October 31, 2012

Happy Costumes!

I absolutely love Halloween ... mainly because it involves costumes. 

This year I had three costumes.

Black Swan-inspired ballerina

First up: a costume for an art show. I always feel some pressure at this event to not be something funny (my specialty) and be something more ... um, arty? 

I had big hopes and dreams for this costume, but they died when I saw it all together.


Next up: a work Halloween party. We made this costume decision solely because we were Zorros the year before, and it was an easy switch (our work department kind of has a thing about dressing up as a group; try it — it's fun). 

Group costume #1 (only two participants, but this costume is
my favorite)

People realized the fun they were missing out on and joined our farm

Fun and easy costume encourages participation

Really simple conversion from fun and easy
costume doesn't encourage participation,

Mr. Potato Head

Final event: the Halloween Halfathon. It was a long thought process to come up with something that I felt was wearable while running 13.1 miles

I had Mr. Potato Head in mind for a regular costume, but thought I could modify it for running. It worked! 

This was extremely non-irritating (exactly what I going for), easy to make (another bonus), and I thought it turned out great.


Do you dress up for Halloween (or Halloween parties)? What is your favorite costume? Have you ever dressed up as a group? Have you dressed up for a race? Did it require a long thought process to determine what you'd be (and if it would be comfortable)? Happy Halloween!

October 29, 2012

Halloween Halfathon, Tierra Verde, Florida, Oct. 28, 2012: race recap

I love costumes. So when I heard the Halloween Halfathon encouraged costumes (and was part of a local Halfathon Challenge — four half marathons from October through March), I was so in.

I immediately began thinking of a costume ... and thinking. And thinking. It's tough to find a costume that won't get annoying while running 13.1 miles. 

I finally decided on this.

That's Mr. Potato Head. I cut out his parts from felt and used fabric glue to put them on a brown T-shirt. Cutting them out wasn't hard. Finding a brown T-shirt was. I finally found one online that I ordered last minute that fortunately worked out great.

I also found a mini bowler hat online. It had an elastic strap that went under your chin. I decided quickly that this would get annoying without running. So, I cut it and tied it on a headband. 

The finished product (please excuse my poor
self-portrait skills; it's my only pre-sweat
costume photo)

With my costume made and on, I was ready to race. Well, or do a training run. I really wasn't planning to "race" this race. I treated it as a long training run (I had 11 miles on my schedule). My training schedule is actually for the Women's Half Marathon on Nov. 18, so this was technically early for a half marathon. I can't resist a good opportunity to wear a costume, though.

After my pathetic self-portrait, I picked up my running buddy, Lori, and we headed to the race site.  It was early and really dark. I felt so disoriented (especially since the race is along a state park beach path, and it is super dark there — no street lights). 

I packed up my packet early, but needed to get a timing chip at the race site. We arrived at 6:30 a.m. (for a 7 a.m. race) and had plenty of time to get the timing chip, hit a porta potty and line up for the start. 

We couldn't find anyone else in our running group, though. Pitch black conditions don't lend to finding people. 

We started running in the dark, which was strange. I guess I've done it before, but in a city with street lights. It was really bizarre without any lights. But, it started to get light soon after the start, and we started seeing people in our running group.

The first part of the race follows the 5K course, which started 15 minutes after the half marathon. After running back by the start line, we headed out on a 5-mile out and back course.

At this point of the race, I was feeling good, but not great. We stopped to walk through water stations, but that was it. As we started out on the out-and-back portion of the race, the half marathon leaders were coming back. It is mind-blowing to me how fast these people are! I'm at mile 4, and they're almost at double-digit miles. Insane.

Anyway, the out-and-back portion is a path along the beach, but you rarely ever see the water. Because of that, it's pretty boring. Thank goodness this was a costume race! This provided entertainment. We saw angels, devils, cowboys, cats, bunnies, zombies, Forrest Gump, a Victoria's Secret angel (a guy) and many others. Thank you for dressing up!

Around mile 5, I took a GU gel. I still felt good, but not great. We kept up the same habit of running except for the water stations. 

Thankfully, it was mostly overcast for the majority of the race so it wasn't nearly as hot as it could have been. One problem: the wind. Because of pesky Sandy and a cold front, it was super, super windy. I didn't notice it too much on the way out on the path. But, shortly after I made the turnaround, I noticed it. It took a lot of energy to run.

I kept running, though, until about the 9.5-mile mark. I stopped to take my first walk break (besides the water stops) at this point. 

