Noise Dysregulation and Running Regulation

Saturday evening started out rough for me.

Our neighbors had a party and we could hear their music in our house. And I know that people are allowed to have parties. And even though I think that after you reach a certain age, you are supposed to have parties where the music only lives inside your own house, I know that people have parties with loud music.

Unfortunately, music seeping into my house from the outside is one of my biggest sensory nightmares. It completely dysregulates me. I have to wear headphones with my own music blasting, but I still can’t do much that is functional. I get agitated and stressed and a rock drops into my chest and I have to escape.

It’s pretty horrible, honestly.

Fortunately, on Saturday, I had someplace to go.

I had signed up for an 8K race that started at 8:45 at night. I was an early arrival thanks to my fleeing the house, but at least I had plenty of time to decompress.

The bummer of the whole thing, however, is that I had absolutely no desire to run five miles, especially after my rough early evening. Adding to that is the fact that running has been really tough for me lately. There are a lot of reasons for that, chief among them being that I barely ran at all in May and June because of everything that was going on in my life. In addition, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is damn hot out there. And humid. And generally horrible.

Saturday night was cool and dry though. And two of my running friends who were running the race also met me at there. They are super fun to be with and by 8:45, I was relaxed again.

Sadly, I still didn’t want to run five miles.

Happily, I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, as I was lined up in the race corral wearing a number and my running shoes, plus my friends probably would have been confused if I’d just sat on the ground instead of moving forward.

So move forward I did.

Step step step step/breath. Step step step step/breath.

I started to run and with each quartet of steps and each breath, I felt better. My body loosened and relaxed and I settled in for the next hour of steps and breathing. Because when you really look at it, that’s all running is—steps and breathing.

As it turns out, everything I needed after getting away from my house that night was steps and breathing.

I returned to my house late Saturday night, happy, tired, and (thank god) to a neighbor who had turned off his music.

Fun Run

Hey, guess what? You were right! I was sick! Hooray! I’ve never been so happy to have a cold! Especially because I’m already starting to feel better.

This is especially fortunate because I am running a 10K this weekend and I would rather not run every race I’m registered for this year whilst in the throes of the ague. I haven’t had much of a chance to run this week, what with my heavy time commitments in the areas of whining and complaining, so I decided to try to get a short run in this afternoon while Sam was at soccer practice.

Photo of Sam running backwards on a soccer field.

Sam. At soccer practice.

The only flaw in my plan was that I was in charge of Jack and Quinn as well. They were extremely happy on the swings that overlook the soccer field, so I tried to run back and forth on the path that snaked between them that allowed me to still watch my smaller munchkins and make sure they weren’t departing for more interesting pastures.

Sadly, it only took me a few minutes to realize that I would have to run something like 38 tiny laps to get any decent mileage.

I did not want to run 38 tiny laps.

Happily, when I said to Jack and Quinn, “Come on, guys; run with me!” they did! We departed down the path, leaving the soccer field behind us.

Photo of a paved trail through trees. Quinn and Jack are on the trail ahead of me, running away from the camera.

Jack and Quinn. Running.

It was, by far, the least productive run I’ve been on in a long time, but oh dear lord was it fun.

They actually did a really good job too. We would run for a little bit and then we would walk and if we saw a dog, we would stop to pet it. I kept track of our running (not the walking parts) on my Garmin and they ran for a little over a mile.

Like rock stars.

I think it might have been when my kids were marveling over the group of seven deer that we happened upon, followed by much excitement over a robin pecking around nearby that I realized how much fun running with my kids is.

Quinn would run up ahead and then jump out from behind a tree to ambush Jack and I and we would laugh. Jack and I would run really fast to catch up to Quinn and then he would scream and cry when we ambushed him. Both kiddos made serious but ultimately unsuccessful efforts to pet deer. We watched a creek. We had a heart-stopping lesson in remembering to stop at roads. Jack politely informed a smoker that he should quit for his health. Quinn hid from a peloton of bikers on a nearby road by crouching behind a bank of daffodils. Jack quite literally stopped to smell the flowers.

Jack walking throgh trees on a paved path while inspecting something he is holding in his hand.

Then Jack picked said flowers, told me he wanted me to help him make a dye out of them, and very carefully inspected them for suitability. It slowed us down considerably.

The whole damn thing was delightful as hell.

We got back in plenty of time for Jack to find more flowers and for Quinn to play on the swings and run into a friend from his class at school.

Photo of Quinn swinging.

Quinn has recently made great strides in his swinging ability. He gets JOY from swinging now. It’s awesome.

I run for a lot of reasons. I run to be healthy, to be fitter, to be faster, to train for races, to feel strong. Today I ran for fun. Just for fun. It was wonderful. I’ll have to remember to do that more often. And I need to remember to invite my new little running buddies to do it with me.

And then soccer practice ended and Quinn called Sam stupid and Sam threw a shoe that hit Quinn in the face and there was no more happy for anyone ever again. So, there’s that.

