Stuff. Yup, stuff.

What an original title, right? And now, a thought dump. Since I am clearly sucking at getting back into my blog…

  • We’re living with 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 chickens (outside). That’s one big happy family.
  • Grad school is going really well so far, although it’s definitely going to be a lot to handle. I’m studying integrated marketing communications and it’s completely online. I really enjoy the flexible environment and the fact that I can continue to work full time. AND I can apply a LOT of what I’m learning to my job, so that’s an awesome bonus. My classmates are smart and talented and have been fun to interact with. YAHOO!
  • Can I just get a big ole HECK YEAH for working BEFORE entering grad school??? I can’t imagine the pressure of finally getting a job after decades of schooling. I’m very thankful to have been working for a solid 5 years.

Hi Dad.

  • I seriously love this photo of me and my dad from my wedding. I sent him two boxes of Fiddle Faddle for Father’s Day. I’m pretty sure it was the perfect gift for him.
  • While I got some serious PR awesomeness in my bright blue Adidas, I suddenly had the urge to switch back to Brooks. I kind of felt like I was cheating when I made the switch to Adidas (based on the salesman’s suggestion) so I’m very excited to be back in Brooks. They just feel like the right brand for me. And I LOVE their slogan, Run Happy. So, so true. So yeah, I am now the proud (and HAPPY) owner of these babies:

Heaven in a shoe does exist.

Brooks Pure Cadence in neon pink. They are awesome to look at, and even more awesome to run in. I sort of broke some “rules” of running by running for these for the very first time at a 5 mile race. But I PR’d so I’m not complaining. I love that they are kind of a happy medium between a “Free” shoe and a shoe with a little more support. The adidas just felt so BIG on my feet…like I was hauling around bricks.

  • I signed up for the VA Beach Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon on September 3rd. It will be my first RnR race, and I’m super excited! I’ve done several races in VA Beach and love the FLATNESS. One of my good friends is running too, so we’ll get to experience the RnR hype together. I had to choose a half to run around the end of August/early Sept to work in to my marathon training plan, and I’m so happy this RnR race is going to work out!

 

That’s it for this dump – hope to keep it up throughout the summer!

 

Waffle

It’s time to formally introduce Waffle.

Waffle is a 9lb Yorkie and is about 1 year, 4 months old. We rescued her from a not-so-great situation. I was going to tell her whole back story, but I think it suffices to say that she’s a much happier and cared for pet now! She is probably the happiest dog I’ve ever met. Added bonus? She RARELY barks. Only at the cats when she wants to play (and even then it’s like 2 barks) or when the mail man comes to the door (typical. But again, only like 2 barks). It was a bit of an adjustment for us when we first got her, but she’s super smart and has learned so much. She adjusted to her new situation the minute she walked in the door.

She’s potty trained for the most part, but we’re still working on having her tell us when she needs to go out. She’s also learned to pee-on-demand, which I love. She’s super snuggly and loves us and the cats. But, enough words, time for photos.

Snuggle pup.

Cats and dog. What stereotypes? They love each other (and treats).

God she’s cute.

Plenty more Waffle goodness to come, I’m sure!

Marathon Training Team

I bit the bullet and signed up for the Sportsbacker’s Marathon Training team. I absolutely LOVED my experiences with the Half Marathon Training Team and figured I’d need the support system to get me through 26.2. It’s crazy that our first training run was yesterday and the race isn’t until NOVEMBER. Hard to imagine training for that amount of time, but I’m motivated and ready to do it. I’m sure it’s going to have major ups and downs, but I’m ready for the challenge regardless.

Yesterday we started with an “easy” 4 miler. It was the longest run I’ve done since the half in March. It’s really frustrating to basically be back at square one, but I’m hoping to bounce back quickly. I looked back at some of my Garmin reports from HMTT and I seem to always have a crappy run on the first day of training. Guess I just need to get it out of my system.

Fake smile, but still happy to embrace a new challenge. Photo from MTT week 1.

We also picked up our extensive training plan booklets and I’ve since coordinated the runs with my current schedule. It looks like I’m probably better off joining the Sunday long run group, otherwise I’ll end up having to do some of the really long runs alone (work stuff conflicts several times on Saturdays).

I finished the 4 miles at about a 9:55 pace. SO depressing after completing a half marathon in under 2 hours. I’m still amazed I was able to do that. The goal for this marathon is to FINISH, and not get injured during the training.

