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Archive for the tag “Racing”

#NotAllRaces: Music City Half Marathon Recap

Not all races are created equal. They all have the same bones: starting line, finish line, heartbeats, nerves, and an apparatus that times you. Everything else is a variable: weather, the course, the competition, how your body feels, aid stations (or lack thereof), gear you wear (or forget), the number of tolerable porta-potties (oxymoron?), and the post-race fuel available (I really don’t get why there isn’t chocolate milk every single time!)

Races are beautifully complex, and running one is a completely new experience each and every time. I love that and yet I wrestle with it. Last Saturday’s race was one I am still having some mixed feelings about. On one hand, I placed first in my age group by about three minutes and I didn’t pass out. On the second hand, it was a slower time than my last race that I didn’t even place in, it was one of the toughest races my mind has had to conquer (on a seemingly not-so-challenging course), and perhaps most frustratingly, I’m still sore in my hamstrings and lower calves, despite lots of time on the foam roller, lacrosse balls, and stretching.

It’s. Thursday.

Without much more melodramatic lamenting, here is how it all went down.

Race Day

I woke up at 6a.m. in order to get some fuel. I wasn’t hungry, but knew if I didn’t put anything else in my stomach then, I’d have to eat too soon before the race. So I choked down half a serving of oatmeal, stretched, gave myself a mantra (Run strong, run fast, run your best), and crawled back into my warm bed for 20 more minutes. After getting back up and guzzling a cup of coffee, I went on my way to Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville, where the start and finish lines were. It was spitting rain, grey and ominous. I didn’t bring a hat to wear and I left my sunglasses in the car, dismissing any inkling the weather might change.

Within 15 minutes of getting out of the car, I found a comfortable spot in the middle at the chute. The excitement butterflies that usually visit my stomach at the start were there, but barely. I was disappointed; I love the pre-race butterflies. Did they sleep in? This worried me for a second until I got distracted by the gun going off. A symphony of watch beeps filled the air, and with no music, I set off with the crowd.

I felt good, strong and excited when I started. I charged up the first hill (a bridge) with ease and passed a few people. But then, within the second mile, I started feeling a twinge here, a tired muscle there, and is that a side stitch? Seriously? Way too early for me to be comfortable with. I told myself that this one was not gonna be as blissful as I hoped. Not all races can be the same. Run strong, run fast, run your best.

We ran through an industrial part of town before getting up alongside the Cumberland River on the greenway, which sounds nice, but it was kind of brutal. On one side, there’s a river…not exactly your soothing babbling brook. On the other side was the backside of office buildings and warehouses…not exactly your daydream vista. And we were running against the wind. I began digging deep in my psyche and convinced myself to get comfortable being uncomfortable, because with 8+ miles to go, this wasn’t gonna be a dream run. My splits were not indicative of how I felt, however. They were better, a much-needed confidence booster. Run strong, run fast, run your best.

As we looped back, we came into contact with runners still coming from the other direction. A runner coming from the other direction shouted to me, “You’re in the top 10! There’s one right in front of you!” What?! Despite feeling the burn, I felt a boost. Run strong, run fast, run your best. The sun had come out, did I mention that? Did I mention that the sun came out about a mile in, and I had foregone the sunglasses? Never doing that again. The sun beat into my eyes the entire way back, causing a dehydrated-induced headache. I had half a Honey Stinger waffle and water around mile 8, then took some PowerAde from an aid station at mile 10, to try and ward off the dehydration – knowing the damage was done. Run strong, run fast, run your best. My pace had fallen a little bit, and I struggled mentally and physically. I was not having fun. My mantra took a different turn. Run strong, run fast, run this b*+ch.

Woulda looked cuter with sunglasses on, but nope!

I tried to gain a little momentum coming back down the bridge, but as we ran around Nissan Stadium for the last .60, I knew I wasn’t going to make up for what I’d lost in the last 3-4 miles. Run…your…best. Seeing my husband about .10 from the finish gave me the kick I needed. 1:46:25 and I was DONE.

Post Race

I was so happy to be done with that race. Like, hallelujah. My mood changed when I crossed the finish line, got my medal and a water bottle. By the time Jacob found me, I had sat down and nearly finished the water, wanting more.

I felt disappointed not to have even beaten my time from February. My goal for this race was far from met – I wanted to run my original PR of 1:41. So, HA. HA HA HA.

When I got a print-out of my data, I saw that I was 1 of 15 for females, 25-29. I was shocked. This couldn’t be right. But it was! My mood lifted from there, and standing on the podium felt pretty nice. The race organizers, Team Magic, had nice prizes for those who placed and I appreciated the cup, new socks, gift card to Nashville Running Co. (my favorite) and some weird-looking things you put in your shoes after you run so they don’t smell. They’ve already been tested and given a thumbs-up!

