Monday, April 29, 2013

I Ran DC: NWHM Recap

Saturday night I couldn't sleep.  While I didn't have the weirdo anxiety dreams that I normally do, I kept waking up and checking the clock.  When the alarm finally went off at 4:45 I drank a cup of coffee and checked and rechecked (and let's be real, rechecked again...and again) to make sure I had everything I needed.  By 5:20 I was out the door looking super fly in an old American Eagle long sleeve tee that had somehow managed to miss the donation box, ready to head to the metro.  (Side note: The After Midnight Show was on the radio....curse those 7am start times).

One of the things I appreciated the most about this race was the fact that you could easily access the start from three different metro stops each on a different line.  I get nervous enough about race day without having the added stress of public transportation.  The metro was full of women with the green Nike bags ready to run.  I had a slight moment of panic when I noticed a D tag on a girl's shoe, but after a quick scan of the metro realized that no one else had one and she probably had it from an earlier race.

Once I got to the race site I was relieved to find two long rows of porta potties.  If you've read past posts, you know of my weak bladder and temperamental stomach, so it was nice to know I was covered.  Soon after I arrived my nice friend's sister and I found each other and headed to the corrals.  We had to wait for a while (the corral was ridiculously packed and we had to wait until all the other corrals had passed before we could start) so I waited for my Garmin to find a satellite and shed my AE warm up (I hope you found a good home, old friend.  You had slightly raunchy innuendo, but you must have been important to last so many years in the back of the closet).

My Garmin finally connected when we crossed the start line and we set off to see the sights of DC.  It was a really fun, flat course.  The start was a little slow and we had to weave a lot, but once we got going it was hard not to appreciate everything that was put into the design of this race.  Nike didn't disappoint and had lined up different entertainers throughout the course.  It's really hard to pick a favorite because they were all amazing, but I think the drummers in the tunnel pumped me up the most.  I felt the need to dance along to the beat as they echoed throughout.  My nice friend's sister was running her very first half and said that she wanted to try to run a consistent pace throughout, so we made it our goal to just keep running.  I've gotta say that we ended up being right on (the slower miles were the ones where we walked through the water stations) and I'm proud to say that we ran the entire time minus the time we were drinking water.  I don't know how people run through the water stops.  I would totally miss my mouth.  There was one point in the race where we had no choice but to walk because the merge onto an on ramp was really congested, and while the race never really opened up too much, we didn't have much trouble finding places to run after that.  At mile 4 they gave out my beloved Clif Shot Bloks and I really appreciated that they were cut open ready to eat.  I took both shots they gave me at mile 4 and then one more of my own stash at every water stop after that.  I definitely learned my lesson after some of my previous races!  They were passing out mini Luna bars around mile 8, but I just didn't think I could stomach it and didn't want to have to carry it the rest of the way so I passed it by.

Check out that 10:05 at mile 12! 

My legs were feeling pretty good the whole race and by the end when my running buddy said she thought she could push a little more we picked it up and started picking out people to pass until we got to our final sprint at the end.  I was so proud of her for finishing her first half and having such a strong final push!  We ended up finishing the race in 2 hours and 34 min, way under her initial 3 hour goal time.

As promised, a hunk in a tux gave us our blue Tiffany's box and even agreed to take pictures with us.  I hope they paid that poor guy a lot, because no one needed to get that close to my sweaty self!  After our photo ops, we headed to grab Luna bars and our finisher's shirts and hung out for a few minutes before heading back to the metro.  The finish line was a little too crowded so I'm sure I missed out on some of the things it had to offer, but the lines just didn't seem worth it.

Thank you for not running away.

The metro didn't have any seats available at first and I joked with another girl who had run the race (the Tiffany's bag and sweaty shirt gave her away) that I didn't want to lift my arm up to hold on to the rail because I was scared people might pass out.  I ended up talking with her and another girl the rest of the ride home.  I think Mike Cassidy said it best in his article about Boston:

"Runners share an unspoken bond, a spiritual affinity that runs deeper than age or race, nationality or religion. Show me a runner, and I’ll show you a friend. Running identifies."

