Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Half Marathon 2012

Ever since last year's Halloween Half I have been looking forward to running it again.  Holly and I were assigned the 1:40 pace group which was going to be perfect...I thought!  After taking an entire week off of running after the NWM and then having a week of not so good runs I was more than a little nervous.  Usually a 1:40 half marathon would be a nice comfortable run for me (I haven't run one that slow other than pacing for YEARS).  I knew, however, that this race was going to be different.  I tried to get the "pace master" to switch us to the 1:45 group but he didn't go for it, oh well.

Friday morning we went to the packet pick up which was A LOT better than last years, hallelujah!!  I did everything possible to set myself up for a good run.  I did the P90X stretch DVD, had my Zipfizz concoction, properly carbo loaded and made sure to get plenty of sleep.
Jorge and Holly picked me up at 5:10 and we headed to the mall to get on the Le Bus!  We climbed onto Le Bus and as we were walking to our seats I spotted Skip...YAY!!  If you want free entertainment hang out with Skip :)  We weren't near him on the bus but don't worry we could still hear him.  We were some of the first to get into the huge heated tent at the starting line.  That meant a good 2 hours plus of being entertained by our bouncing buddy!
Skip, Holly and I argued about whose legs were the skinniest...I would have to say that Skip's are the winner!!!  Holly's were a close 2nd or vice versa, they both have skeleton legs ;)
After we were entertained with a costume contest and partook of Paul's Swedish Fish, thank you Paul (not that he reads this or even knows who I am) we were off.  Did I mention that it was FREEZING?  Yes, FREEZING!  I was running on 2 blocks of ice disguised as feet for at least 6 miles.  Then I got really warm and wanted to rip my blouse off!!

They changed the course quite a bit this year.  Instead of 6ish miles straight downhill we did a little less than 3 down Sundance.  I was just fine running our pace downhill but as soon as we flattened out I pooped out.  I knew I wasn't ready to keep such a pace...I'm smarter ;)

We were a little ahead of pace so I made Holly slow down which was a BIG mistake, actually I probably would have killed over had I not, but it messed us up.  At about mile 6 or so we had to run up a NEVER ENDING hill...rude!  We got to run down it but whatever, I was tired and just wanted to be done.  I kept trying to get Holly to leave me but she refused!  I kept seeing us getting further and further behind schedule.  Holly pointed out that we didn't have ANY followers and that it didn't really matter if we came in late.  Then again I am a little OCD and a bit of a perfectionist and I DIDN'T want to come in late.  As I think back I should have just been the "unofficial" 1:45 pacer and taken it down a notch...next time ;) 
We were at about mile 12 when Holly said my mantra "Strong.Steady.Smooth!!"  She said it at just the right moment, sometimes I forget about my trusty little mantra.  We turned onto the home stretch and went for it.  When I crossed the finish line my name came up on the screen and it said 1:40:01...YAY!!!  We did it!  My official time says 1:40:17 but I will just go with what I saw on the screen :)  We were both sure that we were going to be a couple minutes off so 17 seconds slow was amazing to me. 
Our families were there to cheer us on and I loved it.  This years race wasn't all that I had built it up to be in my little brain.  It wasn't the races fault, it was my fault!  I knew that my body was still recovering from 26.2 miles.  That's a long ways to run ya' know?!?  I also expected a much faster course, that will teach me to look at the race course ahead of time!
Although I struggled through a good portion of this race I absolutely loved it.  It's always fun to see the crazy costumes that people come up with.  It was sad that we didn't get to have any followers but realistically I don't think I would have been able to talk to them anyways!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sliding Into 8th!!!

