Monday, December 1, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Atlanta Half Marathon

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hopefully you enjoyed the holiday as much as I did.

I took the day off from work on Wednesday to start prepping some food and to pick up my race number. (I had to drive about 30 minutes north to pick it up.)

Homemade cranberry sauce
The race jitters started to set in a little bit Wednesday night, as I was laying out all my gear. No matter how many times I have crossed a half marathon finish line, I always worry that I won't make it - that I'll get swept off the course. It's ridiculous, but it is what it is!

I went to bed around 9, and set my alarm for 4:15 am to give me plenty of time to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast (and have plenty of time to digest), and get to the race early. As usual, I had a hard time falling asleep due to the nerves / excitement. I must've checked my alarm 5 or 6 times just to make sure...

Eventually I fell asleep, and 4:15 came around pretty quick. After getting dressed, I scarfed down a couple of cinnamon raisin scones that I baked the night before. I walked out the door with all my gear and a big travel mug of coffee around 5:15 am to head to Turner Field.

I arrived around 5:45 and sat in the car keeping warm, drinking coffee, and taking deep breaths (and of course using the port-a-potty a couple times). I made the mistake of looking at the course map and elevation chart again about an hour before the start and really started to get nervous. I texted my dad and said that I hoped to match last year's time of 1:59:08, but didn't think I would.

Finally, it was time to head to the starting line. I was parked right by the start, so I got out of the car around 7:15 and walked over. I spent the next 15 minutes jumping up and down and rubbing my hands together to stay warm.

The race started at 7:30, but I was in the second start corral, which took off at 7:35. Right away, I could tell I felt good. I was concerned about starting out too fast, so I really held back in the first half mile. When Runkeeper told me I was running a 9:19 and I wasn't breathing hard or even breaking a sweat yet, I knew I could pick it up. My pace got faster and faster over the next few miles.

By the time I hit mile marker 4, I knew that unless I completely crashed and burned in the back half of the race, I was going to PR. I couldn't believe how great I felt considering I was running significantly faster than normal. I had an 8:29 pace going through the first half of the race!

The course starts to get tougher around mile marker 7, with most of the hills in the last 6 miles. I powered up all the hills without losing much off my pace. It wasn't until mile marker 12 that I started to feel some fatigue in my legs and get anxious to finish.

At last, I could see the Olympic rings ahead and knew I was almost done. I sprinted to the finish...and got a HUGE smile on my face as soon as I crossed the line. I accidentally stopped my Runkeeper about 30 seconds early, but I knew I had shattered my previous best by several minutes.

And then I saw these beautiful munchkins waving to me:

This race was so much better because I had daddy and baby girls waiting for me at the finish line. And they were so proud of mommy! (And so ready to get out of the cold and go home!)

Later in the day, I checked the website for my finish time. 1:54:27!!! A new PR by 4 minutes 41 seconds. I far exceeded my own expectations, and was reminded of why I love racing. There is a huge sense of accomplishment that comes along with proving to yourself that you can do something you didn't think you could do.

And now here I am, 4 days later, still riding high. So much so that I already signed up for my next half marathon! Training begins (again!) in just a couple weeks.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So, About That Weight Issue...

It's been a while since I've written about weight. If you've been reading since the beginning, you might remember that weight was a common theme in many of posts. I was constantly trying to shed the 5 or so pounds I gained while injured early this year.

I finally made peace with my weight in late July after returning from vacation, and stopped trying so hard. And of course, as soon as I stopped trying, I lost weight.

I've been in a pretty good place since then, only stepping on the scale once every 1-2 weeks - a huge improvement from my daily weigh-ins of the past. And my weight's been staying in check, only fluctuating a pound or so.

Last Friday, I had a doctor's appointment and they weighed me. I hadn't weighed myself in 2 weeks, and hadn't thought twice about it. And then, in a matter of moments at the doctor's office, I slipped right back into weight obsession. The number on the scale was not at all what I was expecting to see. It was a good 5 pounds higher than when I last weighed myself. Now, intelligently, I know that I have to take that number with a grain of salt because there were several factors in play:

1) I was fully clothed
2) I had already eaten a big breakfast and washed it down with an even bigger coffee
3) Ahem, that time of the month...

