Monday, December 19, 2011

Taking Out the Trash

This past weekend, while I used my hashbrowns to sop up the last remnants of hollandaise sauce from my eggs benedict and the spicy remnants of buffalo chicken dip lingered from the night before, I realized something had to change. My wife put gas in the car on our way back from breakfast club and, God forbid I sit there with my thoughts for two seconds, I pulled out my iPhone to check e-mail only to find further confirmation from my uncle: “Get in the weight room, slug.”

I’ve likened not running to that Seinfeld episode where George stops having sex and he suddenly becomes a genius, whereas when Elaine does it, it has the reverse effect. Jerry explains to Elaine that for a woman, sex is like the garbage man. When the garbage man is on strike, the trash piles up and it’s hard to think straight. At this point, I need a dumpster.

And so, with renewed dedication, I laced up an old pair of running shoes and went to the gym hoping to toss some of those garbage bags away. I noticed, however, that the rules of running simply don’t apply at the gym. First of all, my shirt had sleeves and my shorts came down below mid-thigh…lest I suffer this humiliation.

I project my own insecurities onto the much bulkier dudes in the gym. You know, the ones who rip off pullups the way I rip off mile repeats. I fantasize about one of them saying something snide about that 15 pound dumbbell I’m carrying around, something that will let me say, “Well, Meat, we could step outside and have ourselves a race.” Of course, that would do me little good now because it’d have to be a one-legged race, carnival-style.

Anyhow, I walked out of the house yesterday evening to two of my neighbors chatting. They know about my ankle because they were two of the people I cornered last week on my journeys to and from the mailbox, desperate for human contact.

After the, “How’s it feeling?” formality, one of them chimed in with, “I just don’t know what time it is anymore. I used to know it was 5:30 when you’d run by my window.” That sound you just heard was my heart breaking…or my ankle popping. They sound eerily similar.

When I walked into the gym, one of my “gym friends,” i.e, a person I only talk to when I run into them at the gym, pounded out some miles on the treadmill. She threw a wave at the window having seen my reflection. We caught up on races past. “I saw you at Hot Chocolate a couple weeks ago,” she said. “You didn’t see me, though. You were in the zone!” Ah, a shadow of my former running self. She asked what I was training for now to which I lifted up my warmups and showed her the ankle brace. This elicited that face-pucker-response, the one where the person looks like they just bit into a lemon and sucks in the air around you, as if to say, “Ewwwww.” Then they offer useful commentary: “You must be going crazy.” I am. But it just means I can write snarky blogs.
“What are you going to do here?” she asked.

I gestured at my chest and ran my fingers over the ribs I’m normally so proud of in any running environment. This is one of those strange juxtapositions though between gym world and running world where, as Tom Petty would say, "You don't have to live like a refugee." I briefly considered that Quentin Cassidy may have lied to me when he said, “Gaunt is beautiful.”

“Well, considering I have this massive upper body,” I said, pausing for sarcastic effect. She looked skeptical as I let it sink in, then I got an, “Oh, haha. Right.”

Thanks for playing along. I almost pulled out the John Stamos as Uncle Jesse and remarked, "Of course, I'll just be toning tone." I know, first Point Break and now Full House? They said it couldn’t be done.

Finally, I got on with it. My good friend who I’m helping with a 5K program is in turn helping me with some strength training.

I did a little bench press (moving the pin from 230 lbs to 150 lbs), some pullups (with the weight assistance), and some dumbbell rows. I finished with some Jay Johnson core work, i.e., the exercises I’m more familiar with but would probably get me made fun of to the tune, "Check out twinkle toes over there."

By the end, there were whispers of that satisfying exhaustion that comes at the end of a good run. I felt traces of endorphins coursing through my body and thought that for now, this will have to do.

The strike may not be completely over, but service has resumed on a limited basis.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tales from the Sedentary Life

The view from the couch, dear readers, is a lonely one. Since spraining my ankle six days ago, the couch has become my island, and my dog Mattie has become my Wilson. If I had a telescope, I could be creepy, paranoid, “Rear Window” Jimmy Stewart, instead of the Jimmy Stewart we’re all used to watching this time of year on AMC.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, I hobble from bed to couch, fire up the laptop, balance it on my good leg and prop my right leg up on a stack of pillows. There I sit for eight hours until the work day ends and I can swap my work laptop out for my own laptop…and stay on the couch.