Wait. There actually is a little more happy. But just a little.

Photograph of a plant. Due to the position of its purple flowers and the shape of it's green leaves and the coloring of the purplish leaves at the very top, this plant looks just like a very silly bird.

“Hello! I’m a bird! I bring happy back!”


I’m pretty sure I’m just about the best runner in the world.

Do you want to be the best runner in the world too? Well, I am here to help.

Step 1: Run

Bad drawing of me running.

It helps if you run while having a disproportionately tiny head.

Step 2: Run along an extremely busy road.

Sam bad drawing as before, but with cars added on the road.

Please to extrapolate to imagine many more cars on the road.

Step 3: Don’t notice the tripping hazard in front of you.

Drawing of a sidewalk from the POV of a runner looking down. There is a tiny dot a little ways ahead with a label that says, "miniature dust mote." Drawing with same POV as above, but the dot is closer to the shoes now and has the label "still tiny"Step four: Fall spectacularly flat on your face after tripping over essentially nothing.

Two drawings next to each other (1) Me, mid-fall saying "nooooo...." (2) me flat on my face on the sidewalk saying "oof."

It may feel way more slow motion than depicted here though.

Step five: Regardless of how badly you may or may not be hurt, jump up as if nothing at all happened.

Drawing of me standing up with a surprised look on my face.

Bonus points if you can make it look like you did an intentional burpee.

Step six: Recommence running, while mentally assessing injuries.

This is the same drawing as the first showing me running.

Don’t limp. Even if you broke something.

Step seven: Strategically plaster on a self-deprecating grin while shaking your head in amusement at yourself until all the cars that saw you fall drive away.

Drawing of a closeup of my face with a huge grin.

Die a little inside.

Step eight: Run the rest of the way home before you inspect your bloody knees and scraped up palms.

Aaaaaand done! Congratulations! You are also the best runner in the world!

Project Stimey 2.0

Project StimeyIt has been one year and one day since I started Project Stimey, which means it is time to stop, assess, and recommit. As I mentioned in my last post, my resolution at the beginning of 2013 was this:

My goal this year is to improve my overall physical health. By the end of 2013, I want to weigh less, I want to be fitter, I want to be a water drinker instead of a soda drinker, and I want to be altogether more awesome.

As I also mentioned, I managed to do all of these things, but some of them not all the way. That, however, was kind of the point for me. Giving myself an end goal, like “LOSE ALL THE WEIGHT” would have set me up for failure. This way, when I lost SOME of the weight, I ended up feeling good about myself instead of wanting to kill myself. Win-win!

As for fitness, I am definitely way better off than I was a year ago. I ran 465.51 miles this year in just more than 100 hours. I ran seven races, including the relay race I spent most of the year training for. I ran an 8k race in September at a three minute per mile faster pace than when I had run the same race the year before.

Also, my body is changing in good ways.

Running photos taken a year apart

I’m not where I want to be, but I’m moving in the right direction.

As for the soda drinking, I’m afraid I haven’t been as honest with you as I could have been. It was February when I told you that I was making good progress quitting Diet Coke. Then I completely regressed without telling you and drank mass amounts of Diet Coke right up until December 29, when I realized that I only had two days left if I planned to quit before new year’s.

It was a sad day, let me tell you. Honestly, though, the next day was sadder with no happy brown bubbles to cheer me up.

I’m on Day Four with no soda and I feel totally fine physically, but damn if I don’t miss it. I know that it is just a matter of getting out of the habit of drinking soda all the time. I’m now getting in the habit of drinking water instead. I should tell you that water is stupid.

I am so fucking hydrated right now that I want to scream.

But healthier! No more phenylalanine for me! Yay! *grumpy face*

As for next year, I really just want to keep moving down the road I’m on. My 2014 resolution is to continue to improve my overall physical health. I will continue to work on running and increasing my mileage and speed, but I really want to work on eating cleaner as well. Per usual, I will plan to increase my general awesomeness again.

I want to run at least one half marathon this year, hopefully this spring, but I haven’t found one yet. My relay team is also planning another fall relay. And, again, we have openings if any of you are interested in joining our team.

Just like last year, you can keep tabs on me through my distance log and my race list.

Let’s inspire each other! Let me know what your goals are and how you’re going to make them happen. We can all be awesomer in 2014!

