Friday, November 26, 2010

Race Report: Atlanta Half

As you may remember, I had been sick with a cold and hadn't run since Monday. Not only had I not run, I had barely walked... and I certainly hadn't slept. I was feeling so badly and I was an absolute nervous wreck about finishing this race. It wasn't an option for me not to try to do it, though. My BFF had not only paid my race fee, she also paid an additional amount of money for us to ride the Turkey Shuttle from our local running store. And it was really the only attempt I would have for Half Fanatic. I had already determined in the last few weeks that I simply could not do this many halfs again so close to each other.

I didn't sleep very well Wednesday night which isn't all that unusual for the night before a race. My alarm was set for 5, and when I woke at 4, I decided it wasn't worth it to try to go back to sleep. Around 4:45 I got up to check the weather and saw that it was in the low 50s as expected, but 100% humidity. Such bizarre weather for late November. I got dressed and waited for my BFF to pick me up. It's so weird because I usually pick HER up since she lives near the interstate, but my house is on the way to the running store.

We got to the store at 5:40 and there was nobody there except the bus and its driver. And did I mention it was drizzling?? I had checked the weather and there was no mention of rain, nor was there anything on the radar!! UGH!! Anyway, soon the store guy had arrived and other runners started arriving, too. We were instructed to be there at 5:45 for a 6:00 departure, and we left right at 6. The traffic was heavier than I expected for Thanksgiving morning, and it was an absolute standstill when we got near Turner Field (where the Atlanta Braves play, and the start/finish line). Our clever bus driver went down past the stadium and came back, dropping us off right across from the start!! Well worth the price of the shuttle... plus we got a cute short sleeve tech tee!!

We hit the porta potties, stretched, porta potties again, and then the corrals. Soon it was time to start! I can't believe how fast it went! It was foggy so the pictures weren't all that good, but that was OK. I was so nervous, I couldn't even stand it. I guess it's a good thing time went by so quickly. It didn't give me a chance to worry.

Shortly after crossing the start line, I knew this was going to be an interesting experience for me. My congestion was only in my head/nose, but my heart rate was zooming up VERY quickly. Not sure if it was related to my cold, or to being in bed for most of the week, or what... but it was uncomfortable. My BFF tried a couple of times to come back to run with me, but we had already discussed that she needs to feel free to run ahead of me at any time. And towards the end of the 2nd mile, I knew that physically I needed to slow WAY down if I had any chance of making it to the finish line. I lost sight of her shortly after that! We had decided upon a meeting place at the end of the race, and I mentally wished her the best of luck!! :)

I slowed my pace down significantly and felt much better. My heart rate slowed back down and I was able to breathe a bit better. I started to look around and enjoy the scenery of downtown Atlanta. It was when I hit the end of the 4th mile that I had a really cool epiphany: I really didn't care about my time!! I was just enjoying being out running! I love races, I love the energy at a race, and I love running... no matter how fast or slow I am. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!! It was a great feeling! I'm glad it happened then, because I would need that feeling later! LOL

After the nice, flat middle section of the course, it seemed like we made a ton of turns in an apparent attempt to go UP every. single. hill. in downtown Atlanta. I handled them all pretty well until the last couple of miles when there were some really steep ones right after the other. My heart rate was feeling too high, and it made me nervous. I decided to walk those hills to give my body a chance to rest. Once I felt my heart race going down, I started running again.

At long last, I approached the finish line! I was thrilled beyond belief that I had made it! I was going to be a Half Fanatic! I had DONE IT!!! And I looked down at my and was shocked to see that I was coming in a few seconds earlier than at Disneyland!! How bizarre considering I was sick and this course was all hilly compared to flat California?!? Plus I had walked a couple of times! I was pretty darn proud of myself!

I got my absolutely beautiful medal, a neat mylar blanket, and went to find my BFF. Imagine my surprise when she found me at the finish line! She had finished 11 full minutes before me, and 5 minutes before her previous PR at her first half a few weeks ago at Zooma! Yeah, when I tell you she is FAST, I mean it!! She is now 2/3 of the way towards her own Half Fanatic, which she'll finish at the end of January.

