February 28, 2013

More randomness ... due to a planet appearing to move backward?

Holy crapola. What a week. I don’t know what the deal is, but I feel like everyone has their crazy pants on (including me). Because of this, my brain is still working in bullet form.
  • I am really not an astrology person … at all. You won’t catch me asking what your sign is, so don’t worry. But, a woman I worked with totally believed in Mercury retrograde. What is it? In simple terms, I think it causes people to break out their crazy pants. More scientifically (?), it happens three to four times per year when Mercury slows down, appears to stop and move backward. What do you know? We’re in this period now. Beware of the crazy pants for a few more weeks. It ends March 17. 
  • It looks like it’s going to be a cool running weekend. Yay! Temperatures should be in the upper 40s for our Sunday morning bridge training. Cooler temperatures mean less sweat and less matted and tangled hair ... and coffee after (Who am I kidding? That happens no matter the temperature). 

  • Am I weird for not liking the Oscars? I love keeping up with celebrities, but I just can’t stomach this awards show. I feel like it’s a bunch of butt kissing, and it kind of makes me ill. I do like seeing what people wore, and I usually just check out the photos the next day. This year I made the unfortunate mistake of watching the red carpet show on ABC. Gag. That was a huge disaster and a total suck-up fest, too. When every interview ends with, “I’m rooting for you,” you know this person is just saying what the other person wants to hear. 
  • Am I weird for watching Nancy Grace? She irritates me, but I find myself watching her show. It irritates me more that I am keeping up with the Jodi Arias trial.  
  • The elevator in our condo building is being replaced. Did you know it takes four to six weeks to replace one? Yeah, me either. We are now into week five. Thanks to the jerk who told me they were ahead of schedule and got my hopes up. It’s actually not a terrible thing … except when you’re in a hurry or tired, have heavy things to carry (up seven flights of stairs) or when you forgot something in your car (like tonight).

Still going up (and down) three times per day

Do you believe in or like astrology? Do you like to run in cold temperatures? Do you like the Oscars? Did you watch the horrific red carpet show on ABC? What dress did you like best (Reese Witherspoon’s was my favorite)? Do you like Nancy Grace? Are you keeping up with the Jodi Arias trial?

February 25, 2013

Running randomness

I'm pumped that I was able to at least focus my randomness on one topic. This is progress:
  • Our running group started bridge training for the Clearwater Iron Girl Half Marathon this weekend. In other places, this may be known as "hill training." On the West coast of Florida, there are no such things as hills. We met at a local trail and ran overpass repeats for 50 minutes. There were three overpasses in a small area, so you can cover a lot in a short amount of time. It was tough. Probably the most difficult 4.3 miles I've ever ran. I'm hoping it gets easier.
  • During this training, it was extremely humid. Being the sweaty girl that I am, I sweat ... a lot. Since I knew this was going to happen, I wore my hair in a braid to try and avoid the sweaty, tangled ponytail I usually get. Instead, I got a tangled braid (how does this happen?!?). Any advice on how to avoid tangled, matted, nasty, sweaty hair?

Ponytail and braid end in tangled, sweaty messes. (Yes, I like purple and making funny faces.)

  • Speaking of purple (when do I not speak of purple?), I will soon have these beautiful babies in my possession. I got the last pair in my size (allegedly), and I got them on sale. Score!


  • In other exciting running news, my dad is running! He's run before (he played college basketball and was in the military), but not in a very long time. He walks 3 miles a day at the gym, and he decided he wanted to add some running. I sent him the Couch to 5K plan and told him to take it easy, not overdo it and not get discouraged. He's decided he wants to do a 5K with me when he's here in March for some spring training games. I'm so pumped!

Baseball and running? Awesome!

Do you do hill/bridge training? Has it helped you? Do you like it? What is your favorite color? Have you ever run a race with a family member?

February 22, 2013

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

I wrote the title to this post first. That never happens. That is always the hardest part for me, so it always comes last ... until this post. Since I'm posting the winner of my Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon entry, this popped in my head and reminded me of a "Two and a Half Men" episode. 

