Wednesday, November 26, 2008

26.2 Ways You Know You Are A Runner

I found this little gem on Facebook today through one of the running groups and thought I'd share. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

1. You know how many miles there are in a marathon.
2. Your weekly mileage is how much you run, not your commute to work.
3. You know how many miles you get out of a pair of running shoes.
4. You can convert kilometers to miles in your head.
5. You measure your running route in your car to get the exact mileage (if you don't have a Garmin).
6. When someone tells you their age, you automatically know their Boston qualifying time.
7. You know Grandma's as the route from Two Harbors to Duluth, not the person.
8. You can drink, blow your nose and pee on the run.
9. The problem with the treadmill is there's no place to spit.
10. You have less than ten toenails and that's normal for you.
11. Body Glide is your friend.
12. Ibuprofen is affectionately known as "Vitamin I." It's your recreational drug of choice.
13. Navigating walkers, dogs and baby strollers annoys you because it interrupts your pace.
14. When you participate in an organized event, you know not to run in your race t-shirt.
15. You have a favorite energy gel and flavor.
16. The "Picasso" above your fireplace is last year's TCM poster.
17. You have pre- and post- race rituals.
18. The journal you keep is in miles and pace, not feelings or thoughts.
19. When you look at the weather conditions, you calculate how many layers to wear.
20. The pride you feel after a good run is worth the pain it took to get there.
21. You have more t-shirts than you could possibly wear.
22. When you hear the word "bib," you think of race numbers, not babies and Gerber food.
23. The "no carbohydrate diet" does not apply to you.
24. You know that "fartlek" is not vulgar terminology.
25. A hill is an opportunity just waiting to be challenged.
26. You know the phrase "you're almost there" only applies when the finish line is in sight.
.2 Your vacation destination is determined by your race schedule.

"...a marathon is twenty miles of hope, six miles of truth...."

If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Catching up on Tags

I'm a little behind on catching up on some tags.  I thought I'd remedy that right quick (while listening to Kanye's "Love Lockdown" that I just downloaded and am digging).

The lovely Rachel over at History of the Harveys said some super sweet things here when she gave me the Kreativ Blogger award (see it over in the sidebar).  Thanks girl!  Rachel is one of my favorite bloggers to read, and I've been so excited for her recent engagement and wedding planning.

The tag calls for listing 6 things I'm thankful for (in no particular order other than just how they came into my head today), and I find this very fitting since this week is Thanksgiving.

1.  Relationships - The people in my life are the most important thing to me.  Without them, my life would not be fulfilling at all.  I am constantly thankful that I am surrounded by awesome people who care about me and allow me to care about them.  I'm totally relationship-oriented.

2. Health/Body - I am thankful that I am able to run.  It keeps me healthy and provides me with some alone time as well as times to share with other runners.  I love the atmosphere of races and the community of running that I experience.  I am glad that I have something that I can call my own but also share with so many people/

3.  Blogland - Even though you guys and gals 
could fall in the relationship category, too, I felt like you kind of stand alone.  I don't know most of you personally, but your friendships through our blogs means a lot to me.  It's so fun to read your posts and learn new things, find cute things to buy, get new ideas or being inspired in new ways.  I'm always so appreciate of the support, encouragement and kind words that you send my way.  You rock, and I hope that in time I can meet more of you in real life.

4.  My job - I have a great job.  It's even greater in some ways because I had a terrible job before it.  I am thankful to be able to go to work every day with good people and do something I enjoy.  I'm thankful that I am not especially concerned right now about my own job security and finances.

5.  My home - I have a nice little home with heat and a/c and plumbing and plenty of space and a sweet little kitty cat named Tucker.  I want for little, and I know that I am blessed.

6.  Love - This might sound cheesy, but I think that the basis of this life is love.  It's out of love that I can learn to give to other people... whether it's giving money to a non-profit or giving attention to a dear friend.  I am trying to live a life of love, beauty and grace.  I'm thankful to have so many examples of how to do this through my faith and through other people.

I have seen a lot of people do this meme already, so feel free to tag yourself if you haven't done it and would like to do so!

I was also tagged by Missy, one of my sweet sisters from college days.  It calls to go to my fourth picture folder and then the fourth picture in the folder.  Then, write four things about the picture.




This is a picture of Trafalgar Square in London.  
I took this picture when I was there the first time in 2004.  
I LOVE how the clouds look due to the sunset.
It was probably close to 10pm because the sun sets LATE there in the summer.

I've seen a ton of people doing this one, too, so tag yourself if you'd like!

A little pep talk for myself...

The weekend just goes by way too quickly these days, but getting up this morning was a tiny bit easier than most Mondays since I knew it'd be a 3-day week. Of course, it was also a tiny bit harder to get up because it was pouring down rain. That just makes me want to stay in my warm bed with my kitty cat.

Friday evening my parents helped me take down tree #1 and put up my brand new tree #2. Dad made this huge plywood base to weigh down the bottom so that (fingers crossed) it can't topple over if Tucker decides to shimmy his way up it again. I'm ultimately glad things turned out this way because my new tree is so much prettier. I promise some pictures soon.

Saturday I met up with Bob at the park for a very chilly 10-mile run. I haven't had to bundle up so much since last year, so it was a huge adjustment to feel so constricted by clothing. I'm glad to have a chance to run in my winter clothes so that I can be used to them before the Memphis marathon. It's still too early to see race day on the weather forecast, but so far it's looking like it'll be a chilly day. I don't mind. That's why I picked a December marathon.

