Whirlwind Wednesday. And a Series of Fortunate Events.

First of all. I thought today was Monday. Which is what happens when you spend a GLORIOUS 7 days away from work, drinking Heady Toppers, eating delicious FRESH food and watching your Other Half run his first marathon AND KICK IT IN THE CHOMPERS!

Oh, Hi. Boston Called. YOU JUST QUALIFIED!!

YAAAAASSSS!
YAAAAASSSS!

To say I am proud of him is a goddamn understatement. There are no words. Just love, love, love. I love him to pieces.  In fact, if I didn’t love him, I might hate him. He’s one of those Naturals. You know. The Athlete. The Dude who can do anything and loves the work that goes along with it? Yeah. That Guy. He’s My Lobster.  I am so proud of him. My heart is overflowing. Good stuff I tell ya. Actually, there have been a few Pretty Damn Good things that have happened in the past 10 Days. Here’s a Colby Good Stuff Sampler!

Running along Lake Champlain
    1. I went to a ‘Ladies Only Wine and WOD’ sponsored by Lululemon! Can you even stand it? One of my dear friends is into CrossFit and her box (I know. That sounds filthy.) was sponsoring a ladies only CrossFit night with wine, paleo grub and Lululemon. And she brought me! I’ve dabbled in CrossFit several times and if it wasn’t so damn expensive where I live, I’d be sipping the organic cool-aid. But alas. I also love shoes. And wine. And delicious IPAs as you’ll read about shortly. So there’s that. CrossFit Bethany hosted it and it did not disappoint. Such a great community of people. Very welcoming. Very friendly. There are some jacked broads there (Exhibit A. Below). Bethany Cross Fit!It was awesome. Vikki and I partnered up and had a blast.  Running, box jumps, rope work, abs, all sorts of stuff. Oh? And Wine. And Shopping. (Hello Vinyasa Scarf!) And my girl Vikki. I see why she loves it so much there. All of the Ladies I met were fantastic and so was the wine. Great. Time. Thanks Vik!

      Victorious!
    2. I was finally matched with a buddy! Tina posted about I Run 4 a little while back (here) and if you aren’t familiar with them, I strongly encourage you to check them out. Salt @ Run Salt Run and I were both matched the same week! I know she’s equally as excited. It’s such an amazing group. Here is the link to their website: Who I Run 4 . They pair a special needs “Buddy” with a “Runner.”
      My First Official 5 mile run. #IRun4Wyatt
      My First Official 5 mile run. #IRun4Wyatt

      Your job as the runner is to dedicate your runs to your Buddy and interact with them via IR4’s closed Facebook Group. It’s an incredible community. I can tell you that I have been paired with an amazing little boy named Wyatt. I am already forging a wonderful relationship with his family. And I’ve gotta say, there hasn’t been a single mile I’ve run since “meeting” him where I haven’t thought about his smiling face. My miles have meaning. It is so fulfilling. Sign up. It’s worth the wait.

      Mile 3. Grafton, Vermont is gorgeous.
      Mile 3. Grafton, Vermont is gorgeous.


    3. Leon James and Evil Beagle might be getting a BROTHER!  So this happened as I was running the trails in my neighborhood. Yup. He happened. Chocolate Boy We ran right into one another. I encountered a big, handsome, chocolate lab swimming with a stick in his mouth on the trails. Of course I stopped and chatted with his Human and got the scoop. Long serendipitous story short: I need a running buddy, he needs a home.  It was love at first sight. Note: It’s not that Leon James and Evil Beagle, Pearl Anne, don’t want to run with me, they totally would. Only if I walked. And they ate gobs of treats. L. James is recovering from 2 -yes TWO- knee reconstruction $urgerie$ and Pearl Anne is….well?  Let’s just say this: Girlfriend don’t like to work out. They’re also both 11 years old and the thought of losing one? STOP. I know we’re crazy. But deal with it. I’d rather be an Old Crazy Dog Lady than an Old Crazy Cat Lady any day of the week. Cross your paws that it goes through! Squeeeeeee!
    4. We scored a case of Heady Topper. boooyaYup. In another, The Stars Are In Alignment Moment, we happened upon a delivery of Heady Topper as we were leaving Burlington, Vermont. After asking what all the hub-bub was about (then turning to each other and fist-pumping when we heard why) we immediately hopped in line and waited for our Liquid Gold. You can’t get the stuff outside of Vermont. And then not all of Vermont. It wins all sorts of ‘Best Beer’ Awards. The result: TWO FREAKING CASES OF HEADY TOPPER! For those of you who aren’t beer fans, this is the equivalent of finding a unicorn blowing bubbles while riding a T-Rex. IT NEVER HAPPENS. Fear not, we filled a cooler, loaded it with ice, and gingerly transported our cases of beauties across state lines. TO DRINK. ALL. SUMMER. We also drank them in Burlington… 
      Heady Topper and Focal Banger. CHEERS!

      And even ate them in DELICOUS PRETZEL FORM at the Burlington Farmer’s Market… 

      Heady Topper Jalapeno Pretzel Bliss.