Three things in common with these people: We just ran, we’re between the ages of 25-29, and we just were told to put our hands up over our heads for a photo-op. I had time to run to my car and get the shades.

The Takeaway

Not all races are going to give me the warm fuzzies. Since my last race went so well and filled up my soul so much, I had expectations that this race would do the same. When I struggled (and so early on), the warm fuzzies fizzled into doubt and disappointment. I fought hard to keep those feelings far, far away.

Races are all about struggle! Despite placing, I wasn’t fully satisfied with how I did, and that’s okay. I can learn from it. I take running seriously, but when my brain voluntarily changes Run your best to Run this b*+ch, I guess it’s telling me that not all races are considered equal; lighten up, sign up for the next one, and don’t you dare think you can live without your sunglasses. B*+ch.

 

SPLITS + DATA

8:16 // 8:02 // 8:07 // 8:18 //8:05 // 7:53 // 7:45 // 7:50 // 8:02 // 7:56 // 8:08 // 8:19 // 8:07 // 1:32 (.20) = 1:46:25

301 elevation gain

Welcome, 2017!

Well, hello, 2017 and hello to you, reader. Sixteen days ago, a lot of people said BYE FELICIA to 2016. I wanted to, but couldn’t honestly. I can’t deny that it was an incredibly blessed year for me, personally. I married my best friend and love of my life, traveled to new places, stood by one of my good friends as she married her best friend, and was engulfed by so much love and support from family and friends, my heart still feels crowded in my rib cage. Not to mention, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, my husband’s team won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, and after a couple of years of lackluster running, I noticed the spark spring back in my shoes. So yeah, 2016 was good to me.

Predictably, I was prompted to reflect on what I wanted for the year ahead. The verdict: develop and practice patience, set more running-related goals, and be a good wife. Each of those focuses are complex in-and-of themselves, and I’m looking forward to diving into them.

Along with my running-related goals is blogging more, whether I feel like I have anything interesting to say or not. I’ve read and been fascinated by some of the most mundane stuff I’ve found strewn around the internet (Thanks, Pinterest) so maybe my words will be someone else’s late-night binge read.

Looking ahead: I have been training for my 10th half marathon on February 4th. I participated in the annual Runner’s World Holiday Streak and have been following an 8-week intermediate training plan that incorporates speed work.

I’m planning on posting my training schedule, just not tonight because my laptop is about to die and it’s past my bedtime. BUT, I needed to get back on the blog. Better than nothing, I tell myself!

More soon, thanks for reading.

How I Abandoned a Relationship and How I Got It Back

Ever since I seriously took up running and racing in 2012, I’ve kept every single race bib on a safety pin. The older bibs are starting to fray and rip, but I’ve salvaged them with Scotch Tape like a mother saving her kid’s decade-old first art project (“Remember when you did this?”). In 2015, the stack nearly plateaued with the addition of only. two. bibs.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a lazy monster.

Obviously, 2015 was a metamorphosis of sorts. Instead of running being my main squeeze, an actual human completely edged it out in my heart and soul (Aww. So corny. I had to. Hi, Jacob!). Also happening in my heart and soul were thoughts and ideas and realizations that resulted in me switching careers. So that took some attention and care too. Plus, I flirted with a lot of other forms of exercising that got me excited and feeling ripped. So, running got pushed to the side. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Any runner will NOT think I’m crazy talking about my relationship with Running as if it were a real, warm, humanbody. When you know, you know. You know?

After I began feeling steady in The Changes of 2015 (a fiancé, new job, creaking in both my knees when I climb stairs), the ground thawed, tulips bloomed and allergies were blessing literally everybody. The sweet spring air and Daylight Saving Time successfully lured me outside more and more like sorority girls to a Luke Bryan concert. I started feeling the familiar butterflies I had at the beginning of my relationship with Running. Could we be starting anew?

With aplomb, I decided to test the waters with my maybe-rekindled relationship and signed up for the Moosic City Purity Dairy Dash 10k. The Fiancé would be out of town, so Running and me would have the time we needed (and he was totes cool about it).

I showed up to the Metro Center of Nashville on a bright, sunny, already-mid-60s morning. My shorts and t-shirt were comfortable, my shoes felt good. I left my phone in the car and just carried my I.D. and car key. No GPS, no Garmin, no music in my ears. It was FREEING.

Surrounded by all the runners – big groups, couples, women in tutus, anxious-looking teenagers- I felt energized. I wasn’t attached to anyone else there, but I certainly wasn’t lonely. I felt comfortable being back in a sea of other runners. “What chute are we actually starting in?” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” “Good luck!, Thanks, you too” I tightened my ponytail, ignored the side stitch I just gave myself by chugging 24 oz. of water (dammit, I know better!) and loved the feeling of my heart beating in my chest with anticipation of hearing the gun go off.271087f7-d0c4-49cb-8499-307bef81e713

Running without a Garmin for the first time in forever, I counted the number of seconds between the gun and when I crossed the Start. Fifteen seconds.

