Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shamrock Half Marathon Recap

Shamrock Weekend seems like it happened ages ago, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and write about it like I wanted.  As you guys know, I LOVE that race and it just didn't seem right to rush through a recap.

You know those races where you do everything right?  Training goes well, you eat pretty well, and get enough sleep?  This was not one of those races.  My training had gone ok, but with the snow and ice I didn't log very many miles outside.  I threw my speed work to the wind after my first set of half mile repeats and just didn't feel very speedy.  Fast forward to race weekend: I ran the Shamrock 8k faster than I should have, was on my feet most of that day, drank more beer than someone wanting to do well in their race should, and ate a monster plate of nachos as my pre-race meal.  (Yes, they were good, too.)

We really love the post race parties!

I spent a lot of time debating joining up with a pace group.  Part of me felt that it was doable to stick with the 2 hour group and the other part thought that I was being a little too optimistic.  I knew it would be hard and I couldn't decide if I wanted to just relax and have a fun race or go for the gold and break two hours.  After talking to Bart Yasso some at the race expo I was feeling really inspired to kick butt.  My best friend (seriously guys, I wish she could be your best friend, too, because she is THAT amazing) calmly listened to me go on and on and on and eventually we determined that I should start out with the pace group and if I needed to back off as the race went on then I could. 

If your bestie AND Bart think you can PR, then you can PR.

Race morning arrived and I ate my Power Bar and drank my hotel coffee and we headed off to the starting line.  There wasn't too much time to spare, so I found the 2 hour pace group and chatted with them for a while about some of our goals for the race.  A couple of the girls and I realized that we all had the same goal and were pretty darn close to reaching it so we decided to stick together for the race. (Hi Kara and Ruth!)  

Joining the pace group was probably the best decision I made all race weekend.  It was so nice having the girls to chat with and the pacers were really fun.  I felt like the number of neighborhood alcohol stops grew a lot from last year, and they made sure to hydrate at each of them.  There was a lot of "When I say drink, you say beer!" going on and it was just fun to be loud and obnoxious.  We went out a little fast for the first mile, which was nice because we could kind of just cruise for the rest of the race. For the majority of the time I felt really great and that we were at a solid pace.  

No doubt in my mind that they would be fun!

There were a lot of water stops and I made sure to take advantage of almost all of them.  At one of the stations we got a little ahead of the pace group and it was really nice to know that as long as I stayed in front of them I would meet my goal.  I didn't check my watch at all until mile 10 and just trusted that the pacers had us going at the right speed.  When I finally did look at my watch I had one of those "oh my gosh, this is really going to happen" moments.  And then mile 11 happened and my legs really started to feel it.  I was hurting SO bad, but my running buddies were still trucking along and I didn't want to be the only one who didn't break two hours.  I kept trying to convince myself that breaking two hours would feel better than quitting.  I felt like I was slowing down so much and kept waiting for the pace group to run by me.  When we got to the final stretch onto the boardwalk there was a water stop and I looked at my girls and told them that if I stopped I wasn't going to be able to start again.  From that point on I tried to get in my zone.  I focused on the ocean instead of the finish line (it just seemed too far away!) and forced myself not to look at my watch.  I finally crossed the finish line and was a super happy girl.  I broke two hours with a little time to spare!  New PR: 1:58:58!  Guys, it feels SO good to have a 1 in front of my half time.  

After the race I got all my post race snacks, met up with my best friend, and then rang the PR bell with my girls!  I was so proud of them for breaking two hours and so thankful that I had them to keep me going!  I met up with Edith, an amazing J&A ambassador and to make a great race even better, she pointed out dolphins in the ocean!  Seriously guys, it was my perfect race day.  After a quick hello to Mar, my best friend and I drank a celebratory beer and then went off to eat my PR pancakes (pecan pancakes at Pocahontas Pancakes!  Kind of a tradition now!).  

Since the race I've been taking a break from running (and am now getting excited to start up again!  Took me a while to stop being sore ha!), but have gotten a lot of quality walks in with my pup.  My mom and aunts came to visit and they kept me busy, too!  Next up is the ODU Big Blue 5k!  Can't wait for more best friend time!

Don't forget that I'm linking up with fellow J&A ambassadors Jenny, Nan, and Sarah for our recaps!  I promise I will get to all of them now that life is settling down a little!  You have until April 22 to post your Shamrock Recap.  

