Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm avoiding vacuuming

I'm just past mile 6 of my 16.7 miler today when I recall a former co-worker who told me she ran the uphills really slowly and the downhills as fast as she could. She'd get annoyed running with her husband because he would do the opposite.

This popped into my brain as I was charging up the one itty-bitty hill on the Greenway path. I like running UP the hills hard, but like to take it easy going down. In my brain, it's a reward for making it to the top. I also like to run in the sun fast, but I take it easy in the shady spots. At the time, I was trying to figure out how this related as a life metaphor, but the thought got lost in the scatterbrain of the long run.

I feel kind of scatterbrained lately. Too many hands in the different pots.

Hood to Coast prep (good). Jackson Hole training (good). Work--a straightforward affair most of the time, but weathering a bit of a storm currently (eh...). stuff (good).

I should vacuum my house this month, but the dirt will still be there tomorrow.

I am headed out in 3 short weeks to Portland for this HTC adventure. I'm runner #6.
We begin at 1:45 p.m. and our projected time is 27 hours. So we'll be in Seaside, Oregon around late afternoon. I am most stoked about the shenanigans (muhahaha!) and least stoked about the possibility of no sleep/navigating a car full of Loopsters. Is it strange to say that the running feels almost secondary with this group? I have an tiny iota of concern about trashing my quads on the downhills, but only because I'll be running a marathon a week later.

My training for that has been well, weird. Hitting my long runs, enjoying some weirdly cooler summer weather, and avoiding true speed work. I've done some tempo runs, but nothing shorter or faster. My right quad/hip has been feeling an off and on dull ache for a few weeks. Tight in the morning, noticeable after work, but doesn't really bother me while running. We recently switched from gross tile to painted concrete floors at work and I think my legs actually miss the gross tile.  It's been a long time since my feet and legs ached from just working, but I experienced it twice last week. 2 11-hour days probably didn't help the situation. I've decided that extending that hip/quad area with speed work isn't wise for right now. I want race well, but I also want to keep running after said race.

Today was good for me.
After this past Sunday, I was feeling better about easing up a bit:
Last week was so hectic with work that I fell prey to dinners like this every night:
So I tried to get back on track this week. A little more veggies:
A little more nutritional choices:
And despite all the kookiness going on with work and running, I've managed to find not-so-exhausting solutions to avoiding the vacuum.

*Adam took me to two movies last week. Sex Tape (2 stars, all the funny parts in the beginning/in the commercials) and Lucy (2 stars, great first 1/2, dumb second half). 

*I started reading an awesome book in preparation to revisit Yellowstone. Don't judge a book by it's cover--it is extraordinarily fascinating.
*Buying stuff for the impeding trip. A new running skirt, a 4-port car charger, Balega socks, GUs, etc.

*Making an itinerary for the impending trip.

*Hanging out with the BTs while I watch the Braves and read bloops (okay, that's like, every week...):

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marshall University Marathon: Wrapping Up A Year Of Awesome

It's been 365 days of awesome. Since November 30th of last year, I've been bopping around the nation for happy things and running my little heart out.

November 30th-Fly to Florida for brother-in-law Micheal's wedding (Florida)

December 6th-Fly to Baltimore for Rehoboth Beach Marathon (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware)
   26.2 miles, first BQ/PR (3:32:54)

Februrary 22nd-Drive to Sevierville, Tennessee for Tasha's bachelorette party (Tennessee)

March 14th-Drive to Virginia Beach, Virginia for Shamrock Marathon (South Carolina, North Carolina)
   8K insta-PR (39:28) + 26.2 miles (3:52:05)

March 23rd-Race 5th Georgia Marathon
   26.2 miles, earned Marathon Maniac status (3:45:33)

May 2nd-Drive to Cincinnati, Ohio for the Flying Pig 4-way challenge (Kentucky, Ohio)
   5K insta-PR (58:47), 10K insta-PR (47:57), 26.2 miles (4:00:41)  

July 4th-Race We The Runners Half Marathon
    13.1 miles, earned a PR (1:39:31)

