Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Five (v.1)

Hopping on the bandwagon for a Friday Five post. Only because my mind is buzzing in a million different directions right now, and this is the only way for me to make some sort of calm and collected post. Not to mention, there are several things I left out of Wednesday's Love List that NEED mentioning.

Friday 5 (Five)
1. Remi Max Lynn--How terrible am I for just now mentioning the introduction into this world of little Remi Max Lynn, the cutest premi ever known to man? Weighing in at a whopping 3 pounds, 15 ounces, 19-inches long (I'll let you figure out that height to weight ratio), he's a sure contender to steal the hearts of many, including his loving parents, some of my favorite/best Charlottesville friends, Stacy and Jesse Lynn. While I have yet to hold this little bundle of joy (and yes, this officially makes me Auntie Liz to more than just pups, seeing as Stacy is my "sister from another mister...and missus"), the pictures are more than enough for now.
Jesse and Remi
The radiant Stacy and Remi
True story: I was in Fairfax, VA on Sunday morning when I woke up to an 8am text saying that Stacy went into labor (at 32 weeks, 4 days!) at 2am that morning. You better believe I BOLTED into clothes, packed my bags, and headed back to Charlottesville. This girl has been my unpaid therapist (ha, not really, but she's a good listener/advice-giver) for as long as I've known her, and I will always be there for her too. So a big CONGRATULATIONS to the happy family! I love you all!

2. Fast and Furious 6-Go see it. If it's not on your weekend plans, it should be. Reasons? Um, do you really need any other than the fact that my boyfriend Dwayne is in it? Yeah, I don't need to throw a full name out there. In my dreams, we are on a first name basis.

But in all honesty, this was a great movie. It saw it having just seen Dwayne in Pain and Gain the weekend before, so I'm all set with my Rock fix. The storyline was great. The action was great. And most importantly, I didn't fall asleep or feel the urge to check my phone for time (although I did check it for other reasons once) every 10 minutes. That's a BIG plus in my book. I have the attention span of a dog surrounded by squirrels, birds, and bunnies all at the same time.

3. Crossing off "Firsts"-- I don't have any photographic evidence (I didn't want to be that girl surrounded by a bunch of macho guys), but I went to a shooting range for the first time ever on Saturday morning. This is something I've been wanting to do. I can't really explain why, other than I felt it was a testament to my badass-ery and most importantly, I do think that everyone should at least know how to fire a gun. I have a friend from the gym that teaches a defensive shooting class, and I've been contemplating enrolling in that. I like knowing that if I found myself in a life-threatening situation, I could defend myself. As of now, I could maybe outrun someone, but I doubt that's really going to save my life.

Jumping ships for a hot second, tonight I will also be crossing off another "first." Not sure if I should bring my hooker heels and my daddy issues with me, but it's my friend, Keith's, birthday weekend and a group of us are venturing down to Richmond to go to a strip club. I was asked if I wanted to join, and I think I said yes in a heartbeat. What exactly does that say about me? Ha! But since I'm in prep, I offered to be the DD. I hope this bunch knows that I expect free club sodas all night long. Complete with a lime wedge, please!

4. Unknown beauty-- I've had a few conversations with some (male) friends lately about my dating game or lack thereof. My blog is not really where I talk about this stuff, not at all. But to be honest, I'm the world's most terrible dater. I'm that girl that changes her outfit 10 times to find the perfect "not trying too hard, but need to look like I'm trying while also maintaining a sense of casualness" look. And I have a tendency to overthink everything. Throw in there that I'm currently in prep mode and dating is damn near impossible. So as I'm talking to my friends about this, one of them mentions that I don't really know how attractive I am (his words, not mine!) and that just makes me that much more attractive. That statement has stuck with me though. Why? Because it's true. I am very comparative in nature--with myself and with others. There's always something to improve. But it was a sweet compliment and I will eventually try to work on a better self-image.

5. Sunshine-- I need a beach. ASAP. I need to be out in a bikini soaking up some sun because it is so freaking nice out and I feel pretty pale. I need color. I thrive on warm weather. The only downside to all this sun is that the long days are throwing me off. It's still light out at 8pm? Hard to wind down by 10pm when my body and my mind are saying two different things. I can't wait until I can sleep in past 5:05am every morning. And yet, I do not wish prep to fly by that quickly...

