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31 December, 2014

Putting 2014 to Bed

Time for the year in non sequitor!  The following is a hodgepodge made of the first sentence from each month's first blog post:

Ever since I started training for my first race, I have been humbled by the support I continue to receive from friends, family, and even strangers.  Y'all know I have trouble accepting compliments, right?  After Princess was relatively unstressful for my body, I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to change my run-walk intervals. It's been two months since my last check-in (and four since the first).

I just uploaded my research paper -- the final assignment of my undergrad career.

It's been six months since I posted the first of my "during" photos. The official RunDisney training program for the WDW Marathon started at the beginning of this month. Well, it's been two months since my last check-in, and what a crazy two months it's been. I don’t think I can say enough positive things about this race. Happy October!  This past Saturday, Sarah and I went out to Ft. Wilderness to do our 17-mile marathon training run. I have to warn any non-regular readers right now that this isn't going to be a standard race recap.
So, you know, I guess I did some running.  Have you heard?  At the end of 2013, I posted the following about my hopes for 2014:

I wish for less drama and more fun in 2014.  I will graduate from college a mere 14 years behind schedule.  I think I can (at least) double the number of half marathons I ran this year.  I hope to get a new job, though the idea of leaving the one I have now makes my heart ache a little.  I need to handle my personal business (including the D-word and some financial stuff) and not hope that everything will straighten out if I ignore it long enough.  And I'm going to nurture my new and old friendships.  After all, no Jamie is an island.

Well, I did graduate.  I did (more than) double the number of half marathons, from 3 to 10.  I did get a new job, and it did break my heart to leave the old one.  We did file for divorce.  And I think I did nurture my friendships better.  At the very least, I got to see Bill for the first time in a decade (that can't POSSIBLY be right...can it??), and had the most wonderful two weeks with Jackie's family in NJ.  And I have a few new friends!  I love them all.  YOU all. 

Truthfully, the year was overwhelmingly positive, and truly surprising.  A year ago, I didn't know that I'd even be accepted to grad school, let alone have wrapped up my second semester with a 4.0.  I didn't know I'd take myself on a three-week solo road trip as far north as NY and west as State College.  I didn't know anything about the job I have now.  I hadn't seriously considered signing up for a marathon.

I also couldn't have predicted that 2014 would be the year of the cousins.  My northeast road trip helped that -- I spent time in NYC with Jenn and her family plus a bonus day with Alex and Megumi.  I also got to see Dawn.  I saw Suzanne for the first time in forever, and we talked the day away like a pair of old friends.  Joanne came up twice, and I had a blast with her and her crazy friends.

If the medals on my wall are to be believed, I raced 148.3 miles (131 miles of half marathons + 47.3 miles in other shorter distance races) in 2014, and I think I trained almost twice as many miles.  So you know, that was a significant amount of my time, energy, and focus this year.  It kicked ass.  You should feel my quads.  I HAVE QUADS!  I didn't lose much (any?) weight, but that's mostly because I seem to have developed an insatiable lust for Taco Bell, Chick Fil A's breakfast burritos, and other amazing deep-fried drive-through delicacies.  Somewhere along the line, I realized I was running for the love of running, and not for any related goal.  I like it better this way.

And just for the record, I'm actually doing some of my living off the record.  I'm still learning a lot about me, and one thing I've learned is that not every misstep needs to be documented for posterity and/or the judgment of others.  I like being able to sit down with friends and be able to answer "what's new?" with something other than "it's all on Facebook!"  I like having untold stories.  And I like having a little mystery.

So 2015?  Oh my GOD...I can't even imagine what's to come!  In January alone, I'm running a marathon, I'm doing a fun new thing at work (spending a weekend as a company rep during a conference), Scott and I have a court date, and I'm taking a weekend girls' trip to Atlanta for a 15K.  I'm taking spring semester off from school, and using that extra time to take an 8 week "dance & tone" class after work with my boss.  I'm also determined to clean the house and make it presentable.

It feels somehow selfish and ungrateful to ask for my 2015 to be better than 2014. This year has truly been an embarrassment of riches.  I feel guilty even asking for more of the same.  I think it's possible that I'll look back on 2014 as the biggest, boldest, craziest, busiest, newest, most eventful year of my life.  I hope that I continue to grow in 2015.  I hope I stay as happy as I am right now.  And more than anything, I hope that my friends and loved ones will be as happy as I am right now. 

Happy New Year!  I wish you nothing but the best in 2015.  May all your dreams come true!

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
  • Tails 'n Trails 10k
  • Sarasota Music Half Marathon
  • Gasparilla Half Marathon (Michelob Ultra Amber Challenge -- 15k, 5k, half marathon)
  • Swamp House Half Marathon
  • Winter Park Road Race 10k
  • Tomoka Half Marathon
  • Pig Run of Lake Nona 5k
  • Brick Dash 5k
  • Riverside Dash 15k 
  • 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. 



