November 29, 2012

Something amazing happened

On Monday, something amazing happened.

I went out for an “easy” 3-mile run, and I ended up running my fastest 3 miles EVER. 

I wasn’t trying to run fast. I even made a point to not look at my watch every few minutes like I normally do. I just ran at a pace that felt comfortable to me.

Apparently, comfortable to me is running the third mile in a single-digit minute per mile pace. What? This girl doesn’t run single-digit minute per mile paces (except with the starting and stopping of the watch during speed work with breaks in between sprints).

So, what does this mean? Why did I run my fastest 3 miles ever when running at an easy, comfortable-to-me pace? Well, I have some theories. 

  • All of the speed work and consistent training is paying off, and this turtle is finally getting faster. This means running faster without feeling like death.
  • I was running by myself (which I highly dislike), so I ran fast to get it over with.
  • Since I had this day off from work, I actually got enough sleep and didn’t have the stress of a normal workday. Maybe ideal pre-run conditions contributed to an ideal run?
  • I ran fast to get away from a hacking, spitting guy.
I know the fourth point is definitely true.

This gives me some hope that what I thought was a far-off dream of an under 30-minute 5K isn’t so far off. Or maybe it was a fluke, and I’ll go back to being my slow, turtle self again.

How did you get faster? Did it take awhile to see a decrease in your time? Do you run fast to get away from hacking, spitting guys?

November 26, 2012

Monday musings

  • I feel like I've been washing dishes nonstop since Thanksgiving. And washing dishes is my least favorite household chore. I guess that's what I get for cooking a big meal with lots of leftovers.
  • At my dentist appointment today, I learned I have two broken fillings and one broken tooth. Why? Because of my newly developed habit of grinding my teeth. My jaws have been so sore lately, and I wasn't sure why. Now I know. Now I have two more appointments, a crown and a mouth guard in my future. Yay.
  • I found this obvious Christmas necessity at Target.
  • When my running buddy Lori called to tell me we made the Tampa Bay Times (our local paper), I panicked. Why? Because the photo was of us running the Women's Half Marathon. I started imagining how red, sweaty and taxed I looked. Photos of me running are not cute. When I finally got my hands on the paper, I was relieved. 
Photo by James Borchuck, Tampa Bay Times
Thankfully, the photo was at the beginning of the race. As an added bonus, Lori's ponytail blocked my face. Even though it was early and I wasn't too red, sweaty or taxed, I'm still capable of making a ridiculous face.   
  • You may have noticed I always refer to Lori as my running buddy. I'm not really sure how it started, but it's an accurate description. So, how cool is it that she got me this shoe charm?
  •  I took today off from work. I originally asked for it because we were planning on traveling for Thanksgiving. Even though we didn't, I kept the day as vacation. Awesome decision on my part. Of course, it will make going back to work tomorrow that much harder.

November 25, 2012

A fairly uneventful holiday weekend

At one point, my boyfriend and I were planning on driving to South Carolina for Thanksgiving to visit his family. Then, we decided that wasn't going to work. So, we stayed and celebrated by ourselves (with a begging dog named Chloe).  

Yes, this is too much food for two people.
Never fear. Chloe is here.

After we ate, we watched football the rest of the day as one should. Well, I did anyway. Somehow my boyfriend ended up in line for a good deal on a TV at Walmart. Not sure how that happened ... he went out to get gas in his car at halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game and called telling me he'd be in line until 10 p.m. I didn't go because I didn't want to miss any of the game, although I wouldn't have minded missing the Kenny Chesney halftime show. Well, now knowing the outcome of the game, I wouldn't have minded missing that, too. It's rather painful to be a Cowboys fan these days. 

Thankfully, now I can watch the Cowboys' demise on a 60-inch TV screen. Yes, that is extremely big. Probably too big in my opinion, but I wasn't the one standing in line for 3+ hours to get it (so I'll probably keep my mouth shut on that).  

I feel like we didn't do anything else the rest of the weekend besides a few trips to the dog park and one to see Christmas lights.

These icicle lights are the coolest. A photo doesn't do them justice.

Oh, and last night we went out to eat at Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa with a friend. They have the absolute best oysters. I love raw oysters. Love them. I also love people-watching at the casino. I also love wine at the casino. With all of the love, we ended up staying there pretty late; by the time I got to bed, it was 2:30 a.m.

So waking up for our 7:30 a.m. run today was somewhat unfun. But that is really no different than any other day. Mornings and I just don't get along. 

But, I made it (we ran 50 minutes; 4.5 miles). And after breakfast, I promptly took a long nap. And, I really don't like naps. 