August 21st-Fly to Portland, Oregon for Hood to Coast Relay (Colorado, Oregon, Washington)  
    18+ miles, first relay

August 25th-Fly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Yellowstone/Jackson Hole Marathon (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana)
   26.2 miles (3:53:32)

October 24th-Fly to New York for Tom's wedding (New York)

November 1st-Drive to Huntington, West Virginia for Marshall Marathon (West Virginia)
   26.2 miles, PR (3:31:35)

The Marshall University Marathon was kind of like an extra layer of icing on the cake. I clearly have had quite a bodacious time lately, but being happily relaxed about the whole thing might have helped too.

It's no secret that I'm thrilled about my new PR and locking in another chance at Boston for 2016. But I have to say that seeing my buddy Dave succeed this weekend was actually better than my own accomplishments. Like really. Don't get me wrong, a PR and a BQ are pretty fabulous. But watching Davers steadily nail down those final miles after catching me at 22 was something I'm going to remember for a lifetime. For realz.

I took like, 5 pictures the whole weekend. Mostly because I was busy yakking away. Or running. Or drinking copious amounts of celebratory beer. So I stole a few from my peeps--thanks y'all!'s what had happened:

Saturday morning, I awake at 4:30-mother-of-pearl-a.m. to find it sleeting sideways outside. On November 1st. In Georgia.

I get on the road and battle 20-30mph winds driving up I-75 and when dawn breaks, I stop at McDonald's to get a hot cakes breakfast and more coffee. Eating scrambled eggs with my fingers, I enjoy a solid hour of driving with no rain. Then I start seeing white stuff on the trees. 

Mother frickin' snow!
Dudes, I was wearing shorts and a tank Monday!

So I white knuckle for a few more hours and once I get out of the stupid snow, I stop at Subway for a footlong Italian BMT with lettuce, tomato, green peppers, and little olive oil and vinegar. Cram that bad boy into my mouth and eat a whole bunch of Halloween candy.

Carbo load status, engaged.

When I roll into Scott Depot, I'm in desperate need of a nap. But Loopsters!!!! Brian, Lisa, and Angie were already hanging out and soon Jenster and Abby arrived. The group headed to packet pick-up for bibs and hugs from all the other Loopsters hanging out. Then, a mass exodus to the arch for a group picture:
After a little bumble at Gino's (I could have played Skee-Ball yo!), we found refuge at Giovanni's. I wasn't really hungry (see above), but I did eat most of my spaghetti.

Lisa, Angie, and I said our goodnights to the group and made the trek to Lisa's house. We watched football and then an amazing 80's movie--About Last Night. It took our mind off the task at hand facing us in the morning and I slept like a frickin' baby.

I did wake up before the alarm, but probably because I heard stirring. Bagel (not toasted, wheat) and peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Get dressed, decorate bib, go to the bathroom 3 times.
Lisa drove us all to the start and handed off the keys to Dana to park. It worked out because we shed our warm-ups in the car and didn't have to stand in the cold. After a quick stop in the bathroom, we headed to the start. Lisa notes that I seem calm. I am calm. I'm ready. Even on a bad day, I'm always happy to be running! Steve and I found each other right before the start, but I didn't see anyone else.

Five, four, three, two, one, GO!!!!!!!!!!!

I realize my feet are extremely cold and my shoes feel really hard because they aren't warm. But I feel good from the beginning. Tummy is okay, energy is high, and I looooove that it cold!

Mile 1: 8:02

Feeling happy that I hit my first mile near my goal pace. We are heading west and the sun is behind me. I hear the gun go off for the 5K. I round the corner and give Brian the middle finger as I fly around the corner.

Mile 2-3: 8:01, 7:53

I near the water stop near the Ohio River and stop to chug Gatorade. Then it's onto Veteran's Memorial Boulevard for a stretch of boring. Except for the kid playing the drums like a fiend--he was pretty awesome. I can feel my feet now and I shed my gloves. I tuck them in the front of my sports bra first, then into the back of my capris in case I need them later. I never do. I run the rest of the race with two gloves on my butt cheeks. Eat a salted watermelon Gu at mile 4.

