Monday, August 31, 2009

Moving on to Washington

After very little sleep on Monday evening, we were up early to make the drive over into Washington to go to Mt. St. Helens.  Granted, we had to stop for some major caffeine before we were on our way. I'm not positive, but I think this may be the first time I've ever ordered a Venti coffee at Starbucks.

As always, we enjoyed laughing and talking in the car on our way to the park.  I love having inside jokes on vacations, but the only problem is that even if you try to explain them to the people who weren't there, no one else ever finds them funny.  So I'll spare you all that. :)

I was pretty excited about getting to check out Mt. St. Helens.


Our first stop was actually to go explore the Ape Cave.  This cave was apparently formed by lava back in the day.  Since it's super cold in there, we had to bundle up.


Once inside the cave with our lantern, we had a blast walking all the way to the end and taking lots of pictures.  At the end, you had to get down low and do a bit of an army crawl to get to the very dead end of the cave.  We of course did this!


Once out of the cave, we drove around to a viewpoint to check out the actual volcano.  It was unfortunately a little bit cloudy out, but it was still amazing to be out there.  None of us had cell phone service, so we were completely undistracted by anything.  It was just us and nature.  We hardly saw any other people.  It was so awesome to just escape the hustle and bustle of life and explore this beautiful place.


After that, we found a short hike that took us to June lake and a cool little waterfall.  It was a little chilly out, but we had a great time making the hike.  We also got to see a cool lava flow out there!


It was almost sunset by the time we left to make the drive back.  We were all exhausted, but we stopped to have dinner before heading in to crash for the night.

We got to hang out a bit and have lunch together on Wednesday before Jenny and I were off to the airport for our flight home.  We flew through Vegas this time, so we enjoyed a little slot machine action during our layover.  I spent a whopping $1 and managed to walk away with $5.

It was super late when we got home and after not getting much sleep on the trip I crashed hard. It's taken me a few days to really recover, but I suppose having to run 18 miles on Saturday didn't help much with that. (No worries... other than being really hilly and humid, I made it!)

I had such an amazing time on this trip, and it's seriously one of the best vacations I've ever had.  I've kind of had a bit of post-vacation blues.  I had so much fun, and Oregon is BEAUTIFUL.  I'm going to have to go back, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Checking out Portland

Monday was our day to explore what the city of Portland has to offer.  We started our day at a place called Kettleman's to have bagels.  And let me tell.  Best egg and cheese bagel ever. Mmmm.

The guys thought that us girls might enjoy a little shopping, so they took us over to this little street that had all sorts of cute little boutiques.  They even settled into the chairs in the corner while we browsed and tried on things and then came over to let us know if we looked good in the things we were thinking of purchasing.

I found an AWESOME dress that I considered as we wandered around and checked out more stores, and I ultimately went back and purchased it.  I was super excited to find that there is no sales tax in Oregon!  Sweet.  I'll have to post a picture when I wear the dress sometime.

After this, we all went to the Japanese Garden.  It was really cool and so totally different from anything I've been in before.  We wandered around and enjoyed the peaceful scenery.  We also disrupted the peace a bit with our picture taking, haha.  It was such a beautiful place.







After this, we wandered back down to the Rose Garden so that we could take some more pictures there in regular clothes instead of our running stuff.  Some of the best pictures are on another camera, so I'll have to share more when I get them.


We checked out Powell's Books.  It was of course totally awesome and huge, but I suppose it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it might be.  I guess if I were in the mood to really shop for books I would have been in Heaven. :)

We then went up Mt. Tabor (I think that's what it was) and checked out the view of the city as the sun set.  It's hard to get good photos of a city at night, but we tried.  Nonetheless, it was cool to just hang out up there for an hour and soak in the scenery.

We wrapped up the evening with cocktails and food at Portland City Grille and then dessert at Pix Patisserie.  All quite yummy!

It was a pretty laid back day, but it was still just so much fun.  As a group of 5, we really meshed together quite well and had a ton of fun talking and laughing together as we explored the city.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exploring the Mountains


On Sunday, Jenny and I were up pretty early after only like 5 hours of sleep (you'll notice that sleep was not a priority on this trip) to go run.  I had made plans to join Alisa and her group of gals for a nice little run on a path in the forest. Unfortunately I was totally lame and forgot to get any pictures, but she's every bit as lovely in person as on her blog.  I had fun running a few miles with an awesome group of ladies before I turned back to find Jenny and head home to get ready for the day's adventures.  I logged 8 miles and decided that was sufficient for a vacation long run.

We got cleaned up and headed out with Chris and Zack to go pick up Jenny's friend Erin (who lives in the area as well!)  We pulled into a gas station and got our first lesson on how Oregon is different than Tennessee.  We were already running late to pick up Erin, and Jenny and I were exchanging quiet glances in the backseat and wondering why nobody was getting out to pump gas.  We soon found that you can't pump your own gas in Oregon.  What?!  That's something I could totally get on board with...

We soon were on our way, picked up Erin and headed to a nice little viewpoint to check out the Columbia River Gorge.  I don't have our group picture yet (we're still working on exchanging pics so I may have to make a post later with cool pics from the others once I have them), but here's a nice one of the gals.


Next stop? Multnomah Falls.  My pictures just don't do anything from this trip justice, but I think the one below kind of shows how big this fall is. It was a beautiful spot to stop for a short bit.

We headed on to have lunch in Hood River at a cute little brewery.  I also don't have our pictures from that yet, but it was a quaint little area to explore for a bit as we let our food settle before getting back in the car.

Before we knew it, we'd made our way to Mt. Hood.  We parked at the Timberline Lodge (used in the filming of The Shining) and climbed a good ways up the mountain.  It was steep.  I didn't feel guilty for having a shorter long run.  The mountain was beautiful, and the views of the other mountains was even more beautiful.  

We walked around for a while and finally settled on a big rock to hang out for a while and wait for sunset.  It was pretty cold, which felt weird since it was August and it seemed so wrong to be bundled up and shivering.


Before long, the sun was starting to set so we made our way over to a nice vantage point to watch.



Even once the sun set, it was still beautiful!

We had dinner inside the lodge and then drove over to Frog Lake.  It was REALLY cold, but we got out and laid on some blankets and did a little star gazing.  I don't even remember how many shooting stars we saw!

It was really late by the time we got home, so we got into bed around 2am I think.  I know it doesn't seem like it was a super exciting day, but it really was!  It was just amazing to get to see so much beauty.  I have to say it... I thought Oregon was even prettier than the things I've seen in Europe.  Gasp! I know...

I found myself just in awe of how beautiful everything is out there... and Jenny and I both started talking about how we could see ourselves living out there some day... maybe... possibly. I've never been somewhere that hit me like this.  It was just such a lovely place.

More to come tomorrow!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The One Where It Took Longer to Get to Oregon than to Europe

First of all, let me just say that Oregon and Washington are beautiful.  In fact, that's a huge understatement.  I don't know how to describe it.  I took a gob of pictures (I'll share a few in my coming posts about the trip and the rest will go up on Facebook) that ALMOST do the place justice.

