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07 December, 2014

Ten in 2014

You may not know this, because I don't talk about it too much, but I ran a few races this year.

I'll wait while you stop laughing.

OK.  Anyway, yes this blog has turned into all-run-all-the-time.  I kind of like it that way too, so don't expect it to change anytime soon!  I did the Diva's Half Marathon today, and will likely do my recap tomorrow (spoiler alery: key words will include "windy" and "walk").  Today though, I just wanted to throw this photo out there for posterity.

My Ten 2014 Half Marathon Post-Race Photos
 
These weren't my only races.  I did a 15K, a few 10Ks, and a bunch of 5Ks as well.  But these were the "big guys" that I trained and planned and even traveled for.  Each was its own battle.  I fought weather, food poisoning, bridges, back-to-back races, hills, small shoes, wind, and my own mental wall.  And I finished every single time.

Besides the struggles and the whining (oh, the whining...), 2014 was the year I ran with friends!  Until I met Jackie at the Orlando Half last December (this weekend is our run-a-versary), I don't think I'd spoken more than a sentence to a random stranger during a race.  But then I did WDW with Cat, Celebration, Marine Corps, Space Coast, and Divas with Jackie, Lake Nona with Scott, and part of Space Coast with June... plus shorter races with Sarah, Carlie, Mark, Daryl, and some other people I'm probably forgetting right now.  And I've met some pretty interesting folks as well.  NEVER did I think running would turn into a social activity for me, and that's certainly been an unexpected blessing.

I thought my goal for 2015 would be 12 half marathons, but then I realized that I have none in January ("only" a marathon and a 15k), and I think only 4 in February/March and that's pretty much the end of spring race season. That would put a lot of pressure on me next fall.  Instead, I'm going to try to find a race every-other weekend while the weather isn't inhumanly hot, and maybe some additional 5Ks as well.  I'm actually very excited that I'm only planning on repeating two of my 2014 races above -- Lake Nona and Space Coast -- next year.  Everything else will be new and interesting.  That's one of the wonderful things about running: you can do it almost anywhere!

03 December, 2014

Space Coast Half Marathon Recap Redux

I have to warn any non-regular readers right now that this isn't going to be a standard race recap.  If you're wondering what Space Coast is like, you should probably head to last year's recap

This race was not my finest 3 hours.  I wasn't in it mentally.  My body didn't cooperate physically.  And really?  I was just going through the motions.  At the end of the day though, no matter how hard you push yourself, you get the same medal.  Sometimes just finishing is the goal, and that's where I was on Sunday.

So here's the deal:  Last week I was dealing with an annoying illness and was hoping it would go away without medical intervention.  And then I ended up at the doctor on Thanksgiving afternoon.  When I left the doctor, I had an antibiotic and a painkiller and was (for about the zillionth time that day) choking back tears.  I didn't ask the doctor whether I should run on Sunday, because there was NO WAY I'd be skipping the race and I prefer to do stupid things without my actions actually being against the doctor's orders.

I was actually starting to feel moderately better by Saturday when I left for Cocoa.  They moved the expo this year to the Radisson, and while I missed all the cool Kennedy Space Center photo ops I was much happier with the layout and the crowds.  Plus, they DID have fun photo backdrops set up in a hallway. 

Out-of-this-world photo opportunities!
I met Jackie and her friend Rebecca for dinner that evening, and thanks to a stop at Target (phone chargers: don't forget them!!) and a problem with the lock on my hotel room I didn't get to sleep until after 10.

Cue the 3am wake-up alarm!

The morning was pretty uneventful.  I got the early shuttle from the hotel and saw Kelli from work before meeting up with Jackie and Rebecca for even more cheesey photo ops.  I had trouble eating the full 2 packets of oatmeal that I generally eat pre-race due to some weird heartburn-nausea thing, but ate what I could and listened to my body.  Pretty much as soon as the race started, I realized that going more than a week without lacing up my shoes was a mistake.  Of all the random twinges I've ever had, this is definitely the first time my calves were tight at the start of a race.  I was really worried this was going to turn into bad muscle cramps at some point, but eventually the tightness went away.

June passed me around mile 3 or 4, and she was pretty nearby at least until mile 10.  She was cheering on other runners, which caused Jackie to make fun of her, but I think we were all considering it in good fun.  I was excited to be able to snap a selfie with her, since this was the first run we actually saw each other.  I'm pretty sure we both did Princess this year, but don't quote me on that. 