So, I started searching for this episode on YouTube (Alan gets friends and family to invest in a Ponzi scheme, and in the process develops a cocky alter ego who uses the phrase "winner, winner, chicken dinner" ... please tell me someone else knows what I'm talking about). Well, I failed in finding it. But, I did manage to end up on Whitney Houston (how does this always happen?), and I got lost in jamming to "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" (and being sad that she is dead).

Anyway, that is totally not where I was wanting to go. Maybe there is a reason I usually save the title for last. But, I'm going to try and pull it all together. Stick with me.

Don'tcha wanna run with somebody? With somebody who loves you?

OK, I tried. I realize it's not really working. 

But I do want to run with all who entered. I do love you.

Unfortunately, there is only one winner. And that winner is:

Winner selected through Rafflecopter via random.org

Congratulations, Caroline! I'll be in touch about your half marathon entry to the Clearwater Iron Girl!

If you didn't win, I still want to run with you! And, you can register for the Clearwater Iron Girl Half Marathon and 5K and use the coupon code TBBLOGGERS13 to save 10%. Hurry, though. This coupon code expires February 28.

I hope to see all of you there!

If you didn't win, you're still going to run Clearwater Iron Girl, right? Right?!? Are you a "Two and a Half Men" fan like me (Charlie Sheen episodes only)? What's your favorite Whitney Houston song?

February 20, 2013

Top 5 tips for running a destination race

I ran a destination race in January: the Carnival Classic Half Marathon in Long Beach, Mississippi (I live in the Tampa Bay area). Here are the top five things I learned about packing and traveling for a destination race.

1. Pack a variety of race outfits. I failed in this area ... miserably. I checked the weather forecast, and it was supposed to be cold. I knew I'd be wearing a jacket. I knew I'd be wearing ear warmers. I debated buying tights (thinking my capris would be too cold). Thankfully, I didn't buy the tights. Thankfully, I just borrowed some ear warmers from a friend. Unfortunately, I didn't pack a shirt I really liked ... a shirt that I like without a jacket covering it. I packed one long-sleeved shirt, one short-sleeved shirt and a jacket. I knew I'd be wearing the long sleeves with the jacket. I knew it. Of course, it ended up being much warmer than expected, and I definitely didn't need the jacket. I didn't even need the long sleeves. Unfortunately, all I needed was a short-sleeved shirt. That meant the shirt that I didn't like. The shirt I brought for a hotel gym workout. This shirt was not meant for race day when photos would be taken. Now my poor decision lives forever in photos. Sigh. Why I didn't pack more options, I do not know. I managed to pack three pairs of boots, but only a few options for running. Running clothes are light and do not take up much space. Pack a variety of options (and perhaps not so many pairs of boots), and don't dread seeing your race photos.

My poor decision lives on ...

2. Lie out your race clothes like it's the night before the race.
I always set out my clothes before a race or even a long run. Mornings and I don't get along, and I like things to be simple when I wake up a few minutes before I need to head out the door. I set out my clothes (including sports bra, underwear, socks, watch and headband) and my fuel, along with my fuel belt (if needed). It cuts down on morning errors (that are all too common to me). But, to avoid my mistake of not having enough wearable options, make sure you put out a few options. Once you have the whole outfit (and all necessary supplies), pack it. Don't put it in the suitcase before it's all there; it makes it too easy to forget something otherwise. 

Race prep for the Women's Half Marathon

3. Arrive at least a day before your race (if it's a long drive or flight).
My drive (8+ hours) was on top of a rough work week (the whole three days I worked). Driving is not my favorite form of transportation (give me a jet, baby) because I get bored and uncomfortable. And, the last thing I'd want to do after driving or riding that long is run. I need time to get quality sleep, stretch and mentally prepare for a race. Even if I flew, I think arriving at least a day before is still a good idea
just to get acclimated to the area and get properly rested and hydrated.

