It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

October 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

I can't seem to find time to blog (again) so thought I would go with an old standby.  Three Things Thursday:

  •  Had a wonderful weekend with my sisters at Lake of the Ozarks.  The weather was beautiful, the colors were beautiful, and of course time with my sisters was BEAUTIFUL.  We don't get this kind of time often enough.
The Sisters

  • I joined Weight Watchers on Tuesday.  I joined back in 2008 and lost 30 pounds.  Since then I put about 15 of that back on.  I knew with the holidays coming up if I didn't lose a few pounds now I'd be going in to the New Year with an extra 20 pounds I didn't it was time.  My weight loss may be more moderate as I am trying to balance weight loss with marathon training.
  • Jack is the world's cutest puppy dog!  Just saying!

October 20, 2011

My Butt Hurts Real Bad

I’ve been repeating the title of this post in my head for a day now….in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice.  No, my butt doesn’t hurt real bad because of my Sweet Dance moves, it hurts because of Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs video!  Every time I sit down, every time I stand up, every time I move – IT HURTS!!  The good kind of pain, like when you know you have worked a totally new muscle group.

As most of you know I’m training for my first marathon in January, and I’m not really a “runner” by trade – I’m a triathlete.  But in late August I injured my shoulder and have not been able to swim.  Also, since I’m running so much I haven’t been biking much lately so my workouts have mainly consisted of running lately.  My running times are improving, but I’ve got a chronic back issue (I’ll share more about what I’ve discovered in a different post) that I know impedes my running.  I know stronger hips, legs, and core will improve my running stamina and help with the back pain.  So, I decided that since I’m not spending my time swimming and biking, I should get back to doing some more strength and core training.

So last week I purchased two Jillian Michaels DVDs – Killer Buns & Thighs and Six Week Six Pack.  Both were very reasonably priced on Amazon at just under $9 each.  Yesterday I decided to give the Buns & Thighs DVD a go.  The DVD has 3 levels and each workout is about 30 minutes.  I, of course, decided to start with Level 1, but I didn’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to it so I just did PART of the video.  She does each series of moves twice, so I decided for times sake I would just run through them once.  I can’t believe how sore I am from about a 20 minute workout.  I can only imagine how I would feel if I had done the entire thing! 

I totally expect to look like this in just 6 weeks!
It might not have been the best idea ever to start this week.  I was still pretty sore and tired from my half marathon on Saturday and I have my first ever run over 13.1 miles this Saturday.  When I ran this morning I felt my butt the entire time.  But, I am a glutton for punishment so I’ll be throwing in the Six Pack abs DVD tonight after work.  Wish me luck!!  At least tomorrow is a rest day.  I think I’m gonna need it!

Thanks so, so much to everyone for the very kind and encouraging words on my blog this week.  I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to PR this weekend.  I’m still basking in the glow of it.  I’ve had other PRs recently, but nothing has felt as good as this one.  I finally felt like a runner.  I know an 11:39 pace is no record breaker, but for someone who’s never been able to get out of the 12s on long races it seemed like an almost unattainable accomplishment for me. 

Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Seriously, it’s a classic!

October 17, 2011

I Met this Girl Named Michael this Weekend

and I really liked her.  I don't know where she came from, but I hope she stays around.

This is my KC Half Marathon Recap:

Me & Jim post race

I have to admit, going into this race I was NOT excited.  I had set a PR just two weeks prior at the MO' Cowbell Half Marathon which was pretty darn flat and the KC Half  is HILLY (almost 700 feet of elevation gain) so I knew there was no way I could PR here.  Plus two half marathons in two weeks was alot for me.  It would just be a training race for my marathon and that would be just fine.  I knew I'd still have fun because I was going with my hubby Jim and he was running his first of two back to back marathons (you can read his phenomenal post here).  I knew no matter what I would be done in plenty of time to watch him cross the finish line and that would make me happy!

