Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Very Superstitious

I'm not usually superstitious...umbrellas in the house don't faze me; I don't think twice about walking under ladders; I think Friday the 13th is actually lucky; and I only avoid black cats because I'm allergic to cats of every color. The only superstition I follow regularly (although I don't really believe in it) is to avoid killing spiders because it causes rain.  
Running superstitions, however, are a very different story. 
For example, I like to start each run with the same song, even if I've mixed up the rest of my playlist. For a long time it was 30 Seconds to Mars's "Closer to the Edge", but lately it's New Order's "Age of Consent". Hearing the familiar intro creates a Pavlovian effect and I just feel ready to run when the song comes on!
If I've been having trouble motivating myself to run or have been having a string of rough runs, I wear one of my Sub-30 Club shirts or headbands. They always seem to get me out of a funk, and the support of those friends feels tangible when I'm wearing our logo.
It's a good thing I own three Sub-30 shirts and three headbands...I can use them for motivation six days a week!
One of my running routes seems lucky, too. It's impossible to run it and have a bad run! The weather is always perfect, my splits excellent, my shuffled playlist hits all my favorite songs...but I try not to take that route too often because I don't want to use up the good luck. (Isn't that weird?!)
I also have a pre-run routine I have to follow or I feel kind of "off" the entire time. I take everything I'll need out of my running bag and line them up on the car's armrest in order: inhaler and aerochamber, headphones (if I'm using them that day), phone, armband, car key, and gum. Then I use my inhaler and pack it back in the bag, set up my headphones and put the case away, store my running bag somewhere safe in the car, set up my phone, tuck my key into a pocket, take a tiny sip of water, pop in my gum, and then I get out of the car.
If I miss a step in that process, my whole run feels weird.
One last superstition I have is about January races; they just always seem to be the ones I fall apart during. I broke that particular curse last January when I ran the Suncoast Half, and then I realized that maybe the bad luck was about one race in particular, the Naples Daily News Half. I've resolved to never run that one again!
Do you have any superstitions, running-related or otherwise?
Do you have a good-luck outfit?


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break Plans

Thursday afternoon, as I finished my grades for quarter three and cleaned up my room in preparation for spring break, I realized something...I have a glorious 11 days off!

Depending on how spring break and Easter coincide, we either get 7 days of SB and then a long weekend later for Easter, or one extra-long break. That's what happened this year!
We had the 27th off in exchange for our Saturday open house early in the year, and because grades were due before we went on break, I have lots of free time to plan quarter 4 and relax this week!
I am so excited. After traveling to Houston last week, I've been dragging this week. We worked all through the weekend and didn't have a single day to recuperate afterward, so all of us were pretty wiped. I truly feel this break was earned...and I plan to spend it wisely.

Here are some of the things I hope to focus on over break.

Running. I have a 10k and a 5k in April that I need to get back on track training for. I originally wanted to PR this 10k, so if I still want to stick with that plan, I have a lot of work to do in the next couple weeks. It may be tough because it's hard to run in glasses and I'm officially out of contacts until my surgery, and then after surgery I'm supposed to take a few days off from exercise...but I need to get some running in!
Meg messaged me and Kristin about this one...we'll be running it together and dressing appropriately for the theme!
Music. There are so many songs on my running playlist I need to purge, and a bunch of new songs I can't wait to add! It's been much too long since I've made any updates to my playlist.
A few songs I'll be adding to my list.
LASIK. My surgery is happening over break! Like I mentioned before, I'm currently on a contact-lens ban until the day of surgery, which may conflict with my running plans...but it also means that I wore contacts for the last time ever on Thursday!

Passover. Matt and I are hosting Passover again this year; it will be the first time hosting it in our new house! I'm going to try my hand at brisket and hope it comes out well. I've already eaten my weight in GF matzo...I may be the only person on earth who actually likes matzo.
This was a no-brainer...why did I even ask?
Cleaning. Over the last couple weeks, I've been putting housework aside in order to grade some big projects from my students and prepare for the Houston trip; now that I have some downtime and we're having family come for Passover, it's time to give the house a deep cleaning.