4. Get familiar with the area before the race. Fortunately, when I picked up my packet on a Friday (before the race on Saturday), it was almost at the race start. I learned how far it was from our hotel (I even timed it), and I asked about parking and the exact start line. If I didn't have packet pickup close to the start, I think I'd do a drive to and from the race site — to make me more comfortable on race day. You don't want to map it out, think it takes 20 minutes, and then find out that there is construction that will make it take double that.  

5. Plan your sightseeing (and fun food and drinks) for after the race. This trip involved a day trip to New Orleans. I made sure to save the Bloody Marys, hurricanes and beignets for after the race. I can't imagine walking all over New Orleans, eating and drinking those fun items and then running a half marathon. Yuck. Talk about sore legs, stomach issues and dehydration issues. You definitely want the sightseeing to be involved in a destination race since that's part of the appeal, but make sure to plan it wisely. 

Save this for after the race.

Have you run a destination race? Do you have any tips? You can run Iron Girl as a destination race! Sign up for my giveaway here.

February 15, 2013

I'm obsessed

I'm one of those people who easily becomes fixated on things. Right now, these are the things:
  • Running races. I've run a race the last four weekends, and I'm a little sad I'm not running one this weekend. I want more. (If you're obsessed, too, check out my Iron Girl Half Marathon giveaway.)
  • Soup for dinner. I'm not a huge soup fan normally. I like it, but I just don't eat it that often. The last two weeks, that has changed. Every night for dinner (yes, every night the last two weeks) I've made a soup consisting of beef broth, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Sometimes I'll throw in some additional vegetables, but it always contains those items. I just made it up, and now I want it for dinner every night.
  • This song. I adore Bruno Mars, but I'm particularly really loving this song. Loving it as in listening to it 50+ times each day. That much.
  • The OJ Simpson trial. I realize this is so 1995, but I am on a serious kick of reading trial books (the ones I haven't read yet) and watching documentaries. I think about it and analyze it constantly in my head. (I obviously need more hobbies.) I'm currently reading "OJ is Innocent, and I Can Prove it." I'm not done with the book yet, but I'm still leaning toward OJ being guilty. 
Do you become obsessed with things? Do you like soup? Can you eat the same thing every day for weeks? Do you like Bruno Mars? Do you think OJ is innocent or guilty?

February 14, 2013

Every girl has an iron core

Since it's Valentine's Day, I want you to show some love ... to you.


Join me, along with many other empowered and awesome women (and many Tampa Bay bloggers), at the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon and 5K on April 14. Let's run this and rock this together!

It doesn't matter if you run super fast or at turtle speed. Iron Girl empowers, encourages and supports women of all athletic abilities.

I've never run Iron Girl, but I did run a race with a similar course. I know I, along with many others, was scared of the bridges.

But, do not be afraid. These bridges are big; they are difficult to run up. But, you'll feel incredible when you get to the top. You'll feel empowered. You'll realize you're stronger than you realized. You'll feel like an Iron Girl.

And you'll have an incredible view.

You know you want to come to an all-woman running party. You know you want to start your journey today to become an Iron Girl.

Since it's Valentine's Day, I want to show some love to you, too. How about starting your journey knowing you have a free half marathon race entry? Pretty rockin', right? Enter, win and run with me! (Well, you don't have to run with me ... we'll just be at the same race (if that's the way you'd prefer it)). 

Here are the race details:

April 14, 2013
Clearwater, FL
Women's-only half marathon and 5K
7:00 a.m. half marathon start
7:30 a.m. 5K start

Enter to win a half marathon entry here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
* Iron Girl is providing a free half marathon race entry to one woman. The giveaway ends February 21 at 11:59 p.m. EST. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.

February 12, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, Florida, Feb. 10, 2013: race recap

It's official: I adore this race.

I loved it last year, and this year solidified my love.

I was worried I loved it so much last year because it was cold (I prefer cold weather running), and I got a 15-minute personal record. I loved the bands and course, but I was afraid it was tainted by the weather and my sweet PR.  

This year, it was not cold (it bordered on hot at the end of the race), and I actually ran it a few seconds slower than last year. But, I still smiled throughout the majority of the race and loved almost every second of it (The few seconds I didn't love were in mile 12 ... blech). 