Mile 4: 7:54

There is a little uphill and then a small stretch left on the road before the park. I am thanking volunteers and police still.

Mile 5-6: 8:00, 7:58

As we near the park, I wave to Steve who is about 1/10th of a mile ahead of me. For some reason, during the first 2 miles on the limestone path, I am jockeying positions with 2 different foot stompers. They are the worst. I am trying to decide whether to hold back or pass because their feet are so. dang. loud.

Miles 7-8: 8:09, 8:01

I can't decide if I like the limestone. I feel like I'm going slower. I remember at mile 8.41 to eat a vanilla Gu. Derp. Guess I was in the zone. An awesome volunteer barks us across the street as we exit the park. I follow the crowd. I actually like the little underpass part--down the hill, up the hill, wheee!

Miles 9-10: 8:11, 8:09

We begin the return back to town. The next few miles are pretty unmemorable. But I can tell we are nearing the part where the split is about to happen. I start trying to figure out who is running the half and who is running the marathon. I eat an espresso Gu at mile 12.

Miles 11-12: 7:57, 7:55

The halfers are beginning to push the pace and I get caught up in the excitement. There is a woman in my shadow and the competitor in me starts to try to pull away from her. She keeps on me through the split (what up Brian!), but I am feeling really really good. I cross the half mark just at 1:45!

Miles 13-14: 7:54, 7:48

I get my bearings after I spot the stadium again and get excited to see all the halfers getting ready to finish their races. I only see Senior Runner's wife, but she's too in the zone to see me. Focused! I begin to cross paths with full runners and see Jenster and Caitlin and later on, Vanessa and Bob. There were lots of Maniacs out there too and they were giving big cheers as I went by. I actually kind of lost track of miles!

Miles 15-16: 7:54, 7:57

I ate another espresso Gu and decided to start picking people off slowly. I could see where runners were slowing down and I was still feeling pretty good. I'd follow behind them closely for about a 1/10th mile and then pass when I knew I wouldn't be passed back.

Miles 17-18: 8:01, 8:03

Headed to the park, I start to feel the effects of running 18 miles. My legs are beginning to get tired, but I know that I am really close to a PR and maybe a sub-3:30 finish. I see Steve again in the park and catch up to him when he stops to walk. It's hard to be chipper and encouraging at mile 19. I grunt "it hurts" as I wobble by.

Miles 19-20: 8:07, 8:13

Dang. First mile over BQ pace. Stupid limestone path. Stupid blisters on my feet. Stupid marathons. Why didn't Pheidippides run like, 18 miles? I make a fake promise that I will never run a marathon hard again. 1 last espresso Gu.

Miles 21: 8:06

I don't really realize how much I've slowed down until I look at my watch and gasp. 8:3X??! What the what? Uh oh. I'm giving myself a little pep talk when I hear someone getting really, really close. Dang. It had been miles since I'd been passed! Then I hear a voice. And it's a familiar one. DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm quite certain he has found me at the abyss for a reason. He tells me I can do 4 more miles. I stop to take Gatorade, but I keep him in my sights.

Mile 22: 8:28

Dave is looking strong and relaxed as he opens up the gap, but I am using this new rabbit to my advantage. I am trying to do runner math. A PR is still very possible and a BQ is entirely doable unless I absolutely collapses. I try to take the last little bit of Gatorade at the stops to give me a small sugar rush.

Mile 23-24: 8:18, 8:06

I am getting encouragement from the halfers still pushing it in the final part of their race. Full-fatigued servicemen are a gentle reminder to be thankful for a beautiful day of running. I don't want to leave anything on the table. As I careen into the U-shaped turn near the Ohio River, I begin to give it what I've got.

