Monthly Archives: May 2011

Race Pics

Tristan and I really hoped to get some good “official” photographs out of last weekend’s half. Unfortunately we only encountered 1 photographer on the course and 1 at the finish. Boo!

Here’s what they got.

We ran for a good 30 seconds in this pose.

I'm actually just in the background of this photo. I have cropping skillz.

 

I demanded this photo be taken.

Tristan did manage to get one really awesome photo.

HARDCORE!!

I doubt we’ll be ordering any of these. The quest for badass race photos continues…

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Williamsburg Half Marathon

Welcome to PR City!! I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen, but I PR’d this weekend at the Run for the Dream Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA. This was my 2nd Half Marathon and my only goal was to beat my previous (and only) time of 2:18 something.

So here’s the lengthy and awesomely photo-filled recap of how I got there.

A bit of a back story…on Tuesday of last week I went to Bootcamp per usual and during our warm up lap around the shopping complex my left inner shin/calf was KILLING me. It seriously hurt like crazy. I’ve never felt this kind of pain before, and I was instantly worried about the upcoming race. It sort of loosened up as I completed the lap, but it pretty much bothered me all of boot camp. I came home, iced it and took some Advil. On Wednesday I woke up hoping to run 4 miles before work, but at mile 1.5 I threw in the towel and walked home. I spent Wednesday popping Advil and massaging the area. I played volleyball that night and was still in pain. Come Thursday morning I woke up expecting to feel the burn, but I literally felt NOTHING. It was like the pain magically went away. Needless to say I was happy but I continued to pop the Advil, massage and ice as much as I could. Friday rolled around and I decided not to run, just in case.

Basically this weird little calf thing meant that my taper was non existent…I literally didn’t run at all from Sunday-Saturday. I hopped on the treadmill of our hotel on Saturday morning and ran a SLOW 3 miles just to get my legs going in preparation for Sunday AM. It seemed to work and I didn’t feel any pain, mostly just tightness.

I am about 90% sure it was a shin splint, and I am happy as all hell that it went away by the time the race started. I knew I’d drag myself across the finish line no matter what, but I was SO THANKFUL to be pain-free during the race.

Now for the juicy fun stuff.

I bought my entire race outfit the day before the race at the Nike Outlet (outlet shopping the day before a race is also an endorphin rush). I know this is a serious no-no in the running world, but I love my other Nike products and knew these would be just fine. Also, I’m not one to feel bothered by annoyances on my clothing.

I ended up in the yellow instead of the pink. I absolutely love the yellow top. It was light weight, bright and kept me cool the entire race.

Sunday morning I woke up naturally at 6am and took my time getting ready. I hate half a bagel with peanut butter, chugged some water and took more Advil. I woke up the rest of the crew by 6:40 and we left the hotel at 7am, just 30 minutes before the start. Williamsburg is small, so it was super easy to get to the start of the race with plenty of time to spare. They had a shuttle system but we opted to get dropped off. We hit ZERO traffic and got dropped about .5 miles from the start which was perfect for a warm up. Our hotel was only a mile away anyways so this whole process was ridiculously easy.

Good morning Williamsburg!

My brother Tristan and I had plenty of time to stretch, take photos and mill around.

Happy running morning.

The race started promptly at 7:30am after the usual race pomp and circumstance. I was a fan of the colonial drum/fife band and the choir that sang the National Anthem. With only 2,700 runners we easily found space to get into the groove.

The first 4 miles of the race were awesome despite the fact that it was already 70 degrees and humid. We ran through Colonial Williamsburg and got to take in the sites. Neither of us had ever been there before, so we had a lot of fun snapping photos of “old things” and each other. This part of the race flew by.

Demonstrating proper form.

Colonial building.

We were loving the scenery. And frolicing in the grass.

We decided to document my fuel belt malfunction.

A real colonial person!

Around mile 4 things started to get boring. And hilly. To keep ourselves sane we decided it would be fun to take a photo at every single mile marker from that point forward. This tactic was an amazingly helpful mental boost because it seemed to make every mile fly by.