This may be one of the best vacations I've ever had.  The combination of a beautiful place and fun people made it a fun-filled time.  I want to go back.  I actually think I'm experiencing a little post-vacation blues.

My friend Jenny joined me, and we headed out on Friday afternoon.  We were a little disappointed when our flight was delayed out of Nashville because the plane we were supposed to be on got delayed coming out of Baltimore where there was bad weather.  We had a reservation to grab drinks at some trendy bar in Portland, but a late arrival would pretty much keep us from making it.

We made up some time flying to Phoenix, but when we got there we flew around in circles for 40 minutes.  I was not happy.  We could see a thunderstorm with crazy lightning off in the distance and as we made circles, it got closer.  Next thing I know, we're IN the storm.  The turbulence was insane.  I heard the landing gear come down and I was excited we were finally landing.  It was rough as we headed down, and next thing I knew we pulled back up and pushed forward again.  You know it's rough when the pilot can't make the landing on the first try.

We made another circle, the landing gear came out again and we started for attempt #2.  I can't even describe how rough it was going down.  I've flown a lot and never really felt nervous... until then.  You could tell everyone was kind of holding their breath.  We could tell that the pilot was struggling to hold us both level and straight.

When we finally hit the ground, the entire plane burst into applause.  I've never been on a flight where people clapped over the landing.

We didn't have to change planes, but we did get to change seats after everyone else got off.  We moved up to the first row to get the extra leg room and were so glad we did.  When everyone else boarded, we ended up sitting on the runway for 2 hours before we finally took off.  It ended up that we were on that plane for 8 hours! Ugh!

We finally got into Portland around 1am, three hours late.  We were tired and starving, so my cousin Chris took us to a little place called The Montage for some of the most amazing mac and cheese I've ever had in my life.


We went home and finally crashed around 3am (5am for us!).  I slept so hard that I woke up in the same position as I fell asleep.

Chris took us to Washington Park for a very short and simple 2-mile run.  I wasn't really supposed to run that day, but we took it easy and it felt great to be out in the fresh air.  And oh the fresh air!  It smells wonderful around there!


We checked out the Rose Garden, but I'll share photos of that in another post.  We stopped at SkinniDip and had some frozen yogurt and fruit.  It was sooooo good.  Frozen yogurt around here is actually just frozen soft serve ice cream, so it was kind of neat to get the real thing.

We went back and cleaned up to get ready to go to the coast.  Chris's sister Tish and his friend Zack had planned on joining us.  We all got together and headed out to have lunch at Burgerville before making the drive over to the beach.

We stopped along the way at an awesome viewpoint and got some amazing pictures.  The Pacific Ocean is so pretty!

Chris, me, Jenny, Zack

We made it to Oswald Beach and enjoyed the last bit of the afternoon taking pictures, tossing a frisbee, playing with Tish's dog and enjoying what a beautiful place we were standing in!

While the others built a fire, Zack and I headed to the store to get some food for dinner.  We were afraid we wouldn't make it back in time for sunset so we pulled off at another little beach and watched it set over the ocean.  I just felt like I was in awe... it's so beautiful out there!

We got back and had hot dogs and smores for dinner and ate around our campfire.  I've never sat around a fire on a beach, and I kind of felt like I was in some scene in a movie or something.

We sat out and watched the stars for a while.  I couldn't believe I was in such a beautiful place. I could stand to have some more star gazing by the ocean with good people in my life.

We headed back to Chris's place and crashed kind of late.  We were certainly worn out, but we had a fantastic day!

More to come soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Quick Word on Oregon

I think I may have just fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest.  I didn't want to come home.

Stories and photos to come soon.

Speaking of photos, we had like 5 cameras all weekend.  Does anyone know of a website or something where we can all upload all our pics so that then we can all download them from each other?  I know there's got to be something like that out there so that we're not mailing tons of picture cds back and forth across the country.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Best News I've Had All Week

"It's already cooling off up here, so you should do great in October."

These were the words that my best friend Steph included in an email yesterday in response to my email about how freaking hot it was when I ran my 18-miler.  Steph lives in Chicago.  Steph therefore knows the weather in Chicago.  Steph also knows I'm coming to run the marathon in Chicago (or she should anyways or else it might be a surprise when I show up to stay with her, haha).

She always knows just the right thing to say.  Not only did she encourage me and remind me that I WILL do great at the Chicago marathon, she also managed to convince me that summer IS going to end eventually and that it SHOULD be cool come race day.  All signs point to cool anyways.

For all I know, Steph was telling a lie.  I strongly doubt this since she's never lied to me, but maybe it's actually getting hotter there and she knows I need to hear otherwise or else I might have some sort of meltdown.  I'm choosing to believe her.  She's never really let me down.  And hearing that it's already turning cooler in Chicago really was one of the most exciting things I heard all week.

(Although, I did do some period math and figured out I will not be on mine the week of or the week after the Chicago marathon.  This was also pretty exciting news. Sorry guys.)

Since I'm going to be spending the weekend doing some hiking and such in Oregon, I wanted to go on and do my long run today.  This week called for 15 miles since it's a recovery week.  I prepped for this particular long run in one of the least effective ways possible:  I met up with friends, I had a beer, I went to a baseball game where I had a soft pretzel, and then I went with them to Local Taco and had a taco along with chips and queso.  This does not the perfect pre-long run carboloading meal make.

I also stayed up kind of late.

So I really shouldn't have been surprised that it was a battle of my will to get out of bed this morning.  Weather.com said it'd be cloudy and rainy all day, so I knew that I didn't HAVE to go at the crack of dawn.  It was going to be 80 degrees and humid pretty much all day.  I woke up at 6:30 and thought about just going on and getting up, but I still felt sleepy.  But then I couldn't get back to sleep and I started the mind games.  

"I don't want to run 15 miles by myself on a Thursday.  Maybe I'll go run 8 and then go run the rest on the treadmill at the gym.  Ugh, 7 miles on the treadmill.  Maybe I'll just run 8.  Maybe I'll just skip it.  I am going to be like climbing mountains and stuff this weekend."

I got out of the bed at 7:30 and looked at my thermometer that tells me what it is outside.  80. Poop.  I got back in bed.  I decided I'd try to run later when it might be raining and cooler.  I felt guilty after 30 seconds and finally got up and got dressed.

I looked at my training plan and realized that somehow I was supposed to run more miles this week than last week.  With this being a recovery week that didn't seem quite right, so I decided that I'd run 13 instead and not let my next weekly mileage increase happen until next week when it really should happen. (I must have forgotten to move something when I had to move some things around to get my 20-milers where I wanted them.)

It was 8:20 by the time I hit the greenway, and as soon as I ran my first step the clouds parted and the sun beat down on me.  Figures.  

Fortunately, this was short lived and it remained cloudy for the rest of the run.  I kept feeling a little annoyed that I was running a 10:00 minute mile pace.  It was cloudy!  There was a breeze! I should be faster!  But then I realized that it was still 80 and incredibly humid and I've been kind of hard on my legs lately with PR 5Ks and 18-mile runs.  Ok, A 18-mile run, no 's.' Whatever.