Despite all this, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. And since then, I have felt like every pair of pants is just a little bit more snug than I remember...

In the midst of all this obsessing, I manage to snap out of it for a minute or two, and have some rational thoughts:

- I'm happy and healthy, without starving myself - so who cares about that number?!
- It's just a number, and it's prone to fluctuating
- I exercise daily and eat a healthy diet, and that hasn't changed even though the number went up

The husband thinks I'm completely crazy! He much prefers my current shape to the 102-pound me of a year ago. And he makes some valid points when I bring up my weight (not the least of which is the fact that I talk about it too much!!).

Anyway, all this rambling to say that the moral of the story is that I think I've finally come to the realization that my lowest weight isn't my healthiest (or happiest) weight.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ready to Race

Another weekend, over already. They go by so fast...

My training schedule had me running 8 miles on Saturday - my last long run before race day! I debated on Friday night whether or not I would get up and get it over with early in the morning on Friday. Ultimately I decided I would take advantage of a little extra rest and run later in the day.

I slept until 7:15 on Saturday morning!! Unheard of in this house. I forgot what it felt like to feel rested. Once I was up for the day, it was the usual swim class, donuts, and grocery shopping routine. The only thin out of the ordinary was breakfast. I wasn't very hungry - something also unheard of in this house.

Normally this would NEVER fill me up!
After the morning routine, I headed out for my run. It was about 50 degrees and sunny. Pretty much ideal conditions for a long run. I felt a couple twinges here and there (hip, knee), but overall I felt great! Totally ready to race.

Only a couple more short runs before the big 13.1! I was supposed to run today, but I'm deferring to tomorrow. It was dark and rainy all day, and I didn't feel well. (The takeout seemed like a good idea last night, but not so much today...)

I'm looking forward to the short workweek! It's off to bed....

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2 + 5 = Crazy

Holy moly. Tonight was one of those times...I wasn't sure I could handle all the talking, whining, screaming and crying that comes along with having both a 2 year old and a 5 year old. If everyone's not talking over each other, then they're both whining and crying about different things at the same time. Some days, it feels like too much. Today was one of those days.

If it wasn't for Pure Barre and running, I probably would have completely lost it by now! Exercise keeps me sane. And thankfully, daddy didn't have to work tonight so I was able to run off some of the crazy.

I also lucked out because it was 46 degrees while I was out there. Much warmer than it's been the past several nights! My run was a little slower than last night though because my belly was full of this:

Quinoa, black beans, salsa, tomato and avocado
After my run, I had to make frosting and frost the cupcakes I baked last night for tomorrow's Thanksgiving luncheon at daycare. Apparently they enjoyed the chocolate birthday cupcakes so much, they decided to ask me to provide dessert! I whipped up these beauties:

I used this recipe, but made a couple modifications (because I always have to put my stamp on things!). I used whole wheat flour because that's all I had on hand. I also added about 2-3T of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to the frosting and instead of using clear vanilla flavor for the frosting I used about 1T of vegan vanilla pudding mix. [By the way, baking also keeps me sane! I love it. Which is another reason I need to keep up with my exercise...]


So, remember that barre instructor job I auditioned for? I nailed the audition and interview and got offered the job!! But I didn't take it. :-( It was a tough decision, but ultimately it was just too far from home and from my 9-5. I couldn't commit to teaching the evening class once during the week because of traffic, kid pickup, etc. And I really didn't need one more thing to stress about. Maybe in the near future I can find an instructor job closer to home and teach part-time.

Time to hit the hay. Another crazy day ahead!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All Single Digits From Here

Well, I would say "happy Monday" but I'm totally crabby today. I was woken up by my 5 year old at 4:30 this morning, which wasn't a great start. Plus, the weather has a major affect on my mood, and it was gray and rainy when I got up. Boo. And it got progressively colder all day. Double boo.