We did the 10 miles in about 1:42, which is about a 10:10 pace. That's pretty close to race pace, so I was pleased. HOWEVER. I started feeling my left ankle again and a new pain flared up in my left hip. I'm NOT pleased about that.

It reached the point after the run where it hurt to put weight on my left leg. It's this really strange sort of twinge in my hip area. One moment it feels like it's just a tight IT band/hip flexor that I need to stretch out, and other moments it feels like something more. I'm trying really hard to not freak out right now. I am starting to feel a little worried that I'm not going to show up to the start line with fresh, pain-free legs like I intended. Not only that, but I haven't been having much of a taper. It's been more like a dramatic cut back in mileage.

I'm going to spend some time this week focusing on icing and stretching in a hope that it really is just some tightness that can be dealt with. I've been reading a lot of stuff today that sometimes we have more aches and pains during our tapers because our bodies are healing the damage we did in training... and so we can feel it. Oh how I hope that's all this is...

I'm starting to think that the whole marathon before a marathon thing was not a good idea. I mean, it really is in theory... but I am thinking that my body in particular might not be cut out for it. It's hard to remember, but I don't think I had quite so many aches and pains during my previous training plans. However, I also forget all the aches and pains I feel DURING the marathons and then sign up for another one... so maybe I've always had these kind of things flare up and I choose to forget all about them.

Anyways, I'm going to give my hip and ankle a little TLC. I thought about doing some bike riding today, but I'm just going to take another rest day. I can put weight on it now, so that's got to be a good sign, right? I'm going to attempt a VERY easy jog tomorrow, but if I can feel my hip at the start I'm going to bike instead. Then, I've got my 5-mile race on Thursday. If it hurts, then I'm going to take it really easy. If not, then I'll run for time. Then next week? Maybe 2 very easy light jogs, but mostly resting, eating good food (carbs!!!), and stretching. I need to feel good at the start. Surely to goodness cutting way back more than usual during this taper won't cause me to lose much fitness.

I don't know what's going to happen on race day. I'm beginning to feel like I should change my expectations a bit. I don't know that a 4:20 is possible, but I think that aiming to beat my PR of 4:31 is still a doable goal. And honestly? A new PR is a new PR... it can be 4:30 and I'll be really happy. I can always aim for 4:20 another time. And regardless of how I finish, it'll still be marathon #5 under my belt.

But still... I really want these aches and pains to go away. It's hard to not worry about them a little.

Sunday I volunteered at the Flying Monkey Marathon, and it was good fun. I helped out at the finish line food table and got to see all of the runners after they finished. It was really encouraging to be out there and to see people finishing a REALLY tough marathon. I got to hear a lot of interesting stories and meet a few really cool runners. I'm glad I spent my day out there.

I also stopped by the church that sponsors the Thanksgiving race and picked up my race number and shirt. They were also giving away posters of Ryan Hall. I got a little more excited about this than is probably necessary. People were like, "Who is Ryan Hall?" And I was like, "Um, only the coolest American male marathon runner right now! How can you not know how awesome he is?!" Ok, not really... I kept my mouth shut. But I was really excited and am totally going to hang that poster on my closet door to help inspire me to be thankful that God gave me a body that I can use to run, and I'm going to get out there and run my best.

I'm not happy about the aches and pains. I'm not happy about how my taper is going. But I'm still looking forward to race day. My friend Bennett is coming to run, too, and he always makes things fun. And the race is in Memphis where the boy lives, so it'll be fun to have him there. I'm going to run. It may be hard. It may hurt. It may not go as well as I've been planning. But regardless of what happens, it'll be a good day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winter Has Hit

Yesterday's run was both good and bad.

The good? 6 miles in 52:31. That's an average 8:46 m/m pace. DANG. It surprised even me to run that fast and feel so good.

The bad? It was FREEZING. And WINDY. I don't like either. I also ran with shorts because I figured since it was 40 I could do that, but the wind made it feel a lot colder. I did run past a guy all bundled up who smiled and said, "Girl you are hardcore!" Heck. Yes.

The rest of the bad? My hips are sore today. They were surprised with all the fast running after taking it easy for a bit.

Last night I took it easy with a little tv (um, is it just me or is this whole Izzy and Denny story on Grey's really strange?). Then I went home and about cried because my cat completely turned my Christmas tree over. I am really surprised because I've taken him to my parent's house some over the past two Christmas's I've had him, and he's never caused any trouble with their tree. I called my mom and we decided it was because I'm using the really old tree we used to use at my parent's, and it's just worn out and flimsy. As much as I hate to have to do the process again, I'm going to go buy a new tree and put it up and decorate it with all the decorations I just put on the old tree. It's a bit of a hassle, but I really wanted a big tree up this year and I think getting a new one is the only way to make sure it's going to be sturdy enough to survive the cat. I might get my dad to make a sturdier base for it, too, because he's crafty like that.

When it's all said and done, after I help my sister with my parent's tree next week I will have put up THREE tree this Christmas.

There were snow flurries this morning. It's insane. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning's run. Low of 19. I guarantee you will be back up in the 70s sometime in the next few weeks, because that's just how the weather rolls in Tennessee.

