get sub-25:00, but I am certainly going to do my best!

Saint: Get it, girl! *high-five*

And off I went.

This is the part that Saint missed:

I put myself near the front and thought I went out entirely too fast, but I was being drafted and eventually passed by a guy with the most astoundingly loud footfalls on the downhills that I wanted to get away from him just to escape that awful thudding sound that made me cringe and think “knee injury coming through!”. So I dusted him and finally disposed of him on the flat parts, and as we rounded the turns towards the middle of the course, I was passed by a guy with the name “Hunter” on the back of his shirt. I don’t know why, but he irritated me, and I resolved to pass him – right when we turned around to head back and got to the really hilly part of the course. Whatever, I thought, I know how to run these hills and I bet he doesn’t. [Even if that’s not true, it helps me to tell myself that as motivation!] So I started pumping my arms to catch him. But he wasn’t giving in! Two more turns, and then I had him: and then I heard footsteps behind me. I didn’t glance back, but I knew someone was drafting me again, and as we turned a corner and the volunteers directed us, they cheered for him: “Go, Dr. Pearson!” OK, not the Hunter guy, I thought, but don’t let him pass you. It’s stupid, really, because in a race I’m really only racing against myself, but I find it helpful sometimes to use poor unsuspecting people as motivation to keep pushing. This guy will never know it, but he’s the only thing that kept me from slowing down in the last mile.

We pushed up a giant hill and then back down to make one of the last two left turns with about a half-mile to go, and there was a girl far in front of me that I knew I wasn’t going to catch (I mean like 200 yards in front of me, even though she kept looking back as if she was afraid of being caught). I knew the doctor was still close behind me, so I pushed on the flat and downhill parts to put some distance between us in case he had a kick for the hill at the end saved up. At one point I’d thought I was going to puke and hyperventilate because I was, really, running way outside of my comfort zone, but I also knew that if I pushed I could probably get that sub-25:00 PR. I was again running without a watch, and running only by feel, and I felt like crap in the way that I knew I was going to have a good race, if that makes sense.

So we approached the final hill and I hauled ass up it. I heard the doctor’s footsteps drop off and I thought for a second that he’d stopped entirely – but no, when we got to the top and onto the flat straightaway before the downhill into the last turn into the finish, I could hear him again, but not as close as he’d sounded before. I didn’t dare look back, so I focused on getting downhill. One last turn – there’s the timing clock, what does it say? I squinted, but couldn’t make it out juuuust yet – wait, what? Does that say 23:something? 23:30 – HOLY SHIT WHAT. Not only was I going to make sub-25:00, but if I truly hauled ass, I could make sub-24:00. I think I actually started laughing, and then I started sprinting. My lungs were all “what the fuck are you doing” and my legs were all “you bitch, you have GOT to be kidding” but the clock was ticking 23:48, 23:49, 23:50… I think? I don’t know! And then I crossed, and what the FUCK that was awesome. I just broke 24:00 in the 5k WHAAAAaaaaaat.

I knew I’d gotten under 24, but not by how much, and I didn’t find out until much later when I was home and looking for the results. The PDF listed the age group winners first, so I scrolled right past them and went for my name in the finishers’ list- ah, there I was, 37th place (out of 150), 23:54. Woohoo! Then I scrolled up again and –

Huh. Wait, is that my name up there? The fuck?

I got 2nd in my age group, 30-39 females. 😀

WHAAAAAT. I mean, you guys, I don’t do this. I don’t win races, I don’t come close to winning races or even age groups, but – wait, wow, what? OMG, I won a prize that I now have to go pick up somewhere because I left early because I never in any sort of version of life figured that I’d get an age group award?

I thought I was going to bounce off the walls. I high-fived Saint with such force that I think I hurt his hand. This is so big for me: I’ve now met 2 of my 4 running goals for 2013, and we’re only at the end of March. [Yes, okay, there *were* only 150 people in the race, but I also was the 8th female overall, which also just does not happen. Word!]

So, yeah, I felt/feel pretty freaking awesome about that. It’s a rainy Easter day here, so we’re just taking it easy, lounging and watching TV and (I at least am) reading about baseball because TOMORROW IS OPENING DAY AND THAT IS GOOD. March ends on a rather fantastic note, which pleases me greatly. 😀

Marine Corps Marathon 2013: here I come!

