Monday, September 26, 2011

Still Glowing - Women's Half Marathon

To be totally honest, I expected to get through the Women's Half and to enjoy it.  However, I didn't expect to PR and certainly not by 5 minutes.  My PR before this weekend was 2:30 on a very flat course in New Orleans.  You can say a lot of things about the Women's Half course in Nashville, but flat is not on that list. My official time for the Women's Half was 2:25:02!   

Gail and I started the morning with a 2.15 mile warm up run. Now before anyone gets too upset, yes we used to make fun of the people who warmed up before a half marathon too.  What can I say, we've become those people - feel free to make fun of us.  The warm up was great because I was able to start the run and not feel completely miserable at first. 

Before the run, there was a moment of silence to celebrate Lynn Manzelmann, a friend and amazing woman, who died after last year's event.  It was a touching and very classy moment.  Great job to the race organizers for including this moment.  It was perfect.  It was also great to see so many people wearing the purple "Celebrating Lynn" ribbons.  Just as the race started, I looked to my left and saw several mutual friends of mine and Lynn's waving at me and cheering for me.  All of these things together was very moving and got my race started off great! 

I started the race a little fast, and I knew it.  But amazingly, I was able to maintain a steady pace.  This is my first half to run without intervals. I was a little worried about not having that security.  My plan was to walk through the water stops and maybe a few other times.  I walked the water stops and about 8 more times.  But I was ok with it and still maintained a good pace.  According to my watch my average pace was 10:55, but my official average pace was 11:03.  My goal during the race had been to keep it under 11.  I feel really good about how I was able to run and really excited about how I'll be able to do at future races. 

The last mile of the race includes going up a bridge (of course you get to go down it too, but you have to climb first).  Before I got to the bridge I was greeted by the Fleet Feet cheering station.  It was awesome and so motivating to see your friends cheering for you.  This is where Mark spent the race, and I'm fairly certain he enjoyed this just as much as running a race.  Following the Fleet Feet station was the Team in Training water stop...yea for more familiar smiling faces! 

Then comes the hill...the hill that has been named "I Will Hill".   Major credit to the Women's Running Half staff for making signs for the bridge.  It started with a sign that said "I Will..." then there was an assortment of signs that said things like achieve, succeed, overcome, dominate and more.  The last sign said "celebrate".  It was awesome and really great distraction.  

The night before the race Nicole planned a dinner for us.  When we all got to the restaurant, she had ordered us a cake and made everyone goodie bags.  It was an awesome way to spend the night before the race.  One of my favorite things about running is the amazing friendships I have made.

Showing our FF pride
It's no secret that I love Fleet Feet.  I think it's the best store in the world (and I'm a girl who loves to shop).  I love going in there because everyone is so knowledgeable and encouraging.  I'm able to run, because of their fabulous training programs.  Mark wanted to go by there after the race and pick up something.  When we walked in, everyone congratulated me and knew my time and that it was a PR.  Talk about warm fuzzy feelings, I was full of them.  It was the perfect way to celebrate my race!

*Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $9,150 so we only have $850 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Runner's Rite of Passage

An alternate title for this post Black & Bruised

If you've been a runner very long at all or ever looked through an issue of Runner's World, you've probably heard of runners getting black toenails.  (yes, I know it sounds awful, and lucky for you fabulous readers there will be no pictures in this post.)  Seasoned runners have tons of stories about how their toenails have turned black and eventually fallen off.  When you hear these stories, you can't help but detect a certain hint of pride in their voices.

My first experience with any sort of toenail problems was in the spring after our double half marathon weekend (miss that post? read about it here).  The second race of that weekend was hilly and wet and very hard on the toenails.  After the race, several of my toenails were bruised underneath.  A couple of them recovered, but 2 turned black and eventually came off over the summer. I will admit I felt a tiny bit of pride knowing I'd hit this milestone...but mostly I felt annoyance and pain.