Something crazy and awesome also happened at this race that never happened to me before.  I had my own pace group for about 3 miles!  When we run together, Jackie follows my intervals.  When the beeps happen in my ear, I say "...and walk" or "...and run."  Somehow this actually works for us.  Well, this time a group of 4 other girls decided that rather than leap-frogging us they would just stick with our intervals.  I tried to take a group photo, but my phone froze and didn't actually take the picture.  But trust me, it really did happen!  Sadly, I couldn't keep up with my group and I sent them on ahead.

The reason I couldn't keep up?  Aside from my lack of stamina, which I'm used to soldiering through for the last 5k of a race, I had a problem I've never had before:  I had to poop.  Truth be told, I realized about mile 2 that there was a chance I would need to stop and break my own "no port-a-potty on the course" rule.  I saw a pair of potties just past the turnaround before mile 7 with only one person in line, but just didn't want to stop.  And so, those last two miles, every time I ran, I was acutely aware of the contents of my entire digestive system bouncing along.  It wasn't an emergency, but had I seen another place to stop, I probably would have.

After the finish, I got my medal and towel, had some pizza, coke, orange juice, and then bid farewell to my friends.  I broke my other port-a-potty rule - don't use them after a race - and then headed over to wait for the shuttle back to my hotel.  In my haste, I totally failed to get good post-race pictures.  The one to the right was taken outside my hotel room an hour later.

It turns out the race organizers really need a lesson in logistics from Disney.  They were running shuttles to four different zones, which makes a lot of sense, but each bus was pre-determined for a specific zone.  I was in zone B, which seemed to be in the Bermuda Triangle.  I'm not sure how long I waited before I finally got onto a bus, but I'm guessing it was about an hour.  During that time, I saw at least 6 A buses and a handful of C buses, plus maybe 1 or 2 D buses.  Ours were trapped in terrible traffic on the causeway, and the one B bus that appeared while I was waiting was swarmed by people who hadn't been waiting half as long as I had.  (you know that scene in Father of the Bride where the dinner line forms and Steve Martin says, "I'd never seen a line form so quickly"?  yeah, it was like that.)  By the time I got on a bus, there were at least a whole bus full of people still waiting in line behind me.  We couldn't understand why they couldn't re-route an A bus, and were growing more and more frustrated. For the last contact I had with the race, sucking diesel fumes in the late morning sun wasn't really what I'd hoped.

Still, I really do like this race.  It's my most expensive non-Disney race, but the medal this year was even sparklier than last year's and I love that it's a star.  The shirt is also better this year -- it's black and not sheer like last year's, and has weird inset panels in the sides with space shuttles on them. My other disappointment last year, the overcast skies, also cleared this year.  We had a beautiful sunrise over the water that quickly made me wish I hadn't forgotten my visor at home! 

So how'd I do?  Despite my assorted issues, I still beat last year's time (but only by about a minute). 

Chip Time: 3:09:06
Pace: 14:27
Overall Place: 2464/3296
Division Place: 255/362

Mile Splits (per RunKeeper):
mile 1: 13:17 min/mi
mile 2: 13:39 min/mi
mile 3: 13:12 min/mi
mile 4: 13:23 min/mi
mile 5: 13:59 min/mi
mile 6: 13:51 min/mi
mile 7: 13:58 min/mi
mile 8: 14:04 min/mi
mile 9: 14:31 min/mi
mile 10: 13:51 min/mi
mile 11: 13:50 min/mi
mile 12: 14:14 min/mi
mile 13: 15:57 min/mi

...and for those of you following along at home wondering what's up with my toe-crushing shoes, they are now officially reserved for runs 10K and shorter.  Womp womp!  I was able to find a pair of my original "blue man shoes" on ebay -- floor samples from a running store -- and won them for $46 including shipping.  They're not scheduled to get here until next Monday, which means I'm most likely going to have to wear an old pair for the Divas Half on Sunday. That means blisters and shin splints, but my feet are still angry with me about last weekend so I definitely won't be wearing those again.

22 November, 2014

Not My Finest Moment

I screamed at a telemarketer yesterday.

