Thursday, November 28, 2013

ALSO Youth Turkey Trot 5k, 2013

Last year was the first time I ran a Turkey Trot, and I chose to run the ALSO Youth 10k because it was local and supported a great organization. This year, ALSO Youth only offered a 5k; I was disappointed, but never thought twice about entering the race.
Desperately trying to warm-up with some pre-race coffee.
Unamused by 40 degrees in Florida.
I knew the course would be tough. This race is basically half bridge...and this isn't just any bridge. This is a super-steep causeway that rises 60 feet in less than a mile. Last year, when running the 10k, I was only three days off from my half marathon. With more time to recover and train this time, and a shorter distance, I was excited to push myself without aiming for a real PR.

This race also doubled as my virtual Sub30v5K for the Sub30-Club. I was hoping to break 30, but that was really my only time goal for the trot.

When Matt, Steph, and I rolled out of bed and into the car at 7am, we were greeted by our first hint of fall weather. Overnight, the temperatures had dropped from the balmy 70s to the low 40s. I had remembered my new Saucony running zip, and Steph had her capris, but Matt was sadly unprepared.
We three pre-race!
We arrived at packet pickup with 30 minutes to start time. Luckily, our shirts this year were much more wearable than last year's...and they were long-sleeved! Matt quickly donned his, and we stashed our bags, used the bathroom, and got to the start.

(I need to mention that I saw someone wearing the FMB Half shirt, and I was so excited to see someone who had just run that race with me!)
Pre-race and rarin' to go!
Pre-race and freezing!
Steph took out ahead of us early on. Matt had been dealing with a painful arch, so he stayed at my pace for the first half of the race. We dodged a multitude of slower runners who were clearly just running for the novelty of doing a Turkey Trot and made our way to the base of the bridge.
Bridge, I will own you!
On the way up, I felt great. I steadily passed runners, smiled for the camera, and kept my pace strong. The turnaround was poorly organized, and by then I was starting to tire. Once we hit the bridge again (about an eighth of a mile after the turnaround) I was beginning to feel the steep climb and hard descent. Matt took off ahead of me, and I kept moving at a steady pace, determined not to walk.
Post-race food and a view.
By the second descent, I found my second wind. I pushed ahead toward the finish, only a half mile away, and enjoyed a fantastic neck-and-neck sprint finish against a guy who'd been on my heels. I coughed laughter as I crossed the finish line; my legs nearly buckled beneath me.
Post-race...all smiles!
Bridge and all, I'd finished the race in 29:36, happily beating 30 minutes and running a race I could 100% be proud of. Matt finished in 29:10, despite his injury, and Steph placed 3rd in our AG with just over 23 minutes.
I love having such a fast sister!...Even if she is in my age group and ruins my chances of ever placing lol
I absolutely love running on holidays. It's such a great way to center yourself and come back to the whole purpose of this running thing we love so much...Finding an inner strength, finding gratitude, finding truth.

I am so grateful to my legs. I am grateful to my body for what it can accomplish. I am grateful for my relatively new mental toughness. I am grateful that I have the freedom, means, and time to dedicate to this activity that gives me so much in return.

Running is about finding your weakness and breaking past it.
Seriously pleased with these splits, especially the last one!
A run on a holiday is just about the best tradition ever...a race on Thanksgiving is even more perfect. Besides the thankfulness and strong reminder that running is life-affirming and amazing? It allows for an awesome calorie deficit before the holiday festivities!

Stay tuned for actual Thanksgiving updates sometime this weekend. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Survey

Tonight's the first night of Hanukkah, but I'm spending it in the car on my way to the homestead for our usual epic Thanksgiving dinners. I know I won't have time tomorrow for my traditional holiday-run-reflection post, so this mini post is a tide-over to set the mood. 

This mini questionnaire was stolen from Beth at SUAR, and if you don't read her blog yet, I have to question your sanity. 

To do: Cut and paste below into comments and add your answers. Feel free to cut/paste onto your blog for fun.

1. How old do you have to be to move up from the kids’ table? 

Depending on the number of kids, old enough to "behave"...but at my Thanksgivings we had so many kids, we were happy to have our own table!

2. Stuff the turkey or cook stuffing separately? (aka salmonella or not?)

No stuffing. It allows for regular and gluten free stuffing, and a non-contaminated turkey!

3. Who sits at the head of the table?

My parents. 

4. Pumpkin, pecan, apple pie?

Chocolate pecan. 

5. What the hell is mince meat?

I'm not sure, but grammatically speaking, shouldn't it be minced meat?

6. Is it okay to play Christmas music on Thanksgiving?

No. Wait until December. And preferably out of my earshot. I kind of hate Christmas music. 

