Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whole Lotta Nothing

"Random" seems to be a trend in the BlogWorld, today. I have no desire to rock the boat. Random it shall be!

This excitement nearly overwhelmed me, yesterday. I know the photo shows I was in "drive". Rest assured, I was actually stopped, in my driveway, foot on brake, while using my camera.

Some people take and share pics of Paris. You get my odometer.
You're welcome.
I have these shoes, shiny new AND discounted, sitting in an online shopping cart. Every time I pull up the browser to drool, longingly, though, I'm reminded "Tis not the time of year to buy gifts for yourself!" (click for pouty face) 
Maybe I can buy them for someone else and they can just give them to me?!
My hideous, Tuesday morning run was inexplicably followed by six, glorious, effortless, negative-splitting miles, this morning. This further solidified my theory that runners who suffer through awful workouts are rewarded by a beautiful one very soon after. (lack of scientific evidence for support keeps this in wishful thinking "theory" rather than "fact" mode)
Dear Running Gods, Please make my run on Dec. 15th the worst one of my entire life. Amen.
This week I learned how important it is for Yoga instructors to word their instructions, accurately. Feel free to try this move, if you're unable to simply picture the impossibility of it.
What was said :
"Laying on your backs, on your mats, squeeze the block between your thighs. Now...raise your hips and keep them elevated...good. Next, lift your feet so that they're hovering over your mat."
go ahead. Try it. I know you're dying to!
If you haven't already figured it out, the hip elevation was not supposed to happen. What resulted were some pretty comical (myself included, so it's totally cool to laugh about this) tumbles, groans, maneuvers and twists from the class. My sissy and I giggled about it, at the time.
In case you're wondering what we look like when we laugh, together
The jokes ended when we both woke up with body parts that were not meant to be that sore after a yoga session.
Tomorrow's rough tedious lucky schedule will include a Rest Day and an hour-long massage. (Still haven't used this baby!) 
Here's hoping the masseuse is skilled in working out "impossible yoga move" and "running 50 miles in 5 days" sorts of kinks...
What random tidbits would you like to share?



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tall and Sweet Sunday

While I try to keep the blog pretty much Cootie-Free, I have to get a little mushy from time, to time.

After a long, sore, 20-mile, run,  I was really and truly physically unable to remove my shoes from my achy feet. I couldn't lift my legs high enough to untie them, nor was there even the slimmest chance of me being able to bend down that far.

The man who, without hesitation, kindly and gently pulled off the aforementioned, offending, sweaty footwear deserves public recognition and my gratitude.

The Husband I have been blessed with supports me in every possible way. This morning, though, I was once again reminded how little I deserve everything he gives.

Thank You

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I'm Not a Vegetarian. I Just Eat Like One

I used to eat meat. I used to LOVE meat. In fact, I have no moral opposition to eating animals. A little over a year ago, meat simply stopped tasting good to me. (Book Recommendation #1 : this one)

It made me very sad, actually.

(dramatic pause)

 Lunchmeat went by the wayside. Grilled, fried, roasted, broiled, chopped, chipped, whole, boneless, T-Bone...I desperately tried to cling to some form of it. No longer was I even able to go enjoy a celebratory steak or burger. The Husband and I, while celebrating our 2nd/8th anniversary, in Lake Tahoe, had days of kid-free dining in our greedy grips.

i want to go (back) to there
Our first night in town we went to an awesome, hibachi-style place. Guests fill up their bowls with uncooked goodies and bring them to entertaining chefs. The bowls get tossed around, the food is lined up, in rows, and sizzles away on the giant grill while everyone watches and drools.
I was the total buzzkill with the teeny, tiny row of veggies and noodles, squeezed in between the piles of juicy steak and seafood. 
"oh. She must be a vegetarian"