This race is my nemesis....seriously.  In 2009 I ran my first half marathon and trained for it in only 7 weeks - my longest run going in to the race was only 8 miles and I finished in 2:52.  I had so much fun at that race that I signed up for the KC half.  For this one I got serious - I trained for 16 full weeks, I had long runs of 11 or 12 miles.  I was so ready.  Race day came and the hills kicked my BUTT!  By mile 4 I seriously wasn't sure if I could even make it 13.1.  I was so disappointed.  The weather was cold and damp (it had rained just before race start).  I ended up finishing in 2:50.  I was just so upset that I had trained so hard and only took 2 minutes off my time. Then I signed up for the race again last year, and ended up with a tibial stress fracture and couldn't do it.  I had all these mental images in my head going into the race.  I knew I could improve my previous time, but I figured I'd finish somewhere around 2:45.  I could live with that.

Course elevation from my Garmin

Jim and I got up early Saturday morning.  It was chilly in the low 40s - but perfect for running.  It was supposed to be in the mid 60s and sunny by the time we finished - and no wind - seriously another race with perfect weather.  The weather in Missouri this October has just been wonderful!!

We arrived a little later than we anticipated and the line of traffic was crazy to get parked.  Jim started panicking a bit, but I told him we would be fine - we still had about 45 minutes til race start.  We got parked and headed our separate ways.  Jim went to drop his gear bag and do his pre-race warm-up and I headed to the bathroom line where I would wait for almost 20 minutes!  Race time was there before I knew it.  I went out to the start line and started to get those little butterflies.  Here we go again! 

OK, although I knew I was going to be around 2:45 I had secretly printed out a 2:35 pace schedule.  I knew I couldn't do 2:35 since my PR was 2:37 just two weeks ago, but I thought maybe it would be good to keep it and try to follow it for the first 6 miles or so until I got really tired.  It's the pace chart the actual pace teams use, so it's paced with the hills in mind and of course it starts out slow to warm-up.  I knew I should start slow because at MO' Cowbell I went out way too fast trying to "bank" some time, and really hit the wall in the last mile.  It called for a 12:14 pace for the first mile and 12:04 for the second.   The first mile was uphill so it was pretty easy to take it slow, although I still finished it in an 11:50 - still a bit faster than planned.  The second mile was downhill so it was easy to speed up, that one was defnintely too fast at 11:16.   At mile 3 you approach your first really big hill. It was about this point that I ran into the 2:30 pace team.  They were walking up the hill, so I decided if they were walking it I would too.  Seemed smart  - my third mile was my slowest mile of the race.  I felt like I was going too slow, so I ran past the 2:30 pacers, but then decided I must be going a little too fast if I was passing them so I slowed it down a bit and hung to the side of that group for awhile.  I thought if I hung with them I'd slow my pace down.  I was feeling great and running strong, it was hard to hold back, but I knew I should if I wanted to have anything left at the end.  At some point the 2:35 pace group passed the 2:30 pace group...not sure why. Anyway, I just decided to try to kind of stay between these two groups.  I had started well behind the 2:35 pacers, so I knew I was a few minutes ahead of this pace.

Miles 4-8 just kind of flew by.  Normally about mile 4 I start my walk/run ratio, but I was feeling so good, I didin't do it.  I walked through the water stops and walked for 1 minute at the end of each mile, but that was it.  Miles 4-8 were really fast for me averaging around 11 minutes.  Miles 8-10 are pretty much straight uphill, and I started to slow here, walking a bit more up some of the hills, but never for more than 30 seconds to a minute.  I was kind of expecting to "give up" here.  But suddenly when I finished mile 10 I realized - hey I only have a 5K left.  I can do this.  My overall pace was still around 11:30 and the course was ready to move into a nice long downhill to flat section.  The 2:30 pacers had passed me, but I was still right behind the 2:35 pacers.  I started thinking I could actually do it.  I might be able to PR.  At mile 12 I paced the 2:35 pacers and knew I had it.  I crossed the finish line in 2:32:29 official time - a 5 minute PR from just two weeks ago where I had a 13 minute PR.  I had cut 18 minutes of my best time between the two races!!  I was grinning from ear to ear when I passed the finish line!  My Garmin time had been 11:29, but I had also ran 13.29 instead of 13.1.  It didn't matter.  I had an overall pace in the 11s!!!  I couldn't believe it.  And I felt GREAT at the end of the race.  I knew I could have run even farther.....which is good since I will be doing just that this weekend when I attempt my first 15 mile run and first run EVER over 13.1!

