Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shamrock Half race recap- as "luck" would have it...

...I accomplished 2 big goals in yesterday's half-marathon (my 3rd half to date)-
  1. I beat my previous PR, which was 2:00:45, by more than 5 minutes! (On a much harder course, by the way.)   AND
  2. I came in under 2 hours!!!  My final time- 1:55:29!
And to think I almost didn't run it at all!  A little background info on me- I have something called Neurally Mediated Hypotension, which basically means that my blood pressure tanks from time to time.  It's not life-threatening but it can definitely put me out of commission, sometimes for a couple weeks. The symptoms are really annoying- heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, basically by blood moves through my body at a snail's pace. Yeah, it sucks.

So, how does this relate to yesterday's race?  I had been having heart palps for the past few nights and was just hoping for them to go away before the race.  I had a crappy run on Thursday and was feeling pretty off.  I spent all day Friday making Firstborn's birthday cake and preparing for his party, not resting like I should have been before a race. No rest. At all. Not ideal but what are you gonna do, right?  Anyhow, I went to bed at about 11:30-ish fully expecting to wake up and feel fine and go race.  I woke up at 2:00 am feeling the palps. Nards!  I went back to sleep and woke up again at 3:30.  Still having palps. Ugh!  I woke hubby up and told him he may have to run the half because I didn't think I'd be up to it. I was nearly in tears. I have never not showed up for a race.  Heart-breaking.  I said a little prayer and asked that I would have more surety of what to do once my alarm went off.  I went back to sleep and woke up to my hubby getting up.  I had about 3 hrs of really good sleep and the palps were gone!  So, I told hubby he couldn't have my bib, I was going to race after all!  (Sorry about the take-back, honey!)  He was happy to let me run.

I got up, got ready and headed out the door feeling blessed that I was still getting to run. I had been a little nervous of running alone (I've done all of my long-distance races with Thai Guy) but I was just happy to be running!  No jitters. No goals that I was stressing over.  I felt good!  Here's a pic Thai Guy took of me before I left. Rocking the shamrock socks and Bondi band. (By the way, I was the only racer to sport Shamrock wear. What's up with that?)

 Not sure why I'm not looking at the camera.
I live only 5 minutes from the race start so I quickly drove over leaving myself only a few minutes of having to stand in the cold before the race started.  It was really cold!  I probably should have worn pants but then no one would see my awesome socks! 

As I was standing waiting for the race to begin, I heard someone call my name and I knew it had to be Whitney, a bloggy friend that was running Shamrock, too. Let me tell you, Whitney is every bit as cool and friendly as she seems in her blog.  It was great meeting her and I'll plug in a pic of us as soon as she posts it on her blog and I can steal it.  (I didn't have my camera with me!)  We chatted for just a minute before the race start, gave each other some last minute encouragement and then we were off!

Miles 1-5

I took off at the start of the race and quickly settled into a good pace.  I was pretty much trying to keep up with Blue Jacket Lady.  She seemed to be running a similar pace and was steady so she was my pacer, whether she knew it or not.  There was also this little, bitty, gray-haired guy (about 5 feet tall) in a blue shirt running in front of me.  I was amazed with his quick turnover. Those tiny legs moved fast!  As this wasn't a very big race (98 runners), there wasn't a lot of passing or being passed and I was with Blue Jacket Lady and Tiny Guy the first 5 miles.  A couple hills in there but nothing noteworthy.

Miles 6-10

Soon after the 5 mile marker, I passed Tiny Guy going up a slight hill.  He stayed right with me, though. I could see his shadow.  Blue Jacket Lady was still up ahead.  There was a water stop at mile 6. She stopped and walked a minute.  I had my drink with me so I ran on ahead.   Hmmm, now what am I going to do?  Well, not even another 1/2 mile later Tiny Guy passed me again and I figured I'd better try and keep up. :)  It was about this time that I realized that I just might be able to beat 2 hrs in this race and maybe by a pretty good margin.  That definitely put a little pep in my step!  There was one steep hill at about mile 8 that was tough! Definitely the worst of all the hills.  Just after that there was a gravel road for about half a mile. (Seriously! What is up with all the random gravel roads in my recent races?!)  I had to watch my feet but I was still able to keep my pace under a 9 min/mile.

Miles 11-13.1
7:58 (.18)

The last 2.1 was all downhill or straightaways which made a negative split pretty much a guarantee.  Don't you love downhills?  My legs love downhills!  Some people hate them and say it hurts their knees but I really love them.  I lean into them and go as fast as I can. Felt so good!  I have to admit, though, that the last 1/2 mile before the final push was pretty hard. I think I had mentally finished the race already so my body felt like it should be done. Make sense?  Anyway, I came around the final bend and saw the race clock. It said 1:55:11 and I thought, "Holy crap! I'm going to finish in 1:55!!!"  I kicked it in for the final push and finished in 1:55:29!!!