I gamely ordered a Filet Mignon, when we went to the fancy-schmancy steakhouse the next night. Another disappointment.  
Every once in a while, I'll still try a couple bites of chicken...snag a meatball from one of the boys' spaghetti...taste some well-cooked Thanksgiving Turkey, etc. Sometimes I can get past a few bites. Other times I gag, immediately.
For some ridiculous reason, there is so much stigma associated with how much meat is involved in one's diet. In a group setting, I'm constantly feeling the need to give a lengthy explanation or defense regarding my veggie burger.
I'm pretty sure I have never given a second thought to anyone's food choices (cannibals, aside, obvs). Why this is such a Big Deal is a complete mystery, to me. I have no problem discussing or reading about the varying views on the Meat v. No Meat topic, though, especially concerning athletes. It's particularly interesting from my current "I Love But Don't Eat Meat" status...(Book Recommendation #2 : I'm not a big fan of him, per se, but there are some amazing recipes!)
What's the point of all this? I guess it's just to note that I haven't noticed a significant drop or boost in my overall health or fitness. I run longer distances than I ever did, but I don't necessarily attribute that to the absence of meat. Goals just changed.  My energy levels are high, I run and work out just as frequently and my clothes still fit me the same way they did years ago. (I don't update my wardrobe very often).

how I long for an ice-cream based diet

All this food talk is making me hungry. I'm going to go have my snack, and then knock out a 10-mile, marathon goal-paced run.
What are YOUR weekend plans? 
Read any good books, lately?




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

2012 WHM St Petersburg Recap

How's that for a catchy title?

I ran this as my second half marathon, last year and really had no complaints, other than my less-than-stellar performance, obviously. With registration being capped at 5,000 and the race itself designated towards Women, it appeals to a lot of first-timers. I was excited to register for the event, again, and forced gifted my sister and sister-in-law (ish) with their very own entries. (their first half-marathons!) Soon after, another friend bit the bullet and decided to make it her debut, as well, so it became An Event.

aren't they cute?
Side Note: I am way more proud of their training and race than I am of my own. However, that's their story to tell. If they want to share it with the world, they need to start a blog.
The Site & Pre-Race: After your register for a Women's Half Marathon race, you receive email updates. I think I got them once per month, or so, and then a bit more frequently as the event neared. They contain updated information, special promotions and offers, training links, etc. You definitely feel "in the loop". The final emails contain extremely detailed last-minute instructions, your confirmation sheet, bib number, etc. The company does a good job of keeping the participants pepped up and informed, in my opinion.
Travel : We only live about 2.5 hours away from St Petersburg, so we drove down Saturday night and stayed at one of the host hotels. There are plenty within walking distance and many others that offered a free shuttle to and from the race. We stayed at the Renaissance Vinoy both years. The hotel had made some improvements, decor and service-wise, and we liked it even better this year than last. The room was spacious, amenities were above average (free toothpaste, even!) and it was less than a mile from the hotel to the start line. 
Saturday: the boys worked on a word search
I worked on my water-chugging skillz
Locale: The race is located in a tourist-friendly spot. The Pier, Salvador Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and tons of local shopping and restaurants are all within walking distance. There are even horse-drawn carriages for those who like that sort of thing. (more on that later) We didn't take advantage of anything other than restaurants, but it was peaceful and scenic walking through the parks and streets to transport our family from place to place.

