Sunday, February 13, 2011

Best. Day. Ever.

Wow!  I'm not quite sure where to start.  I'm sure you all really want to know about how Mark popped the question.  But I'm going to make you listen (well, read really) all about the race first.  In yesterday's blog, I rambled about my deep affection for New Orleans, so I'll spare you that - except to say now I love it even more.

The weather couldn't have been special ordered any better.  I didn't look, but I'm guessing it was 50ish when we started. A little chilly, but it felt good once we got going.  I stayed pretty close to Erin, Gail and Mark at the beginning.  At about mile 1.5, Mark told me I was going too fast for him.  I offered to slow down but he told me to keep going.  Not essential to the story - but it's good to know for later.

I wasn't sure I could PR much less hit my goal time of 2:30.  But after some encouraging words from Joe a couple days ago and several pep talks to myself, I decided to try. Before leaving the hotel this morning I looked at the chart for what pace I needed to keep to hit 2:30.  11:26 per mile.  Wow, that's almost a minute faster than I normally go, and faster than I've ever run any race, including a 5k.  It seemed hard but not impossible.  I've always read your long runs should be a minute slower than your race pace.  I thought I could reverse the logic and try to run a minute faster than my long run pace.

I felt great nearly the whole race.  I finally found the elusive runner's high.  I think I floated from mile 6 to mile 8.  I ran longer than the 3/1 intervals my watch was programmed for.  I couldn't have ask for it to have gone much better.  At mile 11, I started to feel tired and achy...and had to continue my pep talk to myself.  It was great to see Lou and Byron near the end.  The course was very flat.  But it was also uneven and full of holes and cracks.  Let's all be glad that I managed to stay upright and not fall during the race.

I rarely keep track of my average pace or total time during a race.  Usually it depresses me.  Today I watched it like a hawk.  I did great through mile 10 but slowed down a few seconds per mile the last 3 miles.  The end result.  2:30:49!!!  I was on top of the world!  Or so I thought.  I went to where I had seen Lou and Byron to see if anyone else had finished and hopefully to see Mark come in. 

Mark set a new personal record too - 2:45.  When I saw him about to cross the finish line, he asked me to meet him at the end.  If you ever done a Rock n Roll race you know it's nearly impossible to get back into the finisher's area after you leave.  If you haven't done one, once you leave it's guarded and there's no getting back in.  I'm not usually much of a rule follower, but I also don't like conflict, so I wasn't terribly excited to argue with the guard to get back to the area. 

I stretched the truth just a little to get back inside.  The lady was not letting me in, so I said my boyfriend might be in the medical tent, and I needed to check.  I mean, he could have been there, I didn't know for absolutely sure he wasn't.  She was still telling me no and lecturing me when I just walked on in. When I found Mark, he wanted to get our picture made in front of the Rock n Roll backdrop - something I ususally skip.  But I thought it sounded sweet.  At this point there's a huge line of finishers waiting to get their picture made.  Luckily, Mark had already talked to the photographer and asked if he would make our picture - I'm sure he'd told the photographer what his real plan was.

As we move in front of the background, Mark drops down to one knee and pulls out a ring.  I'm shocked!  I'm pretty sure he asked me 3 times before I could say something besides "oh my gosh!"  Of course, I did say yes.  Luckily, Chrystyna and Nicole finished soon after Mark and were able to take pictures of us.  Something else you should know about this race series...the pictures are ridiculously expensive.  But I'm sure I'll be buying the one from today! 

Mark told me he wanted to ask me at mile 5, but I was too fast.  Which is not something I hear very often!  Mile 5 was to signify the 5 years we've been together.  Yes, I am a very patient person.  I hate that I messed up his sweet plan.  But now I'm engaged and I have a stellar new PR plus there were camera's there to catch our happy moment.  Now I'm really on top of the world.  Best day ever! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pre Mardi Gras Half

I Ran Bourbon Street Sweaty Band

I love, love, love New Orleans.  I've loved it since my first visit here in 2000.  It's so rich in history and beautiful.  Today we took a walking tour (not exactly sure that was my best idea ever) in the garden district.  Everything was so gorgeous and we learned so much.

We've been here since Thursday.  We went out Thursday night and stayed out very late...and had a fabulous time!  Going to bed early tonight since the race starts at 7 am. 

race number and shirt

Participating in the race are me, Mark, Gail, Chrystyna, Erin, Nicole, and Karen.  Joe we thought was just going to be cheering us on, but our friends Lou and Byron surprised us all and came down tonight.  Lou and Joe are going to run the half relay together.