Huzzah! (Can I say “ooh-rah” if I’m not a Marine? It feels wrong, so I’ll just stick with Huzzah! for now.) I am one of the lucky several thousand who received an email yesterday afternoon containing the following magical words: “Congratulations, you’re in!” In case you hadn’t heard (and I don’t expect you to have), The People’s Marathon is one of the fastest sell-outs in the U.S., and this year it sold out in less time than many people will run it: 2 hours and 27 minutes. I was online right when registration opened, and spent 20 minutes refreshing windows in multiple browsers, but eventually, I made it in. Many did not, and I understand their frustration, so I wonder if the MCM is going to continue to use its active.com online registration free-for-all next year. Since I have no complaints, I don’t think they should do anything, but a quick peek at the vitriol being spewed on Facebook at the MCM tells a different story.

*shrug*

In any event, I’m in and I’m giddy as a schoolgirl, because I’ve already booked my hotel room for the weekend and spent a little too much time last night geeking out over the course map (see it here, and tell me you don’t see what I see on the right-hand side: http://www.marinemarathon.com/MCM_Runner_Info/Course_Maps_908.htm) and reading a million things about logistics and race-day fun and the foods they’ll have on the course. I did that last thing because one thing I might try with training for this marathon is using the fuel they’ll offer in the race on my long runs – and I decided that before I saw that they’re handing out Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins at mile 24. 🙂

Another thing I’m going to try with training for this marathon (my second. Eeee!) is simply running more: upwards of 40-50 miles a week, or about twice what I did when training for my first one. How exactly I am going to accomplish this while working, teaching, and writing my dissertation is a question I am still sorting out, but –

Wait, what? Writing my dissertation? Didn’t I have to pass some PhD exams first, you ask? (Or I ask, rhetorically?)

Well, yes, I did, and yes, I did – I finished my oral exams yesterday, so I’m all officially ABD (“all-but-dissertation”, in gradschool speak). This means that the only thing left to do (HA!) before graduating is write (and, uh, I guess defend) my dissertation, which then means I can get a job being all teachy-like somewhere. But, yes, this was a huge hurdle, and I’m glad to have cleared it. I definitely cracked open a celebratory Hopslam last night when I got home. 🙂

In other brief running news, just for fun, I’m running a 5k Saturday morning to see if I can achieve another 2013 goal: the sub-25:00 5k. It’s a hilly course – actually, I don’t know what the exact course is, but it’s a neighborhood course that has several hills and I kind of like that it’s a “show up and we tell you where to go” sort of race – so I’m not sure how this will shake out, but I feel ready to do some sprinting for a few miles. I’ve been having good success with recovering slowly and safely after my half two weeks ago, and the race benefits a good cause, so why not?

So, that’s that for now. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, this was all rather redundant, but oh well. 🙂

Race report: Shamrock Half Marathon (Virginia Beach)

aka THE BEST RACE EVAR but not just because I got my damn PR. Well, okay, maybe it’s mostly because of that, but still. 😀

So, yes: I chose this race because it takes place in a completely flat city and because I wanted something easy to help me gun for a PR. Hills of any sort do not help me do that, so this was the obvious choice; I knew from running in Virginia Beach last year that I’d enjoy running races here later, and that was true back in December when I did a ten-miler with a friend. (We took it easy, and finished at 1:59:57. Yes, this becomes important later.)

The weather forecasts hadn’t looked great, so I was not exactly pleased when we arrived Saturday evening and it was windy as all get-out. I know, it’s right next to the ocean, how can it not be windy, but this was a bit much. During dinner, it started raining, but I was okay with that as long as it meant that the rain would clear out for the next morning. It ended at some point, and when I woke up Sunday morning, the pavement was dry but the flags were whipping in the breeze. It took me forever to decide what to wear – the weather channel said it was 44 degrees but felt like 42, even though that didn’t seem to take the wind into account – but I finally settled on a t-shirt and capris, with a headband to keep the sweat off my face, gloves for my hands, and a light jacket for before the race that would go in my dry bag. (I heat up quickly, but the first few miles of a run always suck if it’s cold outside.)

