Ode to Del Ray

delray

Every day I swear I’m going to sit down and write a blog post. And every day, I get sucked into the crazy news cycle coming out of Washington. Comey. Russia. Obamacare. EB-5 visas. Executive Orders. Emoluments. Sessions. I end up going down a news wormhole, spending waaaaay too much time scouring Google News and Twitter for the latest updates and news tidbits.

Every damn day.

And, today was no different. I’m finishing a couple of large projects, finalizing some paperwork and payment stuff, and finding and following up on new leads. I’ve had a fairly productive last couple of days, so today was going to be the day I could just sit down and focus on blogging.

I was having my coffee and watching CNN this morning (I know, I know. Tempting fate there.) when I saw a breaking news story about a shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. I live in Alexandria, Virginia. So, of course, I had to hop on the internet to find out what was going on, and that’s when I heard about the GOP baseball practice shooting that took place in the lovely Del Ray neighborhood.

Del Ray holds a special place in my heart….it’s where I lived when I first moved to D.C. 15 years ago. I was in a rush to start my new job and so I rented an apartment in that I found on Craig’s List, sight unseen.  A friend in the know assured me that Del Ray was a good neighborhood with an easy commute and cheaper than downtown D.C. She was right, although “cheaper than D.C.” is still a hell of a lot of money for someone just starting out in the area. But still, it is a charming, quirky little neighborhood and I loved living in the thick of it.

Del Ray is also very close to our current house in Old Town. In fact, the practice field where the shooting took place is just a mile from my front door. I walk/run past it quite often. I walk/run in that neighborhood when my own neighborhood – the historic and touristy Old Town with its grid streets, boutique shops and restaurants, and heavier traffic (ie: stop sign runners) — seems too chaotic or crowded.

In comparison, Del Ray and the adjacent Rosemont neighborhoods are very still with little to no traffic during the day. I go that direction when I want to avoid stop sign runners and mindlessly meander through quiet, tree-shaded streets lined with Craftsman-style bungalows with strollers parked up on their porches.

Besides, my favorite coffee place is right across from that very same baseball practice field and I like to stop there for a well-deserved (or not) iced coffee on my way home.

But this week has been really hot, even in the shade, so I haven’t gone for run (or even a walk) in Del Ray this week. And I still haven’t sat down and written a blog post.

Let’s try this again tomorrow.

Some Days, You Just Want to Run

I was on the phone with my personal-trainer-for-life XFE last Friday making our plans for the evening. He gently broached the topic that he knows may or may not set me off: “So, are you planning on running this evening?”

“No, I think it’s already too hot out,” I replied, quite logically, I thought.

“Wait, earlier this week it was too cold out and now today it’s too hot?”

“Yep. That’s right. Too hot.”

“So basically, there are only a few days out of the year that are ok for running outside?”

“I also don’t like running outside when it’s too windy, too humid, or sprinkling. You make it sound like I’m being unreasonable.”

“I give up.”

It’s true. I come up with a whole mess of excuses to not go running. Even though I find running to be the most convenient and least odious form of exercise, I can find many, many reasons to not go (“I think I might have a headache,” “my Garmin isn’t fully charged,” “my favorite running shorts are in the laundry,” “I really need to read this week’s issue of In Touch”).

Hell, there are even aspects of running that I actually enjoy, but when it’s time to hit the pavement, everything has to be just perfect for me to lace up my shoes and get out the door.

Last night was not one of those nights. Even though the weather wasn’t perfect, and my day had been long and stressful, I really wanted to run.

Before I could second guess myself, I got geared up, grabbed my dingiest old race shirt from the drawer and went for a run.

I wanted to run just to see other runners out on the trail, doing what they loved. Running despite the horror of Monday’s events in Boston.

I wanted to run to show kids playing in the parks that line the running trail that running is ok and not scary.

I wanted to run as a silent (OK, not silent, more like wheezing and huffing and puffing) ‘thank you’ to all those spectators who give up their chance to sleep in or go have brunch just to watch what might be the most boring spectator event ever. But they come out anyway and crowd the finish lines to cheer on the people they love and sometimes even people they don’t know.

I wanted to run because I’m healthy and whole and I can run. A lot of people can’t after Monday, or won’t want to, and who can blame them?

