Monthly Archives: September 2011

Recent Good Eats- Part III

It’s been a long time since I have posted some recent good eats! That’s because we’ve been really busy lately, so we’ve been sticking to easy and quick meals that we love and that I have already posted before. But I have been putting pictures of yummy food into a folder on my desktop as I collect them and I think I finally have enough for a post!

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna with Roasted Asparagus. This recipe from the Peas and Thank You blog uses zucchini strips as ‘noodles’ and quinoa/marinara mixture in between. It was delicious!

Cashew Pineapple Stir Fry over Brown Rice. Another great recipe from Peas and Thank You. This one is from her book and the sauce is to die for!

Vegetable Panini with Lemon-Basil Peso and Sweet Potato Fries. Made with our new Griddler! This recipe was from The Vegan Table. The pesto was really delicious and the Griddler pressed it to panini perfection!

Roasted Chickpea Tacos with Collards and Guacamole. We’ve made this before but it needs to be posted again. The chickpeas are SO GOOD and they are another recipe from the Peas and Thank You blog. Also, Kevin has become a master guacamole maker!

Quesadillas. We also use the Griddler to make quesadillas. I think this one had leftover roasted chickpeas from the tacos, spinach, and hummus.

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. These delicious little cakes are baked then dipped in the sauce. Both recipes are from Vegetarian Times.

Three Bean Chili and Cornbread. This chili was another Vegan Table cookbook recipe. I put it in the crock pot last week before school and it was the BEST thing to come home to after a rainy day. The cornbread is from the Peas and Thank You book (of course!)

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta. OMG- this pesto is amazing. It’s a recipe from the Oh She Glows blog. This is the second time we have made it and this time we added some collard greens in to bulk it up a little more (Kevin made this tonight!)

Now for the fun stuff!

Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream! I found a place on the Jersey shore that sells banana soft serve!!!!! They put frozen bananas in a machine and they squeeze out like this, then you can choose toppings. I picked peanut butter sauce. It was one of the best days of my life (haha!)

Cinnamon Sugar Love Pretzels. I made these for Kevin one night with an Auntie Anne’s pretzel kit. They are his favorite and he loved it 🙂

Fried Pickles. Need I say more?

Veggie Pesto Pizza. This was my pre-marathon meal from Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory. It was so flavorful and delicious, even without cheese. I am noticing that I really love pesto lately…

Massive Homemade Chickpea Burger w/ Guacamole. This was post-marathon at Lucky’s Taproom (also where we had the fried pickles).  It was the size of my head and so good- I ate every single bite 🙂

Football Stadium Pretzel and Beer. The best lunch.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Made by Kevin. He made these tonight and used the Peas and Thank You book for the recipe- they were nice and soft and so good!

Mmmm this post made me hungry! 🙂 I’ll post more good eats as soon as I accumulate enough of them. Enjoy!

My Newest Adventure: An Ultra-Marathon

Yesterday I did something I never thought I would do! I signed up for an ULTRA-MARATHON!

Back in July I mentioned that I wanted to run an ultra, but I had my eye on another race- the Umstead 100 (I would have done the 50 mile option). I thought about it A LOT and decided that it wasn’t the right race for me. For one, it is on a Saturday in North Carolina. This means I would have to drive at least 4 hours there on Friday after work because I can’t take any more days off from school this year (I’m using all my leave for our honeymoon). Then I would have to wake up super early to run on Saturday. I didn’t really like that idea. Plus, it would be expensive- $150 registration fee + hotel costs for two nights. We have traveled to a lot of races over the past 2 years and it’s really added up. Finally, it is a 50 mile race. I wasn’t sure if it was smart to make the jump from 26.2 all the way to 50, or if I could even do it!

All of that led to my decision to not register for the Umstead 100. Now I am so glad that I didn’t because I found another ultra-marathon that is a much better fit for me! The HAT 50K Run.

The HAT 50K Run takes place in Havre de Grace, Maryland on March 24, 2012. It is a very popular race that I learned about through Matt from No Meat Athlete. They only allow 500 runners to register to run this challenging 50K (31 mile) course. Here’s a description of what I will be faced with:

One of the things I liked when I found this race is that it is a looped course, which means I will be able to see Kevin 3 times and he can give me anything I may need (food, water, new shoes, socks, etc.).