I got into a groove pretty early on and felt on top of the world. I wanted to see how long I could maintain my pace, and started moving up pretty quickly. We passed the Tennessee Titan’s practice facility and I’m pretty sure I heard them yelling “1! 2! 3! 4!” as if doing jumping jacks. *cough*GO BRONCOS*cough* I was passed by a faster, smaller girl (hereby referred to as Fast Girl) who was friendly, saying “Thank you” to the cops standing by, protecting the course. She became my rabbit, even though I’ve told myself a million times to never compare myself to another runner (they could be having the best running day of their life or the worst. You do you).  The course took us up along the greenway that borders the Cumberland River and was as flat as all my jokes.

After Mile 3, the runner’s high started kicking in. I felt euphoric. My pace was strong, I was strong, and I thought to myself that who I was in that very moment was the best version of myself. It had come back to me: I am in love with running.  I am in love with who I am when I am running. Running is the best. I realized I had forgotten how much I loved this, but now I remembered and why.

At Mile 5, I caught up to the Fast Girl and we commented about how nice the shade was we were taking advantage of. We quipped how much we liked the flat course and encouraged one another on a great race. She told me to go ahead for the last mile, so I did. I crossed the finish with no one around me, but was cheered on by people at the finish line.

The clock said 50:45 when I finished, so I concluded my time was 50:30, based on when I actually crossed the Start line. I surprised myself, as I went into the race thinking I’d be satisfied with anything under 55 minutes.

About a minute later, Fast Girl finished and came up to me telling me I had a great race. We shook hands and told each other we pushed the other, and thanks for that.

I wandered around for a little while afterwards, nursing a cold chocolate milk and wondering when they would post the 10K results. Seeing when I finished made me curious to know if I had actually placed. After hearing too much “Cha Cha Slide” from the DJ, I decided to get my sweaty butt home for a shower and food. Thank God for the Internet so I could look up the results later.

I learned I placed 2nd for females ages 25-30, and placed 13th female overall. With those results, I know that Running wants me back, and I want it back too. I put myself out there and what I got in return was more fulfilling than I anticipated. So, we’re trying this again.

Tonight I have to add my bib to the stack…and maybe reconsider an upgrade to the bib-keeping system. I have a feeling the stack won’t be plateauing this year.

Race recap: Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon!

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Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, wake on up, it’s running time!

I’m the prodigal daughter of this blog, I swear. Every time I abandon it, something happens, and I come back to it with guilt and an intent to make amends. I’ll be better, promise!

What spurred my return this time is nothing Earth-shattering. It was a race I ran yesterday that kicked my butt into blog-gear. Big woop. But it was my first race since April (the Country Music Half-Marathon that I still should write about someday), and I trained for it starting in July when I was in Colorado. High altitude training FTW! and it was something that I wanted to do for myself, for the sheer joy of it, and because I like myself the most when I am running.

So, a race recap:

The Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon and 5k benefited the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. Its runners were predominately and predictably female, with the hairier sex sprinkled in here and there for support or pacing. No male would place – just women. This excited me because sometimes you just like running with others who understand the struggle of the just-right sports bra. The struggle is real.

The Expo was very well organized and skinny, but that was probably for the best. Had there been more exhibitors, I wouldn’t have had time to peruse them all anyway, and probably saved myself some money in the long run. The information about parking was only a little helpful; in Nashville, for most events that take place downtown, you can park at LP Field and walk over the Shelby Pedestrian Bridge. There wasn’t any literature affirming nor denying that. So, I told my boyfriend to park over at LP Field and walk over the bridge to come see me at the finish, but there was a game going on and he missed me. My fault for assuming, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only Nashvillian to do so. I digress.

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Nancy pulls of pink really well.

The Start was appropriately right in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame, with a beautiful burgeoning sunny sky. The temperature was perfect. I am definitely an early bird, and another reason I enjoy racing is because I’m surrounded by those who (generally) are early birds, too. I feel less weird and not-my-age.

I was really happy to see my fellow Girls on the Run buddy, Nancy! She is a coach for the GOTR group I volunteer with, as well as an elementary school counselor. She is always a source of warmth and happiness and reminds me of my Oklahoman aunt. We snapped a quick selfie before I tucked my phone into my FlipBelt (highly recommend) and the gun went off.

The course rounded down to 2nd street where we turned left to go up Broadway. I’ll never not love the sight of the neon signs of the honky tonks on Broadway, even at 7 a.m. when last night’s beer-soaked mats are laying out on the pavement to be pressure-sprayed off, because it’s Nashville and so hot right now.

