Monday, December 31, 2012

Just Because I'm a Big Geek...

   So 2012 is coming to an end tonight. It's been a good year for me race-wise, with a new PR in every distance ranging from 1 mile to Half-Ironman. And, mainly so I remember, here they are:
1 mile - 7:57
5k - 28:18
10k - 57:49
10 mile - 1:36:10
Half-Marathon - 2:09:34
Half-Ironman - 5:58:36
   And, because I'm a geek, I've started keeping track of where I've raced. I'm hoping to race at least a half-marathon in every state. Granted, my husband thinks this is the worst idea ever, so it might not happen. But I created a map anyway.

   You can't really read the text on the photo, but the light purple are states where I have raced a half marathon prior to 2012. The dark purple is a 2012 half marathon race state. And the green is a half-Ironman state prior to 2012. As you can see, I still have a ways to go. But, I need to add DC, because that was new in 2012, and I know I'll add Louisiana in 2013! Hopefully a few others as well!  :-)

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Medal Recap

   First off - a huge kudos to Robbie Bruce and everyone who participated in / donated to the 26.4.26 run last Saturday. Over 1,000 runners participated and $30,000 was raised to help the families affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Truly amazing.
   Now, on to the 2012 medal recap. I know medals don't mean a lot to some runners/triathletes. There are those hard-core racers who believe that you shouldn't receive a medal unless you win. Whatever. I think they're fun and a nice memento from the race. So here we go:

Mercedes Half Marathon - Birmingham, AL

   I liked this medal for it's simplicity. It's the Mercedes logo, after all. What else do you need? It also had a nice ribbon. I'm a fan of the nice ribbon. I mean, you pay anywhere from $75-$100 for a race, you should at least get a nice ribbon, right?

Rock 'n Roll USA 1/2 Marathon - Washington, D.C.

   This was kind of a cool medal. Being that it was in Washington, D.C., there was a patriotic theme, hence the bald eagle. The marathon, half-marathon and relay medals were all the same design, with different color schemes. Of the three, this was my least favorite, but NBD. Cheap ribbon though. Not a fan of that.

   One thing to say about the Rock 'n Roll series, they like to stick with the theme. Have a music theme? Why not have a record for a medal? It's not too exciting, but it's gold and shiny. Again - cheap ribbon. Same one as the USA 1/2 marathon, actually. Rock 'n Roll must get them in bulk.

Hustle for the House 5k - Nashville, TN

   This was the only medal I actually won. This was for first place in my age group in the 5k. Different colored ribbons denoted what place you were. Full disclosure - I'm on the board for this event so I had a voice in the decision of the medals. I like this one. It's cute and matches logo of the race and the theme of the Ronald McDonald House. 

ESI Ironman 70.3 - Augusta, GA

   Now this is a medal. It's heavy and has a really nice ribbon. It's a little too colorful for my taste, with the pink peaches and the purple ESI logo, and I don't really think the ribbon matches the rest of the medal. But at least you feel like you got something for your entry fee. And truthfully, by the end of a half-Ironman, you're so damn happy to get the medal you don't really care what it looks like.

MS 150 Ride to Jack & Back - Franklin, TN to Lynchburg, TN and back

   This medal wasn't for a race, but for a charity bike ride for MS. I've done this ride in the past and didn't receive a medal. I think it's a nice touch. Not really necessary because the ride is so cool, but a nice touch. It's really basic medal, but it's a charity ride so that's OK.

St. Jude Half Marathon - Memphis, TN

   This, of course, was my favorite race of the year, so I love this medal. It's big, the ribbon matches and that part in the middle of the medal rotates.  Enough said.

Bonus medal - Rock Encore:

   A few months back, I received a package in the mail with this medal in it.  Apparently, if you complete more than one Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathons in a year, you get a special medal. I ran two - D.C. and Nashville - and this is what I got. Again, this falls into the "not really necessary, but nice" category.   Nice blingy, shiny medal. Again with the cheap ribbon though. Rock 'n Roll has to get over that.
   2013 starts in a few days! Looking forward to another year of racing!

Friday, December 21, 2012

26.4.26 or Why Nashville is Awesome

   In my last post, I talked about focusing on small, positive things that have occurred since the tragedy in Newtown.  Here's another.
   Last Monday, local triathlete Robbie Bruce (X3 Endurance) was watching the horrific coverage of Newtown when he decided he wanted to run 26 miles in honor of the 26 victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and "26.4.26" was born.

   The plan was simple. The run would be Saturday, the 22nd. Robbie planned a 6.5 mile route starting at Nashville Running Company. Hoping that a few others might want to join him, Robbie sent out a few texts and Facebook messages asking if anyone else wanted run. People could run 6.5, 13, 19.5 or 26 miles, depending on how many loops they want to do. Runners would be assigned an "angel" (a name of one of those lost in the tragedy), and would run in their angel's honor. Donations (going to help the families of Newtown) of $1 per mile were requested. The idea was probably to raise a couple hundred dollars, or maybe $1,000.

The text that started everything...