Painting. Our house is pink, but it hopefully won't be much longer! Matt and I want to try to get it painted over break...but first we have to pick a color! We've been using a virtual painting tool online to get an idea; it's kind of hilarious.
Spoiler alert: we are not going for this canary yellow, much to my chagrin.
Needless to say, I'm going to be keeping myself busy. Spring break always marks an interested turning point in the year... the last quarter of the school year is already upon us! Quarter four is always the most stressful, but also the most rewarding. I'm grateful to have some time off to relax and prepare myself for what's to come.

How did you usually spend spring break when you were a student?
Do you still take a spring break vacation?


Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Won't Follow You If

I'm wearing my sassy-pants today; you've been warned. 

I'm writing this post because I've noticed an increase in people following me and asking for me to follow in return; that's not how I operate. I don't follow just for numbers. This post is for them. 

I know I'm not a big blogger and maybe I don't have the "right" to be picky about who I follow, but in recent weeks I've definitely noticed a trend in how I decide who I'll add to my Instagram, Bloglovin', or Twitter feeds. Some might call me judgmental, but I don't have the time to spend on posters I don't mesh with.
I won't follow you if...You can't use proper grammar. Seriously, if your "about me" says "I luv 2 b @ the gym~", I can't close the tab fast enough. Why do random people searching to boost their numbers use such pathetic writing styles? It's such a turn-off.
I won't follow you if...Your "about me" lists your traits in an eye-roll-worthy order. This isn't about having the descriptors there at all; it has to do with how the person prioritizes them.

There are three main categories to this one, and I'm going to get flack for them all. If the first word someone uses to describe herself is "wife", I'm out of there; I feel like a woman's first descriptive word for herself shouldn't be about her marital status. 
The same is true with variations of "mom", such as "blessed mommy of 4!" I just know it will be hard to feel connected to that person if she identifies herself first-and-foremost by her motherhood.

Finally, overly religious tones in an "about me" send me packing. If the first thing in their profile is "Flying Spaghetti Monster Follower! <3" (or something similar, because I might actually follow a hardcore Pastafarian), I know the tone of their posts isn't going to be what I'm looking for in my search for fitness inspiration.
I won't follow you if...Your blog is a wall of text with no discernible paragraph breaks and a quirky font. I know blogs are all in good fun, but there has to be a level of professionalism, right?!
I'm not the only person wearing my sassy-pants today.
I won't follow you if...You're a one-trick pony. I used to follow running blogs that were just about running, but if I want to really feel connected to a blogger, I need to see more about their lives! A strict posting schedule that follows WIAW and the like can't hold my interest.

I won't follow you if...You're unnecessarily pessimistic. Listen, I'm a realist bordering on pessimist, and honest negativity can be refreshing and allow people to commiserate and connect. However, when I see people complain about perfectly awesome things all the time - like a ridiculously fast race that didn't meet their goal, or weekend full of fun travel that left them waaah, sooo tired! - I immediately need to leave that page.
I won't follow you if...You're closed-minded. The first time I see a racist, homophobic, sexist, etc, comment or post, I'm out of there.
That last one may seem ironic; I'm kind of painting myself as pretty closed-minded here. Obviously there are exceptions to the rules, but it's true that how we market ourselves in our profiles is very important to how we come across, and people make their decisions in split seconds!
I figure if people are turned-off by my profile or about me, we wouldn't have connected well anyway, and in the end I do think it's quality over quantity; I'll never understand people who go out and search for followers in droves because I'd rather follow 10 people I truly connect with than a million I hardly like.

Did you put a lot of thought into crafting your profile/about me?
Are there certain things that make you lose interest in a blogger/poster?


Monday, March 23, 2015

Where Have I Been?!

It's been a hot second since my last update. Apparently after my half, my legs weren't the only part of me that needed a break.

