Monday, December 31, 2012

Running Capris + High Heels: Setting a Trend for the New Year

Happy New Year's Eve! My house is absolutely rocking right now...Matt went to bed at approximately 6:30p (yes, you read that correctly) and the dogs decided that snuggling with him was more interesting than hanging out with me, so I have been left to my own devices (read: getting ready to have champagne for a party of 1 and updating ye ol' blog).

Anyway...I have to tell one on myself b/c this is too classic not to share with the someone.

This morning I got up bright and early to test out the Red Mountain Park trails at our track club's resolution run. I ran late yesterday afternoon and debated whether or not to attend this morning (for various reasons) but am glad I did! In hindsight I wish I had done the 5 mile route (I did the 3) but I wasn't sure how soul crushing the trails were going to be (Ruffner bad?) and didn't want to kill myself given that I've been down out and with a nasty cold for the better part of this last week and am still not back to 100% even after 2 runs and a Zumba class to my credit since Saturday.

So, to be honest, part of my motivation for getting out to this particular run was driven by the fact that I needed to go to my office to retrieve a recipe that I had accidentally left in a folder on my desk. It's Matt's cornbread recipe that he is making for the New Year and I COULD NOT find it on the internet anywhere (turns out I was looking on the wrong sites but I digress...) My office is about 10 minutes from RMP and I rationalized that I would feel less pathetic about going downtown if I was practically there already.

I was on vacation today but the office was open. Without going into too much detail I work in a fairly conservative corporate office and running clothes are most certainly NOT on the approved dress code. I was pretty sure it would be a dead zone but knew there was a chance my boss might be in and was pretty sure some colleagues on my hall would be working. The plan was to pull a pair of jeans on over my running tights, slip on a pair of flats and wear my dressy, knee length coat (buttoned) and add some lip gloss so that I would at least look human and not questionable. To be clear, jeans are also NOT on the dress code, but given that I was not working today, it's practically a holiday and I would be slipping in and out quickly I knew it would be fine.

As I got back to my car after the run I quickly realized that while I had managed to grab my coat, I had apparently forgotten to pick up my jeans and flats after I set them down when I went to find my Garmin at the last minute. CRAP!!! I did not want to drive all the way home to drive all the way back downtown for a piece of paper...what to do? Pop the trunk...is there anything in here that can work? My trunk is pretty much empty...certainly no pants BUT a pair of black heels waiting to be taken to the shoe repair to be re-heeled. Did I dare?

I decided to suck it up and head to the office and press my luck/judge the situation when I got there. As I pulled into my building I noticed the exec lot was completely EMPTY!!! Score! So...in the parking lot of my building I changed from muddy running shoes to high heels, buttoned up the coat, added some lipgloss and hoped that my running capris would be hidden enough and might look like some kind of "legging" peeking below. As soon as I walked into the suite, there were 3 of my colleagues and admin assistant delivering some mail. "I'm not really here! Pretend you don't see me" No one really batted an eye and I actually ran into a colleague/friend at TJ Maxx this afternoon who said all they noticed was the flash of my white coat and then I was gone :)

I'm pretty sure this is fooling absolutely no one, but it was my best attempt
However, I was NOT fooling Matt and when I walked in the door after this "excursion" he looked at me, laughed, and said "What the hell are you wearing?" LOL. Let me also add that at this point I also noticed a huge streak of mud going down the side of my right calf...

I don't think this is what people mean when they refer to "work-life" balance!

Anyone else ever have to do something like this or is it just me? :)



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Electric City Gobbler 5K--Race Recap/Review

Finally! A few minutes where I am not out of town/driving/working/running and the energy to actually write an update.

This Thanksgiving Matt and I (and the dogs) traveled to Anderson, South Carolina, to visit pretty much all of his extended family in a span of about 2 days. Knowing that I'd love to get a run in on Thanksgiving morning, I started googling for local races and quickly found the Electric City Gobbler 5K hosted by the one of the local running clubs (the Electric City Running Club), which turned out to be less than 15 minutes from our hotel. Done!

Knowing that I would love the get the sub-30 off my back (don't laugh!) but also that I have been training for endurance...NOT speed...I decided to make it a fun run and sent a FB message to the running club to see if it was a pet friendly event. It was and so I decided to bring Bali along with me. She is small (~25lbs max) but an excellent runner and even at age 7 has puppy-level energy and endurance!

The race started and ended at Anderson Mall, with extremely easy access and (obviously) plenty of parking. The race started at 8:30 and I arrived at 7:35 to register and was done in about 5 minutes. The race advertised long sleeve technical shirts but I received a l/s cotton shirt--not sure if this is b/c I didn't pre-reg or not but I'm not complaining...this wasn't about "swag"...it was about getting in a fun run and supporting  the local community.

Back of the shirt


It was in the low-40s and I had lots of time to kill (and knew no one), so I hung out in my car for a bit and then finally got Bali out and walked around, people watching. There were a few other dogs and though Bali loves people I could tell she was a little bit timid/nervous...maybe it was just b/c it was her first official 5K ;) haha!

The race started on time and Bali and I started towards the back (there were maybe 500 runners?)--more room for her and I didn't want to start in the middle of chaos. As for pacing, I figured I would just follow Bali's lead...no expectations on pace or whatever. The course was advertised as "fast" but I had no idea what to expect. There were a few small hills but it was extremely FLAT or even downhill, especially as compared to Birmingham. (This would be en excellent course to PR on)

After the initial start, Bali and I pretty much spent the entire race passing people. I'm not kidding or exaggerating but we passed pack after pack of people and even when I thought there would be no more passing, we just kept chucking along. Bali was actually a really savvy runner, setting into a pace until it was time to pass people and then she would create a nice little "lane" with room for both of us, not cutting people off or getting in the way (I tried to stay to the right as much as physically possible) It was pretty funny to hear all the comments too...mostly one of two things: "crap...I just got passed by a DOG!" or "hey...I need one of those, mind if I borrow her for the rest of the race" HAHA! It was an extremely friendly crowd and even afterwards people came up asking how she did, joking "did she get first in her age group?"

According to my watch, Bali and I finished 3.14 miles in 30:49 (avg pace: 9:48) which is only 15 seconds slower than my PR and I was working, but definitely not at "5K effort" (this is why I say it would be an excellent PR course). They made multiple announcements prior to the race to stay in order once we entered the chute so they could grab our bib tags but I finished right around several people...MANY of whom cut in the line and swarmed the area (read: NOT staying in order and I saw at least half a dozen who finished behind me cut in front of several people, not just me) so I have no idea how that's going to impact time and/or results. It looked like they were using select timing, as the race was not chip timed and there was a note on the FB page saying that this was the first time they managed timing themselves and they were having some difficulty with the results, so this may very well be part of it. This aspect was really the only negative of my race experience and since it was A. a turkey trot, B. I was a guest WITH A DOG and C. it's not like I was placing in my age group, I let it fly and didn't say anything. 

Me and Bali post-race

Overall, a really good race experience--easy and reasonable registration, a scenic and fast course and a beautiful day. If I was ever in Anderson on Thanksgiving in the future I would definitely run this race again!



Thursday, November 8, 2012

My bags AREN'T packed but I'm ready to go...


Tomorrow morning bright and early (or perhaps still dark and early...seriously...) I'm off to sunny Orlando, Florida, to run in the Wine and Dine half marathon!

I ran the inaugural race back in 2010 and actually never thought that I would be back to run it again. (Not b/c of anything specific but it's not cheap to get there, I've been there done that, blah blah). ANYWAY...I am SUPER excited to return this year because I will have the privilege of running with my very best friends from college and seeing each of them cross that half marathon finish for the very first time. (Believe it or not, but this was actually NOT my idea! but I am super happy that the group is doing this together)

I am so excited and proud of them and the nerves and excitement are almost palpable as everyone wraps up their plans to head to Orlando and the chatter on our little FB group has been so much fun. We've got matching shirts (with a logo designed for us by another one of my friends here in B'ham), and glow necklaces for the race and a little block of rooms together at one of the resorts.

My ONLY GOAL for this race is to get each of them over the finish line and I am not running for time. This has always been my priority for this race.