   However, in less than a week, this idea went from one guy running, to OVER 800 with more still signing up. EVERY Nashville running/triathlon/cycling club, store and training group that I know of is going to be there. Almost every runner I know is posting, tweeting or blogging about it, encouraging others to run or donate. The media has covered it. Sponsors are stepping up to donate water and food for the runners. It's gotten so large that the run has been moved from the Nashville Running Company to LP Field (where the Tennessee Titans play) so parking can be accommodated. I don't know the details of the logistics of this run, but I do know you can't pull something like this off without the cooperation from the City of Nashville. No government red tape preventing this run from happening.
   I'm so freaking proud of my Nashville athletic community right now, I could just cry. Seriously. I know I've mentioned how awesome my East Nasty crew is, and how much I love training with FTP Coaching. I KNOW how amazing these people are. But to see them, and so many others, come together to support the Sandy Hook community is just... well, there are no words for it. It just makes my heart swell.
   So you can imagine how disappointed I am that Dudley and I won't be able to run tomorrow. We'll be traveling for the Holidays. Fortunately, there is a way for me to sponsor runners, which I have. And I think you should too - There are also shirts and stickers available for purchase on that same link. Again, all proceeds are going to help the families of Newtown. Robbie is now hoping to raise $26,000. Knowing Nashville, I think that'll happen.
   This all started with a man with an idea, and it's turned into a movement. That's pretty cool. Thank you to Robbie for making this happen. You know we've all had ideas like this and haven't pursued them because it might seem like too much effort, or you're afraid that no one will join you. Makes you wonder what kind of world this could be if we all started acting on our ideas.
   “I always thought someone should do something about that, then I realized I was someone.”
    ~ Lily Tomlin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Small Glimmers

   I can't count how many times I've started to write something here over the past few days, but then just couldn't get anything down. Or, if I did, it didn't really seem to make any sense. I, like most people, am heartbroken and sick about the events that occurred in Newtown on Friday morning. I just don't understand how/why something like this could happen. And unfortunately, I'm the type of person who, when failing to comprehend something, obsesses over it until I can make some sort of sense out of it. But it's impossible to make sense out of something as horrific as Newtown.
   So instead, I'm deciding to focus on the small glimmers of hope I've witnessed since the tragedy. Scenes like the grief-stricken father of 6-year-old Emilie, who showed compassion and sympathy towards the family of his daughter's murderer (I don't think I could have been so merciful). The airline, JetBlue, who transported hand-written letters on a red-eye from Washington State to Connecticut so they could be buried with 6-year-old Noah. The local soldier/father who volunteered to stand watch outside of an elementary school so the kids wouldn't be afraid go to school today. And the teacher who told a nervous mother this morning, "I love your child as if he were my own son. I would give my life to save his." Those words mean even more now, given the sacrifice of Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto.
   Be sure, by focusing on the hope, I'm not glossing over the heinousness of Friday's massacre. I'm certainly not trying to put a happy spin on a tragic situation. That's impossible to do in this case. But, as stated before, I can't understand the kind of evil that take his vengeance out on an elementary school. What I can understand is hope - even if it's just small glimmers of it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Whomp Whomp

   So, in my last post, I mentioned how I was waiting for notification from the DC Nike Women's Half Marathon. My three college friends and I had all applied to be in the lottery for their race on April 28th. Well - guess who all got in? My three friends. Guess who didn't? ME!! I'm totally bummed because I was really looking forward to this race. Not to be too overly dramatic, but 2012 hasn't been the best year for me. Between my parents' house burning down, my company being bought and now my dog being hurt (poor Hef), this year has been one giant ball of stress. I was REALLY looking forward to a weekend away with my runner girls. Sigh.
   Fortunately, all hope isn't lost. I can still sign up as a charity runner with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm not sure about this because, while I'm a huge fan of LLS, I'm a horrible fundraiser. I'm TERRIBLE at asking people for things, especially money, even if it is for a good cause. But I really want to do the race. And I've heard training with TNT is an amazing experience. I'm not sure what to do. I'll probably decide over the weekend so I can get my fundraising started if needed. If anyone has any experience with TNT, I'd love to hear about it!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So Many Races, So Little Time..and Money

  So the end of 2012 is near. If you're anything like me, you've already started planning your race calendar for 2013. Though I've only officially signed up for one half-marathon so far (Rock 'N Roll New Orleans), I have several that I want to do. OK, there are A LOT I want to do. And that's where the problem lies. Between training, logistics and expenses, I can't possibly race them all. Not to mention, I'd probably seriously injure myself if I raced everything I wanted to. Anyway, here is a partial list of some of the races I'm thinking of doing this year.

Potential Races:
 - Virginia is for Lovers 14k (Virginia Beach / February 9) - This Valentine's Day themed race is put on by J&A Racing, who also put on the Shamrock Half Marathon I did a few years ago. For those who didn't grow up in Virginia like I did, "Virginia is for Lovers," is the tourism slogan of the state. Why do I want to do this race? It just looks cute. Plus, how many races offer a 14k? And you get a medal shaped like Virginia!