      In short, ALL THE HEADY TOPPER. Happiness. 

    5. We ate great food in Burlington, Vermont
      Asparagus Porn.

      It wasn’t all kick ass beers and tacos. Although I would perfectly content if that were the case. A few notable eating establishments in Burlington:  Hankering for tacos? Run to El Cortijo. Kitchsy. Cool. Not too hipster. And MY FAVORITE joint for good beer and tacos. I love that little spot. It’s hard not to binge on tacos and ‘chos there. Trust me.  

      Revolution Kitchen.

      Next fave: Revolution Kitchen which, in addition to having another of our favorite beers on tap, Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine, has DELICIOUS vegetarian grub. Like really good and not completely typical. The staff couldn’t have been more charming.  And guacamole filled wonton “nachos.”  For real. *drools* We dig it.   

      Jazzy!

      Last? Hen of the Wood. INNOVATIVE and delicious. Even the ice cubes were cool. Everything here is done with intention. It’s fantastic- organic, sustainable and locally sourced. We had these insane Apple cider fritters with some sort of delectable goodness on them and we swooned. Shit was GOOD. And? I took zero food pictures. Which in hindsight, was a Rookie Blogger move. What the hell do I know?  My other half would have thrown a fork at me if he heard: “But Babe, It’s for the BLLLLLLLOG!” one more time. He loves me. 

So that’s what’s been going down. Take time to recharge. The past week and a half has been such a reboot for me. I’d highly recommend it if possible. Drinking, eating and running for and with people I love. Now that’s Good Stuff. :-)

How was your long weekend? Have you ever been a spectator at a marathon? Or does it make you antsy? Name you favorite beer: GO! 

Who doesn’t love a Street Performer?

Trail 2 Trail Series: Kettletown State Park Race Recap and a Zombie Pinky

T2T SeriesI’m just FINALLY recovering from my weekend which consisted of a “Wine and WOD” Ladies Only Crossfit Night (Stay Tuned!), a 10K Trail Race (EPIC!) and a kick ass training ride that turned into a time trial after I played cat and mouse with a disgruntled dude on a bike (Winner!). The weekend was fantastic. And left me totally glycogen depleted. Oh. And with a broken pinky finger but I’ll get to that in a few. Nothing an ice pack, a massage and copious amounts of beer couldn’t cure. That’s for sure.

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries
The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries
I (happily) discovered the Trail 2 Trail Series, a competitive racing and endurance trail running series, a few weeks ago. Ever since I fell in love with trail running, I have been on the lookout for local races. The transition from road to trial for this broad has not been, shall we say…Graceful?  Yeah. No. Girlfriend needs practice. And confidence. Enter Kettletown. These races are fortunately right in my backyard. Well, not exactly. The T2T Series is in Connecticut. Which is practically my backyard as nothing is really more than an hour or so away. Their slogan is “We Won’t Do Easy.” And?  They’re not lying. Easy, it wasn’t. Fast, winding trails, very decent climbs, lots of rocks, single track and simply BEAUTIFUL. I suspect it would have been ABSOLUTELY beautiful if Saturday’s race wasn’t in the midst of a monsoon, but there you go. Trail Running is the Original Obstacle Mud Run. Hands down. Thank god I love mud because Saturday’s T2T Series Race in Kettletown State Park, was a greasy, challenging mud fest.  And I loved every slippery second of it. How could you not? Look how pretty it is.

Photo: www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries
I would have snapped my own photos, but I feared my iPhone’s life in that rain. Photo Courtesy of T2T’s Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries
I decided after eyeballing the forecast, that I would run the 10K. They had other options available: 5K/10K/20K/50K all of which consisted of partial or multiple full loops of the 10k route. I was happy with my choice. Kettletown-SP-10kEspecially seeing as how I bit it crossing the one river on a patch of ice rock. After a string of profanities and a potentially broken pinky, I brushed myself off and continued on my merry way. Let’s be honest. It’s not trail racing unless you fall and have some sort of flesh wound. (Trail, 1. Colby, 0.) There were several pretty steep climbs coupled with leaf and rock strewn descents which the rain and humidity had made pretty slick. After my earlier fall, my Pinky and I turned into total Chicken Shits and were a bit more cautious. It is the 1 Year Anniversary of that long run where I fell and wrecked my face, so you can imagine, I was in full yellow-flashing-light mode. Feel free to relieve the horror here.

Along the route there was also really scenic, pretty views of Lake Zoar. The place where as a kid I learned to water ski. Ah. Nostalgia. The best part? I didn’t get lost. The course marking was excellent. Red flags on your left and you were golden. The only time they were on your right was if you were taking a sharp right turn, then then they went back to left. Very simple to follow. The race was sponsored by Energybits and Hammer Nutrtirion, two of my old favorites. I love Hammer Nutrition’s Enduralytes. They have saved my dehydrated ass on many occasions. There was plenty of grub afterwards and a swag bag with a few odds and ends. I think if you pre-reg’d far enough in advance, you could have gotten a race t-shirt. But as a Last Minute Nelly, I was shirtless. (Not topless, shirtless. Silly Fools.)

