Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Schweating, food porn, and my next big idea

Before I get back into official training, I am just doing some baseline running right now. It's getting hotter and I can feel my paces melting into the humidity. Well, kind of. I'm not really sure what fast is right now. I haven't done any official speed work since, gulp, March? But I feel pretty strong coming of my 3 spring marathons all things considered.

Penelope (my awesomely purple Garmin) apparently needed an update last Tuesday. I thought she was just forcing me to do a little JFR--the timer worked, but I wasn't connecting with satellites. When it happened again on Wednesday, I decided that maybe I should plug her in for an update. Oops.

My JFR Tuesday worked out well. I think it was the Barbie color combination peppered with No Doubt's "Just a Girl" that had me flying.
Sunday was weird. I felt good when I started, but kind of yucky by the end. Usually it's the other way around. I'm thinking I was dehydrated so hopefully I won't make that dumb mistake again. I got used to not needing to carry water on up to 10 miles. Hey dummy, it's May in Georgia. Bring water.

Today was seriously a JFR day. I mean, I wore Penelope, but I did not look at her once until I was finished. I like to think I know my pacing pretty well and figured I was running somewhere about 8:20 in the beginning and close to 8:00s in the end. It was warm and humid and had no agenda.
I was pretty happy to be wrong.

The Greenway is getting green and even though I loathe the summer, at least the scenery is great.

Please note my sweaty forearm in the last pic...

So I guess I am training again in another few weeks 'cause I kind of signed up for this:
It'll be the last day of our Western adventure in August. Fly to Portland to do Hood to Coast, spend an extra 2 days in PDX, fly to Jackson Hole to spend 5 days bopping around Yellowstone and nearby towns, and then run a marathon at 6500'. Yeah.... I'm going to be epically pooped.

When I wasn't running this week, I was....

1. Baking an Oreo cake

2. Going to a Braves game with Adam, my sister, and brother-in-law:
3. Doing lots of outdoor cooking and carb-loading:
4. Eating nachos:
You know, just regular QC stuff.

Today, I needed to mow the lawn after I ran so I just kept on sweating. Our gasoline-powered edger is on the fritz and I hadn't edged yet this season. So I hauled out the electric edger after mowing and went to work. I was pretty filthy by the time I finished running, mowing, and edging:
Lastly, I want to share the idea I have bouncing around in my head. I have had a few close friends/family members casually mention (!!!) that they would be interested in doing a half-marathon if blah, blah, blah. Their blah, blah, blahs are all a little different, but nothing that makes it impossible for any of them.  Most of them would be able to comfortably walk a 5K at this point, but a half-marathon would definitely be a huge accomplishment.

A few of them have mentioned Disney (maybe because it's walker-friendly? maybe because it's close-ish?) and I thought how cool would it be if I helped get them to reach their goal. I am not sure if any of them would be willing to put in the time and effort to train so I cannot get too excited about it yet. I realize not all people have the same wack-a-doo drive that I do about running.

But I would love to help "coach" them to reach their goals if they would let me. I already have ideas for incentives for people reaching different milestones or personal goals. Now I just have to find those people who are ready to change their lives!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Loopster reunion (!!!)

Since last August, I've been training. 17 weeks for Rehoboth, a couple of cutback weeks in December, and then right back into the week of New Year's. So I was kind of thinking that maybe I'd need a little break after this Maniac business was completed.

But I feel good and I want to run. So I'm running.

Back up to 30 miles this week and working on easing some speed into my legs. Nothing exciting on Monday or Wednesday of last week--just a couple of 5 milers. I had plenty of time to putz around in the garden getting a few tomatoes planted.

Torrance helped:
Meanwhile, Luxy, aka elderbeast, found a much comfier spot to hang out while I sweated a bit:
Cute dog pics, check!

My sister's birthday was Thursday and with Adam working late, I decided to fly solo and meet her and the new hubster downtown at a delicious tapas restaurant.
(Me, my new brother-in-law, my sister, and her BFF)

I wanted to run double digits on Friday--toyed with doing 12, but then an old friend told me he wanted to run 4 at the Greenway. So I decided to run 10 by myself and then enjoy a few miles at a more relaxed pace afterwards.

