Wednesday, September 30, 2009

101 in 1001 Update

Since tomorrow is a new month, it's time to give another update on my progress with my 101 in 1001 list.

6. Run in at least eight races I've never run in before - I can now add the Franklin Classic 10K and the Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K.

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I found two more causes that I decided to support this month.  I'm not in a position to throw a lot of money toward anything right now, but I know every bit counts.

47. Complete at least 50 hours of volunteer work - I've been steadily working toward this one with my involvement at Mercy Ministries.  I may have to revise this one since I'm finding 50 hours too easy.

54. Make contact with local friends I don't see often at least once a month - I've been steadily doing this via phone and internet this whole time, but I actually had coffee this week with a good friend of mine.  He lives 20 minutes away, but we still only manage to see each other every few months.

65. See a Broadway play - Wicked totally counts, but I'd still love to see one ON Broadway.

68. Go to three concerts per year - I saw Matthew Perryman Jones and Dave Barnes at Live on the Green last week!

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - I went to see Fame the other day. I also saw Role Models, and Knowing.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I only managed to read one this month... Something Blue by emily Giffin. Loved it.

There are a lot of other things on the list that are a bit of a work in progress.  For now, I'm feeling pleased with my progress.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feeling Good in the Neighborhood

Do you ever have those days when you get ready to go do whatever it is you're going to do, and you look in the mirror and think to yourself, "Huh... I like how I look today."  It's not a vanity thing.  It's not a conceited thing.  It's just that some days are like that.

That's how I felt today.  I'm not a typical girly girl.  I don't mind people seeing me in a t-shirt and no makeup.  But if I've got something going on that involves more than my usual errands, then I'll actually get ready and sweep on some eye shadow and wear something cuter than my last half-marathon shirt.

I have to admit... I don't really fret much over my appearance.  I generally like what I see in the mirror and find that most of my self-scrutiny is more about internal things.  But it's still kind of nice when I have those days when I feel like I'm looking well.  And so I took a photo as evidence.


It's not really that I look any different than any other time.  At the same time, I think I look different.  I look happy.  It's not that I've previously been unhappy.  It's just really kind of fun to look at myself and say, "hey... I'm happy!"

I ended up having a nice day.  I spent some time with a couple of lovely ladies sorting out more plans for the 5K I'm chairing.  Things are coming together so smoothly that it's almost freaky.

Then I headed over to meet my pal Paige to hit up this event called Rex in the City.  Long story short, Nashville Paw magazine is holding these "mixers" to raise money for the animals.  This month's was the singles mixer, and we decided it couldn't hurt to get out and meet some people while participating in a worthy cause.  Apparently this is the kind of thing women are into because while we were there? Not a single guy.  Nonetheless, I had a great time hanging out with Paige, eating some yummy pizza and seeing all the cute doggies everyone brought.

I also went with Paige to watch her kickball game.  This was thoroughly entertaining.  I felt like I was in the third grade again, only this time I got to take in all the action instead of being forced to play.  (I never enjoyed sports where things fly through the air and can potentially hit me.)

All this to say... I'm feeling good about life right now.  I'm especially feeling thankful that I have so much time right now to be doing these kinds of things.  I know that being unemployed is temporary, but I don't want to waste the time.  For example, I REALLY need to clean my house... but spending time doing things I enjoy or hanging out with people I enjoy has been a lot more important than vacuuming. (Don't worry, I will clean eventually.)

There are a lot of things I want.  There are a lot of things on my mind, many of which I haven't even shared with anyone.  I have questions.  But despite all of that, I'm feeling content.  I'm feeling happy.  And it feels good.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Time to Taper... and Some Big News!

I almost keep forgetting that I'm running my fifth marathon in 12 days.

Almost.

I've made myself notes to stop in the local Fleet Feet to pick up a new supply of sports beans for race day.  I also need to pick up a disposable camera because I've decided I want to run the race with one.  And since the weather in Chicago is currently showing highs in the 60s and lows in the 40 (can we say heck yes?!), I need to duck into Goodwill and get some clothes I can wear race day morning to keep warm and then toss them a few miles into the race.

I'm kind of waiting for the realization that I'm about to run another marathon to kick in... it just hasn't yet.

I feel surprisingly calm during this period of tapering.  Usually tapering brings a sense of restlessness and sometimes anxiety.  There are the questions... "Am I ready?  Am I hurting myself by running less right now, even though everything says to run less right now?  Am I eating right?"

Maybe it's because I have been very loose in my goal setting for this marathon.  Sure, I'd love a PR.. and if I find that it's possible, I'll go for it.  But really, I'm going to be perfectly content no matter what happens.  It's kind of a dream come true to be running in such a HUGE marathon (45,000 people who are all just as crazy as me), and I want to soak up every minute and enjoy it.  I have no doubt I'll be smiling a lot that day.