Really excited...and notice how awesome my Nike top is from the back.

Between miles 4 and 6 several things happened. We came across a random bear mascot, we encountered a really l.o.n.g hill and the course went from paved roads to gravel.

Hello bear friend.

Blurry gravel (and a hill).

Mile 5 welcoming us to a long and sun-drenched hill.

Then we decided Tristan would take the evens and I'd take the odds.

At this point the course went out towards the river and the race seemed to drag on and on. This was a long out and back and it consisted of an entirely CONCRETE road. Can you say knee pain?! I was not a fan of this portion of the race simply because of the concrete. However I kept a positive attitude and had fun anticipating the next photo opp. Eventually I started taking little running breaks on the grassy side part of the road which I think really helped my legs in the long run.

Concrete, we do not appreciate your hardness.

Another concrete mile (and some hills).

A random piano. He was cool.

Running in the sun was not fun…it was getting HOT at this point. Thankfully parts of the concrete road were in the shade so we were able to stay relatively cool.

A lady thought our photo taking was funny and offered to snap this shot at the turn-around.

Heat turned up, shirt came off.

Really hating concrete at this point.

Toilet monster!!

We both continued to feel great despite the heat, hills and concrete and I think our fun attitude really made that possible. Neither of us were really thinking about pain, distance or pace and it made the first huge chunk of the race fly by. I also knew that I only had to average faster than a 10:30 pace to beat my PR.

Oh look, CONCRETE. But still smiling.

Around mile 11 I started to feel the burn in my legs. I wasn’t hitting a wall or anything, but the long rolling hills were taking a bit of a tole. We stupidly ran a longish hill around mile 9 at a 9:08 pace which I think sucked some life out of me. Endurance-wise I was feeling like a rock star but I could feel my legs getting fatigued. I chugged Gatorade and water (like I’d been doing throughout the race) and hoped it would give me a little boost.

Trying to trick the pain with dynamic stretches.

Fake smile.

And then came mile 12. Tristan told me slow down and save energy but I had a hard time listening. I was running somewhere in the 8:30s for the first little bit of mile 12 but my legs were NOT having it. With about a half a mile to go I literally had to stop in my tracks. My legs were burning and tired and were screaming for a break.

Evil mile 12.

I don’t know if I was hitting a wall or what, but it sucked. A brief walking break and the fact that there were no more hills really helped even things out. The last part of the race was around the track at the William & Mary stadium and I was jumping for joy that it was FLAT.

Semi fake smile. Hating my legs but loving the end.

We officially crossed the finish line in 2:11:03. Tristan did exactly 2 training runs for this race, so it wasn’t a PR for him but we were both really happy with our time considering all our our photo ops, the hills, concrete and heat.

And my official stats: 1007 overall, 109/284 in my age group (20-29) and 2:11:03 finish time.

Elevation profile.

Going into the race I thought it’d be MUCH flatter. The elevation profile on the website made the course look like a piece of cake. Clearly I need to train on hills a bit more.

For some reason this didn't scare me. From the race website.

Anyways, the post race festival was ridiculously fabulous. It was extremely well coordinated and they had A LOT of goodies for runners. It was also easy to find our “fans” and a spot in the shade. I was very impressed.

Post race food. 5 stars.

In addition to those goodies we also got two beers, a BBQ sandwich and unlimited amounts of chocolate milk. They had a band playing as well as other running vendors. The space never got too crowded (it was on a lawn at William and Mary) and we easily found a spot to enjoy the goods.

Sweat attack.

Once we were fed and stretched we drove back to the hotel to shower before heading to Busch Gardens. Yet another perk of this race…our registrations included FREE admission to the theme park as well as a meal/drink voucher. A regular park pass is somewhere in the $65 range, so the half marathon fee totally paid for itself. They also offered a 15% discount for friends and family, although we found a better deal online.

Theoretically the Busch Gardens pass would have been more awesome had we not had to use it on race weekend. Walking around the park for 7 hours after running a half marathon full of hills was not exactly easy on the legs. I ended up sitting out a lot of the rides because I couldn’t handle standing in line for 15-20 minutes at a time. Luckily the people watching at Busch Gardens  is highly entertaining so I was happy to park my sore butt on a bench.