My Garmin splits
I finished, stretched, refueled and then waited for Jim to cross the finish line of marathon #1.  He came strolling across - making it look easy of course.  I still couldn't belive he'd be doing this again tomorrow.  I won't go in to the details of his race, I'll let you read those for yourself, but know that I was INCREDIBLY proud of him on Sunday!  What an amazing and inspiring athlete!  Congrats Jim!!!  I love you BABY!

So that's the story of how I met the NEW Michael.....the one who pushed herself, and ran her fastest race EVER!  I seriously hope she stays around.  I'd really like to see more of this girl!

This is a picture of a cow.  This is for Coy Martinez :)

And of course what race is complete without a milk mustache pic!

October 07, 2011

A Mostly Pictorial Post

Well, as I mentioned in my last post.  I ran my half marathon Sunday, showered, said my goodbyes to Coy and drove back home to Kansas City.  I arrived home just in time for dinner, and to do some laundry and pack for another trip.  I was heading to Washington, DC for work. I had a work group close out meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The meeting started at 8 am Tues morning, so I had to fly out on Monday.  Since I had never been to DC before I decided to take a vacation day and go out early so I could make the most of my only day in town that wasn't booked solid.  So I booked a 6:30 am flight out of Kansas City on Monday. I live an hour from the airport.  This meant getting up at 3:30 am and leaving at 4:30 am to make my flight (with literally no time to spare - I got through the security gate as they were announcing "last call" for my flight).

Let me just tell you that getting up at 3:30 am after not having gone to bed until about 10:30 pm and running a half marathon the day before IS NOT easy.  I have a hard time sleeping on planes, so that didn't really do me any good.  Anyway, I arrived to my hotel around 11:15 am where thankfully I was able to check in early.  I took a very, very quick 20 minute cat nap and then headed out to see the sites.  Unfortunately it was cold and rainy on Monday - about 48 degrees and misty rain the entire day.  Of course Tues and Wed when I was in meetings the weather was 70 and sunny.  Anywho, I know most of you have probably been to DC before, but I hadn't.  The city is just AWESOME!  The monuments, museums, etc are so amazing.  It was a great experience.  I really want to go back now and spend some more time in this city.  I just about walked my feet off.....seriously.  I was so tired it was ridiculous.  After spending about 6 hours walking around the city, I met up with a friend of a friend who lives in DC and she took me around to a few more spots and to dinner.  She was so incredibly nice to do this.  I didn't make it back to my hotel room until about 9:45 pm that night.  I was exhausted!!  I am still exhausted.  Can't wait for the weekend.

Anyway, I know most of you have probably been to DC and have these pics yourselves, but here were a few of my favs.  Notice the ominous clouds in the background of everyone - and most were taken during the day.

The new MLK memorial

A Night at the museum

Me as a caveman.  Super cute!

October 05, 2011

MO Cowbell Half Marathon Race Recap

On Saturday morning I was ready to make the four hour drive to Saint Charles, MO for the MO' Cowbell half marathon.  I went to my car, opened the back hatch, got ready to put my suitcase in the car and guess who jumped in the back before I even had a chance to get the suitcase in?  Jack....that's who!!  He was ready for a trip.  That dog makes me so sad sometimes, how was I supposed to leave that sweet face?  But alas, I gave Mr. Jack a kiss on the snout and headed out.

I arrived in St. Charles right around 2pm for packet pickup.  When you think about endurance sports, what's the first thing that comes to mind......drinking, smoking, and gambling???  But of course!  So naturally, packet pickup was at the Ameristar Casino.  When I got inside Coy of First in Philly was waiting for me!!  Yea!! I finally got to meet her.  We chit chatted for a minutes and then picked up our packets.  Easy peasy!
Me & Coy doing our best running pose,

We decided to try our luck...and headed into the casino for a few minutes.  I have literally gambled maybe 3 times in my life.  I'm not good at losing money. We walked around and took a few pics until we got asked politely to stop.  Yes, we were trying to steal the layout for our own casino.  We finally settled on a couple of slot machines.  I told Coy I had a $20 limit.  I would play $20, but when it was gone, I was done.