I just feel calm.  It's awesome.  

I'm sure when I start packing next week everything will sink in a little more.  I am of course already excited.  I love Chicago.  I can't wait to see my best friend Steph, especially since I haven't seen her in quite a while.  And I love running marathons.  It'll be a pretty spectacular long weekend.

It just seems a little bit surreal this time.  Training went by surprisingly fast.  I almost can't even believe that I'm in shape to run another marathon already!

I keep telling people that I'm not letting myself think much about racing past Chicago.  There are a TON of races happening around here throughout the rest of October and November.  In fact, I'm even planning a 5K for the non-profit I volunteer for regularly that happens 2 weeks after Chicago.  However, I did go on and plan ahead for something, even though I said I wasn't going to.  It was purely economical... it was cheaper if I went on and signed up before the end of September.

Drum roll for some big news... I mailed in my registration for my sixth marathon.

On December 12, exactly 8 weeks after Chicago, I'm going to run the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville.  I ran this one back in 2007 and got my current PR there, so I'm hoping that maybe I'll be able to set a new PR this time around.

I think the timing is perfect.  I'll have a little time to recover from Chicago, then I'll get some good long runs in again, and then I'll taper once more and go run marathon #6.

I'm pretty excited about the decision.  My goal is to try to stay in at least "close to marathon shape" year round after I run Chicago.  I want to start challenging myself in new ways and really working on improving my speed.  I still haven't decided what other short races I'll do this year, and I definitely don't have a clue what 2010 will bring just yet... but I'm thrilled to kind of have a game plan for what I'll be doing after Chicago.

So here's to tapering!  And to making more marathon decisions during the taper period!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Race Report: Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K

Alternatively Titled: The Crazy Things We'll Do For Pancakes

It was exactly 4:44am.  A huge clap of thunder.  I jumped.  Tucker jumped.  As my heart tried to stop racing and I marveled over the fact that the thunder actually woke me (that rarely happens.. that's why if you know a tornado is heading my way at night, you should call me!), I remembered - I had a race to run.

As it started pouring down rain, I started thinking about some of the other races I've run in the rain.  Most of them went well, so I shrugged my shoulders (well, not really since I was in bed) and dosed back off.

It was close to 6 when I woke up to a text (sleeps through thunderstorms, wakes to cell phone... clearly I have priorities).  I knew there were only a handful of people this could be.  Turns out to be Paige, who has decided that fending off a cold is more important than running the rain. But I'm glad I knew so that I could snag her bag and shirt for her.

I finally pulled myself out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door. 

"Oh goodness.  Well... let's rock this." I said out loud to no one in particular when I realized just how hard it was raining.

I made the drive into Nashville, passing no less than 3 accidents on the interstate (fortunately for my time schedule, they were on the other side).  None of them looked serious, but I hope everyone was ok.

I got all my race stuff, and it wasn't long before Amy found me.  We chatted about the weather like most of our fellow runners.  The funny thing is that we may complain about the rain, but deep down we all know it can be kind of fun.

We set out together on the course and maintained what I felt to be a surprisingly good pace considering we were also talking pretty much the whole time.  I'm terrible at math so I don't even try to worry much over my splits, but I know that we were hitting around an 8:30 pace for most of them.

The rain was unrelenting.  It poured the ENTIRE time.  The greenway that the race was held on is relatively flat, so we found a lot of standing water.  It totally stinks to run with wet shoes and socks, but there's something about running through puddles and splashing all around that makes you feel like a kid again.  Except now I'm 26 years old.  My mom can't get upset at me now for getting a little mud on my legs and drenching my clothing. Haha.

I was actually feeling really good.  I had a few moments where I kept wondering if I could maintain the pace or if I was going to peter out.  Sometime after mile 7, Amy told me to head on.  I didn't know if I had it in me to pick up the pace, but then I spotted a girl with a ribbon tied in a bow around her ponytail.  It's not that I really have anything against this in general, but usually whenever I'm racing and see someone in front of me I pick something I don't like about their outfit and use it as why I need to speed up and pass him or her.  Silly, I know, but it works.

I passed bow girl and then started making the loop for the last mile.  I really wanted to slow down, but I also really wanted to do well.  This was my first ever 15K, so I had an automatic PR no matter what.  However, I kind of held back at the 10K a few weeks ago since I had a tough training week, and I felt compelled to try a little harder this time around.  I passed a couple of guys and then started making my way to the finish line.

I finished in 1:19:58.  This means I averaged 8:35 per mile!  I was stoked for sure!  I couldn't believe I was able to maintain that pace for that long.  It's really exciting and gives me a bit more confidence going into the Chicago marathon.  Granted, I have no intentions of running that fast there... but I felt good and strong today, and I feel like that's a direct result of how well my training has gone.