Such a great course.
Such a great course.
The thing I love most at trail races- even trail races in far less than optimal conditions like this one- is the general vibe. Trail runners are chill. Competitive, but friendly and relaxed. It’s been my experience that there is zero to very little pre-race hysteria more commonly found at road races. You know what I mean, right? The high knees. The sprints. The obsession over Garmins. The occasional attitude. I’ve never experienced that at trail races. And this race was no exception. Everyone here from the race directors to the runners themselves was just plain nice. Gotta love that. In fact, I registered for their next race as I was tending to my wounds from the first. I’m hooked. (And next time I’m getting a t-shirt!) This race very much seemed like it was for trail runners, by trail runners. It was well done and well run. Well, it would have been run well by me if it was drier and I was gutsier, but that didn’t even matter. I loved it. Busted zombie paw and all. See you next time guys!

Have you ever run a trail race? Do you have a local trail racing community? What’s the worst fall you’ve ever taken while running? I think we know mine! :-)

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.
Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Fever, Frenzy and Hometown Pride

America has crowned the next American Idol.  

Nick Fradiani. WINNER!
 AND HE’S FROM MY FREAKING HOMETOWN! 

Can you even stand it?!?! 

*beams with pride*   

Big Pimpin’ American Idol Style!
I don’t even like American Idol. But seriously, how could I not watch and root for Guilford, Connecticut’s Own Hometown Hero, Nick Fradiani?!?! I’m so stinkin’ proud of him. The best part?  Handsome Italian dude can sing. Guilford has been in a full-on Fradiani Frenzy for Weeks and it’s been so exciting to be a part of.  They even filmed a concert on the green which aired a week ago on the show. It was AWESOME. We took our old Schwinn Cruisers down to the Town Green to hear him. The town went ALL FREAKING OUT. It was fantastic.  

Waiting for Nick!
  
The closest I will ever get to being on American Idol.
  
Eeeeeeeee!!!
Everywhere I run and ride around town there are signs rooting for him. The local businesses have been so supportive. Such excitement. Such a wonderful community.  Especially among the kids. You couldn’t go a day without seeing a kid in a “Team Fradiani” shirt.

Nick Fradiani LIVE!
The kids really seem inspired. And that’s wonderful. Why shouldn’t they be? Here’s a talented local guy who can sing and play guitar and has strong sense of family.  He’s smiley, appears humble and while he’s an ‘Italian Guy from Connecticut’, he embodies ZERO of the Italian-American stereotypes that lately exist everywhere. (Note: I am an ‘Italian Girl from Connecticut’ who might embody some of the Italian-American stereotypes portrayed on TV. Either way? I’m qualified to make that statement. Capisce?) Around town, people are smiling! They wave! Hi! The kids are inspired! They chit chat! GO NICK! 
The Guilford Green Pre-Frenzy.
There’s been this palpable energy around town that has really brought out the best in Guilfordians. Wellllll actually…Maybe not all Guilfordians. The Exception being some broad who laid on the horn, screamed obscenities and scared the snot out of me while I was riding my bike through down town last night.  

Post-Road Rage Frenzy in my new Betty Designs Kit. LOVE!
She doesn’t have The Fever. She has The Irrational Road Rage and needs an intervention. Or maybe a Fradiani Frenzy ice cream cone. That’ll take the edge off of her. 

Congratulations Nick! May you be 10,000 times more famous than Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Fantasia Barrino combined!!!! You’ve made us so damn proud!!!  :-)

Bishop’s Orchards, Fradiani Frenzy! Yum! (Photo: foxct.com)

I Need to Relax. And Kurt Loder is 70. 

I’m still reeling from discovering the following:

Kurt Loder is 70.Kurt Loder is 70

My InsideTracker InnerAge is 60.3.InnerAge

I look 35 according to that silly “How Old?” app.  Bless it’s tiny little electronic heart. 

GOOD. GRIEF. In case you missed it, read why at 43, I am really 60.3 years old but look like I am in my 30s. Read my eye-opening InsideTracker review and Big Reveal here. You’ll see why I am in a tizzy. It’s a doozy. Ugh. I’ve got a stomach ache just thinking about it. If that app told me I looked 75, I’m sure you would have heard the sound of computers crashing and a howling wail coming from me one million miles away. It wouldn’t have been pretty. 

Serenity Now! The Norwich Inn and Spa.
In light of those harrowing results and in celebration of Tina’s First Boston Marathon, Tina and I decided to check our tired stressed out asses into The Norwich Inn and Spa last Sunday with rejuvenation in mind. Or minimally with sitting STILL in mind.  And when I say “checked  in” I mean a full on 12 hours of padding around in white fluffy robes. Complete with yoga, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a delicious-wine-soaked lunch. Oh and we got treatments too. Two anti-goddamn-aging facials. One for each of us. (No. I didn’t do a double sesh. I’m not Magda for Pete’s Sake.) And two glorious body wraps which were other-worldly. Ahhhhh. What a day! I felt like we emerged younger, and visibly firmer.  There is nothing. I repeat NOTHING like spending the day with your best friend. It is a glorious treat. One that will occur far more regularly if I have anything to do with it. I know I won’t have to twist Tina’s arm. Like at all. She was booking the next Spa Day while we were still paying for the first. A total day of relaxation at a gorgeous spa with my BFF! Bonus X 1000.