In happier news, I completed my last double-digit run on my training plan this weekend!

One of the only things I managed to photograph this weekend - my delicious cherry/vanilla/banana protein smoothie!
I ended up running later in the day on Saturday due to the cold weather. I wasn't tough enough for 28 degrees at 5 am, but 45 degrees at 3:20 pm was totally doable. Hubby had to leave for work at 6:45 am, and I pretty much walked out the door as soon as he got home to get it over and done with.

My splits were all over the place throughout my run, ranging from 9:45 to 8:44, with first mile being the slowest and last mile being the fastest. It wasn't exactly the time that I hoped for, but I can't complain.

I'm now just a week and a half from race day, and it's all single digit runs between now and then. I don't think I'll beat (or even match) my PR from last year's race of 1:59:08, but I think I can come in somewhere between 2:00:00 and 2:02:00. Pretty sure I hit the peak of my running career last year...

Scenes from last year's Atlanta Half Marathon
Hubby has to work tomorrow night, which means I'm taking 2 days in a row off from running, and running Wednesday and Thursday instead. And truthfully, my calves and my shins are in desperate need of a break! And some ice...

Off to bed - hoping neither kid decides to wake me up from a dead sleep 30 minutes before my alarm again... Grrr.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week in Review + Pancakes-for-Dinner Kind of Night

Yet another week gone in a flash! And yet again, I had every intention of blogging more frequently, but life was happening like crazy. (Though I barely took pictures of any of it...)

Wondering what this mommy has been up to? (I'm going to tell you regardless...) How about a little week in review?

Monday and Tuesday were relatively uneventful. 5 am Pure Barre both mornings, TONS and TONS of work to do all day, a 5-miler on Tuesday night.

Wednesday is where it started to get crazy. Hit up my Pure Barre class in the morning, work,work work, and then hit up the hot bar at Whole Foods for my favorite honey buffalo fried tofu. Sooooo delicious! Around 3:15, I hopped in the car with my co-worker and my luggage for a road trip to Knoxville for business. It's a good thing she's talkative because it was a 3.5-hour drive! Somehow we never ran out of things to say.

We got to the hotel, checked in, and then headed straight to the lobby bar with our bags. These 2 mommies' gotta maximize every minute of an overnight trip! We had a beer while we worked on our presentation for Thursday's meeting. (Per usual, I didn't even finish my beer.) I snuck in a call to daddy and the munchkins, too.

Later that evening, we met up with some friends of hers for a yummy Asian dinner and a couple glasses of wine. Totally planned to blog when I got back from dinner, but it was 11:30 by the time I got back and crawled into bed. So late for me!

I had also planned to run on the treadmill at the hotel Thursday morning, but with the late night, the wine, and the fact that I had a hotel room to myself and didn't need to be anywhere until 9, I ended up sleeping in - until 7. So late for me - in a great way!

We went to our meeting, crushed it, and then packed up and headed back to ATL. I got back to the office just before 3 pm and walked straight into a conference room for an hour-long call. After picking up kiddos, making everyone dinner, and putting baby girl to bed, I finally got that run in. And it was COLD!!

And it got even colder. I had to bundle up to my eyeballs to head to Pure Barre.

I had an appointment this morning, so I didn't get to work until about 9:30. Other than a quick break to heat up my lunch (edamame and leftover homemade black bean burger), I barely moved from my desk today. Next thing I knew, it was time to pick up the kids again. And since it's the end of the week and the kitchen is bare (and daddy had to work), it was a pancakes-for-dinner kind of night. (Vegan pancakes of course to accommodate mommy!) No pictures, but here's the recipe, which made about 8 pancakes:

Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1T sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1T Earth Balance (melted in the micro for 20 sec)
1 "flax egg" (1T ground flax mixed with 3T warm water - let sit for a couple minutes before mixing into the batter)
~1 cup  unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Silk)

We gobbled them up in no time!