And with that, I'm out. Off to see the orthopedist this morning--wish me luck! And don't forget to guess what I hinted at yesterday. Winner will be announced Sunday afternoon. If no one is correct, the care package will go to the best incorrect answer.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hint, Hint

Wouldn't you like to know!
First person to guess what I'm hinting at gets a lovely (healthy) care package from me. Start your engines guessing... And, go!

UPDATE: The answer will be revealed Sunday afternoon, so make sure to get your guesses in. If no one is correct, the best answer wins.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Welcome to the Love Shackkkk!

Remember when I used to do "What I Love" posts? Remember when they used to be on Wednesdays? Well guess what, folks! It's What I Love Wednesday! 

So without further ado, let's introduce the list:

What I Love Wednesday: The Five Week Out Version

1. Being 5 Weeks Out! What does this mean for me exactly? It means I am one month away. One month as of today actually. I will be strutting across stage at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach one month from today. I will be strutting across stage ONE MONTH FROM TODAY?! This realization makes me smile. And it also makes my stomach flip, but mostly smile. I can't friggin' wait!
Can't wait to devour these either!
2. The Compliments-- Oh, the compliments! I'm not a fisher. Never have been, never will be. I'm not vain. I don't know how to be. That being said, I'm highly aware that all the attention I've brought to myself by posting updates and statuses and progress pics and general information about my competition on all forms of social media (aka Facebook, Blogger, and Instagram) speaks volumes in the other direction. But honestly, I need the accountability. I need the feedback from those strong ladies (and men) I know through this online community that have competed. I've always said that I am not a very objective self-critic. There are multiple reasons behind that, but it is really the underlying reason that I do post SO. MANY. DARN. SELFIES.

The point of this? I've received so much great feedback from friends near and far, close friends and acquaintances. Some come as comments on my updates. Some come as texts. Others come from phone calls or, better yet, in person. It truly warms my heart. This competition has never been about seeking approval. It's never been about one-upping others. It was briefly about having a bangin' bikini bod. It's always been about proving to myself that I have the dedication, the motivation, and the determination to see this out to it's glorious finish. It's been about the fitness, the LOVE for fitness. It's been about the goal and the internal competition. And I have to admit, it feels good that all my hard work has not gone unnoticed.

I shared with you all a few weeks ago a text from a friend with whom I'd lost touch (my bad!) in response to an Instagram pic:

But that wasn't even the beginning of it. Leave it to the lovely Celia to prompt conversation in response to the terrible Sports Illustrated spread of Kate Upton. I'm sorry (that I'm not really sorry) that we both agree that no, it was not magazine editors, but rather she just does not look good this year. I'll take the compliment:

Oh yeah, I'm insecure about my lack of boobage, so that's how I tried justifying that people think Kate Upton looks like a bombshell on her cover.

And most recently, tonight I received a super sweet text from April, a dear friend that has done pageants in the past.

Coupled with comments from gym friends about how "This is the tiniest I've ever seen you," and I'm really loving all the support I've received. It's been practically non-stop and it's really one of the greatest motivators I have at a time where I'm so vulnerable to my surroundings. Seriously, people--I can SMELL sugar these days. It's baddddd.

3. Workout Clothing-- I've updated my arsenal lately. Major updates. It all now takes up 3 drawers in my dresser. Not including socks. Those have their own section. I'd share pictures, but it's really all you've seen me in lately. Well...

4. Being a Source of Advice-- As I mentioned, all my hard work has not gone unnoticed, and some of the most sincere forms of flattery have come from friends asking for workout and diet advice. Now, I am not a trainer...yet ;-) Haha! So I make sure that if I do give advice that my friends understand that what works for me is because I know my body and it may not work for everyone. How I train is my own personal style coupled with my coach's suggestions/blueprint workout schedule. I am not the best at everything, I cannot throw up hundreds of pounds, and my form could probably use a little tweaking on occasion. But if a friend has a question, I will surely answer to the best of my abilities and help them come up with a solution that meets their needs and their fitness level.