I am 75% sure I am carrying my camera b/c I did not do that last time and regretted not being able to get the character pics, etc. HOWEVER, I wonder if the bouncing over several hours will have any impact on the internal mechanisms? It's a "just" a Canon point and shoot but I just bought it last September AND REALLY like the camera and don't want to risk damaging it. That being said, I have another p/s but it takes horrible pictures in low light and since this is a night race...Hmmm...this might be a game time decision.

Back with this (and another) race report soon!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

7 Bridges Marathon: Race Recap/Review

Well, it's 2 days post-marathon and I finally have enough time/energy to put my thoughts to "paper". We drove back from Chattanooga right after the race and I was back at work bright and early Monday morning...no rest for the weary! Now I'm sitting here drinking green tea like it's my job desperately trying to keep my immune system from tanking like last time. But enough of that, let's back up to this weekend.

Before the Race
This is the first marathon/out of town race I've done that was on a Sunday, so it REALLY took the pressure off in terms of travel and logistics. I was able to sleep in (without an alarm!) on Saturday morning (side note: probably the first time in months that I haven't woken up with an alarm) and take my time packing and running a few last minute errands. My incredibly sweet and generous running buddy/friend MSN was kindly taking care of Roxy and Bali for us overnight which also took a huge load off. Roxy has had a rough past couple of months and I cannot express how much this meant to me.

We got on the road just shy of 2:00 for the 2hr 15min drive to Chattanooga. Packet pick-up was being held in Coolige Park (site of the finish line/party) from 2-6pm and I knew to expect a pretty chill scene so I wasn't too worried about crowds, logistics, etc even with a 1hr time change over to Eastern Time. We found pick up without incident and Matt dropped me off so I could go take care of everything. (Truthfully, we also didn't want to have to pay for parking since we weren't sticking around so he was staying with the car!)

There were absolutely ZERO people in the marathon packet pick up line and the volunteers were incredibly friendly, answering questions about the course, parking, and Chattanooga in general. The vibe from both the volunteers and runners was super relaxed and friendly; I chatted with a guy running the marathon who had just driven in from South Carolina, made small talk with a few others, purchased a couple items (marathon tank top...yes, please!) and headed back to the car.

Next stop was the hotel, which was less than 2 miles from the start/finish. Hotel options in the downtown Chattanooga area were really limited/expensive (read: more expensive than staying in downtown Atlanta and this is a MUCH smaller city...) which was pretty surprising to me, though Matt had already warned me of this since his job is actually home-based out of Chattanooga. We opted for the Chattanooga Marriott at the Convention Center which was just OK considering the price. Don't get me wrong, everything was clean and the beds were comfortable but the bathroom was TINY and the walls were paper thin. I would have rather stayed at the Hampton Inn but the downtown location was more than $200(!!!!) so at $150 the Marriott was a better deal. (There were some lower cost host hotels...Delta Queen and Chattanooga Choo Choo to name a couple but neither had a TV in the room and that was not cool with me)

View from our room

After we got checked in (and were denied a late check out...boo...no post-marathon shower for me), I checked out the swag bag:

Gender specific tech tee, a couple gels/snack items, the pink tank I picked up in addition as well as the shot glass (classy, I know). Not too much paper which was a ++

They also had a pretty cool photo/small poster printed that might make a nice addition to our "workout room" (which is where all my race stuff is displayed)


After getting moderately settled, we headed out to find dinner. Thanks to Urban Spoon, we ended up at The Terminal Brewhouse...a seemingly hip local spot that had options for any palate. Food was great, Matt enjoyed the beer and prices were REALLY reasonable. Should I ever find myself back in Chattanooga I would definitely return as there was a ton of stuff on the menu I would like to have tried.

After settling in back at the hotel to watch the FSU/Miami game and try to rest, we were clued in as to how thin the walls really were in the hotel. Let's just say that our neighbors were very...ummm...amorous...multiple times...and I was actually woken up at 1am with their theatrics. That not withstanding, I had a hard time settling down and woke up many times during the night, also paranoid that I had slept through the start despite setting my cell phone, the hotel's alarm clock and putting in for a wake up call. It was one of those nights that seemed to be a million years long if you know what I mean.

Race Day
With a race start of 7am, I wanted to head out by around 6 since we had been warned of potential parking/traffic concerns (Matt was just dropping me off) and since I knew we had to cross a bridge to get to Renaissance Park I didn't want to get stuck in bridge traffic. Luckily, we had absolutely ZERO issues and even with leaving a few minutes late and having trouble getting out of the parking deck at the hotel, I was there within minutes. This was actually the first time Matt has brought me to the start at any longer distance race and in keeping with the theme of the week, I got a little emotional. I calmed down quickly though and felt mentally ready to tackle the day. While eating my PB&J waiting for the start I actually saw a shooting star and it made me feel good about the day to come.

I ended up wearing a throw-away cotton l/s shirt on top of my tank and arm warmers but no gloves and this ended up being perfect while waiting around in the 40 degree temps. Especially since the start was delayed by 20 minutes (pet peeve and no explanation from anyone other than the DJ who was already announcing at 6:30 that the race would be "starting a little late").

After the unexplained delay and the movement of the start line (?), they played the national anthem and we were off in the dark! I had asked at packet pick up how many had signed up and they said ~500 for the full and guessing by the size of the crowd I would guess the same or a few more were running the half. There was a 4:30 pacer and a 6:00 pacer (and a few faster) so I tucked in a bit behind 4:30 not ever intending to stick with him.

I mentioned that I had been undecided in my race day strategy and I pretty much didn't know what I was going to do until I started running. I had trained with intervals on my long runs but know I am also capable of running longer distances without breaks. I really didn't want to start with the intervals, feeling that if I ran conservatively I would at least give myself a bit of cushion to use later. Truthfully I was afraid that if I went with intervals from the start I would still end up tired later and not feeling like I had pushed to my full ability. Based on the outcome of the race, I'm still not 100% sure I made the right decision to go "off plan" BUT I know I absolutely left it on the course for that day and I don't regret how I handled myself.

So...once I started running I was feeling really good and my goal was to run by feel and not let my heart rate get elevated. Since it was dark it was easy to do this without obsessing over the Garmin readings but when I did look down I saw I was running in the 10:30s with pretty much zero effort. The course was also really flat at this point which was in my favor. As we crossed the first bridge in the dark with steam/fog coming off the river it was truly breathtaking. Several people were taking pictures but I was focusing on not wasting energy and just being present in the moment. I think I said out loud "we are so lucky". And we were (and ARE). I mean, as runners we get to experience things that others will not and the ability to see this landscape from the vantage point(s) we were afforded was not lost.

The first several miles ticked by QUICKLY...I lost the l/s shirt around 1.5-2 miles and I hit 5K around 32 minutes. There was an out and back section at this point and while I am not usually a fan of out and backs it was a really nice distraction and pretty much occupied my mind with people watching for a good 2 miles. After this we started to hit some hills and I was still maintaining said pace with little effort. I adopted an impromptu mantra "BELIEVE" as I knew I was off plan and needed something positive to focus on so I would not doubt myself/psych myself out and would end up chanting this out loud at several points on the course. Feeling good, I was also a little worried b/c my watch was off the mile markers by .15 at MILE ONE and I am pretty darn good at running the tangents so I was afraid of how much extra length I was going to end up running. Pretty much everyone else's watches were doing the same but it turns out the half course was long (according to race directors) and I did notice the margin of error started to decrease in the later marathon mile markers...

We were now headed back to the park and the sun was rising and I could not BELIEVE how quickly 10K was gone. I made the decision that at the 1 hour mark I would start on my 6-7/1 intervals knowing that while I felt good now I had a LONG way to go and I had absolutely not trained to run this marathon at a 10:30 pace and I needed to watch my energy. You cannot afford to get tired early...that would lead to disaster in the end. I do remember hitting the 7 mile mark at 1:14 and I said out loud "you're either going to thank yourself or regret that later" haha! There had been regularly spaced aid stations to this point (22 total on the marathon course!) with water and powerade but the one right around this point was totally out of fluids. Not sure what happened there and made me super glad that I had my handheld. (Side note: After having a bad experience at RnR Nashville in 2010 with inconsistent aid stations and fluid availability I carry my handheld in pretty much every race for this reason. It allows me to remove one more variable that is out of my control and spend my energy focusing on the run instead of worrying) I'm pretty sure I had already removed my arm warmers by this point too as the sun was out in full force with not really a cloud in the sky.