After finishing and determing that we didn't win any age group awards, Amy and I headed out.  Fortunately, I thought to bring a towel to sit on until I could get somewhere and change clothes.  

Anyone who knows anything about Nashville knows that one of the best places to have breakfast is the Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village.  We thought that since it was pouring down rain that the line might not be as long, but we thought wrong. (Seriously, the line always wraps around the corner to get into this place, especially on the weekends.)  

So not only did I run 9.3 miles in the pouring rain, I also stood outside in it for another 20-30 minutes in order to eat pancakes.  (I did have an umbrella, so it wasn't so bad.)

I ordered the sugar and spice pancakes with cinnamon syrup and they. were. amazing.  Seriously, I don't know why I don't eat here more often.  I think the last time I went was when some friends were in town over the holidays in 2007!  

All in all, it was a nice way to start my weekend.  I got my training run done and now have two weeks to go until Chicago!  I can hardly wait...

I don't have any pictures from today's race for obvious reasons.  Thunderstorms aren't generally a good time to take out a camera and try to take pictures of people running.  I even told my folks to just stay home and sit this one out.

Other Stats
Age group: 9/22
Women: 28/95
Overall: 83/181

Friday, September 25, 2009

Letters

Dear God,

I know this is a really superficial thing to pray for in addition to everything else I'm praying about, but could you please make it nice and cool in Chicago on October 11th? I'm thinking somewhere in the 50s. That would be awesome. Thanks!

Dear wasps hanging out in the greenway portapotty,

I'm not normally afraid of things in nature, but I'm not going to do my business with 10 of you hanging out in there.  I'd appreciate it if you'd find a new hangout.

Dear fellow bloggers,

I'm trying to catch up on your posts from when I was on vacation, especially since I'm leaving town again soon.  I apologize if I'm not commenting much, but it's awesome to catch up on your lives and hear what you've been up to!

Dear gal I see running on the greenway in the afternoons,

I'm curious if you're training for something or if you just enjoy running in the TN afternoons. I've thought about stopping to ask, but I hate to interrupt your run.  Someday, I might just do it.  Maybe we'd find that we run the same pace and could run together!

Dear Matthew Perryman Jones and Dave Barnes,

It was super awesome to hear you play live last night for free.  Thank you for playing a part in making it a terrific Thursday night.

Dear Nashville,

I love you.  I have moments when I consider leaving you, but for today you have my heart.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Being Single

I don't typically share too many posts where I'm more vulnerable about personal stuff, but I'm feeling inclined to do so today.

Out of the seven people on the beach trip last week, 5 of us are single.  We made a lot of jokes about dating and picking people up as single people on a vacation are prone to do, but there were also some more serious conversations about relationships and what it's like to be single.

I think it's a misconception that single people spend most of their time thinking about being single.  I know a lot of comments have been made to me in the past that indicates that there are non-single people who really think that it's like that for us.

It's not.  I mean, sure... there probably are some people out there who can't think of anything else, but I'm not that girl.  And I don't think my friends are like that either.

A few comments were made when the topic came up last week along the lines of, "We're good people.  We like each other just fine.  So why are we still single?"

I've had a friend or two make a comment to me over the past few months about how they don't understand why I'm still single.  I know these are compliments, and I accept them... but believe me, when I do think about being single that's pretty much the only question that comes to mind.

I think it's easy for us to all walk around thinking we're quite a catch and that anyone would be lucky to have us. But there's a fine line between feeling that way with confidence and feeling that way with arrogance. (And fellas, I don't even flirt with anyone who is arrogant.)

I like to hope that I feel that way with confidence.  I know I'm not perfect.  I know the things that I do sometimes in a relationship that are less than ideal. I have my weaknesses.  But I also know that I know how to be one hell of a girlfriend.  I know I can be a lot of fun and an excellent listener, supporter, encourager and so on and so forth.  I know that my strengths outweigh my weaknesses.

Sometimes I don't know why I don't write more about my faith on here.  I suppose it's because in some ways it's something that I find intimately personal and feel more comfortable sharing in a smaller setting than the ole internet.  But allow me a moment to be a bit more open... I believe that God gives us our desires.  I believe he put it in my heart that I am especially made to share my life with someone else.  And I believe he'll give me that desire of my heart when the time is right.  I am sure of it.

I have days when I feel impatient... moments when I wish I had someone to watch a movie with on the couch... moments when I wish I didn't have to stress over finding a date to a wedding... moments when I want someone to cuddle up to me in the bed... and moments when I just LONG to have that special person that I connect with in a way that I don't connect with anyone else spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically...

But most of the time?  Most of the time I'm content.  I have no doubt that the relationships that I've been in that have ended are in the past for good reasons.  I am also sure I've learned a lot from each of them that has made me more prepared for whoever is out there for me.  And I know that when the timing is right, I'll be ready.