Same goes for nutrition, but in my opinion, more strictly so. The prep diet I am on is just that--a prep diet. It's not meant to be sustained over a long period of time; it is constantly adapting to my changing body/weight; and it is not a lifestyle. I think that is the biggest part that is overlooked by many. People see progress and they want it too. I'm not a nutritionist. I don't condone using the meal plan I'm on for anything other than what I'm doing. I don't condone using my exact meal plan for anyone but me because it was created based on my starting weight and my protein intake is calculated from that. I LOVE being asked questions. I love that my friends feel comfortable enough to ask me these questions. But I do not want to mislead anyone or give any bad information. I don't want to lead someone into an unhealthy lifestyle. And I think any other competitor without credentials would agree.

So this Love List has taken a little longer to put together than I intended. Picture editing (even just screenshots, simple as they look to censor) takes forever. Especially on my 2009 MacBook. I may just have to extend the Love List to another day this week, or another post entirely. But if there's a takeaway, it's that I love what I've been doing and I especially love all your support!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

iPhoto Just Pooed on This Post

My, how time has flown by! Call me forgetful, but I couldn't remember the last time I posted until I looked back and saw it was two weeks ago. I guess that's what happens when you're distracted/out of town on weekends/sober fun focused. Or maybe I just needed those two weeks to fly by--5 weeks out sounds much better than 7 weeks out, and since it's on the brink of June, the competition actually seems attainable. To be honest, even with all the milestones of preparing thus far, I'd questioned whether I was in it to win it.

Remind me to stop questioning myself.

I think the two half marathons finally got to me, too. I had attempted to go for a short run the day after the trail run, and it was miserable. It didn't happen, but oh, did it happen. My legs rebelled and my mind finally caved and gave up on breaking in the new kicks. It may be just my luck, but it seems that every time I get new shoes, the universe is uncooperative. Call me crazy, but my first run in my shoes is not going to be in the rain. No, sir! A week (and a trip to Virginia Beach) later, and I finally put the first few miles on my True Blues. I just decided to name my shoes, apparently...

And a 6:38 mile thrown in there
Verdict? LOVE. So light. So fun. And I love the off-center laces. It just makes sense. Unfortunately for me, I may have to resign them to the sidelines for the time-being. I'm a play through the pain kind of gal, but after 3 weeks of pain along the top of my foot, I'm a bit concerned. An ortho appointment on Friday should hopefully give me an answer; and although I'm not expecting good news, I have my training bikini on standby for lap-swim workouts. Does that sound boringly exhausting to anyone else?

Don't get me wrong--I used to be a swimmer in high school. Three of four years, and the only reason I didn't swim senior year is because I fell head over heels...for running. I like things that I'm good at. I was good at running. Swimming? I was alright. Shockingly, I didn't have the lower body strength to be a better swimmer. I could do strokes up and down the pool all day, but give me a kick board and I was slower and more awkward that a wind-up waddling duck toy. Or at least that's how I picture myself looking. Regardless, if I'm resigned to no running, etc., it should be an interesting 5 weeks of prep. Oy.

Excuse my nakedness--2 weeks of progress (hopefully)
And because I'm getting too lazy to finish this (and because my camera roll is really how I keep straight how I've spent all my time), I will let photo collages do the talking:
So easy to dress myself for the gym, so hard to dress myself for date night.
Need a fitness apparel model? I'm your gal!
No words.
Alrighty, my vanity and I are leaving the building. Night, folks!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Identity Crisis

Have you ever noticed that the best compliments come at the oddest times? For me, it's usually when I'm out of my comfort zone. Take, for instance, this afternoon as I'm checking out in Whole Foods. Let me preface this saying that Whole Foods and I are casual strangers. I go in there every now and then, but it's few and far between, and I certainly do not know where anything is except the produce and the salad & hot bars. I went in looking for some frozen steam-able vegetables, but I don't know what I was thinking--that would be pretty contradictory to Whole Foods' philosophy. At least that's the only explanation I can come up with.

