Friday, March 28, 2014

QC tries to follow some rules on a scavenger hunt

I was pretty excited when AK posted that she was hosting the scavenger hunt. I needed a reason to run this week after consecutive marathons. Hah! Seriously though, it helped to have a reason to stop and smell the roses take pictures of random stuff. Whereas I normally do 3-4 miles for my first run back, I decided to just run for awhile and see what happens. If was feeling awful, I'd stop at the 2 mile mark. If I was feeling great, I'd max out at 10. I do actually try to not be a complete idiot.

I wrote the requirements down on my hand:

And clicked on my Garmin to start running. Only it didn't catch a satellite and I ran for nearly a mile without realizing it. Then I decided to just run by time and calculate my splits afterwards.

Anyway, running, schmunning, let's get to the scavenger hunt.

1. A sign of spring
 Yes, lots of signs of spring here in the south. Trees are abloom and filling the air with pollen. Um, yay....

2. Something out of place
That would be a gigantic tree that has come uprooted. I think it looks like Jabba the Hutt.

3. Something with at least 4 colors
 Finding colorful trash along the Greenway is sadly way too easy. Green, purple, white, and blue. The label actually has yellow too, but you really can't see it in the picture.

4. A favorite place to run

I'm using 2 pictures here because the first one is my favorite spot along the Greenway--a giant field that is often full of cows. The other one is more "classically beautiful" with the tree-lined boardwalk.

5. A fancy house or building
Look, there aren't a lot of choices out in redneckville. And I tried to zoom in on this old barn since it was really one of the few "buildings" along the run. I was going to take a picture of a birdhouse (see the one in the first picture of #4), but that seemed equally lame. #fancyhousefail

6. Something with a name or something that has a word that starts with v, w, x, or z.
Wasp nest. Was going to just go with a picture of water, but stumbled upon this during my cool down.
7. A green car
Green cement truck counts, right? Kind of got lucky with that one. Thought I was going to have to scour the parking lot for a hybrid vehicle since apparently no one drives green cars. Fortunately, I saw this while waiting to cross the one major intersection!

8. Something with the numbers that can be combined to make 10
1^6+1^1+1^2+7=10  Boom!

9. Something with a Loop on it

It's my out-and-back 6.75 Loop! And there is kind of a loop on the picture too.

10. Something making a funny face

Oh please, like I could resist taking just one selfie?!?!?

11. Bonus: something sarcastic
 Slow? Bahahahahaha!!!!! I know this pertains to bikers, but I laugh every time I run by the sign. Like I need a sign to tell me to slow down? Suck it, sign!

Thanks again, AK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This definitely made those 10.2 miles waaaaaaaaaay more fun than just a regular QC run on the Greenway.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Step 2 of Maniac status: You cannot be sad in a tutu

Since my last post about my Shamrock Shenanigans (and step 1 of earning my Maniac stripes), I felt surprisingly sprightly. Normally I don't run until Wednesday or Thursday following a marathon, but I actually felt great on Tuesday. I packed my bag to run after work and knocked out 4 miles at a 7:49 pace. Guess my legs were itching to run fast again!

I was super busy Thursday so I ended up running 3 easy miles before work Friday at an 8:34 pace on the treadmill. Nothing felt too tight or achy and I knew come hell or high water, I was going to at least cross the finish line on my own two feet Sunday.

Saturday morning, I picked up Megan (my amazing chauffeur/support team/manicurist) to go to the expo with me.  Adam had to work all weekend. Boo! Anyway, Megan registered to run/walk the 5K--yippee! We spent about an hour at expo and picked up lots of great swag:
I even found a cute new headband for the Flying Pig:
We made pit stops at Hobby Lobby (to pick up tulle and elastic so I could make a tutu) and at Fleet Feet (to commit the cardinal sin of buying new apparel for race day and GU that I forgot to buy at the expo.