It was not a perfect evening for running. I was painfully slow and plod-like, the running/bike lanes were crowded, and the air was still and filled with gnats.

Just coming over a bridge, I saw another runner heading towards me. She was wearing the same shirt from a race more than four years ago. We nodded and smiled at each other conspiratorially. “I know. Me too.”

 

A Post In Which I (Again) Complain About Running

(*Part of an Ongoing Series of Indeterminate Length)

I started running again this month. Because August in Washington DC is just so refreshing and wonderful and I have such a natural affinity for running that doing it in weather that reminds one of warm pea soup is so incredibly pleasant and even, dare I say it, downright easy. (For those not fluent in sarcasm, none of those things are true. Except for the fact that the air here is like warm pea soup. That’s dead-on accurate.)

August in DC is so gross even members of Congress flee the city.

It’s not that I had really stopped running. It’s just that I was doing it so infrequently that I could not, in good conscience, legitimately claim it as a form of activity that I engaged in. I think I had dwindled down to about once or twice a week. Then once you threw vacations, and moving, and work and blogging, and Real Housewives into the mix, there were weeks this summer where I didn’t run at all.

Slowly, I began to run out of excuses (no more vacations planned, no more moving, caught up on all the Real Housewives franchises). Eventually, I noticed that the obese Petunia (I mean, let’s not beat around the food bowl here. She’s fat. I love her, but she’s no smedium-sized pet) was able to outrun me during our little play sessions, such as they are. Adding insult to injury, she’s about 70 years old in human years.

So, in the interest of not keeling over while chasing a cat up the stairs (or trying to lift her. Because, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but she’s fat), I’ve been trying to increase my running. Not surprisingly, it has not been going well, mostly due to scheduling.

I started in late July, getting up at 5:30 am to get dressed, stretched, set up the coffee maker, and get out the door by 6 am. I did that to avoid running during the hottest time of the day. As it was, it was usually around 75-78 degrees, which isn’t so bad compared to the heat in say, Texas. The humidity, however, usually hovered around 85%, so it was still a struggle. Even on the 2-ish weekday mornings I was able to get up and out the door, I dragged my way through 3 miles (This girl gets it). Shit was hot. Plus my body just is not awake at that point.

But, I kept at it, mostly because I liked the fact that I had gotten the whole exercise business out of the way and could come home after work and plop down immediately on the couch. And, I could brag about it. People seem really impressed (as well they should) if you casually (or, not so casually) mention that you’ve already worked out that morning. Both of those were incredibly strong incentives for keeping up the whole morning workout thing.

There is a downside to running in the morning: if it’s a crappy run (which in my case, it almost always was), you’ve started your day out crappy. You’ve already failed and the rest of the day will just resonate with your inability to propel your body forward for 30 minutes straight without stopping and wheezing and walking and holding your side.

Then August came. Since the sun also likes to propel forward (and is much better at it), it started staying much darker longer in the mornings. It was still dark out at 6 a.m. In fact, the sun wasn’t even coming up until around 6:20. Being a big scaredy-cat who’s afraid of getting snatched on the running trail, I figured that, even though it’s hotter in the evenings, I would have to make the switch.

(And in fact, I should be scared, according to this recent news report about a different trail nearby. Morning. Night. You’re liable to get jacked. We should really all just stay on our couches.)

There have been a couple of upsides to running in the evenings, not the least of which is 30 more minutes of sleep. While it is around 10 degrees hotter at 6:30 p.m., the humidity is in fact 20-30% less, which really does seem to make a difference.

Also, my body has—presumably—been up and moving around for about 12 hours, so I’m already warmed up and stretched, so to speak. I still stretch a bit before running, but it doesn’t feel quite as jarring as it does in the morning.

In the mixed bag category—the bike and run trail I use is much busier in the evenings, which is great for safety, but dangerous. The trail is quite crowded with other runners who can’t drag themselves out of bed either and those bicycle commuters will take you down without so much as a glance backwards.

It’s not awesome, and I still sound like an overheated Darth Vader sneaking up on you on the trail (Oh, who am I kidding? On a good day, I might pass some middle age walkers), but these are my choices: getting run over by a Lance Armstrong wanna-bes or potentially getting attacked by some really ambitious mugger who likes to get an early jump on the day.