Having worked as the faceless person on the other end of the phone for a year or two, I know how badly the job sucks.  I know it's easier to be mean to a person you don't have to make eye contact with, and I'm certainly not bragging about screaming at a stranger.  But he deserved it.  Here's my best reconstruction of the conversation:

Him: Hello I'm with customer service from [unintelligible], calling about your computer
Me: Where did you say you are calling from?
Him: I can make your computer 80% faster.
Me: You're calling a cell phone and I'm on the 'do not call list.'
Him: I don't care.
Me: Excuse me?
Him: I don't care if you're on a cell...
Note: The guy had a thick Indian accent, and at first I wasn't sure whether he said "I don't care" or "I don't carry your cell phone," and I kind of gave him the benefit of the doubt that we were having some sort of language barrier and maybe thought I was saying I thought he was calling about my cell service.  Nope!
Me: Well I'm on the 'do not call list.' I'm asking you to take me off of your list and not call me again.
Him (cutting me off): I can make your computer faster.
Me: OH MY GOD SHUT UP, YOU JERK!

After I hung up, I laughed and laughed.  Seriously, I just don't DO things like that.  Had I lost my marbles?  Should I feel guilty?  Should I figure out how to file some kind of official complaint?

Well, as it turns out I have nothing to feel guilty about.  It looks like my Indian friend, calling from 219-545-8769, has quite a track record for being kind of a jerk.  And a scammer.  I find that fascinating.  If you're going to hack my computer or take my credit card number on a spending spree, shouldn't you at least be polite about it?

I doubt he'll call me back, but if he does I think I just won't answer.  I don't even really think he's a scammer.  I think he's just some kind of psychopath who likes to push people's buttons, like one of those trolls on internet message boards.  I let him get the best of me yesterday.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

But it really did feel good to scream at him!!

17 November, 2014

17 Miles Like a (Crying) Boss

This past Saturday, Sarah and I went out to Ft. Wilderness to do our 17-mile marathon training run.  She's way faster than I am, and I was grateful she was willing to run at my slow-poke pace.  All in all, the run went really well.  The weather was great, so was the conversation, and I'm walking with no major leg issues.

So why bother with a blog post?

I made some stupid mistakes (not) planning for this run, and this is where I document stupid mistakes.  Except stupid relationship mistakes.  No one gets to learn from them but me.  But I digress...

I have to start by saying I started fighting off a cold last Tuesday, and was sick enough Thursday to take Nyquil before bed.  Friday, I made chicken soup for dinner.

Mistake 1: chicken soup and a chunk of bread isn't exactly enough fuel.  I had trouble at a 5K a few months back after a light dinner and not enough breakfast, and actually suspected Friday night that soup for dinner would come back to haunt me.

I also didn't really get a whole heck of a lot of sleep on Friday night, but I think it was plenty to get me through.

Saturday as soon as we set out, I could tell that my lungs weren't at 100%.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping a slow enough pace, but my first mile was under 13 minutes.  That's been my story in the past few half marathons too.

My plan was to have a Gu every 5 miles, but I only had 2 at the house so I switched that to a handful of Craisins at 3, 9, and 15 and Gu at 6 and 12.  I packed water and a water/gatorade blend.  I carried water in tiny bottles, and drank the gatorade when I got back to the car at 7 and 13.  Had I had a god enough dinner last night and maybe an extra granola bar in the morning, I think I would've been ok.

Our last 4-mile stint was pretty much where my wheels fell off.  By mile 14, I was getting pretty weepy and whiny.  Sarah was amazing about talking non-stop about whatever could get a reaction from me.  I managed to hit most of the intervals, and rallied a little bit in the last mile after she gave me one of her little energy chew things.

So, you know, fuel.  It's still an issue for me, but at least not as bad as the time I almost died in the gym training for the 10-miler!

Also, another "I thought we were past this" problem that came back to haunt me: squished toes!  I've been in "man shoes" for my past four pairs -- one Brooks Glycerin 10, two pairs of Glycerin 11, and I recently moved into a pair of Glycerin 12.  This pair actually a size smaller.  The gal who fitted me said that the smaller size was more appropriate for me, and plus they were out of the size I usually wear.  This is the first time I've run more than five miles straight in the new pair, and they definitely gave me some trouble.  I thought I was getting a "sock wedgie" after eight miles, so I stopped and readjusted.  Five miles later, I had to stop again.  Sarah told me to loosen the laces all the way down, and I did.  About a mile later, I realized my foot felt WAY better.

Sarah said she always ties her shoes looser for long runs, and I've heard that from other people before.  It's never been a concern for me before, because the last few pairs were apparently too big.  So I'm going to assume that loose laces will save me.  The Space Coast Half is two weeks away (minus a day), and I think I'll know after that whether it does the trick.  If not, I'll buy a pair one size bigger and keep these for shorter runs.  I love them - they are light, they hug my feet, and they are basically PSU blue - and I'm not ready to give up on them.

