Moving Day

I have moved to – please bookmark my new site!

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Pretty, Shiny Things…

The only thing I like more than a bargain is sharing a bargain with others. Swim Outlet, my go-to site for swimsuits and gear, is having a huge sale on Sporti items. Check it out.

While I prefer TYR suits (what a swim snob I’ve become), I do have a Sporti suit and will buy another if the price is right and it’s cute. Important to look good even though especially when your form sucks. There are also some nice caps…I’m thinking about getting this one:

Speaking of cute stuff, have you ever signed up for a race based on the shwag or the medal? My friend Meggan hunts down the cutest medals and signs up for those races. Medal-hunting has become a sport in itself. The race could be down a dark alley in D.C. or through a Florida swamp but, if the medal’s cute, she’s in. She also actually studies the medals. I mean, she knew my D.C. Tri medal (speaking of D.C. AND swamps…how about that swim in the Potomac?!) has “IN TRI WE TRUST” engraved on it (it’s a penny) and I’ve had that thing for over a year and didn’t notice.

I’ll bet that, had Meggan run the Shamrock half marathon back in 2006, when I first ran it, she would have noticed the typo on the medal. Can you find it?

Did you find it? Don’t scroll down until you’re done looking…

Yep, several thousand people who thought they were in VIRGINIA Beach were actually in VIRGINA Beach. Now that’s embarrassing. Especially if you say it a certain way.

If you wondering which are the best (and worst) medals of 2010 (and who doesn’t?), check out Steph’s blog. Steph ran a lot of marathons on her way to completing the 50 states challenge; 27 alone last year! Given some of the doozies-passing-off-as-medals she receives, I’m guessing she doesn’t pick races based on medal ratings…

Which are your favorite race medals? (Meggan wants to know.) Do you have any really terrible medals? Do you wear your medals? Do you pick races based on schwag or medals? Do tell!

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Dragging my Feet

Of all the jobs in the world, the one I’d hate the most is salesperson. I am not ashamed to admit that I’m the worst salesperson I’ve ever known. The thought of knocking on doors or making cold calls is enough to make me break into a sweat.

As a race committee member for Stone Ridge 5K, I have to obtain sponsors. This is the part of the job that I hate the most. I absolutely cannot stand going to businesses and giving a speech while handing over my little pieces of paper. So I’m not. I’m sitting at my computer e-mailing sponsorship info and race flyers. My excuse is that it’s more efficient, because it’s faster and the e-mail goes directly to the source. The reality is that it’s the only way I will do it. Fortunately, there are other committee members who love going to businesses so I let them handle most of it while I work on putting together letters, spreadsheets, and creating a facebook page for the race.

Speaking of races, I ran the Rockville Rotary Twilight 8K Saturday night. I think this was the coolest night in the history of the race. It is a notoriously hot race that, even though it’s held at 8:45pm, has a large number of participants puking, passing out, and requiring medical attention for dehydration and heat exhaustion. So even though the weather on Saturday was uncharacteristically cool, the warnings and reminders to runners to stay well hydrated and stop (or not even start) if you didn’t feel good still went out. There was lots of water available at the start and along the course. There were also two or three overhead sprinklers you could run through.

To be honest, I did not have high expectations for this race. I felt sluggish all week, my ear was hurting (probably infected from the pool) so I was taking rather a lot of ibuprofen, and I haven’t exactly been training for short races. Still, my track workout Wednesday morning went well (considering I had to start at 5:15am and do it alone) and I had a good 2 hr nap Saturday afternoon, so at least I was well-rested.

During my warmup, however, I started getting a headache and stomach cramps. So I stopped warming up and went and drank some water and walked around. 15 mins before race start I had to visit the porta-potty. Stood in line behind a very large man in two-sizes-too-small singlet doing some rather inappropriate stretching so I made sure I looked the other way. Mercifully, my line moved fastest (when does that ever happen?!) and I was in and out and to the start line in time.