Mile 25: 8:19

There are 2 women in front of me that I've been gaining ground on for a mile. One keeps stopping to walk for a few steps before catching up to the other one. She eventually slows to where I catch her and I yell at her come on, you've got this! as I tap her on the shoulder. I hear her start running again and begin to tuck in behind the other woman. She exuberantly cries out as she meets up with her family and her young daughter follows behind her for a short bit.

Mile 26: 8:05

I hear Dave's name being called out as I run in front of the stadium and feel actual goosebumps knowing he has annihilated his goal. I near the corner and am jolted to life as Loopsters yell out to me. Down the worst stretch of downhill ev-er into the stadium and onto the football field.

I was expecting the field to feel humongous and I was pleased as punch that it was delightfully short and easy. I grabbed a football and saw the gun time was well under my PR. I gripped the football with one hand and sprinted the last few steps to the finish line.


Here are the splits and data:

I grabbed my warm-ups, Muscle Milk, and a beer (courtesy of Dana!) and went back to cheer the other Loopsters. Upon checking my phone, I saw a congrats text from Adam and remembered I signed him up for tracking!

We watched and cheered runners until the last of the Loopsters had crossed the finish line. Dan told Dave he needed to get his AG award and they went back into the stadium to pick it up. I wanted to see my official results and see how I came out in my field. It was beyond awesome to see that I place 2nd in my AG! I got a cool glass piece as an award.
The group separated for showers and a bit of down time before meeting back for lunch at 2. I drank copious amounts of beer, ate pizza, and had an amazing time with a bunch of internet strangers who inspire the heck out of me.

Thanks to each and every person who has made my life a little better this past year! From Loopfests to family trips to lifelong friends and new besties, I am one lucky girl!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Let's play 20 questions

1.  What is the inspiration for your Loop name?
It was the screen name I choose for AOL instant messenger back in '98 when I was slurping copious amounts of ramen and being a geeky college kid at age 16.

2.  A/S/L/F (age, sex, location, family)?
32/Female/Atlanta suburbs/DH (Adam) and 2 Boston terriers
3.  When is your Loopiversary (date of your first blog on the Loop)?
Apparently I joined 10/16/07 and the earlier bloop I can find was on 3/20/10. The frightening thing is that I've been blogging on Livejournal since 5/9/01.

4.  How long have you been running?
Since I was in middle school. I ran track in high school, became a gym rat in college, fell off the wagon a bit in my early 20's, but haven't missed more than a week since 2006.

5.  What is your favorite distance to race?

6.  Do you belong to a local running club?
Nope. I love running with people when I can, but I'm totally okay to rock it solo.

7.  Have you ever been to a Loopmeet or Loopfest?
Yes. Rehoboth, Shamrock, and Flying Pig. Couple of Loopmeets here in Atlanta too!

8.  Have you ever lost a toenail?
Yes. I've lost the same one 3 times. But they are all currently intact.

9.  What is your favorite post-race treat?
Y'all think I'm going to say beer or nachos. But actually I like to have my Pro Muscle Milk first.

10. What one piece of running gear is your must-have item?
My smile. Duh!

11. What socks do you wear when running?

12.  How do your knees feel?
Pretty good.

13.  If you could go to any one running destination/event, where.what would you chose?
Boston! (crosses fingers for 2015)

14.  Hot or cold--which is worse to run in?
Hot! I'll take cold any day. But I don't live in the land of polar vortex...And when it snows, I like it!

15.  If you have a running inspiration or mentor, who is it?
All my Loopsters inspire me every day.  But my high school track coach (an Ironman) told us that running is 80% mental. I still draw on that when I am having a tough workout.

16.  What is your running mantra? (If your answer is "I have no mantra" or something lame like that, you must answer "Da do run, run, run. Da do run, run")
"Stronger, longer, faster"
"Dig deep"
"You have to want this"
I like putting them on my race bibs!

17.  Are there any other runners in your family? 
My dad did some running during the 80's jogging craze, raced a 10K, and fell off the bandwagon.

18.  Roads or trails?
Greenways? I have only raced on roads, but I do most of my running on the boardwalks of my Greenway.