When I woke up, it was gorgeous. Slap yo mamma beautiful! Upper 40s, crisp, low humidity, and just enough cloud cover.

My legs must've known the summer slogfest is rapidly approaching because this 10 miler felt pretty darn great:
I finished just in time to walk up on my old friend getting ready in the parking lot.

Flying Frickin' Tomato!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I gave him a sweaty hug and soon we were running shoulder to shoulder, miles flying by. It always goes by too quickly when running with a Loopster. There was so much to chat about and I honestly kind of forgot we were running until he suggested we turn around at 2.5 instead of 2. What's another mile between friends?!

We chatted about going to Marshall. I'm going to go if I had the time/resources to get away for yet another Loopfest weekend. He needs to make sure he's healthy enough to run 13.1 on a new-fangled hip. So, um, not that we need any additional peer pressure...but just putting that out there....

Those extra 5 miles probably wouldn't have gone quite so nicely if I hadn't had been in the company of FT. I was spent when we pulled up to the trail head. But I had talked myself into a Frosty as a reward.
I had to work Saturday (boo!), but was fortunate to have another fun evening planned--a Jason Aldean concert. We met up at my friend's house to make tacos and margaritas before the concert and then brought drinks down to tailgate at sunset before the show started.
Somehow in the past few years 10 years since I have been to this particular venue, I aged a lot. I'm wearing my Braves hoodie ('cause it's chilly), jeans, and Kinvaras. But if you're 17, you wear daisy dukes, cowboy boots, and a piece of cloth that is loosely defined as a "shirt":
The people watching was arguably as good as the live music on a beautiful night with friends. I ended up getting home waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay late and decided to sleep late this morning before I had to work (boo again!). I finally felt human around 1pm, so it was a wise choice to wait until this evening to run.

Speaking of running...I have now officially booked my trip to Portland (for Hood to Coast) and Jackson Hole (our post-Portland Yellowstone adventure). I have mentioned it before, but the Jackson Hole marathon just so happens to be on the Saturday we leave (conveniently at 5:45pm). It's at 6300' elevation--about a mile higher than my 1000' feet in the ATL. With all the traveling and elevation difference, I think I'll just relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery if I sign up. Ha...if I sign up...

Monday, May 12, 2014

The List

5ish years ago (2009), after off-and-on running since middle school, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. Never mind the fact that I had never raced anything further than a 3200m. I got the idea, I trained until I knew I could succeed, and I accomplished my dream in just over 4 hours.

If you asked me at mile 18 if I'd ever run a marathon again, I would have punched you in the face.

But euphoria and endorphins are tricky. I found myself going after a sub-4 just 4 months later.

The slope wasn't slippery at first. I ran a marathon everything spring until 2013 (base training kept me honest, training kept me interested) and then I got the cockamamie idea to go after a BQ.

I still cannot put into words the feeling I had when I saw the time clock at the finish line in Rehoboth. Magical.

I am still riding high when I put myself back in that finish corral.

But time waned and I grew antsy. I needed a new challenge. Marathon Maniacs seemed like a doable challenge. So.... I signed up for a few marathons this spring and hoped my body survived. It's kind of addicting....
But I'm enjoying it. The accomplishment is sincere, tough, and big enough to satisfy my whims.

I am currently in la-la land though. No races to train for, no big dreams to tackle (currently), and just happy memories to satisfy my running heart. I'll run HTC in August, go for a PR in the fall/winter (sub 3:30??!) at Marshall or Rehoboth, and look to toe the line in Boston in April 2015.

But for now I'm spending a little time dreaming big on The List.

I started keeping a notebook in my car about 2 years ago when I was miserable at work and had a commute that sometimes was upwards of 75 minutes. I had a lot of time to contemplate life and plenty of stop and go traffic to scribble an idea. I used it to write down my entrepreneurial ideas, favorite memories, and grow my bucket list. I took it out of the car recently to work on it while hanging out on the trampoline:
And drink a beer at sunset. 'Cause life is better that way.

