Monday, December 8, 2014

Half training...week 8



Well, this will be an easy post to write, at least to record what I ran. I ran one five-miler. That's it. And we all know there's only one reason why I'd only run one run during the very middle of my training cycle. I'm injured.

BOO!

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, as I have been running a lot. But I could take a good guess, especially considering my symptoms. On Monday I hit the treadmill for my usual beginning of the week run, and right away I noticed that both my Achilles tendons felt pretty tight. In hindsight I should have stopped then. But sometimes when you start running, a lot of things feel tight and it takes a minute or two to loosen up. I wasn't in any pain per se, but I wasn't comfortable either. When I got home I was sitting at the table when I bumped my foot, the part right below that bone on the outside your ankle, on my chair leg. That's when I realized something was wrong. When I pressed on that same area it was very painful. Great, just great.

The next morning it was still pretty sore, and I decided to do what anyone would do: I googled my symptoms. The pain and soreness was pretty exclusive to that one area, and while walking around didn't hurt, running did. What I found was this:


Basically, I over trained and one of the tendons in my foot/ankle is seriously pissed off about it. Also, this may be a contributing factor, but last week when I ran with my dad the sidewalk was tilted and it was super weird to run on. Running on a cambered surface was listed as one of the causes. Another cause, running in improper footwear. While I don't run in improper footwear, I was running in my backup shoes, which I hate! So it could have been any number of things.


For now I'm resting, icing and doing all the things I'm supposed to do, and definitely not running.  Heck, I'm not even planning a run. Mostly because I'm scared that I'll feel fine, take three steps and get hit again by pain. From what I've read, tendonitis can be a slow recovery since tendons take a long time to heal. *big sigh*

Right now I've already taken almost a week off, and I know I'm looking at at least one more. And yeah, my half marathon is in five weeks so to say I'm majorly freaking out about it is an understatement. At this point, even if I'm not fully recovered until race week, I may still go ahead and run it. I was running up to eleven miles at time before my injury so I know I can. If I'm still feeling pain by race week, I'll definitely skip it because I can't risk a more serious injury.

The good news is, walking and acting normal doesn't cause me any pain or discomfort, as long as I'm not standing too long. So life goes on as normal, for the most part. There are a few minor issues though, we're going to see the Nutcracker this weekend and I just realized heels are definitely out for me! Ugh.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be back at it soon. In the meantime, I'm just hoping to stay sane!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Half training...weeks 6 and 7

I'm halfway there! The first seven weeks of training have flown by for me. I've definitely learned a lot so far and felling more ready than ever to take on the half marathon in January.

Week six seems like a long time ago already, but I try to remember what I did and when. (Thank goodness for my running app that logs these things for me.)

Week 6
Mon:  5 miles - treadmill
Tues: Crosstrain - 45 mins
Wed: 6  miles - treadmill
Thurs: 5 miles - treadmill, Cross train - arms and abs
Friday: Cross train - 60 mins
Sat: 11 miles - road
Sun: Rest
Week 6 total: 27 miles

Even if I don't really remember most of the details, week 6 was great for one reason only: eleven miles!! Every week I get closer to thirteen the more excited I get. For that particular long run I ran nine on the road and two on the track. Don't worry, my half marathon course route is pretty flat, so I'm not hurting myself any by making those last few miles a bit easier on myself.

Also, that Saturday night after my big eleven miler I went ahead and signed up for my race!





Week 7
Mon: 7 miles - road
Tues: 8 miles - road
Wed: Rest
Thurs: Rest
Fri: 8 miles - road
Sat: Rest
Sun: Rest
Total Week 7: 23 miles

We had to stop for a selfie.
Obviously week seven was a bit off for me, since it was the week of Thanksgiving and we were traveling. I tried to get in as many miles as I could before we left on Wednesday. While we were in Florida I just did one long run with my dad. So I have my work cut out for me this week. Back to my usual schedule.


Total miles for November: 110!


You've got to love Nike Plus and their trophies!


And guess what else happened this past week... Brooks released the Pure Connect 4s! I'm currently running in a pair of Pure Connect 2s with far too many miles on them...like 700 miles. I'm way overdue for a new pair but I've been waiting on some Christmas money to pay for them. Last week I finally got around to trying on the Connect 3s and was a little unimpressed. Here's hoping the 4s are better. I'm definitely holding out for a pair of these now. (I haven't seen them in stores yet, but I will be looking!)



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Half training...week 5

So I've decided to do these posts weekly just so I can have them for reference later...

Week five went great! Since I knew I was going to attempt a 10 miler on Saturday, I took my weekly runs down just a little and that worked out great!

Mon: 5 miles - treadmill
Tues: Cross train - 1 hour
Wed: 5 miles - road
Thurs: 5 miles - treadmill, 45 mins cross training  (arms and abs only)
Fri: Rest
Sat: 10 miles - road
Sun: Cross training 45 mins (arms and abs only)
Week 5 total miles - 25

Again, no mid-week track workout since the track remains unavailable. Football season should be ending soon, so I should be able to hit the track once during the week again. This past Wednesday I ending up on the road where I usually run my Saturday runs. That's all well and good, but it's fairly hilly.

Treadmill runs are kind of "meh" to me right now, but I just don't have the time to get out on the road four days a week, so it is what it is. One upside to running on the treadmill (besides being indoors!) is that the gym has WiFi. I like to take advantage and either listen to Pandora or stream a show on my Kindle. I LOVE Pandora, and its work-out stations are usually right-on, but this past week it kind of blew my mind by playing, "Baby Got Back." Yeah, no... Unfortunately I was already out of skips and running too fast to switch stations, so I just stuck it out!



