Coffee, Job, NYC, Running

Taper Thoughts

Hello, hello!

I think we have officially survived the remnants of Hurricane Patricia that blew through our area here in lower Alabama. It’s been a very soggy couple of days, but otherwise not too bad.

I had a couple of interviews Monday in Mobile (related to the Runner’s World cover search), so I had to brave the Bay Way in the middle of the storm. Thankfully I made it in one piece and on time, nonetheless. I had a few hours to kill in between interviews so I headed to Carpe Diem (a local coffee shop in Mobile) for some Monday morning coffee.

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I don’t know what it is about local coffee shops, but I just love them. I really enjoy the people watching. I find myself wondering about all of the people sitting around me (what do they do, what their stories are, why they are sitting at a coffee shop at 10:00 am on a Monday, etc.). People are so fascinating. Maybe one of these days I will get up the nerve to strike up a conversation with one of these fascinating creatures.

The first interview was inside at the WKRG (News 5 CBS) studio. Originally, we were planning to meet outside at a park but since the weather was horrible that didn’t work out. The rain had started to let up a little bit around the time that the second interview was scheduled, so we were able to met the crew at Cottage Hill Park, which was their suggestion. This interview was with WPMI (Local 15 NBC) and they wanted to interview Daniel and I together. The meeting location was perfect because that is the park where we first met. The crew had no idea about that though. It definitely made for a good topic of conversation.

Since the rain had let up a little bit at this point, they wanted to get some footage of us running. I threw on a hat and a rain jacket and we ran some circles around the parking lot. I was pretty much drenched by the time I got home, so I probably should’ve just gone on out for a run in the rain, but I decided to stick to the treadmill. I did a very easy 6 mile run.

The grocery situation is pretty bad at our house at the moment, but since we are headed out of town it doesn’t really make too much sense to stock up on groceries. Lenny’s drive through for the win. We recently discovered the series White Collar on Netflix. I know we are a little late to the party on this one (since the series concluded last year), but we are enjoying it so far. We are also really enjoying watching The Voice. Oh, and a brand new episode of The Profit is on tonight after the debate. That is what taper will do to you. You have too much free time on your hands and you start getting hooked on television shows.

Tuesday morning I had a nice little 7 mile run with the middle three “up-tempo.” I ended up with an average of 7:52 for the run and did the middle three at 6:31 pace. My legs felt really good! I am getting so excited about the marathon. I hope they feel good on race day! I have nothing but easy runs in between now and then, so I should be rested and ready to go by the time the race gets here.

Speaking of the race … my office gave me the most thoughtful gift basket ever today. It has a journal, KIND bars, CLIF bars, candy corn (they know me well), a Starbucks gift card (they know me really well) and a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils! If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably heard me rambling about how much I love the movie You’ve Got Mail. I quoted part of it in a previous post that talks about NYC in the fall and buying school supplies. Joe Fox says that he would send Kathleen Kelly “a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils” if he knew her name and address … so they got me a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils! I love it!

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I am so very thankful for my work family. The work situation was a bit of a saga over the past year, but it seems to have all worked out exactly like it was supposed to and things are going really well.

Since this lovely taper (typed with no sarcasm) has given me a little bit of extra time to think, I figured I could post some taper thoughts and some final thoughts before heading to New York. For whatever reason, it is really easy to let self-doubt creep into your brain during the taper weeks. For instance, when I finished up my 14 miles Sunday, I felt like there was no way I could possibly run one step further, which is silly because I had run 20 miles the two Sundays prior to that. In order to combat the taper crazies, I am trying to follow the advice listed in this article.

First up is rest. I’m pretty much knocking this one out of the park. I don’t typically need an excuse to go to bed at 8 pm, but now I can be all like “taper made me do it.”

Second on the list is positive thinking. I’ve got a couple of things (songs, mantras, and strategies) that I am using to help me in this area.

The first song is “Soar” by Meredith Andrews. I love this song so much. It is so powerful. If you have time, you have to check out this video. Otherwise, here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

I’m gonna run and not grow weary
I’m gonna walk and not grow faint
Rise up on wings like eagles
To soar

I know with everything you’re with me
I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles
To soar

Creator, Keeper
Life breather
Your name is greater than anything I’ve faced

Sustainer, Savior,
Stronghold breaker
Your name is greater than anything I’ve faced

The second song is “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. This one’s pretty popular, so you’ve probably have heard it, but just in case you haven’t, here in an excerpt from the lyrics:

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

I’ve got a few mantras that I will be repeating to myself as I run as well. The first one isn’t really a mantra I don’t guess, but it is simply “persevere.” The second one might not really be considered to be a mantra either. For me, it used to simply be “overcome,” but now I am using “run to overcome.” This is the hashtag that I chose for the Runner’s World cover search. That whole process has been such a blessing and I feel like so much healing (for myself) has come from sharing my story that now I am making this one my personal mantra.

The last one is really random and doesn’t have all that much to do with running, but more about having confidence in myself. It is the famous quote from the movie The Help. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” I have no clue why that one is sticking in my brain, I have only seen that movie once (years ago), but for some reason that quote is really fresh right now.

Speaking of confidence, the other strategy that I am using is an exercise in confidence as well. I printed out my training log for the last 4 months and highlighted some of my key workouts. The blue highlights are my workouts and the pink highlights are my long runs (OCD much?). I haven’t ever done this before, but it has been very reassuring to look back over all of the (many, many) miles and remember all of the hard work and successful workouts that have gone into this training cycle.