I finished right at 2:10, keeping a very consistent 10:00 pace the whole time.  I felt good about the pace, I felt good about getting my butt out there to run, and I felt good about changing it to 13 miles.  I'll still be logging 28 miles this week (I peak at 32) along with two days of biking and no telling how much hiking this weekend.

I'll be away from posting for a few days, but I hope to have awesome pictures and fun stories to share soon!

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Race Report: Howl at the Moon 5K

Ah, the 5K.  So NOT my favorite kind of race... but there's a certain appeal to running a 5K at night, and since I ran it and won my age group last year I felt like I needed to go back and defend my title. :)

I was really curious to see how well I could do.  I ran it last year just as I was beginning my marathon training cycle and after a summer of very little running.  This year I'd been running consistently since February and in marathon training mode since June.  Even though I do little training that would help with getting super speedy on a 5K, I knew that all the running I've done should help me improve my time from last year.

I had set a few goals... I wanted to run faster than I did last year.

I wanted to win my age group again, though I knew I'd be pleased if I could just place in it.

I wanted to break 25:00, which meant shaving off 55 seconds from last year's time.

Last year I kind of ran it just for fun and just happened to win my age group (seriously, go read the report - I was shocked).  Because I wasn't taking it too seriously, I had eaten at a pizza buffet a few hours before the race.

A creature of habit (I wear the same pair of panties for every race), I decided to go back and eat at the same pizza buffet before this year's race... I even had 3 glasses of Dr. Pepper (you can't eat pizza without having a coke!)

A pizza buffet probably isn't the smartest pre-race meal, but it seems to be working for me.

I got to the race and found a really long run for the pre-registered runners check in table.  It appears that they weren't quite prepared to handle the crowd, and I was a little displeased to see that one of the two volunteers helping check people in was talking on his cell phone and not actually checking anyone in.  I think they could have used a few extra people to help with checking us all in.

Me waiting in line to get my packet

The race had gone up $5 this year.  I found this a little disappointing, but since the goody bags had so much awesome stuff in them last year I didn't complain.  Unfortunately, it was a few freebie coupons shorter than it was last year.  It's not a big deal or anything, and I know that places aren't really wanting to give things away right now.  But still...  It wouldn't be a good race report if I didn't share all my likes and dislikes.

The shirt was again awesome, a long-sleeved grey t-shirt with the cool wolf howling at the moon logo for the race.  I did find a coupon for a 1/2 price Sonic drink and another for a free game of bowling.

There was plenty of time to hit up the bathrooms one last time before the race start and attempt to make sure I had emptied all of the Dr. Pepper.  I headed to the start line a little nervous since I actually had some big goals for the race, and I wasn't sure if I could accomplish them.

Since this is a very small race in a very small city, there's no chip timing.  I knew that I needed to line up close to the start if I wanted to make sure I had a chance at placing in my age group, so I pushed toward the front (something I NEVER do).  

I felt kind of odd being way up there... I wondered if people thought I might be really fast or something.  You know how it is... I was totally scoping people out and trying to figure out who might be in my age group and wondering how fast they ran.  I can't help but wonder if others do that to me.  And it's so foreign to me to be anywhere near the front of the pack, so it feels kind of awkward.

Anyways, the gun fired and I was off.  I managed to get across the start line in 4 seconds.

It's a little blurry since it's hard to take photos at night, but I'm in the pale blue on the right.

I turned on my perfect playlist and quickly decided on a strategy.  Typically, I like to stay strong and steady in an attempt to run fairly consistent splits.  However, I felt like this wouldn't work well for me in this particular case.

So what did I do?  Probably the least recommended strategy.  I went out fast and decided I'd just go balls to the wall for as long as I could and hope that I didn't fade as bad as possible.

Plus, there's a very gradual descent on the way out, which means there's a very gradual ascent on the way back.  I figured it'd be better to go faster while running downhill to make up for slowing down some on the uphill.

I hit the first mile in 7:25.

"7:25!?!" my brain screamed at me. "Holy cannoli!"

I knew I couldn't maintain that pace.  Hell, I didn't even know I could run a mile that fast!  I eased back a little.  

As we got closer to the turnaround point, I felt someone pass me.  When I realized it was a man, I didn't mind as much.  I knew there were 2 girls ahead of me who looked like they could be about my age (it's SO hard to tell) so I was trying to keep them in my sight.

I grabbed a cup of water and walked for all of 8 seconds so that I could get a sip and pour some on my back.  The sun may have gone down, but it was still incredibly hot and humid.

I hit mile 2 at 15:30.  We all know I'm incapable of doing math most of the time, but I realized quickly that this meant an 8:05 second mile.  

"Ok, so that's more comfortable, but dang girl... who the heck do you think you are?"

I had been keeping a woman who I knew was a few age brackets older than me in my sights, and I soon passed her along with a handful of men.  I felt like I was barely moving, but yet I was passing people on the uphill return!

I honestly wanted to die about this time, but I knew that I just had to run through three intersections and I'd be at the home stretch.  I focused on the stop light off in the distance where I would turn and listened to my awesome music.

As I reached the turn to head to the finish, I caught up with the 2 girls in front of me.  I knew I might have to work hard to beat them, especially since I knew I had little kick left in me and they might not feel the same way.

I eased past them.  I eased past another guy.  I made one last turn and knew I just had that blasted .1 to run to the finish line.

I tried picking it up even more, but I doubt I was going any faster.

I could see the red digits on the clock.  It was deceptively closer than it really was... As I inched closer, I started coughing.

"Oh dear Lord, please don't let me see that pizza again.  Not in front of all these spectators."

I'm sure all those spectators were saying the same thing.  I know that I probably looked like I was about to toss my cookies.  I actually felt a couple of tears in my eyes because I really did want to pass out or something.

Kicking it in to the finish

As I got closer, I saw that the clock still said 24.  

"I'm going to do it! {cough, cough} I'm going to break 25!"

I crossed the line, stopped my watch and found that I had run a 24:40.  This was a full 1:14 faster than last year's time, and a new 5K PR for me (in my adult years).

The guy tore off the number on my bib, asking me if I was ok.  All I could do was nod and hope that he got out of my way quickly because I still felt I might throw up.

(I don't think the pizza had much to do with this feeling.  I think it was more of the whole running faster than I have in years combined with the heat and humidity thing.)

I spent a little time trying to catch my breath before grabbing some ice cold water and an ice cold washcloth (I love when they give you those at a hot race!)

I headed over to the post-race food to find pizza (ha, I was going to pass on eating that again) and bananas.  I was a little disappointed that they didn't have watermelon like last year, so I grabbed some PowerAde and tried to cool off some more.


They started calling numbers for door prizes.  I never win these things, so imagine my surprise when they called out my number! I won a $15 gift card to RoadID.com (too bad I already have one, but I can always regift, yes?) and a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich (yum!).  So in the end, I certainly got back my entry fee.

