Saturday, September 24, 2011

Surftown Half Marathon Recap

I have been looking forward to writing this all week because the race was such a great and fun experience. Unfortunately, the race lead up and the race itself got me a bit behind in my schoolwork (which seems to be increasing exponentially) but officially caught up and I am excited to share the experience!

Although it so warm and humid now, last weekend it was actually bit chilly. I woke up at 5:30am on Sunday and it was around 50 degrees outside--apparently perfect running weather since it eventually warmed up to 65 degrees but it felt freezing in just my shorts and shirt. I ate my usual english muffin (sadly un-toasted) with peanut butter, applesauce and half a sliced banana. I read in one of my running books that on race day you can drink 6-8oz of water every 30 minutes so I stuck with that and had no problems ( I seriously have nightmares about having "runners trots"-a fairly common occurrence for runners going on long distance runs where their bowels get unhappy with all the movement and they literally crap their pants). Pretty sure one of my goals in life is to not have to do my business in front of 700 therefore I watch what I eat and drink really carefully before running. Anyway, the worry was for naught because I didn't have to go during the race and I guess I sweated a crazy amount because I didn't go until I got home-about 3 hours after the finish. Is that TMI? Yeah...sorry about that.

So I got to the race site around 630am. I hyperventilated in the car and hysterically asked Logan why in the world did I sign up for this and freaked out for a good 10 minutes. Finally decided that the lure of a post race corn dog (the race bib got me into a local fair that was on site for free) was enough of an incentive so I finally got out of the car.
Do you think it counts if I drive to the finish line?
Logan went off to volunteer for the race (so he would have something to do for the 3 hours and he got a free shirt plus admission to the fair--we are all about free stuff in this family) so I wandered around for a while pretending to stretch, praying to not throw up and trying to figure out a way to take an llama to ride for a portion of the race. The fair had a petting zoo that really did have llamas and camels so this plan was not entirely out of the question. Around 7:20 I went over to the start line and realized that I was about to voluntarily run 13.1 miles and resumed freaking out. Luckily I couldn't freak out for long because before I knew it, the race gun sounded! It didn't take too long to get across the start line and we were off!

One of the things I liked best about this race was the course. The course ran alongside the ocean, through cute ocean-side villages and neighborhoods. Plus it was probably could have been the most ugly course and I would have liked it because it was flat but it was actually really pretty:
Logan took these pictures as he volunteered. I hardly have coordination to run without tripping, let alone run while not tripping while taking pictures. I am only human!

This road went forever...I think I spent at least 8 miles on it..bad thing was that the bog kinda smelled.
Once again, I did exactly what I wasn't suppose to do: I started way too fast. I felt awesome and it felt good to get the nervous energy out so I was humming along at around 9 or 10 minutes/mile (which is crazy fast for me. Turtle speed for the win!) and this actually worked for like 5 miles. I started to hit a wall around mile 7. I could hear people finishing (in like barely over an hour--crazy!) and I realized that I was barely half way and I was starting to really feel the quick start that was way over my training pace. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I thought about quitting around mile 8. I felt so tired, my legs were like lead and I still had 5 miles left. Luckily, I was able to realize that my body was fine *still really tired* but fine and that it was just my mind playing tricks on me. I decided to give it another mile and then when I reached mile 9 I told myself that 4 miles is so tiny! In fact, if I looked down at my running calender and saw a 4 mile run I would be so happy because that isn't long at all, so I kept going.

