Saturday, October 31, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon: A Race Report, Part I

Ahhh, the lure of the marathon. What makes people want to run for hours on end, for 26 point 2+ miles, through cities & states, through pain & blood & sweat & tears....

...I have no idea, because dear lord is that race torturous!

Ok, ok. I do kind of know. People run marathons for the massivecrazy sense of accomplishment you get when you finally cross that finish line.

This marathon for me was a definite test of will. I signed up not long after completing marathon #1, and I think I only signed up because I felt like I could do better. I felt I could perform at a higher level than I did at the NC Marathon. I wanted to train harder, run faster and cross that finish line well under 4:30 the second time around. Honestly, I was a bit embarrassed with myself back in May. Of course I was proud that I had DONE IT but let's be honest here, anyone can do it if they want to. Not everyone can be great at it.

And I wanted to be great.

{Well, great for me. Not great as in superstar elite runner sub six-minute mile great, but great as in, a 150% performance on my end.}

But over the past 5 months or so, running for me has been on the back burner. My life has been crazy busy, full of changes, new beginnings, new stresses...and quite honestly, I was a little burnt out on running.

So when time finally came for me to actually run this marathon, I was more than ready to get it over with. I really didn't know what my time would be, I could only hope that I was prepared enough to hit that sub 4:30 mark that I hoped I could. I had hit almost every long run, and had kept up fine. I had actually noticed an increase in my long run pace from my previous training season. {Increase as in, speedier.} I had taken up yoga and w as working on my strength.

So, all in all, I was prepared. I was ready, come what may. But, I was also very nervous.

Kimi, Matt and I had a long drive to DC {via Raleigh to pick up Meredith}....

Kimi is excited!

Had a busy day Saturday at the expo & running errands... {trying on bridesmaid's dresses for Meredith's upcoming nuptuals! Going to the inspiration dinner..}

But when Sunday morning came around all of that nervousness had faded away and in it's place had come excitement!

Kimi, Katy and I outside of my room getting ready to head for the Metro!

We had written our names on our TNT singlets, attached our flair, written the names of those we were running in honor of on our backs, eaten our breakfast, trained for months, and were ready to RUN!

I was excited to run this race because I had people to run it with. {Instead of the cows like last time.} Plus I knew there would be thousands of spectators to cheer us on!

We headed downstairs to meet the rest of our SC team & then headed on to the Metro. This was quite the experience! There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of runners squishing onto the platforms, into the trains, onto each was packed. Kind of like this...

This was taken later on in the day, during the marathon, when all of the spectators were trying to get to different spots on the course to cheer on their runners. (Taken by LiLu as she was schlepping around town to cheer me on!)

Once we got off at the Arlington Cemetary stop, the 30 ,000 runners spilled out onto the street and we made our way to....the photographers!

First up, me and Katy!

Let's add in Kimi! Now with our numbers....we were definitely hamming it up at the start line!

So after a bit of a chilly wait, we were off! The first 8 miles of the race were supposed to be hilly, as it wound through Alexandria before crossing the bridge into Georgetown, so we were planning on taking it easy. We ended up losing Kimi & other TNT'er Andrew after mile 1. Katy and I both had groups of family and friends on the course, and we saw all of them at the 1 mile mark!

Hmm, my camera was mad at Matt that day I think. Let's try this again.

Ok, so don't have great pics from mile 1. Moving on...Katy and I decided to run the first 6 miles straight through (because it was crowded & hilly) and then after that start the run/walk. We were planning on sticking to what had worked in training - running a mile, walking a minute.

We saw Katy's family again on the bridge over into DC at mile 4!

We were to wind through Georgetown, then head down by the water to Hain's Point for about 4 miles before we made it back up to the monuments.

I think this was around mile 8 somewhere in Georgetown. Katy's family was great at meeting us every few miles. {Note, I have no idea who the other purple TNT'er is there, we're kind of hiding behind.}

We were feeling great! We were having fun, cheering, getting cheered for, slapping hands with little kids on the was so much fun!

But, it was going to start sucking pretty soon...

To be continued!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I finished!

Going to post a full recap soon, but wanted to let you all know I finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:47, a PR by 14 minutes!