As my RunKeeper rolled over to 17.00 miles, I choked back a sob.  I was overwhelmed by exhaustion, pain, pride, and happiness and just couldn't process it all at once.  Despite the pain - or maybe because of it - I feel good about the marathon.  I pretty much went 10 miles on feet that hurt worse than they have in two years.  If I can mitigate that by half, and can somehow get it to hold off until mile 16 on race day, then I know I'll be able to last.

This marathon thing.  Wow, they weren't kidding when they said it's a mental game.  There's also a major reason this isn't a thing normal people EVER want to do.  I was running (and walking) for 4 hours and 9 minutes straight.  And that's just a training run!  I have 9.2 miles more to add!  And I only have one more long training run (plus a few half marathons) between now and then!

55 days to go...

03 November, 2014

Race Results & Upcoming Race Calendar

2012

2013

2015

  • Walt Disney World Marathon
  • Hot Chocolate 15k
  • Sarasota Music Half Marathon
  • Gasparilla Half Marathon (Michelob Ultra Amber Challenge -- 15k, 5k, half marathon)
  • Swamp House Half Marathon
  • Tomoka Half Marathon
  • Pig Run of Lake Nona 5k
  • Echo Half Marathon

28 October, 2014

Race Recap: Lake Nona 13.1

Scott wanted to try out a half marathon, and had his heart set on Space Coast.  Unfortunately, that race filled up on day one and he didn't get a chance to register.  So we were looking at the Halloween Halfathon in Clearwater... until I found a cheaper race much closer to home: the inaugural Lake Nona 13.1.  I'm so glad we did!

I offered to drive, since I remember trying to drive after my first half marathon was... challenging to say the least.  So I picked Scott up at 4:30 and we drove up to the Lake Nona medical complex.  Parking volunteers were plentiful, and I managed to not get lost.  We took some stupid pre-race pictures, and I was trying AWKWARDLY to balance between trying to keep Scott's nerves from getting the best of him and giving him space.  When I'm the nervous one, I mostly just want to know that someone is there but not touching or talking to me.  Because I'm prickly like that.

Anyway, after a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem (I'm pretty sure it was a live singer...), we were off.  I don't know the total number of runners, but it didn't take too long to spread out.  The race started at 6:00, so the first few miles were under dark skies.  I snapped a blurry picture of the beginning of the sunrise over the lake, but that was the only picture I took during the race.  The weather was perfect -- below 60 at race start -- and I thought I had a good chance of finally finishing a sub-3 race, so I wasn't going to stop for silly selfies or anything.

The course included two out & back sections, and I saw Scott on both passes and knew he was still trucking along.  Except for one overpass (which we did twice), the course was pancake flat.  The water stations were well-stocked and well-staffed.  The volunteers were friendly.  I'll even admit that running past the high school cheerleaders (twice) was incredibly uplifting.  There was a marching band at the top of the overpass, and I could hear them from a distance but they were on break both times I passed them.

Right at mile 10, the 3-hour pace group caught up to me.  I panicked, because I remember that the 3-hour group passed me at mile 8 of Sarasota and I never saw them again.  And of course, the last third of that race was really difficult for me physically and mentally.  This time, I checked my watch and realized that they were at least 5 minutes ahead of pace and that as long as I could still see them ahead of me I'd finish in plenty of time.  The pacer sent a lot of the group ahead, and I ended up leap-frogging her and the other runner she was with and talking to her.  She was so nice that I actually wish I had done the race with them.

When I saw the finish line ahead, I was shocked.  I thought I still had a half-mile left!  As I ran across the line, I saw the first number on the race clock was still 2, and I was so thrilled.  I was pretty sure when I woke up that morning that I'd PR.  Around mile 10, I was almost certain I'd finish in under 3 hours.  But there was something about crossing the line and realizing I'd actually done it.  It was amazing!  I was given my medal and my bottle of water, and I kind of shuffled off to see what I could do until Scott finished.  The solution?  Take lots of pictures!  Selfies, medal pics, pictures in front of the race backdrop, a picture ringing the PR bell... oh yeah, it was an ego-palooza!