7. In five words or less, worst Thanksgiving memory?

Was 6, tasted beer. BLEGH. 

8. Speaking of leftovers. Who gets dibs on them? 

The host, starving college students, and starving teachers/young adult children. 

9. Worst Thanksgiving food?

This is my favorite holiday because all the food is good! But sometimes a good dish gets messed up. Lumpy thanks. 

10. Best Thanksgiving quick joke?

This is embarrassing...I honestly can't think of one. 

Share a Thanksgiving joke in the comments!

Answer a question or two...or all!

Have a wonderful, gratitude-heavy, fun-filled day!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

This one will be short and sweet. Today, one of my students from last year sent me roses and the sweetest note ever. It's humbling to know that I've had (and continue to make) an impact on my students to such a degree that they want to stay in touch.
I mean, seriously. Best-ever way to start the week.
This is why I teach, people.

I'm going to hop up on my soapbox for a moment and beg you not to go shopping on Thanksgiving. The crowds and cut-throat drama of Black Friday is gross enough to me, but the thought of shopping on a holiday that's meant to remind us to be thankful for what we already have is just disgraceful. Save the 'bow throwing, competition-stomping, and pepper-spraying for Friday. Spend Thursday with family and send a message to the big box stores that you're not going to play into their hands.
This article - especially the end - is fantastic. Read it here.
On a lighter note, Archie has been particularly goofy this week, and as it's been awhile since I've posted pictures of him, here's a fun one:
Yes, he is INSIDE the tissue box spying on us.
No sooner had I posted that I wasn't officially "training" right now than I realized that I have a handful of races coming up, including a couple half marathons, so I actually need to still be in training mode. Time to increase my weekend mileage again!
Pardon my crazed smile.
Last night I got to run in one of my new tops. I highly recommend this one from Nike. It's long and doesn't ride up at all; it's light and breathable; and the white accents keep you visible on a night run.

I almost wore sleeves last night; luckily I didn't. 68 soon felt like 80. It was windy, which made it hard to breathe, but I was so relieved to finally have some fall weather.

Has your week gotten off to a good start?
How do you usually celebrate Thanksgiving?
What's the most rewarding part of your job?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Schedule Lately

If you haven't noticed, my running posts have been few and far between. While volleyball is going on, I've had to adjust my schedule; I've cut my runs back to only two or three times a week.

On Monday nights, I'm meeting with my Ragnar team to run; I also try to run twice between Friday and Sunday. For now, while training for big races is kind of on hold, this is working well. I'm staying motivated and in shape, but I'm not stressing.

Beginning after my Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, I'm going to start adding some speedwork into the mix.

Matt signed us up for an awesome race in early December called Sup 'N Run...It's a relay! He'll paddle 4 miles, tag me, and I'll run 8. I'm so excited.
A little afternoon paddle this Saturday.
Speaking of paddling, we went today with Meg. November has brought us some perfect weather for the water; it was sunny but not too hot. The water was refreshing instead of warm; it even drizzled a little before sunset.
Meg and me paddling to the beach for a little rest.
And I got to see dolphins!
Spot the dolphin!
Racing against the sunset.
We just barely caught the last 5 seconds before the sun got below the horizon.
Tonight Matt and I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This book was my favorite in the trilogy, and I'm so happy that the movie was fantastic. I totally loved it!

What are your plans this weekend?
What's the last movie you saw in theaters? We rarely see movies in theaters, but series we're loyal to always make the cut.
What's your running schedule like when you're not actively training?
Do you do speedwork?
Are you running a Turkey Trot or doing the Runner's World holiday run streak this year?


Monday, November 18, 2013

A Daring Heart

I do not have a daring heart. I am not naturally a risk-taker, adventure-seeker, or new-thing-trier. My first reaction is usually to say "no" to anything that requires any kind of courage.

