july 4th weekend adventures and running

Happy Fourth of July from a train somewhere in Connecticut!  Eric and I headed up to New Haven, as my college roommate just moved up here for her post-doc!  (And by “just” moved here, I definitely mean “just”…she got here on Wednesday, and we arrived on Friday – brave soul, that Sara.)  This is the first time since college we’ve lived so close to one another, so I’m looking forward to being able to see her much more often.  Clearly taking advantage of that as soon as we could!  Friday also happened to be her birthday (welcome to your 30’s!  They’re not too bad, I promise), so piece of cake.

We arrived by train (God bless America and God bless Metro North because it’s so much cheaper than Amtrak…) and hung out for a bit before heading to the famous Frank Pepe pizza – we split a variety of pies, including the clam pizza.  Quite delicious, if I must say so myself.  Then we headed to Geronimo for margaritas.  I decided on a spicy passion fruit marg, which was made with jalapeno infused tequila.  My mouth was on fire!  Luckily, it was just hot enough to make me take little sips, but not so hot that I couldn’t drink it.  If you are ever in New Haven, Geronimo has delicious drinks, but beware of the spice!  We capped off the night at Cask Republic, where they have a bazillion beers.  I had City Steam’s Naughty Nurse – I hate the “naughty nurse” concept, but I felt like I had to get a beer with “nurse” in the name – it was pretty good!  The beverages added up over time, so luckily we got a soft pretzel and some fries to snack on.  Heading home was a good idea after that, and I slept quite well!  Saturday was spent hanging out, getting some brunch, then helping Sara and Scott unpack.  We made good progress, but now we’re headed back to the city – I have to work on Sunday, so my holiday weekend is cut a bit short.  #nurseproblems

photo 2

Happy birthday, Sara!!

photo 5
Eric is looking thrilled at the train station!

Of course, I squeezed in my running in the midst of all this fun! I kicked of everyone else’s version of the holiday weekend (aka Friday) with a long run.  Hal Higdon’s plan called for eight miles, which would be my first run over an hour since coming back from injury.  It almost seems too soon to be running that much (didn’t I just start running again?), but here we are.  My runs haven’t felt that great this week, and we had a softball Thursday night.  Playing catcher is kind of like doing eight million squats where you don’t feel it until the next day.  My hip/groin has also been a little more cranky than usual, so I’m keeping a close eye on that.  After some coffee, water, a banana with peanut butter, and some lunges/stretches, I headed out the door.  A little warm up walk, and away we went.

Eric had mentioned that it was sunny and a bit warm out, so I opted to run in Central Park where I could at least get some shade at times.  Plus, I haven’t run a full loop of Central Park in quite awhile, so I was looking forward to getting back to that.  As a last minute decision, I threw on my HR monitor – I don’t use it much, but I figured it might be good to help gauge my effort since I’m not totally sure about pacing yet, and hopefully I’ll be able to see a difference once I get a little more in shape.

I took it easy and paid attention to any pain I might have in my hip/groin.  Definitely felt a little tight in my lower back – it always feels tight when I wake up, and it’s hard to stretch.  No problems with my groin though, so thumbs up for that.  Took it easy around the lower loop and headed up Cat Hill.  Definitely felt the heat despite it only being 70 degrees.  Keeping an eye on my HR, I tried to pull back when I hit around 170 (oops), but it’s hard to do that on a hill because I also just want the hills to be over with!  Headed north in the park and down Harlem Hill – which means that you eventually have to go UP Harlem Hill – one of the toughest spots of the park, even though the climb is only about 1/3 of a mile.  I just tried to keep trucking, looking forward to being open up my stride and reap the rewards down the other side of the hill.  Always makes that climb worth it.

With the heat, I pondered grabbing a handheld water bottle, but there are plenty of water fountains in the park, so I opted to just stop when I felt like I needed a drink. Of course, I don’t love stopping because: 1. The clock doesn’t stop in a race and 2. Sometimes it’s harder to get moving again once you stop.  I almost stopped after about four miles to get a sip of water, but it’s hard for me to get back into a rhythm with the rolling hills on the west side of a park, so I didn’t want to stop until they were over.  This led me to a water fountain right around the six mile mark.

If you read my last post, I mentioned about how some cyclists were a bit unpleasant on my run.  The cyclist at this water fountain redeemed all the nastiness from yesterday – he had water bottles to fill up, but he let all the runners in line take a drink before he filled his bottles.  Thank you, cyclist sir.  I took a quick drink and headed for another loop to hit eight miles for the day.  Keeping my watch on the HR screen means that I don’t know what my pace is, which I like because I don’t obsess over it.  I don’t necessarily react to a change in HR as much as I would seeing a certain pace on my watch, so it keeps me somewhat in control.  The lower loop always seems to be a quick loop for me, and I definitely pushed the pace a bit as I entered my last mile.  I heard a guy huffing and puffing behind me as I ran in my last quarter mile – a 7:38 mile!  I’ll take it.  I know it’s not how you should finish a long run, but it made me feel strong and like the old Susan might be hiding in my legs somewhere…just needs some more work to fully come out.