Giving Sir Mix-A-Lot the side eye. Yes, that's a gym selfie. Something about those mirrors makes it hard to resist!!
I won't say that I was dreading that ten mile run on Saturday, but I was definitely a little leery of it. I've run ten miles before, this past March, but it was on the treadmill. We've been having a cold snap, like most of the country, and when I woke up and got ready to go out Saturday morning, it was a toasty 33 degrees! Instead of staying inside in the warmth and dreading it, I got out the door as soon as finished my breakfast. (My go-to breakfast before a long run is an egg, whole wheat toast or an English muffin, and coffee!) I had dressed warmly, long running tights, a tank, arm-warmers, and another long-sleeved shirt on top of that. When I got outside and realized how sunny it was already, I ditched my headband to keep my ears warm and my gloves. After a half mile, I pulled off my arm warmers and tucked them in my waistband. It's so hard to get started when it's cold, but you warm up so fast!

Anyway, since this was first double-digit run, I brought along a GU to try out. (It was this kind, in case you're wondering.) I started to feel a little tired at mile five, so I took it out then and just ate a little bit at a time. Upside, it wasn't nearly as gross as I thought, and I felt like it gave me some extra energy. I was nervous about it not sitting well with my stomach, so I ate it very slowly. It was probably mile seven by the time I finished it. My only complaint about the GU as opposed to the Sport Beans I'd already tried, is that it's kind of messy! When I finished I kind of rolled up the wrapper and tried to stuff it back in my arm pocket and ended up getting sticky junk all over it. I had to wash everything that was in there when I got home.

As I've said may times, it's pretty hilly here, so to save my legs I only ran eight miles on the road and did the last two on the track. I stopped at the car for about a minute to get some water and take off my long-sleeved shirt. Boy did that track feel flat and smooth after running on hills! (Gradual hills, but still hills!)




Done!

So, here are my observations five weeks in to half training. It's going great! I may totally bonk at some point, but so far so good. Also, I'm getting faster. I don't really know how that's possible but I'm not complaining. I plan on doing more or less the same thing this week before bumping up my mileage again next week. I have a feeling I might be hitting the treadmill a lot this week since it's cold again. Also, next week we're going out of town for Thanksgiving so it will be interesting to see how that factors into my training.

Yeah, I said I was going to take this one slow. I'm not so good at that! 





Monday, November 10, 2014

Half training...week 4

Week four out of fourteen already? That's crazy! I have a feeling as the holidays and the end of the year grow closer, these next ten weeks are going to fly by. This past week of training went great, if I do say so myself. Take a look... and then I'll tell what I learned this week.

Mon: 6 miles - treadmill, 45 minutes cross training
Tues: 60 minutes cross training
Wed: 6 miles - road
Thurs: 5 miles - treadmill, 45 minutes cross training
Fri: Rest
Sat: 9 miles -road
Sun: Rest
Total miles week 4 - 26 miles

Phew, that was a tiring week! A few observations, I only double up on running and cross training when I know I'm not going to be able to get it in on a later date. For example, I knew I'd be busy all day Friday, so I tried to squeeze in some extra cross training on Monday and Tuesday. I'm no expert on the subject, but I think strength training makes me a much better runner. So I try and stay consistent with it.

I had to switch out my track run for a road run on Wednesday because when I got to the track at the school, the football team was practicing so the track was unavailable. In the old days, I probably would have changed my mind and just gone home or hit the treadmill. Instead I drove to my usual Saturday spot, parked, and ran my six miles on the road.

I took this picture trying to show how fall-like it has finally gotten in Georgia, only to realize later that it's still quite green!
My Saturday run was good, but with a lesson learned. The weather was great and I had it all planned out perfectly. Park, run a four mile out-and-back one direction, come back to the car for water and fuel, then another five mile out-and-back in the opposite direction. My only problem was that I went out way too fast, so by my last mile my legs were dead. I mean dead, dead. If this run had been any longer I would have had to cut it short. So this coming Saturday when I run my ten miler, I need to remember to slow down a bit more!



A few more observations: I'm thinking about cutting back on my midweek miles and my weekend runs grow longer. My legs were so tired all weekend and that's not a good feeling. It might have something to do with the fact that it's just so hilly here. It's almost impossible to find a long running route with no hills here in Georgia! Also, I really need to figure out this whole fuel situation. On Saturday I ate a few sport beans and that seemed to go well, though I could have used more during that last mile. I still have a few GUs to try, but I'm nervous that the texture will gross me out.

Okay, I think that's about it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Half training...Weeks 1-3

Now that I've officially decided to run a half marathon in January, it's time to talk training! Last Spring I did a a 10K training program on my Nike Plus app, and I had originally intended to start their half training program as well. However, when I looked up what the actual program entailed, I knew I was going to have a hard time fitting it to my schedule. For one, the first week had all weekday runs, Monday through Friday. Now, I can usually get in a few mid-week runs, but not five. And I don't really like running that many days back to back. I googled a few other training plans, got some suggestions from friends, but in the end I decided to just put together a training schedule that fits my schedule. Basically I just altered my usual running schedule by adding a few miles to each of my weekly runs. Simple enough. Most training plans usually last about twelve weeks, but since I finished my last 10K exactly fourteen weeks out, mine is fourteen weeks long.

Here's what my first three weeks of training looked like:

Week 1
Mon. Rest day (I had just raced a 10K so I took some time off afterward.)
Tues. Rest day (I'm off to a good start!)
Wed. 5 miles - track
Thurs. 4 miles - treadmill
Fri. Cross train
Sat. 8 miles - road
Sun. REST!
Total for week 1 - 17 miles

That eight miler was the longest distance I've ever run outdoors (not on the treadmill). That run was a great morale booster for me and made me feel confident about my decision. Also, based on my pace for that run, I adjusted my goals to not just run a half marathon, but to finish sub-two hours. That means from now on I'll be aiming for the magic-sub-two hour pace for all my training runs: 9:09 and under. AHHH!

