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Monday, April 27, 2015

Running Favorites

Wouldn't this be lovely? (Photo from unsplash)


Happy Monday! I saw these questions on Back at Square Zero and Eat Pray Run DC with an open invite to chime in, so why not? 

Running location: trail / road / indoors? 
Trail. Preferably shaded and not too rocky or hilly so I can zone out. We have a nice 13-mile bike path nearby, but I prefer dirt trails over paved asphalt. The closest wooded trails are a 25 minute drive and pretty rocky and hilly. A challenge for sure, but not practical for every day running.

Time of day to run: Morning, Noon or Evening?
I love my long run Saturdays because I'm done running by 8 or 9am and don't have to do anything the rest of the day to feel productive. ;) Unfortunately, I'm a night owl and can't make myself get out of bed before work during the week, so I usually end up running after 5pm.

Weather: Sunshine, Mild or Hot?
Mild or cool. I enjoy 40-50 degree runs the most. I am a terrible hot weather runner (which I need to remember so that I don't sign up for anything crazy during July and August).

Fuel: Before, After and sometimes during?
Before morning runs I eat two pieces of toast with peanut butter. I use Clif Shot gels in chocolate and double espresso near the halfway point on a long run. Afterwards I drink some Gatorade if it's provided, but my favorite post run drink is Snowville Creamery chocolate milk.

Accessories:  Music, Watch or more?
I stopped racing with my phone this year and use a Garmin Forerunner 10 to track my route. It's a nice intro to GPS watches. When I run with my phone during the week I have a Nathan water bottle with a phone pocket. I usually list to podcasts or my favorite BBC audio drama, The Archers. I always wear my RoadID bracelet and I'm currently obsessed with multi-function headbands and Buffs. More details can be found in this Friday Five post.

Reward:
Post race? Chocolate milk. I usually don't feel like eating a ton until later in the day (or the next day). Post workout? Plugging in my watch and viewing my route stats. I really love data.

Type of run: Long, tempo, intervals, hill repeats, progression, or recovery/easy? 
Long runs with my running group. They're easy and fun. I need to work on tempo and hills... Maybe this summer?

What are your running favorites? 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Five: My Favorite Blogs

Welcome back to another Friday Five with MarCynthia, and Courtney! This week's theme: Five Blogs to Read. 

I read a ton of blogs throughout the week, so I thought I'd change it up a bit and suggested some of my favorites across categories. Once upon a time, I'd have to remember to go to each blog a few times a week, but several years ago I started using the now defunct Google Reader. I was so upset when they discontinued the service, but feed.ly is a nice replacement. So, without future ado, I give you My Favorite Blogs in Five Categories:

Craft & Home

This is where my blog love began. I was following too many craft blogs to keep straight and my Google Reader would routinely have over 1,000 posts per week. As with Fashion below, I've carefully curated my collection. My top choice for DIY projects is A Beautiful Mess. When I started reading, it was just Emma and Elsie, but they have a small staff of contributors and crank out the DIYs. I've also become a big fan of enJOY it because I relate to her drive and organization. I'm all about progress vs. perfection and very jealous she is able to work from home (she works very hard). Someday... Finally, I don't have kids, but I enjoy the projects on what used to be called "Book Hour Craft Projects" but is apparently now called bloesem kids. Either way, their projects are simple, but beautiful. I follow a few home blogs, but one of my favorites is the Ohio-based House*Tweaking. When I started following she lived in a McMansion, but soon made the decision to move into a smaller home that needed a lot of work. Dana and her husband are super hands-on and can accomplish a lot on a budget. She had a great eye for interior decorating and it's been fun to watch the new house take shape.

A Beautiful Mess, enJOY it, bloesem kids, House*Tweaking

Fashion

I used to looooove fashion blogs. I also used to spend a lot of money on clothes. I don't do that anymore and I began to grow tired of obviously sponsored posts for brands the ladies would never touch otherwise. (I want bloggers to make $$, but I want to feel like they actually love what they're peddling.) Despite that hiccup, I've stayed loyal to some great fashion bloggers. Gigi has a million clothing and accessory reviews... and a really cool job. Franziska is a medical student with a taste for classics (and fun medical facts). The Budget Babe has the scoop on the hottest new collaborations and scopes out stores like Target and TJMaxx for new arrivals. (I don't really like her contributors, but I stick around because I love the original BB.)

