Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Race Report: Country Music Half Marathon

Alternatively titled Run Like You're Running From a Tornado!

This past week I had the great opportunity to run the Country Music 1/2 as part of the Nashville Striders Pace Team for the event. I was super excited to be running with a group and helping to lead them across the line in 2:15.

The weather forecast was a bit foreboding throughout the week leading up to the event. I wasn't all that concerned with the talk of rain. Honestly, I'm not even that concerned about running in a thunderstorm, lightning and all (been there, done that). It was more the talk of hail and tornados that concerned me, but I wasn't about to worry about it.

The weather on Friday was warm and sunny, and I left work a bit early to hit up the race expo. Part of my requirement for running as a pacer was to attend a "Meet the Pacer" clinic so that the runners could meet the pacers. After I did that, I took a sweep of the expo. Being a Brooks girl, I loved that all the official race gear was Brooks... but I didn't really need any of it so I quickly looked at it and moved on.

Other than my purchase of the iFitness belt and the Power Balance bracelet, there was very little that interested me. I felt like the expo was considerably smaller than previous years, and there seemed to be way less interesting stuff. Not only that, but I only managed to come home with pain reliever samples and a sample of dog treats. Hmmm.... I was less than impressed.

By the time I went to bed Friday night it was lightly raining, but it seemed pretty dry when I got up at 4:30am. (SO early!) The forecast seemed promising, and it looked like the rain wasn't moving back in until much later.

I got up, got ready and then headed out with my parents and college pal Jenny who were all going to watch the race.

Ready to go even though the sun hasn't come up yet! The big sign was used in the corral to help people find me, and I ran with the little sign.

The Country Music 1/2 and Full both start at Centennial Park and finish near the Titans Stadium. Since it's point to point, most people park at the stadium and take the shuttles to the start. I know better than to get mixed up in that traffic jam, so my parents were just going to drop me off a few blocks from the start. We went flying past all of the traffic on the interstate waiting to get off to go to the stadium, and I really felt bad for everyone. It's my opinion that they've let this race get a little bit bigger than they can handle, and it seems like the back-up in the line for the shuttles (both for the cars trying to get there and then the people waiting in line to get on one) is a bit excessive.

Me ready to walk a few blocks to the start after saying bye to my people.

Since I was part of the pace team, I had access to the VIP tent. It was pretty exciting to have some snacks, use portapotties that very few people were allowed to use, and to see the elite athletes jogging around to warm up. I didn't recognize any of them, and I didn't have a camera on me to take any pictures... but it was still pretty cool.

Next thing I knew, they were telling us we needed to get lined up because they were starting the race early at 6:45!!!

Now - due to the ominous weather, we had already been notified that the full marathoners might be diverted at the split for the half if they weren't there by a certain time. I felt this was an appropriate decision. But deciding to start the race early and not tell anyone until right before it happened? Not so cool. I kind of felt like if they were going to do that, they needed to decide at least the day before so that at a minimum they could post it at the expo and send out an email to all participants. A LOT of people missed starting on time and were NOT happy about it. In fact, one of the elites was still in the bathroom when the gun fired!

So I made my way as quickly as I could to my corral and put up my sign to show that I was the 2:15 leader. People immediately flocked around me. It was actually kind of funny. I started chatting with everyone and quickly found out I had people in my group from Chicago, Philadelphia, SC, IA, and AL. I'm sure there were more, but it stood out to me how many people I had from out of town.

I had a very simple strategy for pacing. I wanted to try to be consistent, but I knew we'd slow down a bit on some of the early hiller miles. My big thing was to try to keep up with how much I needed to make up as the course leveled out a bit later in the race.

I am used to talking the entire time I run a half, but what I wasn't prepared for was yelling. It never occurred to me that I'd have to yell any time I said anything in order to make sure everyone heard me. It was really tiring, but I'm still glad that I spent a lot of time talking with my group. I tried to point out Nashville things along the way as well as encourage them up hills and point out water stops and bathrooms. I answered questions, and we all tried to cheer each other along.

It was SO cool running as a pacer. I definitely had a blast, but I also felt the pressure. I really had to stay on top of checking the time each mile. I had been given the wrong pace band the day before, so I didn't even have the splits to look at... I was trying to do the math in my head... and we all know I'm terrible at math! Nonetheless, I was making it happen.

You have to look closely, but I'm on the other side of the road cheering and waving. I made my group holler and wave anytime we saw spectators that I knew!

This photo shows you the massive crowd of runners! It also illustrates how you can see me coming due to the sign even though you can't see me!

So here's the other thing about the Nashville race that I don't like - the race has outgrown the course. It is SO crowded. And the most crowded section is Belmont Blvd. You run down on one side and back up the other, so you have a very limited amount of space. And with 30,000+ runners? It's just not a big enough road to run up and down. I really believe the course needs to be changed so you only run down it one direction. Just an opinion.

