Thursday, February 24, 2011

Race Report: Cedars of Lebanon Frostbite Half Marathon

Oh yeah. I ran a half marathon almost two weeks ago.

This was my second year to run the Cedars of Lebanon Frostbite Half Marathon.  Once again, I planned to use it as a 13.1 mile training run and take it easy... I just didn't know going in how easy I'd end up taking it.

The race is only $6 as part of the Tennessee State Parks runs.  Granted, there are no shirts or medals, but for $6 it's nice to have a large group to join even if it is just a training run.  It also starts at 11am... a pro because it meant sleeping in, a con because it meant it was like 3:30 in the afternoon before I got home and could move on to other things.

So on Saturday the 12th, my friend Matt and I headed out to Lebanon.  I actually ran into a couple of guys that I ran cross country and track with in high school at the start.  I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen either of them since they graduated in 2000. Crazy!

As we started out, I knew that my body was going to insist that I keep it slow.  There was no way I was going to get crazy and run a really fast time.  I watched Matt take off, and I pulled out my iPod and settled into a groove.

This was only a few days after the big snow storm (the one where I couldn't get home, met some strangers and spent the night with friends), and there was still a bit of snow and ice around.  It wasn't terrible, but it made things interesting a few times.  Running uphill on ice? Not something I've really done much training for.  I almost slipped once, but after flailing my arms around a bit I caught my balance.

I had forgotten how hilly the course is! Since Huntsville and Disney were flat, I hadn't really done much running on hills since I ran the Flying Monkey Marathon. In November.  Needless to say, my legs were not happy about all the hills.

In fact, I think we only ever went up.  I have no idea how, but it never felt like I went downhill.

Very early in the race, I realized that this really would just be a long, slow run for me.  I wasn't running fast at all, and I didn't feel like I could go any faster.

I admitted to myself that my body is probably still not at 100% post-Goofy Challenge and just decided I was ok with a slow time.  It wasn't really a race for me anyways.

So I finished in 2:11:30.  HA.

I was actually pretty sore the next day, but in a good way.  But I definitely have got to get myself back into some hill training or else the Country Music Half is going to be tough.

Speaking of which, I just found out that I earned a spot on the pace team.  Just like last year, I'll be pacing a group to finish the half in 2:15.  I'm super excited!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm Still Here

It appears I've neglected my little piece of the internet for a while, but I hope you won't be too upset with me.

You see... it got warm here.  As in it was really nice and I spent as much time as possible outside enjoying it and not inside on my computer.

I'm pretty sure I was outside more this past weekend than I was inside, and I love it.

But then TN realized it was February and summoned the winter weather back.  I just about froze last night at my speed session (I'm doing a speed clinic for the next little bit in an effort to get a little faster for some upcoming races), and I had to wear a sweater and a scarf today.

Winter? I am over you.

Meanwhile, we got a new dress code at work and I'm allowed to wear jeans now.  You have NO idea how much this has completely and utterly changed my life.  It's so nice to be able to get out of bed and put on jeans instead of dress pants.  Honestly, I think I look nicer in jeans than dress pants anyways.

Life has been good lately.  I'm finally working back up on my mileage and running a bit more regularly after an extended recovery.  I'm spending a lot of time getting out and engaging in social activities.  Work is busy but good.  I sleep hard at night.

So don't worry... I'm still here.  I won't lie though - I am anxiously awaiting spring.  I'm tired of being cooped up inside all of the time!

Knowing my luck and knowing TN, it's likely to snow next week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

Wednesday turned out to be a pretty crazy day for me.  As in when I told this story to a few friends, they all wanted to try to find someone to interview me about it.

It had been a pretty normal day at work, but we all knew that there was snow in the forecast.  It's snowed about 6-7 times already this winter, an amount that is extremely unusual for Nashville.  However, one of those had been on Monday... and it was no big deal.