I was pretty pleased with my time and at that point knew I'd go home happy even if I didn't win an age group award.  


It turned out that there were 24 girls in my age group.  I still can't believe none of them were faster than me.  I also placed 51 out of all 233 people participating.  DANG!  Unfortunately, they don't show how you placed out of your gender (which is lame) so I haven't figured out yet where I placed in terms of women, but my parents seemed to think there were only 10 or so in front of me.  Cool!

It's kind of funny... I found that when I was got home I was just as pumped up on adrenaline as I am after a really good first date with a hot guy.  I know that could sound pathetic, but I don't mean it that way... I am not the least bit interested in anyone right now (although should a nice hot guy come along I can change that faster than I ran this 5K), so running in some ways kind of is my boyfriend for the time being.

Although - there was a really cute guy who smiled at me after the race, and I totally smiled back and almost walked over to say hello.  Then this other girl (one I passed in the race) joined him and never left his side.  Oh well.  I at least had that first place trophy to take home with me! Haha.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot and Hilly LSD

Ah, the 18-miler.  Sure, any long run over the half-marathon distance can be tough, but there's just something about the weeks when you hit those 18 and 20 mile long slow distance training runs...

I've run 4 marathons.  I've done numerous really long runs in preparation for those 4 marathons. Despite this and despite knowing that I can go out and do it again, I find it's hard to get my brain to turn off so I can go to sleep before said long runs.  It's like even though I KNOW I can do it and that I'll be fine, there's something in me that's nervous.

And really, running 18 miles is a heck of a big deal.  It's not just a walk in the park.

So I wasn't really surprised that I had a hard time falling asleep Saturday night.  I was super tired, but I just couldn't manage to drift off until around midnight.

This meant that my 4:45am alarm came quickly.  It also meant I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked, but what can you do?

I got ready, ate some yogurt and drove to the meeting place in Nashville for the Striders training run.  I'm really enjoying getting to do group training runs.  Sure, I end up running with just 1-2 others, but it's nice to know that there are a bunch of other people out there trying to get a long run done.

I also love that they provide water/Gatorade stops.

It was about 75 or so at 6am, but the humidity for the day was already around 87%.  Ugh.  The temperature rose to about 80 by 9 or so, and while none of this sounds too bad you have to keep in mind that the humidity made it feel a LOT hotter.

I decided to try out the salt capsules I had ordered.  I honestly haven't had a chance to do so since we had such a mild July, but I knew this would be a hot and sweaty run. I took one capsule as we started, and then I took another one each hour.  I was still drenched in sweat by the end of the run (as in not a dry piece of cloth on me!), but I didn't feel anywhere near as drained as I do when I run in this kind of heat, especially this kind of distance.  Am I positive that had to do with the salt capsules? No.  But I do think they may have helped, and they definitely didn't seem to hurt.

I also ran with Sports Beans.  I have found that I really like this WAY better than gels.  It's almost like eating candy.  Every 4 miles or so I'll eat a handful along with some water or Gatorade.

I chose to run with one of my fuel belt bottles in my hand.  Normally I hate running with something in my hand, but I find that since these bottles are smaller they don't bother me as much.  Plus, I knew that I'd want some water in between the water stops, and I'm SO glad I carried it.

The first water stop came around mile 4.  I had hardly drank any of my water, but I refilled it and drank a glass of Gatorade to wash down my sports beans.  I was warm, but I still felt pretty good.

I ran with my pal Matt, and we chatted about odds and ends for a while.  When we reached the stop at mile 8, I had drank all my water and was glad to get a refill and to drink a cup of Gatorade.

We both agreed that the hills in the first 8-10 miles were pretty tough.  I don't know how this happens, but it definitely seemed like we went up a lot more than we went down.  I had hoped to keep an average 10:00 minute mile pace, but between the hills and the heat I was settling for slower.

There was a larger gap between water stops this time, so I was being very careful to ration my water.  Fortunately, we found ourselves on more gently rolling hills that didn't require as much effort.  This was great since the sun was getting higher and hotter.  We took a short walk break so that Matt could eat a granola bar, and I think my legs were thankful for a little rest.

I finished off my water when I knew we were closing in on the next water stop.  I felt a little disgruntled that it wasn't until mile 14, but it worked out ok.  I also really had to use the bathroom.  I thought this was odd because I had been sweating a ton and hadn't been overdrinking as far as I knew, but boy I had to go!  Over that last mile before we made it to the next stop, I realized that I was starting to feel kind of numb down there.  I've never experienced that before, and I wonder if it was that my body was getting tired of holding it.  It kind of unnerved me a bit because the last thing I wanted was to pee on myself because I couldn't feel it to hold it or something.

I was so thankful to be able to go take care of that inside of the Kroger, and I immediately felt just fine.  No more numbness.  It was still weird though.

I told Matt to head on since I needed to stop for the bathroom, but he was super kind and waited for me.  It really is better to have someone to run with... sure, you may not talk the whole time, but just the presence of another person is enough to keep you running at times.

I drank two cups of Gatorade because I was so hot and thirsty, and I refilled my water bottle.

I knew that the last 4 miles were going to be tough.  My feet were tired, but I felt pretty good.  I was mostly just hot.  We had to run most of that last 4 miles down West End Avenue.  A lot of it was uphill.  It was somewhere along here that I apologized that I wasn't chatty any more.  I just didn't have the extra energy for talking.

I also took off my shirt and ran in just my sports bra.  I really am not a fan of doing that, but I was so hot and my shirt was so wet with sweat and heavy that I didn't even care I was running along one of the busiest roads in Nashville in just a sports bra.  It felt so much better to get a bit of a breeze on me.  (I may have gone 30-40 minutes in just my sports bra, and when I got home I found that I had a noticeable tan line.  Oh well.)

The next water stop thankfully came quickly at mile 16.  The water and the Gatorade were actually ICE COLD instead of just kinda cool like it'd been so far.  I don't even remember how many glasses I drank.  I didn't even care if I was drinking too much.  I just knew I needed it and that surely with 2 miles to go it wouldn't bother me if I had too much.  I refilled the water bottle (yep, I'd already polished it off since the last stop 2 miles ago) and headed on.

I was ready to be done.  It was hot and humid, and the hills had made my legs quite tired.  We weren't done with them yet as we ran up another hill or two before heading back to the finish.

I can't tell you how nice it was to be done.  I poured cold water down my neck.  I tried to stretch a bit.  And finally I just got in the car and headed on.  My legs were definitely tired.  I grabbed some ice, took my ice bath and shower, had a snack and some chocolate milk and then crashed for 3 hours.

I had to visit my grandparents last night.  This isn't a physical task by any means, but I found myself struggling to get in and out of the car and up and down from the dinner table.

I crashed hard last night and ended up sleeping 12 hours!  I definitely feel well rested today and it's obvious my body just needed that extra rest.

My legs are still a little achy today.  I did some gentle cycling and then stretching, which definitely helped.  I know that this is normal.  My legs just don't bounce back overnight from such a long and hilly run.