On Sunday I'm volunteering at the Flying Monkey Marathon in Nashville. I doubt I will ever have the nerve to run this race. It's held in the hilliest park around here. Listen to this description from the website:

"The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon is about the joy and pain of running a unique, and uniquely challenging--some would say beastly--26.2 mile course in the beautiful and historic Percy Warner Park, nestled among the Middle Tennessee Harpeth Hills.

We will time and measure the distance, but the course will not be certified, we will not use timing chips, and it will not be a Boston qualifying event. If you get to the end and you (or your gadget) believe the route to be long, we won't charge you extra; if you believe it to be short, just keep running. There will be no bands, cheerleaders, wave starts or crowds. We promise no marathon Personal Records, but we guarantee every runner a PR - a Permanent Remembrance of a well-earned marathon finish. We promise to give you approximately 26.2 tough and memorable miles, with a total of 3500 feet of elevation gain and loss."

Um yeah... I will not be one of the 200 runners. I will instead be opting to freeze my butt off, apparently, while helping along the course or at the finish or something. I'm actually really looking forward to it. It's a really tough race, and I think it'll be really inspiring to see it 2 weeks before my big marathon.

Good luck to everyone in their runs and races this weekend. Hope you all have a great one!

Quite Possibly the Coolest Running Shirts Ever

Oh my goodness.

These running shirts are awesome. I'm so going to have to get me one.

You can try to win one over at We Are Not Martha.

Check it out!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Favorite Elite

Ryan Hall is going to run in the 2009 Boston Marathon. Read more about it here. I love how he calls Boston the "grand daddy of the World Marathon Majors."

I didn't realize that it's been over 25 years since an American male has won Boston. I'd love to see Ryan win it.

Meanwhile, I'm heading out for a 4-6 mile run... to be determined based on how I feel once I get going. I probably have cut back more than I should for my tapering since my marathon training run, but I think in the end it has still be the smart decision since my ankle had been kind of achy.

I'm hoping to do 6. I need to burn off a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts I indulged in when I drove past and saw the hot sign on last night. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In a Bit of a Funk

I wanted to give everyone a huge thank you for all your sweet comments wishing me well after the migraine! You are all too kind. I'm feeling much better now, and the lingering ache in my head seems to be gone now.

You didn't know this, but your comments were encouraging for other reasons, too. I've been in a bit of a funk the past week or so. Nothing's wrong - don't worry. :) I think it's been a combination of things.

Running a marathon - even if it was a training run, I've been hard on my body the past month or so and now that I'm finally cutting it some slack I think I'm realizing how worn out I've been. Plus, there's always a bit of an emotional dip after running a marathon. Even though it wasn't my main event I'm training for, I can't avoid the bit of post-marathon blues that sometimes comes by for a few days when recovering from such a run. It's hard to explain it, but I think fellow runners will know what I'm talking about.

The migraine - that and losing my weekend certainly didn't help me feel especially chipper.

The time and weather changes - it's SO cold now, and it just always takes me a week or two to adjust to the earlier nightfall and cold weather every year. I don't know why this puts me in a funk for a week or two, but it never fails to do so.

Throw all of that together with some convenient timing from all females favorite monthly visitor and you can see why I've felt a little less than my best lately. The crazy thing is that I didn't even realize I was in a funk until just the past day or so when I realized I wasn't really being myself with a few things and couldn't figure out why. I started thinking and realized all of this stuff and it all made a little more sense. Unfortunately, me being a bit more unusually sensitive the past week or so led to me being a little insensitive about some other things.

I think I'm on the upswing now, though. I got to get a quick run in yesterday and found that while my ankle still felt a little tender, it felt a lot better. I'm thinking that as long as I don't overdue it, I shouldn't have a problem in Memphis. I'm also finally adapting to the time change and to the cold (although I don't like it any better!). I'm gearing up for my final 2 weeks before the Memphis race. I'm looking forward to the holidays.

I think the transitions in my life the past couple of weeks just kind of took a toll on me, but today I woke up feeling a lot better. It's as if all of that is suddenly behind me now. I mean, not that I was walking around all down in the dumps or anything. I just felt a little off the past week or two. I felt a little more emotional than usual. It happens sometimes. I think most of my female readers will know what I mean.

So, I'm feeling better... and even though your comments were specifically about my migraine from the weekend, I found them to be encouraging as I snapped back to my normal self this week. Thanks!

PS - Don't judge me, but I put up my Christmas tree. I have reasons. I knew that doing something so cheerful would help me get back to feeling like my normal self again. I also knew that I'll be busy next weekend with Thanksgiving and putting up the tree with my sister at my parent's house and seeing the boy while he's home and doing some Christmas shopping. If I didn't go on and get the tree up, it could be well into December before it went up... and then I wouldn't have as much time to enjoy it.

So up it went. This is the first time I've put up my own tree. I've already spent a LOT of time trying to keep Tucker out of it, but he's so fast. He runs to it and is halfway up it before I can even get across the room. Fortunately, I think he's already losing interest. Hopefully I won't come home and find it on its side one day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Had An Owie

I lost my weekend. Seriously... it came and went, and I never saw it.

Friday night I climbed into bed at a decent time to get some sleep before heading out for my first run since last weekend's marathon. I intended to meet up with Bob at his 10-mile mark and do 8 miles. I found him, and the first four miles went just fine.

Well, my left ankle is still feeling a little sore. This does NOT please me. I have some runs I need to do over these next 3 weeks, not to mention a MARATHON to run. A sore ankle is not going to be helpful. Bob was feeling pretty beat so we decided to walk the four miles back to the parking lot. I probably could have run more than 4 miles, but I figured that a little extra rest for the sore ankle couldn't hurt. Plus, it was Bob's birthday... so I wasn't going to leave him to walk the four miles back alone.

