Tag Archives: Hipstamatic

Cyclography might just be too hazardous

5 Apr

I took a “sick day” yesterday because after several long hours and days and weeks at work, I needed a personal day to decompress.

My plan to laze away on the couch and watch baseball all day (thanks, Comcast MLB package!) was thwarted, though, by the guilt I felt when I looked outside and saw a sunny, 75-degree day.  Seriously, it was the best day of the year so far, an absolutely perfect day to be outside doing something fun.

Since I had run Cherry Blossom on Sunday and knew better than to run the day after a 10-mile race (see?  I’m learning!), I decided to take my bike out for a spin.

I’m so happy I did.

Heather and D? Cyclists in love

I started out nice and easy, biking down Rock Creek and veering on to Canal Street, stopping to take some photos and enjoy the sun and the views of the Potomac.  Then I got on to Capital Crescent Trail without any real plan of how far I should go.

I knew I wanted to do a long bike ride since I was in no hurry to get back but I thought I should probably only go 15 miles max.  It had been awhile since I had biked regularly and didn’t want to do anything stupid.

Speaking of stupid…taking photos while cycling?  Not the easiest thing to do.  I liked the results of my Hispatamtic experiment at the Cherry Blossom race, so I figured I’d go with that photo app again.

But balancing yourself using one hand and shooting from the hip while traveling at more than 15 mph is downright dangerous.  There’s a reason I’m a runographer and not a cyclographer.

Don't fall off...don't fall off...don't fall off...

The first few miles were tough, probably due to the wind and my lack of muscle memory on the bike.  I struggled to get any real speed and wondered after 5 or 6 miles if I should cut the ride short.

But then, just like when you’re running and something clicks, I started to feel good.  I pedaled faster and more efficiently and the sweat and heavy breathing became more manageable.  I reached Bethesda after about 10+ miles and turned around.

The way back was even better.

I was churning faster and faster and in my 15th mile, was really moving.  I looked at my watch and saw a pace of 2:58, which I calculated to be more than 20 mph!  Since I’ve never run that fast, obviously, and had never biked at this pace, I realized I was propelling myself faster than I had ever gone.  I biked that mile at a 3:07 pace, and paced 10 of my 20+ miles under 4:00 (over 15 mph).  I know I was going slightly downhill but I didn’t care, I felt like I was willing myself to move that fast!

At least I stopped for this shot

I kept going at a solid clip and made it back home at exactly 20.5 miles, having averaged 14.3 mph for the whole ride.

I felt great but, more importantly, confident that I’d be able to hold my own at the Charlottesville International Trtiathlon in June.

As long as I don’t try to take any photos during the race.


Groundhog Day at the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler

4 Apr

When I first ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 2009, I posted a time of 1:29:47.

That race was a pivotal moment for me since, at the time, it was the longest distance I had ever run and the first time I had ever run under a 9-minute pace.

History, it seems, has a way of repeating itself.

After not running it last year, I raced Cherry Blossom again yesterday and posted — yes, you guessed it —  exactly 1:29:47.

What are the odds?

Not one second off from my previous time.  What are the odds that that could happen?  I don’t think I could have hit that if I had tried to match the same time.

I didn’t go into the race thinking I would beat my course PR.  In fact, I had the same attitude I carried into the SunTrust Half last week and just wanted to enjoy myself and not have any ITBS pain.

Epod and I woke up at 5:30 AM and took the Metro down to the Mall.  I felt very excited to run the race again after missing last year’s to go to my best friend’s bachelor party (I gave my bib to a buddy) and had memories of my 2009 race, the run that changed the way I even thought about running.

Epod putting on her bib while we wait for the Metro

Ready to go

That was the race that made me feel like a real runner.  I had such a tremendous runner’s high that lasted days if not weeks that it probably led to my original ITB pain from overuse.  For days, I couldn’t not run.  I was out on the roads every day, pushing too hard, not being smart, and chasing that elusive high.  After a couple of weeks of increased workload, I felt pain in my left knee and realized I had aggravated my IT band.

Many miles later, I learned my lesson.  And yesterday was my reward.

I ran the beginning of the race extra slow, pacing the first 2 miles in a very easy 20:15.  Epod and I ran together for the most part, chatting and doing some fun people-watching.

Outta my way!


But after crossing back into DC on the Memorial Bridge, I felt great and pushed my speed into the low 8:20s and 8:30s over the next 7 miles.

As each mile came and went, I knew I had a shot at beating my course PR and decided if I was pain-free and felt good, I would go for it.

View of Memorial Bridge and Lincoln Memorial from Arlington

Cherry Blossoms at Hains Point

At mile 9, I looked at my Garmin and realized I would have to run exactly an 8-minute mile to match 1:29:47.  I knew I had the energy to try but if there was anything that would stop me, it would be the packed course.  I had been dodging runners left and right throughout the entire race and in the last stretch, it wasn’t showing any signs of thinning.Still, I buckled down and got to work.  My side was hurting and my legs were sore from the faster-than-expected turnover, but I told myself that if I didn’t try as hard as I could, I would be pissed at myself.  Just try, I told myself, and who cares what the clock says.