Now, I didn’t take registering for this race lightly. It took a lot of thought before I finally decided I was ready to take on this challenge. Here were the pros and cons I came up with:

Pros:

  • It would be a new state for me, which means it would count towards my 50 Marathons in 50 States goal (anything 26.2 miles and over counts!)
  • It is relatively cheap to register- only $70. Very inexpensive compared to most ultras!
  • This race is on a Saturday, but it’s only a 2 hour drive from my house so it wouldn’t require as much travel time as North Carolina would have. I also wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel before the race because it starts at 9 am, and we are able to pick up our packet that morning. Another way to save money!
  • Training would not start until late December, giving me a nice long break!
  • My training would focus on distance, not time or speed. This is a huge deal for me. I’m so burnt out on running for a time goal because for the last 3 years I have been focused on running a 4 hour marathon. Now that I have finally done that I’m looking forward to training for a race where I don’t care how long it takes me to finish. Accomplishing the new distance will be my goal!
  • It’s a new and exciting challenge! I’m so ready for a change after 7 marathons.
  • I am planning on taking a longer break from training for big races next summer to begin the next phase in my life 🙂 I think that this will be a wonderful and satisfying accomplishment before that next step begins.
  • Kevin can ‘crew me’ like I mentioned above. His support is so important to me and it will be nice to know he’s there.
  • A 50K is a slightly less scary ultra distance than a 50 miler!

Cons:

  • It’s 31 miles. Can I really do that?
  • The course profile is really scary. Check out these inclines! I’m also nervous about running on trails because that’s new to me.

As you can see, the pros definitely outweighed the cons! I registered for it last night when registration opened at 9 p.m. It sold out in less than 15 hours!

I am so excited for this new challenge! I have no idea how to train for an ultra-marathon and I know I have a lot of research to do. I do know that my training will involve an emphasis on “time on my feet” rather than mileage goals, and also incorporating trail running so I get used to that kind of terrain.

So, can I do it? I guess we will all have to wait and see!

Rest and Recovery

Life has been so busy lately! The marathon we ran last week could not have come at a better time, because I barely have time to do anything besides work these days. Although I love training and racing, it takes up a lot of my time and energy. I have really been enjoying this recovery period that is all about resting and taking it easy. Now that the race is over I feel more able and motivated to focus on work, grad school, and wedding planning!

So, how have I been recovering from the marathon that exceeded all my expectations and left me totally and completely tapped out?

As far as what I did immediately following the race to begin the recovery process, I ate right away (what I could stomach), drank water, stretched, and had a Nuun electrolyte drink when I got back to the hotel. I showered and put on my recovery socks, then ate a real meal. I drank lots and lots of water the rest of the day, and we walked around some too, which I swear helps with the recovery of your legs and getting the lactic acid out.

Now for the rest of my recovery period- I forget where I first heard this rule, but I always try to follow the “1 mile = 1 day” rule of recovery. This means that you should spend 26(.2) days recovering after a marathon, or one day for each mile that you ran.  I didn’t do this last time because I didn’t have much time between the Country Music Marathon and the beginning of my training for this past marathon (less than a month), and I wanted to keep my mileage base on the higher end. This ended up being really hard on my body and I think I hit the burn-out point during Air Force Marathon training earlier than usual, because I never really gave my body a chance to recover. I am taking a much longer break from training this time around, so I won’t let that happen again!

Here’s what I’ve been doing to recover over the past week or so:

Lots of water. Do I need to explain this one?

Delicious, nutritious, homemade food. After eating out too much last week we’ve been craving healthy food, plus it’s good for recovering bodies! Example: Three Bean Chili made in the slow cooker with cornbread. All vegan, homemade, and delicious!

Easy, short runs. 2-3 miles at a very easy pace, every other day or so.

Blister care. I’ve been nursing my horrible blister and it’s healing well. I didn’t run at all until Wednesday after the race because it was too painful and it would have affected my gait. It’s fine now (however it has turned from pink to black) and I can’t feel it anymore!