Overall it was a super weekend and a super race!

Happy running!

The Story of Us, Part Deux

We left off this little love story at a very important moment…the moment/day/event that changed everything: KARAOKE.

Back in the day (2007), a little bar near my apartment had karaoke every Wednesday night. It was a great opportunity to relax after work and make a fool of ourselves, so my roommate Em and I went quite often.  On one particular Wednesday evening in August 2007 Quinn and Brian decided to join us. As the summer progressed we were becoming better friends and our little group was hanging out more and more.

Awkward "we're just friends, but there's clearly chemistry" photo.

So on this fateful night, the four of us were gathered around the song book when someone had the brilliant idea (the jury is still out on whether it was me or Brian) that Brian should FAKE PROPOSE to me on stage after signing a song. I thought it was a hilarious idea, although I was super nervous about actually getting away with it. We decided to go for it and I gave Brian my sapphire “you-just-turned-16-congrats” ring to use as the engagement ring.

Brian chose to sing “You’ll Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey and he was pretty horrifically bad. But that is the point of karaoke after all. When he finished the song, he stayed on the mic and told the crowd he had an announcement and then proceeded to call me up to the stage. I was BEYOND nervous so I actually looked pretty legit as an “I’m about to be engaged” chick.

He then proceeded to blab on about how much he loved me and how the past 5 years had been the best of his life and then he got down on one knee and proposed. Of course I said yes and acted all sheepish and nervous and excited. In a way it was kind of awkward because Brian and I had NEVER even hugged or touched or kissed or anything, and now we were supposed to act like a newly engaged couple. We kind of awkwardly hugged and the bar crowd was LOVING IT.

Em then proceeded to get up and sing, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King so we could have our “first dance.” I’m not sure why we decided to do this, but in retrospect I’m glad we did, because the photos are fabulous (Quinn took them).

Our first dance...already in love and we didn't even know it.

I believe as the photo above was being taken, we were discussing whether or not we should kiss…to make it more legit. We had NEVER kissed at this point, but it was obvious that we needed to turn on the lip action to keep the crowd happy. And honestly the adrenaline rush made we want to kiss him quite badly. We decided to go for it, and by some miracle Quinn captured the moment perfectly. We now have the most fabulous photo of our very first kiss.

Bow chica wow wow...our FIRST KISS.

We then proceeded to get a slew of free alcohol. People were sending over bottles of champagne and shots – it was quite glorious. TONS of girls kept coming up to me to ask to see the ring. This was super weird because the ring was just a tiny little sapphire with a few diamonds around it…not engagement ring bling.

Enjoying our free drinks and our love.

Words can’t really accurately describe how my feelings towards Brian changed that night. He was fun, bold, exciting, handsome, and a phenomenal kisser, not to mention already a solid friend. I definitely became more smitten with him.

His mom has always claimed we’ve been engaged for almost 4 years now, and in a way she’s right..

Stay tuned for Part III!

Alien Plant Invasion

Part deux of The Story of Us is coming shortly…but until then I leave you with a photo of the most INSANE PLANT EVER.

This monster is currently growing in our backyard.

zomg.

It’s got to be close to 7 feet tall. The bottom part of the plant was there when we bought the house 2 years ago, but it’s never done this before. We have had a lot of rain, so maybe it’s been drinking a lot. Or maybe aliens have planted it as an antenna to communicate with their distant lands. Or maybe it’s a sign that the world is ending on Saturday (since apparently that’s happening. Cough. Cough).

Maybe I have a green thumb after all.

Thunderstorms…the ultimate motivator. And my hair.

If there’s one thing that always motivates me to run, it’s the weather. And I don’t mean nice weather. Drop me onto the street with a thunderstorm looming in the distance and I am going to run like the wind.

