In The Proximity of (mostly future) Olympians, Part 2

Randomly, Albuquerque landed the multi-year contract to host the USATF Indoor Championships for the last few years.  This is amazingly cool because many Olympic level runners use these indoor races as “tune-ups.”  For example, last year we spent the entire weekend watching the games live and got to see Sanya Richards Ross, Bernard Legat, Galen Rupp, and Justin Gatlin do their speedy thing as an Olympic warm-up (along with Sara Hall…so Ryan Hall was somewhere in my general vicinity!).  That post (Part 1) is HERE.

I’m definitely not a knowledgeable running celebrity nerd.  Aaron has to fill me in as to who most of these powerhouse runners are (but once I know, I stalk).  But whether these people are famous or not (or just not famous to me), watching the country’s best runners zoom by right in front of you is a pretty amazing experience.

Also, my drive to DO GREAT THINGS and WIN EVERYTHING really kicks-in.  Watching these people in person, walking out to the track, looking like a bundle of nerves (probably wondering if they trained hard enough…HA), and, expressing either extreme disappointment or elation at the end really reminds you that these are not gods prancing among mere mortals. These are real people. They are not completely unlike you or me.  It also reminds (proverbial) you that YOU could be there, running in a big nationally televised event with a little hard work.  I mean, maybe? Regardless, it does remind me that these amazing running accomplishments are not completely out of reach.

We had a few things going on this weekend, so we were only able to catch the Sunday afternoon races. This year’s line-up was considerably less star studded, but we still go to see teenage phenomenon Mary Cain (16 year old record crusher) completely dominate the women’s mile.  I first started noticing this girl about a month ago because she started getting a ton of press coverage.  I know she’ll be a standout at the 2016 Rio Olympics, so watching her live was a weekend highlight.

I totally fan-girled and took 10,000 pictures of her.

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And her coach? Alberto Salazar? (Yeah, I didn’t know him until Aaron told me).  He’s won the New York City Marathon 3 times and the Boston Marathon once.  And he now coaches the Oregon Track Club Elite (Lauren Fleshman is on this team, and Steve Prefontaine is a former member).  He was much harder to stalk, but he’s the one in the baseball hat talking to Mary.

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Other highlights:

Beastly looking shorter distance runners/hurdlers (and I mean beastly in the most awesome possible way).

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Running Jesus aka Will Leer (probably a Pre wannabe).  He ended up winning by a hair (a long flowing one?).  I expect to see him in Rio too.

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This guy (it annoys me when people wear sunglasses inside).  Apparently he was an Olympian like 10 years ago.

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Ms. Teen New Mexico who apparently has to look like a princess wherever she goes.

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Drug Enforcement Peeps (in the orange shirts): they grab the winners and other (I’m guessing randomly selected) athletes right off the track.  I would love this job.  Come here, Mr. Big Time Athlete.  Come pee in my cup.

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These little kids get to carry around the runner’s belongings in little baskets.  I want one!

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In all, it was a fun and inspiring way to spend Sunday afternoon.  I think Albuquerque’s contract is up, but I’m holding out hope that just maybe we can play host to next year’s event again.

Also, thanks for liking me on facebook!  If you haven’t yet, you can do that HERE.

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Giuseppe’s First 5-K

Boy, what a weekend in the world of running.  First, New York was cancelled (I admit I was brought to tears when pictures of runners volunteering on Staten Island started getting posted) and then Toyko was added to the World Marathon Majors (joining Chicago, New York, Boston, London, and Berlin).

Meanwhile, in our neck of the woods, Giuseppe ran his first 5-K!

Our local Animal Humane Center organizes an annual race called the Doggie Dash and Dawdle 5-K that allows puppies to partake in the racing fun.

I mean, did we have any other option?

We put off signing up because I wasn’t sure I would be able to run much less keep up with a hyper puppy, but we registered on Thursday, picked up our packets, and I made Giuseppe his own little race bib.

We showed up on Sunday morning and got ourselves orientated.  Giuseppe was overwhelmed and excited with all of the dogs everywhere, but he was very well behaved.

The other dogs are about ready to fight.  Giuseppe is focused on getting to the start line on time. 

My parents and sister came to give Giuseppe moral support, and we ran into a few friends (including one of Aaron’s lifelong friends who does every race dressed as Batman) who were also dashing.  The race got off to a delayed start, but we eventually got lined up.  The runners without dogs got to start first, and it was a bit of a free for all for everyone else.

As anticipated, the first half mile was a major disaster.  I’m really good at weaving through people, but add in a puppy on a leash (and a bunch of other leashes just waiting to trip you), and it wasn’t quite as easy.

We were a little worried about Giuseppe because we haven’t been training him as much as we should since we’ve both been trying to recover from Chicago.  We got a pretty solid 2 mile run in with him on Friday just to make sure he wouldn’t collapse, but we didn’t know how it was going to turn out.

Turns out I’m the one we needed to worry about.