you have no idea how many attempts there were at a decent pic of the 4 of us
Bonus : cool, nearby, playground with rock climbing wall for the kidlets to play on while my sissy and I went to the ...
Health & Fitness Expo/Packet Pickup: There is no race day packet pickup, but the expo is open Friday and Saturday. It's pretty typical : hand the friendly volunteer your confirmation sheet, receive cool personalized bib, move to another (short!) line for your well-stocked goody bag, another for your (very nice) tee shirt and then proceed to wander the expo at your leisure. The volunteers were all very efficient and happy-looking. The Expo, itself, featured tons of vendors and a couple freebies. Publix (supermarket) was a major sponsor and handed out cool little cart/refrigerator clips and coupon organizers. There were some drink samples and long lines for free headbands, but we were a bit limited on time, due to our large group.
I forgot to take a picture of the contents of the bag, but it included a Luna Protein Bar, a Perform (like biofreeze) samples, very little in the way of race flyers, the latest issue of Women's Running magazine, some sort of Vitamin powder/mix and probably some things I've forgotten.
love the shirt. love the re-usable canvas bag. love the random lego.
 Dinner : We ate at this restaurant because we'd done it last year and liked everything about it. It's a cool, local place but nice and loud so no one notices your wild children. The food and service are above average and it's all decently priced, as well. I had some crusty bread, one pre-race Stella Artois, tons more water and a Garden Veggie Pasta dish. (carb-loading at it's finest)
Cheers to my old lady hands and the chance to run together!
The Husband was kind enough to secure reservations for all 15 of us to dine together
fun/weird fact: we had the same waiter we did for our pre-race dinner, last year
We all split and headed back to our hotels to get kids to bed and try to sleep, ourselves. While I was tossing and turning and trying desperately to shut off my Race Mode brain, the menfolk went out for a Frozen Yogurt Eating Contest.
I was receiving play-by-play texts of the action
Race Day: I  got up at about 4:45 am for a quick bagel, PB, honey, chia and raisin breakfast. I kinda choked it down, as my nerves were starting to kick in.
My sis-in-law(ish) and I were at the same hotel, so we met for an early cup of coffee and calming conversation. I'm not used to having friends being with me on Race Day mornings. It was such a necessary and wonderful addition to the day. We finished getting ready and met back downstairs to walk to the Start Line, together. There were more than enough "facilities". There were even tables set up with tons of waters, bananas and muffins.
Somehow, in the dark crowd, (and after numerous port-a-potty trips) we found the rest of our group, plus some extras, and hung out 'til it was time to go to our corrals. The race started, on time, at 7:00 AM with plenty of energy and excitement. The sun was finally out, but it was still nice and overcast. The weather was actually pretty darned perfect, for a Florida race. (minus the wind)
The Course: I loved the fact that I was familiar with the course. I was able to break it down into sections : "1 more mile 'til we circle the lake...Tropicana Field at mile 11"...etc. My only complaint is that we torture our knees and hips with a brick/cobblestone section. Twice. Last year, a big group scooted over to the sidewalk, but no one was venturing over, this year, that I saw.
Besides that, the only "obstacles" were the giant piles of horse poo (see. told you there'd be more about the carriage rides!) and the incessant, debilitating wind on The Pier. Pretty sure the race director(s) haven't much control over those annoyances.

There were lots of areas for spectators and the crowd support was really good. Another nice feature of the layout : We pass one little area, three times. (it doesn't seem monotonous...for real). This means our family could basically stay in one spot, with a couple minor adjustments, and see us several times.
There were plenty of well-manned water and gatorade tables, live music, big cheering sections and lots of beautiful scenery. (pleasantly vague recap? That's my specialty!)
My Goals: With this race being sandwiched between my 1st and 2nd marathons, ever, I wasn't sure how fast I'd actually be able to run this race. I was perfectly content to stay with my girlies and enjoy their race, with them. When I realized that I was actually going to be in good shape to "race" it, though, after the marathon, I adjusted my goals, somewhat.
A Goal : 1:35. A stretch, for sure, but it doesn't hurt to dream, right? It wasn't entirely far-fetched and I firmly believe I WILL see this time, one day.
B Goal: Sub 1:40 and/or a PR. According to Garmin, my best half marathon finish is 1:40:06. I choose to stick with the (stupid) race results, though, so it's 1:42xx. With those times in mind, it would be difficult to PR and avoid a sub 1:40, so I kinda lumped those together. Spoiler : I found a way to screw that up...
C Goal : Beat my finishing time from the 2011 race. At first glance, this seems easy, given that I beat my 1:45:35 finish, the following month (Dec. 2011), by over 3 minutes. However, the last half-marathon I raced produced a horrific (for me) 1:49xx time, so I wasn't necessarily brimming with confidence...
I huddled up with the 1:35 pace group but was immediately let down. The pacer, who I'm sure is a very nice gentlemen and a speedy runner, never even acknowledged any of us. The other ladies didn't really talk to each other, either, so it was more of a "every girl for herself" sort of feeling, rather than the encouraging camaraderie I was hoping for. My plan to hang on as long as I could, with this group, was definitely foiled by the fact that the pacer didn't seem to notice or care if any of us were running with him, or not.
In addition, we were told the 1st mile would be a slow 7:30ish, and that we'd eventually ease into the 7:14 average pace needed.  When mile one clocked in at 7:08, I was frustrated and panicking.
I dropped back, right around the 5k point (after seeing my cheering section...thanks guys!!) and turned on my ipod.
Call it a cop-out, but my decision to keep the pace group in sight, and make sure the race was actually a fun one, felt like the best thing I could've done, at that point. It's not anyone's fault, but my own, that I didn't stick with that 1:35 pace group, but it just wasn't the experience I'd been expecting.
I never really got terribly fatigued. My hips got a bit achy, and I definitely felt like I was in "race mode", but there wasn't any point that I felt discouraged or like I needed to walk. Night and day experiences from last year to this.
I didn't carry a water bottle, but forced myself to take a couple cups along the way. I had a GU at the 10k point and am pretty sure I had another after mile 10. For some reason I didn't really have much of a fueling or hydration plan. Couldn't even begin to tell you why that would be. Either way, it worked. I didn't feel nauseas, hungry, empty, sloshy or dehydrated.
Maybe no plan = good plan?