**Disclaimer: I'm a J&A Ambassador and was given a free entry to this race.  All opinions are my own.  I think by now you guys know my love for these races is real.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shamrock 8k Recap

I'm still riding a happy runner's high from this weekend and am so excited to write my recap for the Shamrock 8k.  (The half recap will come soon, I promise!)  I signed up for the Dolphin Challenge months ago and was so excited to be running in the Shamrock weekend races again.  Last year I had a great time at the half marathon and was a little bummed that I didn't go for the challenge!

My best friend and I woke up early on Saturday ready to tackle the 8k.  I ate a Quest Bar along with a crappy cup of hotel coffee, got dressed, and we made our way to the start.  We stayed on Pacific Avenue and it only took us a couple of minutes to get to the start.  We met up with Jennifer and tried not to look super cold in our pre race pics!

Yikes, coffee hadn't kicked in quite yet!

The 8k had corrals and I felt like I had a good amount of space the entire race.  I actually feel like I went out a little too fast, but I felt so good and since I wasn't crowded I figured I would just go to it.  I really wanted to ring the new PR bell, and I wasn't quite sure how the half was going to go.

The race was basically an out and back around the board walk and Atlantic Avenue and I loved every minute of it.  We got to see a ton of the beach and ocean and I can't think of many other places I would rather run!  The course was flat and after I warmed up a little I thought it was a perfect running temperature.  There were two water stops with plenty of volunteers.  Thanks, guys!

I finished the race in just under 43 minutes and was handed a water bottle, banana, pretzel, granola bar, and shamrock cookie.  I really love post race snacks.  We also got a fun shamrock coozie!  I hung out around the finish area (and never felt like I was in the way!) and waited for my best friend to finish and then we headed to the beach to ring the PR bell!

I really loved this bell.

After ringing the bell we went into the tent and got our celebratory beer and stew.  We hung out for a little bit and then headed back to the hotel to rest up until it was time to volunteer at the expo.  Thanks again to J&A for another great race!  I had a fantastic time!

Check out Bart Yasso--I mean our awesome 8k shirts!

To keep our Shamrockin' celebrations going, I'm linking up with Jennifer, Nan, and Sarah!  Feel free to join in the fun!  We all LOVE reading about our beloved J&A races!

  • If you wrote a 2015 Shamrock Race Recap  (spectator and volunteer recaps are also welcome) feel free to add your blog post to the linkup.
  • Link back to the blog host(s) in your recap so your readers can find the list.
  • Love reading recaps? Here is a one stop shop for some Shamrock goodness!
  • Not a Shamrock related post? Linkup hosts have the discretion to remove your link.
Note: This linkup will be open until April 22, 2015.

Disclaimer: I was given a free entry to this race because of my affiliation with J&A as an ambassador.  All opinions are my own.  (Honestly, I have such high expectations of the race that I feel like it makes it harder for them!  They haven't failed me yet though!)

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Shamrockin' Weekend

Happy Monday!  I'm linking up with Tara over at Running 'n' Reading today for the Weekend Update.  I hope you all had as amazing of a weekend as I did!  I was in Virginia Beach for Shamrock Weekend and had a shamrockin' good time!  I'm going to recap the actual races later, but I'll fill you guys in on the in between for now.

I took Friday off work so that I could drive down to Virginia Beach.  I was beyond excited to run in the Dolphin Challenge (8k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday).  I met my best friend in Newport News and we ran some random errands until my college roommate got home.  The Mariner's Museum was nice enough to save the poster from when Maddux was the Dog of the Month, so I got to pick up a lovely frame worthy keepsake.  (Nope, not kidding.  Totally framing it.)

By the time my roommate got home, we dropped Maddux off for the weekend, chatted a bit and then headed off to the expo.  The expo was still pretty hopping by the time we got there around 8, but there were no lines and we got our bibs quickly.  We were very hungry girls by the time we left, so we went straight to dinner.  Like last year, we hit up Abbey Road (every race requires a good pre race beer!) and then we went to bed early.

On Saturday my best friend and I ran the Shamrock 8k and had a ton of fun.  I finally got to meet fellow J&A ambassador Jennifer before the race!  After the race we hung out at the post race party and enjoyed a couple of our beers and some stew.  I got to meet Edith, another ambassador, who used to live around the corner!  She was so sweet and it was fun to finally meet some other J&A lovers!  We spent most of the time afterwards resting up because we were volunteering at the expo for the afternoon.  Our stew didn't hold us over very long, and I was a happy girl when my best friend suggested we eat Beach Bully BBQ before heading over to volunteer!