So there I am, out of my comfort zone with a practically empty cart containing only a salad bar container of garlicky kale and a Bragg's Ginger Spice Apple Cider Vinegar Drink, which I picked up on a whim. Did I mention that I am in stinky, skimpy gym clothes (think Nike Pro 2" compression shorts and a Ellie top inspired by Lululemon)? Clearly post-workout. So I'm checking out all of my two items when the girl next to me, who is maybe 5 or so years my senior, asks me, "Excuse me--are you a runner?" Without hesitation, I replied, "Yeah!" to which she told me, "I thought so. You have great legs! I wish I had runner's legs like yours. Instead I'm stuck with these chicken legs." She was the only other person I actually noticed was wearing workout gear as well, so it was twice the compliment. But it got me thinking.

Where's Waldo?
Am I a runner? Sure, I run. I tend to enjoy it. Even when I don't, I still do. I know that doesn't sound very logical, I'm a firm believer that running is not only physical but mental as well (and even emotional at times). So while I may not have my head in the game one day, I can certainly enjoy the physical benefits of it. But am I really a runner? Running is only a small portion of fitness for me. I sign up for races here and there, but the last time I truly considered myself a runner was at the peak of my high school cross country and track experience back in 2006-2007.

#winning. I already hate myself for hashtagging that.
So here I am 6 years later questioning what I am. As soon as I responded to the Whole Foods girl, I immediately started questioning myself. It was a quick answer. It was an easy answer. Much easier than telling her, "Well, yes, I do run, but that's only the half of it." How do I explain what I do?

Humidity v.100.0
I have yet to consider myself a bikini competitor. I haven't even stepped foot on stage yet. And even when I do, I would still be hesitant to give myself that title. Does one competition make me a competitor? Does cooking one meal make one a chef?

Then there's the term athlete, which I mentioned in yesterday's post. Yes, I lift. Yes, I strength train and do cardio. Yes, I try new things all the time, and I am competitive. But I think Athlete is a whole other level to which I have not yet reached. YET.

It's easier to say what I am not. I'm not a fitness expert, that's for sure. I don't even have any fitness credentials--no certifications or anything of the likes of that. And yet I love fitness. I'd love to progress further with my training, with my knowledge, with the ability to give the the occasional gym-goer some  (accurate) advice when prompted. I'm enthusiastic, that's for sure...

I have aspirations. I use the word "love" when referring to working out. I'm not afraid to try new things or ask for help. I make workouts a priority, not a chore. So what does that make me? A fitness enthusiast?? Bingo.

For all intents and purposes, I am a Fitness Enthusiast. This is not the beginning for me, nor is it the end. It's merely one step toward one of my goals. And when I succeed with achieving that one, it's onto the next. Because part of being competitive is always choosing the next competition, the next hurdle.

That sums up me. How do you describe what you do/are?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wasting Away

It has been all of 2 days since I ran my second (and last) half of the Spring. Being that I'm an over-achiever by nature, I went to the gym yesterday morning to get in a "shake-out" workout. Aka 15 minutes on the TreadClimber--if you've never heard of this, it sort of mimics hiking but taps out at 4.0mph--moderate back & bis, and a good amount of ab work. I tried ending the workout with a set of pull-ups and only managed to eek out two. Unbeknownst to me, the only other early bird gym-goer watched me fail miserably and lent me his set of bands to do band-assisted pull-ups. That turned into a long, but welcoming, conversation about fitness competitions, powerlifting competitions, and all the hoo-hah that goes with it. Charlottesville is a small community for fitness athletes (I use this term hesitantly because I have yet to consider myself successful at it), so it's always nice to gain more perspective.

Anyway, back on tangent... That evening, my scheduled flag football game turned into an automatic win with the forfeiture of the other team due to not enough male players--when does that happen?! So I peaced out in hopes of heading to Riverview Park to run the 4 miles of trails there. Two out and two back. Umm, about that. Take notice of the phrase "in hopes of." I drove to the park, about a mile from my house. I parked. I got all geared up and situated. I even wore the new running shoes I gifted myself with. If I've learned anything from Parks & Rec, it's "Treat Yo'self." Alas:

Brooks PureDrift. 4mm heel drop with removable insoles (they have a built in sock liner) for a 0mm heel drop. Oh, you want a closer look?

Yes, I'm aware of how brilliant they are. Color and quality.

