Monday, November 12, 2012

A 32 Minute Marathon PR!

Where can I possibly start with this post? I feel like I could write a novella recapping the experience. However, since most of you have jobs and would probably mop your floors than read a 20+ page recap of my marathon, I'll try to keep it short.  Try, of course, being the operative word there. On Saturday I ran the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. It was my second marathon and my second time running the course. And yes, I beat my time from last year - by 32 minutes.

The event started out with a bang - literally. A cannon shoots off at the start of the race, and Tim got an amazing photo:

Although I'm a solo runner roughly 99% of the time, this race was completely atypical for me. I started the race running with lovely fellow blogger Twila. It was wonderful to meet her! I would say we ran together for about 25 minutes before I realized I was going just a little too fast. I waved her on ahead and settled into my perfect pace, just under 9 minute miles. I ran alone for another hour or so, just admiring the scenery (you run through a historic Civil War battlefield/national park).

Still feeling good...

Around mile 9, a woman running right around me introduced herself as Bettina and asked if we could run together. I said yes, but explained that I wasn't the chattiest runner. We stuck together for nearly two hours, and I'm so grateful that we were running together. It turned out that our husbands were both on the course at the same spot standing next to each other waiting for us to pass, so we introduced them to each other at mile 15. What are the odds of that happening, honestly?

Around this point, we picked up a third runner - my friend Jonathan who was aiming for a sub-4 marathon. He was completely on pace and the three of us ran together perfectly. Sadly, around 20 my new friend Bettina needed to drop back. (Spoiler alert: she still finished STRONG with a PR and a time of 4:12!) The last few miles Jonathan and I ran side by side, although we were both barely talking by this point. Although I had passed the halfway mark under 2 hours, I knew a sub-4 wasn't happening. My miles slowed every so slightly along the way, with my final mile coming in at 10:05. Negative splits continue to elude me.

Around mile 24
It's a weird feeling to be running next to someone else during the last few miles of a marathon. It's an extra layer of motivation and encouragement, but it's almost a little extra pressure, too. Only a few minutes from the finish, during an uphill trail segment (a very, very small portion of the course was on trail, although it wasn't challenging terrain) I had to stop and walk. Can you imagine how defeated I felt to stop just 5-6 minutes from the end of the marathon? I didn't stop to walk ONCE until that point at 25.5 miles- and I honestly felt like I could give up there and then. I waved Jonathan ahead, but he didn't go. Had he gone ahead, I probably would have kept walking. But he didn't, so I just kept running. And running. And running. And then, there it was. The finish line, with the last .2 miles going perfectly downhill.

Relearning how to walk at the finish line
There are three ways that you can feel about a race, in my experience.
1) You can feel fine at the end, but have a nagging feeling that you didn't leave EVERYTHING out there on the course.
2) You can feel exhausted and miserable, having peaked and crashed too early.
3) You can feel spent - knowing that you gave the race everything and you performed to the best of your ability.

My race was the third option. I could not have asked for better conditions, better running partners, better support from Tim or better pacing overall. I don't think I could have finished that race any faster - I truly feel like I left it all out there. And it's a wonderful feeling. The temperatures were cold at the start and about 60 degrees at the finish - perfect. I felt exhausted but with no injuries-perfect. Intestinal distress?  Fuhgettaboutit. I beat last year's time by 32 minutes, coming in with a chip time of 4:05:28-perfect.

Although I certainly was secretly aiming for a sub-4 race, and really wish it could have happened, I have no regrets. This was a perfect day, and I'm still on cloud nine about it. Thanks to everyone who sent me Tweets, Facebook messages, texts and emails with encouragement and congratulations! And of course, thanks to Tim. Seriously, what husband gets up at 5am to watch his wife race? And hands out fuel along the way? And takes amazing photos? And deals with a cranky, tired wife for a few days AFTER the race? This guy:

Best husband ever!

Amazingly, I feel fine now. I stretched an insane amount on Saturday, and then went for a slow 2 mile walk that night with lots of stretching and foam rolling - and then the same again on Sunday. I feel great today, albeit tired, but I'm going to stick to cycling for a few more days to give my joints a break.

Stretching post-race

And to the winner, the spoils! picked #38 as the winner for the Oakley sunglasses, which is.... Marel Pease!

