Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Scary! (Friday Five - Halloween Edition)


This is my first Friday link up with Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What, and Mar On The Run. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

I have been tossing around the idea of running a full marathon for a while now, way too long actually.  I thought 2014 was going to be the wasn't.  Instead, I decided to do 14 halfs in 2014 {*check* and still going - at least 3 more} and I put that marathon on the back burner.

Well now it's back on the front burner again.  YES, 2015 will be the year!  And immediately, I'm full of doubt and fear.

What SCARES me most about running a full marathon...
  1. TIME.  The amount of time it will take to properly train for it is intimidating.  I don't do anything half-fanny.  I will want to be fully trained and give it my all.  I do have other commitments and already feel over extended.  {Does anyone feel as exhausted as I do?  What would I do without coffee?  That would truly be scary!}
  2. MISSING OUT.  I enjoy racing and hanging out with my running buddies.  It will make me sad to miss races while I train for it (and recover from it).  Yes, I can probably still run a few 5ks, but I know I shouldn't do my favorite race - the half.   (Or, maybe just one?  Two?)
  3. PAIN.  I'm concerned that my Achilles, knee, IT band, hip or other previous problems will rear their ugly head while running those extra miles.  Then, I'll be required to back off.  That just won't work!
  4. INJURY.  While I'm accustomed to the issues in #3, I'm afraid I'll develop something new that will prevent me from participating at all.  All that training for nothing...
  5. FAILING.  When I cross the finish line of a half marathon, I can't imagine running another single step.  How in the world will I be able to sustain a 26.2 mile run?   True to form, I'll probably assign myself an unattainable finish time.  Never having run one, I don't even know where the ballpark is located much less how to be in it.
So, I will face my fears head on!  I will SCARY ON.  Have you run a marathon?  Were you scared?  Which race do you recommend as a good FIRST marathon?  I'd appreciate your feedback.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sticking To The Plan

When I do a lot of halfs marathons, I don't have time to properly train for them. I get caught in constant taper and recovery modes.  I made the hard decision to scratch the next half on my schedule to give myself 5 solid weeks of training for Route 66.  Granted, 5 weeks is probably not enough time to make much difference but I've got to try.  I desperately want to beat my time from last actually, I'd like to crush it.

I've always followed a plan but it was just a general schedule stored in my head.  And let me tell you, it's crowded in there.  {Talk about hoarding!}  Never have I printed a plan and checked off the daily requirements.  I'm completely guilty of falling into the trap of running the same speed.  I would slow down a little on my long runs but every other run was about the same.

In an attempt to change it up, I officially began doing speed work in June - 600 meter repeats. I have a section of road in my neighborhood (without a hill...which is hard to find) that just happens to be that length.  I've been doing this workout every Wednesday unless I was tapering or recovering from a half.  Until recently, it's been too hot and humid to know if this has helped my speed at all.  However, I did shave 15 seconds off a recent 5k from my last year's time.  So - maybe a little improvement, but not much.
I want to crush my time at this half!
The plan I'm following now (the final 5 weeks of it) has me working up to ten 400 meter repeats.  OK, so I shortened my speed work distance. When the plan says easy, I run easy. When it says race pace I push it to race pace.  When it says rest, I rest.  I found I like checking the boxes.  It's one less thing to think about.  Just do what you're supposed to do today.  What a relief!

My only variation in the plan will be this weekend.  It calls for rest on Saturday and a 15k race on Sunday (we don't have many 15ks around here!).  I'm running my favorite 10k on Saturday. But, I'm in a quandry about what to do.  Do I run hard for 3 extra miles after I finish the 10k and rest on Sunday?  Or, do I just run some easy miles on Sunday?   If so, how many?

What would YOU do?  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fantasy in Lights Twilight 10k

I will be running the Fantasy in Lights Twilight 10k again next Saturday 11/1.  It was my first 10k and still remains one of my favorite routes of any distance.  It is the only race I've run with my sister and for that reason it holds a special place in my heart.  (She later found out she was running on a cracked kneecap.  Ouch.)  In general, I am not a fan of the 10k.  But, I did run a few more this year.  Still not a big fan.  I read somewhere, "A 10k hurts as much as a 5k but last twice as long".  BINGO.

This race is held inside Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.  Simply Spectacular.  The premise of this race is that you run in the late afternoon through their holiday light show that is not yet open to the public.  Although it is far from dark or even dusk, you are running in deep shaded woods and you can surprisingly see the lights relatively well.  There are twelve scenes and each has its own music.  Some are animated.  One year the music was not working and I was so disappointed!

