Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taking Me Back

It's funny how music can take you back to another period of your life.

Last November, I had gotten a copy of Imogen Heap's latest album a few weeks before going to see her play at Exit/In. I drove around listening to it for quite a while, but eventually I moved on to other things.

I've been hanging out with someone recently. Someone I haven't seen much of since that period of time last year. The weather here is starting to remind me of that time. Spending time together is familiar. And it makes me want to pull back out that Imogen Heap album because I know that as soon as I hear those songs, I'll have that happy feeling I had when I was driving around listening to it last year.

Sure, things have changed. I'm not interested in returning to the past. But somehow, hearing those songs and spending time together and feeling the crispness in the air... it just reminds me of good things and helps me to be content with everything else right now... even though I'm kind of not content with everything else right now.

Meanwhile, my friend Paige and I totally rocked "Gangsta's Paradise" in the car going to the race this past Saturday. Being reminded of middle school isn't really as enjoyable, but it's fun to bust out the 90s music from time to time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Swagger Wagon

Please watch this. It makes me smile.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Race Report: Nashville Women's Half Marathon

Alternatively Titled: How to Get a PR When You Least Expect It

A few months ago I found out that the Inaugural Women's Half Marathon would take place this weekend in Nashville. I didn't really need to run a half, but they were offering the first 200 to register a discounted entry of $50. I decided that I'd do it with full intentions of using it as a training run.

Over the past few months, I put together a small team of girlfriends to run it for Mercy Ministries, a local non-profit that I support.

On Friday, I headed downtown to visit the race expo. I was not surprised that EVERYTHING was pink. The bags. The shirts. Everything any of the vendors were selling. I really am not a pink kind of girl, so it made it easy to keep my wallet in my purse. I did decide to buy a couple of Bondi Bands since I've heard good things about them.

My friend Tish met up with me at the expo. We had a little time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we wandered down Broadway and acted like tourists.

A view of Broadway - I love this city!

We met up with the ladies on our team at the Old Spaghetti Factory and enjoyed a fantastic pre-race meal. I also acted like a total goofball and showed off one of my new Bondi Bands - this one says my favorite running slogan, "Some girls chase boys - I pass 'em!"

A group photo at dinner.

Saturday morning brought a 5:30am wake-up. I got ready and headed downtown to meet my team for a team photo in our Run for Mercy shirts and to wish everyone well.

The weather wasn't as hot as it could have been. We've still been having some 90 degree hot and humid days down here, but some rain on Friday cooled things off a bit. It was still warmer than I'd prefer for a race, but I'll take it.

The race started with the first couple of miles being run downtown. In case you're not familiar with Nashville, the downtown section is pretty hilly. My legs felt like lead, I already felt hot and sweaty, and I was not pleased with the hills. I was managing to keep a 9:00 pace for those first few miles, and I found myself just hoping I could hang on to it and finish the race in about 2 hours as I intended.

We ran up and into Centennial Park, and my legs finally started to loosen up. There were hardly any spectators throughout the course, but the ones that were out there were definitely encouraging. A lot of them were men since it was a women's race, and my favorite were two guys holding signs that said "Single Doctor." They were pretty cute, and I've been kicking myself for not telling them my name and to find me in Nashville. (Because if they actually had, I'd have been impressed and met them for coffee with a friend or something. Oh well.)

As we continued along, we ran down Belmont Boulevard and back. I really tried to pick it up a little on the out portion since it was downhill, knowing that I'd lose a little time on the uphill back out. I was really determine to run a 2-hour half, and I was nervous I'd start to lose it since we were hitting miles 7 and 8.

Since Belmont Blvd. was an out and back, I was able to see most of my other friends as I was heading back down the Boulevard. It's always fun to get to call out and wave at friends during a race like that.

Next thing I knew, I caught up to my friend Liz. She's a lot faster than me so I was worried to see her. Turns out she was having a rough morning. Goodness knows I've been there. I kept on trying to maintain a steady pace, and before I knew it we were at mile 10.