Art & Design

I used to follow a million design blogs (hmmm I'm noticing a theme) but it got to be a bit stressful. It was hard to keep up with the volume of posts and design fatigue set it. Everything was starting to look the same. If I had to suggest one design blog, I'd probably start with Swiss-miss because she does a good job curating other posts around the web. On the art side, I follow a lot of illustrators on feed.ly and tumblr. Some of my favorite art blogs include: Draw Adrian Draw!, Melinda Boyce, Simini Blocker, and Courtney Godbey. I also follow a bajillion illustrators on twitter. I'd recommend Gemma Correll,  Cory Godbey, Jason Caffoe, Teressa Ong.... I have so many more. Two great round-ups of illustrators: Sketch Dailies and Illustrated Ladies.

Teressa Ong and Simini Blocker

Running

Running blogs are a new thing for me. Besides Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney, I follow a handful of runners on feed.ly and twitter. I enjoy reading about people (mainly ladies) in a similar pace-range. Even though I've never signed up for a Disney race, I really enjoy Fairytales and Fitness and We Run Disney. I think it's fun getting two perspective on one blog. I also enjoy Run Away With Me because Kristen frequently posts about interesting topics/challenges and Alaska looks amazing.

Miscellaneous

I know, "miscellaneous" is so sloppy, but there are some blogs I follow that I can't categorize. 9Eyes contains weird and wonderful images from Google Street View (he seems to be on a bit of a crime kick lately. Yikes.). To keep things light and fluffy, I follow Pleated Jeans and Tastefully Offensive GIFs on tumblr to stay up-to-date on my memes and cat GIFs. And finally, to stay in touch with nature while on a computer, I love Sanborn Canoe Company and the tiny houses and cabins on Cabinology.

9eyes, Cabinology, Sanborn Canoe Company
That concludes this week's Friday Five! A little wordy, but I stand by my recommendations. Thanks for joining me and go visit the hosts to see who they recommend! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Race Recap: Scioto Miles #2

Hanging out with a deer statue post race.
Race #2 in the Scioto Miles Spring Training Series took place Sunday, April 11 at 8:00am. The series includes two races (#1 took place in March) across three distances: 5k, 10k, and 15k. I ran the 10k. (My recap is late because I went to Dallas last week for work. Luckily, I remember enough to do the race justice.) [Race Information]

Pre Race
Once again, we were lazy and did packet pickup the morning of. This is the our new favorite method. We have to wake up earlier than we normally would, but it gives us time to eat, wake up, and we can get a great parking spot. We grabbed our bibs and tech shirts (this time lime green instead of blue) and sat in the car for a while til race line up. Alex and I felt lightyears better vs. race #1. The weather was lovely: 43 and sunny. I overdressed a bit and really wanted to take off my long sleeve shirt during lap two. Unfortunately, my bib was on the long sleeve and I was only wearing a tank top below... so I suffered through.

After the race. So warm.
A note about the distance
Three days before the race I switched the the 15k. I told myself it would get me mentally prepared for the Cap City Half (11 days from now), but kept waffling between PRing a 10k and running a 15k in preparation for a longer run. Ultimately Alex convinced me to switch. Well, things went a little differently during the run, so I stopped at the 10k. Because of this, my placement results aren't actually online, so the results below are a guesstimate based on the 10k finishers. Why did I stop? Keep reading...

The Race
I lined up between the 1:30 and 1:35 pace groups. I had some A and B goals for the 15k, but ultimately I wanted to finish faster than my first 15k (Hot Chocolate last November). I knew this course was long (9.75) and I'd have to go a bit faster to finish under 1:34. I aimed for better than a 9:30 pace. If it was anything like race #1 (where I felt terrible, but was able to maintain a decent pace), I'd be able to do it.

I felt really good during mile one. Maybe too good: 8:43 pace. Rein it in, lady. I slowed down going into mile two. Just like last time, I found it hard not to get caught up with the speedy folks, many of whom could have been running the 5k. The 1:30 pace group was out of sight pretty early on. I don't really understand how they were running the correct pace (technically 9:05), but perhaps they were compensating for the long course?