I set out to complete 9 miles on Sunday afternoon, which is an usual time to run for me. I like to knock my long runs out on Saturday mornings (it makes me feel like I have the whole rest of the weekend to just veg out) but since I was out of town for my lil bro’s graduation I had to make adjustments. I checked the weather report obsessively on the way home from NC and it seemed as though I’d be running in torrential rain no matter what time I started. However, I take the weather reports with a grain of salt since they are usually just flat out wrong. Around 5:30 I decided it was kind of “now or never” and laced up my shoes.

The first 4 miles of the run were super pleasant – not the massive storm weather.com had predicted for 5pm. I chose a flat route and the sun was still shining gloriously. Around mile 5 I headed into the park near my house and the winds started to pick up and the sky darkened. I contemplated turning home, but I could see a twinkle of sunlight in the distance and I was bound and determined to get in my miles.

This looked scarier in real life. Props my my iPhone for taking the edge off.

I was literally at the FARTHEST distance from my house when the rain started to come down. I was also in the middle of a forest and completely alone. It kind of freaked me out. However, it did motivate me to whip out a 9:16 mile. I could feel the adreneline pushing me faster and faster. It was pretty bad ass.

Thankfully the rain lasted all of 1.5 minutes and I was out of the park in no time. My knees started to feel fatigued around mile 8 which scared me a little bit. I hope everything works properly and pain-free at Sunday’s half!!

Overall I was super happy with this run. I paced myself in the beginning and was able to reward myself with faster speeds at the end. 9 miles and change has been my MAX training distance for this race…let’s hope it’s enough.

In other life news, my brother has officially moved in. We haven’t lived together for 8 years, but so far so good. Now when I work from home on Monday’s I’ll actually have some social interaction…yay! He’s spending most of his time trying to find a part time job while he prepares to go back to school in the fall. The rest of his time will be spent cooking us gourmet meals I hope.

Also, I’ve been wearing my hair UP a lot lately. It’s naturally curly, so this humid weather makes it difficult to maintain.

Au natural

I like to blowdry it straight, but as soon as the humidity hits it goes a little crazy and I throw it up in a bun.

Check out my hair, not my ear.

In the winter (and on NON-HUMID days) I can even whip out the curlers and really go to town. However, these occasions are few and far between. Tears.

Nice hair requires entirely too much effort.

Wow, what a tangent.

Next up on the agenda, the Story of US, part deux. Stay tuned because it’s about to get juicy.

Taper? And a New Roomie!

The Williamsburg Half is only a week and 3 days away, so I should probably start tapering off my runs so I’m fresh and strong for race day. Although I must admit, it feels a little weird to taper when I’ve really only been back running for 1 week since my sickness. My plan is to attempt 7-9 miles on Saturday and then really tone things down.

Monday I ran a very successful 6 miles. I left the music at home and just ran. It felt amazing, which hasn’t happened to me in a while. Brian’s been trying to teach me how to pace myself a little better during these runs. I tend to want to go all out for EVERY run I do, but he insists that I need to maintain specific paces for specific distances. I’m pretty clueless about all of this, and he was a collegiate runner, so I guess I should listen. I attempted to stay at a 9:30ish pace for the 6 miler.

I definitely had energy left during the last mile, so I decided to go all out. In other words, Brian’s advice basically went out the window. One day I’ll learn…

Apparently I also went a little too fast during my 5 miler today. Maybe I need to readjust my definition of hard vs. moderate vs. easy?? It my head it makes sense that I should do a 5 miler faster than a 6 miler, but according to Brian it’s not all about speed. I’m hoping for a lightbulb moment sometime soon.

It makes me happy to see that I can do 5 miles at around a 9 minute pace. I should be able to do 13.1 around 9:45 right?!

Moving on.

This weekend my little baby brother graduates from COLLEGE and the exciting news is that he’ll be moving in with us!!! He is graduating with a degree in civil engineering (he’s super smart) and has been applying to jobs and programs. So rather than kill time in our hometown in NC for the summer, he’s opted to come up to VA! I’m sure the fact that his girlfriend (who is also one of my best friends – I helped set them up!) lives in Richmond had a little bit to do with it too wink, wink.