Overall, I ran the 18 miles in 3:19:00.  However, that did include lingering at the four water stops, a short walk break and a short bathroom break.  Between that and the heat and hills, I'll take the 11:00 minute mile average pace I ended up with.  They say that you need to slow down 10-20% in the heat anyways, so I was spot on with that one.

I'm not going to lie... I'm already praying for really cool weather in Chicago!

(The race report about Friday's 5K is coming soon.  I'm just waiting on them to post results.  And yes, it's really super lame that they haven't posted them yet!)


Friday, August 14, 2009

The Perfect 5K Playlist

So I'm running a 5K tonight.

I haven't really made a big deal about it because as you all know, I'm not really a fan of 5Ks. However, I figure it's good to do one on occasion, and they take the place of a week's speed workout quite nicely.

I ran this one last year, too, and won my age group... so I feel like I kind of have to go run it again and see what happens.  I never even place in my age group and it was a total shock to win last year so I'm not letting myself expect that I'll win again... but I'm still going to try and place. :)

I just created what I think will be the perfect playlist for the race:

You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
Ramalama (Bang Bang) - Roisin Murphy
Extreme Ways - Moby (this is the theme song for the Bourne movies)
Shake Me Like a Monkey - Dave Matthews Band
Paint It, Black - The Rolling Stones
In the End - Linkin Park
Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolph and Lil Wayne

This SHOULD be enough to keep me entertained for about a minute longer than I anticipate running the race in... it better be anyways!

I'll be back soon to let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

DMB at Tinley Park in Illinois

First, I want to make a little note about yesterday's post. When I ran that half-marathon PR pace, it was March in TN... the day was cloudy and cool.

My recent runs at that pace (although I'm holding it for shorter distances) have been in 90+ degrees with even higher heat indexes due to humidity. I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but it's just really super exciting to be finding some speed again!

Ok, so a friend and I are considering making a road trip up to Tinley Park in Illinois on September 26 (a Saturday) to see Dave Matthews Band. (Yes, because seeing him twice already this year hasn't been enough apparently.)

I love them. And they're playing a ton of the stuff of their new album now. I love the tunes on the album and can only imagine how amazing they'd be live.

So instead of imagining, we're going to take a quick road trip and find out.

The plan is to leave Saturday morning and drive to IL. We'll attend the show (lawn seats are only $40!) and then stay in a cheap hotel somewhere before heading back to TN on Sunday morning.

Does anyone want to join us and meet us there? Or maybe we can pick you up along the way if it's convenient.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Finding My Pace

My half marathon PR had me at an average pace of 8:52.  I've always been pleased with this, but I've also always secretly been hoping I can get it down to 8:30.  When I ran that PR, I had just run a marathon PR three months prior and was in really good shape.

I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting that kind of pace ability back.  If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that I've been more concerned with building my endurance back rather than my speed.  This has been a tough thing for me because on the inside I'm raring to go and wanting to focus on both.  However, I felt it was best to be conservative when I got to start running again in February, and I still stand behind this decision.

I can always work on speed once I'm back in my marathon frame of fitness.  There will be other marathons.  Honestly?  I'm just going to be happy to be running in the Chicago marathon.  It's going to be amazing whether I get a new PR or not.  (That's not to say I don't want one.  I do. But I've decided that if it doesn't happen, I'll get back into training and start working on speed again.)

But here's the thing.  Even though I wanted to be conservative... even though I wanted to just focus on endurance first... even though I'm happy with taking it easy and getting back in shape... I still kind of want to get faster. :)

So I was thrilled tonight when I ran my 5 miles in 43:55... an average pace of 8:47.  

Could I do it for 13 miles yet?  NO. 

But was I ecstatic that I've now been able to keep around a 9:00 average pace (if not a little faster) on my tempo runs for a few weeks now? HECK YES!

I even ran a negative split.  Granted, it was negative by 5 seconds so it's more like I ran a consistent split... but hey!  That rocks!

My ankle was fine.  My nasal passages were fine.  My only issue is that my left shin is a little displeased, but I'm not terribly worried about that.  After running for 12 years, I've learned that sore shins sometimes come with the territory.  Although, I still think it's odd that ALL of the aches and pains I've had since I've started running again have been in my left leg, the one I wasn't allowed to walk on for a month.  It seems to me that we're just not meant to not use our limbs... 

Anyways, it was a great run and it got me really excited.  I'm about to get into the 18- and 20-milers of this training cycle, so it's nice to have this little confidence booster.  Even though I've run 4 marathons and I KNOW I can do this, I still get nervous before these super long runs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Just Wanted a Different Color

There are some things in life that just don't make sense.

For example.

I have found that I really like the Intimissi bras at Victoria's Secret.  Not all the stores carry them, but if yours does they are the ones that are way cheaper than the rest. :)  It's some Italian brand, and I think they're just as nice as the really expensive ones they carry.

My mom got me one on my birthday that was red, and I just realized the other day I already had a red one and would prefer to have another color.  I decided I'd just run in there when I was nearby today and exchange it for another color.

It turns out that the red ones are one of the colors they marked down last month to $12.99.  I could either have that much in store credit or find something for that price (yeah right, not in that store.)

I was like, "Seriously.  I'm not trying to change styles.  I want this EXACT SAME THING in another color."

Too bad, so sad, no way.  I was even like, "Pretty sure red is one of the most expensive dye colors around, and I'm wanting to give it back and take one that's actually LESS expensive to dye."

No dice.

It's not THAT big of a deal to have two red bras so I just kept my bra and left (after I cashed in the card I got in the mail for a free pair of panties... take THAT Victoria!)... but still.  The whole concept of colors going on sale is one of the most absurd things that I have ever experienced when shopping.  I understand styles going on sale, but they had gobs of the same exact bra I wanted sitting on a display.  Color shouldn't matter.

Anyways, after that I went and got my hair done, so I got over being annoyed pretty quickly.  I love how it feels to walk out of the salon after taking care of things.  When I say taking care of things, I mean waxing my eyebrows, trimming off an inch to get rid of those pesky split ends, and coloring it to get rid of the grey.  (Yes, I have some grey hairs.  You kind of have to look close and dig through my hair to see them, but they exist.  Lots of people in my family were grey before 30 and it appears that my grey hairs have started showing up.  They're not bad.  But I know they're there.  So I cover them up.)

I'm considering going with a permanent color next time around.  She's been using Shades which gradually fades away.  When this happens, you end up having the entire grey hair back and not just the roots.  I feel like I'd see the grey hairs less often if I went with permanent color.  But I'm a color virgin and it scares me.  I like my natural hair color.  I don't want to give it up!  I know she can match it really well, but it's still not the same!

Sigh... one day I'll get over that one.  I'll have to, I'm sure.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Run-Centric Weekend

It ended up that my weekend kind of revolved around running in a lot of ways. Imagine that.

After my hot 8-miler on Friday that I killed before it killed me, I spent a little time with friends and unfortunately stayed up a wee bit too later.