Although it was definitely not my fastest half, I had a really great time.  It was fun having someone to run with and it was an absolute gorgeous day.  I loved running by the different monuments and looking around seeing all the happy runners.  The weeks leading up to the race I was upset because I thought I wasn't going to be able to run very much of it (my training runs were pretty much nonexistent after I got sick), and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I can do a lot more than I believed.  It was a definite confidence boost and gave me the push I need to start gearing up for Zooma in June (once I can get off this couch that is..).

Congratulations to everyone who rocked the Nike Women's Half Marathon DC!  I hope everyone had a blast!  The race raised over $6 million for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and it doesn't look like Nike is giving up on their support of LLS anytime soon!

Have a happy week!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nike Women's Half Expo

My posting has been sadly inconsistent lately, but I felt that nobody really wanted to read about nondescript workouts.  I have gotten in some decent cross training this week though and plan to revamp my running after this week so that I can really rock Zooma in June.

Last night, my nice friend's sister and I headed down to the Nike Women's Half Expo to pick up our packets. I loved that they had the expo open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday so that there was plenty of time to go.  I usually get a little stressed about packet pick up logistics, so it was nice to have some options!

I loved all the strong women messages throughout the expo!

Picking up our race numbers was really easy.  Nike emailed a confirmation barcode out earlier in the week, so they were able to quickly scan it and give you your number.  They gave us a lot of stuff and we're not really sure what we're supposed to wear and what we can wear if we just feel like it, but figure we'll go ahead and wear it all just in case.

Shampoo, Bare Minerals, and Snack Samples--my kind of race pack!

After grabbing our race bags we went down to the Expotique and I was immediately impressed with the atmosphere.  The loud music made it impossible not to get a little more pumped and they had a lot of things to look at, try, and do.  Outside the expo, volunteers were holding up signs saying things like "woohoo!" and "you go girl!" and everyone was so friendly!  Nike gave you a card with a password which you could try out at different stations to try to win a prize.  Unfortunately all we got was "Access Denied" on our screens, but it was still a fun feature.  We got to grab samples of Luna Bars, try Nuun, and even had the option of getting our hair and make up done.  I can honestly say I've never been to a race expo quite like this before!  One of my favorite parts was the wall that you could sign.  So many people had written a variation of "Run for Boston" and it really makes you realize just how strong the running community is.

As we headed out we made sure to stop by the wall of the Nike store to find our names!  They had made a custom race wall and all the participants names were on it, which I thought was a fun, unique feature.

While I'm still trying to get my mind around the fact that this is going to be a more relaxed race and I will be taking it pretty easy, it's hard not to be excited after visiting the expo.  I know it's not going to be my goal race anymore, but I'm still looking forward to seeing the sights of DC and what race day will hold.  The Tiffany's necklace at the end doesn't hurt either!

Happy race weekend!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Blog the Change

Today we're switching things up a little since I've been doing just about everything except running.  I found this movement through my sister's blog (that is actually supports animal causes on the daily) and figured since I talk about Maddux probably more than I do about running that we could take a little break from the usual.

I've talked about this organization before, but Lucky Dog Animal Rescue truly is one of the best things that has crossed my path.  A month from today Maddux and I will be celebrating our two year anniversary thanks to LDAR.

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is unique in that it does not have a physical building.  It is completely volunteer based and rescues dogs from high kill shelters.  Maddux came from a shelter in South Carolina and I cannot thank Lucky Dog enough for saving my pup's life!  It's hard to imagine Maddux in that situation because he is such a lover.  He is probably the sweetest dog I have ever met and those corgi ears get me every time.

When I first saw Maddux on PetFinder, I was a little concerned that I had to go to an adoption event to meet him.  I was used to the conventional method of visiting a shelter and visiting a dog there and wasn't sure how meeting him at a store was going to work out.  I found that LDAR does a great job of organizing volunteers and the events are run smoothly.  The volunteers are knowledgeable about the dogs they are handling and while the adoption process is thorough, it was easy and the adoption coordinator even answered questions I had a couple weeks down the road.

