Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Hate the EpiCenter. It's Personal and it Knows What it Did!

The Charlotte EpiCenter (crapicenter) opened sometime last year and is an 'entertainment mecca' in downtown (yeah, I said it, DOWNtown) Charlotte. It's a mostly white stucco structure (hate white) that houses various bars and restaurants on 3 levels. Not interesting, unique bars and restaurants, but your average cheesy, cookie-cutter ones, i.e. a sports bar, a piano bar, a redneck bar (complete with mechanical bull). They've been having free concerts on Thursdays and Saturdays to attract people. The concerts are on temporary stages set up in the breezeways of the building. Bands like Who's Bad the Michael Jackson cover band, Vanilla Ice and Cowboy Mouth have played at the crapicenter.

I've gone twice. Once to the piano bar, which was packed with people I don't want to associate with and once to the sports bar which was packed with people who looked like the people I went to high school with that I don't want to associate with. It's too 90210 meets The Hills. A lot of plastic stuffed into short hoochie outfits.

So why can't I just leave it alone and be content to not go. It's because I feel like Charlotte missed a huge opportunity with this thing. Charlotte has no real stroll district and has lost all of it's southern charm. When I say southern charm, I don't mean small town feel or redneckness (btw Charlotte hasn't lost the redneck element!). I mean a charming stroll district like river street in Savannah. A strip with old brick warehouses that were converted into shops and bars. With cobblestone streets and kiosks full of handmade goods. Sidewalk cafes. No cars allowed on weekends. I wonder if this project had been started after the economy hit the skids if it would have been scaled down to something cool like a stroll district.

A friend of mine argued that Charlotte was going for more big city with this crapicenter and wanting something to lure big city people to it. (I'm sure it was just tax revenue they were going for) But when I've traveled to Chicago, New York, DC, Atlanta, I've never been to anything this cheesy. I've always hit more local, neighborhood pubs. That too me is the way to experience a big city.

The crapicenter is a very popular destination, but I think it's just because that's where everyone is and it's still new. I bet most people who go don't like it either, but like sheep they have to go with the flock. Ridiculous.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Monday - swim & spin class, Tuesday - lift & run, Wednesday - swim & run, Thursday - lift & run, Friday - swim, Saturday - run & lift, Sunday - yoga. Every week. Every month. And then one morning you wake up and you're 36. 36? Really. So usually I'm excited and ready to celebrate. This year is different. This year I'm noticing that I can't do as much as I used to be able to do. Can't stay out as late. Can't run as many days. Can't drink as much. Can't eat as much salty food without swelling up and I swear I'm having hot flashes!

My times this year have also been off from last year. I ran the Polk 5K yesterday and finished in 26:04. Last year I ran a 25:41. I did manage to take 2nd in my age group this year. Yeah, there weren't too many in my age group there! It was a good race though. I always forget how many hills there are on this course. I ran into a guy from the running club, it was his first race. Before the race, I told him it was a great race with few hills. When I got into mile two, I knew he was cursing my name.

The race does start out flat. For the first mile it's flat and I ran about an 8:06 mile. In the second mile there's a large, long hill. It's probably in the top 5 highest I've seen. I managed to get to the 2 mile marker at 16:34. The third mile has a hill that's pretty close in steepness to the first hill, but not nearly as long. The last half mile is completely flat, but I had no energy left to kick it in.

The prize for 2nd in my age group was a nice aluminum water bottle. It's pretty cool and I'm glad they're finally giving out things we can actually use. Though I do love my little trophies!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Cried, Ran, Ached, Laughed

(cried) Yes, Mooresville is quite a haul from my place! And I hit traffic. I really, really hate traffic. I know everyone does, but I hate it more than them! I headed out around 5:20 to make the 43 mile trek up I-77. Bad move. Apparently back roads are faster. I hit a bad patch of traffic at the I-485 interchange where 3 lanes try to merge into 2 already crowded lanes. Love Charlotte DOT. Ugh! Then my gas light came on. So had to pull off at the next exit and fill up. Ha! It was crazy getting in and out and I had to pull a few 'Charlotte moves' and piss some people off to achieve my objective. Once I got back on I hit another bad patch before getting to my exit. I went through some somewhat scary sections of small town America and finally arrived at downtown Mooresville at about 6:30. It's cute and quaint and reminded me a little of Albemarle, NC but without the mountains. With only one bar open.

