Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hokie Half Marathon

So, September is almost over, as it turns out. Tomorrow, to be exact. And I have realized that we didn't do a recap of our biggest event in September! OMG. So here goes:

We were planning to travel up to Blacksburg, VA on the weekend of September 17 to visit our running buddy friends that moved there not too long ago to spectate the Hokie Half Marathon. Turns out, some other friends of ours got hurt/sick and couldn't run the Hokie Half Marathon that they were already signed up for. Long story short, we ended up wearing bibs that said MIKE and NICK even though our names are neither Mike nor Nick. They were able to transfer their registration to us so we were able to not only spectate, but we were able to run the half marathon!

We went into this race with very different expectations, respectively. I am in the middle of marathon training and I had (spoiler alert: unrealistically) high expectations and hopes for a personal record since I had PR'd in April. People had told us that the course was surprisingly flat (psych), so I was like "I'M GONNA GO FOR IT!" Mr. Marathon just wanted to use this as a fun training run since he is focusing on the 8K distance for his cross country season (post on his first 2 cross country meets coming soon.... clearly I'm failing at being a blogger LOL SORRY).

Race morning!
We ended up traveling on Saturday for packet pick up for the Sunday race. We arrived fairly late, picked up our packets, and met our friends for dinner. I had my usual pasta, and mister had a pizza. I was real jealous. Then we headed back to our friends' house to get some sleep because we knew that the 7:00 AM start time would come really early. It was dark and cool when we got to the starting area on Sunday morning, and the sun was just coming up as we lined up in the starting corrals. I was supposed to start with Wave 2 at 7:02 but I accidentally got swept up in the Wave 1 runners... oops.

For me, this run started out amazing. I was maintaining right at my goal pace (actually faster by about 10 seconds per mile) and I was feeling great! It was at about the mile 6 water stop that everything fell apart. And I can pinpoint the exact second that it did. I always carry my handheld water bottle. I do it so I always have access to water and I carry my inhaler in the pocket of my water bottle in the event of an asthma flare up. This means that I don't get water at water stops. I will stop and get Gatorade in the second half of a half usually, but we were still at mile 6 and I was doing just fine. This particular water stop had tables on both sides of a rather narrow trail, so I didn't really have anywhere to go if I didn't want water besides straight down the middle. So that's what I did. Except, there were 2 people who had gone off to their respective sides to get their hydration, then they both decided to merge into the middle at the exact same time, and neither of them seemed to notice me. So they sandwiched me in between themselves, pushing my shoulders in and giving me an intense pain in my chest. Yes, it hurt, but not super badly. I was still able to breathe, but I was having some pain from it. The real issue occurred when this made me emotional. I get very emotional very quickly. My emotions began to run off without me, which set off my anxiety. I began thinking tons of anxious, irrational thoughts. I'm not going to be able to keep my pace anymore. They have ruined my race. I can't breathe right anymore. My inhaler can't help this. Oh crap, now I'm going to cry. Crying makes it impossible to breathe too. And once I start crying I can't stop. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. 

Be thankful that you can't read my thoughts in this picture...
There would be a lot of censoring needed....

It also just so happens that the hills pick up in the second half. There were also several spots of gravel trail in the second half which really slowed me down. It took everything I had to keep myself calm(ish) or at least to keep myself from crying. I came close several times but I managed to maintain my composure (outwardly at least... refer to the thoughts above). I ended up finishing begrudgingly with a time of 2:16:51, which was 3 minutes off from my PR.

Mr. Marathon was running all footloose and fancy-free for the first 7 miles. He was just taking it easy like Sunday morning (oh wait it was Sunday morning...). But then, a spectator told him that he was in 39th place overall and he decided that he was going kick it. He wanted to pick his pace up since he was feeling so great, so he took off. He passed people left and right, and managed to move up about 20 places according to his calculations based on the information given to him by that spectator. Unfortunately, the spectator had apparently been wrong about his placing earlier because he ended up in 25th place rather than 19th place, which is what he was expecting. But still, he managed to finish with a time of 1:29:12, which was an awesome time that he wasn't expecting (he had told me he was aiming for an hour 45 minutes that morning)!