At least if I get hit by a cyclist, there’s a good chance I’ll do damage to their bike.

 

Weekend in Review: Burgers, Backyards, Sweaty Runs

This past weekend was gloriously devoid of an agenda. My house-spouse XFE took care of most of the errands when he got back on Friday, so there was very little running around. Only one brief trip to Home Depot, which is pretty unusual since we moved into the house. I’m pretty sure that if we hadn’t at least stopped by, the folks at HD would have sent out a search party and plastered Missing posters over the greater Northern Virginia area.

We spent Saturday poking around places like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and World Market looking for decorative items and pillows. We’re not really knickknack people. We don’t collect things. This, however, poses a slight problem when you have multiple large flat surfaces to decorate. Thus, the trip to Homegoods, et. al. We mostly came up empty, except for these very cheerful striped pillows to classy up our plastic Adirondack chairs.

My personal interior decorator XFE did order these gorgeous mercury glass candle holders from Gilt. I have a candle addiction (no, seriously. I have a stockpile. And I have a blaze going pretty much every night.), so these are perfect for the house.  They came in Monday and will definitely fill some surfaces.

Personal chef XFE did a pretty good job of keeping my weight up this weekend by visiting his favorite man in the whole world, Steve the Butcher at Let’s Meat on the Avenue. The result was burgers with thick cuts of bacon, avocado, and cheddar and sriracha spiked mayo on Saturday.

Those burgers fueled my 3.87 mile run on Sunday (nope. Couldn’t make it one more time around the block for an even 4.) I started pretty late (around 9 am) and just about died.

Not really sure why I started my run so late. Oh yeah. Because this is the forlorn little cat face I have to tear myself away from when I go for a run. She sits at the top of the stairs and just watches me walking away from her.

After the minor heat stroke, I stayed inside the rest of the day, which suited my borderline agoraphobic/misanthrope personality.

We closed out the weekend with the inaugural Big Green Egg effort at the new house. Ribs, pork and beef, and corn on the cob. After dinner we sat on our cheap plastic chairs, lit some outdoor candles (I told you I have a problem), and finished off an Austrian red wine, called, I think, zweigelt (??).

 

 

I know there were other things going on Sunday night, including the closing ceremonies for the Olympics. I was fine with missing out on that until I found out that this awesomeness happened. That Kate Moss sure knows how to bring the fierceness.

Now that the Olympics are over, I understand there’s discussion of future events to add to the Olympics. One of the main contenders is pole dancing. Which brings us to this.

Running Update: Hopping Pathetically Down the Bilby Trail

You’re probably reading along on the PoeLog and noting the conspicuous absence of posts about a certain activity, and you might be asking yourself, “Hey, I wonder if Poe still runs?”

Or maybe you have more important things to think about, such as when the heck is Jessica Simpson going to give birth? (Seriously, she’s been pregnant for like 2 years now. Her pregnancy feels like an episode of the truly awful Fashion Star. — Ya’ll, it’s really, really bad).

The short answer is yes. Poe still runs. It’s not, however, very blogworthy, unless you want to read post after post of how hard it is and how much I suck at it. Because I do. I really, really do.

It seems like no matter how hard I work at it, I still cannot get this whole running thing down. You would think, for all the difficulty involved, that I was trying to hijack Easter and get everybody to munch on delicious chocolate-y bilbies instead of bunnies.

Good luck with that, Australia. You guys are so crazy. Love your wine though.

I cut way back on my running after the infamous Las Vegas Rock N Roll or Die Half Marathon in December. My runs pretty much consisted of session on the gym treadmill and since my gym evidently doubles as a Turkish hammam, these sessions were limited to about 30 gasping, dying minutes, or about 3 miles.

I tried to supplement these pathetic efforts with more weight training and even some Pilates classes, but after a few weeks of pitiful attempts, I threw in the naturally-organic yoga towel. Luckily, I had a good excuse for my timely quitting: Australia.

(Just a quick note on my Pilates adventure: Apparently, my core is made completely of marshmallow fluff as I am unable to sit up without the use of my arms and someone else pulling me. Like this girl explains.)

While I was in Australia, I didn’t work out at all, unless you count scuba diving, which is in fact, a form of exercise and a pretty damn good one too. However, I ate so much food it offset any cardio I may have engaged in. Which is all fine. That’s what vacation is for. I don’t regret it.