I went through my pre-race routine, roused Saint to let him know I was leaving and that I would see him at the finish, and made my way outside. Wheeeeee windy! My first thought was holy shit, it’s gonna suck when I ditch this jacket. I took shelter in a 7-11 with a few hundred of my closest friends and waited as long as I could before heading outside to ditch my dry bag and join my corral for the scheduled 7am start. At 6:55, I sucked it up and left.

By 7:00, I was jacketless and lined up at the front of my corral and jumping around to keep warm. The wind was fierce, and made us all put on faces of “ugh, why do we do this again?”

By 7:10, we hadn’t started.

By 7:15, we hadn’t started.

By 7:20, we were starting to get really pissed off that we hadn’t started, for what was no apparent reason. I was mostly pissed because I was cold and wanted to get moving, and I’m sure I’m not alone, but some sort of announcement other than “We’ll get started shortly!” at what must have been 7:02 would have gone a long way towards easing my irritation. (This was a very uncharacteristic misstep for the race organizers; the company behind them does a fantastic job otherwise, in my experience, so I’m totally willing to write this off as an aberration.)

Since I had no watch, I of course estimate these times, and once we did finally, finally start (I was in the sixth corral, so it seemed like it took forever to get the first five through), I guessed that about five minutes had passed before I started asking around for the real-time time. When I finally got it, I was shocked to find out that it was 7:35, which meant that my first thought was oh crap, Saint’s gonna freeze his butt off waiting for me at the finish, because he expects me to finish close to 9:00. Well, shit… But, having no phone with you to call him and tell him this, what can you do?

Keep running. So, I did. My goal for this race was a sub-2 hour finish, when my previous best was a 2:15 finish. That’s an ambitious goal, but on a flat course and with more weekly mileage and better training behind me, I thought that it was still attainable. Since I had no watch, and haven’t for some time, I had to do what I’ve been doing for a while, which was run by feel instead of by numbers. This is my scale: can I talk to the person next to me? Easy pace, good for a long run (11-12:00 minute miles). Can I gaspingly talk to the person next to me? Tempo pace, good for shorter runs (10:00 minute miles). Am I breathing audibly and with obvious effort? Near threshold pace, good for mini-speedwork in a run (9:00-9:30 minute miles). Do I feel like I’m about to puke? 5k pace, good for short races or sprinting (anything under 9:00 minute mile runs, usually closer to 7:00 minute miles for sprinting, only good over short bursts or a few miles). This helped me gauge where I was in my race, and helped me expend energy accordingly.

I started out at a good clip, at the front of my corral on purpose so I’d have room to get clear and settle into my pace without tripping over anyone. I thought at first I’d gone out too fast, so I checked myself (literally) with a beer at the Hash House Harriers’ beer stop at mile 2.5 – it was about a shot’s worth of a clear lager, so I figured, hey, hydration! – but knew also that I’d have to be very smart with my water stops in order to not waste too much time. I also knew I’d have to do what’s called ‘running the tangents’, which is when you take all possible inside lines of curves in the course, to also not waste time, because running on the outside of turns can actually add a lot of time to your race.

Miles 3-5 proceeded along without much indicident. I took a Shot Blok at mile 5, and got some water at mile 6, and about then started feeling pain in my knees and the backs of my legs. I wasn’t surprised, since I knew I was running faster than I normally would anyway for such a long race (my breathing told me I was in the 9:40ish/mile zone, but I knew I was going to have to speed up soon to meet my goal time). I did think for a hot second about slowing down to see if that felt better, but I knew it wouldn’t, so I just decided to plod on and forget about it. I kept thinking of what was waiting for me at the finish line – Saint, beer, hot food, a hot shower, the awesome finisher’s swag (yes, I am motivated by shallow things, but it works, dammit!) – and that helped a whole lot.

Miles 8 and 9 also proceeded without incident, though I’d started to pick it up a little in preparation for the last 4 miles. I took another Shot Blok at mile 9, and was hoping desperately for some water before too long (I got it at mile 10), and then I turned it up. 5k pace, torrid breathing, wanting to puke, until the end. I did at a couple of points pause and think, if you hurt yourself, is it worth the PR? And I wrestled with this for a bit, and decided that I was just being a wimp and trying to justify slowing down because I was uncomfortable with my pace. If not here, if not now, then when? Do what you came here to do, you jackass, I thought. So I pushed on. And my hurting bits subsided, though they made it clear that they’d be back to yell at me later.