By the time we got back to the cars, we'd decided a little trip to Waffle House was in order. Cheese eggs. Bacon. Hashbrowns. Raisin toast. Oh, it was delicious! My head was hurting a little, so I popped some Advil and headed home.

By the time I got out of the shower, I couldn't see straight. My head was pounding. My neck hurt. Pieces of my vision were blacked out. Even my eyeballs hurt. I felt a little scared, but I wondered if maybe I was just dizzy. I climbed into my bed to take it easy, but within an hour the pain was so terrible that I felt like I couldn't find any position to be in that would relieve the pain.

I decided I might need to take some more Advil, but by the time I made it down the hallway I had to sit down again in an effort to not throw up. I crawled back to bed and did what any smart girl who doesn't have a husband or a roommate would do... I called my mom.

I was in tears by this point because it hurt so bad, and let me tell you - that's not common for me. I don't usually get so worked up over not feeling well, but I was in sheer agony. My mom immediately knew I had a migraine, even though I have never had one before. She used to have them and knew immediately that it was the problem when I described everything. I have to admit, it really helped for her to be able to go, "Oh, you've got a migraine!" It didn't make it hurt less, but I did quit having visions of Grey's Anatomy episodes about brain tumors.

She came and got me (and my cat, ha) and took me home with her. She still had some medicine from when she got migraines, so I was soon settled and feeling a bit of relief. I ended up staying in bed from about 1pm to 9pm.

I finally felt ok enough to move to the couch and watch some tv before going back to bed. My mom told me that Tucker stayed in the bedroom with me pretty much the whole time I was back there. Usually when I take him over there he likes to run around and play with my parent's cat, but she said he stayed glued to the foot of the bed I was in all day. I like to think it means he knew I didn't feel well and that staying in there was his way of taking care of me. :)

I felt a lot better on Sunday, but my head still felt a little achy. I took it easy and got some mroe sleep. Today the top of my head feels sore, and it REALLY hurts when I sneeze. I still feel really drained and like I could sleep more, but for the most part I feel like myself again. I still won't be running again until tomorrow. I think my head and my ankle could use the extra rest day.

I hope that this doesn't mean I'm going to start getting regular migraines. It definitely knocked me out for most of the weekend, and I have to say that the only pain I've ever felt that hurt worse was when my appendix perforated and had to be removed. I like to think that I'm pretty tough, but this was certainly the kind of pain that I couldn't just tough out. Migraines could definitely put a damper on running a marathon... Here's to hoping that they don't interefere again until I get this next one behind me in a few weeks!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Check This Out...

I was selected to be this week's Pace Setter over at Twenty Six Point Two. You can find the post about me here.

I discovered this blog about a month ago and have been loving it as I read about April and Amy's adventures in running. Both gals live pretty close to me and run in some of the same races, so maybe I'll get to meet them at some race in the future. For now, I love reading their anecdotes and race reports. Check them out!

I was certainly honored to be selected as this week's pace setter. Thanks gals!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PS

Today is my half-birthday. I am exactly 25.5 years old today. Crazy!

Country Music Awards


So living in Nashville doesn't necessarily mean that you're a fan of country music, but I have to admit that I like some of it. Not all of it, but some of it.

In particular? Josh Turner. Isn't he just such a cutie? He's not the most famous country music artist, but I certainly have to say he's one of my favorites. He's got this incredibly deep voice that is so unbelievably smooth, but he's also got a little country twang. I really like a lot of his songs. On the CMA's last night, he was only there to present an award.... but I soaked it in. Those blues eyes... that gorgeous smile... knowing I have a lot of his terrific songs on my ipod. His wife is a lucky woman. :)

I ended up watching the entire show. I like Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, so it was fun to see them hosting. Reese Witherspoon, a Nashville native, presented an award. Brad's wife Kimberly Williams was there in all of her pregnant glory, and after he won Male Vocalist of the Year he ran down to kiss her and her little belly! Carrie had a terrific performance, and I also liked seeing Brad and Keith Urban play together when the show opened.

I may not love ALL country music, but it's always fun to watch some of the CMA's each year. They're filmed downtown at our hockey arena so I always think that it might be fun to go one year.

I thought it was interesting that this morning a local radio show was saying Kellie Pickler's performance was one of the best. Honestly? I thought it was one of the worst and that she looked kind of trashy. I'm not really a fan. That's just me...

All in all, it was nice to veg out on the couch and enjoy some good country music all evening. I really like the "famous" people we have in Nashville. They have more money than the average resident around here, but they live a pretty normal life. They go to grocery stores and restaurants. They do their thing. People get excited about seeing them out, but most people are pretty polite. They're usually polite back from what I head. And we don't really have a lot of papparazzi hanging around Nashville, so they can usually do their thing without being followed around.

Seriously, if you haven't heard of Josh Turner, check him out. In my opinion, he's one of the best even though he's not one of the most famous.

(Photo from msn.com's info on the CMA's)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hello New Best Friend

OK, so I'm not really replacing my best friend. Or even my best training buddies.

I am, however, adding something new to the mix. Two words:

SPORTS MASSAGE

Oh. My. Goodness.