My bro is da bomb.com

Tristan is the best lil bro in the world, so I have no problem welcoming him into our home. He and Brian also get along really well, especially over their shared love of beer. We’re 4 years apart in age, but we did live together for 18 years so I figured, why not. He’s a good kid (yes, he’s still a kid to me), a good cook (score!), and just generally easy to get along with. He moves in on Sunday!

We've come a LONG way.

Another epic adventure of my 2nd quarter…living with two guys and two male cats. I’m soooo outnumbered.

Weekend Happenings

I was SO THANKFUL for this weekend. Even though I’d been cooped up sick for almost a week, I felt like I needed a break. Does that make me lazy? I needed “me time” that didn’t require blowing through 75 tissues a day, fighting throat daggers or not moving off the couch.

I ended up going to bed at 8:30pm on Friday night. I’m a party animal. I slept for a nice 12 hours (you’d think my body was sleeped-out at this point) and then got up to attempt a run. My sick weekend had called for 11 miles, which I clearly didn’t accomplish, and this weekend was supposed to be 10. I settled for 7.

I deliberately took this slow. My hips and legs were super tight after Thursday’s run, and it was clear to me that structurally, my lower half needed a break. Endurance-wise I felt fine, but my legs felt heavy and painful for most of this run. Apparently not using my legs for a good week and half took away a lot of my fitness. BLAST! I was really happy when it was over, although it definitely made me nervous for my race on the 22nd. I have to basically double that. Scary.

Next up on my weekend agenda was a trip to Washington, D.C. Two of my lovely lady friends celebrated birthdays last week, so we gathered to party up in their honor. I arrived in the city around 6:30 and we immediately began drinking wine, eating cheese, and blabbing on like girls do.

We are friends with wine.

We didn’t do much more than eat and drink wine for the next 4 hours. It was just what the doctor ordered. Before heading out the door around 11:30pm, we thought it’d be a good idea to make shooters. These consisted of the cheapest vodka on the shelf, lime Gatorade, some strawberry-lime sparkling water and a few drops of pure lime juice. Surprisingly good once we figured out the proper ratio…

We ended up at a random bar near Dupont and had a great time despite the $9 drinks. This is DC people, NOT NYC. I had 1 gin and tonic and 1 beer since I simply couldn’t justify the cost.

Gin you are so refreshing. But not worth $9.

It took everything we had to stay out late and we proudly didn’t go home until 2:30am. 9am rolled around all too early and we were up again ready to take on the day. I drove back down to Richmond and was home sweet home by noon. It was somewhat of a whirlwind trip, but I loved every second of it.

Now it’s back to the grind. I need to focus on building up some last minute leg strength this week so I don’t have to crawl across the finish line next Sunday. Boot camp is calling my name!

Back in ACTION

I’d say I’m about 90% better from this lingering sickness. It only took a WEEK. I decided that it was time to suck it up and run, even if I am still coughing more than a lady should. My personal running coach (aka Brian) told me I should do a “long and easy” run today. The last run I completed was a 7 miler 2 Saturdays ago…yikes. I had sort of only planned to do 3-4 miles today, but he seems to know what he’s talking about so I went for it.

I attempted to keep it around 9:45, and ultimately I succeeded. A little too fast on mile 2 and too slow on mile 6, but I’m still learning that whole pacing thing.

I generally felt OK, although my hips and IT band were definitely TIGHT. It was somewhat annoying and definitely shows me that I need to get my butt back to boot camp and yoga. I took a few breaks to stretch out along the way (and cough).

When I got home I was happy to be DONE.

My shirt told me to RUN, so I did.

With just two weeks and 3 days until the half, I know it’s going to be tough to bounce back in time, but I’m still gunning for a new PR.

Happy trails!!!

The Story of Us, Part 1

One particularly wonderful development of my “adult” life is my relationship with Brian, my fiance. We attended the same university, and even graduated the same year, but never actually met our entire 4 years of college. Brian  had classes with several of my closest friends and even worked 20 feet away from me in the library –  he worked behind the desk and I worked in the coffee shop – but we never met.