After only 4 hours of sleep, I was up at 5:30am to volunteer at a local 5K. I really enjoy working the races I don't run, and it's especially fun when it's one where I see a lot of people I know. I saw cousins, I saw people from the church I grew up in, and I even saw a couple of guys I ran cross country with back in high school. It was good times, and I always enjoy getting to watch a race.

It was a sales tax holiday weekend here in TN, so I picked up a friend to go do a little shopping. Being unemployed and all, I'm not really itching to spend a lot of money shopping these days. However, I knew I was going to need a new pair of running shoes before Chicago. Why not get them now when they're tax free? Plus, I had won a gift card to Fleet Feet through one of the Runner's Lounge forums.

I walked in, tried on the newest pair of my beloved Brooks Adrenalines and managed to get out of there with them and a pair of socks for $85. Score. I won't start wearing them just yet, but it's nice to have them ready to go when it's time to break them in.

I spent a little time poolside and then had dinner with my dad, but I totally crashed at 8:30. I never go to bed that early, but I am so glad I was able to get a lot of sleep.

My plan on Sunday was to get up early and run my 13-miler before the heat really kicked in. However, when I woke up I was SUPER congested. So I took some medicine and went back to bed, knowing I can't very well run when I can't breathe and have a terrible headache. When I got up, I knew there was no way I could tolerate the crazy hot weather.

So I did what most of us hate to do. I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. Ugh. Fortunately, I happened to get there shortly after The Parent Trap came on tv (the newer one with Lindsay Lohan, one of the only movies of her's that I can stand to watch). This kept me mostly distracted, but after 10 miles I was done. I just couldn't bring myself to run one more mile on that blasted treadmill. I decided that since it was a recovery week anyways that skipping 3 miles shouldn't really make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

I still feel pretty good about the decision today. I don't think I hurt myself any with this one. I've got 18 coming up on Sunday, so I can torture myself plenty then.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How to Shave 12 Minutes Off an 8-Miler in One Day!

I know there are going to be people who come to this post looking for answers on how to run faster.  I wish I could say that I have some brilliant information to share, but I'm afraid that you might be disappointed today.  However, I am indeed going to tell you how I shaved 12 minutes off my 8-miler yesterday.

The training plan called for 8 miles:  I needed to warm up for a mile, run 6 miles with about a 9:15 average pace, and then finish with a cool down mile.  Not so bad, right?

I got started a little before 6pm in hopes that it would cool off as I ran.  Technically, it did.  It was a nice ole 87 degrees when I started and 84 degrees when I finished.  The heat index?  It remained around 90 degrees the whole time. (I am ready for cooler weather. There. I said it.)

I discovered something interesting on this run... My brain and my body are engaged in CONSTANT conversation when I run.  I hadn't ever paid much attention before, but it's true.

For example, it's interesting that when I go for an 8-mile run such as this one, I have a hard time getting my legs to slow down to the appropriate pace for the first mile.  My legs are all like, "Hey!  We feel great!  And we know you're not torturing us as much today as some days so let's run fast! That's what tempo runs are for, right?"

And my brain is all like, "Dude, yes, but get a grip.  We're still running 8 miles. Take it easy."

In comparison, I also think it's interesting that when I go for a 16-mile run I can't seem to get myself to run as fast as I need to for the slow run.  Suddenly my legs are all like, "Um, hello, we're running for HOW long today?" and they just refuse to go faster.

Anyways, I didn't run the first mile quite as slow as I needed to, but it was still slower than the tempo pace I needed to do for the next 6 miles.  I was hot VERY quickly.  My brain is all like, "Ok, I get it that your legs feel good, but do you realize it's so humid that you're practically suffocating? OXYGEN, we need more OXYGEN! Oh look! A BEAVER!"

Yes, I'm indeed easily distracted.  I saw a real live beaver for the first time ever (outside of a zoo).  There's a creek near the path I run on a lot, and I just happened to see this little guy run across the path and toward the creek. SO cool.

I reached the 4-mile turnaround at 37:00 and my brain and my legs were in sync! "Sweet!  We are right on target pace.  Who cares about this heat?  We. are. awesome."

I headed back to run the 4 miles to finish, and within minutes I wasn't feeling so well.  It's like it got hotter even though the sun was setting.  And my legs got sluggish.  And I felt like I was sludging along the path, just a hot drippy mess.

My brain was all like, "We have to keep moving.  We have been doing soooo good.  We have to keep the tempo pace and finish so that we're not angry at ourselves later!"  

In response, my legs were like, "SLOOOOOWWWW DOOOOWWWN! We don't care about the stupid tempo pace.  NOT DYING is really a higher priority here today."

Seriously, there were moments when I really wondered how in the world I had just run 16 miles on Sunday.  I even had to take two very unplanned and undesired (mentally) walk breaks, but I think they did me some physical good and gave me a little relief.

I kept on trucking.  I kept hoping that I wasn't really slowing down as much as it felt.  There were moments when my brain told me, "OK listen, abandon the tempo pace now.  It's not worth it.  Slow down and it won't feel so bad."  

Then the legs would tell me, "Are you kidding me? We have less than 2 miles to go.  We will NOT slow down."

I promise I'm not insane.  But if you ever wondered what's going on in my head when I run, now you know.)

I finally saw the parking lot and did my best to pick it up a bit to get to the end so I could be DONE.

I stopped my watch.  (Ok, here's where we learn how to cut a LOT of time off of a run.)

I looked.

1:27.

1:27?! Freaking A! Are you kidding me?!  How the hell did I just run 4 miles in 37 minutes and then the 4 miles back in freaking 50 minutes!?  I knew I slowed down, but I didn't realize it was that much!  

I was livid.  I couldn't believe it.  I was cursing the 90 degree heat index.  I was cursing my brain and my legs for not getting in sync and making this a more successful run.  I didn't care that I was totally hardcore for running 8 miles in this ridiculous heat.  I think I was so mad that I made myself lightheaded... or maybe I was just dehydrated.

I drove home, still mad at myself and wondering how in the world this could happen to me.  I suddenly had visions of running my slowest marathon ever.  

When I got home, I sat down to put the run in my log while cursing my watch.  And that's when I noticed it.

My watch is actually a pedometer.  It's not as accurate as a Garmin, but I like it well enough and it suits my purposes.

When it's set on the step counting, it only has room for 5 digits.  Once you hit over 10,000 steps, it changes to 1.whatever.  

Guess who was in the step mode, and guess whose watch showed she ran 12,700 steps with the figure 1.27?  

Yeah, that was me.  

I felt a glimmer of hope.  I pushed the function button.

And there it was.

1:15.  A 9:23 average pace.  I had done it.  I ran the tempo run at the correct tempo.  It means the second 4 miles only took 38 minutes... only ONE MINUTE slower than the first 4 miles.  It's not a negative split, but at least it's super close to being consistent.  And in this heat and humidity? I will take that action.  8 freaking miles is a long time for me to keep that kind of pace these days.

So there you have it.  I went from a 1:27 to a 1:15 for my 8-miler yesterday.

And possibly convinced you all with this post that I'm a schizophrenic or something. 