From this point on, this race was a struggle. I was losing energy. Every time I tried to run, I couldn't run for long. I took another GU gel. This helped some, but fighting the wind was still difficult. 

Even though I was treating this as a training run, I was really disappointed. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I hoped to do really well. Even if it wasn't my goal to get a faster time, I kind of still wanted to do that. I can't help it. I always want that. Training runs were going well. My speed work was impressive (for a slow girl like me). I guess I thought I could sneak in a PR. Yeah, not this day.

I struggled the rest of the race, but managed to finish strong (thanks to support from Lori). My official time: 2:42:48. Eh, definitely not my best (2:33), but not my worst either (2:48).  

The good news: I finished, I had fun overall (at times I was bitter, but thanks to running friends, I quickly got out of that mode), I got a medal, and I see lots of room for improvement. 

Oh, also good news: beer at the finish.

Best beer EVER

More good news: my costume was not annoying (even the ears), and my hat did not move even in really gusty wind. 

Mr. Potato Head ended up being a sweaty potato.

And then, a couch potato.

I'm so using this idea for a holiday half marathon (minus the mustache and teeth, plus an antler headband). Yay! More race costumes! 

Do you secretly hope to PR every race? Do you wear costumes for races? What's your favorite costume you've seen? Do you enjoy beer after races?

October 26, 2012

Yay for costumes, Jessica and soup!

It’s been quite a week, and I’m not sure why. I just feel worn out and ready for the weekend (and my Halloween half marathon). Maybe it's because I have all of this floating around in my head:
  • I’m wearing costume #2 for a work party tomorrow and costume #3 for a race on Sunday. My work costume is a variation on the Zorro costume from last year. It’s called: I need a costume, and I want something new but I’m not motivated enough to make another one.
  • When I was at Wal-Mart tonight picking up last-minute costume pieces, I found this beautiful magazine, and I soon found it in my basket. I love Jessica Simpson, and I have a really hard time resisting any magazine with her on it. Why are people giving her crap for losing 60 pounds in 5 months? Isn’t that healthy? Poor girl will always be hassled for her weight.
  • In other Jessica Simpson news: she is coming to my city! I The day before the Women’s Half Marathon (Nov. 17), she’ll be at a mall in Tampa. I will be there. I will possibly faint. OK, it’s not that bad. But, I’m super excited. And, it possibly is that bad. 
  • My new-to-me car had a loose part on the door handle. I was scared that I would break it if I pushed it back in place, so since I was taking it to the dealer for the first oil change anyway, I figured I’d have them do it. Well, my 30-minute oil change turned into a six-day ordeal. Apparently, it requires taking off the door and is apparently way more complicated than I ever imagined. Thankfully, it won’t cost anything. Also, thankfully, I have a loaner car. But, I feel like a giant in the loaner car. It’s a hybrid hatchback, and it’s small. I’m not small. I look like I’m in a clown car. 
  • I won this awesome prize pack from this blog. I’m in love with the water bottle and soup bowl. And the soup. And the lunch bag. OK, I love it all. The Progresso Light soups rock!
  • I can’t stop watching Jersey Shore. I’m a faithful watcher since the beginning, unfortunately. Thankfully, it’s the last season. Whew! I’m actually starting to like The Situation, which is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. 
Are you ready for the weekend? Any big plans? Are you wearing a costume? Which celebrity would you most like to meet? Do you watch Jersey Shore? Probably not ... 

October 23, 2012

This week in running: week 10

I’m noticing a trend. This is only my third half marathon, but I see a pattern in my training. I start out optimistic. I don’t run as well as I want. I freak out. Shortly after freaking out, everything comes together. Thankfully, I’m in the everything-comes-together phase now.


I’m not hip to the speed work and track lingo, so there might be a spiffy name for this that I don’t know. I just know I enjoyed it, even though it was tough.

  • Descend 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute with 1 minute rest in between
  • 2 minutes rest
  • 1 minute hard; descend rest 1 minute, 50 seconds, 40 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds
I had single-digit mile (yep, 9:59), which is a huge deal for me. I can see fast waaaayyy in my future.

Total: 3.67 miles


Tempo runs are never really my thing. I’m not great about picking a faster pace and sticking with it. I’m not really sure what my faster pace is or how to maintain a faster pace (without feeling like death).

But, somehow I managed to make it work this day.

My faster pace was at least 15 seconds faster than my warm-up pace (at times 30 seconds faster), which is a start for me – I’ll take it. I maintained it for 40 minutes.