If someone wants me to try something scary, they need to introduce the idea slowly, and preferably with a bribe. It took Matt 8 months to get me to try paddling, and the night before my first paddle I literally threw a tantrum, had a panic attack, and cried at the mere thought of getting on a paddleboard.
My first time ever paddleboarding.
The next morning, on the board itself, I cried with sheer terror...But the tears were cathartic, in a way. They broke down a barrier. Anyone who reads my blog now knows that we paddle weekly, and I even had my first (accidental) night paddle this last Friday.
For how much I hate water, it seems to be a major gateway to learning to have courage. Here I am snorkeling in the Bahamas.
If I can be successfully led into something that terrifies me, I'll usually love it. The person behind most of these new experiences is Matt, and for that I'm forever grateful. He was the one who encouraged me when I first wanted to learn to run, and I think becoming a runner has had everything to do with my willingness to, slowly but eventually, face what scares me.
My first-ever solo race, and the first time I ran a sub30 5k.
Looking back, I realize now that I've conquered a lot of my fears. Maybe I'm teaching my heart to be more daring, and with each new conquest and victory comes a little more bravery.
Matt was the one who prompted me to take my Birthright trip to Israel before I aged out of the program. (Come to think of it, he was also behind getting me to study abroad.) Here I am with my cohort excavating underground ruins.
Running has something to do with it too, I think. After all, every time I set a foot over the starting line of a race, I'm facing that evil little voice in my head that tells me I'll never be a runner. It was right for a long time, but it hasn't been right in years.
It may not seem as scary as traveling the world, but choosing to go to grad school was a major leap of faith...And for an introvert like me, teaching takes courage every day.
Running builds confidence like few other sports can. It forces me to look doubt in the eye and steamroll right over it. It has taught me that my mind is strong and that my body can accomplish great things.
Ziplining in the rainforests of Panama.
The greatest thing about conquering fear and teaching my heart to be more daring is that it's keeping me active. When we live in fear - of ourselves, what others will think, of the world at large, whatever - we tend to hide in safe spaces. Safe spaces rarely get us moving.
Hiking up Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
Climbing rock faces in Leo Carillo, California.
My initial response may still be "no", but at least now I know that "no" is often a lie. Slowly, "no" is becoming "maybe." I hope in the future, my first response to risks and adventures is a resounding and confident "YES!"

Learning to be daring has taught me that I'm not made of glass, that life can be bigger and more enjoyable than I'd ever thought possible, and that if you fake it 'til you feel it, eventually daring will come.

What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Are you a naturally daring person?
What has running given you the confidence to do?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

After A Race

I don't know about you guys, but after a big race I get re-bitten by the running bug. Training can really burn a runner out, but once the race is over, the high comes back with a vengeance.

Of course, if you're me, you're going to be really diligent about resting this time around, especially because of that damn lingering cold. So how do I satisfy my running urges?
First red cup of the season: egg nog latte! And they actually spelled my name right!
I splurge on expensive coffee and go shopping.
I'm so glad they finally make this in a roll-on! I also spent quality time with a heating pad, tennis ball, and foam roller.
I noticed I basically run all my races in the same top; I love it, but I'm getting a little tired of the photos. So I went to TJ MAXX and scored some comfy New Balance and Nike tops. I love brand-name running clothes at discount prices!
Under $15? Yes please.
I tried on the purple and loved the fit so much I grabbed it in blue, too.
Then, hearing that Old Navy was having a sale, I splurged on a new long-sleeved running top and singlet. I also snagged some new socks because I think it's time.
Breathable, cushiony, supportive. The best of all worlds!
I've worn them for volleyball this week and I'm already loving them.
Official race photos were finally posted. As usual, they're super awkward. I feel like the clothes I like to race in photograph to give the illusion that my head is abnormally small for my body.
Hey awkward-hand, watcha doing there? Just hanging out?
Oh I see, it was halfway up to become a peace sign. Original.
Well, actually, my head is abnormally small...hats rarely fit maybe these capture my true self after all!

 I look forward to the day when I have big, chiseled runner's thighs. That day is not today.
Admittedly, this one isn't so bad. Maybe I should run all my races with my arms up at all times.
On the radar now is...a 5k Turkey Trot (just for fun), officially beginning Ragnar training, and maybe a half that literally runs past my parents' house. It's pricy, but the route couldn't be better! Plus, I think I owe myself a strong, good half after the last one. The half is part of a challenge I'm considering signing up for.
I'm tempted to do all three, but likely can't make it to the 5k.
How do you deal with post-race blues?
Do you like to bargain shop? What's the best deal you've found lately?
Does anyone ever have good race photos? Like, c'mon now.
Icy/Hot, Tiger Balm, or BioFreeze?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Fort Myers Beach Half Marathon 2013

So what happens when a runner, after two weeks off and a borderline upper-respiratory infection, decides last minute to actually run the race she's been preparing for?

Well, I won't lie. The race was rough. I had to really dig deep to push myself through it, while at the same time cutting myself slack due to circumstances. It was a weird balance of disappointment, resignation, and personal understanding like I've never experienced.
Tried and true: I stuck with my go-to Saucony Hydralite top.
When I decided to run the race Saturday night, I immediately sought out others I knew were running it. Sarah, who ran the 10k and 15k with me recently, immediately offered to carpool. I got my stuff together.