I ran an out-and-back for my eight miler, so I stopped at the four mile mark to take a picture to commemorate how far I'd run!


Week 2:
Mon. 5 miles - treadmill
Tues. Cross train
Wed. 4 miles - treadmill
Thurs. 5 miles - treadmill
Fri. Cross train
Sat. 7 miles - road
Sun. Rest
Total week 2 miles - 21 miles

So yeah, I run a lot on the treadmill. It's just more convenient to me on weekdays. Basically, as soon as Matthew gets home from work anywhere between four and five, I hustle down to our apartment gym and run. I have to shower and cook dinner as soon as walk in the door, but it's worth it. I have to mention that previously I'd been running on a treadmill at the gym that may or may not be older than I am. In fact, when I begin my training I was pretty certain that I would be killing that treadmill very soon with my sudden increase in mileage. Now, I'm not positive that I'm the only one who uses this treadmill, but I've never seen another soul on it. Well, lo and behold, when I visited the gym for the first time since I began my training I found a little surprise waiting for me...



Yup, that's a brand-new treadmill. I've enjoyed putting some miles on her over the past few weeks. I'm in love! And just to keep it honest, my long outdoor run on that Saturday sucked! It was cold, about 40 degrees, and I hated every mile. It happens!

Week 3 :
Mon. - 5 miles - treadmill
Tues. - Cross train
Wed. - 6 miles - track
Thurs. - 5 miles - treadmill
Fri. - Cross train
Sat. 9 miles - treadmill
Sun. Rest
Week 3 total: 25

Monthly total for October: 81 miles

Week three was not a bad week; at least my mileage was good. My Saturday long run was a bit of a bummer again. It was colder than cold and insanely windy so I wussed out and ran on the treadmill. The good news is, I've also started running on the track once mid-week. I really like track runs, so I always look forward to just cruising for a few miles. I run out on a sidewalk off a fairly busy road on Saturdays and it's quite hilly as well. Which is why I love the track, it's flat!!

Hopefully this weekend's long run will go better for me. I need to suck it up and get used to the weather. Since my race is on January 17th, it's guaranteed to be a cold one!


This is me running the Museum of Aviation 5K this past January, the same race I'll be running the half distance at next year. It was 22 degrees that day!


So, to sum up: Training is going well and I'm enjoying the new challenge of running more miles. With my current schedule I'll be on track to run 100 miles in November, which is completely crazy. Alas, I'll be training all through the holidays which should be interesting. We're going out of town the week of Thanksgiving so it will be a challenge to log miles that week, even though I'm already planning on dragging my dad along for one of my long runs! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blue Mountain Beach 10K and a funny coincidence...

Okay folks, it's that time again. I raced, so I'm blogging. Because I'm consistent annoying like that! As you might know, this would be my third 10K. My first was this past March, the Cherry Blossom Road Race, and being my first, I set my PR at 52:30. I guess I didn't realize at the time what a great time that was for my first 10K, because my next was awful. The infamous Labor Day Road Race, where I ran a slow 56:49. (See below.)

So for this 10K I was in it for a little redemption! It didn't help my summer races at all that I was dealing with some annoying knee pain. Now I'm back at 100% and running as fast as I was before the summer!

Last year we went to PCB for Columbus Day weekend for several reasons. One: the Pirate Festival for the kids. Two: great race weekend. Three: it's actually still warm enough to swim in the gulf in October. Well, last year it was a three-day weekend for Matthew. Last year I ran the Run for the Treasure 5K with my dad (who ran the 10K) so this year we mixed it up and ran the Blue Mountain Beach 10K. They also host a half-marathon simultaneously and originally it was my plan to train for that. This was before I realized just how hard it is running in the South in summer, and before I screwed up my knee. Around June I realized that half just wouldn't be in the cards for me in October. Instead I've been working on 10K training and getting my knee back to normal.

Did I mention as soon as my dad registered us both for the race we found out Matthew did not get Columbus Day off? Yeah, so that meant driving down Friday after he got off work, and then driving home Sunday after the race. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but we survived.

The race was great, as soon as we arrived and started getting warmed up I was feeling it. And by "it" I mean I knew it was going to be a great run. Sometimes at races I feel nauseous and scared, but other times I just feel pumped to start running. This was one of those races. We lined up with all the halfers and it was time to run! My dad shot ahead of me like he always does. I always try to stay within eyesight of him, but this race turned quite a few times right away so I quickly lost sight of him, even though I wasn't far behind. It was a little hot and humid, about 70 degrees and 90 percent humidity, but that's almost cool compared to what I've been running in. My first mile was fantastic (8:23) and my second was even better (8:12), by the 5K turnaround I was averaging 8:18, so I knew I had a PR coming.

Then something weird happened, I realized the course was going to be short and that my Nike app wouldn't log it as a PR for me. (I know, I know, super OCD.) So as I'm sprinting for the finish, about to cross right around 51 minutes I decide to run through to get that extra .10 miles. The funny thing was, my dad saw me and I called out to him, "It's short!" thinking he would understand why I was running through. Did I mention the people running the half were running through to run another out and back in that direction? Yeah, they were and when I finally hit 6.22 on GPS and peeled off I realized that I could have easily kept running. Now, I wouldn't have been able to maintain my 10K pace (the woman running the half who was in front of me went on to win the the half for the women!), but I think I had a few more miles left in me. That's never happened before. Usually after a race I'm wiped and ready to quit, but I wasn't this time. Which made me realize something very obvious: it's time to run a half-marathon!!

Right after the race. They had finisher's medals for the 10K!

Race stats:
Official time: 51:36 (8:19)
Age group: 1st out of 11 
Overall: 13th out of 86 (I was also the fourth female finisher!)

Dad won his age group too, so we brought home FOUR medals.

So, long story short, I'm running a half on January 17th, 2015!