Since we’ve been back and with the mild weather approaching, I’ve slowly been trying to get back into running. Slowly being the operative word. It seems to get harder and harder to start back up with an activity once you’ve abandoned it for a while. Who would have thought?

To help motivate me, I’ve used an age-old technique that seems to work for me: fear of public embarrassment. I’ve signed up for three small races (no more half marathons for this girl) this spring. The longest one is a 10k and that distance alone may still kill me.

Want to join me? Here’s what I’ve signed up for so far:

Parkway Classic 5k and 10 miler– I did the 10 miler last year, and oh, what a difference a year makes. Last year around this time, I was a much, much stronger runner. This year, entirely different story. No, this year, I’ll just be running the 5k, thankyouverymuch. This race also happens to be the day after Amy’s wedding, which might make things a teeny bit difficult. Registration for this event is closed, but if you’re in the neighborhood, come out and point and laugh at me for being an idiot who signed up for a race the day after a wedding. I mean, people don’t drink at weddings, do they??

Run for Shelter 10k – I’m actually pretty excited about this one. Because of what it supports, not because of the distance. Although, 10k’s used to be my favorite distance. Oh memories. Now 10k seems very difficult indeedy. BUT, this race supports the Carpenter’s Shelter, the largest homeless shelter in Northern Virginia. The shelter is near our house and I very much support their mission. And, there are cakepops at the finish. I’m not really sure I’ll be in the mood for cakey, sugary things after running six miles, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon and 5k – Guess which distance I’m running? Believe me, the Kids’ 1k Fun Run was definitely an appealing option at one point, but the stupid age cutoff is a bit young for me.

Book Clubbing (and Who Do You Think You Are, Anthropologie?)

Can we be uber-lame (besides just using the term “uber”) and start a blog book club?

You might think that such an idea was inspired by the Great Poe (not me, the other great Poe, that Edgar dude) or by the fact that I am, technically, a writer (as in: somebody actually pays me a wage based on writing. I know. Crazy!). And therefore, you might think that the first book of this new book club would be somehow Poe-related. But no. You would be wrong on all counts.

THIS is what has inspired my desire for a book club:

I’m not intrigued by the title, per se. Although, it is quite tantalizing. I need to lose a few myself, but I’m already familiar with how drinking can lead to weight loss and I’m really not interested in hugging toilet bowls, thanks.

No, I’m intrigued by the fact that Lady Gaga’s ex has a book out.

My first thought was, “Oh, it must be a pamphlet or a coloring book. Just look at his lovely outfit. That will definitely teach kids how to color within the lines.” But again, no. It’s apparently, 272 pages long!

AND, it’s about losing weight by running! In marathons!

Wait a minute. He’s a runner? I’m a runner! Mind? Blown.

The book came out on March 13 and he already has 41 reviews on Amazon, mostly full of praise. Here’s one of my favorite, less-favorable ones:

I’ve read the book and I know the author personally. I used to drink at the bar he worked at. He had a beer gut. He was maybe 20 pounds overweight. He wanted to look like his emaciated skinny-jeans-wearing clientele. So he cut way back on his drinking, and started exercising and eating better. Is that really book worthy? I mean it’s not like he’s Jared Fogle (the subway guy) and he lost 245 LBS. It’s not even really a “drunk diet.” About halfway through the book he concedes that he cut way back on his drinking. The only reason this was even published is that he used to date Lady Gaga.

He does look a bit chubby in this photo. But it could be the skeevy face pose.

I love the fact that that reviewer is (1) not at all impressed; (2) holds Jared Fogle up as a fitness guru worthy of following  (which he may be, but I still think it’s a funny criticism of Luc) AND he knows exactly how much Fogle lost; (3) thinks this guy only got published because he used to date Gaga (which was also one of my first thoughts); and (4) is offended because this isn’t really a “drunk diet.” Yes, sir, you should be ticked that he does not offer tips on how to drink your way to thinness.

So, color me intrigued, I’m ordering the book.

SIDE RANT: Anthropologie, we need to have a talk. I have a gift certificate for around $50. Anthropologie has many, many cute things, mostly for women much smaller and more Zooey Deschanel-ish than myself.  I saw someone today at work wearing a cute necklace that she said she’d gotten from Anthropologie a few years ago. “Hmmm, I thought. That’s a great idea. I should see if there are any accessories that catch my eye.”

