Tag Archives: sports

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler- Part 1

I ran the Cherry Blssom 10 miler this past Sunday.  And it was amazing! I finished in 1:24:18 and am more than thrilled.  But first, a GIANT thank you to Lauren who transfered her bib to me.  I’m so hapy I was able to run and hopefully next year we’ll be able to race together.

I’ve had a pretty hectic week – lots of travel.  Since I was in Pittsburgh, I had planned on driving my mother to the airport so she could fly home to NY on Saturday morning and then I would head back to DC.  But breakfast went longer than planned and I started to worry that I wouldn’t make it back in time for the expo so Pete was nice enough to take my mother to the airport so that I could drive straight home.  Which worked out really well since Pete got home to Bethesda around 5pm, and I was able to go pick up my bib and t-shirt.

Saturday night I packed on the carbs.  I love eating the night before the race.  We made angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, garlic bread, and green beans.

I tried to go to bed early that night, but if anyone knows me they know I’ve got my sleep issues.  I went to sleep around 12:30, and woke up every hour on the hour.  It didn’t help that Pete was up until 4 am.  Which means Fox was up too.  We’re such night owls here.  Well I was out of bed at 5:20am, and since I laid out everything I needed the night before I got ready quickly.  Since Pete’s coming to the Pittsburgh Marathon in a few weeks he was off the hook for Cherry Blossom.  His sole responsibility was taking my picture (while he was half asleep in bed) before I left the house.

5:55 a.m. pre-race

I had planned on meeting up with my running group beforehand, but it was a bit chaotic once I stepped off the metro and I had a hard enough time finding the baggage check tent so it was pretty much out of the question to find my group.  Instead I settled into my Orange sectioned area and went into total focus mode.  I’ve competed in sporting events enough in my life to know how to go into a zone where you feel like you are the only person around.  So imagine my surprise when, in the middle of my meditation, I hear “Rory?” and turn to my left to see my childhood best friend – a girl who I haven’t seen in years!

To be continued….


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Move over running, it’s time to go curling

Maybe it’s a combination of being slightly injured but also my love for all things Olympics, I’ve developed a crush on a new sport/game: curling. Not only did I spend my weekend watching the game (and asking Pete what they were doing every 10 seconds), I actually got to partake in a little curling myself on Sunday. Our curling team originally began as 4, but unfortunately Pete was called to work at the last minute. Pete and I showed up to the Hilton Garden Inn for the USA Olympic Curling Expo around 1pm where there were four curling sheets set up. We were told it would be a 2.5 hour wait so we put our names on the list, called our friends Kate and Noah, and told them to be downtown in 2 hours – they’re sometimes a little late so we figured it was safer to say 2 😉 Of course it ended up to be only an hour and half wait and by that time Pete was gone, but my other team members/opponents had arrived in his place.

The Next Big Thing in Curling

Full and youth size stones

So, curling is awesome! It’s also really difficult, especially if you use a regulation size stone. Luckily for me and my scrawny arms I was allowed to use the junior stone. Because I had been watching the game on tv for all of two days I felt that I was qualified to be an expert and therefore looked down upon some of the other players who were throwing the stone incorrectly. Kate called me a purist. I thought that was a very nice term.

It turns out that I really wasn’t so bad. In fact, none of us were. With the “help” of our curling coach (who we later learned had never played the sport and just worked for the hotel) we were able to navigate our way on the ice (plastic) and if I’m correct we each won at least once. I wish we could have played longer because I was totally getting into the feel of things. But alas our turn was up and it was time to go home. But my curling weekend wasn’t over yet. Later that afternoon the US curling team played Great Britain. Having now tried it out for myself I can appreciate the game. Too bad I don’t think it will count for cross training.

Curling in DC

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Riding v. Running: Part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the parallels between riding and running, and they may seem like two completly different sports – and they are – but I’m begining to notice similarities: horse shows and race, the importance of inner stregnth and physical stregnth.  So I’m thinking this might make a good series.  Todays topic: Equitation on the flat classes v. race traffic.


Not in a show ring. Just hacking around with Charlie

For those of you not necessarily familiar with the equestrian world, I’ll try to make it simple: Growing up we generally competed in equitation and hunter.  So in equitation you are judged on you, as a rider, and how well put together your horse is – horse should be in a frame, your body should remain poised, ect.  Look pretty.  In hunter classes your horse is the one that must look beautiful – nice gait, relaxed neck, ect.  In jumping classes you take your horse over a set of…that’s right, jumps.  In a flat class, or under saddle, you join usually everyone else in your class (unless the classes are huge and then you get broken up).  Walk, trot, canter, turn on the haunches, sitting trot…you get the idea.  I used to love this.  Not to brag too much, but I always walked out of the ring with a top ribbon.  I have the perfect body/style in equitation, and all of my horses excelled too.  Hunter classes not so much.  I’ll leave that to the rest of Breakaway to win.