From Calloway Gardens Website

There are rolling hills throughout.  My Garmin has measured between 268 and 387 of uphill.  I assume the variation is due to running in the woods.  (?)  I always experience a "this is why I run moment" when I do a race here.  Its quiet (well except for the Christmas music), beautiful, serene, little to no traffic - you'll see more bikes than anything.  Their half marathon in January is also high on my list of favorites.  This is a "no frills" race.  It is managed and timed professionally, but there is not a big after party or any swag.  You will get adequate drinks and snacks.  In the past, they've given out long sleeve cotton T-shirts and have no sponsors.  (The back of the shirt is blank!  What?) 

From Calloway Gardens Website
So, even though it is not my favorite distance, I will definitely be running this one again for pure enjoyment of the scenery.  My family has attended the "real" Fantasy in Lights show a number of times over the years.  It's best to experience the lights riding in their open air Jolly Trolley.   This is a must-see if you live in the south...or even if you don't.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Won What?

My First Award Ever

I am definitely NOT an incredibly fast runner.  Far, far from it.  But, I've placed quite a few times, mostly in smaller races.  In fact, I won cash this weekend for Female Masters (score!!).  Aside from the usual medal, trophy, plaque or cash I've won some odd (and not so odd - just different) items. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for any recognition because running is hard!  And, I appreciate the "out of the box" thinking put into some awards.  It makes them more special.  Note: these were not door prizes or items in the swag bag but presented as AWARDS.  I'm sure I'm forgetting some really good ones.  Running buddies, help me remember!

Door Security Pole
Plastic Bottle
My First Masters Win

Blank Paper Certificate
Lunch Box Cooler
Farmers Market Basket
Cow Bell
Fanny/Shoulder Pack
Beer Glass
Horse's Head
Coffee Mug
Basket of Peaches
Paper Weight
Wooden Animals
Aluminum Canteen
String Bag

Miniature Tractor
Rubber Duck
Stainless Steel Bottle
Wooden Cross
Bobble Head

 I'd like to hear from you!!  What is the oddest thing you've ever won?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Route 66 Half Recap (2013)

The Silvah Lining

Update: 07/28/15

I thought it would be fun to revisit a frigid race during this ongoing heat wave we call summer.   Please visit the hosts:

Jessica at The Silvah Lining
Mary Beth at Tutus and Tennies
Jennifer at Runs With Pugs

Shoe Bling
I am registered to run the Route 66 Half Marathon again on 11/23/14, so I thought I would post a recap on last year's race.   It is one of the more memorable half marathons.  My sister lives in Tulsa and we thought it was a great idea for me to visit and run Route 66.  I arrived on Friday afternoon and we had a nice dinner with her friends.  On Saturday, we went to the expo and it's the best one I've experienced (still to date).  There were plenty of vendors but it wasn't jammed packed like at a mega race (aka Disney World).  The race people were nice enough to change my corral, as I was placed in the back due to late signup.  Thank You!

Run HoHo

It was the first time I had seen shoe jewelry and I just had to have some.  I also couldn't resist the red car decal.  My blinking arm light had recently quit working and the wonderful folks at the Nite Beams booth just handed me a new one, no questions asked.  Sweet.  I bought an extra pair of gloves as it would be COLD the next morning.  (Didn't help.)  I bought a pink blinking ring too.  (What was I thinking?  Am I 5 years old?)  OK, enough expo-ing.  The remainder of the day was spent shoe shopping, carbo-loading at Five Guys (love their fries with lots of vinegar), and watching movies. 
Lifetime Guarantee

I fretted and fretted over the weather. Would it be 22 or 29?  How much wind?  Would it sleet?  Would it snow?  We must have checked the forecast 100 times.  I was NOT overdressed.  It ended up being 23 degrees with a wind chill of 16.  Brrrrrr.  It got no warmer during the race.  Holy Cow.  Thankfully it did not sleet or snow, but it certainly looked like it could have.

Not race day, but still looks cold!

My sister works downtown in a building right at the start line. She parked in their garage and we hung out in her warm office until race time.  I stepped out of the door right into my corral at the very last minute.  Awesome chauffeuring!   She gave me an old jacket to wear, which I ditched around mile 2.  I should have kept it!  There were hills in the beginning and a tough one near the end but a good portion of the route was flat (in the River Parks area).  Early on, it was congested in a few places as the full and half started together and some residential streets were pretty narrow.  After starting downtown, we ran through beautiful neighborhoods with gorgeous homes (mansions).  As it was nearing the holidays, many had their inflatables going and were outside cheering us on.  Yes, the crowd support was truly amazing even in the frigid weather.  A couple of groups were passing out shots later in the race...ummmm, I better not. 