Breakfast of semi-champions: peanut butter and honey on toast and a cup of coffee.
When I woke up Sunday morning, my stomach was doing what runners are used to...nothing like some GI distress to start the day. I tore through all my purses until I miraculously found a sample packet of Immodium. I took half a dose, which was enough to allow things to move along, but then put the necessary stopper in the pipes.

I chose to run with Gatorade Energy Chews instead of Gu Chomps because the shape of the package fit better in my fuel belt with my inhaler taking up space.
The super-crowded trolley that brought us to the start line.
Pre-race: all smiles!
 Sarah and I got to the trolley pickup spot at 6am. The race began at 7; we got on a trolley at 6:40. Yeah. We were a little anxious, but luckily we were able to check our bags and use the porta-potties before start time. I am so glad I remembered to carry TP with me. That could have made for a nasty run.
Sean was smart and got to the venue early enough to see sunrise. Here's the bridge we ran across.
The giant bridge was the end of the first mile. It's twice as steep as the bridge I sometimes run during training. It actually wasn't that bad. So early in the race, my legs felt fresh and I took the bridge nice and slow to account for my asthma.
A little blurry; all the runners making their way up the bridge.
I kept my earbuds out for the first few miles, until I had my first fuel/water stop. Then I popped those suckers in and enjoyed the first half of the race. It was overcast and breezy at this point, a little humid, but not bad by usual Florida standards. My plan was to eat/drink at miles 3, 6.5, and 10.

By the time I got to the halfway point, though, I knew I had to adjust that plan. My energy was low and my muscles were cramping up something wicked. I wonder if my impaired breathing had something to do with that.

I saw Sarah and Sean as they came back from the turnaround, which was a nice morale booster. At mile 8 I took my first non-fueling walk break. By this time, the sun was high and had burned off any cloud cover. There was no shade. The main stretch of the race was basically 11 miles of straight urban road.
I saw this sign on my way to packet pickup and nearly cried with disappointment at the idea of not running this race.
This was the first moment that I wondered if maybe I shouldn't have run this half. But then I remembered my visceral reaction when I saw the Marathon - Expect Delays traffic sign while picking up my packet. I would finish this race...slow, painful, ugly...I didn't care. I was going to finish it.

I passed Five Guys, storage places, the hospital, and a multitude of other concrete establishments. Not the most inspirational of routes. There weren't a ton of spectators, but the ones who were there were awesome!

As the temperature rose, I decided I'd have to take walk breaks at each mile. The 2.5 miles between water stops became a problem; I could tell I was dehydrated. (Probably due to cold medications on top of everything else.) I began drinking Gatorade along with water at the stops, as much as I hate to drink it while racing. I knew I needed the sugar.

So, with all this walking, imagine my surprise when I realized at mile 10 that I was still safe to come in under 3 hours. (3 hours for a half marathon isn't really a good goal for me usually, of course, but today was different.)

I found my second wind with 1.5 miles to go. I was able to run to the last drink stop, at the base of that same bridge.
This look of relief is not at all feigned.
The last stretch was literally all downhill. From the top of the bridge, I could see the runners looping around to the finish below. I kicked it up. I let the momentum of the bridge push me through the last quarter mile, and I finished feeling strong and satisfied with my tortoise-pace (2:41:13...not my worst, but certainly not my best).
How Florida is this start/finish?
Sarah, Sean and I enjoying our bling. This was Sarah's first half, and she finished in 1:47. Ah-maz-ing!
Am I happy as a runner with my time? Not really. Was the race difficult? Hell yes. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely and without a doubt.
Despite the disappointing time and all the walking, I earned this baby.
I proved something to myself today, and the pain and struggle was well worth it.

Also, I think it was a miracle that I couldn't run this as a full. The dull, quiet course and brutal weather wouldn't have been a good one for my first marathon.
I think I need to add some more hooks to my bib holder!
Post-race meal: sushi!
Sometimes races are about more than the time and the performance.

Take that, DNR.

Here's a weird thing about long-distance races: afterward, I'm both starving and disgusted by food. As hungry as I was all day today, I could barely stomach more than chocolate milk, sushi, and a handful of grapes. Does this happen to anyone else?

Post-race, I'm having some pain in both knees and there's a fist-sized spot at the small of my back that is just killing me...But I think that's related to sitting in the trolley on the ride back more than anything else. Also, the almost-blister I got at the 15k came back in the same spot. Maybe it's time for new socks?

I hope to be in tip-top shape by Tuesday.

I need to give a quick shout-out to Kristina! She ran her first ever half-marathon. With a bucket-list that includes running an ultra before she's 30, I'd say this is the first big step toward her goals!

I can't wait for some of the professional pictures to come back to so I share the total awkwardness of my running form.