I took most of the week off from running, so here's a different kind of post. I spent the weekend in Houston, TX with my administrative and curriculum teams for the annual Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) conference. It was a great opportunity to soak in some serious PD while bonding with the leaders of curriculum at my school.
The ladies at the assembly hall...
Education conferences are seriously like race expos on steroids.
We arrived in Houston late Friday after a full day of work. Saturday was our first day at the conference. Six of us attended and there were dozens of sessions to choose from, so we made sure to divide and conquer.
Teachers in their natural habitat...despite traveling from all over the world, we all seem to speak the same language.
3D art by Don't Let Them Drop.
What my day looked like.
 The keynote speaker on Sunday, Nicholas Negroponte at the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, talked about connectivity as a human right and providing laptops and tablets to every child in the world, no matter where they are. The photos he showed from the work he has done were really moving.
Needless to say, our days were packed. I was able to see four or five sessions each day, but it was hard to choose which to go to!
I obviously overbooked myself.
We finished each long day of note-taking (and honestly, I miss being a student sometimes, so it's fun to hear about new strategies and rewarding to hear that the strategies I already use are effective) with dinner and debriefing.
It was Elisa's first time at a hibachi grill!
I really wanted to run in Houston but our hotel wasn't in a very good spot for outdoor running. Monday morning I ran on the treadmill for the first time in about a year. I also did some squats and lunges, planks, and push-ups. It was a nice little workout.
I forgot how much I hate the treadmill. Even with Burn Notice and Law & Order: SVU I was bored out of my mind.
After one last session Monday, we all packed into our ginormous car (not to sound like an advertisement, but if you ever need to fit six adults and six huge suitcases in one car, the Suburban is the way to go) and headed to the airport.
Tomorrow it's business as usual as we return to school for the last couple days before spring break. I'm excited to begin implementing some of the new things I learned, and I'm really looking forward to planning some bigger new projects over the summer!

Do you attend professional conferences for your profession?
Have you ever been to Texas?
How do you fit working out into your work-travel schedule?


Monday, March 16, 2015

First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon

I had really been looking forward to this race! Last year, when early-bird pricing opened, Sean gave me the heads up and I snapped up my entry without really thinking about it. I knew it was a well-established race with a good reputation and it was local to my parents, which would make travel easy.
I'm glad he convinced me!
Saturday afternoon Matt and I went to packet pickup downtown. I had planned to go earlier but Matt was working on my mom's car. I was lucky to run into Mari because the line curved all the way around the block, and I was able to slip in and wait with her.
The line at Fit2Run at Five Points.
Because this was the 10th anniversary race, we received beautiful, lightweight running jackets along with our shirts. I can't wait to wear it this summer when hurricane season hits.
The jacket is a $70 value, which makes the $47 race fee even more worth it.
The race offered XS sizing, which made me very happy, and the shirt is actually cut for women, so I may actually wear this one.
We had sushi for dinner, as is my usual, and I managed to fall asleep at a decent time.
How gorgeous is that?
Sunday morning arrived, and everything was rolling smoothly along. We got to the race site and parked without any trouble. I had my usual breakfast, but my stomach was being a little grumbly so I took half an Immodium. The biggest problem of the morning was the weather; it was already 70 and humid forty minutes before the race began.
I took a picture of our formidable bridge (lit in blue, although we also ran the smaller bridge right after) as I waited to use the bathroom.
The race started about ten minutes late, and by that time I was really itching to get moving. The first mile took a  lot of dodging and weaving, and then we were at the dreaded bridge. The first ascent was fairly easy except for how narrow it was! I was bumping into people all over the place.

I saw Sean and Mari on the descent; both looked strong.