Only 159 days until I’m standing at the starting line!

The Next Chapter

So much for April and May…

I’m back with new beginnings.

Updates of note:

  • I’m enrolled in a Master’s program
  • Classes have started
  • We rescued a dog
  • I start training for my first marathon TOMORROW

Caught up? Details and gossip to come. It’s time to get back into the blog world – I’ve missed you!

 

Hello. I’m Waffle, the new addition. I puked 2 seconds after this photo was taken.

Tobacco Road Half Marathon Recap

AKA, 2 hours or BUST.

It’s been two weeks since I finished this race. And I haven’t taken a SINGLE step in another run. My neck is still on the outs, and it could be another month before I can run again. Major bummer. My new goal is to be ready for the Marathon Training Team on June 2nd! Even if I can’t run a single step until that day, I want to be there bright and early and kick that run in the butt.

I digress. On to the best half marathon ever created…

Finish line. This photo sums up my race quite nicely.

I started race morning bright and early at 4:30am. Brian and I spent the night at my parents’ condo in Raleigh and didn’t arrive until late on Saturday evening (I had a work event all Friday and Saturday AM…needless to say I didn’t get much rest). There was a HUGE thunderstorm on Saturday night, and it ended up waking me up a few times. I actually ended up waking up before my alarm and started to prep.

I decided to go the neon/awesome/sparkle route in terms of race attire. It made me faster.

Love.

By 5:45 I had the rest of the family up and ready to rock and roll (sort of) and we made our way to the start. The race organizers had sent out COUNTLESS emails about pre-race transportation. Apparently in 2011 the transportation system was a major disaster and lots of people ended up missing the start of the race. I’m happy to report that we had NO problem with parking. My parents, brother and Brian dropped me off around 6:15am and I had 45 minutes to kill on my own. From there they made their way to a viewing location with no problem. I know some shuttle buses were running people back and forth to a remote lot, and it seemed to be going well.

After I was dropped off I moseyed around a little bit and then found a spot amongst the crowd in an attempt to stay warm. It wasn’t super chilly, but just enough to make we want to huddle up in a crowd of body heat. I ended up meeting a super nice girl who was also on her own. We chatted for a solid 30 minutes and she gave me piece of gum. I chewed it the entire race (it made me faster).

The gun went of promptly at 7:00am and we were off. My game plan was to PASS the 2hour pacer, and gain a nice lead on him for the first half of a race. Unfortunately I started about 1 minute BEHIND the pacer so I was instantly worried about my plan. The first half of the race had a nice overall downhill, with a few NICE downhill parts.

I literally had this elevation profile memorized. I knew that in order to break 2 hours I would need to maintain as close to a 9 minute pace as possible. Obviously that would be a whole lot easier between miles 3-5 and 7-9 than during the last 5k of the race. I actually PLANNED to start out fast and use the hills to my advantage, so I could comfortably coast up the hills.

I stuck to my plan and ended up passing the 2 hour pacer about 1 mile into the race. At the turn-around I knew I was about 1:30 ahead of them, but the worst was yet to come. I crossed the half way point just as the clock was hitting 1 hour (and I knew I was 1 minute behind the clock). 2 hours was within reach if I could hustle through the 2nd half. I knew I had about 2 minutes of wiggle room.

At mile 9, things got hard. I started to slow down a bit but was determined to push through. Thankfully the uphill was pretty gradual so I didn’t notice it much. However, at mile 11 I ended up semi hitting a wall. My legs felt like death. And the 2 hour pacer passed right by me. I knew I had a little wiggle room (thanks Garmin!) but I wasn’t totally sure how much.

The end of the race was torture for me. I hustled as hard as I could, but I never quite caught up with the pacer. It was killing me to see them in front of me. But those darn hills at the end felt so.much.worse than they actually were.

I gave it everything I had the last half mile. I knew I had to push it to reach my goal; according to my Garmin timer I had right around 5 minutes to complete the last half mile +.1. That .1 nugget was uphill and I busted my booty to make it up.

Sub 2 or BUST.