How was your holiday weekend? Did you cook? Did you do anything fun? Did you run?

November 22, 2012

A runner's blessings

I’m thankful for the ability to run.

I’m thankful for the desire to run.

I’m thankful for no running injuries.

I’m thankful for running friends.

I’m thankful for a great running group.

I’m thankful for knowledgeable and encouraging coaches.

I’m thankful for Brooks shoes. 

I’m thankful for bad runs because I always learn something.

I’m thankful for my running supporters.

I’m thankful for awesome winter running weather.

I’m thankful for Bondi Bands (I’m a sweaty girl).

I’m thankful for the condo's craptastic gym (I can’t believe I just typed that). 

I’m thankful for many incredible local race options. 

What are you thankful for running-wise? 

November 21, 2012

I love her

It started simply with liking her as a singer. When she came out around the same time as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, I always liked her best.

Then, when she did “Newlyweds,” I fell in love. I loved her personality. I loved her honesty. I loved her humor. I loved her realness. I thought she was gorgeous. Then, I couldn’t resist anything she did, whether it was a movie, an interview on TV or an appearance in a magazine, I had to see it.

I defended her when people called her stupid or fat.

I even gave slimy John Mayer another chance when she dated him. He couldn’t be all that bad, right? Yes. Yes, he can.

Being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I don’t like Tony Romo (yes, you read that right: don’t like). She renewed my faith in him … for awhile. Now I like him even less.

I saw her in concert during her “fat, mom jeans” time. But that’s as close as I’ve been to her.

She clearly wasn’t fat.

Maybe I’m slightly obsessed. And maybe I shrieked like a little girl when I heard she’d be making at appearance at a local mall. (And maybe you are scared now. I don't blame you.)

So when I heard it was the Saturday before my half marathon on Sunday, it still didn’t deter me. I knew it would probably involve standing on my feet for hours (It did: 2.5 hours’ worth), and my choice of a heeled boot was probably not the wisest shoe choice. But, I had a chance to meet Jessica Simpson, and I wasn’t passing it up.

The deal: if you bought $50 worth of Jessica Simpson Collection merchandise from Dillard’s, you’d get a wristband to meet Jessica and Ashlee Simpson. They were appearing from 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

So I headed to Dillard’s early in the week to make my purchase and get the details. I bought some purple skinny jeans (LOVE them) and was told to return on Saturday to meet Jessica.

To further add to my not-smart-before-a-half-marathon routine, I didn’t eat anything before going on Saturday. My stomach was excited and nervous (due to both meeting Jessica and the race and wondering where my boyfriend was who said he’d be ready to go at noon and was nowhere to be seen) so food wasn’t an option.

We finally made it to Dillard’s, and I got my wristband and got in line close to 1 p.m. And waited. And waited. And waited. We stood in line for more than two hours. But, the moment finally arrived.

When it was my turn to go up to the stage to meet Jessica and Ashlee, I had to give up my purse, phone and camera. I’m not really sure why … maybe safety reasons? They didn’t let people know this in advance, so some people were really unhappy about this. I kind of was because I really wanted a close-up photo of her (and with her), but I was just happy to meet Jessica so I really didn’t care.

Here’s how my interaction with Jessica went down:

Normally, I wouldn't post a photo of my butt. This one shows
me with Jessica Simpson, though.
Jina: Hi.
Jessica: Hi. How is your day?
Jina: It is great now. (Yes, I think I really said that.)
Jessica: What is your name?
Jina: Jina. It’s J-I-N-A.
(Jessica and Ashlee sign photos for me.)
Jessica is listening carefully to my name. Ashlee is not.
I love this.
I knew she didn't listen!
Jessica: That purple looks gorgeous on you.
Thank you. You are both gorgeous.

Jessica and Ashlee:
Aww, thank you!
It was short and sweet, but it rocked. My favorite celebrity said my favorite color looked gorgeous on me. I’m glad since 99.8% of my wardrobe is purple.

After taking massive amounts of photos, we left. I really wanted to stick it out until she left, and I probably could have. I figured my boyfriend suffered enough at this point, though.

As we ate sushi (my favorite pre-race meal), I looked through all of the photos and reminisced about my best day ever (of this year, anyway).

November 19, 2012

Women's Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nov. 18, 2012: race recap

It's official: I love the Women's Half Marathon!

I ran this race last year as my first half marathon, and even though I was disappointed in my performance, I thought the race rocked. It's so well done. Everything. It's organized. It's a great course. It has sufficient water (and Gatorade) stops. It has great bling. And, as a bonus for me, it's local.

