Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Run for Mercy 5K

This past weekend was the 3rd Annual Run for Mercy 5K.  Once again, I served as the race director of sorts and helped plan this event with other staff members and volunteer committee members.

Here I am with Amy!

My friends are awesome, and many of them came out to participate in the event!

For the most part, everything went smoothly.  We had a few small issues, but we'll only improve next year!  We raised a little over $50K, so no complaints there!

I also ran the race.  Unfortunately our course was a little short, but I was pleased with my time considering that I'm not used to running in the super cold air yet!

After the race, some of my friends and I headed to Jackson's for brunch. We had a great time, and we spotted these guys who were heading to run in a red dress race of some sort.

After brunch, several of us headed across the street in Hillsboro Village to Sam's to enjoy a little college football.

It was definitely a fun day!  I of course promptly went home and crashed with exhaustion.  Planning an event is a ton of fun, but it also wears you out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicago Marathon Part 3 - After the Race

After the race, we headed back to Steph's to clean up and rest.

I was feeling pretty good (granted, my feet hurt... but I'll take it), so I decided to just power through and not take a nap.  I was concerned if I let myself nap for an hour, I'd wake up feeling worse or cranky.

We hung around the house for a bit before meeting up with some others and going for dinner.

By the time we got home from dinner, I knew I didn't have much left in me.  It was nice to just enjoy a quiet evening at home with some of my favorite girls.  I don't get to see them often enough!

Then we got the bright idea to take some family portraits, ha!

This one was a fun idea!

On Monday, Steph and her husband were back off to work.  I had breakfast with Amanda and Nick before they headed out to make the drive back to Toronto.

I was feeling even worse than before... maybe because I was sick and had run a marathon the day before, ha.  I took the train to the Loop and made my way to Niketown.

It was a mad house in there!  They were out of the shirt I wanted, but I ordered it online and then set out to do some shopping on Michigan Avenue.

It was neat seeing at the Apple store how people had been leaving notes to honor Steve Jobs.

I didn't buy anything, but it was fun wandering in and out of all the big stores.  I also enjoy seeing all the other people walking (or limping) around and showing off their medals and race shirt.

It was a GORGEOUS day to be walking around in the city.

I met up with Steph for lunch before heading back to get my stuff and make my way to the airport.  I had stopped at Walgreen's and got a few things to take for my cough and congestion.  I was definitely feeling awful, so I was glad to be heading home.

I was exhausted by the time I finally crashed Monday night, but it had been an excellent weekend.  I really needed it right now!  I'm so thankful to have had so much fun and to spend time with some of my closest friends.  It was also really fun having my Nashville running friends at the race, too.  We're already talking about finding a race to run together somewhere else soon.

Here's the race shirt and medal... I was less than impressed with the shirt design.

Here are the shirts and the pint glass that I purchased.  I LOVE the second shirt.  So much fun!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicago Race Photos

Thanks to Amy, I finally got my race photos off the ole internet.

Here is Matt and me somewhat early in the race.

This is a good bit later in the race... I'm not sure where exactly, but I am sure that I was hot and tired.

Here I am somewhere around mile 20?? 22??  I just know it took everything I had to try to look ok for the pictures.

Here I am right at the mile 26 marker... that I was very happy to see.

Heading to the finish!

Finishing! (Although my time was actually 5:12 and not the 5:35 the clock is showing.)

Shortly after the finish - happy to be done!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Race Report: The Middle Half 2011

On Saturday, I ran in The Middle Half in Murfreesboro.  Not only was this the fifth year this race has been held, it was also my fifth time to run it.  I always love running this race since it starts, finishes and runs all around the MTSU campus.  It's fun to go back up there and remember how I ran there all the time in college.

Because I had run the race all five years, I even got this really sweet Brooks pullover with the race logo embroidered on it in addition to the Brooks long sleeve tech shirt all runners receives.  it was really cool to get something extra for streaking this race.  I fully intend to keep running it in the years to come.

