Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Les Mis

My "literature and all things musical" - loving side just had to share this:

Les Mis movie Trailer

Monday, May 28, 2012

Going streaking

No, not that kind of streaking...  The fitness kind.

Streak #1 - An Ab Workout a Day
Having spent quite a bit of time in the sun in my backyard this Memorial Day weekend in either my bikini top or a sports bra & shorts (adequately slathered repeatedly with sunscreen) I decided that if these abs of mine are going to be seen in public in said bikini top or sports bra (as they will be when we head for the beach later this year), some major work needs to be done.

So I started my Beach Countdown Ab Workout - Every day from now (well, this past Friday) until Beach Time I will be doing some kind of core, ab, and/or arm exercise - Crunches, pushups, planks, weights, etc.  I'm four days in and definitely feeling the burn - A nice not entirely unpleasant soreness in the midsection and my shoulders today makes me feel that something's working!  So hopefully by Beach Time, I'll be sporting some nicely (hopefully) fairly well toned muscles when I give Stand-Up Paddleboarding a try!

Streak #2 - A Mile a Day
I was lurking around on the Daily Mile, seeing what all my virtual running pals have been up to running-wise this weekend, and noticed that one of them posted about the Runner's World Summer Running Streak.  I have no races planned for the immediate future, and when I'm not attempting to train for something, I am far more likely to skip a run than to go for a run.  This challenge, to run at least a mile a day, every day, between Memorial Day and Independence Day, seemed like the perfect catalyst I need to keep getting out the door and hitting the pavement.

When I've got someone or something to hold me accountable, even if it just just a hashtag on twitter, I'm far more motivated and more likely to keep up with something than if it's just me keeping track, especially when it's ridiculous hot, humid, raining, foggy, i'm tired, *insert excuse here*.   So I'm giving this #RWRunStreak a try.  Day 1 is done (3.66 hot sweaty miles), but I'm not sure I can really call it a streak yet.  But I'm feeling excited about it.  Bring on Day 2.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dirty Dog 15k Trail Run - Race Report

I don't know if I've ever said anything on this blog about it, but I get headaches.  They range everywhere from the thankfully rare totally debilitating migraine to the mild annoying dull ache that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 days. 

Ok so now you're probably thinking, "what do your headaches have to do with a race report?"  Only this - I woke up with fairly bad one on Friday morning.  Not a migraine, but stuffy headed sinus headache that had the left side of my head pounding and left me with a slightly queasy feeling all day.  It really drained my energy and I was super tired and dragging through the work day.  Since I wasn't feeling that great (and had some stuff that had to be done at home) I opted to skip to the Friday night packet pick-up and pizza party at Robert's Running Shop, and headed for home.  Marc and I got in the car to go run some errands and pick up some dinner, and I started feeling even worse.  We got food, came home, I tried to eat, and then proceeded to crash on the couch for the rest of the night. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to run the race.

Slept fairly well, and woke up to get ready for the race.  Thankfully, the headache was gone and I was feeling pretty good.  I was slightly nervous because I've never run a trail run by myself and the thought was a little scary.  But I was more excited than nervous, so I gathered up all my stuff and hit the road for the forest.

Picked up my race bib and t-shirt, bought a DD15K sticker for the car, and then went through my pre-race ritual of making sure the car key that I carry with me really will open the car doors. (i lock and unlock the driver's door at least 3 times before every race, just to make sure I won't be locked out. It always works, but I still have to check it.multiple.times.every.race.) 

Start time came and off I went with the crowd of people and dogs.  Got about 200 yards into the run and the remnants of the day before's headache showed up and I started feeling really sick; not good.  I slowed down and told myself I couldn't quit before I even got to the trails since there was a possibility the feeling would pass.  So I gave myself until the first aid station to feel better; if I was still sick when I got there, I'd drop out.

Thankfully, I started feeling better and was able to continue on with the race.  I was going slower than I had hoped/planned, but was ok with that.  As I started to head down Pine Ridge Trail, I was reminded that a bad day on the trail beats a good day on the road.  There's just something about being in the woods....