Wine. I really needed this after a stressful week! Wine is part of any good recovery plan!

Sleep. Still not enough though!

Music. Music is good for healing, right? Kevin and I attended the WMZQ Fall Fest on Saturday night and saw Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley. Beer is also good for recovery! 🙂

Walking. It feels really good on my legs! On Sunday my friend and I walked many, many miles around D.C. and enjoyed the sights.

Stretching (kind of). Guys, I am the world’s worst stretcher. I KNOW it’s so good for me but I just don’t like to do it! I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m really inflexible, but that’s probably because I don’t stretch. Haha! It’s a vicious cycle. But I AM trying 🙂 I need to break out the foam roller as well!

Recovery is going really well so far. I had the typical amount of soreness and took a couple Advil on Monday before school to lessen it a bit. It all went away within two days, which is great! Since the Wednesday after the race I’ve been doing little 2 or 3 milers at a very easy pace, and they have been SO enjoyable. I don’t know if it’s because there’s no pressure of following a ‘training plan’ or if it’s because I’m choosing to run instead of feeling like I have to, but I have been LOVING it. I smile the whole time and just generally enjoy it so much! Don’t get me wrong- I always love running- but there’s just something special about running for the fun of it rather than for training. It’s just different. Don’t you agree?

One strange thing that happened for the first time after the marathon was an insane amount of swelling and water retention. For a few days I looked really puffy in my face, legs, and feet. When I got back to Virginia I weighed myself and I was 6 pounds heavier than when I left! I don’t ever fluctuate that much so I knew it must have been water weight. After doing some research I found out that after something intense like a marathon, your muscles hold onto a lot of water to help them recover. It could also be from getting dehydrated during the race. It went away completely after about 2 days and I was back to my normal weight. The same exact thing happened to Kevin. WEIRD!

I plan to continue the easy running for at least 26 days then slowly get back to running a longer run on the weekends (6-8 miles). I want to get back into strength training, and I went to Body Pump for the first time in two weeks last Saturday. It was tough and left me very sore in my upper body (I skipped the squats and lunges to let my legs rest). I’m anxious to get back to that regularly and also other classes like spinning.

I will be posting again tomorrow with an exciting announcement!

Marathon #7 – The Air Force Marathon

We came. We ran. We conquered 26.2 miles side-by-side and finished together!

It was amazing, fun, and it ended dramatically, but I was able to meet almost every single one of my goals and I could not be happier or more proud!

Let’s back up a little…

We left for Dayton very early on Friday morning. It took about 8 hours to get there from Northern Virginia and we went straight to the expo once we arrived.

We weren’t sure what to expect from it, since the Air Force Marathon is the second smallest marathon I have done (NJ was a little smaller), but we were pleasantly surprised. We were impressed with how many vendors they had and they did a good job of pumping up the runners and getting them excited.

We checked into our hotel after leaving the expo. We stayed at the Hope Hotel, which was practically on base so it was very convenient. There were tons of runners staying there as well which was exciting. I love being around other runners who share the same passion as me! Plus, our room was great for the price we paid and how close it was to everything. We relaxed for a little bit and checked out the swag that was inside our bags.

Once again, very impressed with how much they gave us! We got a nice technical shirt (in ladies fit for me… bonus points!), a hat, wristband, a patch, samples (larabars and tortilla chips- two of my favorite things), and other fun freebies.

We went to dinner around 4:30. We had done some research ahead of time to find a good pizza place in the area, since we had eaten pizza as our pre-long run food throughout this entire training period. We decided to go with The Original Pizza Factory because of its good reviews, and it did not disappoint!

We got our pizzas to go and brought them back to the room. We each got our own large pizzas so that we could eat half that night and save half for after the race when we would be needing food ASAP. We both got the Pesto Pizzazz, which had a pesto base with a bunch of veggies. Kevin decided to go without meat since he had not eaten it before any long run [we always eat vegetarian at home] and he was afraid it might mess with his stomach. He said his pizza was delicious!

