January 30, 2013

Carnival Classic Half Marathon, Long Beach, Mississippi, Jan. 26, 2013: race recap

This race was completely last minute. On a running high from the race with the big bridges, I happily agreed to travel to Mississippi (Long Beach in da house) for a half marathon the next weekend.

It wasn't all about the race. My boyfriend and I usually take a trip at the end of the year. Instead, our house was packed with guests from Dec. 20 until the first week of January. We really needed a trip after that (just kidding, family ... kind of). 

So, after too long of a drive, we arrived in Mississippi on Thursday. I know so many people love road trips. I do not. I love flying. If the drive is anything more than two hours, I want a plane. But, the drive allowed us to take this crazy girl.

She's worth it ... I guess.

The race started at 8 a.m. on Saturday. That seemed late to me. I'm used to 7 a.m. starts. But, I actually got a great night's sleep, and I thought I was ready to run. I thought wrong.

The first 3 miles were completely painful. Not just as in an "I'm totally not into this," which I wasn't, but an "Ow! My calves are cramping," kind of painful. This is new. This hasn't happened before.

I think part of it was because I felt like everyone took off at the beginning of the race, and I was left by myself (this isn't completely true). I ran faster to try and keep up with the pack. And, part of it was probably due to not drinking my usual Nuun the day before. I like to drink a few tablets worth of it to up my electrolytes. Whatever the cause, my calves hurt!

Mile 1: 11:11 (Eek! Started too "fast")
Mile 2: 12:02
Mile 3: 12:09

After slowing down and grabbing some Gatorade at a water stop, the calf pain eased, and I felt better. Still not great, but at least I wasn't in pain.

Mile 4: 11:58
Mile 5: 11:47 (I took a GU gel around mile 4.5)
Mile 6: 11:47

It wasn't until mile 6 that I felt totally in the race. Prior, I had dreams of stopping, calling my boyfriend to come and pick me up and booking it to New Orleans. Not that I was going to do it, but it was fun to dream. 

I came into this race wanting a personal record (PR). I thought it was finally my time to get that PR I've been chasing for almost a year, knowing it was a super-flat course. Before mile 6, I really didn't think it was going to happen.  

Super-duper flat

Mile 7: 11:36
Mile 8: 11:46
Mile 9: 11:31 (I took another GU gel around mile 8.5)
I started to get more optimistic after mile 9. I finally felt great, and I wanted to get to New Orleans.

Mile 10: 11:12
Mile 11: 11:14
Mile 12: 11:07

Coming into the last 1.1 miles, I knew I had a fabulous shot at that record. I wanted it, and I hoped I could at least keep up the pace of mile 12.

Mile 13: 10:45 (Holy crap! My fastest mile of the entire race was the last full mile!)
Mile 0.1: 0:43

My official time: 2:30:54. FINALLY! I took off almost 3 minutes from my personal best. 

Super-duper happy with my PR!
Pretty sweet medal

This course was gorgeous. It was an out-and-back of this view.

Maybe the repetitive scenery made me run faster?

But, it was the same thing for 13.1 miles. I know there are worse things in life to look at for 13.1 miles, but it got boring. I need variety ... waaah, right? I'm such a baby. 

But, the after-party made up for it. 

Homemade gumbo? Yes, please.

Beer? Yes, please.


On the beach? Yes, please. 

Oh, they also had hot dogs and pizza ... but, why? 

This race is ideal for a "fast" time. It's super, super, super flat (yes, it deserves three "supers"). And, at the end of January, it shouldn't be too hot (for a race in the South) it was actually warmer than I hoped, but it wasn't unbearable (70s by race-end). As an added bonus, it's only about an hour's drive to New Orleans. YES! 

Have you ever had calf pain during a run? Do you know why? What did you do to resolve it? Has it even taken you 6 miles to warm up? Ever run a race right along the coast? Ever get bored with the same scenery (no matter how beautiful) during a run?