Since I ran for 60 minutes, maintained my faster pace and did not feel like death, I consider this a success.

Total: 5.10 miles


We ran the same route as we did last week since we ran the same number of miles.

So how did it compare? It was really about the same, actually. Our group was a little bigger – there were seven us running together for most of the run. But, that’s about the only difference. I felt really, really, really great (sound familiar?) while running about the same pace (just 2 minutes faster this week).

Oh, one other difference: when we were running over a small bridge, we heard a snort. When we looked down, we saw manatees! I’ve loved manatees for as long as I can remember, and this was my first time seeing them in this area. I LOVED it.

After our run and stretching, a group walked two blocks to Starbucks. I had the deliciousness known as the pumpkin spice latte (less syrup and no whipped cream). It was the most delicious coffee drink I had in my life. Lately, coffee is all I crave after a run. .. strange.

Later in the day, my boyfriend, Chloe and I went to Sarasota, Florida (a town about 40 minutes south of where we live). We spent the rest of the day walking, shopping and eating dinner.

Chloe refuses to be photographed with us.

I was expecting to be sore on Monday. Nope, not sore. I’d never have known I ran 10 miles (well, if I didn’t run it myself).

I think I must do the same things after each long run to replicate this feeling: walk to Starbucks, drink delicious coffee and spend the afternoon walking and shopping and eating.

Total: 10 miles

**Edited to add questions.**

Do you like tempo runs? Are you good at picking your faster pace? Have you ever seen manatees while running? Or ever? What do you crave after running? Is it weird to crave a hot beverage? What are your best long run recovery methods?

October 19, 2012

Combining two favorite things: costumes and running

I love costumes.

Any chance I have to dress up, I'll do it. This makes Halloween a pretty ideal time for me. Other times, people look at me strangely. I'm used to this, though.

But, I've never run a race in costume. So when I signed up for the Halloween Halfathon this summer, my mind started turning.

Could I run in a costume I already had?

I took into account heat and annoyance factors.

That ruled out Elvis, sadly. Elvis is my ultimate favorite costume, but it is HOT. I thought of ways to modify it, but it's just not exactly what I wanted. 

Zorro would be fun with the cape. But, I worried it could get annoying. Plus, is it really Zorro without the hat? Nope. Zorro is out.

Face paint and hair spray color are out, so there went the witch and zombie prom girl. 

I wasn't really a fan of the lady bug. Plus, I'm not really sure where all the parts are for it. The lady bug is out.

I'm not running in overalls, so no farmer. Plus, I don't have a cow. 

That left my most recent costume, Black Swan-inspired ballerina, and the duck. I didn't like the ballerina costume, so that was out (I do plan on running in the tutu some day, though). So, down to the duck.

I thought and thought about the duck. I wore orange shorts with orange tights underneath for the legs. I never run in shorts or tights (I'm a capris girl). This concerned me. 

But, the rest could be modified for running. Just a hat and a shirt. Not bad, right? But I just couldn't figure out the legs. As much as I love dressing up, I didn't want to compromise my running. So, I finally ruled the duck out, too. It might be a possibility for a 5K, but 13.1 miles is a long way to be annoyed or be hot (I manage to get plenty sweaty on my own). 

 What does that mean? New costume! Yay!

Well, yay until that at almost one week out, I still can't find a key component. Eeek!

So far, this is all of the costume I have.

Yes, those are six sheets of felt. No, those won't cover me.

I'm hoping the component I ordered off the internet will get here in time and will work. Otherwise, I'm in trouble.

October 16, 2012

This week in running: week 9

Remember all those weeks when I was not happy with my running? When I thought it would never come together? Yeah, me either. This week made me forget that. 


I know I usually get excited about speed work, but I wasn't feeling it this week. The 400-meter repeats seemed long ... and hard. But shockingly, I had a single-digit minute mile. I realize this is routine for some people, but this is a huge deal to me. I'm still not quite there in terms of pacing and negative split, but I'm getting faster.

How should the sets look?


How my sets looked.

I started smart, but things got out of control by my second 400 meter. I could feel myself going too fast, but I couldn't stop before it was disastrous. Sigh ... more work to do.

Distance: 3.8 miles


The plan: a progressive run around a lake. Make each trip around the lake faster.

I was stiff and not into this run at all in the beginning. 

But, I eventually loosened up and had an OK run. Nothing to cheer about, but not terrible either.