It was then that I looked at my watch and realized that even if it took me 30 minutes to run the last 5K, I'd be really close to my previous PR of 1:56:09. I decided that it was worth trying to push the pace a bit the last 3 miles, even though I was definitely feeling tired and it was warming up outside. I hate the heat.

I also knew that we were heading back downtown for the last 3 miles, and that was not going to be flat. We ran down Broadway, but then we turned and ran up 2nd Avenue. Let me tell you... that road is a long, steep hill. I was relieved to get to the top, but then we ran over the river on the Woodland Street bridge. While the downhill of the bridge was nice, I felt kind of doomed. I knew we had to cross the river again to get back to the finish line.

We ran around the Titans stadium, and then sure enough... we ran up the Shelby Street bridge. I knew I had less than a mile to go, but it is one steep bridge. I allowed myself to lay off the pace a bit and just focused on getting myself to the top. I wanted to walk so bad, and the sun was beating down on me. I felt hot and nauseous. I finally made it to the top and was able to coast down the other side.

After a few turns, the finish line was in sight. I had nothing left in me for a sprint, so I just kept it steady and pushed toward the finish line... knowing that I had a PR. I'm pretty sure I was smiling.

I crossed the line in 1:53:57... a new PR by 2:12... an average pace of 8:42.

I almost couldn't believe it. It took me a little while to get my walking legs and catch my breath, but then I got my medal and headed to grab some food and Gatorade.

I have to say that I really felt shocked. I have NO idea how I pulled that off. I had gone into this race intending to just use it as training and run it in around 2 hours. I've been planning on trying to PR in a few weeks at The Middle Half... a flat course and potentially cooler weather. This course was hilly. It was still pretty warm. Not to mention, I ran 21 miles the Sunday before!

There is no good explanation. For all intents and purposes, I should not have been able to run a PR. The old one had been standing since March 2008... and I got it on a flat course in cool temps.

So I'm curious to see now what will happen in a few weeks in Murfreesboro. I'm thrilled to have a new PR, so if I don't get another one that day I'll be fine. But it'd be kind of cool to beat it again.

Over the next bit, I started finding friends. I really enjoyed that the race had a Cookie Cafe, and I think I may have had like 8 cookies over the course of the hour or two I hung around waiting for everyone.

The medals are music notes and really awesome!


I'm pretty pleased with the results. I placed 37 out of 553 in my 25-29 age group. It's crazy that 36 people were ahead of me because I felt like I ran so super fast, but I'm thrilled to have placed so high in the group. I was 222 out of the 3819 women in the event. I'll take that.

Would I do this race again? It's hard to say. I'm so NOT a pink girl, and I knew when I signed up that I was getting on board for a whole lot of pink. If everything is pink every year, I'd get tired of getting all that pink loot. Even the reusable goody bags are pink.

And it was a hilly course. Sure, I PRed. But I took a beating doing it. I napped for 4 hours after the race, and then I slept another 10 last night. My quads are sore. My butt aches. And my back is so sore that I can't stay in the same position long. And my shins are a little tender.

I really felt like they should have had water/Gatorade at every mile instead of every 1.5ish or so. I also didn't really enjoy any of the post-race food except the cookies.

I enjoyed myself and had fun getting a team to Run for Mercy in the race, but I'm not sure if I'll do it again. There are just so many other races out there to try, so this may be another one and done. We'll see.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rest Week

I inadvertently took a rest week.

Granted, running 21 miles on Sunday and then racing a half marathon the following Saturday probably doesn't count as a rest week.

But I didn't run on any weekdays.

I had planned to fit in a run yesterday to make sure the legs felt good for the race, but honestly? I just wasn't feeling it.

And then a friend suggested happy hour, and I was sold.

Part of me feels a little lazy, but part of me is really glad I took it easy this week. I'm still trying to just ease into the higher mileage I need to be doing to prep for Goofy, and I've got the time to do it. No sense cramming in too many miles too early.