I was so thrilled and excited I could hardly contain myself!  Sadly, there was no one waiting at the finish line for me (Thai Guy had to stay home to tend to a sick birthday boy) but Tiny Guy struck up a conversation with me and talked about how I pushed him.  He was a really nice guy.  His daughter was about my age.  She was there supporting him.  I told him it was my first sub 2hr finish and he said that it was a tough course to get a PR on.  Thanks Tiny Guy, I think I'll call you Nice Guy now! Ha ha!

I watched the racers finish and cheered Whitney in. She did awesome, by the way. You'll have to check out her blog to find out just how well.  I chatted with her and her husband for a few more minutes and then came home to get the house clean and ready for Firstborn's birthday party.

This is how I felt the rest of the day.  So happy to have gotten to run in spite of my dumb body, thrilled to have gotten under 2 hrs and stoked to have another half-marathon under my belt. It was a great day!
Can't wait to read about all the other races from this weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And the winner is...

First, let me say "Thank you, everyone!" for supporting me in my new passion. You have all made a difference already just by helping me spread the word of Train 4 Autism. Sam from Operation Jack refers to his work as throwing out darts. You never know which ones will land.  I'm pleased to know that you guys helped me to throw out lots and lots of darts into the blog world, on Facebook, on Twitter and however else you've helped.  You all rock my shamrocks! Thanks so much!

Now onto the my very first giveaway winner...

 74 entries. came up with #46 and that leads us to none other than 
Congrats, Marlene! I believe you have my email address already so email me your address and I'll get your prize in the mail right away!

"No one can whistle a symphony.  It takes a whole orchestra to play it."  ~H.E. Luccock
Thanks to you all for being my orchestra and playing this tune along with me! MWAH!
Back on Sunday with a Shamrock Half race recap!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Things Tuesday

Two things sounds short and sweet, right?! Well, it is short and sweet because I feel like a madwoman this week with all the party planning, house cleaning, hair cutting, cake making and general stress around here.  So, here's my leprechaun sized list for today.
  1. I'm doing the Shamrock Half Marathon this Saturday.  Yes, it's been just 2 weeks since my last half but this one is practically out my back door so how could I resist?  I'm excited for another shot at breaking 2 hrs and this run also qualifies me for the Half Fanatics club coming in on the Neptune level, which is 2 half-marathons in a 16 day time frame or 3 half-marathons in 3 months. So cool! Can't wait to join the ranks!
  2. Thank you SO SO SO much for all the support for my Train 4 Autism chapter and for Train 4 Autism and Operation Jack.  It's amazing to already be meeting so many people with stories to share. I truly have such a feeling of solidarity with the work they are doing.  Autism affects so many families and I feel blessed to be involved with doing some good on their behalf. 
That being said, don't forget to enter MY FIRST GIVEAWAY for $25 to iTunes!! I'll be picking a winner on Thursday so you've got 1 more day to enter!  

I leave you with a pic of my cute new socks (Target!) and Bondi Band that I got for the race this weekend.  Forgive the webcam pic. Thai Guy took the camera with him to scouts to get some pics of Firstborn's first day in Cub Scouts.  Can't believe my baby is old enough for scouts!  By the way, when you guys wear funky socks for races, do you wear your running socks underneath them?  I'm a little worried about the rotten cotton.
Hot! ;)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Announcement + My First Giveaway!!

I told you before my trip that I had some big news to share.  And now that I'm back and have sorted out some of the details, I thought I'd let you know what I'm so geeked out over.

Well... (drum roll please)

I am now the Utah County Chapter President for Train 4 Autism  
with the 1st chapter to be formed in Utah!