I got my pizza without any cheese and I added spinach. Since my stomach is so sensitive to cheese I usually use a cheese substitute (like Daiya) when we make pizza at home. Since they didn’t have that I just went without. I actually didn’t miss it. The pesto gave it so much flavor that it tasted great on its own!

After eating we showered, then decided to go onto base to pick up some things at the BX store because it was still really early… like 6 pm! We got some water bottles for the race and some other supplies. We always carry our own water bottles for the first half of the race to avoid congestion at water stations. Walking around a bit was actually good for our digestion, which is always one of my big worries before a race. I hate going right to bed after eating a big dinner because I feel like my food doesn’t digest as well and I’m not as prepared to run the next morning… if you know what I mean :).

Once we got back to the hotel we were super tired and went to bed at 9 p.m. with a 4:30 a.m. alarm set. We actually both slept very well and woke up excited and ready to run!

I quickly went through race morning routines- thyroid pill, coffee, bathroom, hair up, put on clothes, body glide, sunscreen, and race bib, bathroom again, eat banana, pack Spi-belt with gels/chews and chapstick, bathroom again (I told you this is my biggest worry!)

4 packs worth of energy chews... and I ate them all during the race!

We were going to bring along my old little camera to take pictures during the race but decided not to at the last minute. So I don’t have any pictures from the race except the professional ones, which is a bummer, but we both didn’t want to be bothered with worrying about taking pictures and carrying extra weight. Oh well!

We took a quick picture and then I put on my old long sleeved shirt that I planned to throw away once the race started. After we checked to make sure we had everything two and three times we went downstairs at 5:40 to catch the free shuttle from our hotel to the race start. There was a pretty decent line already and when the 5:45 bus showed up it filled up quickly. We waited in the hotel for the second bus, which was fine with us because it was cold outside (in the 40s)! I would much rather be inside a warm hotel than freezing for an hour and a half waiting for the race to start at 7:30. So we waited in the lobby and made some new friends. While we waited I ate my second part of breakfast- a Honey Stinger Peanut Butter & Honey energy bar.

The second bus came around 6:15 a.m. and dropped us off at the start at 6:30. We had an hour to spare before the start so we used the bathroom (again) and checked out the pre-race festivities. The start was right next to the U.S. Air Force Museum and a lot of old military planes, which was awesome. But it was cold!!!! We found the closest generator that was powering big spotlights and huddled around it with a group of people. We were able to make more friends and stay warm at the same time. Some of our new friends were running their first marathon that morning, and many of them were in the military. It was great to hear about their journey into running and their training.

We left the warmth at 7:15 to use the bathroom one more time (props to the USAF marathon organizers for the huge amount of CLEAN porta-potties!) and then we lined up at the start right beside the 4:00 pacer. We were planning to keep her in our sight the whole time to keep us on pace to meet my gold goal (4 hours). Up until this point, I felt great and not very worried about the race. I was just excited and happy to be there. But I started to get scared with about 5 minutes left to go before the start. It hit me that I was about to run another marathon, and even though I felt ready I was just worried about what happened in Nashville so unexpectedly. Kevin gave me a big hug and told me he would be with me the whole time, then the national anthem was sung by a woman in the Air Force. Right after the anthem there was a special fly-over by the B1 Lancer- an Air Force plane that was supposed to debut in the 2001 race that was canceled because it was only a few days after September 11th happened. This was the first time that the B1 Lancer made its debut, 10 years later. It was an awesome moment!

Before I knew it the gun went off and we were running over the starting mat. The first two miles were very congested and slightly uphill, but we were pumped full of adrenaline so it didn’t affect us too much.

The first hill looked worse than it actually was!

We were trying to keep a pace between 9:00 – 9:09, but it’s so hard to do that in the beginning when you’re feeling great and running fast seems easy! However, I know that going out too fast has been my biggest mistake in so many races, so we tried to hold back and slow down. We still ended up running many miles slightly under 9 minutes, but just tried to keep our effort level consistent and focus on not expending too much unnecessary energy. The 4:00 pacer was only a little bit behind us so we knew we were okay. The first five miles flew by!