So naturally, I intended to take them for that 4 mile test run. I think I got maybe 4 METERS in before I became highly aware of the pain in my knees. I didn't want to look like a loser and turn around that early--seriously, I had run all of 30 seconds max--so I finished a mile loop and hightailed it to my car. No need to injure myself over a recovery run.

I frantically checked in with my trainer to see what to do about today's workout and was welcomed with a response to skip it and instead focus on rehydrating. But the damage was done, I was in poor spirits. Rest days? I don't do rest days. And if I do, I do them reluctantly.

Don't get me wrong, I was super excited to sleep in an additional 55 minutes this morning, but I don't like sitting idle. So I filled my extra time this morning like any sane person would--posing in 5" lucite heels in front of the mirror in old swim shorts and a race tee.

I really just needed encouragement and proof that my hard work is paying off. I was/am most worried about my lower body but I think it's evident that it's not as much of an issue as I thought. Looking at this now, I'd say I really need to lean out in my mid-section, but it doesn't appear that way as much in person. Pictures tell all though, don't they?

Even though I'm trying to get more active in the fitness community, I'm still hesitant to post photos like these on Instagram and even on my blog. But if I'm going to be up on stage in front of who knows how many people, and each and every person will be comparing me to my competition, I have to get used to it. So I went out on a limb and posted this on Instagram and was welcomed with some excellent feedback. It even prompted an old friend to reach out, and it was one of the most gracious compliments I've received lately.

So now I know that I'm on the right track, even if I am anxious about not working out today. I'm not letting anything get in the way this time. Oh yeah, and did I mention that I officially registered for my competition??

Mark your calendars, ladies and gents. It's going down on June 29th! If you're in the Virginia Beach/Tidewater area, I would love the support! And if you feel like making a glittery "Go Red!" poster, I won't mind in the least!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Longest Marathon Ever

It only took me a week to run a marathon. You see 13.1 on Sunday at Pittsburgh + 13.1 today in the Walnut Creek trails = 26.2, no? Okay, okay, so maybe it doesn't work that way, but you have to admit that's quite a bit of racing over the span of a week.

I initially registered for the Bedrock Trail Half because it is the 2nd annual race, and although it was rough last year, it was put on by a small local business. And who doesn't like supporting local businesses? Especially when they give you awesome race swag!

Not hipster enough.
Bedrock Sandals is company that creates a "lightweight minimalist footwear" in the form of--you guessed it--sandals. Hop on over to the link to check them out. They're actually really neat--the company has been in business for about 2 years now, and the idea behind the sandals is to be able to run and be active in them as you would any other minimalist footwear. If you're still skeptical, note that they actually have an ultra-marathoner who tests out the sandals. I've run in Vibrams before, so I'm on the minimalist bandwagon, but still have yet to get a pair of Bedrocks. I'm just afraid for my toes, knowing my luck!

I prefer shoes, I think.
So like I said, this was my 2nd year running this trail half--fail on linking to last year's recap, as it was only a mention. Clearly I was slacking on the blogging last year, but what can I say? I was preoccupied with the job hunt and other frustrations at the time. But to give you an idea of how I faired last year, I was 2nd overall female (in an inaugural race) with a time of 1:56:43. To give you a little perspective, there were 17 male runners and 23 female runners last year. Not a large race in the least, but also keep in mind this is a trail race, so you don't necessarily want too too many participants.

This go-round it was a very male-dominated race, but I happened to see a couple familiar faces from last year. I convinced my friend Megan to run as well, so it was nice to have someone to wait out the start with. And then we ran into my friend Meryl, who I had no idea was running! Naturally, we had to capture her FIRST HALF MARATHON! Woo, get after it!

I promise my eyes are open! 
As 8:30 approached, we all headed toward the starting line, where Megan insisted that "the champ"(her words, NOT mine) get in the front of the pack. And yet she wouldn't follow suit, but instead documented my hesitance.

And yet enthusiastic.
Within a minute of that picture being taken, the Bedrock bandana was waved (in lieu of a starting gun) and we were off. I gained a first place position within the first minute, and I kept telling myself to remember last year, since the course hadn't changed by much. The first half had significantly more elevation gains than the second half of the race, but despite this knowledge, I didn't pace too well. After the first 3 miles, I lost my lead. Then I just started feeling crappy in the next couple of miles. I hadn't run all week, but had instead cross-trained to prevent overuse injuries and to recover from Sunday.

