Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Race Weekend Events

This weekend was an exciting one in terms of racing! I raced on Monday, but before that, I was a race supporter!! The Bob Potts Marathon ran down the local rail trail here in York County. This race is a small marathon - only 500 runners allowed - and they don't even chip time it because they don't need to! Last year 25% of the runners qualified for Boston in this marathon. It's a flat, fast course!

We had one of our Gruver Fitness Bootcamp friends (Reggie) running his first marathon, and I knew several others running as well.  My co-workers and friends, Jamie and Kelly, and 2 other friends (Nina and Lisa) were also running their first marathons.

Because we're crazy (and because it was literally 5 minutes from my house), we headed out to our first spectating spot (around mile 1.5) at 6:15am. The sun was just rising. My first sign said "You could be at an IEP meeting" since several of my friends are teachers of learning support students! Apparently there were a lot of teachers in the race because the sign got several laughs!

We then grabbed some food and coffee, plus 2 other friends, and headed to the turnaround point just after 13 miles. This was a great place because we got to see everyone twice!

Jeremy caught this moment of hilarity on camera. When I saw Jamie and Kelly coming, I was jumping up and down yelling. I dropped my sign and ran alongside them to the turnaround and back. Somehow, Jamie completely missed my hot pink sign and yelling, so this is her going "It's you! I didn't see you there!!!" HAHA! 
I ran the Bob Potts Marathon! (Ok, I ran like a quarter mile of the Bob Potts Marathon)

We cheered again at mile 16, mile 22.5, and then headed to the FINISH LINE!
Jamie and Kelly finished in just under 4:30! 

Reggie finished at 4:59! 
On Monday morning, I ran the York Gold Star Memorial 5k. I have only run one 5k since December, and that was the snowy/icy Saginaw 5k. My December race was a PR (26:12), but I've also run 3 half marathons between then and now - so I had no idea what to expect in this race.

I set out with the goal of running a PR - and basically just running as fast as I could without throwing up. 

I didn't know much about this course, it was described as "mostly road, some trail, with a gentle hill in the middle". It basically circled around the parking lot of a local park, through some gravel alongside the baseball fields (which I thought must be the "trail" - I was WRONG), and then headed up a definitely-not-GENTLE hill. The hill was STEEP. And then it headed uphill some more...into a legit trail before coming back through the parking lot course.  

You can see by my mile splits (8:00/9:39/8:30) which mile held the hill and trail!!! The 8:00 mile is a one mile record for me - so I was pumped about that! I ended up with a time of 27:00 even. It wasn't a PR, but it sure would've been without that middle part! I was really happy with how I ran.

Also, having checked out last year's finisher times, I thought I could possibly place in my age group...and I did!!! It's my first award ever.

(and...there were 8 people in my age group, not just 3 of us like I had feared - haha!!)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Five - Random Updates

1. I decided not to run the Double a Creek Half Marathon next month. I've run 3 half-marathons in the last 3 months, and marathon training starts the Monday after DC. If I ran that half, I'd be looking at mostly double digit long runs every weekend until October. Plus, my weekends the next 3 weekends don't have a lot of room for long runs, so this works out. I am running a 5k on Memorial Day and will do the Double Creek 5k instead!

2. 6 different friends are running their first full marathons at our local Bob Potts Marathon on Sunday!!! I'm so excited for them. My friend Steph and I are getting together to make signs tonight. I'm also sympathy carb-loading. Haha!

3. I love summer evening runs. Last night I set out around 7:15, and the evening was just perfect! At one point, I saw these kids chasing each other around their yard and it was the perfect reminder of how running should feel. It should make you feel free and happy and like a kid again!

4. I needed that free and happy kind of run because I have been in a lazy mood this week. I haven't been eating the best, and have taken several rest days. I'm okay with this because I know it's what my mind needed. And tonight's run reminded me of what I love about running - the joy it makes me feel!

5. It is FINALLY Friday. But it is still not summer. Sigh. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Awesome 2 Hour Half Marathon Playlist

I have run my last 4 half marathons with a pace band. It has helped me to stay on track with my pace and hit some really great goal times.