After a 2 week taper, the marathon, 3 weeks off of running, and a week of cautious attempts, I was in no condition to run a fast 5-K.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe was speeding along, completely focused.  I know he’s a smart puppy, but I’m positive he knew his goal was to run until he crossed the finish line.  Even as we passed my cheering family, he looked over, gave them a smile, and kept going (typically, he runs over and showers them with love and excitement).  We got to a steep hill and Aaron yelled out, “POWER UP IT SEPPE!” and he did.  I did not.

Meanwhile, we were averaging somewhere between 7:00 and 8:10 minute mile paces, passing the big dogs and doing just fine.  Giuseppe took a quick water stop (they had water stations for dogs and for humans), and then kept going.

I was DYING.  It took me one mile for my legs to warm up, but I just didn’t feel very good at all.  I  never do feel very good for 5-K’s, but I’m typically running faster than marathon pace.  OUT OF SHAPE.

But we kept running.  Giuseppe powered out a little bit, but he was determined to keep up.

We crossed the finish line together, giving us a finish time of 23:01!  Both my and Aaron’s Garmin showed the course was significantly short though.

We came in #31 and #32 out of people running with dogs, and I got a 3rd place age group medal!

I would like to point out for the record, that I finished faster than Aaron! 

After the race, Giuseppe was tired, but he seemed really happy, and overall not too bad off!

I LOVE 5-K’s! 

He got lots of treats and lots of hugs to celebrate his amazing accomplishment!

In other news, I joined athlinks this weekend on the encouragement of another friend we ran into at the race (he doesn’t have facebook, twitter, or instagram, so that was the only way he could keep track of our races).  I don’t really get it, but if you are on athlinks, you can be my friend and see my race times!

I hope you have a wonderful week! Happy 1 Day Until Political Ads are Over Day!

Pretty Much The Coolest Thing About Albuquerque

From a tourist standpoint, Albuquerque doesn’t compete with the excitement of a large city like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco.  We don’t have amusement parks or professional sports or beaches.  We lack the historical appeal of Santa Fe and the quirkiness of Roswell and our ski valley isn’t the best when compared with the others in the state.

But, I can say this about my city: we put on a heck of a Balloon Fiesta.

For one week in October, we play host to the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world (and also the most photographed event in the country), and Albuquerque turns into an international hot spot of early morning green chile seeking, hot air balloon loving dwellers.

We get up and get to the park by 5 am, find some breakfast burritos, FREEZE (mornings are cold here in October), and then watch as hundreds of hot air balloons inflate and take off against the backdrop of the New Mexico sunrise.

The Balloon Fiesta is an awesome experience and is a yearly tradition in which I gladly participate   Even in college I would come home from California for the occasion   This year Aaron and I went with my parents and sisters (who had both come home from school for the weekend) on Sunday morning for the “farewell” mass ascension.

Burritos: Just as important as the balloons!

Me and my dad ordering burritos.  The man looks VERY interested.

Eating the burrito

Dawn Patrol.  These first few balloons go up to make sure conditions are ok.

Aaron’s photo artistry

DARTH!

This guy is a local investigative reporter who brings down politicians and other scammers…this is a really scary balloon.

Bee Family!

Instagram Version!

 

The LAVENDER Festival…Get It?

A few years ago, in 2006 maybe, my family and I went to a small event here in Albuquerque called The Lavender Festival.

Little did I know that in a few short years, my life would be pretty Lavendered out.

The Lavender Festival, hosted in a small town in the middle of Albuquerque called Los Ranchos, seems to be held whenever it feels like it.  We went in 2010, but there was no festival last year.

Apparently this year was an “on” year.

As certified Lavenders, I feel like it is our obligation to attend a festival that is centered around our (well…Aaron’s) namesake and heritage! And I may or may not have pretended to be Lavender Festival Queen.

{With my royal bouquet}

I would be lying if I said I didn’t LOVE having Lavender as a last name.  I had never intended to change my name after getting married, but it was important to Aaron, so I decided to go with it.  If he had ANY other last name, I probably would have stood my ground.  But who rejects Lavender?

Obviously not the people at the rather well-attended festival!

We headed out after our 10-miler on Saturday.  The event was well-organized with the friendliest bus drivers shuttling people out to the different festival sites and the various parking areas.  At one point, we were walking down the road, and the bus literally stopped traffic to pick us up.  But this may just have been because I was Lavender Festival Queen! I don’t know if regular Lavender commoners would have gotten the same treatment!

The vendors were about what you’d expect: lots of lavender bath products, lavender oils, lavender plants, lavender bunches, locally crafted jewelry, folksy art, antiques, goat cheese, owls, and alpacas.

We really didn’t buy anything aside from a bunch of lavender to keep in our bedroom for stress relief, but it was a neat event to explore on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.

Our winery was one of the event stops, so we made our way over there for their festival special, Lavender Sangria.  Talk about yummy!

This lady looks like she had a little too much of the sangria! I love how her husband just sat there, completely unconcerned! Dear Lord, please don’t let this ever be me.  I could never show my face at the winery again, and that would be sad.