My mom and sister were also going to do this race - it was mom's very first half!

We found a few friends at the start line.

I planned to walk with my mom and sister.  I made it about 10 minutes and realized I just couldn't do it.  I am not cut out to walk when other people are running.  I knew that I wouldn't run my best race six days after running a full, but when mom said she wanted me to run if I wanted to I decided to just take off.

It ended up being a fun little game.  By the time I decided to run, we were already in the very back of the crowd.  It was neat catching up and passing people and pushing myself to see how much time I could make up.  I saw a few people I knew along the way, so I'd jog with them for a bit and say hello.  It was nice just being out there for fun and not worrying about the clock.  I also saw spectators I knew along the way.

It turns out that the police blocked the wrong road somewhere along the way in the second mile, and a large portion of the runners ran an extra half mile.  It was corrected before I came along, but it was all I heard people talking about for the rest of the race.

There are a couple of portions in the first few miles where there are out and back sections.  It was fun getting to see people I knew and wave hello.  I saw a couple of friends that I felt sure I could catch up to.

Around mile 7, I caught up to my friend Rachel.  I had managed to make up enough time that I was averaging 10:00 minute miles.  Since I had walked the first 10 minutes or so, I knew this meant I had been running pretty fast for the past hour to make up that much time.

I could tell that I needed to back off a bit or else I'd crash.  I was glad to find Rachel, and we chatted as we ran the rest of the race.

I also found my cousin Mark at the end.

Rachel and I finished in 2:10.  It was a far cry from the 1:52 PR I ran here last year, but I'll take it.  I had a ton of fun, and that's what has been mattering to me most lately.  I was also really feeling the marathon I had run when I hit mile 11 or so.

I got some food and spent some time mingling with some other friends before finding a spot at the finish line to wait for Meredith and mom.

They finished walking it in 3:45.  We were so proud of mom!

We got our medals and headed home.  Mom was definitely worn out.  We got some food (Sonic - yum!) and then settled in for an afternoon of napping.

I fell asleep on the couch and woke up once to find all three cats on me (I had taken Tucker home with me for the weekend.)  He had gotten up before mom snapped this photo of the other two cats napping with me.

The Middle Half is by far my favorite half marathon in the area.  I think it's even better than the Country Music Half.  I'll be there again next year if I can!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicago Marathon Part 2 - Race Report

I woke up Sunday morning around 5:30am and felt pretty rested.  I had slept hard and only woke up once about an hour before the alarm, and I had not trouble going right back to sleep.

I got ready, and then I headed to the train station to make my way to Grant Park.  A man on the train started talking with me, and we made the exchange to the next train together and continued chatting about races we've run and our thoughts on the weather.

I met up with my three Nashville friends who had also come up to Chicago for this race.

We used the bathrooms and made our way to the start.  They had started closing off corrals (which I think is a bit silly) and we had to merge into a corral where people planning to run 13:00 miles were lined up.  This was a bit annoying, but I also didn't care too much since I had generally low expectations for the day.

I hate to make excuses, but the honest truth is that I hadn't trained well, I knew it was going to be too warm for me (it was already in the 60s at 7:30, and I do not do well in heat), and I was feeling worse with the sinus issues (I had more phlem than desired and had developed a cough).

We had all agreed that we'd probably be running our own races today, but Matt and I managed to run together for about the first 8-9 miles.  I knew that I was holding him back, and I also knew I wasn't feeling too chatty since I didn't feel well... so we quietly parted ways.  I was glad to know he went on ahead and finished 30 minutes before me.

Shortly after we parted ways, I got to see Steph and Amanda around mile 9ish.  I felt ok, but I let them know I was definitely running slower than I had hoped.  I felt like since I knew there was no way I was running a really good race that I might as well not push it too much.  I wanted to be able to enjoy the rest of my weekend.