  • Mile 1 – 9:18
  • Mile 2 – 8:55
  • Mile 3 – 8:43
  • Mile 4 – 9:00
  • Mile 5 – 9:00

The first part of the race was all on base and had a lot of nice little rolling hills. I like when there is a slight change of terrain because it’s less boring than a totally pancake-flat course, and I think the change is good for my legs too. The miles seemed to be passing so fast and before I knew it we were at mile 9 and heading into downtown Fairborn, which is a residential section that was PACKED with spectators. The energy here made Kevin and I feel even better and in a blink of an eye, we passed the 10 mile mark.

  • Mile 6 – 9:03
  • Mile 7 – 8:55
  • Mile 8 – 9:01
  • Mile 9 – 8:54
  • Mile 10 – 8:58

Just knowing we were already in the double digits made me feel super excited and motivated. It was also motivating to run by so many troops in uniform and volunteers. At one point, a group of runners started doing Jodies, which are military chants that are used to motivate troops when they are running. Kevin loved that. He even started getting a little bit emotional. He told me he was just so happy to be running with me and running for the Air Force. It was a great moment. Then all of a sudden we passed the halfway point just after 1 hour and 57 minutes. We were still right on track to run it in less than 4 hours and feeling great. We started taking Gatorade cups once we passed halfway at every other aid station and it seemed to help us maintain our steady effort.

  • Mile 11 – 8:53
  • Mile 12 – 8:56
  • Mile 13 – 8:59
  • Mile 14 – 8:57
  • Mile 15 – 9:05

Around mile 16 we ran onto the flight line on base, which was a long runway in the bright, bright sun. It had warmed up by this point but it wasn’t too hot. Kevin and I were talking about how we couldn’t believe how good we still felt at this point. We reminisced about how a year ago today Kevin was running his first half marathon, and today he was running his second full marathon. It’s amazing to think about how far he has come since then. Around mile 18 we were finally back out of the sun and into the shade of the woods. This was when we finally threw the water bottles we had been carrying. I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe we were almost at the 20 mile mark. This race was going so much more quickly than my past marathons! We passed mile 20 at 3 hours almost exactly. The 4:00 pacer was still behind us and I knew we would be able to make our goal if we just maintained the pace we were going.

  • Mile 16 – 8:54
  • Mile 17 – 8:58
  • Mile 18 – 9:01
  • Mile 19 – 9:04
  • Mile 20 – 9:01

We knew from the elevation chart and from talking to other runners that there was a hill around mile 22, so we wanted to be sure we had energy left in the tank for it. The hill didn’t seem big compared to the first hill in mile 1, but it felt much, much harder. We had been keeping a very consistent effort until this point and running up the huge overpass nearly killed me, but I held strong on it. After this point our pace started to slow down.

  • Mile 21 – 9:08
  • Mile 22 – 9:14
  • Mile 23 – 9:20
  • Mile 24 – 9:39

I really started to feel the effects of running 24 miles non-stop at this point, but it was nothing I hadn’t felt before in previous marathons. It was hard to keep going at the pace I was but I just kept reminding myself that it would all be over soon. I was on track to running my 4 hour marathon and the pacer was still behind us. I was on cloud nine.

  • Mile 25 – 9:18
  • Mile 26 – 9:45

Mile 26 was pretty rough, and I heard my Garmin beep for that mile at the same moment that I passed the mile marker. I was so surprised that my watch was so accurate this late in the race. Usually it doesn’t line up with the mile markers that well since they have to measure the course by the shortest path that could be taken, and most people aren’t able to run it that accurately due to turns and the volume of people.  For the first time in the entire race, I started feeling really exhausted and nauseous, but at that point my overall time was 3:55:57. I knew that I could run .2 miles in 4 minutes to make my goal, even feeling as bad as I was.

I turned the corner after mile 26 and entered into a large U-shaped finish area. I thought there was no possible way that there could only be .2 miles left. It looked like so much farther than that. I felt like I was running so slow, and I just hoped that I could make it to the finish in under 4 minutes. Toward the end of the first side of the big U I started feeling extremely sick. I couldn’t believe how quickly I went from feeling great to feeling horrible, right at the end of the race with so little time left. I really thought I was going to vomit, so I stopped for a split second before Kevin yelled at me (nicely) and told me that we needed to move it to make it in under 4 hours. I tried so hard to move my body fast but it wouldn’t listen. Mentally I was totally in it, but physically my body would not respond like I needed it to. I shuffled down the second side of the U and finally turned onto the straight-away that would lead me to the finish line.