At this point I had entered Watch Hill, my beloved oceanside village, but I had overlooked one tiny thing about Watch Hill...the HILL portion of it's name. Ugh, so many hills! What sadist decided to put hill after hill after hill at the end of the course!?! When I drove the course the day before they hills did not seem nearly as I had to take prolonged walking breaks to simply make it up them. The last few miles are a bit of a blur but I do remember that as I passed an older lady she yelled you "you go girl!" It made me smile and kept me going. **Sidenote: runners are so nice! everyone was cheering as people passed them and was yelling encouragement to each other. Unexpected but a great surprise** My favorite part of the race was as I was nearing the finish line I came upon the water station where Logan was working. He started yelling encouragement and ran to the end with me. The first thing I said when I saw him was "why didn't you bring me an alpaca to ride?!? I am so tired!!" He laughed and told me to keep going or I wouldn't get a corn dog. I was so inspired that I stopped my three legged turtle pace and got all the way up to four legged turtle pace!
Four legged turtle in awe
Before I knew it I was at the finish line! I didn't know this beforehand but apparently at half and full marathons they say your name as you cross the finish line--I was quite pleased.
Someone point me to the corn dogs right.this.second.
A volunteer handed me my medal and a bottle of water and I attempted to walk for a while (I read in my running book to walk for a half mile after finishing). The attempt lasted for about 10 seconds and I plopped down on the sidewalk.
So ridiculously pleased with my pretty surfboard medal
One of the best things about races is the post-food/drinks. I immediately went to the beer tent and got my free beer. I had two gulps and gave the rest to Logan as I am not a beer drinker...those two gulps however were very delicious.
If only they were serving Diet Coke
There was also clam chowder, breads, chips, crackers, cookies and various drinks available but I was not feeling fond of food so I ate my two cookies (nothing can keep me from cookies, NOTHING). We walked around the fair for a while and I did get my corn dog which did not live up to the Tulsa State Fair foot long corn dogs which are a step away from Heaven. I ate two Reeses Cups that I had stowed in the car and promptly became dead to the world and slept for a few hours.

So my official time: 2 hours 52 minutes and 5 seconds and gun time: 2 hours 52 minutes and 43 seconds
Half Marathon under 3 hours? Success!

1. I think I will try to avoid races with time limits. I think the 3 hour limit scared off some of my fellow slow people so it got kind of lonely towards the end.
2. Water is a safety blanket for me so I think I am going to get a camelbak because that tiny handheld one doesn't cut it.
3. I need to buy proper running wear because I wore my old workout capris and they kept ridding up. You know what's awkward? Trying to fix your pants when  people all around you staring at your butt.
4. Corn dogs are really motivating
5. I can't wait till my next race!!!
Speaking of next races, I think I will aim for one in the spring. I want to do a proper training program that incorporates hills and timed trials. My program this time was purely distance based and I was utterly unprepared for hills plus I think I can be faster. I am hoping for a 5% improvement so that works out to around 9 minutes. I think my goal will be to finish under 2hr 40 minutes.
Such a cool experience!
 I can totally see how people get addicted to this because I can't wait to try it again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I did it!!

I did it!!! After 9 weeks of training I am officially a half marathon runner! I promise I will get the race recap up in the next couple days. I was so crazy nervous the few days before the race and then I was busy that weekend so I am a bit behind in my course work. I can't wait to share photos and my race experience with everyone :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Less than 24 hours...

This time tomorrow *hopefully* I will have run/walked/crawled 13.1 miles in under the 3 hour time limit. I am starting to get nervous but I admit, under all the nerves is excitement. I am excited to see if I can do it, if I can push myself past my comfort zone, if I can avoid passing out during mile 4.

I picked up my race packet yesterday. I was very dismayed to see all the other people there were crazy skinny and looked really tough (so much for my plan of getting a piggy back ride when I get tired). They looked like they ate 13.1 miles for breakfast and then went out for a quick 23 mile run afterwards. Yikes. I was a bit self conscious, especially when I picked up my race number and the shirt lady then said "Large right?" I was thinking "Oh my goodness! She knows!!" then I realized that it was written on the back of my race number...yes, I am a goober.

Good news is that the shirts are super cute. I'll take a picture of it for the race recap and post it. It's long sleeved and sweat wicking so it will be great for winter runs.

