Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Interrupt This Running Blog

To bring you...
Some of my more intuitive readers may have wisely realized that this activity cannot take place in Florida. Indeed, wise friends, we took the boys for a long weekend to North Carolina. The two youngers have never tried any sort of snowy sports, so we figured it cheapest best to start them out on tiny, East Coast mountains.
Never ceasing to amaze, though, they took to skiing and snowboarding like ducks to water...or maybe penguins to ice blocks....whatever. They were naturals.

oh. They were really cute, too.
Bonus: The Oldest is big enough to wear The Husband's gear!
Middle-of-the-night road trip, followed by an entire day on the slopes should have led to utter exhaustion followed by complete meltdowns. Our children surprised us, once again, by being totally compliant, sweet and in total enjoyment of every second of the day.

snow angels
I know you were dying to know what my feet looked like when not clad in running shoes
On the off chance you stopped by my blog to get your much-needed fix of my awesome running tales, there was a bit of that on this trip, too. After our free!! hotel breakfast, I hopped out for a short, hilly jaunt. It wasn't quite as cold as it had been the previous day, and the overnight rain had washed away any snow. It was still lovely to be in new surroundings, enjoying the beautiful area and the feeling of the cool air on my cheeks.
one of the pic-worthy spots on my route
I spotted an enormous hill, just off the main road, and decided to attack it. First, though, I pulled out my phone to take a picture from the bottom. I've always seen photos of hills with a caption that reads something like this : "This picture doesn't do it justice" or "You can't really tell how tall it was from this picture".
Mentally scoffing at those who'd gone before me, I positioned myself just right to photographically capture a true depiction of the mountain I was about to conquer.
Listen, you can't really tell from this picture how high that thing really was
I made it just over halfway up before gasping and panting my way (carefully) back down. My poor, sick lungs were just not ready for that sort of challenge. That yet-to-be-recapped Marathon did a number on me!
We took our sweet, sight-seeing time back to Florida. The trip was long enough to squeeze in just about everything we wanted to do, but short enough to where we weren't aching for home by the end of it.
pausing the rock-skipping to pose for mom
How was your weekend? 



Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Race That Got Me To THAT Race

I want to tell you all about yesterday's marathon. In order to get us all caught up to that point, though, I feel like I need to recap The Melbourne Half Marathon, first. It was really one of the key components to my race, this past weekend. Also, I started this blog to have a place to tell my running stories. Soooo..here's another one!

I ran this half marathon, last year (pre-blogging days) and ended up with a disappointing (for me) finishing time. The course was very cool and challenging, though, and the city put on a great weekend of racing . When registration opened for the 2013 event, I signed up immediately. I wanted more pizza and free beer after the race redemption!

Fast forward a few months:
Minus the whole Jacksonville Bank Marathon debacle, my running and training had actually been going very well. I'd kinda tapped into a new Racing Mentality during The Shoelace Fiasco Race and felt like some really good racing experiences were about to be in my life. I got a teensy bit greedy and decided to try to double-dip with this race. I hoped it'd be a good gauge for some accurate goals for my upcoming marathon, but I also wanted a new PR.

Spoiler : It was both!

Here's the thing. Every time I sit to write this recap, it gets longer and longer. It was my 9th half marathon. It shouldn't have been such a big deal. But it was. It was a game-changer, for me.
a couple of options for Game Faces, on race day
Overly dramatic? Of course!

Do I care? Nosiree

I fully acknowledge that plenty of magical factors were in place, this particular morning. The weather was optimal, for a road race. I was un-injured and very healthy, all around. The course contains two big bridges, but was otherwise flat and well-marked.
note: anytime the course map directs you over a big, blue area...assume you've got a bridge to climb
The Husband and boys were there to cheer* and I even had some friends from the running group to hang out with before we all started the race. Again, it was a pretty perfect setup. Here's the big difference between this race and all the others, though :
I set goal paces for every mile and forced myself to hit them*. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? You set a goal, and don't allow yourself to do anything other than reach that goal. In the middle of a tough race, that sort of logic starts to make less and less sense, though.
Number One: Racing Strategy finally "clicked" in my slow brain.
Number Two: It. Was. Easy.
I'd probably get a lot more admiration for reporting back that I struggled mightily for 13.1 miles, but managed to eke out a PR. Yes, it was hard work. However, it felt good enough that I started getting emotional at mile 5, because I realized, without a single doubt, I was going to blow last year's finishing time out of the water. That's how good this race felt.
Another indicator: My final mile was the only one where I slipped off the Goal Pace Wagon...because I couldn't slow down. It was my fastest. I was that really annoying person who sprints by the tired finishers, with tear-filled eyes, head held high and a huge smile.
I crossed the finish line, finally securing a shiny PR, and felt like I could've gone and run the entire course, again.
me and my (always faster) friend, Jennifer. No, I don't normally race shirtless. We can discuss, later.
By this point you're probably wondering why this post isn't titled: The One Where I Brag and Annoy Everyone.
My intent is, of course, to not do either. It was just an "a-HA" race, for me. I share in the hopes that it can help/inspire and also explain why I had the aggressive goals I did for my marathon.
1:39:28 Chip Time (1:44:36 in 2012)
(1:38:36 Garmin)
3rd F35-39
30th Overall F
98th Overall
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting, too, even if it's only to yourself. Knowing that there are people to share this kind of stuff with makes it that much more awesome, to me.
*In the extended recap, there would be details about vomiting children and how hard The Husband worked to keep everything together, that morning. I'm so thankful for him.
*Also included in extended recap, would be those actual mile splits and plenty of other race details