I’d had no idea what time it actually was in the race before the 5-mile mark, and no other gauge of time until the 10-mile mark. Figuring on a 5-minute delay from the time the race started to the time my timing chip and I crossed the start line, I knew I was okay but needed to push it when I hit the 5-mile mark at 55:00. I hit the 10-mile mark at 1:35, which meant that I had been going faster, but was really going to need to push it over the last 5k. I was encouraged somewhat when I heard a guy behind me tell his buddy “we’re okay, we’re at 1:40”, somewhere in mile 11.5. Two-ish miles in twenty minutes? I got this!, I thought. I was doubly convinced that I was going to haul it in when another woman’s voice behind me said not too much later “Dig deep. You got this!” She wasn’t talking to me, but she may as well have been.

So, I dug. It helped immensely that we were winding our way back towards the crowds and the boardwalk finish with all of the people and things making noise, but I had one thing on my mind the last mile: Get the PR, no matter what. I even passed up the Hash House Harriers’ insistingly free beer at mile 12, which tells you how badly I wanted it (I wanted the beer, too, but priorities!). I’ve never run with such singular focus in my life, and I knew that I was also running my hardest and my best at that moment. It took Saint two or three times to yell my name before I even saw him on the side of the boardwalk cheering for me, and I smiled and yelled, “I got this, baby”, fully believing at that point that I did. I could see the finish line ahead – what did the numbers on the clock say?

I got closer and closer. Just get there. Yeah, it hurts, but good God YOU WANT THIS. Get there. The red numbers slowly came into focus: 2:04:25. Figuring on a 5-minute delay… you better make it there in the next minute, bitch! I picked up my legs and ran. I had nothing resembling a sprint left, but I picked up my legs and I ran. I picked out a girl in front of me and vowed to pass her before the finish, and I ran. I ran and I ran and I caught her! and I crossed the finish line, finally, at 2:05:25.

I was ecstatic. Even if I didn’t make the sub-2 hour cutoff, I’d still obliterated my previous PR, and set a totally awesome new PR. I got my postrace fixin’s – water, banana, cookies, hat, gym bag, blanket (! – and totally crucial on such a windy day, because while I did indeed get quite hot during the race and was glad I’d left my jacket behind, as soon as I stopped moving I started to wish I’d packed a snowsuit in my dry bag, and this blanket was the next best thing) – and found Saint. He knew what time I’d crossed, but neither of us knew what the lag in start time was, so I had no idea if I’d met my goal or not. Having no way to check – the results were not streaming, which we quickly discovered – we decided to enjoy the postrace party and stick around to see if we could see the first marathon finishers come in.

So, we had free beer, and I had free (delicious) hot Irish beef stew (did I mention this was on St Patrick’s day, so there were Irish-themed everythings going on? I’ve never seen so much green on a race course in my life; it also alarms me somewhat that so much of my running wardrobe is green, based on the choices I packed), and we hung out and chatted and I deliriously recapped my race experience and he recapped his spectating experience. We did eventually make our way back outside (the postrace party was in a tent – good call, race organizers!) to see the first marathoners finish, which was cool, and as we made our way back to the hotel we cheered on other marathoners making their way along the course to the halfway point, near where we had started our half.

Since our hotel gave us a super-late checkout, we (read: I) took our (read: my) time showering and stretching and changing and snacking. About an hour after we got back, I couldn’t resist looking up the race results to see if the chip times had been posted. I narrowed the results down to age/gender group, and scrolled through the first page of 100 names, which ended in the 1:51 timeframe. Nah, not me, I thought, and went on to the second page. I started scrolling; 1:56, 1:57, 1:58, no “my name” and we were getting to the bottom of these next 100 names. 1:58:50… 1:58:52…

Then, I saw it: number 199, at the very bottom of the page.

My name. 1:59:05.

I SHRIEKED. I yelped, I danced, I blinked three times and walked away and came back to make sure it was true. Saint had been napping, but I woke him up because I FREAKING DID IT. I met my goal, I smashed my PR, I ran a god-damned sub-2:00 half-marathon when a year ago I thought it absolutely inconceivable to run 9:00/miles for more than one or two at a time. I was so damn proud of myself (well, and still am, actually) for digging in and finding the will and the strength to keep going and give it my all when it would have been easy enough to quit.