This makes me homesick.

Austin Half Marathon (Austin, TX / February 17) - This race is sponsored by LiveStrong. I'm hoping that there is still a ton of support for this race even with the Lance Armstrong mess. Why do I want to do this race? I've been looking for an Austin race for a long time because this is where hubby is from. I think it would be cool to run through his old haunts with him. Plus, his family still lives there so we could visit them.

- Nike Women's Half Marathon (Washington DC /April 28) - This is the first Nike Women's race that is outside of San Francisco. This is what I'm hoping will be a collegiate runner girl reunion weekend with Debbie, Dana and Jenny. Kicker is that it's a lottery registration, so there is a chance that one, half, none or all of us will get in. Hopefully, it'll be all. Why do I want to do this race? Well, it's in my hometown so I can visit my parents. Plus instead of finisher's medals, the participants receive Tiffany necklaces presented by men in tuxedos! We find out this week if we get in. Fingers crossed!

- Flying Pig Half Marathon (Cincinnati, OH / May 5) - This race seems to be popular for people in Nashville as Cincinnati is only five hours away. From what I've read, the support from the city is huge. A race with something for everyone, there is also a Full Marathon, a 4 person relay, a 10k, and a 5k. Why do I want to do this race? How could you NOT want to do a race called the "Flying Pig?" Plus, I like their logo and want a shirt with the flying pig.

The G is a curled pig tail!  Come on - that's cute!  

- REV3 Olympic Triathlon (Knoxville, TN / May 5) Unfortunately, this race is in direct conflict with the Flying Pig Half. Boo. Why do I want to do this race? I've never done a REV3 race and I really want to race one. I like that it's in Knoxville. Even though Dudley went to law school there, I didn't really get experience the city. And believe me, you get to really experience a city when you literally run through it. Plus, it's on the FTP Coaching calendar, so they will all be there.

 - Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon (Goody, KY / June 8) - Yes, there is a race dedicated to the infamous feud between "Devil Anse" Hatfield and "Old Ran'l" McCoy. Run by a decedent of the Hatfield family, the course runs through both West Virginia and Kentucky where the feud took place. Cute thing about this race - when you register, you are assigned to be either a Hatfield or a McCoy. The "family" with the overall lowest time "wins" the feud for the year. Why do I want to do this race?  EVERY race report I have ever seen about this race RAVES about how cool it is. Plus, this totally brings out the history geek in me.

- Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron Distance (Wilmington, NC / October 26) - Named by Triathlete magazine as one of the top five iron distance races in the world. Why do I want to do this race? Again, from speaking to past participants, this race seems awesome. Challenging, but not crazy hard. I like that the swim is in the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, so it's in salt water, but not in ocean water. And, it seems like a bunch of friends are going to be traveling from Nashville for this race, so that would be fun. This would be an "A" race for me (as in I'd train specifically for this race and try to do well).

The finish is by the USS North Carolina.

- Rock 'N Roll Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV/ November 17) - Another "tour stop" in the "Rock 'N Roll" race series, this race runs through the Las Vegas Strip at night. Why do I want to do this race? Because this race runs through the Las Vegas Strip. At night. That's pretty cool.  

Don't you want to run through this?

Savannah Bridge Run (Savannah, GA / December ?) - A 10k and/or a 5k, this race is generally not a distance I would travel seven hours to run. But Savannah is on my travel list, so why not race while I'm there?  (The Savannah Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon is also in consideration.) Why do I want to do this race? Because I want to run over this three times: 

Yes, this looks fun to me.

Unfortunately, this race will most likely compete directly with the St. Jude Half Marathon, which I love.  

And there's more!! 
   I haven't even started on all of the great local races I want to do! I'll definitely do several of the Team Magic and Start2Finish races this year. Plus, I want to do Mach Tenn, which I couldn't do last year because of my parent's house fire.
   To make everything MORE confusing, it seems like every race company is giving an incentive discount today because it's 12/12/12. The Rock 'N Roll group is giving a $20 discount on any race and Team Magic triathlon is giving $12 off if you register today. Unfortunately, with the Holidays coming up, this isn't the best time for me to be signing up for a hundred races. Sigh.
   If anyone has any suggestions for other races, please let me know! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The One Where I Fell

   There have been several races this year that, for whatever reason (laziness), I didn't write a recap.  Now that I'm in the off-season, I have a little more time. So let's play catch up, shall we?
   First, we'll take a trip back to July. Yes, July. If you can remember back that far, when we last left our heroine (um - that's me), she had just come off of her stellar performance at the Old Hickory Lake Sprint Triathlon after a summer full of drama. Next up was the Team Magic Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic Triathlon. (Imagine the Wayne's World wavy line flashback effect here.)

483 is SUCH a better starting number than 1222 like last year.