I can't help but think that only a few months ago I was so excited that I ran 5 miles and now I am prepping to run 13 tomorrow. There is free beer after the race-I think I may need one now.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy Month

Ahh! I have been so lax. Right after getting back from Jamaica my mom came to visit for a week, I had my birthday, then the whole hurricane business and finally school started...seriously a whirlwind month.
First, husband and I had such an amazing time. We went to the same resort where we had our honeymoon so it was nostalgic and insanely relaxing. We spent almost the entire trip just laying on the beach, talking, reading, relaxing and drinking yummy cocktails interspersed with swims in the ocean or snorkeling trips. Before I left for Jamaica I had committed to my training program for the half marathon so I really didn't want to get off track. I did my long distance run right before we left but I still had 4 runs that I needed to do in Jamaica-3 three mile runs and 1 5 mile run. I am so happy to report that I met my goal! I did 3/4 of the runs, skipping one of the 3 miles because we were doing a long snorkeling trip that day. Even with the one missed run, I ran 11 miles on vacation which is 11 more miles than I have ever run before. Plus, we got back late Friday and I went for my long run of 10 miles the next morning and felt great (although I think I was sweating pure rum).  Here are some beautiful Ocho Rios sunset pics:

Anyway, once we got back I cleaned like a mad woman and then had a lovely week long visit and 26th birthday celebration with my mom. She actually left just a few days before Irene made her presence known-good timing since the airport ended up closing and tons of flights were cancelled. Irene was my first hurricane and we got pounded pretty hard but were really lucky in that we didn't lose power. I have tons of friends and professors who are still without power and many are on well water which needs electricity to pump water into the home so no water-Ick, I can't imagine how much that would suck. We ended up with some tree damage but nothing major, just took me about 3 hours to clean up on Monday. Unfortunately lots of trees were really damaged and/or uprooted in the woods behind our house, it's really sad to see.
The first day of classes at UConn were canceled on Monday so I started my Ph.D. on Tuesday! So exciting but really intimidating since everyone seems so well qualified and knowledgeable. I already have so much reading to do but it's kinda fun, especially after my year off.
Exciting news!!! I registered for the Surftown Half Marathon today!! That's right, after randomly latching onto the idea a few months ago I am at least trying for it in just two and a half weeks. I have almost completed my training program-I have my longest run this Saturday and after that I am just tapering until race day. I did find out that there is a strict 3 hour time limit which works out to a bit over a 13 minute mile average. I know I can do it-I have trained for this, ran almost 200 miles for this and I will really push myself that day. It's going to be a year of challenges: getting my Ph.D., adjusting to a new school and running a huge distance (for me)...what a way to start my 26th year.

Friday, August 5, 2011

8 Mile(s)

Sorry for the infrequent postings! I have had house guests quite a bit for the past few weeks so I keep myself busy trying to entertain them. I am actually really sad that the guests are slowing down-summer is almost over so back to school/work/whatever. It makes me so happy when people seem to have a good time here, I love showing them my favorite parks and beaches and the restaurants where I can nom nom nom into oblivion but the best part is just getting to hang out and catch up. When guests come I always make some sort of baked good-scones, muffins, cookies etc-this time I made my favorite chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies. They are so moist and full of tasty deliciousness. I could seriously eat a stack of them but luckily I gave most of them away.
Seriously make these. They are my all time favorite cookie...and needless to say, I have had my fair share of cookies.
The recipe can be found here. I like to add a bit more than 1/4 tps of salt and instead of doing so much fresh ginger, I add 1 tsp of ground ginger and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Try them, if you are a chocolate fan you won't be disappointed.
Usually when I have guests or am on vacation my workouts fall to the side but this time I have actually kept up with everything. Logan and I leave for Jamaica tomorrow so I made myself do my long run today since let's be honest- keeping up with workouts while hanging out in CT is great, running shorter distances in Jamaica is possible but running for 2+ hours on a treadmill when I could be laying out on the beach while drinking rum based cocktails? don't think so. Luckily I made myself go run 8 miles today so now I only have to do three 3 mile runs and one 5 mile run. I never would have thought that I would be saying that I "only" have to do those runs, especially while on vacation. To be honest, I will be happy if I get 2 3's and the 5 done...I'll update when I get back.
Sorry for no updates...I'm busy laying in the sun and drinking fruity drinks!
8 miles went surprisingly well today! I really love trails where I can run half the distance in one direction, it takes away the choice of quitting. I have to finish the entire distance or I am not getting back to my car. I have read that you should refuel when you run for more than an hour and I can see why. I didn't bring anything to snack on and by the end I had a pounding headache and felt gross. No surprise since my Garmin said I burned over 1000 calories! That is many banana rum smoothies! actually, it's probably not...maybe two? It sucks that burning calories is so hard when putting them on is so easy. It was a beautiful run, completely shaded and surrounding by trees, rock formations and running water (which didn't help my desperate desire to pee for the last 5 miles).
So pretty...makes it a bit easier to keep going. The path is often really soft with pine needles so it's easier on my feet.
I finished in around 1 hour and 45 minutes so it works out to around 13 minute miles. I am pretty okay with that since by the end I was really tired and feeling gross so I was barely trudging along.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Two Weeks Down + Bruschetta