Later, I got an email saying that I had placed 2337 out of 8469 overall finishers, 198 out of 901 in my age group for women, and 945 out of 5226 overall women. That’s top-25% for the last two groups, and just out of top-25% for the first group. Y’ALL: I cannot believe that. Look what I did! When I go after something, I am freaking awesome.

(also, remember that 1:59:57 time for the ten-miler I referred to above? This time is nearly a minute faster than that, and covers 3.1 more miles. Ridiculous!)

Anyway, enough crowing and self-congratulation. The race was really a great one; the course was fun, the crowd support was amazing, the expo and logistics were flawless (except for the oddly delayed start), and the post-race care and swag were beyond compare. I have half a mind to run the full marathon here next year, but plan to at least be back for the half, because it was such a positive and rewarding experience.

Doesn’t hurt that I got that damn PR, too. 😀

And yes, I am a bit sore today – mostly in my hips and knees – but it’s nothing that a week of easy running and cross-training won’t fix. I did do a slooooow 2-mile recovery run this morning in the snow (winter’s not done yet, I guess, or at least hasn’t checked the damn calendar) – and I do mean slow, about 12:00-13:00 minute miles! – and felt okay, but my body now is telling me that it’s going to have to be that for the rest of the week. I’m cool with that; said body did everything and more that I asked it to yesterday, so it gets what it wants this week, which may or may not mean a few more donuts and beers here and there. 😉

Aaaand that’s it! If you’re reading this and are looking for a seriously fun, seriously flat, seriously easy race next year, please consider this one. I already can’t wait to sign up for the 2014 iteration. Shamrockin’, indeed.

Assorted things: the blizzard run, tapering, and baseball.

We got some snow last week, as I’d indicated would happen in my last post. We got anywhere from 6-10 inches, depending on where in town you were and who was measuring, and most of the town shut down. This included my school (hooray! classes are cancelled!) but also its libraries (booo, I wanted to use Internet there!) and gyms (uh-oh), mostly because none of these places had any power. My house lost power early in the morning, so after making some phone calls to ascertain all of the above, I went out for my scheduled 6-mile run in driving snow. Wet, heavy, sideways-falling-with-whipping-wind snow.

Yes, I am nuts, but it was one of the most fun runs I’ve ever had. I couldn’t move faster than a shuffle, really, so I just took time to enjoy the scenery. It was beautiful, although destructive – there are still several trees and their parts down even five days later – and in parts dangerous, but all in all, I loved every second of it, even while I was getting splashed with slush from passing cars (sidewalks were totally impassable because no one had started shoveling yet). It was probably the coldest and wettest 6 miles I’ll ever run; every part of me was soaked, even my hair, and my legs were bright red with wet and cold when I peeled everything off to shower. But, whatever: it was awesome. Nearly slipping several times on latent ice three days later was not as awesome, but what can you do? Spring is around the corner (urgh? – I really really love cold-weather running!).

Also around the corner is my next half-marathon. Sunday, in fact, and I’m tapering for it and I forgot how much I frigging hate tapering. My stomach still thinks we’re doing another high-mileage week, and my body is like a stupid kid who’s had too much sugar and has just found out he’s going to Disney World over spring break and is jumping up and down shrieking canwegonowcanwegonowcanwegonow?!?! Arrrrrrgh. I know that this too shall pass, but I’m already antsy, and it’s still six days away. Despite my nagging soreness in certain parts, I do suspect that I will be able to set a PR in this race (unless I literally get hit by a truck before then); I feel superbly ready, and I ran far more miles in training for this one than for any other half I’ve trained (or even for the marathon, really). The course is also flatter than a pancake, with an elevation gain of approximately 25 feet over 13.1 miles. Sweeeet.