All in all, we had great fun with friends, we ate great food, and we ran some miles. It was a great weekend, and it was a fun way to get a long run in for my marathon training and it was an easy way for Mr. Marathon to get in a long run for his cross country training. He has had 2 meets so far this season (like I said- post coming soon.... ish) and he will have at least 2 more meets this season, possibly more. I will continue marathon training for the OUTER BANKS MARATHON (YES I HAVE DECIDED!!!!!!!) but other than that, I don't have anything major on the docket before then. So stay tuned for more ridiculously late blog posts about things that happened several weeks ago!

Hanging with the running buddies in Bburg

Swag.... and an identity crisis! All in one!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

#RWrunstreak 2017 & Danville Braves 5K

Last year between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, I had completed the Runner's World Run Streak (or the #RWrunstreak), which was just a little challenge set out by Runner's World to encourage runners to run at least 1 mile every day between the two major summer holidays. This was meant to help runners keep running through the summer. It is so hard to get motivated when spring racing is over and fall training hasn't quite started. So I needed this kick in the rear to get me into gear! Last year, Mr. Marathon did not join me due to a busy schedule. This year, we both completed the 37 days in the challenge, and then some! We both have officially (as of today) made it 70 days!!!!!!!! Let's look at the mileage:
HIM: 335.5
HER: 249.65
Danville Braves 5K
Mr. Marathon also completed a 5K during his run streak. This race was on July 15 in Danville where he works and goes to school. This race was hosted in conjunction with Danville's local minor league baseball team on a Saturday morning before the Braves played that night. Mr. Marathon has been working on speed training so he was very excited to see what he was capable of at this point. He went out racing and hit the road. His biggest competition were 2 teenage guys who were leading for most of the race. He hadn't been feeling that great, so he was having a hard time breathing, which is kind of important for running. DUH. He ended up pulling away in the last mile and one of the 2 guys was still right by his side. The course finished unfortunately on an uphill, which he was thinking that would be where he would lose the race. However, the other guy apparently had the same thought. Halfway through the hill, he wanted to slow down, but just as he was thinking that, the other guy stopped because he got light-headed (Mr. Marathon looked back to make sure he was ok!), and a course volunteer went over to help him. This gave Mr. Marathon the lead and the extra motivation to kick it and finish strong. He took 1st place overall with a time of 18:50! A great time! Even better, the overall male and female winners were given the privilege of throwing the first pitch at the Danville Braves game that night! So that was a fun experience! And he got a cool bat trophy as his award. All of this, just to find out 2 days later that he had BRONCHITIS..... for the past FOUR WEEKS. 

Back to the Run Streak
This all being said, we made it past the 37 day mark, then I wanted to go further than last year (42 days), and then we decided to just keep going until the end of my summer before I start teaching again this school year. This is the end of our intentional, official #RWrunstreak. If we keep on streaking from this point on, it will be unofficial and unintentional. We made this conscious decision because today is a very important day for me. It is Day 1 of my MARATHON TRAINING PLAN! I am now IN TRAINING for a fall marathon! I am still undecided which one. I am torn between the Richmond Marathon and the Outer Banks Marathon. They are on November 11 and 12 respectively, so my 14 week training plan kicks off today regardless. 

Last year, I took a picture and posted it on Instagram every single day. This year, I tried to take a picture most days, but some days I was just not feeling it. Sometimes I took a billion pictures and hated them all at the time so I didn't post them. So here you go, you can get some inside scoop, never before seen photos of my #RWrunstreak! A picture for every day!

Days 1-25

Days 26-50

Days 51-70

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Baltimore 10 Miler

Earlier this month on June 3rd, Mr. Marathon and I headed north to Baltimore, Maryland for the first time ever! We had signed up for the Baltimore 10 Miler after I found it just browsing races one day. And I got sucked in by the fact that I had never officially done a 10 mile race before, and the promise of some awesome swag. We made the drive on the Friday before the Saturday race, and boy was it full of traffic! We aren't used to traffic in our sleepy little small town, so driving through both Richmond, VA and Washington DC/Northern VA was a very stressful situation. But we made it after quite a few hours, and fortunately we were approved for race day bib pickup so we didn't have to rush on the night before.