Anyone from Nashville knows that if you go west on Broadway from the honky tonks, you go uphill. That was a gift to us within the first mile; the first of many. I tried to hone in my pace, knowing that adrenaline was definitely pushing it. I ended up pacing well in the long run with an average of 7:54, but made myself nervous from my first mile pace.

What I loved and didn’t expect about this race were the amount of energetic crowds out to cheer us on. Within the first mile we had two groups of motivators – one being an exceptionally cute cheerleading squad with an average age of 7. One group of college boys in Hillsboro looked like they had kept the party going from the night before and made sure that all the ladies running by were complemented and encouraged. Aaaand they were blasting “Eye of the Tiger,” to which I gave two thumbs up.

Throughout the course, happiness never eluded me. Different muscles started nagging and my feet were reminding me that I’ve maybe put too many miles on the Pearl Izumi N2s I was wearing. But the sun was shining. I was running. I was surrounded by strong, healthy, active people who wanted to make the best out of themselves by doing what we were all doing. I was struck with what seems to happen every single time I race: meaning, gratitude, and joy. I thought, more than once, “I don’t do this nearly enough.”

The hills we ran were a challenge. I’m not going to say, ‘I love a good challenge’ because it’s used too much and falsely and people should stop throwing that around willy-nilly. But I digress. I love certain challenges, and running up hills is one of them. Also finding the perfect combination of frozen yogurt and its toppings. As well as avoiding Target for clothes shopping. IMG_4991

The whole race, my Garmin was off from the course; I would hit a mile about .15 in front of the official mile marker. So, when I ran down 2nd street and saw my watch tick to 13.1 and still didn’t see the finish line, the Type A runner in me got a little, well, ticked, temporarily breaking me from my running-induced euphoria. But as the finish line came in sight, I cleared my head and kicked it into gear.

Expecting to finish around 1:45:00, I was very satisfied with my 1:43:43 (where my Garmin said I had gone 13.24!). Turns out my chip time was the exact same, so I must’ve zig-zagged a TON to make up for that extra mileage.

I juggled a banana, water, and granola bar while I took out my phone and found a tent where ladies were welcome to “freshen up.” The tent was complete with perfumed lotion, deodorant, cleansing wipes (for which my very sweaty face was grateful) and other things I don’t normally think of using straight after finishing a race because half the fun is just being dirty because you earned it. Anyhow, this was a thoughtful measure and a testament to keeping the race very ladylike.

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He’s way taller in real life.

I met up with Jacob who is always so supportive of and happy for me. I’ve done races before where I’ve had no one to cheer me on, which I am totally fine with, but whenever you do have support and encouragement from those who care about you, it makes a pretty huge love dent.

Being a lady event, there were mimosas instead of beers for each runner after the race. I felt fancy and silly drinking mine with a plastic champagne flute while Jacob just hung out and pretended not want one of his own. This race would definitely be perfect for groups of women who can all take part in the girliness of it together. I would do it again next year, and try to rope in some girlfriends, which is an awesome transition into:

MY NEXT RACE! It’s the Rock and Road Marathon Relay with three great friends in Nashville: Elizabeth, Erika, and Katie. We’ve already gotten to run together which has been a great way to spend time together and get a good workout. I hope we get to do it more before our race, and continue after because I’m of the opinion that combining good friends with exercising is like binging on ‘Scandal’ with wine. Only much healthier and less expensive.

STAY TUNED. THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER OF RUNNING BLOGS IN NASHVILLE HAS RETURNED.

Struggles of seriousness and self-identity

I started training for my first half marathon a little over two years ago. By the time I crossed the finish line of the Horsetooth Half with a New Belgium beer waiting for me, I had already caught the running bug. I shopped at Fleet Feet. I wore running clothes when I wasn’t running. I subscribed to Runner’s World, learned about Plantar Fasciitis and how to pronounce it, and gleefully discovered a whole big world of sweaty, carb-scarfing people who loved running as much as I did. I began to identify as a runner, and quickly many who knew me did too, and I was really proud of it; I wore it like a badge of honor. Heck, I created this blog because of it, essentially.

Fast forward, and sparing you details, I injured my foot during marathon training with 7  weeks to go before my third marathon this spring. I took 11 days off of running and jumped into cross training: cycling, swimming, yoga and strength training. What shocked me was I didn’t miss running. My familiar, neurotic don’t-miss-a-training-run self was out to lunch in China.

I missed out on a few weeks of crucial mile-building for the marathon while waiting for my foot to get back to normal. As it stands, about a week out, I have decided the smartest thing to do would be the half marathon instead. I know better than to fight through 26.2 miles, even if my foot feels fine-ish now, without having built up the mileage the right way. Plus, to keep running healthy for the rest of my life without a prolonged injury is ideal.

The struggle doesn’t lie in the fact that, for the second time now, I’m switching from the full to the half marathon. I’m secretly (or not so, now that it’s on the record) relieved. The struggle is in how I self-identify.