Besides... I needed to taper for the half, right? :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Surviving My First Kroger to Kroger 21-Miler

Let me preface this post by saying that yesterday I had the most pleasant long run I've EVER had in my five years of training for and running marathons.

Wow.

For those of you who aren't around here, one of our main grocery stores is Kroger. The Nashville Striders (my running club) puts on a training run twice a year that runs from the Kroger in Franklin to the Kroger in Belle Meade... a total of 21 miles.

My morning started with a 4:20 am alarm. Since it's a point-to-point run, there's a bit more logistics involved. My friend Matt picked me up at 5, and then we swung in down the road to grab Laura. We met up with Liz and Carmen in the Belle Meade Kroger parking lot where we all combined into one car to drive to Kroger in Franklin for the 6am start. We all laughed a bit at ourselves when we admitted that we were trying to not converse too much because we wanted to save our stories and catching up for the hours we'd be running together.

We got to Kroger with enough time for me to run inside and use the bathroom one more time. Oddly, the line for the ladies room was shorter than the mens. Weird.

We headed out of the parking lot just before daylight... there's something kind of fun about starting a run just as it's starting to get light out. Although, not 20 minutes before I was talking about how crazy it was that we'd been up over an hour and it was STILL dark outside.

We started at a pretty steady 10:00 pace and began chatting away as the sun rose. The five of us pretty much stayed together, and we actually had a handful of people around us for a while. It was kind of nice to have some new people around to chat with... I LOVE my running buddies, but on some of these long runs it's better if you have even more people to help keep conversation going as the miles go by.

After about 35 minutes, I started feeling like I needed to pee. I thought it was pretty odd since I had only had a few ounces of fluids before the run and had gone at Kroger. Within 10 minutes, I had to go so bad it hurt. I kept my eyes peeled for a good location and pulled off the road when I found one. What makes a good location? Something that is secluded but not forever away from the road (I don't want the pit stop to take too long) and that doesn't have a ton of tall plants, bushes, etc. I don't want to touch anything, even by accident.

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've popped a squat on a training run in a LONG time. Once that was done (and no, I didn't use any leaves to wipe... I know it's gross, but I figured that my undies could do the job. Besides, I was going to be a smelly disgusting mess by the end anyways, so who cares?), I caught up with the group. Fortunately, I didn't need to go again throughout the run despite drinking at each stop every four miles.

By the way, I LOVE the fuel stops on these training runs. It's so nice to just run with a handheld that I can refill with water every few miles. And I love being able to get cold Gatorade at the stops. I can't stand to drink it if it's warm so I never carry it in my bottle.

I tried to eat some GU Chomps every 50 minutes or so, and it seemed to work well for me.

It ended up that this man Mike ran with us for most of the run. I had met Mike back in April when we both paced at the Country Music races. Super nice guy, and it turns out he's run well over 100 marathons. He told us all sorts of stories about the different races he's run throughout the country. I always think it's really neat to hear about other people's experiences, especially when they've done so many races in so many places.

Somewhere around mile 16, we came across a kitten. I'd guess it was about 3-4 months old, and it had definitely been around people before because it let us pet it and pick it up. It was the craziest thing.... it kept running down the road with us. It followed us for a while, and we kept trying to get it to go into a yard and stop. We couldn't be sure if it knew its way home and was just out for a stroll or if someone had dumped it. No matter what we did, it just kept running along with us. It was just like a dog! We finally got it to stay in this one yard, and we hoped that it would be safe there and find its way to wherever it was going. We were all kind of tempted to take it home with us. We found out later from Laura and Carmen (they ended up behind us a little ways after about 14 miles or so) that it ran with them for a while, too. I hope the little thing is ok. If I could handle having another cat, I'd go back and look for it.

Liz had a ticket to the Titans game, so she took a shortcut back after mile 17 or so. Matt and I continued running with Mike and came up on another guy and girl running with the group. We ended up running the last two miles or so chatting with them, and it seemed to help all of us to have new people to talk to there at the end.

It had been incredibly nice weather the whole time, but I could tell that it was warming up quickly. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it went on to be in the mid-90s later in the day. I'm glad we had cooler temps while we were out there.