   Considering this was the race where I wanted to cry last year, I was REALLY hoping for a different experience. And since my summer was so crazy, I wasn't overly concerned about my time. I just wanted to finish and not cry. I know, I know - I have huge expectations for myself.
   Anyway, we (Dudley and I) headed down to Chattanooga on Saturday. The expo is on the waterfront right where the transition area is. Man, was it HOT. I know, Chattanooga in July is hot. But while you're standing in line you're just thinking "I'm racing in this tomorrow? I'm insane!" Check-in went fine though. I had a moment of panic as there was a little glitch with the system and some fast racers (like Coach Andrew from FTP) were seeded later then they should have been. Fortunately, this didn't affect me and Andrew was able to move to the front so all was well. 
   The group from FTP then all met up for dinner, which was cool. It was kind of humbling though because I knew everyone at the table was going to have a better finishing time than me. That's what I get for hanging out with amazing athletes. 
   After a decent night's sleep, it was off to the transition area to set up. Unlike last year, we stayed in a downtown hotel within walking distance of transition. I CANNOT express how much better this was than driving down, finding parking and schleping everything to transition. I don't care we paid a little more. It was worth it. I ran into a few FTP, East Nasty and even work friends while I was setting up. Always fun!

Michael and Jason from my office.

With Meg from EN. Forcing smiles at this crazy early hour.

   After setting up, we headed down to the start. It was same set-up as last year where you wait for the start in a large field with no shade. Always fun when it's on the way to 98 degrees, but I did the best I could to stay cool. Remembering my experience from last year when I almost got sick from drinking too much Gatorade, I only drank water. And, since I had a decent starting number, I didn't have to wait too long to start. 
SWIM - 27:16
   The swim wasn't too bad this time - no open water freak-out which was good. Just kind of cruised along. It's a downriver point-to-point swim. I like that. I would pick a point in the distance and think "swim to the bridge - just swim to the bridge. OK - now get to the boat." I only wish I knew if there was some sort of meaning for the different colored buoys along the way.  They would all be the same color (yellow, maybe?) and then I'd see an orange one in the distance and think "YAY! The end!" but no. It would just be some random orange buoy silently mocking me in the river.  
  The good news is that the finish is pretty loud, and you can hear people ringing cowbells and cheering when you get close to the finish. That kind of stuff helps me. The bad news with this finish is that you have to climb about a million stairs to get to the transition area. Ok, maybe it just FEELS like a million stairs, but there were a lot.

A decent look at stairs. This is Coach Andrew from FTP. Who puts stairs like that after a swim? That's just mean!  

Spectators admiring my amazing athletic ability as I speed by.

Me cursing the stairs. Notice the hot pink toes. Yes, I just had a pedi. Because pedis make you faster.

Oh - there's a camera!  Hi Dudley!  

Bike - 1:24:40
   Feeling OK out of the swim, I was still a little hesitant for the bike. I really had a hard ride last year. I know I should have been all "forget last year! Redeem yourself!" But all I could think of was how I felt at this point last year. Fortunately, as the ride went on, my confidence grew. "Hey - it's mile 5 and I don't feel like crying like I did last year!  GREAT!" I even started making up songs in my head. "AAANNDD this is where I'll pass this girl, pass this girl, pass this girl. This is where I'll pass this girl,  all through the town." Yes, that's a really bad version of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round."  Whatever. You do what you can to get through a race and my creative juices weren't firing enough to come up with a new last line.  

Waving at Dudley again. I wonder how much time I could knock off if I 
REALLY focused on the race rather than the camera. 

Fixing my shoe while riding. We triathletes can multi-task like that.

   I felt like I had a decent bike leg. I wasn't killing it, but it wasn't killing me either. I passed a lot of people, which is always nice. And I didn't cry once. WINNER! 

Run - 1:13:23
   I started the run feeling pretty good. I felt like I actually could run, which helps in triathlon.

Oh yeah - I'm running.  One more leg to go.

Starting the Garmin. See - multi-tasking again.

   The run was hot - upper 90's. I was much better with my nutrition (Honey Stinger waffle anyone?) and hydration than last year, so that helped a lot. I was tired and hurting, but in a manageable way. The first mile had a bad hill which takes you up to the greenway, and then you have to climb some stairs (what is it with Chattanooga and stairs?!!). I ran all of it, where as last year I saw that hill and was like "Nope. Not running that." But this year, I just cruised right up them. I kept a pretty decent pace for me in a tri - about a 10:00 mile. I basically had the plan of "just run to the next water stop," which were near the mile markers.
   So - I passed through the mile 2 water stop and I'm pretty happy because I'm feeling good. I remember thinking "WOW- I'm almost halfway through the run! GREAT!" And then it happened. I fell. BAM. Right on the greenway. It was definitely one of those surreal moments when you KNOW something bad is going to happen, but you can't believe it. "Surely, I'm not going to fall" was the last thing through my mind as I hit the pavement. I didn't trip over anything - I just twisted my ankle and fell. I looked around to see if there was some uneven pavement or something, but nothing was there. I guess I have weak ankles. Still don't know why it happened. 
   The fall definitely took the wind out of my sails. I wasn't injured (not even a scratch, which was annoying because if my time is going to suck, I want proof as to why!!), but my ankle hurt. I wanted to keep moving though so I tried to run a bit, but it hurt too much. So I kind of did a walk/run thing for the rest of the race. A funny thing happened around mile four when I passed Meg from East Nasty. Bless her heart, her seat post broke on the bike and she had to ride with her seat on the frame the entire time. Since Chattanooga was an out and back course, and I passed her on the way back to the finish. She yelled to me "My bike broke!" and I yelled back "I fell!" Some random racer looked at me and said "Bad day for East Nasty." I say this was funny because 1) it was true and 2) even though I fell, I was STILL having a better day than Chattanooga 2011.