I've only had one small glimpse into the world of massage (because the quick shoulder rubs in choir class back in the day don't count). After I finished the Huntsville Marathon last year, I got about a 10-minute massage from a massage therapy student who was on hand for runners. I know it definitely helped me walk for the rest of the day, but the massage itself was pretty painful.

I kept reading about the benefits of a good sports massage. Sure, I'd love to do the spa thing and get all pampered and have some super fancy massage. But let's face it... I'm kind of too frugal for my own good sometimes and can't bringe myself to splurge on something like that.

But a sports massage? Now that just seemed practical. I ran a marathon as my last LSD for my Memphis training. I only have 4 weeks in between races. I want to take at least a week off and then be able to bounce back with some light running. A sports massage just made perfect sense. It should enable my muscles to recover more quickly from the marathon-length training run. It should work out some of the soreness. It should improve my circulation and range of motion and etc. etc.

It took very little to justify spending $50 on a sports massage. I mean, this wasn't just any old massage. It's a massage with a purpose. It's a massage that many other runners claim as a necessary part of training. So, if I must...

I got one last night. It was amazing. I had some pretty intense knots in the back of my shoulders that I KNOW are from running. I always feel tense in those spots toward the end of a long run. She worked those out. She worked on my lower back. She worked my arms. And then she worked on my legs. Oh my. It was amazing. I could immediately feel my muscles loosening up. It was almost as if I could feel the lactic acid being pushed out.

I tell you what - I wouldn't mind having someone around who could give me a good massage like this more often. I will definitely go get another one after my next marathon. I walked out of there feeling like a new person. I was moving better. I didn't feel stiff.

Today I have a little soreness from where she worked on the knots in my shoulders, but she warned me I might feel that. I'm trying to drink water like crazy to keep things moving in there. My ankle that was bothering me during Saturday's run is still a little tender, but I'm trying to follow RICE and am hopeful that it'll be feeling better before my next run.

My plans? Do some light biking today, maybe swim some laps tomorrow, yoga on Thursday, and then 6-8 miles on Saturday to see how I'm feeling and try to work myself back into running for the next couple of weeks. I'm definitely in taper mode so I'm excited that all my remaining runs will be nice and easy. I definitely want to get to the Memphis start line feeling well-rested and with fresh legs.

But seriously... It's only been one day since I got it and I'm already convinced - sports massages rock. I totally recommend them!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Race Report: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon

First of all, I want to thank all of you for wishing me well on Friday and cheering me on as I ran in the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon as a training run to get ready for the Memphis Marathon. It really means a lot to have blog friends who are cheering for me and interested to hear how the run went. I'm not going to lie... There were several rough points in the run when I thought of you guys and all the positive comments you send my way and all the awesome things you other runners are going. It certainly brought me some extra inspiration.

On Friday, my dad and I headed out of Nashville toward Fort Oglethorpe, GA (this is just barely outside of Chattanooga, TN). We enjoyed going over Mount Eagle Mountain and took in the gorgeous fall scenery as we headed into East Tennessee.


We found the packet pick-up locaton, and I collected my shirt, hat, and race number and chip. There was a sign that said the expo was in the next building, but this turned out to be a guy selling Gu and Shot Blocks. We had considered going to the pasta dinner, but the room was pretty crowded. Instead, we headed on to check into our hotel and then drove into Chattanooga to eat a good meal at Olive Garden. Yum.

Once back at the hotel, I found a movie on tv and watched it in bed. Unfortunately, we were now in the Eastern time zone. I had a hard time going to sleep at a reasonable time since my body was an hour behind the time. I think I finally fell asleep around midnight. Needless to say, my 5:45 am alarm came quickly.

I'm not going to lie. I think I felt more nervous about this marathon than I've felt about the 3 I've done before. It's crazy, really, but I think it's because I felt SO odd running a marathon without tapering. I kept reminding myself that it was just a long, slow training run (a little LSD, if you will), but I still also knew it was a timed event. It was hard to shake that feeling of contradiction that my body and brain were sharing. I have never run this distance without fresh legs. I had never shown up to the start line feeling tired. I just kept trying to tell myself to forget that and to enjoy the training, but it's definitely hard when everyone else is using it as their race they trained for... they all had tapered. They all felt rested and refreshed.

I got ready for the race and ate my Kashi granola bar. I still felt really full from Friday night's dinner, and I knew I had a fuel belt full of GU and Sports Beans.

We headed to the start, and I had plenty of time to use the porta-potty. It was absolutely freezing before the start, and I stood with my dad and kept my coat on for as long as possible. I knew it'd be warming up, so I had on shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. And gloves. If my hands are warm, I'm ok.



I posed for a picture with this old military vehicle, and then I waited for the national anthem to be sung and for the rifle to be shot. As soon as I heard the gun go off, I passed off my coat to my dad and merged in with the crowd to cross the starting line.

For the first two miles, I felt like I was running on bricks. My feet had gone completely numb with the cold before the start. My legs had huge goosebumps. Within the first 20 minutes, I managed to thaw out and settle into a decent 10:30 pace. I tried to tune out some of the other runners, many of them running only the half-marathon. I didn't need to keep up with them. I felt steady and consistent.

Around mile 4, my new friend Matt caught up to me. I was so glad to see a familiar face. I've gone to the other 3 marathons I've run with people I've trained for months with and I'd been feeling weird about doing this one alone. It was nice to have Matt's company.