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Third is to plan a realistic race-day strategy. This article was extremely helpful regarding the actual NYC Marathon course. My coach also sent me a detailed race strategy yesterday, so that I can go ahead and get a jump on preparing myself “mentally” for the challenge at hand. Remember how I told you that Meb said, “Once the gun goes off, racing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.” Just let that sink in for a minute! Once you start the race, how close you get to racing your best (based on your current fitness) is largely based on making good decisions and staying strong mentally. That is pretty eye-opening.

Basically the general game plan is going to be to use the first 2 miles over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to ease into the pace and then try to settle into a solid, sustainable rhythm. Basically the goal is to stay relaxed and smooth and to use as little energy as possible. There are several bridges along the course and I won’t be trying to keep a set pace over the bridges. I will just let the pace naturally slow a little bit so that I don’t expend unnecessary energy.

He also warned me to try to avoid the classic NYC mistake of picking the pace up unnecessarily after coming off of the Queensboro Bridge. This is where the course is flat and the crowds are loud. I don’t want to get too excited and pick the pace up too much between miles 16 to 20 and then run out of gas around 21 or 22 (that makes for a really long 4 or 5 miles to the finish). I pretty much don’t want to run out of gas period. That seems to be the all-elusive marathon goal though. I will definitely let y’all know how that works out for me.

Good luck to everyone running and racing this weekend!

Bay Life, Brooks, NYC, Stitch Fix

One Week?! Eek.

Hey friends!

Can you believe that at this time next week I will have run the NYC marathon?! Holy moly. It’s almost here. I think I have been training for this marathon for about a year. Not really, just since the summer, but you know what I mean …

Also, can you believe that at this time next week we will officially know who the winners of the #RWCoverSearch will be? Holy moly X 2. The suspense is killing me. I can’t wait to find out.

This week flew by and I’m sure next week will follow suit. Let’s catch up!

I was off work Monday, so I took the opportunity to rest and catch up on some miscellaneous errands (like getting the headlight that has been out in my car for over 6 months (oops) fixed). The weather was beautiful. Mom and I took full advantage of the crisp, fall day and we decided to walk the 10K route that we did for the virtual race last weekend again. Daniel and I tried out the Runner’s World yoga for core DVD Monday evening and we both really liked it. It was challenging, but doable.

I slept in Tuesday morning and headed to Running Wild for the group run after work. It was really nice to get a little bit of extra sleep. I did 10 miles with Jessica on Tuesday evening again this week. Joy, Rebecca and Lizzie joined us for parts of the run as well. It was a good girls night group!

Daniel also came to the store to run, but he was wanting to do a workout, so he kind of did his own thing. He had a good tempo run! He had stopped at home before coming to run and he decided to make monkey bread in the crock pot. I don’t know how he comes up with these things, but they always turn out so good. This one was only a few ingredients (1 container of biscuits, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 0.25 cup of melted butter and 1 cup of brown sugar) and it was ready in just over 2 hours. Not the healthiest of recipes I reckon, but we’ll just go with it because I’m pretty sure those carbs are going to make me run super fast 🙂

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Wednesday morning was my last workout of the training cycle! It was a 10 mile tempo run and it was a bit of a doozy. I did a two mile warm up and then started the tempo portion of the workout. My goal range was 6:35 to 6:40 pace. I ended up with a 6:36 average for the tempo miles, so I was really happy with that. After a one mile cool down, I was done with the workout. It was a wonderful way to wrap up an intense training cycle.

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Thursday and Friday were some easy, shorter runs and some relaxing evenings at home. Brooks decided that he wanted to go for a swim Thursday evening before Daniel got home. He hadn’t been a little while and once he gets those bay eyes, it is pretty hard to stop him. Daniel does a better job of disciplining him than I do (which is probably why he knew he could get away with it). I’m pretty sure this is going to be an issue for us if kids are ever in the mix. Anyways … Brooksy enjoyed some nice play time. When he can’t find his ball, he stands up to look for it. For some reason that cracks me up. He looks like a little loch ness monster.

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Saturday morning was filled with some fun running activities (shocking I know)! My group ran 16 miles with 10 miles at marathon pace. That was a tough workout for them, but everyone ran really strong. I was so proud. Since I am in taper-mode, I only ran 4.5 miles with them and then Daniel came and met me on the route in the car and we drove back and forth the rest of the way and cheered them along.

After the group got done, we walked over to watch the “Run Forrest Run” 5K prediction run downtown. I was thinking about running this race “for fun,” but I had some doubts about my ability to actually run in a race and not “race” it so I decided against that. It was much more fun spectating anyway! Rebecca and Keith ran it, so we wanted to go watch them. Rebecca pushed Savannah in the stroller and had the timing chip on Savannah’s shoe. I love it.

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There were lot of fun costumes. David (top left) won the race (in khaki pants and a button down, no less). He is one of the Running Wild “elite” team members, so he usually sports the cheetah singlet, but apparently he can run in just about anything! Fun fact: Fairhope is actually the home of Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump.

After the race we headed home to split some wood (it’s kind of addicting, y’all) and then mom and I headed out for a walk. I love having her in town. It’s made the taper week much more doable, since we can still be outside and enjoy some fresh air without actually running. The rest of the afternoon was filled with football (for Daniel) and napping (for me). We are pretty predictable. I need to come up with some new blog content soon, don’t I?