We got some water and snacks and headed for the tent of the running store where we were supposed to find the bus. The tent was right at the finish line area right past the snacks ... very convenient! We got our bags and hit the porta potties to change clothes. We got back and did some stretching (and I talked up ROTE to a fellow rider who had her stuff in a Princess Half bag), and then it was time to get on the bus to ride back! The traffic getting out of the regular lots was atrocious, but our bus driver was clever again!! We got out fairly quickly and were back at the store in no time! It was fantastic, and well-worth the money! :)

Overall, this was a fantastic race. So far, physically I feel quite well - and my cold seems to be resolving itself. I was afraid running the distance would set me back, but I have felt pretty well today. And it was much better on me mentally than the Zooma or Disneyland races were. I hope that this marks the demise of my brain playing games with me while I run! I am honestly looking forward to some down time from "training". Not that I'll stop running, obviously, but I have been "half marathon training" for 8 out of 11 months this year, and I'm pretty wiped out mentally. I'm going to enjoy the plateau for the next few months before it's time to start training for the triathlon! :)

Edited to add: How funny! Apparently I must really mean it about "not caring how fast I am" thing... I totally forgot to include my finish time!! Well, here it is - 2:22:57. I actually had to look it up because I had forgotten! Wow! Freaky!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon: I DID IT!!!

I still can't believe it, but I actually did it! I finished the Atlanta Half this morning, even with my stuffy nose and everything! :) I'll do a complete race report later today or tomorrow, but I at least wanted to post my good news!


And now I'm off to apply for Half Fanatic! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sick

As luck would have it, on Monday I came down with the cold that my daughters both have. I'm feeling pretty icky and I'm really nervous about tomorrow's half marathon. I've never run sick before, and I've taken off the last two days to rest up. My goal is just to make it across the finish line so I can become a Half Fanatic.

Prayers are appreciated that I will feel so much better tomorrow morning!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon: Training

Monday - 4 mile run
Tuesday - 1/2 mile swim
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - 4 mile run
Friday - rest
Saturday - 8.6 mile run
Sunday - rest

Yeah, I didn't do very much last week... but my body was just rebelling like crazy. At least it's not the pain like it was the week immediately following Zooma. It's more of a persistent achiness. I know that my shoes are shot, which is probably contributing to at least some of it anyway. I have been using the same shoes since May 31st, and I've never gone that long before. But I didn't want to start in on a new pair right before a half.

The half is on Thursday and I'm really anxious for it to be here and done. My daughters have been sick the last few days and I can tell I'm fighting something off myself.

I really hope Half Fanatic is worth all this!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon: Training

Monday - 3 mile run
Tuesday - swim lesson
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 4 mile run/60 minute ballet class
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 5K race
Sunday - Rest

Yeah, lots of rest last week following the Zooma Half! I woke up every single day with something different hurting me. It was such an unpleasant experience. I think it wasn't until Saturday when I actually woke up and nothing hurt. My left foot is still rather sore, even today, but it doesn't bother me when I run, so I'm not exactly sure what that's all about. I wonder if my shoes are dead, since I've been running in them since May 31st, including training for and running two halfs in that time. I will be changing shoes after the Atlanta Half, so just another 10 days or so.

I had another swim lesson with my coach. He said my stroke looks great, which was a relief! I've been so worried that I've been practicing it wrong. So now my goal is just to get comfortable with the stroke and not use up so much energy. He had me working on relaxing when I swim, which is such a challenge for me because I get very nervous that I'm going to drown! LOL But I did several laps at the end of my workout where I just focused on relaxing and it went pretty well! He likened it to the relaxed pace of running a long distance, where you have to just take your time so you have energy for the long haul!

Only 9 days until the half...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lanier Under the Lights 5K: Race Report

When I heard about a race that was to take place in the evening, running through the Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, it definitely piqued my interest. When I learned it was sponsored by my church, and benefits Toys for Tots - well, that was a no brainer! :) And since it was only a week after my last half, I decided that this would be a nice recovery run, so my BFF and I decided to go for it! We even got all dressed up fancy for the occasion - thanks to Stephanie from the ROTE boards for the idea to tack the white fur to my red skirt to make it look very festive!
It was so beautiful running at sunset... I do wish the race had started about 15 minutes later, though. It would have been nice to see the lights in the dark the entire way! The course was challenging (read: hilly) but I was prepared for that as this was part of the course that I ran in the spring for the Fallen Heroes of GA 10K.
Look at this beautiful view of sunset over the lake!! It was breathtaking!!
This light tunnel was my very favorite, aside from the bridge!
After we got done, being that it was supper time, we decided to hit Chick Fil A for some yummy chicken and a peppermint chocolate chip milkshake!
Overall this race was excellent! The scenery was fantastic - but I would have liked to have started just 15 minutes later so it would have been easier to see the lights the entire time. However, then I would have missed the sunset over the lake. The only problem was the finish line. This was not a chip-timed race, and there was a back-up at the finish line while they tried to get our bib numbers in order. However, nobody was staying in the proper order and it was chaos. I wasn't running this race for a "time" so it didn't bother me, but I know lots of people were not happy at all. Also, it took around 5 minutes to get through the finish line and I was cold and getting stiff quickly. Then we had to walk back to the staging area to get post-race snacks, which were plentiful to be sure, but just not easily accessible. I think the finish line problem could be solved by having d-chip or bib chip timing next time.