There was a big slow down during mile two. I've recently changed my Garmin display to show current pace and I got down to 9:40 at one point. The same thing happened on lap two. There wasn't a hill, so I'm not sure what happened. As I passed the water stop I saw mile two was 9:05. Not bad. During race #1 I wanted to stop after the first lap, but I knew I needed to complete my 10k. I didn't have that feeling this time. Mile three is full of rolling baby hills. They were tough, but this time I ran my third mile a few seconds faster.

When I crossed the start/finish line to begin my second lap of the course, I tossed my gloves to Alex. This time I didn't moan about wanting to die. I was feeling ok. In fact, I crossed the line a few seconds faster than race #1. I was supposed to be going slower for the 15k, but I was on pace for a 10k PR. I needed to slow down...

Well, I did a little bit. Even trying to go slower, mile 4 was 9:10...  in race #1 the same mile was 9:26. I don't know when I changed my mind about the distance, but it must have happened after I saw my mile 5 time (9:08 vs. 9:16 last time). I knew I was going to PR the 10k. I had energy left from trying (and failing) to go slower (what a problem to have!) and I knew I could almost sprint in at the finish. Somewhere during mile 5 to 6 I decided to stop at the 10k. I mentally prepared what I was going to say to Alex and tried to gauge how bad I'd feel for not continuing on.

Almost sprinting.
I had reasons that seemed decent for stopping:
  1. This is the only race where I can change my distance mid-race and not feel like a failure
  2. Heck, I was originally signed up for the 10k anyway! I was going to PR and achieve my A-goal from Race #1.
  3. I was overheating. Too many layers!
  4. At the beginning of 2015, one of my running goals was to improve my time on repeat courses
  5. Laps suck! 
I sped up, finished with an 8:42 mile and PR'd the 10k! Alex was near the finish line, but across the way. He looked a little confused, but he figured it out when I grabbed a medal. I told him that I PR'd and that I was overheating. He was super supportive as we sat down and I ate my post race banana. But I kept asking, "Is it lame that I stopped? I just felt so good. I knew I was going to PR." Every time he assured me he did not think it was lame. But there was a nagging feeling in the back of my brain.

And then, I started to regret my decision! Guess what? Even if I ran a significantly slower last lap, I would have PR'd the 15k. Even on the longer course, I would have PR'd. AND I would have been more mentally prepared for running a long distance by myself at Cap City. Oh well. A week later I still kind of regret it, but ultimately it was a good day and a lovely race. We're not sure if we'll sign up for the Scioto Miles next year (I'm still not a fan of laps), but I would recommend the series to anyone. They put on a good run and the swag is incredible.

Race #2 was pink instead of blue.
Final stats and thoughts
If I have another day like this I know I could run a 10k under 55 minutes. I was trying to go a little slower to conserve energy for the 15k and wonder what would have happened if I didn't rein it in.

Mile Splits (Race 2 vs. Race 1) 
Mile 1     8:46 vs 9:02
Mile 2     9:05 vs 9:03
Mile 3     9:01 vs 9:04
Mile 4     9:10 vs 9:26
Mile 5     9:08 vs 9:16
Mile 6     8:42 vs 9:19
Mile 6.4  8:21 vs 8:49

Official Time: 57:08 vs 58:27
Garmin 10k time55:37 (!!) vs 56:57
(Garmin Connect and Map My Run measure the full course as 6.4 miles.)

Overall (10k finishers): 56/305 (18%)
Gender: 22/220 (10%)
Age Group: 12/90 (13%)
Remember: My overall rankings are guesstimates. My times were reported for 5k and 10k, but no overall place was awarded since my registration was under the 15k. I could have emailed the race director to switch me back to the 10k, but I felt silly since I'd changed the distance via email three days before!

Up next: Cap City Half Marathon. AHHHHH! First long race of the year and it will mark my one year half marathon anniversary. I know I'll freak out mid-race about the distance and how ridiculous running is, but as long as I beat last year's time I'm cool. A PR would be nice, but I haven't been training for it. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Five: Five Running Trips I want to Take

I'm back again with a Friday Five link-up with MarCynthia, and Courtney! I missed two weeks due to product releases at work. This week's theme is Five Trips To Take (or Trips I’ve Taken). I've covered my upcoming trips (North Dakota, Alaska) and past favorites (London, Ireland, seeing 48 of the states), so today I'll follow some of my favorite bloggers and talk about Five Running Trips I Want to Take.