With all this couch time, here are some observations and ramblings on the sedentary life:
  • I feel fat.
  • Mattie about sums up how we
    both feel.
  • Every day I download the Mike O’Meara Show podcast and listen to it while commuting, grocery shopping or otherwise doing some task that needs to be joy-infused. The guys occasionally do a segment where they talk in their “fat guy” voices and go around the room saying what they want to eat. My wife and I have started to speak to one another in fat guy voices because, though I can’t exercise this week, I still eat like I’m running 60 miles a week. It goes something to the tune of, “I’ll have 12 cupcakes topped with chocolate ice cream.”
  • Irony rears its ugly head again when I watch this video posted by Runner’s World’s Mark Remy, essentially talking about getting off your butt and exercising. I nod vigorously at the message then slump further down into the cushions in despair. Then I pop another motrin.
  • My dog worries about me. She sits with me on the couch and follows me around the house, and this time it’s not for food. My neighbor came over to walk her on Tuesday afternoon and she started whining and would not leave my side until I told her it was ok. Love that damn dog.
  • I am desperate for human contact. The highlight of my weekdays has been the trip to the mailbox. I swing over there on my crutches with a backpack on. The dog mills around in the grass. I linger to see if any neighbors are outside who might want to chat. I settle on our neighbor’s Russian parents who I don’t think understand a word I’m saying. The next day I go outside, everyone runs in.
    I'm fat.
  • I think my wife is trying to make me fat. Earlier this week, she asked Facebook what she should bring her “poor, lame husband” home for dessert. I weighed in on each comment, which ranged from Cinnabon and Silver Diner milkshakes to cocaine (you know, for when the Vicodin gets weak); that night I ate 12 mini cupcakes and a cup of chocolate PinkBerry.
  • I love The Big Bang Theory.
  • I did all of my Christmas shopping online.
  • When I’m sick or otherwise incapacitated, one of my favorite remedies is to watch movies. I hole up in the basement and emerge when there’s food. Between 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 10:00 p.m. Sunday, I watched: Any Given Sunday, Beerfest (twice), When Harry Met Sally (hush), There’s Something About Mary, Pirates of the Caribbean, and if I could have gotten off the coach, I would have dropped in Point Break. And yes, we own Point Break.
  • When you don’t have an evening run, there. Is. So. Much. Time. In. The. Night. I read a book in two days because I had more than 15 minutes before turning the lights out to go to bed. 
  • Another reference to the podcast above, I never really got this reference they kept making to “Whatever happened to Baby Jane” … until now. Substitute "chair" for "couch" and you'll know how I feel. And, in no way am I implying that my wife is Betty Davis. Without her, I wouldn't have eaten this week...thank God for crock pots.

  • The good news is that I went to the ortho. It’s a sprain. I have a better ankle brace that means I can ditch the crutches. I’m targeting a January 2 return to the roads.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just saw the mailman drive by. Wonder if he has time to chat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To the PR Setter Go the Carbonara

I hobbled into the kitchen and watched the ingredients unloaded on to the counter. I took stock while the gas sparked under a pot of water and then again under our largest pan. Garlic, prosciutto, milk, butter, cream, parmesan and romano cheese, eggs (just the yolks), chives, cinnamon, pasta.

“I brought eggnog, too.”
“Because the pasta’s not heavy enough?” I asked.

This was my Post-New York Marathon meal.
It’s the type of meal I would normally shun, not for its lack of deliciousness, but for its running, and hell even its life, consequences. You can feel your heart slow down after this meal. Minutes and perhaps even days of your life disappear with each mouthful. But, it’s heavenly.

For those reasons, it only comes around after I finish a marathon; when the health rules are slightly lax, and the guilt for eating a meal such as this subside, or at least hide for a few hours.

My cousin and I were at a Caps game recently and had the following exchange:

“I always get you something after you finish a marathon…any requests?”
“I want the meal.”
“The carbonara?”
We both let out a heavy exhale.
“The carbonara.”

One September night back in 2007, I’d finished my run for the evening (more often than not these days, I can mark time by race training, and it was a run for the Chicago meltdown year), barbeque chicken crackled on the grill, and my wife and I had just finished putting the finishing touches on the guest room. We watched a pair of headlights swing around the front of our house and then heard a car door slam. Cousin Jane had arrived.