I’ve always had horses with good temperaments in the ring; even Wally, my ex-racehorse.  He needed to kick his back leg out before we walked into a ring and then he was on.  Some girls had to worry about their ponies or horses acting up.  I never did.  A flat class always became a puzzle for me.  The goal was to pass in front of the judge as many times as you could.  Staying on the rail was never a good strategy.  Instead lots of circles need to be made.  Passing on the inside.  Make sure you stay away from that mare with her ears pinned back.  Lengthen your stride here.  But always collect and look poised when passing the judge.  Love it!


starting line at Pittsburgh

I first noticed this in Pittsburgh, and then I realized the correlation at the MCM.  The first two miles of a road race are a lot like a flat class.  There are obviously no horses and judges, but there’s a lot of dodging around people, planning how to pass the two joggers up ahead, lengthening or shortening your stride so that you can jump up on to the sidewalk.  Be careful of that walk-runner, who will suddenly start walking after running briskly for 3 minutes.  That’s your stubborn pony who’s decided enough is enough.  Then there’s always that runner – just making a slightly better pace than you – who becomes your competition.  As the race goes on the crowds on the roads begin to thin out and you settle into more of a steady pace.  But the first two miles will always resemble a flat ring for me.  I’m sure I’m the only one who sees the resemblance between the two but that’s fine with me.  Anything that takes me back to my horse show days.


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Race Report: Marine Corps Marathon 10K

RR: I spent the night before my race out late, at a horse show, and didn’t get into bed until around 1 a.m.  Big difference from my marathon in May where I was in bed by 10 p.m. And just like almost every other runner, I had quite the restless sleep.  Nevertheless when my alarm when off at 5:30 a.m. my adrenaline kicked in, I threw on my race clothes and warmed up by running uphill to the metro.  I have to say that one of my favorite parts of this day was my metro ride – a trip I usually hate because I’m prone to motion sickness.  What a sight to jump into a metro car at 6 a.m. on a Sunday that is filled with runners.  And boy did we have fun.  Sat next to a guy who had come up all the way from Orlando to run his first 26.2.  Met some women who do this race every year.  And everyone had questions about my legs.  Oh, did I mention?  I was taped up – all bondage-esque, the day before at the expo with KT Kinesio Tape.  The stress fracturkttapees in both tibias may be healing, but they cause a great deal of pain.  But somehow, and don’t ask me how because I have no idea, this Japanese chiropractic technique does wonders to my legs.  It may look a little strange, but it works so what do I care.

Arrived at the Mall to a sea of runners; stretching, huddling together (did I mention it felt 10 degrees cooler in DC than in N. Bethesda?)  The lines for the porta pottys (sp?) were ridiculous, and after wasting ten minutes just standing in line and not moving any closer I decided my time would be better spent stretching.  So I checked my bag, found a bench, and entered into a very meditative state of stretching that I always seem to go into before a race or a horse show.  And then the next thing I knew it was time to begin.

I positioned myself near the 50:00 sign.  In truth my goal was to make it in under an hour.  Before my injury I was shooting for an 8:40 or so mile.  But many things have changed in the past few months, and in all honesty I really wasn’t even sure I’d ever really run again – at least not like I had.  My body had been going through so much, and my mind had become so used to defeat from the pain, that I figured I’d just see if I could make it under 60:00 and maybe that’d be it for my running career.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

6.2 miles went pretty darn fast.  I spent the first two in what I like to refer to as “equitation flat class mode”.  In a show ring, in a flat class, you have to fight to be seen by the judges.  Not only are you trying to look pretty and have your horse move well, but you need to cut in and out, strategize from halfway around the ring, to figure out how to position yourself.  I was always great at this.  And I always won those classes.  I find that the first 2-3 miles in any race are quite similar.  You have to maneuver around the slower runners, cut in between two others, jump over a pothole.  I don’t know why, but I have so much fun doing this.  And it’s great too because usually these are the worse miles in my long runs.


