Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Apologize in Advance

You know that feeling of dread that sneaks up on you when someone wants to show you pictures of their family vacation/wedding/new baby? Well, you should be feeling that right now. I have missed out on over three months of splashing the interwebz with pictures of me with my hands on my hip, in the right light and at the right angle. And now, we are going to make up for lost time.

The above is only slightly true. Partially. Mostly. Whatever. I actually just wanted to post about what I was up to over the past few months.

I turned a quarter-century old and celebrated with a beautiful hike and the world's largest gummy bear:

Tim and I also spent Christmas in Hong Kong. I was still technically working while we were there, but I got away with mostly half-days and we got to do some great hikes and runs on the trails. This is perhaps my favorite picture of all time, because it shows just how gorgeous Hong Kong can actually be when you get away from the city:

Seriously amazing, right? That's part of the trail connecting Discovery Bay/Lo Fu Tau to Mui Wo on Lantau Island.

Of course, going to Hong Kong also meant something pretty amazing: I wore high heels. Not just once, either. We're talking 4-5 times. I know, I know. That alone is something worth writing a blog post about. I wore dresses, too. ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS. It was just a big 'ol party in the big city. I had a great time seeing family and friends and celebrating Christmas.

Christmas Eve champagne and nibbles

If it looks like that, it's not really work!

Cutest Munchkin in the world

And then during January, I did nothing. Okay, not nothing, but...nothing of interest. Work. Running. Eating. The occasional trip outside. Just go-go-go, you know? Alright, I think you're all caught up on my life after a three-month blogging hiatus. I'm not sure what's worse - the fact that I think people care, or the fact that I can sum it up so perfectly in one tiny blog post.

Since I have been only half-participating in the blog world lately, fill me in on the best thing that happened to you over the past few months. Or the worst thing. Or if you have ever had a gummy bear bigger than mine.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let's Try This Again

This past week has been so bizarre. I was on such a high after running in Myrtle Beach, and all I could think about was the marathon. I actually had a hard time sleeping (despite the fact that my body was exhausted!) because I kept replaying the final stretch in my mind and seeing the numbers 3:51:15 float by every time I closed my eyes.

Yes, that makes me sound crazy. I get that. But I really was on cloud nine.

And then....the inevitable crash. It sucks, doesn't it? An amazing PR, a new distance record or an incredibly fun race can often leave you on a roller coaster of feelings. After the rise, the weeks or months of anticipation and then the event itself, you find yourself at a loss. What am I supposed to be doing now? What am I supposed to be eating, sleeping, training?

Monday through Wednesday was basically me being a whiny bitch, struggling to focus on my work, eating far too many bags of mini eggs (early Easter candy FTW!) and finding ways to fight with my husband.

I turned a corner today and decided to stop regretting the great things that are over and focus on the great races I have coming up. Plus, you know, my happy marriage, adorable cats and great job. I guess they count too. So here are the races I have to look forward to:

Delano 12 Hour: (2 Weeks from now!) Well, this should be fun. It's a timed race, so I can run as much or as little as I want. The race takes place on a one-mile loop (unpaved but flat) and I can stop at any time. I'm excited to push myself a little and see just how far my legs can take me in that time period. Plus, it was just $45 - that's just good value per mile, if you think about it.

Scenic City Trail Marathon: (Mid-May) I've run this for the past two years, but I have only run the half. This year I'm excited to tackle the full. It's a pretty fast, as far as trails go, it's organized well and it's just beautiful. Plus, it's 45 minutes from home. Can't beat it.

Jill & I post-race in 2012

Same race in 2011

And, uh...that's it. It feels weird not to have races planned for the next year like a lot of runners do, but I am happy to be taking it just one step at a time. Come May, I may decide to focus on speed, tackle longer distances or maybe take a break, and I'm happy to wait and see how that works out.

Do you like being signed up for races months in advance, or it is stressful/a burden/a potential waste of money?
I wish I could sign up for races at the last minute. Although having them on the calendar helps me stick to a training plan, I don't like shelling out $ so far in advance. Big races require some serious commitment!  

I feel that a lot of runners put all their eggs in one basket when it comes to being happy - does that make sense? Do you agree?
When I'm stressed, I run. When I am worried, I run. So when you can't run/are injured/aren't supposed to run, what replaces that for you? Other types of fitness, or something else entirely? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap: Sub-4!

What's up? Long time no type. The last time I posted (in November) I had just completed the Chickamagua Battlefield Marathon with a time of 4:05 and I was incredibly proud of myself. If you told me that I would be able to cut 14+ minutes off of my PR in the three months after that, I would have thought you were crazy. Somehow, I finished the Myrtle Beach Marathon with an official time of 3:51:15 this Saturday, and I could not be happier! Here's the recap, or as much of it as I can remember.

Pre-Race: Tim and I decided to drive to Myrtle Beach on Thursday afternoon so that we could relax a little on Friday and not worry about rushing there in time for the expo/packet pick-up. Also, nothing says love like spending Valentine's Day in a car for 8 hours, right?