Stimey’s 2014 Distance Log

Project Stimey Distance Log

Date Distance Time Pace
Th 1/2/14 2.00 miles 26:25
Sa 1/4/14 2.00 miles 24:00
Su 1/5/14 2.10 miles 25:45
M 1/6/14 2.00 miles 24:12
W 1/8/14 2.00 miles 23:04
Th 1/9/14 1.25 miles 14:49
Sa 1/11/14 2.25 miles 27:31
Su 1/12/14 1.12 miles 13.35
M 1/13/14 2.81 miles 36:43 13:05 min/mi
Tu 1/14/14 2.01 miles 24:31 12:11 min/mi
W 1/15/14 2.24 miles 27:29 12:17 min/mi
W 1/22/14 2.01 miles 23:21
M 1/27/14 3.69 miles 45:23 12:18 min/mi
W 1/29/14 3.1 miles 38:10
Th 1/30/14 3.98 miles 48:57 12:19 min/mi
F 1/31/14 4.87 miles 1:02:24 12:49 min/mi
January Totals 39.43 miles 8:06:19
Su 2/2/14 3.1 miles 38:25 12:10 min/mi
W 2/5/14 2.85 miles 35:30 12:29 min/mi
Th 2/6/14 2.25 miles 26:33
F 2/7/14 4.49 miles 57:13 12:45 min/mi
Sa 2/8/14 6.77 miles 1:24:54 12:33 min/mi
Su 2/9/14 4.37 miles 53:52 12:19 min/mi
W 2/12/14 2.25 miles 27:39
Th 2/13/14 2.5 miles 29:51
F 2/14/14 8 miles ~1:45:00 13:00 min/mi
Sa 2/15/14 3.02 miles 40:00
Su 2/16/14 2.50 miles 31:16 12:29 min/mi
Tu 2/18/14 3.06 miles 39:51
W 2/19/14 5.10 miles ~1:06:00 12:40 min/mi
Th 2/20/14 7.76 miles 1:40:31 12:57 min/mi
Su 2/23/14 5.04 miles 1:00:33 12:01 min/mi
Tu 2/25/14 5.47 miles 1:08:39 12:33 min/mi
February Totals 68:53 miles 14:25:47
Su 3/2/14 10 miles 2:09:39 12:58 min/mi
Tu 3/4/14 2 miles 25:54
W 3/5/14 3.11 miles 42:15
Tu 3/11/14 1.82 miles 22:33
W 3/12/14 1.82 miles 21:39
Th 3/13/14 3.10 miles 37:55
F 3/14/14 2.18 miles 24:23 11:11 min/mi
Su 3/16/14 4.13 miles 50:31
M 3/17/14 1.74 miles 21:19
Tu 3/18/14 3.56 miles 43:49
W 3/19/14 2.86 miles 35:01
Th 3/20/14 2.09 miles 25:04
Su 3/23/14 2.17 miles 24:37 11:21 min/mi
Tu 3/25/14 4.45 miles 54:26
W 3/26/14 2.00 miles 23:09
F 3/28/14 4.00 miles 46:42
Su 3/30/14 ~2.00 miles ~24:00
M 3/31/14 3.34 miles 38:42 11:36 min/mi
March Totals 56.39 miles 11:31:38
Tu 4/1/14 6.20 miles 1:15:00
W 4/2/14 4.56 miles 57:36 12:39 min/mi
Th 4/3/14 2.08 miles 25:36 12:06 min/mi
Sa 4/5/14 3.24 miles 36:16 11:12 min/mi
M 4/7/14 3.55 miles 41:46
Tu 4/8/14 2.58 miles 29:38 11:30 min/mi
W 4/9/14 3.46 miles 41:21
Th 4/10/14 2.94 miles 35:40 12:08 min/mi
F 4/11/14 5.00 miles 1:03:51 12:46 min/mi
Su 4/13/14 5.75 miles 1:08:31 11:55 min/mi
Tu 4/15/14 3.23 miles 38:30
W 4/16/14 2.01 miles 24:38
Tu 4/22/14 3.34 miles 40:52
Th 4/24/14 1.60 miles 19:47 12:21 min/mi
F 4/25/14 3.39 miles 45:02
Su 4/27/14 6.23 miles 1:08:18 10:57 min/mi
M 4/28/14 3.24 miles 37:54 11:42 min/mi
W 4/30/14 3.68 miles 43:14
 April Totals 66.08 miles 13:13:20
Th 5/1/14 1.19 miles 15:00
Su 5/4/14 2.21 miles 25:26 11:31 min/mi
M 5/5/14 4.19 miles 48:41 11:37 min/mi
W 5/7/14 5 miles 1:00:48 12:09 min/mi
Th 5/8/14 4.07 miles 47:34 11:41 min/mi
F 5/9/14 2.19 miles 25:28 11:39 min/mi
Su 5/11/14 4.26 miles 49:25 11:35 min/mi
W 5/14/14 5.50 miles ~1:13:00
May Totals 28.61 miles 5:45:23
Sa 6/7/14 3.08 miles 34:46 11:16 min/mi
Sa 6/14/14 3.72 miles 49:20 13:17 min/mi
Tu 6/17/14 2.32 miles 31:19 13:30 min/mi
W 6/18/14 4.10 miles 50:59 12:26 min/mi
 June Totals 13.22 miles 2:46:24
W 7/2/14 2.57 miles 36:01
F 7/4/14 4.53 miles 56:48 12:33 min/mi
Sa 7/5/14 2.77 miles 33:57
Su 7/6/14 3.30 miles 40:10 12:10 min/mi
Tu 7/8/14 2.60 miles 35:11 13:31 min/mi
W 7/9/14 3.10 miles 39:12
F 7/11/14 6.48 miles 1:20:12 12:22 min/mi
Su 7/13/14 2.77 miles 34:19 12:24 min/mi
Tu 7/15/14 5.86 miles 1:15:21 12:51 min/mi
Sa 7/19/14 5.04 miles 58:52 11:41 min/mi
Su 7/20/14 2.16 miles 25:47 11:56 min/mi
Tu 7/22/14 5.44 miles 1:06:35 12:15 min/mi
W 7/23/14 2.61 miles 36:04 13:51 min/mi
F 7/25/14 3.87 miles 45:29 11:46 min/mi
Sa 7/26/14 4.08 miles 51:03 12:31 min/mi
Su 7/27/14 3.18 miles 33:21 10:30 min/mi
Su 7/27/14 0.73 miles 8:31 11:38 min/mi
Tu 7/29/14 7.45 miles 1:28:10 11:50 min/mi
W 7/30/14 2.45 miles 27:42 11:19 min/mi
 July Totals 70.99 miles 14:32:45
TOTALS: 356.42 miles 64:36:13