Swag-tastic jacket!!!!!
Race day was upon us and we were instructed to be at the zoo where the race started and finished by 6:30 at the latest so that meant we had to leave from where we were staying by like 5:45. That made for a very early morning! We made it in time, and got ready to go. It was a beautiful morning, a little cloudy and cool. Both of us went into this race with some time goals. I wanted to keep my overall pace below 10:00 min/mile which would put me at finishing under 1:40. Mr. Marathon wanted to finish between 1:05-1:10.

This race was advertised as a challenging but fair course, and that it was indeed. I managed to take off  right at target pace. My first 5 miles were all under 9:40 min/mile pace, and I was right on track for my goal. The first half did have a lot of rolling hills, but was noticeably more downhill. So, I unfortunately knew that the second half would be more uphill. I finished the first half in 46:50. I plodded through the next half with most of my miles hovering between 10:00-10:37 min/mile. There were 2 major hills that really slowed my pace but overall I managed to keep my pace under my goal and I finished in 1:38:50 with an average pace of 9:53 min/mile!

My race photos are always like this...
*eye roll*
Mr. Marathon has been focusing more on short distance and speed, so this 10 miler wasn't really about hitting a certain pace, but as I mentioned before, he thought he was capable of getting 1:05-1:10. He pushed very consistently throughout.  He did mention that the course was challenging, and agreed that the first half was ok, but the second half was tough and noticeably more uphill. When he took off, he didn't quite feel like he was pushing just yet, but after a mile he realized that he was going all downhill, meaning he was going to have to finish up this same hill. That was slightly terrifying. But it didn't finish up that hill. Even better, we hit the hill coming back at mile 8, and then the course continued around a looping area of parking lot and driveways... which were all uphill. So essentially the last 2 miles were uphill. And yet he still ended up finishing in 1:05:47, which he was absolutely thrilled about!

After the race, we got to spend time with my dear friend walking around Annapolis, Maryland exploring the city! And now- PIX!

Pre-race cheesin

Crossing the finish line with my boo --
he came back for me after he finished! *swoon*
Ignore that rando photoboming us lol

That moment when you open your camera
and it's set on front facing and you don't expect it


Sightseeing in Annapolis

The little harbor in Annapolis

Posing at the harbor with Mr. Marathon and my dear friend!
The capital building in Annapolis

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Run for Kids 5K

This past Memorial Day, we traveled south to Georgia to spend time with my family that lives there, and to celebrate my grandparents 67th (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) wedding anniversary! While we were in that neck of the woods, we found a 5K to try out!

Because both of us have decided that we want to focus on shorter distances, we wanted to use this race as kind of a "baseline" race to know where our fitness level is. We arrived in Georgia kind of late on that Friday, so Saturday morning came really quickly and we were running (lol) on not a whole lot of sleep. We woke up early that morning and hit the road for the 30 minute drive to Monroe, GA for the Run for Kids 5K, which benefited the local Boys and Girls Club. It boasted being "flat and fast" so we thought How bad could it be?

It was a beautiful morning, sunny and 68 degrees. We lined up and took off at 8:00 AM sharp. We noticed pretty immediately that it wasn't as flat and fast as we had thought. The course was pretty simple though. It was just an out and back one way then an out and back the other way, and it finished in the park the same way it started. Along the way it had some, ahem, "rolling" hills. It wasn't drastic elevation change, but enough that it shouldn't be considered flat. Either way, it wasn't too bad. I overcame poor eating choices from the previous day and being overly tired from not enough sleep, and I met my goal! I know I said we wanted this to be a baseline race, but I felt trained up to get close to my current record. I managed to hover around my goal pace for all 3 miles, and then I crossed the finish line with a shiny new PR of 27:30, which means I cut off 22 seconds from my previous record that coincidentally I ran at the last 5K we did in Georgia!