The first mile felt awful. I seriously considered bagging the race but decided that, at worst, I would just have to slow down, so I kept going. I’m glad I did because, after a couple of miles of dragging my feet, I actually started feeling better. Most frustrating was that it was dark so I kept having to turn on the light on my Garmin to see my pace. It’s amazing how difficult the small act of pressing a button can be when you’re trying to run fast. So I didn’t look at the Garmin very much and just tried to hang on to a couple of ladies in front of me.

That's me in the black and white PR uniform, hanging on to the ladies on front, whom I later passed. 🙂

I guess it was about halfway through the race that I realized there was a large group in front of me and I needed to regain contact with them since it’s much easier to run in a pack than on your own. I managed to regain contact as we snaked through a parking lot and actually pulled to the front of the group and then moved ahead to the next group. That gave me a boost and I started picking up the pace.

The last mile was my fastest as we turned on to 355 for the final straightaway and I decided to go for sub-35:00. That didn’t quite happen but I cruised in at 35:22 for 288th overall, 45th female, and 5th in my age group. I enjoyed some awesome post-race munchies and a great band that played until 11pm. There’s something much more appealing about night-time post-race festivals.

Given the choice between making cold calls for 35 minutes or running an 8K, I know which I’d choose!

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I am not a car, but I am on facebook

It takes a lot of effort to run with a jogging stroller. And I’m not even talking about the part where you’re actually pushing the thing while your kids are screaming for snacks, asking you to sing a song, telling you to run faster, or trying to get out while the ride is moving.

That’s the easy part. The hard part for me was getting everyone ready to go outside. One time I had the kids locked in, blanketed, snacks packed, and realized I was still in my pajamas. Or there was the time when I just had to go to the bathroom real quick, so put the 2-month-old in a bouncy seat but didn’t expect the 2-year-old to climb my dresser and pull it over on himself, breaking his leg. Yeah, we didn’t get a run in that day but had a nice ride in an ambulance instead.

So once you’ve managed the gargantuan task of getting the little people in the stroller, it’s nice to be able to enjoy some great weather like we had on Thursday, isn’t it? And if you happen to get lucky and the kids are content for a while, it can actually be peaceful. Maybe you’re actually able to have a zen moment.

And then some complete moron driving her car like a bat out of hell through the neighborhood starts yelling profanities at you. That’s what happened to my friend Katy yesterday. Katy was running with her two boys, ages 13 weeks and 2 years, at about 8:15 in the morning when woman-who-needs-her-license-revoked decided to harass her. When Katy got home, thankfully in one piece, she posted this on facebook:

dear nice woman:
thank you for yelling profanities at me while i was running with my 2 kids this morning. also, thank you for clarifying i am not a car. i was really confused. i am very sorry you had to put down your food to turn your wheel to get around me.
p.s. the speed limit is 25mph in our neighborhood.

Don’t you just love facebook? Katy was able to blow off some steam, share her feelings, and make us laugh at the same time! Of course she got a whole load of comments from people who had experienced similar harassment, people who wanted to try to make her feel better, and people like me who ‘helpfully’ posted words like “Moron.” I especially liked the comment, “Damn Katy, if you can’t run 25 mph then get your ass on the sidewalk!”

It feels good to share. Katy: I hope idiot woman didn’t ruin your day. I hope she felt bad about what she said and did. And next time, please get her information so I can send her a running club membership. She probably just needs to get out and run. 🙂

While we’re talking about the powers of facebook, notice that I now have a facebook page so please visit and “like” – thanks!

Have you ever been harassed while running? Have you ever run with a jogging stroller? Have your kids ever harassed you while you were pushing them in the jogger? Did you ever make them get out and run home? 😉

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An Attention-Seeker with an Identity Crisis…Brooks Racer ST 5

I wanted this shoe the minute I saw a picture of its bright (but not day-glo) orange upper. But the Brooks Racer ST 5 and I had a rocky start. First of all, this shoe has a serious identity crisis. Minimalist but supportive enough for pronators? Lightweight for 5Ks but durable enough for the marathon? I had no idea when or where to run in the shoe.