I guess that's why I had no interest in flirting much with the guy at the bar who wouldn't leave me alone one night last week.  It's not that I think there's anything wrong with a little harmless flirting, and sometimes I do engage in such activity.  It's fun to flirt, and it's always flattering to know someone is in some small way attracted to you. But sometimes I'd rather just hang out and have a good time with the people I came to the bar with rather than flirt with some stranger that I'll never see again.

I made a comment about the guy not being my type, and another friend suggested I try getting outside my type.  She made a valid point, though ultimately I just didn't want to hang out with him vs. my friends in this particular case. But at the same time, I don't really even know my type.  When I look at the guys I've dated over the past 5 years or so, they all seem so totally different to me. The only common factor is that I thought they were smart, fun and attractive.  

There was a conversation in the car on the way home about the Sex and the City episode where Carrie questions if she's dating the wrong type of men... I know when I saw it recently I wondered the same exact thing.  But I can't figure out what's wrong about being attracted to men who know how to be a gentleman, men who are responsible and driven, men who are both intelligent and funny...  I see no sense wasting time on this thought.  Either I'm attracted to them or I'm not.  I joke that I'm picky, but really I don't know that I am.  I've gone on a lot of first dates and tried out a lot of different types.  It's kind of fun to meet people who are different from what you're used to.

But it's interesting... every guy who has ever broken up with me has pretty much said the same thing: "you're a great catch, any guy would be lucky to have you, I'm just not in a relationship place."  I could waste a lot of time trying to figure out why it seems like every man I've liked in 3 years has said the same exact thing, or I can keep on living my life and knowing that in time there will be a man who knows he needs to hang on to me instead of tossing me back to sea.

My life is good.  Despite being unemployed, I'm feeling at peace about figuring out my next purpose in terms of a career. I'm excited about finding something new.  While I'm not thrilled about packing and the search for a new place to live, I'm looking forward to moving in the coming months.  Part of me is thinking of moving somewhere totally new, and part of me is thinking I just need to move more into Nashville where things are happening.  I love my marathon training (most days).  I have a ton of people in my life who make it good.  I'm involved with things that mean something to me.

And being single is FUN.  I can do whatever I want.  My money is my money.  My time is my time.  All the decisions are mine.  I can go out and shamelessly flirt with a hot guy, or I can go out and have a blast out on the town with a big group of friends.  I can go on a date whenever I want.  I always set the course for what I do with my time and resources.

Do I still feel a small ache for the missing person?  Sure.  What single person doesn't?  I think the most important thing we feel in life is the desire to love and be loved.  I know I'm loved by a lot of people.  There are a lot of people I also love.  My life is better because of this love.  But someday, I'd like to be IN love again.  I want to share this life with someone else.  I know I'm made for that.  And eventually, it'll happen.  And I'll be thrilled to have to consult someone else and share in decision making with another person.  I'll know I did all the single things and that I made the most of my singlehood.  I'll be ready to engage in couplehood.

I'll be the first to admit that I do have my moments where I don't have as cheery of a disposition about singlehood. It really does suck sometimes.  But today?  I'm feeling happy and content.  I'm sitting on the cusp of a lot of change, and I feel excited about it.  Being single is nothing I can worry about.  It's nothing I can really and truly control.  I can't make a boyfriend appear out of thin air (though that'd be a neat trick!) But I can enjoy my life.  I can enjoy my friends.  I can get out and about and do things that I enjoy and want to do.

I think you have to be able to feel confident about being single before you can ever feel confident about dating.  I can't be part of a couple unless I really know who I am as a single.

And I gotta admit... It feels pretty good to feel confident about who I am as a single.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life's a Beach

Sometimes you just have to escape the marathon of life.

I spent last week at Orange Beach, AL with six people I met back in my college days.  Want proof?



I've been really fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do.  Not only do I make an conscious effort to save money so that I can take trips, but I've also been lucky to have a lot of great opportunities to have free places to stay or fun people to travel with somewhere.

When Stephanie invited me on this trip months ago, I had NO idea how much fun I'd end up having. I knew I always enjoyed hanging out with this group of people and that I was glad to be getting to know them all better this year, but still... sometimes it's when you go on a trip with people that you really bond.

There was lots of sleeping in and then lounging around in swimsuits on the beach or by the pool.  We had excellent weather, and I actually came home with some tan lines.  (I don't tan, really, but it's nice to have some evidence of sun even if I'm the only one who can tell any difference.)

We had some excellent meals in the evenings and checked out the infamous Flora-Bama bar two nights in a row. We laughed, we talked, and it was good.