Today my schedule called for 14 miles, so we got that knocked out this morning and spent some quality time at coffee loft. Again, so predictable … sorry guys.

Next week will be anything but ordinary, so please stay tuned for some NYC fun! Speaking of NYC, check out my new kicks that I will be racing in. They are the Brooks PureCadence 4. I have run in the Cadence before and I have logged a few miles on these guys now as well. They are lightweight shoes that still provide an optimal level of support. I love them!

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We are caught up on the training activities now. I’m off to pack for my trip and do some reading. I am so excited about this week. It’s gonna be a good one! Be sure to follow me on instagram or facebook to stay up to date on the latest happenings of NYC Marathon weekend. I’ll leave you with a random picture (that’ll make you smile). Cat in a box. It’s a wonderful way to put those old Stitch Fix boxes to good use. She loves them!

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Anyone have any good NYC tips for me (things to do, places to eat, etc.)? I need some good ideas!

Running

5 Safety Tips for Runners

This is a post that I have been thinking about writing since I started the blog. I don’t have a good reason for not writing it before now, other than it was just difficult for me to write.

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Safety is one of my biggest concerns (both when running and just in general). Most of you probably know my story at this point or you may have seen my interview for the Runner’s World cover search, but in case you missed it …

My interview was posted Friday on the Runner’s World social media accounts and so I feel like this is a perfect time for me to share some personal safety tips, as it is all pretty fresh in my mind right now. None of these things are super profound or things that you haven’t ever heard before, but I chose these five tips because they are all things that I didn’t do (or know to do at the time) that I feel could have affected my situation. We can all use a good reminder every now and then and I am hopeful that these tips will help everyone out there to stay safe!

Run with a friend.

We have probably all heard the expression that there is “safety in numbers.” Running can be a solitary activity and some people enjoy that aspect of it, but it can also be a really fun group activity! I would definitely encourage everyone to get involved with your local running community and find a friend (or spouse) to train with. I rarely run alone. I am so thankful to have wonderful running friends and a very supportive family that will always accompany me (by either running with me or biking beside me) when I need a buddy. Daniel, my dad and Daniel’s dad have all biked with me at various times throughout my training journeys.

You could also run with your pet. Brooks doesn’t make the best training partner as he has a little bit of difficulty pacing himself (it’s a hard lesson to learn, I know buddy). I run with him occasionally, but it’s usually just for very short distances. One time we ran a race together …

Brooks 1st Place

I would also like to point out that just because you are running with someone doesn’t mean that there is no potential for danger. You still need to be smart about the times and areas where you are running, because there is only safety in numbers unless you are outnumbered.

Be aware of your surroundings.

It is always a good idea to be familiar with the area that you are running in. Stick to routes where you typically see lots of runners out and areas that have lots of traffic regularly. If you listen to headphones when you run, make sure that you have the volume turned down low enough that you can hear all of the normal sounds around you and don’t get so lost in your music that you aren’t paying attention to what is going on.

When I was attacked I was listening to headphones, but I don’t think that actually made a difference. The thing that would’ve made a difference is if I had known that a similar instance had occurred in the park where I was running not long before my attack. I definitely wouldn’t have been running there alone had I known that. It wasn’t a highly trafficked area or an area where people run a lot. As much as I absolutely hated having a story written about the incident appear as the front page headline of the local newspaper the day after the attack, I now can appreciate why they did this. People need to know and be aware of things like this and hopefully that article helped keep other people safe.

Tell someone your route.

It is always best for someone to know where you are going to be running and how long you will be gone. If I do run alone, I either carry my phone or I text Daniel or my mom to let them know where I am going and what time I should be back. We just purchased an item called Trackimo, which is a GPS tracking device that has an SOS button that you can push to alert someone if you are in danger. This would’ve definitely been a game changer for me. I haven’t gotten my Trackimo yet, but it should come this week and I can’t wait to have it. I know that it will bring me a lot of peace of mind.

The day that I was attacked I was planning to run 8 miles. My parents knew this and even knew my route, but the problem was that I wasn’t planning to specifically let them know when I got back to my car. After my run, I was heading to the gym to do some strength training (yes, I used to actually do that) and then I was headed back to school. They weren’t really expecting to hear from me at a set time. If we had planned for me to call when I got back to the car, they would’ve known a lot sooner that something was wrong or if I had my phone or another device, like Trackimo, with me I could’ve just alerted someone immediately.

Run with a self-defense device.

In the event that you do have to run alone (or even when running in a group for that matter) take along mace or some other form of self-defense item. Here are a few self-defense items that I use:

Ruger Pepper Spray. Rebecca turned me onto this handy item a while back. This thing is pretty cool because it is pepper spray, a strobe light and a siren all in one. We both carry our pepper spray with us (even when we run together) on the early morning runs. She has had to use hers several times on dogs. I haven’t specifically ever had to use mine, but I have definitely had it out and ready to go a few times if I pass someone who I feel looks suspicious.

Go Guarded. Go Guarded is a neat product that just slips on your finger. You will naturally use your hands to fight off an attack, so this product can be very useful and it can’t get knocked out of your hands. The product is adjustable to fit on different sized fingers and I don’t even really notice that it is there. I definitely feel like it would be useful in the event it were ever needed. I also keep this in my purse and slip in on if I am ever in a dark parking lot or something like that (which is very rare, because I make a very conscious effort to avoid any and all situations that could be questionable).