We graduated in May 2007 and both ended up living in Richmond. Our paths crossed for the first time that summer. My bff and roomie at the time, Em, and I were out at a bar when she started talking to two guys. One of those two guys was Brian – Em had a few classes with him and knew him that way. She introduced us and I instantly recognized him as someone I had seen before from school. We chatted for a few minutes and then Brian and his friend Quinn left to go out somewhere else. I was immediately in to Brian and asked Em if she had his number (I’m forward like that).  She didn’t and I was bummed. I can CLEARLY picture Brian walking out of the bar…it was sad!! However, my sadness didn’t last too long thanks to a few more gin and tonics and the fact that I was currently smitten with another boy at the time (single and ready to mingle…what can I say).

Summer 2007. Epic in every sense of the word.

A few weeks later my roommates and I hosted a housewarming party to show off our new digs. We did what any self respecting group of still-in-denial-college-girls would do and invited EVERYONE we knew on Facebook. Lo and behold one of our invitees (Quinn, who is now in our wedding, and was friends with our 3rd roomie) was good friends with Brian and decided to bring him along. I remember looking out the window of our house and seeing them walk up. They were two of the first people to arrive and I was completely shocked to see Brian.

The first picture of Brian I ever took. Housewarming 2007 yo.

We didn’t really hang out at the housewarming…I was kind of seeing another dude and he was there too. It wasn’t weird at all though, we were all just becoming friends. I don’t remember too much from the party, but I do enjoy having this one totally awkward picture of Brian that was taken about 2 minutes after he arrived. We had interacted all of 5 minutes TOTAL at that point (3 minutes in a bar and 2 at the party. Yay math!).

August came around and I found myself hanging out with Quinn and Brian more and more. Em and I liked to go out a lot and so did they, so it was a logical friendship. It really was one of the best summers ever.

Lots of fun was had in 2007.

Those Civil War soldiers were a staple of our fun. What could make for a better photoshoot? I digress…

At this point Brian and I hung out in a group setting on several occasions. We mostly all met up on weekends, but we were both seeing other people so our hangouts weren’t really a regular occurance. Brian was definitely on my radar though – he was (and still is) a hottie!

We were trucking along all fine and dandy, until one night literally changed everything.

At this very moment, everything was changing!

Cliffhanger!! Part 2 to come!

Stay home or go in? What’s a girl to do!?

I’ve been sick since Thursday of last week, not counting the sick day I took on Tuesday of that week because of my nausea. Normally I bounce back from sickness quickly – like maybe 1 or 2 days MAX – but this thing is just dragging on and on. I don’t get it.

This week I worked half a day from home on Monday and went into the office at noon on Tuesday and I stayed home today. We have a day of meetings and I knew my constant coughing and nose blowing would not be appreciated. I’m crossing my fingers that this is my FINAL day of rest. I’m SO OVER IT!

Overall I’m feeling better, but I just can’t get rid of this unbelievable cough and the nastiness that is coming up with it. Today will be day 3 of stronger meds, so they better freaking kick in. Can you tell I’m bitter?

The hardest part about being a sick 20 something working girl is having to decide if I should stay home or not. Today is the 5th sick day in 2 weeks that I’ve taken. Honestly, I feel guilty about it. I desperately want to get better, but I know there is a lot on my plate at work and I’m just letting it sit there and fester. I also don’t want to let my coworkers down – they are a FABULOUS bunch and I don’t want them to think I’m half-assing my responsibilities just so I can spend another day on the couch. I woke up this morning with every intention of going in to work, but something inside me told me it’d be a bad idea. I pictured myself completely disrupting our all-staff meeting and then being told to go home anyway. Would that be better or worse than calling in sick first thing in the AM?? Oh the dilemmas we face…

A week of sitting on the couch has also put me in a mental slump. I have no motivation, I’m grubby, I’m cranky, I’m bored, and I just want things to get back to normal. I know these are minimal problems to have compared to so many things in this world, but I just can’t shake this gloomy feeling. I need some fluffy kittens, pretty flowers, and a 9 mile run to make me shine again!

Sick rant over. Onwards and upwards….starting with this happy scene.

Beautiful Norway...I could go for your fresh air today!