That is one beautiful medal!
Also pictured, my ego trip and me ringing the PR bell

After I got some orange slices from a vendor (I saw people with bananas but never figured out where they came from) and walked around some more, I found a spot on a short wall close to the finish line, and sat with my feet up playing on my phone and cheering on strangers as they finished.  I got a text from Scott that he was about 1/2 mile away from the finish, and got ready to take some photos of him.  Though he walked most of the race, he ran into the finish, and I actually had to jump off my wall and run to beat him so I could take a picture of him finishing with the clock in the background.

And that's when the most amazing part of the race happened.  Not only did a huge crowd of volunteers cheer him in and congratulate him, but someone took the time to place the medal around his neck.  As we were standing off to the side while he caught his breath, multiple volunteers (members of the Lake Nona Run Club) came up to congratulate him and hugged him.  The lady who was on the course on a bike, who Scott says was wonderful and checked on him a lot during the race, came up and congratulated him.  They were all so genuinely happy for him.  It's a testament to the running community in general that they are SO welcoming to people of every level.  I have experienced that time and again, and for some reason it still surprises me.  There are a zillion people at the Disney races, and I've never felt like more than just a number there.  But to have so many volunteers ask if this was his first race, say they were proud of him, and then actually say we should stay to cheer in the next two walkers... wow!


Having finished my race my way, I had already put this on my "do it again" list.  The race was run by the run club - people who were out there because they love the sport and had a crazy idea to put on a race.  It was pretty bare-bones, but I loved it for its simplicity.  They capped attendance at a level that made the course easy to navigate, and they ran it well from start to finish.  But seeing the way they came together to support the last handful of finishers was just beautiful.

So let's talk race stats:

My Race Stats:
Chip Time: 2:56:54 **PR** by 6:10(!!!)
Pace: 13:30
Age Group Rank: 105/124

My Splits (according to RunKeeper):
Mile 1: 12:36
Mile 2: 12:46
Mile 3: 13:10
Mile 4: 13:15
Mile 5: 13:18
Mile 6: 13:15
Mile 7: 13:27
Mile 8: 13:29
Mile 9: 14:06
Mile 10: 13:23
Mile 11: 13:17
Mile 12: 14:10
Mile 13: 13:40

Before I go, I need to mention that PR one more time.  At the Marine Corps Half, Jackie's shoe fix stop gave us about 3 minutes of rest.  For some reason, in my head I remembered finishing that race in 3:01, so when RunKeeper said I finished this race in 2:57 I was really happy to have a 4-minute PR.  But when I looked up my race results from Marine Corps and realized that I actually finished in 3:03, I was genuinely shocked, thrilled, and a hundred other positive adjectives to have smashed a month-old PR by over 6 minutes.  I still can't believe that!  I have a feeling this one is going to stand for a while though.  Space Coast is a pretty big race, and I have a feeling I'll be moving in a herd for much of the race.  Diva is the week right after, so my legs won't be fully recovered.  My next half after the Marathon is the Sarasota Music Half on February 8.  Maybe I'll be recovered and the weather will be in my favor, but that race includes two passes over the Ringling Causeway Bridge, which is not a small elevation. Who knows?  I've learned to stop doubting my abilities.  After all, I've knocked 13 minutes off my pace in 11 months from last year's Space Coast.  Maybe next year I'll run this race with the 2:45 group...

Stranger things have happened!

Upcoming Races:
Nov. 8: Great American Bacon Race 5k
Nov. 30: Space Coast Half Marathon
Dec. 7: Divas Half Marathon
Jan. 11: WDW Marathon
Jan. 25: Hot Chocolate 15k (tentative)
Feb. 8: Sarasota Music Half Marathon
Feb. 21-22: Gasparilla Half Marathon (Michelob Amber Challenge)
March 1: Swamp House Half Marathon
June 7: Echo Half Marathon

02 October, 2014

Another Two-Month Check-In

Happy October! This is the month where s--t starts getting real with marathon training. The weather is FINALLY starting to break, and I've got my first longer-than-13-mile run this weekend. At the moment I'm dealing with some monster sinus issues, but haven't got a fever. Plus, I'm a mouth breather when I run anyway. No excuse to take time off!

Below are this month's check-in pictures. I'll be getting my vitals taken next weekend, and am very curious to see what my weight is. Sometimes I feel like I'm still hovering around the same old number, but other times I feel significantly smaller. I know my BMI (imperfect measurement that it is) is at least 5% lower than this time last year. And as long as the numbers keep dropping, I don't really mind how slowly that happens.