24 September, 2014

Top Ten

Now that I've run in TEN half-marathons, I figure that I have enough experience to write a top-ten list.  All of my races have had wonderful aspects that I genuinely enjoyed, and I wouldn't say that I hated running in any of them.  And because I'm a slow/beginning runner, I'm pretty sure that my list wouldn't match up with most other people's lists.  Just the same, here we go:

10. ODDyssey Half 2014.  Aside from the brutal hills, I also didn't like the fact that they advertised extra activities, but I didn't even see most of those as I ran by.  Best thing: free pint glass!
9. Celebration Half Marathon 2014. This was the inaugural year for Celebration, and I wanted to like it so much.  Unfortunately, the part that I remember the most was the miles of running through neighborhoods with almost no spectators.  Best thing: running on the boardwalks through wetlands.
8. Sarasota Half Marathon 2014. I love bridges!  And I loved the first 4ish miles of this race because of the out and back picturesque bridge run.  Unfortunately, the middle third of the race was on the most uninspiring stretch of road I've ever run on.  Best thing: running the Ringling Causeway Bridge.
7. Melbourne Half Marathon 2014. It's possible I said it before (one paragraph ago?), but I love bridges!  The bridges at Melbourne kicked my @$$, and I loved every second of it!  Honestly, I'd say I loved about 12 miles of this race.  But it lost a lot of its charm in the final mile, when I was running against the stream of people walking from the finish line to the after party.  The after-party was also too crowded to be worth my while.  Best thing: cresting the second bridge and being above the fog.  It was like being in Heaven!
6. Princess Half Marathon 2013. As my first half-marathon, I thought I'd rank this one high just for the sake of sentimentality.  However, I was stressed, had to stop to un-tape a toe, my phone died, and boy howdy are Disney races crowded!  I'm surprised I didn't bother writing a recap, but I think that speaks to my emotional state and other crap in my life than anything about the actual race.  Best thing: accomplishing a goal I never dreamed I could!
5. Princess Half Marathon 2014.  This was the third time I ran this course, and I found a certain comfort in that.  It was also the first time I did a "challenge," by completing a 10K the morning before.  I enjoyed running Princess 2014 way more than 2013, and I still tear up when I read my recap.  Best thing: pushing myself farther and faster than ever before, and being rewarded with a shiny glass slipper medal!
4. OUC Orlando Half 2013. For my third half marathon, I stupidly registered for a race 6 days after my second half marathon!  My legs were wobbly and uncooperative from the start.  I was ready to quit, until I met a fellow runner also struggling and miserable - Jackie.  She and I trudged through that race together, and made it not suck.  I really want to do this one again, now that my legs are a little more functional.  Best thing: making a new friend. The course was lovely as well.
3. WDW Half Marathon 2014. The reason this race ends up higher than my other Disney races can be summed up in one word: Cat.  This was the first time I started and ended a race with a friend, and it was wonderful.  Our time sucked, but we had a great time.  Best thing: memories to last a lifetime.
2. Marine Corps Half Marathon 2014. This race was book-ended by a long road trip with lots of laughs. Jackie and I had a really fun weekend.  The pre-race activities, the actual race, and even the after party were all really well done. Best thing: gaining a helluva lot of respect for the Marines.
1. Space Coast Half Marathon 2013. Of all the races on my fall calendar, this year's Space Coast is the one I'm most looking forward to.  I loved the race, the after-party, the volunteers, and the crowd support along the course.  Best thing: a fun, flat course and a fun space theme!

...and while I'm ranking things, why not rank the bling?

10. Sarasota -- I made the mistake of running this race for the bling...and then the medal was so ugly I could've cried.  This is when I learned the valuable lesson that you should never sign up for a race for the medal.
9. Melbourne -- I'm not a fan of having a sponsor logo on a medal.
8. Celebration -- the color scheme and design of this medal were both misses for me.
7. ODDyssey -- it's ok, but small and the 3-D design is awkward from most angles.
6. Princess 2014 -- this is the point where ranking got really hard, because I **love** all of these.
5. Orlando -- I'm a sucker for a round medal, because they make me feel like I have an Olympic medal around my neck.
4. Marine Corps -- it's simple, the Marine Corps logo is prominent, and somehow even the olive drab ribbon is appropriate.
3. Space Coast -- it's huge and sparkly, and the one that everyone else seems instantly drawn to. maybe it's not my favorite because I love an underdog?
2. See #5 regarding round medals.  Then add Donald Duck and a solid gold color.  Yep, I love this medal!
1. Princess 2013 -- 5 pink gemstones, a sparkly tiara, and a heart combined with my own sentimentality.  I'll always have a soft spot for my first!

Race Recap: Marine Corps Half Marathon

I don’t think I can say enough positive things about this race.  The expo was held in conjunction with a local festival (at which I spent a whopping $2 on a pumpkin pie Rita’s), and packet pick-up also included a free pasta dinner.  I got my race bag from a nice man named Dennis, who snuck two extra safety pins in my bag when I commented about stealing the extra two that Jackie wasn’t going to be using.  We ran into him two other times the following day, and he was incredibly friendly both times.  He told us that this race was the original Marine Corps Half, and that they are happy that they get to show off the base to people who might otherwise not get to see it.  He also told us that we had the best weather they’ve had in 20 years.  We were definitely happy we got to enjoy that!