We grabbed some water and only waited about 10 minutes for Laura and Carmen to come in, and then Carmen drove us back to Franklin to get Matt's car so that we could all get home.

21 miles in 3:40... about a 10:29 average pace. I feel REALLY good about that.

I ended up going to watch the Titans vs. Steelers (pathetic) game with Matt and his wife, but not before scarfing down a burger and fries from Five Guys. It was just what I was craving, and I demolished every bite. Then ate some snacks and had a beer at their house before coming home for a little nap. Then I grazed on all sorts of food for the evening, including one very delicious piece of homemade strawberry cake.

I really don't know how to explain how all these pieces fit together to make this the best long run I've ever had. I just loved it... gorgeous back roads scenery (seriously people, Tennessee is pretty beautiful... wish I had my camera on this run)... good weather... good company. I felt great.

Don't get me wrong. I was glad to be done. I've been worn out and hungry and a little dehydrated around the clock since then. It always takes a day or two to recover from these long runs just like with a marathon.

But really? If I needed to keep running, I could have... and would have been on track for a 4:30 marathon.

Matt and I were talking afterward about how nice it would be if we were actually starting a taper like most sane people are doing after this run. Our next marathon is still two months away... we've probably got at least one more crazy long run like this in our future.

And I think it's decided - I'm running Huntsville in December. If I'm already running 21 miles now and feeling good, why not run Monkey in November, Huntsville in December and Goofy in January? I've been saying for a long time that this season is about endurance and not my finish times. It seems fitting.

Oh, and I'm running the Nashville Women's Half this weekend. Nothing like 21 and then 13.1 the next weekend, right? Needless to say, I'm taking it easy between now and then.

Friday, September 17, 2010

21-Miler

I'm running 21 miles this weekend.

The longest run I've had since the SF Marathon on July 25 has been 16 miles, but I figure that 5 extra miles can't be SO bad. It should be in the mid-60s when we get started, but the high that day is 93... so it could end up getting quite warm before we're done. It doesn't matter in Tennessee that fall officially begins next week... it can stay warm and humid for weeks.

It's a little early in terms of when my next marathon is to be running this far, but I want to take advantage of the group training run. Plus, I have a half marathon and a 15K coming up as well as another half marathon I'd like to PR at, so it makes sense to me that solid long runs now are wise.

Not to mention I've got that Goofy thing looming... I suppose more long runs now will help that, too.

So 21 miles it is... catch ya on the flip side.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Morning Running

I want so badly to be that person who gets up and crosses her run off her to do list first thing in the morning. Despite wanting that satisfaction, it's not something I've ever really pursued.

Due to having a somewhat busy week, I decided to give it a shot. I got up this morning at 5:45 and met up with my pal Matt for a 5ish mile run around the neighborhood.

It was a struggle to get out of bed when it was dark and SO early, but I managed and was feeling fine on the run. I had plenty of time to grab a shower and head to the office after.

Unfortunately, I ended up feeling tired all day. Not to mention I was starving all day long. By 4pm, I was yawning like crazy and couldn't wait to get home and relax on the couch.

Maybe it's that I'd need to make it a habit before it doesn't affect me in such a way? I'm used to getting myself out of bed to do long runs early in the morning, but I typically come home and take a nap after them before moving on to other activities.

I'll probably try it out again, but so far? I'm not convinced it's for me. It would help me free up some time in the evenings, but is it worth it if I'm too tired to do much of anything by the time the evening rolls around?

We shall see.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finally Settled

I know I moved in back in early July, but I just now got around to taking pictures of my new place. I thought I'd share a glimpse into my little piece of Nashville living. Some of the stuff I have is not really what I would have if I were decorating a place that I knew I'd stay in for years as opposed to this one where I have no idea how long I'll be here. Nonetheless, it's mostly my style for the time being. It works.

If you pay attention, you'll notice that Tucker followed me from room to room to get in on the photo action.

Here's my living room.