I tried a few new things on the trip.  In particular, we all went parasailing!  I'd never been, and quite honestly I'm kind of afraid of heights.  But I always thought this would be fun to do, and boy was I right!  Once I got over the initial shock of how high we were, it was really quite pleasant.

I also got a little adventurous with food, trying fish tacos out at dinner one night.  I've only started caring for fish in the past couple of years, and this was the first time I attempted fish on a taco.  I can't say it's something I want to eat often, but it was nice to try it somewhere where I knew the fish was fresh.  I also sampled some sushi off of friends' plates one night.  I've never tried sushi, mostly because I've never had anyone who could guide me in figuring out what's good and what's not.  I was pleased with what I tried and will be getting more adventurous in this area soon.

All in all, it was another excellent vacation.  That's actually the understatement of the year, but I'm sure you all know how it is with group trips.  You have a blast, but you can't really explain to anyone who wasn't there what exactly made it so much fun.

Next trip on the list?  Chicago in 15 days!  The race isn't until that Sunday, but I'll be heading up early on Wednesday.  I am SO excited!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Running Chicago for Mercy

I don't spend a lot of time writing about the volunteer work that I do.  It's not because it doesn't mean a lot to me... it's more that it seems somehow inappropriate to go on and on in detail about what I'm trying to do to help.

However, I've made a decision to run the Chicago Marathon to raise some money for the organization I volunteer for... and I feel compelled to share my story with my readers.

Mercy Ministries is a non-profit based here in Nashville.  With homes in Nashville, St. Louis, Monroe (LA) and a new home opening in Sacramento (CA), Mercy is a residential treatment facility for young women ages 13-28 who are struggling with addictions, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies and forms of self-harm such as cutting.  The young women who come to Mercy do so voluntarily to receive counseling and help in overcoming these issues in a Godly environment.  You can learn more about them at their website www.mercyministries.com.  

I first got involved with volunteering at Mercy in 2007 when my boss and I raised money for them through work when we ran the 2007 Nashville marathon.  Shortly after the marathon, I felt led to start giving my time to Mercy.  Since then, I joined the Nashville Community Advisory Board to aid the Mercy staff in planning both fundraising and awareness events in the Nashville area.  I also began going to the office at least every other week to help with some administrative tasks and serve as the volunteer coordinator.

I have never struggled with an eating disorder.  I have never tried to harm myself with cutting or with alcohol.  In a lot of ways, I definitely do NOT understand what the girls at Mercy have experienced in their lives.  When I hear some of their stories (you can read some on the website), I am just blown away by the things they have had to face and overcome in their lives.

However, I do know what it's like to be a woman.  I know how our brains work and how we can be especially critical of ourselves.  While my own self-criticism has never led to something extreme like an eating disorder, I do feel like I can understand a small shimmer of the thought process that leads some women to such things.  We live in a world that is overly concerned about appearance and beauty and things of this nature.

When it comes down to it, I really do believe we are ALL beautiful.  (This is why I LOVE the whole Operation Beautiful project.)  I believe we all have good things that we can focus on.  Our strengths can be highlighted, and our weaknesses can be improved.

I believe that young women struggling with these issues deserve to have a place they can go to help them overcome these things.  Mercy doesn't charge a dime.  Everything is provided to the women who come to the program FREE OF CHARGE.

It costs $175 per girl per day to keep Mercy operating.  Compare this to the secular rehab programs that charge people over $1000 a day.  Mercy gives these girls not only a home and counseling, but also a place where they can receive unconditional love and learn more about the love that God has for them.

I've decided to dedicate my marathon in Chicago to Mercy Ministries.  I know times are tough, and I am so not the kind of girl who likes to ask people for money.  However, I wouldn't feel right not making an effort to spread the word about this fantastic organization that I give a good bit of my time to on a regular basis. 

Feel free to check out their website.  Learn more about them.  Think on it.  And if you feel led, I'd so appreciate any donation you can make.  No amount is too small or too big.  The girls at Mercy will be even more appreciative than me.

If you'd like to make a donation, please click on this link to visit my fundraising page.  I'm also planning a 5K here in Nashville for the home, so when you click on it it will say something about the Nashville 5K.  We found that I had to have one fundraising page that allowed both flat donations and the opportunity for people to sign up for the 5K.  This link takes you to the area where you can make a donation as opposed to signing up for the 5K.  (Although, if you live in Nashville, I encourage you to join my team for the 5K on October 24th!)

Thanks for reading this and considering helping the girls at Mercy Ministries.

If you have ANY questions, please let me know!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The One Where I Ran 20-ISH Miles

I've really been digging the Nashville Striders fall marathon training series.  I've attended each one, and it is AWESOME to be able to go out and mindlessly run a course that has been marked out for me and that has water stops every couple of miles.  If there's one thing I don't love about running, it's having to deal with a fuel belt.  It's often a necessity, but man it gets on my nerves to wear one.