(And I just realized I forgot to say what "funny coincidence" I was talking about in the title. Just this little blog post I wrote almost exactly a year ago. I had only run two 5Ks at that time. Now I've run 12 and 3 10Ks.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Summer Races

Despite the fact that I fully intended to take most of the summer off from running, I ended up running three races this summer.

The first race I ran was part of the Chick Fil A Connect Series. My dad ran the Macon race on Memorial Day while they were here visiting us. I didn't run because Matthew and I had tickets to the Braves game that day. A couple days before the race, one of my friends (and my hairstylist) convinced me to run the Chick Fil A 5K. I really wanted to do the 10K, but wasn't trained and ready for one. So 5K it was! Mostly I agreed to go ahead and run this race because it was a similar route to my 5K PR race. I knew it would be relatively flat and simple. The weather that morning was dreary and about 70 degrees, but high humidity! Not too bad for early June.


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I only run with other fast runners. We both won our age groups that morning!
iphonesummer 049
This is me avoiding getting my picture taken with the giant cows.

I'd run a Chick Fil A race again in a heartbeat. They give you tons of good coupons and there's always fun stuff for the whole family after the race!

Race Stats:
Official time: 25:02 (8:05 avg - technically a PR for a full 5K since my last PR was on a short course.)
Age group: 1st out of 32
Overall: 36th out of 275

Again, with no real plans to race anymore during the summer, I got talked into yet another race while I was down in Florida visiting my parents. My dad signed us both up for a 6K trail run. I've never done a trail run, but figured it couldn't be that much harder than a regular race on concrete. While that turned out to be true, what we didn't consider is what the temperature would be like in late June in Florida! That  morning turned out to be a hot, sticky 80 degrees with yet even more ridiculous humidity. Even before the race started, I wasn't feeling good about my chances.

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That's me in the yellow shorts with the grey shirt. The girl next to me won the race, she was a beast! And my dad is next to her.
Well, I was right to be concerned because about halfway in I knew this wasn't going to be a fun race. And at about the three mile mark (I think a 6K comes out to about 3.6 miles) I started feeling super awful and dehydrated. There was only one water station, and that just wasn't enough that day. So I did something I've never done in a race before: I walked. Probably for only about thirty seconds, but it was enough to make me feel discouraged. When I finally got moving again I managed to convince myself that I would cross the finish line, even if I had to crawl to get there! Also, it was a loop back in the trails so I wasn't even sure how I would get back to the start/finish if I didn't go ahead and run. Finally I reached the finish line, where I guzzled about a gallon of water and tried not to pass out. Dehydration is no joke!

iphonesummer 115
We both managed to pull off age group wins, despite the heat.
After this race I swore I wouldn't race again in high temps, so I didn't do a single race in July-August.

Race stats:
Official time: 32:47 (8:48 avg)
Age group: 1st out of 6
Overall: 19th out of 76

And that brings us up to my most recent race, the Macon Labor Day Road Race. I had just started racing this time last year, so I missed out on my chance to run this race. I had no idea it was such a huge production here in Macon. This time I was the one doing the convincing and got both my dad, and my running buddy Elizabeth to sign up for the 10K. Let me start by saying this race was a big challenge for me. Not only was I coming off two months of not racing, I also have been struggling with some chronic knee pain for the past eight weeks. Though it's finally under control I was nervous about how healthy I would be on race day. For this race I trained on the track at Matthew's school, running 25 laps every Saturday hoping to acclimate myself to the Georgia heat and humidity.

For this race, you not only have a chance to win in your age group, but you can also compete in a team event. Dad and I signed up for the "parent - child" category. Our team name: Positive Splits!

Fortuatnely by race day  my knee was finally feeling 100% and just in time, too. We drove out to the course route, which was a point to point across Macon, and took note of the several large hills throughout the course. Since I knew heat was going to be a huge factor, I drank way more water than usual, determined not to be fighting dehydration like I did on my last race. This race was already a late start, at 8:30, and we were delayed about another ten minutes after that for some reason. By that time it was already at least 75 degrees, and 100% humidity! I started off slow, because I knew I was going to have to conserve energy to make it through six miles in the heat. I was glad I made a mental note to myself where the big hills were, and the water stations. So I was prepared! I walked/jogged through the water stations to make sure I was drinking enough, which helped a lot. At mile four I hit the last big hill, about a seventy-foot climb and took it nice and slow. After that I knew I was basically home free so I picked up the pace as much as possible and hurried to the finish. I'm so proud of myself for running smart and still managing to finish strong after six brutal miles! My whole family was waiting at the finish line, so I high-fived the kids on my way in.

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That's me in the pink shirt on the far left. Yes, I was running, I know I look like I was walking!


Crossing this finish line felt great! I knew it wasn't my best time, but some races are just about surviving! This was definitely one of them. I found out later from Matthew that a couple people collapsed at the finish line.
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That is a look of relief if I ever saw one! (and yes, I'm floating again.)
It was so flippin' hot that at the end of the course firefighters had come and opened up a fire hydrant for us to run through, which I did. So I'm soaking wet in my finish photos. At at the finish line they were literally hosing people down. (See photo below.)

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We all made it!
Since it wasn't my best time, I didn't win anything and we came up with nothing in the team categories, too. The teams who did place ran ridiculously fast times, so there was nothing we could have done differently. This just wasn't a PR race. Too hilly and way too hot! But it's not always about the bling. Sometimes it's about accomplishing something you never thought you could before. I still had a pretty good time and to come out of it smiling this time is a huge deal to me.

Race stats:
Official time: 56:46 (9:09 avg)
Age group: 6th out of 18
Overall: 212th out of 506

So I'm still chasing that 10K PR. Blue Mountain Beach 10K I'm coming for you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Battle of Byron race recap...

I know, I know...who recaps a 5K for crying out loud? Apparently I do! Hang in there though, this one's a good story, I promise.