We now headed away from scenic downtown on an ugly/boring stretch of road. The half marathoners broke away around mile 9 to head back along the river walk and we stayed on this industrial, boring, exposed highway for MILES. Runners ahead and orange cones marking the course/protecting us from traffic as far as the eye could see. I just focused on keeping the same company in my sight and on my intervals. There was zero shade and we must have been running due east b/c I was running straight into the sun. Somehow though despite the sun it never really got hot AT ALL for which I am so very thankful. At some point between mile 11 and 13 a food truck serving Argentinian cuisine drove past...huge Argentine flag and "Taste of Argentina" painted on it. And...I fist pumped the driver who in turn honked. Yes, I have a slight obsession with Argentina and that totally made me happy :)

Chugging along some winding roads, I was trying to run straight and not necessarily follow the curve the best I could but truthfully the curves were sometimes so deep gravity would literally pull you in. It was really odd and unlike anything I had experienced before.

I was surprised at how quickly the miles were continuing to tick by and was mentally in a very good place. And then we were running along the dam (maybe?) and I saw an impossible looking bridge above me...and then I saw runners on it and knew I would be there soon.

See mile 15.78 for reference...

And it felt pretty much as bad as it looks on that elevation map. I knew I could EASILY walk that entire bridge but dug up my mental reserves and bargained with myself to run 1/walk 30 seconds for as long as it took me to feel in control. Only had to do a couple of those before I was back to my planned intervals, but man that took a LOT out of me. My secondary goal was not to get passed on the bridge either. I had been only passed by 2 people (men) after the half split between 9-10 and I didn't want to start giving up ground here. And I succeeded and was rewarded with a second wind and a nice downhill to follow.

Around mile 17-18 though I started to get horrible leg cramps. My quads and hamstrings and glutes started to seize up on me, forcing me to stretch on the side of the road and walk more than I wanted or "needed" to at that point. I was actually kind of scared that this would not go away and I was still feeling pretty good otherwise (eating and drinking, no nausea or otherwise). I got passed by 2 more males and 1 female during this stretch BUT not again for the entire race after that and I ended up later picking off over 12 men and 4 women (yes, I was counting...the mental math kept me preoccupied) so it didn't turn into a total death spiral.

The river walk sections offered flat terrain and shade and beautiful/peaceful views. Around mile 20/21 I saw that the aid station had coke (real Coke!) and I deliriously asked these very attractive guys manning the station if I could have some. Ummm...yes, it's for the runners. It totally made my day though and on that note, post-half marathon split the aid stations were something that you would expect at an ultra...besides the normal water/powerade/gels there were pretzels, various types of candy, pickles, pickle juice, goldfish crackers, coke, fruit,  and cookies. At almost every aid station! I didn't really partake of anything other than the coke but it was SO thoughtful and awesome to have all those options. Plus the volunteers were helping fill our water bottles and I think we were all getting a lot of individual attention b/c there was never really a a crowd at that pace. At the mile 23 station I was smiling again and one of the ladies said "you are really polite and happy for having run 20 miles. You are the happiest person I have seen come through here today" And you know what my bitch self said?, "thanks! but it's 23 miles" HAHA It was just total gut instinct! Oh well :)

You can see above what greeted me at mile 24 at which point I said some very foul words out loud! And then at mile 25 there was a mini "split" with a course marshall. One way was a ramp (longer), the other way was stairs (shorter but ummm STAIRS at mile 25). I asked the marshall which way and he said I could go either. I told him I was taking my chances and I took the stairs backwards :) I had turned on my music at mile 21 but unplugged again when I got to the final bridge (pedestrian only) over the park. I ran pretty much the entire last mile and I know this is going to sound corny but it was almost like coming into a dream sequence. There were a couple runners in front of me and people on the bridge (some formal spectators, some marathoners who had recently finished, others who were just checking out the area) were cheering for each and every one of us. It was sincere encouragement and human interaction at some of its most pure and I thanked each one and congratulated each marathoner. I have NEVER been part of a race where the energy was so sincere I could hear the music from the post race party in the park below and as I rounded the corner into the final stretch Katy Perry's "Firework" was on, which was actually a huge part of my first marathon "sound track" back in 2010. I could feel my calf muscles cramping up as I entered the finisher's chute and I actually worried that I might fall over but there it was I done and smiling :)

Yay!

I was immediately greeted with a medal and a "7 Bridges Marathon" water bottle filled with water (nice extra perk!)


And then promptly found a spot not far away to totally lay down on the grass!


Matt seemed overly concerned about my use of sunscreen at this point which was seriously sweet but even being out in the sun for all that time I just ended up with a little additional tan, no redness or burn...so no worries!

I went in search of food/drink shortly after this but the choices available did not really appeal to me: water/powerade, pizza, apples, bananas, oranges and then these packets wrapped in foil. I asked a volunteer what it was (biscuit maybe?) Nope. Wait for it. BREAKFAST BURRITO. barf! I made a face, told her I was sorry and then took two orange wedges. I'm not one for much solid food after a run anyway but given the awesomeness of the aid stations I guess I was expecting a little more from the finish.

Matt agreed to pose with me but I don't blame his reluctance as I was pretty stank at this point!

The Aftermath
We headed home shortly afterwards but not before stopping at a random gas station so I could change (thank God for the Shower Pill) and pick up both a chocolate milk and a fountain coke. Now THAT is post-marathon nutrition, people! I napped for most of the afternoon after we got home and have been hobbling around work for the past couple days but have otherwise felt pretty darn good. Got a massage scheduled for Thursday night and been trying to keep my immune system boosted and plotting my training schedule for Wine and Dine Half Marathon just under 3 weeks away.

Oh and the time goal...you didn't think I wouldn't come clean about what happened did you? Well, despite being on pace for oh so very very long, I did not meet my "A" goal. I'm not sure if it was the first hour of running (I suspect NOT given that I felt very very effortless during that time) or the leg cramps that forced me to walk more than I wanted...but I did come in faster than Chickamauga and I very much crossed the line happy and with a smile...so "B" and "C" accomplished. I haven't looked back at my Garmin for confirmation pretty much b/c I think it might make me sad right now and I actually have pretty much nothing but love for the race on Sunday. (Well, maybe not mile 15.78 and 24...) It's gotten me thinking though about what's in store for the future and I do think it's going to be focused on improving on the half for at least the next little while. I truly love the long run and the feeling of accomplishment but the solitude of the marathon is very very challenging for me. I'd also like to break 1 hour in the 10K and I think it's definitely a possibility with the right course and the right training. Will there be more marathons in my future? Absolutely. But my feeling today is that it may need to be a "major" race (NYC please!) or a race I ran with a partner.

Thank you for sticking with this marathon of a post (pun intended) and for all the support and encouragement both online and off. I'll be back soon with official pictures and details about my plans for Wine and Dine and beyond.

Friday, October 19, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favor...

One thing that's looking pretty nice is the weather forecast:



The low from Saturday going into Sunday is 44, so a pair of toss-away gloves and some arm warmers to start should be more than adequate I think (hope?). A toss-away shirt is likely easier but I'm not really looking to warm my core even more than usual and I know from experience that I can easily tie those to my shadow pack and will not notice them during the run. I'll pack for both options though b/c thinking as I type this, standing around in a tank top in the dark may not be my wisest move. With a start time at 7:00, I LOVE that my first hour will be in the dark though, as it should make time pass fairly quickly.

I completed my last run this morning. 2 miles with no Garmin. Truthfully I was probably going faster than I should and I had wanted to use this run to try and zero in on pace for the marathon. But I walked outside in the mid-40s temps (shorts, s/s top, arm warmers) and realized my Garmin was inside. I just didn't feel like going inside to get it, wait for it to pick up signal, etc. So off I went...conquered a couple hills (no way around it) and felt great.