This morning started off with a really hard leg workout.  Maybe it wasn’t really that hard, but after taking 2 weeks off of working my legs for the NWM it seemed ridiculous.  By my last set my legs were super shaky.  So what do you suppose I did next?  I geared up and headed out for a run.  I knew it was going to be a slow run but I missed running so very much last week that I was just happy to be out.  Plus it’s supposed to SNOW tomorrow and Thursday so I wanted to be outside.  I only look at my Garmin (Lou) when it buzzes me, after every mile it shows me my average pace for that mile.  So I watched as each mile got slower and slower.  I just kept telling myself that I was in the “fat burning zone” so all was good.  The last 1.5 miles of this route are pretty downhill, which is always a good confidence booster ;) 
Now this is the part where I share my secret for keeping a good running buddy, wait for it….
If you are brave you can give this a try but I wouldn’t really recommend it.  You have to either, fly off a treadmill or trip and slide across the road.  It will make your “buddy” laugh so hard that she/he will be counting down the hours until your next run.  Now just to clarify, Holly was laughing WITH me not at me, as she later told me!  Truth be told, she didn’t laugh about it, at least out loud, until I did.  I know you are dying to know how I pulled off such a stunt.
I hit mile 8 and my Garmin buzzed me, I had to see how fast I could run down that hill.  Now please understand that it was DARK, okay it was starting to get light but just barely.  Anywho, I looked down to see my pace and all of sudden a freaking construction sign jumped out and TRIPPED me!  WTHeck ;) I’M NOT A HORSE!!! (Sorry I had to add that because Holly and I say it every time we have to jump over or run around an obstacle)  On with the story, I stumbled about trying to save myself not really knowing what the heck had just happened, before I knew it I was sliding across the ASPHALT!  NOT FUN…funny, maybe, but not fun!  Holly had apparently heard me trip on said sign and turned around just in time to watch my gracefulness.  I felt like such an idiot!  I hopped up real quick like and started running again.  We were at an intersection with about a million cars stopped and watching as I slide across the road.  I’m sure I gave lots of people a great story to share about the stupid girl who slid across the road.  We always see Mama Jex on her way to work, as we run down this hill, but she must have missed my act because I haven’t heard from her. 
My hands hurt REALLY bad but weren’t bloody at all, I still haven’t figure out why they hurt so much.  I am grateful for my “sippy cup” cause I’m pretty sure it saved my hand.
Thank you little sippy, thank you!

When we stopped running I pulled up my capris to see that my knees were a little roughed up. 
Not as bad as the Thanksgiving Day Disaster of 2011 :)

It made for an exciting run and one that I won’t soon forget.  I have seen many blog posts as of late about running in the dark.  I think most people are afraid of getting hit by a car or getting attacked by man or beast, but please DO NOT UNDER ESTIMATE the power of a construction sign!!!  I’m just grateful I didn’t bust a hip or something!!!
In closing I would like to caution you against EVER looking at your Garmin, running in the dark and most importantly...those blasted construction signs are near invisible when faced the right way!  You just may thank me one day...you're welcome!!!
Have you ever tripped/fallen while running?
Today was my first…correction, today was my first time falling on an OUTSIDE run!
While running in the dark do you wear a headlamp, run with a flashlight or pray for good luck?
I have a handy dandy flashlight that was sent to me while I worked at 26.2 Running Co. but McKenna took it and I can’t find the ding dang thing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nike Women's Marathon 2012

I'm going to start by saying that I had read up on this race and most of what I had read was negative.  I don't get people is all I can say, there was not one negative thing about this entire experience!  We decided to go to the expo on Thursday to try and avoid the long lines that I had read about.  We got there, snapped a quick picture and quickly got our bibs etc.  We didn't have to wait in line at all!!  I thought the expo was great, it was small compared to Boston. Then again the race was put on by Nike so of course they wouldn’t have a bunch of other companies there trying to promote their stuff…makes perfect sense to me!!
They had a HUGE hamster wheel so what's not to like...you tell me?!?
We got some free stuff and were off to explore the beautiful city!  We went to NikeTown and found our names on "the wall!"  Yay, I made the wall...I didn't make the Boston poster and I still haven't gotten over it!
Kenna's "Blue Steel" in NikeTown!

Sunday morning we left plenty early and got to the starting line at about 5 a.m.  We weren’t sure what traffic would be like and didn’t want to take any chances.  At about 6:30 or so we took our drop bags to the buses, which I thought was VERY organized, they put a sticker on my bib saying exactly where my bag would be at the finish line.
WOW, I'm super greasy...it's cool to be greasy trust me!!

26,000 people all lined up was quite the sight!  The first mile we were barely moving, I believe we had a 9:00 minute mile :/, then I saw a couple of people running on the side walk.  I decided they were brilliant and did the same thing.  We ran through the city for a mile or so and then we were down by the Piers.  We ran past Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.  This is where it started getting really exciting.  Hill after hill, after hill, after hill and then guess what?  More hills!!!  I would say my hill training definitely paid off.  While everyone else was walking or huffing and puffing up the hills Holly and I ran up with no problem at all.