I'm on a bridge!  

Shuffling my way back home.

Finish - 3:10:32
   The finish was completely downhill, which was awesome. I couldn't really run that fast, but at least I had gravity pulling me. There were a lot of people at the chute, including friends from EN, FTP and work. It was cool to hear people cheering my name as I crossed. 
  Team Magic had a tent set up at the finish with chairs and fans, which was fantastic and much needed. After finding Dudley, we just hung out for a while. We had a late check-out, so we were able to go back to the hotel to shower before the ride home. Definitely the way to go.

FTP Coaching Crew - Lindsey, Jessica H., Sam, Jessica M., Andrew and me.

   Even with the heat, this has become one of my favorite races. Can't wait to do it again and break 3:00!

Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon:
Swim - 27:16
T1: 2:57
Bike: 1:24:40
T2: 2:17
Run: 1:13:23
Total: 3:10:32 - improvement of 21 minutes from last year and no crying!!  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

St. Jude Half-Marathon Recap

   Saturday was the St. Jude Marathon Weekend. If you're a runner, you MUST do this race. If you get nothing else out of this post, please remember that. DO THIS RACE. Ok - now the recap.
   Dudley and I left for Memphis on Friday afternoon (about a three-hour drive) and went directly to the expo. Right away, I knew I was in trouble. Not that I was injured, but I knew I was going to be an emotional wreck for this race.

 You see, this race supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which "is a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's catastrophic diseases." This race was all about the kids and there were reminders of them and the amazing work St. Jude does everywhere. Needless to say, I teared up almost immediately upon walking in the expo. One of the first things you saw were these giant black & white posters of some of the children who have stayed at St. Jude. I purposely didn't take any photos of the posters because it seemed like I would be exploiting the kids somehow. Strange, I know, but that's how I felt. But believe me, they were powerful.
   Another thing that got to me was the wall. It was where runners could leave messages to the kids at St. Jude.

This was just one side of the four-sided wall.
It was so covered, it was hard to find a space to write.

   Notice the letters at the top of the wall? Those are the St. Jude ABCs of Cancer. These were taken from a wall in the hospital where the patients use the letters of the alphabet to express their personal experiences battling cancer. Things like "R is for Recovery" or "N is for Nurses." Two that really got to me were "A is for Alive" and "I - Imagine my brain tumor gone." Are you crying yet? Because if that doesn't get to you, I don't know what will. I cried at least three times over the hour we were at the expo.
  After the expo, we headed off to the hotel. Kicker with this race is that the downtown hotels near the race start / finish 1) book up WAY early and 2) generally require a two night stay. Being that I had to work the Titans game on Sunday, we had to leave right after the race, so no downtown hotel for us. Fortunately, the Courtyard I booked happened to be in suburbia (I don't know Memphis AT ALL) where there were lots of restaurants. We carbo-loaded at Carrabba's and went to bed.
   Got up bright and early and scored the most awesome parking space I've ever had at a race. Probably two blocks away from the start/finish and only $5. Good start to the day because parking is something I usually stress over. The finish line was at AutoZone Park, which is where the Memphis Redbirds play. This was also where bag drop-off was and where everyone hung out before/after the race. Very cool minor league baseball park. Nicer than some collegiate stadiums I've worked.

We got to the race so early, we killed time by taking photos. Well, Dudley took photos of me. He's not a fan of the photo like I am.

Pose with a giant baseball cut out?  Don't mind if I do!

How about a Christmas tree?!  Sure!! 

   Finally, it was time to head down to the corrals. I had kind of a scary moment when I was rolling out my ankles getting ready to run, and heard a really loud POP from my left ankle. Then the pain hit. For about one minute, I thought I might have torn / broken something. Fortunately, the pain dissipated after about five minutes. Still don't know what happened but I was fine for the run. (It swelled up on the way home though. Weird.)
  We had planned on taking it easy for this race. Having run St. Jude in 2010, I knew how special this race was and wanted to really experience the entire thing. I even brought my camera with me so I could take photos on the course, which is something I NEVER do. So we lined up in Corral 8, which was about a 10:15 pace. Very doable. Of course, as with the expo, there were banners and signs about St. Jude everywhere. And one of the patients sang the National Anthem. Cue the tears.

Did you know this?

Yes, this was the starting banner.  More tears.