So it's probably no surprise that I ran this race as my fourth half marathon, and I thought the race rocked again. 

After more than three months of training, my running group friends and I were ready for this race. We met up early Sunday morning at a hotel close to the start (for indoor restrooms and a place to gather). It was a short walk to the start line.
Lori, Christine and me outside the hotel before the race

Thankfully, we didn't get to our corral any too early. It was crazy crowded and kind of warm for such a cool day (really, pretty ideal running weather: 60s and overcast).

A few minutes after we found and squeezed into our corral, the race started. It was pretty crowded for the first mile, so Lori and I started off slower than we usually do. 

Since we are fortunate to train in the exact location of the race, the course was extremely familiar. We ran along the water, into a neighborhood and back out along the water. We took a GU gel around mile 4 with some water.

At this point, I felt great! I was a little nervous when we got to mile 6 because this is where I stopped to walk last year (and never recovered). We kept on trucking through mile 6. We even kept on trucking on the Pier, my running nemesis. It proved to be my nemesis again as it was super windy. We ran straight into a strong wind up the Pier. Thankfully, once we ran around the Pier and back the other way, the wind was at our backs.
I highly dislike you, Pier!

Around mile 8, we took our second GU gel followed by water. Aside from the pesky Pier, I think the last 4 miles are the toughest of this course. It involves a gradual incline up through downtown St. Petersburg, a trip around Mirror Lake (boring), then on to Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, before heading to the finish. 

We knew what was ahead and prepared for this portion of the course. Our coach had us do multiple Mirror Lake repeats during training so once around the lake wouldn't seem so bad during the race. And, it really didn't seem so bad.

The run from Mirror Lake to Tropicana Field is what did seem bad to me. Even though I ran the course last year and did a 12-mile training run that included this portion of the course, I thought Tropicana Field was much closer to Mirror Lake than it really was. This part seemed long, but we kept running.

Once we hit Tropicana Field, we ran inside the dome. Yes, as a part of this race you run around the warning track of a Major League Baseball field. For a baseball-loving girl like me, this is pretty sweet. For a runner who ran 10+ miles on asphalt, this switch to a squishy surface is not so sweet. It was definitely slower going here. 

We had a gradual incline outside of Tropicana Field before we hit the downhill run back to the finish. Around mile 12, I met Denise. She was working a water stop, and I recognized her from her blog and the Tampa Bay Bloggers group. She was so sweet to jog some with me before taking a picture of our group.
Our coach joined Lori and I at this point to run with us before
going back out for the next group to bring in to the finish.

Then, it was time to really kick it in. We only had 1.1 miles left, and I was ready to run fast. It was all downhill to the finish. We took off. We ran hard that last 1.1 miles. Really hard. Really, really hard.

After a strong finale across the finish line, we received out medals from the military, grabbed some water and snacks, and met up with others from our group.

With the coveted bling
Purple power
Ahh! Grass!

I was happy with my performance. I only walked through water stops. I had a really strong finish. I ran the entire race with my running buddy, Lori, and really enjoyed almost every minute of this race. 

I was shocked to realize that my time was 2:45:33. This is only 3 minutes faster than my disastrous, walk-a-ton result of last year. Why did I feel so disappointed last year and feel happy this year? I'm not sure. I guess running the entire distance (aside from water stops)  feels better than walking portions. I'm not sure. 

The other question is: why is my time only 3 minutes better? I feel like a much stronger runner. And, the weather this year was ideal – especially compared to the hot, miserable, above-average temps of last year. Maybe I didn't push myself as hard as I could? I probably need to pick up the pace sooner. I'm just so conservative and worried I'll burn out before the finish. I need to work on that. 

As far as this race, I loved everything. As far as my performance, there are definitely things I can work on. 

November 16, 2012

A rockin' weekend

This weekend is going to rock! Here's why:
  • Friday: I'll get sweet, sweet sleep! This week has been killer. Lots of work and not much fun leads to a tired turtle. I'm going to sleep it up tonight!
  • Saturday: I shall meet one of my favorite celebrities of all time, the lovely and talented Jessica Simpson. I've loved this girl for a long time, and I can't believe I will meet her (when I say "meet," it really just means saying "hi"), get her autograph and get a photo with her. She'll be at a local Dillard's, and it's bound to be a little crowded and crazy, but it's so worth it to me. I'm beyond excited!
As close as I've been before
  • Sunday a.m.: I'm running the Women's Half Marathon! This is my second year running this race, and I can't wait. I've trained for three months with a fabulous running group all along the course route, and I'm ready to rock this race (I say this, but I'm currently questioning my abilities).
  • Sunday p.m.: I'm going to a post-race cookout at my coach's house for our running group. I love the coaches, the running group, food and drinks, so this is going to be an awesome way to celebrate with the people I've trained with and grown to like so much.  
Any exciting weekend plans? Running a race? Ever met a celebrity? Which one do you most want to meet?