A little slower than I had hoped, but ended up with some (I think) IT band issues around mile 23...major pain! The pic above is of me and TNT teammate Katy resting at the TNT tent after negotiating the mess that was the finish line. I would never have finished this one without her! THANK YOU KATY!!!

...more to come!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marathon time baby!

Marathon #2 is less than three days away now! Don't have much time to post, we're packing tonight and heading up to D.C. in the morning! Wish me luck folks :) The past few weeks of training have been pretty decent, my last really long run went horribly, but when doesn't it?!

If you really wanna, you can track me online here using my first and last name. I think they either send you emails or texts every time I hit a 5k mark! If you wanna track me, just shoot me a comment and I'll let ya know who I am ;)

I am riding up to the race with Matt and my TNT teammate Kimi. We're stopping along the way in Raleigh to pick up my girl Meredith, and we're meeting up with our other teammates Friday night. We're also gonna get in some quality time with my girl LiLu and her boyf at some point. My dad, brother and grandmother are also coming up! (Remember last time?) should be a fun packed weekend.

Look out for a massive recap next week!

You can also follow the play by play on Twitter....that's where I've been hiding the past few months ;)

**Congrats to fellow Charlestonian Amanda on her bun in the oven! So excited for you lady :)

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to my Team in Training fundraising campaign. I exceeded my goal and raised $3, 526.00 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! You all rock.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

20 miles....

I am currently sitting on my couch, fresh out of my ice bath + shower, with my feet up watching The Sopranos. (Not my first choice, but I do like the show, and honestly I'm too lazy to change the channel.) We just finished 20 miles and although I was struggling the last two miles, it went pretty well!

I've found two lovely ladies that run around my same pace and we tend to stick together during the long runs. Today me, Katy and Kimi ran 1 mile intervals with a 1 minute or so walk at each mile marker. I LOVE breaking up the long runs like that, it makes the run go so much quicker!

I've been using Hammer gels, and Espresso is my fave. It tastes like mocha with a bonus jolt of caffeine! I took one around the hour mark and it really helped me pick up my pace. Then around the two hour mark I took a Hammer Apple Cinnamon gel. These taste like apple pie! Unfortunately since they are so sweet, I think the tend to give me cramps. It was hard to recover after that. In an effort to save the remainder of my run, I took about a 1/2 of another espresso gel around the 2:45 hour mark. It sort of helped.

The last two miles were the toughest for me, we had just had our last water break and were heading out for the last long stretch in full sunlight. It was getting hot out there and my legs were lead!

Our stats ended up being 20 miles in 3:24 with an average pace of 10:14. On our running portions we were keeping a steady pace of under a 9 minute mile!

Before my last marathon, my last long run of 21.5 miles that we run straight through (no walk breaks) our average pace was 10:54...considerably slower than running with short walk breaks! GALLOWAY SUCCESS.

I wore my new running clothes....

Love them! The shirt has a nice big pocket in the back where I can store my gels. The shorts I have are all black, very comfy.

I just inhaled a huge green smoothie with some added Amazing Grass (review to come whenever I finish the boatload of samples they sent me :) and now Matt and I are deciding if we want to go get food. I'm planning on lazing around for as long as possible today, I think I earned it!

What's everyone's fall racing schedule looking like? I have the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th, possibly the Raleigh 1/2 Marathon on November 1st, and then the Kiawah 1/2 Marathon on December 12th. I might also throw in a few 5ks if I can find the time. (Will be doing one on Thanksgiving Day in Greensboro, NC most likely).

Happy Sunday folks..

Friday, September 11, 2009

Artisana Raw Organic Nut Butters

A long way back I got a lovely package in the mail chock full of deliciously tasty Artisana raw & organic nut and coconut butters. Holy yum you might say, and all fo free! Just so I could share the good news with y'all :)

Since it's been a while, I will spare you all the deets. The kind people at Artisana sent me Walnut Butter, Tahini, Almond Butter, Macadamia Nut Butter, Coconut Butter, Coconut Oil, and some Cacao Bliss.