I came home to eat lunch on the patio:
And gave the Bostons doggie ice cream because, well, just because:
I got to work making my tutu while watching my bracket blow up:

After a pasta dinner, Megan came over to paint my nails and spend the night since we were leaving at 5:15am. She came up with the cute design to mimic the Marathon Maniacs logo:

I laid out my race outfit (new tank from Fleet Feet!) and tried to get some sleep:
Race day morning, I had a cup of coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. I tried to get my tummy rumbling at home, but it decided to wait until we got downtown. Fortunately, we had plenty of time to park, get situated, hit the porta potties, and chitchat before the start. 

My plan? Um..... yeah, about that....

Having run a 3:52 the week before on an elevation like this:
Made me question what my abilities to on an elevation like this one week later:
On one hand, I felt really, really good all things considering.  I recovered smartly and listened to my body.  One the other hand, even though it was an easier pace for me at Shamrock, it was still a frickin' marathon. I was navigating uncharted territory here.

So I decided that because my course PR was 3:43, I was just going to run as near to the 3:45 pace group for as long as I could hold on. Bank and bonk, right?

I wasn't running with friends this time so I popped in my ear buds and waited for the gun. Within the first mile, I spotted the 3:45 pace group sign and decided I would try to close the gap by mile 2. 

I was kind of a weird place mentally. There was a lot of self doubt and not knowing a soul of the course was disheartening. My tutu was too big to stay around my hips and was riding up around my waist. But how could I be sad wearing a tutu?! And I knew I could run/walk to the finish and still reach my Maniac goal!

By the second mile, I was running near the 3:45 group and waiting to feel warmed up. It took until about mile 4 before I started to feel loose and comfortable with my pace. Then, I started to pass some of my favorite sights on the course. Going through Little 5 Points, tackling the hill leading to the Carter Center, and the now-comfortable silence of splitting from the half-marathoners around mile 7:
 I knew I had finally hit my groove when I realized I forgot to take a GU until I was a half-mile past mile 8--I was trying to get one in every 4 miles.  Then I finally got fired up at the water station when a bunch of excited teenagers started screaming about my tutu.
Just before mile marker 10, there is an evil (one of a few) hill that the 3:45 pace leader started doing the goat shuffle on. I personally like to race the uphills and take it easy on the downs. Get the hard part over with fast I 'spose? Anyway, this hill was about a half mile long and I ended up gaining about 30 seconds or so on the pace group. Whatever. Cool. I'm just running my own race.

Snacking Sidenote: I'm not sure exactly where all the snacks were along the way, but I sure did eat a lot of "real" food on the course. Partly because calories=energy, partly because I am sucker for cute kids, and partly because I knew that it would keep me from taking this too seriously. It's really hard to maintain Type A brain while eating jelly beans in a tutu. Doable, but more difficult. I ate jelly beans, peanut butter pretzels, cut up Snickers bars, orange slices, and an extra GU. I drank Powerade (red, ew!) once by accident, but stuck to the water otherwise.

Once we got closer to the Emory campus around mile 15, I was feeling good about this race.  I was keeping a steady pace comfortably and decided it was time to make friends. I started running next to this guy from Philly, Dan, and we talked about his 50 states conquest and my Maniac-ness. We were running a nice steady clip downhill and I was relieved to chatter away happily.  Unfortunately, I dropped him when we got to the climb at mile 16 because some crazy energy surge came out of nowhere and I went with it!

There were 2 girls with 2 donkeys (yes, you read that right, donkeys) standing in their front lawn during this stretch. I yelled "I like your donkeys!!!!!!!!!" and they yelled back "I like your tutu!!!!!!".  At this point, a girl came running up alongside me and told me she thought she'd never hear that being yelled in a race. Jo and I ran together until around mile 19. She was on the conquest for 50 states as well and a joy to run with. I was pumping up the spectators and she was as smiley as a runner as me. She had a ton of kick and I was feeling the hills making my legs heavier so I sadly let my friend go racing ahead.