January 29, 2013

Tuesday tidbits

So much to say, but so little time to type it in. 
  •  You can save $20 on Pretty Muddy through January 31. What is Pretty Muddy? It's a 5K course with mud and obstacles. And, it's a women-only event (sorry, dudes).
    It's going to be my first mud run, and you should join in the fun. There is a Tampa event (for local gals), but there are also events across the country. Use the code GIRLTIME to save $20 when you register.
  • I just got back from a rather last-minute trip to the Biloxi, Mississippi area. It included a half marathon and a trip to New Orleans. These were both extremely awesome. A full race recap to come.
I'm not sure why I love this area so much ...
  • I'll also have a post on things to do when traveling to a destination race. This was my first one, and I learned what to do (and what not to do, unfortunately).
  • Some things to do when visiting New Orleans? Visit Cafe Du Monde. Eat beignets.
  • Chloe wanted someone, anyone to drop a beignet. No luck. People hold on tight.
  • Everything about New Orleans makes me happy ... especially the beignets ... and Bloody Marys. Whew, it's a good thing I ran a half marathon before I visited.
Have you ever done a mud run? Did you like it? Ever been to New Orleans? Do you love it? You have to love beignets, right?

January 23, 2013

An impromptu trip ... and race

In the last few days, my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to the Biloxi-New Orleans area.

Yes, it's rather last minute. And yes, I usually like to plan trips. But, this was too good to pass up.

First, I love the area. Second, there is a race nearby. This was the selling point for me.

After my glorious half marathon on Sunday, I am all about running. When my boyfriend suggested a destination race, I immediately said, "yes, please" (or something to that effect).  

Yay, running! Where can I run next?

I was shocked and excited. Why shocked? He's not a huge fan of races. He's not an early morning person, and he doesn't understand why you'd pay someone to run (yes, he's one of those people). So, when he suggested traveling somewhere for a race, I jumped on it. 

My first thought: Vegas. Unfortunately, Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas isn't until November (I really want to do that race). Then, I started thinking closer. And, since we both love the Gulf Coast, that area seemed like a logical choice.

Thankfully, the Long Beach Carnival Classic Half Marathon and 5K is on Saturday, and I'm registered for the half. (I immediately started thinking of all the Long Beach rap references: "so much drama in the L-B-C," "Long Beach in da house!" and "Compton and Long Beach together, now you know you in trouble," right off the top of my head). And, then I decided they need a race shirt that says, "So much runnin' in the L-B-C." Right?!? I guess they're not technically talking about Long Beach, Mississippi, but I think it could work.

So, back-to-back half marathons. I'm pumped. I had such a great race on Sunday, I can't help but think good things for Saturday. Why? Cooler weather and a flat, coastal route. I've never done a destination half marathon, so I'll see how it goes. But, secretively (or not really), I'm really excited and optimistic.

Have you ever done back-to-back races? How did you feel? Have you ever done a destination race? Did you like it?

January 22, 2013

Clearwater Halfathon, Jan. 20, 2013, Clearwater, Florida: race recap

You know those days when from your first step, you know it’s going to be an awesome run? Well, Sunday (the day of the Clearwater Halfathon) was not one of those days. 

But thankfully, around mile 5, it turned into one of those runs.

Before that, as I saw the 5Kers make the turnaround to go back, I wanted to go back. As I saw the 5-milers turn around to go back, I wanted to go back. I kept going (afraid to walk at a water stop because I was afraid I would never start running again, so I proceeded to spill water all over myself). 

Then, glorious mile 5 came along, and I didn’t want to stop running. The rest of the race went by so quickly (this is a relative term because I am not quick). Instead of “Ugh! It’s only mile 7,” it was “Wow! It’s already mile 7?!” This went on for the remainder of the race.

Yes, the race that scared me. The race with the big, scary bridges. THAT race. 

You know what? It turns out that I liked running up and over two big and scary bridges, and I liked running back over them to get back to the finish. Well, “like” may be a strong word for the bridge at mile 12. But, it was doable. But, it was also a challenge. It was fun to run up it when so many walked. I felt strong. I felt amazing. I felt empowered.