I love how there is the opening to see into the kitchen. It makes everything feel bigger, and I can still hear my computer or tv when I go in there.

Also, I purchased the coffee table and the chair recently through craigslist. I really didn't want to spend a ton of money on furniture for an apartment, and I got some great deals!

A view into the kitchen from the door.


This shot was taken standing at the entrance into the apartment. Kitchen is to the left, and the hall is to the right.

I like that the vanity area is separate from the bathroom.

Bathroom.
My guest bedroom. I'm not in love with the curtains, but they were inexpensive and matched the bedding.

I totally had to have a spot for my medals, and I decided the entrance to the guest bedroom was best.

I also keep my books and some other random items in the guest bedroom.

My bedroom. The only thing I don't like is that I don't have an overhead light in there, so I have to make do with lamps.

Another angle of my bedroom, looking out into the hall. Apparently, Tucker thought he heard something out there.

The other wall and corner of my bedroom.

So that's my place! I feel very comfortable here, and it felt like home almost immediately. I love it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Live on the Green

For six Thursdays in the fall, Nashville has this awesome little free concert series called Live on the Green. My friends and I are always down for fun things that are free, and we discovered last year when the series started that it usually makes for a terrific evening. You can usually find free music somewhere in Nashville, but there's just something really cool about the laid back atmosphere of taking some blankets and sitting outside in a courtyard to hear bands.

We headed downtown for this year's first show featuring Five for Fighting and Tonic. The schedule typically involves a mix of older bands, newer bands and local artists. I was pretty excited about seeing a couple of bands that I liked years ago.

A friend of mine had a connection and was able to make sure we got into the VIP tent for a little food, fun and front row action.

Evenings like this one remind me that I have some awesome friends. We always have so much fun being goofy and hanging out. I laughed so much with them!



When Tonic took the stage, we headed down front for a little up close action. I know they're a total 90's band, but I still like a lot of their stuff. I'll admit to having a song or two on my running playlist.


I was pretty excited that we were able to spend part of the evening in the VIP tent. I don't think it'd be worth it to pay for the tickets, but free was nice.

I only spent $1 all evening, and that was only because we had to pay $3 to park and my carload split the cost. I think it's proof that you don't have to spend money to have a lot of fun.

I'm definitely looking forward to going again!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Simple Things

Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that matter the most and make us smile.

Today? It was having lunch with a sweet friend, catching up a little bit, and having a little quality time before she moves away from here next week.

Definitely made my day. I went back to work smiling and feeling energized in a way that only comes from being around good people.

And at this point? I know that little things like that are a huge blessing in my life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blanc de Blanc

A while back, I went with a friend of mine to Suzy Wong's House of Yum for drinks and dinner.

I was intrigued when she told me the Blanc de Blanc came in a can... with a disposable straw.

Sure enough, that's what arrived at the table when I ordered it. I've seen wine in a box, but this was my first time to see wine in a can. With a straw.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable glass of wine (because goodness knows I poured it in a glass.)

By the way, if you live in Nashville and haven't eaten at Suzy Wong's, make sure you check it out. I believe they're on the list for restaurant week next week, too!



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When Did 16 Stop Being a Long Run?

I ran 16 miles on Saturday morning at the Nashville Striders training run. Actually, it was 16.17 if you want to get specific.

I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way long runs have stopped feeling like long runs. This could be temporary, so I'm trying to not get too terribly excited over it.

Friday night, I enjoyed a laid back evening going to the Frist Center to see the coutour and Chihuly exhibits with Amy. If you live in Nashville and have any interest in couture, go see it before it closes on Friday! The Chihuly paintings and glass were pretty amazing as well, and now I want to go see Chihuly at Cheekwood as soon as I find someone to go with me.

When I got home, I made some macaroni and watched a little tv before crashing at a somewhat reasonable time. I was up at 5am, got ready, and headed to pick up Matt to drive to the Stones River Greenway.