I've been rich with so many experiences already in my life and have noted many in my book (The dream list is different than the experience list). Mainly to remember that when I've had a tough day at work or the dog threw up all the bed for the second time in the night, that I have so, so, so much to be thankful for. Not only have I never worried about my basic needs (food, water, shelter), but I've been extraordinarily lucky to experience a lot of fantastic things.

At the risk of sounding braggart... I'll list a few:

-Biking down Mount Haleakala volcano at sunrise in Maui with my father and sister

-Graduating with an associate's degree before I graduated high school

-Kissing atop the Eiffel Tower with my future husband

-Fishing for piranhas in the Amazon river

-Camping with my mom and sister in the Grand Canyon

-Riding the tilt-a-whirl with my grandma at the county fair. Her "wheee" is now the ultimate measure of happiness.

-Hiking down the Rock of Gibraltar (my FB cover photo) with Adam on our honeymoon

-Eating an apple from a tree I planted in my own backyard

-Scuba-diving the second largest barrier reef in the world in Honduras

You get the idea, right? I'm a lucky broad.

But I'll never stop wanting to enjoy all the pleasures of life. I have no idea the number of things I will cross off on the list, but I will keep adding to it as ideas pop into my mind. The idea is to just keep dreaming and experiencing what I can.
It doesn't matter how far-fetched it seems, I put it on there. Who's to say it will never happen? I will keep adding to the list and make the most of every opportunity. I don't call it a bucket list per say. Because I'm not addicted to completing it before I die--it's just things I think would be awesome to experience. 

The same is true with running. I'll never know where this road will take me. Dreaming big is fun. I want to run Boston, I wanted to run a marathon in all 50 states, I want to run as long as my legs let me. The sign I saw at the Pig, "Run for those who can't" really resonated with me--I only get one chance at this life.

I should spend it doing things that make me happy because I can.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

48th place nacho helmet (aka QC's Flying Pig RRs)

Yeah, you know this crap is going to be long. I raced 35.5ish miles this past weekend and hung out with some of Loop Royalty along with Mr. QC. To say it was awesome would be an understatement.  Driving home was ridiculously #sadface.

Thursday, I was exhausted from an 8 day stretch with a huge sale over the weekend followed by helping assist a show house gala that our company was sponsoring. I schlepped stuff all over a mansion and then got to be the pretty door greeter girl:
I convinced my boss to let me leave early so I could finish baking, pack, and let my friend Megan come over and paint my nails. You know, priorities... I scrounged around and found some piggy sprinkles in my pantry for cupcake toppers.

When I was done playing in the frosting, Megan went to work:
Friday morning, Adam and I piled in Jake the Jeep at 6am and headed north. I had a one-woman dance party in the passenger seat.
The ride was pretty uneventful save for the dragon we saw in the mountains of Kentucky:
We arrived at the hotel around 1:30pm and managed to check into our room and drop off all the important stuff:
At that point, we decided to meet up with some of the gang downtown at Rock Bottom Brewery. Twentysixpointtwo (JJ), RunningPlaces, and Col. Cupcake were grabbing lunch and a few beers. Eventually, we parted ways so that they could get back to the hotel and check in and we could hit the expo. I didn't really have any issues at the expo and managed to swap out my shirts for the correct sizes. I have been ordering large shirts lately because if they aren't women's cut, I'd rather wear them for sleep shirts. The marathon shirt was women's cut, so I switched it for a medium and then Adam decided he like the 10K shirt, so we swapped it out too. Oh, and I got picture with the Charmin Bear (also known as the "Pooping Bear" in my house):
We came back to the hotel to basically drop off our gear and then head back downtown to go to the Reds game with RP and JJ. The weather was absolutely perfect. We sat around drinking beer and chatting before being smooshed in our seats.
4 beers into my day, I decided that I really needed a helmet full of nachos. I shared a little bit with Adam.
'Cause clearly this was the best 10K/5K fuel.... Bonus: I could later wear it on my head:
We hiked back to the car after some shenanigans outside the ballpark and watched the fireworks from the parking lot. When we got back to the hotel, a small crowd of Loopsters were hanging out in the lobby and we joined them for beer and baked goods. Mmmm, Peg's whoopie pies are TO DIE FOR!!

