Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas tree pain and pics from last week's race

Yesterday I spent about 5 hours hauling artificial Christmas trees out of my store.  The first 100 customers could buy a tree for $100 (normally $300-$800).  It was craaaaaaaazy.  I had sweat pouring out of every part of my body.  I drug 150 pound boxes to customer's cars like I did it every day.  Fortunately, most of the people played nicely and there were no major incidents.  The last 3ish hours of the day, I spent putting up Christmas trees to fill in some of the space of the sales floor. 
Adam and I went out for beer and cheeseburgers last night.  I had 2 Christmas porters that were higher octane. Um, I slept like a brick. 
This morning, I just threw on my running gear without a thought and ran 5 miles.  Took a shower, sat down to read the newspaper, and O.M.G.  What in the heck did I do to my body?  I felt like my body had been tossed in a washing machine.  My soreness had soreness.  Rawr.  I thought I was at the end of my good spell of running today.  But heavy lifting + bouts of intense cardio + 2 octane beers = not a recipe for successful runs.
I'll be working on redeeming myself for Sunday's run. 
In the meantime, enjoy the few pics from last week's race.  Flying Tomato and I were able to score a few serious BPs at the end:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cavewoman grunts + I made a graph for Santa

I am easily back into the groove of things after last Thursday's race.  I ran 5 on Friday, 5 on Sunday, and 7 today.  Friday and Sunday were treadmill days and I ran an easy pace just to make sure I stay injury-free.  Today, I dialed up the speed at the Greenway and felt happy to get my blood pumping.
The plan was to meet up with FT at the Greenway if it wasn't raining.  Unfortunately for FT, it was raining when he was ready to get his show on the road, so I ended up going solo.  And boy, was it solo.  On the way to the Greenway, it started pouring rain.  I had a rain jacket with me, but I waivered a bit as I drove.  I almost went to start my other errands, but decided to stay the course.  It ended up being a smart decision as it only truly sprinkled heavily for about 15 minutes of my hour-ish long run.  Not enough to soak me to the bone, but my shoes were soggy.
I saw exactly 5 other people during my run.  On a regular day, I usually see about 25.  On a beautiful weekend day, I usually spend my time dodging strollers, bikers, and (hopefully) other runners.  Today was definitely one of those days that I wanted to beat my chest cavewoman style and yell, "I AM RUNNER. I AM BADA$$. I RUN IN COLD(ISH) RAIN."  And frankly, I probably could have with no social consequences given that it was me and the squirrels today.
I dropped a Christmas tree on my foot on Saturday that weighed about 75-100 lbs.  Work hazard.  I thought I broke it when it initially happened, but after a few minutes of internalizing the pain, I realized I would just have a big, nasty bruise.  Of course, my biggest fear was that I wasn't going to be able to run well with a bruised foot.  Apparently, the fear of getting stuck in the rain far outweighed any lingering soreness on my foot.  Today's splits: 8:02, 7:56, 7:42, 7:37, 7:46, 7:31, 7:24. 
I've been busy working on my Christmas wish list.  I've finally reached a point financially in my life (for now anyway) that I don't really need anything.  Cool.  Except that it creates a new first world problem dilemma of trying to come up with new ideas for my family that are interesting and within a reasonable price range.  I'd rather just give the money to charity or spend it on a family experience, but my family is not really into all that.  So unless I want to get ugly Christmas sweaters, I must send out my suggestions.  All this got me thinking about how there I things that I really would use versus things that are just silly.  Geeky me loves a good visual representation in the form of a graph, so I decided to share this:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Atlanta Half RR--aka fun with FT for 13.1 miles

Best. Race. Ever.

Seriously, it was so great that I'm kind of afraid that no other race will be as awesome.  I guess I'll just have to keep testing that theory out...  I'm super pumped up about signing up for my next race!!!!!
Thursday morning started with a 5am wakeup call.  I actually slept really well once I fell asleep and didn't wake up 100 times thinking I had overslept.  I took out the dogs, got my race outfit on, ate breakfast, and we were off.  Adam graciously got up at the crack of dawn to take me to the race and stood in the cold for a few hours so I could run around the streets of Atlanta.  He rocks!