My goal for the first half of the race is really to run by feel as much as possible. Trying not get my heart rate too elevated or get more tired than needed. I've been able to do this in my training and I need to TRUST IT and stop doubting myself. I've gone back and read my previous race reports where the wheels just flat out CAME OFF at the end and I am determined not to let that happen here. I would love to get the 5 hour monkey off my back (and I was on pace at Chickamauga hitting mile 20 at 3:50:00 but totally lost it later on coming in more like 5:20? Is it sad I don't know my marathon time?) but I don't want to put undue pressure on myself so that I feel like a failure (a la Mercedes Half Marathon 2012...my 13.1 PR but I look at the race as utter failure b/c I didn't make my time goal) Anyway, 90 minutes for a 10K is totally wheels coming off and breaking apart!! (Especially when I never got passed after mile 15.5 and continued to pass people until there just were no more people!) and I just don't want that to happen again. I guess all in all I just want to run a smart race and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery...and there will be a medal waiting for me at the end.

In the spirit of A, B and C level goals:
A Goal: 5 hours or bust!! Woo hoo!
B Goal:  PR--most specifically doing so while not having a mental breakdown somewhere on the course ;)
C Goal: Finish uninjured and with a smile on my face

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Marathon Week!

Otherwise known as "operation: hydrate like it's your job"

But seriously, I can't believe that the time is actually HERE! My lack of posting hasn't represented a lack of training, or wanting to post but has simply resulted from lots of LIFE "stuff" (some good, some not-as-good) and some changes to the routine as a result of the above.

That being said, it's amazing to me that the emotional anticipation of race day is still so big for me. Not as much in the day-to-day obsession pre-marathon (or half marathon) #1 but really starting last week thinking "wow...I will be running 26.2 miles in less than 2 weeks" (cue nervous butterflies in the stomach at that point) In fact, as I was driving back from Tallahassee (FSU) this weekend I looked at my cousin Jimmy around 12:00 and said, "well at this time next week I should be done running...the marathon will be over" It actually made me a little sad, but also putting it that way made it feel very "do-able" at the same time. It's funny... going into #3 I know what I need to do to get myself across the finish and there is no doubt (barring serious on-course injury) that I can do THAT... but there is still the voice that wonders if I can beat my personal best, since my training has taken a bit of a different focus that has certainly made me stronger and has allowed me to bounce back after long runs as if they were almost nothing but has not necessarily made me faster and has me questioning how I should attempt to attack things on race day. I am not fast but I want to attempt to leave it all out there on the course without blowing up. Lots of things to think about before Sunday.

It's also been marathon/ultra-marathon central in my Google Reader the past couple weeks and I will say that reading race recaps (especially those new to a particular distance) NEVER gets old for me. It's so inspiring and refreshing and makes me truly believe that I can push through and make the race my own.

That ALSO being said, I have been a bit overly emotional (even for me) the past couple weeks and I'm going to totally blame it on the taper. Maybe being tired (and who knows what training does to hormone levels) but I can hardly read the new marathoner recaps without tearing up and holy hell, I went to Skull Session at FSU this weekend (it's where the marching band puts on sectional and full band performances 2 hours before kick off) and (Laura--you will appreciate this) I freaking teared up at the "Charlie Carter warm up music" I mean, I was this.close to moving to a full on sob. WTF people?!?! Thank God for dark glasses...seriously.

I'd like to wrap up some other thoughts prior to the marathon, so hopefully with a renewed sense of "free time" this week, I might actually get some other posts up.

Weekly schedule looks like this:
Monday: Run (3.5 miles)--no watch, but done with Matt so I was "working" but not dead at the end (hilly neighborhood route)
Tuesday: Massage (yay! I'm not trying to cram this in 2 days before the race as per the usual)
Wednesday: Run (Track Shack 3 miles)--easy run with friend MSN
Thursday: Rest/Yoga/Stretching
Friday: Run (2 miles)--hoping to get this in before work and take Bali along, just trying to shake my legs out and clear my mind
Saturday: REST!! Drive to Chattanooga.
Sunday: Seven Bridges Marathon...26.2 :)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You've Got Mail

Guess what just arrived?



So excited to take these for a spin this evening! I swear, getting new running shoes makes me feel like a kid at Christmas!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Running for Time vs. Running for Mileage

I guess I am going to start by saying that while training has officially (and belatedly) kicked off for the 7 Bridges Marathon I REALLY need to get my a** in gear. This would mark week #3 in a 14 week plan and while generally things have gone according to "plan", that "plan" really only exists in my mind (also why it's not a traditional 18 week plan). I keep going back to last years training plan and making sure I am generally "where I should be" mileage and workout-wise but I am the type who loves to analyze/mix and match various training plans, create detailed logs of planned/actual, so this "wing it" mentality is not sitting well with me.

I know, I know, Melissa...just sit down with Excel and prior training notes (and the 3 books on marathon training that you checked out from the library 2+ weeks ago) and DO IT already. For some reason, I'm just finding myself zapped when I get home and not wanting to focus on this. I'm not sure if it's a motivation issue or the heat, or what though I suspect it's the latter feeding a bunch of negative thoughts. I'm not having any problems getting out there and getting my workouts done but I am feeling SO UNinspired by my pacing right now. The heat and humidity (which I should be used to, right?) just seem to be sucking the life out of me and I feel like any progress I had previously made on my already slow (to me) pace has been reversed. I'm sure if I could manage to get my weight under control (read: lose the 15 pounds that I have been talking about for a year now) it would certainly help, but I'm pretty much nailing my treadmill work/"speed" and have been more consistently active during the off season that prior years (with both running and cross training) so I know I'm not totally out of shape. I probably just need to not pay super close attention to pacing right now but it's really hard when you feel like you're the only one suffering.

That being said, the point of this is to discuss a potential long run strategy  that gets me more focused on time on my feet and less on true mileage at least during the excruciatingly hot and humid month of August...and that is to run my long run based on "time" versus distance. It's something I did a bit of last fall when I was trying to juggle road trips to Auburn/early kick off times/return trips to Bham on Sundays which often left me time crunched. Sometimes my plan would call for 13+ but I would really only have time for "2 hours" (I don't run a sub-2 HM, closer to 2:20 when all things are firing) so I would get out there and run for an hour one way and then turn around and run back. Sounds pretty simple though purists might argue that I am selling myself and my training short. However, I managed to run nearly 30 minutes faster than my 1st marathon (though it would have been harder to be much slower!) so doing "something" rather than beating myself up for a variety of other reasons was probably better than setting myself up for failure, which is kind of how I'm feeling right now.

I don't think I want to build a plan with only time-focused LRs though...I think for me it's key to hit a 13.1, 15, 18 and 20, at least mentally, knowing that I have covered the full distance before. Does anyone reading have any additional experience with running on a time-focused plan? My M-F workouts ARE distance based, just for the record. (And yes, I ran 90 minutes for my LR on week #1 and 1hr 50 mins last week...the plan was 2 but I was back at my car...woo hoo massive negative split!...and I was just spent)

I am challenging myself to get my training plan up and "out there" (here) this week. I know training logs are not the most interesting read, BUT they are one of the things that people have searched and spend time looking at so if my training for "xyz" marathon can be of help to someone down the road then I am happy to at least put the info out there!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July from the "other" side of Peavine Falls

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone (in or from the U.S.) has had a wonderful day celebrating in whatever way you see fit!

It's been a pretty chill day here so far, though I did start the morning bright and early volunteering for the 31st  annual Peavine Falls Race I would say the race is pretty well known throughout the Birmingham running community though I have never actually run it as (I won't lie) the elevation gain combined with Alabama heat/humidity on July 4 (for 8+ miles) scares me just a bit.

Yes, that's the course elevation

The race director (Rick) and I frequent the same Starbucks and he has encouraged me to come out and run it  on more than one occasion (ahh, the benefits of sporting the 26.2 car magnet) so when I saw the Birmingham Track Club put out a call for volunteers, I didn't hesitate since I knew we didn't have any specific plans today. (Side note: why is it so easy to be up at 5:15 to volunteer for a race, but getting up at 5:15 for work seems like torture?!?!)