(I promise I'm not.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

SYTYCD Finale

Maybe I shouldn't have said anything... there wasn't as much eye candy at the gym today.  Or maybe they're all on more of a Tuesday/Thursday schedule.  Oh well.  At least I got some biking and some abs work done as planned.  Yay!

So who else watched the first part of the So You Think You Can Dance finale last night?  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed... I thought all of the dancers did well, but I really expected the numbers to be a little bit more intense than they were most of the evening.  Don't you want to save the best for last?  Maybe the choreographers are tired as well or something.  I'm not knocking them... I still thought they had some great dances.  I just thought they could have done something with a bit more pizazz for the finale show.

I'm standing by what I've written in the past: Jeanine is hands down my favorite, followed by Evan.  Didn't you think it was so cool when the audience started chanting Evan's name?  He was indeed the only one that happened for... I think he'll get tons of votes.

It's not that I don't like Kayla and Brandon.  I do, really.  But there's something about their dancing that seems so spastic.  And I don't like it.

I feel like Jeanine is the most capable of dancing all sorts of styles.  I think she beautiful and would be able to be on stage, in a movie or on tv.  She just seems the most well-rounded.  Her solo last night was by far the best.  She does the best job of matching her music, not looking spastic or frantic, and doing things that shows off her strengths.  Those pirouettes last night where she slowed down and stopped still holding perfect form?  AMAZING.  It takes so much strength and control to do that.  And her solos don't always seem to be the same from week to week like the other remaining contestants.

I get it that Evan is as well-rounded as the others.  He does struggle a bit with some of the forms of dance, but I still think he's pulled off a lot of things that one might not have expected him to do weeks ago when he landed in the top 20.  I think he's got the kind of personality I like to see in people who win things... he's incredibly humble and it's like they said - there's not a nasty bone in his body.  I always root for the good guys, I think because it seems like there aren't enough good guys out in the world today.  I'd be thrilled if he won, too... not necessarily because he's the strongest dancer.  He could definitely improve.  But rather because he's kind of a package deal: great dance, cute, fun personality and is really the kind of guy that you want as a role model for young dancers.

Don't get me wrong... I do like Brandon and Kayla and think they're incredibly talented dancers. I think that any of the 4 contestants deserve to win for their own reasons.  I'm just pulling for two of them in particular. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Little Eye Candy

Getting up early was short-lived it seems.  Today I slept in.  I totally justified it though.  I've made a commitment that will have me getting up early every day through the end of next week, so I needed to take advantage of the one day to sleep in that I have for a while.

AND I stayed up until 2am.  I didn't really intend to do so, but a random happening reminded me of a random memory from like 1999, and I spent like an hour scouring my old journals trying to find the details about this memory.  I finally found it and realized there were things I'd forgotten, and then I ended up reading all sorts of other things from that time in my life and reminiscing and laughing at what I thought was important back then, etc. 

It was kind of fun.  Although I tried to find something else and realized it wasn't there.  I've written in a journal every day since the mid-90s (some days I write more than others, it's not always interesting, etc.), but back in 2004 or so I went through and ripped a lot of stuff out and got rid of it.  At the time, I was really glad I did because it involved stuff written about guys I had crushes on.. and I remember I was with someone I thought I was going to be spending my life with and I didn't want some of those memories any more.  I never once regretted it... until last night.

I was kind of bummed I couldn't find the details about this random evening when this guy I had been friends with for years decided to kiss me.  I still have the memory though, so all is not lost.  But I kind of hate that I can't read what my 19-year-old self wrote about it.  Oh well.

That's not even the point of this post.  The point is I slept in and didn't get to the gym to run until almost lunch time by the time I woke up, ate, let my food settle and got ready.  I went about the same time yesterday on purpose, and here's what I've decided... I'm going to start going most days at that time.

There is some serious eye candy at the gym during lunch time.  I've never been one to do much flirting at the gym (except this one time and it was kind of exciting but nothing came of it), and I've certainly never been hit on at the gym.  I don't mind... I'm a hot and sweaty mess when I'm at the gym.  It's not ideal.  However, I always kind of notice who's there when I'm there, and it appears that all the guys my age go on their lunch breaks.

I watched them walk in wearing their polos and khakis.  Ring checks showed no rings on most of the guys I thought were cute.  They changed, did some weights, and then changed to leave again.  (Yes, I was on the treadmill doing half-mile repeats for a while.)

Interesting. 

I'm not saying I'm going to turn into one of those girls who goes to the gym to flirt.  I'm just saying, it makes sense to me as a single 26-year-old female to go to the gym at the prime time for being around some hotties, and it looks like that's lunchtime.  I've found that in the mornings you find the older folks, afternoons bring in the people wanting to bring the kids to the pool or take advantage of the free babysitting, and in the evenings it's mostly young couples.  

Lunchtime it is for me.  If for no other reason than to have some eye candy while I'm killing myself on the treadmill or bike.

Meanwhile, I had a great workout.  I needed to do 6x800m repeats with walk breaks in between.  I did the first three at an 8:34 pace, but I was feeling good so I switched it one notch to the 8:27 pace for the last three.  Ideally I'd be doing these at more of an 8:00 pace, but I'm still trying to be careful and not overdo anything.

I am going to try out that duathlon class I mentioned a while back.  I think swimming would be good for me, and a few extra junk miles might be great recovery in between my tougher runs. Besides, I have time now to get in the best shape of my life.  I might as well take advantage of new and fun ways to do that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Unemployed

Yesterday was my last day at my job... a job that I have been doing and loving for almost exactly 3 years.

Don't worry too much... I knew it was coming and had made my peace with it quite a while ago. It's of course sad, but at the same time I know that there are good things in store for my future.

I took care of filing for unemployment last night, and as soon as I determine my benefits I'll probably still go back in once a week and help with things. (You can still earn a little money while unemployment according to all the info I read last night.)

How did my first day go?  Well so far, unemployment seems to suit me just fine.

I got up kind of early for once, did some laundry and watched tv, and then headed to the gym for a little cross training.  After a shower and some lunch, I did some volunteer work.  I ended up joining my family for dinner and then watching a movie with them.  All in all, it was a rather productive and fun day.  It kind of feels like summer vacation in some ways.  It was nice to just relax today and not be in any sort of panic mode or anything.

I have plans for how to fill my free time (aside from figuring out what I'll do next).  

I intend to get all my runs and cross training done... I have NO excuse now not to get my butt to the gym or the park for some sort of run or workout most days of the week (I always take a day or two of rest each week.)  

I'm going to work on my scrapbooks.

I'm going to keep doing volunteer work (plus, that's something that can go on my resume). (Does anyone know the command to make the little e's with the accent over it on a Mac?  I know how to do it on a PC, but not on my Mac.)

I'm going to consider this time a blessing, and I'm going to make sure that I find a job that I love.  I have a journalism degree that I'd really love to use.

So let's see where this journey will take me, shall we?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Running the Numbers

I realized today that I really am back in shape.

In June, I ran 70 miles.

In July, I ran 88.6 miles.  