After we picked up our packets, I sheepishly asked a group of three Marines if I could be tacky and ask them to pose for a photo.  They obliged, and a woman standing nearby forced two other ones to get in the picture as well.  It just might be my favorite pre-race photo yet (or maybe a close second to the one with the astronaut mural from before last year’s Space Coast Half)!  Someone with the event also asked if he could take the same photo – lord knows where that’ll end up!

With only about 1,100 runners registered (less than 1,000 finished), the race really wasn’t crowded at all after the first mile.  Jackie and I settled into a good pace and set off on our own race, not paying attention to the hundreds of people who took off so quickly we couldn’t see them again!  We talked and laughed (the theme of the weekend), enjoyed the eye candy, and watched the miles roll by.  Jackie was having a problem with an anti-blister pad on her heel giving her a blister, so we stopped just after the mile 4 water station so she could yank it out.  The break gave me a chance to stretch my ham strings, which is always a bonus!

The course ran through Camp Lejeune.  We saw all sorts of fitness stations – climbing ropes, pull-up bars, giant tires… -- and joked about stopping to take silly pictures, but I thought that I might be at a PR pace and it stopped me from wanting to spend too much time horsing around.  In addition to the fitness stations, we seemed to run past housing for Marines of increasing rank.  We started going past barracks and “bachelor housing” (which reminded me of the fact that the AK gorillas are divided into the family group and the bachelor group), cute little single-family homes, and then two-story homes across the street from the water.  I was about to ask what you have to rank to get a two-story house, and then noticed that the little name plates at the foot of each driveway had rank and last name.  Mystery solved!  I saw a few Majors and Commanders, and then stopped paying attention.

The water stops were all manned by Marines in their cute little matching track suits.  They were Disney-friendly – making eye contact, smiling, and some yelling encouragement.  Even the ones doing traffic control (obviously on duty, judging by the side arms and uniforms) were friendly as we passed.  I’m not sure why I expected them to be scowling and judgmental about us slowpokes running through their base, but I’m so happy that they weren’t!

…and while we’re on the subject of the Marines, I think now is a good time to have a quick side note about running on the base.  It was humbling for me.  I realized pretty quickly that I needed to stop calling the Marines “kids,” even though many were practically half my age.  (reality gut-check: some of them were born the year I graduated from high school)  It’s disrespectful to refer to someone dedicated to God and Country, willing to die for said Country, and more committed to that job than I’ve probably ever been to anything as a “kid.”  I also noticed a handful of the people competing in the wheelchair division were wearing shirts that identified them as disabled veterans.  Wow.  I’m not sure I can even begin to put into words what it was like to come face-to-face with just a tiny bit of what I only half pay attention to on the evening news.  I definitely complained less about my sore feet and shin splints than I normally do, and that had A LOT to do with my surroundings.  Also, after the race our buddy Dennis told us that there was an 88-year-old retired Sgt. Major participating.  I checked the results, and it looks like he was the last one to cross the finish line at just about 5 hours.  When I’m 88, I hope I’m still that tough!

Around mile 9 or 10, Jackie and I pretty much stopped talking.  I think we were both trying to keep ourselves motivated to not slow the other one down.  In the last race we ran together, I noticed that my run pace was faster than hers toward the end, but that she walks faster than I do.  We were doing that again, and sort of leap-frogging each other.  Mile 9 was also the point I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the water stations were now every mile, instead of only on the even miles.  Thanks to the excuse to walk while drinking a tiny cup of water, we were actually able to maintain our intervals with no extra walk breaks.  This is the first time I was able to accomplish that with the 25/40 intervals (and the reason I bumped the intervals up to 30/40 on this morning’s run).  By mile 9 or 10 of Sarasota, those same intervals had kicked my butt!

As we approached the finish, we were able to “run it in” to the finish line from a further distance than I usually can.  A nice (female) Marine put my medal around my neck.  Jackie and I congratulated a woman we leap-frogged during the race – 50 years old with 5 kids and a grandkid, running in her first half-marathon alongside her Marine husband.  They were pushing a stroller through the whole thing as well, and finished probably a minute ahead of us.  And we traded phones with that couple so that they could have a finisher photo together, and so that Jackie and I could do the same.

As far as post-race parties go, this one was pretty standard.  We got baggies with assorted fresh fruit, and they had water, Powerade, and even burgers available.  Beer was there for purchase, and there was a pretty decent band playing.  Since I’m not a fan of the giant post-race festivals, this small gathering was just my speed.  There was plenty of space to sit, wander, eat, and talk without my crowd-phobia kicking in at all.

I’m actually sad that this race is 10+ hours from home, because I genuinely enjoyed it and would love to do it every year.  Now that I’ve hit ten (TEN?? Yes, ten!!) half-marathons, I’m planning on ranking the races (and, separately, the medals) in a future post.  This race is going to be very close to the top.

So…how’d I do?  Thanks for asking!