It started misting a little heavier at this point and I realized I was actually wanting my arm warmers.
But I kept smiling and moving my legs forward, knowing that I was going to be getting a sub-4 even if the final miles got tough.  I saw my friend Jo at the turn around point around mile 22 in Piedmont Park and we yelled at each other with big goober grins. Totally uplifting!
I crawled up the hill at mile 23 and started imagining the points where I would be on my Greenway by how many miles were left. Having just run a marathon a week ago was actually helpful in this regard. I knew not to really start pushing the pace until the final mile. The 3:45 pace group sign passed me at this point, but I kept my eye on his sign.  I got to the familiar green photo pad and hammed it up for the cameras:
Then it was time to settle into a comfortably hard pace for the finish. I still had a little bit of juice left in the tank and started passing people as I came through the final mile. The zombies had taken over and there were a lot of guys (I really didn't see any girls at this point), doing the final mile shuffle. I felt kind of jerky for being the tutu girl flying past them, but........well......
I was about to be a Maniac!
I collected my medal, water, chocolate milk, hammed it up for no less than 4 different photographers who wanted my post-race photoMegan met me at the end of the chute and then Heidi (northern lass) walked up!!!!!!! Yippee!!!! It was so, so, so awesome for her to come out and support me. She is amazing!!!!!!!!

Megan and I met Heidi at The Vortex for burgers and beers:

We bid our adieus after gorging ourselves and headed home. I chilled on the sofa, literally--icing my sore quads and rocking the compression socks.
The dogs were happy to oblige:
I checked my Garmin splits and were pleased to see they were about as steady as they could be given the hills, the week-prior marathon, and my snack stops:
Then I looked at my results and was even more pleased:
8th in my AG, 49th female, 230th overall. Neat!

I really haven't planned too much for the next few weeks. Probably 2 long runs of 16-20 miles and maintaining 25-35 miles per week depending on how I feel. I have no goals at the Pig except to have fun again!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Step 1 of Maniac status: Loopfest Shamrock-style

There is a first time for everything, right?

This weekend had quite a few firsts:
1) Racing consecutive days
2) Racing in a tutu
3) Racing with a Leprechaun
4) Racing in Virginia
5) Drinking beer during a race
6) Turning down free beers
7) Annoying pacing a Loopster to a BQ

I stayed up late baking on Thursday night. I had done some prep work ahead of time, but I was finishing up chocolate chip cookies, blondies, gluten free chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, almond cupcakes with fresh strawberry buttercream, and Irish coffee cupcakes. This is a stock photo from the beta test:
My friend Megan came over to paint my nails for me. I'm not skilled in that department and she's awesome.
I stayed up well beyond midnight, but the 5am wake up was actually okay because I was so excited to be heading to Virginia Beach!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loaded Adam's Jeep with the baked goods, my running gear, 54 beers, and a bag of sugary snacks like Air Heads and Fruit Roll-Ups that Megan gifted me.

After a few hours of NPR--complete with one real tear-jerker of a story--I started jamming out to 90's on 9. I picked up Jenster at work around noon and we got our own party started started.
Soon we were rolling up to the hotel and got a peek at our lovely view for the weekend:
Jenster, Misti, Angie, and I headed over to the expo to pick up our numbers and then over to the Loop house to mingle. After introductions and a beer, we all went back into town and met up at the Abbey Road Pub for dinner and shenanigans. I ate too many nachos, had too many beers, and then we decided to hit the hot tub at the hotel until we got kicked out.

Saturday morning, I donned my shamrock socks and we headed down to find a Leprechaun in corral 2. Not the easiest thing in the world to find actually...

Steve, Angie, and I were planning to run together--somewhere around an 8:30 pace? I dunno, I just thought we'd run what felt comfortable and we could still talk. After all, the 3 of us were running a marathon the next day. But Steve and I apparently suck at keeping a pace and Angie was so we lost her probably around mile 2 or so. Sorry Angie :(

The race itself was awesome. It was a perfect progressive run and everyone loved Steve's costume. We bantered back and forth and hammed it up for the cameras. Definitely the most fun I have ever had racing!