I've used various mixes from the Rock My Run app (which I LOVE) for long runs and for the Baltimore and DC half marathons. But for the Ocean City Half Marathon, I decided I wanted to create my own playlist.

So, I went all run nerd on this and sat down at my computer with my pace band, iTunes, and a playlist time calculator. I wanted to make sure that I had the perfect song at exactly the right moment - and I did! It has some pop, rap, rock, country, Christian - it's very random.

Here's what I came up some reasons why and a bunch of YouTube links so you can listen!

  1. T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever) - (this is perfect for song 1 - starts out with a little swagger and builds! Plus it repeats "You can go hard or you can go home" a lot.)
  2. Hey Brother - Avicii
  3.  Pompeii - Bastille (this link is to a music video my church did for the song - it's awesome!)
  4. Crushcrushcrush - Paramore
  5. Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet - Nashville Cast (love the lines - "I got a whole lot more than a little bit left" and "I'll give ya something to believe - nothing on me says defeat")
  6. Move - Little Mix (I might dance while running to this - plus it hits right about 22 minutes, mile 2.5 when my legs loosen up)
  7. Alive - Hillsong Young & Free
  8. Ain't It Fun - Paramore
  9. Tell That Devil - Nashville Cast
  10. All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled
  11. Wake - Hillsong Young& Free
  12. Still Into You - Paramore
  13. Brave - Sara Bareilles
  14. Fast in My Car - Paramore
  15. Never Say Never - Justin Bieber (this is about halfway - when I need something fun!)
  16. Single Ladies - Beyonce (um - yes. Something fun for sure!)
  17. Dance Again - Jennifer Lopez
  18. The Fighter - Gym Class Heroes (just before mile 8 - when I'm getting weary)
  19. Fire Burning - Sean Kingston
  20. Fighter - Christina Aguilera (around mile 9 - time for a tough song!)
  21. I Lived - OneRepublic (because it reminds me of why I love running)
  22. Stronger - Kanye West (that that don't kill me - can only make me stronger!)
  23. Neon Lights - Demi Lovato
  24. Crazy in Love - Beyonce
  25. Send Me Your Love - KDrew Remix (love this dubstep song!!)
  26. Blackout - Breathe Carolina ("Can you keep up the pace like you're dying for this?" and "I'm only getting started, I won't black out. Let's go a little harder.")
  27. Work B**ch - Britney Spears (this song is right between mile 11 and 12 - when my brain and my body are tired and the lyrics "you better work" are the best mantra!! Plus it has good rhythm.)
  28. Starships - Nicki Minaj (perfect for mile 12 when both of my races ended on the beach - "Let's go to the beach each, let's go get a wave"!)
  29. Roar - Katy Perry
  30. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  31. Bye Bye Bye - N'SYNC (the OCMD Half Marathon called for this because this was my jam in college and I went to college by OCMD!)
  32. Take Back the Night - Justin Timberlake (this song only plays after the 2 hour mark - so I finished to this song in Brooklyn!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2014 Recap

On Saturday, I joined 25,587 other runners and ran the New York Road Runners Brooklyn Half Marathon. If you read my post from last week, you know that I had some race anxiety leading up to this day - but it was a great day!!

My race day alarm went off at 4:45am. After a post-midnight bedtime, rolling out of bed was no easy task!! But, we got up and got our race gear on and headed for the subway! No sleep till Brooklyn - right?!

My friend Katie was in wave 1, so we needed to be at the start around 6:30. Security was tightened this year, with the added addition of metal detectors and bag searches. This caused some back up at the start, and had many wave 1 runners frantically trying to drop off their bags and get into their start corrals on time. Overall, this race was really organized, but the additional security at the start definitely caused problems for some people. The NYRR was strict about corrals too, they had people at the gates checking bib numbers and actually closed the gates 15 minutes before the start of the race.

