chords and cadence

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My Big, Fat 10th Half Marathon!

Man. Oh. Man. A new race recap.

I know, you’ve been waiting since last spring.

But here it is. A chronicle of my 10th half marathon (!!!!!) the Cedars Frostbite Half Marathon in Lebanon, Tennessee, y’all! I love milestones like this.

I look at racing as part test, part celebration. After weeks or months of training, over a hundred miles put in for 13.1 it all comes down to just that: 13.1. It’s a celebration to complete training, it’s a jubilant feeling when other runners are around you, excited about the same end goal of simply running their own race. I love pushing myself and surprising myself and proving to myself that my legs and lungs and limbs can complete difficult tasks. And I love coming home and adding my race bib to all the other race bibs I’ve ran with since 2012. Thirty-one and counting.

As a prelude to all this, race week has a special place in my heart.

RACE WEEK

Race week is deliberately preparatory, which the Type A in me LOVES. You bet your butt I have my meals planned, my workouts planned, my sleep schedule planned, my race day outfit planned. I am READY. It probably scares my husband a little bit, but I tell myself it’s endearing. All the planning is exciting to me and builds the anticipation. It’s like the Rocky theme playing in a loop throughout my week, even as I sit in meetings and stare out the window at work. The pump is omnipresent. 

This race week, I was feeling mentally ready, but my body was being less than agreeable. I followed my training plan and ran a tempo workout on Monday night, but couldn’t complete it; my shins started burning with 15 minutes to go, so reluctantly backed off. Thursday morning I went for a run with my friend Elizabeth, and we both agreed to take it waaay easy (she was racing Saturday, too). But even our waaay easy run wasn’t that easy to me. I knew that I probably hadn’t given my body enough rest lately, that I’d been pretty gung-ho throughout the training period. Moral of the story is listen to your body and take rest days seriously!

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Ready to race!

RACE DAY

This glorious race started at 11a.m. and was $8 without a t-shirt. That’s like finding a unicorn! Just glorious. But wouldn’t you know I woke up before my alarm Saturday morning, 7:30 a.m.  I was quite annoyed at my internal clock for not indulging in the late start time and sleeping later!

Abuzz with plenty of coffee, water, and an oatmeal with peanut butter and banana breakfast, husband and I picked up Elizabeth and headed east to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park for the Frostbite Half Marathon.

Although the sun was shining, it wasn’t a warm morning. Around start time, it was creeping up to 40 but wasn’t there yet. We debated on what layers to wear and what to leave in the car. I decided to keep my Oiselle jacket on with a t-shirt and arm sleeves underneath. I never got too warm or too cold the whole time and I’m convinced it was because of quality gear! Oiselle, you do good work. I also wore capris if you were worried I forgot pants. I didn’t.

After getting our numbers pinned on and last-minute snacking was out of the way (try Honey Stinger waffles and thank me later), we got our spots in the mass of racers. We held our hands over our hearts to a George Jones rendering of the National Anthem, which just tickled me. I love living in Tennessee sometimes!

The gun went off and with it hundreds of GPS beeps chimed as people crossed over the line, mine included. This was my first race with my new Garmin Forerunner 220. I was excited to try it out! Spoiler alert: It did awesome and my splits are listed below. Thank you, Jacob! 

Even though they say to never try anything new on race day, I ran without music. I’ve never ran a half without music before. I mostly wanted to avoid holding my darn phone and dealing with the headphone wires and more importantly, wanted to challenge myself mentally. I remained easily motivated and kept a consistent pace sans tunes and ended up getting lost in my own mind anyway.

Side note: Do you ever just run and lose yourself for a minute? Do you feel like you have an out of body experience and you’re not thinking about anything but your body is still moving and reacting? So cool.

My goal was a 8:30 min/mile average pace to get a sub-1:50 time, and as the miles ticked away, the more I felt comfortable around my ~8 minute pace. As I was racing, I constantly kept checking in o

Yay, Liz!

Yay, Liz!

n my body to see if anything was hurting or needing attention and it was all systems go! It felt as though I had set my brain on auto-pilot and my body was just doing its thing. It was incredible and mysterious and still challenging all at the same time. How does my body do that? How does my brain do that? That feeling of non-feeling, if you will, made me just love running even more, again. It was all encompassing. It was another countless time when I felt such a deep love and respect for this art of running. Even still, I can’t articulate how it makes me feel.

After passing by a couple of basset hounds racing me in their front yard, I started to kick it in around mile 11. Throughout the final mile I started feeling my energy drain pretty noticeably. I’d hastily gobbled a Clif gel with some water around an hour in, but didn’t finish the packet because I was worried about slowing down too much. Plus, I never practice eating on the run, so it felt awkward.