While I don't volunteer as often as I would like, it's really fun to get to hang with a pup for the afternoon.  If I thought I could foster without getting too attached I would definitely consider it!  LDAR also has great fundraisers.  They have an upcoming one this weekend at a dog friendly winery and my nice friend and I had a great time last year with our pup.

So the long and short of it is that Lucky Dog Animal Rescue rocks, rescue dogs are the best, and anyone who is looking for a "fur"ever friend should check them out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This is Going to be Interesting

I've been really busy lately.  I know, who isn't?  I've been trying to get my life together as much as possible before I skip town for my best friend's wedding!  I can't wait to celebrate her big day!

With all the running around, there ironically enough has not been much running.  I decided to go for a 6 mile run/walk on Friday.  I wasn't really sure what to expect since I haven't done a lot of distance in the past couple of months.  I know that unless a miracle happens I will be run/walking the Nike Women's Half so I just wanted to see about what my pace would be (I'm terrified of being picked up by the sweeper!!).

The run got off to a bit of a rough start.  Before the first mile was up I got that terrible urge to pee and knew I wasn't going to make it 5 more miles without wetting my pants.  Luckily the park bathrooms are open again so I avoided what could have been a terrible situation.

Miles 2-4 weren't stellar.  I had to take some walk breaks, but since I knew I was doing a run/walk I wasn't too broken up about it.  After mile 4 I took a quick water and stretch break and ended up running the last 2.2 miles (when you're that close to a 10k you may as well go all the way right?) feeling somewhat strong.  Honestly, the best part of the run was the fact that I got to wear shorts again, but it was nice knowing that I could make it that far without dying.

Unfortunately, my quads decided that they really didn't like getting back into running.  Saturday they were so sore and I suppose my cross training Saturday night (aka dancing the night away at my friend's Bachelorette party) didn't help.  When I went on my run Monday evening my quads were screaming and felt like they wanted to rip right off my bones.  Needless to say, the Nike race should be interesting if this is what running a 10k will do to me.  Despite my nervousness, I'm still very excited now that I've changed my mindset and goals for it.  I can't believe how soon it will be here!

On a completely different note, Maddux wanted you to know that on Sunday he will be turning 6.

I hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Separation Anxiety

I am really good at making excuses to be lazy.  Don't get me wrong, nothing beats the feeling when you're done with a run, but sometimes it is really hard to get out of the door.  My latest excuse?  Separation anxiety.

Maddux is the love of my life.  There have been many times when I get home from work and feel guilty for leaving him again to go to the gym.  He used to have really bad separation anxiety and would bark and cry if I left him.  Now after lots of hard work we have gotten into a routine that eases his worrying and he knows that I'll be back soon for him.  I'm pretty sure it's harder on me to leave him than it is on him.  I know deep down that he's ok and he just enjoys a nap while I'm away, but his naturally sad eyes make it super hard.

We recently went home for a few days to spend Easter with my family.  I hadn't seen my entire family since Christmas so I was really happy to be all together again.  Usually I am pretty good at running consistently when I'm at my parents' house, but this time I hated knowing that any minute I spent working out was a minute spent away from them (I tend to get this way when I have no set date to see them again).  Luckily, my whole family enjoys getting outside to walk and we took the dogs on a nice long hike on a trail at a nearby park.  I also managed to get on the exercise bike and did about 7 miles while I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  Just a side note, if you haven't read this book yet you should!  I LOVED it.  There were so many twists and I had a hard time putting it down!

6 of the 9 hikers :-)

One day I convinced my little brother to run with me.  It was incredibly windy and I was really sad that in my haste to pack I forgot to grab my headband that covered my ears.  He ran the first mile of my run and then he looped back to the house while I ran about 2.5 miles more.  It was nice having him help get me out the door.

Now that we're back home I'm hoping to fall back into somewhat normal of a routine.  April is packed with lots of fun events, so I'm going to have to really plan out my workouts to make sure they are happening.

Happy Friday!