The odds just were not in my favor aka I'm full of excuses--it had stormed the night before (and there were even periods of rain during the race) so the humidity was high, I had just done a "shake-out" leg workout not even 24 hours prior, and my dinner made me sick the night before so I was already at a calorie deficit. Mentally, I was just not in the game at all. I contemplated tapping out numerous times. I kept telling myself, "The next time we cross the road (there were 2 or 3 road-crossings), I'm giving up. I'll just tell them to mark me DNF..." Not my normal thoughts at all. Aside from my first swim meet in high school when I was put into the longest distance swim (I believe 800m) and was a ball of nerves, I have never bowed out of a race before. I certainly have done no such thing in my years of running, but I just felt like I signed on for too much too soon.

Lucky(?) for me, by the next time we crossed the road, we were already at mile 9 (although I was told mile 10). By that point, I had already fallen once, and that was what I needed to snap back to reality. Who falls in a race, doesn't injure herself badly, and refuses to finish? Not this girl! And not to mention that I was 9 miles in. I'm not giving up all that work just to bail. I kept trying to remember the year before in terms of how much I had left to run but to no avail. When the last turn came, I could not be more happy to have the finish line within view. 2:03 and change. And I really could care less as to what the exact time was. I finished, and it was within a few minutes of last year. I finished, and the weather conditions were a heck of a lot worse than last year. I finished, and I'm in the middle of effing competition prep this year! I could have faired a lot worse. I'll take that 2:03:... (my slowest half yet) and own it proudly.

After rehydrating, I immediately took off my shoes (stupid stream crossings make for wet feet) and trekked back to the finish line to cheer in Meryl and Megan.
Pale and blinding, just how I like them.
Meryl's goal was to finish under 2:30, and she did!
All smiles :)
Megan finished under 2:45, but was preoccupied picking out a new pair of running shoes in her mind.
Apparently the sole of her shoe pulled away from the actual shoe during the race, yikes! After coaxing her over, we got an appropriate "Yay for finishing!" pic.
This girl is 3 for 3 in 3 weekends!
We all survived!

Takeaway from these past 2 weekends of racing? I want more races! No halves for me before the bikini comp, but I'd love to pick up a few 5ks if I can between now and then. Definitely after. And the idea of a full marathon is still in my mind, so I may start training for one post-comp. That's one long and careful decision I have to make, as to which to run. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too hilly, not too flat. The answer has to be out there somewhere. Until then: 7 weeks out from the stage!

Monday, May 6, 2013

That Time I Raced Naked

No Garmin. No iPod. Just a race bib, an "I <3 St. Jude" tattoo, and Mizuno WaveRider16s.

And the excitement from the evening before!
Truth: when I get excited, I act like a giddy 5 year-old--
antsy on my feet and clap-happy.

Okay, okay, there were running clothes involved too. But the point is I ran sans technology. I ran 13.1 miles sans technology. And I LOVED it! It was purely unintentional--my friend Megan, her friends Kim and Stephanie, and I all ventured to Pittsburgh for the half marathon sponsored by Dick's Sporting Goods. This was the climax of my fundraising efforts for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital these past several months. Being that parking prices in our hotel were crazy jacked-up expensive, Stephanie and Megan dropped Kim and I off at the hotel and found a cheap parking spot about 10 minutes walking-distance away. And in an oversight, guess what I forgot to bring into the hotel? Yup, Garmin and Shuffle. It wasn't until race day morning that I noticed, and I certainly didn't have time to run to the car to get it, being that I had to meet up with the St. Jude Heroes group at 6:15am for pre-race group photos. So I sucked it up and rolled with it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

As 6:55 neared, a couple of the other St. Jude Heroes, Laura and Brittany, and I headed to our starting corral, Corral E. Only problem--practically EVERY other Corral E runner was already there. In fact, there were so many that there were about 3 or 4 "Corral Es." We got stuck in the last one. No matter, because we had fun chatting and it took my mind off the 13.1 miles ahead of me and the fact that I had not exactly adequately trained for this race. The longest "long run" I had done in the past couple months was maybe 7 miles. Maybe.