Oh, they caught my eye alright.

What the hell, y’all? This necklace is $498 dolllars. That’s dollar bills for those of you who missed it. As in American money units.

Oh, I think to myself, why it must have super-rare precious stones with magical boy-catching powers and high-faulutin’ metals taken from the hot core of the Earth in a dangerous extraction process that kills those who even attempt it. Why, it must be one of those “blood necklaces.”

It says it’s made of brass, resin and horn.

OoooooooooooK, so it must be made by some poor indigenous ladies in Africa or Southeast Asia or something and that price tag would support her whole family for like five years AND help the village build a much-needed well and avoid malaria through clean drinking water (Disclaimer: I might not have that right. I might be confusing mosquito-borne illnesses with water-related ones).

No, it says it was made in Belgium. That $498 goes to some pomme-frites-and-mayo eating (yum) hausfrau scratching out a living in the hard-tumbling country of BELGIUM.

Seriously, Anthropologie. What’s up with that? Who do you think you are? (By the way, it’s not even a cute necklace!! )

Going Forward, Toons Will Be Named ‘Speckled Oak’

Hello there my little kitty cats. Yes, I did steal that from Brandi Granville of RHoBH fame. She’s fantastic. Although, I don’t think it would hurt her to put a bra on once in a while, but that’s just me. (I hear Victoria’s Secret is having a sale right now, Brandi. Might wanna look into that.)

We had a very productive and fun weekend at the Poe House.

We celebrated the birth of, if not the name of (Blue Ivy? Blech. Sounds like some sort of skin condition), the newest member of hip hop royalty.

This trip is coming up incredibly close and extremely fast. So we did some trip planning. While enjoying the daisies.

Cue the “holy crap we have a trip coming up” insomnia. Not for Toons though. She’s getting plenty of sleep.

There was ironing, of course. Per usual, Petunia was less than helpful.

I went for my first run in 2012. Actually, my first run since the Las Vegas Rock N Roll extravaganza. And man, it’s amazing to me how quickly you lose any type of conditioning whatsoever. Needless to say, it was not a pretty run. No land speed records were broken during my three-mile jaunt (I refuse to call it a run). Petunia got her workout on later in the evening on her scratching board. Actually, she just lays on it. She and I have very similar workout philosophies.

The weekend was capped off with football and XFE’s amazingly awesome Old Bay wings. Senorita Fluff-N-Stuff was there, but was just too tired to watch football. All that running and Tebowing and repeated challenges just wore her out. I agree. I miss the RedZone too.

Anyone else do anything fun this weekend? Didn’t it feel like it just flew by?

Race Recap: LV Rock N Roll Wreck

Disclaimer: This is a very long, very thorough account of my Las Vegas RnR experience. I promise I won’t stop being your friend if you don’t want to read all of it. Seriously. You can skip it. I’ll be ok.

Pre-race creeping at the Cosmopolitan.

If you like the crush and sweat of other runners, bottlenecks galore, and wearing yourself out by weaving around crowds of walkers, then the Las Vegas Rock N Roll marathon and half-marathon is the event for you.

First the positives (it’s a short list): Let me say first off that running on the Las Vegas Strip at night is amazeballs. I ran the race with a friend of mine from Texas and her trainer, and we were all very excited and pumped up. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have that whole Strip closed down and lit up so you could run it for a couple of hours.

AND we ran past the pawn shop where Pawn Stars is filmed! I was so pumped I forgot to take a picture (yes, I had my camera with me. Check out all the awesome blurry pics! You. Are. Welcome.) I looked to Chumley, but no dice.

Another bonus: I signed up for the runner tracker thingy which sent my half-marathon-cheerleader-extraordinaire XFE texts on how I was doing throughout the race. It worked like a charm and XFE was out there cheering me on at mile 12, which was a HUGE morale booster. I’m always loathe to ask people to come out to the race because I just never know how my pacing is going to go or where I’ll be when and it’s so boring just standing around, so having this sort of thing available was a big stress reliever for me, and probably for him as well. I highly recommend signing up for that service if it’s available.

Final positive point, the course is nice and flat and fast. Fast, that is, if there weren’t 44,000 other people on it.