If you can get past dude in the sweatband (I mean, really... it's not the 80s mister), you see that I'm about to hand off my hat to my dad. I always wear one when it rains, but since it was not raining and it was MUGGY I was burning up. By this point (about mile 7), I didn't have a dry piece of gear on because I was sweating so much. I had to ditch the hat.

Since a lot of the people in my group were from up north, most of them were really struggling with the humidity. It wasn't that the temperatures were all that hot, but it felt like it was about 80 degrees. The impending storm was making it incredibly warm and muggy, and it sucked! We haven't had enough warm days here yet for me to be acclimated to it. Some of my group had to start dropping off. I hated to see them go because I ended up not getting to see them again later (crowds!!!), but I hope they all did well and were pleased with their experience.

I saw a handful of friends along the course who cheered for me, and it was so exciting each time to hear my name and see people I know. In particular, my pals Ben, Marianna and Bennett. Thanks y'all!

Over the last couple of miles, I only had a handful of people still with me. One gal was totally feeling great and was able to take off and leave us. I was super excited for her. There was one guy who ended up running with me the whole time, and he was super cool. I really enjoyed getting to chat and get to know the people running with me. I kind of hate that I'll never see them again, but it definitely made it a fun experience for me. I only hope it was just as fun for them.

My favorite sign that I saw along the course was, "Run like you're running from a tornado!" I thought it was super clever considering the impending weather.

Over the last 15 minutes I was on the course, the clouds started rolling in and it instantly cooled off. I won't lie - I wish it had done it sooner. I was HOT and I was DRAINED.

Before long, we crossed the last bridge to head to the finish.

Here I am just before the 13 marker. The guy in all grey ran with me the whole time and was super awesome!

We crossed the line in 2:14:52! I had really hoped to get my group across a few seconds under, and I was thrilled to pull it off. I gave the people still with me high fives. I was honestly a little loopy at this point... I really believe that I had gotten overheated out there even though I was running so much slower than I'm used to doing. People that I hadn't seen before started coming up and telling me they'd been running with me the last few miles even though they hadn't said anything on the course. It was really cool to hear that, and I was super excited to have been able to help them.

I hit up the finish line VIP tent to get my bag and to try to eat a little, but I couldn't get much down. It's a real shame because they had some awesome food up in there for us!

As the storm rolled in, I made my way to try to find my family and Jenny.

Even though this is officially my slowest half ever, I felt really proud of the accomplishment! It was so great to help other people run.

It did start raining a bit, and I had to wait a little while for my people to make it to me. I got a little cold considering I didn't have on any dry clothing.

Fortunately, I packed a garbage bag and was able to use it to warm up a bit.

My people found me and I got a few pictures with a few friends, but since it was started to for real storm, I decided we should head on out. Normally I would have hung around and tried to locate more people that I knew out there, but I was really ready to get home and take a hot shower.

Since we had to walk across the pedestrian bridge anyways, I decided to stop for a photo with downtown Nashville behind me. It looks a little nicer on a sunny day... and without a girl in a trash bag in front of it.

As we walked to where the car was parked, the storm was really setting in. There was a thunderclap that caused pretty much everyone on the bridge to jump. Soon enough we were in the car and heading home. I spent the afternoon sleeping soundly in my bed while it stormed and poured rain outside. Fortunately, no tornados came out way.

If you keep up with races, you'll know that there was a bit of chaos about the runners caught in the storm. Most half runners were allowed to finish from what I understand, but the marathon runners were diverted at several different places. I have mixed feelings. I can understand needing to make a decision to call the race short due to severe weather... but I felt like they were not organized and didn't communicate clearly about it all.

All in all, I had a pretty good experience. Nashville is the home race for me, and I've run the full twice and the half twice. Would I run it again? Honestly, I wouldn't pay to do it. I'd pace again since the perk of being a pacer is getting a free registration... but since I've done it several times I don't have the desire to pay for it again. I'd rather pay to run races I haven't run yet.

Still, I recommend that everyone run this race at least once. It IS a lot of fun, and I think it's totally worth it.

But I would never pay to do it more than once. I really believe the race organizers have gotten a bit full of themselves. The race gets more expensive every year, and I feel like the quality is getting worse. It's too big for the shuttle service and too big for the course. The expo wasn't as good this year, and they didn't have water stations every single mile (which in a huge race like this is a MUST). I didn't see as many bathrooms along the course. I'm not trying to knock it too much - I totally mean it when I say it's worth doing once. But I can't help but share what I think are the negative aspects if for no other reason than out of the hope that maybe someone associated with the race might read this and realize that as a runner, I'm become disenchanted with this event.. and I'm not afraid to share the bad PR.