At the fluid stops, the Gatorade and water were freezing.  It took me a while to figure out they were not intentionally putting crushed ice in the cups.  Duh...   By mile 6, I could not use my hands.  Even with 2 pairs of gloves, they were completely numb...could not change songs, could not open a GU, could not successfully grab a cup.  By mile 9, I also could not feel my face or my feet. At this point we were running along the Arkansas River and it felt even colder and...the wind.  I would reach up to wipe my nose (one of those gross things runners do) and pop myself in the face.  Seriously, my nose should have been black and blue.  Gosh, who was making that weird noise I kept hearing?  Ohhh, it's me.  My frozen shoes are slapping the pavement.  It later dawned on me that my feet had cramped severely (a regular occurrence I am able to work out).  However, because I couldn't feel them cramping...and thus didn't do anything about it...I had incredibly sore feet for days.  

Wish this had been taken on race day...beautiful!
Near the end, we passed under the iconic Route 66 Bridge coming back into the downtown area.  I crossed the finish line pleased with 2:06 - not a stellar performance but I felt strong the entire race.   I located my sister who asked me how I felt.  "Prfeushh..."  I couldn't form an intelligible word.  My mouth wouldn't work.  Truly hilarious! I was disappointed that it was too cold to enjoy the after party.  Huge props to all of the racers who completed the full marathon that day!  Tough People.

Get your kicks on Route 66 !

My hands woke up in the car...incredibly painful.  But after a Panera Bread  breakfast including a huge caramel coffee, I was sufficiently thawed and feeling great!  Sunday afternoon was spent putting up a Christmas tree.  Holiday Cheers {clink}.

I had a great visit with my sister.  Even with the weather issues, I felt good during the race.  It's much easier to run in the cold than in the heat!  Runners, this is a race done properly with superior organization and spectacular crowd support.  I would definitely do it again...but hopefully in better weather.  Fingers crossed for a balmy 48 degrees. 




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blue Mountain Beach Recap

The beach was utterly spectacular this weekend.   No complaints!

What can I say about this race?  Hmmmmm...  It was pretty much uneventful.  You see, I wanted an EVENT as it marked two milestones.  But honestly, I don't remember much about it except it was hot, hot, hot.  In tough races, or perhaps all of them, I just zone out. {Where am I, again?}

Carbo loading at it's finest
I drove the short distance to the race in heavy fog.  Humidity, anyone?  It started late due to the porta potty line.  Pee faster, people, it's getting hotter!  The route consisted of 4 out and back loops.  A large portion was on a bike path which was too narrow in the earlier miles for out and back racers.  Loops 1 & 3 were the same, passing by quaint beach cottages and also super favorite part.  Loops 2 & 4 were hillier, especially 4 and it was the longest at 7 miles.  This last loop was simply brutal in the blazing Florida sun.  But, hey, I still reign supreme as queen of 4th place (AG).  I own it.

There was little crowd support (a small race).  No real encouragement.  No helpful distractions.  They had plenty of fluid stops, some with fruit and gels.  But, they were out of water at the finish line.  Hello?  Old woman dying here!  The after party was OK with pasta salad (just couldn't make myself) sub sandwiches, chips, cookies, fruit, etc. 

Maybe my expectations for this race were simply too high.  Shouldn't everyone know what a momentous occasion this was?  Where were the fireworks?  The roses?  The white doves?   The marching band?  The champagne?  "Here's a stale Chips Ahoy.  Congrats!"  {I'm joking.  That was a hellofa cookie!}  I did receive a nice tech shirt and 13.1 sticker.
Pretty medal

So, half marathon #25 and #14 for 2014 was accomplished quietly and without fanfare on the beautiful Florida panhandle.  I ended up running 6 hot and humid halfs this year, 5 of which I had not planned. (Done with that - no more!).  Even when I understand I won't be able to run my normal pace, I still get incredibly frustrated and it shakes my confidence.  What if I can't get it back?  Eek!   I can only hope racing all summer in brutal conditions will pay off when I get the opportunity to run at 48 degrees, my ideal temperature.  Oh, and I'll be training for that one too.  Route 66 here I come!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Half Marathon #25 and #14 for 2014

Sunday, I am running my 25th lifetime half marathon.  I've run in races with 23,000 runners and in races with 23 runners (you think I'm kidding?).  I've run in the mountains, on the coast, in the woods, in big cities, and in the middle of nowhere.  This will also mark half marathon #14 for 2014, which was the goal I set for myself this year.  I just checked the weather report again: Warm, Humid, Foggy, No Breeze.  Oh, joy.

I cannot control the weather.  But, here are a few things I can control:  Hydration, Fuel, Rest, and my ATTITUDE.  Nope, this will probably not be my ideal race or a PR race (my pace suffers in the heat & humidity) but I WILL enjoy it.  Yes. I. Will.  I will also give it everything I've got.  Who knows, maybe the running fairy will finally grant me my wish to sub 2 in the heat.  Please.....fairy.