Our time wasn't too shabby even though it was just a "fun run".

And here is more visual proof of our crappy pacing:
It was not even 9:00am, but the beer tent was open and YOU GET 4 BEERS WITH YOUR 8K ENTRY. Totally didn't know that until Angie clued me in. With the marathon the next day, I actually turned 3 of my 4 "free" beers down. But I did enjoy hanging out on the beach with some Loopsters with my one beer:

The roomies and I decided to have breakfast and went to the Pocahontas Pancake House. Then we split ways and I caught up with my friend Angela from DC and her boyfriend Damien. We spent some time lounging on the beach and later at a beachfront hotel bar. Livin' the good life for sure!

I met back up with the roomies and we went to the Loop house for an awesome pasta dinner made by Ed and Brenda. There was a little walking on the beach and then it was time to get serious for race #2:

We laid out our flat girls when we got back to the hotel and got to bed at a reasonable hour. Misti was running the half (starting at 7:00) and so we started stirring when she did. The four of us walked down to the start and saw her off. Angie, Jenster, and I went back to get our gear on and suddenly it was time to go race a marathon!
Steve and I had found out that Lisa was planning to run a 3:45ish race and go for a BQ.  We told her we'd race with her and help her get there. I'll let her tell her own story of course, but since I was there for 26.2 miles of her race...well, I have my own story to tell!

We were shooting for 8:35s from the start, but much like the previous day, Steve and I suck at pacing. But Lisa said she was feeling good and so we stayed in the 8:20s for a bit.

The pace felt very comfortable to me and I was in full-on, act a fool mode. I was high-fiving everyone I could find, whooping as loud as possible, and making friends wherever I could. The tutu was definitely fun and I got some great crowd support wearing it.

I was so lost in the moment that I actually forgot to take 4 of my 5 GUs when I supposed to. Guess that's what happens when you are having fun?
When we were running miles 10-13, we started to slow down a bit. My body was reminding me that we were in for the long haul, but I still felt pretty good all things considered.

It started to get tough for Lisa after that and I yanked out my one ear bud to fully concentrate on getting her that shiny BQ. I pretty much talked at her, kept track of time (and questioning my own runner math), and watched for signs of sloppy form. She was ah-mazing!!!!!!!! Kept right on running even when it got tough.

I tried to block the wind and encourage the crowd. I have no idea if any of it truly helped, but it almost made my race easier because I knew that there was no way I was going to slow down.
Steve had cramping issues around mile 20 and so the two of us carried on towards the last 10K. I decided at this point that we had this shiz in the bag. So...........I took a big cup of jelly beans (yum), took a shot of beer at 2 different stops, and told Lisa to give me her handheld.
The last few miles she was fighting, but I knew that we still had extra time banked from the earlier miles. It was so exciting come down the boardwalk knowing that she was getting her BQ. Having just done it myself a few months ago, I knew how special that moment was going to be when she crossed the finish line.
We embraced after the finish--both of us elated and full of emotion. It was really, really, really special to be there--I don't have the words for it, but wow...
Angela and Damien met me at the finish line and we coordinated beer tent activities. It was time to celebrate!!!!!!! I went back with Lisa and Brian (yay BQ!) to the hotel to shower and rest a bit. I had to take my recovery a bit more seriously (well, you know...) with an impending marathon in a week. I drank Muscle Milk, took a long shower, and checked out my Garmin splits:

Then it was time for the beer tent:

The rest of the day was spent hanging out Angela and Damien at the Calypso Bar and Restaurant on the beach. Only there were gale force winds blowing so it was nice to be indoors surrounded by friends with my feet dangling from a bar stool.

Jenster and I headed out the next morning and the long, rainy, sad drive home was quite depressing after such a fabulous weekend.

Next up......a marathon this Sunday to earn my Maniac status!!!!