And if you’ve ever wondered what in the heck a Lavender Parking is… These are the exact same signs they used at the festival two years ago!

I hope everyone has a great Tuesday! This is what I’m doing this morning.  Coach Aaron has me on a strict stretching/rolling/icing routine until this little heel ache goes away!

A Run Sabotaged by a Little Chiuaua

Its kind of funny.  On Monday, I remarked how proud I was that we hadn’t missed a workout.

Sometimes life has a funny way of saying, “HA, Sucka Foo.”

Among other little (hopefully temporary) glitches in the system to be discussed soon…

We were 2.7 miles into our 3 mile recovery run on Monday when I noticed a creature running after Aaron.  I laughed and said, “Aaron you have a friend!”  The friend turned toward me, I bent down, and he ran in my direction, happy to have the attention.

The friend was actually a chubby (and by chubby I mean FAT) black and white chihuahua with a friendly and calm demeanor.  He also didn’t have a collar, and nobody seemed to be running after him.

The thought of a puppy/child/ferret/any living creature wandering the streets when they are at risk for getting hit by a car KILLS me.  No way in hell would I let this Fat Chi wander along on his merry way.

We went to a nearby house with the garage open to see if maybe the dog belonged to them.  The man who lived there (who had an impressive number of nipple rings I might add) said it wasn’t his, and he actually knew all of the dogs from the surrounding houses, and couldn’t tell us where this dog came from.

We rang a few door bells, but realized it was a fruitless act.  Fat Chi could have come from anywhere.

We headed home (about 3 blocks away) after having to cut our run short, and kept Fat Chi in the backyard.  Giuseppe was not a fan of having his territory invaded by a furry football.

Fat Chi wandered around, marking EVERYTHING (well, he marked one plant, everything else was a dry effort).  Giuseppe ran to the plant, ripped off the marked leaf, and then followed Fat Chi around to keep him in line.

One of the reasons we got a Westie is because they don’t shed and they are hypoallergenic.  Aaron has horrible allergies, as does Giuseppe.  I have mild allergies.  All of us were puffy and sneezy with this dog and his pet dander around. We really weren’t able to keep him.

It was about 8:45, so all of the shelters were closed.  I called a 24 hour emergency pet hospital, found out they read microchips, and we headed on over.

{Aaron and Fat Chi outside the emergency pet hospital}

Since it was an emergency hospital, our little non-emergency didn’t take high priority.  The man behind the desk, who initially told us that he’d have to call in a tech to do a microchip reading suddenly found his magical abilities to do so, and got us a chip reading within a few minutes. I think there is some sort of common bond between dog people and if you go out of your way to keep a puppy safe, you’re an alright person and worthy of being helped.

Unfortunately 2 out of the 3 numbers associated with the chip were disconnected, and there was no address.  The third alternate number was a generic recording in Spanish (and since none of us knew Spanish, we didn’t think leaving a message would help).  We did however learn that the dog was named Chico.

We concluded that the best decision was to surrender the dog to the hospital who would then surrender him to the city.  I can honestly tell you that I have never been more heartbroken to hand something over.  Albuquerque is a “no-kill” city, so regardless, he will be taken care of until adopted.  Also, if the owners did freak out, they could call the city (the first call on any concerned pet owners list) and know that he was safe instead of out on the street or in some neighbor’s yard.  The city also has Spanish translators.

We headed home, and I took a copy of the information from the chip and did some reverse google searches (I am a MASTER stalker, and if you are anywhere on any website, I can find you if I need to…I seriously scare myself sometimes, but I know my boss appreciates it), but couldn’t find any information on the owner or his disconnected phone numbers aside from that the phones were purchased in Albuquerque.

Because my puppy is essentially treated like my child, I can  honestly say that I would be DEVASTATED if he got lost and we couldn’t find him.  We truthfully did everything within our power to figure out where this poor dog came from, including making circles around the blocks where we found him hoping to come across a search party at 10:00 at night.  I suppose we could have kept him in the backyard, circulated fliers, and hoped for someone to call, but truthfully we don’t have the time or resources to handle a 2nd strange puppy.  And who knows if he had some sort of disease or rabies or something.

We were also reminded of a few things through this situation:

1) Albuquerque has a law that requires you to microchip your dog.  I don’t know if this is common in other cities, but oh my goodness please do this even it’s not.

2) Microchipping does no good if the information isn’t complete or outdated.  If you’ve moved or switched phone numbers, make sure that your microchip reflects that.

3) Your dog should have a collar on.  Methinks based on Chico’s weight, he didn’t get out much, so he was likely an indoor dog.  Even so, everyone’s night would have been a lot less dramatic had we been simply able to call the number on the collar.

So, I hope Chico got reclaimed by his owners.  And as a firm believer in Everything Happens for a Reason, if he didn’t, I believe that he will get adopted into a better family.

The Cherry Garcia 10-K is a Mean Kid

First, I am officially my own person! I am now WordPress free.  And by that, I mean my new web address is http://www.LavenderParking.com.  It looks like everything is redirecting just beautifully, but let me know if things start getting funky.