Photo from goherefordshire.co.uk
1. Magic Roundabout in Hereford, England
I found out about this race in a really odd way: I belong to an Archers appreciation group on Facebook and another member had a gorgeous photo of herself running through the hills of England during a race. It's a 10k run full of hills. No PRs to be had, but who cares when you get an amazing view? I want a race photo like this. Someday! 

Lely Resort
2. Paradise Coast Half Marathon in Naples, Florida
I'm including this because I'm already signed up for next year's race! It doesn't happen until February 14, 2016, but I found a great coupon code and we're going to make it a winter getaway with my mom and step dad. They're going down a week or so before, then we'll meet them in Naples, run, and relax in the sun! I didn't research the race extensively, but it winds through the beautiful Lely Resort and should be relatively flat. It will be my first time in Naples, with time for side trips to Marco Island. I'm excited to get a break from another Ohio winter!


3. Something in Hawaii 
We're Hawaii-obsessed at home. I've looked into a few races, but I'm not sure which island I'd prefer to run. We haven't been to Kauai, so The Kauai Half looks promising. A few Hawaii runs I've researched are out and back, which I'd like to avoid. I need to do more research on Hawaii races, but one thing's for sure: I'm looking for another excuse to go back to Hawaii! 

Gorgeous views along the course!
4. Run the Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky
I need to start training on hills because most of my destination runs are chock full of elevation changes! I almost signed up for Run the Bluegrass this year, but the late March date concerned me on two fronts: Weather and training. I was still in good shape from the fall, but it was nice to be a bit lazy during January and February. I read some recaps of this year's event and it sounds tough. Perhaps I'll stop and take photos along the way to recharge. ;) I follow the event Facebook and the organizers are amazing. I want to run this race if only to support the fine folks they have on staff. They definitely go above and beyond.

5. Yellowstone + Grand Teton Double
After reading reviews of the recent Zion Half, I decided I want to run in a National Park. I've been to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but I was in high school and my memories are fading. I'd love to do a double and this seems the most doable. I'm not sure if I'd do both halves (they're a week apart) or a half and a 5K. Of all my racing trips, this would probably be one of the easiest to convince Alex to run! Maybe in 2016?

Thanks for reading my round-up. I think it's fairly obvious I choose destination races based on the scenery. Time for some hill repeats... 

Monday, April 06, 2015

Race Recap: Westerville Bunny Hop 5k

Chilly at the start
The Westerville Bunny Hop 5k took place Saturday, April 4 at Alum Creek Park North in Westerville, Ohio. [The course]

Pre-Race
We were lazy again and decided to pick up our packets the morning of so we arrived around 7. Lordy, it was cold. I'm hoping it is the last cold race of the season. When we arrived at the park the sun was rising and it was in the low 30s so we walked back to the car to stay warm. After a bathroom break (in a real, indoor bathroom!) we stood at the start line and discussed how much better we both felt vs. Scioto Miles a few weeks ago. I didn't feel like setting a PR goal but I did want to run a pace in the 8s and faster than 28:00. We shivered a bit more and said goodbye as Alex made his way to the front. Luckily, once the race began, the sun was out and the sky was clear, so we warmed up quite a bit.

The Race
I started fast. My Garmin says I ran in the 7s for the first two minutes (!). I wanted to try a new method: get out quick, slow down, and then sprint in at the finish. Alex gave me a bunch of grief before the race about never sprinting in and told me exactly where I should start to speed up at the end. Thanks, coach! (If you don't know Alex I realize this may sound overbearing, but he's a very nice person.)

After the second turn I slowed a bit. I need to enable the current pace display on my watch. I normally wait for the mile mark to see my overall pace and I think I'd be a bit more competitive if I could see when I'm going significantly slower (since I can't seem to internalize a pace). During the first mile the field spread out quickly. My foot was cramped– it almost felt like a charley horse– but I didn't want to stop and stretch. Eventually the pain went away, but it held on til mile 1.5 and kind of freaked me out. My pace felt quick, but easy. I honestly had no idea what to expect time-wise until I hit the first mile and saw 8:23.