   So the race starts, and we're moving at a pretty good pace. Part of the herd mentality that that comes with all races. Around 5k, Dudley stated that he wanted to shoot for sub-10 minute miles...which is a PR for both of us. Did I mention that I wasn't planning on "running" this race? That I had even brought my camera? Now he wants to PR? REALLY? Those kettlebell lunges that I did Thursday night are seeming like a REALLY bad idea about now. But hey - if Dudley wants to try to PR, I'm in. Let's give it a go. 
   The half-marathon course was really well laid-out.  Memphis doesn't have the reputation as being the prettiest city (sorry Memphis), but the course hit the highlights. Mud Island, Beale Street, Overton Park...they were all on the course. And it seemed as if the entire city came out to support us. It was awesome. But the highlight HAD to be the run through the St. Jude Campus. Both sides of the road were lined with patients, family, doctors, nurses and other St. Jude employees. Yes, I cried again. One little girl was holding a sign that said "You're running to save my life." Ugh. Are you kidding me? I can't even write about it without tearing up. And those ABCs of Cancer mentioned earlier? They were uses as mile markers. So yes, I pretty much welled up every mile.
   Physically, I felt pretty good. We were hitting sub-10 minute miles, so I felt pretty good about the PR. Plus, it wasn't hard to get motivated when you see signs that say "You think running is hard? Try chemo." Really puts things is perspective. Believe it or not, the heat got to me around mile 10. It was mid-60's towards the end of the race, which is pretty dang hot for December. But Dudley was hell-bent to break 2:10 by this time and I knew I couldn't let him down. He was feeling REALLY good. I have NO idea where that came from. We've done several long runs together and he's never that happy at miles 10-13. He even asked me if I had any kick left at the end! Seriously! Who is that guy? 
   We finally made it to AutoZone Park. The finishing chute was on the field, which was cool. I tried to push it, but we were running on gravel which was hard for me. I wasn't 100% sure if we broke 2:10 - my Garmin said we did, but you never know how that is going to match with the official time. However, I did know we PR'ed, which felt great.

Hanging out in the infield after the race. Yes, I have freakishly huge arms.  They go with my freakishly huge legs.  Genetics.  I blame my dad.

So pretty.  The middle part rotates.

   After cooling down a bit and getting a bite to eat, we stopped by the official timing tent to see how we did.  Check it out.

BAM!  A PR and we broke 2:10!  

   Overall - an amazing weekend. As I said at the beginning of this post, if you're a runner you NEED to do this race. I definitely think we'll be running it for years to come.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Probably Shouldn't Say This...

   But I'm kind of thinking I want to do a marathon. Which is weird because I don't really like the actual act of running. Yes, I know - I run all the time. But it's pretty much misery the entire time I'm out there. I've never had the "runner's high" or have gotten to the point where running seems to be getting easier. Sure - I'm getting faster (officially a member of the East Nasty 9:00-9:30 pace group - BAM!), but running is always hard for me. Three miles or ten - it's tough. However, while I don't really like running - I do LOVE races!!  Totally different things.
   So why a marathon? Well, it would definitely be a challenge. And after my last Half-Ironman, I need a new challenge. NO - a full Ironman isn't an option at this point. Funny thing is that the marathon is what's holding me back from a full Ironman. Maybe if I tackle what I consider to be the hardest thing first, a full IM wouldn't seem so out of reach.  
   Plus, magazines, blogs and my friends just make marathons look like so much FUN! Yes, I know. That's crazy. And you can get that same experience from a half-marathon...but the marathoners get different medals! And sometimes more swag! Don't mock - medals and swag are important.
   I'm still very undecided about this, but I'm kind of doing some research on what race I'd like to do. Marine Corps would be awesome - it's in DC, which is my hometown so I'd be able to visit with my parents and friends. Huntsville is close and lots of friends say it's a great, smaller race, and I love small-town races. I do think that IF I decide to do a full, it needs to be a race where only a full is offered. I think if I did a race that offers both and the half marathoners peel off to the finish at mile 11, I'd be too tempted to join them. Or pissed that I was stupid enough to sign up for a full. Probably more pissed.
   Anyway, just what I'm thinking as a possibility for 2013. Tomorrow we leave for the St. Jude's Half Marathon in Memphis. I love this race and I'm really excited for it!  Race report on Monday!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Good Reminder

   Winter is finally here.  It's cold and dark when I can generally workout - mornings and evenings.  I train throughout the year, and this generally doesn't bother me.  I'm very comfortable running in the dark and recently bought a headlamp so I'll be able to see better in the not-so-lit areas.  
   So, I was a little (just a little) annoyed when my husband kind of gave me a guilt trip about running alone on Monday night.  I was planning on doing mile repeats at a local park that was generally very well-populated at 6pm even in the dark.  I run there frequently and have never felt unsafe.  But, because I didn't want to worry my husband, I went to the gym and hit the treadmill instead.
  Fast forward to yesterday.  This link was sent around by my friend Holland.  It's a blog post of a woman who was recently attacked on her run.  In the daylight.  In a very "safe" neighborhood."  I was reminded that no matter how strong we are as runners and athletes, how vulnerable we are - women even more so.  And MAYBE doing mile repeats alone in a dark park wasn't the best idea, even if there were other people around.  I'm not going to get paranoid and stop running alone, but I'm definitely going to be more aware and incorporate a few tips from the author.