Run Notes:

July 27: This first run was a 5K race and a PR. It was great. Weirdly, my official time was 20 seconds longer than this. I’m not sure why. I’m pretty sure I started and stopped my Garmin right at the start and the finish—certainly not 20 seconds early or late.

July 23: Another hill workout. This time was three full trips up and down the hill. It was hot. And steep. I thought I might die.

July 22: I have this hill by my house that I usually have to run up to get home. Today I checked the length and elevation climb of said hill. It climbs 145 feet in .43 miles. Doing hill repeats there ought to get me in shape.

July 19: This was the Rockville Twilighter 5K. I was worried about it because I’ve been having a hard time running lately, which is worrisome in general. But then I ran this 5-mile course in cool temps with little humidity and felt great and ran well. It was extremely encouraging. I also ran without headphones, which was fun.

July 9: Slow treadmill run. Remind me never to take a month off from running again. Getting back is hard.

July 8: My first dedicated hill workout. I did 2-3/4 runs down and up the big hill by my house. At 1pm. In 90-degree heat. There was some walking involved. Ugh.

June 14 & 17: Both were walk/runs.

June 7: This was Colleen’s BA5K. It was a PR, even if I only ran 3.08 miles. I swear I ran the whole course. I was more than a minute faster than my previous 5K PR. Although this is a very flat course.

May 11: Interval training. ZR Workout #3 on track: 2.08 miles; ZR Default Workout on track: 2.18 miles.

May 9: Interval training. ZR Workout #2 on track.

May 4: Interval training. ZR Default Workout on track.

April 28: I was super tired today. Lot of walk breaks.

April 27: This was Pike’s Peek 10K. A PR. I am super proud of myself.

April 24: Today was this run.

April 9: I never thought I’d say this, but I’m kinda learning to love the treadmill.

April 5: Today was Ben’s Run 5k. I wanted to race under 36 minutes, but I just missed that. That said, I ran .14 miles more than a 5k, so I probably hit my 5k goal. Still, technically, I’m still not under that 36 minute mark. However, I ran 2 minutes and 10 seconds faster than I ran my last 5k, which was two months ago, so I’m going to count this as a win.

April 3: This is approximate because of a user error in correctly pushing on/off buttons on my Garmin. In related news, I’m pretty tired today and finishing my workout on the elliptical where I can lean on something.

March 25: Bad news: I have only run outside three times in March. Good news: I am learning how to kick ass at running on the treadmill. Bad news: I have only run hills three times in March. Good news: What used to feel fast (12 min/mi) on the treadmill is now my easy treadmill pace.

March 4: My blisters hurt.

March 2: This was the Reston 10-miler. Oh my, this was hard. I was sick in the days coming into this race and really worried about it. Honestly though, even if I hadn’t been sick, I think I would have done about the same pace. I was aiming for a 13 min/mi pace, so it looks like I did it! I’m super proud of myself.

February 23: This was a great run. Except for when I faceplanted in the middle of it.

February 20: This was my test run to see how I’d do on a long run not on the treadmill. Considering I’m aiming for a 10 min/mi pace, I think I did great, especially considering the pace I turned in included the times I had to slow to a walk to hike over piles of snow. This amount of time was not insubstantial. Hopefully this will not be an obstacle during my race. I also felt good and like I could run another couple miles at the end, so that is encouraging, especially since the last 1 1/2 miles of my race next week is primarily downhill. Yay, me!

February 19: Woohoo! Fifty miles this month already! If I keep this up, I’ll make up for slacking off in January. My goal this year is at least 600 miles, so I’m on target!

February 16: I was going to run longer today, but it is hazardous and deep in snow out there. I miss sidewalks. Also, I’ve changed my goals in terms of my 10-mile race in two weeks. The time cutoff is a 13:30 min/mi pace, so I am aiming for a 13 min/mi pace. For the next two weeks, I’m not trying to hit 12 min or 11 min. I am aiming for a solid 13 min/mi pace. I know it’s slow, but I figure I can train for the 10-mile distance or for a faster shorter distance. I might sign up for another 5k soon to work on speed.