We woke up on Friday morning to incredible views of the beach from our insanely cheap hotel room, and all I wanted to do was go exploring all day. Alas, that is a terrible, terrible idea before a marathon. Instead, we met up with Victoria and her friends for lunch, chanted sub-4 several times (only kidding! kinda), hit up the expo and then did just a LITTLE walking on the beach. Myrtle Beach is gorgeous, but I imagine it becomes exponentially less gorgeous as the population and summer crowds increase.

At Pier 14 in Myrtle Beach

Baby Tigers at the Race Expo!

I went to bed super early (9:30), stared at the ceiling and imagined crossing the finish line about 100 times, and then woke up before my 4:30 a.m. alarm. Awesome.

Race Day: There were shuttles that went straight from a few area hotels to the start, so I hopped on one around 5:20 and got there far too early. However, that was intentional - it was the only chance I had to hang out with Beth! It was wonderful to catch up a little, and I barely noticed the cold with all the chatting. For the record, she killed it and had her best half-marathon time in 5 years!

I found Victoria and her friend Rachel a few seconds before the start, ran past the giant elephant - really - and covered the first mile in 9:01. That's EXACTLY the speed I was hoping for the entire race. As luck would have it, that was actually my slowest mile for the entire marathon. To be completely honest, after that first mile I knew I could go faster than I had planned. I sped up and had an incredible first 10 miles. It was beautiful, I was happy, and I couldn't think of anything better than doing exactly what I was doing.

Victoria and I found each other around mile 10 and ran together for a while, and we even passed Tim who managed to take a picture as we flew by. He actually just had to step directly out of the hotel lobby to take a picture, since the hotel was right on the course. Awesome for spectators!

Running With Victoria around Mile 12

I stopped to refill my water bottle at mile 14 and told Victoria I would catch up. Spoiler: I never did. I tried to, but it was too fast for me that early in the race. I didn't want to burn out!  She went on to a 47 minute PR and finished almost 4 minutes ahead of me. The rest of the race was definitely challenging from then on. The sun came out, there were a few miles along major roads and I had to dig a little deeper to keep up the pace. However, I never had to hit anything slower than an 8:58, and that felt so motivating. I never hit a wall, or felt terrible. I had to repeat a little mantra in a my head a few times, but overall I felt surprisingly great.

The last .2 I sprinted my little heart out and managed a 7:48 pace. Final time - 3:51:15, which puts me at 111th woman overall and 14th in my division with an 8:50 pace overall. Also, I believe I have entry the sub-4 club. Feels good.

Post-Race: I couldn't breathe for a minute after the finish. Honestly, I was really scared. The final sprint combined with the emotions of seeing Tim at the finish and realizing my time left me hyperventilating, and I freaked out. Thankfully it was nothing, and I was absolutely fine in 60 seconds. I smelled kettle corn and was eating a big bag of it within 5 minutes of finishing, so I guess you could say I recovered pretty quickly.

I walked a couple of miles back to the hotel, showered and headed out for food. Wait - first I used every method of social media that I know about to brag. THEN I went out for food. I had a bacon cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun (!!!) and fries. And then sweet potato fries. And then a couple of margaritas. Every bit was delicious.

Obviously wearing my marathon shirt right away.

Because I know some people are curious about this stuff, here are the nitty-gritty details-

What I Wore: The same stuff I always do. I have race/long run favorites, BIG TIME. I had on my oldest, nastiest New Balance shorts. They were given to me as hand-me-downs 8 years ago, and they are quite literally falling apart at the seams. But I love them. I also had on the Nike shirt from Hood to Coast. It is incapable of chafing anywhere, and I will never stop wearing it. I also wore Swiftwick Compression socks, and my calves weren't sore at all the next day. However, it's worth noting that the completely flat course may have had more to do with that than the socks.  I also wore my Nuun visor - made by Headsweats and really comfortable.

What I Ate: I carried my handheld water bottle (Camelbak) the whole time, which is standard for me. I always drink Nuun for long runs, so I don't want to risk anything else for race day. I had three tablets of Kona Cola flavor, which has caffeine, and I just put one tablet every time I filled up my bottle at an aid station. I also had two packs of Shot Blocks, which is about 400 calories total.

I had a great race on Saturday, but it's really important to note that the course was incredible. It's not 100 percent flat, but it's pretty close. The temperatures were also amazing - 40 at the start and 55 at the finish. Had the conditions/course not been so perfect, I'm sure I could have added a little extra time to my finish. I still didn't manage the ever-elusive negative splits, but my first half was only slightly faster than the second half - 1:55:29 vs. 1:56:16, so I'm improving! (Also: yep, that's a 1 second half-marathon PR there, and I will gladly take it!)

Man, I let this thing get away from me. So typical. I stop blogging for three months and then feel the need to make up for it all in one post.

Thanks so much to everyone who congratulated me on Twitter, Daily Mile or Facebook. You all make me feel like a rock star, and I would be lying if I didn't say that it makes me feel amazing. I truly appreciate every kind comment.