Should have paid more attention to the Corral E on this thing!

So being that we were at a disadvantage being all the way in the back, it was at least a good 20 minutes after the starting gun that we actually crossed the starting line. For Brittany and Laura, it was their first half marathon (Congrats, girls!) so they were eager to just be able to finish. For me, I wanted to get sub-2:00--a modest goal since all my other halves have been sub-2:00 and I really did not know what to expect. So as we crossed the starting line, we immediately split off--or I should say I immediately split off, with them calling "good luck" after me. My goal at this point? Pass as many people as possible and get to a less-crowded area of the course while maintaining a comfortable pace. I had heard that the course was hilly, so I did not want to chance going out too fast and not being able to maintain pace for the second half of the race.

Things to keep in mind when you are stuck in the back of the pack and trying to make up for it: stay on the outside. Run on curbs and sidewalks as necessary. That early on in the race, the center tends to get really crowded. It wasn't until well after the first water station (about 5k in) that it cleared a bit in the center of the course. And I really only mean a bit. I had to run behind the first water station with a few other runners in order to make up time and get a more advantageous position. I learned after that one that the subsequent water stations would have people moving from the center to the outer edges, so I for the following stations I would snake my way to the less-crowded area. Strategy was key.

What not to eat pre-race the night before. (Not my food/idea!)

Now, I've only run two half marathons before (does that mean I've run a full marathon?!), so I don't have too much to compare the Pittsburgh half to, but I LOVED this course! Like I said before, I was told the course was hilly, so I was expecting terrain like that of Charlottesville--steep inclines, drawn out inclines, a LOT of elevation gain. The course was certainly NOT that! The "hills" that were referred to were the bridges. I think we crossed 3 total, and it was pretty fun to run over them. I'm not one of those spectator runners--I don't pay too much attention to the scenery--but the course never got boring. In fact, it wasn't until Mile 7 that I even realized what mile I was at.

At that point, it was easy to do a self-assessment of how I felt--one of the perks of running without music. People say time and time again how they run without music because it let's them "listen to their body." I'm not saying that at all, but without that distraction, I was able to pay attention to how my body was handling the pace I was putting out, the terrain, the weather. Speaking of which, could NOT have asked for a better morning! It was a balmy day, probably low- to mid-60s, with a light breeze, which was more prominent in the open stretches of road. Not to mention the crowd support was A-Mazing! So much so that I only mostly partially wished that I had someone there cheering on me personally.

But back to Mile 7. At this point, I knew I was past the physically taxing part of the race. I was over halfway done, my body felt fine, pace was holding (if not increasing), and I was having a blast! I was still passing people left and right, and my only thought was if/when I would no longer be passing people but instead be running with people at my pace. That never happened.

Around mile 9, I remembered the laundry I left sitting on top of the dryer. It was washed, but not dried due to my landlord's clothes still being in the dryer when I had left on Friday. Were my sheets still sitting up there? Had he taken his clothes out and placed my sheets in, noticing they were still wet? I would have to wait about 12 hours to figure that one out. And yes, clearly my mind was racing a different race.

And then it began. When would I hit mile 10? At that point, I would only have 3.1 miles left. A 5K. Easy breezy. Mile 10, where are you?? There's the relay exchange...Mile 10 has to be close, right? Okay, now it DEFINITELY seems like I've run a mile since M9. 10... 10... 10?! YES! TEN! That was the only mentally taxing part. I've certainly run my share of 5Ks before, so it was all downhill from here (not literally).

At 11, I started picking up the pace--2.1 to go, so it was certainly within my ability to kick it in. Mile 12--slight diversion around a medical team, but reaching race pace. Less than 1 to go and it was an all-out sprint at this point. But why did I feel like I was the only one sprinting? Um, because I was. Pretty sure those that start back-of-the-pack are running less for time and more for the accomplishment. Quite alright with me--to each their own. As I crossed the finish line, the gun time clock read 2:09... Clearly it had taken me a while to get to the start line initially. I knew I was well under my 2:00 goal (chip time), but wasn't sure just how far under. That wouldn't be determined until later, no thanks to the results table only printing the gun time finish. Pointless.