Good news! The heat wave has actually broken!! Ugh, all last week it was around or above 100 degrees. It was crazy because in Oklahoma we are use to heat--we kinda scoff at ONLY 95 degrees, especially since it got up to around 110 there last week-- but here very few people have air conditioning. When Logan and I were house hunting central air conditioning was not on my wish list, it was on my must have or will turn into a hell beast list. Seriously, I kinda turn into a hell beat when I am hot but Lord help you if I am hot, hungry AND tired. So for the sake of our marriage we bought a house with central air but very few of my neighbors have it. It seems like the norm is having a window unit in the bedroom but just use fans, open windows and a prayer for the rest of the house. For an Oklahoma gal like me, it's weird and I am in awe of their fortitude.
Anyway, so because it was a million degrees outside I did most of my runs last week at the gym. I have a love/hate relationship with my gym.
I love that they have tons of weight machines (I am intimidated by free weights)
I hate that I am the only girl who doesn't seem to wear makeup while working out (I seriously don't get it, what is the point? One time I wore mascara because I worked out in the evening and it was running down my face by the end. I get really sweaty...I know it's pretty attractive)
I love that there is always a free treadmill/elliptical/bike
I hate that the trainers will sometimes troll around the gym looking for new clients. Yeah, I don't want to do embarrassing exercises in the middle of the gym while people scoff at my lack of fitness. But thanks for asking.
I love that I rocked out my runs this week and even did some sprinting intervals and didn't die.
Now, the number one reason why I HATE my gym: they have this funky philosophy that keeping the temperature around 78 degrees will help reduce soreness. Yeah, all this does is make me sweat profusely and make me really cranky. I pay each month, lets turn down the air.
The best part of my gym is that it's less than a mile from my house. Plus they have a pool and a sauna.

I am two weeks into my training and, big surprise, I haven't made up my mind about the Surftown Half. The good news about this is that registration is the same price until the end of August so I still have many weeks of indecision. I have gotten some questions about what training program I am following so here it is:
Week Half Marathon Training Schedule
103Rest3Walk 2Rest13.1Rest21.1
When I researched training programs I found some that had runs 5 times a week and some with 4 and shockingly, I chose a 4/week program. I know myself: I would throw in the towel if I had to run 5/week. I liked that this one has normal runs 3/week and one big long distance run. One change I did make is up the distance on week 7 from 12 miles to 13.1. I really like running the full distance before a race. It helps me get over the mental part of running and I know that I can do it because I have done it before (just like Harry with his patronus in Prisoner of Azkaban! Quick side note: I am still really sad that Harry Potter is done).

I am in the third week of the program and its going really well. I did my long distance last week at a track and thought "oh it's just 20 laps" by the end I wanted to die...ugh...around and around and around....bleh! I think I can only do 3 to 4 miles at a track, it just gets way too repetitive.

In other news, I have had such a ridiculous craving for bruschetta. Tomatoes are in season now and they are just so full of flavor and can be eaten plain with just a touch of sea salt and olive oil. I tend to like simple bruschetta more than the recipes that have a laundry list of ingredients. So please do yourself a favor and buy some farmer's market tomatoes, grow/buy fresh basil and make some-it's delicious and also pretty low cal. This recipe tends to make enough for two since I rather just have to make more than have leftovers.