Distance: 3.2 miles


I was worried about my long run this week. They just haven't been going that great for me. The thought of 10 miles was a little overwhelming ... especially after having a glass of wine and only getting 4 hours of sleep on Saturday. But I was doing important things, people.


I managed to wake up Sunday morning and not feel too terrible. A little sleepy, but that's every morning for me.

And I actually managed to eat a portion of a real breakfast (toasted sandwich thin, peanut butter and banana). 

The first few miles were pretty blurry. I barely remember them. I think I woke up around mile 3. Yay! Almost a third of the run done, and I didn't even know it.

The portion of the run I do remember was just pure awesome. We had a group of five running together, which makes me smile. It's so fun to run with people with the same goal. 

I took a GU gel a little past the 4-mile mark. I was solely a GU Chomps girl, but our coach handed these out (I can't resist free stuff). I'm really not a fan of the texture, but it seemed to do the job.

I felt really, really, really great this entire run. I never said "I hate running." I never said "I'll never run again." I never said "I want to punch running in the face" (thanks for the inspiration for this gem).  

I needed this. I didn't expect it this day, but I needed it. 

Now I'm furiously analyzing absolutely everything I did to replicate it for all of my long runs (including kissing donkeys). 

 Distance: 10 miles

How was your week in running? Did you find long run love this week like me? Have you ever gotten 4 hours of sleep before a long run? How did it go? Have you ever slept through a few miles? What's your favorite running nutrition?

October 15, 2012

Monday mashup

I know Monday isn't everyone's favorite day (or anyone's favorite day?), but I don't mind it. Except when I have to wake up at 5:40 a.m. to take someone to the airport. Morning is not my favorite thing. As you can imagine, this has left my brain in a state of disarray. So, randomness it is.
  • I recently bought a foam roller. I'm told that it will be one of my best friends. This hasn't happened yet, but I just got it. It's going to be a big part of my life since it is a required part of my Peak Wellness plan.
Unsure of my feelings at this time
  • I also recently bought a new pair of running shoes. They are pink. And pretty. And my feet love them because they are Brooks.
  • I don't watch much TV. Well, let me rephrase that. I don't watch much TV besides sports or "Two and a Half Men" reruns. And, ahem, "Jersey Shore." (I know, I know ...). Aside from "Jersey Shore," there is no show that I watch on a regular basis (and anxiously await the next week's episode). Last season, I loved "American Horror Story." It was my show. I watched it. I loved it. I anxiously awaited each episode. The new season starts on Wednesday. But, with almost all new characters ... in a new location. I am somewhat concerned that I won't like it anymore. I liked those characters, darn it. I liked the location, darn it. Sigh. 
  • I recently made the declaration that I would like anything Bruno Mars sang. Stupid me for making such a proclamation. I don't like this song. It's monotonous and boring.
  • Here's a little sneak peak into tomorrow's "This week in running" post: the long run and I are back in love. Hugs and kisses!
Do you have a foam roller? Is it your best friend? What's your favorite brand of shoes or do you switch it up? Do you watch "American Horror Story"? Anyone else watch "Jersey Shore"? Do you like the new Bruno Mars song? Are you currently in or out of love with long runs?

October 14, 2012

The costume failure

I love Halloween. I love costumes. I love making my own costumes (no sewing, please). So, I was excited to go to my first Halloween party of the year last night.

It was the Abnormal Formal at a local art gallery. Two super creative friends submitted rockin' art to the event.

Theresa the Pinata with her work
Caroline, Day of the Dead pinup girl, with her work

It was a cool event with a Day of the Dead theme and a fashion show and live music.

But, what wasn't cool was my costume.

I usually love costumes, but this one just didn't work.

I built it around a pair of tights I wore on Halloween's past for a witch costume.

I love my purple- and black-striped tights!

I started thinking about what I could be. After a little Google research, I decided on a dark ballerina that quickly turned into a Black Swan-inspired ballerina. 

The tutu turned out awesome, so I was encouraged. But, then I decided I didn't like the tights with it. Then, I wondered why I was being a Black Swan-inspired ballerina in the first place. The movie was entertaining, but definitely not my favorite by any means. But, I was encouraged again when Theresa did my eye makeup.

Pretty sweet, right?

But, all put together, I think I look like a drag queen.

I'm a real girl, I swear! I'm not just dressing up as one.


But, on the bright side, I plan on running a race in my rockin' tutu at some point.

And, I'll have more chances to redeem myself in costume, like at my upcoming Halloween Halfathon.