I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin at 1:59:32 but wasn’t exactly convinced that I had done it. For some reason I thought maybe I had over estimated how far behind I started from the 2 hour pacer, and how much time had passed between me starting my Garmin and the actual start time. All of these thoughts were crossing my mind and I could barely breathe. I vaguely remember getting my medal and silver blanket. Then I spotted my dad, brother and Brian (not sure where mom was?!) and immediately burst into tears and gasps of breath. It took a moment of convincing, but they were all sure I had achieved my goal. It was a REALLY freaking good feeling.

Eventually I composed myself, got some tasty bread and we hauled butt out of there! On the car ride home I checked my splits:

Exactly what I had planned. And it worked.

Later that afternoon I got my official results:

1:59:29

Epically happy with that. My first half marathon in 2010 was 2:20 something, so this is such an awesome accomplishment. I also really enjoyed this race. It’s well organized, the pre-event communications are top notch and the course is fun. It’s mostly along the American Tobacco Trail which is a nice change of pace from typical road races. I really liked running through the forest on the man-made trail. Two thumbs up!

Next up, getting healthy in order to do it all again!

Mission Accomplished.

The Best 8k of My Life. Probably Forever.

The Roanoke Canal 8k. My new favorite race. And possibly my new favorite distance.

Bri and I signed up to run this 8k two weeks ago completely on a whim. I needed to squeeze in another 5-6 miler before the half and we were on our way to NC for my mom’s birthday. The race was on our way and just happened to be the perfect distance.

We ended up leaving Richmond around 5:30am the morning of the race. The start was about a 1.5 hour drive and we weren’t sure how easy it would be to park, pick up packets, etc., so we wanted to allow plenty of time. We ended up making two pit stops…once at WaWa for gas and some pre-race fuel and once for a pre-race potty break for me (so utterly important). We ended up arriving at the start area with about an hour to spare before the race, and easily found parking and got our bibs.

The race really featured a half marathon and the 8k was kind of secondary. The halfers took off at 8 and we spent the next 20 minutes staying warm in the car. Around 8:20 we made our way to the start, which was in the middle of a forest. Basically the entire run was on trails! It was super cool.

Brian really hoped to place in his age group (or even place overall) during this race, so he started out in the front of the pack. I found a comfortable spot near the middle and told myself to think of it as a training run. But, of course, 3 steps into the thing I decided I wanted to race.

I didn’t know this at the beginning but the 8k only had 91 participants. Super small. I think I started out in a good place in the pack. I was cruising along but didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard, and no one was really passing me.

Mile 1  – 8:47

I ended up passing 1 girl about my age during mile 1. I was a little worried that I was pushing too hard, but this didn’t feel super hard. There was a nice downhill that probably helped (although it turned into a not-so-nice-uphill on the way back).

Mile 2 – 8:37

I was feeling pretty darn good. I wasn’t getting passed and I didn’t want the girl from earlier to pass me. As I approached the turn around I kept my eyes peeled for Brian and he looked to be in about 6th place overall. I didn’t really notice what sort of position I was in since I was so focused on trying to find Brian.

Mile 3 – 8:55

Starting to slow down. The rolling hills were starting to get to me and I ended up being passed by a lady, but she was definitely older than me. There was no way I was going to keep up with her.

Mile 4 – 9:09

Totally focused on NOT being passed by anyone else. I didn’t want to turn around to see how close the next runner might be, so I just told myself to push it. Again, rolling hills were so nice during the first two miles, but killer at this point.

Mile 5 – 9:17

The uphill of doom. It was all I had to make it up this hill. Thankfully everyone else was seriously struggling, and I actually ended up passing a guy. He was having a hard time and I tried to encourage him, but I could barely breathe. At the top of the hill I was sure no one else would pass me, so I hoofed it to the finish line.

Hill of Doom

I found Brian at the end of the race and he was confident that he placed in his age group so we decided to stick around for the awards. We grabbed some snacks and pretty much just sat on our butts for 45 minutes. I snapped a whopping two photos with my iPhone…

When they finally started announcing awards, they went by age group and gender. Youngest to oldest, and ladies first in each category. They got to my age group, 20-29, and announced the 3rd place runner and her time. And holy crap, her time was SLOWER THAN MINE. I about threw up. Then then announced 2nd place AND IT WAS ME. Little old me. I PLACED in my AGE GROUP!!! I won a pint glass!! I was so surprised and excited. I really didn’t expect it and am SO GLAD I pushed myself a little bit. Brian also got 2nd in his age group (see, I am just as good a runner as he is!). So now we have a pretty matching set of pint glasses.