I very rarely have to stop to use the bathroom during a marathon, but I had to pee like no other about this point.  I had been making a point to drink at each water station since I knew it'd be getting warm, but I think I had gotten a little ahead of myself.  I definitely added 6-7 minutes to my time with this stop, but seeing as I wasn't going for any goals other than to have fun and finish I didn't mind.

I do think I scared some of the people standing in line with me because I got to coughing and couldn't stop.  I probably made them think I might throw up or something.

I kept plugging along, and I could tell that it was starting to warm up quickly.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.

I remember hitting the half marathon point in 2:30 and thinking to myself that I might have it in me to negative split.  I tried to keep a steady pace, and I was actually feeling pretty good all things considered.

I also thought about how even though I was running slower, I was having a lot of fun.  It's just neat to soak in the crowds of spectators, the fellow runners and the city.  I didn't even bring my iPod because I wanted to enjoy my surroundings. 

As I got closer to mile 16 where I'd see Steph and Amanda again, I heard someone say my name.  It was Amy!  I hadn't seen her since she and Liz took off ahead of us at the start.  She told me Liz had headed on her way within the first mile or two.  Amy and I chatted briefly about the heat and about this not being our best race ever, and then I went on my way.

I soon saw my girls again, and I stopped for a quick second to pose for pictures and to say hello.  I let them know I was definitely having some issues with coughing and knew this would be a 5-hour marathon for me, but that my spirits were high and that I was thankful to have them out there supporting me. (Seriously, they rock!)

After I saw them, I told myself that I would be happy if I could make it to mile 20 without an extra walk breaks.  I always walk for a few seconds at water stops so that I can drink without getting it all over me, but I figured if I could make it to 20 without walking then it'd be ok to start bargaining with myself a bit.

Somehow those next 4 miles went by pretty quickly (not because I was running faster, because I wasn't), and when I reached 20 I found myself questioning if maybe I could continue on without walking.  By the end of mile 20, I realized this was a dream.  HA.

I still managed to keep running for the most part.  I would allow myself a walk break at each mile marker and each water station.  My legs were feeling heavy. I was coughing like crazy.  But I was getting it done.

I knew to watch for the gals around mile 23, so when I passed the mile marker I started watching.  I finally saw them, and it was SO good to see familiar faces again.  I was moving quite slowly, but I said hello and kept pushing on.  (It turns out that their men had joined them as well, but I was so out of it I didn't even see them.  I was thankful later though to hear they had come out!)

The last three miles were a sheer battle of my body vs. my brain.  I knew that I could get it done.  It was fine that I was running it much slower than ideal.  I was just happy to be back in Chicago and  having a fun weekend.  Nonetheless, I still had those last 3 miles to go before I could continue hanging out with my friends.

It's funny.  I really thought I'd be more disappointed that this race didn't go the way I had hoped back when I first signed up.  I felt really peaceful with running a slow marathon and just enjoying the sights and sounds along the way.

The hardest thing about the end is that there was hardly any shade for the last 7 miles.  And I had seen a sign that said the heat index was up to 83.  UGH.  I was hot.  I was debating if I was sweating enough.  I was drinking water and gatorade at every station.  I ran through every hose spraying water on the runners (so thankful for those).  I took the icy sponges each time they had them to give out.  But I was miserably hot.  (I went on to find myself sunburned as well.)

Nonetheless, it wasn't long before I finally hit that last 1.2 miles.  And then the mile to go sign.  And then the half mile to go sign.  And then the one hill of the race and the 26 mile marker. 

It took me 5:12 (including the potty stop), but I finished.  And I couldn't have been prouded.

5:12 is the time of my very first marathon. One I had actually done the training for.  One I ran on a cloudy and cool and perfect day.  One where I felt great.

So I suppose it's kind of cool that now I can show up sick and undertrained and in the heat and run as well as I did during that first race when I was better prepared and conditions were ideal.