After that first mile I thought I could keep it up and probably hit a new PR. I felt really good, but I didn't feel a competitive drive to pass others or speed up. Just before mile 2 we got on the bike path and I tried to keep my pace consistent. I felt tired, but knew I didn't have much longer. I think being able to see my current pace would have help immensely during this mile. There was a steady hill and my second mile clocked in at 8:37 because I dipped down in the 9s for a few minutes. Whoops.

After the slower mile I focused on the finish. I looked at my watch after I took off my gloves around 2.5 to see 21 minutes and change. For some reason my brain said, "keep your current pace and you'll PR" but what it should have said was "speed up a little bit THEN you'll PR." Here's where I could have changed things because my last mile was actually my slowest (8:40). I was tired, but no where near as tired as my PR run. I planned to speed up on the final turn to sprint in. I kept thinking about my plan, conserved my energy, and I wondered when I should speed up. Shortly after, my watch hit 25 minutes and I wasn't very close to the finish, so I knew it wasn't a PR. :'(

I rounded the second to last corner and sped up. I actually passed a guy in the final sprint! In fact, I went so fast I didn't wave at the photographer! Progress. Unfortunately, I was pretty bummed as soon as I saw the official clock turning over to 27:00.

Posing with the best cookie ever.
Final thoughts and Stats
I finished and Alex met me with a huge smile. He was sure I set a new record, but I hadn't. I felt fast, but also consistent. It wasn't as tough as normal and I didn't feel tired after. Yes, I was huffing and puffing from mile 2 til the end, but I recovered immediately after stopping.

I hate that I don't know how a race will go until I'm running. Had I known I'd feel so energetic afterwards I would have sped up. I know it's just a 5K and not a big event –or one I planned to PR– but I have so many regrets now!

Let me air my regrets so I'll never think of them again: I wish I wouldn't have let myself dip into the 9s. I wish I would have turned on the current pace display. I wish I would have sped up sooner. I wish I would have run the shortest distance (tangents). Basically: I wish I PR'd because I felt so much better/faster/stronger than ever and I don't have anything to show for it.

(Ok, now I can shut up. It was still my second fastest 5k.)

Official Time: 27:01
Another Garmin discrepancy: Like Scioto Miles (where my watch said I ran the actual 10k distance about a minute faster than my online results), the watch said my 5k time was 26:29 which would be a PR... by 2 seconds. In the end, the watch claims I ran 3.18 miles. I've gotta run those tangents!

Overall: 53/434 (12%)
Gender: 17/270 (6%)
Age Group: 10/68 (15%)
As I said on twitter: "If I was in any other age group I would have had a top 3 AG finish today. Damn you fast 30 year old women!!!!"

Swag and Event Feedback
I thought this was a nice event. There were just over 400 total participants and the course was relatively flat and the section on the bike path was lovely. I would run it again in a heartbeat. In fact, with all my PR moaning if there was an event today, I'd go. ;)

The packets included a draw string bag, event shirt, bib, and lots and lots of paper (paper not pictured). We got coupons for free donuts and cookies, discounts off pizza, and random offers from local businesses. In addition we received bunny ears (which we decided not to wear because they were a bit floppy), antibacterial hand soap, and a ruler with all of the presidents on one side. I was excited about the ruler. (We go to trivia sometimes and I need to memorize the presidents in the middle.)

Post race swag included bananas, water, granola bars, and a Cheryl's cookie!! Alex picked up a reusable water bottle, but I decided to pass because we have roughly one million at home. The medal was really lovely. The ribbon is super soft and very pretty. Easter bunnies are inherently creepy, but the medal design is nice! Alex got 6th or 7th place (he never saw a 6th person in front of him, so he doesn't trust the official results) and he received a $10 gift voucher to our favorite local running store.

Up Next: Scioto Miles #2 is next Sunday. Alex is trying to talk me into switching to the 15k instead of trying to PR the 10k. 15k would be better mental prep for the Cap City Half, but the 10k would be over faster... At least it won't be very cold!

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