Sunday, February 17, 2013

Short and (really) Sweet Sunday

So, the good news is : I managed to get a 19 minute PR (personal record) in my 3rd marathon, today!!

The other good news : Ha! I totally tricked you, didn't I?! You thought the good news was going to be followed by bad news. Nope. All good.

my only remaining arm warmer. boo.
That time, on that watch, qualified the owner of that arm for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
More details than you'll ever want to read are on their way...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let Me 'Splain

...No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

from where most of my daily speech is derived
For every day that passes, without a blog post, the stories just start to build, exponentially. There are so many mundane, boring cool things I want to share! The longer it takes, though, the longer the blog-in-my-brain gets. No one wants to read the accumulation of the last two weeks. Right?
Tangent Alert!!
I should take blogging lessons from family members. For example: The Husband. Short, sweet, and to the point. Or I could make my posts extremely clever and awesome,  like my sissy's.  My Aunt, however, is an actual, real, live author so I have marginal chances of competing with her witticisms. Maybe I'll just be more like my dad and take a never-ending hiatus...
Anyway... here are a couple of quickie highlights. I sincerely hope to re-cap a couple of things, at length. I'm generally pretty good at following through with those threats plans.
I had a really, really, REALLY good half-marathon!!
ignore creepy background guy...and my frizzy hair
I made a 10-foot ReptileFriend on my latest trail run!!

I would've totally befriended the 4 ft gator, too, but the big one had already started eating him
I started working, part-time, with a company I love, doing work I love even more!!
Pretty much sums up "win-win"

I'll be running my third and (hopefully) fastest Marathon, this Sunday!!
I don't have a photo to include with this. It hasn't actually happened, yet. This is the race, though. I was part of the marathon relay, last year, and stupidly decided to run all of those miles by myself, this time. Woo hoo!!
We'll all catch up, soon. You bring coffee or tea (your choice) and I'll bring the ice cream.  
What flavor would you like?




Friday, February 1, 2013

Me + Jeff Gordon = Twins!

Fraternal, obviously.

This is really just a recap of a 5k. The title makes it sound much more exciting, though, doesn't it?! C'mon...would you have been just as excited to read a post called "I Ran a 5k. Read All About It"?

Didn't think so.