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Wow. I was re-reading my Monday Reflection Marathon post at lunch yesterday, and I felt so sad for early Monday morning Amy.  She was obviously quite grumpy.  I’m already in a much better mood today, and ready to take on the challenge of training for a marathon in the summertime! But THANK YOU again for all of your encouragement and positive energy!

So, a big part of the reason I was grumpy was because of a disappointing 10-K on Sunday night.  In still keeping with my “a race every month” bucket list item, June’s race was the Cherry Garcia 10-K held at 7:00 p.m.  My sister joined the fun and ran the 5-K!

{It was an ice cream race, so I wore the most ice cream looking shorts I could find! Also, how awesome are Aaron’s sunglasses?!}

I kind of view this whole running thing like school.  You work hard all semester, studying and soaking up information, and at the end you have a test to see how well you’ve prepared.  The learning part is wonderful (at least nerd Amy thought so), but it kind of all rests on how well you do on the test.  That is where you prove your abilities and show what you’re made of.

So, if you don’t do well for the test, then what makes you think you can ace the final exam?

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I don’t think I will be doing another evening race (MAYBE RnR Vegas once they get their shiznet together).  Sunday felt like a waste of a day.  We had this race looming over us, and our activity and food consumption were limited because of it.  Plus, running a 10-K before bed made me really wound up, so I couldn’t sleep to save my life (which probably also contributed to the grumpiness).

Oh, and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. was somewhere between 96-100 degrees.  The pavement was radiating heat because it had been baking in the sun all day.  Though I do realize that it is probably more miserable in places where it is that hot and humid (we have no moisture in the air at all), or in places like Scotland where Rachel and Danielle are freezing, it is definitely not ideal for exercise.

My goal going into this race was to come in under 48  minutes.  This would constitute a PR since both of my last 10-k’s were either the first time I’d ever run 6.2 miles in a row, or when I tripped and twisted an ankle.  Plus, if I can’t run slightly under 8 minute miles for 6.2, then I don’t have much hope to run 8 minute miles for 26.2  At least that was my reasoning going in.

I am still kind of bummed that I missed my goal time by over 2 minutes.

My legs felt great.  I didn’t feel dehydrated (thanks Nuun!).  I actually felt like I was running a fast race for the last 3 miles.

But I wasn’t. I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t make myself hit 8 minute miles.  Even though I started passing people toward the end, I didn’t make it down to my goal time.

I also apparently started and then stopped my Garmin at the start line, and didn’t realize for half a mile in, so I don’t really have an accurate breakdown.  I need to get better at using that thing under pressure.

In retrospect, I do think aside from the heat, what slowed me down was stopping at water stations.  I never stop at water stations for 10-K’s, but I stopped at all 4 for this race to take a couple of sips and pour water down my back.

Also, the course and timing were not laid out very well.  The course was a loop twice around a block, so as the 10-kers made our way around for 2nd time, we came across the 5-k walkers.  They also didn’t have most of the major roads closed, so we were running in the bike lanes right next to traffic, trying to weave around the walkers walking 2-3 people deep.  Aside from being slightly dangerous, weaving through walkers can slow people down.

The course ended on a sharp 180 on grass into the sun where again I had to navigate my finish line sprint around walkers.

Would all of these factors cause me to go two minutes slower? I don’t really know.

Final time: 50:16.  30th overall, 3rd in age group.  Yay for small races!

There was an issue with the timing chips, so some 5-Kers were classified as 10-kers.  Right after the race I was listed as 4th in age group and didn’t get a medal (I’ve tried emailing the race director).  Also, they didn’t take out the top 3 finishers from age group awards, otherwise I would have been 2nd in age group. Victory!

Aaron also came in over his goal time, but he finished 9th overall (woot woot!), 1st in his new age group!

{Aaron and his age group medal.  Little did I know that I earned one too!}

I had wanted this race to be some sort of confirmation that the training I was doing for the last few weeks was working and that I was on track to hit my ambitious goals.  Not getting that confirmation made me uneasy.  But life goes on.  Really, a 10-K in June isn’t the most accurate indicator for a marathon in October.  I still have time to study for that big final!

The Cherry Garcia race lived up to its name, and we got some Cherry Garcia ice cream post-race! At least that part was awesome!

We celebrated with a post race beer celebration at our favorite microbrewery! Aaron, who has been avoiding beer because of the whole wheat thing, figured this was an occasion worth getting an upset stomach for.   Sometimes, a cold beer is the only cure for a hot hard race, gluten intolerant or not!

{Why yes, that is a Range Roller in the background.  You gotta do what you gotta do}

Shout Outs and Friday Rest Day Randoms

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

1) Hyedi is running the Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon!

2) Carly is competing in her first Tri this weekend!

3) Anna Catherine is running a 10 miler this weekend…her longest race yet!

4) Lauren, my friend since 6th grade who kicks my butt at every local race, is running her first marathon, Grandma’s Marathon, this weekend.  If anyone can qualify on her first try, it’s this girl!