Chip Time: 3:03:04 **PR** (by 4:15)
Pace: 13:59 min/mile
Overall Place: 905/964
Women’s Rank: 459/504

My Splits (according to RunKeeper):
Mile 1: 12:52
Mile 2: 13:04
Mile 3: 13:23
Mile 4: 13:30
Mile 5: 14:30 (includes our shoe-fix stop)
Mile 6: 13:35
Mile 7: 13:44
Mile 8: 13:30
Mile 9: 13:48
Mile 10: 13:28
Mile 11: 14:13
Mile 12: 13:37
Mile 13: 14:09

I had a massive runner’s high after this race like nothing I’d ever experienced before.  I was incredibly proud of my PR (although I didn’t realize until just now that it was 4+ minutes), and that I finally hit my goal of a sub-14 pace.  Jackie and I were both basically euphoric at the after-party, and neither of us managed a post-race nap.  I did have multiple laughing-with-tears episodes, one of which turned into a full-on ugly cry.  It’s always embarrassing when that happens, but I guess just had more emotions than I could process at one time!

It was a great race, and an amazingly fun weekend.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard, so often, for so many days straight.  Getting in and out of the car on the drive home Sunday was even funny, because we were both moaning, groaning, and limping every time.

18 August, 2014

Challenge Accepted

So...by now I assume everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  For those who haven't, here's the quickie recap:

The stunt goes like this: People make a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, post it on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites, and then challenge friends to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS (many do both). (per the NY Times)

My favorite ex-boyfriend challenged me on Saturday, and unfortunately it took until today to acquire a videographer.  I missed the 24-hour window, but did douse myself, so I'm donating $25 to ALSA.org.  I don't have any particular emotional attachment to Lou Gehrig's disease, but this seemed like a fun way to raise awareness and funds for a good cause.  Without further ado, here is my #icebucketchallenge video:


I challenged Jackie because I love her kids to death and thought they would enjoy the heck out of dousing Mom with ice water, I challenged my mom because I love her to death and I would enjoy the heck out of watching her douse herself with ice water, and I challenged Cat because - yes - I love her to death and I can't even imagine the crazy noise she'd make when doused with ice water.

I didn't challenge Scott, although I seriously considered it.  Instead, as an early birthday gift, I let him come over and video me dumping ice water on my head AND promised I wouldn't challenge him.  I know, I'm too darn nice.  I'm sure someone else will challenge him...why wouldn't they?

...and for anyone who believes the Ice Bucket Challenge is another example of "slacktivism," the ALSA would like to tell you just how wrong you are!

10 August, 2014

This is Why I Have a Blog

I have a tiny bandage on my forehead, right at my hairline near my temple.  Under that bandage is a small but mighty head wound.  It's one of those random ouchies I occasionally get that starts out as a bug bite or a pimple, gets scratched, and bleeds like a gunshot wound.

I'm not the only one who gets these, right?

Anyway, after my seven-mile run* this morning, I took a long bath, dried off, put pajamas on, and wrapped my hair up in the towel.  And then I climbed into bed and passed out for 45 minutes.  When I woke up, I pulled off the towel, intending to roll over and fall back to sleep, when **rip**!

Apparently my shower popped the scab, which then healed over into the towel.  Eventually I got it to stop bleeding long enough to bandage it up, but by then my nap was ruined.  I've been awake and groggy ever since.

Good thing it's just about time for bed!

*yep, I did just casually drop a longer-than-10k run into a story about something else.  I'm pretty badass like that!

05 August, 2014

Backward Progress


Well, it's been two months since my last check-in, and what a crazy two months it's been.  Between vacation, starting my new job, and some assorted other excuses, I've really been off the exercise wagon.  It's hard to say for sure, since I seem to be completely incapable of holding the same pose two of these sessions in a row, but I think I slid backwards.  I see a thicker middle, but my ankles look smaller.  Or I'm imagining all of it...

I can't be too upset.  It's kind of a miracle the budge isn't more pronounced.  I blew off my long runs during the past few weekends, and I've been eating like a horse (healthy entrees and healthy-ish snacks...but lots and lots of snacks).  However, I had a touch of insomnia this morning and ended up running 5 miles - this the red face and bad hair in today's picture.

The next check-in should be October 1, after my next half-marathon and maybe once the weather has cooled a tiny bit.  Maybe by then I'll have settled into a better pattern and finally broken the size 14 mark.

14 July, 2014

Race Season

The official RunDisney training program for the WDW Marathon started at the beginning of this month.  As I was planning my long training runs around my scheduled fall races, I realized I had a 13-mile training run scheduled for September.  What's a girl to do?  Find a half marathon, of course!  I'm actually traveling again for this one - up to Camp Lejeune, NC.  And since I haven't written out my race plans in a while, here's the list as of tonight:

2014:

2015:
I'm sure I'll pick up a race in March, maybe on my birthday weekend (Swamp House?).  That's the weekend after Gasparilla, which would be rough.  I guess we'll see where the wind blows my paycheck!  And of course, I'm sure there will be a handful of shorter races between now and then as well.  

For now, I'm looking forward to four new half marathons, one repeat half marathon, one multi-race challenge, and my first full marathon.

Now seeking new medal display ideas...I'm gonna need it!!

21 June, 2014

Oh, the Places I'll Go!

Today is the last day of Part One (weeks 1-2) of Jamie's Excellent Adventure.  Although I did my race recap right after ODDyssey, I didn't chronicle my travels to Philadelphia.  I also took zero notes while I was traveling, vacationing, and enjoying the hell out of the last week, so I'm using this post to record every thing I can think of.  It'll probably be long, but it's been amazing, so hopefully it'll also be entertaining to read.