Nonetheless, it was a terrifically fun time for me to run as a pacer. I will totally do that again if I'm given the opportunity. I absolutely loved getting to encourage other runners along the way.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Case of the Friendlies

I typically try to get out of the office every day for my lunch hour. I know that I'll benefit from the break of being around, and no one there can call or email and interrupt my hour of non-work time if I'm not in the building.

I bounce around a few places for lunch, and I have to admit that every now and then I hit up the local Krystal. For anyone not familiar with Krystal, it's similar to White Castle, but it's way better. If you don't know about either one, then I'm not sure what to compare it to... basically they serve tiny square hamburgers.

It's kind of not at all healthy, but it was a fast food place that my grandparents loved. I remember that we'd go with them when I was little, and back then we had to drive about 20 minutes down the road to go to one. I suppose that I grew up eating them from time to time, so I still crave them from time to time. (Most people can't believe I'll eat them sober since Krystal is known for being your typical place to grab food late after a night of drinking.)

The Krystal near my office is kind of the best Krystal I've ever eaten in. The fries are always hot and yummy. The cheeseburgers are usually just the way I like them. They have excellent sweet tea.

I went there today and had my little value meal and spent most of the hour sitting there reading a book. When I decided to leave, I got my refill and as I headed out was wished a nice day by everyone behind the counter. I smiled and returned the well wishes and was actually thinking about how much I like how friendly people in the South can be and how it really does lift you up a bit when someone just wishes you a good day.

As I walked across the little parking lot to my car, I heard another voice start talking. The manager had opened up the drive through window so that he could lean out and also wish me a good day! I returned it, and I couldn't help but smile as I got back in my car. It's honestly the first time that someone has made THAT much effort to just wish me a nice day in quite a while.

Just a random southern story that I thought I'd share.

On that note, I'm wishing you all a wonderful day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the meantime...

I owe you guys and gals a report on the Country Music 1/2 Marathon and my first experience running as a pace team leader. I promise it's coming. I'm just still flat out exhausted from the weekend, and I haven't had the energy to get the photos uploaded into the blog. Be patient. It'll be a good race report!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share about some positive experiences I had after some purchases I made at the race expo in Nashville.

My expo experience on Friday was a bit rushed because I needed to get all my race stuff and attend a "Meet the Pacer" clinic where runners could meet those of us on the pacing team. I also had to pick up all my pacing stuff (shirt, signs, etc.) By the time I did all of that (at the end of a insanely busy work day), I didn't really have the time or energy to thoroughly do the expo like I normally would. I swept each aisle and looked for anything of interest and grabbed a few samples, but I only really stopped at the two tables I had planned in advance to check out.

First, I wanted to see the iFitness belts that Danica raves about all of the time. I do LOVE my SpiBelt, but I felt like I might be more comfortable using it only on runs when I need to carry fuel and find something a bit more water resistant for runs when I want/need to carry my phone or camera. I've heard enough good reviews among lots of running bloggers, so I decided to take the plunge and buy one. I had stopped here on my way to the pacer clinic, so I quickly looked at them, picked one, and purchased.

It wasn't until I got home that I was charged the price for the double pouch belt. It was only a $4 difference, but $4 is $4. I kicked myself for not paying more attention when I was actually there.

Today, I called the company and it ended up that I was on the phone with one of the owners. I explained what happened and he was SO super nice and apologized and gladly worked with me to refund me the $4 I was overcharged. It was an honest mistake, but I was really appreciative that we were able to take care of it so easily. Companies who treat their companies well earn my respect. I haven't gotten to use the belt yet, but I can already say that at a minimum they at least offer excellent customer service.

My other big stop was the Power Balance booth. I had seen these bracelets at the Chicago expo and was seriously impressed with their demo to show how it improves your balance. I even dragged my best friend and her husband back the second day and made them take the test. I had considered buying one, but I had spent so much money already that I couldn't bring myself to spend $30 on something that I wasn't even sure if it would work.

I hadn't stopped wondering about it, so I decided that I'd buy one at this expo... especially since I hadn't spent any money on the race (pacers run for free!). I tried on the different sizes and determined what fit and picked a color. It wasn't until the next morning that I realized the gal gave me a size too big. I was a little bummed to not be able to try it out at the race.

I called them today as well and explained what happened, and the gal I spoke with there was also quite nice. They're sending me an envelope to use to mail it back to them, and then they're going to ship me out the one that is the size I need. I'll have to wear it for a while to see if I think it really does help with endurance and stuff, but I was really intrigued so I'm excited to try it out and see if it makes any difference.