We waited in traffic for a long time to get a parking spot, but luckily there was not a line for the porta-potties and I made it to the corral with plenty of time.  Flying Tomato got there about the same time I did and we squeezed right next to the 1:50 pace group sign leaders.  We talked for a few minutes and then out of nowhere, the race began.

The first miles were at a nice easy pace.  The weather was perfect.  I felt absolutely pain-free and was really excited that it felt effortless.  FT and I chatted about this and that as we trotted along.  We were following the 1:50 pace group pack and discovered after a couple of miles that we could stop elbowing each other if we moved just ahead of the group.  8:20, 8:13, 8:18

The next couple of miles were mostly flat and we continued moving along rather nicely.  After mile marker 5, we climbed a bit on 14th street.  We went back and forth passing and being passed by FT's friends which was a pattern throughout the rest of the race.  FT and I would power up the hills and then be passed on the downhills.  For someone who does relatively little hill training (by choice), I actually did pretty decently on the hills.  8:07, 8:17, 8:20

Once we passed the mile 6 mark, we were headed into Piedmont Park.  I really started to amp up at this point.  I knew that I was racing great and that getting to the finish line was going to be breeze.  I collected a high 5 from a guy in a turkey costume, sucked down my 1 and only Gu (Mandarin orange, yum, yum!), and squeeled a little bit when I saw cute dogs.  Mile marker 7 began the series of rolling hills and mile marker 8 continued the hilly fun.  8:18, 8:17, 8:20

Mile 9 was where we picked up the pace a bit and tackled those hills.  We eased up on the talking and started working.  I still felt good, but I knew we were pushing the pace a bit.  Mile 10, we eased back a little bit and soon we found ourselves amongst the pace group again.  8:09, 8:16

The last 2 miles were me being a super obnoxious running partner and FT taking the entire brunt of my serial cheeriness.  The photos are not posted yet (so annoying, but I'll have to wait until my next post), but I'm fairly certain there is at least one picture of me yapping loudly in FT's ear while he is trying to run a $*@(*# race.  I talked him to death in those final 2 miles--I'm surprised he actually allowed me to finish next to him, haha.  I was feeling euphoric and clearly, oversharing.  Hopefully FT will let me run with him again.... 8:09, 8:04

I have no idea what the last .1 mile split was.  I completely forgot to stop my watch as I cross the finish line.  I was so busy trying to do an awesome double BP with FT (holy acronym Batman!), that I let it keep running for another 2 minutes.  Oops.

My chip time: 1:48:46

I'm super happy that FT PR'd and now that I have raced a half, I have a new PR to beat!  I know without the hills and with more training than 13 days, I could easily kill that PR.  Makes me even more excited to sign up for another race!!!

I was feeling so great today that I worked a retail Black Friday and came home and ran 5 miles. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards

Tomorrow, if I am feeling productive after my half-marathon and gorging myself at Thanksgiving dinner, I will be posting a RR.  It's been too long since I did one of those.  And I really don't have a good reason why.  Perhaps I'll change my mind after tomorrow, but I'm not sure why I waiver so much between racing and running just for the heck of it.

In the past year, I've run 13.1 or longer 15 times.  That means that I'm running a half or longer every three weeks.  So I'm not sure why I have doubts about race day.  I guess because other people are watching.  There is always a fear of not living up to your own expectations or the terrible possibility of a DNF.  When I run by myself, I only fear letting myself down.  Sometimes that can be just as ominous as we all tend to beat ourselves up the most. 

But I take solace in the fact that I was given a sliver of enlightenment this week.  Flying Tomato lent me a book months ago with the short stories of Runner's World.  (Sadly, my Words With Friends addiction, while not kicking me off of airplanes, has grossly interfered with my reading time.)  I have been reading a story every few days for months.  This week, I came across a fantastic quote from Alberto Salazar that touched me at the right time. 

"I had as many doubts as anyone else.  Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards." 

