Sunday, May 30, 2010

No pain, no gain?

So, after the Warrior Dash last Saturday (see my race recap here), I had a 9-mile training run the next morning. Let me tell you, it was no piece of cake! My last long run (8 miles) two weeks ago was amazing--I hit an amazing runner's high around mile 6, and I smiled the whole way home. Not so for my 9-miler! Almost every step was a struggle.

My 8-miler two weeks ago went like this:

My 9-miler last Sunday did NOT go like that!

I won't even show you pictures. It was bad. I didn't eat right before I left; I didn't even eat right the day before; and, I was definitely not smiling at the end.

Words to the wise:

  • Eat before long runs. Try to get it in at least an hour before you go.
  • Get a little caffeine and hydration in BEFORE you leave. I took my CamelBak on the 9-miler with H2O and Gatorade, but I needed it more before, not during.
  • Eat right the day before. Make sure you're carbed-up, and stay away from the beer! My post-Warrior Dash celebratory beers did me no favors.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Enough said.

More words to the wise: Let yourself recover after long runs! I got home from my 9-miler, iced for about 20 minutes, and then left to go to the Georgia Renaissance Festival with some friends. We then commenced drinking beer and walking around all day in the 90-degree heat. BAD IDEA.

Don't get me wrong; the Ren Fest was amazing! We had a blast!

But, I literally could not walk up and down stairs on Monday. LET YOURSELF RECOVER. Stick with with the tried and true RICE: Rest, ice, compression, elevation. You can't go wrong with a little of that in your life.

In other news, I got a new road bike! She's beautiful. I had been wanting a new bike for a long time since mine is so old and heavy. This beauty is so light and fast!

Oh, I love her so much! Can't wait for my triathalon and my century next year! She's going to do wonderfully.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Warrior Dash!

So, I did the Warrior Dash on Saturday. It was EPIC!

The Warrior Dash is a 3.22-mile race with 11 obstacles, and it was awesomely intense!

The race was in Mountain City, Georgia, which is about 2 hours away from Atlanta. My wave didn't start until 5:30 PM, but Jeff and I left about 2 PM so we could get there a bit early and enjoy the scenery.

I ate a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana in the car to carb-up a bit. I also guzzled gatorade, being I knew it would be burning hot out there!

We had to park at a high school a ways away from the event because the event was at a park in the city with little available space for cars. A lovely shuttle picked us up and took us to the event. It was VERY well-organized, which is a quality I love in any kind of event! We picked up packets and chilled for a bit, checking out the other crazies that would show up for such an event.

Number 1 crazy:

Some of the other crazies:

Finally, it was time to line up!

The race went something like this, though I think I'm mixing up some of the obstacles in the middle...

  • Main part of the run, maybe 2 miles, around the lake and up and down some hills
  • Wade or swim through muddy lake (shoes now completely wet and full of mud)
  • Run a bit
  • Run through laid-down tires (military-style)
  • Climb up wooden wall using rope
  • Climb up and over fisherman's net
  • Run over or through junked cars and trucks
  • Run through (muddy) forest in mountains with no real trail
  • Crawl through tubes
  • Climb over 3 short wooden walls (no rope)
  • Slide down muddy ravine on one's backside into 3 feet of mud and then crawl through said mud underneath real barbed wire strung about 1 foot over the mud
  • Another wade/swim through the lake, this time with wood logs to climb/roll over
  • Run a bit all dirty and muddy
  • Jump over flaming chunks of wood

Honestly, I didn't feel the greatest at the beginning of the race. I'm still not 100% recovered from my Haiti adventure, and while my endurance is still pretty good, my strength is lagging a bit. Running around the lake in the beginning was good, and I felt pretty strong then, but once we started climbing the moutain, I started losing steam.

I kept running until about the middle of the race; the trail run was STEEP and muddy though, so I walked a bit of it. I got a second wind after the trail run, and I finished strong through the mud, lake, and fire obstacles.

The fire was AWESOME!

After the fire I knew the end was close, so I gathered what strenth I had left and ran across the line! I got my water and medal and headed over to see Jeff.

I put on my free warrior helmet, got my free beer, and wandered around the finishing area a bit.

Jeff kept asking me if I wanted to wash off (you could jump into a different part of the lake to rinse), but I didn't want to! How many times in your adult life do you get to be covered head to toe in mud??? I loved every minute of it!