When we got to the expo I was stoked to see that Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer of Runner's World, was hanging out at the J&A booth!  He is super friendly and kept us laughing the whole time.  I really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him.  The other J&A ambassadors at the booth were amazing and it was fun getting to hang out with them.  We had a bit of a battle to see who could arrange the cups the best way.  Pretty sure my table won.  Just sayin'.

After the expo, surprise, we were hungry again!  My best friend had noticed a restaurant called Lagerheads along the 8k course and I was more than game to try out another place promising good beer.  Lagerheads did not disappoint and we had a good time "fueling" for the half.

By the time we got home I was really tired and we took it easy and called it a night early.  Sunday came very early, but I was ready to tackle the half.  I had an absolutely amazing time and can't wait to tell you guys all about it soon!  After enjoying a celebratory beer, my best friend and I went for some celebratory pancakes and then hit the road back to get my pup. (We did a lot of celebrating!!)

Tomorrow fellow J&A ambassadors Jennifer, Sarah, Nan, and I will be hosting a link up for all of your Shamrock weekend recaps!  I'm looking forward to reading about all of your experiences and hope they were as great as mine!

Tell me about your weekend!  Who ran Shamrock?!

Have a fabulous week!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday 5: My First Half

Good morning!  Friday is finally here!  I can't believe that Shamrock weekend is THIS weekend!  I'm linking up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney today!  Make sure to check out some of the amazing blogs in the link up (or add your own!).  Since this weekend is my 5 year anniversary of running half marathons, I figured I would tell you guys 5 things about my very first one!  (Sorry guys, there are no dorky pictures from the race. I literally ran with nothing.  My brother had the hotel key and my license just in case, but I wasn't concerned with much at this one haha!)

We take running VERY seriously.

1. It was the Shamrock Half Marathon.  I can't really remember why I chose this one.  Maybe because it was close, maybe I had heard great things, maybe friends had suggested it?  My brother and I had previously ran in the Wicked 10k and Virginia is for Lovers 14k, so maybe we figured to just keep going.  Either way, it was an excellent choice.  (Yes, J&A only had three races back then!  They've grown SO much!)

My mom made me this amazing shadow box to hold my first medals!

2. I made up my own training plan.  So, I was in college and I ran a lot.  It was a great stress reliever, I had friends who ran, and I had the most gorgeous place ever to run.  The only real plan was to keep running whenever I felt like it and then add a mile to my long run each weekend.  How nice would that be to do that now?  I remember coming home and telling my roommate that I ran 7 miles and I had never done that before and I was super excited.  She was very patient listening to all my running talk.  (She still is.)  For some reason, I did my 9 miler and 10 miler on the treadmill.  I guess I was scared then, too, of getting stuck far away?  Someone had told me that 10 miles was the longest I needed to run before my race, because "if you can do 10 you can do 13."  Well, ok.

3. I was faster than I anticipated. I remember being blown away by the fact that I had to put a predicted race time.  "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW!?"  I ended up running about 30 minutes faster than I had anticipated.  Not a bad feeling.

4. I didn't use any fuel.  Probably had something to do with the fact that in college you're invincible and a beast.  I just didn't feel the need for it like I do now.  Also, at that point I had never even really heard of it. When I was handed a Gu on the race course I held on to it until mile 9 and then took it.  I will never forget the disgusting, warm (from holding it for 3 miles) strawberry mess.  (So, I also ran in the race shirt.  I figured that if they gave it to me then it must be a good shirt to run in haha!  So glad I'm too cool for that now.)  Basically, I had no idea of everything that running could entail.

Does pizza count?

5. I swore it was my last.  Don't get me wrong, I was SO proud of myself for finishing.  I tell people all the time that there's no feeling like crossing the finish line of your first half.  I remember the second I stopped running my quads cramped up in a major way.  It was horrible! My brother and I didn't even stay for the post race party and just hobbled back to the hotel.  It took me a whole year until I was ready to tackle another one.