So I know I've said recently that I'm a little over 5Ks. I enjoyed my 10K back in March a lot, and after finally getting my 5K PR in early March as well, I've been telling myself it's time to move on. But I just couldn't resist one last Spring 5K, especially since this one was taking place in the town I live in. Literally around the corner. Plus, I'll be the first admit I'm a little annoyed I haven't been winning many awards lately, and fourth place seems to be my lot in life. I knew this race would be on the small side, giving me an almost guarantee at placing in my age group. And yes, at that point the thought of winning overall female had already crossed my overly-confident mind.

So anyway, Saturday morning I showed up with my little cheering squad in tow. How cute is it that my kids actually like being dragged to a race at seven am on a Saturday? But seriously, they love it. The crowd of runners/walkers was your usual crowd. But like all races there were a few people looking seriously legit. (I don't think I look seriously legit, to be honest.) I mean, dude, there were people wearing compression socks. I mean, is that really a thing? Compression socks for a 5K? Okay, moving on. So the really legit people make me nervous, and I already mentally have calculated that I will probably just win my age group at that's totally cool with me.
Not a pic from this race, but from my last 5K I ran with my dad, only because it's one of my favorites!

I wish I had pictures of this race, someone was taking them, but I've yet to see them anywhere online, because I totally lined up at the very front like a boss (har har). And I started off super fast, too fast, of course, because by the first quarter mile I think about four or five other women passed me. Also, as soon as the race began, we hit a pretty intense downhill slope. Not a problem right? WRONG! It was an out an back, which meant that brutal hill would be almost at the three mile mark. Not only that, the rest of the race was completely up and down the whole way. I seriously thought to myself around the halfway point, "this is the hardest race I've ever run." Also, "there's no way I'm running this course ever again!"

I managed to move myself up to third about a mile in, and I stayed there for a while. The lady in first was quite a bit older than me, and the woman in second was mid-thirties. So again I'm thinking, "I'll get my age group, great!" The hills were so brutal my pace was 9:30 up hill, and around 7:30 in between. The whole final half of the race I stayed in third, about fifteen feet behind the girl in second, and about thirty feet behind the leader.

We're all suffering up that last, brutal hill and I'm literally dying...when the craziest thought enters my head. I'm thirty feet away from taking the lead, and I'm not going for it?!? So I decide to go for it. Remember, we had just come up a huge hill, so finding extra speed seemed impossible. But I go for it anyway. I'm 99% sure they will see me making my move and speed up to deter me, but it doesn't happen. Not only that, from out of no where, a man about my dad's age runs up along beside me, beckons me forward and says, "Let's go, girl."

Now, I'm a pretty solitary runner, but I've never been so happy to see another person in my life. I'm now past the other two women and in first place with less than a quarter of a mile to go. But...but my legs are dead and I'm pretty sure I'm going to puke, pass out or both. (I'm running like a 7:25 for crying out loud!) I take my headphones out and my running buddy keeps coaching me, saying things like, "Don't look back. Pick you head up. Keep going." I drop my speed for just a moment, pretty sure I'm done, but pick it up as soon as I realize they are right there behind me. And basically because this total stranger is making me push myself harder than I've ever pushed in my life.  Finally I spot the finish line, I see Matthew and the kids waving, cheering. And then suddenly I realize that I've got it. I've won. I cross the finish line.

As soon as the race was over I grabbed the man's hand who had helped me and gasped, "Thank you!" I seriously don't think I could have made it if he hadn't helped me. I turned in my official time and then went to celebrate my first big win with my family.
So ridiculously happy!!!


Running is awesome, isn't it? And I'm not just saying that because I won a cool trophy, I'm saying it because what else in life challenges you that way? What else makes you push yourself to your limits and beyond? And then at the end you realize you are so much stronger and so much more capable than you ever thought?

And how cool is it when a total stranger sees you struggling and basically takes you by the hand and helps you achieve your goal? That's pretty darn awesome if you ask me!


Not too shabby for my tenth race!

Race stats:
Official time: 25:29 (8:13 avg)
Age group: 1st out of 2 (But won overall female)
Overall: 9th out of 82

Week 1: 100 Days of Happy...

So I found the link to this challenge on my Bible study website sometime last week and decided it looked like fun. It's pretty simple, find something that makes you happy that day, take a pic, and share it somewhere. I've been posting them on IG, but decided once a week to post here too.

The challenge to me doesn't mean to desperately search for something, anything to make me happy, but to recognize the simple things in life that are always there to make me happy and bring me joy throughout the day. No one has a perfect life, certainly not me, but it's nice to try and dwell on the good and none of the bad things we're so prone to let bring us down.

My first week was easy, of course!


Day 1: Last Tuesday. The kids played Lego together while I ran. They don't always get along this well, or leave me to myself for very long, but that day I managed to log ten miles on the treadmill!
Day 2: We got to meet our  newest family member. My nephew Jake was born last Wednesday. As you can see, Sophia is totally in love!

Day 3: On Thursday we did school outside.
Also, day 3.
Day 4: We were just happy it was Friday! Long week!

Day 5: Saturday I ran a 5K, and won a little trophy. More on that later. 

Day 6: Another easy one! Sunday was Mother's Day and Elijah's 8th birthday. So the whole day was full of happy!

Day 7: Is actually a picture from Sunday, but being married to this guy makes me happy every day!







Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Suspending disbelief...

As a writer *ahem*, well, self-published writer, I've gotten my fair share of feedback on my writing. Most of it has been kind, complementary even. Okay and a lot of it has come from my friends. Do I worry about them giving me positive a review simply to maintain our friendship? Well, of course! But at the same time I'm not really losing sleep over it. Though most, if not all, have assured me of their honesty in the reviewing process.