The worst thing about this race is that you pretty much walk a mile back to the reunion area.  I grabbed drinks and goodies and a foil blanket and a cold towel and my medal and all that jazz and slowly made my way to find my friends.

They cheered as I walked up, and I let them know that "you know you're a marathon runner when you double fist with Gatorade and beer."

We celebrated that we had all survived the race!

We hung out for a little bit hoping to reunite with Amy.  She had asked me to let everyone know she was back there and to not feel like we had to wait.  We had all hoped to meet up so we waited a bit and reminisced over the race and the heat and how none of us did as well as we once hoped but that we still all enjoyed ourselves and had a good day.

When we decided to head on, I let everyone know I was craving a Jamba Juice (we don't have those in Nashville, but they are SO good.)  It turned out to be the perfect post-marathon snack.

I was happy. The day may have gone differently than what I had once thought, but i had adjusted my expectations and was able to really enjoy myself and have fun.  Sure, a 5:12 is nothing to brag about... but I ran my 11th marathon.  I got it done.  And I did it when I probably shouldn't have due to heat/illness/lack of training.  Maybe that's stupid, but I walked away feeling proud that I could still get it done anyways despite the odds.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicago Marathon Part 1 - Expo and Pre-Race Dinner

On Friday, I flew up to Chicago for marathon weekend.  I knew that I wasn't trained as well as I'd like, I was definitely a little sick with some sinus gunk, and it was going to be 80+ degrees on race day... so I headed up with simple expectations to have fun in one of my favorite cities with some of my favorite people!

I met up with Stephanie and one of her friends for drinks before our Canadian friend Amanda and her boy made it to town.  It's always so fun to be back with my two best girl friends again!

We grabbed breakfast the next morning where I put away scrambled eggs (with cheese), bacon and two pancakes to start prepping for race day.

Then, my friends set off for some shopping while I hit the race expo.  In hindsight, I should have taken the extra vacation day and flown up Thursday night so I could do the expo Friday while my friends were at work/driving to Chicago, etc.  It ended up taking the whole afternoon so I missed out on shopping with my crew.  Oh well.

I got to the expo and was a little disappointed to find that this year our names were on the fake wall of the Nike booth instead of on the wall outside of Niketown on Michigan.  Nonetheless, I took the time to find my name.

I couldn't help but laugh at the warning that conditions would be "less than ideal" for marathon running.  This felt like a big understatement between the weather and my sore throat and stuffy nose.  I had also developed a canker sore that was killing me.

Does anyone know what this odd symbol in the 26.2 is supposed to mean?  I've never seen it before.

I made sure to grab a free photo in front of the green screen.

Honestly, I was disappointed in the expo this time around.  Maybe I had SUCH a great experience when I ran this in 2009 that anything else pales in comparison... but I kind of thought it was reasonable to expect it to be as good as it was then.  Maybe it's less interesting to me because I've seen all these same booths at numerous other races?

Part of it was definitely that I could tell that everyone is hurting financially... I got WAY less free stuff, and what I did get was sample sizes and not full sizes like I got in 2009.  I don't mean to be greedy, but this race is expensive so I kinda hoped to walk away with a bit more than this.

My friend Amanda works for an appliance company and appeared to have a small heart attack when I showed them the Affresh dishwasher cleaner and pointed out it was the most random item.  Apparently she's needed a bunch of them for a client and can't get them... now she knows it's because like 40,000 of them where in the Chicago goody bags. HA.

I was also disappointed in the race shirt (photo to come later).  It was white for starter, and the design was uninspired.  Maybe a clever ploy so that we'd buy more of the other merchandise?  I mean, it worked on me... I bought a few things (photo to come later on those, too).

I reunited with my friends so that we could head to the grocery store to pick stuff up for dinner.  Steph and her husband were amazing and allowed me to invited my Nashville friends over for a spaghetti dinner.  I managed to impress Amanda's boy... I ate salad, a huge plate of spaghetti, several pieces of bread, and some of both desserts... when I hit that point, I believe he said, "Wow, you can really put the food away!"

