Saturday, May 23, 2015

May: Life, Currently...

More photos on my instagram
Following in the footsteps of some of my favorite bloggers and websites, I thought I'd try a something new for the next few months: Life, Currently.

Watching Gilmore Girls. I'm slowly making my way and I'm in the middle of season 3. I love Emily Gilmore.

Reading I've just started Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, which I won through Goodreads. Like Life After Life, it's going a little slow in the beginning, but I'm sure I'll reach the point where I can't put it down.

Listening While running: the On the Media podcast, while working: domoslayer's soundcloud mixes.

Wearing this long sleeve stripe shirt in Egret. Runs a bit large (I got a small), but it's so soft and looks great with everything. Unfortunately, I don't think it will last long as it's already pilling a bit.

Making cookies, chili, messes

Feeling restless. I think I'm ready for something new!

Planning some trips, but mainly planning projects around the house.

Working on the aforementioned house projects which I will be posting about. We've redone the paver path to our front door and started planting flowers. Alex is currently renovating our bathroom... and I'm writing this from a hotel! (One bathroom + no toilet during reno = I have to live somewhere else for a night)

Wishing I could retire, or at least take time off to focus on the house for a solid month

Remembering my step aunt, who passed away suddenly this week.

Loving the sunshine, patio lunches, being outside

Looking forward vacations this summer. More immediately? Having our toilet back later today! ;) 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Five: Organizing My (Running) Summer

Canoeing in Ontario.

I'm back and healthy! I'm joining the Friday Five ladies (Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney) for this week's theme: Five Ways to Organize your Running /Fitness Gear. I'm going to go off-topic a little bit to discuss some running-related things I've been pondering lately as I'm Organizing My (Running) Summer.

My running group has two sessions a year and I'm currently in the off time. I technically have to train (alone!) for the Medina Half on May 30, but I've been taking it easy. After my sick Cap City and no PR I took a step back to review the past season and look forward.

What did I enjoy? Running with the group, making new friends, being held accountable for milage
What didn't I enjoy? Waking up early, feeling bad for missing runs, not achieving all PR goals, getting sick (ha)
What improvements did I make? New race distance (10k), new PRs, I've toned up a little bit. Overall, it was much easier than last year and I am a faster runner.
What improvements remain? Confidence. Last fall I ran two long races without breaks or a feeling of defeat. That has not happen so far this year (though I've only run one long race... I'm scared for Medina!)

I plan to take a week off after Medina and when I start run club in June I'm going to take full advantage of the low miles in the beginning of the schedule.

Stop Comparing / Stop Obsessing 
I have a little bit of internet fatigue. I love the runner blogs I follow, but sometimes scrolling through twitter, instagram, and running groups on facebook I start to wonder: am I running enough? Am I fast enough? Am I signed up for enough races? Some of the people I'm comparing myself to are speedy folks on their 40th half. We're not in the same league! Plus, I need to remember my other interests outside of running. I found it to be a particularly helpful topic to think about before bed when I was extremely stressed at work, but things are better now and I don't really want to spend 100% of my time thinking about running and upcoming races.

I'm going to North Dakota the first week of June for a camping/hiking trip and then Canada in July for Alex's family's yearly getaway (see photo above). We're also volunteering at a beer fest and trying to do more non-running things during the summer. Besides needing a break from the non-stop training and race schedule I've maintained, I don't really enjoy running in the heat and humidity.

What are my new goals? Always a new half PR, but that's going to wait 'til October. Recently I've realized I really like 10-15k distances. They're long enough to challenge, but not so long that I'm tired after or have to train a ton. Perhaps I can try to vary my race schedule to avoid an over-saturation of one particular distance.

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In the end, I think I'll take the summer to remember my other interests, attempt to get my house in order, and just enjoy the nice weather. I'm going to try and stop latching on to every race promotion I see and filling my weekends with races. In the winter I needed the distraction, in the summer I need to chill. ;)

That was a bit long-winded, but thanks for sticking it out. Don't forget to visit the host blogs! They stayed on topic and have some handy tips for organizing all the gear that goes along with running.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Race Recap: NES 3-Miler

The 3 mile course.
The Near East Side (NES) 3-Miler took place Saturday, May 9 at 8:00am in Columbus Ohio.