That's not to say I haven't had my fair share of reviews from total strangers. My first book, London Escape, has been out for almost two years and has been downloaded something like 2,000 times. It has a total of twenty-five reviews on Amazon and a few more ratings on Goodreads. Most of them are good, thankfully, a few are not. Finding Sanctuary, book two, has a few less downloads and a fewer reviews as well. I suppose that's to be expected, you lose a few readers after the first one, maybe.

Which brings me to my point: negative reviews aren't the end of the word. Granted, they almost always hurt my feelings. I always want to fire back at the writer and maybe explain myself and my book a little better. A phrase I've heard a few times, more or less, is that they found certain plot points unbelievable. Okay, I'll admit, perhaps that's a failing on my part as a writer not to make you believe this could really happen. But at the same time I have to wonder what this person is doing reading fiction if they can't just let go and imagine for a minute. Just a minute or two.

Obviously, when I look at the events that take place in my books even I can't say, "Oh yes, that would 100% happen. If that was me, I would totally do the same thing!" Aren't fictional characters supposed to be just a little bit braver, a little bit cooler, and better at making the right decision on the the fly than we are? I think so. Otherwise they would be a little boring. I try my best to make my characters relatable, but at the same time, show growth over the situations life has put them through. A lot of my problems in this area probably stem from the fact that my book is set in the real word. If your book is set in a fictional time or place, you've already given up the need for everything to be completely realistic. Just saying...

And finally, let's talk about something a few readers have taken issue with, Kit's "spidey sense." I'll be the first to acknowledge that it's not real! It was never my intention to imply that my character has some sort of hidden superpower. But honestly, is it really the end of the world if she does? Again, I'm not sure when it was that I promised to the readers that my book is totally plausible in every single way. At the end of the day, it is simply a work of fiction, from my own imagination. Is there any book out there, in the fiction genre, that you could say would totally happen exactly like it has in the book? Also, if I'm being totally honest, I don't think the "spidey sense" is way out there. I think we underestimate our own gut feelings and intuition sometimes. I've just amped it up a little for the sake of telling a story.

This post is probably coming off a little defensive, I'm aware. Until now I've always avoided the issue of addressing negativity toward my writing. Aside from complaining to Matthew about it. It really doesn't bother me and the majority of my less-than-favorable reviews still have been relatively complementary. And at the end of the day, if my book wasn't your style, or you weren't blown away by it, it's fine!

I'm in the process of wrapping up the series now. Last night I wrote "the big  finale" chapter. It was exhausting. It was exhilarating. And I hate that because of a few comments from readers I took a step back and felt a little cynical about where the story has taken them. At the end of the day, I'm happy with it. It's an adventure story, and we all know adventure can take you some pretty crazy places and put you in some crazy situations. I'm sure some people will read parts of my third book and roll their eyes a little. They will complain that they can't suspend disbelief enough to get through it. But then again, I'm not entirely sure that's my fault.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Expectations VS Reality...

So, I just finished up a quick photo recap of our Spring break trip down to Panama City Beach on the family blog. We were there from Tuesday to Saturday and it was a really nice, relaxing trip. But I've got a bone to pick with Florida and PCB. Since around March I've been suffering from some pretty bad seasonal allergies. No surprise to me, I've had allergies ever since I was around twelve, so I'm used to it. I don't really remember suffering too much in Connecticut, since I imagine there was so much less green.

Well, there's a lot of green in Georgia. And a lot of pollen. For the past month I've been switching from every single allergy medicine you can think of. Pretty much with no relief. But I've been functioning. I've still been going outside with the kids and running every weekend. So, I'm not sure what I expected going down to Florida, but what I got was not what I expected...or wanted.

See, I had all these lovely thoughts of going running in the mornings on the beach. Sitting out in the back yard in the sunshine reading. Spending my afternoons in a beach chair watching the kids play. Well, that last one I did, sort of.

We arrived in Florida on Tuesday and my allergies were bugging me a little. By the time twenty-four hours had passed I was in full-on allergy attack mode. Matthew even suggested I go to the emergency room (I didn't). Instead I dosed myself up with all kinds of meds (checked with my mom's bff, who is a nurse, first) and basically went into a drug induced coma for a few hours. After that I had to spend a full twenty-fours indoors until the worst of my symptoms passed. No running. No sitting outside. No beach.

Boo!

We did go to the beach the next day and I was feeling much improved, due mostly to my lovely cocktail of allergy meds, which finally seemed to be working. So all in all the visit was still worth it. Just not what I expected.






Yes, I wore that hat all week to cover up my puffy, blood-shot eyes. I never did get that run in. In fact, I ran for the first time in SIX days yesterday!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Five uses fort 5K t-shirts...

Like any respectable runner, I collect 5K t-shirts to way most people collect regular clothes. In fact, since Spring is in the air around here I've already been struck by the urge to go shopping for some Spring tops. See, I usually feed that urge around my birthday, when I have a little extra money to spend on myself. But this year I used most of that money to build my summer running clothes collection. I now have no less than six pairs of running shorts and a countless amount of running tanks.

No regular clothes to wear. None. Unless you count last year's stuff, which apparently I will.

Since I just ran my eighth race since last July, I've collected a total of seven shirts. (One race was cheaper if you didn't get a shirt, so I opted out.) So what do I do with all these t-shirst you ask? Well, here's just a few options for you.




1.) Wear them running. Think of it, when people see me running past them with a shirt proudly declaring Museum of Aviation MARATHON (and in tiny letters, half marathon and 5K) they will totally assume I am a marathoner. One of those crazy freaks who can run twenty-six-point-freaking-two miles. What they really don't know is that I just ran the 5K that day. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever actually run in a 5K t-shirt. For one: a lot of the times they are your usual unisex cotton tee,  not the best thing to be running in. I prefer something a little more slim fitting. Although my Cherry Blossom Road Race tee is actaully the perfect shirt to run in. And call me superstitious, but I never run a race wearing that race's shirt. Do you want everyone to think you're a total noob?? (Matthew says this is snobby of me, but whatever!) You haven't' earned it yet, take it off! Wear it after the race!