This was my first year racing in the Daytona 5k. My brother-in-law's wife picked it out for us, and I'm a pretty easy sell, when it comes to races.
in case you were picturing a scary Race Boss-Lady. She's actually very lovely, all around
The race starts on the Daytona International Speedway. It loops around the inside track and finishes on the track. So, the runners are pretty much. somewhat similar to? exactly like the drivers who race on the same Speedway!
Also, the race coincides with the Rolex 24, an actual Nascar race, so there were even die-hard fans camped out on the infield to complain about us waking them cheer us on! The concept was pretty cool, but it made for a stressful (for me) parking situation. The Husband drove me, my dad and the boys to the race and handled the poorly-marked signage like a champ.
Once parked, my dad and I managed to find a set of port-a-potties with NO LINE and we all hopped on the well-manned Tram to get to the packet pick-up area.
It was just under 50 degrees F, which made me ridiculously happy. It's so rare that we Floridians get to race in conditions like that. My high hopes for a PR inched up a notch higher.
Our goody bags contained a ticket to the Rolex 24, a couple of race flyers, a shirt and the standard biofreeze sample. I managed to end up with a tee shirt, instead of a tech shirt. This has happened to me before. Not a big deal, but I hadn't complained about anything since the Parking Problem, so I thought it was about time. The race wasn't terribly well-advertised, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of "swag". Despite this fact, over 800 people still showed to up run. Those kinds of numbers are pretty high for our area!
t-shirt proof
(I'm still pretty sure some of the participants were Nascar fans who may have wandered away from their campsites and ended up on the track.)
some other cuties who wandered onto the track
We found my brother-in-law (Alan) and his wife (Kristi-Anne) (pictured above, for reference) and pinned on our bibs without much time to spare. She'd drawn the short straw and would be pushing their toddler in the race. Alan would get to show off and beat us all, as per usual. This would be my dad's first race in over a year, due to persistent (and REALLY annoying) injuries so we were all pretty ready to start running. There was no time for a warm-up and no water to be found. (too soon for another complaint?), so we hurried over to where we thought the start would be.
There was an enormous mass of people that prevented us from even seeing where the start line was located. We saw one guy point in a vague direction and crossed our fingers that we'd see a timing mat, at some point. My dad, Alan and I saw people moving and assumed the race had started. Unsure if it was chip-timed at the finish AND start, I began weaving like a crazylady. The menfolk followed my lead and we eventually made our way out of the throng of racers.
While I don't love that sort of cluster at a start, I do have to admit it was pretty fun to pass that many people, once we got moving.
About 1/2 mile in, my BIL passed me and I focused on keeping his back in sight. I figured my dad was probably using me as a visual pacing reference, as well. I was feeling very strong, very much in control of my breathing and very confident with him about 30 feet in front of me.
And then I heard it. The annoyingly familiar snap-flop sound of my shoelaces, all willy-nilly and free, slapping the pavement.
"Aaaaahhh! Are you kidding me?!" 
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Brooks : I will give you ten, crisp dollars to fix the laces on these shoes.
Sincerely, Aggravated Consumer
In answer to your question : Yes. I always double-knot my shoes. These laces are notorious for coming undone and it was my own fault for not remembering that.
I made the agonizing to decision to step out of everyone's way and re-tie the shoe, as I felt it actually slipping off. While I had no qualms about finishing shoe-less, I would've felt awful about someone tripping over it. I didn't stop my watch and saw, later, that I lost over 25 seconds double-knotting (again!) the stupid shoe.
I re-focused and re-passed a lot of the racers who'd sped by me while I was crouched in annoyance. Alan, however, was merely a speck in the distance. Undeterred, and knowing I still had a decent chance of placing in my age group, I pressed on. 
Then, just after the 2nd mile marker, you'll never guess what happened! (those of you who already know the story, don't spoil it for the others, please)
The same, double-knotted, stupid, stinking, good-for-nothing laces came undone. Again. I'm still not at the point where I can think about it and laugh. It was really, really, really annoying and frustrating.
In a longer race, I could've made up the time. Not so much in a 5k.
This time, however, there was no way I was tying those things again. My gait was wonky, as I fought to curl my speedy foot inside the rapidly loosening shoe, but by golly I was not stopping. As if to taunt me, the laces themselves flew up and smacked me in the calf, repeatedly.
"Yoo hoo. We're untied and flopping about wildly!" the jerks teased.

Ironic Spoiler: I didn't fall. That happened the next day, with my laces firmly intact.
My watch showed 21:55 when I crossed the finish line. Being on the Official Racetrack, and all, I figured that was probably as accurate as a 5k was going to get. There weren't too many women in front of me, so I was pretty happy.
Not a PR, thanks to the unruly laces, but good enough to garner me:
6th Female, overall
1st Female, 35-39
44th, overall
My brother-in-law also finished 1st in his division and my dad, 5th. My sister-in-law, in an effort to end the protests of my stroller-bound nephew, flew through the race with a sub-28 minute finish!
me and my fastie daddy. Kinda posing...kinda trying not to roll down the steep bank
Alan & I, awkwardly proclaiming our results...and trying not to roll down the steep bank
The kids race started right on time, which is always awesome. The folks in charge forgot to bring ribbbons to hand out, though. Not quite so awesome.
The Littlest, powering through the Finish
The Middlest, leading a cutthroat pack
We found some other runner-friends and caught up during the awards ceremony. After I fought my way through the paparazzi, though, to head to the car, I was very sad to discover all the post-race goodies had been packed up and taken away. Missing out on bagels and bananas may have been more upsetting than the lack of a PR, for me.
In Summary:
  • I'd recommend this race. It's a fun and unique experience with a good-sized turnout and smooth organization.
  • Don't try to park where you see the giant, well-light "Competitor Parking" sign. It's not meant for you. Drive down the road until you see a small arrow and confusing rows of vehicles.
  • I can't guarantee you'll get a tech shirt. If you do, can I trade you?
  • If you see me, on the racetrack, steer clear. It's very likely that my shoelaces are untied and I don't want you to trip me us.
  • If you see a dark-haired girl, with a adorable-yet-vocal toddler in a jogging stroller, steer clear of her, too. She may run you down in an effort to finish and free him from his restraints.
  • When you finish the race, make a beeline for the food tables and just start grabbing. That stuff will be gone before you know it.
  • If you get tired, these guys know the perfect place to relax and reflect on the race
Somewere out there, a jealous Nascar fan is dying to have that white paint all over their backside
Ever been to a Nascar race?
Do you have any tricks for keeping laces tied?