I got to Oak Mtn around 6:10 where there was already a huge line to get in but made it to the race area no problem. I wasn't exactly sure *what* I would be doing today but no matter. Well, I got assigned (to me), a really cool job...I got to enter everyone in the timing system and then run the finish line timing with Rick :)
Pre-race...499 registered participants


I looked so official for a while...but had to take this off after the bees started swarming all over the shirt and computer...yuck!


There is no mat timing on this course, they tear off the bib stubs once you get into the finishing chute, but Rick and I were the people synching each finisher with the clock. We used the select timing method (you can read about it in the link) and I have to say I had a LOT of fun watching all of the finish line action and even learning about timing. I loved watching the super competitive sprints to the finish, watching people get "chicked" (woo hoo!), and watching the last minutes 'passing' right before the chute.


And toward the end of the race, I got to meet L. from Yo Momma Runs--congrats on placing in the top 10 females! (I hope I did not freak you out with my weirdness!)


Anyway, all in all a great way to spend the morning. Matt and I enjoyed some coffee and lazing around watching re-runs (but new to us!) of the Olympic Track and Field qualifiers and I met up with a relatively new running friend at 4:00 (brilliance, I tell you) at Jemison to run an efficient progression run with a couple of sprints thrown in for good measure. I was having a really strong day today and wish all runs could feel that great.


Now I'm drinking a glass of this (so good!):


and snuggling with Roxy


and waiting for Matt to get home from playing golf to see how the rest of the evening shapes up!




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

When I was running this morning I was thinking about my dad. I really don't want to say that we have a complicated relationship because that makes it sound like the relationship is BAD or fraught with drama or resentment and that's not the case. It's more that my dad is *somewhat* of a stereotypical Italian male and in many ways I am NOT your stereotypical Italian female :) (As a side note: I generally dislike stereotypes but there are too many stereotypical shows out there right now re: Italians--Cake Boss, RHONJ and of course the older but much-loved Sopranos...) Anyway, I was actually thinking that I am not a stereotypical (Italian) female because of my dad which is actually kind of funny/ironic. My dad nurtured my sense of curiosity from an early age and never made me feel that I couldn't or shouldn't do anything because I was female. Among other things, he taught me how to read a map, use tools/assemble almost anything, work on my car, understand the stock market and to love sports (notably, Auburn football and Atlanta Braves baseball).
We don't talk on the phone all that often, but I know that I can call him at ANY time and for anything. We actually have talked a bit on the phone more recently and had some wonderful conversations, but I know not something likely to materialize on a regular basis. That being said, my dad has never met a stranger and he has an amazing ability to relate to people from all walks of life.

My dad and I are both highly emotional/sensitive and either of us are more likely to tear up at the little things in every day life than at a funeral (though we both cry at those too). I am highly driven and much of my early drive stemmed from not wanting to disappoint my dad in any aspect of my life. I am sure I have disappointed him many times anyway, but I know he is incredibly proud. School programs, dance recitals, band concerts and everything in between he was ALWAYS there. He is the dad that would introduce himself to my band directors/college professors/other random people who were in a superior role to me, and with tears in his eyes, thank them for the role they serve, not only to me but to the group at large. Used to be soooo embarrasing but now I know, that's just my dad. And now? I actually find it kind of endearing.
At the "Monkey Park" (1981)

He took me to the park and to get ice cream as a child (a Sunday tradition); taught me the transactional value of the dollar and the rewards of hard work; paid my out of state tuition even when times were tough; reminded me that at the end of the day, we only have our "name" to fall back on...to treat others with fairness and respect and usually the favor will be returned.

To say that I love my dad is an understatement. Our relationship may not always look like a Hallmark card, but it's OUR relationship to nurture and grow and for that I am grateful.
Happy Father's Day!
Auburn Football Game (2009 or 2010)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Impromptu racing...and a streak ends...and begins again

After a whirlwind week of "maid of honor-ing", work travel and catching up back at the office, I think I know my name again. But seriously...holy shite this has been a rough 7 day stretch. Total FWP, I know, and I am grateful for all that I have, but I'm pretty tired and ready to curl up on the couch tonight catching up on "Sister Wives" and other really bad TV.

That being said, "the streak" ended and began again in DC after I arrived too late to make it to the hotel gym (11:15p) though I picked it up the next morning with a 4.6(ish) mile run (according to g-map pedometer since I forgot to charge my Garmin) and then another 6+ miles of walking later that day. I had actually planned to run at home that Sunday morning but I woke up nauseous with a horrible migraine and went straight back to bed with just enough time to get packed and ready to head to the airport for my (delayed) flight to DC. I really would have hopped on the mill at 11:15p but I was staying at a boutique hotel and the gym truly was closed (I couldn't just access through a key card.) Anyway, not one to let a single day lost stop me, I'm back and committed to moving on through July 4.

A few cell phone pics from DC...


This is what happens when you ask a nice stranger to take your picture...he only gets the FEET in the background. Oh well!

 View from WWII Memorial looking towards the Washington Monument

I was zoomed in from across the street. I was originally trying to run where those tourists were and got yelled at by security/the Secret Service! I have probably never run so fast the other direction in my life!

So now, my latest "dilemma"...I got a notification Wednesday (either from BTC or Active or some such) about a 5K this weekend "Strides for Steel"  that advertised itself as all downhill (point to point) and FAST. I pretty much decided that I would probably sign up and do it and even though I haven't been doing any specific speed training and that it might be hotter than hades with a 9a start it might be a good place to try and FINALLY get my sub-30 5K. I know, maybe not particularly fast for most but it's still a 9:39 pace and fast for me and given course conditions maybe I could pull it off?

I was texting with Amy yesterday and we were trying to reschedule our running plans for this week and she mentioned that she was doing this same 5K this weekend. Hmmm....she is a great sport at letting me push her but I know her training hasn't been where she wants it lately and I don't know if she would be game for this.

So the question is: do I run with my friend or do I try to PR?  I have run many races with friends where the goal between us was clear (stick together no matter what, stick until someone needs to drop, run at different paces and meet at the end) and I always say there is a place for social running and goal running and it's important to have both. I would like to hang out with my friend but I also really want to get this sub-30 monkey off my back so I can move on for a little while! Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gone Streaking

Well hell-o there! You didn't think I meant THAT type of streaking did you? I'm not trying to scare the children! (or get arrested)

What I'm referring to is the Runner's World Summer Running Streak! The idea is that one commits to running at least 1 mile every day between Memorial Day and the 4th of July. I'm in a training lull right now (active but without a defined goal in mind) and still searching for a fall marathon to really commit to and thought this would actually be a great thing to get me re-energized heading back into training season. After all, it's only ONE mile! If I don't feel like doing anything else (or don't have time to squeeze in a longer workout) I know that I will have at least gotten in my mile for the day.

I've gotten my miles in after 9:30pm both of these past 2 nights (yesterday we got back from the beach and it was late after getting settled/grocery shopping/etc and today I worked, ran errands and had rehearsal for a wedding I'm playing in this weekend--I am also the MOH so doing a little double duty there...) but they ARE done. Honestly, if it weren't for commiting to this streak (and telling Matt about it) I would have not made in the effort to sweat it out the past couple of evenings!

I've added a page to my sidebar for accountability and seriously would encourage anyone out there who is interested to join in. Who cares if it's already started? It's just for FUN and every day we are given a chance to start something new.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Patty's Day 5K: Race Recap/Review

Hello out there! I apologize for my silence but I have been kind of bummed out since Mercedes (more in a future post) and have a lot of things going on in my personal life which have been preoccupying my thoughts and keeping me away from the computer during my free time.

Anyway...moving on to today...

I FINALLY officially joined the Birmingham Track Club and noticed that the Trak Shak was having a "St Patty's Day 5K" this morning in Homewood and thought it sounded like a nice way to kick off a Saturday morning. Plus, I love a themed race and though I am pretty conservative in my daily life, love dressing up in my "running life". While driving to Bunco this week, I managed to talk Amy into joining me and was now committed!

Before I get into "reviewing" I want to say that I had a GREAT time but in all fairness, if I was not having a great week mood-wise, all the "little things" might have soured my opinion a bit.