Also sweet was the return of somewhat more temperate weather over the weekend – high-50s and low-60s – that allowed me to eschew my studying without guilt (it’s actually spring break around here, though I’m not going to Disney World) and catch a couple of college baseball games. It’s a totally different vibe from the major-league games, obviously, since it’s absent alcohol and plus many, many more families, I think, because the ticket prices are oodles more affordable, but it was still great fun. We opened our conference schedule with a doubleheader on Saturday and an afternoon game on Sunday, which turned out to be a rubber match that we lost, alas. But, the first game on Saturday was quite thrilling, and did plenty to get me excited not just for more games down the road of our season but also for the tickers abounding telling me when Opening Day is for my beloved Nats. (April 1, in case you were curious.) We have a good team this year, and I hope they go far; one of my favorite sports memories is being in the outfield bleachers two years ago when they were down to their last out and hit a walk-off single to come back for the win, clinch the series, and go to the College World Series. I probably won’t see anything like that again in my lifetime, but a girl can dream, right?

(I’m actually watching the replay of this right now and getting chills; in case you’re interested and have 10 minutes to spare, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SENxY_3hpxg )

Aaaaaand that’s it. More after my half, wherein I hope to report with a virtual shit-eating grin that I smashed my PR – unless I go stir-crazy enough with the taper that I pop back in for an AAAAAHHHHHHH of excitement. Wheee!

So hey, I had a birthday. And stuff.

Hi! Welcome to your March update on my life, running and not – except probably I’ll have a race report after the half I’m running on St Patrick’s Day, so maybe (OMG) you will get two posts this month. I guess I’m just not interested in writing when I’m not actively training for a race: not to say that I’ve not been training for this half, just that I’ve not really been following a structured plan this time. My basic plan has been: Run more miles (30-35/week). Don’t get hurt. Rinse, repeat.

As I write this, a winter storm is making its way to my state, and we’re expected to get anywhere from 6-14 inches of snow depending on whom you ask. As far as I can tell from my library seat, nothing has started falling yet, but I confess that I’m somewhat giddily excited about the prospect of running 6 miles in a blizzard tomorrow morning. Am I insane? Yes, but this is not without precedent: on my birthday, I had one of the most awesome runs of my life.

My birthday was three days ago, on the 2nd. I went skiing (for the last time this season) with Saint and a bunch of folks from our outdoors club; we rented a slopeside condo, which meant opening the back door and stepping onto the lift. No joke – that was most of the reason I went on the trip. (Also, it was my birthday, and there was skiing. Come on, how could I not?) We drove up late on Friday night, and it was snowing at a good clip when we got into West Virginia, which was a pleasant surprise – they’d been getting snow in bits and pieces during the week, but I hadn’t expected it to continue. We went to bed not long after arrival, and I set my alarm for early early in order to get up and get a few miles in before hitting the slopes.

I should note at this point that I’d known earlier in the week that I was going to be skiing for the weekend, so I recalibrated my running schedule so that my long run for the week would fall on Friday. This resulted in a ridiculous amount of shuffling things around and generally losing sleep in order to get everything done, but I pulled it off: at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, I set off to run my own half-marathon around town, because (as I said last time) I knew I wanted to run at least a 13-miler in preparation for this upcoming half to prove to myself that I could get the distance without dying. So, I figured, why not just run the whole damn distance and call it a day, and then get in an easy 3-mile run on Saturday morning (actually, 3.3 because I was turning 33), and an even easier (because I will probably be hung over) 2-mile run on Sunday morning? (this was running at the top of a mountain, mind you, where it is not warm and not flat. Ahem.)

So, that’s what I did. It was cold, it was overcast, it was windy, and I got unbelievably lost because I have an incredible ability to miss turns onto trails when trying new things, and while I did eventually find my way back to a familiar place, I had to then re-route my entire run by stopping into a library to get on a computer to map my run to see a) how far I’d gone and b) how on earth I was going to get the rest of the distance in AND still manage to run the errand I’d planned to (literally) run on the way home. [I now call this run “the most roundabout way of picking up a prescription ever”.] I did all of these things with relative success, and by the last two miles was grinning like an ass because I was having such fun running, and I knew I could do it, and yeah, it hurt a little, but my body was responding when I was asking it for speed, which was encouraging as hell.

To make a long story short, I got all my stuff done, we went west, I went to sleep, I woke up Saturday morning, and then I looked out the window.

Powder.

Oh yes. It was the skier/snowboarder’s dream: Giant, fluffy, dry white flakes of magical happiness pouring down from the sky. Oh holy fuckballs, YES: I get a powder day for my birthday! I had to consciously stop myself from giggling because everyone else was still sleeping, so I did my warmup exercises and hit the road.