At the end of the course, I chugged two Dixie cups of gatorade, grabbed some sustenance (which I didn't break into until later), and took multiple finish line pics. Aka the sports photographers they had there took them. And yes, I flexed posed. And then posed again. I was a little bummed that I was the odd man out from my group and flew solo at the finish line, so I made my own fun. I made my way over to the St. Jude Heroes tent and chatted with the event coordinator for a bit. I cannot reiterate enough what a FUN group those gals were! Unfortunately due to time restraints (getting back to Cville at a reasonable hour), I was unable to attend the post-run celebration with the other Heroes later that afternoon, but I was there in spirit.

Shameless, grainy selfie.

Final tally? Took a bit of digging since the results were still coming in, but I finally found it. And when I did, it was much better than I hoped for.

1:43:13 finish = 7:52 min/mile pace

If I could do it again--raise money for St. Jude, commit to a half marathon, the whole nine yards--would I? In a heartbeat! I would find a better way to fundraise, stick to my initial goals (monetary and run distance), and have a blast doing so. Next up? More halves! A trail half is coming up in Charlottesville this weekend--remember the Bedrock Half Marathon last year that I signed up for on a whim? Saturday is Round 2 of that.

And I really am contemplating a full marathon... Fall 2013??

PS. Race/post-race photos are not available yet. Expect a photo explosion as soon as they are!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Showers...

It's been raining for 3 days off and on (mostly on) here in Charlottesville. Luckily, you know what they say: April showers bring May flowers goals. I actually am blessed to have both on my hands.

Half of the gorgeous view in my backyard.

New May Goals
May Goals

I've not been much of a visual goal person, but there's a first time for everything. I know plenty of people who write down what they want to accomplish on a certain day/week/month. It's very gratifying for them being able to cross things off as they finish their goals.

Many of the ones I chose have to do with fitness/workouts (obviously) and yet they don't include things like the half marathons I have coming up--I figure that's a given that those are going to get checked off. Looking at numbers 4, 5, and 6, you can see that I am in a mindset to target train. This is something that Kevin and I don't quite see eye to eye on, since bikini is a softer look than figure, but it's not like I'm a. going heavy or b. doing that much damage. I know what works for my body and I know what I want to tone--abs and legs have gotten the OK, but bis and tris are for my own personal satisfaction.

Other goals have to do with living a better life--cut my technologically-bound time, socialize without feeling the need to drink along with others, and refuse to feel guilty for knowing what I want. The latter two speak for themselves, but the first one...oh, the first one. I've had a couple of friends call me out for being attached to my phone, or multi-tasking on the internet while watching movies at home, etc. So in the spirit of proving them wrong trying to cut that tie, I'm limiting myself. Today's Day 1--wish me luck!

Then there's a couple in there about being healthier by cutting caffeine intake and increasing my water intake. I'm pretty good about the water, but caffeine and I get along so well that it's going to be hard to let him go. No more than 1 cup of coffee before I leave for work in the morning?! What am I thinking?? I think that pretty much, that means I'm limiting myself to 2 cups per day, because sometimes I need that pick-me-up on the road. Driving is a rough life! Caffeine gets me through it.

Gym Progress

As is to be expected, progress is being made in the gym, although this week is a little bit of an oddball for me, along with next week. With those 2 halfs coming up, I've had to rethink training smart and fueling properly. Today will be my last hard training day before the Pittsburgh Half, and it's back/traps/bis today. Oh, and abs. I've gotten in morning cardio, but not much else. Maybe a run to shake it out. Tomorrow will be one last running day, a little tricep action, light legs, and plenty of stretching to loosen up. Friday--fasting morning cardio at a moderate intensity. Saturday--same. Sunday--half marathon.

I'm not used to being such an intense planner, but I'm also not used to being the crazy chick that signs herself up for 2 half marathons in the middle of prep. Dog sitting for my friends have also left me feeling off my game because I'm not allowed to have pets at my place, so I'm staying at theirs while they are on a baby-moon. While I love the pup, trying to keep my routine while at someone else's place (and allotting extra time for early morning/late evening dog walks) has made me a little more hectic than usual.

Anyway, I've shared mine; now you share yours. What are your monthly May goals??