2.) Dust cloths. Enough said. What else are cotton t-shirts good for?

3.) Pajamas. Move over Victoria's Secret, nothing says sexy like a t-shirt down to your knees declaring, "Run to Lose." My husband loves it. For reals.

4.) T-shirt quilt. Okay, I'm actually quite into this one. I would love to make an "I love me" quilt out of all my hard-earned t-shirts. I would sleep with it every night and think of how awesome I am. After I wallpaper my wall with race bibs and make a chandelier out of all my race medals. (I only have two, so I'd better get on that.)

5.) Donate them to the less fortunate. Have a friend who wishes he/she was a runner? Give them the gift of a 5K shirt today! Not only can they pass themselves off as a real runner just like you, they will get many complements, I'm sure.


I'm off to the beach for a week! Gotta go pack some non-5K, non-running clothes, wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Things writers Google...

It's been almost four years (FOUR) since I started this crazy journey of writing and self-publishing my book trilogy. I've learned so much along the way, and at the end of the day, I have to give props to a writer's best friend...Google! Today I'm going to share with y'all some of my top Google-ed things since I've been writing.

1.) How to use a colon/semi-colon correctly.

Yup. This is what happens when you don't have the bucks to hire a real editor! In the past I've relied a lot on the help of others to sort out my grammatical issues, but at the end of the day it's just me. I'd like to think my grammar skills have gotten a lot better since the old days, but ehhh...I still Google some of this stuff to straighten myself out. And I'm not too proud to admit it!

2.) Actors who might look like my characters.

I've actually never found any actors that look exactly like my characters in my head. Maybe it's because to me, they're actual real people, complete originals. Yes, I know I sound crazy. We're all crazy! At least I admit to hearing voices in my head!

Even though she's a Disney star, Bella Thorne is the closest match I can find to my favorite red-headed heroine. 



And even though he's a bit older than my character, I think Sam Claflin looks the closest to how I picture Jason. 


Everyone's favorite grandma is of course, and always will be Sean Connery circa Indiana Jones and Last Crusade. I just can't help it!


Will is another hard one for me, but the closest I can get to what's in my head is Thomas Gibson.


3.) Random spy knowledge!

I can't tell you how many things I think I need to know to successfully portray some of the scenarios in my books. I'll just break it down in a sub-list.

a.) How to drive a stick shift (this was for book one, since I have no idea how any of that works)
b.) How to pick a lock. How to pick a lock on handcuffs (book two)
c.) How to break a sleeper hold. (book three) this one is my personal favorite. I ended up watching self-defense videos for around fifteen minutes. That's some informative stuff people!

4.) Location shots!

"Scouting" locations via Google is one of my favorites, though it seriously triggers my wanderlust gene!


Oh you know, just the cafe where Peter and Kit first met.
Machu Picchu

Bridge like in book two.









Bolshoy Kammeny Bridge, Moscow.









Half of book three takes place in Moscow, but the final scenes will be in Hong Kong!


I clearly have a thing for skylines and bridges, I'm well aware.


In case you're wondering, I am nearly done with book three. (Working title is still Final Redemption unless I think of something better!) I'm about to start writing the pivotal final scene and even i'm not 100% sure how it's all going to play out. There will be a few more chapters to pen after that final showdown since it is the last book of the trilogy, so I would like to tie up as many loose ends as possible. I think there are still more stories to tell about Kit and her family and Halcyon, so we'll see what happens next!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Cherry Blossom Road Race...

It's that time again! Time for another thrilling and exciting race recap...just kidding. You know you don't care. But it's fun to write about, and after all, it is my blog...such as it is.

So, let's get to it! This past Saturday I ran my very first 10K. I was pretty excited since I've already run a total of seven 5Ks in the past seven months since I started running, and I knew I was ready for a new challenge. I've been upping my distance quite a lot lately, with a half-marathon in mind. So running a 10K was just the next step. I picked the Cherry Blossom Road Race a few months ago, knowing how famous Macon Georgia is for its Cherry Blossom Festival this time of year. It didn't disappoint! The race was well-organized, and the route was fantastic. Though, sadly, there weren't quite as many cherry blossom trees blooming as I had anticipated. That's okay, my allergies are bad enough as it is!

Since Matthew works close to where they were having early packet pick-up, he kindly picked up my stuff on his way home from work on Friday. Early packet pick-up is my favorite! Just sayin'. Again, this race didn't disappoint. Super cute, slim-fit, dryfit t-shirt (that I wore all weekend) and a free Chick Fil A coupon! Woo!
Favorite! (And I'm not even a huge pink person.)

Even though I already had my stuff, I still got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, six fifteen to be exact. I just have a hard time sleeping in the morning before a race. Thankfully, I was excited, not nervous! I was expecting it to be fairly warm-ish, like fifties, but when I got up it was a chilly 48 degrees. I had to sneak back into our room for some pants!
Have you ever seen anyone so cheerful at seven am on a Saturday. I mean. Really?!

Anyway, I got to the race venue, and it was still chilly. I was honestly wishing I had some sleeves instead of a tank, but I knew running six miles, I was going to get a lot warmer! I had already talked pacing with my dad the day before and I told him my goal was to run a 8:30 pace for the race. Since I'm used to running 5Ks it's sort of my nature to just go hard and fast. I knew I was going to have to monitor my speed a little more carefully so I wouldn't burn out. Not surprisingly, I started a little slow. It was a little crowded since they started the 10 and the 5K together, about 600 people. After the first mile or so, I really managed to even out my pace. Like the OCD nut that I am, I had memorized my splits. I was a little slow on my first mile, but I hit my second mile split almost on the nose. By mile five I was wearing out some, but still hitting those splits. Too funny! 