Here is the rundown folks: You can't really mess up nuts ground into butter. But you CAN make it better. The cacao bliss was by far my favorite nut butter, a smooth blend of chocolatey goodness. (I hear they won some award for this one too.) Plus I love that they are unheated (thus raw) because it just makes me feel better about eating it.

But the real find was the coconut butter...

Not just coconut oil. But coconut butter. The meat of the coconut plus the oil all ground together into one creamy, delicious, sweet concoction. Get thee to the web and order some of this!

I ate it straight out of the jar like I would PB. I also added it to sweet potatoes (baked and mashed), smoothies, oatmeal, toast, fish, you name it, I added it.

So here's the thing. If you would love some organic, raw nut butters and/or coconut products, I would definitely check out Artisana. Not only did everything taste delish, but the people there were so polite and happy to send me samples! So do yourself a favor and order some coconut butter and cacao can thank me later for the fiesta in your mouth.

(Here is a list of online retailers!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ahh, life.

It has pulled me away from this space for almost a month. I've been busy, but I'm not gonna lie, I've also been a tad bit too lazy to spend my hard-earned weeknights tapping away on my laptop. But alas, I have missed you all so I wanted to drop a line to let you know I'm alive, and faring well.

Since we last spoke, I have been doing quite a bit of running, a ton of studying, passed my final financial exam (squeee!), formally been knighted a financial advisor, settled into our new home, got my ass back into yoga, eaten a crap ton of kettle chips, been super busy, hosted an inaugural supper club for eight lovely ladies...and have generally been loving life.

The Marine Corps Marathon is coming up in just a little over a month so mileage over this way has been pretty crazy, as I'm sure it has been with most of y'all! Marathon season is in full swing!

The team and I (have you donated yet? I'm aaalllmost to my goal!) will be setting out for our first 20 miler this Sunday, so I'm sure I will have plenty of time to prop my feet up and tap tap away on Sunday Funday so maybe I will get around to the product reviews or giveways I have been promising....

Two weeks ago we did an 18 miler and it went great. Last weekend's 13 miler, not so great. So I'm hoping this weekend is back up to grrreeeat.

Hope you all have a fab weekend and (hope to) see you back here soon :)



Sunday, August 16, 2009

John Denver, Monster Mix & Stank: A Wild West Relay Race Report, Part III

How long is it going to take me to FINALLY post the finale of my WWR recap, you ask?? Well it's ending today!

Missed parts I or II?

So we made it to our "campsite" at our final exchange, and we were greeted with this:

There was really no where to sleep except for in front of and behind our van...but we made it happen. For, maybe 45 minutes to an hour :)

After a few hours of not sleeping and munching on handfuls more of Monster Mix, we got up to greet Van #1 and bring in their final leg so we could finish up ours! Around this time we were getting worried that we wouldn't make the cut off time (which we thought was either 4 or 5) so upon chatting with Van #1, we decided that we would "leap frog" our leg. (We should have started the race about three hours earlier than we did.)

Basically leap frogging is having two runners on the course at once. For example, we would drop of runner #6 and then drive ahead to the next exchange and drop of runner #7. We thought this was a great idea AND it would get us to the showers quicker. So we waited a while on Van #1, cheering on the huge caterpillars who were venturing out in the road to try and cross, but inevitably got squished under the wheels of a Chevy. (Seriously, I wish we had this moment on video.) When they finally arrived we snapped a few pics for them and we were off!

Alesha and I split up Steve's leg (about 2 miles each, I think mine was a little less at like 1.8) and then I headed on for my final leg. Which.Was.Killer.
I felt like the first three miles were completely uphill but I guess they were rolling. I peaked at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass and then it was all downhill from there! For some reason I had it in my head that I was only doing 4.6...but when 4.6 came and went I figured it was a bit more :)

Killer form.SIKE!

The scenery was beautiful though, I wish I had more pictures! The highlight of this run for me was when I was trudging up the final hill and was feeling beat down and the van was parked at the top of the hill waiting for me blasting Baby Got Back and cheering like crazy! I'm telling you, it was priceless! It also gave me that much needed boost to move that junk in my trunk to the exchange!

