Danger! Zombies! Run! 5K (2013)

IMG_20131027_110008_669Kurt and I have run this race for the past two years. It’s always so much fun. This year, however, it didn’t look like we’d be running. After I got back from the Zooma Half Marathon, I did something to my back.

The Thursday before the race, it had been almost two weeks since I’d run. I tried to run on the treadmill at the gym, but stopped after only a quarter of a mile. My back pain had pretty much gone away, until I tried to run. Running hurt, so I rode the stationary bike instead. Again.

That night, Kurt asked if I thought I’d be able to do the Zombies 5K. I told him I really didn’t think so, since I hadn’t even been able to run 1/4 mile that morning. He seemed pretty disappointed. I told him he could run, but he said that wouldn’t be any fun.

I rested on Friday, and tried to run again on Saturday. It hurt, but not nearly bad as it had a few weeks ago, or even just two days ago. I ran 3 miles. As soon as I got home, I told Kurt I’d run with him if he still wanted to do it. He definitely did!

We went to Goodwill to look for costumes. Right away, I found a plaid skirt and decided I’d be a school girl zombie. I went in search of a white button down shirt.

Kurt found a Grateful Dead shirt and decided to be a hippie.

We stopped at Target and picked up some knee socks and hair ribbons for me. And finished our shopping at the Halloween Store, where Kurt got a wig and some sunglasses.

We washed our costumes, and then stained them with tea and ripped them up.

Sunday morning, we got to the race pretty early because we still needed to register. I was randomly given bib #420, which really should have gone to my hippie husband.

We had some time to kill while we were waiting for the race to start, so we took some goofy pictures.

IMG_20131027_075514_501IMG_20131027_075631_886IMG_20131027_075906_805IMG_20131027_081921_442(1)And then met up with all our fellow zombies at the starting line.

IMG_20131027_082251_338The humans start first. They all have red ribbons taped to their backs. Ninety seconds later, the zombies are let loose, to try to catch and kill the humans (by collecting their ribbons). The race shirts this year said “zombies love fast food”, which I thought was pretty clever.

The race course is hilly, which I think is perfect for a Halloween themed race (more of a trick than a treat).


IMG_20131027_090652_216I don’t really know why, but I always think it’s a lot of fun to run through town wearing a costume.

Everybody loved the hippie zombie.

IMG_20131027_090443_918The temperature was barely above freezing, so a nice hot cup of coffee from Mudhouse was exactly what this school girl zombie needed after the race.

IMG_20131027_110413The awards ceremony was pretty disorganized, and rushed. Not too many people stayed for it, anyway.

Awards were given out to the first over-all zombie and human finishers, the zombies with the most kills, and best costume male and female adult and children.

They had a few extra awards, so they made up or extended some of the categories until they were out of prizes. The prizes were things like a bloody rubber foot, a ghoul on a stick and headless skeletons.

These two won the best costume awards.


A look back:



IMAG0138We’re thinking next year we might try to coordinate our costumes.

Old Rag Hike

There is one good thing about not training for a fall marathon. I have the time and energy to get in some fall hiking. I’m really trying to stay positive about this whole not running thing.

It was 35 degrees and dark when I left my house at 5:50. I stopped for coffee and made it to the base of Old Rag a little after 7.

IMG_20131021_070253_181The moon was so bright. I thought it would have been really nice if I’d arrived early enough to do the hike by moonlight and watch the sunrise from the peak.

I’m not sure I’d be up for a solo night hike, though. It’s too bad my friend Rebecca moved to the other side of the country. She’s the only person I could think of who might be willing¬† to do that with me.

I hadn’t realized just how late the sun has been coming up these days. If I’d arrived any earlier, I would have been hiking in the dark.

The upper parking lot by the trailhead is closed, and there’s no parking anywhere along the road, so everybody has to park in the lower parking lot.