November 15, 2012

An inspiring nomination

I was nominated. Not for the presidency, thank goodness (Can you imagine the stress of that job? Or the stress of the country if I was president? Yikes!). But, I was nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Bean. She rocks and is quite inspiring herself. She refers to herself as a plodder, but this girl is getting super fast. She gives this turtle hope.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award rules:
  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State seven things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them. (Yeah, I'm going to break this rule. I don't normally break the rules, but 15 is a bunch.)
  • Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.
My seven things

A note about my seven things: Every fact I write about myself always has to do with loving this and that. I'm not trying to being negative, but I'm going for things I don't like this time for something different. 

1.  I don't like whipped cream. I know, I know. I'm a strange one. I've never liked this stuff. The texture, taste and coating it leaves on your mouth are all disgusting to me. A recurring nightmare is someone forcing whipped cream down my throat via the spray can. SCARY. 
2.  I don't like red. I tend to be rather red-faced much of the time (especially when running), and I look like a giant tomato if I wear red.
Thank goodness I don't have a red shirt to
complete the giant tomato look.

3.  I don't like shorts. I'm not sure when shorts and I broke up, but it's been awhile. My legs are so pale that I blind anyone that looks in my direction. It's frightening. Because of my scary, pale legs, not only do I worry about blinding the masses, but I also worry about sunburns. So, cropped pants for running it is.

* WARNING: Wear sunglasses when looking directly at this photo.* I would have you guess which legs are mine, but it's pretty obvious that mine are the ones hurting your eyes (and are not in shorts).

I don't like Daniel Craig as James Bond. I'm not a huge James Bond aficionado, but I definitely like others in the role over him. I like Daniel Craig (especially in "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), but just not as Bond. 

5.  I don't like two-door cars. I guess this comes from being tall and being stuffed in the back of too many two-door cars. It is not fun to get in or out, and it is almost a certainty that I will trip over the seat belt getting out. 

6.  I don't like the phrase "I'm just sayin'." I've probably mentioned this before because I hate it so. Isn't it obvious that you are just sayin' if you just said it? I see no point to ever uttering this phrase. Stop it, people.   

7.  I don't like waking up early. In fact, I dread it. I'm a night owl, and I think I always will be. If I could sleep until at least 10 a.m. every day, I'd be a happy girl.  

The nominations

I nominated these ladies because they are all inspiring to me. 
Julie is determined and dedicated to her running; Rose fits in running with a job, a husband with crazy work hours and kids; I still have no idea how Linda does it all, but she does; and, Jessie's switch to a healthy lifestyle encouraged her family down the same path.

November 5, 2012


Need a boost? Yes, please.

It really doesn’t matter what it’s in reference to, I could use it. That little extra kick, motivation or assistance can come in really handy … especially when we’re talking about exercise and healthy eating. 

I exercise and eat healthy the majority of the time, but I do have some areas I slack in (ahem, strength training and flexibility). And, that's exactly where Peak Wellness can help me ... and you, too!

My lack of flexibility isn't obvious, right?
That's right, readers. The great coaches at Peak Wellness are offering you (and a buddy) the opportunity to receive coaching, as well as training and diet tools. All of the information and support is delivered online, so you don't need to be local to participate. 

I can vouch that Peak Wellness's coaching has helped me in my running life. They led me to me foam rolling, which I'm not very happy about while I'm doing it, but the end results are pretty fabulous. I also learned about a dynamic warm up before running, which I had no clue about until the folks at Peak Wellness introduced me to it. Both are wonderful additions to my running program. 

And, for someone like me, who is a little clueless when it comes to strength training, Peak Wellness is great. They provide instructional videos for each move. One of my biggest pet peeves is photos with descriptions of strength training moves. I can never interpret them and get frustrated before I do one rep. Give me a video, people.

What's something like this cost?, you ask. That's the beauty, folks. It's absolutely free. (I feel like an infomercial, but trust me, this stuff is legit.)

So, check out the Peak Wellness BOOST program. Be sure to look at the FAQs. Then, let's get a boost.  

Let me know if you are planning on doing the BOOST program. Or, let me know if you'd like to be BOOST buddies.