Since I was in wave 2, I had about an hour then to meander to my corral, use the port-a-potty (there were about 1,000 of these - it was awesome!), and relax. I spent a good amount of time stretching, praying, and listening to some good music in my corral before it started to fill up.

The first half of the race runs through Brooklyn's Prospect Park. This was great because it provided a lot of nice scenery, plus some variety in elevation with a few nice uphills and downhills.

After we left Prospect Park, the remaining miles were a straight shot down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. I had read some race reviews that said how boring this part of the race was, but I didn't think it was that bad! I appreciated the tree lined streets, great crowd support, and wide road!

The finish of the race is on the Coney Island Boardwalk, and it was great! There were tons of people, lots of cheering, and it was just beautiful!

My finish time was 2:06:22. It wasn't my fastest race, but I hadn't set out to go for a PR, and I was happy with my time! There were 13,678 female finishers, and I placed in the top 50%, so I was pleased. The only race goal I had was to get good on-course race photos - and I did!

After I met back up with my friends, we headed for the after party at the baseball stadium. We grabbed some post-race refreshments (beer for everyone else, a lemonade for me - it was delicious) and sprawled out on the outfield in the sun. We were waiting for another friend to finish, so we just soaked up the sun and rested!

Overall Race Thoughts...

  • There was some mess at the start with checking bags, but I didn't personally encounter any of that. 
  • No bottled water at the finish.
  • No free beer
  • Overall organization - everything was well-marked and ran on time.
  • Plentiful restroom facilities
  • Clearly marked water/Gatorade stations at almost every mile
  • Great crowd support
  • Loved the course
  • Coney Island Finish 
  • Easy transportation on the subway

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I saw this post over at Coffeecake & Cardio and decided to be a copycat! It's a little lighter than yesterday's post! If you missed that one - check it out here.

Current Book: I'm in the middle of several books actually!! I'm currently alternating between It Starts With Food (about the Whole 30 program - which I am planning to do this summer!) and Mile Markers by Kristen Armstrong. Mile Markers is a collection of short essays/stories about why women run. It's awesome - I definitely recommend it to my runner friends!

Current Tunes: I have a few favorite songs on repeat right now! Nichole Nordeman's version of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and Sarah Kelly's "Just As You Please" are my Christian faves right now. After the Brooklyn Half, I am going to share my half-marathon playlist! It's 2 hours of awesome.

Current Womp Womp: The weather! We're having this misty, humid, sort of chilly but also sort of hot weather right now. Blah!

Current Product Find: Pocket Fuel Naturals. This is a small, real food form of fuel that runners/athletes can use to replace Gu. I tried the Vanilla Haze - it's AMAZING. It's basically Nutella. Delish. I wouldn't necessarily take it on a run, but it was great in my oatmeal pre-run!

Current Drink: Water and Nuun! I love, love, love Nuun hydration for my runs - and even for just drinking when water is boring. Kara Goucher - one of my favorite female runners - recently signed with them, and until the end of May you can use the discount code "karalovesnuun" for 20% off! My favorite flavors are Cherry Limeade and Lemon-Lime (caffeinated), and also Lemonade and Grape (caffeine free)

Current Food: Asparagus! It's asparagus season here - and fresh asparagus is the best!

Current Favorite Show: "The Vampire Diaries" - currently binge watching it on Netflix. How did I miss this show??

Current Outfit: Plum skirt (looks black in the pic), black tee, big belt. Looks fancy - feels totally comfy.  My favorite kind of outfit!

Current Indulgence: This cake. I made it for my mom for Mother's Day. It's been in my fridge since Sunday and I've had exactly 2 slivers.(recipe here)

Current Wants: SUMMER!!! (less than 20 school days left - woohoo!)