My head filled with dizziness and I started seeing stars. My legs were tingling as I shuffled along. I felt the energy chews I ate gurgling around in my stomach wanting to come back up. I watched the clock in front of get closer to the 4 hour mark, but I knew I started about a minute after the gun so I still had some time. At this point my Garmin said I was at 26.3 miles which frustrated me a little, since the course was so accurate up until that point. I was also frustrated that my body was failing me with so little left to go.

      

I saw the big clock at the finish line pass 4 hours and at that point I stopped paying attention to it and stopped looking at my Garmin. I just listened to Kevin who was trying his best to motivate me and pull me along with him. I felt so sick and I just couldn’t wait to finish.

Finally, FINALLY – I crossed the finish line hand in hand with Kevin. I had no idea what our time was but I heard him say, “we did it baby, we finished!” He hugged me tight and then I told him I felt sick.

           

I slowly made my way to the ground, squatting with my head in my hands. Everything was spinning and I felt like I was overheating.

Telling myself not to throw up...

I sat on the ground, literally right past the finish line and some race volunteers came around me to see if I was okay. Kevin helped me over to the medical tent but first I stopped to get my medal from an Air Force Colonel (obviously I had my priorities straight). When I got to the medical area I immediately laid down on a bed. They took my temperature and my heart rate and gave me fluids. She asked me how many marathons I have run before and if I had been hydrating and eating. I told her I had been the entire time and that it was my 7th marathon. I said I felt good until the last little bit, and that I had never felt this bad before. She said it was probably because I pushed so hard at the end and my body was on overload and completely tapped out.

They put a mylar blanket on me but I didn’t want it because I was so hot. I laid there for a while and told them I didn’t want an IV when they tried to give me one. I started feeling a little bit better after resting, so I asked Kevin to go to the results test to see what our final time was. He came back with a little slip of paper in his hands and showed it to me:

4:00:04.

I immediately started laughing and said, “Are you kidding me?” I knew it was going to be close but when I fell apart at the end I had a feeling it would be around 4:01. I didn’t think it would be only 4 seconds above my gold goal. Even though it wasn’t technically under 4 hours, I felt nothing but pride and happiness that I was able to do it in that time. I knew that I honestly did the absolute best I could do and I left it all out there on the course. I also knew that the course was slightly long (my final distance said 26.41 miles), so I knew in my heart that I made my goal and that was all that mattered to me. Plus, I beat my previous PR by over 7 minutes, and Kevin beat his by over 10 minutes!

As I was laying there smiling about my goal and showing my results paper to the doctors, I felt a horrible cramp in my left hip flexor joint all of a sudden. The cramp went all the way down my leg and made my shin, calf and foot shake and spasm. It was so painful and I started crying a little bit. A physical therapist came over to help me stretch it out and I ate a banana for some potassium. That was the first time I had ever felt something like that and it was scary.

Once I felt better I walked around the medical tent for a few minutes then we were allowed to leave. We went through the food tent and got some snacks, then got our official finisher picture taken.

We slowly made our way back to our shuttle bus and waited to be taken back to the hotel. Once we got back we took some pictures and celebrated our accomplishment!

Then we took a shower, relaxed, and called family to share the news. I checked out my feet which were extremely beat up. They were actually the only part of me that hurt at that point, and I was left with three black toenails and a few blisters. The worst blister was on my pinky toe. It was so painful and looked like my toe might actually fall off. We ended up going to the BX again to pick up some Neosporin and Bandaids to take care of it.

While we were on base we took a few pictures of some of the things we saw while we were running. It made me kind of wish that I had run with a camera!

We eventually decided it was time to go eat, so we headed to Lucky’s Taproom and Eatery. We had found this place in advance on http://www.happycow.com, and were impressed by the many vegetarian/vegan options they had on their menu. We started with some fried pickles (SO GOOD!)