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TigerLady. TigerLady is another neat product that is designed to fit in your hand. It quickly becomes a natural extension of your body. All you have to do is make a fist, and TigerLady is ready for action. The thing I like about this product is that it fits perfectly in your hand. I think it actually helps my running form because my hands are wrapped around the claws (it comes with two claws, one for each hand) and they aren’t too tense or too relaxed. The claws are really sharp and could definitely do some damage if needed.

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Trust your instincts.

If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Listen to that little voice inside that says, “Stop! Danger!” and get out of there. This is the one that definitely would’ve completely changed my situation. I actually ran past the man who would later attack me earlier on my run and something definitely felt off. He was sitting on a set of bleachers when I ran by the first time and when I passed, he got down and started walking the direction where I was planning to go. I decided not to go that way and instead ran a one-mile loop in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, my stubbornness got the best of me and I didn’t want to cut my run short, so I ran back by the bleachers and when I saw that he wasn’t there (or anywhere to be seen), I continued on the route that I was originally running. He was hiding about a half mile down the road waiting for me. I should’ve just run back to my car and cut my run short.

I think stubbornness is a quality that probably a lot of runners have in common. While this can definitely be an asset to your training and racing, don’t let it also be your biggest liability (a little accounting analogy for you guys). Don’t be dumb. There have been several times since that day when I have been out running and just felt like something was off and I get myself out of there as quickly as possible. I realize that I am hyper-aware of my surroundings and my fight or flight instinct is a tad sensitive, but that’s fine. I would much rather be safe than sorry. It just isn’t worth it.

Whew. I got it out and I feel much better. I think that the main reason this one was difficult for me to write was because it had me questioning how I could’ve been so naive and not been more careful. It is easy to play the “what if” game and question the decisions that you made (this could apply in lots of circumstances, not just as it relates to this story). That won’t get you anywhere though. What happened, happened and there isn’t anything you can do to change it at this point. This is going to probably sound completely crazy-train, but honestly I don’t think I would’ve changed anything. I survived. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had it not been for the things that I have gone through. I have learned so much about myself through this process and I definitely have a different meaning and different perspective on life. Every day is a blessing.

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I am not trying to instill a feeling of fear in anyone. Unfortunately I learned these lessons the hard way, but you don’t have to. Please, please pay attention to these things. It is easy to think that nothing will ever happen and I pray that it doesn’t, but you can never be too safe or too smart.

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What other safety tips do you have to add? We all need to hear any and all suggestions you have!

Bay Life, Brooks, NYC, Running, Yoga

Fired Up

Hey guys!

There has been a lot going on over here in MobileBayRunner’s world (see what I did there). It has been a really good week! Lots of fun running and non-running activities going on. Let me tell you about it …

I started the week off with an easy 5 miles on the treadmill before work. I was pretty sore after my half marathon Sunday and so Monday was all about some (active) recovery. My legs actually felt pretty good once I got starting running and I worked some of the soreness out. Work was a little bit crazy this week with our last big tax deadline for the year on Thursday, October 15th (the individual returns that are extended in April are due in October). Going into Monday morning, I was a tad bit concerned that the returns were not going to get done, but thankfully several clients sent their remaining information in over the weekend and I was able to wrap up several returns that day. I felt much better about things by the end of the day Monday.

Monday evening after work I went to yoga. Man was that painful. I don’t think I would specifically recommend doing yoga the day after racing a half marathon. I could hardly do any of the poses, but then again I’m sure that the stretching was actually good for my tired, sore muscles (it just hurt a little bit). I came home Monday evening to find that Daniel had bought me some flowers “just because.” Those are the best!

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Tuesday morning I did another easy 5 miles on the treadmill before work. I usually do a longer run in the morning and then go to RW for a shorter run with the group Tuesday evening, but I decided to reverse that this week and do my longer run later. I did 10 miles with Jessica (one of the girls in my training group) that evening. That worked out really well because they had 10 miles to do that day and she was going to have to start super early to get that in before work. I got a little bit of extra recovery time and felt pretty good by that evening.

Wednesday was the day before our deadline at work and by the time I left Wednesday evening, we had pretty much wrapped up all of our returns. It was a great feeling to leave work knowing that another “tax season” was done and that we have a little downtime ahead of us. I will be going back to my non-tax season schedule this coming up week, so that’ll be really nice. Daniel and I did 5 miles after work that evening.

Thursday morning I met Rebecca and Lizzie for 8 miles before work. We got all the last-minute details finalized and I was able to leave a little bit early! It was so nice. I even got a little nap in before Daniel got home.

Friday morning Daniel and I did 8 miles before work. We had a moving day at work and we rearranged some offices and just did some “housekeeping” type of things. Another early dismissal day! Friday evening we had a get together to celebrate the end of a successful tax season. We sat around the fire and ate some chilli, hotdogs and s’mores. It was a really fun, relaxing evening. Speaking of fire, apparently our county is actually under a burn ban until October 31st. We didn’t realize this. Oops. Also speaking of fire, my dad is pretty much the best fire builder ever. He and my mom were in town this weekend and so he helped us set up the fire for my work party (and by helped us I mean that he built the whole thing for us).