Exciting, right?!  Now you are probably wondering- why Train 4 Autism? I think I'll explain in a list, since you all know I love lists. ;)
  1.  I don't really talk about my kids much on this blog (other than the random comments about how precious and exhausting mommyhood can be).  It's always just been a place to talk about running.  A getaway of sorts. However, in order for you to understand my interest in autism awareness you should know that my oldest son, Coleman, was diagnosed with autism in 2005, when he was just 3 yrs old. It is something that affects my life everyday. 
  2. There is a LOT going on in the world of autism,  from researchers looking for a cure for autism to dozens of different types of therapies to help children and adults living with autism cope in their daily lives.  With Train 4 Autism, you get to help fund the cause that is most important to you, be it national autism awareness programs or a local school in need of therapeutic toys. (<----This totally sold me. You get to pick the charity that you feel most passionate about.)
  3. Train 4 Autism is set up in such a way that- YOU choose the sport, YOU choose the race, and YOU choose the cause.  There is no other program quite like it.  
  4. Basically, the work that is being done by Train 4 Autism spoke to my soul. As a runner. As a mother. I knew I had to be involved. 
I first heard of Train 4 Autism on Redhead Morgan's blog where she talked about Operation Jack.  Operation Jack is Sam Felsenfeld's journey to running 60 marathons in one year in order to raise awareness of Train 4 Autism's plight.  Amazing!  His own son, Jack, is his inspiration. This is from his website:

After watching his son struggle day after day with his condition, Sam decided he wanted to do something to make a difference in his honor. His plan is Operation Jack. If Operation Jack succeeds, Train 4 Autism will grow and countless people living with autism — along with their relatives and friends — will benefit for years to come.

How's that for taking action?!   Sam has dedicated an entire year of his life in order to help Train 4 Autism grow.  I am truly inspired by him and realize that if he can run 60 marathons in one year, I can certainly do my part by raising awareness in my own community.

Ok. This is where I tell you about my first giveaway!  I've seen many people talking about the music on their iPods lately.  Seems like we're always looking for new songs to help us through our workouts.  Maybe it's spring fever.  I don't know but I do know that you could all use-

 $25 to iTunes!!!

That's right! With $25 you could completely overhaul your playlists! Ok, well maybe not completely, but $25 worth of music is enough to run over an hour and a half while listening to all new tunage!  No more drudgery listening to the Rocky theme over and over and over.   Ha ha!  And if you don't have an iPod, I bet you know someone that does! What a great gift it would be!  (Have I sold you on it enough yet?)

Here's how you gain entries into my giveaway:
  1. Become a follower here on my blog.  Leave a comment telling me you are a follower.
  2. Post this giveaway on your blog, on Facebook, or tweet it on Twitter. Leave separate comments for each one. (3 possible entries)
  3. Become a fan of Train 4 Autism-Utah County Chapter on Facebook HERE. Leave me a comment telling me you are a fan.
  4. Become a fan of Operation Jack on Facebook HERE. Leave a comment.
  5. Just SPREAD THE WORD!  If you do anything to spread the word of Train 4 Autism or Operation Jack, let me know in separate comments for extra entries!
This giveaway is all about raising awareness.  There are so many people out there just like me that may want to be involved with Train 4 Autism but they have never had the chance to hear of it.  This is your chance to help out!  Even if Train 4 Autism isn't something you are necessarily passionate about, you never know which of your Facebook friends might see it and want to be involved so make some noise, friends!  Thank you guys SO much for your support.  I love all the friends I've made through this blog and feel blessed to share in all your journeys.

I'll be choosing a winner for this giveaway, by random number generator, on March 18th- in one week!  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red Rock 1/2 Marathon- Full Recap

Thai Guy and I took the boys to Disneyland this past week and we decided to stop over in Vegas on the way home to Utah from SoCal to run in the Red Rock 1/2.  Part of me wanted to do the full but I knew after a week at Disneyland, I'd be running on tired legs. This race was put on by Calico Racing, the same race company that hosted our marathon in January.  I love their events even though they have a reputation for tough courses. I could tell by the course elevation map that this race would be a doozy but I love a challenge!  Here's a look at the elevation profile-

Yes, you are seeing that right! 1000 ft. uphill in the first 9 miles, then a screaming 1000 ft. descent in the last 4.  It was the toughest race I've ever run.  Even tougher than my hilly marathon. That's serious!

We got into Vegas on Friday afternoon and settled into our fancy-schmancy room at the Red Rock Casino Hotel and Spa. This place was nicer than any hotel room we have ever stayed in. Not that we've stayed in that many fancy hotels but the bathroom had leather walls for goodness sakes! And a TV by the tub!  I felt a bit like Elly May Clampett taking pictures of anything shiny.  "Garsh, y'all!" This West Virginia hillbilly is definitely easily impressed but I really think anyone would've been impressed with this place.  And we got a super discounted rate since this was the host hotel for this particular race.

