Sunday, March 29, 2015

Monument 10k 2015

Hey there! I hope you are having a great weekend.

I am excited because the Monument 10k, aka my favorite race of the year and one in which is the reason I became a runner back in 2010, was yesterday! Over 35,000 people run this race and it has been named one of the best races in the country, and it seems like all of Richmond comes out for it. The course is up and back the historic Monument Avenue, which luckily is within walking distance of where I live! I also do a lot of volunteer work for Massey Cancer Center, which is the official fundraising partner for the race.

As I said previously, I did not know if I would run it since I was still healing from my marathon. I was able to run 3 miles on Friday morning, which felt ok, and then after work I headed to the expo for work at the Massey booth, and spent 3 hours on my feet getting people to donate and buy shirts for Massey! I knew that wasn't the best way to rest for the race, but I had a lot of fun and had no expectations for Saturday morning.

Race morning was cold! Since this race is so big, there are staggered time starts (waves) for an hour and a half (crazy)! My wave was a seeded wave that started at 8:43. I drove two miles from my condo and parked at about 8:15, and then walked over a mile to the start. I like the walk as my warm up and because after I finish I get to walk back on the race course and see the runners. The waves are very well organized and I had no problem getting in mine with about 5 minutes to spare.

Image result for monument 10k 2015

It was about 35 degrees during the race, so the perfect temperature for me! I had on ear warmers, my marathon finishing hat, long sleeves and running pants (with gloves!). I also know this course VERY well, which helps, but it is crowded, so that can slow you down. I always try to go in the fastest wave I possibly can so I don't have to dodge people. 

My first mile was FAST at 8:15 and it felt fast. But once I realized how fast I was going, I definitely felt I could keep up with it since nothing will ever compare to the pain and difficulty of miles 20-26.2 of a marathon. My calf was tight, but as the miles went by and I was steadily at an 8 minute pace, I knew I could stick it out. I hit the 5k at fastest ever (though the back half ended up being even faster than that)! It was a hard pace for me to keep with my calf tightening up, but I did it and finished in 50:04- a FOUR minute PR!!! Isn't that crazy?! And we got medals this year for the first time! Yay!

This race really surprised me. I have run probably over 10 10k's and routinely have run 54-55 minute races. That pace always felt really fast and about as well as I could do (I am not a sprinter). I didn't do much speed work over my marathon training either, so the fact that I ran this so fast is crazy. I think resting from Monday-Thursday this week really helped my muscles heal, and the training and distance running has obviously built up muscles that have made me faster. I am excited, but now I don't want to do another 10k because I don't think I will ever be able to beat this time! There is another one at the end of April I normally do, but I will wait and see:) It is the week after my half marathon, so I should still be in good distance shape.

So the week after the marathon went well...only 9.2 miles were run, but a 10k PR has left me sore and feeling accomplished:) I will take it! I am excited to get back to more running next week- it was hard to take so much time off this week. I miss it!

Has anyone else had an unexpected awesome race so close to a half or full marathon?!

Visit my page to donate to VCU MASSEY CANCER CENTER!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Odds and Ends

It has been a letdown week after all the excitement from this weekend! I took Monday off to recoup from everything, but I still feel like this week has been busy. No running has happened as I have let my body heal (I was sore until today). Still, I have felt exhausted and "off" as I get myself back to normal. I am sure that being sick last week has also not helped my recovery. I have also been busy with PhD-school events (class, teaching and conducting interviews for the master's level program) and volunteering for Massey for the Monument 10k this weekend. I am not as excited about the race as I normally am due to the fact that I won't be well-rested for it and my friends who normally host a party (they live on the race route) aren't having people over this year:(. It'll be different!

In some exciting news, favorite show is coming back for a limited run!!! Can we talk about how amazing it is to google "The X Files" and see all these articles?!

Amazing. I am pumped. I hope it is good!