And that made me feel, well, comforted.  Knowing that a lot of other runners have the same fears when it comes to the final moments before the gun.  There's that strange feeling of the first few strides of the race that I think, 'uh oh, there's no turning back now!'  It keeps us up the night before a race--multiple nights if we are extreme worriers.  And for us recreational folks, there is no other rationale than good old-fashioned fear.  Ok, ok, there might be a few butterflies reserved for excitement.... 

This will be my first official half (shhh..don't tell anyone I just skipped over that and dove into marathons) and my first race with a friend.  I plan to hang alongside FT for the race and the 1:50 pace group.  I know I have it in me to run closer to 1:40 if all conditions are good (flat, great weather, great training, great race day).  And yes, I'd love to run a great race tomorrow, I'd be a liar if I said otherwise.  But I'd rather spend 5 extra minutes on the course smiling like the big goober that I am tomorrow and save the competitive spirit for another day.  After all, tomorrow's hills might make that 8:24 pace brutal--I don't want to be eating a piece of humble pie for dessert.

Let's rock n' roll:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankfully giddy and giddily thankful

A week before Thanksgiving (and a lil' half-marathon that I'm racing), I have plenty to be thankful for.  Sometimes I gripe and complain about this and that--I am human after all--but I pretty pleased with the turn of events this week.

1. Running: 10 miles at a sub 8:00 pace felt surprisingly easy on Tuesday.  I did an easy 3 on the treadmill yesterday morning where I forced myself into 9:00 pace.  The 5 easy miles today on the Greenway? I felt super relaxed and virtually no extra effort on this progressive run.  The only time I was panting a bit was on the final half mile where I just cut myself loose.  8:08, 8:04, 8:01, 7:52, 7:33.  There was a runner ahead of me for the first 2.2 miles and he held a beautiful 8:00 cadence.  I totally cheesed off of his pacing skills and gave him about 1/10th mile worth of room so I didn't seem like a creepster.  So I feel good about the race next week.  If if I don't feel 100% on race day, I still know I have it in me to run a decent race.  Plus, the lack of pressure I'm attempting to keep off of the race might actually make it really, really fun!!

2. Work: I started my new gig in September and so far, it's been everything I wanted it to be.  Aside from the annoying part of being the newbie and not knowing everything like I did at WS, I am actually getting to enjoy my life!  I work a 40ish hour workweek.  I get to see my husband for dinner nearly every single night.  I have a few more pennies in my pocket.  My boss's boss actually believes in me and my success.  And I received more good news this week when I discovered that we will not be doing anything super crazy for Black Friday or the holiday hours in general.  I won't be getting up at 4:30am to get to work by 6am.  I won't be working 12 hour days sandwiched in between a 1 1/2-2 hour commute.  This quality of life thing rocks!!!!!

3. 2013: I love, love, love the anticipation of things to come.  I have marathon #5 scheduled for March. We have our cruise to look forward to in April with friends and my siblings.  We are tentatively planning a special trip for our 5 year anniversary (Hawaii??!) with a possible layover in Vegas to have Elvis renew our vows.  It's a little ridiculous and may not happen, but a girl's gotta dream, right?  As for the rest of 2013, I think there might be some other awesome stuff thrown in there...just not quite sure what else.  I'll just keep dreaming big for now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The last double digit before race day

The bad news is that the Loop is down.  The good news is that I post my blog to a couple of different places so I can actually write something up.  Multi-posting comes in handy at times like this.

I ran my last double digit run before next week's race today.  Since my 'training' has been all of 4 days, this is not anything special.  But I wanted to feel confident about hitting double digits in a decent time so I figured today would be do or die time.  I putzed around the house for a long time before I decided it was time to go running.  I drank my coffee, ate some breakfast, lingered over the newspaper (I did all the puzzles--even the mini sodoku), ate breakfast 2.0, 'researched' some mountain house properties, and finally put my running gear on.