But therein lies the rub. It’s just too crowded.

This became abundantly evident when we strolled to the starting area and tried to locate the gear check. I know from previous endeavors that it will be very, very cold while you are waiting for your start (it was a wave start, which means corrals or groups of people start every three minutes or so). Then, you will start running and become very, very hot and sweaty. But when you stop running, it will become very, very cold again very quickly, and it is miserable. So I wanted to bring another top and jacket to change into after the race and check it, especially since the temperatures at start time was in the low 40s and dropping.

The problem was, we could not for the life of us find the gear check. It was nowhere near the start line. It was actually inside the Mandalay Bay. There were no signs indicating where the gear check was until, basically, right in front of the door to the auditorium. Nothing outside or in the finishing area. We had to ask several different people to locate it.

And the only way to get to the finishing area and then into the hotel itself and then to the elusive gear check was to go through the teeny tiny chute between the corral barriers. That tiny opening was surging with people going different directions. It was a pretty scary 10 minutes while we tried to push through without losing each other.

We finally checked our gear and located a corral close to the one we had signed up for.

I call this, "Stretch it oooouuuuuttt."

The marathon started at 4:00. Those poor suckers start their race by running out into a boring industrial neighborhood. Then, they have to merge with the half-marathoners, who began at 5:30 (my corral crossed the start line about 30 minutes later so around 6). This merge system is unfair to the poor marathoners on so, so many levels.

For one thing, nobody seems to respect the corral system. Corrals are organized by your expected finish time. For example, when I signed up three months ago (pre-foot injury), I predicted I would finish in 2 hours 15 minutes. I was assigned to corral 20. But when the day got here, I correctly predicted that my finish time might be a bit closer to 2 hours 30 minutes, so I moved back several corrals to corral 23. Why do this? Well, you do it so that faster people wouldn’t have to worry about running headlong into your slow ass. You’re back with the other heavy-footed plodders.

Now, most marathoners, are much, much faster than us lowly halfers. So when you have somebody going much faster running straight into a virtual human wall of much slower half marathoners, well, tempers tend to flare. There was a separate lane for marathoners, but it was separated by cones. Yes, you read that right: CONES. The race organizers did have people on bikes riding along the course and “encouraging” half marathoners to run on the right side of the road and keep a left lane open for the marathoners. Yeah, that didn’t really work out so great. Let’s just say, there were more of us than them (I think the halfers outnumbered the full marathoners by about 6 to 1. Ah, here’s the stat: 6000 vs. 38000)

XFE got some great shots for me. Can you see me in there? No? Try harder dammit!

And here’s when the other issue arises: there were WALKERS in this race. Yes, a race billed as the “World’s Largest Nighttime Running Event,” had walkers. People who are consciously choosing to walk 13.1 miles. And, since they are very nice people who raise a lot of money for a very good cause, they started in the first several corrals. Which means that they were in the way of about 38,000 runners that started after them. Also: unlike runners, who will fall back and run in a line behind each other (me and my cohorts did this many times), walkers like to walk in large chatty groups, arms linked straight across the race route, waving their blinky neon-lit gloves at the bands and the few straggling and probably lost gamblers who stumbled upon the race while on their way to a different and undoubtedly luckier casino. For us runners, it’s basically like the old playground game Red Rover. Except the school yard kids are old people in neon orange vests announcing that they are participating on behalf of Team Challenge.

What about now? You see me, right? What? Are you sure you're trying?

The real challenge was getting around them. So basically, what us half-marathoners were to the marathoners, the walkers were to us (that should be an SAT question). I kept having to remind myself that they were good, charitable people who really care a lot about healthy colons (the race and fundraising are on the part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation) and do not deserve to be throttled by my shoe strings (the only likely weapon I had on me at the time).

A couple of other issues: they ran out of water at some stations especially in the last half, which is unfathomable in a race of this size. There also didn’t seem to be too many medics. I saw people puking all over the place, including inside the Mandalay Bay, which was a freaking war zone after the race.

I'm RIGHT there! On the left! Ugh. I give up.