We were invited by a friend on the planning committee for the Near East Side Hop. In the end, she recruited at least a dozen people for the race. The race was relatively small, but well planned. It was the event's first year and I would return in the future. Packets included a nice OSU drawstring bag, some flyers, snacks, a pen, and a cotton shirt. The shirt only came in a few sizes, so I had to settle with a medium but whatever, it'll make a good night shirt!

We arrived about 25 minutes before to pick up our packets. We met up with friends and waited for the start. It was very low-key and a welcome change of pace from Cap City.

The Race
Once we took off, it didn't take long for the field to spread out. I started out fast, but not fast enough to keep up with the top 4 ladies who all ran paces in the 7s. I knew I had to back off, so around three tenths of a mile I kept my time in the 8s. It started to sprinkle during the first mile and I thought it felt amazing. It didn't keep up and the weather returned to humid and warm (68° and 72% humidity), but at least it was overcast.  I'm not 100% healthy (still. ugh). My sickness has progressed to seasonal allergies and around mile 1.5 to 2 I had some trouble breathing, but nothing like last week.

During this section (and really until the end) I was running alone. It was nice to run by the water stops or cops just to see someone! Speaking of cops, there were police stationed at intersections, but there weren't enough for each street crossing. Because I was in a lull I had to deal with three or four cars pulling out on the course, getting confused, and trying to get off as soon as possible. Most of the time I just hung to the shoulder and stayed out of the way, but when we turned at mile 2 down a side street I had to dodge a car. It felt like a game of chicken and eventually I just pointed to the right and said, "I'm going here." That was kind of weird, but I probably expelled like 3% of my energy dealing with it. As I crossed the last major intersection, there was an SUV stopped in the middle. A nearby police officer saw me coming and yelled, "Move! This isn't a parking lot. There's a runner coming!" So yes, some car issues, but I think it's because I was off on my own.

The Garmin graph makes it seem like my pace was all over the place. 
I was dead tired around mile 2, but the mini game of chicken recharged me. I knew I was running relatively fast and only allowed myself to dip into the 9s when I needed a rest. I felt slow during mile 2, but looking at my data, it wasn't too bad. I enjoy courses with long straightaways for two reasons: 1. I can see where I'm going and break up the distance and 2. It's nice not worrying about taking the quickest way around turns. When I came around the second to last turn back to Long Street I could almost see the end, so I sped up. On the final turn I was able to get back into the 7s and kind of sprinted in as Alex and his mom cheered.

Hot and sweaty after.

Final Stats and Thoughts
The post race goodies were great: water, grapes (yum), Clif bars, lentil salad (!), yogurt... and two tables where you could win prizes. As I mentioned, it was a small race but it was well planned and the crowd support at the end was really nice. We stayed until the final walkers crossed the line and every time someone new came into the finish chute the crowd would holler.

Final Time: 25:05.6 (8:21 pace)
Overall: 13/86 (15%)
Gender: 5/52 (10%)
Division: 3/20 (15%) Does this count as an Age Group podium?

Additional Stat: I ran my fastest mile since getting my Garmin! Mile 1 was 8:11. I believe my fasted mile in cross country was 7:40-something. Maybe someday I can get back to that... If this was a full 5k, I was on pace to PR! Hope I can duplicate this pace at my next 5k.

By the way, Alex did not win, but he came in second. I believe he ran his fastest pace of the year (6:28), but there was a crazy fast 16 year old in the lead.

