Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Jingle Jog 5K

Friday began Christmas break for my mister and me.  We took off to Georgia to visit my family, and while we were there, we decided to participate in a 5K.  After some research, we found a 5K right there in Barrow County where all my family lives, which is also where we were staying.  The Jingle Jog 5K was a nice little local race of just under 100 people.  The race began at a local park, and although we never ever like to register on race day, we had to register the morning of the race because we had gotten in a little late the night before.  So, Saturday morning, we registered and got ready and took off at 9:30 AM.  The weather was perfect, although a bit chilly, and we took off around the park.  Despite this area of Georgia being moderately flat compared to where we live in Virginia, this course had 2 major hills, and one of the major hills, we had to go up twice.  So that's like three hills in all, but fortunately, those three hills we had to go up, we also got to come back down.

Struggling up one of the challenging hills, the second time around
So, for those of you who haven't seen any Facebook posts, this race was amazing for both of us.  Despite the hills and somewhat chilly weather, we both hit a personal record.  I was hoping for one since the Pancake Run, when I came sooooo close to a PR, but then things went, umm, awry.  I was hoping that maybe I would be able to hit a new 5K PR by spring.  Little did I know that I would be able to do it right before Christmas.... It was a Christmas miracle indeed!!!  Or maybe it was just the extra speed training I've been doing, as well as feeling extra motivated on the morning of the run.  Either way, I'm going to tell you something-- this race, I pushed harder than I have ever pushed in any race, which I guess makes sense since it was my fastest time.  Those hills were killer, but I managed to push through them, as did Mr. Marathon.
Is this Prancer? Or Dasher?  Or Comet?  Or Dancer???
Chilly rainy weather didn't slow us down!
We really enjoyed this race, except for just a couple of little things.  First of all, this race had the weirdest age groups.  Instead of 5 or 10 year age groups, this race had 20 year age groups, which was really different than what we're used to.  Also, they didn't do overall awards.  Between no overall awards and such large age groups, I didn't get to place.  If they did overall places OR they did normal age groups, I would have come in 2nd place.  I came in 4th in my large age group, regardless.  And hubbs came in first place overall, but since they didn't do overall places, he just came in first in his age group, even though he won the thing by a good 3 minutes!  Either way, we both got a PR, and he won a comfy cozy blanket for his prize, and it was a fun weekend.

Post-race cheesin!

There I am!  Elizabeth Garcia, 27:52!

There's Hubbs!  Alfredo Garcia, 18:21!!

Oh, and the shirts were super cute!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BIG Effort

So this post is definitely better late than never.  Mr. Marathon ran the Richmond Marathon the week after Savannah Rock and Roll, which was November 15.  However, we have been crazy busy and really bad procrastinators, so although it's late, here ya go!

Um it was cold.  COLD.
The Richmond Marathon was an interesting event for both of us.  I was recovering from my first full marathon-- physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Mr. Marathon was fresh as a daisy and raring to run another, so he decided to run the Richmond Marathon with a bunch of friends from our area.  It was a stressful time for us, because it was fairly last minute.  So he had to get a friend to pick up his packet, and we had to scramble to find a hotel, pack, and then finally to drive those 3 hours away.  The morning of the race it was FREEZING.  So he was getting ready to run and "warming up" while I was absolutely freezing my face off!  Spectating is a challenge!  Anyway, he was off a couple of waves, but he ended up starting around when he was supposed to, and he was ready to take on this marathon with a fun attitude.  His intention for this race, since he had already met his qualifying time for Boston, was to have fun and enjoy the race.  And that he did.  Besides the fact that it was miserably cold for pretty much the duration of the race, he really managed to have a good time.

I, on the other hand, was still freezing my face off.  I was running around Richmond trying to catch him on the course.  Since I wasn't about to run another marathon just to get a picture of him, I found mile 16 and settled in and waited for him to come to me!  While I was waiting at mile 16, inspiration struck me, thanks to some other spectator.