He has been splitting wood and building fires for as long as I can remember. He loves it. Friday evening I decided that I wanted to try to help him cut some of the wood. I need some practice, but I kind of loved it. It’s pretty therapeutic to swing a maul as hard as you can and *try to* split some wood. It’s also a great upper body workout (which I hate doing otherwise). My aim definitely needs some work (as you can see below).

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The fire was perfect.

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It was a tad warm out at first, but once the sun went down it got chilly and we enjoyed sitting out by the fire. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had a s’more in quite some time and I do not remember them being so incredibly delicious … but they most definitely are! I didn’t even get a good picture of them (blogger fail), but that was probably because they were consumed rather quickly. There is definitely an art to getting the right degree of toastiness to your marshmallow. I think we pretty much mastered that by the end of the night. The kids definitely had fun!

Saturday morning my training group had their longest run of the training cycle! 21 miles (a couple of over-achievers even did 22)! I ran 13 miles with them and then hopped in the car to support them the rest of the way (with encouragement and hydration). I was biking with them some, but I am not a skilled biker and that was pretty much a disaster on wheels. I fell one time and the other times my legs were pretty sore the next day (when I was attempting to do my own long runs). I’m pretty sure that I need to consider doing some cross-training if riding the bike 10 miles is making me sore … I might do that, but definitely not until after the marathon. For now, the car will have to do.

My mom came and met me at the store after everyone got done with the run (they all did awesome) and we headed out to do our virtual race. I had already run some with the group, so we decided to walk the 10K. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed catching up over a nice, long walk along the bay.

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While we did that, Daniel also did the virtual race (running, not walking).

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We got home and watched some football for a little while and then got ready for my cousin Erin’s wedding. She and her (now) husband live in Austin, but they got married here on the bay. It was a perfect day for a wedding and she was a gorgeous bride. Erin and I have been close over the years. Time, distance and some crappy family circumstances keep us from seeing each other much these days, but I am so glad that we were able to be there for her big day.

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This morning I met Rebecca and Lizzie for my last 20 miler of the training cycle. I’m pretty sure that I told you guys last week that my run last Sunday was my last 20 miler … well, that wasn’t true (but I thought it was). Coach pulled a sneaky one on me and changed my schedule up this week. I thought I was supposed to do 16 today (I even wrote that down in my planner), but when I looked at my schedule this week, all of a sudden it said 20. I definitely trust his judgement and if he thought I needed to run another 20 miler, then I was most definitely going to run another 20 miler. We all survived. The weather was perfect and the company was even better.

When we got home (after coffee of course), I decided to settle the unfinished business I had with that pesky log I tried to split Friday evening. Yes, I brought the log home with me and yes, I am stubborn (it’s one of my most lovable qualities). Daniel recently bought a maul so that he could help my dad split wood, so we got that out and I went to work. It took me a little while, but I finally got it! Before …

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And after …

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Just call me Paul(ette) Bunyan. Btw, I don’t actually recommend chopping wood in sandals. I was being very careful. My toes leave a lot to be desired though (#runnerproblems), so if one went missing it wouldn’t be all that tragic. Anyways …

Now that it is officially taper time, I am planning to add in a couple more yoga sessions this week. I decided to buy the Runner’s World Yoga for Runners DVD set and it just came last week, so I am excited to try that out! It comes with a 50 -minute active-recovery workout that is supposed to ease tight, stiff muscles and prepare you for your next workout and also comes with three 30-minute workouts: yoga for beginners, yoga for recovery and yoga for core strength.

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I love the class that I go to at RW on Monday evenings, but I have been wanting to add in another day (or two) of yoga during the week. I also really like the idea of being able to do it at home, because usually by the time we get to the savasana at the end of class I am just ready to go to sleep on my mat. If I am at home I can actually do that (assuming that Brooks is cooperative).

Speaking of Brooks … today is his birthday! He is four years old. I really can’t believe that, probably because he still acts like he is two. In doggie years, now he is as old as Daniel. Ha. We love him so much (I mean really, it’s a little ridiculous). He is the best dog though. Happy Birthday Brookser!

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So, you know how I said that I had really been wanting to watch You’ve Got Mail? No? Well, I said it at some point in a previous post. My sweet mom found it for me. I plan to cuddle up on the couch later and watch it this afternoon and get excited about our trip to NYC (in less than two weeks)! To quote Joe Fox (in the movie), “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay tuned this week for a post about safety tips for runners. I’ve been wanting to write that one for a while, but honestly I am having a hard time writing it. The words aren’t coming to me like I want them to, but it is a really important subject and now y’all can hold me accountable to actually get it done.

 

Race Recap, Running

Blue Mountain Beach Half Race Recap

Hello friends.

We just got home from a wonderful one-day getaway on 30A. I ran the Blue Mountain Beach half marathon in Grayton Beach this morning. This was my first time to run this race. Actually, I had never even heard about it until this year and only stumbled upon it online. I was searching for a half marathon to do as a tune up race before New York and most of the half marathons around here are later in the year. This weekend is 3 weeks out from the marathon and that is about as late as I could fit one in and reasonably expect to be recovered enough for the marathon. We had to travel a little bit to find a race, but believe me, there are much worse things than having to travel to a beautiful destination race at the beach for a weekend.