It's also really great to run with people.  I am not capable of getting my butt out of bed before sunrise to run 20 miles alone.  It's just not going to happen.  But with these training runs, I know that I can get myself out there and truck along and go home satisfied.

Today was no different.  I got there and found Matt (Amy would not be joining us today, sad) and we had the usual talk of how much we slept and how we felt about heading out for a 20-miler.  For those of you keeping track, this was going to be my only 20-miler since I did two 18-milers that were incredibly hot, humid and hilly.  (Don't think for a second that just because football season has started that it means it's fall in TN.  It might make an appearance come November.)

We set out and got to see the sky change colors as the sun rose.  We chatted about odds and ends as usual (while I do recall our conversation today, sometimes I can finish a run and not remember what the heck we all talked about for 3 hours).  We looked forward to the water stops and getting some cold Gatorade.

I used my salt tablets today, something that I think definitely makes a huge difference for me.  I ate some sports beans about halfway through, and I drank plenty of water and Gatorade along the way... but in the end, I didn't really consume as much of the beans as usual.  And I felt fine. It was a little odd, but whatever.

When we got to the water stop at mile 16, the volunteers mentioned that the course wasn't exactly 20 miles.  I asked if it was long or short.

Long.

How long?

"You don't want to know."

Well that's never good.  We went on and turned back right then and there, but in the end doing so only shaved like .4 of a mile and a small hill.

When we reached the next water stop at mile 20, we were offered a ride back to where the run started.  I briefly considered it.  After all, I was only scheduled to do 20.  And I had already ran 2 miles more than my longest runs so far.

But then I felt like I'd probably feel like a pansy the rest of the day... and Matt was going to keep running, and there's something about running with someone else that kind of keeps you going.  So I pressed onward.

Turns out that my 20 became 22 by the time it was all said and done.  With a bathroom and the water stops, we ran it in about 4:03.  It's a little slower than what I want to do in Chicago, but 1. it was still pretty warm out, even if it's not as bad as it could be and 2. Chicago will be flat, unlike TN.

All in all, I felt pretty good considering I ran FOUR miles more than what I'd done so far in this training cycle.  I know that in the end it will have been good training, both physically and mentally.  If I needed to keep going and run a marathon today, I could have eeked it out.  (I'm glad it wasn't time for that yet.)

We went inside Atlanta Bread Company to grab some post-run food and ended up chatting with a few other runners.  One of them actually knew my name from reading my blog.  Hi Brian!  I think it's the first time someone has ever known me from the blog as opposed to knowing me and then finding out about my blog.

I've made it home and managed to peel myself out of the car (sometimes that's the hardest part for me with post-run activity) and showered off.  I have a new sweet tan line from my socks. I also found a small blister on a very odd spot on my big toe.  I haven't figured that one out yet, but whatever.

I actually only got about 3 hours of sleep last night.  Crazy, I know, but I just don't sleep well before these big runs.  I KNOW I can do it, but it's like something in my brain is all like, "You're going to do WHAT tomorrow? Are you SERIOUS? I mean REALLY?"  I'm pretty pleased with myself for pulling off this run including the extra two unplanned miles.

I know it's still 4 weeks away, but I'm feeling pretty good about Chicago.  I don't know what my time will be (it's super hard to compare my training run times since they're all been so hot and hilly), but I do know that I will cross that finish line!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guess What I Did Last Night?

I went to see Wicked.

My sister and I begged our mom this summer for the three of us to go together.  Mom likes musical theater, too, but I don't think she quite understood why we wanted to go so badly.

Two other girlfriends got tickets, and we all went downtown to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory before the show.  I don't really eat there all that often since it's not really a convenient place to go to from where I live, but it's always a yummy meal when I go.  We took our photo with the streetcar, which I have never gotten to eat in! (This is on my list of things to do sometime.)


We made the walk over to TPAC and found our balcony seats about 15 minutes before the show.  It has sold out for the entire 18 days that it's in town!

We were in the top balcony, but we were in the center on the second row.  We were definitely up pretty high, but we could totally see all the action.


The show? Amazing.  If you have an opportunity to see this, you MUST. It's soooo worth the money, I promise.  The story is awesome.  The music is awesome.  The singers? Awesome.  

Seriously.  I've seen quite a few musicals/plays here in Nashville when they come here as well as on stage in New York City and Chicago.  This one is right at the top of my list of what I've enjoyed most.

We even snapped a photo of the curtain call!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Race Report: Franklin Classic 10K

So I woke up super early on Labor Day to go run a 10K.  We all know that I stayed up too late, so it was no surprise to me that I felt pretty tired.  Nonetheless, I rolled out of bed, put on my new green running tank top and the skin tight shorts I have found a newfound love for, and headed out.