Last weekend near the end of the long run, I started to notice that my toes felt tender.  Upon inspection, two of them have blisters underneath the toenail - who even knew that was possible? Worse than how bad they look is how bad they hurt!  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it hurts when the sheet touches them when I go to bed.  I'm taking it easy this week and hoping they stop hurting by the Women's Half on Saturday.  I know in another week or so they are not going to be pretty.  At least it is almost time for boots!  I'm thinking I might need a new pair of boots to console myself.

* Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $8,000 so we only have $2,000 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today's Run & a Clothing Note to Guys

Today we ran our longest run ever, and our longest run before the marathon.  Gail, Mark and I decided to run with the Nashville Striders.  Gail and I were going to do the full 21 mile route and Mark was backing his mileage down a little since he's still recovering.  Going into the run, we knew we would be at the back of the pack.  And we were.  We were the last 2 people to finish the run, but we had prepared to be at the end and were ok with it.  Thankfully, there was still water and Gatorade at all the stops.

We started at the Kroger on Del Rio in Franklin and ran to Grassland Elementary and back.  If you've never been there, you should drive it sometime.  Not only to appreciate how far it is, but also because it's a beautiful route.  There are beautiful farms and views of the Harpeth River. 

This sweet guy cheered us on

The course is really hilly. The first 18 miles were pretty great, but the last 3 were really tough.  I'm sure a lot of it was just mental.  However, doing 21 miles today makes me certain I can finish the full in Dublin in 6 weeks and one day (not that I'm counting).  If nothing else I gained lots of confidence today.  My average pace was 12:28, which is awesome, considering over half of my half marathons were at this pace.  It makes me think I've either gotten faster or I've been holding back too much on my halfs or maybe some of both!

Now for the most entertaining part of the the water stop at mile 8, well 8 for me Gail, we see a guy who's already turned around and is on mile 14.  Clearly, this guy is really fast.  And I know everyone wants to optimize their speed and some people do this by wearing less clothing.  And I'm fine with guys running shirtless (some of them, I'm really ok with them going shirtless).  However, I do think men should wear shorts that are an appropriate length.  This man's were not.  They were really short and his junk was hanging out the bottom of the shorts.  Thankfully, there was a liner, but still.  Guys - we do not want to see your stuff hanging out of shorts during a run.  It's not an attractive look, ever.

Probably the second most entertaining thing that happened (and probably karma for me talking about the man in the small shorts) was after the run.  When I got back to Kroger, I went inside to change and to get chocolate milk.  I went into the bathroom and thought to myself that it looked different than before the run.  Yes, you guessed it, I was in the men's room.  Luckily, no one else was in there!

Next week is a drop week and I'll be running the Women's Half on Saturday.  My goals for the race are to have fun and to beat last year's time.  I'm also trying to convince myself to let this be my first half without intervals.  I'm planning to walk through the water stops and give myself permission to walk 3 other times during the race. 

Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $8,000 so we only have $2,000 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy, Hopeful & Humbled

This is a picture of a sticker I bought for my car in March to celebrate my decision to do the Dublin Marathon.  Of course, I'm not putting it on my car until after the race.  I can honestly say there have been many times over the last few months that I was unsure if I would get to use the sticker.  However, I'm very excited to be able to confidently say, we will be going to Ireland and running the full!
Why have I been unsure until now?  $10,000 is a lot of money to raise.  It's been difficult.  It's always been very rewarding.  Right now we are up to $7600 raised.  A big thanks to my company, Home Warranty of America, for matching $2500 of the money we've raised.  Their donation made a huge difference! I feel sure we can get the remaining $2400.  Want to help us raise that last $2400?  Visit our website for more information.

We had a great weekend of fundraising and training last weekend.  We set up a bake sale after Fleet Feet's Women's Half Marathon Training on Saturday.  My original plan was just to have chocolate milk (by far the most popular thing we had), Gatorade, water and a few cookies.  But then something unexpected happened - several people started offering to bring things.  So we had drinks and a huge variety of baked goods.  Thank you so much to Gail, Delaina, Jeanie, Angie, Rene, and Nicole for contributing yummy snacks! 