For a baseball-loving girl like myself, I love that the expo and start line are at Tropicana Field.

I didn't love that my Garmin decided to freeze. Grrr.

It was 6:45 a.m. all day.

I love that the course follows familiar turf: right by Taco Bus. What I didn't like this year is I was starting to get warm at this point (only mile 3).

I love the slight downhill into downtown St. Pete, and this year I loved the shade the tall buildings provided. This is where I took my first GU gel (about mile 4).

I normally wouldn't love the route south into a somewhat boring stretch into a neighborhood, but I do love the bands along the course. They'd make any course fun.

I felt pretty good miles 5-7. It was cooler through this part of course, and I felt a nice breeze as we went from mile 7 into mile 8 along Tampa Bay. I took my second GU gel around mile 8.

Then, this happened.

Yes, the pesky Pier. It's no secret that it's not something I love. It wasn't this day either. Don't get me wrong: the views are beautiful, and I know there are much worse routes than this. But, it's long, there's no shade, and it's windy. 

I started struggling a bit on the Pier. My legs just started feeling tired. Not horrible, but miles 9 and 10 were kind of rough. 

It was also rough not knowing my time. They had clocks at each mile, but I wasn't sure how much later I started than the clock. Being in corral 8, I figured it was about 10 minutes later, but I wasn't entirely sure. I tried doing math while running, which was a bad idea on my part. It made my head hurt.

I felt a little better in mile 11 because I saw some rockin' cheerleaders: Lori and Georgina. They really were at the right place at the right time. I needed a push, and it was great seeing friendly faces who were cheering their faces off for me.  

After the race with one of my rockin' coaches
(Carolyn) and the rockin' cheerleaders,
Lori and Georgina.

Mile 12 is where things got worse for me. I was hot, tired and done. I really didn't know if I was pushing for a PR (I didn't think so, but wasn't certain) or if I was way off (I didn't think so). So, not knowing and being hot and tired, I walked a bit. I doubt it was more than one minute, but having a frozen watch, I don't know.

I tried to push mile 12 into 13, but I really don't think it happened. Again, I don't know because my watch was frozen. 

But, I did take a rockin' race photo (the first and only time this has ever happened) during this time. (Didn't my frozen watch photograph nicely?)

The run to the finish line seemed to take forever. It could have. I don't know. MY WATCH WAS FROZEN.

The LONG run to the finish

It was great seeing more rockin' cheerleaders along the finish line. 

After finishing, getting a sweet medal, a cold towel and grabbing some food and beverages, I met up with the cheerleaders.

With my cheerleaders Caroline, Dan and Theresa. Oh, and a
photo-bombing Chloe. She went for the bagel while we were
busy posing for a photo. (Cheerleader Eric took the photo.)

With my rockin' running buddy and cheerleader, Lori

Then, I went to check out Sean Kingston at the after-race concert. I wasn't crazy-excited about seeing him, but I was pretty impressed with his performance. I heard him sing "Beautiful Girl," which is the only song I thought I knew that he sang. He then proceeded to sing a string of songs I knew. Fun. 

And, that's what this entire race is: fun. I love the organization, the atmosphere, the bands along the course, the course itself, the post-race concert ... yeah, pretty much everything. 

Oh, and my time: 2:33:54. After hearing it, I wondered if I could have cut 4 minutes off (to get a PR) if I had an unfrozen watch. I wondered if I would have ran harder if I had an unfrozen watch. Then, I realized I couldn't change it. And I had fun, which is the most important thing.

February 8, 2013

It was a Thursday

Thursday didn't really go as planned. Work brought surprises. After work brought traffic problems, a missed running group and lightning (yikes). This type of day (it's a darn Thursday again) leads to randomness.
  • On this crazy day, I got some pretty rockin' news: I'm sweating pink. What does that mean? It means I'm a Sweat Pink Ambassador. So, what does that mean? It means that I'll sweat hard, play hard and inspire those around me to achieve their best selves. Read more about it here.