We rounded St. Armand's Circle and came right back to the bridge. The second ascent was much harder, but I told myself I would run a race to be proud of and I didn't let myself walk. I did pause at the top to snap a picture of the sunrise.
As I began the descent, I spotted Matt off to the side and made a beeline toward him. 
Finishing the Ringling Causeway.
There I go, with the bridge behind me and the city before me!
Not long after I had passed Matt, someone drew up alongside me. "Excuse me, have you heard of the Sub-30 Club?" he asked.

I looked up and there was Will, a fellow Subber I'd last seen at Space Coast! He had been taking a walk break when he passed Matt, recognized him, and said hello; Matt told him I had just gone by. We chatted for a bit and then went on with our own paces, but we would be leap-frogging the rest of the race and seeing him on the course really helped me pull through this one.

By this time, it was really warming up. The next few miles (5ish through 8) were along 41, which isn't a very pretty route and was fairly narrow at times. The volunteer support and water stations were great. There were spectators handing out frozen grapes and fresh strawberries, and a few with water guns filled with icy water.
But honestly, this part of the race wasn't fun. Usually, even when I'm dogging it in a race, I'm still enjoying it. This time, I just kept thinking to myself, This is the last half before I can take a break from long races; I just need to finish this one. If that's not a sign that I need a bit of a rest, I don't know what is.

We turned in front of the Ringling Museum and the second half of the race went through a shady neighborhood filled with twisting roads. I began to lose my stamina. I had eaten a Gu at mile 5 but the heat was messing with my stomach and I couldn't fathom eating another, even though I knew I needed it.
The wheels came off at mile 7 and stayed off for the rest of the race.
I began to take walk breaks. (Part of me was disappointed that I was resorting to this because I hadn't planned to walk - I have nothing against those who run/walk, but I'm hard on myself if I take unplanned walk breaks in a race.)

I knew that the weather was a factor and for whatever other reasons this just wasn't going to be my strongest race. Considering my racing season over the last few months, I cut myself some slack.

As I passed Will around mile 12 he shouted, "Go get it, Ali!" and I just dug in and did it.

I saw Matt near the finish twice (he had his skateboard and was able to catch me before the last turn and again right at the end) and was able to pick up my shuffle to a run and finish strong.
I'm honestly not sure why I look so happy...maybe because this was mile 12.9?
I got my medal and chugged a bottle of water. As I squatted off to the side of the finishing chute, I could feel my whole body pulsing.
My actual official time was 2:26:44.
Matt found me and we found Will and took pictures; it was seriously so nice to see him throughout the race! It's amazing what having a buddy on the course can do; I'm sure I would have walked earlier and more often if not for Will's presence.
His journey is amazing and you can follow it here.
We grabbed oranges and met up with Sean, who had been in front of the 1:40 pacer when I saw him, but he said he had had the same problem I did; he hit the wall hard and early. Still, he finished with an awesome sub-2 time.
The race began and ended at the Van Wezel, that big purple building in the background. Our medals are the size of soup bowls!
After the race, Matt and I went to meet Jenn and her fiance for brunch at Another Broken Egg. I was excited to try their gluten free pancake (it was good) and catch up after not seeing Jenn since our trip to Panama in 2011!
The pancake was good, but the bacon was fantastic.
Before going home, we made one more detour to pick up cupcakes at Gigi's and check out a huge tent sale at Fit2Run. We spent $21 and got multiple Camelbak accessories, light clips for running in the dark, a new Lija skirt (which was originally $80!), a set of three different kinds of resistance bands, and a medicine ball. I can't wait to add some new exercises to my at-home routines!

Yes, that medicine ball is only 4lbs, but it was literally $1 and I couldn't say no. I know it will be good for something!
I came away from this race resolved to never run another half after February. It's just too hot in Florida by March. But I definitely feel like it was a good end to the winter/spring half marathon season. 
The medal is so big and glittery! It's a serious contender for prettiest medal on the rack.
Now I just have shorter races to look forward to, and my legs are definitely thanking me.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Embracing Taper

My last half of the year (scheduled so far at least) is this weekend. I'm excited for it and I'm trying to plan for a smart race. Two key factors are informing my decisions this week.