Here's what is NOT a good plan : trying to type an extensive Race Recap while your children are home and there are one million things you need to be doing other than typing an extensive Race Recap. Holy cow, I just want to be done with this!

I'm sure you're thinking something similar...lets wrap this up.

I realized, at the 10 mile marker, that my sub 1:40 goal was not likely going to happen. Looking back at my splits, miles 8 and 10 were my downfall. Eight was due to the epic Runner vs. Wind Battle around the pier, Ten, I have no explanation for.

I lacked focus, as usual, but had so much fun I could've cared less. At one point, I realized that I probably shouldn't be able to smile and high-five as much as I was, if I was hoping to reach my lofty goals. In the end, fun 13.1 miles won out over hard-fought ones.

I maintained my pace from 11-13.1 and finished with a huge, happy, weepy smile knowing I'd finally beaten a personal record, in a race.

I don't know how to steal photos from this page , but you're more than welcome to view my race day pics. (search for bib #1035 and click on my name to see them) Most are funny/dorky, but note the 2nd one. That happy shot was taken at the END of my fastest 13.1 miles, ever.

No room for regrets with a finish like that.

The Finish/After Party: Runners are corralled through an area to receive water, gatorade, packs of muffins, pretzels and bananas. Medals are hung, photos are taken and then you're out with the non-running family and friends.
Tent-folk offered massages, Publix gave away cookies (the line was too long for our tired legs, though) and there were high-top tables to relax and enjoy your snacks on. We brought our own entertainment/beverages and tried to out-complain each other with how sore we were. The walk back to our hotels was particularly unpleasant. Apparently we all, at one time or another, tried to convince our spouses to figure out a way to get a vehicle to us.

In the end, we made it, changed clothes, re-fueled and headed home.

that little circle in the middle is a removable charm. Mine will soon become a necklace
If you've made it this far, welcome to The End!! I love having an outlet to share my racing experiences. I love, even more, when people take the time to share them with me. Thank you for your encouragement, support and comments.
As a reward, I'll make my next post considerably shorter.
ps : I've gotten some feedback that people have had difficulty leaving comments. I changed some settings and am hoping that helps.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Small Ones Are Sweeter

Anyone who can give me the source of that title wins a double, internet high-five from yours truly.

Women's Half Marathon (St Petersburg) 2011 : 1:45:35 (97 out of 4033)

Women's Half Marathon (St Petersburg) 2012: 1:41:37 (51 out of 3165)

(note : those totals include the men who raced. Their times are included in the results but they're not eligible for awards)

Big ol' PR from last year's race. My fastest Half Marathon of all (by a little bit).

I'll take it!! Happily, even.

It was such an awesome experience for special reasons I can't wait to share with you. I'll recap the whole thing, this week.