February 8: Shit, I run so slow now. I feel a little sad about it and am regretting not running for much of November and December. I’m currently panic training for a 10-miler I’m running on March 3 at which I have to average at least a 13:30 min/mi before they close the course.

February 2: This was the Penguin Pace 5k. I placed 426th out of 519.

January 27: You may notice that I haven’t run much lately. There are reasons. Have you been outside? It is fucking cold out there. Also, my knee tweak was bothering me and I was worried that running on it would cause permanent damage, blah, blah, blah, so I just used my elliptical, but the knee wasn’t getting any better so I finally went out and bought a knee sleeve and OMG, guess what? My knee felt better whilst running. You should know, however, that it is extremely difficult to run on unshoveled/icy sidewalks.

January 13: Today was my first outdoor run of the year. I cannot tell you how good it felt. I definitely have to get off the treadmill and back on the road more often. It is sooo much better. It’s harder too though. And slower. Treadmills are flat. I also have to do some more core work to make my back stronger again.

January 12: Ugh. Tired.

January 8: It turns out that I am physically incapable of running farther than two miles at a time on a treadmill. I am also mentally incapable of forcing myself to run outside in the polar vortex. Therefore I decided to run faster on the treadmill for two miles.  It’s something.

January 4: A big part of the reason I didn’t run in November and December was because it didn’t feel good. I was tired and had a hard time motivating myself to get outside to run and once I was there, I was just too tired to run that far. Even after I ran, I didn’t feel all that good. After today’s run, I felt great and I remembered why I love to run. I hope to feel that coming back more and more.

January 2: It turns out that if you don’t run for two months that you lose a lot of your stamina. Also, treadmills suck and I’m way slower on them. Still, new year, new opportunity. I’m back on track.

Reach the Beach 2013 Race Report: Victory in New Hampshire!

Cannon Mountain, location of the start line at Reach the Beach New Hampshire:

photo of Cannon Mountain

Driving in, I had a very visceral reaction. To wit: “Oh fuck, it’s real.”

Some background:

Just about 52 weeks ago, I ran an 8K race near my home. I ran those five miles at a slightly more than 14-1/2 minute per mile pace. I placed 621 out of 627 finishers.

Last weekend at Reach the Beach, I ran three runs totaling 16.87 miles over 33 hours. I ran them, according to my GPS, in three hours, 13 minutes, and three seconds at a less than 11-1/2 minute per mile average pace.

To many (most?) runners, I am still veeeery slow. I still don’t look like a runner. I am definitely still a beginner. I am still waaaaay in progress on my Project Stimey Betterment of Jean mission. But you know what? I can run 17 miles in two days. My longest run increased to 11.15 miles—which I ran in August at a faster pace than I ran that 8k race, by the way. I’ve run nearly 400 miles thus far this year. I have cut three minutes off of my running pace in the past 52 weeks.

Progress, meet Stimey.

I am extremely proud of myself.

All right. Excellent. *brushes hands together* Let’s move on to the race report.

As I told you in my last post, Reach the Beach is a 200(ish)-mile race broken into 36 legs. Standard teams rotate their runners sequentially through each leg. We were a freestyle team, which means that our captains were able to assign legs at will. We had two vans that took turns running and supporting the runners. That means Van One ran/supported on legs 1-6, 13-18, and 25-30. Van Two ran/supported legs 7-12, 19-24, and 31-36. I was in Van Two and ran legs 8, 24, and 35.

If you’re having a hard time picturing it, you can look at photos and videos on the race Facebook page or read this post about the logistics of it all. Or you can stick around here as I tell you how it was for me and also a little bit how it was for my team. I feel a little egocentric writing solely about my perspective as this was most definitely a team effort and undoubtedly every other member of the team had a vastly different experience, but I don’t know how else to be able to do it. Maybe as you’re reading, you could add “which was possible only because of my amazing team” after every sentence.

I flew into Connecticut on Thursday, the day before the race, where I met up with my team co-captain Marc and my Van Two compatriots Lyda, Bob, Marisa, and Mike. Mike was there as our driver and as a pinch hit runner. Remember that. It is important later.

After that, we headed off to meet Van One—none of whom I’d ever met before—at a restaurant, where everyone talked about how many marathons and half marathons they’d run and I sat quietly and hydrated.

I didn’t actually get to interact very much with Van One, which is a shame because they seem like very cool people. I also didn’t ask their permission to post their names or photos, so just imagine six very nice, fit people who killed their legs of the course. They were all really fast runners and they had to run a LOT of tough hills. Also, I didn’t see them very often. You should internalize, however, that Van One kicked ass.

Reach the Beach staggers their start times over the course of the first day (Friday) so that all 480 teams don’t set off in their 1000 vans at the same time. We were a slower (the slowest?) team, so we had the first start time at 7:20 am.