The course was ok.  Personally, I think the 26.2 is much more beautiful.  This was kind of blah but it goes by quickly.  At about 3-4 miles I came up a hill and saw a man, military although I can’t remember which branch, running with a prosthetic…and running at about my pace.  A guy in front of me turns around and says to me, “well there’s really no complaining now, is there.”  And that was it for me.  No complaining about my shins.  There’s no room for that in this world.  If this man can run, then there’s absolutely no question about my capabilities.  I lengthened my stride and moved on.

There were more moments like this.  But they’re personal and I’ll keep them to myself.  But I will say that one of the reasons I enjoy running is because I find it to be a mental battle.  I compete against myself.  I fight my mind.  It’s a very cleansing experience.  My last mile was probably the hardest.  I resisted all urges to check my Nike+ the whole race.  I know that it is never completely accurate.  Coming through the last stretch, with all the marines lined up, shouting and giving high fives – well that was pretty cool.  I knew I was close.  Just one more turn…And then I turned.  Maybe that was my fault for not reading up on the course more ahead of time.  But who knows, maybe if I knew that giant (because that’s what it seemed to me) hill was going to be there I would have been dreading it and then not have enjoyed the race.  Either way, just when I thought I had given my last burst of energy I was now going to have to double it.  A man next to me, military I presume but out of uniform, transformed into drill sergeant and began yelling at his girlfriend.  Yelling is totally not the right word here, because it was very endearing and motivating and he was only filled with good intentions.  I could tell from his tone.  But apparently his girlfriend wasn’t having any of it.  She was having a tough time getting up the hill and told him to stop.  So I turned to him and told him he could bark at me.  And he did.  And what a difference that made.  I needed that extra little boost.  I don’t think I could take that from anyone I knew, but for some reason a stranger acting like a drill sergeant made my legs start to move faster and I left the couple in the dust (or I like to think I did at least). 

I crossed the finish line and entered what I like to call runners daze.  It’s a drunk-like/amnesia type of state.  I usually just wander around as people hand me water and bananas and such.  I thought a marine offered me clam chowder, which I really wasn’t in the mood for after a run, but I accepted anyway.  Turns out he said “chow” and it was a bag full of nutritious food.  My daze usually stops shortly after I find Pete.  I don’t know why I go into this state but I do.  I always laugh about it later, but at the time I don’t really notice.  I found Pete about 20 min later, with his video camera and tripod in hand.  He gave me a hug and started asking me questions (he missed me crossing the finish line unfortunately).  A few minutes into my ramble about the race I realize the camera is on and he’s been shooting me the whole time.  Great.  I probably look like a crazy person, sweating, bright red with more and more freckles starting to come out, darting my eyes everywhere.  I have yet to see the tape. Thanks Pete.mcmsweat

My chip time was 54:13.  I ran an 8:44 mile.  I got my PR.  My previous best had been a little over 57:00, so I’m obviously thrilled.  What’s even better is when I put it all into perspective: For someone who has been battling multiple stress fractures and debilitating shin splints for months (not to mention tendonitis in both calves due to these injuries) and hasn’t really trained that hard for this (I’ve been running about 2x a week for a few weeks. 20 min here.  a few miles there. Hardly anything) and then to go and run like this, well it shows that I can do this.  I can do Pittsburgh in May.  After all, there is no complaining anymore.

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Stress Fractures – posted on 8.20.09

August 20, 2009 by aamatth

Ok, giving this another shot here…I’m still fluxuating on what this blog will focus on, but today I’m going with running.  Quick little background for all 0 of you reading this, while training for a marathon in mid-June I began experiencing intense pain in both of my lower legs.  After a few weeks of continuing to run through this mind-blowing pain I eventually was forced to seek immediate medical attention when I could no longer walk.  Turns out I’ve got multiple stress fractures in both tibias, along with tendinitis and a calf strain.  And so for the past 5 weeks I’ve abstained from running – which has been another battle in its own since running has created a discipline that keeps me “on track” and has been a constant in my life for 3 years.  So I’ve taken up pilates, swimming, and extended my cycling workouts.  And I’ve actually started to enjoy my new routines, especially (and most surprisingly) the swimming.  But needless to say, it’s been 5 weeks and I’m ready to return to my training.

I’ve run slightly here and there the past 2 weeks (3 minutes to 6 minutes at a time, no more than10 minutes total) but that even hurts tremendously a few hours later.  I saw two doctors yesterday, did more x-rays, and was informed my bones have not yet healed and I’ll be sidelined for a few more weeks.

Moral of the story: if it hurts, STOP!

The other moral: It’s also not the end of the world.  And I’ve picked up another activity that I enjoy.

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