I was seriously impressed with the excellent customer service I received from both companies. I think that in the running community we all kind of want to be treated a certain way. Running stuff is kind of expensive, and we want to make sure that we spend our money wisely. If I'm going to drop some dough on running stuff, I want to know that my business is appreciated.

Even though I've yet to use either product, I can so far recommend that doing business with both companies really is a pleasure. It was really refreshing to call with these concerns and get them taken care of so easily.

Stay tuned for the race report and pictures!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gearing up for the Country Music 1/2

I kind of keep forgetting that I'm running in the Country Music 1/2 on Saturday.

Don't get me wrong - I am totally excited to be running it as a pacer. I think it's going to be a blast to encourage other people and help them to finish in their goal time.

I think it's just that I've run this race a handful of times, so it's kind of old news. Granted, that's why I'm running as a pacer. I wanted something that would make it new again.

I think the excitement will hit on Friday when I go to the race expo and attend the Meet the Pacer clinic. And then Saturday morning when I line up on West End with over 30,000 runners. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that there is a pretty exciting atmosphere to the Nashville race. I always tell people to run it at least once for good reason. It's a really great experience!

I feel confident about leading a pace team. I'm looking forward to having a fun day, even if it pours down rain... something that they're saying might happen. (One never knows with the weather in April. It could be rainy. It could be cold. It could be blazing hot. It's actually part of the reason why I'll likely never run the full marathon again - it's too unpredictable to train for all that time and then not have a clue what the weather will do. It's kind of surprising to me they keep doing the race this time of year when it IS so unpredictable.)

Is anyone else running the Nashville race? I'd love to meet you if possible!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going a Bit Old School Tonight

I can't believe I'm about to admit this on the internet for the entire world to see (if everyone happens to stumble upon this tiny little piece of real estate on the net...)

I was working on cleaning out cds tonight. I wasn't surprised that I had cds that I bought 14-15 years ago that I probably haven't listened to in 13-14 years. There was a bit of nostalgia mixed in as I remembered when I LOVED each cd, but I still managed to downsize my collection. If it wasn't something I had taken the time to import into iTunes, it went into the yard sale. I did keep everything else because one never knows when you might lose your entire collection of music on the computer... it's good to have a hard copy of the stuff I know I love.

I have been debating tossing the plastic cases and paperwork and putting all the cds in a small container. I'd be interested to know how all of you store cds. Feel free to share your thoughts.

But that's not even the part I didn't want to admit.

I found a box where I had cassettes. As in cassette tapes to listen to on a cassette player. And I knew I had them somewhere because I remembered hanging on to all my New Kids on the Block tapes and Dolly Parton tapes for sentimental reasons.

But I wasn't expecting what else I found.

I had about 10 tapes with tiny little notes included inside to tell me all the different songs that were on them... that I had taped from the radio.

PLEASE tell me I'm not the only kid who did this back in the 90s... back before we all had cds.

Sidenote: My kids really are going to think I'm so freaking old someday. In addition to being born in a whole different millennium from them (!!!), there's no telling how many forms of music will come and go before they start having a vested interest. Considering I had a record player, a cassette player, a cd player and now mp3 players... wow.

Back to the point. I can remember sitting in my room and waiting for a favorite song to come on the radio so that I could hit record really fast and tape it... and then rewind and listen to it over and over as much as I wanted.

Gah... I am such a total geek.

Everyone comment now and tell me that you did this, too!

(Meanwhile, no wonder I didn't have a boyfriend until I was 17.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Enjoying What Nashville Has to Offer

One of the things that I've been trying to do more often is to be a tourist in my own city. I love Nashville, but it's almost crazy how many things I haven't done here yet. In fact, many of the items on my 101 in 1001 list are local Nashville things that I've always wanted to do. Granted, some of them I wouldn't have done as kid growing up here anyways, but still...

When a friend called me last week and told me she had free tickets to see the Nashville Symphony on Thursday night, I had to take her up on the offer. I'll admit - even though I enjoy live music and have an appreciation for the fine arts, the symphony isn't typically my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I've been wanting to see a show in the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center because I've heard it's beautiful and has amazing acoustics.

It turned out that I made a great decision. Not only was she given tickets with a high ticket value, they were also for pretty great box seats. The show that night was part of a pop series that they are doing, and it featured bluegrass.

Now here's the thing folks... I'm not typically a bluegrass kind of girl. I like some of it here and there. Nickelcreek and Allison Krauss have the kind of bluegrass sound that I can get into as opposed to the more hillbilly sound that I don't like as well.

The symphony played a few songs that were actually really cool, and before intermission they even played "Rocky Top." Growing up in Tennessee, I definitely know this song... but I have never heard a symphony play it before. Totally cool.