("YYYEEESSS!!" you're all thinking)

This accurately sums up the general mood of the entire race weekend, though.
hard-earned Cheers

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Field Tripping

In the last few days leading up to my First Marathon,  I accompanied The Littlest, and his Kindergarten class on their very first field trip.
his first time on a school bus

We went to the Pioneer Settlement to visit stinky animals, watch a blacksmith at work and make long treks back and forth to the bathrooms. My legs and feet, already a bit stiff and sore from marathon training, were not enjoying the constant walking and standing. I transformed into : Lazy Parent Who Sits While Others Stand.

(I'm not sure if that was previously a "thing", but it is now)
proof. See my vantage point?
Any twinges of guilt were short-lived. I was still participating in and performing the necessary chaperone duties. There was just no need for me to be a martyr about it and sacrifice my well-worked legs, right before the race.
These types of situations have come up before, and will continue to do so.While running and racing most definitely do not come first in my life, I am passionate about them. Balancing running/motherhood/marriage/life naturally comes with plenty of difficult decision and overwhelming guilt. Here's how something like this boils down, for me, enough to let me sleep at night :
Will I skip an opportunity to accompany my children on a class trip, due to a race? Never
Will I be ashamed that I am sitting on my bum for the majority of said event? Absolutely not
Funny tidbit from that morning :
The sweet little girl, in my son's class, begging the guy in charge of the animals to let her pet "that really pretty chicken, in the back".
that IS a pretty chicken, indeed!
The poor man was mostly successful in his attempt to not laugh, while explaining how the peacock had snuck in the coop.
I was reminded of that fun day when I went with The Middlest to his class trip, today. We rode those fancy, yellow buses out to The Marine Science Center.
me, sneakily breaking the "no food on the bus" policy. No need to expose the group to my ever-so-delightful Hungry Runner mood
Neither of us had been, before, and it was very informative and hands-on. Good combo for second-graders.
the group I was in charge of. My son, appropriately, in the middle

Once again, instead of inwardly groaning about my sore feet, in regards to this weekend's race, I plopped myself down at every possible opportunity. Judge all you want, but I am a-okay with this decision. I still kept kids in line, pet snakes, opened juice boxes, iced boo-boos and dutifully transformed into a human, sweat and drool-covered pillow. Everyone won.
Today's funny:
"Mr. B, that turtle won't stop hugging the other one!"
PS : Upon reflection, I'm pretty sure the school has been plotting to sabotage my recent races.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chip-Free Weekend

My family was spared from running, spectating and/or volunteering at any races, this week.

A. We had a lot of other cool things scheduled

B. Sometimes, we just need a break from all things racing

Don't worry, though. I still managed to run 30 miles in 2 days. I also ingested everything even remotely edible after said miles.
oh, hi, ice cream!
Some of my boys picked up the slack, and brought home some well-deserved hardware, too.
Championship Trophy!
Fall Soccer has been conquered
We'll return to our regularly scheduled Race Madness, next weekend. Until then, I'm going to find my third lunch and then maybe do a little of this :
How was your weekend?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Round Two

While I don't feel I'm a slave to training plans, I do like having somewhat of a guide when venturing into unknown running territory. See, the day after I registered for my first marathon, I went ahead and signed up for my second (third...and fourth. I may have a problem).
more on this, soon!

Two days after my marathon, I felt completely fine. Yes, this could be a sign of good training. It could've also had something to do with the fact that I didn't actually run it at my "race pace". I am so happy with everything about that race, so I'm not regretting my pace. My current mentality, however, is along the lines of : Now we know we can successfully run for 26.2 miles. Let's do it faster!

Mr Higdon actually has training plans for idiots runners participating in multiple marathons. I jumped right into his 8 week plan, after the NFIM. A few days into it, though, I was feeling completely bored and unfulfilled. My body felt great and I was totally fired up. "2 easy-paced miles" for my daily workout was just not cutting it.