Rachel and I had been married for just over two years when her cousin moved to the D.C. area after completing her chemistry Master’s and needed a place to stay. The doors to chez Holzwart (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) flew open.
Up to then, Jane was my funeral buddy. Rachel and Jane’s grandparents passed fairly close together and we found ourselves in Billerica, MA for their funerals. Jane made it a point to come over to me while I sat awkwardly in the funeral home, trying to play it cool, but she was on to me from the start. And she delighted in calling me on it.

You may also recognize Jane from our wedding pictures…she’s the one not smiling. In any of them.

That first night, we sat down to that barbeque chicken, and I eyed her as she ate half of it before putting her napkin on the table. “What’s the matter? You don’t like the food?” I asked. I would later learn that regret swirled through her head at that moment.

But, with my wife playing rugby at the time, our friendship grew from one of convenience to a legitimate bond. She drank our gin. I initiated her into the ulcer club that is being a Washington Capitals fan. We bonded over ab workouts in the basement (do people still do pilates?), the art of sarcasm, food, and more specifically, what brings me to this post today, high caloric meals.

One evening, Jane declared she was cooking. “I think it’s going to be pretty good,” she said. “But it’s probably best if you don’t see what goes in it.”

Which in my head meant, not just unhealthy, but really unhealthy.

The house filled with the heavy aromas of garlic, simmering cream, and various salted pork products. In short, heaven. And heart attack.

The three of us shoveled forkfuls of this creamy, cheesy, congealing, concoction into our mouths at an alarming rate. Then went back for seconds. Then regret. Not that we went back for seconds, but that our stomachs wouldn’t let us go back for thirds.

If she could somehow work beef jerky into it, it may be the most sensuous meal I’ve ever had.

And so, the post-marathon meal was born. It may only be surpassed by a helping on the following day after everything has had a chance to coagulate. Jane hates leftovers so we end up with what’s left, which is generally a lot. It calls to me whenever I open the fridge, even for just a bite, which inevitably turns into several. Cold, hot. It doesn’t matter.

The one thing Jane and I never bonded on was running. But this was her way of appreciating the effort. And my way of getting her to cook for me.

Do you have a post-marathon/post-goal race meal that you indulge in?

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Twisted End to Running in 2011

So, this is what cankles look like on me.
Irony can be twisted. And so can ankles.

Saturday began as one of those perfect running days. There was a snap to the air, a clear blue sky, and the promise of chocolate chip pancakes. My running partner Rohan and I set out on the Fairfax Cross County Trail for an easy 10-miler. We settled into an early rhythm and the conversation flowed as easily as our stride.

The trail was damp and muddy and we joked (oh, how we joked) that we could consider this a successful run if neither of us fell as we slipped and slid through the patches of mud.

“Steady climb coming,” I called back to him, as we wove our away along the singletrack that would eventually switch back to the top of the hill looming above us.
“What races are you signed up for in 2012?” he asked, while we bowled along. Little did we know irony lurked near the top of the hill.
“Let’s see, I’ve got the RnR DC Half and the Backyard Burn Trail Series in March as well. I’m pretty stoked to get into a race series and….”

There was a snap! and I lurched out and grabbed on to one of the trees. I braced myself for the delayed pain. When it washed over me in one hot wave, my body flushed and I fought the sudden urge to vomit.

“We’re going back, right?” Rohan said.
“Give me a second,” I said, hands on my knees, swallowing the sour saliva. “Maybe I just tweaked it.”

Then I looked down at the baseball that had suddenly formed where my calf met my ankle. “Yep, we’re going back,” I said.

Except back was 3.2 miles away.

“Ok,” I said, starting to work this one out. “You run back to the car and meet me where the trail intersects Vale road.”
“You sure you’re gonna be ok?” he asked. And then I heard it. It was manliness calling, and I had to answer. Of course it could have just as easily been stupidity, but either way, I had to get back to the road.
“What choice do I have? We're in the middle of the woods.”

I took one step toward him to try and get out of the leaves and back onto the trail. I nearly buckled. We looked at each other. “Um, I’m gonna need your help getting out of here,” I said.

My baseball has now turned into a grapefruit.
I turned my right foot out and stepped gingerly. The pain shot up through my leg and stopped in my stomach. “I’m ok,” I said. “Just meet me at Vale.”

Rohan took off down the hill and I hoped he didn’t sprain his ankle trying to get back, but I waited to share that thought with him until later. I started my roughly one mile journey to the road. I hopped on my good leg. I hobbled, dragging it behind me like some sort of zombie-basement-of-the-science-building-type character.