Before I even hit mile one, I went up the first big bridge (Clearwater Memorial Causeway). Then, I made my way to Clearwater Beach and up another big bridge (Clearwater Pass Bridge) before mile 5. Miles 5-9ish were flat until we went back up the bridges on our way back to the start. 

Before mile 1 (picture not taken on race day)
Down the other side

The weather ended up being pretty awesome: 60s and overcast. Considering it was in the mid-80s earlier in the week, I thought it was fabulous.

And, the course was beautiful. 

I never got bored on the course, and I think the bridges helped with that … as did the sweet views of the gulf. 

I took GU Energy Gels (mandarin orange and island nectar) at miles 4 and 8, and I took water and sometimes Gatorade (blech) from each water stop.

As I made it to Mile Linda (mile 11), I made sure to enjoy every step (which wasn’t hard since I was already doing that). But, it was a beautiful mile (I wish I was talented enough to take photos while running, but I’m not).

It was also at Mile Linda that I started calculating my possible finish times. For some reason, I am terrible at math while running (this is not the case when I’m not running). I could not figure out why my finish time was going to be so high. It felt like a great race despite the pesky bridges. Um, unfortunately, it’s because I thought I had 3.1 miles left at this point (instead of the actual 2.1 miles).

When I made it to mile 12 (and the final bridge),I realized my math was off, and I got excited about my possible finish time. That final bridge ascent really wasn’t fun (and it was pretty darn slow for me), but a sweet descent to the finish followed. 

Across the finish

My Garmin time was exactly the time of my official chip finish time: 2:38:29. It’s my second-best half marathon time, and it was on the most difficult course I’ve ever run. This is exciting to me! 

So, even though it wasn’t a personal record, it was an amazing race, and I’m really happy with my result. I loved the race, I loved the experience of the bridges, and I love that I’m back in the 2:3Xs for a half marathon time.

Have you ever been worried about a race and ended up surprised at how well you did? Do you like running bridges or hills?

January 18, 2013

An eerie calm

I tend to panic. It’s not a good thing, but it happens.

Thankfully, I already went through my panic stage for the Clearwater Halfathon. My panicking usually happens closer to a race, so this is kind of strange for me. The race is Sunday, and I have an eerie calm about me.

So why am I so calm?

  •  I know I can do this. I can run 13.1 miles. Even if I didn’t run for a few weeks around Christmas and the new year, I’m still quite capable. Why? Runners don't lose much V02 max over a 10-day period of inactivity. And if you have to miss two weeks, it only reduces it by 6%. Thanks to Julie, I know this and feel so much better. I love her (not in a weird way … don’t be scared, Julie).
  • I’ve done this five times before.
  • It does involve big, scary bridges, but the Holiday Halfathon did, too (but not as big and not as scary). Guess what? I actually liked the bridges in that race. It broke up the race. It was something different. It was a challenge. That’s a good thing. 
  • I'm running mile 11 for my friend, Linda. I've dubbed it "Mile Linda" (sounds better than mile 11, right?). She's been on bed rest during a good deal of her pregnancy. No matter what, that is difficult; but, Linda is a runner, too. So I'm running the 11th mile (her favorite number) in her honor.
  • I’m really looking forward to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in St. Pete and view that as my “A” race this year. I love that race. This race will be a build up to that.
  • When it comes down to it, it’s only a race. It’s not life or death. I’d love to finally beat my best time, but if I don’t, there’s always another race. It’s not that I’m not taking it seriously or that I don’t want to do well, but on the “what’s-important-in-life” scale, it’s not at the top.
Do you panic before races (or any big events)? Or are you more rational than me? I hope so.