Marel, email me at with your shipping information so that Sunglasses Shop can send you your new pair of Oakley Radar Edge sunglasses!

And with that, I bid you adieu. I'm going to take a little hiatus from blogging for a while. After thinking about it a lot, I've simply invested too much time, effort and emotion into this blog to give it up entirely. I think some time off will remind me of why I loved it in the first place. I'll still be on Facebook and Twitter, and of course you can always email me! As Arnie would say....I'll be back! (Bonus points if you said that out loud in an Austrian accent.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oakley Sunglasses Giveaway!

Saturday was my last "long" run until the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on November 10th. I treated it like a dress rehearsal - starting at roughly the same time as the marathon will, choosing a similar terrain (paved and hilly), running at goal marathon pace for the duration and even wearing what I planned to wear for race day.

I'm typically pretty boring when it comes to running gear. Until a few months ago, I pretty much just wore anything - obviously cotton is not my friend in the summer or for long runs, but that's pretty much it. Lately, however, I've been picking up more and more items that seem to make running just that little bit more enjoyable. The most recent find is these Oakley Radar Edge sunglasses, which were sent to me by Sunglasses Shop. Currently, my non-running sunglasses are from Old Navy and cost $3.71 exactly, and I love them. So I had no idea which sunglasses to choose from from Sunglasses Shop. In the end, I just ended up getting the exact pair that the woman (Jess) who contacted me wears. She's a runner, so I figured it would be a smart call.

In summary, it was definitely a good call. I'm not going to lie to you, though. When I put them on, I felt the tiniest bit like a giant tool. This is probably because I paired them with a visor. Now, there's nothing wrong with that combo (says the girl who plans to rock in this weekend for a marathon), but I felt a little bit like, "Oh, yeah, I run Ironman triathlons in my sleep." Like people would look at me wearing my gear and think to themselves that I'm not good enough or fast enough to need those items.

Runs 4 minute miles as a warm-up.

Well, I don't. I don't need running sunglasses to run. I don't need dri-fit shirts that eliminate odors to run. I don't need a Garmin to run. But dang it, I like those things.  And now I am a convert to these Oakley sunglasses too. They fit my face really well, despite the fact that my chipmunk cheeks sometimes limit my sunglasses options. They don't move, even when I sprint or head a little faster downhill. They will also, as I have mentioned, make you look fast - even if you're not. The grips on the nose don't slide around, even when you're sweating, which is obviously great when it's hot out.

Alas, everything has drawbacks. This pair is fantastic, but whenever you stop running they fog up - at least if you're sweating. You can take them off for a second and they clear up, but it's pretty annoying. Of course, as soon as you start running again the cool air de-fogs them in an instant.

If you want a pair, it's pretty simple. Just head to Facebook and like Sunglasses Shop. Once you're there, leave a comment on their main page. You don't have to get creative or let them know I sent you, but you do need to say "Oakley Radar Edge". That's it. Then leave me a comment to let me know that you did so. If you want an extra entry, leave an additional comment let me know what you think about this particular pair of glasses - Sunglasses Shop would like the feedback.

If you tweet, Facebook or blog about the giveaway, you can go ahead and leave a comment for another entry. Because I'm nice like that. And, uh...I desperately want the publicity.

If you want to write me a poem in the comments, you will get nothing. But I will love you forever and maybe even write you a haiku as a reply. Maybe.

I'll go ahead and pick a winner on Saturday night, November 10th, at midnight EST and then announce the winner in an upcoming post. As per FTC regulations, I received these sunglasses gratis from Sunglasses Shop, but I was in no other way compensated for my review. As always, my reviews (both good and bad) come directly from me, not a press release or an emailed suggestion for "selling points" of a product.

In case you're wondering why the heck I'm still blogging (see last post)...I had this giveaway lined up and I didn't want to forget about it. I'll have this post and one more recapping Saturday's marathon at Chickamauga Battlefield, and then I'm planning to hang up my hat for a little while. A lot of people said that I would miss it if I quit entirely. I'm not convinced, but we'll see. The plan is to take a break for a few weeks, something that is perfectly timed. The next couple months will be busy, thanks to a birthday I need to celebrate (25!), a Thanksgiving away from home and a trip to see family in Asia. So...expect a marathon recap and then radio silence for a little bit.   :)