I checked my iPod when I was getting my water bottle together and it showed 3/4 of battery life.  Cool.  When I got to the Greenway and put on said iPod, it was completely out of juice.  Doh!  Hmm...this was not to the plan.  I really, really, really prefer to run with music (or a friend), so I decided to just throw all I know about racing dress rehearsals out the window and strapped my giant Android phone to my arm using my iPod wrist band.  If it started to slip, I could always tuck it in my sweaty sports bra or ughhhhhhhhhh, hold it.  I took my chances and strapped that bad boy in tight.

And off she ran.

I felt light on my feet and had to consciously slow myself down the first few miles so that the last few wouldn't hurt.  When I passed the first mile marker, I saw 7:43 flash as my first lap.  Oopsy.  So I dialed back my speed and decided to look again at the 1.5 mark.  Still too fast.  I slowed waaaaaay down.  Mile 2: 7:56.  I can't decide whether to be annoyed with myself for running too fast (which could be regretful on mile 10) or elated that what felt slowish was actually fast. 

Miles 3 and 4 I tried to keep that same weird cadence.  7:56 and 7:44.  I stopped and took a picture after mile 4 so I plowed through mile 5 with my 30 second break.  7:39.  After that, I said to hell with trying to even come close to the planned 8:15 pace.  I am just going to run like the giddy goober that I am.  I took a couple of more pictures on the way back and that just added fuel to the fire.  7:41 for mile 6, 7:34, 7:30, 7:25, and for that last mile, a sweet lil' 7:07.

I am trying to not feel super confident going into the race with these splits because of 2 reasons.  1) Who starts 'training' 13 days before a race and expects it to be awesome? 2) The hills, the hills, the hills that I haven't been running on.  If anything will cause me to crash and burn on race day, it will be the hills.  So best not to get too big for my britches.  I will just try to enjoy the race for the first 10 miles and then see what sort of 5K speed I can lay down.  If there is no gas in the tank, no worries--this is not a race for great expectations and I'm okay with that. 

Because I never bring my phone/camera with me on a run, I decided to snap a few pictures of where I spend a few hours of my week.  As I finished my run, I decided that having my giant phone strapped to my arm actually was pretty awesome...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Peer pressured: I am now racing in 13 days!!

Sometimes the non-plan is the best plan.  Or at least that is what I am going to tell myself in 13 days anyway.  With a little bit of peer pressure from Flying Tomato, I have entered myself into the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half.

I have run countless half-marathons by myself and 4 full marathons with others, but this will be my first 'racing' half-marathon.  I have a personal PR, but since this will be 'official', I have will have my first official PR for this distance.

I'm not sweating making it to the finish line, but I know that I will not be racing my best given that I decided to do this so close to race day.  I have been training on exactly 0 hills lately so it could be a brutal morning.  But, whatevs, I just hope to have a fun time racing with my favorite running buddy.

We finally got to see each other after months of trying to get a free Thursday morning that worked for both of us.  I definitely needed an uplift in my running and I think it was good for him too after the NYC disappointment.  Getting excited about a race is something I apparently needed (more on that in a sec).  We had no pace goals or distance goals, we just chatted and ran and I pulled the plug at the 3 mile turnaround mark when I grew tired of slip-sliding on the icy Greenway.  It felt so great to run and talk--I was immediately refreshed by the whole experience.

I had been receiving emails from the Atlanta Half and contemplated running.  But I wasn't sure about my work schedule and how busy I would be this time of year in the world of retail.  I kind of forgot that normal retailers pick up a little bit, but that it isn't crazy busy like it was the week of Thanksgiving at Williams-Sonoma.  It occurred to me that I wouldn't be dreadfully exhausted come race day.  Just regular tired.  So when Tomato started trying to convince me to sign up, it took only a few hours to decide that this would be a good thing.

I told myself today that I would go for a run and if I felt really bad, I would give myself the okay not to sign up.  But good God, it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!! I felt absolutely, ridiculously high on running.  A perfect fall day of crisp air and bright blue skies and my turnover was fast and powerful.  I felt so strong.  If I could bottle this feeling.... wow!  My first mile was in 7:24 and I kept cranking out a ferocious tempo pace after that.  5 miles at a 7:25 pace, yes please.  Needless to say, the endorphins took me straight to the half-marathon website when I got home....