Tomorrow is my long run day. My last double-digit run before the half marathon - 10 miles! I have really been enjoying getting up early and getting it over with before the day begins, even last weekend's 12-miler in 34-degree weather. But tomorrow, I have to draw the line. Daddy has to leave for work at 6:45 am and it's supposed to be 28 degrees at 5 am, the time I would need to head out the door. Just. Can't. Do it. Too cold too early. Luckily daddy will be home early enough for me to still get my run in, although I don't love late-day long runs. But certainly better than the alternative. And now that I've made the "official" call that I'm not getting out of bed that early, I feel relieved and happy to be able to stay in my warm bed as long as kiddos will allow!

Speaking of which, it's bedtime for me! Gotta make the most of it!

What's the weather like where you are?

What's your "cutoff temperature" for outdoor activities?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coming Down the Other Side

I had another one of those "I blinked and it was over" kind of weekends. But it was a good one.

Saturday marked the peak of my half-marathon training schedule! I'm relieved to be coming down the other side. Even though the hubby didn't have to work this weekend, I decided that I would still get up at the crack of dawn to get my 12-miler over and done with so I could enjoy the rest of my day. My alarm went off at 4:50 am, and the very first thing I did was check the weather.

Oy. I decided to make some coffee to warm myself up, and I ate one (or two...) of these babies for fuel:

I layered up and covered my ears, and checked the weather one last before heading out at 5:45.

Even colder!
For some reason, my Runkeeper audio cues completely failed. I'm so used to getting updates via my headphones every 5 minutes on my distance, pace and overall time. I pulled my iPhone out of my Spibelt at the half-mile landmark to make sure Runkeeper was tracking me, and it was. I guess it was a blessing in disguise. It actually took some of the pressure off not knowing what my pace was, and it made it even easier for me to get lost in my music and let my mind go elsewhere. At one point, my mind went so far elsewhere that I suddenly looked around in the dark and could NOT figure out where I was! I completely blanked out. A definite first for me.

I checked my phone a couple more times starting at around 9 miles, and when I got home just before 7:40, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had run at a pretty good clip. Nowhere near as fast as I ran my 12-miler this time last year, but I will take it, for sure.

It felt great to get up and get it done, and still have the whole day ahead. I immediately got ready for the Saturday swim class and grocery shopping routine. Have I mentioned how amazing it is to spend 30 minutes in the pool after a long run?!

After the shopping was done and I dropped my big girl off at a friend's house, I headed up north of the city for an audition. Yes, that's right - a barre instructor audition! On Friday, I saw a job posting on LinkedIn for a barre instructor at a brand new (non-franchise) barre studio opening next month. On a whim, I applied. I got a call almost right away, and agreed to meet, interview and audition on Saturday. It's the most excited I've been about anything in a while! I enjoyed meeting the founder/owner of the studio, and enjoyed hearing her story about leaving corporate America to pursue her passion for the barre. So jealous... The studio is a bit of a hike (about 25 minutes north of home), but I think I can make it work if she offers me a spot. We'll see!

I capped off a great Saturday with some late(ish) Asian takeout and wine with the hubby. It's always nice to have a chance to talk without kiddo interruptions!

One-on-one time with mommy while big sister was at her sleepover.
Sunday went by even fast than Saturday. I started with a 9:15 Pure Barre class, lazed around on the couch for much of the afternoon, and hobbled out on my sore calves for a short recovery run. Oh, and in the late morning, I got pulled over and issued a ticket for a traffic violation that totally DID NOT commit! It was seriously one of those alternate universe moments, like "is this really happening?!" I can now imagine how people who are falsely accused of more serious crimes feel. When it's your word against a large uniformed officer, you don't stand a chance, even when you've done nothing wrong. Ugh - I can't even talk about it anymore.

I'm going to need a good night's sleep and several deep breaths before I can face Monday in the office. I'm sure everyone feels the same way.

What was the highlight of your weekend?