The more I’ve cross-trained, the less I’ve wanted to run. The more I’ve explored cycling HITT workouts and shakti kicks and chin-ups, the more interested I’ve become in pursuing fitness goals outside of running. As a result, I feel like less of a runner, like I’m betraying my sport.

If I don’t self-identify as a runner because of my own subjective definition, then who am I? (Okay, anyone else picture Zoolander looking up at the stars and asking the same question before his matchbook-size cell phone rings?) I know there is more to me than my PRs and mile splits, but everyone is proud to self-identify somehow; it’s personal, and it can mean a great deal.

Recently I had a wake-up call through a conversation with my mother. She was giving me a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and I was coming up with a thousand and one reasons why I should. She finally said it, casually, but it was like a light switched on: “I think you take things too seriously. Your dad and I have talked about it,” she said. Instead of getting butt hurt, I laughed because I knew it was true. And not only true, but something so easy and relieving to change. I gauged the notion of taking things too seriously with my boyfriend too, demanding he not spare my feelings, and tell me honestly. He agreed with my parents. Confirmation received.

As a result, I’ve been (trying) not taking this whole not-feeling-like-running thing too seriously, but there is a little part of my brain that is knocking: “Whooooo are you?!” I know it’s silly to structure my self-identity around a certain number of weekly miles on my calendar, but I have for the past few years, and breaking away from that, like any habit, isn’t easy.

Next week, I will be thrilled and excited to run the Country Music Half Marathon. I will miss running with those I’ve trained with, and not being able to say I have three marathons under my belt. I’ll be excited about the carbo-loading, the celebrations afterward.

I may just do a cartwheel over the finish line or something fun and weird. That wouldn’t be taking things too seriously now, would it? Maybe I could find a new identity in just that.

A post obligatory: Recapping 2013

End-of-the-year reviews are EVERYWHERE on the Internet right now.

Miley Cyrus. Obama. Twerking. Progress and lack thereof in Congress. Music. Twerking. Lists of bests/worstsGIFs. Politics. Twerking. Food porn. Selfies. Bad fashion choices. Ridiculous feats of viral social media. 

Honestly? My guilty pleasures. Maybe I’m just a sucker for looking back on things and reminiscing. Okay, not maybe, definitely. I’m loud and I’m proud about it.

Luckily, since this is my blog, I get to self-indulge and do my own end-of-the-year review, but not in twerking (other blog), for RUNNING, races and milestones. What did you expect?

Without further distraction from this very important post, I give you:

THE 13 RUNNING-RELATED THINGS THAT MATTERED IN 2013.

1. I ran my first marathon.

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Sometimes you shamelessly gotta be a fan of photos of yourself. I’m a fan of this one.

The inaugural Asheville Marathon in Asheville, NC, took place a day after my dad’s birthday on March 3. The race was tough and cold and beautiful and went through the Biltmore Estate grounds. I finished in 4:02:50 with frozen snot on my face and some great moral support at the finish. I’ll never forget finishing and just wanting to sit down SO BAD that I was irate about it. I guess you have the right to be cranky after running 26.2 in 25-degree weather. Brrrr.

2. I ran my second marathon 7 weeks, 5 days later.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz, and myself. All wrought with emotion.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz. All wrought with emotion.

This marathon was cray cray. I had high hopes for a warm spring marathon after Asheville, but the rain gods decided to throw the party of the year right on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Lovely. It was raining from the start and didn’t finish until it was too late to even matter. What kept me going through this race was who I ran with. Shout out to my East Nasties! Heyo! I would not have made it in 3:57:46 if not for their grit and encouragement. We sang/gasped “Eye of the Tiger” at mile 23. I felt like I was running in a wet suit and wondered when I’d get to see Shamu. We kicked it in on the last mile, and held hands as we crossed the finish line for Boston.

3. The Boston Marathon bombings.

It wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge the impact this tragic event had on my sport. On one of the most celebrated days in running – the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013 – we all know what happened. Three lives were lost, and 170 people were left with life-shattering injuries. Our nation was struck again with tragedy, but out of it came resilience and hope. The running community here and all over the world came back stronger for it, proving: If you’re going to weaken the spirit of anyone, marathoners are the wrong ones to target!

4. I joined Girls on the Run as a practice session volunteer and running buddy.

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On our December 7th race at Percy Warner! 28 degrees.

Giving back to your community should be on your list of priorities, or “New Year’s Resolution” if it isn’t, k? I kicked off 2013 deciding I finally needed to get involved in helping out my world in whatever ways I could. I was blessed to find Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that fosters self-esteem, confidence, and strength in the hearts, minds, and bodies of elementary school girls through a 10-week program and training schedule with a 5k race at the end. I completed two semesters helping out, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls have shown me what it means to be inspirational, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from them. DID YOU RUN A 5K WHEN YOU WERE 10-YEARS-OLD IN 28-DEGREE WEATHER? THEY DID! I mean, dang.