After intermission, a bluegrass band I had never heard of called Cherryholmes performed. I loved every minute. I even found myself thinking that a lot of their stuff would be really awesome to listen to when I'm running. Much of it was very upbeat, and the fiddle and banjo really added to it. And boy, could some of them sing! We even were treated to a little clogging on one of the songs.

I've never heard a symphony backing up a bluegrass group before, and I definitely have never found a bluegrass band I enjoyed so much... but it was definitely awesome stuff to check out.

I went home feeling really satisfied. I heard some good music and found a deeper appreciation for bluegrass. I finally saw something in the new symphony building. I had an experience that was definitely unique in some ways to Nashville. I got to catch up with a good friend. And I only spent money on parking. Sweet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closet Purging

I'm cleaning out my closet.

You've all been there, right?

You stand there and wonder when on earth you bought ALL OF THESE CLOTHES?!

Then you realize that you've got clothes that you've had for close to ten years. For whatever reason, and it's not that you still wear them, you can't quite seem to part with them.

I'm determined to purge my closet of anything that I am not going to wear. It's hard to do in part because most of the items I'm tossing are perfectly good. They just shrank a bit or don't fit quite the same as they did four years ago when I bought them (before I started running and my body changed). And I've bought new clothes that fit better and are more stylish and that I ultimately end up wearing the most.

I've made some progress. So far, only clothes that I know I love and will wear are in the closet. There are also two giant stacks of clothes - both summer and winter - in the floor serving as my "to be considered" stacks. I made my way through part of one of them tonight and determined that most of them needed to go in the yard sale pile. I can't believe how much stuff I've kept over the years! (And it's hard to think about how much money has been spent on these clothes, although it's probably not as much as one might guess since I'm a bargain shopper for sure.)

But do you want to know what helps? When your iPod that you've set on shuffle randomly starts playing "Bringin' Sexy Back" when you've got on a cute tank top that is SO totally going back in the closet.

I might have scared Tucker when I decided it was time to dance and sing around the room.

I still have a good bit to go through, and it's definitely tiring since I'm trying everything on to make my determination. I have a feeling that most of what I've pulled out is going to go into the yard sale pile, and it's probably going to be a lot. But it feels good. I don't want to keep my closet packed to the max with stuff I don't wear. Might as well try to make some money off of it all... I mean, there is a ton of name brand stuff, and most of it's still in really good shape!

There are things I'm keeping that I don't necessarily wear all the time. Like my lace up the back and button in the front corset. But it's still worth hanging on to for the time or two each year that I decide to break it out. And there are dresses that are really only wedding appropriate. But we all have to have those kinds of pieces around, right?

Don't think the shoe collection is being left out. I had WAY too many shoes, which is interesting since I'm not really a shoe girl. Part of the problem is that I used to be a 7 1/2, and somewhere along the way I grew to become an 8. And yet I didn't toss all the shoes that were two small.... until last night. My shoe collection is much more manageable now, and this makes me happy.

Ok, wow... so this post is pretty materialistic. But I guess that's the point. I have way too much. It's time to get rid of a lot of it.

If you're in the Nashville area and have any desire in coming to my yard sale when I have it, let me know and I'll send you the details. I'm definitely going to have a lot of decent stuff going for cheap. (I haven't even started cleaning out cds yet!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Race Report: Purity Moosic City 10K

I kind of signed up for the race a few weeks ago on a whim. Basically, I saw the shirt from last year and thought it was super cute since it had a cow on it, and I wanted one. Plus, there are very few opportunities to run a 10K around here.

I got up Saturday morning and headed to the race on my own. I couldn't convince the parentals to come and offer any photography services, and all of my other running pals had some reason or another for not running this one. Nonetheless, I knew that once I got my number and stuff that if I wandered around long enough I'd find someone I know.

And indeed I did. I found two of my cousins and two other friends, so we all hung out at the start and caught up a bit. They were all running the 5K, so as soon as the gun fired we all split up to run our own paces.

The weather was PERFECT. It was about 45 degrees, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I really didn't think there was any chance I was in shape to run a PR. It would mean keeping a sub-9:00 pace, something that I've only been doing for about 4-5 miles lately. I decided to just settle in and go with what felt good for the first couple of miles.

When I hit mile 3, I realized I'd been hitting perfect 9:00 minute mile splits. I knew I'd have to pick it up if I want to break the current PR of 54:07, but it seemed doable. I decided to try to start picking people off and see if that challenge would give me what I needed to pick the pace up.

Side note: This race is held in the part of town where miles 13-18ish of the Country Music Marathon go down. I've run the full twice, and even though it's been a few years I still couldn't help but think of the two times I ran over there as part of that race. Kind of neat.