About the end of the race, after crossing the finish line, I was quickly handed my medal (glow in the dark, VERY cool) and started moving with the crowd towards what I thought would be water, food, mylar heating blankets. I did get a mylar blanket (the table appeared unstaffed and another runner was just throwing them in the air behind him so I managed to catch one out of the air). I also saw an unmanned table with flats of water bottles, so I grabbed one of those as well and continued with my crowd surge strategy.

That dude on the right seems quite scared of me. As well he should be.

Then, about 100 feet in, the surging crowd just came to a halt. I assumed we were picking up goodie bags with food. I was just stopped. In a crush of sweaty, disgusting, shivering people, myself included. Finally, out of the corner of my eye, I sensed some movement on the perimeters of the crowd, so I decided to forget the food and just get out of this crowd. I pushed my way over to the edge and shuffled along. When I looked back to try to figure out what had caused the ridiculous jam I had just been stuck in for about 15 minutes, I saw that there were about 5 or 6 lines for getting your picture taken with your medal. WTF?? Right inside the finish line?? How about some damn signage so people who don’t want a stupid picture can get on with their lives??

OK, you definitely see me now, right? Just look how fast I'm going! Everything's a blur I'm so fast!

Again, all I wanted to do at this point was find some room so I could stretch after my run. But no. There was no room to be had. I made my way back into the gear check area so I could pick up my phone and try to text my fellow racers (I got separated from them around mile 10 because my metatarsal problems had flared up in a MAJOR way. Several walking breaks, which was mildly disappointing, but not surprising, since I knew this might be an issue).

And Holy Running Hell, the whole place looked like a triage area. There was trash and spilled drinks and food everywhere, runners laying on the floor stretching as far as the eye could see. People zombied out, or puking into their mylars. It was crazy! So naturally, I wanted to get my stuff and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

Except ‘quick’ was not the order of the day by any means. Again, a HUGE bottleneck developed as thousands of people jammed into the halls of the Mandalay and tried to make their way to the shuttles, the taxi stand out front, or the tram to the Luxor or Excalibur. To add to the fun, the new Cirque de Soleil Michael Jackson tribute show “Immortal” (opening weekend, naturally) was letting out at the exact same time that me and my crew and about a bazillion of our closest, sweatiest friends were crammed into the exit hallway. I felt so bad for those poor people.

While all this crushing and pushing was going on, people were dropping like flies (understandably since it stunk so badly). Passing out and puking against columns. INDOORS! It was insane, chaotic, disgusting and overall horribly disorganized. We took the tram to the Excalibur to try to catch a cab, but the line was just way, way too long, so we ended up just walking back to the Cosmopolitan where my friend was staying.

I have no idea how long it took us to get out of that hell-zone from start to finish, but we were all so traumatized we just sat around the room stretching and looking at each other. We didn’t take any after pictures. They ordered some pizza from a restaurant downstairs, but at that point, I was just too exhausted and smelled too gross, so I met XFE downstairs and made our way back to the Venetian (we walked). It was hours after the race and I saw other runners just making their way back as well.

Chasing Vegas. Literally.

Apparently there have been quite a few complaints along the lines of what I just described.

“It was tough. We didn’t know where to go and there wasn’t anybody guiding us,” says racer Mary Murphy.

“There was a lot of chaos on the way back to the hotel,” adds Murphy’s daughter Kelli.

The photos, snapped with cell phones, show thousands of people pouring into Mandalay Bay hallways unable to move. People report being stuck for nearly an hour with numerous people vomiting and passing out.

“We had heard that lots of people collapsed,” says racer Christie McMorris. “Inside the hotel was horrible.”

Yeah, that’s about right.

Last year, when the race was run in the morning, the race was capped at 28,000 runners. The switch to a nighttime race almost doubled the participation. And next year, the organizers are aiming for 60,000. Good luck to them. I will definitely not be amongst them.

But for anyone else doing it in the future, a few tips:

  1. Avoid gear check. Just catch pneumonia in your sweaty, wet clothes instead.
  2. Avoid going inside the hotel at all. I know you’re cold and it’s nice and warm in there, but I’m telling you, you don’t want to do it.
  3. Bring your own water and bring enough for the entire race and after. And don’t share with anybody, otherwise you might be getting water from a fire hydrant and a trash can. (Yep, that happened, according to some reports.)
  4. Get the hell away from the finishing area as fast as you can. I recommend walking fast and never looking back.
  5. Have food ready for after the race. Because there’s a good chance you won’t find any at the finishing area.
  6. Be really, really fast so you can be in one of the early corrals and done before the chaos begins.