This is definitely in the top…one of most gorgeous start lines that I’ve experienced.

Start line set in misty mountains.

Teammates Lyda and Bob in our unobtrusive team shirts.

It started raining right as our first runner set off, which  was a bummer for him, but not that much of a problem for Van Two, as the weather forecast claimed that it would clear up by the time we started running in the early afternoon. Our general assholishness and joy over this would come back to haunt us later that afternoon when we all had to run in pouring rain.

Karma is real, people.

Teammate in blue shirt, with number 16701, holding bright yellow baton.

This snap bracelet was the baton that we passed from wrist to wrist for more than 200 miles. I bet it has a lot of sweat residue on it now.

Anywho, Van One set off running and Van Two? Well, we headed off to breakfast. Over eggs, homefries, pancakes, and coffee, Bob looked up and said, “So far I don’t see what’s so hard about this race.”

He was totally right.

We drove the race route on our way to the first Vehicle Transition Area (VTA), which was really exciting. Passing all the runners was totally inspiring. Passing our runner was way cool. She was in third place at the time.

Spoiler alert: We didn’t stay in third place.

We arrived at the VTA early, which gave us plenty of time to circle and fret, circle and fret. Which we did. Also, it started to rain, goddammit.

Us in front of our van

Team MLC, Van Two at the first VTA: Bob, Lyda, Mike, Marisa, Stimey, Marc. We’re awesome.

We got into our groove as Lyda set off on her leg and we figured out how to be a support vehicle. All too soon, however, we had supported her and arrived at the next transition area (TA), where I was due to run my 6.61 miles of Leg 8.

Although not as nervous as I’d been in the days leading up to the race, I still had a fair amount of pre-run anxiety. I was hopeful that it would dissipate as I started running—and it did.

My GPS watch doesn’t tell me my current pace (just average pace), but after I’d been running for a half hour or so, I did some math in my head and figured out that I was running faster than my expected pace of 12 minute miles, which was a huge relief as the possibility of running a 13-minute mile is what had been giving me nightmares for weeks.

My team stopped to give me some water at mile four. It is hard to run and drink water at the same time, so I spilled it all over myself, but it totally didn’t matter because I was entirely soaked by the rain. Did I mention that? It poured during my whole run. At least there was no chance of overheating.

Stimey running and smiling

Mile Four: It’s too bad I was so fucking miserable while I was running, isn’t it?

The rest of the run went really well too. Instead of letting my mind wander, which is something I do on training runs, which tends to result in my slowing down without meaning to, I made sure to keep my speed up and to hit every downhill slope hard. (Gravity, bitches!)

Running into the transition area was one of the greatest things ever.

“You took six minutes off your time!” Marc shouted. Then I never stopped smiling ever.

Bob took off on his run and we returned to the van, where I claimed the back seat so I could change out of my wet clothes. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to navigate a soaking wet sports bra and assorted other clothing while trying to not flash the entire world from the back of a van, but it was harder than it looked.

The rest of the team was, you know, doing stuff in the rest of the van—reading handbooks, studying elevation maps, eating M&Ms and whatnot, whilst I was fighting an epic battle with my clothes.

“Getting dressed is harder than running,” I proclaimed, which, I believe, is evidence of the endorphins coursing through my system after my successful run.

I was so high that I have little recollection of Bob’s run, which was next. I do, however, remember Marisa’s run after his because it was kind of a bummer of a run, by which I mean it was way hillier than expected and still pouring rain. We passed her at some point and then every turn we took, it just got worse and worse and worse and more and more and more uphill except for that steep downhill on gravel, culminating in a steep uphill finish on soaking wet grass.

I stood at the top of that grassy hill for a good amount of time watching runners come into the TA. There were a lot of very fit but very sad people who staggered up that hill, most of them looking completely dazed. Marc, who had assigned all of our van’s legs, looked a little bit like he wanted to throw up, but I’m not sure if it is because he’d given Marisa the uphill route (that, to add insult to injury, he got to partially retrace in the opposite, downhill direction) or because he had two back-to-back legs coming up to finish our first section of the race, for a total of nearly nine miles.

I met him at the TA with some water. Most of our team didn’t make it to cheer him in because he ran so damn fast that he got there way faster than expected, while they were still examining the scenery. I gave him some water, gaped at his 7:10 min/mi pace, and sent him on his way for his second leg.

Marc and Stimey in the woods

Related: Do you see the beauty that we got to run through?

He was substantially less chipper at the next TA where he arrived after leg cramps with a hearty, “That sucked!” but still a 7:50ish pace for his second leg. Then he wandered around mumbling for a while. I don’t think you get leg cramps if you run anything slower than 11 minutes a mile. Yay, me!