I realized I was feeling good at mile 4, but I also knew that a lot could happen in 2 more miles. I tried to stay focused and kept picking people off. (I love when I'm able to pass people in a short race like this. I think it helps me to see that I'm doing something right if I've got energy to pass more people than what pass me in the last couple of miles of a race.)

When I got to mile 5, I had picked it up enough that I could have ran the last mile in 10 minutes and still get a new PR. At the mile 6 mark, I knew I had it in the bag... but I still had to run that last .2. I picked it up even more and sprinted it in... with a finish time of 53:03, beating the old PR by 1:04. YAY!

I had to walk around a few minutes to catch my breath, and I felt a little bummed that there was no one there with me to celebrate the new PR. I still felt pretty excited though.

Since the race is hosted by Purity, I made sure to get myself an ice cream sandwich. And a carton of chocolate milk. And then I noticed the table with all the Luna Bars, so I grabbed a handful of those. (Might as well get my money's worth, yes?) There was also a table with pasta, but I decided that I was already kind of full from all the ice cream and chocolate milk.

I have to say. I can't think of any other time in my life where I've eaten ice cream at 9:15 in the morning. It was kind of nice.

All in all, it was a fun race. The course is flat, and the weather was perfect. The cow shirt is super cute, but it's a bit too big for me to use to run in. (It's a small, but it's definitely a generic small instead of a women's small, which means it's way too big for me.) I'll have to settle for wearing it as a regular shirt with jeans.

I'm excited about the new PR. I haven't really been setting any time-specific goals for my racing lately, so it was a nice surprise to be able to pull this off at this event.

It's not much to brag about, but I was 14 out of 83 in my age group. And I was 47 out of 366 women. And I was 164 out of 627 overall. Sure, I didn't win any awards or anything, but it was kind of exciting to me to do that well.

And since I didn't have anyone there with me, I don't have any pictures to share. :(

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fun

I just wanted to share something that made me smile today.

Nashville is indeed the home of country music. It's not all my kind of music, but I do enjoy some Lady Antebellum. They've taken another popular country artist's song and made a few changes.

Enjoy "A Little More Preppy than That."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Impulsive Race Registering

I am not an impulsive shopper. In fact, I'm not that girl that loves to shop a ton in the first place. I go shopping when I need something... or when I have really freaking awesome coupons to a favorite store. Either way, I take time my time picking out things, trying things on and debating whether or not I really need to buy the items.

On larger purchases, I debate even longer. Case in point? I knew for a solid year that I wanted to buy an iMac. I had no doubt about wanting to make the switch from a PC, but I still didn't want to run out and make such a large purchase without really sleeping on it... and waiting for a deal. In the end, my patience paid off because I bought on the sales tax holiday to save some dough and walked away with a free iPod Touch and a free printer.

This mentality serves me well I think. It's something that I find that I do when planning out my race schedule. I'm not only considering the time frame of the training and when the races fall, I'm also considering how much I'm spending on the races. After spending $330 to just sign up for the Goofy Challenge in January (and that's not counting all the travel costs I'll have), I've been making it a point to try to spend a bit less on races throughout this year. I've been doing quite well with it, especially since I ran one race free from cashing in volunteer coupons and I'm about to run another free because I'm a pacer. (Another key to my shopping habits is that I always find a way to work the system so that I get more for less!)

But today? Today I signed up for a race on a whim. I know that I can afford it since I've been spending a lot less on races this year, and I've got a little spreadsheet of all the races I'm planning for the rest of the year so that I know for sure what I plan to spend. (Yes, I'm a nerd. You know you dig it.) Nonetheless, it's still not like me to just jump on something so quickly.

But there was good reason.

The Women's Half Marathon just announced in a press conference yesterday that their new destination this year is Nashville! And the first 250 to sign up can do so for only $50! I quickly looked at the calendar and realized that the September 25 date works out perfectly for me. I haven't developed my training plan for the fall just yet, but I know that a half around that time will be ideal. And I've reached a point where I'm not really willing to spend more than $50 for a half, so the only way it was going to happen was if I signed up fast. Oh, and I emailed some girlfriends and talked them into doing it, too!

I know it's not the same as the Nike Women's Marathon, a race that I so want to do someday. But I think it'll be kind of cool to run a women's race, especially through the streets of a city I know and love (and will be living in for real by then!)

So I think this was the good kind of impulsive shopping. I'm feeling really good about what I've got on the calendar for the rest of the year, this race included.

One day at a time though... next up on the calendar is a 10K this weekend. I don't think I'm quite in PR shape, but who knows? Maybe I'll pull one off.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Excitement on a Monday

So I'm pretty excited about several things today.