19.  What's the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on a run?
Funny haha or funny embarrassing?  I had to duck into a porta-potty at mile 25 of my 3rd marathon because I was fairly certain I had sharted. Fortunately, it was a false alarm and I went on to finish with a 9 minute PR.

20.  What is your most memorable running moment?
Seeing the finish clock as I came into the stretch at Rehoboth and realizing I had qualified for Boston.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to train your QC: inspire her!

Whether you believe you can or you believe you can't, you're probably right. -Henry Ford

The long run always seems deserving of its own post. But I tend to skew towards the happy parts as that is my tendency in well, life. So as I out running for nearly 3 hours, I have a lot of time to contemplate the roller coaster ride of going long.

I leave work at 7:30p.m. last night and go down Old Alabama instead of taking 400 home because I want to stop at Riverside Pizza on the way home. It's $5.99 for a pepperoni pizza and they are ready to go 95% of the time. I pick up 2. One to split with Adam for dinner, one for my post-run snacking.

I eat 4 slices, drink a ton of water, eat an ice cream sandwich, and watch 2 hours of Big Bang Theory before heading upstairs. I get sucked back into an embarrassingly cheesy book I've borrowed for free from Amazon Prime called One Lavender Ribbon. Eventually, I try to fall asleep.

Toss and turn all night.

I take the dogs out at 5:00a.m. and feel extremely groggy. NPR drifting through the alarm at 6:00a.m. wakens me. Three snoozes later, I force myself to roll onto the floor. Feed the BTs, drink 3 day old refrigerator coffee, and slurp up a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with almond milk. Almond milk because it bides the time when I'm lazy and we're out of regular milk.

I put on my Brooks pink running skirt, grey running tank, and lace up my men's Mizunos.
 Fill my fuel belt with 3 Gu and 20 ounces of water. Take 2 Excedrin. Suck down an espresso Gu. It's go time.

While walking down the path at the Greenway, my right quad and hip are angry. My feet feel sore from getting used to the concrete floors they added during our remodel at work--that gross tile from the old Marshall's was surprisingly more supportive.

Hush up cranky body, do you know what kind of gift it is to run in 60 degrees in July in Atlanta?!

I know I have a penchant for being like Garfield when it comes to mornings.
This morning was no different. The coffee had yet to kick in nor had the 40mgs of caffeine in that espresso Gu. The first 4 miles, I slogged. Since I couldn't get a kick to save my life, I just shuffled fast. I thought of the Loopsters that ARE morning people--Speet, JJ, FreeSoul to name a few--and wondered how the heck they get up 3 hours before my bellyaching time.

I run up a small hill to cross the road just before the 4 mile marker. This section is the furthest FT and I have run together and I needed his comeback mojo to slap me across the face. I'm not a spiritual person, but I suppose the running gods were listening. I came flying down the other side of the road fully caffeinated.


RP and I were texting last night about my run today. I thought about taking my own advice along the sunny stretch of mile 5 and smiled wide. My mind wandered to other Loopsters--the HTC team that's slowly starting to build in anticipation, KEK and KRG who are tackling their first ultras this year, and Col. Cupcake, who never fails to give me a hard time about not hugging him enough in Rehoboth.

I ran a little bit further than mile 5 and stopped for a vanilla Gu and selfies at the turnaround.

I ran back down the open sunny stretch and felt the urgent gurgle of my stomach. A wide open field on one side and a barbed wire fence on the other. No choice but to book it for the next mile and a half. I rode the crappy roller coaster the whole way there--speeding up with each pang. Normally I enjoy a good lollygag at the intersection coming back, but I flew up the hill to catch the light.

To those at the Fowler Park ladies room this morning, my apologies.

I filled up my water bottles at the pit stop and went sloshing back down the path. Nothing much to note in miles 8-11. I was feeling more awake and ticking off the miles, so well, progress.

As I got to mile 11, I stopped for another vanilla Gu, but no selfies. One more out and back and I would be done. I had a vague idea of my pace thus far because I had stopped my watch, but I was forcing myself to avoid looking at any of my splits until I was through. The fear of going too fast or too slow is avoidable if I just run by feel. And who am I to put limitations on my running?