(ran) The races were great. Very informal, but with timing chips. The start felt more like an old Sharksbite timed run than a race. We started the one mile a little after 7pm and headed up main street. It was hot! The sun was still out and it was about 93 degrees. The course isn't completely flat. You start out going up a small incline, then it levels out, you get a small decline and then some leveling, then a nice downhill when you turn the corner at about the half mile mark. Then you get a small incline, a tiny hill, a little flat and then the ending is up a small incline. Tough to kick it in at the end. The one mile race I ran a 7:51. I was pretty happy as it was pretty tough. The two mile I ran a 17:07 which I was really happy about because it was pretty brutal. The three mile race I was pretty much wiped out at the start. It had gotten cooler and little breeze kicked up as some serious looking clouds rolled in. I decided to just jog this one out. It was a good call. I was dying after the first loop! After the second loop, I couldn't believe I had one more to go. You don't think three miles is long until you do the same one mile loop three times! I don't know what my time was but I know I was just shy of ten minute miles.

(ached) After the second race I felt a strange ache in my left hamstring. It felt like a knot in the middle towards the left side. Luckily I have a massage scheduled today and can get it rubbed out. This was my fourth day in a row of running which is not something I normally do. I was aching in my ankles and knees after the last race. It was tough to get to sleep later that night with out Advil.

(laughed) This was a very social event. There was time between the races to meet people or talk to people you know. I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends who came to run. I even ran into a guy I met on the way back from Cincinnati. He was there with his brother but only ran the 2 mile race. He came in second. Fast guy. I stayed and had dinner at a nice place called Soiree with a couple of friends from the running club.

You see something new at every race you run. This time I was surprised to see people take water on the course at the halfway mark of the ONE MILE race. Really? Couldn't go the whole mile without water? Maybe they just like free stuff?

I already signed up to run this next month. I'm hoping to carpool next time with someone who knows the back roads.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Night at the Races

Tonight I'm venturing to the exciting town of Mooresville, NC. Rock on! 40 miles north of where I live to NASCAR country. Downtown Mooresville will host 3 running races tonight. A one mile race, followed shortly by a 2 mile race followed shortly by a 3 mile race. For the low, low price of $18 you can run all 3 races (or one, or two, one price for all options). There's a nice technical shirt involved and a nice band.

I typically don't run on Fridays. I run Tues-Thurs so running tonight will be the 4th day in a row. I'm tired and my left foot really hurts so I don't see this going well. But I've heard great things about this event. This is the second in a series of 3. I've heard from different people that it's fun and exciting. The band is good and it's one big party...with running.

My plan is to run all 3 races. The one mile, I'm hoping to be some where around 8:30. It wouldn't be a record for me, but given how I feel and how little I've been training, it's realistic. The second race, I'm hoping for around 18 minutes. It's sad that I'm shooting to do 2 miles in the same time that some people do a 5K, but that's my goal. The third race, the 3 miler, I don't really have a goal for. There's a good chance I'm going to be wiped out after the first two.

I'm excited that an event like this exists and I really want to support it. But Mooresville? Ugh! I really make it a point not to go to north Charlotte or above. It's just a whole different world from Charlotte. The best way to describe it is that it's what you think of when you generalize the South. Yeah, should be interesting. I'll let you know.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


So, so, the race. It went...ok. My plan was to run 2 before, the race, then 2 after. My friend was concerned that we wouldn't run the extra 2. Ok, she had a point. I mean a finish line means only one thing; you're finished. So we ran 4 before. I knew our goal was to do 8 miles total, but for some reason I didn't plan nutritionally to run 8 miles. So mile 2 of the race and I was starving! Stomach growling starving, not just "I could eat" hungry. By the last mile of the race, which is all down hill, I started thinking I might actually have to walk part of a 4 mile race! But I managed to calm my head down, recover my breathing and get to the end. 35:55 overall or an 8:59 pace. Not bad for me really, but not planned well at all.