He is the shadowy runner that's waving
Striding to the finish line

Inspiration can strike at times when I least expect it, sometimes even from complete strangers.  And this time, I was sitting down waiting for my hubbs to come over that monster of a hill, and I was too cold and grumpy to cheer for anybody else when inspiration hit me.  This other spectator fellow was too spirited to let the cold get him down.  He was cheering everybody on!  He was cheering all the runners on with the same phrase: "BIG EFFORT!"  I had never heard that before, so as I was grumpily waiting on my star marathoner, I got to thinking.

Big effort.... I really like that.  The more I thought, the more I liked it.  I have a problem with positive self-talk or even accepting positive talk from others.  Things like "Good job!" or "Way to go!" or "You're amazing" have very limited meaning to me at this point.  If you say "Good job," I'll say, "Not really..."  If you say "Way to go," I'll say "Way to suck, don't you mean?"  If you say "You're amazing," I'll say "You're lying.  I am not."  But "Big effort" was different.  "Big effort" means that the effort was what was being recognized, not the ability of the runner.  "Big effort" means that you can't disagree with the statement because of some subjective point of view.  "Big effort" is one of the highest compliments that a runner can receive, because giving a big effort is sometimes all we CAN do.  And as I continue running and training, I have those words playing in my head, because I may not feel awesome a lot of the time, and I may not feel like I'm doing a good job, but so long as I'm putting in a BIG EFFORT, I know I'll be doing just fine.

Love this saying.  Hence why it is the background of the blog.
However, that last line should say JUST RUN... WITH BIG EFFORT.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

Since the Rock and Roll Savannah marathon, I have felt extremely down on myself.  Well, honestly, even before then I started feeling it.  All of this "marathon-mania" has been really overwhelming with positive and negative emotions.

I was inspired to write a post immediately following my marathon about how I feel like I have literally 0% natural aptitude for running.  Why do I think this?  Because I feel like I have to seemingly work harder than other runners to only be half as good.  Every single step I run, I feel as though I have to earn.

But now, the day before Thanksgiving, I write with a change of heart.  I realize I am a little more adept than I give myself credit for.  You see, I looked at myself and my attitude today, and reflected on everything I've been feeling lately.  This change of heart occurred after watching this video today. This video is about a girl who is running while she can.  Suffering from MS, she pushes through each and every run, just to enjoy her abilities while she can do what she loves, and I think that's amazing.

So now, I have to give myself credit for the fact that I have some natural aptitude for running.  First of all, I have 2 completely willing and able legs.  Each leg should count for at least 25% aptitude right?  Right!  So this means 2 legs x 25% aptitude = 50% aptitude right off the bat!  Also, the fact that I have no medical conditions that completely PREVENT me from running, so that's easily an additional 25%, right?  Right!  So that just leaves 25% that I'm missing.  That remaining 25%, I believe is a positive attitude.  This is something that I am currently lacking, but it's something that I can work on and improve.  This means that ultimately I have 75% aptitude for running that I never even realized that I had!

Thanksgiving is a time traditionally used to give thanks for all the great things in life.  For me, that includes my family, my supportive husband, and all the things that I have (wants AND needs).  But this year, I feel like the need to give thanks for a few extra things.  I am incredibly thankful for my physical health, despite my minor issues.  I am extremely thankful for my 2 wonderful legs that allow me to run.  I am amazingly thankful for all the people in my life who have supported me in this crazy running adventure that I have embarked upon.  Last but not least, I am thankful for my 75% natural aptitude for running, even though it doesn't seem like it sometimes.  I am challenging myself this Thanksgiving to be truly thankful and to count my blessings.  And I hope that you will count yours, too. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Overcoming Disappointment

This ridiculously long blog post has been a work in progress since last week's Rock and Roll Savannah.  I have been thinking about what I want to say in this post, and how I want to say it.  The different variations of the title have been "Disappointment," "Dealing with Disappointment," and "Falling Short of Expectations."  All of these sound seriously negative, which is why I settled on "Overcoming Disappointment," because that gives the negative a little bit of a positive spin.  But why all the negativity, you ask?  Let me tell you about my side of the RnRSav marathon last weekend.