When it started snowing at 4pm, I looked out and saw it and thought about how nice it would be to stay in that night and also packed a bit of work to take home so that I could work from home in the morning if the roads got bad.

When I looked out at 4:30, I realized it was already starting to accumulate pretty quickly.  I grabbed my stuff and headed on out in a hurry thinking that if I could get going before it got worse then all would be well.

As I walked out, I looked up the hill in the direction I take to go home and saw that traffic was backed up because there was a car who couldn't get up it.  At this point, I still didn't think that I had any reason to be concerned about getting home.  I decided that I would go the other way and cut up another road that I could take straight back to my place.

I had no trouble making it the half mile or so to the big intersection where I needed to turn left.  Everyone was moving slowly, but we were moving.

After turning left, we were not moving.  Over the next hour, I went from thinking I'd be getting home to panicked that I was going to get stuck, get in a wreck, or have to park it somewhere and wait until I could either move again or someone could get to me.

Somewhere in there I realized I didn't have my phone.  Since we were pretty much stopped, I dumped the few contents of my purse onto the seat beside me.  It definitely was nowhere to be found.  

I started noticing that the cars in front of me were sliding  a bit each time they inched up.  My car was handling it pretty well, but I could tell that conditions were getting worse by the minute as the snow (and the temperature) continued to fall.

I watched one car that kept sliding sideways over toward the ditch.  I couldn't believe the guy kept getting it pulled back straight onto the road.  

By this point, I was so nervous that I was shaking a bit.  We really don't get much snow here, and I've never really had to drive in it.  I knew now that I was probably sitting in the midst of one of the worst rush hour snows we'd ever seen.

I could hear multiple sirens, and several fire trucks and ambulances passed by us in the turning lane.  I could see blue lights on down the road.  It was starting to get dark, and this made me even more uneasy. I knew we'd be on solid ice very soon.

With no phone to call anyone, I was really unsure of what I needed to do.  The more I thought about it, the more I was sure that I didn't need to keep trying to get home.  I had barely made it 3 miles.  Getting back to the office would probably taking hours and would offer little comfort for the night.  I knew I needed to get somewhere safe that I could stay.  I considered parking at the WalGreens coming up and hanging out in the store until I could figure out what to do next.

Then I noticed I was coming up on a road where some friends live.  I hated that I couldn't call to see if anyone was home, but I decided that even if I sat in the driveway for a while then I would be safer than where I was at the time.

So I managed to get over in the turning lane and down the 0.2 mile stretch to the street where I'd find the house I was heading for.  I was really hoping I'd get lucky and someone would be home, but I pulled up to find that there were no cars there and the house was dark.

I sat there for a moment and pondered what I should do.  As an added bonus, I didn't have a ton of gas.  I considered turning back and going for gas and then pressing on toward my home.  I really wanted to be there as I knew I'd be much happier snowed in at my own house, but I realized that trying to keep going would be foolish.  

I decided that it was also foolish to not try to find a phone and call my friends to make sure someone was trying to get home... or to see if there was a hidden key somewhere... and to let my mom know I was fine as I was certain she'd be trying to call and check on me.

I got some paper and wrote a note to my friends that said I was there but that I had gone looking for a phone since I didn't have mine and that I would come back after trying to call them.

I walked toward the road and watched a few cars slide on by.  I looked around at the houses and said a little prayer that I'd go to the right one.  I was incredibly nervous about knocking on a stranger's door, but I started heading across the street to a house that looked like people were home.

I have no idea why, but once I was halfway there I turned around.  Instead, I walked up to another house that looked cozy but where it wasn't clear if anyone was home.

I took a deep breath and knocked.  A HUGE dog came flying to the door, and I started to think that the dog was probably the only soul home when a girl about my age appeared.

She opened the door, and I explained my situation and told her I knew it was crazy to let a stranger in your home and asked if she'd mind letting me use her phone.  She was so sweet and totally invited me in.  I felt relieved that someone my own age who appeared to be completely normal lived in this house.