5. I ran the Bolder Boulder on my birthday with my mom.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

To ring in year 24 with some pizzazz, the fine folks at the Bolder Boulder (dubbed by Runner’s World as America’s best 10k) decided to hold the event on my birthday and welcome me with a free race entry and a parade in my honor. Just kidding. That would have been too much. But it DID happen on my birthday, my amazing mother ran it with me, I was back in my happy place (Boulder), AND two great friends came to surprise me. Bliss didn’t even begin to describe it.

7. I ran three trail races.

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This hill was featured in the Music City Ultra Trail 10k and 50k. It was a you-know-what.

I didn’t get to hit the trails as much in 2013 as I did in 2012. I guess that’s what happens when you 1.) move from Colorado to middle Tennessee and automatically have less options, and 2.) get a bonafide J-O-B that doesn’t allow the flexibility trail running kinda needs. Thankfully, the racing community in middle Tennessee is strong and adventurous, and I found three great trail races: The Nashville Running Company Peeler Park 10k, The Music City Ultra 10k & 50k (did the 10k), and the NRC’s Bell’s Bend. I loved all three, but the Music City Ultra was probably my favorite. It was so untamed, I got a little lost, it was brutal, and I won 2nd place for females. Trail races are opportunities to dig deep, get a little unconventional, and experience something totally different. Not to mention, you get a little more dirt on your legs, which I’m always a fan of.

8. I dropped running my 3rd marathon, and ran a half instead – and PR’d.

Bling bling.

Bling bling.

With my new job, I had a lot on my plate during marathon training for Chattanooga 7 Bridges. I had a lot of stress at work and wasn’t able to train properly for my third 26.2 of 2013. I flip-flopped on what to do, finally deciding to do the half and enjoy the lesser risk of getting injured or not finishing. I ended up with a PR of 1:46:07, felt fantastic, and had a great supporter in Chattanooga resident, and my world-travel partner Dorothy. I decided that half marathons are my jam and I want to do more in the future.

9. I PR’d in the 5k and ran it with friends.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

Each year, East Nashville is home to the Tomato Festival, where tomatoes come together with art and it is a big love fest for a weekend. There’s also a race. I ran it with friends from East Nasty and PR’d with 22:18. I ran a 6:51 mile, which blew my mind. We drank beer before 10a.m. and I was so happy.

10. My parents indulged me on a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Denver.

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Bill and Trudee rock.

Before cooking up our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal of homemade manicotti and smoked ham, my parents ran the Denver Turkey Trot with me. My sister and our dog cheered us at the finish. I loved getting to re-visit my old stomping grounds in Denver, and loved being home. My parents are the coolest!

11. I found THE shoes.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl's best friend.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl’s best friend.

You know when you find THE ONE? You get excited about their arrival. You can’t stop staring. You don’t want to be apart? Yeah, that’s what I felt this year when I discovered Pearl Izumi’s N2 road shoe. The ones pictured above are my second pair (I go through shoes fast). Thanks to Nashville Running Company, and my bff who works for Pearl Izumi, I was introduced to these babies and was able to get them again even under a tight budget. Score!

12. I pledged to streak again.

Yes, as part of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, I pledged to run at least one mile each day from Thanksgiving Day to New Years. It’s Day 21 right now, and I’ve still got it!

13. I ran in six states in 2013.

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. From trails to the beach, my obsession with running took me lots of places I never would have gone.

So what’s up for 2014? I am scheduled to run the Country Music Marathon again in April, with high hopes that it will not rain at least the whole time. I’m looking forward to training with my East Nasty group again, and build my speed and endurance.

2013 was an epic year in running for me. As for twerking, well… I’ll leave that up to the other ubiquitous “Year-in-Review”s.

What’s “off season”?

After finishing Chattanooga 4 Bridges, my go-to reaction has been to find the next race. Whether it’s been another marathon, or another half, my fiendish impulse since I’ve bursted into a serious runner has been to search for, nail down, and train for my next race, and write a blog about it. I mean, that’s what addicts do, right? Search for their next fix? (I mean, I guess some of them could write blogs…)

But. I’ve had a nagging feeling of “what’s next?” Instead of relishing in the ubiquitous thirst to nab another goal, the nagging feeling has been just that: NAGGING. I have been reluctant to it. I don’t want that feeling. I don’t want “what’s next?” yet. I want it to leave me alone.

Because of this reluctance, I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with me. Since January 2012, I have been training for something; it has become a huge part of my identity, and one of which I am very proud. For 21 months, I’ve trained for half marathon after half marathon, then trail half marathon, marathon number one, marathon number two, marathon number three (turned half marathon) with even more races in between.