Early packet pick-up was held Friday from 11-5 at the Trak Shak's Homewood location. I told Amy that I would go down and register for us since I was going to be out for a work meeting anyway and also so that we didn't have to go early (and pay more) for day-of registration. I printed the reg. form off the website in advance and made it to Homewood just shy of 1:00 pm. The form they had (and still have) online stated that reg. was $15 in advance, $20 on race day and so when I asked who to make the check out to the guy told me and (for some reason) I said, "that's $30, right?". He looked confused and I pointed to the form and he asked where I had gotten that from. He then proceeded to show me a new form and tell me that the race was $20 in advance, $25 race day but he "guessed" that he could honor the price since I had "somehow" printed it out. I didn't want to be a total ass and I figured the $$ was going to go to charity anyway, so I insisted that I pay the new prices. I'm not going to throw a fit for $5, obviously, but that's the form that was online! THEN, he told me that the t-shirts had still not arrived but should be in after another hour or so and that I would need to come back if I really wanted one. He said I could try to get one on race day by standing in the registration line but they would probably have run out by then. WHAT? I'm certainly not hard up for another race tee but the whole t-shirt thing was basically asking for a logistical nightmare (how would you keep track of who had received one..and they were not even ready til 1/2way through packet pick up? Poor planning!) I ended up going back after I left work at 4:30 (I work 5-10 min away and it's on my way home so no biggie) and picked up our (cotton) shirts.

This morning, Amy picked me up at 7:45 for the 8:30 to start and we found street parking easily just after 8:00. It was already warm (upper 60s/low 70s) and sunny and I probably should have hydrated a little bit better before the run. (I had grabbed a half-full bottle of water out of my car right before we left my house that I ended up nursing before and during the run)

Excuse my glowing white fat!

We stood around enjoying the people/costume-watching and listening to the DJ. Glad that we opted to pick up our stuff in advance as the day-of line was LONG. I completely forgot my Garmin at home so I wasn't really paying attention to the time (I had also left my phone in Amy's car). At 8:30 someone came over the mic and said that the race was going to be delayed by 10 minutes or so while they got all of the race-day registrants imput into the timing system. (As an aside to this: The race was not chip timed. They just tore a little stub off of the bottom of your bib for time, placement, etc. They probably did not need to delay the race start until all of this was finished b/c even your 1st place is not going to come in before 15 minutes and it's not like they were dependent on mat timing at the beginning. Just a thought...)

Around 8:45 we started making our way to the start (with several hundred other runners) and then we were off. We settled nicely into the VERY CROWDED middle of the pack and I told Amy that this was definitely not the race to try and PR! I was not trying to PR anyway...this was about a fun run with a friend...but between the crowds and hills, it would have been disappointing if I was expecting something different. I felt really relaxed and chatty and checked in with Amy on pace a couple of times. Even with the hills we were staying just below 10min/mi and I was really pleased, though starting to get VERY warm as it seemed all sun and no breeze. There were a LOT of runners around and ahead of me taking walk breaks, sighing heavily, bemoaning the heat, etc which I have not really seen in that pace-area of my local 5Ks.

Just shy of 2 miles there was a water stop...but it was on the left side of the road on an out and back part of the course and it would have meant cutting off oncoming runners to get to it. I decided to skip it (though most people did veer off) and kept going. We hit the 2 mile marker just shy of 20 minutes and I thought "for a non-PR attempt this is actually pretty good time!" Amy needed a walk break at some point shortly after this and when I asked her if she was ready to pick it up again, she told me to go ahead...that she was going to walk it in. I asked her if she was sure and she told me to go, so I did. I REALLY REALLY wished I had my watch at this point b/c I have no idea how long that walk break was or any idea of what my "actual running pace" was for the last mile. I was BROILING in the sun at this point and hoping the water stop had gatorade. Nope...just water...so I took a cup and poured the majority down my back and chest on another brief walk break. My legs and breathing felt great but I was so HOT at that point and just wanted to be done. I started running again and passing people left and right. We turned back into the park, across a bridge and through a field (where I passed more people but did not want to go into an out and out sprint b/c I didn't want to look like an ass) and it was done. 32 minutes and some change. 

Interestingly enough, this is only 90 seconds or so off my recent PR, so maybe I was off on my "PR assessment" early in the race b/c with 2 walk breaks for undetermined time and feeling pretty relaxed while running, it might have actually been possible (or close). But again, that was NOT my intent today...I wanted a fun run in "costume" and I felt pretty bad about leaving Amy but I also didn't want to walk.

Once in the finisher's chute, they had multiple volunteers telling people to stay in order so they could get placement, etc correct. Just as we got up to the person taking the bib tags, the chick behind me cut in front of me and tried to give the person her tag. WHAT??? I said "Excuse me, I was before her..." The person taking the tag said "Are you sure?" Uhhh...YEAH. I mean, it's just my middle of the pack placement but it is MY placement and we were standing there for a couple of minutes...so really, WTF runner-chick behind me!?

We got a ticket for a free drink from Zoe's Kitchen but I went back to the finisher's area to wait for Amy. After she came in, we went to the Zoe's booth/line and they had run out of drinks! (There were still lots of runners coming in, too) They were selling food and instead were now offering free fruit or pasta salad to runners, so we each got a fruit salad and hit up a water fountain instead. We roamed around for a bit and ended up sitting in the grass listening to music until almost 11:00 enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful, warm day.

Overall, it was a pretty course and a fun morning with my friend celebrating a light-hearted holiday. Logistically things could be improved but everyone (save cut-me-off runner chick) was really friendly and in a good mood so it all evened out in the end!

(On a side note: Does anyone know how to get texted pics off of a Droid phone? I can't seem to save or move any pics that others send me via text and Amy sent me a cute one of us post-race and I can't get it off my phone!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

How do you admit when it's not working?

This was one of the many thoughts swirling around in my brain as I completed my 10 miles yesterday. 2 weeks until Mercedes and not at all confident that I will hit my sub-2:15 goal. Feeling that while overall, I know my fitness continues to improve and I am able to withstand tougher and longer workouts, I am still nowhere near where I need to be to hit my goal(s).

It's no secret I have been struggling and struggling with my training plan pretty much since its inception. I used my 5K race time in December (which took place after I had cooled down from the peak of my marathon training benefit and recovery) as a gauge to set my tempos...but holy crap, nearly every single run left me sore, zapped and doubtful.

Workouts that I would normally welcome as a challenge had me physically and mentally defeated. There were a couple of times I skipped running altogether because I was too sore and tired to even attempt what I had put on deck for myself. And I couldn't even get in "junk miles" because I was too sore and tired to even run with proper form. Matt pointed out to me that my phrase of "I'm not usually in so much pain" was becoming almost a daily utterance...thus I was actually walking around in pain for much of the last month. And when he pointed that out, I realized that he might actually be right.

So, FINALLY last Monday I had the courage...yes, courage...to admit that this plan was NOT working for me. 3 weeks to go until my "A" race and I was abandoning ship.

No...not giving up my race...not even totally giving up on my time goal...but giving myself permission to stray from this plan that I was imposing on myself. I laced up my shoes, headed out in my neighborhood for a blissful UNTIMED 3.1 mile run (about 3 miles short of "the plan" and who knows how far off on pace) and truly...it was the best and most freeing run I had done in weeks.

As "type A" as I am (and I'm sure many of you are the same way), it was really hard to "quit" something or admit "defeat". Though I am trying not to look at it that way...I am trying to tell myself that I am listening to my body and my heart. Burning myself out or getting injured wouldn't be any good and I'm pretty sure I was on the express train with a stop at one of those two destinations.

Bottom line: If a training plan is leaving you unhappy, constantly in pain, dreading your workouts and generally zapping the enjoyment out of the sport, it's probably time to reassess why you're following that plan to begin with. AND...if you change your mind or direction,  it's OK because hopefully there is a lifetime of running (or whatever) ahead of you and you can try again another time.