I managed to remember my friend's phone number (crazy, I know, but I have a good memory) and called and left a message explaining what was going on.  I asked if I could use the restroom because as an added bonus in all of this, I was about to wet my pants.  

Rebecca encouraged me to stay and assured me that it was really ok when I kept trying to say I was just going to go sit in the car across the street.  While all of this was way outside my comfort zone, I'm so glad that it worked out.  Sitting in my cold car alone waiting would have been pretty boring.

She suggested I call my friend again and share her phone number in case they wanted to call me back, so I called and left another message.

We sat and watched the news for a while and saw videos of all the traffic and I knew that as crazy as all of this was in that moment, I had made the right decision.  There had been over 150 accidents reported in Nashville between 4 and 5:30 alone.  They were sharing that emergency personnel were no longer responding to any accidents without injuries... that you just needed to exchange information and that you were on your own.

We looked out the window and saw a car that was head first into a ditch, and over the course of the next hour we watched a truck come along and tow it out.  (People are kind in these situations.)

My friend called back and assured me that everyone was working their way home and to keep an eye out for whichever one of them got home first.

We watched American Idol.  We talked about what we do for work and churches and people we know and had a generally lovely time getting to know one another.

Modern Family came on and Rebecca's husband got home and shared his story of his 3-hour journey home and how he finally had to abandon his car a little ways up the hill from the house and walk.

Around 8:30, I saw a light come on across the street.  I thanked my kind hosts for being so warm and inviting to me because I knew the whole thing was just so crazy.  I pretty much ice skated back across the street and saw numerous cars up the road that had been abandoned.   And it was COLD.

I was so happy to see my friends!  Not only that, I was starving.  I got a sandwich and we all shared our stories of the afternoon.  We were hearing from others that it was taking people anywhere from 3-6 hours to get home.  INSANE.

I was able to take a shower and borrow some clothes to sleep in.  When I finally laid down, I had no trouble getting to sleep.  The whole thing had just been exhausting.  I don't really get stressed out easily, but I had been really uncomfortable with trying to drive in it and not knowing what to do and wanting to be home but also wanting to be safe and do the right thing.

I was still a little nervous Thursday morning since we didn't really know what was happening on the roads.  I decided to take it easy, and if I got scared then I planned to pull off and stop somewhere and wait a while.

Fortunately, not many people were out and the roads were already starting to melt.  I took it slow and eventually made my way back to my apartment.  I have never seen so many abandoned cars on the road.

I got cleaned up and headed into work.  I was of course late, but by now the sun was really melting things and it wasn't so bad.

I work in a pretty hilly part of town, and I couldn't believe how many abandoned cars I saw as I got closer to the office.

Once there, I found that one of my co-workers had found my phone the day before.  I had apparently dropped in when I was getting in the car.  He said he could hear it ringing but couldn't see it... it turns out it was buried under a pile of snow.  He was able to get it dry, and it seemed to be working fine (you don't want to know about all the missed calls and texts).  I was relieved.  I'm not one that's attached to my phone, but the whole experience of being out in these conditions without it had me shaken.

The whole thing is almost comical now.  But at the time?  I was definitely not in my normal happy spirits.  I don't ever want to be in that situation again.

Fortunately, it all turned out well.  I was always safe.  I met some strangers who were so kind to me and that I hope to see again sometime.  I only spent 1.5 hours trying to drive in it instead of the multiple hours that some others spent.  

I have to say though... I'm REALLY ready for spring.  Nashville isn't made to have this much winter.

To close, here are a few pictures of the cars left by their drivers near my office.  I don't even want to know how far some of these people may have had to walk.




Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not Your Typical Saturday Night

We all know I love a good theme party, and Saturday night's 80s party was no exception.

I happened to have a prom dress that a family friend wore in the 80's. 