Up Next: I've got the Medina Half Marathon on May 30. I'm not really ready and need to either train on hills or just go for a moderately-paced finish. Hope it's not too hot! After that? Who knows! The next race on my schedule isn't until October. Crazy!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Race Recap: Cap City Half Marathon 2015

Photo by Robb McCormick

The Capital City Half Marathon took place Saturday, May 2 at 8:00am in downtown Columbus, Ohio. [Course Map]

Spoiler alert: If you can't breathe, you can't run very well
Despite my best efforts, I was still sick. I woke up feeling better. I could breathe and I tried to clear out my nose before we left. I found out Friday night that taking sudafed before a run is probably not a good idea. I found myself extremely dehydrated and my heart fluttering after my 8pm dose, so to say I was petrified of taking it before the race is an understatement. I went into Cap City without any meds, but I was fairly confident I was healed. SILLY ME.

Chillin' in the Sheraton ballroom before the race.
Pre Race and Line up
We woke around 5, got dressed, ate, and rolled out around 6. My running group had a sweet spot at the Sheraton downtown where we were able to park our stuff and use indoor restrooms. A handful of my closest running buddies were there, but most were in Cincinnati for Sunday's Flying Pig. Around 7:15 we took a group photo and headed to the starting corrals. I was in E and Alex was in the back with the 5k runners. Unlike last year when I had 4 or 5 buddies with me, this time I was alone. I had two tissues stuck in my tank top and a hanky in my pants and by the time the corrals started moving my tissues were toast. Noooooo.

I lined up with the 2:05 pace group (because I knew a healthy me could finish under 2:10) and waited as the race director and guests hyped up the crowd. It felt like eons and my feet started to hurt. I'm sure having someone to talk to would've helped. I also noticed I wasn't very cold. I wore a singlet and shorts. I'd considered a throwaway top or arm warmers, and I'm glad I didn't bring either. It was warmer than I'd anticipated.

MIT group photo by Fleet Feet Columbus -- we're near the tree. White hat on me, red shirt on A.
The Race
First off, I'm a little peeved at the pacers. Miles 1-3 were fast. I stuck with them until my Garmin read out the third mile and I decided to drop back. I know no one is a perfect timekeeper and my Garmin could have been off, so I should have run what I felt. After all, my best half marathon was the one without pacers. Besides that, the first three miles were boring. It's the worst part of the course scenery-wise and it's also the closest to my house. I won't pretend I didn't see the turn off toward my neighborhood and think about running home.

Snot time started here. Hanky tucked in my shorts.
It started at mile 4. My nose began dripping, which I could contain with my hanky. But then... the back of the throat phlegm. I couldn't take deep breaths and I couldn't get anything to come out. I stopped and tried to spit, to no avail. I'm guessing all the fresh pollen-filled air and my lack of meds combined for the one-two punch.

Around mile 5 I saw one of my running club coaches walking. Not a normal occurance for him, but I was thankful to see a friendly face. I walked with him for a bit, chatted about the too fast pacers, and ate a gel. I was in an ok mood, but I knew I didn't want to run anymore. Never a good feeling. I started running around mile 6 and kept moving as far as I could. I knew Alex would be somewhere between 8 and 9 so I tried to focus on getting to him. I almost achieved a running "zone out" here, but I couldn't take deep breaths, I couldn't keep my nose from running, and I couldn't spit anything out. Frustrating.

Thing I learned around mile 7: Apparently, if you can't breathe, you can't run very well.

I walked up a hill on High Street (which is not normal for me these days) and concentrated on Alex up ahead. I saw a friend at the Long Street turn and that propelled me for a few hundred feet. When I came down 4th and couldn't see Alex's red shirt, I started to panic. Somewhere between mile 7 and 9 it felt almost impossible to keep myself going. Even my normal "just keep running" mantra didn't work. I got the bright idea that Alex (who'd just run a 5k) should run the last 4 miles with me... I finally saw him up on the left with his sister and her boyfriend (and I was SO embarrassed to be running poorly in front of people I knew). I shouted at him to come with me. He was confused, but I explained relatively quickly that I needed him to stay with me or I wouldn't be able to do it. I've never felt like that on a run. I felt absolutely terrible and desperate to be finished.