I wish I would have ran with my camera because I can’t even come close to describing the beauty that surrounded us.  It was a very misty, foggy morning!  PERFECT running weather!!!!  The runner’s, and the hills, disappeared into the fog and it looked AWESOME!  It was actually pretty nice not to see how huge the hill was that we were about to climb.  Some of the hills seemed to never end.  The race directors were so smart because there always seemed to be an amazing cheer section on all of the hills.  They were a great distraction and really got us going. 
We ran near China Beach which is where we went exploring a few days earlier.  The houses in this area are AMAZINGLY huge and wonderful.  It was uphill, of course, but I didn’t care because I loved looking at the houses.
Yep, we ran right up that hill!
This picture brings me much joy so I wanted to share!

I felt great the first 10 or so miles and then I started to feel a little crampy.  If you are a man you can skip this paragraph.  Of all the relatives that I wanted to come on this trip with us the only one who showed up was my “Aunt Flo!”  I hate that woman!!!!  I really needed to go to the bathroom and thought that if I did maybe I would feel better.  I stopped really fast and then we were off.  I was feeling much better. 

At about mile 11 the half marathoners split off, that seemed to be a HUGE chunk of the runners which was really nice.  At most races after about mile 3 or so it starts to spread out and you find the people who are your pace.  Until mile 11 it was very crowded.  This is also where my legs started to feel a little weird.  The uphill/downhill running was starting to wear on me.

Mile 13 was for Kobe!!!  We were in Golden Gate Park, I felt like I was in another land!  It was BEAUTIFUL!  Actually the ENTIRE race was gorgeous!  If I ever started to feel tired or weak I just had to look up and take in my surroundings.  I seriously enjoyed every second of this race!
I'm not sure, do you think I was excited to see my cute family?!?  What a DORK!!

At around mile 14 or 15 we saw our families…YAY!!!  That was just the boost I needed to keep going!  Holly was having some tummy troubles so we decided to stop for another bathroom break.  By this point we knew we weren’t going to be setting any records so we figured we may as well be comfortable and enjoy it.
See that windmill in the back...AWESOME!  I had to get a picture of it...now I just need to crop my ugly mug out of it :)

At about mile 17 we ran past a cheer section with cheerleaders from one of the colleges.  They were cheering a bit and then I yelled something and they really got going.  It was so fun to have them there. 
Holly had her phone and snapped a picture of said cheerleaders :)
The next few miles looped around a lake/golf course.  It was a looooong loop but I knew at the end of it we were on the home stretch.  This is also where McKenna’s mile 19 was.  I’m so glad she picked one of these later miles where I really needed to get my mind off of what I was doing. 

At mile 22.50 I started wondering if my little leggies were going to hold up.  The entire last half of the race my heart rate was low, I had great energy but my legs DID NOT want to listen to me.  I kept telling myself that I could go faster, I wasn’t feeling weak or tired at all.  It was just that my legs felt non-existent!!  I tried pumping my arms faster hoping that my legs would follow but nothing seemed to work.  I finally decided to just suck it up and be happy that I was still running…along the ocean. 
We knew we were getting close and I just prayed that my legs wouldn’t give out on me!  I felt exactly like this…
Yes, that would sum up EXACTLY how my legs felt!  I think those ladies are awesome but I can't help but laugh my head off everytime I see this.

Mile 25 was for Jake so I just kept chugging along…no walking, or crawling, was allowed!!
We saw the finish line and our cute little families!  We crossed the line in 3:45:08 (my Garmin said 3:40 without the bathroom breaks), not my fasted marathon by a long shot but then again I wasn’t running downhill like in all Utah races.  The WINNER finished in 2:59 which made me feel better about my time.  We got our Tiffany necklace from a Firefighter in a Tuxedo…well hello there handsome ;)
He told me I earned this...
Hmmm, not only handsome but smart ;)
(This is a disclaimer for Jake...I don't really think he was all that so don't go get all jealous on me ;)