  This was the first time Tina and I did yoga together. And honestly? I could hear her eyes rolling. My girl is NOT a yogi. I’m not either. But at least I happen to enjoy it. T-Bone? Ummm. I’m not so sure. I’m working on her. We couldn’t make eye contact for fear of being called into the Spa Director’s Office and being de-robed. THAT’S IT. HAND IN YOUR ROBES , YOU GIGGLING, CHILDISH, INFLEXIBLE COWS.  Thankfully, we were allowed to keep our robes for 11 more hours. Crisis averted. 

I have been doing yoga a LOT lately. For me that translates to three times a week which is three times more than I ever have in my entire life. I am loving it.  I leave and feel more calm, centered, grounded and open. Un-Stuck, if you will. I feel like my stride is also less stuck. It’s lengthened. What I am really hoping is that the sense of calm I feel in class trickles into my everyday life. Shutting off the “noise” even for that one hour is helping me learn how to shut out the stress that creeps into the daily grind. It’s also helping me wind down. And lo and behold, sleep is returning. If I want that god forsaken #InnerAge to decrease, I need to work a bit on stress and sleep. So my insides match the outside. There’s more work to be done, but I need to approach it piece by piece. Baby steps, Colby. 

Or my head will explode…

we won’t have faces to anti-age…

and we’ll never go to the spa again. 

Do you practice yoga? Are you a Rubber Band or The Tin Man? How do you tune out the daily noise? Day at the Spa or Girls Night Out? GO! 

In Search of Optimal Health- My InsideTracker Review.

Inside Tracker LogoWe are all “in search of…”

Something.

Be it happiness, calm, contentedness, peace, a killer career, a soul mate, fantastic highlights, good health or running the ever elusive BQ- Boston Marathon Qualifying time. No matter what unicorn we are chasing, I think we can all agree, we all want to be better, to enhance our lives and live them to the fullest. I am certainly no exception. Recently, after experiencing one of the most terrifying health scares of my life, I made a conscious decision to get a handle on ME. Diet. Exercise. Lifestyle. Training. The whole mind-body shebang. There came that tipping point. You know, the point where you become sick of your own  bullshit self?  Yeah. That was it. Months of stress, insomnia, fatigue and poor post-run recovery prompted me to stage my very own Health Intervention. I needed a serious health reboot.  So began my search for optimal health..

Enter InsideTracker.

InsideTracker is a personalized health analytics company which uses a platform their scientists developed, to track and analyze key biochemical and physiological markers found in your blood. Once determined, their platform provides personalized optimal ranges for each biomarker. In my case, there were 30+ biomarkers, ranging from ALT levels to ferritin levels to glucose levels to zinc. Simply put?

YOU: Schedule on-line appointment. Fast overnight. Head to the lab to have blood drawn.

THEY: Run clinical chemistries. Get numbers. Plug numbers into algorithms. Pull from their scientific database. Compile your read out.

And viola! InsideTracker sends you personalized optimal ranges along with diet and lifestyle recommendations to help you reach your potential. Those are just for YOU. It’s not voodoo. It’s based on real science.

Our goal is to empower individuals with the essential information they need to manage and optimize their own health. We believe that by providing a dynamic, personalized analytic platform at the intersection of biology, science and technology, then distilling the results into simple, natural and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to follow, we can help people live longer, healthier lives. -InsideTracker

The Process

The process itself is quite simple. There are plenty of plans to choose from ranging from the Ultimate ($499) to which you can add an InnerAge analysis, to a DIY ($49) where you can upload your own blood results and InsideTracker will generate the analysis and nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise recommendations for the blood results you enter. They will also chart the change in them over time. If you have already purchased the Fitness ($149), Performance ($299), or Ultimate Plan, DIY is FREE which I think is great. The range in price points correlates to the amount of biomarkers being tested. Admittedly, they are steep.  I will say that their website and tracking your results is extremely user friendly. They did a great job providing scientific references as well as accurate descriptions of each biomarker in language that is quite easy to understand. I will state that I purchased an Ultimate package and was provided an Inner Age analysis and subsequent follow up test at no charge in exchange for my honest review. And honest it will be.