Be safe out there!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hoover Run for Hope

   This past Saturday, I did the Hoover Run for Hope 10k and 5k with Dudley and my FTP training buddy Kathy. We used both races as a training run for the Memphis Half-Marathon, which is about a month away. This race is put on every year in honor of Liam Hoover, who lost his fight against pediatric cancer. Proceeds from the race help raise awareness and research funding for childhood cancer.  Great cause - great race.  I'll definitely be doing it again.

   There were two sets of racers that stood out to me in this race. First off was Speedy Chick. I have no idea who she is, but you know the type - super fit, wears bootie shorts (which you can get away with if you're super fit), singlet and arm warmers while everyone else is all bundled up...  She just LOOKS fast.  In fact, I told Kathy before the race started, "And there's our winner, right there." And she did win.  Not just her age group, or master's division (yes, she was over 40), or even the women's race. She won the whole thing.  Twice. Yes, she won the 10k AND the 5k.  Sub 6:00 miles for both races.  Kudos to you, Speedy Chick.
   The second set were the speed walkers. There were two of them in the 5k. When we first started the 5k, I saw one. I admit, I thought "aww - a speed walker." And then, when we didn't get any closer, I thought "wow - that guy can sure walk fast." I then made it a goal to pass him. Not that we were trying to kill the course, but come on - he's WALKING. How hard could it be to pass him?  Well, harder than I care to admit. And when we finally DID pass him, what did we see but ANOTHER speed walker in front of him!  Seriously? We ended up passing her too, but they both were going a VERY impressive pace. We ended up talking to the both of them on the way back to our cars. Turns out - they're both either ranked in the state (him) or nationally (her) for speed walking / power walking.  (There is a difference between the two - who knew?) They were both very fit. I don't know anything about that sport, but I bet it's perfect for someone who can't run due to injury.
   As stated before, we used this race as a training run. We didn't even pick up our timing chips before the race, so we don't have an official time. But we had a great morning in beautiful weather supporting a wonderful cause. It doesn't get much better than that.
   For more about the Hoover Hope Foundation - go here:

UPDATE: I have since learned that Speedy Chick is actually a local athlete (and mother of two!) who happens to be the U.S. Masters Champion in the 1,500 meters and has qualified for the Olympic Trials.  Very impressive resume.  I had no idea we had talent like that in the Nashville area.  Very cool.

Monday, October 22, 2012

MS150 Ride to Jack & Back

   The past few weeks have just been a blur. Now that Augusta was behind me, I could start doing races for fun, rather than trying to hit a specific training distance or time. And it's been a busy three weeks.
   First up was the MS150 Jack & Back charity ride. This is a GREAT ride that supports the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It's a ride that starts in Franklin, TN on Saturday morning, and makes it way to Lynchburg, TN, which is where the Jack Daniel's Distillery is located. Jack Daniel's then hosts a huge dinner / party for the riders that night, and then you ride back to Franklin on Sunday. We have a friend, Lisa, who battles MS and put together a team, so Dudley and I signed up to be a part of it. We had actually done this ride previously a few years back without knowing we had a personal connection to MS. And we've since done the ride a couple of times in Lisa's honor. Soon after registering, I found out that Karen, who is the sister of my running friend Kim, also suffers from MS. For those who don't know - MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is mainly diagnosed between the ages of 20-40 years old. Symptoms include a loss of balance, double-vision and painful muscle spasms. There is no explantation as to why this disease strikes some people and not others, and there is no cure. Dudley and I were proud to ride in honor of both Lisa and Karen in the MS ride this year.
   Though it was 80+ degrees on Friday, the temperature was mid-40's and overcast/drizzle on Saturday.  Not the best day for riding and the weather was kind of a shock after such a nice day before. But we bundled up and went on our way. It was nice to just "ride" and not "race." We took out time, had some nice conversations and took in the scenery. It was pretty cold though. Cold enough for the rest areas to have fire-pits. And let me tell you, they were REALLY appreciated.

FIRE PIT!  The rest areas even had fixin's for smores!!  

  After a long day in the saddle, we made it to Motlow Community College, which served as the staging area for the ride. Here we would leave our bikes for the night, grab some food and catch the buses for the hotel.
Team "Lisa's Longhorns" hanging out with Jack D.

   After a long shower and a short nap, we boarded the buses again to head up to Jack Daniel's for dinner. What's interesting about Jack Daniel's is that even though it's a distillery, it's in a dry county - so no drinking. They aren't even allowed to have tastings during their tours. I, personally, don't drink, so this is no big deal to me, but it's kind of ironic that a famous distillery is in dry country. HOWEVER - the distillery has an event space that gets an exemption to the non-drinking rule, so yes, there was plenty of Jack served at dinner.