And for my entree I ordered a homemade chickpea veggie burger with guacamole. It definitely did not disappoint! It was huge and delicious.

After eating our faces off we went to the marathon after party at an area called The Greene. They had live music, vendors, and discounts to stores if you wore your medal.

It was a beautiful night to be outside with fellow runners!

My feet were starting to hurt and I was feeling the effects of being on them all day, so we decided to go back to the hotel after a couple of hours.

But first, Kevin NEEDED some froyo in his life, so we went to Yogurt Mountain which was one of those serve yourself places. He was truly in frozen yogurt and topping heaven.

Unfortunately, I had a pretty bad stomachache and I knew that dairy would only make it worse, so I decided to skip dessert. But Kevin really enjoyed his!

We went to bed early that night and woke up bright and early the day morning to head out of Dayton and go to Pittsburgh for a spontaneous Steelers game. Kevin has been a Steelers fan his whole life so this was really special for him. It was my first game and I really enjoyed it too (except for walking up and down the stairs!)

We made it back to Northern Virginia at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night. We were exhausted but we could not stop talking about how great the entire weekend was. It was truly the best weekend we have shared together so far.

I can’t say enough about the organization of this race, the volunteers, and the people who were working in the medical tent. Everything ran so smoothly and it was a great event to be a part of. I would recommend this race to anyone. It’s always going to be a special race to me because I was finally able to finish with Kevin, I pushed myself harder than ever before, and I finally made my 4 hour goal, which was something I have wanted to do since my very first marathon.

This race will be hard to beat!

We Did It!

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We did it! We ran our hearts out and finished the Air Force Marathon in 4:00:04. I am so proud, and for the first time I can honestly say that I have no regrets about this race. I pushed so hard at the end that I ended up in the medical tent- but more about that later (I am fine now!) I have so much to say about everything, so a full recap will come once I am back home in Virginia.

Fears and What-Ifs

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Tomorrow I will run my 7th marathon, and even though I have done the distance six times before it never stops being scary to me. Despite my best attempts to stay positive after writing last week’s goals post, I have gotten more and more nervous as the big day approaches. My mind is currently filled with fear, worry, and so many what-ifs.

I’m writing this in the car on the way to Dayton. We left this morning at 5 a.m. and will arrive around 1. I keep getting a sick feeling in my stomach that I think is just nerves and anxiety. For some reason I think this is the most scared I have been for a marathon, probably because of how badly the last one went. I worked so hard over the last 16 weeks and I just want to have a good race to show for it.

Here are some of my “what-ifs” that have been running through my mind lately. I just want to empty my mind of them all so that I have room for the POSITIVE thoughts!

  • What if I can’t keep pace to meet any of my goals (gold, silver, or bronze)? Can I keep myself from going out too fast like I usually do? What if I can’t get into my “groove”?
  • What if I have stomach issues again and have to stop?
  • What if I can’t fight the urge to walk? Once I take one walking break it usually leads to many, many more.
  • What if I start overheating and having problems controlling my breathing and heart rate like in Nashville? (Not likely, since its going to be 40 degrees at the start!)
  • What if Kevin feels better than me and wants to run ahead, or vice versa? What if his knee starts to hurt again? Neither of us wants to hold each other back but we want to stay together too.
  • What if the weather doesn’t cooperate? It’s going to be way colder than I’m used to right now (better than too hot, though!)
  • What if the elevation chart lied and the course is harder than it seems? (Hello Nashville!)
  • What if something goes wrong with my nutrition plan? We picked a safe place for dinner and I know the plan for my energy chew, but I never know what could upset my sensitive stomach.
  • What if I just can’t get into it mentally and I give up?
  • What if I get injured or my blister comes back?

So many what-ifs in my brain! I’m just trying my best to push them all away and stop worrying about what I can’t control. I know I need to focus on what I CAN control, which is how I react to anything that may happen over the course of 26.2 miles. I keep thinking of this quote: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just the way we play the hand” (Randy Paush), and my mantra word: CONTROL. And it has been  helping to calm me down.