The Results

Here’s where it can be overwhelming. And I will caution you:  Do not try to interpret the results yourself should they be above or below the “normal” range. For the love of god, enlist the help of your medical professional. Be mindful that InsideTracker is not a medical service. It’s not diagnosing you. It’s primary goal is to provide you with food and lifestyle changes backed by science to optimize your physical condition. When you receive your results they are color coded- Red, Yellow or Green. Red (“At Risk”) is either much HIGHER or much LOWER than the normal ranges for a particular blood biomarker in question.  Yellow (“Needs Work”) is in the NORMAL range with ORANGE being near normal. And GREEN (“Optimized”) is the sweet spot- OPTIMAL! If you should have abnormal results, InsideTracker will email you a friendly- Get thee to your health care provider- email alerting you. I should know. I received one. What you then shouldn’t do is then hop on Google, plug in “off the chart cortisol levels” like somebody I know did, and diagnose yourself with Cushing’s Syndrome or any other of the conditions associated with high cortisol levels. It will cause an additional spike in your cortisol levels. Trust me on this one. Don’t do it. Leave any questions you have related to your results to your health care provider.

The Big Reveal

Enough about all that. Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Let’s talk about ME! Me!!!!!!Welp. I wish it was all roses and sunshine but guess what? It wasn’t. And that’s the truth. The Bottom Line? There is work to be done. How much work came as a bit of a shock to me. Here I was thinking that as a pescetarian marathon runner and cyclist with an optimal BMI and low body fat content, I was the picture of health. Umm. Yeah. No. Not from this particular biological snap shot. Here’s the rough summary: Of the 30 or so biomarkers tested, 6 were “At Risk”, and 5 “Need Work”, the rest including Liver Enzymes were “Optimal.” CHEERS! {Clink!}  Based on how little I had been sleeping, as well as the perceived amount of life stress I had been under, I had assumed that my cortisol levels (an indicator of stress) as well as my hsCRP (an indicator of inflammation) would be high. How high I simply had NO IDEA. Ready? Fasten your seatbelt.

Cortisol hsCRP

The take home message here? GET SOME DAMN SLEEP, COLBY. I have to say. I was flabbergasted. Flabber. Gasted. There it is. All in black and white (and sadly, red) in an easy to read, incredibly informative, user friendly screen shot. Those two weren’t the only ones off of the charts either. There were 6 in total. Pieces. I am approaching this one biomarker at a time. Piece by piece. Along with the harrowing results, came food and lifestyle recommendations. I should add that once you register for InsideTracker, you fill out an online list of food preferences. They even put together a “Food Basket” for you based on your results, containing items that will help you to optimize the biomarkers that need work. I don’t eat meat. But I do eat fish, eggs and dairy. So that’s why under my ferritin (iron) recommendations you won’t see EAT A STEAK, HONEY. There are foods to eat more of, as well as foods to eat less of. (Yeah I’m looking at you, Eggs.) I was happy to see that while my iron group was not Optimal, it wasn’t in the Red either. It needs a slight tweaking. That was my biggest fear being a non-meat eater- not enough Iron. Here’s what InsideTracker recommended for me, taking my selected dietary preferences into account.Iron Rich FoodsSee how easy the recommendations are to read? Great layout. Excellent content. Such a wealth of valuable nutritional information- and all personalized. Overwhelming as the results were (and why it’s taken me a few weeks for me to mentally process them), is as easy as they were to read and understand. I might need some work, but it’s all quite doable. Breathe, Colby.

The Biggest Reveal came with the InnerAge Analysis. And yes, I will share it with you. Even though I just started sweating profusely. InnerAge Analysis takes a look at a particular subset of biomarkers which have been identified to have the greatest impact on the aging process. You can ad it on to your test. You can imagine, if those particular biomarkers are ones of yours needing work, you might be in for the shock of your life. I will remind you, Dear Reader, that my given name is Nicole and I just turned 43 years old.  FORTY STINKING THREE. I’m yelling it so you understand why, upon clicking the InnerAge Results tab, I let out a plaintive wail then promptly blacked out. When I came to, this was staring me in the face. InnerAgeSNL One Shocked Princess
Stop the ride.
I gotta get off.
And pick up my goddamn AARP card.

There are no words. 60.3 years old at 43. That is absolutely horrifying to me. Christ. If I knew I was going to be eligible for Social Security at 43, I might have planted my saggy ass on the couch and binged on fried clam strips (No bellies, please) and onion rings while watching Bravo TV all day. Talk about a wake up call. A lot of what is driving this number is related to the amount of sleep I had NOT been getting. Sleep is imperative. And stress ages you. For real. When you discover you are having an adverse physiological response to stress, you need to change what you are doing. And you need to do it YESTERDAY. Because at age 43 (Oh. Pardon me, age 60.3), how I am handling it clearly ain’t working for me.

My InsideTracker Results explained quite a bit to me. A lot of pieces of the Colby Puzzle fell into place. No wonder I felt so “Off.” My running. My recovery. My overall sluggishness. All Off. There was an actual physiological reason as to why. Can you go to your doctor and have clinical blood chemistries run? You sure can. But I would recommend uploading them to InsideTracker at the very least. I am very pleased with InsideTracker- the process, the analysis, the recommendations. They make sense. Since obtaining my results, I have made MANY changes to my diet and lifestyle which I will describe in a future post. This one was a doozy. I am anxious to see how my next set of results compares to the first. And you can bet I’ll be writing about it. We’ll call it Colby’s InsideTracker Series: The Quest for Youth. 60.3. Gah. Where is Ponce de Leon when you need him?