 I successfully navigated the rocky, rooty downhill, only to stumble and twist my ankle on the smooth flat section at the bottom (really? of all places to do that - not a rock or root or anything anywhere close)  A few test steps let me know that it was fine so on I went, through the second aid station and across the road.

And there it was.  White Hollow Trail, which seems to go straight up the side of the mountain.  Yuck. As I struggled up the trail, I swear there were times when I felt I would go faster if I stood still.  That sucker is steep.  I literally felt like I fought my way to the top - it was so hard and so steep.  The trail chewed me up and spit me out onto Middle Ridge Road. 

I was relieved to be off the steep single track, but then I made the turn onto the road, only to face another uphill section.  I was so tired and worn out; I just wanted this whole thing to be over.  I felt like I had no more strength in me to climb yet another hill.  Why had I even thought that doing this race was a good idea?  I was tired and lonely, and couldn't hold back the tears.  I cried as I walked on.  Sniffling along, I was feeling sorry for myself and just feeling pretty crappy mentally.

And then I started looking around and taking in my surroundings.  I reached a break in the trees and could look out from the ridge top to an absolutely beautiful view.  It was a beautiful day and I was in a beautiful place; the wonder of nature took over and a feeling of peace settled down on me.  Call it a spiritual awakening on the mountaintop if you will.  Whatever it was, it revived my spirit.

I continued on with a new attitude of "i'm not running a race, i'm enjoying a beautiful day in the woods".  I walked when I needed to, ran when i could, and pressed on through the course, finally reaching the turn for the last downhill to the finish.  There's something about knowing the end is close that gives me a burst of energy.  I was feeling good and jogged down the trail as fast as my feet would let me.  I was having some issues with my shoes feeling too short, and the downhill seemed to make my toes feel crammed into the ends of the shoes, which was pretty painful and I was ready to cry again.  But I remembered last year there was a photographer on this section of the trail and just in case he was there again, I didn't want to be crying in a picture.

And then:  Woo hoo!!  I did it!  I conquered the challenge! I finished!

When I run races, I usually have at least 2 or 3 potential goals that I'm running for.  This one had three:
#1 - to finish,  #2 - to finish in the same time as my last half, and/or #3 - to finish in 2 hours.
When I set the goals, I knew #3 was a dream and was more than likely not going to happen, #2 was a possibility, and #1 was pretty much a given.  Once out on the course, for the first time in a race, even #1 seemed like it wasn't likely.  But I pushed on through the difficulties and I crossed that finish line.

And that, my friends, is a pretty big accomplishment.

Race details:
distance:  9.3 miles
Time:  2:29:29
Avg pace: 16:11 mpm
Overall Finish:  279 of 296
Age Group finish:  30 of 34

Mile 4 is where the tears started.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dirty Dog 15k Trail run

  • Extremely tiring and demanding
  • trying or taxing to the point of exhaustion : punishing < a grueling race>.
  • exhausting; very tiring; arduously severe
  • Physically or mentally demanding to the point of exhaustion
  • complex, complicated, difficult, extreme, formidable, hard, harsh, involved, labyrinthine, obscure, onerous, opaque, operose, trying
Type the word "Grueling" into Google and the above definitions are first few things that show up.  I would add one more - the Dirty Dog 15k Trail Run.

 The race is one week from today and I'm starting to get excited about it.  I know I'm not ready for it.  I know the course will chew me up and spit me out, like it did last year (2011 DD15k race report).  But still, I can't wait to get out there and try it again. 
You could say I'm a glutton for punishment.  I prefer to say I'm facing a challenge head on.  Bring in on Dirty Dog, bring it on!

heading for the finish
2011 Dirty Dog 15k


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Race Recap - Flying Pig 5k - Saturday, May 5, 2012

I have a few friends who are new to running.  They blame me for this new hobby/obsession... I make one innocent comment at Girls Weekend about wanting to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2013 and BOOM – a new batch of runners is born.

In the few months since this all started, we’ve been searching the web for races that we think would be fun to do together.  And that’s how we heard about the Flying Pig.  Once we saw the awesome, piggy medals, we decided we had to have them.

So the first weekend in May meant a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio for 3 of the 5 of us to run the Flying Pig 5k. (Other commitments (including a race for one of the kiddo’s in Pittsburgh (yes, even the little ones are into this running thing)) kept the other 2 from joining us this time around).