The course is flat.  And unlike some "flat" courses I've done before, everyone says this one really is flat...well there's one hill.  Elevation of that hill is 35 feet.  Sweet!  I'm not even sure we'd call that a hill if it was in Nashville.

cute little tattoo sticker for the race

Originally, I was hoping to break 2:30 in this race.  But during December, I didn't train like I should have, so I'm not exactly where I hoped to be.  My current PR is 2:38.  I really want to beat that tomorrow...but I also really want to enjoy the race and take in the sights.  I guess we'll see how I'm feeling in the morning. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Goals, Goals, Goals!

The best way to be successful in anything you do is to set goals.  The goals need to be written down and reviewed often.  At work, I have monthly goals, that are then broken down into daily goals.  Daily goals means I always know where I am...and more importantly where I need to be.

I have lots of running goals - some long term and some short term.  I've always wanted to visit every state.  Since I've started running, I've altered that goal.  I want to run a half marathon in every state.  This goal will take at least 10 years to accomplish.  Registration fees and travel expenses really start to add up.  Short of winning the lottery, it'll take me at least 10 years to be able to afford to do one in each state.

For 2011, I have several goals.

1. Finish a half marathon with a time of 2:30 or better.

2. Complete my first full marathon in Dublin, Ireland.  I'm thinking this accomplishment will need to be celebrated with a tattoo.

3. I have the standard issue "lose weight" and "improve fitness" goals.  I'd like to lose 30 pounds.  And before anyone says that I don't need to lose that much, trust me, I've seen the scale and the ideal weight range for my height...and yes I definitely need to lose 30 lbs! 

4. Run 11 races in 2011.  Originally, I was going for 11 half marathons, but with the addition of the full, I'm changing it to 11 races. 

Here are the races I'm thinking of now:

February 13, Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Half New Orleans, Louisianna

March 12, Tom King Half, Nashville
April 30, Derby MiniMarathon, Louisville, Kentucky
May 1, Flying Pig Half, Cincinnati, Ohio
August 7, Rock n Roll Providence Half, Providence, Rhode Island
September 5, Franklin Classic Labor Day 10k, Franklin
September 17, Warrior Dash, Manchester
September 24, Women's Half marathon, Nashville
October tbd, The Middle Half, Murfreesboro
October 31, Dublin Full Marathon Dublin, Ireland
November TBD
December 4, St. Jude Half, Memphis

As for the 28 day challenge, I'm still on track!  This Sunday is the first race of 2011.  I love the city of New Orleans.  I'm so excited about this trip.  I promise to blog before and after the race!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 1 - 28 Day Challenge

I am so excited so many of my friends signed up to do this challenge with me!  At the end of the month, you will feel so good about yourself.  On the hard days tell yourself it's just one mile.

Speaking of hard days, I always think the first day of something new is the hardest...much like I think the first mile of a long run is the hardest.  When I gave up soft drinks and all sweetened drinks, the first day nearly killed me.  Now almost 7 weeks later, it feels easier.  Knowing this I expected the first day of this challenge to be difficult.

What I hadn't planned for was being sick the first day!  In the middle of the night when I was wide awake and struggle to breath without coughing fits, I questioned why I had even signed up for this challenge and if I'd be able to do it.  Before I (finally!) went back to sleep, I'd pretty much decided I wasn't participating.  As you can imagine, I felt totally different about it when I woke up this morning.   

Sadly, I wasn't miraculously better this morning.  But my attitude had changed (does anyone have a good attitude in the middle of a sleepless night?).  I knew I could do it and that if I'd convinced so many other people to do it, then I need to step up.  As soon as I rolled out of bed, I put on my running clothes, laced up my shoes and headed out the door before I could change my mind. 

I was also cursing myself for deciding to further challenge myself by making my one mile for the challenge each day a continuous mile with no intervals.  What exactly was I thinking?  This is pretty much the same feeling I get the morning of every half marathon.

I started my mile out slow and steady and gradually increased my speed.  I finished the mile in 11:15.  Wow!  My average pace with intervals is 12:30ish.  Now before anyone starts to think I've been converted, I'm not sure I could have done another continuous mile.  But that one felt good!  Well good minus the large coughing fit that ensued after the run...but I'll spare you guys those details.

It's looking like I'll still be feeling icky for tomorrow's mile.  AND it's going to be a lot colder!  But I know I'll feel great about myself at the end.