Holy Eye Opener.

It’s time for a change, Nicole.

No kidding.  Thanks for opening my eyes, InsideTracker

Interested in InsideTracker? Message me on Faceboook or Twitter (@RunColbyRun) for a super secret exclusive code the folks at http://www.InsideTracker.com gave me to share! Aren’t we special? Old. And special. :-)

The Boston Marathon: A Recap in Pictures.

I have never thought of myself as particularly vain, and I’m going to prove it now by recapping the Boston Marathon through some pretty ugly race pictures. I don’t really “run pretty” to begin with, and the rainy, windy weather didn’t help. Who cares? Anyone reading this blog has seen ugly race pictures before. I assume I won’t scare anyone off.

For those who don’t know, the weather for the 2015 Boston Marathon was less than optimal. Temps in the 40’s (fine by me), BUT bands of steady rain and a 10-20 mph headwind, with gusts up to 30 mph. In the days leading up to the race, I kept hoping the depressing forecast would improve.

Instead it got worse.

When I asked Colby for an update as I was heading out the door, her reply was, “Oh, Poodle. You don’t want to know. Just run.”

So I did. And it was cold, and wet, and windy. But it was Boston, and I loved every step. Well, almost every step.

Here’s a pictorial tour:

Athlete’s Village. Look how happy I am! I am at Athlete’s Freaking Village in Hopkinton! Who cares if I’m functioning on 4 hours of sleep and it started raining while we were on the bus? The rain stopped when we got there! That has to be a good sign-right? RIGHT? RIGHT???

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My Corral has just been called to line up at the start. Holy Crap. Sh*t’s getting real.

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Early miles. Oh, I guess the very definite forecast was right after all and the rain won’t hold off. I don’t even think this picture shows how torrential it really was. Pouring. Soaked to the bone. And then the rain got worse. My race pictures from the Natick and Wellesley sections of the race barely came out because it was so dark and the lenses of the cameras were covered in raindrops.

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Heartbreak Hill. I did it! At a solid pace! Feeling strong! I’m thrilled! And cold and wet! But mostly thrilled!

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Just past Heartbreak Hill. Still thrilled! But also confused: where is my freaking family? I’m wasting precious energy searching the crowd for my loved ones. (They were there – just a little farther up than I expected).

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Beacon Street. Probably Mile 24. But it could have been mile 23, 24 or 25, because the conditions were equally miserable for all. The wind is outrageous and I am looking for ruby slippers to take me home. I look like I am “digging deep” in the picture, and I probably am, but mostly I am trying to block the wind from my eyes. My fists are clenched because my hands have been numb since mile 10. Soaking wet tech gloves can only do so much. I am wondering whether I even like to run.

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I have already turned right on Hereford and have just turned left on Boylston! The home stretch! It is a very loooooong home stretch, but I’m here!  I can see the finish line! The crowds are amazing!!! Yahoo!! I suddenly remember that I love to run.

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The finish line. HELLO GORGEOUS!! So very happy to meet you!

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I have my medal! And, possibly, a slight case of hypothermia! But I don’t care. I just finished Boston! I JUST FINISHED BOSTON!

MedalPicedited

Wrapped in Love

Only in Boston is the most revered running accessory one that you would never actually wear while running. Yup, thanks to the “Marathon Scarf Project,” a hand-knitted scarf is the most prized of all of the wonderful Boston Marathon items you can get during marathon weekend.

The Old South Church is only 100 feet away from the Boston Marathon finish line and was a place of aid, comfort and solace for many following the horrible events in 2013. The Old South Church Knitters Club decided in 2014 to knit scarves for the runners.

As the club says, “the thought was to wrap runners in marathon blue and yellow scarves knitted with love and courage.”

The idea went viral and over 7000 hand knitted scarves were sent from all over the world for the club to hand out to the runners over the 2014 marathon weekend. Volunteers stood outside the church and bestowed passing runners with a scarf and a blessing.

This year, the church did not run a formal project again, but many knitters still wanted to knit for the runners, and reached out in other ways to get scarves to runners. I was fortunate to see offers for scarves on the Boston Marathon Forum run by Runner’s World and was thrilled to get one. An angel from Los Angeles knitted the beautiful scarf I’m wearing in the picture below and mailed it to me so I would have it in time for Marathon Weekend.

Waiting for the 57 Bus to take me into the Expo...in my beautiful new scarf!
Waiting for the bus to take me in to the Expo…wearing my beautiful new scarf!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my medal. Oh, how I love my medal (and when I write about the race weather in my recap, you will see, Oh, how I earned my medal!), but it is not my favorite Boston Marathon neck accessory. Not by a longshot.

Here is the beautiful note that she sent along with the scarf.