What was your first half (or other race!) like?  Have a great weekend! Good luck to everyone running Shamrock this weekend!  Come say hi at the expo!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend Update

Happy Monday!  I'm linking up with Tara over at Running 'n' Reading.  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine was pretty relaxed as far as running goes (Shamrock is THIS WEEKEND!), but I did have a pretty exciting weekend!  I got my sixth foster pup from Lucky Dog and she filled my weekend with lots of smiles.

Meet Sue.

Check out that happy tail!

Sue is an adorable shepherd mix.  She's about two years old and is an all star snuggler.  When I got to the transport site to pick her up she wasn't quite ready to be released.  We locked eyes for a second and her tail started going.  It was like she knew we were going to be best buds.

It was a rainy, gray day so the pups and I spent a lot of time inside.  Sue looked like the kind of girl who would appreciate some Gilmore Girls, so we got a few good episodes in.  I was really happy that Maddux and Sue got along so well together.  Honestly, Maddux is pretty indifferent towards all the fosters and I'm completely ok with that.  They spent most of the time sleeping on the couch in peaceful harmony.

On Sunday Sue and I headed to the adoption event to search for her forever family.  Unfortunately Sue pup hasn't found her family yet, but I don't think she'll have much trouble.  She is so cute, so sweet, and is going to make a terrific pet.  Since I'll be traveling for Shamrock this weekend I could only overnight foster her, but if she somehow doesn't find her family after I get back I'm reclaiming her as my foster!  I would love to spend some time working with her to help her get over a little of her shyness.  You can find out more about adopting Sue (or another Lucky Dog!) here.

Love those ears!

My wonderful friend Laura (she's also a big fan of J&A races!) came to volunteer with me and we grabbed a quick coffee together after the event so we could spend a little more time catching up.  I'm so thankful to have friends who support my love of Lucky Dog!  Most of the rest of the day was spent giving my own pup a little extra love.  He is so good at sharing his space, but I don't want him to forget he's my number one!  His March Bark Box came at the perfect time!

Tell me some good things about your weekend!  Have a fabulous week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday 5: Things I'm Loving

So I realize I did a similar post last week, but I have too many exciting things happening to do anything else.  I'm linking up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!  Make sure to check out the link up!

1. SHAMROCK!!  Guys, ONE WEEK.  In one short week I will be in Virginia Beach with my best friend getting all pumped to race.

2. Fostering.  I'm getting my next Lucky Dog tomorrow and cannot wait to meet her!  I will update you guys with lots of pictures.  Best part?  Her name is Sue.  I hope she's like Sue Heck from The Middle!


3. Family Time.  It's officially less than two weeks until my mom and aunts come to visit!  I cannot wait to show them around!

Can't wait to show these Denver ladies the beauty of Maryland beer.

4. ODU Big Blue 5k.  My best friend and I have basically decided that every J&A race should be a reason to hang out.  It's nice to know that after Shamrock we already have another date lined up!  Another plus?  I just found out they are having FRO YO at the finish line.  J&A, have I told you how much I love you?  Oh yeah, only a million times.

5. Weddings!  2014 was when weddings finally started slowing down for me (for a while there I felt like I was constantly attending weddings!), but in 2015 two of my favorite couples are getting married! My wonderful friend Itzel recently asked me to be in her wedding this summer and I can't wait to start planning all the celebrations leading up to the big day!  Of course I have to mention that my little brother will be marrying his amazing fiance in the fall.

What are some things you're loving lately?  Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekend Update!

Happy Monday!  I'm linking up with Tara over at Running 'n' Reading for her weekend update!  Just a little something to make Mondays more enjoyable!

I was lucky enough to enjoy a 4 day weekend!  We had two snow days, and honestly they came at the best time.  Maddux and I got in lots of quality time together and I'm onto the next book in my book challenge.  I'm reading Girl on the Train for my "book currently on the best seller list" and so far so good!  I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud that I've already knocked out almost 4 books on the list!

Last week I got an email from Get Pumped for Pets 15k saying that the race might get cancelled because of the snow.  I decided to be on the safe side and knocked out 10 more treadmill miles on Thursday.  Luckily, the warmer temperatures allowed for the race to still go on, so I ended up having an almost 30 mile week!  I think I'm just about ready for Shamrock!