  • I didn't consider myself a Beyonce fan before Sunday. I liked some songs, but was not overly crazy about her (unlike her husband, Mr. Carter ... love some Jay-Z). Then, the Super Bowl halftime show happened. She was incredible, amazing, fabulous. She sang live, and she rocked it. And she indulged me a Destiny's Child reunion. Thanks, Bey. 
  • Speaking of Bey and Jay, they were in New Orleans the weekend before the Super Bowl. So was I. Where's the meet-up, folks? Or, more realistically, a sighting. I want to improve my celebrity sightings. Right now, I've got a blurry photo of Vanilla Ice. That's it. Jay would have been a major rapper upgrade.
  • Everyday, at least four times per day, I'm looking up at seven flights of stairs. The elevator is being replaced in our building. With a dog, this makes for lots of trips up and down. They estimate it will be out for four to six weeks. Nine days down (and up)!
  • The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon is this weekend! I loved this race last year, and I can't wait to rock it again. From an expo on a Major League Baseball field to bands along the course, this race really does rock. And, the name includes my favorite word: rock.
  • Stay tuned next week for my very first and very awesome giveaway! Hint: if you like running and are female (sorry, dudes), this giveaway is going to rock your world! (A badge in the right sidebar is even more of a hint.)
Do you like Beyonce? Did you like the Super Bowl halftime show? Do you like Jay-Z? Any good celebrity sightings? Have you rock a Rock 'n' Roll race? What did you think?

February 6, 2013

Six things I learned from my sixth half marathon

Apparently, I'm a slow learner.  It took me until my sixth half marathon (the Clearwater Halfathon ... otherwise known as the race with the big, scary bridges) to finally learn something. Well, six somethings.

1. Don't let your fears hold you back. I was scared (extremely scared) of the big bridges in this race. I panicked. I wondered if I should do the race. Was I ready to run these bridges? I didn't think so. I can't lie: I thought about not doing it. I wanted to wimp out. Thankfully, I didn't. And, guess what? I ran those bridges (slowly) and loved them. I felt so accomplished and proud when I was done, too. Totally worth it.  

2. Trust your training. I was nervous that I didn't get enough running in between Christmas and the new year. I missed some runs here and there, including a few long runs. I assumed that I wouldn't be able to handle this race. You know what? All of the hard work I've been putting in since August didn't just disappear. I still had that base, and I could still run a half marathon. 

Four months of sweaty work (apparently, sticking
my tongue out is my thing?)

3. Run your own race.
Yes, I've heard this many times before. I never get caught up in the initial start. I always start at the back, and I start slow. No big deal. But, in this race, I encountered a bridge before mile 1. So many people were walking already. I wondered if I should walk, too. If I ran, I thought I might be sorry later on. But, I felt awesome, and I wanted to run that bridge, so I did. And, the next one. And, on the way back, too. Why? Because it was my race, and I knew I could do it. 

4. Don't give up. I did not feel great during this race. I wanted to turn around at the 5K turnaround and at the 5-mile turnaround. It was just not my race, I thought at the time. Thankfully, I stuck it out, and it became one of my best races ever.

5. Enjoy your surroundings. It's easy to get "in the zone" or so focused that you really don't notice anything around you. But, if you look around, you're likely to see something beautiful, funny or awesome. I enjoyed the views in this race more than any race before, and instead of dreading the bridges, I just enjoyed the views from the top.

6. Think of those who can't run.
This race was special to me because I was running mile 11 in honor of my friend, Linda. She's been couch-bound for a good deal of her pregnancy, and she was itching to run. Mile 11 was her mile, and I thought about her each step. I enjoyed each step. I appreciated what I was doing even more because I was thinking of someone who couldn't do it. 

What have you learned from running?

February 4, 2013

Best Damn Race, Safety Harbor, Florida, Feb. 2, 2013: recap

I hesitated doing this race. Why? The name of the race. I know, I know. But, really. I don’t use the word “damn,” and I wasn’t sure I’d feel comfortable telling people the name of the race.