Daniel had to work for a little while Saturday morning and I had my training group Saturday morning as well, so it was a pretty quick trip over and back, but it was a lot of fun and it was a nice break. We dropped Brooks off at the doggie ranch and headed over to Florida Saturday afternoon. We stayed in Miramar Beach, which is just east of Sandestin. We got checked in and settled into our room and discovered that Daniel forgot to pack his running shoes.

Y’all. Really? We went to New York and he forgot his dress shirt and now we go to a race and he forgets his shoes. He didn’t run the race, but I definitely wanted him to run the warm up and cool down with me. I am starting to think he is doing this on purpose. Luckily, we were really close to the outlets and so he was able to find a new pair of (very bright) racing shoes at the Adidas outlet.

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Since we were already at the outlets, I decided to do a little shopping myself. I got two pairs of jeans at The Loft (they were buy one, get one free … don’t mind if I do) and got a super cute pair of boots and a necklace at the Saks. We will see if Daniel forgets anything next time! Ha.

After we left the outlets, we stopped by the grocery store to stock up on some snacks for the game and for the race. Then we ordered dinner to go from Applebees and came back to the room to watch the Alabama game and get to bed early. If this is what being old feels like … I really like it!

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We woke up pretty early this morning to get ready for the race. Packet pickup was at 6 and the race started at 7. We got there right at 6, because I wanted to get my packet and have plenty of time to get a good warmup in and not be rushed to get to the start line. Since I missed (aka bombed) my long run last week, coach wanted me to get one last 20 miler in this weekend, which meant that I needed to do at least a 3 mile warmup before the race and then 3 or 4 miles after as well.

The race start and packet pickup was at the Grayton Beach General Store. We found the start and got checked in with no problems. There were more people than I was expecting, but there were actually several races going on. Today was the half marathon and a 10K and yesterday, they had a 5K and a 10 mile race. You could sign up for the 5K and 10 mile race Saturday and the half marathon Sunday and over the course of the weekend, you would’ve raced a marathon. They called this 26.2 @ Blue. We weren’t able to do that this year, but it does sound like a fun option to try sometime. They have a similar type race on Tybee Island in GA where you run a 5K Friday evening and then a 10K, a half marathon, a 2.8 mile run on the beach and a one mile race Saturday, giving you a total of 26.2 for the weekend. We’ve always wanted to do that one as well!

Anyways. Back to the race report … Daniel and I did a three mile warmup and then it was time to line up for the start. My goal pace for this race was 6:30 per mile. My actual average pace was 6:31 per mile, so that was pretty much right on target. Unfortunately, I didn’t really run the smartest of all races and I was struggling at the end! My splits were: 6:31, 6:14, 6:17, 6:22, 6:23, 6:31, 6:27, 6:39, 6:37, 6:41, 6:43, 6:42, 6:38. The first 3 miles were too fast and I paid for that. I was supposed to “ease into” 6:30 pace, not start at that and then drop down well below that in the first 3 miles of the race. Note to self: do not do this next month in NYC.

I got sucked into running someone else’s race instead of my own. When we lined up on the starting line, I knew I had some competition. There was a girl who was running striders out and back from the start line the entire time while most of us were just standing around waiting for the start. Daniel was standing off to the side with me and I told him that she looked serious. He said, maybe so, but he wasn’t entirely convinced. After this went on for a good 5 minutes, the race director announced that there was one minute until the start. At this point (almost on cue), she immediately took off over into the bushes (like 50 feet max from where everyone was standing), went to the bathroom and then darted back over to the start line. I have never seen anything quite like that (from a girl at least) in my life. At that point Daniel looked at me and said, “Yep, I think she is serious. Good Luck!” And we were off!

The first few miles were very flat and I quickly settled into my 6:30 pace. I came through mile one in probably about 5th place overall. I was trying to stay with serious girl. I figured we might could work together. I tend to run my best races when I run side-by-side with someone else. Over the course of the next couple of miles, we passed the other folks and were running 1st and 2nd overall and were running pretty much side-by-side. We actually got passed back by one guy just after mile 3 when we somehow managed to run off course (but only for a few seconds). There was a turnaround, but the sign at the turnaround said “10K Marathon Turn.” For some reason, that didn’t register in my mind that it was the HALF turnaround as well. Serious girl kept going, so I did too. We didn’t go too far out of the way, because I stopped and asked the policeman sitting at the turnaround if this was where the half turned as well. His response was, “I have no idea. They just told me this is the turnaround.” Okay then. We shall turn.

We kept the pace pretty steady for the next three or four miles. Unfortunately, those first few fast miles started to catch up with me and my pace slowed after we came through the 10K. We came through the 10K finish and the first place guy stopped. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he might not be running the half. Daniel hopped in the race and ran a little bit with me around mile 7.

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She had already put a pretty good gap on me at this point (as you can see in the picture above), but it was still manageable. When we hit mile 8, we had a little out and back segment and Daniel dropped off to wait for me to come back through. This is where the “mountain” of Blue Mountain Beach came into play. The course description said that we would run the only mountain on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, but honestly I wasn’t expecting it to be anything too difficult. It probably wouldn’t have been had I paced myself properly at the beginning of the race, but I didn’t …

Miles 8 through 10 felt like they were all uphill! And it was windy. And the sun was in my eyes. Basically I was just struggling. Serious girl put a pretty big gap on me and there was no way I was going to catch her at that point. Thankfully, having miles 8, 9 and 10 uphill meant that miles 11, 12 and 13 were somewhat downhill. I was definitely thankful for that, but I couldn’t seem to pick my pace back up at all. I came through the finish in 1:24:55, which is only a few seconds off from my best half, so overall I am very pleased! I definitely needed a good reminder about the importance of smart pacing. Nothing like learning a lesson the hard way to make it stick with you more.