January 16, 2013

Back to my random ways

I have a lot on my mind, but none of it is full blog post-worthy, so back to my favorite writing form: bullets. 
  • My sore back is slowly getting better, I think. I ran on Monday (4 miles) and Tuesday (3 miles). Today it’s kind of stiff and sore again, but not nearly as bad as Sunday. I hope it’s on the mend. I don’t need anything else working against me on Sunday: the day of “most challenging half marathon in Florida.”
  • In addition to the half marathon, there is a full marathon available. Yikes. That distance is still not appealing to me and extremely scary. I keep thinking it will be my next goal, but no, not yet … maybe not ever. I do always get a little twinge of interest when I read an inspiring marathon recap, like this one ... but only a twinge, mostly admiration and awe at the person who did it.
  • Jessica Simpson was on Jay Leno on Tuesday. She was beautiful and funny, per usual. She just makes me happy. She already looks super pregnant, but isn’t due until summer. I guess that’s what happens when you’re 5’2”.
  • I like to think I’m a part of this child’s life because when I met Jessica, she was pregnant.
  • To top off the ultimate late night, Charlie Sheen was on Jimmy Fallon. He makes me happy, too. But, not happy enough to stay up that late. Sorry Charlie.
  • I did recently watch a new-to-me Charlie Sheen movie, though. It was released in 1998, so it’s probably not new to anyone else. What can I say? I’m on the cutting edge. Anyway, I could have gone another 15 years without seeing it. If given the opportunity, do not watch “No Code of Conduct.” Horrible, awful movie. I didn’t realize Martin and Charlie made such terrible movies. They do. My boyfriend said at the beginning of the movie, “Hey. That’s Bret Michaels.” I said, “No. It looks like him, but it’s definitely not him.” At the closing credits, we found out it was Bret Michaels … and that he directed the movie. Bret Michaels directs movies? Well, he shouldn’t.
  • I came upon this unfortunate movie because of Netflix. I’ve never had Netflix, but our new TV has a wireless connection and now, Netflix. In my first experience, my boyfriend asked what movie I wanted to watch. I of course said “Ace Ventura.” Not available. OK, what kind of service is this? The best movie of all time is not available? Then, I said, “How about 300?” Yeah, not available either. So, I said, “Can you look up movies by actor?” That led to searching Charlie Sheen and the terrible discovery. Um, is Netflix really this lame? No recent movies? Only Bret Michaels-directed movies?
  • Tonight, I’m watching an OJ Simpson trial documentary thanks to Netflix. I started by searching Jessica Simpson (surprise!). After finding absolutely nothing (seriously worst movie service ever … or I don’t know how to work it yet), but seeing OJ, I decided to see what he had to offer. I thought maybe "Naked Gun," but no: two documentaries about the trial. Sadly, I’m mildly obsessed with law and especially the Simpson trial, so I’m actually liking it more than the pitiful Charlie Sheen movie.
Please tell me: is Netflix really this bad? Have you ever watched a Bret Michaels-directed movie? Have you run a marathon? If so, do you like the distance? If not, are you scared like me?

January 15, 2013

Spinning, marketing, arting, stretching, walking ... and finally, running

I’m a sweater. I know this. I should have been prepared for the level of sweat. I wasn’t.

I had a towel. I could have used another towel. So. Much. Sweat.

What produces this level of sweat? Spin.

On Saturday, I participated in my first spin class to benefit Pet Pal Animal Shelter.

Because it was an early weekend morning, it took me awhile to wake up and get oriented. But, about 20 minutes into the class, I finally figured out what was going on and started to really enjoy it. I loved climbing hills (huh?) and making turns. Aside from the sweat situation, I loved it all.

What I loved most is that it benefited sweet animals like this girl.

Sandy made an appearance at the spin-a-thon

After the class (which consisted of a lot of my running group since a running group friend was teaching the class), we headed to the market across the street ... and into heaven.

I love tomatoes, seriously.
I love guacamole, too, but I just had a sample ... and wanted to
take home the entire bowl.

Later that evening, I headed to an art show with a fabulous Tampa Bay artist's work in it. That fabulous local artist happens to be my coworker and friend who is extremely talented.

Me, not the creator, with her amazing artwork
The artist with another piece of work, Schlitz (only a dolla dolla bill, ya'll)

After a fun day and night, I headed to bed to start it all over again with a long run on Sunday morning. Problem: I woke up on Sunday to excruciating back pain. I couldn't stand straight. It hurt to take a step. Gah.