All in the name of prepping for a long run.

I also had a bit more wine than I probably should the night before a marathon, but I figured I had no time goal and wanted to have a fun weekend all across the board... so why not?

Here's the three of us the night before the race.

After dinner, it was time to get serious.  I showered and shaved my legs.  I got my number and my name thing Steph made me pinned on my shirt.  I laid everything out for the morning and somehow managed to sweet talk Steph into setting her alarm for 5:30 to make sure I was up.

I headed to bed and managed to fall right to sleep and stay there until my alarm went off the next morning for the race!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marathon #11

Oh yeah.  I'm running a marathon in Chicago this weekend.

It's funny... I haven't packed yet (though I did finally make the list of what I need to pack and went and got my suitcase from my parent's attic).  I haven't checked the race website.  I haven't made any set plan with regards to going to the expo on Saturday.  I've barely made plans with friends for finding each other AT the race.  And I have looked at the weather, but mostly just so I know how to pack and not because I'm too concerned about race day.

Maybe it's because it's my 11th marathon and I know what to do.  Or maybe it's because I'm just kind of in a bit of a funk so it's not really a big deal right now.

I'm more interested in just going to Chicago and seeing my friends than I am the race.  The race I have only kind of halfway trained for...

It's just funny how your plans change.  When I registered for this race on February 1st, I was sure I'd train hard and go up there with a goal to break 4:00.  Instead, I've barely gotten enough long runs in (and definitely have skipped a lot of other runs) and I just want to enjoy the course, the city, my friends and new people I meet along the way.  I don't care in the least what the clock says.

It feels good to be going up there with no set plan for the race, but at the same time I kind of can't believe myself that I didn't do what I intended to do all along.

It's going to be a fun weekend.  It's going to be a fun race.

It just isn't going to be what I had originally intended, and that's ok.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Race Report: Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K

I kicked off my fall racing season on Saturday with the Shelby Bottoms Boogie 15K.  This is the third year in a row that I ran this race, and it is still one of my local favorites.

Last year I ran a PR for the 15K distance in around 1:17 and placed in my age group.  This year?  Well, I'm definitely not in as good of shape as I was last year.  And there's this little race called the Chicago Marathon coming up on Sunday.  So I figured that it'd be wise to just run it for fun as a last long-ish run for the marathon.

I didn't wear my watch so that I could force myself to run by feel.  I didn't want to push it.  I listened to my music and made sure to keep a steady pace.  I allowed myself to pick it up a bit in the last two miles, but I still didn't really push.

There were a few moments when I questioned why I paid money when I wasn't really racing, but I knew that I liked this event and that chances were good I wouldn't have run at all if I hadn't signed up.

I finished in 1:23:45, which ended up being exactly a 9:00 average pace.  I felt really good, and I was glad that I ran faster than I thought I was running.  I could have sworn I was running more of an average 10:00 pace.

Then, I promptly went to brunch with friends and ate biscuits and gravy with a side of cheese grits.

Not even kidding.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

101 in 1001 Update

Hmmm... if you read my last post, then you'll understand it when I say that I may be losing my steam on this list as well.  I guess over 1,001 days, you definitely change and certain things just aren't as much of a priority.  Nonetheless, I did a few things in September.

45. Give money to people who are fundraising at least 4 times a year - I did this in September.

68. Go to three concerts per year - Nashville has free outdoor concerts for 6 weeks in the fall each year, and they are pretty awesome.  I went to three in September: K.S. Rhoades and the Nashville Symphony, Los Lonely Boys, and Edwin McCain and Ten Out of Tenn.

95. Watch one new movie per month, minimum -  I watched The Beaver, The Last Song, and Something Borrowed.

96. Read one book per month, minimum - I read Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With.