  • I won a running tank top from ellasport through the Racevine Winter Giveaway! If you don't know about Racevine yet, you totally should go check it out! It's a fairly new race review website. I have been adding reviews of races I've won, and I love reading the reviews that other athletes have posted. It is similar to, but I find the site to be a bit more friendly. And colorful. And organized in a way that appeals to my Type A personality. Plus, if a race you've completed isn't on there, you just shoot them a message and they add it! The giveaway isn't over yet, so if you want a chance to win some really cool prizes, hop on over there and review a race that you've run. That's all it takes to enter! (Ha, and no, they're not paying me for this publicity. I'm just super excited that I entered the giveaway and won a prize!)
  • I cleaned out a lot more stuff last night and tonight. It has felt so good to see more and more stuff go into the yard sale pile. I seriously had t-shirts that I know I hadn't worn in 3 years because I had so many other t-shirts that I like better. I've got running shirts from races that don't fit quite right, so I am planning on giving those away to some fellow runners. I've also thrown a ton of stuff away. I can't believe some of the things I found tucked away in drawers.
  • The heat index this afternoon was 91 degrees. Have I mentioned that we really only have 2 seasons in Tennessee? Winter and Summer. We had a few teasers of spring last week, but today it was just hot. If the pools were open, I might consider heading out to one in the bikini... except that my tummy is SO not bikini ready. Instead, I opted for my first spring pedicure so that I can start wearing sandals and open-toed shoes to work. (I'm not typically very vain, but I hate showing off my toes unless they've been painted.)
What are you excited about today?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Race Report: Inaugural Oak Barrel Half Marathon

Some of you who have been reading here for a while know that I've been fortunate enough to have quite a few opportunities to travel. It seems like anytime I go somewhere (even when it's been out of the US) and I tell people I'm from Tennessee, the response is always, "Oh yeah, Jack Daniels!"

Yep. Jack Daniels. The distillery is about an hour down the road in Lynchburg, TN. Apparently it's made out state famous throughout the world. :)

When my friend Amy told me about the Inaugural Oak Barrel Half Marathon, I figured I might as well sign up. I love running inaugural races, I love running close to home, and I thought it'd be fun to run something new. Plus, it was only $50. If I only knew what the day held...

I woke up to cloudy skies. I knew that there was a chance of rain, so I dressed on the light side. The rain hit as I was driving to Lynchburg, and the wind was so rough that my car was shaking on the interstate. Most of the drive is on country highways, and the speed limit would often changed from 55 to 30 with practically little notice. I was starting to get a little nervous that I was cutting it a bit close to make it on time, especially with the rain.

I also saw a BIG bolt of lightning as I was getting closer to the race. It's funny to me that I saw that and hardly thought twice about it other than to jump a little when it startled me. When did I reach this place where I'm UNFAZED about running in a thunderstorm?

When I pulled into the parking lot, I had about 25 minutes until the start. Nonetheless, I hopped out of the car and let my mom (who ever so kindly went with me) take over getting it parked while I got my packet. I desperately needed to use the bathroom, so I was soon standing in line at the porta potties when I spotted my cousin. It's always nice to see someone I know at a race.

After taking care of business, I found Amy and we were able to get a quick photo in the rain before heading to the start just in time to hear someone fumble up the national anthem (she was able to laugh at herself about it, so that's good, haha) and then we were off!

Here we are just before heading to the start line. We both rocked the Huntsville marathon hats we earned in December. I really don't like running in a hat, but I always do when it rains to keep the water out of my contacts.

We headed out to enjoy 13.1 miles through Lynchburg. Even though it's so close, I'd honestly never been there before. I was kind of excited about running somewhere new.

We had been warned that the course was hilly. Considering I run in Percy Warner Park pretty often, it never occurred to me to think twice about this fact. Around mile 4, we found ourselves running up one of the biggest hills I have ever attempted to run. We eventually just walked up the rest of it, and it took me a few minutes to catch my breath at the top. Someone had the sensible idea to put a water stop at the very top. This was brilliant, to say the very least.

Running through Lynchburg was beautiful, but I have to admit I probably would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't been raining. I didn't spend as much time looking around as I think I would have should the weather have been nicer.

There was one really awesome part where we ran past a field that had a big group of horses, including one baby horse. They were running around all over the place in a big group. It was really cool to see that. I'm sure they were probably a little disconcerted that all these people were running by on their usually quiet and lightly trafficked road.

I'm so used to living in the Nashville metro area that I forget sometimes that most of TN really is countryside. Lynchburg is definitely a good example of small town TN. I passed so many farms on the way there this morning, and the little town area is definitely the kind of small, quaint town you'd imagine. I almost got the feeling that I had gone back in time, although I suspect they've kept things kind of old looking as part of the tourist appeal.

Amy and I chatted during most of the race, and I know that part of why I did so well is definitely because I had her company. The course really was challenging, and I think I might have gone slower or walked more had I not been running with someone.