The 3 of us who went to the race are at 3 different points in our running career – I’m the “veteran”, running about 3 years and on my 15th or so race, Jen started in January of this year and was running her 3rd race, and Keira, she’s the baby runner, having just started the Couch to 5k program, was doing her first official 5k.  

We had a 10:00 start time, but wanted to get into the city early to pick up our packets and get prepared.  So we headed in a little early and just kind of hung around and watched the people for a while.  We got to see some of the runners in the 10k race by on their way to the finish.  

We went a little piggy crazy for outfits – flying piggy socks, flying piggy headbands, and even piggy ears.  We got lots of compliments on the socks and the ears.  Keira made a special shirt for the event, and it was also quite a hit.  We were kind of surprised that there weren’t more people decked out in pig gear, but we’ve never been a group to follow the crowd, so we didn’t care.  As Keira said, “we’re too cool to dress normal.” 

3 little piggies ready to race

Flying pig socks
When it was time to line up for the start.  We waded our way through the crowd of people to what seemed like a good spot – not too close to the front, not too close to the back.  And there we stood.  The gun went off for the race to start, and still we stood.  There were so many people in the race that it took a good 2 minutes before we even started moving towards the start line, and probably another minute or so before we crossed it.  (Which was a little nerve-wracking, but at least the race was chip-timed and not gun-timed).

The first mile was a constant attempt to go around people, dodging this way to a clear spot, shooting back the other way, weaving in and out and passing people all around.  I was holding a pretty decent pace, not too fast and not too slow, but the added effort of weaving around stressed me out a bit.  That coupled with the heat and humidity, and an unfriendly hill (wasn’t expecting that - who knew Cincinnati had hills?) made me really slow it down in mile 2.  I walked for a bit and then tried to pick it up again, but I was still weaving in and out of people and that really tires me out.  So mile 3 was also slower than I wanted.  

But I kicked it into high gear for the end.  There was this woman with a stroller and we kept passing each other throughout most of mile 3.  I decided I wasn’t going to let her beat me, so I took off for the last quarter mile, leaving stroller lady and a bunch of others behind and crossed the finish line with a burst of speed I didn’t know I had.

Looking at my finish time, I was disappointed in the numbers on the clock.  This was my slowest 5k in a long time.  BUT, I can honestly say that it was first time I finished a race and didn’t feel like I could’ve raced harder or faster (I have now joined the ranks of runners who throw-up after crossing the finish line (not sure if I should proud of that or not…).  I put all I had on that particular day out there, holding nothing back.  And looking at the statistics – my place overall, in my age group, and in the women’s field –  I didn’t do half bad. (one of the benefits of running the big races ;o) )

Would I have finished better if I’d started farther up in the field?  Would it have made a difference if I’d eaten something different for breakfast?  Should I have been better hydrated?  Did the tall piggy socks make me too hot?  All questions that crossed that my mind as I went over the race and my performance in my mind.  And the answers are: Maybe. Maybe. Probably. Possibly.  

But in the end, for this race, it doesn’t matter.  The number on the clock really means very little compared to the awesomeness of being there to cheer my friends on and watch them cross the finish line.  That really is something special, and I’m so proud of both of them. 

We earned those piggy medals girls!  Wear ‘em with pride!

Flying Pig 5k Medal

Race Stats:
Time: 32:47
971st out of 3,616
54th in age group
397th woman (out of 2225)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Had a YAWP worthy moment this evening.  I ran my first whole mile in the 8's.  8 minutes and 48 seconds, to be exact.

3 years ago when I started running, I never thought I would get fast; never thought I would progress.  But here I sit, 3 days after my second half-marathon, having just finished a run where I ran the second mile at what I once thought was an impossible, unattainable pace.

But, with persistence, hard work, sweat, and even some tears, I've made it to this point; a point I never thought I'd reach.  So, to those of you out there who think things are impossible, who think you will never progress or will never reach a certain goal, keep trying.  You will get there.  The path may be long, twisted, hard, painful, and scary, but keep at it, keep striving, keep dreaming.  You'll get there.