Luckily the impending identity crisis was avoided today when I happily found my answer to “what’s next.” It’s what they call “off season” and I hear it’s pretty common, even for elite superstar runners like my hero Kara Goucher.

Yeah! Off season! You know, a time where you cross train, go to Disneyland, race for fun in a tutu, move down to your villa in Miami (unless you’re LeBron James and you already live there. Which makes me wonder: where does LeBron go in the off season? I digress.), stay out late at smoky karaoke bars and not worry about feeling good for a 12-miler at 7am, eat pancakes because you want to, not because you have a massive hunger after running 20 miles.

So that’s what’s what, guys. I’m in the “off season.” I wish I could say I’m going to Disneyland or moving down to Miami, but I haven’t convinced my boss that bluegrass is prevalent down in Miami. I mean, let me know if I’m wrong, and you’ll be my favorite person in the world. I’ll call up LeBron and we can all chill, my treat.

To keep up with my fitness (because I can’t sit still, even if it is the off season), I’m enjoying the gym rat status and getting lost in new beatz I’ve loaded on my Shuffle: Lady GaGa’s “Venus” makes me giggle like a school girl; Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” is my jam; I pretend Drake is serenading me in “Make Me Proud.”

I’ve been modeling my workouts after the Tabata method, going hard on one exercise for a certain amount of time, resting a short amount of time, and jumping back in for another set. This has made my overall gym time shorter,  but I’ve walked away feeling like I’ve worked harder and I have rendered myself quite sore as a result.

I’ve relied on treadmill and Stairmaster intervals for cardio, as well as short sprints around the indoor track, which give me a lot of confidence when I pass by all the walkers and “joggers.” Yoga has been practiced a lot more, making me wonder why in the world I wasn’t a yoga practicer in Boulder. I’ll never know.photo

I fully believe there is a season for everything, so this concept of an off season shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. But I’ll be the first to admit: I have been swept up in the race craze. It’s not hard to want more, to dig deeper, and to put another tech tee in your drawer. While this is also the season for being thankful (which should be an exception to the whole “season” thing altogether) I am thankful to say that I’ve discovered that the time is right for an off season.

Race recap: 4 Bridges Half Marathon, Chattanooga, TN

I went to a show at the famed Bluebird Cafe here in Nashville last Friday. The show was in-the-round style, where four or five songwriters sit in a circle in the middle of the venue, with tables and chairs scattered all around for the audience. You can even read the lyrics on the sheet music in front of the songwriter, you’re so close. That intimate.

The songwriters all had hits you’ve probably heard on the radio before, if you listen to country radio (sung by someone much more glamorous, but probably less talented – at least, in terms of actual musicianship, but I digress). What made the two hours that much more intimate and valuable was that the songwriters had so much respect and admiration for each other. At one point in the evening, each songwriter took their turn to brag on another songwriter, and it was all one happy love fest. And so it goes in Nashville…

I share that anecdote because 1.) I wanted to brag about the fact that I ACTUALLY got into a show at the Bluebird (thanks a lot, Hayden Panettiere) and 2.) because it’s my turn to brag on something and I wanted to cleverly tie in an anecdote. BOOM.

So let me brag on this, the 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga. Let me paint a picture for you. And by paint, I mean show you a picture via the Internet.

photo (1)That’s a bridge in Chattanooga, stretching across the Tennessee River. There are four bridges that do this to connect the city, hence the name of the half marathon. Chattanooga is nicknamed The Scenic City, and I’ve bragged about it before, so start getting jealous of me right now.

So imagine my anticipation in running a race here. I know, RIGHT? And it was also a little complicated given the fact that I had to defer to half status instead of full, but I’ve beaten that horse enough. What’s with that saying anyway? I don’t like beating anything except for other runners up hills. And maybe eggs.

OKAY, OKAY: RACE DAY!

For once in my life, I was going to run a race that wasn’t wrought with unappealing weather (note: totally embellishing, but still wringing out my jacket from CMM) I was thrilled. Forecast was in the mid-40s for the duration of the race, so I was good to go in my sleeves, racerback, and quarter length pants.

The start of the race was packed with people, and it was dark as the sun didn’t really rise until 7:50am, 50 minutes into the race.

I ran with music (it had been a while since I’ve raced with music), starting off with “Little Black Submarines” by The Black Keys. I felt good, having eaten some trail mix and a banana for breakfast, and water. I consistently moved up, keeping an eye on my Garmin. Smiling. Feeling awesome and all kick-ass like.

One criticism about the race: I am pretty sure the mile markers on the course were off. I know distances vary a little bit depending on how much you zig-zag, but I’m talking about .20 off at some points. Still, I was in great shape time-wise, so it didn’t bother me as much.