It’s funny: I am a total wimp about running in the rain, and if it’s even a bit precipitory (totally made that word up, hush) I will make a beeline for the treadmill, which I loathe, because being wet is just that uncomfortable for me. But, I didn’t even think twice about going outside to run in a heavy snowfall, which – again, we’re at the top of a mountain – is also likely to be very cold and very windy. Whatever! It’s powder! Snow doesn’t stick to my glasses! I don’t care! Let’s go, bitches!

So, off I went. It was probably the coldest run I’d had in my life to that point (Sunday came close), which was made apparent to me as soon as I started hocking loogies that were mostly made of blood because my nose was so dry. (TMI, sorry.) But the snow wasn’t sticking to any part of me, and while it was slippery, I went slow and just enjoyed the quiet of the air and the crunch-crunch of my feet. The wind I could have maybe done without, but what doesn’t kill you makes you have another beer later, right? Anyway, on I went, on and on and on and on, and… hmmm. Where was my turnaround point? I’d mis-mapped my run, and overshot it by over a mile, and so I ended up running nearly 5 miles instead of 3.3, but that was fine: I felt awesome. And like such a badass: who’s stupid enough to run in the snow like that? But, really, I hardly felt it after long enough, and if you asked me if I’d rather run in a blizzard than in the summer or even spring, I’d totally choose the blizzard.

Sunday’s run ended up being right around 2.5 miles, and it was no less blizzard-y, though I was a smiiiiidge hung over as I’d expected, so it was a bit slower and more painful than I might have liked. But, it helped clear the cobwebs away, and had me all perky and ready to hit the slopes right at 9am when they opened.

Oh yeah, so there was skiing, too, which was the chief reason I was a bit sore on Sunday. What happens when you, the East Coast skier who is starved for non-icy, non-groomed skiing, are confronted with a powder day? You ski the ever-loving shit out of every run you can, and out of every bit of trees in between those runs that you can. That’s exactly what Saint and I did, and it was a total blast. Throw in some lift beers or three, and the ability to participate in a modified slalom race that they have set up that anyone can do (and holy crap, was it fun, even if he beat me by 5 seconds which is a loooong time in a slalom race), and the most awesome conditions I’ve ever seen this side of the Alps or Vermont, and you have a most fantastic birthday indeed. Throw in on top of that a half-hour in the outdoor hot tub down the road (there was snow blowing all over us but I never felt cold!), and a surprise cake from Saint, and as much Bell’s Expedition Stout as I can handle after all of that, and you have THE most fantastic birthday. It was really, truly awesome; there’s nothing more I could have asked for, which makes me a very lucky girl indeed.

Sunday’s skiing was more of the same, but we only made it a half-day because we were both worn out from having skied so hard the day before. We did do mostly tree-skiing (which I should note is by and large not allowed at this mountain) until we got yelled at (rightfully) by ski patrol from the lift, so we went elsewhere and did some more, away from watchful eyes. Yes, I know it’s dangerous, and I know full well that if I hurt myself it’s my own damn fault for ignoring posted signs that say “DO NOT DO THIS YOU MORON”, but in my defense, I’m so much more careful in trees for that exact reason. Also, I can count the number of times I’ve been hurt tree-skiing on exactly 0 fingers; I’ve sustained the most terrifying crashes on the open slopes with other people, which makes me think that trees make better company for me and my two ski-clad feet.

Anyway, after playing in a winter wonderland for a few hours, we called it a day and headed back home (very much against our collective wills, because two powder days is a hard thing indeed to leave, but one must teach and work, alas), where there were showers, burgers, and relaxation. Monday (yesterday) it was back to work, and looking at that forecast I’m getting all wistful, but… but. I’ve had my season’s fill of snow, and it was a great birthday weekend, PLUS if I somehow tempt fate by going skiing one more time before the half, I know damn well I’m going to fall and actually break something this time, which is not what I want. So, I call it a season, and am satisfied with that.

Back to the running side of things, yes, I am stupid enough to go running in a blizzard tomorrow, though if it gets too bad I’ll bail and find a treadmill. This is my last 30-mile week before I taper down to 20 next week, which is good because I need to spend less time running and more time working next week anyway (spring break? What spring break? Ha!).

So… yeah. That’s it! I had a birthday, and stuff. See y’all again in about two weeks. 🙂