I came upon a man and his dog. “You need anything?” he asked. Cadaver parts, maybe, I thought.
“Just need to get to Vale road where my friend is going to pick me up.”
“Is it the black guy?”
“He. Was. Hauling!”

I needed to move faster. I tried to remember how long NHLers were out thanks to sprained ankles and reasoned that I’d probably be out 4-6 weeks. That put me at mid-late January. I could probably still train pretty hard for my half marathon, but, man, the holidays could be dark times. Then I thought about how this would get me out of vacuuming the house this weekend. Hmm, silver lining?

I finally reached the road just as Rohan pulled up. “How’s it feel?” he asked. “Never mind, I just looked at it.”


We pulled into the ER. I hopped through the doors and to the front desk. As soon as I sat down, the triage nurse called me back. Note to self, if going to the ER, get there at 11:40 on a Saturday morning to reduce the wait. “Do you want a wheelchair?” she asked.
“I just hopped a mile on it. I think I’ll be ok.” Of course then I nearly fell trying to sit in the chair.
“We’ll get you a wheelchair to take you back to your room,” she said. “What’s the prob– whoa! How’d you do that?”


As soon as I finished my explanation, Rohan jumped in. “Do you have any petroleum jelly?” We all stopped and looked at him. “My lips are really dry.”

I just shook my head at him. He pulled surgical lube from a drawer to which they cautioned him not to get any in his mouth. Before they wheeled me back, we took pictures and I joked that I’d be tagging everyone on Facebook. Hahaha, boo hoo hoo...We laugh to keep from crying.

When I got back to my room, the nurse came in with my chart, “So which ankle is it?”
“Two guesses,” I said.
He took his eyes from the chart. “Jesus!”


Another nurse (like I said the hospital is light at 11:45 a.m. on a Saturday) started asking me some background questions. Do I use drugs or alcohol? Do I drink everyday or (something inaudible)?
“What was the second choice?” I asked.
She turned and peered at me over her glasses. “Socially.”
“That one.”
“Do you have any petroleum jelly?” Rohan cut in.
“Can this be about me for five minutes?” I asked him.
“Sorry! My lips are dry.”

The murse wheeled me out for x-rays. The tech wheeled me back. “You’re going to live,” he said.
“Is it bad?” I asked, hope in my voice.
“I’ve seen worse.”

I returned to the room to find Rohan twirling a tube between his fingers. “Check it out. Industrial strength,” he said, his lips glistening.
“I’m happy for you.”

We waited for the doctor to come back in. Rohan found a pair of socks in the drawer and slipped them on. I'm giving him a hard time here, but he certainly kept me entertained.
 “They won’t even know they’re gone,” he rationalized.
“Did you hear my ankle pop?” I asked him.
“Wait, that was your ankle? I thought you snapped a branch.”


Finally the doctor came in. “It’s not broken,” she says. I wait for it. “But.” There it is. “It’s a pretty bad sprain. You’re going to need,” I brace again. “Two weeks until you can run again.”

My face relaxed. “That’s it? I thought you were going to say 4-6 so I’ll gladly take two.”
“Darn it. I should have said longer.”

The nurse came in behind the doctor with some crutches, an air cast, and a horse pill of ibuprofen.

“Do you want a clean sock for your foot?” she asked, sweetly.
“You should take that,” Rohan said, trying not to laugh. “I hear they are pretty comfortable.”
“Is that, right?” I asked.

She rummaged through the drawer. “I know we have a pair of socks in here somewhere.”
I shook my head at Rohan. “Here we are.”

I swung through the hallway to the parking lot and climbed into the car. “Home?” Rohan asked.
“Home? I have a sprained ankle. I’m not sick. We’ve gotta get some food.”
“Thank God,” he said, reapplying the chapstick.

So we bee-lined it for the nearest diner. At least I still got my breakfast and, sticking to our original measuring stick, no one fell. I guess you could call it a successful run.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Cure for the Crappy Run

This is what I feel like on "Crappy Run Wednesdays."
Earlier this week after a non-descript five mile run, I decided I needed to add a little zip to my legs, which were still recovering from Saturday’s Hot Chocolate 15K. I slipped onto the dark golf course, paced out about 30m and kicked off my shoes. I ripped off nine strides and bounced back to the house. It was the cure for the crappy run.