Eventually, we headed to bed.


Alarm clock soooooooo did not go off. Adam was awoken by my screeches of OH MY GAWD!!! After the quickest get-dressed-to-race ever, we were flying out the door with a bag of bagels, and apologizing profusely to our companions--RP, JJ, and RunninBrotha.

Ironically, we stood around for the next hour and 15 minutes waiting for the 10K to start. The only cool part about getting down there that early was that we literally walked right into Ryan Hall's warm up. He was just jogging down the street (albeit probably at 6 minute miles) getting ready to race. Whatever you think about the guy, it still was cool that he was going to be running the same "little" race as I was.

Except we weren't racing. Or something. RP and I do not claim to be great pacers after the epic fail in Shamrock. But Dave somehow still agreed to run with us. We found ourselves in the A corral...and very, very alone. Dave's son Connor, RunninBrotha, and SomeKraigGuy were up there with us, but it was pretty quiet. I kept thinking, um, I think we are in the wrong spot...

But then it was go time. SomeKraigGuy stayed with us for about the same time Dave did--Kraig dropped back and Dave surged forward. Then it was just RP and I running around Cincy like we weren't running a marathon tomorrow. At mile 5, we caught back up to Dave and while I made idle threats of tickling him or goosing him, we just smiled as we pulled up next to him.

He didn't appear to be happy to see us.
I kind of wish in some ways that I had been there to race the 10K and not be doing the 4-way challenge. I was the 37th female, 8th in my division. I don't want to be cocky because I wasn't jogging, but I wasn't giving it a full effort either. Anyway, here are the splits:
We collected our thousands of snacks and managed to find RunninBrotha at the finish.   I was munching on an oatmeal raisin cookie when we got pulled aside for a picture:
The group found SimplyTruly and Forwil had come with Kraig so we had a nice little chat while waiting for the 5K to start. JJ decided to "bandit" the 5K and walk with Kraig, RP, Mr. QC/Adam, and I.  It was a nice morning to walk with friends and I was happy that Adam was getting to be part of the fun too. He started to get tired at just past the 2 mile mark, but managed to finish in under an hour.

The group hung out in the park afterwards waiting to decide on lunch plans. I met Ron Swanson's Stache (Rob) and AlliKate and her DBF (yay Loopsters!). We ended up back at Rock Bottom Brewery again before naps/showers at the hotel.

#TeamEZ aka JJ, RP, and RunninBrotha met up to ride to Bangle's brother-in-law's house, but we had to take a stop at Party Town first. I would go back to Kentucky for Party Town. If you didn't go, you missed out.

Anyway, I digress. Bangle and Mrs. Bangle hooked up an amazing spread of pizza, pasta, and salad to feed the masses on a low-key evening. It was perfectly relaxed. N2RunningBad (Dean) made a surprise appearance which was a fun way to end the night.

Back at the hotel, I laid out my flat girl and actually got a little bit of sleep. 4:30 did come too early though and I had to force myself to eat a bagel. I was still groggy and somehow forgot to drink coffee??! Geez... can't take me anywhere.

Getting to the start/finish was easy again and we managed to take a few pictures before getting started:
JJ and I were pacing KEK to a sub-4 finish. The goal was to run around 9mm and try to just keep a consistent pace through the finish.

5,4,3,2,1.... and we're off!!

The first few miles I was kind of concerned about losing the ladies because there were a ton of runners. But wearing pig ears and a tutu has its' advantages in a crowd. The bridges were no surprise to me as I had just run them yesterday. Besides I felt a little better after I got my heart rate up.

We saw Mrs. Bangle just past the 3 mile mark--just as promised and she was the only one I spotted first out of the crowd:
KEK managed to pick out Dave almost every time! It was super uplifting every time. Spectators really are the best.

My favorite part of the course was going through downtown with tall buildings on either side and a long stretch of spectators yelling and screaming for nearly a mile. It was something to grasp mentally as we climbed the hills through mile 9. They weren't actually that bad... I just was expecting this:
And it was more like this:
Teach me to read an elevation map!! I'm going back to my "ignorance is bliss" ways.