But I started to feel worn out and desperately in need of that second wind when I started plodding through mile 12. How in the world can Mild, Kraig, Kynan, Laura, Gumbo, John Wayne, etc. run races of 100 miles over mountains? I started to call myself a sissy, but then quickly tried to rearrange my thoughts into focusing on my own accomplishments. I'll let them inspire the bejesus out of me, but I won't compare myself to them. 

A little wind picked up in an open patch and my wandered to thoughts of Shamrock. Lisa fighting hard through those final miles. Shivering at the start with Angie and Jenster. Misti's awesome tutu--full of life and fun--just like her. Seeing smiling Erin just running her bazillionth race of the year. The smiles of Sass and Mrs. Sass as they accomplished amazing feats.

Of course Timber comes piping through my ear buds right at this time and I cannot help but to actually laugh out loud at mile 13. Like #jillison is right there running with me and Sweet Mags is ready for a dance battle.

I refill my water bottles again and jaywalk across the street to the path. My runner math gets wonky and I'm having in inconceivable time trying to figure out how I have almost 8 miles left, but I'm on pace to run a sub 2:40 20 miler. (My potty break added nearly an extra mile.)

The sun is rising and starting to break through the trees. I think about my sunrise 10K with Dave, RP, and Kraig. Gosh, I cannot believe it took me so long to get my dumb@ass to a Loopfest. I'm also super thankful that I got to be roomies with Peg on my first adventure. Her palpable excitement that night will forever remind me to race with my heart.

I'm headed for the open stretch again. I feel a little whiny now that the sun is making things warm. Another smile breaks when I hear Jesus is Just Alright. My dad has gotten to know the keyboardist from the Doobie Brothers and just so happened to have dinner with him last night. Most of my playlist is top 40, but the Doobies are one of the few classic rock infiltrators.

Okay Carissa, you can muster through another 10K. 

I approach the last turnaround--mile 16--with a terrible pain growing in my left shoe. I take a guess that my shoe is too loose when I tug on it a bit. So I pull on the laces around the center of my foot and retie my shoe. Salted caramel Gu time.
Run, run, run. All the way back... Geez, 21 miles is far. I wish Wendy's was open at 10am. I could really go for a Frosty after this. Still need to go to the grocery store today. I really should stop and find out what the Greenway maintenance guy's name is. Hey, there's the guy on the bike that clearly forget deodorant. What else do I need to add to my HTC packing list? 

I often see geese on the open stretch, but it just so happened that What Does The Fox Say? started playing as an alternative homage to Roger.

Is it creepy how much I think of my internet friends while running? 

As I get past the last road crossing, I know I'll be out of the sun soon and that I have less than 4 miles to go. A girl passes in the opposite direction that looks like the winner of the half-marathon I ran on the Fourth of July. She's running hard. It looks enticing. I pick up the pace a bit.

I crest over a small bridge and there is a guy stopped about 20 paces ahead of me. He looks back briefly as he eases into the pathway. He's wearing a knee brace that comes undone briefly and he awkwardly fixes it while running. I come within about 5 paces and stay on his heels for about 2/10ths of a mile. He's running probably an 8:00 pace, but I just want to pass him. I quash the feeling until I know I can give us a bit of distance once I pass.

Then I pass him.

A surge of adrenaline keeps me plugging away and I feel incredibly good. Mile 19 buzzes and I am amazed at what is happening. 2 miles is too far to kick too hard, but I relax my shoulders and let my legs do the work. I ease up just a tad at mile 20. Just 5280 feet to go.

The last mile is a blur and then it is over. I hit stop on Penelope and my body. I feel fuzzy, salty, sweaty, sore, and satisfied. 

Jackson Hole, I don't know what plans you have for me. You might humble the bejesus out of me as I flail about at elevation. You might be mediocre as HTC and a week of Yellowstone chips away at my endurance. Or I might come slay you--I believe I can.