In my head, they became “Crappy Run Wednesdays.” In fact, my training log mostly had “another crappy Wednesday” scrawled in the notes section. During my buildup to NYC this year, Wednesday’s always read “Recovery Run.” My goal was to run anywhere from 40-70 minutes depending on the week in my training program at around 7:30-8:15 pace. The run was simply about being on my feet and logging miles to let those battered muscles loosen up and adapt to whatever torture I’d done the day before.

Whether it was the accumulated mileage, the fact that I also made Wednesday mornings my gym days, or some combination therein, Wednesday afternoon runs felt like crap. My legs either grew fatigued, a fog rolled in around my head, or I simply had no lungs. My stride felt awkward and it became near impossible to find a rhythm. Some days I just wanted to stop where I was on the trail, curl up, and go to sleep.

I like to think that my body was going through a one-day taper, finally taking the opportunity to exhale and heal. But that could just be wishful thinking.

I tried everything. I switched up my eating plan from pretzels to a bowl of oatmeal. When that didn’t work, I went the opposite direction and ditched the snack all together. It wasn’t pretty. People nearly died or lost limbs from the hanger.

I even tried wearing one of my “key workout” outfits, you know, my fast clothes. Didn’t matter. Every run became a slog. It happened enough that I would start to doubt my ability to put my body through a much harder key workout the next day.

Then one day, after a particularly bad run in the rain that reduced me to a walk about half way through, I threw in some strides after my workout.

Strides are just 30-50m pickups that you can do in the street, on a hill, or in the grass. I alternate for the variety. Each stride starts with a slow progression until you build up to nearly full speed in the middle, back it down to a stop, and then walk back to the start.

I typically do 9x30m strides once a week, after my easy run on Mondays. Why not 10? I like to break them down into three sets of three because I’m OCD like that.

I started doing them because I read that they help make your running form more economical and increase your turnover. All true things.

But what I really liked about doing strides was how I felt afterward. My logy legs had the zip I hoped for on my faster runs. Each rep chased away the fog around my head and I was suddenly alert, explosive, and even fired up.

My workouts did a complete 180. Don’t get me wrong, I still fought through a lot of those Wednesday runs, but the strides I incorporated at the end gave my sleepy legs and mind the pop I needed to conquer that Thursday workout. I returned to the house buzzing with confidence instead of flat and lamenting yet another “Crappy Run Wednesday.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nothing Sweet About the Hot Chocolate 15K - A Redux

Rohan and I survie this debacle.
Nice legs, right?
I'll be the first to admit, I was lured in by the race schwag. And in fact, I used it to sucker others in as well. It went something like this:
"We signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Oh, you haven't? You get a jaaaacket."
"Take my money."

And so it would go from runner to runner, like some sort of nefarious chain letter, until the race reached its max at 20,000.

Let me say this up front: No jacket is worth what we went through on Saturday. If I'm going to work this hard for a jacket, it better say B.A.A. on it.

The early warning signs were there. To request a corral, I had to find old race results, take a screen shot, highlight my time, and e-mail it to the race. Last time I checked, an online form was pretty easy to create.

Then came packet pickup. You couldn't pick it up on race day. Somewhat inconvenient but certainly not out of the ordinary, particularly for a race this size. But let me set the scene for the non-DC-ites. The Virginia, Maryland, DC area has the distinct honor of having the country's worst traffic. The Beltway, i.e. the road that loops through all three areas is particularly nightmarish during rush hour. The race is located at this place called National Harbor, which sits just outside the beltway on the shores of Maryland, staring across the Potomac at Virginia. National Harbor is a contrived city center that, as Andy Dufresne said in Shawkshank, "has no nearly earthly business being in a [Maryland] hayfield." It's so isolated (how isolated is it?), hey let me tell you, it's so isolated that no metro stops are nearby. It's a two lane exit with only one way in. So, in order to pick up your packet, you have to traipse out to National Harbor. During rush hour. On a weeknight. 

It took my two friends and I 3.5 hours roundtrip.

On top of it all, we had to pay $10 to park at the "race site" on race day. You'll understand the quotes in a minute. Or we could park and take a shuttle in. We opted to park.

Ok, enough setup. 

It's 6:20 a.m. on race morning. Five of us pile into my CRV and we begin our trek out to National Harbor. Traffic is sparse and we hum along as the sky begins to lighten through the windshield. We pass the exit about five miles from Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the bridge that will lead us into Maryland and ultimately to National Harbor. At least that's the plan. Megan, Alejandra, and I point out to our other two passengers that this is the exit where traffic stopped on Wednesday night at packet pickup.  We ooh, ahh and recount how unfortunate it was. Two miles later, we are no longer recounting. We are living it.