The last mile seemed to drag on since we were running straight down a highway that was not closed to traffic, but we soon headed into the finish chute and finished in 2:06:16. (The race results say 2:06:52, so I haven't figured out how it is that my watch time is different when I started and stopped it on the chip mats at the start/finish.. so I'm going with my time.)

I was pretty glad to be done with this. Today marked my 11th half marathon, and it was definitely the hardest and hilliest one I've ever run! The rain added to the challenge. It was a tough event, but I really enjoyed getting it done and knowing I did something that was a bit challenging. I'm not in PR shape right now, but this wouldn't have been a PR course anyways. I was thrilled with a 2:06 under the conditions.

Both of us were happy to get this one done, and we've both agreed that it was fun to do... but that we probably won't feel the need to do it again. Once is enough. The medals were pretty cool though.

The post-race food was ok. I can't say I want Brunswick Stew after running a half. I did have a corn muffin that was pretty good before making the walk back to the car. There wasn't a dry piece of clothing on my body, so I got colder and colder as I made the 10-minute walk back to the car.

I wasn't about to make the hour drive home in wet clothes, so I orchestrated a change in my car. I drive a little 2-door Mercury Cougar with a tiny backseat. Changing every piece of clothing (underwear and all) back there was quite the challenge!

I got home and discovered I was 18 out of 56 in my age group and 315 out of 685 overall. I also found out my cousin got third in his age group. How fun!

The shirts and medals were probably my favorite part of the event. Even though it's a tech shirt, I don't think I'll run in it. The fabric isn't my favorite, and it's a little short... but I like the design so I'll likely wear it with jeans.

The medals were made of wood and had the design carved into them, and they had twine to hang them around your neck. I think it's one of the coolest medals I've ever earned!

I was so exhausted when I got home that I just laid down on top of my bed and crashed. Normally I like to shower first, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Four hours later, I finally woke up and got cleaned up. My body feels pretty good, but I'm still kind of tired. I'm definitely taking it easy tonight!

All in all, I'm really glad that I challenged myself and ran this race. Honestly, I always feel a little bad ass when I run a challenging race, especially when it's done in the rain. So I'll take that. :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cross Country Shirts Have the Best Quotes

While cleaning out a drawer full of all sorts of old papers and cards (seriously, I had cards from numerous birthdays, Christmases and both my high school and college graduations), I found a little gem.

I remember where it came from... I saw it on someone else's cross country t-shirt when I was in high school, and I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote it down.

"Some people think it's all about pain, misery and despair, which are not to be forgotten. But it's about the pleasure. I mean, I'm not stupid. At least not that stupid."

It totally made me smile. I think that's the beautiful thing about runners. It IS about the pain, misery and despair sometimes, but it's so much more about the pleasure that running brings to us... even if it is a little stupid sometimes.

Meanwhile, I kept cards with special notes... but I definitely trashed a ton that I got where people just signed their names. Why hang on to all of those? It continues to feel good to consolidate my stuff.

I sincerely apologize that I have hardly been commenting on your blogs. I promise I'm keeping up and reading, but that's about all I have time to do right now. Keep writing, and I'll show back up in your comments soon!

101 in 1001 Update

I accomplished a few things on my list in March!

20. Go to a Nashville Predators game - It's actually kind of shameful that I haven't been to one in a few years. I don't really follow hockey, but the games can be really fun. I was able to get some free tickets at work, and it turned out to be a fun evening. I'll have to make it a point to go see them play more often.

42. Learn to do something new that I've NEVER done before - I totally learned how to hit a golf ball on a driving range this month. I had definitely never done that before. By the end, I was hitting the ball about 50 yards (although I continued to have some failed swings here and there).

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I really almost hate acknowledging this one because I don't want to seem like I'm patting myself on the back, but this is something I really want to make sure I keep doing. I was able to make a small donation to support a cause that one of my friends is really passionate about this month.

48. Mail a card/letter to someone four times a year (doesn't have to be the same person) - I have a good friend in Iraq right now, so I'm making it a point to send him a card once a month.

71. Clean out things/clothes I don’t use/need once per season (sell or donate items) - I'm not marking this off as done just yet, but I did make a serious start on it during the month of March. I'm bound and determined to finish this soon.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - I haven't been watching as many movies lately, but I was home one night and caught Man of the House on tv. Tommy Lee Jones lives with a bunch of Texas cheerleaders because they witnessed a murder. It was totally cheesy, but it totally sucked me in.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I also have not been as good about staying on top of reading lately (as evidenced by yesterday's post where I told you I started reading the March issue of a magazine on March 31). Nonetheless, I did read a Joyce Meyer book called Filled with the Spirit. I had to read it for work, but I never said that the books couldn't be required reading.