Good luck to you ladies, and anyone else racing this weekend! 

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REST DAY! Woo hoo! Let the Randomness ensue!

Last night we spent a few hours in Amy and Aaron Heaven.

Our Natural History Museum hosts occasional “Margarita and a Movie Nights” with the movie portion being shown on an IMAX (or DynaMax as our museum calls it) screen.  At this moment in time, the IMAX theater at the museum is the only one in Albuquerque, so seeing something on the BIG big screen is pretty exciting around these parts. To me, anyway.

{I’m pointing to the ticket that says Margarita and a Movie so you know I’m not lying to you}

Before the movie, they get you all liquored up with a mini margarita! Then you proceed to theater to watch the movie.  (Also, since Friday night booze consumption is off limits to prevent miserable Saturday morning long runs, I figure a margarita on Thursday (the day before our designated rest day) is an acceptable substitute).

Yesterday the movie was BACK TO THE FUTURE.

We are crazy about Back to the Future.  On our first date, we realized we both had an unnatural love of that movie, could both probably quote the entire script, and would both gladly purchase a DeLorean if the opportunity arose.  After our first date dinner we headed over to Aaron’s apartment to watch it. And now we’re married. Back to the Future = Love.

So we have margaritas (+1 point), IMAX screen (+1 point), T-Rex sightings (+2 points), and BACK TO THE FUTURE (+10000 points).  It was a fabulous event!

Before the movie, we stopped by to visit Friend Peter at his newest restaurant endeavor, Q Burger downtown.  If you’re in Albuquerque, you should check this place out! The burgers are yummy and are made of local grass-fed beef, all the produce is local and seasonal, and the bread is baked here in town. The sweet potato tots are to die for, they have local brews on tap along with local wines AND THE ATMOSPHERE IS AMAZING! And I’m not just saying this because he’s our friend.  Completely Amy approved.

{Please ignore the red meat and bacon in this picture}

{Aaron’s gluten free version.  There is a turkey burger somewhere in there}

In other news, I wouldn’t be a true Disney diehard if I didn’t mention that CARS LAND opens at Disneyland’s California Adventure today and I am pretty much having a panic attack because I’m not there. In addition to Cars Land there are also some other park perk ups like the addition to mountain climbers on the Matterhorn and a new “Buena Vista Street” in California Adventure.  Ever since I ventured into the magical world of Disneyland on my 5th birthday, I have been obsessed.

{Everyone wears Minnie Mouse ears to their wedding, right?}

I introduced Aaron to Disneyland on his 27th birthday 3 years ago, but we haven’t been back since.  I think now is the perfect time to plan a vacation.

{Riding the Carousel in 2009.  I’m jealous of  younger Amy’s hair.}

Lululemon just announced that the headliner for the post Sea Wheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver is going to be FUN.  (The Sea Wheeze is the Lululemon sponsored race). This only makes me about 10,000 times more sad that I’m not going to be there.  Dear RnR Arizona, can you please secure Fun. as your concert headliner? Nate IS from Phoenix.

Also, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! I have a pretty cool dad as you can tell by the picture below! Thanks Dad, for: all your support, help with math homework (even though engineers make algebra 10X more complicated than it needs to be), making sure my taxes were always filed on time, fixing car problems, and financing things like college, my wedding, and that 90’s Nike wind suit that I just HAD to have (truly tragic).

And Happy Father’s Day to all you other dad’s out there! Happy Weekend to everyone else!

Dear Amazing Race, Please Cast Us, or How We Won The Great Bus Race

I want to be on the Amazing Race.

I have never actually seen the show, but a few years ago there was an open casting call in New Mexico that Aaron and I went to.  After waiting for hours to get called up, we had to leave so I could go to my wedding dress appointment, and our dreams of Amazing Race contestantmanship were over.

However, after this weekend, I am a little more convinced of our reality adventure show qualifications.

Saturday, in a huge promotional effort, the city of Albuquerque’s public transit system hosted the Great Bus Race. 30 couples had to go on a city-wide scavenger hunt using only public transportation and the ability to walk/run.

I think this is a FANTASTIC way to market public transportation.  Before Saturday, I had never been on an Albuquerque City Bus. Buses are scary.  My car is less scary.

I’m not sure if it was purposeful, but about 90% of the contestants looked to be middle/upper class professionals,  in other words, people who don’t take the bus (nobody we talked to had ridden before). If this was their plan to introduce a different set of people to public transportation, then they succeeded in recruiting (I signed up after seeing a press release in our Business Weekly paper, and you had to have smart phone to participate).

They divided couples into three teams, and each team was given a different first destination.  All of the destinations were city owned landmarks (a museum, a skate park, a library, etc.), and you had to prove yourself by scanning a QR code with your phone.

{Pre-Race, ready to go…that coffee was not a good idea}

Our first destination was the skate park…only about 3 miles away.  We, along with a few other couples, decided to start running instead of waiting for the bus, at least for the first mile until we hit the bus changing intersection.