I was thrilled about running my very first full marathon.  I had put in 6 months of training (18 of those weeks were official training using a beginner's marathon plan).  I was very committed to the training, and I had done most of the training correctly, besides a skipped run here or there, and combining a couple of runs into a longer run, and maybe taking a couple of breaks in my long runs.  I thought I did a fantastic job training.  Sure, I thought I could have done better with my cross-training days or my stretching/foam rolling days, but I overall decided that I did a good job for a beginner.

Besides my commitment to training, I made sure to do my long runs in the clothes I wanted to wear on race day, including the same socks and the same shoes obviously.  And I made sure that I trained with the nutrition I was going to use on race day, including Vespa, Huma, and GU.  All of this made me feel prepared for race day.  I had my apparel down to a perfect outfit, and my nutrition regimen down to a science.  Once again, I overall decided that I did a good job for a beginner.

When it came down to race week, I had been dealing with an on-again-off-again infection in my throat, which was related to a course of antibiotics I had taken over the summer and some of my asthma medication which was fairly new.  I finally went to the doctor in sheer desperadoes the Wednesday before the Saturday of the race, after another flare up.  He gave me some ideas to knock it  out until race day, without loading me up on different medicines, since I didn't want to risk it.  The infection finally went away, just in time for race day, which was perfect.  I didn't want anything to mess this up for me.


During the week before the race, I made sure to eat very healthy foods that my body was used to, so as to not challenge my digestive system in such an important time in my life.  I made sure to properly fuel up all week, and of course on race morning, it was oatmeal and a banana.  Once I hit the start line, I felt like I was sufficiently trained, well fueled, and overall prepared.

But I was wrong.

I was going strong for the first 8 miles.  Then, one of my toes started feeling weird.  But I kept on running.  I ran past a medical tent, and saw lots of people Vaseline-ing their toes and bandaging up their feet, when I got to thinking, "Do I need to do that?"  After about another mile or so, I decided that this weird feeling on my toe was indeed a blister starting up.  A blister?  After only 9ish miles?  Like ALL of my long runs were over 9 miles, and I have run 6 half marathons, and I have NEVER gotten a blister before.  I didn't understand how this was happening.  I kept pushing until I got the next medical tent, and took off my shoe and sock, and sure enough, I had a nice, big bubble popping up in between two of my toes.  I bandaged it up, and started up again.

From there, I kept a really nice pace going until mile 11.  I'll spare you gory details, but  I started experiencing some moderate to severe stomach discomfort.  I made a pit stop, and then carried on.  I couldn't understand why it was happening though.  I had trained with the same nutrition and hydration and everything!  Either way, my blister continued to bother me, and my stomach was still not feeling up to par, and I slowed down significantly after the half marathon mark.

Not only did my blister and my stomach slow me down, but of course, this affected my mental and emotional state.  I started to get really down on myself.  I was on target to finish at a great time.  I promised myself that I wouldn't focus on the time, but that became more and more difficult as I continued to slow down more and more.  I tried to keep running, but my running pace slowed from 11 minutes per mile, to 13 minutes per mile, to closer to 15 minutes per mile.  RUNNING!  So I somewhat gave up and just walked.  Not even quickly.  I slowed to a leisurely stroll.  All because I felt like things were falling apart for me.  I even considered just stopping.  But I didn't.  At this point, I was almost at the 20 mile mark.  So reluctantly, I pushed on.  I kept going, with the weight of disappointment dragging me down.  Between miles 20 and 25 I tried to keep running, but when I realized it was going to take me over 6 hours, I really gave up.  I dragged my feet to mile 26, then I picked up my feet and started really running again, despite my blister and my stomach, which were still bothering me.  It was just a bad run.  All runners have those days and those runs, and this was just one of those for me.  Despite it being a bad run, I managed to run and smile and get some good poses for the camera, but I was bummed.

And I still am.  I saw this picture on Pinterest while looking for some marathon motivation.  This saying was very powerful for me, because I was looking for something life-changing at this point.  And one of the reasons I am most bummed is that I didn't get that life-changing feeling that something this great should have brought me.  But that's why I called this post OVERCOMING disappointment.  Because I am going to get that life-changing feeling in my next marathon.  I am going to train harder, and hopefully next time, it'll be a better day.  And I'll hit a marathon PR, and my life will be changed for the better.

