Fall is a time of gorgeous weather, pumpkin everything, and this year has seemed to be my craziest time of the year. It's been hard trying to find a balance between all the fun things I want to do, need to do, and getting in runs that I need in order to be in good shape for races.
|Vineyard harvest party scarecrow making contest. Only in fall.|
|Happiest find at Target.|
In September I headed to Ohio to do an early celebration for my sister's birthday. I got to stop and see my mom in Pennsylvania before she moved to Alabama and that was amazing. I'm not gonna lie, when I know my family time is limited it is REALLY hard to get out the door for a run. I hate "wasting" our time together even though they are all understanding.
|Avett Brothers with my sister beat out running that weekend.|
I knew when I signed up for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon that I didn't have much time to get ready. I knew it was going to be in the midst of some crazy travel plans, but I loved it so much last year that I didn't care. I made my training plan and tried my best to stick to it, but as you can see, life got in the way. While it definitely helped having something I could physically check off (I love lists...), sometimes I had to make decisions and running, unfortunately, just wasn't always the priority.
Race day rolled around, and I was feeling semi optimistic. While it had been a few weeks since my last long run, I had some great outdoor runs which is a huge change from a lot of my former races. I conquered my fear of getting stuck somewhere on a trail and that is definitely something to be proud of! (I may have even bribed myself with a new running shirt if I did my 10 miler outside. You do what you gotta do.) My nice friend once again joined me on the ride out to Hampton and we had plans to meet up with a big group of friends for dinner. Since we had a few hours before dinner we decided to stop for a snack. I opted for a milkshake (no one said this was a healthy eating blog) and soon ended up completely regretting the decision as I got violently ill. I had to drag myself to the expo and prayed that I would survive the few minutes (woo efficiency J&A racing!) it took to get my packet.
|This archway made me so happy because it means they are planning to keep the race around for a while :-)|
Luckily whatever was ailing me made its way out of my system in a few hours and I was able to enjoy dinner with my friends to the fullest. It made me a little nervous for the race though because my stomach (as any semi long readers know--bless you for sticking with me) can be super unpredictable sometimes. By the morning of the race my stomach had its usual pre-race nerves, but other than that felt fine. I gave myself plenty of time to roll my IT bands, drink a cup of coffee, and eat my bar before heading over to the start. After a quick trip to the ladies' room I met up with my amazing friend Laura and her boyfriend to find our corral and await the start.
Like last year, the announcer was dressed as a crab and made us laugh with his jokes. The Hampton University marching band played to start us off and the energy was amazing. Have I said how much I love J&A Racing? The course was the same as last year's, but this year I wasn't quite as smiley as before! I felt my lack of solid training and the lack of shade on the course (not so noticeable last year since it was overcast/rainy!) and really started struggling after the first 10k. (The first 10k my splits were pretty respectable! The last 7 miles ehhhhh). My race basically turned into a run/walk which while disappointing, was just the reality of my fitness level combined with hotter than my training runs temperatures. Some of the neighbors had set out sprinklers (and mimosas!! I was SO close to stopping...I mean my run really wasn't going to improve so may as well drink up!) and while I had one moment of discomfort as a volunteer (trying to be helpful) hit me full on in the face with a blast from a hose, overall the water stations were incredible (there were also pretzel and candy stations which I did not partake in, but appreciated). Thank you so much to all the amazing volunteers!
At the final bend I saw my nice friend with Maddux which gave me the last boost I needed to finish strong. My best friend was screaming for me as I crossed the finish line. It really does make a difference having a support system! I was then handed a cool towel (seriously, the best thing that has ever happened to me at the end of a race), my medal, gatorade, water, bananas, and a Power Bar and hung out in the shade with my bestie until my nice friend could meet up with me. Since they moved the party inside I had to just grab my delicious crab chowder (in it's beautiful bread bowl) to go (no dogs allowed), but the lines moved quickly inside and it looked like everyone was having a great time!
My time was nothing to brag about and was significantly slower than last year's. That's ok. I think until my schedule clears up a little I'm going to try to focus on shorter distances (5ks, 10ks) and getting my times down on those before I set my official half marathon goal race. I just need to get in a better place with my fitness level so I don't get discouraged. As much as I try to stay positive, it is hard knowing that I am capable of so much more. I think the shorter distances will be a big confidence boost and will be challenging without being quite as time demanding.
I hope everyone is enjoying the start of fall as much as I am! Happy running!