Turns out this made no difference because we got to the bus changing intersection at the same time as the people who waited for the bus initially.  Bummer.

As a group, we realized the next bus wouldn’t come for another 25 minutes.  Since it was only about 2 miles away, several of the couples started running, because 2 miles should take less than 25 minutes to run.

I knew we’d be doing some running, but I was thinking it would be minimal, so I didn’t really prepare adequately.  I didn’t eat a good running breakfast, I wasn’t hydrated, my Friday night dinner/imbibing wasn’t conducive to a morning run, and I brought my Ray Bans which are the worst sunglasses to run with (I ended up just carrying them in my hand). Luckily I wore my running shoes and sports bra, otherwise it wouldn’t have turned out so well.

To say that I felt like sh** during that 3 mile run would be an understatement. BUT, we still easily left the other people in our dust. Thank goodness for running.

I was looking later at the event twitter hashtag, and found this:

I’m not positive that she was talking about us, but, cool if she was and thought we were marathon runners!  Soon enough! (She’s also a senior reporter with New Mexico Business Weekly, so her twitter is pretty public).

So, we made it to the skate park, scanned our clue, allowed ourselves to be followed and filmed by the city’s videographer, and made it across the street to the bus stop just as everyone else approached the park gates.

And then the bus came. We were at the bus stop.  No one else was. 

This shall go down in history as the point in time that I was most thankful to be a trained half-marathon runner.  Our ability to run that stretch made the difference between us making that bus and having to wait half an hour for the next one.

{Bus Rider!}

We were obviously ahead of everyone on our team, but we didn’t know how the people on the other two teams were doing.  We continued to hustle just in case.

We made it to our second destination after a bus transfer, and our friend the video man was there to greet us again.

Turns out, it would probably be pretty annoying being on a reality show, and I give kudos to all those people who don’t act completely awkward in front of a camera.  Because I was awkward.  If this video ever surfaces, it will be of Aaron scanning QR codes, annoyed that homeboy was right in his business, and me looking confused at the camera saying, “Hello!”

{Hanging out at the bus stop}

Our next destination, the Albuquerque Museum was way across town, so we jumped on a bus and headed to a transfer point that was in a neighborhood formally called “The War Zone.”  We survived without getting jumped, and made it to where we needed to be. We ran from the bus stop to the museum (half a mile), then to the next destination, The Botanic Gardens (another 1.1 miles).

It was close to noon, so it was pretty warm, and I had maybe 5 sips of water in addition to my coffee (less water means less trying to figure out which gas station in the ghetto might have the cleanest bathroom).  This is not the way to run.  But sometimes, the will to win The Great Bus Race is so great, that even heat and dehydration can’t stop you.

Of course our friend the videographer was there at the Botanic Gardens waiting for us (he told us he was pretty sure we were in 1st place).  After a 25 minute wait for the train, we thought everyone would surely catch up to us.  They didn’t.  We hopped on once the train came, chugged along to the zoo, scanned our QR codes, and then ran about a mile to the next destination.

{Train rider!}

We were right in the middle of downtown (lots of people), I was disgusting from running all over the city during the middle of the day, and so hungry and so in need of water.  I’m sure we were judged.  When we scanned in the clue, it told us that we only had one more destination, and it was a few blocks away! Food and water and victory were in our future! (Altogether we ran about 6 miles).

We sprinted toward the finish line after a scattered search trying to find it (it wasn’t really in plain sight), and we finished in a rather anticlimactic end because the event people weren’t expecting anyone to cross that early and hadn’t finished setting up.

So… WE WON!!!

In fact, we broke all event records! We were even interviewed for the news, but I don’t think they actually aired it (thank goodness because the awkwardness is too much).  UPDATE: My coworker just said she saw me on the news.  I still can’t find evidence of it anywhere though. Our ability to run 3 miles in a row helped us clinch the title of best little Great Bus Race riders in the land!

I think the next couple in was about 20 minutes behind us.

They told us we could do whatever and be back in about an hour for the awards ceremony, so we celebrated with pizza and beer!

{WHY do I feel the need to geek out every photo???}

It was a really fun experience, and a really creative marketing tool for the transit company.  The buses were very clean and very efficient. One of the lines even had library books for little kids to read while they ride! (GREAT detail!).  For a $2 Day Pass, bus riding is much cheaper than driving the SUV around town.  As promised, just about every landmark is minutes away from a bus stop! I didn’t ever feel unsafe (though, I was with Aaron the whole time).  The only part I’d be worried about is waiting at some of the bus stops which lack the security and cleanliness of the buses themselves, but we didn’t have any problems at any of the stops we waited at.

You can read the press release HERE

So, in conclusion, Albuquerque buses aren’t so bad.  And being a trained runner can come in handy in the strangest situations.  And if anyone knows the folks who cast the Amazing Race, please let them know that the Lavenders would be willing participants!

Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo Half Marathon Recap

Sunday, at the Run for the Zoo Half Marathon, I made a huge  running blunder.

I forgot to start my Garmin.