Anywho, the boys and I enjoyed relaxing at the hotel room while Thai Guy and his Dad tracked down a couple of MMA gyms hoping to meet Randy Couture and Wanderlei Silva.  He came back with a couple t-shirts but no luck meeting the fighters.  Seemed happy enough just to check out their gyms, though.  We took the boys to IHOP for some pancake carb-loading and got back to the hotel with just enough time to hit the slot machines with my mother-in-law before bed.  She gave us both $20 and I'm happy to say that I got up $6 and quit! That's right. I quit as soon as I get up at all.  I'm really not much of a gambler. That $26 paid for our food the next day! :)  I'm also very proud to announce that I GOT CARDED!  Hilarious!  Totally made my night.

On to the race-  race morning I was feeling just a little nervous about my lack of water and proper nutrition in the week leading up to the race.  I brushed it off and decided to just do my best. No real time goals.  I wanted to PR but knew it would be a lofty goal on this course.

 At the start. Cold and excited.
Because there was no parking at the start, we made our way to the front of the hotel to catch a shuttle up to the race start.  It was a bit cool but I knew the temp would be perfect once we started running.  We didn't stand around too long before we were called over to the starting line and after a couple quick announcements, we were off!

Miles 1-5

The first mile was weird because we started on a paved road and turned off onto a dirt road, went out about 1/3 of a mile and turned around, came back and continued on the original paved road. Very strange and scary.  I watched my feet the whole time while hopping around loose rocks.  I'd be a terrible trail runner.  I was sure that I was going to turn my ankle.  Thank goodness I made it back without injuring myself.  The next 4 miles were uneventful.  Uphill.  And you can tell which miles had the steeper hills from my pace.  I never train hills and I was regretting it.

Miles 6-10

Miles 6-8 I was thinking, "Ugh, where do the hills end?!"  The website had said 8 miles uphill and I specifically remember looking at my Garmin, still going uphill, at 8.5 miles.  Good thing Thai Guy is so good at hills because the only thing keeping me going was the fact that I didn't want to get separated from him.  He was truckin' up those hills and I was just trying to keep up with him.  Then, finally, the downhills!  I love running downhill.  Aaahhhh! Felt so good. And fast!

Miles 11-13.1 (actually 13.2)

Mile 11 had a little uphill in the middle of it but not too bad.  And the final two miles I just went for it!  I ran as fast as my legs would go and leaned into the downhills.  I ended up leaving Thai Guy those downhill miles because his knees aren't quite as forgiving as mine.  Those last couple of miles made the whole race worth it to me. I felt great!  I passed all kinds of people and I really made up for some of those really slow uphill miles which made me feel a bit better about my overall pace.  I finished at 2:05:02 on the Garmin and 2:05:01, official chip time.  Not even close to a PR but infinitely more satisfying than my PR half.

Thai Guy finished at 2:05:30, so he wasn't far behind.  We got a quick bite to eat at the finish line and hopped back on the shuttle to get back to the hotel and relieve grandma and grandpa from their babysitting duties.  I took this pic of the vista while we were waiting for the shuttle.
It was a beautiful run but I definitely didn't take enough time to appreciate the scenery. Most of the time, I was just trying not to die. Ha ha!

Firstborn took these pics of us with our medals after we got back to the hotel.

We are serious runners. Don't let this pic fool you.
And the medal. Cool, eh?

Oh, I almost forgot about the mini-meltdown. It was a strange thing for me.  I was so excited to have finished the race strong and I was talking to the hubby about it right after the race as we were eating our post-race pancakes and I just got incredibly emotional.  Not happy emotional, like sad because I spend so much time second guessing myself and beating myself up in my day to day life.  I am generally a happy person but I do doubt myself on almost a daily basis.  And that's really sad.  I don't like that part of me.  Anyway, in this moment, I felt sorry that I had wasted so much time being my own worst enemy.  Something about being physically exhausted really brings emotions to the surface, you know? Finishing this tough race proved to me that I can do it!  I proved to myself that I don't quit when things get tough.  It's like I had forgotten that girl existed and this race helped me to remember her.  It was a bitter-sweet moment.  Looking back on it now, I'd say I was just really proud of what I had accomplished.  Isn't that what racing is all about?  Reminding us what we're made of? 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Red Rock Canyon Half Stats- quick recap

The numbers-

My official chip time- 2:05:01

Overall place- 168 out of 596 runners (Thai Guy was 175)

Age Group place- 27th out of 120

Climbed 1000 ft. in the first 9 miles.

Ran the last 2 miles at a well under 8:00 min/mile pace.

Some more interesting numbers-
5 people running in party hats.

1 guy running with 2 beers.

2/3 of the 1st mile on a dirt road with break-ankle loose rocks.

1 miniature meltdown after the finish.

0 sightings of the infamous Desert Tortoise.

More tomorrow!