ScarfNote

Katherine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon, once said, ‘If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” Thanks to the magic that is Boston, at this marathon your faith will be restored even before the first runner takes a single step.

Birthday Bimbler’s Bash!

A Wheely Good Birthday
Wheely Good Coffee, Presents and the Sun. Happy Birthday to Me!

Big Birthday Weekend for Colby! And what, pray tell did I get for my Birthday, you ask?

A BIG OLD SLICE OF SUNSHINE!

It was glorious! Two magnificent spring days! It was just what I wanted. Awww. Thanks, Mother Nature. And in the nick of time! Just when I thought I would shank you, you send the sun out to warm my Vitamin D deprived heart. You’re a peach.

The weekend started off with sushi and cocktails and segued into a Gorgeous Birthday Trail Run, followed by a bike ride on our old Schwinn Cruisers to breakfast OUTSIDE!, a walk with the pups, more cocktails and dinner at a delicious tapas joint.

And then there were 7…

Oh. And more wine. You’re sensing a theme here, right?

My Other Half and I registered to run a 10k (ish) trail race, The Bimbler’s Bash, on Sunday morning. It seemed like a good decision when we pre-reg’d a week prior. Our pre-race fuel? Octopus leg (see above), skate (aka, The Doormat of the Sea), empanadas and a gallon of Albarino. If you’re wondering how one races on octopus leg and copious amounts of Spanish wine, it’s gingerly. One races gingerly.

Bimbler's Bashe

The good thing about The Bimbler’s Bash is that it’s right smack in my hometown. So when you wake up late with an octopus hangover, it is comforting to know that your 10k(ish) trail race is a mere 2 miles from home. If we had had our shit together, we would have run there. Alas, ’twas not the case. But dammit we made it. (Thank you, Skratch Labs Hydration Mix) And we were smiling!

The Bimbler’s Bash runs through Westwoods Trails in Guilford, Connecticut. Westwoods is beautiful. It’s very well marked and maintained by the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. I run there often. But never often enough to really know my way around. Which is a complete shame, and something I plan on addressing this summer. It’s the perfect place to get lost in. Because when you’re 2 miles away, you’re never THAT far from home. The trail system has about 39 miles of trails with really interesting features: caves, lakes, streams, rivers and all sorts of cool rock formations. We actually scrambled up several of them.

Scramble Colby, Scramble. Photo: C & D Studios

The terrain is technical, with lots of single track, rocks and tons of roots. Throw in a hangover and you’re falling on your face. It’s awesome. And I love running there. But racing there on a beautiful spring day, with your cyclist boyfriend who I swear was an Elite runner in a past life ? PERFECTIONBimbler Forest GumpI guess they weren’t kidding. I say 10k (ish) because its gotta be over 7 miles. Maybe 7.5? I couldn’t tell you. We had zero Garmins between us. All I know is I got to what I thought was the half way point, and still had a ways to go. That’s the great thing about trail races: PEOPLE ARE LAID BACK. That doesn’t mean they’re not competitive, they’re just not anxious. Nice and chill. And? WHAT A GREAT RACE! I can’t believe I haven’t run it before. Nice organizers, friendly people, cute T-Shirts and a truly awesome course. What more can you ask for? And I didn’t get lost. WIN! We both had a blast. It was tough, but man was it fun! My Other Half can really Bimble. Me? I’m more of a Basher.

Doing things you love, with people you love. There is simply nothing better! 

Training for Boston…In Boston!

Headed “home” to Boston last weekend to spend Easter with the family and got to do some Boston marathon recon work and take a run on the actual course. My kids were not impressed with our tour of the course, but it was a lot of fun for me. (My kids were even less impressed that this is what passes for fun for me. Teens and tweens. You can’t win.)

Hopkinton Start 2

On Friday, I drove from the Hopkinton start to Heartbreak Hill to get a sense of what the early part of the course looks like, and on Saturday, I ran from Wellesley in to the finish line. I’ve run Heartbreak Hill many times, but never took the course the rest of the way in to Boylston. It was great, and I have a bunch of random bits to share:

  1. There is something about a point-to-point marathon that seems awfully long. 26.2 straight miles just seems longer than a loop. Yikes. When we were driving from Hopkinton to Newton, my 13 year old remarked, “I’m getting bored just driving this course. I can’t believe you have to run it.” Ummm…thanks.2015_bostonmarathon_coursemap
  2.  As I have heard, the starting stretch is indeed narrow, windy and steep. I am going to be lucky to get through it without taking a digger. Thank God my mother has never seen the start, or she would make me wear a mouthguard. All joking aside, it freaked me out a little bit. I’m the perfect size for getting knocked over. I’ve always wanted to be perfect at something, and apparently, this is what God chose for me.
  3. There is still snow in Boston, but fortunately not on the roads. Unfortunately, the roads are a MESS. Pothole city and lots of frost heaves with huge craters. I feel terrible for the city workers in the various towns who are working on getting the roads ready for the race – they have their work cut out for them. After a winter of hell. God Bless Them. And if they aren’t able to finish in time, then I feel terrible for me.
  4. The Boston Marathon is such a big freaking deal in Boston. For the first few miles of the course route, the fire hydrants are painted in BAA colors. The painted start and finish lines on the roads are permanent (although freshly painted every year) and there are already signs up about “Marathon Monday.” Got me very excited!
  5. Training for Boston in Boston must be EPIC! When I ran the Wellesley-Newton-Brookline section of the course on Saturday, there were at least another 100 or so people on the course, most of whom were with teams or wore BAA shirts. Several running clubs set up tables along the Newton stretch of Commonwealth Avenue with “Free Watah” for the “Runnahs.” Yes, that is exactly what their signs said. The energy on the course was incredible, and training teams had already put up “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston” signs.