Boom! Finish line! (Screen cap from my phone. Obviously.)

I finished with a time of 52:38, according to my Nike app, which is EXACTLY a 8:30 pace. Super exciting and satisfying. My official time was actually a little less. It was a pretty competitive race, so I didn't win anything in my age group, but I had an awesome time anyway! 

I rewarded myself with a chicken biscuit! Yum!
I can't wait to run another 10K, and my half is looking more and more doable every single run. I've had a few people tell me I could probably be trained and ready much sooner than October. I'd want at least another six weeks to train, though, and after six more weeks it's already getting a bit hot here in Georgia. I think I'll keep shooting for Blue Mountain Beach in October. I'll be more than ready by then. I'm already trying to think of my goal time, probably something like 2:15. But you know I'd love to go sub 2! But that's mostly crazy talk. Mostly!

Next up, I'm running a 5K here in Byron, just for the fun of it. I'll probably attempt to come close to my standing PR of 24 minutes, but again, crazy talk! And I'm definitely running the Chick Fil A 10K in June!

Race stats:
Official time: 52:33 (8:28 avg)
Age group: 6th out of 22
Overall: 75th out of 230

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pinterest...I don't understand you sometimes...

Now, I love Pinterest as much as the next girl, but let's face it, most of it is some pretty useless junk. If I had a dollar for every time I saw something that didn't make any sense at all or just seemed competently stupid, well, I'd have a few more dollars. I was browsing this morning while drinking my morning coffee and found a few especially...uh...interesting pins so I thought I'd share. Just for kicks. Most of the time my favorite board to browse is the health and fitness, so all of these came from there.







Hmmm...okay. No wait...HA HA HA HA! I know I have a lot of running friends out there, so tell me, when is running easy for you?! Running is not easy! That's sort of the point! I guess I should follow the link and see what it says, just out of curiosity. But I'm pretty sure it will say something like, "Run slower" or "Don't wear cotton or Nikes." Yeah yeah. We got it.






Alright, alright, alright...healthiest packaged foods. Yes! M&Ms. Wait....NO! I'm confused. I do realize these are pretzel M&Ms and I suppose those would be healthier than the chocolate ones...but really? Maybe you should try pretzels with no chocolate on the outside if you want a healthy snack. (Says the cranky girl who gave up junk food recently. BOO!)









Okay, I talked about this one in my last post...pretty sure I don't "sparkle". Pretty sure I sweat for real....









Nope. Just nope. I have zero interest in watching a Victoria's Secret model work out. For the same reasons I refuse to watch the Victoria's Secret fashion show every year. I have decently healthy self-image, why would I go and ruin it by watching that? Just one question, will the workout make my legs about six to seven inches longer, because that's what it would take to get me to look like that. That and a few other *ahem* enhancements.











Ooooh boy. Have you seen these pins around? "How to get the gap between your thighs" I've seen plenty, and every time my reaction is the same, "I didn't know we were supposed to have a gap there?!" I'm a pretty small girl, but there is no gap between my thighs and I seriously doubt there will ever be. Now, I do understand that some people just have naturally slim legs, and therefore, theirs might not touch in the middle. But for the rest of us, I'm not so certain this is an achievable goal.

Maybe it just burns my britches a little extra since I've always been self-conscious of having "thunder thighs" a little. It wasn't until I started running that I started embracing the way my body is. Now I don't see them as thunder thighs, I see them as strong and powerful. Gap or no gap. Strong is better than skinny!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 little confessions...

5-Little-Confessions_250x250

Hosted by Carrie - Aubrey - Jacq - Kimberley 

It's me again, twice in one day, I know I know!!! I met the lovely ladies listed above when I did the 30x30 outfit challenge in May of last year, and while I don't blog much at all, I do enjoy keeping up with their blogs. Anyway, they're starting this new link-up once every Wednesday so I thought I'd give it a go!

Although I'm not sure what I have to confess that I'm willing to admit to...

I thought for this week I'd got with a theme, and since I just blogged about my last race, I thought I'd do my top five running confessions!

1

I like running because I'm an egomaniac (har har, no really, I am.) and I'm super OCD. I love running because it's one of the few things I'm actually good at, though it's a pretty dumb thing to be good at. I got lucky right away winning my age groups in smaller races and after that I became pretty much insufferable about it. And I love the OCD-ness of PRs, splits and all that. (Yes I have an exel spread sheet of all my races.) (Yes I have a pace calculator app on my phone.)

2

Okay, this one is really embarrassing, but I smell super bad after a run. I've never been a sweaty girl, even after years of living in the super humid south. But running? Wow, running brings out the smelly in the best of us. Just last week I ran in about 60 degree weather and Matthew basically ran away from me when I got home!

3

I hate running skirts! I know a lot of runners love them and swear by them. But I feel like a total doofus in one. It's not that I don't like girly things, I love skirts and dress for church and going out, but not for running. Give me some running tights, capris or shorts any day, please! 

4

I wear makeup to races. This one stings too, because I always made fun of those runners, you know? It's not a beauty contest! Hello, this is the South. Everything is a beauty contest! And I don't mean a lot of makeup, just a little. Enough so that when I see my race photos I don't think "YIKES!" Because I mean, really, if I'm going to smell, I need to at least look a little bit pretty to compensate, no?


5

I am signing up for a half-marathon in October and I'm honestly terrified!!! Sometimes I wonder if there really are two different types of runners, the long-distance and the short-distance. Clearly I only have experience with short distances for now. All I know about myself right now is that I like to run fast. So I know half training will be so much of a challenge for me. The most I've ever run is seven miles, but all my seasonsed distance running friends have assured that I can build myself up to thirteen in no time. But I'm still scared! I've already picked my race too and if all goes according to plan, I'll be running the Blue Mountain Beach Half on Columbus Day weekend in Florida.