Current Blessing: My amazingly awesome parents are in town!!! Just this week alone, they have purchased and installed a window AC unit into my bedroom (my house has central air, but is old and has poor circulation so my room is always hot), purchased and installed a baby gate in the doorway to my attic (so I can let the heat rise, but keep the cats out! Both of these items were a total surprise to me!!!), filling my tank with gas, washing/vacuuming my car, cleaned my house, and cooked me some meals.  And no - they aren't for rent and they can't come to your house because they are too busy at mine! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brookyln and My Pride

On Saturday, I'll be running the Brooklyn Half. This race is organized a little differently from others I've run. It has 2 waves - Wave 1 (Corrals 1-20) goes at 7:00, and Wave 2 (Corrals 21-40) goes at 7:45. All of the friends I'm going with are in wave 1 (including my 2 speedy friends, Mark and Johnny, who are all the way up in corrals 2 and 3!!). 

Me...Wave 2...corral 32.

I will start at least 45 minutes behind my friends.

When I discovered this assignment about 2 weeks ago, I was upset. 

Typically, when you register for a big race like this, you enter either a pace per mile or an expected finish time. This time is what they use to organize people into “corrals”. That way, the speedy folks like Mark and Johnny aren’t dodging and weaving the “less speedy” folks like me. It makes it much easier to start off a race with people running your pace.

When I saw that I was in corral 32 of 40, I immediately thought there had been a mistake. I was in a corral that far back for my first half marathon, when I had put my anticipated finish time as 3 hours. Surely there had been a mistake. I shouldn’t be that far back! It turns out, in January when I registered, I put my expected pace to be 10:00 per mile - when it's actually more like 9:05 per mile now!

This had me all out of sorts for several days. I hadn’t had “race anxiety” about DC or Ocean City – at all. I was so pumped for those races.  With Brooklyn, at this point, I was considering just not even going.

I was feeling off, stressed, out of it, anxious – all feelings that are definitely not of God. I realized I hadn’t sat down and prayed about this. My first move should’ve been to talk to God. So, I finally sat and talked to God. God used this to really teach me some things about pride, performance, and trying to be better.

I tried to pretend I was just upset because I had worked really hard to get faster and was concerned I wouldn’t be able to run the race I wanted to from this corral. But really, I was upset because I was concerned about what people would think of me. The root of all this junk I was feeling: PRIDE.

Ugh. I really hate admitting that.  It’s even taken me 2 weeks to write this blog because I so don’t want to admit that I struggle with this.

Then, two different messages recently centered around how often we use our works or try to perform a certain way to please God instead of accepting the gift of grace.

The “I have to get under 2 hours in my race” girl….well, she was definitely trying to achieve more through hard work and not accepting any grace. Oops.

I need to trust that what God’s done is enough and I don’t have to do any more to earn His love. I am loved. Period. Loved. Not loved if I run a fast race or if I get a certain time or if I place in a certain position. Just loved.

 That doesn’t mean I can’t, or shouldn’t, try my best. One of my favorite running related passages in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.Paul is comparing the life of a Christian to that of an athlete. We need to do the best we can, to try our hardest. We need self-control and discipline. 

I should run with purpose. I should train my hardest and give it my best. But if I’m in corral 2 or corral 32, I am still loved. If I finish in 1:59 or 2:59, I am still loved. Before I started running, I was still loved.

Instead of trying to do more or be more, I need to lean heavily on God. I need to immerse myself in His love and grace. As Ephesians 3:17 says, I need to let my roots grow down deep into God’s love – that will keep me strong. I need to run the best race I can, and enjoy it - not worry!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Myth of Easier

I remember having the discussion with my friend Barb one day a few years ago, while we were running - "I thought this would get easier. Why isn't running getting easier?" We were huffing and puffing along, somewhere around 11:00-12:00 miles, and I felt like I was dying.

I don't know exactly when running became easier - but at some point it did.  Though I would still never say "running is easy" - and that's where the myth of easier comes in.

What does "easy" or "easier" really mean? This came up again a few months ago when I was running with some friends. There were 5 of us, most of whom are faster than I am. The route was also rather hilly and I was supposed to be doing an "easy" run.

At the end of the run, we were talking about this word "easy". I figured I'd run about 10:00 miles, but we ran our miles at an average pace of around 9:30. That pace plus a lot of hills = not my idea of an easy run.