The Journey
I set off from home just about 6 am on Friday the 6th.  Without doing a whole heck of a lot of research, I felt like I wanted to make it into Virginia on the first day and then have a shorter but more stressful (DC, Baltimore, and Philly traffic) day the second day.  I listened to the radio, sang loudly, and left my cruise control on almost the whole day.  I split up my food breaks and my gas breaks so I wouldn't be in the car for more than three hours at a time.  And I have to say, I really enjoyed that first driving day.  I didn't quite make it to Virginia, but as it turns out the town I stopped in was 10 miles south of the border.

Random thought I had at 1pm that first day: "I've been driving for 7 hours now.  That's how long I have to finish the Disney Marathon.  I think I might've preferred running."

On the second day, I found myself all of a sudden confused that when the speed limit slowed to 55 heading into DC, suddenly the slow cars around me were going 75.  The previous day, with a speed limit of 70, I was the fast car at 75-80.  I also think I stopped for a total of 3 tolls: one at the tunnel in Baltimore, another random one in Maryland, and the cover charge for the privilege of entering Delaware, which should have just had a sign up that said "closed for construction."  I eventually made it into Pennsylvania and had an "I am woman, hear me roar" moment when I realized that I had actually made it all the way there, all by myself.

And then I ran a half-marathon.

The Destination
My first week in New Jersey was actually pretty quiet.  I bummed around Jackie's house quite a bit, drove around the area (literally for the first time by myself, since I didn't get my license until college and then the only other times I was here I was with Scott), did some shopping and A LOT of eating...  After the stress of the end of school, start of grad school, leaving my old job, packing, driving, and racing I was perfectly happy to decompress and just relax.  Of course, "relaxing" at Jackie's house is an adventure all on its own, what with the kids and the toddlers and the pets.  I have to say I totally love it as a temporary visitor, but I'm better suited for a quieter existence!

The Active Part of Vacation

this IS our warm-up routine!

On Saturday the 14th, I did a 5k with Jackie's whole family.  The course was a small circle that we were told to lap 10 times (though I did 11 laps to make it 5k by RunKeeper standards), and every time I passed the girls they would ask what lap I was on.  Their response was always "so am I."  So I'm not really sure how far anyone else actually ran but I was proud of them for going out and doing it!

...and I also had a 5k PR, so I'm pretty proud of myself too!

oui, je suis une artiste!
Saturday night, Jackie and I went to one of those "drink and paint" places that was having a fundraiser for a group she belongs to.  We drank, ate, and painted.  I think they do a really great job running the place, because there were about 15-20 people there, and no one's painting was completely awful.  They were all also very different, as you can tell by my painting (on the left) and Jackie's (on the right).  There are things about my painting that I don't love, but who cares?  I'm still going to hang it up at home somewhere, probably with all of the paintings I bought at thrift stores.

the family that jazz hands together...
On Sunday (Father's Day), I went up to New York to spend the day with my cousin Jenn and her family.  I drove to Trenton and then hopped the train to Penn Station, where I met up with Jenn and the girls.  We hopped on the subway to Hell's Kitchen, where we had a huge amazing Greek feast (and every time we turned around there was another plate of hot pitas straight from the oven).  Trip and the girls then headed off on their own NYC adventure day, and Jenn took me to see Violet, my first Broadway show in more than 15 years.  (the last was either Miss Saigon or Beauty and the Beast)  I requested Violet because it stars Sutton Foster, and she didn't disappoint.  In fact, the whole cast was great (I bought the soundtrack), but she was radiant.  We both cried too.  There's something so magical about being on Broadway.  The theaters are old and beautiful, the performers are the best in the world... major goosebumps!  (by the way, here's the Tony's performance from Violet, in case you are interested)  The day wrapped up back at Jenn's for dinner, a subway ride (by myself) back to Penn Station, and a train back to New Jersey.

Also, I (allegedly) saw a dead body while I was headed back to the subway station.  There was a man laying on his back, not moving, and an EMT jumped out of a fire truck, walked over and looked at him, and then asked the people standing around what was up.  The guy's head was blocked from my view by a mailbox or something, but he definitely wasn't moving.  Since the EMT didn't immediately check his vitals or anything, I decided that he must have been obviously dead.  My crosswalk light changed, so I didn't get to stick around and find out the rest of the story.

Tuesday the 17th found me back in Pennsylvania, this time for dinner with Dawn and Mark.  I was really glad they were able to meet me, since Dawn was my closest cousin growing up and we haven't had a chance to really catch up in far too long.  We caught up on each other's life stories (between all of us, there was a lot to discuss!), dished some family dirt, and had a genuinely wonderful time.  And despite being full from dinner, I couldn't resist swinging through the Sonic drive-through next door for an orange slush for the drive back to NJ!

Dinner the following night became a mini high school reunion.  Originally planned for Tom and I, it turns out that Bill and Vicky were also able to come out.  Bill showed up with a folder of letters and postcards from the college years that had me cringing, laughing, and crying.  Our relationship has been from the beginning quirky and uniquely us.  I love him so much, and continue to be grateful that he's in my life.  The four of us laughed so much during our dinner I think we all hated that it had to end.