You can totally see how sleepy I look in this photo.


I don't have any pictures of me during the race, but here's one of me starting.


I decided to start off very conservatively.  My legs still felt a little heavy from Saturday's 15-miler, and I'm not looking to overdo anything this week with my 20-miler coming up.

I settled in quickly to a nice little 9:15 pace and enjoyed the scenery.  Then we hit the hills.  I thought the following: "Hills!?! Are you kidding me?  No one said anything about hills!......... Hmm, then again, I should have known to expect hills.  This is Tennessee.  There are always hills."

I found that the hills didn't really bother me though.  I attribute this to all the crazy hills on my long runs this training cycle.  This gives me more affirmation that running Chicago is going to feel EASY!

I turned on my iPod around mile 3 and just started enjoying the music and watching the scenery go by.  It was a pretty crowded race, so it was nice to always have people around me... until the guy pushing two 5-year-olds in a stroller ran by.  That one was rough.  I never did catch back up to him.

After I passed mile 4, I started trying to pick it up a bit.  I still didn't really push it, but I knew I could do the last 2 miles a little faster.  Who doesn't love a negative split?

When I got toward the end, I really picked it up and found that I still had a nice kick to sprint past quite a few people in the last .2 of the race.



I finished in 54:07, meaning I averaged 8:43.  Since I know I ran the first few miles in 9:15, that means I really picked it up a good bit in the second half!  I was pretty pleased.  I knew that I didn't really push that hard, so I could certainly do better if I wanted to.  I'm glad I took it easy, but it's nice to know that I felt good at the end and as if I could have done it faster!

I placed 19th out of 59 in my age group, 93rd out of 367 women, and 367th out of 898 total runners!  I was pretty pleased.

I found a few friends including my high school running coach, so we all chatted about the race and snapped a quick picture.

Am I going to run this race again?  Probably not.  Labor Day just isn't one of those holidays that cries out that I should get up early and go run a race.  Plus, they were out of small shirts when I got there... 40 minutes early.  This REALLY annoys me.  If we all sign up for a certain size shirt, we shouldn't have an issue getting them.  I know it sounds silly, but I mean... it matters.

All in all, it was a good race and I'm glad I did it this year.  I of course went home and took a nap before heading over to a friend's house for a fun game night.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Five Weeks to Go

Like many other runners, I'm running in a Labor Day race in the morning.  I'm kind of pumped because it'll be my first ever 10K.  First ever 10K = automatic PR!  (And yes, I realize it's crazy that I've run 4 marathons and am five weeks from my fifth and I've never run a 10K. Sue me.)

I should be in bed.  It is 11pm after all.  And the alarm is set for like 5:30.

I'm not quite certain that my body has figured out that we're not in the Pacific time zone anymore.  Sure, I've been back for like a week and a half, but I find that I can't go to bed before like 1am.  Period.  And then I sleep later.  And it's this vicious cycle of me not sleeping "normal" hours, but then what's really normal anyways?  I've always been a bit of a night owl, so I wonder if maybe it's just that since I don't have a reason to HAVE to be up early, I've reverted back to my natural tendency of being awake at night.

It's crazy, too.  When I'm awake during the day, I can't say I'm doing much that's productive. Sure, there's my volunteer work.  And I am on top of my Facebook and emails, believe me.  It's not until nighttime that I start crossing serious things off my to do list.

Anyways, back to the point.  Running a race tomorrow.  Not sleepy to go to bed for it.  I realize this could be an issue, but hey... I can't say I've ever gotten more than 4-5 hours of sleep before all of my marathons where I run 26.2 miles, so surely I can handle being a little sleepy for 6.2. In all honesty, I'm running this for fun.  I like running races on holidays.  And with it being my first 10K, I'm not overly concerned about time.  And when it's all said and done, I've crossed one of my three runs for the week off the list.

This is important.  This past week kind of sucked in terms of running.  I only skipped like 6 miles worth, but that's kind of a lot since this is like the peak of my training.  Granted, it was a recovery week... but still.  I was supposed to run 10 on Thursday, and I only ran 4.  FOUR! Ridiculous, people, ridiculous!

I just wasn't feeling it.  It was hot.  I was tired.  I knew I hadn't been eating well this week (not working has seriously screwed with my food schedule... ok, so has my stay up late, sleep late thing... and so I know I'm not getting enough to eat.  I have GOT to stay on top of that these next few weeks and not forget to eat enough!).  I got in my car after calling it quits and burst into tears.

I can be pretty tender-hearted.  I tear up over the humane society commercials.  I definitely cry when I watch those shows about disabled athletes completing an Ironman or something.  But all in all, I'm a pretty tough girl.  I don't shed many tears in my running shoes.  But I was so frustrated with myself that I lost it.