From there, it’s slightly less than a mile of road walking to reach the upper parking lot and trailheads. I always hike up the Ridge Trail, meet up with the Saddle Trail at the summit, and connect with the Weakley Hollow Fire Road to make a circuit that begins and ends in the upper parking lot. This seems to be the most popular route, although hikers wanting to avoid the rock scramble can do an out and back on the Weakley Hollow and Saddle Trails.


IMG_20131021_082415_984Old Rag is famous for the huge rock scramble of boulders along its ridge.

IMG_20131021_082608_397I couldn’t have asked for a prettier day.

IMG_20131021_082939_609IMG_20131021_083221_417There are several false peaks, but you know you’ve reached the top when you see this sign.

IMG_20131021_090026_180The view from the top.

IMG_20131021_090349_274One of the perks of starting so early in the morning is having the entire mountaintop to myself.


IMG_20131021_090038_327I met my first fellow hikers just before the Byrd’s Nest day shelter on my way back down. They were three older ladies. I’m guessing they were at least in their late sixties. I’m pretty sure the leader was in her seventies. I was just thinking how cool that was, when one of the ladies looked at me wide-eyed and asked “You don’t mind hiking by yourself?”. I told her I did not. “I love that.”, she said.

So I guess we were all impressed with each other for different reasons.

IMG_20131021_095037_545Once you reach the Weakley Hollow Fire Road, it’s an easy (but long) stroll back to the upper parking lot.


IMG_20131021_103609_166From there, it’s the same road walk, but in the opposite direction, back to the lower parking lot.

IMG_20131021_104253_970Even on a Monday morning, I met a steady throng of people heading out as I was making my way back.

I changed clothes and was driving back to Charlottesville by 11 am, which left me plenty of time to do some shopping and clean the house.

Total Hike Distance: 9 miles
Walking: yes
Biking: no
Dogs: no
Kid-friendly: possibly for older kids with hiking experience
Wheelchair/Stroller Accessible: no
Fee: $8 per person ($5 in winter months) or valid park pass

Elevation Gain: 2429

old rag elevationYou can watch an interesting video about hiking Old Rag put out by the National Park Service here.

Directions from Charlottesville:
Take 29 north toward Madison. Once you pass Madison County High School on your right, start looking for 231 North on your left. Turn left onto 231 North, once you are through downtown Madison, bear left to stay on 231. Continue for about 13 miles. You will see a brown sign for Old Rag Mountain on the right side of the road. Turn left onto Nethers Rd. Keep left to stay on Nethers Road for about 3.5 until you come to the grassy parking lot on your right.

ZOOMA Cape Cod Half Marathon (September 28, 2013)

IMG_20131004_143435_230Leading up to Race Day:

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been having a hard time with my running lately.

In fact, I stopped writing about my training because I was so far off schedule and extremely frustrated that the more I trained, the slower I seemed to get.

My last long run, which happened a week before this race, was 11 miles shorter than it was supposed to be and I was actually in tears for the last three miles. It was bad.

Driving home from that run, I was seriously considering not running the ZOOMA Half Marathon at all.

But I had really been looking forward to it. I am originally from Cape Cod (or thereabout). Almost all of my extended family still lives there. So, in addition to running with my cousins and my sister, the trip would also serve as a family reunion of sorts. I didn’t want to miss out.

Interestingly, none of the family members actually running the race still live there, though.

My cousin Kristen was driving in from just outside of Boston and my cousin Jess was flying in from Maryland. My sister was flying in from NC. I was driving up from Virginia. I hate flying. If it is remotely possible to drive, I always choose to drive.

I was having a hard time with the idea of running another sub-par race. But, when I thought about it, I knew that I would much rather run slowly than not run at all. I was frustrated with myself for getting so hung up on time. I used to just run because I loved running. Why couldn’t I go back to doing that again?

So, that was my plan.

I was just going to run. I wasn’t going to worry about my time.

I didn’t even bring my Garmin with me.

Friday night:

I met Kristen and Jess at Aunt Alice’s house in Wareham and we rode to Falmouth together.

We were spending the night at the host hotel, the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, which was where the race would start and finish. The hotel was also the site of the race Expo and after party.