Dinner did have to end though, because I was up bright and early Thursday morning to spend another day in New York.  This time, my hosts were my cousin Alexander and his girlfriend Megumi.  Alexander promised me a day of hijinks, and he didn't disappoint!  They picked me up at Penn Station and our first stop was the Houdini Museum.  The museum displays were moderately interesting, but the visit took an unexpected turn when the man behind the counter asked "would you like to see a trick?"  We then had what was basically a 20-minute private magic show by this guy, who truly knew his stuff.  He transformed dollars, hovered coins, and did a lot of fun card tricks.

We then took the subway out to Brooklyn, where we had lunch at a Vietnamese sandwich shop (yum!) and then went to this place called Film Biz Recycling, where they sell and rent items used by TV and film production in NYC that might otherwise end up trashed.  We returned to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge.  I'm not sure why this was so exciting for me, but it was such an amazing moment.  Walking toward the city, seeing the Statue of Liberty and the new World Trade Center building to the left, midtown to the right, and the cables and iconic structure of the Brooklyn Bridge straight ahead... Wow, I just loved it!

The Brooklyn Bridge: possibly my favorite half hour of vacation
We then stopped for margaritas and a snack at one of their favorite kitschy bars before doing a quickie tour of the financial district.  They rode the subway back to Penn Station with me, I got a bagel, and then hopped the train back to Trenton.

Side note: I had the pleasure of sitting next to a drunk man on the train back from NYC.  He was simultaneously hitting on me, sexually harassing me (thank you for telling me that your thumbs, like your d---, were large), making racist anti-Muslim comments about the man across the aisle (who was black and speaking French, so I think perhaps he wasn't personally responsible for 9-11), telling me about his wife and kids, and talking about how much money he makes.  Really though, he was harmless and got off the train long before I did.  Had he been staying on until Trenton, I might have jumped off at some point and taken a later train.  It was kind of fun chatting with a random stranger though, even a creepy one.

Yesterday, Jackie and I took the kids to Great Adventure.  The park was pretty dead -- the longest we waited all day was 30 minutes, and a bunch of coasters were actually walk-on.  I got to take each of the babies on Dumbo-like rides, and rode coasters of varying scariness with the older girls.  I think I might have ridden ONE coaster that was there when I was younger.  That park has changed a lot!

The past week has been full of memories, lots of walking, and lots of late nights and early mornings.  Today was my last full day in town, and I spent it doing homework and laundry.  I took myself out to Bobby's Burger Palace for dinner (yum!!) and started getting my things together.

I'm so sad to be leaving.  It turns out I feel South Jersey roots that I didn't know I have.  I'm happy I got to see so many of my friends and family members, but also bummed about the people I couldn't connect with or spend enough time with.

On To School
I leave tomorrow morning and head to State College.  My one week summer intensive course starts on Monday at 8:30 and I'm definitely looking forward to getting started...but I'm also terrified at the same time.  It's been a long time since I've set foot in a classroom and actually tried.  I guess we'll have to see how it goes!  Hopefully I'll have another "I am woman hear me roar" moment on Friday when I'm done with the class!

11 June, 2014

ODDyssey Half Marathon Recap

Greetings from rainy New Jersey, my home base for two weeks.  What started as a "runcation" for the ODDyssey Half turned into an extended visit stretched out between the race and my week at Penn State.  So I'm enjoying quality time with Jackie and Jon and their kids (OMG toddlers love taking selfies. This is my new favorite "make it stop fussing" activity. Thank God for the Otterbox!).  And since I have some quiet time, I thought now would be a good opportunity to recap the original reason for this trip.

The Expo was held the day before the race, on Boathouse Row.  This was fascinating for me, since you see the boat houses from the opposite side of the river any time you take the Schuylkill Expressway out of Philly.  To actually be over there... I don't know - I thought it was kind of awesome!  I was able to get a close parking spot, and after two days in the car genuinely enjoyed the short walk to Lloyd Hall.  I picked up my bib and t-shirt, got a quick photo in front of the race banner (thank you random stranger -- yes I will hand you my iPhone for the sake of my own vanity!), and then headed out.  The expo was small, and I didn't really have a whole lot of interest in shopping.  I found a bench under a tree facing the water, and hung out there waiting for Nicole, who arrived about 20 minutes later.  Once she got her bib and shirt, we made our way from Fairmount Park to Center City to check into our hotel.  I got us lost, circling all those one-way streets trying to find the parking garage, but we got there eventually.  We carb-loaded for dinner, I got some homework done, and we got to sleep nice and early.

Pre-Race mornings are always mildly stressful, especially in a hotel room, double-especially when you're sharing that room with someone else!  But Nicole and I got ourselves fed, dressed, and out the door in plenty of time to walk the four blocks to the shuttle stop.  Because we waited until the week before to book the shuttle, we ended up with the earliest time -- 5:30.  As a compulsively early person with a desire to use the port-a-potty before it gets completely horrid, this suited me just fine.  The bus ride from Center City to Fairmount Park was quick and easy, and I have to say I kind of like the Mega Bus.  With outlets over every seat and free wi-fi, I think maybe it wouldn't be the worst way to travel long-distance.