I’ve done the training. I’ve put in the time and the miles. I have prepared as best as I can mentally and physically. Now it’s time to go out there and give it all I have. Kevin reminded me today that marathon day is supposed to be a celebration of all our hard work. That’s actually something I told him before his first marathon. It seems like I have forgotten my own advice. There is no reason why I should be so scared and worrying myself sick- this is something I signed up for because I LOVE running! It’s supposed to be FUN! Marathons are definitely challenging and by far the most difficult thing I have ever done, but that is the beauty of them. I love running, I love training, and I love the difficulty and the feeling of pride I have after finishing a tough race.

So I am going to celebrate my training tomorrow morning! I’m going to run my little heart out and give it all that I have. I’m going to smile and have fun while staying focused at the same time. I am going to choose happiness and joy rather than stress and worry 🙂

A Crazy Week

Oops. I am a day late with my weekly run down post. This has been quite the week! I am a teacher and it was our first week back to school with the kids, which was exhausting. In addition to teaching the kids, I am working on getting my school’s new book room set up and organized, AND I am teaching a professional development class for teachers after school on Wednesdays. To top it all off we had horrible weather all week- tons and tons of rain! All the rain led to some pretty horrible flooding in my area on Thursday night. I left my house to go to Body Pump around 5:45, and while I was there the rain really picked up. The group exercise room is covered in huge windows so I was able to see that the rain was coming down hard and didn’t let up the entire time I was there.

When I left the gym at 7:00 it was so bad it was difficult to drive and the water was collecting on the roads. I only live two miles from the gym and I only drove a mile before I was stopped by a police officer who told me the road to my house was closed. I live on a major road (Route 1) and the only way to get into my neighborhood is by taking that road. He said that the water was so deep on the stretch of the road that goes right past my house that they had to close it down.  I live at the bottom of a pretty large hill, and apparently people had tried to drive through the deep water and had gotten stuck. The next thing I knew there were firetrucks and police cars with rescue boats on top of them. The water was rising so quickly and everywhere I drove cars were getting stuck and boats had to go rescue the people that were inside. It was seriously INSANE to see boats floating down the street that I usually drive on.

Here is a video that someone took right by my street earlier that night. You can see it’s starting to get bad!

So I tried to re-route myself and get home another way but the water was so high it was hard to move and cars kept getting stuck. I finally got back to my street coming from the opposite direction, and I was able to sneak by and get into my neighborhood even though most of the street was still closed.  I was so relieved to be back home safe, but we listened to the police scanner all night and it was pretty scary stuff. Some people drowned, neighborhoods were evacuated, businesses were destroyed, and many people in the trailer park next to our apartment complex had to be rescued from their roofs because the water had gotten so high.

The trailer park is behind those trees and down a hill

I woke up the next morning to news that schools were closed  because there was too much standing water and it would have been too difficult to get to and from school. The buildings also needed to be checked for water damage and safety. I also woke up to news that we would have to boil our water until Monday, because the area I live in was hit pretty hard and there was risk of contaminants in the water.

This is a road!

[Source]

By Friday afternoon we had sunny skies once again, but many people in my town were left without homes and lost many of their belongings. We went for a run on Saturday morning and ran right through a lot of what the flood left behind. It was really sad and it’s going to take some time to clean up from the damage.

Despite a rough start, the rest of the weekend was great. We watched football, went to a Toby Keith concert, working on a few wedding projects (less than 2 months to go!) and celebrated some birthdays! Today is Kevin and his mom’s birthday! He was a great birthday present for his mom 24 years ago 🙂

Weekly Run Down:

  • Monday: Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run (39:14 / 9:48 pace)
  • Wednesday: 5 mile tempo run; warm up, 3 miles @ 7:47, cool down
  • Thursday: 4 mile run (38:23 / 9:35 pace) + Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 7.5 mile run (1:11:10 / 9:29 pace)
  • Sunday: Rest
This is going to be another crazy busy week. On top of my regular school and home responsibilities my grad classes start up again. I can’t wait for Friday morning when we depart for Dayton for the marathon! I just hope this week is a little less dramatic than last week!