Friday, July 3 – 8.04 miles in 1:05:20, avg pace of 8:07 (avg HR 171)

imageShould probably run slower.  But not too shabby.

This morning, I pondered getting up and heading out for a run before I heard everyone else stirring, but I think the beer dehydrated me a bit and I wasn’t keen on getting up to run.  Then it was time for brunch, which certainly requires some downtime before running.  I definitely pondered not running, but the chance of me getting up to run before work is slim to none, so away I went.  With limited knowledge about New Haven, I ran with my phone and figured out my route on the move.  (The beauty of running, that’s for sure.)  A bit of the run was in a park, but I spent a fair amount of time trying to reorient myself and figure out to add on some mileage for the out and back.  I definitely felt a bit sluggish, but that’s to be expected after being a little dehydrated and having brunch, right?  A five mile recovery run doesn’t exactly need to be the greatest thing ever, so I took it.  And I happened to pack my best red, white, and blue, so I got a few “Happy 4th!” comments from people I passed.  I like it.

Sunday, July 4 – 5.01 miles in 41:53, avg pace of 8:22

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Just a little run through the park.

photo 4
That RNR Dallas shirt certainly came in handy!  And I’ve had those running shorts since (about) 2001…

In an ideal world, I’d run about three miles tomorrow – but like I said, getting up before work really isn’t my thing (and would make for a really long shift…) and usually running after work feels like such a slog that it’s not really worth it/probably not helping training at all.  We shall see.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, but to all the nurses/doctors/retail/etc who have to work this weekend (but especially the nurses), I shall leave you with this video because it is hilaaaaaaaarious.  The world needs nurses.  Happy 4th!

2015 Enormous Elephant Run (London) Race Report

Greetings from way in the future!  It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to blog.  Last we heard, it was race week, and Eric and I were heading to London!  Well, we’ve been back for almost two weeks!  Between working those long shifts and wanting to spend the rest of my days outside/not in front of a computer, I haven’t really sat down to share the fun we had!

Mainly, the race fun.  Because if “fun” doesn’t describe running in an elephant costume, I don’t know what does.  On with the show!


For those unfamiliar with the Enormous Elephant Run, it’s a 5k/10k fun run to raise money  to support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  DSWT is (mainly) a elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.  They rescue elephants who have been orphaned as a result of poaching and raise them until they are old enough to return to the wild.  Elephants are prized for their ivory, and poaching is certainly not going anywhere despite cracking down on it.  With the elephant population dwindling, it’s so important to help save orphaned elephants. 


Lucky for us as non-morning people, the race didn’t start until 10:30am.  This gave us plenty of time to wake up and take advantage of the delicious breakfast that our hotel had.  A ridiculous line up of fruit (grapefruit and pineapple for the win), yogurt, muesli, pastries, sausage, eggs, potatoes, etc. etc.  SO GOOD and great for kicking off our days our playing tourist.  Not so great for right before a 5k, ha.  Eric had mentioned that he wanted to wake up early enough so that he could get a light breakfast in before the race – the “light” breakfast ended up involving at least two lemon muffins plus plenty of other food.  I eyed his plate, but restrained myself from commenting.  (Until now, ha!)

We left our hotel and headed to Clapham Common for the race – about 30-40 minus on the  tube + walking.  (For the record, I love London’s Underground system…it arrives often, is super clean, and very easy to use.)  It was a bit more of a chilly day than it had been, in the 50’s with the sun shining.  I didn’t appreciate the cooler temperatures en route to the race, but I was perfect once I put on the elephant suit!

We walked through the park (or the common?  Not sure what Londoners call these places…) and spotted tons of people out enjoying their Saturday.  Lots of outdoor workout classes and runners.  Post-race, Clapham Common was full of picnickers.  You know how to enjoy a good day, London.  We weren’t totally sure where we were headed, but we spotted tent with elephants on them and realized we must be in the right spot!  To get the full experience, I made sure Eric and I arrived with plenty of time to spare.  We arrived our around 9:30am for a 10:30am start – early enough to secure us low bib numbers!  Numbers 10 and 11 were ours, as were our elephant suits.  (It was a fun run, so no timing devices, etc.)

We zipped into elephant suits and did what anyone in an elephant suit would do – we took lots of pictures!  Selfies (we broke down and bought a selfie stick for this trip…), pictures with elephants, jumping pictures, pictures of Gatsby, etc etc.  The usual.

Here’s a taste:

IMG_9089 The jumping picture, obviously.

IMG_9108 Eric and me!

photo 1 (47) A bunch of elephants hanging around…

photo 2 (47)  Eric getting ready to run!

IMG_9077 And me too!