    So we don't get lost.
    So we don’t get lost.
  6. There were a lot of members of the Martin Richard team – Team MR8 – and it was both inspiring and heartbreaking to see them out there.
  7. The hills of Newton are, well, hilly? The one foot in front of the other method will be my strategy. And I’m glad I live in a hilly area. If the hills came earlier in the course, I don’t think they would be such a big deal. They were miles 6-9 of my run on Saturday and were no problem. The problem is that they start just before mile 18 on the full course. By mile 18, you’re kind of tuckered. And by the time you finish them at mile 21, you’re a shell of your former self.
  8. This was my last double digit run before the race and I couldn’t help but think that I should have used a formal training plan. Yes, I know it is a little late. And no, I’m not going to start one now. Just a realization to file away for my next race, whenever that may be. I don’t know if I would be in better shape physically if I followed a set plan, but I do think that I’d be in a better place mentally. More on this in another post.
  9. There is a definite technique to running downhills without killing your quads, and I don’t think I have figured it out yet. I have done many google searches in the past few weeks on downhill running, but probably not enough actual practice to grasp the technique. Note to self: a marathon is not a 9th grade history test. I’m pretty sure you can’t “cram” for it. I suspect I will confirm this on the 20th.
  10. For a bazillion years I have stood at the top of Heartbreak Hill and yelled to runners, “It’s all downhill from here!” This is just not true. I’m mortified. You have to run over the Mass Pike overpass at mile 25, and just before Hereford, there is a small incline that probably feels like Everest at that point. I am clearly a lying liar who lied. Apologies to all. I will never say it again.
  11. If the narrow, windy start doesn’t kill me, there is a good chance that the several stretches of the course where the roads are covered in trolley tracks will. God help me if it is a wet day. I am more than capable of falling on dry pavement – I can’t imagine running across wet iron tracks.

    These types of tracks greet you at a few places on the course.
    These types of tracks greet you at a few places on the course.
  12. The few blocks of Boylston between Hereford and the finish seem like a marathon in themselves. I thought city blocks were supposed to be short?
  13. You just don’t get more Masshole than running down Boylston Street, listening to Boston (Rock & Roll Band) on your headphones, training for Boston, while wearing a Red Sox hat. Aaaah…Home Sweet Home! You can take the girl out of Boston…
  14. There is no sweeter place to finish any run than here:

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WINNER! WINNER! Spartan Race DINNER! 

twerkkidBig Spartany CONGRATULATIONS to DANIELLE who won herself a free entry to any Spartan Race in the continental US!! I emailed her this morning and am pleased to report she is STOKED. Well wasn’t that exciting?!!! It was for us. Awww. Our first real giveaway. Gotta admit. I’m kinda choked up. I feel like This Little Blog has graduated. We might be in kindergarten now. Or straight up 1st grade. *wipes tear*

What’s next for us? Here’s a few bits of randomness. 

Tonight’s Good Fortune!


  1. Uhhhhh. Somebody is tapering for Boston…and it ain’t me! I am so, so excited to cheer on my BFF and Blogging Partner in crime, Tina as Little Miss Boston heads home to run The Marathon in mere days. I’ll be the fool screaming and crying her head off when she trots by. Seriously. We are talking full on scene up in here. THAT’S MY GIRL!  My strong, amazing friend.  I am proud of her already. *wipes tear* 
    Boston Strong.
    
  2. I am busy aging this week. I’ve gotta birthday limping on up this weekend. After receiving my InsideTracker Inner Age Results last week, I fear my AARP card will be arriving via FedEx on Friday. WHAT. THE. EFF. I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off of the floor after that one. I am working on the post with all of my InsideTracker Results. Never fear. The Big Reveal is coming. And it ain’t pretty. *wipes tear*
    Happy Birthday Colby! Courtesy of Tina.
    
  3. File this bit of randomness under: AWESOME. I was milling around on our stats page and started reading the How People Find You section. And? Someone found our Little Blog by searching “Beagle Ass.”  Yes. Beagle. Ass. I’ve gotta tell Evil Beagle she has arrived! That is THE funniest goddamn thing that has happened all week. And it’s only Wednesday. I can’t stop laughing.  *wipes tear*
    Four Paws.
    Beagle Ass.
    

Anyone heading to Boston for The Big Show? We’ll be there!