My first “AW HECK YEAH LIFE IS SO GOOD” moment came when we crossed the first bridge, heading north. The sun was just starting to come up to our right, over the three other bridges. “Loving Cup” by The Rolling Stones came through the headphones, and I felt so happy I could have hugged the sweaty stranger running next to me. (I didn’t, though. I passed him instead.) It could have been the endorphins, but I thought to myself that this feeling of happiness is only so strong when I am running. Races, running, sunrises, perfect songs… they are the bread and butter of my life. They keep me excited, feeling fresh, and determined to make the rest of my life just as kick ass as I feel in that moment. I hope to goodness you have found the equivalent of that in your own life, or are currently on a quest to do so.

The course was relatively flat, with steady, short inclines here and there. I only fueled up with a gulp of Powerade around mile 10, and even then didn’t feel the need for it.

I started kicking it in at mile 11, and killed the last hill, happy that I was familiar with the area so I wasn’t psyched out with how long the hill was.

I crossed the finish line at 1:46:47, according to my Garmin (my official results are still being processed I guess) which is a PR! With numb digits, I hugged Dorothy, who saw me finish and was so cool for waking up early to see me. She also took this awesome photo below.

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What makes it so awesome is the photobombers. Like, kudos. Bravo. I’m not even annoyed. I hope this shows up in a Buzzfeed post about photobombers at races someday, because it’s perfect.

The first order of business was finding coffee, and then pancakes. In that order. My fingers were freezing, after all.

Coffee was eagerly gulped, pancakes hastily eaten. A perfect race day, on all accounts.

POST RACE THOUGHTS

I love the distance of a half marathon, and I want to try to run more and really make them my go-to race. My time was good, but it could get better. It’s an approachable enough distance for me to tackle with speedwork, long runs, and my general attention span and level of patience. Not to say I’m swearing off marathons, but. I think halfs are where it’s at.

My splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 8:44
Mile 2: 8:17
Mile 3: 8:16
Mile 4: 8:21
Mile 5: 8:02
Mile 6: 7:59
Mile 7: 8:15
Mile 8: 7:58
Mile 9: 8:07
Mile 10: 8:03
Mile 11: 7:59
Mile 12: 8:06
Mile 13.1: 7:43

I’m not sore today thanks to my foam roller and some yoga, and feel like I am good to run.

This race really gave me a lot more confidence than I went in expecting to gain. I am inspired to run and train again without the marathon schedule so dauntingly bold on my calendar. I know, I did it to myself. 

Not sure what my next race is, but in the mean time, I’ve got this on the wall with the others. Half marathon number 5 in the books!

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2013: Cheers!

photoAlthough this is my virgin post of 2013 (Happy New Year!) it will not be about my (sure to be insanely original) New Years Resolutions. No sir. You’re welcome. Cheers.

However, I will be mildly self-indulgent and reflect (briefly!) on 2012. And then we’ll really move on. You’re welcome. Cheers.

I finished out 2012 having run over 1,200 miles, four half-marathons, one 10k, at least one mile for 42 days straight, and more hills than you can shake a Garmin at. I ran at 10,000 feet, the desert, and sea level. I ran happy, and I ran sad. I ran in rain, snow, sleet, and heat. Through all this running, I ran into a new passion and I have never been happier in my life. (See what I did there?)

I also did the little thing of packing up my car and moving halfway across the country by myself to the city of my dreams and now I’m living happily ever after frequenting honky tonks and bluegrass jams, but that’s for another blog.

2012 was good to me and I was sorry to see it go. 2013 has got to step it up, big time.

Might I run into Kenny Chesney/Luke Bryan/Keith Urban out in Nashville somewhere?

Might I hit 1500 miles?

Might I not only finish my first marathon, but another one six weeks later?

(I’m gonna say yes to all three of those. Ah, the power of positivity.)

My first marathon (in beautiful Asheville, NC) is in eight weeks, on March 3. As the training mileage increases, so does my excitement, anxiety, and frequency of Icy Hot applications (my apartment smells faintly like the stuff and I am totally okay with it).

The Country Music Marathon and Half in Nashville is April 27th, seven weeks later, and I signed up for 26.2. I figure after a week of recovery, I can jump back into a reasonable training routine and be just as ready. (Anyone else done this? Pointers?)

Besides races and personal goals, I decided to dedicate to giving back this year too. I’m excited to say I have volunteered with Girls on the Run, a non-profit program that gets girls from 3rd through 8th grade active, into running, and promotes healthy living and positive self-esteem. At the end of their 12-week program, they run in a 5K race. I’ll be running with the girls twice a week for practice. I can’t wait to ignite a passion for activity and establish self-esteem and good habits in the hearts of some sweet little girls!

So there you have it. That’s what 2013 looks like for me, although the race entries will hopefully increase. Nothing like smashing goals and setting new ones! How far will you go?

Oh, and I gotta give you some music in this entry. Welcome, The Lone Bellow. Rootsy folk + harmonic vocals + soul. They will blow up in 2013, mark my words. Enjoy!

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