Post race I went for coffee and bagels while my friend went to tend to her kids. I ran into other friends and enjoyed a lively conversation with a pretty large group. One girl in the group had run the race as her first race ever. It was interesting to get her perspective on the race. She liked it but she hadn't expected the hills. I remember running races with no idea what to expect. Not that I always do now, but if they're in Charlotte I usually have a good idea of what's coming and I at least think about it now.

After breakfast I ran by the farmer's market. I'd been wanting to check it out because a friend of mine has been going and raving about it. She was so right! I was able to get all the veggies I need for the week for about 6 bucks! (I'm a vegetarian, it was a lot of food!) In my excitement and high on 2 cups of coffee, I forgot fruit. I'll have to go back. But I was in a rush to get to the gym and lift and try to meet a friend at a local fundraiser.

The fundraiser was a bust, so after arriving around 3ish and surveying the...what's the opposite of crowd?...we decided to go somewhere else. We ended the evening at Dean & Deluca drinking too much wine and eating sushi. At the late hour of 9pm (lame, I know!) my friend decided to go hit the free Vanilla Ice concert downtown at Epicenter. As a rule I don't go to the Epicenter. It's just a bunch of 20 somethings in hoochie clothes. A whole generation who weren't taught to use their indoor voice. So I rolled home early and ended the evening flipping channels between "3 Men and a Baby" and "You've Got Mail." Yes, I know "3 Men" is far superior but the commercials!!! Between the ones for lotions that promise to remove years from my face (doesn't running do that?) and stripper dance move videos that promise great legs, butt and abs while having a great time ("you won't even know you're working out!") (again doesn't running do that?) I couldn't park on one channel.

So that's the exciting life a single girl. In bed by 10:30 and up mid-morning for yoga. Seriously, this is my life?

Friday, July 10, 2009

You're Dumber in Summer and Other Fun Facts

So earlier I mentioned that the heat was brutal. And it was. But now it's not. Normally the temperature is in the high 90s with the threat of hitting 100 everyday. This summer it's turned very mild. It's hit 90 a few times, but it's mostly in the 80s and it's staying in the 70s longer. It's odd, last summer the Republicans were in office and it was sweltering, this year the Democrats are in office and it's mild and pleasant. Coincidence?

The mild temperatures have helped me to run pretty strong. Not fast, but strong. I haven't been forced to walk due to the heat in at least 3 weeks. However, I'm running at the back of the pack! Not that I'm used to running in the front, but I was running in the middle. I haven't been timing my runs and I haven't been doing speedwork, so I really shouldn't expect to be improving, but shouldn't I be maintaining? Tomorrow I'm running the RFYL 4 Miler. I previewed the course last week and if I really try, I could PR tomorrow.

I ordered a book on Amazon about Chi running. I read an article and have been told about it or been asked about it for a while now. The article was intriguing. The idea is to use Tai Chi principles while running. The result is better form and less to no pain or injuries. After my recent bouts with foot and knee injuries I'm ready to try it! From the article I learned that you should lean forward slightly from your ankles (what? think I may need a diagram) and land in the middle of your foot. I'm thinking they mean the pad of your foot and that I already do. So yay! One less thing! Then you're supposed to focus on keeping your shoulders and upper body loose so that your arms swing freely. Ok, makes sense. Then you're supposed to use your core to lift your legs by tilting your pelvis and keeping your skeleton aligned. Sounds a little like yoga...

Though I've been enjoying my runs more lately, it will be nice to have something new to focus on. It will also be nice to have a book to read instead of watching so much freakin' tv! Even when there isn't anything good on, I find I'm just sitting in my new chair-and-a-half with ottoman every night. Not really how I want to spend my summer. But you just can't drink a Bloody Mary and read a book. Hmmm, maybe there's a couple of bad habits this book will cure!