real snail. Not actually a picture of me...just what I felt like
I launched into some obsessive research and came up with a newer and decidedly tougher plan. Again, I'm not exactly Type A about running...or anything for that matter. However, I am definitely not experienced enough to try to improve my Marathon time "on the fly".
Plans are good.
Plans are our friends!
I'll end up with a lot of miles by the end of this first, full week. They'll include 7xHill Repeats, a 10 mile, goal marathon-paced run AND a long run. For some reason the daunting aspect of these workouts is making me ridiculously happy! I'm being rigid about my stretching, foam rolling, yoga, Epsom baths, compression and rest, too. Extra and/or difficult miles are only a teensy part of training.
really it's all an excuse to get to dress like this 
My new schedule is making me optimistic and deliciously spent at the end of each day. Had the ol' injury not joined the previous Prepping For a Marathon Party, I undoubtedly would have been able to train harder, then, too. All of my workouts, post-stress fracture, though, were forced to be altered. The fact that I was still able to succesfully complete a marathon, after all that, reinforces my belief that I went about things the right and patient way.
Granted, during my disgusting run, Sunday, I had to repeatedly remind myself : "This is what YOU wanted!". While the affirmation did nothing to stop my audible? mental whining, it did keep me going. (that, and the thought of the pizza I was going to devour upon finishing)
While I'd love to ramble more, here, I just realized the awful scent I keep catching a whiff of is actually me. Turns out I wasn't actually able to fit in a shower after running ten miles, this morning...
If you think that's nasty, you should check out my Marathon Souvenir:
Runners can be pretty gross, eh?
Want to share something icky? Now's your chance! 




Sunday, November 4, 2012

S&SS - "Recipe" Edition

Have you been having too many good-feeling or rewarding runs, lately?

Want to mix things up and toss in miles horrendous enough to make you wish a sinkhole would open up and swallow you so you don't have to run another step?

I have the formula to produce what you're looking for! The process takes a couple of days, so be sure to set aside enough time and follow the instructions, carefully.

Ingredients :
  • 1 hilly 10k race, run hard
  • 3 hours of soccer games
  • 1 annoyed afternoon with no soreness, leading you to believe you hadn't raced at maximum effort, after all
  • 1 ill-timed core workout, due to the lack of pain from race
  • 4-6 friends
  • 2 (many) adult beverages
  • 0 allergy medications
  • 12 additional, hilly miles
  • 75 degrees (normally this temperature could be combined with shade and/or clouds. You won't need either for this recipe)
  • Run the hard and fast race, on a challenging course. Optional : wear racing flats you haven't used in months!
  • Sneak in some half-hearted stretching while watching your kids run around, outdoors.
  • Spend the rest of the day deciding if you're happy or sad that you're not experiencing any aches or pains from the morning's race.
  • Go ahead and try a new Abs Workout routine
  • Invite over friends and family to hang out and watch an outdoor movie. Make sure you stay up with them well past your bedtime. For best results, eat and/or drink more than necessary, as well.
  • Forget to take your allergy pill
  • Wake up the following morning, stuffy and congested, with the worst case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) you have ever had. (Pain from your ribcage to your toes, preferrably)
  • Decide to go ahead and run your 12, scheduled miles, anyway.
  • Idiotically forget the fact that gorgeous, cooler weather that graced your fine city, last week is gone. Realize this when you're 4 miles into the blazing hot run, check your phone and see that the current temperature is not appealing to any normal people...runners or otherwise.
  • Don't forget to complain to your internet friends about a situation you had total control over and simply made poor choices. Repeatedly.
  • Enjoy!
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Fastie

bite-sized goodness
heaven in a giant bowl
1. Where have these things been, all my life?
2. Will someone please take them out of my life? Now.
Luckily, I can race off some of those (delicious) calories tomorrow morning.
This is a very small, local, race I've participated in the past 2 years. Small, as in, I was 1st Overall Female, last year with a underwhelming time of 46:02.
I've never done the 5k route. Both distances include some (Florida) hills, but "luckily" they're mostly at the end. 10ks are hard to come by, in this area, so we have to take what we can get. The way I figure, though, is I can still race against my own time. If that means I only win or lose to 4 other runners, so be it.
Some of my very best lady friends are running their first 10ks (!!) there, too. These are the same ones who just killed their old 5k PRs (personal records), so I expect this to be a fine morning for all. I'll be there to represent our running group, too. Just a bit more pressure to perform well.
January was the last time I raced (a 5k) and came away with a new PR. Every race after that, although fun and rewarding, did not produce record-breaking results.
It's time. For real.
What are your goals for your Saturday?