I'm a warrior, son!

I did the race in my 3rd-tier running shoes, which also went to Haiti with me. At this point, they were totally destroyed! I donated them to Green Sneakers after the race.

Queen of the Green Sneakers!

I'm TOTALLY doing it again next year!

Next up on Vegan Booty: Why you should not do a 9-mile run less than 12 hours after finishing the Warrior Dash.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Hi, all! Sorry it's been so long since my last blog! I arrived home from Haiti Sunday night, and life's been sort of a battle since then. I'm happy to report that today I'm in better health and spirits than I have been, and I think I'm going to be ready to face my race tomorrow! Tomorrow is the Warrior Dash Southeast, and I'm going to DOMINATE!

Let me tell y'all a bit about my time in Haiti, first.

I was pretty excited to head out there.

I'm no stranger to volunteer work in third-world countries, so I wasn't too daunted by the idea of sleeping on wooden pallets, showering by pouring buckets of water over my head, or using the bathroom in toilets that don't flush. Par for the course.

This is what the Hands On Disaster Response camp in Leogane, Haiti, looked like.

Here's where I slept.

What was I doing there? Excruciating physical labor! I had no idea how difficult it would be! We sledged, shoveled, and wheelbarrowed concrete rubble from families' home sites to the National Highway so that the UN could haul it to another location.

Here's us working on the rubble.

Here's the Korean branch of the UN hauling it away.

The families' homes were usually connected to the main roads only with narrow alleys and unpaved walkways, so the rubble had to be hauled with wheelbarrows; no heavy machinery could access it.

I worked on an INSANE team of INSANE volunteers who actually raced with the wheelbarrows of concrete rubble! These were NOT light!

HODR had cleared 72 family sites between March and my last day there, May 16. Clearing a site means that the family can pitch their tent on their own land instead of in the street, and it means they can sign up with Habitat for Humanity and start building a new house. It's amazing work.

As you may imagine, everything that the family owned was usually in the house when it collapsed. While working on the Artiste family's site, we pulled out many of their personal possessions. Most were damaged beyond recognition, but they still loved it when we were able to show them something that they recognized. Their favorite was when we pulled out the frame of their TV. We all took turns posing with it.

Here's Caitlynn and me in the TV.

When I say the work we did was excruciating, I mean it. I can't document in photos how much physical pain I felt while I was there. There was not one morning where I was able to sit up upon waking; my back muscles stiffened every night while I slept. The first couple nights, I was unable to hold beverages at dinner because my arms shook too badly. I hoped every day that I would be able to hold up through the 7 hours of daily work. Thankfully, I did.

I felt midly okay by the last morning, but after sitting on airplanes and in airports for the majority of the day and not working my leg muscles at all, I actually had to be assisted off of the plane in Atlanta because both of my quads and knees quit working. There is nothing more embarrassing. I cried almost all of the way home in the car because sitting down put too much pressure on my hamstrings. I was truly worried that I wasn't going to be able to run for weeks.

However, my physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain of seeing Haiti like this. There are almost no inhabitable buildings in Leogane right now. Because each building site contains either a pile of rubble or an uninhabitable building, families are forced to pitch their tents in the street. They have to bathe and use the bathroom in public places because most of the buildings have not just been deemed unhabitable, but unsafe to enter all together. There isn't enough food; there isn't enough water; and there isn't enough medical care.

Haiti needs SO MUCH HELP.

I was only in Port-au-Prince briefly, while driving to and from the airport to Leogane, and I'm glad because I don't think I could handle it. Many of the buildings that are still standing have "Please save us" or "We need help" spray-painted on their walls. Many Haitians have been reduced to begging just to feed their families. Haiti was never a prosperous place, but it was never like this.

If you can help, PLEASE DO. I think I'm going to go back at the beginning of August to work with HODR again. There's just so much more that needs to be done.

I have so many stories to tell, but I'll save some for later! Hope all of you had an amazing week, and I can't wait to tell you about the Warrior Dash on Monday!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gearing up for riding

So, I have 3 exams down, and 1 to go! Law school can be such a pain. I mean, I like it most of the time, and practicing law is going to be much better than what I was doing before (I was a records clerk at an energy company in a previous life), but the schooling part is mega-stressful at the moment!