But really, I kind of liked the uphills. I finally felt awake. Nothing like a couple hundred feet of elevation gain to get your eyes open. Besides, the view from the top was gorgeous. It wasn't quite Florence, Italy, but it was definitely purdy in a different way.

We split from the halfers and then I finally decided I could look for a Porta Potty that didn't have a line. I had been getting water at every stop since the weather was warmer. I finally spotted one without a line and sprinted ahead of JJ and KEK to buy myself some catch up time. It felt good to sprint a bit and I looked forward to chasing them back down.

Coming out of the Porta Potty, who pulls on the door at the same time??! KEK's friend Marie!!

I sprinted up to my piglets to tell KEK that Marie was right behind us. Woot!

Finally, I was feeling comfortable again and ready to rock out as pacer:
The miles into Mariemont were great. We ran into northernlass and hung out with her for a bit (yay Loopsters!) At one point, there was a dad-ish type guy that ran out in front of us doing the I'm-not-a-runner-but-I'll-run-for-you-run and excitedly yelling at a girl in front of us. You could see the glee in his eyes and I felt like I sucked into a Lifetime movie. It totally warmed my heart. I actually sprinted ahead a few steps to ask the girl if it was her dad. She nodded, full of emotion, and I dropped back with warm fuzzies all over.

Back to hanging out with my piggies, getting the crowd pumped, and eating/drinking everything I could find. Had a shot of beer. Ate oranges. Ate watermelon. High-fived kids, adults, and the "Power Up" posters.
Others have said it, the spectators were AH-mahzing. Totally worth going back to Cincy for even if the course was a bit tough.  The little old ladies sitting outside of the nursing homes were probably my favorite. One more day to share being alive together--yes, please!

I mean, who couldn't appreciate this at mile 20:
We were creeping in on our goal when the wind fell out of KEK's sails. I was trying to figure out what would motivate her in this situation. So I cheered, I yelled, I kept a few steps ahead trying to reel her in, and then I'd fall back to run alongside her. JJ had to pull me back a few times 'cause I kind of got excited when I came upon spectators that fueled my fire.

KEK had to walk a few times and we kept pushing her to move. I *might* have given her a gentle push on the shoulder to keep her moving forward.  And she'd keep going. I knew we were getting dangerously close to being just at 4 hours--eek!

I don't know if they saw it or not, but there was a guy holding a poster in the final miles that said "run for those that can't." It made me remember how lucky I am that I get to do this--to feel those exuberant emotions with each finish! Not everyone is so lucky...

I digress....

The 3 little piggies finally came into mile 25 and soon we smelled the finish line. As soon as the finish chute was clearly marked, KEK found a new gear. She was booking! I was like, whoa, I'm going to have to keep up. We kept hooping and hollering for the crowd all the way to the finish line.
At 4:00:43 on a hilly and hot course, we'll take it!! A shiny new PR for her and a heckuva lotta fun for JJ and I.

JJ scared us for a bit when she felt woozy after the race, but soon she was up and moving again. Whew! We ran into northernlass at the bag drop and compared race notes.
I picked up my 4-way swag, including a new tech tee to shield me from the sun:
Pretty happy that I came in 48th place in the 4-way challenge considering that I was fun-running/walking the whole weekend. Neat!
We met up with the other Loopsters in the park for beer, food, and impromptu dance parties:
It was fun hanging out with everyone and we relaxed until all the Loopsters had finished their races:
Adam said he felt like he shouldn't have been in this picture, but I told him that he did the 5K, so he did belong! Now he'll just have to do his 5K RR!

The rest of the day was great. Napping, dinner and drinks at Bar Louie, and a late-night pizza/beer party in the hotel lobby. I made lots of great new friends and was super sad when my little eyelids wouldn't stay open any longer.

I know I left out a ton of stuff... and met lots of cool Loopsters for the first time that I didn't shout out on my bloop. Y'all know who you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

'Til the next one Loopsters...y'all are always in my heart!