Smiling after my finish

Still smiling

Mr. and Mrs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


This past weekend was a big weekend in the Garcia family.  Rock and Roll Savannah was not just any marathon: it was a very special marathon for both of us!  For me, it was of course my very first, but for my mister, it was an even bigger deal.  But for those of you who don't know it yet, I'm going to keep you in suspense until later in this post... :)

Our "Flat Stanleys"
We took the 6 hour journey south to Savannah, GA, on Friday.  That afternoon, we made it to our hotel, checked in, and hit the expo.  Of course, since it was a Rock and Roll race, the expo was quite a production.  It was tons of fun, we got some cool stuff, then we went out for dinner.  We wanted to play it safe for dinner so we hit up a local Olive Garden and got some pasta (duh), then we headed back to the hotel just in time to prepare all of our gear for the early morning ahead of us.  After putting together our "Flat Stanleys" to make sure we had everything for race day.  Because we decided to take a shuttle from our hotel to the starting line, we had to sign up for the times available.... which was 5:00 AM (2 hours before start) or 6:15 (45 minutes before start, which only left 15 minutes for gear check....).  Of course being the prepared runners we are, we opted for the earlier time, which in turn meant that we would have to wake up even earlier.  I woke up at 3:45 to be ready by 4:45 to board the shuttle by 5.  Yeah... early!  But after getting to bed at around 8, that left enough time to get a good amount of sleep.

Saturday was a whirlwind of hurry up and wait.  In the morning, we rushed to get ready, and then the shuttle wasn't quite ready to go at the time they said, so we had to wait.  Then we were dropped off somewhere in downtown Savannah and we didn't know where we were, so we had to hurry up and find the starting line.  Then we found it and had to wait-- wait in line for porta-potties, wait in line for gear check, and last but not least, wait in our corrals.  After freezing for an hour an a half, the race was beginning.  At this point, Mr. Marathon and I had parted ways so he could make his way to Corral 2 and I had to stay in Corral 17.  Then the race began and we were off (only I was 23 minutes behind him due to our corrals).

The race started in downtown Savannah, and took us through neighborhoods and historic areas, as well as through a college campus, through a park, and on a highway!  The scenery had great variety, and of course, since it was a Rock and Roll, there was plenty of music and support along the way.  Mr. Marathon had quite the surprise for this race.  His honest goal was to finish at/around 3:15.  Well, he took that goal and smashed it to the ground.  All the way.  Not only did he meet his goal to finish under 3:15, but he met his BOSTON QUALIFYING TIME of 3:05.  Not only did he meet his qualifying time, but he beat it!  His time was 3:02:13!  Not only was this a BQ, but it landed him at 2nd place in his age group!  This has been a goal of his since even before we began this blogging journey, and now, the goal has been met.  Mr. Marathon will become Mr. Boston Marathon really soon!!!

I don't want to steal his thunder, so I'll be doing a separate post on my take on the marathon, coming soon.  Overall, though, we had a fun-filled, eventful weekend!  So until my next post-marathon post about my personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions, I leave you with a photographic journey through our marathon weekend shenanigans.
Leaving Virginia, entering North Carolina
Welcome to South Carolina!
We're Glad Georgia's on Your Mind!  (GA state line)
Beautiful bridge on the way to the expo
Ready to rock n roll!
Aren't we adorbs?
The bridge with the sunset.... so pretty!
My devoured spaghetti... I forgot to take a before shot.
Ok so really I was just super hungry and couldn't wait any longer.
Me, circa mile 23
Mile 26, obvs
Finish line high five!
Stinky shoes!
Staying warm after the run

Beautiful historic fountain
Hobbling around Savannah looking for a taxi
Cracker Barrel post-race dinner
Breakfast Sunday morning
Breakfast Sunday morning
View of the bridge along the river
Paula Deen's restaurant, the Lady and Sons for Sunday lunch
Our last picture of Savannah before heading back to VA