Also, on what will probably be my last comment on the marathon (for a while), I have been thinking about my training and if I would do anything differently if I run one again. In short, I think I would. I feel I was very prepared for this race and definitely wouldn't have wanted to do another 20 or 22 miler like some training plans have you do, but I would have actually cut it shorter. I think I hit a mental wall about 4 weeks out from the race where I just wanted to be done. I was tired, mentally and physically, and felt like it was taking over my life. I didn't feel some of the runs were really necessary and I could have upped my mileage a bit faster. I think if I can maintain a 10 mile long run once a month (I am thinking about alternating a 6-8-10 weekend schedule), I could do a 12 week training program and up my mileage a bit faster, like 10-12-14-dropback-16-dropback-18-dropback-20-dropback- dropback- race, or something like that.

It is kinda sad this is no longer on my fridge:(
This was exactly what I did for this race (plan was typed and actual mileage was written in), and I feel that the slow increase at the beginning could have been cut off. We'll see how I feel at the end of the summer if I decide to do the Richmond Marathon in the fall:) Can you believe I didn't miss a single planned run until my last taper week when I got sick?! Crazy! I doubt that will ever happen again.

Anyone else adjust their training plans after they do their first marathon? Any tips for me incorporating speed work?

Monday, March 23, 2015

I'm a (Shamrock) MARATHONER!

I am officially a marathoner!!!

Happy smiles at the finish line

That was HARD!

BUT...I completed my first marathon in under my goal time of 4:20 at 4:08:42! 

Mile 1!
Mile 11.5ish
Smiles right before the halfway mark!

My friend and I ran the entire time together. We lucked out with overcast skies in the upper 40's and minimal wind.

Happy smiles at the starting line!
It was great to stay on the boardwalk and be able to walk to and from the start and finish. This is the first time I have stayed on the oceanfront for this race (when I did the half marathons I stayed with friends). It was very also cool to see all the runners throughout the weekend. The expo was fun and it was nice to walk around all day Saturday.

I was really excited and nervous all day Saturday. My stomach felt good (thanks to probiotics), but I also knew I had missed many days of rest and carb-loading from being sick. I never thought I wouldn't be able to finish, but I was nervous all the same. I didn't know how my body would react!

Miles 1-13.1 felt pretty good. The course didn't have a ton of spectators and got boring in parts, but I was pretty motivated, so it didn't bother me. I also knew the 2nd half of the course, so I felt mentally that would help me in the end. We made a habit early of alternating water and gatorade at the drink stations, which were about every 2 miles. We took water for the first time at mile 4.

From miles 11-13, we saw a lot of people we knew- my parents and friends, and there were a lot of spectators- so that made the middle section really fun. We also ran on the boardwalk and near the beach, and we saw the half marathoners who had finished (they started at 7 and we started at 8:30). That was probably my favorite part of the race!

After halfway, I started to tire and got stiff pretty quickly. My friend and I started talking a lot less, and I was getting worried. Nothing hurt awfully, but my body was breaking down a bit sooner than it had during training runs, which very well may have been because I had been sick earlier in the week. Luckily there were spectators until about mile 16, so that helped.  Once we got to 16 my friend and I decided to put our music in and literally just shuffled along with minimal words until mile 25. I took Gatorade chews at miles 6, 11, and 16 and then took a chocolate gu at 19 (I was so tired of  the sour/sugar flavored stuff). After mile 20 there was also more food (bananas and pretzels) along the course, so I took part of a banana. At that point I wanted anything to stay moving! Luckily, my stomach cooperated the whole race.

I can't really pinpoint what kept us moving for 10 miles when neither one of us felt great, but our pace stayed the same and we were motivated to finish. At that point moving at the same pace was the same amount of effort (and probably less painful) than actually walking. It is a funny thing!

Once we hit the numbered streets coming out of the military base at about mile 23, I knew we would do it. I kept thinking about how ridiculous it is to run this long, but I dug deep and kept moving. It helped that spectators increased a lot at this point. I started to notice the unevenness of the road, though, and every stride hurt when I hit unevenly. I was also worried I was getting blisters.

When mile 25 hit, we both took out our headphones to enjoy it. We knew we had it, and I really wanted to savor the last 1.2 miles. My GPS watch was .2 ahead of where we were on the course, so I was annoyed about that, but figured that was probably average when you run for so long. It was cool to come back into the home stretch knowing we were almost done.