We met up with my sister at the expo. The expo was kind of small, but packet pick-up was easy and we got some really nice swag.


I love the water bottle and yoga mat. The necklace in the picture is actually the finisher’s medal. It has “ZOOMA 2013” inscribed on the back.

The rooms were nice, and we had a spectacular view of the ocean.

1381557_10201486226891306_1208437053_nAfter dropping our stuff off in our room and admiring the view for a while, we went into town for dinner.

Race Day:

Everybody set their alarms for 6am, but I was up before that. I went down to the lobby and got some coffee, then made my way outside to get a look at the ocean.

Old Silver Beach is beautiful. It has white sand and crystal clear water. I will never understand why my family goes all the way down to Myrtle Beach every year when they have a far superior beach (in my opinion) so nearby.

Once everybody was up, we all went down to the beach and found somebody to take our picture.


IMG_20130928_070639_118-fixJen (my sister) took off to do a warm-up run and Kristen made her way over to the start for the 10K.

It was Jess’ second half marathon and she’d run a 2:05 at her first one. She was hoping for a PR. We found the 2 hour pace group, which seemed like a reasonable place for both of us to start.

IMG_20130928_072141_212It was a beautiful morning for a run, even though it was unseasonably warm. Jess and I couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was.

At about mile three, there was a little out and back with a wide open view of the water at the turnaround. We saw Jen already on her way back as we were heading out to the turnaround.

I couldn’t believe how good I was feeling! It was by far the best I’d felt during a race in a long, long time. The middle miles were mostly on a nice, tree-lined bike path. I was thankful for all the shade.

I was also excited to try the new Salted Caramel Gu that I was carrying in my fuel belt. I had been looking everywhere for this new flavor, but wasn’t able to find it anywhere in Charlottesville. My sister was nice enough to take one of my Espresso Loves in exchange for one of her Salted Caramels so I could try it.

IMG_20130929_172248_419It was delicious.

The later miles were mostly through quaint, Cape Cod neighborhoods. There were a lot of rolling hills, which actually felt good. I live in Charlottesville. I’m used to hills. Jess and I were passing everybody.

It was the first time in a long time that I hadn’t started out too fast. I’d forgotten how good it feels to pass people in the final miles. I’d become all too accustomed to being one of the ones getting passed.

Anybody think I’ll remember this lesson for my next race?

It was nice to see my Aunt Mary, Uncle Bill and Aunt Kathy all cheering for us at the finish.

We crossed the finish line together in 1:53:10 and 1:53:11 (me). Jess had bettered her PR by more than 10 minutes!

I was the only one in our group who didn’t run a PR.

Jess said that I slowed down to run with her, but it¬†was the fastest half marathon I’d run in a long time. If I hadn’t run with her, I probably would have started out too fast, and she probably would have come flying by me in the final miles. So I think we actually both helped each other. But, it doesn’t really matter. I had fun running with her and I was just so happy to know that running could actually feel good again!

We met back up with Jen and Kristen, who had both done really well.

photo 2It was Kristen’s first 10K and she totally rocked it.

Jen had run fast and ended up placing 10th overall in the Half.

We made our way down to the water.

IMG_20130928_094305_571After the post-race photo shoot, Jen and Kristen headed straight for the free drinks.

IMG_1179And Jess and I went for a swim.

IMG_1176photo 3We’re such big kids. The water felt so good, though.

We had a Champagne toast on the beach.

IMG_1182I’m so happy we all got to run together. I’m hoping this becomes an annual thing.

Thanks Kristen, Jess and Jen!

Family Time:

Aunt Mary and Uncle Bill were nice enough to host a cook-out so the whole family could get together after the race.

Everybody brought some sort of baked good. There was a table overflowing with every kind of sweet treat you can imagine. Restocking my glycogen stores was not a problem.

We took group photos of my generation

IMG_1190(1)and the youngest generation.

IMG_1201(1)I wish we’d gotten one of the older generation, too.

**Many of the pictures I used came from my Uncle Bill, Aunt Kathy and sister Jen. Thanks, guys!