But, someone said to me "with the exception of when we were going up the hills, you could hold a conversation the entire time, right?" - and the answer was yes. If I can talk while running, the run is not super hard.

Last month, we did a 15 mile training run. I ran those 15 miles at an average pace that was much faster than my "when does this get easier" run a few years ago. Would I describe this run as "easy"? Nope. But was it manageable? Yes. Did I recover well from it? Yes. Did I enjoy myself while doing it? Yes. (ok, mostly yes.)

Pain is inevitable in running - that's something I'm learning too. I was reading an article in Runner's World about tempo runs and the elite runner they were using as an example said her tempo run pace was "uncomfortable".  Shalane Flanagan, who was the first American woman in the Boston Marathon, was physically ill after running Boston. So what does "easy" really mean?

I'm learning that easy doesn't mean what I thought it meant - and that getting easier isn't what I'm going for. If I want to keep improving, I shouldn't get to the point where every run feels easy. If every run feels easy, I'm not getting better. Meb and Shalane and Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher - all the "elite" runners - run training runs that HURT.  They don't skip over those big marathon finish lines doing cartwheels.

In the end, I don't want easy. I thought I did. But as I've grown as a runner (and as an athlete and person), I've realized that easy isn't where I want to be. I want to get to the end of a run and feel like I accomplished something. Yes, some runs will (and should) be "easy". But I don't want to "live" in easy.  I want to live in exciting and challenging and strengthening!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Five - MOM!!!

5 Reasons My Mom is Awesome
(me, Mom, Grandma)

1. She is the first person I go to for advice. When I have a crazy idea (like "I think I might change my registration for Baltimore from the half marathon to the full") - she is a great sounding board! She usually encourages me to do whatever the crazy thing is, too.

2. She is a great cook. It's easy to see where I got my love of cooking from! My mom and I share recipes all the time. She likes healthy, flavor filled food - and everything she cooks is awesome!

3. She is living the dream. Seriously - my parents retired, sold their house, bought an RV, and drove off into the sunset. They're hiking and biking and kayaking and seeing all kinds of amazing places. I love that they value these experiences and staying active!

4. She is a cleaning machine. I definitely did not inherit my mom's love of being neat. No matter how many times I scrub my bathtub, it is never as shiny as when my mom comes and cleans. And yes, I am 32 years old and my mom still cleans my house when she visits. I don't force her to - but I don't turn it down either!!

5. She still cries when I leave. Whenever I visit, as we drive to the airport, my mom cries. We really are best friends, and it makes me feel so very loved that even in my 30s, I am still my parents' little girl!

Thanks, Mom, for putting up with me. I know I was not an easy kid - and probably am still not!! Thank you for dealing with my stubbornness, my independence, my moods, my messiness, and everything else. It takes a strong woman to have spent all of those years raising me!!! LOVE YOU!!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Five - Race Reality!

1. Race Photo Reality
I have a lot of race pictures that look like the one on the left, and people comment frequently about how I'm always smiling while I run.  FALSE. Most of the time I look like the picture on the right. I'm just really good at spotting photographers and faking it. These photos were taken less than a mile apart. I just didn't see that darn second photographer!!

2. Making it Official
In my half marathon recap this week, I mentioned that I was annoyed that my official time said 2:00:04, when my watch was 1:59:46.  I knew my pace was fast enough for 1:59:46 and that my watch is accurate. It bugged me enough that I emailed them, and as it turns out - my bib didn't register when I crossed the start so they only had the "gun time" to go by! They changed my official time to match my watch. 

3. I think I'm crazy.
I signed up for 2 more half marathons. The DoubleCreek Half Marathon in June and the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in September. DoubleCreek is local and cheap, and it's a hilly course so I'm planning to run it just for fun with some of my running pals.

4. Countdown ON.
It's finally May and time to begin the "how many days until summer" countdown. 25.5 school days left! 

5. Nothing
I don't have a 5th thing to say. Well, I did - but then I decided it needed it's own blog because I had too much to say.  So, coming next week - things God's teaching me before the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2 weeks.