We ran along and chatted for a good while. I knew by mile 8 or so that I definitely had tired legs from my training and that this run would definitely be my toughest training run. Not only that, but I'd also had to pee since about mile 5. We saw a porta-potty around mile 8 or 9, but there were 7 people in line. I wasn't about to stand and wait that long. Even though I wasn't running for time, I knew if I stood still that long it'd hurt me.

Sidenote: There were only 2 porta-potties on the course. Granted, you ran the course twice so you actually had 4 opportunities. But there should have been more than one porta-potty at both stops.

I continued on, and just before we got to the halfway point I saw my dad. I had told him not to worry too much about trying to see me because the course wasn't very spectator-friendly, but I was glad to see he'd walked to this point. He snapped a quick photo of me and Matt (dad never uses a camera, and the sun was so bright my eyes are closed in the photo), and then we headed on our way.



I hit the half-marathon mark in 2:25. I knew that this was a bit slower than I intended, but I tried to not let it get me down. Here's the thing... I'm a bit of an overachiever. Anyone who knows me well would probably use that to describe me if they had to pick only one word. It's never been that I want to be THE best. I'm the least competitive person I know. Stephanie never could understand how I'd want to play cards without keeping the score back in our high school days. It's just not me. However, I always want to do MY best. I knew that a 2:25 split was not my best.

Again, I was really having a hard time separating myself from the fact that I was running a race. I think that even though I knew all along that this was just supposed to be training, I still had this thought in the back of my head that I wanted to finish it in a certain time. I wanted to hit somewhere between 4:30 and 4:45. This is insane! My PR is 4:31. I should know better than to think I could finish somewhat close to that time when I was physically tired from the peak training I've been doing lately. So I tried to keep telling myself to forget about the clock and forget about the race and to get my miles in. I kept reminding myself that when I crossed the finish line I'd finally be in official taper mode for 4 weeks.

Matt went on, and I was so excited that he was doing so well. This was his first marathon! He'd done a great job with his training and tapering, so I looked forward to catching back up with him at the finish to see how well he'd end up running. Meanwhile, I was struggling between mile 13-15. I of course went to the starting line physically tired, but I was also mentally tired. Marathon training takes it out of you. I didn't feel the mental kind of strength I usually feel when I'm running the marathon distance. Again, I tried to keep my focus on the fact that I was doing my last long training run.

I finally got to use the bathroom at mile 15. I think I set a record for how long I was peeing! I came out feeling a million times better, and I pulled out my ipod. It might sound cheesy, but when I turned it on it played "It's a Beautiful Life" by Ace of Base. I like having some peppy old school stuff mixed in. I felt a new energy, and I ran miles 15-17 at more of a 9:30 pace. However, around mile 17 I started to feel some aches in both of my ankles.

The course was a little rough in places. I had to be careful and watch my footing. In other places, the road was very slanted. I think that's what really caused my ankles to ache. (That and the 100 miles I ran in October!) I decided that the smart thing to do would be to scale back and take it easy. I started running anywhere from 11 to 12 minute miles. I kept telling myself that if I could make it to 20, then I could allow myself to start taking some walk breaks (other than the short ones I'd take at water stations in order to drink my PowerAde). I kept pushing on, and I stopped once to walk up a hill and attempt to collect my thoughts.

Guys and gals, I was feeling pretty emotionally beat up. I've been doing some intense training this time around and trying something new with this whole "marathon-length training run." I started to worry that maybe it was a bad idea. I felt awful. I won't lie... I even wondered once if maybe I should switch and run the half in Memphis. I felt like this had been a horrible idea and that there was no way I'd be able to run faster than this in 4 weeks.

Just as soon as I thought all of that, I also thought I was crazy. I know better! I know that my body and my brain is tired from my peak training. I know I have 4 weeks to taper and rest and eat good food and get myself to the Memphis starting line feeling rested and fresh like I usually do on race day.

I saw mile 20 and that the clock read 3:50. I knew at this point that I would be seeing a 5 on the finish clock. I did not like this. Again, I tried to remind myself that this was just a training run.

At this point, I was taking it one mile at a time. I allowed myself to walk for 30 seconds each time I got to the next mile marker, and then I'd pick back up and run to the next one. Allowing myself these little breaks was what kept me moving in the last 6 miles. I had also been going back and forth with this one girl for miles, so I decided that even if I couldn't run this training run as quickly as I'd like, I'd at least try to beat someone. At mile 23 she stopped to walk. I didn't because I knew a big hill was coming that I'd want to walk up. I got to the hill and walked up, and then I took off again. She never caught back up.

After my mile 24 walk break, I knew that I'd take one more little break at mile 25 and that then I could run the rest of that last mile to the finish. I kept running. And running. And I'd turn a corner and strain to look for the mile 25 sign down the way. I passed a guy and asked if he'd seen mile 25. He never saw it either, but he told me that according to his Garmin we'd gone 1.5 miles since the mile 24 marker.

Dang. Who doesn't mark mile 25?!! We NEED to see that sign in a marathon. We NEED to know we only have a mile to go. At this point, I knew I was so close to the finish that I'd be silly to walk. I kept pushing. Finally, I made the turn to run toward the finish line. I picked it up. If I was going to have to see a 5 on the clock, I was at least going to have some semblance of a finishing sprint. I crossed the line in 5:07:56. It wasn't my slowest marathon ever, but since I've only run 4 I can call it my third fastest, ha! How's that for a bright side?