Daniel joined me for 4 cooldown miles. Basically this was more like a shuffle, but we got it in. That was my last long, long run (I realize this is a relative term) before the marathon and I got a pretty solid 20 miler in. Bring on the taper! We were also tracking several friends that ran Chicago today. Everyone did so well (woo hoo)! It was so much fun getting all of the text alerts after my race and definitely made me more excited about NYC.

We hung around Grayton for a little bit after the race, got some coffee and I got my award. I was hoping that they might put me in the men’s division (I registered as Sam instead of Samantha) because then I would’ve been first place! How crazy is that? I usually sign up as Samantha for just that reason. I’ve been called out in the men’s results before. I’m pretty sure today is the only time it would’ve actually been advantageous.

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We got cleaned up, checked out of our hotel and headed in search of some food before getting on the road to head home. We decided on Panera. For some reason, Panera just really sounded good to me. I got their new ancient grain, arugula and chicken salad. It had red grapes and fresh apple and cabbage slaw tossed with white balsamic apple vinaigrette and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. It was so, so good. Maybe I was just really hungry, but I thought this salad was amazing!

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We got back on the road, I put on my compression sleeves, propped my feet up and took a nice little nap.

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Now the laundry is going, we are about to go pick up our little booger from doggie ranch and get weekly groceries. Back to the normal routine. We had a really fun trip and I would definitely recommend this race to anyone that is looking for a fun, relaxed half marathon along a beautiful scenic route!

NYC, Running, Treadmill, Yoga

T Minus 1 Month!

Well hello!

I’m sure you didn’t expect to hear from me on a Monday of all days and yet, here we are. I fell a bit behind in life blogging last week and I contemplated not posting my weekly training summary, but the race is getting so close! Might as well finish what I started, right? Right. Let’s get to it.

Monday

Oh, Monday. Monday was very Monday-ish.

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I woke up to rain and wasn’t able to drag myself out of bed to hit the treadmill before work. I had to drive across the bay for a continuing education class and I knew that the Bayway would be a disaster with the rain, so I needed to get a bit of an earlier than normal start. My class started at 8:30. I left the house before 7:30 and arrived at my class around 9:30. A bus wrecked in the tunnel so that was basically a traffic nightmare. Thankfully I wasn’t the only person that got stuck in that mess and they even delayed the class for us to arrive. Thank goodness! Did I mention that I had to get my continuing education in by September 30th and this was the 28th? Basically I needed every hour of credit possible that day or else I wouldn’t be able to renew my license. Cutting it a little bit close this year.

That had absolutely nothing to do with running. I get sidetracked sometimes (you probably know this by now). I made it home in time to get an easy six miles in on the treadmill before heading to yoga. I had missed a few weeks of yoga, so it was great to get back. We did a lot of core and upper back stretches and I really felt it through my ribs. It was a little uncomfortable, but hopefully helpful for the healing process. I’ve still been seeing Dr. Justin on a pretty regular basis and I think we are making progress, but it’s not quite as fast as I was hoping.

Tuesday

Daniel and I ran before work Tuesday. I don’t know what was up with this run, but it was absolutely miserable (not due to the company of course). I’m pretty sure that the humidity was 1000% and we were both struggling. The loop we run 8.25 miles, but when my watch beeped for 8 miles, I was done. I was not running another step. I was feeling pretty discouraged about this run and even made some semi-dramatic notes to my coach in my training log about the worst. run. ever.

Tuesday is usually my double run day. I was a bit skeptical and almost skipped the second run altogether, especially because I wasn’t able to make it to Running Wild in time for the group run. I told myself I would just run a mile or two and see how I felt. Reluctantly, I headed out, but I ended up feeling amazing. I did five miles and it was a great run! I still can’t really figure this one out, but I was so glad to be feeling better. I went back and deleted the semi-dramatic notes from my training log. Ha.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling good and ready to tackle #workoutwednesday. I had 3 X 3 mile repeats on the schedule with a goal range of 6:30 to 6:40. I headed to the treadmill and got going early, because yes … that is a really long workout! Holy moly. Here’s what I did …

2 mile warm up: starting at 6.0 mph for 2 minutes and increase the speed by .2 every 2 minutes

1st 3 miles: averaged 6:40 (9.0 mph)

2nd 3 miles: averaged 6:36 (9.1 mph)

3rd 3 miles: averaged 6:31 (9.2 mph)

2 mile cool down: at 7.0 to 7.5 mph

I was pleasantly surprised to get this one done without *too* much difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough, but I didn’t feel completely spent at the end. The purpose of the workout was to be a stamina builder. I think it served its purpose.

Hydrating like it’s my job (at my job). I’ve been trying to drink 2 – 3 of the big 30 oz. Yeti tumblers of water at work everyday. I add Nuun to at least two of the cups. I am definitely trying to be more intentional about my hydration (and nutrition) as I get closer to the marathon.