So, not only did I PR, I also won an award for my age group. I highly doubt that will ever happen again, but man oh man was it awesome.

I’m seriously considering framing this:

So my time would not really be that impressive in a bigger race, but it is still super cool for me. I’m NOT fast but I still went out there and pushed myself and had a great time doing it. Now I’m totally on the hunt for super tiny races to run…they are so much fun and less stressful than those MASSIVE races I tend to do (ahem, Monument 10k).

We’ll be back next year!

Playing Catch Up. And an Injury. Womp Womp.

So I have two races to recap. Two glorious, amazing and personal best races.

But I’m kind of in a funk. Exactly 2 days after the Tobacco Road Half Marathon I got a mysterious neck injury. This baby came out of no where and it SUCKS.

I’ve been to the chiropractor (I literally could not sleep because of the pain) and he explained that my neck is straight…basically it’s missing the natural curve. And one of the vertebrae in my neck is kind of twisted weirdly. In a nutshell, it hurts. So now I’m going to need regular adjustments to put everything back in place. In the meantime I will just have to live with the pain (no scary pain meds for me, thanks) and lay off the running, working out, functioning normally.

These aren’t my X-rays, but this is what it looks like. The pic on the left is what my neck looks like. It’s straight. It should look like the pic on the right.

It’s depressing. I haven’t been able to run for an entire week and I already feel like a waste of space. I don’t know what to do with myself. I need running!! The worst part is that this could take a l.o.n.g time to fix. I can (sort of) live with the pain, but I want to be able to run and do BodyPump.

Right now my goal is to be back to normal by June 2. That’s when the Marathon Training Team starts for the Richmond Marathon. I WILL be on that team. Two whole months of recovery should be enough…right?!

So yeah. That’s where things are right now. I’m looking forward to writing two glorious race recaps. It’s kind of like living through it again. Roanoke Canal 8k recap will be live in the morning!

Until then, cheers to recovery and healing…

New Shoes

Hello Blue Beauties.

First of all, I can’t believe I’m not running in Brooks. I’ve gone through 3 pairs of Adrenaline GTS shoes but have been having some issues with my most recent pair. My purple beauties (I seriously love the look of these shoes) had about 400 miles on them, and I could just feel that it was time to move on to the next thing. The bottoms of my feet start aching on short runs, which is usually an indication for me that it’s time for a new pair.

I went to the Road Runner store to see if I could get re-fitted for a shoe. The Adrenalines served me well, but it seemed like I was having more trouble with the 3rd pair than with the first two. I experienced plantar facitis in the purple wonders and recently started feeling funny in my right hip. I told the shoe-expert-man about my troubles with the Adrenalines and he decided to re-test my feet/gait/etc. Normally they would just give me another pair of Adrenalines (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), but since I was having issues we started from scratch.

The shoe-expert-man had me walk and jog around the store and looked at my feet very carefully (I would so NOT want his job). He told me that he didn’t see ANY pronation at all…that my feet were straight as an arrow. Seriously, WHOWHATWHYHOW?! The Adrenalines are a support shoe…meaning they help correct issues in pronation and generally provide a lot of corrective support (at least that’s what I understand). Shoe-expert-man said that it is possible for feet to correct themselves, and he thought that’s what happened to me. I no longer need the support of the Adrenaline!

I tried on a bunch of different options but the Adidas Supernova Glide 4 just felt the best. They are light and airy (at least compared to the other shoes I tried) and the bright blue color is icing on the cake. So far I’ve clocked about 25 miles in them and they’re holding up nicely. I think I still have some breaking in to do, but I am confident that they’ll take me to a sub2 on March 18th. I seriously never thought I’d switch from Brooks, but when it feels right you just have to go with it!

Yup, Another Race

I’d MUCH rather run a race than have to plan out my own routes.

Call me lazy, but it’s just so much easier to show up and run, rather than worry about fueling, traffic, getting lost and fighting boredom. This weekend is the start of my taper week for the March 18th half. It’s also my mom’s birthday, so that means traveling will be happening. Should I squeeze in the 6 before hitting the road? Wait until I’m down there? Wait until I’m back home? Nah, I’ll just find a race. WIN.