The medals were pretty cool... and heavy. I like a nice heavy medal. I found Matt and his wife. it turns out he ran a 4:45, which is awesome! I was excited for how well his first marathon went, and I was excited that I was finally in taper mode.

All in all, I accomplished my only goal for the day: I ran 26.2 miles for training. The time didn't matter. It wasn't supposed to matter. I wanted my body to run for longer than I want it to run in Memphis. I definitely achieved that.

But still, I couldn't help but let it bother me a little. I want to run a 4:20 and it just took me 5:07?! Dang! But I spent some time thinking it over on the drive home. I reminded myself that I ran 22 miles 2 weeks ago in 3:38. That was a perfect pace to get toward a 4:20 on race day. And now that I've run SO much longer, my body won't be surprised at how far we're running that day (I hope.. that is the point of doing this anyways!). I also reminded myself that I was already tired physically and mentally before I ever ran this thing. I won't be on December 6th.

So I did what I set out to do. I don't know how it's going to play out in Memphis. Maybe it really will go the way I hope and I'll run a new PR. Or maybe it will have been too much and I won't. Then I'll know to never do it again. I'll try something different next time. Either way, when it's all said and done, I'm still running marathons.

It was good to get this training run behind me. I'm glad that I used a race to get it done, even if it did cause me some mental grief. :) I liked having course support. I liked having more than 1-2 people to run with (although only 550 or so ran this race, so I was running alone at times). I also really liked getting another medal and another marathon under my belt. If you're going to run 26. 2 miles in training, you might as well earn a medal, right?

I think in the end I'll be glad I did this, even if I don't PR in Memphis. I hadn't run a marathon since last December, so I think that if nothing else I'll be glad to have reminded myself what the distance feels like before I go run the one I'm actually training for.

I got home and cleaned up to head to my boss's daughter's wedding. The reception had some awesome food, and you better believe I put a dent in it! I opted to avoid the dance floor, but I still enjoyed myself. My sister was the Maid of Honor, and you better believe I'm going to steal her cute bridesmaid dress and wear it sometimes. Holly's sister Danielle is one of my good friends from high school. She was home from Korea for the wedding, and we got a rare photo of both of us in dresses! I also made sure to snap a photo of me and Holly with my medal. I didn't wear it all night, but I did have it in my coat pocket to show to anyone who was interested. :)











Saturday night? I totally went to bed at 9:30. Because of the time difference, I'd technically been up since 4:45am! I barely remember getting under the covers before falling asleep. I slept hard, and I didn't wake up until 11:30am on Sunday. 14 hours of sleep. Awesome.

I spent Sunday hanging out with Danielle and her family so that we could spend more time together before she heads back to Korea.

I'm definitely a little sore, but I had previously booked a sports massage for this evening. I've heard that getting one can really help in the recovery. I've got some pretty tight muscles in my legs... mostly my quads, hamstrings, and hips. I'm hopeful the massage will get all the lactic acid pushed out and loosen my muscles back up.

My only concern right now is my ankles. They definitely bothered me a lot during the marathon, and I still feel some tenderness in them today. The left one is a little worse than the right, and on both of them the soreness is in the back at the achilles. I'm sure they're just worn out from the long runs I've done over the past month (18, 20, 22, 26.2!), but I definitely want them to have time to recover before I go run Memphis.

My plan is to get the massage today, and then I'm going to take it easy for a few more days. I want to do some light cycling to work out my legs a bit, but I probably won't run til Wednesday or Thursday. Even then, it's just going to be a test run to see how I feel.

I love to taper. It feels good to scale back. I definitely want to make sure I get some good runs in over the next few weeks, but I also definitely don't want to overdue it. I wanted to start my next marathon feeling great!

A good sign? Runner's World had an article this month about doing back-to-back marathons. It has some great tips that I'm definitely going to use over the next few weeks. I'm not really superstitious or anything, but reading that article this month when it's about something that I'm doign right now definitely gave me a positive vibe.

This training run was tough - physically and mentally - but I'm already feeling better for doing it. I'm a little nervous still about what I'm doing here, but I'm also really excited to see how it plays out in Memphis. I'm feeling pretty good about it. I don't know if I'll run a 4:20 that day, but I'm sure going to try.

And if not, I'm already eyeing Little Rock in March. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Go Time

I'm about to head out of town for my marathon training run!

My bags are packed. I have all the things I need.

I intended to write today about how I prepare for a marathon day, but I've been asked to write a post about beginning to run and got the idea that I might do a series of posts on the way I do things for others who might be new to running to read. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for that one.

I'm still undecided on if I'll wear short sleeves or long sleeves. I'm leaning toward the short sleeves and gloves since I can just take them off when I warm up in the morning. It'll be cold at the start, but it should warm up pretty quickly to a comfortable temp in the 50's.

It's going to be a good day. I know I'm just using it as a training run, but it's still a marathon. It's still going to be "race day" for lots of people. I love the race day atmosphere. I even love the packet pick-up.

I'm excited. And nervous. But mostly excited. The nervous always goes away as soon as the gun goes off.

I can hardly wait.

See you again on the other side! Good luck to anyone else running this weekend, whether it be training or a race!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Me via Video

OK girls and guys... my first video blog. Ever.

Don't be too hard on me. The lighting in my living room is bad, and I had just gotten home from work. I'm also oh so glad at the ridiculous face that I'm making in the freeze frame.

Enjoy!