Nicole and I both rocked the pink & blue...
completely unintentionally!
Anyway, we found ourselves in "hurry up and wait" mode once we arrived.  We took some photos, stretched, I got to see Lynne (who was running her very first half -- and did so faster than my own PR -- I'm so proud of her!), and then we lined up in our corrals.  The start was disorganized.  The PA wasn't loud enough to be heard in the back of the field.  I think someone sang the National Anthem, but without speakers further back we couldn't hear any of it.  Pre-race announcements?  I dunno -- maybe there were some.  I heard the "womp womp womp" sound of Charlie Brown's teacher over the speaker, but couldn't actually make out any words.  They also set us off in waves, which I guess worked out ok because I never really thought the course was crowded.

The race, once we got underway, was lovely.  We started and ended at the Please Touch Museum, and wound through Fairmount Park.  The smell of honeysuckle was absolutely distracting for me.  It turns out that's up with jasmine and orange blossoms on the list of smells that link me instantly back to my childhood.  But I digress... It was a beautiful course.  Unfortunately, it was also brutal.  There were two monster hills during the run.  The first, a steep climb around mile 5, led to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.  I was actually able to maintain my intervals for this one, though certainly not my pace!  The second, which felt like it lasted a half mile, was after mile 12.  I vaguely remembered reading recaps from other years, and knew this hill was a spirit killer, but I was feeling cocky.  After the causeway bridges at Melbourne and Sarasota, I thought I'd have no trouble here.

I.  Was.  Wrong.

I walked the whole hill.  My legs absolutely refused to even pretend to run until I was at the top.  Luckily, once I reached the top of the hill, I think I only had 1/4 mile to go on flat ground to reach the finish.

After crossing the finish line, I was handed my medal and a Philly soft pretzel and I set off to find Nicole.  Strangely, it wasn't until we were waiting in the beer line that I realized I didn't see anyone handing out water.  Nicole said she had gotten a bottle, but they were being stingy with them.  They also handed out chocolate-peanut butter Kind bars.  I would've liked to try it, but it was so melted and gross that it went in the freezer at the hotel and then just looked like a rock-hard mess.  Chocolate: not the best idea for a race in June!

The line for beer (and commemorative pint glasses) was long, but moved quickly.  We sat in the shade enjoying the fermented fruits of our labor, and then headed back to the hotel and a post-race brunch at Reading Terminal.

My Race Stats:
Chip Time: 3:14:55 (my second-slowest race of 2014)
Pace: 14:52 min/mile
Overall Place: 2800/2881
Gender Place: 1674/1741

My Splits:
note: RunKeeper thinks I ran 14.47 miles at a 13:30 pace, and I don't know why it was so far removed from reality.  So I'm mostly including these for S&G's
mile 1: 12:16 min/mi
mile 2: 11:55 min/mi
mile 3: 12:51 min/mi
mile 4: 12:55 min/mi
mile 5: 13:35 min/mi
mile 6: 15:13 min/mi
mile 7: 14:10 min/mi
mile 8: 12:47 min/mi
mile 9: 14:18 min/mi
mile 10: 13:45 min/mi
mile 11: 13:58 min/mi
mile 12: 14:04 min/mi

mile 13: 13:55 min/mi
mile 14: 12:55 min/mi
mile 15: 14:17 min/mi

Up until that last hill, I really felt like I was doing very well.  I felt happy and strong into the end, which I hadn't experienced in a long run since I adjusted my intervals.  And I think on a flat course this would have been an easy PR.  I enjoyed this race, though I certainly wouldn't travel up from Florida for it again.  This was my ninth half-marathon, and although I'm disappointed by my time I'm proud of how far I've come.

I had considered running the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut race this coming Saturday, but I'm going to let common sense prevail.  This means my next half marathon isn't until Lake Nona at the end of October.  My only other races for the fall season are the Space Coast Half and Divas Half.  The rest of the time I'll be training for the WDW Marathon.  And although I haven't registered for it yet, I think my first post-marathon race will be Gasparilla.

02 June, 2014

Six Months of "During"

 
It's been six months since I posted the first of my "during" photos.  My weight hasn't really changed much in the past two months, and I have to say I don't see much of a difference at all anymore.  Honestly, at this point I'm just keeping it up because I think once marathon training picks up in the fall there will be big changes relatively quickly.  

I'm fine with that.  Everybody plateaus at some point.  I know I need to add a day or add distance if I want to keep improving, and I'm hoping that my later start time at the new job means I'll be able to consistently do 5k on my run mornings instead of 2 miles.  I also need to get back to eating healthy foods.  I've been so bad recently, and I feel it all over.  Frankly, I'm impressed that I haven't gained weight over the past few months since my race season ended.

Anyway, that's all for today.  Maybe I'll have some positive changes to report by August.

24 May, 2014

Timeline

Often, the periods between my blog posts are either filled with negative things I'd rather not talk about or negative space -- nothing at all to talk about.