Chasing shadows

The last mile of the Cherry Blossom race course is lined with thousands of supporters, many with great signs (“You think this is hard, try dating ME”) and doling out high-fives and words of encouragement.  I busted ass up the hill and when I saw the finish line banner, I sprinted with everything I had.

I barreled that last mile in 8:05, plus the final .11 on my Garmin at a 6:40 pace.  I literally could not have run any faster.

I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and gasped for breath.  I walked a few steps after steadying myself and looked down at my watch.  1:29:49.  Two seconds? I thought.  I missed it by two seconds?

I would find out later, obviously, that my Garmin was off by those two seconds in my favor.  But at the time, all I could do was smile and shake my head.  I tried the hardest I could and made it close, so I was satisfied.

CB race medal

I picked up some water, a banana, a muffin, and my medal and met Epod by the Washington Monument.  We took some photos and shared stories of our respective race experiences (she also killed it, beating her course PR) before getting cold and going home.

Starting to freeze our asses off

After realizing I had matched my 2009 time, I thought about how I could have beat my course PR if I had just run one second faster.  By the same token, though, I also realized I could have missed my course PR if I had run one second slower.

Maybe next year, I’ll go for three in a row.

My first — and probably last — massage

31 Mar

“Did you get a happy ending?”

That’s what everyone wants to know when I tell them I got a massage last week.  A happy ending?  I would have settled for a non-neurotic beginning.

After buying a $50 massage off Living Social months ago, I promptly forgot about it until a few weeks ago when they sent me an email telling me the offer would expire at the end of March.  Not one to wash money down the tube, I made an appointment at Hela Spa in Chevy Chase for last Friday.  I had to take a day off work since there were so few appointments available.

Now, there’s something you need to understand.  I’m not a massage guy.  Not that I don’t like massages, but for me it’s like chocolate:  I won’t say no to it, I’m just not going to actively seek it out.

So when I got to Hela Spa, I really didn’t know the protocol of receiving a massage.  Was there something I needed to do ahead of time?  Should I talk to the masseuse in advance?  I promised myself to temper the neuroticism and enjoy it.

Apparently, easier said than done.

I arrived at Hela Spa early and was led to a dark waiting room where soft music played over the speakers.  After a few minutes, Erika came out and introduced herself as my masseuse.  When I had originally made the appointment, they told me I would be with Antonio.

“Oh, um,” I awkwardly stammered, “can I have a woman instead?”

My friend Hiller swears by male masseuses, saying their hands are stronger and so you get a better massage.  But I figured if I was going to have a stranger’s hands on me for an hour, I’d rather they belong to a woman.  I may not be homophobic, but my sore muscles might be.

I wish I had been this relaxed

I wish I had been this relaxed

Erika was very soft-spoken.  She led me to the massage room and closed the door.  There was a second where it was quiet and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to do something or say anything, so I no sooner did she close the door than I blurted out, “Do I take off my clothes now?”

She seemed a bit surprised and, I’d like to think, amused, and responded, “Why don’t we sit down and you tell me what you’d like first.”

This was the beginning of my internal conversation I had with myself even as I spoke to Erika.

Duh.  Way to go, dude, act like you’re with a prostitute.  Get it together.

I told her that I’m a “marathon runner” (Why did you say “marathon”, you idiot, wouldn’t “runner” have been enough?  You’ve only run two marathons, anyway) and so I’d like a sports massage.

She said she wasn’t a trained PT but would do the best she could and asked me to take off my clothes.  “All the way, even my underwear?” I asked.

(“All the way”?  What am I, 5 years old?)

The reason I said this was that I wanted to be perfectly clear.  What if I misunderstood her directive and she came back in, I was completely naked, and she screamed in horror?  That would, for lack of a better word, suck.

She informed me that it would be easier to work on my hips but added if I wasn’t comfortable it’d be fine.  No, I replied, that would be fine.

(You’re not at a nudist colony, she’s a professional, stop making this weird.)

She left the room and I got undressed quicker than a teenager in the 60s.

When I got to my feet, I stopped.  Should I take off my socks?  Or leave them on?  I wish I could explain my thought process better, but it went something like this: Taking socks off is a sign of intimacy and I’m not here to get my feet massaged.  I should leave them on to make Erika feel more comfortable.

I jumped under the covers, completely naked except for my black socks and waited for Erika to come back.  She walked in and said she’d start on my legs.

She took off the blanket from my left leg and paused.  I wish I had seen her face when she said to me, “I’m going to take your socks off now.”


Erika then proceeded to give me an amazing massage, working the legs, then the back, the shoulders, and, yes, even my feet (They do feet!  I had no idea).  I tried to relax, but of course I kept thinking of things throughout the entire massage, like:  I wonder if she likes me as a client.  Should I chit-chat with her?  Does she mind doing this?  I don’t think I could ever do this, my hands would get tired.  How much should I tip her?  Is $20 enough?

By the time she massaged my head at the end of the hour, I decided to tip her $30.  I hope that’s enough, I thought.

She finished promptly and told me to put my clothes back on.  She met me outside and asked how it felt.  “Great!” I said, hoping she didn’t mistake my enthusiasm for insincerity.

I settled my bill and left, my body relaxed while my mind raced.  I decided that while I do like massages, the stress on my mind was too taxing and I would probably not go back anytime soon.

Still, I hope she liked me.