As a result, my mileage was about .11 off the whole time, and I had no idea how much time had gone by.

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Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo is the city’s biggest race.  Just about everyone in town has either run it or supported a runner at some point.  Although still a “hometown” race, it is obvious that Run for the Zoo is working to slowly establish itself as Albuquerque’s destination race.

For example, last year they added the half marathon event to the 10-K, 5-K, and 1 mile Fun Run line-up (though, still no medals for half finishers).  This year, packet pick-up was moved from a local athletic store to a hotel ballroom, and it had the beginnings of an expo!  Even though the half marathon cap is at 600, it is a well-organized race, and I think it has the potential to grow.

{Packet Pick-Up Bloody Mary Bar!}

Run for the Zoo also holds a special place in my heart because it was here two years ago that I ran my first ever race.

The day before the race was Cinco de Derby (my boy Bodemeister came in 2nd), and since Whitney from Racing the States and her friend were in town from Denver to run, we met up and enjoyed a pre-race margarita.  It was very cool to meet a blog friend in real life.  I wish I could meet all of you!

The next morning we got up early and did our pre race routine of wandering around half asleep while trying to pin numbers to shirts somewhat straight.

As mentioned last week, I wanted to shake up the routine a bit and see if any tweaks would help performance.

I started off by eating a bigger breakfast.  Typically I’ll eat a banana pre-race.  This time, I ate a bowl of Cheerios and some soy milk.  I think this was a bad idea.  My stomach felt upset.

The half marathon started a full hour and a half before the 10-K which was perfect in every way from more parking to a less crowded course.  This also meant no porta pottie line (the half only had 425 participants)!

The bad side of the early start was the complete lack of crowd support.  The one thing I’ve always loved about this race is the amazing community cheerleaders who line the streets to encourage runners, no matter what the weather is doing.  I guess the crowds don’t get up that early?

We started right on time (Yay, Race People!), I got my Garmin going about .11 miles in, and I started SLOW.  I was shooting for negative splits, so I wanted my first mile at about 8:15.

Turns out trying to run slower than you want is actually a lot harder than it sounds.  With the initial excitement, everyone is going fast, and oh my goodness, I was passed and passed and passed. Super competitive Amy was not happy.  But I kept working at going slow despite my adrenaline pushing me otherwise.

I also opted to start off without music.   The first three miles where everyone is just jockeying for position is actually distracting enough, and I didn’t need it.

At about mile 3.5, the crowd was thinning, we were starting down a long straight away next to the river, and I was ready to start kicking into gear, so I decided to turn on Amy’s Workout Jams.  I think delaying music worked well.  Aside from the few minutes I spent getting everything situated with untangling headphones and trying to figure out which button was “on” without looking, it gave me the kick when I was starting to loose the race excitement.

The trail itself was full of shade.  I had taken allergy medicine and Musinex, and I didn’t feel the same suffocation that I felt two weeks ago.  I was hydrated.  There was just a slight breeze.  Overall, everything seemed to be in prime condition.

Except for my negative split skills.

I started out slow, and even when I thought I was picking it up, I was staying pretty much the same, or getting slower.  I’ve already determined through multiple races that I’m pretty good at starting out fast and slowing down, but apparently I have a much harder time starting out slow and getting faster. Plus, as a smaller race, there were fewer people to use as pacers.  I ran by myself for most of the time.

I took my Clif Shot at mile 7. It didn’t create the same gag reflex that I got two weeks ago, but I may consider less gooey fuel options. Although Aaron took the Jelly Belly sport beans and said he could only stomach one.  They didn’t provide sport drink along the course.

Finally, at mile 10, I managed to get my act together, and started to speed up.  I was actually feeling really good at this point in the race, which I think spells total failure on the effort part, so I tried to use up as much energy as I could in the last three miles.

This is where our lack of speed training really hit.  I had the energy, my legs didn’t hurt, but I’m just not trained to run that fast right now.  But, I was still passing people, and stayed motivated by passing more. Who’s boss now, early passer people?!?!

I crossed the finish line in 1:47:25, twenty seconds faster than my race time two weeks ago.

{Sprinting toward the finish!}

Also, because this was the Run for the Zoo, I sported my zebra print Bic Band to celebrate the occasion!

{Double fisting like a pro!}

I didn’t really accomplish a true negative split because… it was hard.  Starting off slow is hard.  Having people pass you left and right is hard.  Though, I discovered passing people at the end is actually more motivational than passing people at the beginning, but by that point, it was too late to make up time lost during the first 10 miles.

I truly think I could have run the first few miles 5-10 seconds faster each, and I don’t think I would have exhausted myself, and at least I would have taken some time off the clock.  I chose 8:15 as a starting point because that was the slowest I wanted to go, but I think I should have started out faster.

I didn’t have any miles that were as slow as last race, but I didn’t have any miles that were as fast either.  And I feel like because I felt so good the entire race, I should have pushed it further.

And after all is said and done, it only made a 20 second difference, and that could have been because the race conditions and my overall disposition were better, not necessarily because I started off slower.