Then, I saw the medal, and it was all over.

Fortunately (?), I got over my non-use of the word “damn,” and fully embraced it in relation to this race.

This damn race was damn early, and it was damn cold. Too much?

With a 10K start time of 6:30 a.m., this total non-morning person was not happy. Thankfully, it was in Safety Harbor (only about a 10-minute drive from home). This inaugural race also included a half marathon at 7:15 a.m. and a 5K at 9:30 a.m.

I (along with my boyfriend, a.k.a. photographer, and my dog, a.k.a. cuteness factor) arrived at the race around 6 a.m. 

I went the bib-on-leg route because I thought
my jacket would come off ... I thought right.

After freezing alone for awhile (yes, 48 degrees is freezing in Florida), I met up with my running group at the start.

Fit2Run St. Pete represent!

After freezing some more as a group, we were off. My running buddy, Lori, and I set off at a comfortable pace. The first portion of the course went along Tampa Bay (b-e-a-utiful) with a turnaround to come back by the start.

When the pack leaders made the turnaround to come back, we were greeted (?) by Angry Bike Pace Leader Man. I understand the need to be stern and loud, but man, this dude was mad. I'm not sure what we did to him, but we got a very angry "TO THE RIGHT" command. We did as we were told.

Mile 1: 11:58
Mile 2: 11:55 

We grabbed water or Gatorade (blech) at each stop, and I never worried about running into one. They were plentiful, thank goodness.

Around 2.5 miles, we again encountered the Angry Bike Pace Leader Man. Only, he wasn't angry.

Lori even mentioned it to him. "You're not angry anymore."

I was laughing so I didn't hear his response, but I guess he mentioned he almost died earlier. I guess that's reason enough to be angry?

The course continued along Tampa Bay until we made a turn into a neighborhood where we encountered some unexpected "hills." I've decided I don't mind a big hill, like a bridge, but these little, gradual, unexpected hills and I are not friends. 

Mile 3: 12:03
Mile 4: 11:56

After the neighborhood, we wound into a park where we made the turnaround to come back to the finish. 

Lori and I noticed a girl running who was kicking one leg out as she ran. We thought it was kind of strange, but then realized she must be hurt. As we ran by her, Lori asked if she was OK. She said she was, but had tears in her eyes. Lori encouraged her, and she started running with us.

She said she hurt her knee in a mud run, and it still wouldn't heal. Poor girl. She said her knee didn't hurt when she ran with us, and she ran the rest of the race with us.

Mile 5: 12:25 (Oops.)

We also ran into two other girls from our running group, and we finished the race together. We really picked it up the last full mile.

Mile 6: 10:54 
Mile 0.2: 2:06

My official time: 1:13:16. It is almost exactly in the middle of my other two 10Ks.

It was so awesome to cross the finish line five strong! After hugs from the injured-knee girl, we met up with some others from our running group.

I also cheered Caroline across the finish, who rocked out the 10K and then ran 2 additional miles.

After watching others in our group come in, it was beer time. Yes, it's completely acceptable to drink beer before 9 a.m.

Oh, and that medal that made me run this race. Yeah, it's pretty sweet. I love that it's functional ... or it's supposed to be.

It doesn't actually function as a bottle opener.
But, the race organizers kindly offered to send your name on to the awards company (that produced the medal) who will send you a fully functioning medal. Yes, please!

I loved this race. It was a beautiful setting. It was well organized. It did have one of the best damn after parties (beer, pizza, subs, fruit, brownies and a DJ). And, I ran it with some of the best damn running peeps.

Reunited, and it feels so good

This training session, I've run a bunch of races ... alone. I finally conquered that half marathon PR I was chasing for almost a year. But, it doesn't mean as much to me as running with my running buddy, Lori, or our rockin' running group. Damn.

Do you use the word "damn"? I don't curse at all (I do listen to expletive-filled rap, though), but I just picked this up. Have you ever come across an angry bike pacer in a race? Do you have any functional medals? Do you like the idea?