The finish area was beyond awesome!  We grabbed a bagel and banana, got our drop bag and tried to find our families.  Holly and I were stretching a little when I stumbled down a few stairs, I don’t know how I saved myself from certain death ;) I could barely walk straight.  I’m sure it was quite a sight!!!
We found our families and saw that Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan were getting their awards.  YES, I ran with Olympians!!! 
We found the chocolate milk by the “stretching” tent!  I'm glad they got the memo that I MUST.HAVE.CHOCOLATE MILK!!!  So awesome, they had a lady leading stretching/yoga.  They had tons of foam rollers too, we wanted to join in but there wasn’t much room and we had families waiting to get on with the day.   We ended up walking about 5-6 miles in the afternoon which I’m sure helped work out some of that lactic acid.  I am sore but I thought it was going to be much worse.      
I LOVED everything about this race, I LOVE San Francisco and I LOVE my family for coming with me to explore a new city!  I’m so grateful that I was able to train for and run this race with Holly!  This was by far my favorite race that I’ve done and I would do it every year if I could!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You Can Do Hard Things!!

My Wednesday workouts have always been my FAV.O.RITE!!!  Today’s KYT (kick your trash) was quite possibly the hardest one I’ve ever done.  I knew as I was typing it up that it was going to be brutal…I would have it no other way!!!  My clients have accused me of being “high” or just plain “hating” them!  They can rest assured that I am actually extremely nice to them, apparently I hate myself ;) 
This is how you should feel after a great workout...DEAD ;)

I love pushing my body beyond what it wants to do and that is exactly what KYT workouts are all about.   These workouts are meant to be done as FAST as possible.  I am a true believer in a slow and concentrated movement but in these workouts I go as fast as I can, being sure to use correct form.  Not only was my heart going to beat out of my chest, I was sweating like crazy and I looked like I had rouge on :) I left it all on the gym floor and nearly tossed my cookies…a few times!
To give you an idea of how hard today’s KYT was it consisted of a total of 225 push-ups, 180 lunge jumps (with arms straight over head) and 180 step-ups with shoulder presses.  Those were mingled into 9 HARD strength movements.  All done in about 45-50 minutes!  It was FAST , it was HARD and most of all it was AWESOME!!!
I finished that beating and then did an hour long spin class, it was a great workout.  I knew following all of that I was going to have to get my 3 mile run in.  If it’s on the schedule it must happen!!!  I knew it was going to be ugly.  3 miles is nothing, I can do that in my sleep.  Except for during a taper!  I did 3 slow miles and thanked the heavens that it was over.  I know it is completely normal to feel this way during a taper and quite frankly I brought it on myself.  On Monday, I was supposed to do 4 X .25 mile repeats.  I wasn’t about to run around the track so I decided to do a 4 mile loop and throw the .25 sprints in along the way.  That is the way to do sprints!!  I felt AMAZING, it was actually a good confidence booster for me. 
Throughout the day I started to worry because I have always heard that hard training runs make for a great race.  Did I feel too good?  Was I doomed for race day?
After Tuesday’s HORRIBLE 3 mile run, that I was certain would never end, and this morning’s 3 miler, that was almost as bad, I think I will be just fine come Sunday!  Phew, that was a close one!
Sometimes (or every Wednesday in my case) it’s good to push yourself HARD and it is going to hurt and you will be miserable (unless you are like me and you enjoy that kind of thing) but that is how you get stronger.  That is what it takes to get results!!!  Don’t get me wrong I push hard in all of my workouts but KYT’s are a special kind of hard.  They are not for the faint of heart ;)
You can’t just go through the movements you have to push hard and get a full range of motion!!!   Doing tiny movements isn’t going to do much for you.  The more muscles you can activate the more calories you will burn.  Moving quickly from one exercise to the next will keep your heart rate up and, again, you will burn more calories!  And you can take that to the bank…or whatever. 
Believe that you CAN do hard things and then DO them!!!
Sometimes, or every race day, I wish I could push myself as hard running as I can during a killer workout!  I don’t know what it is, I can kill it at the gym but as soon as running gets hard I lose all confidence in myself and die a little in side ;)  So come Sunday my goal is to not give up on myself!  I want to push through those San Francisco hills and apparently...WIND and have a great race!   Whether I PR or run a 4 hour marathon, I really just want to “enjoy the journey!”