On Saturday I enjoyed an amazing group run (it was SO nice to finally have some warmer temperatures!  We actually joked that they must have just added sidewalks, because we hadn't seen them for so long haha!).  After running and finally hitting the grocery store, my nice friend and I headed to Annapolis to pick up my packet.  Originally they thought they might spike our shoes, but the trail ended up clearing enough that it wasn't needed.  After chatting with the race director for a minute, my nice friend and I headed to dinner.  I had some amazing crab soup and made sure to get a few liquid carbs in.  We remembered from our day date to Annapolis last year that just around the corner from the restaurant was a beer store with a fun local selection, so we made sure to make a couple of six packs before we headed home.  Always fun to try new beers!  We ended the night playing Phase 10 (I got my butt handed to me) and then I headed to bed to get some rest for my race!

Sunday morning came nice and early and I quickly got ready and headed out the door to Chester, Maryland.  It was a gorgeous morning and I was excited to run on the Cross Island Trail!  The race was pretty small (someone told me that there were only 50 runners doing the 15k--there was also a 5k and a 10k), but I got a fun t shirt and a reusable bag of goodies including a pen, a water bottle, and a chip clip.  Let's be honest, you can never have too many!  I found a girl from my running group (hi Nancy!) and we stayed together for the majority of the race.  It was nice to have a familiar face and someone to talk to before we started!  They had to change the course because of the snow, so a lot of the race ended up being on the road, but it's good practice for Shamrock, right?!  I would love to run there again some day to get a good feel of the trail.  It looked like it would be a really pretty place to run or walk Maddux.  They arranged the course so we ended up having several water stops, which was awesome.  There weren't many volunteers, but then again not many were needed.  They were all super friendly!  Thanks, guys!  While I definitely love smaller races, I was a little bummed at the end when no one was really in sight.  I was starting to feel it by the last mile and I do some of my best work at the end when I have people to pick off.  I had to give myself a few pep talks to keep my pace up there at the end!  When I got to the finish I found that I had won a door prize!  I am the lucky winner of a gift card to Charm City Run!  Perfect timing since I'm in desperate need of new running shoes.  I think it will be a great post Shamrock reward!

Sleepy post race pic to show off my awesome new dog shirt ;-)

When I got home my nice friend and I took Maddux to the park to enjoy the beautiful day and I spent the rest of the afternoon eating all the food and reading on my balcony.  It was a terrific weekend!

How was your weekend?!  Any fun races?  Shamrock is getting so close!  I hope to see a lot of you there!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday 5: Favorites

Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia are going to be so proud because I finally got on board with the theme this week!   Make sure to check out the amazing link up these ladies host and read all about what these bloggers are loving right now!

1. Race Day Butterflies.  Oh my gosh, guys.  Race day is SO close!  In two weeks I will be heading to Virginia Beach for Shamrock Weekend!  Ever since March arrived I have been crazy excited.  Not only do I get to run in a fabulous race, but I also get to spend all weekend with my best friend.  (Guys, she's seriously amazing and is even volunteering at the expo with me on Saturday--make sure to come say hi!)

Hanging out before joining my corral in last year's race!
 I have the best best friend!  It was early and COLD!

2. Group Runs.  I really like having people suffer through hills with me.  I also like when other people plan out a route and I can just follow along without wondering where I'm going to turn next.  The miles always fly by when I'm with my group!  This weekend another shoe rep is coming so we'll get to try out a pair of Sauconys. (my shoe of choice)

3. Outside runs.  While running outside has always been a more ideal choice, I appreciate them so much more now that I have been spending so much quality time with the 'mill.  But seriously, is it spring yet?

4. Bobbi Brown face cream.  I got a little sample of this and whoa it is amazing.  I really wish a "big" jar (think 1.5 oz yikes) wasn't so expensive.  I used it a few weeks ago and when I woke up I immediately thought my skin looked incredible.  I tried to tell myself that maybe it was all in my head, but when my nice friend came over later he commented on how "awesome my face looked."  Maybe one day I'll splurge!

5. Snow days.  Well obviously, right?  It has been really nice to just hang out with my pup, read, and get in week day long runs (even if they're on the good ol' 'mill).  Plus, my race this weekend is still a go!  The race directors are being incredible and told us that if the trail isn't able to be cleared in time that they will give us free spikes.  I'm hoping we won't need them, but I am intrigued. (Has anyone ever used them? Anything I need to know?  Not trying to bust my butt before Shamrock!)

Maddux can't even bear to look at the snow!

What are some things you're loving lately?  Have a great weekend!  They say spring is on its way!