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Wednesday is my second double run day of the week and Rebecca and I got in an easy five miles after work. We had both run long-ish that morning so we went nice and easy that evening and just enjoyed catching up.

Thursday

Thursday morning Shelly, Daniel and I did 8 miles. Shelly is one of our friends from small group and she is running her first marathon this weekend in Chicago! She’s going to rock it. Good luck Shelly!

Friday

Friday morning I did a few easy miles on the treadmill before work. It’s gotten so dark in the morning now, I am sticking to the treadmill more and more.

Saturday

Saturday was my training group’s first 20 mile run of the training cycle! I headed to RW bright and early with the bike in tow. Our weather took a turn for the best this weekend and we actually had some fall temperatures and lower humidity. Perfect timing for their long run! I ran the first 9 miles with them and then hopped on the bike for the remainder of their run. Everyone did so well! I can’t wait to see them race. They are one month out!

I was about to turn into a human popsicle after riding the bike in the cooler, windy weather (being sweaty wasn’t helping me either). I stopped at Coffee Loft on my way home to get some hot coffee to warm me up. By the time I got home, it was close to noon and I was so tired. I had to decide whether to drink my coffee or take a nap. The struggle is real. The nap won.

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I woke up and worked on my blog post about the Integrity Worldwide #runforkenya (please go back and check it out if you missed it) while Daniel watched lots of football. Our grocery situation was pretty dire and so we ended up heading to the grocery store after the Alabama game domination. Daniel decided that he wanted to make a crock pot meal and so we quickly googled some recipes while we were shopping and he decided to make a “slow” country boil. More to come on that.

Sunday

Sunday morning was supposed to be my longest run of the training cycle. I had 24 miles on the schedule. Key wording there with “was supposed to be.” I only ran 12 miles. My body was tired, my legs were heavy and my heart was not in it. I was very disappointed with how I felt during this run, but ultimately I think I made the right decision to cut the run short. I’ve done several 22 milers, so one failed long run attempt isn’t going break me. It did take a little bit lots of reassuring and encouragement from both Daniel and my coach to help me to realize this though. Why is it so easy to focus on one failed run instead of all the successful ones?

Sunday afternoon we rested. Even Brookser was worn out (he is sleeping under the shower curtain while Daniel showered).

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Daniel cooked up our slow country boil Sunday afternoon. He didn’t follow a set recipe, but there were potatoes (blue, red and fingerling), onions, celery, sausage and shrimp involved (plus some yummy seasonings). It turned out really, really well! A nice warm meal really hit the spot on a chilly, fall evening.

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I think that catches us up on the training front. This has been one of the longest and definitely the most intense training cycles I have ever done. I am just ready for this race to get here! I am taking a rest day today (hence the out-of-the-ordinary Monday post) and I have a little bit of a down week this week so that I can get ready for my half marathon this weekend. Then it is taper time. I have never been one to look forward to the taper (a cut back in training before a big race), but this time I am ready! It may seem counterintuitive, but it is those last few weeks of rest that make you stronger. Someone please remind me of this in about two weeks when I am busting to run all. the. miles. the week before my race.

Runners out there … love the taper or hate the taper?

Faith, Running

Run for Kenya

Hey friends!

I have something really exciting to tell you about today … the Integrity Worldwide Run for Kenya.

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Integrity Worldwide is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that operates to rebuild, renew and restore communities that have been destroyed by extreme poverty. They provide medical and dental care, ministry, clean water, education and other resources to under-served areas in Kenya and Tanzania. Please check out more about them by visiting their website.

Integrity Worldwide is a wonderful ministry, influenced by Isaiah 61, with a calling “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

The organization is putting on a 10K, 5K and 1 mile race on October 17th in Selma, Alabama. Daniel and I have lots of friends and family in Selma, but we won’t be able to be there on October 17th. We really wanted to be there to support such a great cause, but we had a couple of conflicts and weren’t going to be able to participate … until we found out that this year, the race organizers have decided to add a virtual run!

For those of you that may not be familiar with the concept, a virtual run is a race that can be run anywhere you are and anytime you want. There is no specific starting time or place, you complete the run on your own time, wherever, whenever, and however you choose (run, walk, crawl, hop, skip, jump … whatever makes you happy!). Integrity Worldwide is literally taking their race worldwide this year, so that anyone can participate.

I am so excited to participate in my first ever virtual run! My training group is running 21 miles that morning, so Daniel and I will be running at 6 a.m. from Running Wild in Fairhope. Want to get involved? I know you do!

First you need to sign up … Here is the link. Then on October 17th (wherever you are and whenever you want to), you run! If you want to be included in the “official” results, complete one of the designated distances (10K, 5K or 1 mile) and email your results to info@integrityworldwide.com. If you want to just run for fun, go for it! Snap a picture of yourself running or your watch when you are done and upload to social media using the hashtag #runforkenya.

Oh, and I almost forgot. You get an awesome tee-shirt! Check it out.

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Maybe you are reading this and you’re thinking, “Well that’s nice, but I’m not really one of those crazy runner people. I wish I could still get involved.” Well, there is good news! You can! There is a “sleep in” option on the registration. You still receive a shirt, but you don’t run. You can also make a tax-deductible donation online and lift the organization and its missionaries up in prayer.

I really hope that y’all will consider getting involved with this race. It is for such a great cause! Be sure to follow Integrity Worldwide on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to learn more about them and follow along with all of the fun!