Now here I am, less than 2 weeks from my goal race...soaking in the energy of my friends who are tackling the distance for the first time...planning fun costumes with my relay team...looking forward to going for a run tonight after work. I know in my heart that I've made the right decision...now here's to hoping I'm not going to end up with a PW either ;)

How do you deal with altering goals when you training plan isn't working for you? Or do you just plow through and accept the misery?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Take 2

"You have successfully applied for entry for the ING New York City Marathon 2012, Your entry number is 910470. Please write down your entry number or print and save this confirmation page in your records as you will need this number in the future. "




No time like the present to get this ball rolling. Luckily, the guaranteed entrance changes are gradually being implemented, thus b/c I was denied last year if I am denied again this year and next,  I WILL be guaranteed entry in 2014! LOL...that is so far away and hard to think about it...let's hope I am not posting a "Take 3" next year!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Otherwise known as my lazy excuse for getting in a post today :)

1. I got a text from Matt that I have a package waiting for me at home. What does this mean? NEW SHOES!! When I was out running this weekend I realized that my shoes were officially dead, so after price-comparison-shopping, I hopped onto Amazon Sunday night and ordered new ones. I am a HUGE lover of the Mizuno Wave Nirvanas...so much so that this will be my 7th pair! This time around I got the Wave Nirvana 7s in blue/silver...which happens to be the exact style and color of my current shoes. BUT I have found that there can be variances in fit with colors in the same model (oh, pink Nirvana 6s I really did want to love you...), so even though I was tempted by the yellow ones, I decided to be extremely boring and stick with what's working. It makes me tempted to lace them up and take them for a run tonight, but...

2. My legs (and body) are SO sore. The intensity of my workouts right now using the FIRST half-marathon PR plan is kicking my ass. I honestly feel more beat up than I felt during marathon training. There are almost no "easy" runs or paces and almost every run feels like I'm running for the first time. So even though I had a rest night last night because of Bunco, I feel like I really need to get a massage tonight so that  I can face Friday-Sunday with productive workouts. I need to pay attention to recovery and given that work has been insane AND I have not been sleeping well but it can be really hard to admit that I need to rest sometimes. (Let's not even get into the fact that I also will be bringing home work this evening...)

3. Another reason to stay healthy? I have convinced 4 of my friends into joining me and running the Mercedes Marathon Relay! One month from today!! I will be taking the first leg (10K) and then going on to complete the half marathon before turning into a mobile cheer squad. I am really excited for this and to share more details soon!

Happy Thursday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Journal Friday

I told myself BEFORE my most recent marathon, that AFTER the marathon, I would not continue to eat like I was in high mileage training. And for about the first week, I was pretty good at keeping that in mind. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and quite frankly, my eating went to shit...especially during the latter part of December. Too many carbs, high fat items, portions out of control and late night snacking (the latter being my greatest down fall...Amy and I call it the late night feeding frenzy).

So...It's not surprising that I got on the scale after the New Year (after avoiding it for the entire month of December) and DID NOT like what I saw. I've only "recently" (within the past 6 months) even started weighing myself again because there was a time in my life where I was quite unhealthy and obsessive about it and I'm only now to a point where I think I can handle the number and react appropriately to it.

Even before "the weigh in", I had toyed around with signing up for Weight Watchers with the idea of reteaching myself healthy eating patterns/portions but wasn't totally in love with that idea initially. I also know how to count calories and can tell you the calories of most everything I eat (a throwback from my obsessive days) but truthfully, it's not the system that works best for me (I can manipulate around it too well, if that makes any sense). Around this same time, Amanda from Run to the Finish invited people to join her on a 30 day Food Journal Challenge for the month of January. PERFECT TIMING.

A food journal is more than just a food log and 6 days in, I'm really enjoying the exercise and the awareness it's bringing me. There are no specific "rules" to this challenge other than to try to log every day, so if it's something that you're interested in doing, please jump in! I'm doing the daily log and once a week, taking pics of what I eat for my own accountability. And I will tell you, the day I took pics (Wednesday), I was SUPER aware of my portions and I do think it influenced my decisions.

For now, I'll share my Wednesday (food) in pics and will be checking back each week with a Food Journal Update. Will make a decision on my next big action at the end of the challenge. Could be counting points for a while or maybe regular logging will bring me enough awareness to make the changes needed to drop the holiday weight plus the 15 or so pounds I've been looking to shed for a while now.

Food Journal: Wednesday, January 4, 2012


General: Working today, woke up absolutely exhausted. Busy schedule at work today...5 meetings!! Lower body (esp. hips) sore from yoga last night.
Ate a couple pieces of honey dew melon as I was fixing my to-go container because I knew that I would be hitting the ground running when I got in the office.
Aiming for 64oz of water (min) daily; so when at work will be drinking a glass of water (12oz) before I allow myself my daily diet coke.

~10:20 a.m.

Honeydew melon and a diet coke
Really hungry! I would not normally be eating for the first time this late, but such was the schedule. Came back from my meeting across campus and was grateful for the caffeine. 

~11:00: Hungry again. We are having a staff meeting at lunch and the office is getting food from the delicious and tempting Shindig's Food Truck. They have great hamburgers and the BEST fries and dipping sauce but really, even if I wasn't journaling and taking pics today, that does NOT fit with trying to detox my body from the holidays. I'll be walking to pick up the food with L. and will get a closer look at the menu when we get to the truck.

~11:45
Faro Salad
I can't believe I was able to sneak a picture, even though it is blurry and does not really express how dense and filling (and delicious!) this was. Local greens with pomegranate arils, kumquats, roasted beets, goat cheese, walnuts, grilled chicken and a homemade vinaigrette. Not my diet coke...I was drinking water! (Bonus: Walked .5 miles to/from food truck!)

3:00 p.m.
Lindt Truffle
Another co-worker brought this to me after lunch and I'm surprised I was able to wait this long to eat it!

~5:00
I am very hungry but my snacks that I brought with me today...an orange and a container of Greek yogurt...are not conducive to eating on the go. I am getting ready to meet Amy at the gym for some strength training and I need to eat something. And that something does NOT need to come from my assistant's candy bowl. While I am at it I throw away some chocolate covered short bread cookies that someone gave me...they are not that good and not worth the calories. I remember I have some almonds in my desk drawer and even though that's not what I feel like it, it's that or the candy.

10 Emerald Cocoa Roast almonds

**After work, Amy and I do 1 hour of strength training at the gym...upper body, back and abs at the gym. We use machines and do 3 sets of 12 on each of the following: lat pull downs, chest flys, shoulder press, row, bicep curls and triceps. Then use the stability ball to do: 60 crunches, obliques with a center lift between sides (20 each side) and 40 back extensions. I am really glad that Amy texted me to see if I would join her. I want to incorporate more strength into my routine and I'm comfortable with the moves but find it SO boring if not in a class format or with a friend.

~7:15 
 Matt cooked dinner (this is usual during the week) and decided to go to a movie while I was at the gym. I came home to find this plate waiting for me
3oz herb crusted pork loin (I measured on the food scale and I promise this was cooked even though it looks otherwise in this picture!), roasted asparagus seasoned w/salt, pepper and crumbled feta, pasta w/roasted veg and  light tomato sauce (this was from a Bird's Eye Steamfresh pouch!)

I was a bit water logged, so I supplemented with this:
No, not the entire 2L bottle :)
I found this while I was shopping last week and I really like it. It says it's a limited time flavor...go figure.

And later in the evening:
A Euro or two...
2 milk chocolate Euros stolen from Matt's candy stash. Plus a big glass of Arizona diet Blueberry green tea and more water.

Total ounces of water for the day: 60
Would usually have more fruit in my diet as a snack, but 5 meetings doesn't leave a whole lot of time for snacking!
I ended up with a migraine on Thursday, so I will keep logging to see if any of these foods were a possible trigger. Please don't say it was the chocolate!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: A Year in Review

Happy New Year!!

I truly hope that each of you has had a wonderful holiday season. Matt and I traveled to see my family for Christmas and I've enjoyed a little bit of time off work this past week. I've been reading and catching up on everyone and while (as usual) I've had quite a few thoughts swirling around in my head, I have not prioritized sitting and putting anything down "on paper". I'm not really a resolutions type of person--instead choosing to make change as I feel ready--but this is one thing I am aiming for in 2012...regular posting. Ideally, at least 3 times a week. I think I'm at a place where I can commit to this and look forward to sharing more in the year to come. I actually have a couple of fun announcements coming up that I look forward to sharing with you :) (And NO, I am not pregnant)

For now, I thought I'd take a month by month journey of 2011. I have the opportunity to share some things that never made the blog and it's fun for me to look back and see how the year has evolved.