October 10, 2012

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K, St. Petersburg, Florida: Oct. 6: race recap

Before Saturday, I ran one 10K. It was OK, but it was definitely not my favorite distance. So much so that I didn’t think I’d do another one.

Then, I had a friend doing a 10K. I thought about it. Then, there was a possibility I’d be out of town. So, I stopped thinking about it. Then, the possibility of being out of town turned into not a possibility. So, I signed up for the race.

I was still a little unsure about the distance, the course and the weather.

The pesky Pier
Heat ... and lightning?

I met my friend from running group, Lori, at her house to ride together to the race (in addition to two of her other friends).

We wanted to get there early to find parking. I read in the paper that they expected 10,000 people. Yikes!

But, parking was a breeze. Also, since the 10K was the first race (and started 45 minutes before the 5K), it wasn’t crazy crowded.

We had time for a photo, porta-potties (with no lines) and checking out a few booths before heading to the start line. 

Photo credit to random guy walking your dog early that morning
Yeah, the photo is blurry. But that's how I feel early in the
morning so I thought it was appropriate.

The race started right on time, and we headed to the start (with other members of the running group we found at the start). It wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be.

Luckily we hit the Pier in the first mile, so it wasn’t as pesky as it has been in past races. We ran through our first water stop. We kept running along the water, and all was wonderful … until we started running by hacking-coughing-snorting-sniffing-spitting man. Seriously, this guy was making every nasty bodily noise possible, and it was nonstop! Ugh. I think this was our fastest part of the race as we sped to get away from him.

A few miles into the race, I knew this was going to be a good race. It wasn’t as hot as it could be (still hot, mind you), and it was fun! Yay for running! It was great seeing other running group friends throughout the race. Yay for running friends!

We walked through each of our next water stops to make sure we were hydrated. But, that was it. No extended walking breaks …even when we went up a hill (a Florida hill, so probably nothing to anyone else).

I felt really great throughout the race. It was hot, but thanks to clouds, no scary sun. And, no scary lightning.

I started to feel tired at mile 5. Lori sped up like you’re supposed to do later in the race. I just couldn’t do it, but I kept running. As we hit mile 6, Lori turned around and came back and found me so we could finish together. I thought that was so sweet.

As we got close to the finish line, we did our final push. And Lori grabbed my hand as we crossed the finish line. Emotional moment, and I’m not emotional.

Our time was exactly the same: 1:16:38. 

Woo-hoo! We ran a 10K, and it was fun!

I ran a 6-minute faster 10K earlier this year, but it was not nearly as fun as this race. It was much, much cooler, though (and that probably had something to do with my faster time).

We had fun cheering other running group friends across the finish line. Then, we hit the booths, grabbed some freebies and cooled down before heading home. 

I just enjoyed everything about this race: water stops were great and well-stocked (necessary on a hot day); it was well-organized; and it was inspiring to see all the breast cancer survivors participating.  My only compliant: they listed me as 4 years older than I am and put me in a different age group. I quickly emailed, and that was quickly resolved. Whew.

When people ask me how the race went, my response is always “It was so fun” because it was.

October 8, 2012

Start the week off right: randomly

My brain is a random mess today. Floating around in it:
  • I have a role model profile on Peak Wellness today. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out (I kinda love the Beastie Boys).
  • I ran a 10K on Saturday, and I had a blast. This is notable because after I ran my first 10K, I decided I didn't like the distance and didn't plan on running one again. This race changed my mind. Recap to come. 
  • I had an awesome week of running. Funny how things can turn around in a week. Remember this?
  • My special-order giant running shoes came in; I'm picking them up tomorrow!
  • I love this photo from the weekend. I gave it the thumbs-up, but I don't love PBR.
  • I have a new-to-me car. It was a pain to buy. If you can get your car to run forever, DO IT. 
  • Because of the nice, new-to-me car, Chloe isn't allowed to ride it in yet ... maybe ever. So this weekend when she wanted to go the dog park, we took her in my boyfriend's car. She has to ride in the front due to seat covers there and not over the back leather seats. Where does this put me? Yep, in the back seat. Hmph! Spoiled dog.

I think she's taunting me!
  • I know I'm a freak of nature, but I'm not crazy about eating pumpkin. But, I'm a fan of pumpkin candles and have been burning one every day (even though it still feels like the surface of the sun in Florida and nothing like fall).
Do you like 10Ks? Did you have an awesome running week? Do you like PBR? Do you like buying cars? Am I crazy for asking this? Do you have a spoiled pet? Do you like pumpkin?