We finished up with our next two runners (blaring John Denver the whole time! how approps) and then Alesha was up for our last runner. We went ahead to the finish line and called the other van to make sure they were going to meet us there so we could all run across the finish line together. (They had already been to the hotel and showered! So.Jealous.)


Van #2. 34 hours of non-showering, sweaty STANK!

Since this post has dragged on and on for over a week now, lets cut to the chase. Here are some pics of us all showered, clean and pretty again post-race.

Underexposed photo opp on our floor. Love these gals!!

Post-race Happy Hour at our slope-side hotel. Most of the gals got Sangria, but I opted for the more potent Marg. It was pretty good, not too sweet.

The fabulous ladies of Van #2 :)

Dinner at Mazzolo's. Yummy, over priced Italian ;)

All in all, I LOVED the Wild West Relay and would definitely do it again. I am already dreaming of the next relay I can participate in if not the WWR (Miami to Key West in February anyone?).

What I loved most about the race? Other than meeting all the fun people, I am thankful that I was finally introduced to the gorgeous state of Colorado. Previously I have only experienced the North Carolina/Tennessee/Virginia mountains which are lovely, but honestly they cannot hold a candle to the vast openness of Colorado and Wyoming and the great West. I honestly think I have fallen in love with this state! It's almost enough to make me want to shed my Southern home and head for the hills! At least temorarily ;)

I promise I will return to some normal blogging soon. I have my FINAL financial exam this coming Monday the 24th so I'm pretty bogged down until then. Hopefully after Monday my summer of studying will finally be over and I can enjoy the beach/pool before...wait, it never gets really cold down here ;)

{Did a brutal 16 miler this past Sunday with the team. It was tough but I'm glad I pushed through! Back down to 10 I think this weekend. Marathon here I come!}

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Denver, Monster Mix & Stank: A Wild West Relay Race Report, Part II

Some more pictures from our first leg!

Once our first leg was over, we started the drive to our next exchange point. It looked like it may be a longish drive and we were HANGRY so we decided to stop in Poudre Canyon for some grub. I had the greasiest, tastiest BLT and fries EVAH!

Then we got lost.

But on the way we saw this perdy sunset in Walden, CO so all was well. We found some rando to take our picture. Gorgeous! One of my fave pics from the trip actually.

Then....we got to the next exchange and we waited on the other team. And waited. And waited. In the cold. (It was in the 30s!! brrrr) When they finally showed, Cynthia was off to murder some serious Colorado hills through Medicine Bow National Forest. Almost 9 miles completely, utterly, all the way uphill. She is my hero!

Eventually I was up for my 2nd leg, 7.1 miles at around 3 AM! I started in Wyoming and ran across the state line into Colorado.

I was half asleep wheen I started preparing for this leg, so I decided to try out my Hammer Espresso gel with caffeine. I took it about 15 minutes before my run and it worked like a charm! I will DEF be buying more of these to take before my weekday morning runs. This was my best leg yet with an average pace of 9:30.

I felt like I was flying most of the run, it was so nice to just be out there in the open range Colorado cattle country in the middle of the night. Although, it was a bit creepy. (Do you see how dark that picture with the sign is?? That was taken by my teammates while I was out running!)

I also had a running partner for most of this leg. Some guy who ran up behind me and ran with me most of the way. He didn't really want to talk (even though I kept prodding him to), but he pushed me to keep running faster so all was good.

It was especially funny when Steve (who was driving the van since he was no longer running) pulled up for one of the vans "motivational cheering points" and screamed, "You're prettier than that guy behind you!" So that became something our van started screaming at runners. Eventually it was just shortened to, "YOU"RE PRETTY!!!!" Good times.

I knew guy was going to turn on the gas right when we got to the exchange, and he did, but I was okay with him coming in a few seconds ahead of me. (I was ahead of him the whole run...) I probably wouldn't have kept the good pace without him!

So thanks guy I think your name is Cooper who breathed heavier than me yet lived in Denver. You kept me moving!

I don't look tired at all! The sun started to come up and then it was Alesha's turn.

Can I move here please?

Alesha finished up our van's second leg as she ran us into the Walden, CO high school. None of us had slept more than 45 minutes and we were all tired, dirty, stanky and CRANKY! We were told we could sleep in the school (as Van #1 had done for a lovely 3 hours...we were so not hating them at that point...) but we couldn't so we looked at our maps and it said the next exchange had a "camping" area.