Finish line shot! My time was actually 27:30 though FYI
Mr. Marathon got a good feel for how much he is able to push at this point. He was tired from lack of sleep the previous night as well, and he was tired from some tough workouts during the week before the race. He was tired and sore, but he still pushed and went all out on race morning. He was hoping for a sub 20 minute finish time, and he managed to hit his goal! He finished in 19:05, which he was very happy with. We both met our goals, but to top it all off, there was tons of pizza at the finish! Oh, and we both placed 1st in our age groups! And last, but definitely not least, we got to spend a great Memorial Day weekend with my family!

This past weekend, we traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for a 10 mile race, but we will get around to a recap for that one soon enough. For now, enjoy some more pictures from our 5K!

Last turn to the finish!

"I'mma just hang out like this while
my wife takes a pic for my Instagram"

That was a lotta pizza for such a small crowd!

1st place 25-29 F age group!

1st place 25-29 M age group!

Showing off trophies

Trophies with the event shirt

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Super Run 8K

Yesterday was a big day for me! I had set a goal at the beginning of this year to update some of my current personal records, the 8K being one of them. I haven't really run many 8Ks, so I hadn't set a PR in that distance since 2012 when I ran the HCVa 8K in 51:54. I really wanted to run another to see how much I'd improved since then.

So I decided to run the Super Run 8K in my little hometown. This race is just wonderful! It's the celebration event for the end of the spring season of the Girls on the Run and STRIDE running teams from local elementary and middle schools, and since I am a Girls on the Run coach this race was extra special to me. I had 4 girls running the 5K, and spoiler alert: they totally rocked it!!!!!!!!!!

Girls on the Run coaches: my friend Mary and me

After we all gathered and took some pictures first thing in the morning, we all made our way to the start line. I took off a little bit too fast (I got excited sorry!) and I finished the first mile about 30 seconds too fast for my goal pace. My goal was to just PR, but of course I wanted to see just how fast I could go. I found my groove for the next couple of miles, despite some hills. I have run this course a few times before so I knew about these hills, so it was no surprise. However, the last time I had run this course, I got a stomach cramp around mile 3.5. I blamed it on my nutrition that day, so I was hoping on race day if I ate my usual breakfast I wouldn't experience any cramping. Unfortunately, I began cramping around that same time. I ran through it and kept pushing because as I approached the turnaround I got to see all the other runners coming back. I noticed the first several men, then I saw one woman, then I got to the turnaround, and I hadn't seen any other women. Granted, there was a small turnout for the 8K as the 5K is the main distance for this event, but still, I was 2nd place female! I saw another woman a little bit behind me, so I knew despite my cramping, I had to keep pushing to maintain my spot!


I pushed through to mile 4, then I made my way back to the last road before the final turn toward the finish. My cramp was coming and going, but the woman who was behind me still hadn't caught up. I kicked it up at the end around the last turn. I ran the last straightaway to the finish line without even looking down at my watch. I was expecting a PR at this point, however I was not prepared for what I saw: a time of 46:29! It was a PR of 5 minutes and 25 seconds!!!!!!! I would have been thrilled just with this time, but it made it even better that I managed to place 2nd overall female.

Mildly unflattering finish line photo....
I expect nothing less from myself!

The only picture of me on the podium....
we were about to get down haha!
Now, it's time to get sappy. I haven't raced short distance in a while, but I am just so happy with my time and the effort I was able to put forth during this race. If you recall, I got sick back in November with pneumonia that put me down and out for quite a few weeks. Then I got sick again in February after just coming back to running after the pneumonia and I was out for a few more weeks. I was so nervous that I had lost all my fitness, endurance, and speed. But I ran so much during March and April training for my half marathons (RnR Ral and BRM), and luckily for me, it brought my speed back to where it was (and then some)!  As for what's next, I have a few more goals that I would like to accomplish coming up here soon, including a goal for a 5K and a 10 miler!!!

Two of my coach friends and me!

Had to get a picture of the race shirt with my bib!

.... and my kitty Fat Harry had to be part of the photo shoot!