Simple Summer Bruschetta
2/3 tomatoes chopped up (make take more if you are using tiny little roma tomatoes) I like to drain them since they get really juicy when chopped up
Bunch of basil-seriously, those recipes that call for 4 leaves I can't imagine. I love the flavor of fresh basil so I grow a big pot of it and grab a big bunch when making this. Chop it up really fine.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Loaf of french bread
Cut up the french bread and toast it in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until crisp. Once it comes out  rub the bread with a cut clove of garlic (this gives it a really nice bit of garlic oil). Mix tomatoes, basil, garlic and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Toss in a bit of salt and pepper and taste. This is one of those recipes that adapts wonderfully so play with it! It works best if you let it refrigerate for a little while to let the flavors marry. Put a bunch of it on a piece of bread and enjoy...repeat again and again. Nom. Nom. Nom.
Not a picture of my bruschetta because I ate it all before I thought to take a picture. I could take a picture of my growing bruschetta belly....then again, maybe not.

Monday, July 18, 2011

GE 5K Road Race Recap

I survived! I didn't finish last! They had snow cones!
Those statements pretty much sum up my race experience. It was so much fun and a great experience. I don't think I'll be one of those people who does a race every weekend (too poor for that) but I think I would like to do a few a year. I really want to do the Turkey Trot-a 5K that happens on Thanksgiving morning. I inhale about a billion calories on Thanksgiving so I figure 3.1 miles will cancel out all that damage...right? Also, there is this race called the Warrior Run that happens all over the country. It is a mud run where you, quite obviously, run in the mud and also navigate around lots of obstacles. Fun stuff.

Anyway, on with the recap!
We got up pretty early since the race was held in Plainville, a city about 40 minutes away. We ate a light breakfast of English muffins with peanut butter and applesauce (a favorite of mine). We these got awesome moisture wicking shirts--yay for free swag!--when we picked up our numbers but we decided to wear our OU gear race day. My OU shirt has brought me luck before so I figured it would help me reach my goals. I chose to do 3 goals: one that is pretty easily attainable (finishing under 40 minutes), one that I would have to work for (finishing under 36 minutes), and one that would basically take a miracle to happen (finishing under 30 minutes). Yes,  I'm slow- you think I was kidding all those times I compared myself to a turtle? Yeah, I wasn't.
Boomer Sooner!! School pride? I haz it.

Run Logan Run!
We got there around 8am since the race started at 9. There were tons of vendors there-Dunkin Doughnuts, Rita's Frozen Custard, Dairy Queen, some massage place and tons of other stuff. They were handing out lots of free food and drinks but we didn't partake since nothing begs throwing up on the side of the road like a chili dog. There were about 4000 people participating in the race or walk (a modified 1.3 mile course) so we just wandered around people watching, checking out the vendors and listening to the band. Around 8:45 we headed over to the race start point. I have to admit I was starting to get really nervous because even though it wasn't even 9am, it was already 90+ degrees and absolutely cloudless thus resulting in major, major hotness...ick. We hung out at the start line for a while and ran into a guy from Nebraska who spotted our OU shirts. It was funny because he said that it was one time that OU and Nebraska could come together. After listening to the president of GE talk and also Dr. Petit (the race was to benefit the Petit Family Foundation-info below)
The Petit Family Foundation honors the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit, and Michaela Rose Petit by continuing the kindness, idealism and activism that defined their lives. The Foundation's funds are given to foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses, and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.
After a home invasion on July 23, 2007, Jennifer Hawke, Hayley Elizabeth, and Michaela Rose Petit tragically lost their lives. Hayley, and later on Michaela, were dedicated to community service and charitable giving, especially with the MS Society in support of their mother's illness. After their deaths, the Foundation was created as a means of continuing on their work and spirit.
All proceeds from this event will go to the Foundation.