After hanging out for a bit and getting used to the elephant suits, the race directors called all the ellies (as the British seem to call elephants…) over for a warm up!  A local yoga instructor led us through some various stretches and exercises – including jumping jacks, squats, the gravevine, and the standard stretches for calves/quads/etc.  The race had a photographer on hand, so in case I ever wonder what I look like when doing a jumping jack in an elephant costume, I’ll have something to reference.  I’m the last full body in the front row on the left.  No idea what we’re doing…

Picture compliments of the Enormous Elephant Run.

After the warm up, we gathered for a group photo, as the race was attempting a Guinness World Record…they ended up with 292 runners in elephant costumes, although I admit I have no idea what the record is and if we beat it. 

Eric and I are somewhere in the middle/front…and pictures again compliments of the run!

After the warm ups, it was time to line up for the start.  The 10k started a few minutes before the 5k, so after lining up the 10k runners and doing a countdown, they were off!  Then the rest of us lined up…probably the first race in a long time that I didn’t have any starting line jitters – I suppose it’s hard to be nervous in an elephant costume…

photo 3 (25) Let’s get this show on the road!

After another countdown, we took off as fast as running in a herd of elephants would let us!  We headed up a slight hill and elephants were bopping all over the place.  (Note:  The head of the costume didn’t stay on top of your head very well, which I suppose it okay for ventilation purposes.)  We had no race plan other than to keep it easy for Eric and to stick together.  I told him to let me know when he wanted a walk break and that would be that.  It was a beautiful day for a ridiculously fun run, and that’s all that matters.

photo 4 (16) Look!  A little ellie!

We hung around 10 minute mile pace as the course took us on a paved path, a packed trail, and on the grass.  Clapham Common is a lovely park and it was fun to run through as other people were out working out/enjoying Saturday morning.  Volunteers pointed us in the right direction at the turns and yelled “Go ellies!!”  I could get used to the British speak – “ellie” is super cute.

Otherwise, Eric and I chugged along – my hip/groin seemed to feel fine, and Eric looked strong.  And I was having the time of my life!

photo 5 (6) Go Eric go!

photo 1 (48) It doesn’t get better than this…

photo 3 (26) Quite the clouds, London.

We took a few walk breaks here and there, which Eric would always end by saying, “Ready to run again?” and I would say, “I’m always ready!!”  ha.  The race even had some fun signs along the course…elephant-related, of course!

photo 2 (48) This is true.  And we enjoyed the water break.  Elephant suits are hot!

photo 4 (17) TRUNKS UP!

The course seemed to wind a bit throughout the park – wouldn’t be so great for running a PR, but entertaining for a fun run.  It was also cool to look across the park and see other elephants running…you don’t get to see that every day!

image Up down left right.

We rounded the final corners and headed back for the big red arch – the finish line!  Eric was still holding strong, and we certainly cheesed it up a little bit at the end…

I think we look happy?  haha.

The course was a little short, coming in at about 2.9 miles – oops!  But it was a fun run and we’ll call it a win.  30:34 – that’s a costume run PR, right?

image Splits on splits.

We received a medal after crossing the finish line which will hang proudly next to all those marathon medals I’ve got…

IMG_9200 We did it!

And because if you didn’t notice, Gatsby actually ran the whole way as well.  In an elephant costume of his own.  OBVIOUSLY.

photo 5 (7) You go, Gatsby.

When Eric and I finally decided to do the run, I had the great idea of Gatsby having an elephant costume of his own…because an elephant in an elephant costume would be so good, right?  Of course, I’m not that crafty (my mom has made all of Gatsby’s clothes), so she took apart a beanie baby, made it a little bit smaller, and added some elastic to the front.  Gatsby was the coolest kid in London on race day!

photo 2 (49)Just hanging with my elephant.  In elephant costumes.

We hung out for a bit before heading out for brunch…with elephant costumes draping over our necks.  Luckily, they’re pretty compact, so they fit well in our suitcases.  I secretly wanted TSA to open a suitcase just to find an elephant costume sitting on top…I’m not totally sure what we plan to do with the elephant costumes, but if anyone needs something for Halloween (or your next marathon?), let me know!

So in short, we had so much fun running in elephant costumes!  It was a fun way to get Eric to try running for a bit – running a 5k was all his idea (surprisingly not mine!), but the fun run in an elephant costume kept the pressure off.  (Good for me since I just started running post-injury!)  Eric said he would do another 5k, so I might have to hold him to that one. ;)   If you’re in a running slump, working to get someone to try running, or just want something different, I definitely recommend a fun/costume run – this PR chasing girl had a great time!

On a super positive note, the race raised over 50,000 pounds (that’s a lot more in dollars!) to help the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in their super important work.  If you’re looking for other ways to help, you can run the next elephant run in Manchester on July 25th (if you’re in England…or just want an excuse for a trip!) or simply donate or adopt an orphaned elephant!

Don’t tell me you can resist this face…

Picture from the Enormous Elephant Run.  Cuteness totally belongs to the elephant.

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