I took a break from studying yesterday. I had a 24-hour take-home final that I did from Thursday morning to Friday morning (yes, it took me almost the entire 24 hours to complete), so I needed a break from my desk!

I rode out to Stone Mountain and back, which is just over 26 miles round-trip for me. Stone Mountain is a granite outcrop near Atlanta, and there's a bike path that runs from my house to its surrounding park.

First, I had to gear up! I feel like I have a lot of biking gear, but all of it serves a purpose.

First, my Camelbak. I fill it with mostly water, a little ice, and about a cup of Gatorade.

Gatorade freaks me out because of the fake colors and flavors, but I haven't found a feasible cheap alternative yet. When you're biking in 90 degree heat, you need some help with hydration!

Next, of course, my beloved Garmin 305.

It's important for me to keep an eye on my distance and speed because I'm not a very experienced biker (I started just a month or so ago!), and I don't want to burn myself out by pushing too hard or too fast. Getting stuck somewhere between my house and Stone Mountain is NOT an option; those aren't the friendliest of neighborhoods.

Next, ginormous sunglasses and a bondi band.

Yes, yes, the sunglasses might look ridiculous, but they stay on my face the best of all the ones I've tried. They don't slip when my nose is wet with sweat, and the ear parts stay firmly around my ears. I don't mind looking ridiculous! I've tried biking without sunglasses before, but I think it's just not a good plan. Being blinded constantly is quite dangerous!

The bondi band is a wicking headband. Never heard of bondi bands? Check out the website here. They keep the sweat from dripping down my face. I just stick the helmet over it, like so:

All ready to go!

Gear I don't have, but want: gloves, clipless pedals and shoes. To any of you bikers out there, do you think gloves and clipless pedals are totally necessary, or just good to have? Should I invest in them now, or is it okay to put it off for awhile?

I did most of the trail on Wednesday, too, but didn't get all the way to the end because the sun was setting. Yesterday, though, I left early enough to make it all the way to the park and back.

Yesterday's ride was MUCH easier than Wednesday's! I'm not exactly sure why, but I was much more powerful going up hills, and I kept up a much faster speed on the flat parts. I have some theories...

  • First, it could be because I had Gatorade mixed in with my water in my Camelbak. You may not think this makes much of a difference, but I think I could actually feel the extra calories coming into my body! I think that helped with my muscle power, especially at the end.
  • Second, it could be because I started using my lower handlebars when going up hills. I don't know if y'all use yours on a regular basis, but I just started using mine, and I love them! I feel like it forces me to use a different pedaling motion and thus a different set of muscles in my legs. If I put my hands down and my head down, I can power up hills like I never could with my hands on the top bars.
  • Third, I know more about how to use my gears to my advantage. I'm still learning how to ride a bike properly, and that means learning how to choose the best gears for different situations. It's a learning process, and I know more with each ride I go on.
  • Fourth, I knew the route better. Each time I ride the path, I know a little bit more about how to best attack it. I know when I need to shift my gears, when I need to be prepared to stop, when I need to drop to the lower bars, etc. It makes the ride much smoother. Many people might think that doing the same route over and over again is boring and tedious, but when you haven't mastered it yet, there's always something new to learn.
  • Fifth, I properly carbed-up before leaving. On Wednesday, I hadn't really eaten enough during the day to fuel my body through a 26-mile ride. For me, that costs me about 1,600 calories! Yesterday, I ate properly in anticipation of that sort of calorie burn, and my muscles thanked me. Luckily bike riding isn't like running in that you have to pre-fuel with only foods that sit well in your stomach. However, you do need most of your fuel to be carby so that your body can burn it. My solution? Take-out Chinese food! Bring on the rice!

Anyway, it was definitely more enjoyable!

So, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, I'm going to be doing volunteer work in Haiti from May 12th to May 16th. I wish I could stay down there longer, but my summer classes start promptly on May 17th, so I just had a couple days free. I think it's going to be an awesome experience, and I'm super excited about going!

I hope that I'll be able to post again before I leave, but if I don't, I'll see you on the 16th when I get back!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The last few weeks

ACK! LAKjfa;lskd;laskjerlkjlKSjdlakflka!!!!!

It's finals time. [sigh]. Normal (and sane) posting will resume shortly. Until then, I leave you with a few pictures of how I've been spending the last few weeks...

The end! I cannot wait for this semester to be over!