We hit the boardwalk with about .5 miles left, and this was my favorite part of the race. It was totally flat and smooth, and spectators increased as we closed in on the finish line. We actually got a sudden urge to pick up our speed because we saw friends and family! I think it was the best I have ever felt the last .2 of a race. It was an awesome finish. What an accomplishment! I didn't feel too awful when we started walking after finishing, but bending over was very painful!

Our pace was completely consistent the whole race- 9:32 @ 10k, 9:28 @ the half and 9:30 @ 19.4. We had some faster miles in there (some of my watch splits were around 9:10) and the last 3 were much slower (about 9:50), but overall we did great.

I am 100% pleased with how it all went. It was hard and exhausting, and I am sore today, but I am so proud of myself. I don't know when/if I will do another one (though there is definitely a desire for me to break 4 hours now), but I am going to enjoy taking some time off and running some halfs! The Flying Pirate is next in mid-April in the Outer Banks:) I am already excited for a shorter run!

What a fun weekend! Thank you all for your support!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shamrock Marathon Training Week 16

Ahhhh! Final week is here...hard to believe! The nerves are full force!

 I am currently on my way down to Virginia Beach. My friend and I are heading straight to the Expo at the Convention Center and then our hotel. The stomach bug has cleared, and I am hopeful that three days of normal eating and drinking (and a whole lot of bread all week) will be enough for me to finish and not die:) This week did not entail much running, but luckily not much was scheduled anyways!

Monday: Rest (Sick)

Tuesday: 2.75 mile (slow) walk

Wednesday: 2 miles run/walk (weights)

Thursday: 4 miles @ 9:40 (abs)

Friday: 3 treadmill miles  (weights)

Saturday: Rest!

Sunday: SHAMROCK MARATHON! I hope my GPS watch clocks this course right at 26.2:)

Totals: 35.2 running miles + 2.75 walking 

Wish me luck! Recap and race/training thoughts coming early next week:)!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More than a Marathon

Any serious or frequent runner will tell you that running is so much more than the physical act of running itself. Sure, you can put one foot in front of the other for a few miles...but when it becomes an hour and then a few hours and you are training for half and full marathons or even more, running becomes about something else. You begin to see your body not strictly for how it looks, but as this amazing machine that adapts and needs to be nourished and cared for as it carries you through the miles of pavement pounding and the decades of your life and all you put it through.

As I have trained for my first marathon, I have thought a lot about why I am doing it.  It's not about changing my body or weight loss (I would actually tell any person trying to lose weight to NOT train for a half or full marathon...those leg muscles go a little crazy and your appetite gets a little cray as well), it's not about keeping in shape (you only need to run a few miles a few times a week to do that and this honestly can lead many to injury), it's not about doing it because other people are doing it (you would be insane to do something like this "just because"), it's not because you love to run (many people love to run and have no desire to do a marathon-> I was one of them until about a year ago!) and it's not even about checking off a bucket list item (heck, there are a million other things you could be doing for your bucket list that take less time and energy and who even gets to their full bucket list in a lifetime?!). You have to have a reason that goes deeper.

I missed out on things due to strictly adhering to my long run schedule. I came home early on Friday nights, went to bed early on the weekends, didn't get to go out of town as much as I would have liked, was super-lame with friends due to being tired all the time, and I probably drove people crazy talking about training (i.e. how tired, hungry, or sore I was and what my next long run would be). It is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. At least it was for me. This is not something you do because of the above factors I mentioned. If my reasoning didn't go deeper, I never would be entering this race having stuck to my training plan. I would be injured, completely goalless or would have dropped out.

My reason isn't easy to pinpoint. I just feel it when I run. I try to think of all the things that I have been lucky enough to be able to do in my life: get an education, travel, find a job easily, buy a house, support myself, be healthy and have a wonderful network of friends and family near and far. I have had a relatively easy life, in the grand scheme of things. Sure I have struggled with things and had my share of up and downs, but I have been so lucky.