 After seeing Jacob and speedy Elizabeth cheering me on near the finish, I kept up the sprint and left it all out on the course. To my excitement I came in at 1:45:20! Dizzy, thrilled, pumped up and proud of myself. But also very dizzy.

Elizabeth had, predictably, killed it, placing 2nd in her age group with a 1:41:?? time. Yeah, give that girl a high five! I was so excited for her because I know how hard she trained for this race and she did awesome.

img_9537WHAT’S NEXT

More running, that’s what! Yes, it is possible I’m still on my runner’s high from Saturday…

Tale as old as time, once you finish one race you’ll be scrambling to find your next one! I have a couple in my sights and can’t wait to zero in and start up training again. I was happy to see what I could do with this past race since it’d been too long since my last half. Gauging where I am can now set me up for more specific training and goals for the next one.

I’d love to work on speed + endurance for this next one, knocking a couple minutes off my time. I’ll know full well to back the heck off when my body is just not into it. Maybe take a couple more waaay easy runs, sans music, and just get lost in the footfalls.

SPLITS + DATA

8:09 // 8:04 // 8:22 // 8:05 // 8:02 // 8:17 // 8:02 // 7:57 // 7:54 // 8:02 // 7:39 // 8:04 // 7:55 // 6:47 (.10) = 1:45:20

37 degrees // 501 elevation gain

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32 reasons I run (and I’m not getting over it)

I really don’t want to do this. But as a runner, and a writer, I simply must.

I’m going against myself to give MORE attention to an inane article (and poorly written at that) published on the Wall Street Journal titled “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It.” Basically, the writer makes an outcry about how people who run, like to run, and like to express it via social media, their bumper stickers, or choice of clothing. (Ha!)

Instead of inciting anger or rendering me doubtful about why I do what I do, the article made me laugh and pity Couch Potato Chad Stafko. Good thing there are programs for reversing that…

Not ones to sit down and stay quiet, the running community went a little vocal when this came out. Instead of writing an argumentative piece counteracting all of Chad’s statements, however, I’d like to thank him first. His article did make me feel a little nuts for loving running so much, but you know, I’ve been looking for what sets me apart from all the other blonde 20-somethings working in the bluegrass music industry. Being nuts is a good identifier. So thanks for the exercise in self-identity, Chad.

I appreciate his article, too, because it made me contemplate the reasons why I run, and why I love it. So in our list-driven world, I’m contributing mine: 32 reasons I run (and I’m not getting over it).

1. It’s free

2. I get to shed femininity and spit and snot rocket and other non-feminine things

3. I genuinely enjoy working up a sweat

4. Post-run beers

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A nice Highlander after my first marathon in Asheville, North Carolina.

5. I have witnessed more beautiful sunrises and sunsets than I can keep track of or Instagram

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At my favorite place, Percy Warner.

6. Getting my nature fix. Because nature is neat.

7. The opportune moment when you pass another runner and give each other high fives

8. Hills

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Real live hill on a 6k trail race course. Brutal. Badass.

9. Stairs

10. Views

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Chattanooga, Tennessee

11. Heroes, and chances to meet them

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Olympian and CU Buff Alum, Kara Goucher and me at the Country Music Marathon Expo, April 2013

12. Weight loss/management (special note: Since I seriously took up running, I’ve lost 30 pounds.)

13. My Garmin

14. Free swag at races

15. Free food and drinks at races (pshhh race fees. shhh!)

16. Running friends who like to talk about running with you, and you don’t feel like you’re boring/confusing them

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These are my awesome East Nasty friends after we just finished a 5k and were looking for beer and food, but we were so fast that it was still so early and nothing was open yet.

17. An excuse to wear a headlamp

18. More showers

19. Exploring new places

20. IT’S THE MOST FUN THING TO BRAG ABOUT EVER, so deal, because I’m not gonna stop

21. Every month I get Runner’s World in the mail, which isn’t bills, bills, bills.

22. Tech t-shirts

23. New shoes every few months

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24. Empty streets early in the morning

25. Running past graduations, circuses, parades, food truck festivals (a lesson in always carrying cash!), proposals, breakups, and many very nice and vocal homeless citizens. Been there, done that

26. Jamming out to music like Foo Fighters, Neil Young, and Tom Petty, and learning all the words because you never rotate their “Greatest Hits” off your playlist

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Dave Grohl, whom I adore.

27. Playlists

28. Athletic wear, because I wish I could get away with wearing tights and Oiselle ALL the time (something of which Stafko totally doesn’t get, which must really suck for him)

29. It gives me something to write about (ahem, hence this blog)

30. I have to do something better than my boyfriend, because he’s really good at a lot of things

31. Two words: Foam. Roller.

32. I really enjoy pancakes, and I also really enjoy being a size 4

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Best ones in Nashville are at the Pancake Pantry, mark my word!

Sorry I have to stop there. I could go on. But if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta run.

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