Fortunately, we didn’t have anywhere to be because Van One was up for the next six legs. It was nearing dinner time so we decided to find pizza in the town where we would be taking over in the middle of the night. This meant that we got to preview the race course before Van One ran it. We decided to not let them know how terrible and hilly their night runs would be. It seemed cruel to tell them. Sometimes ignorance is bliss—although there was nothing blissful about the legs they had to run. In the dark. With, in at least one case, a defective headlamp. In the pitch black. Did I mention that it was dark?

We stopped for gas and my teammates asked the teenage kids (i.e. hoodlums) hanging outside where to get the best pizza in town. Then we passed probably 60 or 70 pizza places as we drove in circles to find said pizza place because teenagers told us it was “the bomb.”

I may or may not have been in the navigator’s chair with my Yelp app shouting about, “No! We are going to get the bomb pizza. I do not care that there are three pizza joints in that strip mall to our left. I DO NOT CARE!” Fortunately a majority of Van Two was similarly delirious and opinionated.

Algernon eating pizza.

It was pretty goddamn good pizza. Mayhap the bomb.

As I was taking the above photo with my actual slice of pizza, which I then proceeded to eat, Marc was all, “Last time I saw that mouse, he was sitting on a lily pad in the middle of a lake.” And I was all, “Yum. Giardia.”

From there, we went to the VTA where we hoped to get some sleep. Here is something you should know about me: I can find a way to sleep almost anywhere. Sometimes I can’t help sleeping in odd places. The other day when I was in the OT waiting room, it was less awesome that I fell asleep, but at Reach the Beach, my sleeping skillz came in super handy.

We parked our van near a bunch of people sacked out in the grass in sleeping bags and I pulled out my bag only to hear that everyone else was planning to get some sleep in the van. Seats were being reclined, benches were being called, and I couldn’t think of anything more terrible than trying to sleep in a van full of people. Putting a sleeping bag on the wet grass seemed luxurious by comparison.

I chose a spot under a tree, imagining that it would probably be drier there. Then I passed out and slept for the next two hours. After Marc woke me up (in what was apparently a nervewracking episode of trying to figure out which identical sleeping bag contained me—fortunately he chose wisely), I learned that the van denizens had averaged about 20 minutes of sleep.

I knew that all those naps I took over the summer were preparing me for something. I’m not LAZY. I was TRAINING.

Regardless, soon enough we were up and waiting for an exhausted Van One to come in and pass the baton to us. Lyda was up first at around midnight, which meant that we got to experiment with middle of the night support on her. Also, we were all kind of waiting to see if she was going to get eaten by a bear.

Another spoiler alert: She did not.

Running at night was a trip. Our driver/teammate extraordinaire, Mike, super stepped up on this rotation. He not only drove our enormous van nearly the entire course (33 hours!) while not running over any runners, but he also turned into our main support guy, jumping out of the van to supply water and encouragement as we ran by. Mike rocks. Like, really, really rocks.

The fact that Mike took over the major support role was probably for the best, as I tried to support Marc on his leg, resulting in my team thinking that I’d gotten lost in the night (I’d wandered over to the other side of the road) AND giving a generic, “Nice job!” to Marc when he ran by because I didn’t realize it was him in the dark.

I eventually figured out my mistake and caught up to him with his water.

I ran the last leg in this rotation, so I am the only member of Team MLC who didn’t actually run in the dark. I had been kind of looking forward to a night run, but I got the sunrise run, so I’m not going to complain. I also didn’t get any of the super hard runs that the rest of the team ran overnight, so I’m really not going to complain. Three of Van Two’s runners ran super hilly legs and one ran a double leg, which totaled nearly ten miles.

My 6.9 miles didn’t seem so bad after that.

Also, not to toot my own horn or anything, but after being passed by every runner on the course, I finally passed someone on this leg. I found out later that it was the oldest runner in the race—an 80-year-old man who was on his 9th year of the race. I want to be him when I grow up.

This leg was a little slower for me, but I still took a couple minutes off of my expected running time. Shortly before the end of my leg, there was a short (about a half mile) but steep uphill. I was a little surprised when I got to the top and there were no cheers for me, but there was no one around, so I guess I can’t feel too bad. There were cheers in my head though and I very nearly high fived myself for not slowing to a walk at all.

I live for downhills (again: gravity, bitch!) and the rest of the leg was downhill, so I took off, feeling great. I even had a passing van shout at me, “Way to finish strong, runner!” at which point I looked up to smile at them and nearly fell off the road. Happily I did not.

Van One was taking over at this point, so as I ran in to the cheers of the large crowd that was gathered at the VTA, I was looking for my replacement runner from the other van. I saw him and then tried to operate the snap bracelet while moving, promptly hurling it to the ground at his feet.

I am a fucking dunce.

Stimey passing the baton

I totally look like a pro here, don’t I?

Stimey passing runner picking up baton

I look like less of a pro here, running past my teammate who had to start his leg by fumbling on the ground. I particularly like background guy watching him do it.

We had time before starting our final rotation so we took the People Who Need Coffee (why doesn’t everyone just take their caffeine in an icy, portable, Diet Coke manner like I do?) to a Dunkin’ Donuts, which was awesome for me because there was an actual bathroom there where I could change my clothes instead of struggling in the back of the van.