So I run for them: the people who can't; the people who want to but haven't; the people who enable me to be where I am today; the people who have touched my life; the people who haven't been lucky enough to do what I have done in my short life. I run for my past, present and future, because I don't know what will happen. I run because it heals me and sets me free. I run for the times when I wasn't and won't be able to. I run for what I have overcome. Sometimes I don't know the why but I simply know the how. And the how brings me full circle.

So thank you to all who have been with me through this experience and have influenced me for where I am today. No matter what happens during the race this weekend, I have achieved so much already. I don't need to complete 26.2 miles to make me feel any more lucky or grateful than I already do.

Running is hard, but it is easier than a lot of things we go through in life

Check out these great organizations around Richmond that running supports: Still Easier Than Chemo, Massey, Girls on the Run, and Race for the Cure.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shamrock Marathon Training Week 15

One more week...I am definitely having doubts now! This taper syndrome is no joke. I can still run a marathon after weeks of lesser running...right?!

Monday: 6.3 miles @ 9:31 (abs)

Tuesday: 45 minutes crosstraining (weights)

Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: 5.45 miles @ 9:10 (abs)

Friday: Rest!

Saturday: 8 miles @ 9:50-> Both Saturday and Sunday's runs weren't great due to me coming down with a stomach bug:(

Sunday: 2.35 miles @ 9:50 (weights)

Totals: 22.1 miles

I hope I am healthy next Sunday!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Not Much to Say

I honestly have nothing much to report this week!

I am in the taper, so running is happening but a lot less...

VCU is on spring break, so I haven't had class...

Work has been busy (I guess that's what happens when you finally have a full week after 3 weeks of snow days?), so I have been busy busy during the day...

The weather has warmed up, so spending time outside has been great...

I have seen friends & even volunteered during the evenings...

I am also re-watching LOST on Netflix...SO GOOD. I just can't get into any new shows lately...

...soooo life is pretty good! I haven't even taken new photos on my phone! I guess I have been living in the moment a lot:) It's kinda nice...I think I'll try it more often!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shamrock Marathon Training Week 14

Still had to deal with winter weather this week...but as I type this it is 60 degrees outside, so spring is in sight!

Monday: 8 miles @ 9: 50 (abs)-> I had to move my long weekday run to Monday due to rain and cold forecasted on Tuesday. I was still sore from Saturday's 20 miler, so a very slow run.

Tuesday: 5 treadmill miles (weights)

Wednesday: Rest! Didn't even try to walk 10,000 steps...(abs)

Thursday: 5 miles on treadmill due to more snow and ice (weights).

Friday: 12 miles @ 9:32. Moved my Saturday run to Friday due to having rhe day off due to snow and the temperatures being warmer mid-afternoon than Saturday morning (weights)

Saturday: Rest and drove first thing in the morning to Virginia Beach for a friend's baby shower brunch! I stayed overnight, and we ate and drank a lot and didn't move much all day...:) Yet I was still exhausted at 10 PM! Resting and socializing is exhausting. My abs hurt this morning from laughing so much!

Friends since high school show choir:)r
We ended our day of eating with smores!
I finally saw FROZEN!

Sunday: 5 miles @ 8:43 (abs). GORGEOUS weather by the beach and fast miles. I am hopeful for race day:)

Totals: 35 miles

:) Who else is ready for spring?!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Random Week

It was a random week, that's for sure.

I taught again at VCU on Monday, went to a Massey Cancer Center Fundraiser on Tuesday (donate to my team!), had class on Wednesday night and then we got ice/snow on Thursday (so I went in for half a day), and got another snow day today.

And I also started rewatching Lost. STILL. SO. GOOD.

Yay for more winter running...j/k.

I was still sore/stiff from my 20 miler when I did my 8 miler on Monday (I had to do it a day early due to weather), but I wore my new shoes and took my recovery serious. I love compression sleeves.

I got my hair cut at work on Wednesday by a Cosmetology student. She did a great job! I have thick hair so it is always a long cut!

It was a bit warmer Wednesday so I enjoyed a leisurely stroll around VCU before class.