I like the gradual increase, but I also like seeing those kinds of figures... especially compared to the 22 miles I ran in March. :)

PS - Kara Goucher won the ENTIRE Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  She beat the first male by like 19 seconds, I think I heard.  DANG GIRL!

"It's 16 miles, to the promised land..."

"... and I promise you, I'm doing the best I can." (A little Rilo Kiley for ya there.) (I think I've used that quote on here before, but any time I'm running a 16-miler I can't help but think of it.)

Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am.  In case you didn't know, it's still dark at that time of the day.  

I looked out the window to see if it was raining, but with it being dark and all that jazz, this proved impossible.  So I put my ear to the window instead.  No rain.  Curses.  When I went to bed just 5 hours before (I know - that's not ideal before a long run, but I find it impossible to go to bed super early the night before I have to get up so freaking early), weather.com was saying it'd be raining until 10am.  I rejoiced!  Rain meant that there was no way it'd feel like normal August weather (Hot! Muggy! Sticky! Humid!) for my 16-miler I needed to do.

I headed out around 5:20 (still dark) and made my trek to the park in Nashville where the Striders were holding the group run at 6.  It's a little tough having to get up so early and drive 30 minutes away, but I find that it's oh so worth it to do on days when I need to really go the distance.  Running with others makes all the difference for me on those days.

I ended up running the 16 miles with my pal Matt, and we chatted off and on most of the time about odds and ends.  It was pretty humid (and muggy! and sticky!) when we got started, but before we were even halfway in it got kind of cloudy and there was a rather pleasant breeze. Score.  I think it was in the neighborhood of 73 degrees, but with humidity that's still warmer than I'd care for.  I was thankful that it was a little cooler, even if we didn't get the rain I was hoping for.

It was a really pretty run as we ran from Percy Warner Park over to the Radnor Lake area.  We chose to run an extra 2 miles on the Radnor path instead of having to run extra on the Boulevard (Nashville folks know what I mean, but basically it's this long road with a lot of really expensive homes that can be rather dull if you need to run a lot of mileage on it).  I'm glad we did because it meant we only had 2.5 miles to go on the Boulevard when we got back, but we found out that there were some KILLER hills.  They totally did a number on my legs.

I'm choosing to embrace hills on this training cycle.  Chicago is flat.  I've been there.  I know it to be true.  I am assuming that running on the crazy hills of Tennessee will make my legs strong, and then when I hit that flat ground my legs will laugh at the ground and say to it, "Dude, you are easy peasy, you have no idea what we run on at home! Bring us your worst!" and the ground won't be able to say anything back because it will know from how easy I glide along that my legs weren't lying.  

(No one said I ever think sanely when I'm doing a long run!)

(Nor can I do math on a long run, as evidenced when we hit the Boulevard (which in my head I kept calling the 'vard, even though that's really dumb and no one calls it that) at 13.5 miles and I thought we only had 1.5 miles to go to hit 16.)

(Of course, I don't have excellent math skills anyways.)  

Anyways, the point is that I am hoping that running on flat ground will feel so easy after all these crazy hills I'm running that I'll be able to run faster.  So bring on the hills.

They did slow me down a bit.  We ended up running in about 2:53, which included a few stops at the water stations to drink as well as a stop to give some directions to fellow runners, so I'm calling it more of a 2:51.  I had hoped to keep a 10-minute pace and run it in 2:40, but between the hills and adding 2 more miles on to my long run distance, I'll take what I got.

After the run, I took my ice bath, shower and had some chocolate milk.  This combination seems to be working well for me.  I donned my recovery socks and got myself some coffee because I was skipping out on my usual nap.  My family went and spent the day at the pool with some good friends, and I ended up not getting to bed until 11pm.  Talk about a long day!

My legs still felt a little tired today, but I didn't have ANY soreness.  I think this is amazing.  I don't know what to attribute it to specifically, so I'm just going to keep up the routine of ice baths, chocolate milk and recovery socks... and recommend it to my fellow runners!

Hope everyone else had outstanding runs!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

101 in 1001 Update

I intended to do updates about my progress on my list at the end of each month, but you may have noticed I skipped June.  I was in Europe... not thinking about making blog posts.

So this one will just have to cover everything I've accomplished in the past 2 1/2 months since I made the list.  It means that I'll look like I've really been on top of things, but it's probably not reflective of what these posts will be like in the coming months since I'll only cover one month at a time in the future.

Here's what I've knocked out or worked toward:

1. Run the PWP 11.2 mile loop with someone so I can learn it (finally) - I took care of this with two running pals as soon as I got home from Europe.  It's exciting to finally know the path so that I can run it again in the future.  I briefly wrote about it here.

6. Run in at least 3 races I've never run in before - I've decided I must have made this one too easy since I've already knocked out two new races.  I ran a 10-miler in London and then ran in the Striders Picnic 5K last weekend.  I've decided to edit the list to running 8 new races.

7. Join the Nashville Striders for a group run at least once per training cycle - I might have made this too easy as well, but then again it was hard for me to get myself out there the first time even though I was later glad I did (I'm not always good at meeting new people).  I'll definitely be taking advantage of group training runs.

27. Return to Europe - We all know I did this!  I'm not even going to tag all the posts about it since there are so many.

48. Mail a card/letter to someone four times a year (doesn't have to be the same person) - I sent a card to my first grade teacher when I found out she was one of the ones who lost her home to the tornados we had in town in April.

70. Organize my receipt system into something that works better - I didn't write a blog post about this because I figured it'd be boring and writing here would suffice.  I decided that instead of throwing all receipts and statements into shoeboxes that I needed something more organized.  I've decided on 12 folders, one for each month.  All of that month's receipts will go in it along with the credit card statements after it's paid. (I pay for everything with a card and then pay it off each month.  If you ever want to know more on why, just ask!)  When I put in a new month's stuff, I take out the stuff from the year before and make sure none of it is important.  Then I trash or shred whatever I don't need anymore.

83. Go white water rafting again - This was totally spur of the moment, but it was super fun and I was thrilled to be invited.  I shared a bit here

84. Try 10 new beers - I worked on this one in Europe for sure.  I managed to try the following for the first time (and yes, it's true that I'd never had a Guinness!): Bulmers, Smithwick, Kilkenny, Zubr, Boh, Blarney Blonde, Guinness, Plain Porter, Porterhouse Red, Chiller, Magners, and Strongbow.  Ok, so that was 12.  Maybe I made this one too easy, but I really am not much of a beer drinker and especially not here at home.  I think maybe I need to make myself try another 10 here in the States.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - This is easy I suppose, but I'm glad to be keeping myself on top of this.  I've recently watched New in Town, Hotel for Dogs, Princess Protection Agency, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Taken, Last Chance Harvey, The Bourne Identity and I'm sure some others I don't remember since I'm trying to reflect on 2 1/2 months instead of just one.  Some I watched on the plane, and some I watched with my sister.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - This is also easy, but I'm glad I'm making sure I take time to read. I've read The Runaway Jury, The Manning Brides, A Bend in the Road and At First Sight over the past couple of months.