From there, we headed to our next vehicle transition area, which was a happy place where you could buy a shower for $5 or sleep on a mat in a school gym for free. I opted for the latter, scoring another hour and a half of sleep.

Before sleep, however, I used the porta potty. Then I walked out of said porta potty, dropped off a curb, and fell straight to the ground. That’s right. I fell pretty much flat on my face by rolling out of a porta potty. I imagine that it was kind of spectacular to watch.

I am ridiculous.

I actually sustained more of an injury in my, you know, fall out of the porta potty than I did in any other part of the race. I scraped up my whole left shin and tore open small wounds on a couple of toes and my ankle.

Repeat: I am ridiculous.

We only had six legs left to run and this was by far the easiest rotation, with each leg measuring only 4 or fewer miles—except Leg 32: my leg. This leg is 6.7 miles. I had this leg because my other legs, while good distances, were easier than everyone else’s legs. (Anyone have a synonym for “leg?”) I wasn’t assigned any of the long climbs or lengthy slogs, so I was prepared to put in my time with a long last leg. Marc also had a long last leg, but just because he was planning to run both legs 35 and 36.

Mike, being the wonderful guy he is (remind me to tell you about the incredible parking job he did with the van at the last VTA sometime), offered to take leg 35 from Marc. Marc suggested that he take my leg and I take 35, which Mike was totally up for.

I was conflicted.

Part of me wanted to do my three 7-mile runs. I had prepared for them, I had psyched myself up for them, I was ready for them. But a bigger part of me liked the idea of running 3.4 miles instead of 6.7. When I woke up from my nap and fighting my way out of the sleeping bag took longer than a minute, I decided to gratefully take Mike up on his offer.

It was an exceptionally good decision. I probably could have done the 6.7, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. Even the 3.4 wiped me out. Mike took leg 32 and killed it. He pinch hit at exactly the time we needed him to. I don’t think it would be out of line to call him a godsdamned hero.

It was really fun to celebrate with each of my teammates as they came into the TAs, having completed all of their legs. These are some incredibly tough people, all of whom rocked every single one of their legs. It was an honor to run with them.

My last leg felt slow, but it turns out that I was running it at the same average pace that I ran my first leg. I even passed two non-octogenarians.  It felt great to run into the transition area on that last leg.

Done!Marc ran the last leg because he is the dude who came up with the idea to run Reach the Beach in the first place and it seemed only fair that he get to be the guy to complete it. Unfortunately, he is a speedy runner and the rest of us had only his four miles to speed to the beach to get there before he did.

We had to park in the overflow lot, which was, oh, let’s say 16 miles from the finish line. Or a little less than a mile. One or the other.

We speedwalked down the boardwalk to the beach and then churned through the sand along the race route where we found our Van One teammates just in front of the finish line. Not two minutes later, Marc came running down the beach and all 12 of us ran across the finish line together. It was amazing.

I am so proud of all of us.

Team MLC Van Two at the finish line

We are awesome. All of us.

Ah, fuck it, I have to show Van One too.

Team MLC, with our captains in front.

Team MLC, with our captains in front.

Based on Race Stimey’s experience at Reach the Beach, Future Stimey is really going to enjoy whatever team-centered footrace I sign her up for next. We’re already contemplating other relays.

I feel really happy that not only did I complete my portion of this race and that my team finished the race as a group, but I made some new friends. I completely fell in love with my teammates last weekend. I would go on pretty much any adventure with them at any point in the future.

Thank you, Team MLC, for being the amazing, strong, funny, kind people that you are.

As for Idea-man Marc? I may have jokingly said some unkind things to him over the past several weeks as my panic reached epic proportions, but the thing I really want to say to him is, thank you. I would never have done this without you, Marc. Thank you.

When I was worried about my hip injury and afraid that taking time off to let it rest would let down our team, you didn’t let me quit. Thank you.

When I panicked in front of you in the days leading up to the race, you stayed calm and encouraging. Thank you.

When I surpassed my own expectations, you were the first to cheer me on. Thank you.

IMG_6583No, really. Thank you.


There is no way on the face of this planet that I could do justice to Reach the Beach right now. You will get a full race report soon, but I will tell you several things right now:

1. We finished. Team MLC (Team Mid-life Crisis—but I really enjoyed all of your guesses!) was amazing. All 12 members of this team completely crushed the course. It was fabulous.

2. Every single one of my teammates is a remarkable person.

3. The race was really, really fun.

4. I am in the process of screwing Future Stimey right now by conspiring with my teammates to think of other relays Team MLC could do.

5. Our official time was 33:36:26, with an average pace of 9:49 minutes per mile.

6. My pace, while slower than the above number, was faster than I had planned. I couldn’t be happier.

7. This is Algernon and me reaching the beach:

IMG_18938. Thank you to each and every one of you. You gave me strength and speed and love and it mattered so much. Thank you.