And I got new glasses for driving! I got Lasik 4 years ago but have lately noticed that I have a hard time seeing at night while driving or while looking at certain screens from a distance. My eye site isn't bad (20/30....from 20/15 right after Lasik) but enough for needing a little help in terms of sharpness and glare. I still had my frames from before my surgery which saved some cost (glasses are expensive)! Hopefully this is all I need and won't need to get a touch up procedure down the road! My eye site used to be so bad, so I am still very satisfied.

Today I am cleaning and doing laundry before potentially running (?) before meeting a friend for her birthday happy hour. I am looking forward to seeing friends this weekend for a baby shower in Virginia Beach and WARMER weather coming! Too bad my long run (12 miles) will still be cold and icy:(

Have a great weekend! What are you up to?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I saw this on Running with Spoons and had to do my own version!


Book: None:( I have not read much since the new year due to school and just not being in the mood! Do textbooks and research articles count as books?!

Image result for supervision in counseling

Music: “Hero” by Family of the Year

Guilty Pleasure: Ummmm, donuts probably! I have eaten them a lot during this training cycle!

Nail color: None- it’s been so dry I have been letting my nails be free to “breathe" and try to put lotion on them all the time.

Drink: COFFEE! I have found a new all-natural creamer that I love. Milk, cream and sugar. BOOM.

Image result for all natural bliss
Food: Baked sweet potato chips. I have them every day for lunch and food-prep them every Sunday. I could literally eat all the ones I bake on Sunday in one sitting. I LOVE THEM.

Obsession: My fit bit...I love knowing my steps and how it syncs up to lots of different apps:) It's been fun!

Wish: That school was cheaper and I had more money to travel…

Need: Warmer weather!

Image result for warm weather

Triumph: Training for a marathon! Is it March 22nd yet?!

Bane of my existence: Training for a marathon…haha:)...and my car...lots of little issues coming up. Womp womp:(

Indulgence: Dark chocolate…every day!

Procrastination: I need to touch up some walls in my condo but I never get motivated to do it…if anyone wants to come over and help, let me know! I will provide the paint:)

Blessing: Health of myself, friends and family. I am very lucky.

Excitement: I am seeing lots of out of town friends the next two weekends, so I am excited to see everyone and to start traveling a little bit more this month!

I get to see these girls next month!

Mood: Optimistic :)

Link: Such a good thing to keep in mind while dating or in a relationship!

What are your currents?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Shamrock Marathon Training Week 13

It's officially TAPER TIME! Biggest week of training is done- yay! It was another cold week with some snowy weather, but I fit everything in!

Monday: 5 miles @ 9: 35 (abs)

Tuesday: 10 miles @ 9:24 (weights)

Wednesday: Rest! Still made sure to get in my 10,000 steps (abs)

Thursday: 5 miles on treadmill (weights). Snow day! I felt good on the treadmill...I must be getting used to it and it definitely helps to just go based on effort and not speed since I can't run as fast on it.

Outside my bedroom window Thursday morning:)

Snow day from work but PhD reading to do!
Friday: Rest and walking! Still made sure to get in my 10,000 steps (abs)

Saturday: 20 miles @ 9:37. Pace would have been faster but there was one 11 min/mile due to dodging ice on a bridge. My friend and I ran 16 with a training group and added on a little before and after to get our 20 in. It's still tough to go above 16, but my legs felt the best they have at that high of a distance. I will be able to run 6.2 more...right?! That seems a little crazy right now.

20 cold miles by 10:30 am!

Celebrated with a trip to Charlottesville to watch UVA beat Virginia Tech!
Sunday: 2 miles run + 1.5 walking recovery on treadmill (weights)

Totals: 42 miles!

I know that my max training week being at 42 miles is low for a lot of marathoners, but I feel that my body can't handle much more than that (before I started training I typically ran 15-20 miles per week, so this is over double that). I think I have been generally healthy (besides some hip pain) this training cycle, but I do sometimes feel I am pushing it. I would rather go into the marathon slightly undertrained and healthy than overtrained and injured. I honestly feel as trained as I can be at this point, though- now it's all up to the race day Gods! The flat course with no wind and temperatures above freezing sounds great! I think I definitely have built up weather tolerance from this training cycle!