Untitled from Mel Belle on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

3 Days...

I'm running a marathon in 3 days. Seriously... 72 hours from this moment I will be somewhere close to mile 18 (ideally).

I went for a run yesterday after work. It was the first since last Wednesday. I wanted the 5 days off to help my legs recover from the recent long runs, but I also knew I'd need to get them loose again before Saturday.

So here's the deal. It's November. My 4-mile run took place outside... in 78 degree heat. Seriously, I was sweating before the .25 mile marker. It's crazy! Fortunately, it should be cooling down over the next few days. Race day temps call for a low of 39 and high of 61. I'll take that, but my fingers are crossed it'll stay in the 40s and 50s while I'm running.

4 miles. 35:54. That means a little under a 9-minute mile pace. Yay! Granted, I was pushing myself. Normally I wouldn't do that so close to a race, but since I'm using it as a training run and not a race it's kind of different. I have no real goals for Saturday other than to run a relaxed pace and get the mileage in so I can FINALLY start to taper for my December race.

I have to say... I'm ready to taper. Even with the 5 days off, my legs are still feeling tired. I woke up in the middle of the night with a charleyhorse. I HATE when that happens. My calf is sore today, along with my quad and ankle that I just can't seem to get back to normal. I know once I can taper they'll feel a lot better, but in the meantime I could use a new right leg.

I'm getting antsy and excited all at once. Even though I'm not really racing, it's still a big deal. I'm still running 26.2 miles this weekend. Dang.

Even I think I'm crazy sometimes.

Now We Wait and See...

I'm only going to make one final post about the election... since I'm not especially political and have no interest in discussing politices much on this blog. You'll probably never find me speak of politics again until the next election.

Here goes...

I'm glad it's over.

No, the guy I voted for didn't win. But that's ok... because either way, we'd be in a position to wait and see what happens.

I still don't quite get why people think Obama will be sooo much better than the next guy. He's still only one person. He's still just a man. He's still a politician.

I don't think that this election was an any bigger deal as the last one or the next one. I know people will disagree, but I think they're all about the same.

As for change... I'll believe it when I see it. And in my opinion, I think some of the people who voted for him are in for a wake-up call.

I understand the whole electoral college thing, but I do think it's important to remember the popular vote was 52% vs. 48%. I think that's pretty darn close to 50/50. "United we stand?" Doesn't look like it to me.

Sorry for sounding negative. Honestly, I didn't really care who won when it came down to it, but I do think that a lot of voters got caught up in a lot of things that weren't really relevant... and I just hope it doesn't come back to bite us in the butt.

It's ok if you disagree. I'll never speak of it again, and I hope it won't keep you from visiting here again. I just needed to have some closure and speak my mind.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Weekend

I had a pretty fantastic Halloween weekend! Without further adue, Andrew and I dressed as...

Mario and the Princess from Nintendo! We were both total Nintendo kids growing up (ok ok, so we're still both total Nintendo kids now that we're grown), so we loved the idea of dressing as Nintendo characters.

I got to Memphis (yay!), and we changed into our outfits before meeting up with some of his pals at Huey's for dinner. They went as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell!

We had a great dinner, and a slightly intoxicated woman at the bar started yelling, "I get it! You're Mario and the Priness!" It was nice to know that our costumes made sense. When we walked in, everyone in the restaurant had been staring at us. I wanted to be like, "Um, it's Halloween, remember?"

We headed to a party at a friend's house and had a great evening!

Saturday we slept in before going out for some yummy scones for breakfast. We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of feeding the ducks in Shelby Farms, watching some episodes of The Office, and listening to some good music. When you're dating someone who lives 3 hours away, it's nice to just chill out and enjoy being able to see one another while you talk.

Later that evening we headed to a friend's house for a birthday party. This is where I learned that Andrew does not appreciate hold-out pictures. He claims it's a girl thing. I pointed out I'm a girl.

We definitely appreciated having an extra hour to sleep Saturday night since we stayed out a bit late two nights in a row. We lounged around all morning and played around some on the guitar, singing some good tunes.

All in all, it was a great Halloween and a terrific weekend! I really don't enjoy the drive between here and there, but I am not afraid to admit that it's worth it.

As for running, it felt SO good to take the weekend off. I think my body will really benefit from the rest when I run marathon #1 this Saturday. (I can't believe it's already here.) I rode about 6 miles on the bike yesterday and am planning a light 4-6 miles this afternoon depending on how I feel.

Hope everyone else had a great Halloween! I haven't opened my reader in 4 days, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you were all up to this weekend!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Funny Church Signs

I had a great weekend, and I promise a post telling you all about it (with Halloween pictures!) soon.

For now, I'm having a very busy day that has involved my usual work stuff as well as designing and printing the wedding programs for my boss's daughter's wedding. It was surprisingly easy and made me realize that when the day comes, I'm going to fully embrace being such a girl and get WAY into all that stuff.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little something. I drive past several churches during my 3-mile commute (welcome to the Bible Belt), and I sometimes get a kick out of the church signs.

One church near my office changes their's regularly, and a LOT of times they don't make much sense. Today I noticed it had been changed to "Get right or get left." I knew that what they meant was "Get right with God or you'll get left behind when all the people who did go to Heaven," but in light of tomorrow's election tomorrow I could see how some people might take it from a political perspective... and then it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Of course you might either get right or get left when making a decision on who to vote for...

It just made me laugh. Stay tuned tomorrow for the revealing of what Andrew and I went as on Halloween.