The Striders were doing 20, but I knew that jumping from 14 to 20 might not be ideal. Matt, Amy, Liz and I all headed out to hit the hills. We were chatting and keeping a decent pace. The weather was awesome! It wasn't humid, and it actually felt downright cool outside until the end when I could feel it warming up.

Amy decided to run a bit extra out since she was going for 20, so Matt, Liz and I turned back at 8 without her. Somewhere along the way we were running along with Laura, a new gal we met and quickly became new friends with... something that can be easy to do on a long run.

We finished 16, and while my legs were tired, I felt pretty good.

I never had that long run dread before the run. I never felt like I was dying during the run (much of that is attributed to it not being hot). I was tired, but I felt like I could have kept going if I needed to do so.

Am I little intimidated that I'l be jumping to 21 miles at the Kroger to Kroger training run next weekend? Yes. But after doing 16 so easily, it doesn't sound so bad. I'm starting to feel pretty confident about being able to improve my endurance over the next couple of months.

As for speed, I'm not so sure. I really want to PR at the half next month, but I'm not entirely positive about it at this point. I've got speed workouts planned, but there may not be enough time to reach the point of keeping 8:45 for 13.1 miles. We shall see.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ready for Some 3-Day Weekend

I love it when 3-day weekends roll around, and I've really been needing this one. I've got some stuff planned, but I also have some downtown that I know I will enjoy.

What's on the agenda?
  • Finally going to the Frist Center and seeing the couture exhibit
  • A training run with the Striders
  • Coffee with a new friend
  • Lounging by the pool with books and magazines
  • A trip to the mall to pick up a wedding gift and to use an awesome coupon at The Limited
  • More tv on dvd
  • Visiting a church I've wanted to check out in town

It's going to be nice to do some things that I've been wanting to do as well as relax and not have to be rigid with my schedule.

I'm debating how far I'm going to run at the training run. The plan for the run is 20 miles, but I don't really NEED to do that much at this point in my training. Plus, the longest I've run in the past 5 weeks since the San Francisco marathon has been 14 miles.

Granted, I ran that race on 16 miles... so jumping from 14 to just 20 hardly seems terrible. And the weather forecast in the morning? It won't be above 70 until the end of when I could be running. The humidity looks a little high, but it won't be terrible. So a part of me feels like I'd be a pansy to cut it short at 16-17 miles when other people are doing 20. Besides, I really want to do well at all my fall races, and a few more miles tomorrow could be wise.

We'll see what I decide. I may just go by feel tomorrow.

One thing I know for sure? I'm having lunch at the Pizza Hut buffet today. I have a coupon for $5, and it'd be some great carb-loading for however many miles I tackle at the run.

Woo to the hoo... it's going to be a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

101 in 1001 Update

I kind of can't believe how quickly August went by, but maybe it's because I've been a busy girl.

7. Join the Nashville Striders for a group run at least once a year - I can now say I've done that for 2010. I went for one of the fall training series runs weekend before last. I intend to go to two more this fall.

23. Eat at Loveless Cafe - I technically crossed this off my list in May, but I ate here again in August when we celebrated my grandma's birthday. It was delicious... again.

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I've got two friends running with Team in Training this fall. I was able to make a little contribution to both. I love running for a causing and supporting others running for a cause!

84a. Try 10 new beers in the States - Clearly I went out a lot more this month, but that's what summer is for, right? I tried three new beers: Sam Adams Octoberfest, French Broad Rye Hopper, and Purple Haze. I enjoyed them all.

86. Try a new hair color - So it wasn't an extreme change, but I never said it had to be. I colored my hair. It's still brown, but it pulls a lot more red now. I have a lot of natural red, and this really enhanced it. I like it!

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - This month I finally saw PS I Love You. Pretty sure I cried the whole time. Note: Do not watch this movie if you're already feeling kind of sad. It won't help. I also finished watching the last two seasons of Sex and the City (I had started from the beginning when I got them all for Christmas) and the first season of Alias.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read a total piece of chick lit called Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger. She's the same gal who wrote The Devil Wears Prada. I actually really enjoyed it. I'm about halfway through another book, so it'll likely make my September list. :)