Maybe I just need more practice at this.

There were 425 finishers.  I came in at 91, Aaron came in at 28.  He was 6th in his age group, and I was 9th.

{Three legged Aaron, going toward the finish}

My dad ran the 10-K, and actually did really well!  We waited with my mom, cheering on the other half marathon finishers and 10-K finishers until my dad crossed the finish line.  I’ve actually never stood at a finish line before, and I saw some pretty interesting things.  I saw an older lady running fully barefoot which sounds just like a bad idea all around, but she looked great.  I saw another man who maybe didn’t heed the warnings of training into Vibrams, because he walked in obvious pain barefoot with his 5-fingers in his hand.  I saw a little kid (maybe 7-8) bust out, and finish probably in the top 10 of the 10-K.  I saw a lot of determined people, a lot of victorious people, a lot of tired people, and a lot of people who looked very ready for a cold shower and a nap.

{Aren’t we the coolest? And I love how this picture accentuates my shortness}

The great thing about the Run for the Zoo is the free admission into the zoo after the race.  We went with my parents and hobbled around for a couple of hours before the muscle pain started to set in.  I hadn’t been the zoo in several years, so it was fun to see the new exhibits.  Albuquerque’s zoo is actually pretty nice.

Overall, this was an enjoyable race.  It didn’t hurt, the miles went by fast, and I’ve recovered nicely. Truthfully, even though I didn’t come in at my goal time of under 1:47, I’m not really all that bothered.  It is obvious that I have plateaued, and it is time to take it up a notch.  Thanks to everyone for all of your support and encouragement! Half marathon #5 is in the books! Not my best, but definitely not my worst.

*CORRECTION: I don’t really know what I was thinking…I ran this race only 6 seconds faster than I did the Albuquerque Half Marathon.  Sigh.

In the Proximity of Olympians

Every once in a while, something REALLY cool happens in Albuquerque.

This weekend, that really cool thing was the 2012 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

In other words, this weekend, I watched Olympic athletes do their thang.

Awesome doesn’t even begin to explain it.

There was so much going on at once, but highlights include getting to see:

Sara Hall run

{Sara Hall #11}

(which means, I was in the same building as Ryan Hall!…I looked but couldn’t find him. Ryan is an Olympic marathon runner and Sara’s husband ).  She didn’t win (she placed 3rd in the women’s 3000m), but she is drop dead gorgeous.  And even though she didn’t win, she still runs really fast. 

Sanya Richards Ross DOMINATE. 

This lady is a running beast (check out her muscular legs).  She powerered through the women’s 400m like nobody’s business.

Turns out, her husband, Aaron Ross is a NY Giants starter (cornerback).  We sat right behind them. We were dying to fangirl over this guy, but that isn’t really our style. Stalk and photograph the heads of famous people, yes. Interrupt their lives, no. 

Both Sanya and Aaron were being bombarded by superfans, but they were so gracious.  They also sat and watched the entire competition, cheering for other runners, something most of the other athletes didn’t do.  It was a pleasure to sit behind them and their family! Yesterday was also Sanya’s 27th birthday (she’s my age), and her and Aaron’s 2nd Anniversary (seriously….we are twins!).

{Aaron Ross’ head…he was decked out in Louis Vuitton both days}

{Aaron presenting his wife with her medal}

Sanya has been to the last two Olympics, and was bronze medalist in Beijing.  She will be competing in London this summer. 

Bernard Lagat DOMINATE!

{Bernard is the guy in the center.  Galen Rupp is in front.  Bernard pulled ahead and won by a landslide}

Lagat appears to be another truly genuine person.  The three top men pictured above in the men’s 3000m are all previous Olympians, and they were of an entirely different caliber than the non-Olympians competing (by the end they were a full lap ahead of the others).  They didn’t even look like they were breaking a sweat. Lagat will compete at the Olympics in London.

Chaunte Lowe break the American high jump record. 

I don’t even know how she can launch her body up that high like she does. 

Plus this girl is HILARIOUS.  She was a boogie queen.  She’s been to the last two Olympics, and my guess is she will probably be competing in London after her performance this weekend (she was also the overall Visa Series winner).

Lots of pole vaulters fly through the air.

{Oops…didn’t quite make it}

Some interesting fashion choices. 

Why on earth would you need to run in sunglasses and a gold chain is beyond me. I guess it worked for him though because he won!

And some seriously thin (but strong) girls.

It looks like I will have to lose half my body weight to be a competitive runner.

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ESPN aired the competition a few hours after it happened, so we were actually at home watching the footage.  We even saw ourselves on TV!

Having the opportunity to attend the Indoor Championships was a wonderful experience.  I have never been more inspired to be a runner.   These athletes are so powerful and good at what they do, and most are so humble.

I will be excited to watch these people compete in London this summer.  I will be cheering for them, feeling like I know them a little bit after getting a glimpse of what they are like when the camera isn’t rolling. 

Meanwhile, I have about 100 more pictures to upload that I’ll put in another blog post on another day.