So on Saturday, I set out for 15 miles with 2 good running pals.  Honestly?  I felt kind of crappy the whole time.  First I had a side stitch.  (Hello side stitch.  Where did you come from and why are you torturing me?  Seriously, I rarely get these.)  Then I felt tired.  Then I felt hot.  Then I wanted to cut back early.  Then my tummy decided it had some issues.  Then they went away. Then I worried we wouldn't get back to the bathroom fast enough.  There were walk breaks, more than I'd like, but ones that I NEEDED.  

In the end, I got the blasted 15 miles done and I called it a week.  It doesn't matter if I didn't have three awesome runs.  (Although, I still averaged a 10:30 pace for the 15-miler, walk breaks and all.  Not too bad.)  I decided to leave it out there on the path.  It's a new week.  It doesn't matter what happened last week.

And the truth of the matter is that I know I'll run a marathon on October 11.  I know I'll finish. I know I'll be happy to get that medal.  

I've had two really decent 18-milers.  I'm gearing up for my only 20-miler this weekend.  Sure, I would have preferred to do more of those, but I know that doing one will be plenty.  I have run marathons.  Plural.  I can add one more to the list.

I've made a big decision.  It's not one that I took lightly.

I'm not going to worry about a PR in Chicago.  Sure, I'd love to break my 4:31:23.  But if it doesn't happen?  That's ok.  I want to run a good race.  I want to prove to myself that a silly little injury last December is seriously old history.  I just want to get back out there and remember why I love marathons so much anyways.  I want to enjoy the experience of running one with 45,000 other people!  I want to laugh and meet people and enjoy each and every mile. I want each mile to mean something.

Does it mean I'm going to slack off? NO.  I'm still going to run with all my heart on October 11.  

Will I be ecstatic if I PR anyways? Of course.  Is it possible?  I think so.  My training puts me on course to be able to do it.

But I'm just not going to stress over it.  If it happens it happens, and if not?  Then I'll make it a goal next time.

So I'm off to run that 10K in the morning and start a new week.  I'll run my 20-miler on Saturday, even though it's still going to be hot and humid (seriously, Tennessee doesn't really see fall until like November.)  And before I know it, I'll be lining up with those 44,999 other people to run 26.2 miles in the 26th year of my life in Chicago.

I can't wait.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Behind...

I'm behind on reading your posts.  I haven't been able to catch up since vacation, and you keep posting more.  Because of this, I'm silently reading when I can and not commenting much.  Sorry! I will catch up soon... I hope.

I haven't posted much either.  Sometimes I feel like I have a ton to say, and other times I feel the need to be quiet.  This week?  I kind of wanted to be quiet.

No worries.  Nothing is wrong.  I've just kind of be staying preoccupied with odds and ends this week.  A required career class for unemployment.  Some runs that didn't go as well as I'd have liked (those weeks always happen right about now it seems.)  A Titans vs. Packers game with a close friend (I need to share some photos of this sometime though).  Reading. Watching some movies.  Catching up with people.

I haven't even put up my trip pictures on Facebook yet, which is kind of unusual for me.  Of course, the biggest reason for this is I'm waiting to collect some photos from the others on the trip.  I want to post the best!

Anyways, thanks for the emails you've sent asking why I've been quiet.  It's just one of those weeks.  I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

101 in 1001 update

With another month behind us, it's time to update you on progress I made on my 101 in 1001 list that I started a few months ago.

Here's what I crossed off in August:

21. Go to a Nashville Sounds game - I got a bunch of friends together one evening and we checked it out for a little while.  They're not particularly exciting, but it's always fun to spend an evening with good friends!

26. Visit 3 new states - I can't quite cross off this one, but I made some serious progress by visiting Oregon and Washingon last week.  I just finished my posts on the trip, so you can easily navigate backward to read about the trip if you like.  And yes, spending one day in a state counts.  It's my list and I say so. :)

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I don't like to make a big deal about this, but I did make a donation this month.

55. Meet at least one blog friend per year in person - I had only been reading their blogs for a few months before I went to Portland, but I was excited to run a few miles with Alisa and Gazelle while I was in town.

84a. Try 10 new beers in the States - I tried an Easy Blonde at the Big Horse Brewery in Hood River, Oregon.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - This month I recall watching an Ashton Kutcher film called Personal Effects (it was odd) along with Slumdog Millionaire (finally, I know) and Sunshine Cleaning (loved it!)

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I finished Emily Griffin's Something Borrowed to meet my one per month minimum along with this random book called The Sweet Spring that I got for free last time I hit the used bookstore, but I didn't have as much time to read this month for some reason.  I think I spent more time on my scrapbook.

I didn't cross off quite as much as I'd like to this month, but I figure knocking off two states was kind of a big deal.  I am also doing stuff toward some of the other items on the list that are more of a long-term type work in progress.