So I wore it for everything except running. These shoes look so cool with jeans that I received compliments every time I wore them. Definitely attention-seeking. But could they perform? I took them out for their first tempo in April, and almost fell over half a dozen times. The shoelaces – pretty, blue, and ribbonlike – kept coming untied. And I double-knot my shoes. Every time. Heck, I even double-knot my kids’ shoes. You should see them trying to untie the laces…

So the Racer ST 5s were relegated to the closet until I went to Potomac River Running and got some lock-laces to replace the ribbons. Unfortunately, they were out of blue laces so Meghan suggested orange ones…as if the shoes didn’t scream loudly enough. Coincidentally, she had just raced a half marathon in the shoes and had no problems with the laces. Must be my (lack of) tying skills.



Lock-laces in place, the Racer ST 5s were ready for their next run. I decided they would make their debut at the Charlottesville Sprint Triathlon, since, with the lock-laces, they were ready for a tri anyway. The run course was on some quite technical trails, and they performed magnificently. There’s a lot of ground contact with these shoes, and they really gripped the trail well.

I decided to see how the Racer ST 5s performed on the road, taking them to the Firecracker 5K in Reston July 4th. Again, the large amount of ground contact really enabled me to get a good midfoot landing and strong pushoff, and the lightness helped me maintain a good turnover in those late tired-leg stages.

It’s bold and it has some identity issues, but the Brooks Racer ST 5 more than lives up to performance expectations.

By the way, the shoe is only available in men’s sizes…ladies, just size down 1.5 sizes. I wear a 7 in a women’s shoe…the 5.5 fits me perfectly.

Note that Brooks didn’t pay me to write this review and the opinions are my own.

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A Conversation with Chung Minh

“Hello, may I speak with Alison Gittelman?”
“Oh, good, this is Chung Minh.”
“I was given your number by [person’s name] regarding [something inaudible].”
“I’m sorry, who? It’s raining really hard here and I can’t hear you very well.”
“It’s about the shoe collection.”
“Oh, right, the Shoes for Africa! Yes, I’ve started a collection through my running club; we have about 50 pairs already.”
“Good, that’s enough for one box. Now please make sure you only have shoes that are sizes 7 to 11.5 and that none are very badly worn.”
“Sure, will do.”
“I will send you some boxes.”
“No need; I already have three. I ordered them online. So I guess I’m all set. I’ll just take them to UPS once they’re filled?”
“Yes. And I’ll probably be out your way soon. I always run the Leesburg 20K.”
“Oh, that’s a great race. I’m actually in Leesburg right now! Really bad storm here! Well, thanks for calling. What did you say your name was?”
“Jay Wind.”

I hear a CLUNK as the other shoe drops. I feel like a complete idiot. I’m talking with local running legend Jay Wind. Jay has run over 130 marathons with a PR of 2:27:25 at Boston in 1980, and runs over 100 races a year. He is director of the monthly Tidal Basin 3K, the indoor PVTC track meets, and Marathon Charity Cooperation races. And I thought he was a Vietnamese guy called Chung Minh.

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Shoe Review – New Balance Minimus Trail

This will be the shortest review in the history of shoe reviews. While I can squeeze my foot in the NB Minimus Trail, in an ugly stepsister – “It fits!” – fashion, it really doesn’t. Here’s why:

As you can see, my foot is wider than the shoe. Normally my wide feet don’t give me too many problems. I know I can’t wear Nike or Adidas shoes as those are always narrow, but I don’t generally have to order wide Brooks shoes, the brand I normally wear. But that’s because shoes stretch and flex. The NB Minimus Trail, however, has an inflexible rubbery piece that stretches across the top of the foot, just below the toes, and exactly where my feet are widest.

So I put the shoes on, hobbled around for a bit, and took them off. Fortunately, I am currently collecting shoes for Africa through the Perpetual Prosperity Pumps Foundation, a great organization that actually sells the shoes at an affordable price in Africa and uses the funds raised to provide families with tools and know-how to farm independently. So someone in Africa who doesn’t have wide feet like me can own a new pair of shoes!

50 pairs of shoes ready to be shipped. If only I could lift the box...

I’ve been collecting shoes through my running club, SRRC. It’s been very exciting to see the shoes pile up on my doorstep. I’m still collecting, so if you’re near South Riding, VA and have used athletic shoes that still have life in them, let me know and I’ll tell you where you can drop them off.

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