See? The first 5 miles were ok!
The last 4 miles were hard. I walked a lot. Alex kept trying to entertain me, but I couldn't really talk back, let alone breathe. I cussed a lot. I wallowed a bit, but I tried to keep thinking about how much faster we'd be finished if I kept running. It worked sometimes, but honestly I could not run for long periods of time. Anyway, there was a killer hill at the end (evil course makers) and I walked. Lame! If I hadn't, my time would've been closer to last year's. I wish I could have taken out two or three of my walk breaks, but as Alex has kindly reminded me, I couldn't breathe. Not gonna lie, I wish I could have gotten out a few snot rockets! I'm sure it would have helped!

I grabbed Alex's hand before we crossed the finish line. I got my medal, thanked him for running with me, we took some official photos, and then we headed for the food.

I'll probably buy this... & you can see my hanky ;)
After the Race
When we left the food line I got suuuuper dizzy and my vision blurred. There were even black spots in front of my eyes! On top of that, some idiot decided the finishers should walk down a set of stairs after they finish and I knew it was coming up, so I sat on a landing to regain my balance. I can't believe I felt this terrible after a run! I could not accept that I was sick, and honestly I think the only reason I'm able to reflect on this and qualify it as sickness is because I'm currently sitting here surrounded by tissues and hopped up on meds.

Alex went to get something and while he was gone I ate a banana, a few bites of a bagel, and drank a bottle of water. (Did I mention I was severely dehydrated and I drank my entire water bottle on the course AND stopped at four or five water stops?) Soon we made our way down the flight of steps and found the free chocolate milk, then I grabbed my bag from my run club gear check and we plopped down on the grass.

Enjoying freebies in the sunshine
Here's where things started to look up: Last year I didn't feel like eating. This year, because my body wasn't very tired, I was able to enjoy my free beer and sparkling wine. I didn't eat the free pizza, but I'm not a big greasy pizza person anyway. We laid around for about an hour enjoying our freebies and chilling out. He needed a rest, too, since he placed 10th in the 5k then ran 4 miles with me! I sat around and kept blowing my nose, feeling sorry for myself and my missed PR. (Don't worry I was nice to everyone I talked to. This was an internal pity party.)

After we got home and showered, he napped, but I couldn't since I was back on sudafed. We went out for dinner and ran tons of errands. I feel good today. Sore, but good. Let me clarify that: my legs feel sore, but good. My nose and head feel congested and terrible. Ugh. I'm only happy to be sick today because it means I really was sick during the race and it wasn't a stupid excuse I came up with to stop trying.

Final stats and thoughts:
It's hard to look at these stats. I've had a strong training season. Yes, I've missed runs and I avoided hill repeats and speed work, but I've PR'd new distances and became a more confident runner. I truly believe that I (/a healthy me) could have run between 2:05 and 2:10 at Cap City.

Final Time: 2:22:43 (Last year: 2:19 // PR: 2:08)
Overall: 4771/7698 (62%)
Gender: 2315/4488 (51%)
Division: 409 /753 (54%)

Final Thought: Can I have a do-over?

Up Next: NES 3 miler next Saturday. Assuming I'm healthy and recovered, I'll go fast-ish. After that? Medina Half Marathon on May 30. They released the course and there is no hope of me PRing on those hills. Looks like my Cap City redemption run will have to happen in the fall. I think I may concentrate on 5, 10, and 15ks this summer... take it easy and just enjoy running!

Books of April 2015

My April included a fishing trip with Alex, a fun 5k, a fast 10k, and some longer runs before Cap City. It also included a week long work trip to Dallas (my longest trip yet) and visits with friends and family. I got sick the last week of April and it's holding fast. No bueno.

I picked up a bunch of quick-read mysteries from the library in April and it was nice to feel like I made a dent in my to-read shelf. Unfortunately, it was my virtual to-read list and not my overflowing physical to-read bookshelf. Oh well, progress is progress. Let's look a the books of April:

Finished April 16, 2015
by Megan Abbott

Review: 4 / 5 
I enjoyed this more than Dare Me, but I'm not sure if it's because I read it (vs. audiobook) or if I liked the characters better. A few of them were certainly nicer than the terrible girls in Dare Me. Deenie's father Tom was an interesting character. It's nice to see a parent treated as a real person in a YA book - what a novel concept! (Oh gosh, am I old enough to care about that stuff now?!) 