Two funny things occurred to me while I was in the shower after this race. The first one is that two years ago I never would have dreamed that one day I would consider a 5K race to be a "relaxing little thing". And the second one was that even with all the stopping to take pictures, and the not running very fast because we were just enjoying things, I still beat my first ever 5K time by nearly 2 minutes! :)

Regardless of the finish line issues, I'll definitely be at this race next year!! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zooma Finish Line Photos

The Zooma folks get a bonus smiley face for providing free finish line photos for download! I think that's very kind of them - and almost makes up for the post-race party that wasn't.

I'll warn you... you won't see any perky "Hi, look how cute I am" waves like from the Princess... nor will you see any arms raised in celebration like from the Disneyland Half. What you'll see is "I can't believe they put the finish line on the top of a hill!"...

or quite possibly..."I can't run another step!"

But it's still cool to have... and I'll be able to look back on this race with fond memories - one day. I'm pretty sure. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon: How am I supposed to train for this??

Well, in my attempt to become a "Half Fanatic", I will be running another half marathon in 16 days... Thanksgiving Day to be precise.

Unfortunately, there are no "19 days between two half marathons" training plans so I'm going to have to wing this one! :) My goal is basically this: recover and don't get injured.

I usually run 2 short runs per week and one longer one, and I will keep that up. I did 3 miles yesterday, and I will shoot for 4 miles tomorrow. This Saturday I have a 5K fundraiser for my church, but that's in the evening, so if I'm feeling well, I'll run 5 miles in the morning as well. Next week, I plan to do 4 miles each for my short runs, and then next Saturday, I'll shoot for 5-6 miles. I've been thinking I might go as far as 8 miles, but it will all depend on how I'm feeling. Then I'll run on the Tuesday before the race, just a 3 miler to keep my legs stretched out.

After Thanksgiving, I will find myself without any major even to train for! I have been in "Half Marathon Training" mode since May 31st! That's a really long time! I don't have to start training for the triathlon until March or April... so that gives me 3-4 good months to just kick back and relax in maintenance mode!! I'm even considering taking a whole week off from running in December when the girls and I go to Disney World! Can you believe it? I haven't taken a whole week off from running since I started running 2 years ago!

It's so exciting to think I'll be a Half Fanatic in just a couple of weeks - I just have to keep my focus and allow myself plenty of time to recover from last weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Zooma Women's Half Marathon: Race Report

A day of rest before a race report is a good thing, I think. If I had reported on this race yesterday, I'm not sure I would have had many good things to say! LOL

I didn't sleep well the night before. Apparently my body thinks that if I'm going to run a half-marathon, I need to be up at 3:30 like I am for Disney. I tossed and turned, tried praying, tried counting sheep, trying singing soothing praise songs... nothing worked. At 5:15 I just gave up and went to check the weather on the desktop computer in the living room. It was a couple of degrees warmer than projected, but still just bitterly cold. I had packed everything up the night before, so I got dressed and then started the car so it would be warm before the drive. Left a little before 6:00 to pick up my BFF.

We arrived by 6:30 (for a 7:30 start) which was according to the instructions on the website. We hit the porta potties immediately, then went back to sit in the warm car and eat breakfast. Around 7:00, we got out of the car to head for the starting area to use the bathroom again and to stretch. When we got to the start line, we noticed that the expo had moved to a small area that resembled a greenhouse. We decided to go inside and see if there were restrooms - there were!! We got in the restroom line and stretched while we waited! :)

It was 7:25 so we headed outdoors. It was still just so cold. We had each dressed in layers, but I know I was still really, really cold. The great music helped to pump everyone up and my BFF commented that she wished she could buy the race mix! Around 7:28, an announcement was made that the race wouldn't be starting until 7:45 to allow for everyone to get in and get parked. This REALLY, REALLY made me angry. The website specifically said that we were to plan to arrive at 6:30. I followed the instructions. I shouldn't have to wait around in the freezing cold for 15 minutes for folks who didn't plan well. There was no traffic congestion on the interstate, no accidents to block the way. GRRRRR

Anyway, the start went well and we headed out and over the interstate. My assignment was to pace my BFF through her first half-marathon, but she is an incredibly fast runner. I told her a couple of times that we needed to slow down, but it became quite obvious that her "slow down" was still much faster than my "fast"! Unfortunately for me, I used up a ton of energy at the beginning, which ended up coming back to haunt me at the end.