So we decided to venture on that way and see how much sleep we could get outside, in full sunlight, at 8 AM before our final leg...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

John Denver, Monster Mix & Stank: A Wild West Relay Race Report, Part I

Where shall I begin? This trip was only a few days, but it felt like a week! So much to catch y'all up on... Here we go for Part I of our journey to the wild wild west...

Last Thursday Shannon and I set out for our wild west adventure and made our first stop from Charleston the Chicago airport. Where we saw these:

Yes, those are man legs. And no, I have NO idea what the hell those shoes are or why he's wearing them. It was odd, very odd.

While we were waiting we took a few pictures...clearly, I am not good at this.

Ok, this one's better. Our flight from Chicago to Denver ended up being re-routed up to Nebraska due to storms. Luckily we didn't have to land there, we just, uh, hovered. When we finally landed in Denver I learned that Alesha's flight had also been re-routed, but that they had landed (just to refuel) and she was in Amarillo! Luckily though once we got off the plane and wandered around looking for our ride, she texted to say she had landed in Denver. Whew!

We wandered around looking for Julie and Jennifer, who were picking us up in one of our rented vans. We finally found them and then Ryan...and then Alesha! We were on our way to pick up Dionne (aka Steve) at his place in downtown Denver. To make a long story short, we didn't end up making it to Fort Collins (and to the rest of our teammates who were already there) until after midnight Thursday night!

But we were up bright and early Friday morning and headed off to the start! Our start time was 7:50 AM...which we were to later learn was WAY too late.

Van #2 (our van!) loading up around 6 AM Friday morning.

The Dangerous Dozen ready to roll! Don't we all look so awake?

Alesha is ready to rock it!

We arrived at the start and began the check-in process and the ultimately more important process of decorating our vans. This was key!

Van #2! Our lovely minivan for a few days...

Van #1! Courtesy of Jeri's mad van decorating skills!

10 chicks and 2....? (Continue on with that thought and you will get another team's actual name...better than Dangerous Dozen?!)

They interviewed Bobbi about our team before we started. Apparently our team motto was "Get it!" and we are all from 12 different states. Even though three of us were from Colorado, two from South Carolina, two from get the idea :) Somehow word spread of this "Dangerous Dozen" for all over the US...we were famous!

Then our first runner, Melissa, was off! (She's in the blue shorts.)

For those of you who don't know too much about how a relay race works, here is the low down:

Our team had 12 runners total. Each runner was responsible for running 3 legs of varying distances. There were 2 vans with 6 runners each, one van was the active van (meaning they were currently out running their 6 legs) while the other was an inactive van (meaning they were driving ahead to the next major exchange to wait on the active van to hand off the "baton" to their next runner). Once the active van passed off to the inactive van (i.e. runner #6 passed off to runner #7, or runner #12 passed off to #1) the inactive would now be active. Make sense?

Our start time of 7:50 was determined by our projected finish time. The faster the team was projected to finish, the later on Friday they would start. They had teams starting as early as 5 AM...which we would later come to learn that we should have started around then!

So here are the ladies of Van #2 waiting for Van #1 to finish up their first leg.

Cynthia (the hill goddess), Jennifer (the crazy good, crazy fast runner), me and Alesha (the DJ's assistant and our awesome last runner!).

Here is our #6 runner Julie coming in to meet our vans 1st runner of the day!

As Julie comes in, Cynthia leaves out! And Van #2 is on the move.

Cynthia is a ROCKSTAR! Our frist few legs were flat with some rolling beautiful is this scenery?

Unfortunately, our #8 runner Steve got injured on his first between Alesha, Jenn and I we ran the remainder of his legs.

When it came around to my turn, I was studying my leg map and realized that Jenn (who was out there running) had mistakenly ran my leg! I normally wouldn't have cared...but here was the leg I was supposed to run:

And here was the leg I ended up running...

But I rocked it! Not sure of my time, but I think it was around a 10 to 10:30 minute mile. Not too bad for crazy hills and the elevation!

Stay tuned for Part II!