Gosh darn, I will have run 14 halfs already this year.  WHOOP-WHOOP.  That is something to truly celebrate.  As I clock through the miles, I intend to remember each and every one... the triumphs, the challenges, the courses, the weather, the cramps, the travel, the family, the friends, the fun, the aches and pains, and even the oddities {I notice the strangest things at races!  I hope someone has picked up the dirty Q-Tip on 2nd Avenue in Nashville}. 

Did I set any PRs this year?  Yes.  Did I post some of the worst times ever?  Oh, Yes.  Did I win an age group award?  Yes.  Did I get rained on?  Yes.  Did I run in frigid temps?  Yes.  Did I suffer from the heat?  Oh, Yes.  Did I cramp all the way up to my rear end?  Ummm, Yes.  Is there a race I wish I had absolutely not run?  NO!  Because even the bad or most humbling ones have something to teach me.

This weekend, I will be on the beautiful emerald panhandle coast of Florida for this milestone race.  That's reason enough to enjoy and celebrate.  A long weekend at the beach...beautiful sandy white beaches, great food, a visit to Margaritaville (afterwards of course to celebrate), a highly competitive game or two of putt-putt with the family, AND I get to run my 2014 goal half marathon.  It just doesn't get any better than that!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nashville Women's Half Recap

I won the opportunity to run this half thanks to YoMommaRuns.  The hubs decided to go with me since we had never been to Nashville.  I usually do these sans spouse.  I knew it would be hilly (oh my) but was hoping for cooler temps to help offset the difficult course. 

View from Hotel
We arrived in Nashville later than planned on Friday but packet pickup was quick and easy.  There was basically nothing in the swag bag other than a not-so-great tech shirt and a magazine.  However, if you were in a shopping mood, there were plenty of vendors.  I had been wanting to try a Handana so I bought a couple of those and then forgot to wear one the next day.  Duh.

Here Comes the Bride
The foot cramps I had overnight were perhaps, in hindsight, an omen of things to come.  Race day started with a headache.  Seriously?  Ugh!  Once I ate, took Advil, and walked from our hotel to the start at the Country Music Hall of Fame I was feeling somewhat better.  Sadly for me, it was WARM.  {Insert Meltdown Here}.  Bag check was simple and quick.  There were plenty of porta-potties available and everyone seemed friendly and relaxed.  Ahead of me in the corral was a group dressed as a bride, complete with veil and bouquet, and her matching bridesmaids all in black.  Cute idea.  Is the wedding today?

After The Voice's Amber Carrington sang an awesome national anthem, we ran up (yep UP!)Broadway past all the honkytonks.   This was super cool (and how we fantastically passed our time afterwards -- had a blast!).  My knee had been bothering me and it hurt from step one.  Wah-Wah.  I made a deal to give it 3 miles.  At mile 3, it was fine and I never thought about it again. Whew!!  Oh, but other things went wrong: a stitch in my shoulder (Am I the only person who gets these?  Is it an overwhelming urge to burp?), the temp only got warmer, and I was gifted with calf cramps in later miles - even though I took 3 salt caps.  What the heck?  And the hills kept a'coming.  You know it's going to be rough when sweat is dripping from your elbows at mile .8 (point 8)!  Whine.  Whine.

Around mile 7, I quit throwing my pity's no fun to party alone anyway...and decided to just enjoy the race.  I high fived every spectator, cheerleader, and little kid who stuck their hand out...even a teeny tiny batman.  I texted the hubs so he wouldn't think something was wrong.  I tried to switch gears and just think of it as a long slow training run (you know - for the next half).  We ran through a couple of college campuses including Vanderbilt.  For several miles, we ran a long wide avenue flanked with beautiful, grand homes.  When my calves cramped, I walked.  When they stopped, I ran.  Back in the downtown area, I enjoyed running down 2nd avenue past the numerous restaurants.  As I rounded the corner to the finish, I was forced to walk again due to cramps.  I look up and see the hubs taking my pic.  Oh, no!  I wanted to finish strong!!  I tried to run but only made a few more steps.  I posted one of my worst times ever.  And it was fine.

Two things I would change about this race are 1) the horrid electrolyte drink served and 2) a race bib that was simply too large - large enough to be in the way.  But, there was so many more positives.  We had plenty of water stops and tons of crowd support. TONS.   Every street was closed.  No one-laners for us.  Sweet.  [Think about those logistics in a big tourist city.]  The support we received was truly spectacular.   Never having been to Nashville, this was a great way to see the city.

The finishers medal is enormous and includes a keepsake charm.  We had the typical banana and bagel in the finishers chute.  The post-race festivities were held at the Music City Walk of Fame.  Mimosas were served (Can I just stay here? Also, thank you security lady who asked for my ID - you made my day!) and there were many other tents which I did not visit.  I did see a massage tent and no doubt there were other food items.  They were also offering yoga sessions as a way to stretch post-race.

Nashville you were awesome.  Great weekend fun!