The response to our sale was amazing to say the least. Including a generous donation we received after, we raised over $900 Saturday.  And we had tons of baked goods left.  As important as the donations we received, was the encouragement and stories we heard.  Everyone was so positive and motivating.  It was also moving to hear people tell us about their loved ones who had blood cancers.  With the baked goods we had left over we set up a smaller sale at our Monday night Tin Roof 2 run and raised another $300.  Wow...we are amazed and humbled that so many people are supporting us. 

Because we were fundraising on Saturday, Gail, Mark and I did our long run on Sunday.  18 miles on the Natchez Trace.  We've not run the Trace before.  Which means we had no idea, it would be so hilly.  Gail and I were doing 3/1 intervals and almost every run felt like it started out uphill!  But I'm definitely not complaining, because it went as well as I can imagine 18 miles going.  The weather was perfect.  Mostly overcast and the temperature stayed in the 60s and 70s. We even had negative splits.  If you know me, you know pacing is not my gift.  I almost always start out too fast.  But we started out in the mid 13s and at the end of 18 my average pace was 12:32 a mile.  And the last mile was my fastest at 9:30. 

Mark has been battling several leg issues since we've been training.  He was able to finish almost 17 on Sunday.  And he was beaming at the end of the run!  It's been awhile since he's been this hopeful that he could finish the race. I'm so proud of him.

One great thing about Sunday's run was that David (Gail's other half) picked us up at the end of 18 miles, so we could run out 18 and not do an out and back.  It was great to run out straight, but driving back you realize 18 miles is a long freaking way! 

Gail has been the most amazing person to train with.  Not only does she let me whine and complain and talk her into crazy ideas, she's also planned and set up all of our water and refueling stops.  My advice to anyone training for their first full is to find a partner like Gail (but not Gail, because I've already taken her).  Speaking of my crazy ideas, this week's run went so well, I was actually entertaining the idea of an ultra marathon.  Of course, I'm tabling this idea until I've survived my first marathon.

Mark and I are so thankful to every person who has helped us fundraise and made donations.  Our fundraising deadline is October 14.  Please visit our website if you want to help us with our final fundraising push. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Franklin Classic

On Monday, Mark and I participated in the Franklin Classic.  I ran the 10k and the 5k.  Yes, I know it seems a little ridiculous to run both races, but it was only $5 more to do both and since I'm training for a full, it seemed like a good idea to do both.  Luckily, I was able to convince Gail that she needed to do both too, so I didn't seem like a total crazy person, well at least I wasn't the only crazy person.  I'm also so proud of Nicole and Jeanie who did both races too!

The race was fabulous.  I've been training to run this race without intervals.  Although I did walk some the majority of it was all running.  And I beat last year's time for the 10k by 4 and a half minutes!  The weather for the race was absolutely perfect.  It may not have seemed perfect when we started since it was raining, but the light drizzle felt great during the run.  Or maybe it felt so nice, because Saturday's run was insanely hot and humid.

While, my runs were really good and I'm excited about my own accomplishments, the best part of the race was seeing and cheering for the new runners who have been participating in Fleet Feet's No Boundaries Couch to 5k Program.  Seeing those runners cross the finish line was the highlight of the race.  I'm so glad I went and cheered for them after I finished. Tracey and Drew did an outstanding job coaching the group. 

This program is how I got started running two year's ago.  I remember very well how excited and nervous I was on my first race.  Most people in this program have never run before and never imagined they would be a runner.  It's amazing and motivating to see the participants transform and their confidence soar from the start of the program to race day.  If you've ever wanted to start running or know someone who does, Fleet Feet is about to start a new Couch to 5k program.  Go to Fleet Feet Nashville's page for more details. 

Special congrats to my friend and running mentor Joe who took over 11 minutes off his 10k time from last year!!  Amazing!  And this gives me hope that I can get faster too.

Mark and I will be running our first marathon this October in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is a charity we've actively supported and volunteered with the last few years.  Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.  Please help us find a cure.  Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.