Some friends and I met up to head over together, and I think we were looking pretty stylish for the times.


There was laughing and talking and meeting new people and 80's music and it was SO. MUCH. FUN.


People should have more opportunities to wear crazy clothes and go out to a public place in them with all your friends. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another Taylor Swift Sighting

Some of you may remember when I saw Taylor Swift this summer in Whole Foods.

Or when I saw Nicole Kidman running in Percy Warner Park.

Celebrity sightings are pretty frequent in Nashville.  Even though I haven't had many, I just don't get that whole starstruck thing.  Nonetheless, it's pretty cool to see someone that you know the whole world knows... and he or she is standing right there beside you.

The other night I headed over to Fido in Hillsboro Village to have coffee with my sister and one of her friends.  Taylor Swift had walked in right behind them, and she was now sitting in a booth just feet from where they were sitting.  My sister is a HUGE fan, and she said that she started shaking when she saw her... but she opted not to speak to her.

She was there with her fiddle player and another friend, and we later heard that they went to a concert at the Belcourt when they left Fido.

I have to admit, it is kind of cool to see famous people out and about.  Sure, I'm not one to freak out over it and it's unlikely I'd ever pester one for a photo (ok, so maybe if I saw Dave Matthews...).  But it is kind of neat.

One of these days I'm going to see Nicole AND Keith.  I apparently need to just start hanging out at the Green Hills Starbucks since everyone I know has seen them there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wilson

Last night, my mom and dad lost their sweet cat Wilson.

He had climbed up on top of something high, and he either fell or wasn't able to jump down correctly.  They heard a noise and flew down the hall, and he was already dead.  The impact must have broken his neck and he died instantly.

We are all heartbroken.  I know it's just a cat, but our cats are like family members in some ways.  Sweet Wilson wasn't quite 4 years old, and it's just terrible that he died like this.

We're all upset over it.  Even though I haven't lived there since they got him, I loved the little guy.  He and Tucker were buddies and played together whenever I'd take Tucker over there.  He was such a good cat, and I know my parents are having a hard time.

They'll never forget him, and they'll probably get another cat sometime soon.  But right now, this is just awful.  It's a different kind of upset than when your pet dies from old age. 

I know it's not the same as losing a person.  I know that we'll all be ok and that they'll love the next cat just as much.  But still... he was a good cat, and this just seems terrible and unfair.

I wish I could go back and change it for my parents.


Life is so fragile.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

101 in 1001 Update

January was a busy month at first, and then I spent a lot of time being lazy and recovering from the holidays and the trips and the marathons.  I got a few things crossed off somewhere in there.

2. Run at least five marathons - I probably should raise this goal since I just ran my fifth marathon since creating this list - Disney World!  Consider it raised to eight!

6. Run in at least eight races I’ve never run in before - I had completed this already, but the Disney World Half and Full Marathon Goofy Challenge was a new one for me this month.

8. Get a massage (or other special reward!) after every completed marathon - I haven't gotten it yet, but I've scheduled a pedicure as my post-Disney treat.  I would have already done it, but since I hurt my toe and it was all purple and swollen I thought it best to put it off for a bit.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum - I definitely accomplished this!  I've had some free time while recovering from Goofy, so I have been renting movies.  I watched: Date Night (cute and funny), The Bounty Hunter (also cute and funny), Easy A (very clever and funny), Sex and the City 2 (it wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be, but it wasn't great either), The American (awful and boring), and Inception (fantastic and smart).  I also went to see Black Swan.  This is one of the most intense and phenomenal movies I have ever seen.  Go see it.  Trust me.  It's worth the ridiculous ticket price.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read Michael J. Fox's Always Looking Up.  It wasn't as good of a read as I had expected, but it was still a really uplifting and inspiring book.  It was definitely interesting to see a little bit more into his world with Parkinson's. 

98. Buy my own domain name - I did it!  I am now www.marathonmelanie.com