So instead of running, I spent the day stretching, applying heat and walking.

... and spotting dolphins
... and drinking delicious Dunkin' Donuts coconut
coffee in the dog park

I thought maybe I could run Sunday night, but I still wasn't comfortable. Better, but not great.

On Monday, the back was much better. Still sore, but not nearly as bad. So, I ran Monday night. The first mile was awful. It was so painful that I wanted to quit, but I told myself, "Self, run at least one mile and then reevaluate."

I ran 4 miles. Pretty decent miles for me running by myself (I hate running by myself). I felt awesome after (less back pain than before I ran).

Tonight, I ran 3 more miles. A little pain when I started, but it all worked out by the end. Whew! The half marathon on Sunday is still a go ...  

Ever have random back pain? What did you do? Did you run with it? Do you love tomatoes? Guacamole? Ever do a spin class? What did you think?

January 9, 2013

A running quiz

I’m kind of late to the party (per usual), but I did this running quiz that I saw on Jogging on Coffee ... three months ago, ahem.

Fuel: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?  

When I first started running, I didn’t even know you needed to “eat” while running long distances. Once I learned this, I bought a variety of things to try, and I didn’t like most of them. I tolerated GU Energy Gel, but it was still gross to me. Then, I discovered GU Chomps, which I thought were the best thing ever (because they are almost exactly like gummy candy). I used them until this training session when a running group coach gave us a bunch of GU gel. I started using it again and realized that even though the texture was still nasty, I liked it better than chewing something while running. So for now, GU gel ... but only fruity flavors (the idea of espresso gel makes me gag … not that the fruity flavors don't sometimes).

Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

Half marathons and I are in love. Good thing, since I have seven on the calendar for 2013 (yikes). It’s a manageable distance, but I still find it very challenging. I have tons of room for improvement … and I’m extremely scared of the marathon distance. I’d like to someday get an under-30-minute 5K, but I just really don’t like that distance. It takes me at least one mile to warm up, so this doesn’t bode well for a 3.1-mile race. I’ve done two 10Ks: one I didn’t like and one I loved, so I’m still not entirely decided on that distance.

Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

I always run in black capris. Always. Why? My legs are blindingly white. Even the small amount of skin that shows could frighten small children. 

Black capris, pale legs? Yep, me.

Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

Nuun is my favorite sports drink by far. I highly dislike Gatorade but have been known to drink it during a race with a water chaser. But, blech. 

Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?  

Cold, please! Living in Florida, “cold” is anything below 80 degrees, which doesn’t happen very often (it was 85 degrees today, and it’s January for goodness sake). Hot weather is miserable here. The sun sizzles my skin and the humidity causes an excessive amount of sweating. 

Me excessively sweaty: not pretty

Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics or Other?

I love Brooks! I was fitted for the Brooks Adrenaline when I first started running, and I’ve never ran in anything else since. I tried on others and ran on the “track” in the store, but the Brooks stood out as the most comfortable and most supportive by far. 

My love

Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?  

I either have toast (usually sandwich thin) with peanut butter and a banana or oatmeal, but usually the toast, peanut butter and banana because it tastes better.

Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or other?

I only run three days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday), so I have four rest days from running. I keep thinking I’ll add another run day, but I haven’t. Since I haven’t been injured and this allows me to run half marathons, I haven’t changed it.

Music: Have to have it or go without it?  

I go without it. I almost always run with my running group and chatting with the girls is one of the reasons I love running so much.

#1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?

My number one reason for running is endorphins. I feel awesome after I run. Even if it was a “bad” run, I still feel fabulous. Closely tied for second: running is challenging, it allows me to be competitive (with myself), and it provides social benefits.

Are you a blogger that’s completed the quiz? If so, let me know so I can check out your answers. Otherwise, let me know your answers below. I particularly interested in your rest days ... how many days do you run per week? How did you determine that number?