Red tail lights glow in the pre-dawn light, not such an uncommon scene in the D.C. area but certainly odd at 6:45 a.m. On a Saturday. The car sighs all at once. We eye the clock. We eye the traffic. We have 75 minutes until the race starts and 2.5 miles to go. Our breakfast club mates who are running the 5K, which starts at 7:30 (pretty good idea to start the shorter race first), text us and say they've been on the bridge for 45 minutes. My friend, Rohan who is on a bus, says he will never run this race again...if he gets to run it at all.

At 7:15, our friends on the bridge bail. We lookup the race site and it's Facebook page hoping for a delayed start or some sort of information, but it's empty.

We discuss alternatives and finally settle on bailing on the traffic jam, getting off at the last exit before the bridge, cutting through Virginia, into D.C., and over to Maryland the back way. 

This is Alejandra's first race. Ever. And we try (not very well) to stay positive so that this experience isn't ruined for her. The following exchange occurs:

"I don't mean to be Debbie Downer," my friend Joe says, "But I'm not sure we're going to make it on time."
"Well, I'm going to be Reality Rita," I say, "And tell you that this blows and we're never going to get there."

Miraculously, we arrive at National Harbor at 8:00 on the dot. We are part of the ant line being led toward the hill, which at this point could also be taking us toward an ant trap and certain doom. Either way, we park and start to get a jog on toward the starting line. Because the starting line is a mile away from the parking garage!

Since we're already late, we frantically search for a place to go to the bathroom. It could be a store. It could be a porta-potty. It could be that we pretended to jog past the cop car and down a trail, then dart into the woods where the barren trees do little to hide what's actually going on here. These were all viable options.

As we make our way to the start, there's a blast and that all too familiar scene of a dam breaking and a wave of runners tumbling out of it. We think we've missed the start, but it's only the 8:15.  

Finally we arrive at the 15K start. I say good bye to my friends as we go our separate ways, because, yes, I took the time to send in my race results to get a better starting position, and I'm glad I did.

I use this delay to take one more trip to the woods, err, bathroom, that's even less discrete than the first stop. 

In my corral, we mill about like cattle awaiting the drive. It's cold and the announcements are few and far between. When Mr. Cheesy DJ voice finally comes on, he tells us it'll be five minutes to the start. Sarcastic cheers go up. Five minutes passes and we're told it's another five minutes because there was some mishap with the 5K, which we later found out was that the lead cop took the leaders the opposite direction around the course. Seriously. I couldn't make this up. Then we get DJ gems like, "Heeeeey, I assure you there'll be literally tons of chocolate waiting for you at the finish line. Take your face...and dunk it. Then stay there." To which I thought, take your microphone and...never mind. He also continued to say that the course starts as a five mile out and back, which in my head registered as 10 miles, and I wondered what sort of DJ math he was doing since the entire race was 9.3 miles. It wasn't until the three mile mark that I figured out it was 2.5 out and 2.5 back. Anyway.

At long last, the gun goes off at 9:00. We bottleneck through the impossibly small starting arch, which I'm sure at one point seemed like a good idea for 20,000 people to squeeze through.

There was a race. It was fine. I heard from my wife and friends that the course was too narrow and the lanes choked. I had to grab cups from the water stations because the volunteers (at least at the first one) were too lazy to actually hand them to us. I covered the 9.3 miles in 56:25, good enough for 20th overall and 6th in my age group.

By the end, it was nearly 11:00 a.m. We got back to the car. Waited another 45 minutes to get out of National Harbor (20,000 in through two lanes, 20,000 out through two lanes), which we passed by reading aloud the Facebook posts from the brand new page "Hot Chocolate DC Epic Fail" (what did we ever do without social media?). And met up with our friends -- the ones who wisely bailed on the race -- for some much needed pitchers of beer.

Look, I'm not a race director. I understand that most races have to be logistical nightmares behind the scenes and a maddening amount of work goes into them to pull off a successful event. But someone didn't do their homework for this one. There's no shortage of races in DC, and large ones at that (Marine Corps, Cherry Blossom, Army Ten Miler, National Marathon). Somebody should have tapped into that knowledge. One of my colleagues today said as I recounted some of this to her, "Boy, you runners are picky." I gently explained that we're not picky. We simply have raced many events and we know enough to say this works and that won't.

The race tagline was "Will run for chocolate." I will never run for chocolate again.
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