Can't say too much more without going into the details of the "Fever," but I'd watch this as a movie. And I'd like to confess that I thought this was dystopian for the first 15 or so pages due to the original book cover and weirdly vague set-up of the vaccinations.

Finished April 9, 2015
by Becca Fitzpatrick 

Review: 3 / 5 
I really hated book 2, so it was nice to get back to enjoying the story. While I sort of feel like the book could have been skipped or combined with book two, I was relieved the plot was explained a few times. I'm not up on my mythical angel / Nephil origin stories and the review was welcome. 

For a review with spoilers, you can read my review on Goodreads by clicking the book title above. 

Finished April 16, 2015

Review: 4 / 5 
I read this on my plane ride home from Texas. A quick read and very entertaining. Maya seems like a class act and a nice kid. (I think she may be in college now, so I guess I should say "young lady.") I'd recommend this to women of all ages... and I think some pre-teens could learn a few things from Maya. The book has a nice message and at the end of the day, popularity is about caring for and interacting with other people. 

Finished April 18, 2015

Review: 4 / 5 
I didn't read this cover to cover, but chose sections of interest (stretching, strength, and food were pretty interesting). Alex flipped through it, too. My copy is a library books, but I'd recommend keeping this at home as a running resource if you're hardcore or looking for advice. 

Obviously, Meb is an elite athlete and I'm not going to follow his exact plan (or run marathons), but it's interesting to read what a top athlete goes through to win. He makes a lot of sacrifices and spends a lot of time training and it pays off. It's nice to see an honest depiction of his regimen. I'm kind of tired of lies like, "anyone can win with a tiny amount of effort! And eat all the donuts!"

Finished April 19, 2015
by Paula Hawkins 

Review: 4 / 5 
Is this the "It" Book of 2015? 

I had to take a weeklong break from this for travel, but it was very easy to get back into the story upon my return. Had I the time, I could have finished this in one or two days. 

I figured some things out a bit early on (I'm not sure if that was intentional or not), but it still unraveled in a fascinating way. Can't say too much without dropping loads of spoilers. I know the phrase "if you liked Gone Girl..." is overused, but if you did, you'd probably enjoy this. 

Finished April 20, 2015
by E. Lockhart

Review: 4 / 5 
I'm glad I didn't know anything about this going in or read the rave reviews. I don't think it would have held up if I were expecting it to be amazing. 

I zipped through it. I didn't love the main character and her migraines made made nauseous, but it's always fun to read about spoiled rich people and their issues. Without giving anything away, I enjoyed the ultimate result and had to go back and read several passages. Nice job, author.

Finished April 27, 2015
by Emily St. John Mandel

Review: 4 / 5 
I didn't love this book, but a 3 feels rude. This is another story of a post-apocalyptic world, but it's not a zombie world or YA love story featuring a strong teen who takes on the government. In fact, there is no government.

The way it was written reminded me of Sydney Sheldon novels or even Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: lots of perspectives and overlapping stories, but written in a really dry manner. I didn't enjoy the Symphony in the beginning and was relieved when the story flashed to other times and characters. I'm not sure how I feel about the characters revolving around one central figure. I know you can't get an answer to all questions, but a few more would have been nice.

If this book does really well and warrants a special edition, they should hire an artist to compose a few pages of the graphic novel Station Eleven to intersperse throughout the novel. (Davie Gibbons of Watchmen? ...But maybe that's too predictable.) I'd buy that.

For a review with spoilers, you can read my review on Goodreads by clicking the book title above. 

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As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads

What did you read in April? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to:  I finished Kimberly McCreight's Where They Found Her on May 1st and started Lauren Oliver's Vanishing Girls. I may need a break from women-centric crime/mysteries for a while. No idea what I'll read next! 
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