January


We started the year with "Snowmaggedon" (turned into more of an ice storm) that resulted in a day off work and then the next day, Auburn won the BCS National Championship in football!

Later that month, I ran the Village to Village 10K, setting (at the time) a PR in the distance. I got my ass kicked by the beginning of the course, but by about the 5K mark I was already scheming how I was going to attack this race in 2012.

Yes, I am about to be a jerk and pass that chick right before the finish. I had been reeling in the man and woman behind me for a while too, and finally passed them.

Matt and I enjoyed primo seats at the UAB/Memphis basketball game later that night. My first UAB B'ball game actually and it was really fun. We actually have tickets for this year's match up which is later this week.

Unfortunately, the month ended up on more of a somber note, as my uncle who had been battling colon cancer passed away on the 29th. Matt was in Minnesota for work and was unable to attend the funeral with me. It's been a tough year, especially for my aunt and cousin, but we have gotten extremely close over the past year and I am thankful for my relationship with them.

February
Mercedes Half Marathon time!! I absolutely LOVE my big hometown race and it holds a special place in my heart since it's where I ran my very first half. This year was special too, as I was able to reconnect with my very best friend from grad school, Lee Ann, and we ran every step of the race together---I PRed (still my current official PR) and she crossed the line of her very first half. (On a side note, she has been rocking the running world the past several months and is getting ready for her very first full next weekend at Disney. I am SO PROUD of her!)

 Coming up Highland Avenue with her friends Jenny and Greg

 Still smiling at mile 10 somewhere in Forest Park

Happy Finishers with our Bling!

The month finished with Matt and I hosting "Couple's Bunco" at our house. So hilarious to watch the guys learn and get super competitive with random dice rolling. Unfortunately I promised I would not post any pictures from this event :)

March
It was a busy month with family birthdays (my dad and aunt, Matt's grandma...#80) and anniversaries (Matt's parents #35). In between all of the celebrating, my cousin Jimmy (from above) came and spent several days of his spring break hanging out with Matt and I. I also had my first official "race volunteer" experience.



I was a time sentry for the Rumpshaker 5K and had an absolute blast. I was stationed at the 2 mile marker and called out the official time, as well as the placement for the top 5 men and women. The race benefits colon cancer which is obviously dear to my heart but the course is ugly AND difficult, so it was much more fun to be on the "other side" this year.

April
This was a BUSY month! Matt turned the big 3-0 and we celebrated low-key here in town before he jetted off to Vegas to celebrate with another friend who was also turning 30 just days after him. Upon his return we ran the Diamond Dash again, though this time in hotter than hell temps and we left feeling defeated and deflated.

The next weekend, we traveled to South Carolina to see his grandmother for a belated birthday celebration. My first intro to the full South Carolina clan! 

The month ended with the devastating tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. I ended up escaping to Nashville and running the Country Music Half with Lee Ann and her friend Meredyth. L & I were admittedly under-trained and it was HOT day but at least it wasn't a PW for me!

 Waving to the camera around the 5K mark (I am in the turquoise, L in green)

 Funny thing about this outfit..I had never worn it prior to race day, much less even a running skirt before! But because we were without power for so many days, I did not have an opportunity to do laundry before I left. Luckily, the skirt worked out just fine!

 Must have been around mile 4, as Meredyth is fueling. (pink tank to right)

 We all separated somewhere after mile 7, but finished within 1 minute of each other.

And met up in the family reunion! 

Later that night, L & I went to a "Royal Wedding" party where we were supposed to dress up as if we had attended. We had fun shopping for our hats (and rings!) that afternoon :)

 We found replica rings at Wal Mart for less than $10!


May
I started off the month attending a "Zumbathon" with my friend Nicole. It was supposed to be 90 minutes, and 2 hours into the event, the house was still rockin'! I had actually signed up to do a 5K the next morning and I was so sore and tired that I couldn't even force myself out of bed. At least the Homewood band got a nice donation for their Macy's trip!

Two weeks later, I did my first trail race...a 5K mud run with the Xterra series. I love trail running and loved the atmosphere of this event. The race was tough though! Trail running/racing is something I would like to do more of in the coming year.

 In hot pursuit of the women in front of me. We would leapfrog much of the remainder of the race. One really bit it in the mudpit and I passed her, though I did go back and try to help. I'm not a total beotch!

 Double wave for the camera

Enjoying the knee deep muddy water and trying to stay upright! After I finished, I came back and spectated here for the 5K runners behind me and the 10K-ers. It was quite entertaining to see how people would attack this! Many sneakers were sacrificed to the water this morning!

One of Matt's best friends got married in Antigua this month and held a reception at home in Auburn over Memorial Day weekend. We traveled to that and then headed to the beach for our annual vacation with Matt's parents.




June
This was a much more low key month! I was mostly at home, working and trying to survive the heat--running trails, and taking bootcamp and yoga in Railroad Park.

July
Matt and I visited the Birmingham Zoo over 4th of July weekend and watched fireworks on the golf course in our neighborhood.

Feeding the Australian Lorikeets

More trail running, lots of after-work walks with the dogs and kicked off official training for marathon #2!

August
The dog days of summer were kicking in and my schedule, both personally and professionally, started ramping up again. We celebrated Matt's dad's b'day, I attended the MSHA incoming class orientation dinner out "in the sticks", babysat a sweet friend's little girl and helped throw a bachelorette party all in the span of less than a week.

I walked with my company team in the Birmingham Heart Walk and the Argentina trip started to get real...

Matt getting all kinds of shots to prepare for our trip 

September
I was away more than I was home this month, between football season, traveling to Minnesota for work (which included a flight on 9/11)...

Hey, look...I have hair and wear real clothes!

And of course, our beyond fabulous trip to Argentina which also included a fun running tour in Buenos Aires...





October
Thankfully I had built up a pretty good fitness base before we went on vacation, but I did have a hard time mentally getting back into the peak of training right away. Being tired, catching a cold and...more football trips...contributed to this, but in the end, I just shut up and got it done.

We also took the girls out for a nice walk on Halloween :)


November
Maybe the theme of 2011 was busy? I started the month with a 10K PR at Vulcan...very happy with the way I ran the race and felt like it was a good tune up for the next weekend...



4 days later I celebrated my 32nd birthday...

Guilt-free cake? Oh well, it was still beyond delicious!

And then the following weekend, Jimmy and I traveled down to Tallahassee for my first trip back to a game in several years.
I love this kid beyond words!

A trip to Atlanta to celebrate Thanksgiving...

And of course, attending the Iron Bowl...
With a random "super fan"

 A pregame tradition

Team entrance

December
December brings with it the official start of the holiday season, and while we were busy, we also found time  to ourselves and to relax.

I loved my "Christmas light runs" in my neighborhood after work...
 Not my house, but one that was on my route

This guy always made me smile :)

I hosted my Bunco group again...this time, it was the girls only and instead of a gift exchange, we did a treat/recipe exchange.

Yummy! 

The girls, minus Emily (who had already left) and Michelle (who was sick)
back (l-r) Kristen, Nicole, Cassie, Jamie, Amanda, Lauren, Kathryn
front (l-r) Meagan, me, Amy and Tess

The following weekend, Tess and I ran in the Meadowbrook Runs 5K where I debuted my tutu (thanks to Linzi)...



 And set a new official PR (30:33)...

I am still chasing an official "sub 30" finish

Matt and I went to the Alabama Theater for a "fancy" showing of Christmas Vacation and I got one more use out of the tutu this season, as Amy and I met up for the Trak Shak's "Tacky Christmas" run on Christmas Eve...

Before Matt and I exchanged gifts...

I got my travel map! (With a personalized inscription on the left)

and loaded up the dogs and headed down to my parents' house for the weekend.

 Bali is terrified of the Santa Hat!

My sis modeling her new hat from Argentina

And after a couple of lazy days, we went to Matt's sister's New Years party last night, ringing 2012 with friends old and new!