The first massive hill came right after the mile 3 marker, and it went on for about a little more than half a mile, according to the elevation chart on my Garmin. It was very, very rough. The middle part of the race was through two small towns and it was a rolling course, not much different than I'm used to running in our weekly training runs. That was a fun part to run!

But the end of the race was a series of hills, two of which were a mile long each. That was absolutely exhausting. And by the last hill, my left hip was giving out. I had had trouble with it during training for the princess, and also way back when I was trying to build up from the 5K to 10K. I had been pushing hard for the entire race, and I had just pushed beyond my ability.

I don't remember much about the last 3 miles... except that we just kept going up hill. The very last hill went up, turned a little corner and then went up quite steeply. When I reached that steep part, my left hip just gave out. I had to walk for a few minutes, catch my breath, try to walk out the sore hip. I felt dreadful having to walk in the last mile, and it was very discouraging. I'd never had to walk in my other half-marathons. :( I fought back tears when I noticed my BFF dropping back to walk with me. I didn't want her to see me so upset.

Before I reached the top of the hill, I decided that I wasn't going to allow the course to get me. So I started to run again, even if I had to go slowly. The rest of the course was downhill, until the finish line. Who puts the finish line on the top of a hill??? It was horrible! There would be no smiling and waving finish line picture this time! LOL


When all was said and done, I did get a PR... in fact, I beat my Disneyland time by 6:59 which seems absolutely impossible considering all the hills! My official time was 2:16:24. I truly can't believe it! I know that a fast runner might be inside me somewhere, but I just don't have the desire to push her to come out like I did yesterday. It was really unpleasant. I know some folks might love that feeling, but I'm not one of those people! I know that I'm getting faster, slowly, and I'm completely content with that. I like finishing feeling strong... not like I'm going to collapse and die.

Fortunately, my hip feels much better today. The only thing that still feels sore are my quads, but I would expect that the day after a half. I'm anxious to get out there tomorrow and have a nice relaxing run! :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zooma Pictures

Race report to come!! But probably not today! :)

Before the race, standing in the bathroom line - these bathrooms were INDOORS!!

The start line... what a beautiful sunrise!!
FINISHED!! This was a nasty course. Hills... two of which lasted an entire mile each!

Race shirt and Finisher's Necklace.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's the day before Zooma and...

I haven't taken a plane and I haven't spent all day long walking around a Disney park! LOL

This will be my first local half-marathon! It's so strange that it just sort of popped up in the middle of my regular life. And tomorrow after I'm finished, I won't go back to a hotel, shower, and head to a Disney park. Nope, this time I'll come home, shower, and probably go to the grocery store! ;) Or maybe not! I do know my hubby is planning to brave the cold and grill me a steak! THAT is better than any food I could hope to find at Disney or anywhere else, for that matter!

The weather is still looking really cold, but not as bad as previously anticipated: 33 at the start, 39 by the time we finish. It's completely thrown all of my "what to wear" plans out of whack completely. I'm going to have to wear my Tough Girl Skirt Sports skirt with the built-in pants, and I've never tested it out on a long run before. :( Let's just hope it's as comfortable as it was during the ONE 5 mile run I did get in it.

Tonight is the Expo and race number pick up! I'm getting pretty excited!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This can't be happening...

Issued by The National Weather Service
Atlanta, GA
3:16 am EDT, Thu., Nov. 4, 2010

... FREEZE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY MORNING...


Just a tidbit of trivia for those who are interested:

The city's average date for the first 32-degree reading of the season is Nov. 13. The first freeze has come as early as Oct. 11. in 1906, and as late as Dec. 18, in 1998.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The nightmares of a half-marathon runner

I can't be the only one who has the jitters in the week prior to a race, right?

I've been so nervous about this one, too. I know it's because it's "different" - running 13.1 miles in north Georgia instead of California or Florida is bound to be. We have hills here. And wonky weather - which is going especially wonky just in time for the race. It's been in the 70s for highs and 50s for lows. The morning of the race is predicted to be right at or below freezing!! I sure have some mojo when it comes to messing with weather patterns since I started running. Perhaps they should call it "El Niffercoo"! ;)

Anyway, I always seems to have a nightmare a few days before a half. And it's always the same: I can't find the finish line. Last night's dream was even worse because not only could I not find the finish line, I couldn't find the goody bags and tee shirts either! LOL

Running is such a mental exercise for me. I'm hoping that this race will be better since I'm going to be running with my BFF and we'll have each other to talk to. There's not nearly so much time for my mind to play games with me if it's busy talking about movies, and music, and all the other stuff we talk about when we're on a long run together. And that's how I'm going to try to approach it this weekend - just a nice long run with my BFF.

I have to admit I'll be glad to get my first Georgia half out of the way! I'm sure my nerves will be much better for the next one! :)