I promise to be more positive tomorrow. I had a fantastic post-race day, including awesome food, some shoe shopping, and a massage. All’s well that ends well.

Today’s the Day. Well, Maybe Not THE Day, But A Day. Nevermind.

In a little bit here, I’ll be partaking in this:

Where hopefully I’m not doing this:

And definitely hope I’m not doing this:

Blech.

I know I’ll feel and look like this:

But that’s ok, because after I finish, I’m going to do this:

And maybe some shopping.

Time to get the show on the road.

Another Day of Running Rants

Some random stuff.

First, thanks for all the concern and well wishes. I took two days off from running  and did a short, easy run today and didn’t die, so I’m pretty sure that means I’m adequately prepared for a half marathon. I think I’ll just ditch the rest of my training plan. Or not. We’ll see how the next couple of weeks go.

When did workout clothes get so damn expensive? I went to Target last weekend to buy workout pants. I blindly put some items in my basket (checking prices is for losers) and made my way to the checkout counter (oh, but not before perusing the razor blade refills and having a slight heart attack. $23 for razor refills? Apparently, I’m too poor to shave my legs. Sorry for you, XFE).

But back to workout clothes. As I was heading to the exit, I thought to myself, “Hmmm, that tally seemed a bit high, even for tempt-you-with-other-stuff-Target. Lemme see here…. 40 US DOLLARS for a pair of running tights??”

How you like my sweat-xedo?

I’m sorry, but we’re talking Target here. Champion brand. Not the evil, Michael-Vick-supporting Nike. At least I know that with Nike, there’s a huge premium for all those flashy commercials and endorsements, so I don’t even bother looking at their stuff. When’s the last time anyone saw a Champion commercial? I think not, Target. I went directly to the customer service desk and returned those bad boys. Now I have hairy legs and old workout shorts. You are all welcome.

ALSO: because I’m a wimp and refuse to run outside in (a) anything under 50 degrees and (b) in the dark, which now descends at the ripe old hour of 4:30 pm, I have caved and joined a gym. This was an easy decision. The gym I chose wasn’t picked for its variety of classes (there are none); the delightful spa-like locker room (doesn’t exist. But there is a bathroom. Very basic though. I think you have to bring your own toilet paper), or the vast variety of the latest and newest equipment (there are like, 5 treadmills, a bunch of elliptical, a couple of bikes and weight machines, and some free weights.)

No, Crap Fitness was chosen amongst all the more glamorous selections because it is literally two blocks from my house and I walk past it every night on my way home. You’re right, that is convenient. And unlike many in my running brethren, I’m actually ok with running mindlessly on a treadmill. Yes, it’s boring, but nobody gets hurt. No issue there.

The thing is: this gym is hot as hell. It’s like I’m bikram running in there. No you guys, seriously, it is HAWT. Really, really hot. Like two rats humping in a wool sock hot. Like so hot hens would be laying hard boiled eggs. What I’m saying is: the gym is a might bit overly warm.

Dang y'all, it is hot up in here.

I recently asked the girl manning the front desk if other people have ever mentioned it being hot, and she looked at me like I had two heads. Perhaps because I was bright red and sweating all over her counter? I dunno, but she said, “nope.”

I do not believe her. I have eyes and I can see other people getting really red and sweaty too. I can also see that there are no air vents near the treadmills whatsoever, so that’s probably part of the problem. But apparently, no one else in the entire world is prone to complaining except me.

I guess I should have taken advantage of Crap Fitness’ whole “one week free trial period,” but I thought that was merely putting off the inevitable since I had to join a gym at some point, why be picky? But now? One super sweaty month into it, I’m really starting to wish I’d been picky. It is nice to just walk down the street to the gym though. UGH.

I bought a fan to clip onto the treadmill but it is incredibly weak and ineffective against my Extreme Radiating Heat (ERH). I think it gives me more of a mental boost than anything else. Maybe I should tape some ice packs to my forehead and temples. What? I’d cover it with some sweet headband.  

Knees up! And happy as hell!

 Y’all seem real fond of the Gold Rush post, so there’ll be another one coming tomorrow, you’ll be happy to hear.