Coy sneaking a pic of me & my cashout voucher
I pulled the lever and won like a $1.20 or something,  Then I lost a few rounds, but then I hit some kind of mini jackpot.  The machine started ringing and chiming and suddenly I had $40.25.  I said that's it.  I'm done!  I'm cashing out!! And I did!  I made $20.25 - go me!  Coy lost her $20, but hey we still had an overall payout of .25 between us.  Take that Ameristar!!

We then headed to the hotel to check in and hang out for awhile.  Coy is AWESOME!!  Seriously, she is so funny in her blog, but she is truly a great person - in person!  I just loved getting to know her!

We then headed out to get some pre-race fuel.  We landed a Pia's - an Italian restaurant.  The first thing they gave us was a lovely basket of club crackers and a plate full of butter.  Classy touch!  Stay Classy St. Charles.  We immediately started dying laughing thinking it was the funniest thing we had ever seen.  I mean seriously, they give you breadsticks at flippin' Fazolis.  What restaurant gives you cracker and butter?

Delicious huh?

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  Race day!  It's time to go.  We wake up to 36 degree temps, not exactly the mid 40s that were projected.  It was COLD.  I had brought tights and shorts, but luckily decided to opt for shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  I was glad I did because the race didn't start until 8:30 am and it warmed up quickly.  The sun was bright, not a cloud in the sky.  It was a beautiful day, but was definitely getting warm by the time we crossed the finish line. 

My goals for the race 1) Have Fun!!  2) Set a PR.  My previous best half marathon time was 2:50:45.  I was hoping to be around 2:45.  The course was mostly flat, but you encountered two pretty big hills at miles 10 and 11.  Way to put the hills at the end of the race.  Going into this race my longest run had been 10 miles, so I knew those last 3 were going to be tough, especially with the hills at the end.  Plus I was still dealing
with some back pain, although it was much better going in to the race.  I knew if I wanted to get a PR I would need to bank some time in those early miles.  I know it's not the best race strategy to go out fast, but I took a chance.  The first few miles were pretty easy.  I had planned to run the first 3 miles, and then start my run/walk plan.  By the end of mile 3 we were at about a 10:52 pace per mile which is very fast for me, and I was ready for that first walk break.  It was probably a little bit too fast, but I had "banked" some time.  We maintained a pretty consistent pace from miles 4-9 of around 11:45 - 12:15.  But as anticipated, miles 10 and 11 were much slower and were closer to a 13 minute pace.  Mile 12 was downhill and we really picked the pace back up and finished it in 11:56....but then I just fell apart during the last mile.  I was tired and my back started cramping badly.  For the first time during the race I couldn't complete my 3 minute run (it was just 3 should be able to do anything for 3 minutes, right?).  I just couldn't do it.  I should have been excited and invigorated.  I was at the end of the race, I only had one mile to go and it was mostly downhill, but I was struggling, big time.  Coy was awesome!  She kept say it's ok take a quick break, you are almost there, are you ready to start running again?  She could have ran this race, much, much faster, but chose to run it with me.  She was awesome, I know she helped push me through that last mile.  She kept saying come on, I know we can get you to the finish line in under a 12 minute pace, but it's going to be close!  I finally see the finish line, and I'm ready to run it out.  I look at my Garmin and think I can do it!  I can finish in under a 12 minute pace.  I crossed the finish line in 2:37:21!!  My fastest time by just over 13 minutes!  The pace on my Garmin is 11:54!!  Unfortunately, once again, the Garmin was slightly off.  My race distance on my Garmin was 13.23 so my official time was 12:01!  I was bummed, for just a second, but then I remembered that I just set a 13 minute PR on a half marathon - that's a minute less per mile.  I was still super happy!

After we crossed the finish line we were awarded with an AWESOME cowbell finishers medal.  We also got to take our pic with the cow.  They gave you 3 copies - FREE!!  Seriously, it was the little touches in this race that were just great!  They also had one of the best race shirts I've gotten yet, a very nice gender specific long sleeve technical tee.  For an inaugural race, they really had their act together.

I had one of the best race experiences ever. It was great to PR, but it was also great to run with my new friend Coy.  I loved every second of my day.  Give me MO' Cowbell next year for sure!

They even had decent finish line photos.

My race recap is a bit delayed because I'm currently in DC for work.  After driving the 4 hours home from the race, I had to pack for another trip.  I got up at 3:30 am to head to DC on Monday morning.  But more on this later..........