This time, it's been absolutely crazy around here.  I kept thinking, "I need to blog this," only to decide that sleep was a more effective use of my time.  But so much has happened and is about to happen that I feel I need to document.  So here is a timeline of the past two weeks and the next five weeks:

The Past Two Weeks:
May 10: Graduation Day!!  Celebrated by Park Hopping with Mom
May 11: Mother's Day -- celebrated with Mom
May 13: Got a call to schedule a job interview
May 14: 14th Company anniversary -- celebrated by going to the doctor. (I'm fine)
May 15: Job interview
May 17: Return to Magic Kingdom, this time to get a sneak-peek of the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride with Cindy, a former intern who worked on the project over the past year. (that's her screaming next to me in the photo to the left. Kat, who was an apprentice at DAK a few years back, is behind my right shoulder)  The ride is great, and I'd say a wait of up to 40-60 minutes is acceptable.  The queue is shaded and has activities.  While at MK, I also did the Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion, TTA, and had a Dole Whip.
May 19 (morning): First day of grad school! 
May 19 (afternoon): JOB OFFER!!
May 20-23: Flurry of work-related activities, including trying to wrap up projects, tell people I'm leaving, make sure my area's training compliance doesn't crash & burn while there's no one in my position, learning about my new position... and of course, still trying to get through my normal daily tasks while my head is 8,000 other places at once!

Today/Tomorrow: 
Homework for week one. This includes 2 essays, a quiz, reading 4 chapters in textbooks, and watching a 40-minute movie.  

Next Week:
Monday: Memorial Day; planning to spend it getting ahead on next week's homework so that next weekend I can knock out as much of the following week's homework as possible
Wednesday: getting fingerprinted. 
Some other day: take my car to the dealership to get her road trip ready
Weekend: lots of homework, laundry, and maybe try to start packing

Week of June 1:
Last week in my current job!  Currently, my plans are to work Sun-Thurs (or work 4 10-hour shifts Mon-Thurs).  I'm going to need to pack and move all of my personal stuff out of the office.  There's a lot, including a large metal zebra, race bibs, and a bunch of stuff on the wall.
Thursday: Last day at DAK.  Potluck with my team. I'm planning to be a soggy sobbing mess by Thursday afternoon.
Friday: Leave for vacation early morning*
Saturday: Arrive in Philly in time to pick up my race packet for ODDyssey, spend the night in the city

Weeks of June 8 & 15:
Sunday 6/8: ODDyssey Half Marathon, head over to Jackie's house (my home base for these weeks)
Rest of the time: Bum around PA/NJ, catch up with as many friends and family as possible, do homework, possible trip up to NYC, eat LOTS of pizza, bagels, Chinese...

Week of June 22:
Traveling to Penn State for week-long summer intensive "Seminar in Employment Relations" class on campus.  If not for everything else going on in my life right now, this would be the highlight of my summer.  I'll be staying on campus (in a dorm building that wasn't there when I left 14 years ago), spending most of each day in class, and actually interacting and networking with my classmates.

June 28-29: Drive home

June 30: Start my new job

It's far too much to process logically.  The best I can do right now is to keep breathing, make lots of to-do lists as things pop into my head, and do my best to stop and enjoy the ride whenever possible.  I'm sure I'll check in between now and the end of June, but at least now you know where I'll be!

*Yes, I'm leaving home for three weeks.  Scott is going to be staying here, enjoying some roommate-free living and cuddling with the kitties.  I'm so glad our friendship is "ok" enough that he's willing to do that for me.

15 May, 2014

Actually Park Hopping!

If you've been reading the blog recently, you might have realized that I haven't actually been doing much park hopping.  Perhaps after 14 years of living in the shadow of Disney, I've had enough "magic."  Actually, I don't think that's true at all.  Life has been pretty busy, and I genuinely enjoy my couch!

That said, I decided that the best way to celebrate my graduation (by the way, "Hi, my name is Jamie. I'm an alum of Penn State University, and a grad student.") was to "hop" to all four Disney parks in one day.  And the only person brave or crazy enough to play with me was my mom.

As you can see, we did it!
AK, Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom: all in one day!
We got into Animal Kingdom around 9:45 (because I left my ticket in the car.  rookie move!), took our selfies, and then headed to our designated ride, Kilimanjaro Safari.  Unfortunately, the wait time was 45 minutes, and that wasn't on my agenda.  We walked through the gorilla viewing instead, and then left AK for the Studios.

At the Studios, our one and only activity was sitting at the bar at Prime Time Cafe and enjoying a peanut butter & jelly shake.

From there, we took the car to the TTC and then the monorail to Epcot.  We got there around 1:00 and bee-lined to the World Showcase.  We split an avocado margarita, had lunch in Japan, and then split a Gran Marnier slush.  Hooray for Epcot!

Our park hopping day ended at the Magic Kingdom, where we finally rode an actual ride (the People Mover), plus enjoyed the air conditioned entertainment of the Carousel of Progress.  It was a lot of fun, though exhausting, and we got a bunch of fun photos.  Plus, the bonus of not riding rides is that we basically waited in no lines all day!

That evening, mom and I had dinner at Red Robin with two of my work friends.  We ate and talked and laughed... It was a wonderful non-conventional way to celebrate my non-conventional graduation.  And then we wrapped up the weekend with Mother's Day brunch at TooJay's.
BONUS: more photos from our weekend-o-fun