1. Spring has truly arrived. Seemingly overnight, temperatures have jumped up into the high 80s and the humidity is creeping back up as well.
This weekend's forecast.
2. The huge bridge I'll have to cross twice early in the race is daunting, to say the least.
My quads already hate me for this.
After the 5k on Monday, my right butt cheek and my right calf were really tight. The muscles were knotted up like crazy! I realized that this week's plan to run my local bridge as many times as possible was kind of stupid.

It's time to taper.

I returned to the golf course Wednesday for a very easy shakeout run of just two miles.
My calves were killing me the entire time.
I eschewed a four-miler across the bridge for a flat, easy course with Kristin instead.
It's funny how much easier a run is when you've got a buddy with you!
I'm drinking lots of water, using my foam roller and Stick, and basically taking it easy the rest of the week. It's time to get my legs into racing condition. They need to rest!...And I think they've kind of earned it.

Do you taper?
Are you racing this weekend?
Has spring arrived for you yet?
Go wish Lizzy good luck at the LA Marathon this weekend! She'll be dealing with super warm weather, too!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Race for PAWS (Virtual) 5k

Monday night seemed like as good a time as any to finally fit in my virtual race! With my half looming this weekend and my last long run under my belt, I was in the mood to just get out there and pound some pavement.

My last 5k was rough for multiple reasons and I really wanted to redeem myself. My goal was to run the race under thirty minutes; I wasn't necessarily aiming for a PR because it's been awhile since I've raced a 5k in good condition for it, but I didn't want to give myself the wiggle room to ease up on the pace just because the race was virtual.
There's still time to sign up and run if you're interested! Click here!
I've never run a virtual race, but I was happy to run one that would benefit a cause I truly care about. (On a side note, I chose not to run the 10k because I've discovered I don't really like racing that distance; it may be the hardest for me at this point...mentally it's just pretty daunting.)

Anyway, the weather was nice Monday evening. After a big salad for a pre-race snack - I was starving after work - I headed out to run at 7pm. It was getting gloomy and a few errant drops of rain made an appearance during the run, but it wasn't raining, unfortunately. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze.
This was perfect fuel...I'm trying so hard to eat more like an athlete!
I did a half mile warmup in the park, then went to the bathroom and got ready to race.

Mile 1: I wanted to feel uncomfortable in the first mile, but I had forgotten to set my Nike+ to tell me my pace at every quarter mile...so when the little feedback voice told me my first mile was 8:35, I literally shouted, "OH NO!" I wanted to be uncomfortable, and lately that has meant running in the 9:50s...9:40s if I'm having a good day.

I didn't plan to run any of my miles sub-9!
Look at that sky! I was hoping for real rain the entire time, but no luck!
Mile 2: I reined it in for the second mile, knowing I'd be paying for this crazy start in the third. I always hit a little wall around mile two of a 5k, and this race was no different. I had made the turn-around and was now heading into the wind. This was probably the hardest part of the race. I tucked my head down and gulped air as I ran; I reminded myself over and over that 5ks may be painful, but at least they're short!

Mile 3: Sure enough, my third mile was a pain-fest. I looped through the park once and ended the 3.11 miles perfectly, right back at my car! (That's a benefit of a virtual race!)
The Good: Each mile was sub-10 and I was very happy with my final time! It wasn't a PR, or even my second-best time, but it was definitely a nice reminder to myself that I still know how to race 5ks and that maybe a new PR is in the cards for me this year.

The Not-So-Good: That said, I have clearly forgotten how to manage my pace in shorter races. My splits were crazy.
It was hard to stay motivated and keep moving when I hit a mini-wall at mile two; clearly having crowd support is helpful, but I'd call this virtual race a success!
Post-race "glow" ;o)
Thanks for setting this race up, Kristina! I really enjoyed having an "excuse" to really push myself on what could have ended up being just another weekday run!
Have you ever run a virtual race?