The starting gun sounded....and we were still standing there. One minute later....still standing. Finally after two minutes we finally got going. Our race numbers had this cool chip in them that would sense when we passed the start line and the finish line so we could have an accurate time that isn't based on the gun start. I have read in tons of running blogs about how the biggest mistake a new runner can make is going too fast starting out. Yeah...I read all about that but still did it. *le sigh* it is just so hard not to! There are runners all around you and you have all this adrenaline so I kept a 9 minute mile pace for about a mile and then the heat finally got to me and I had to take a walk break. It was the hottest weather I have ever run in...gross. The course was not really that pretty, mainly just through neighborhoods and main streets but it was fine. The people in the houses we ran by had set up their sprinklers to "rain" on the runners....IT WAS AWESOME!!! Whoever thought of that: major kudos! I had decided not to bring my fancy new water bottle because there would be water stations at every mile marker. I grabbed some water at the first water station and kept trudging along. I would jog some but definitely had to take some walk breaks pretty often. At mile 2 I was so sad because they were temporarily out of water and I didn't want to stick around to wait. I figured it was only one mile more so I could tough it out. The last mile was really hard-so hard, so hot-but we survived. I crossed the finish line at 35.57-this is actually a pretty decent time for me, but I definitely want to improve next time. Logan came in about 20 seconds later.
After picture, you can't tell that we are literally dripping sweat and completely soaked. It was gross.
 I grabbed a bottle of water (I seriously love free stuff) and had to sit down since I was feeling really woozy. Jeff Galloway, my favorite running guru, says that for every 5 degrees over 60 degrees, you can expect it to slow you down 30 seconds/mile. 35.57 minutes works out to an average of 11.5 minute mile so with the 94 degree heat, I'm pretty happy. Plus, I met two of my goals. I use to reward myself with delicious food but I am trying to mend my ways so I based my rewards on cool stuff. If I met my first goal of under 40 minutes, I got my much coveted Bondi Band. It says "Will run for cupcakes", Logan think it's silly but I think it's hilarious! I have to admit, one thing I love about running is that it torches quite a few calories so I get to eat yummy cupcakes with no guilt. If I met my second goal of 36 minutes (I did it! barely...but still...winning!) I get to order the awesome spibelt (a running pouch that fits tons of stuff-I have wanted one since I read about it on and I kinda like to have lots of stuff with me on a run...gum, inhaler, phone, keys, chapstick, etc). Since I met two goals I got my lovely prizes! If I had gotten my last goal of under 30 minutes, I got a massage...but no go on that...guess I'll have to convince Logan to give me one.

After we finished we walked around the food area again and got some Sobe Life Water, which was actually really delicious and sugar free! As we were drinking our sobe, we ran into more Oklahoma connections! A really nice couple whose daughter went to OU for school and now works in OKC. I can't say how awesome it is to have these little moments of home, it's a small world. There was tons of food being offered but honestly, it was so hot and we were so sweaty that not much sounded good. We grabbed a couple bananas and some oranges and after a while we grabbed a couple snow cones that really hit the spot. I haven't had a snow cone in forever because I can't find anywhere that sells them in CT. It's crazy because you see snow cone shacks everywhere in Oklahoma. I have tons of happy memories of the college group heading over the the shack across of Classic 50s and getting snow cones. They had so many delicious flavors....mmm....totally love snow cones. We sat in the shade under a big tree and listened to some of the awards ceremony,needless to say we did not win anything :) but it was fun listening to the crazy fast times that some people produced. The winner was a guy who completed the course in 15 minutes and 38 crazy!!! I was still working on mile 2 at that time....absolutely ridiculous. I will never be a race winner but I am really inspired to improve my time next time. I do think that some cooler weather will help my running time but also more training can't hurt.

Speaking of training, I am officially in week 2 of training for the Surftown Half Marathon and I am still on the fence about registering. The miles are going okay but after this weekend's 5K I can't wrap my mind around the idea of going for another 10 miles. I think the next few weeks will help me decide since my distances are getting higher. As always, I'll keep you posted. This blog kinda helps me stay accountable and I really appreciate all the feedback I have gotten-y'all are awesome.