Unfortunately there was not a single 10k that I could find anywhere remotely close to my home in VA or my parents’ place in NC. BUT I did manage to find an 8k that is happening along the route that we take to NC. Not quite 6 miles, but still totally fine for a taper.

Enter, the Roanoke Rapids Canal 8k.

It’s a super small race that actually features a half marathon. From what I’ve read, it looks like most people will be running the half and the 8k is just a bit of an after thought. Fine with me…I just need to get the miles in! I actually convinced Brian to run with me as well. Last year there were TWO people in his age group, so he thinks he might have a shot at an age group award.

The course looks really beautiful and I’m excited to support a small “local” race. I’m also pretty much guarunteed a PR, since I’ve only done 2 other 8ks ever (one was a mud/loose sand run..finished in 1:27:44 and the other was a race that I was not trained for AT ALL…finished in 56:38). I am confident I can CRUSH those times.

The only downside to this race is that we have to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn to be in Roanoke Rapids in time to pick up our bibs and start the race. At least I’ll get more practice waking up super early before a race. That will come in handy for the 3:30am wake-up call on March 18th…dun dun dun!!!

 

10 and 11.

Time to recap my better-than-ever 10 and 11 mile runs. Then we can move on to bigger and better things!

After my CRAPTASTIC 9 miler, I knew I had to make a few changes before tackling 10 and 11 miles over the next two weeks. Mostly, that meant drinking a WHOLE lot more water, and treating those long runs with the respect they deserve. For me, running more than about 8 miles at a time is no joke, and I need to treat it as such.

So the 10 miler…

The first step I took in ensuring this run’s success was to run a brand new route. I think I was getting into a rut with my neighborhood, and needed to find a new place to keep things fresh. Yes, I cheated on my neighborhood, and I don’t even feel bad.

I also wore my fuel belt, despite the fact that it was only 53-ish degrees and SUPER windy.

Once again, these splits don’t lie. Mile 10 was actually my fastest mile, so I know I was doing something right. I felt pretty strong the entire time, but my legs did start to feel a little heavy around mile 8. I ran head first into the wind throughout much of miles 3 and 4, so I’m happy with those times. I also did this entire run music free.

Moving on to yesterday’s 11 miler. Since my 10 was pretty strong, I figured I could knock this one out of the park as well. What’s one more mile?! I decided to tackle this run on Sunday, instead of Saturday, since my half marathon in 2 weeks will take place on a Sunday morning. I PLANNED to wake up at the crack of dawn to mimic the race (and just get it over with), but my darling husband stayed out until 1:30am and I just couldn’t sleep. He said he’d walk home from the bar (like a 2 mile walk!) and I just got too worried. So I stayed up and picked his crazy butt up. Needless to say, I didn’t even bother setting an alarm and didn’t end up hitting the road until about 1:30pm (had to catch up on the Top Chef Finale…priorities!!).

Once again I planned this run around an entirely new route. However, of course, as soon as I parked my car the heavens opened up with a really random sleet downpour. Thankfully it passed by pretty quickly and I was able to get started. I tried to keep things steady and easy for the entire first half of the run, and then aimed to pick it up a bit on tired legs.

I felt strong for most of the run, but when mile 8 hit I started to feel it in my legs. They were just so heavy! One MAJOR change for me during this run was that I vowed to take ZERO walking/drinking breaks. Brian suggested that I try to just RUN the entire thing. Usually during my long runs I’ll pause for a minute or so to stretch and refuel. I’m not a very talented drinker-while-running, so I feel the need to stop so I don’t spill all over myself. Well, apparently this is a bad thing. I mean duh. Every second counts in a real race, and if I want to get a SUB 2, I won’t be able to stop. I’m pretty sure in my last half marathon I stopped 3-4 times (once to remove a layer and hand it off), so several of my mile were over 10 minutes.

But not this time. I did this run completely stop-free (minus a few pauses at intersections) and was even able to drink while running. Mind over matter.

My legs were killing me the last 2 miles, but I pushed through. I’m really, really happy with this run.

I’ve been reading online that my long runs should be done somewhere between 45 seconds and 1:15 slower than my race pace. So does that mean I should be able to race at a sub 9:00 pace?! It seems crazy to me. But it also seems crazy to me to think that I could run a whole half marathon a whole minute per mile faster than I ever trained for a long run?! I just don’t get it. I guess I’ll find out at the finish line in 2 weeks!!

Best feeling in the world?