A little dinner and music at Jack Daniel's

   This dinner was particularly special because our friend Lisa was the keynote speaker for the night. MS is such a bitch of a disease. It's one thing to read about a disease from a website or brochure, but to hear first-hand experiences from a personal friend is a whole different experience. She was nervous to speak, but she did a great job and received a standing ovation.

Lisa sharing her story. So inspirational!  

   Morning came WAY too early, but we were on our bikes and riding by 7:30 am. It was, again, cold but not rainy. Unfortunately, it was CRAZY windy and we were in a strong headwind for most of the ride. We tried to pick up pacelines when we could to get out of the wind, but they were few and far between. We generally don't stop at all of the rest areas on charity rides, but we stopped at all of them this day - we HAD to get out of the wind. It was just exhausting. Of course, the weather really cleared up with about six miles to go. Isn't that usually how things work?

MS 150 Jack & Back - DONE!

   It was a great, inspirational weekend. The ride also raised an insane amount of money for the MS Society, which is awesome. As cold, rainy and windy the ride might have been, we were always aware that we were riding for the bigger picture - the MS Society, and Lisa and Karen specifically. Those two women were on the top of my mind the entire weekend. It's funny, because I know I can complain about how tired/sore/frustrated I am from all of the training I do for races. I look back on that and laugh because my pain is nothing compared to what people like Lisa and Karen face everyday. And the biggest difference is - I can stop my suffering at any time.  My pain is voluntary. Their pain isn't. This ride was for them and it made every shivering pedal stroke worth it. 

FYI - There are MS rides all over the country - check them out or just donate: 


Friday, October 5, 2012

Augusta 70.3 Recap

   Early last Friday morning, Dudley and I packed up all of my tri gear and headed down to Augusta for my second Half-Ironman - my "A" race for the year. The main thing that goes through my mind when packing for a race is "WHY did I pick a sport that needs so much stuff?" There are so many little things you can forget - like your goggles - that can ruin your race. It's stressful. But after triple-checking my gear, we were on the way.
   The trip was uneventful - a little under 7 hours. Upon arriving, we went straight to the Marriott to check-in for the race. I have to say, checking in on Friday was probably the smartest thing we did on this trip.  Unlike last year, when Holland and I waited in a line that wrapped around the entire hotel, there was NO LINE at check-in at all. NONE! And everything in the Ironman Expo was stocked! No line to check out there either. It was great. Possibly the easiest check-in for a race ever.

Why thank you, Marriott!  I feel welcome!

That's right - I'm a triathlete! 

   I have to say - there is something about the Ironman expo that is very cool. I know this was only a 70.3 race and not a full-Ironman, but just seeing the M-Dot logo is pretty inspiring. It kind of makes you feel like a bad-ass. Yes, I know - I'm in marketing - the M-Dot is just great marketing by the Ironman brand. Don't care. It's still cool and being in that expo made me want to buy everything with the race logo on it (I didn't).
   Saturday was spent wandering around Augusta and waiting for my parents to arrive (they decided on Thursday to make the trek down to watch me race. I was really excited about that. They hadn't left DC since the fire and I was happy for them to focus on something else for a while). Random fact I found out about Augusta while we wandered - James Brown was from Augusta. How I missed that last year, I don't know. There's JB stuff all over the place.

Hello James!
   After meeting up with my parents, we headed down to transition for the mandatory bike drop-off.  You have a set racking space at IM70.3 races. I kept looking for my spot - #1626. And I kept looking and looking and looking...  I FINALLY found it. It was in the VERY last spot in the VERY last row. Are you kidding me? But what can you do? I racked my bike, went to eat dinner and tried to get some sleep. 
This shot is from last year, but was the same setup. Those are all bikes. My rack was
the last one on the right. I had to run ALL the way to the left of this field with my bike to get out.

Poor, sad bike.

     Before long, it was Sunday morning. Race day. The 4:30 AM wake-up call came WAY too early. I then turned off the THREE alarms I set (you can never be too prepared). Due to the insanity that was my 2012 - I had only two goals for the day, 1) to not be eaten by a gator and 2) to not get sick on the run. Sure, I could have set time goals and what not, but I'm a big believer in setting achievable goals. And I've learned that in a race like this - ANYTHING can happen to ruin your times. So for me - no gator and no getting sick and I'd consider this race a success.
   Dudley drove me down close to T1 where he dropped me off because he couldn't park there. Note to self - buy a transition bag. I was being cheap and just using what I had around to carry my stuff at races. Which is fine if you have a short trip to transition, but I had to walk about a half-mile. By that time, the paper bag I had my waters in broke AND the handles of plastic bag I had everything else in broke as well. I must have looked pretty pathetic trying to carry all of that gear.

Sure - I'm smiling now that I finally made it to my bike!

   Next up - head down to the swim start. It was a little over a mile away.  Some people walked. I took a bus. I was fortunate to meet up with my EN buddy Daniel on the bus and we were able to find other East Nasties at the start.

GO EAST NASTY! Daniel, me, Jim and Meg.

  Then it was time to wetsuit up and head down to the start line. I really only have one thing to say about this part - putting on a wetsuit sucks.

Lovely, huh?  And yes, that is a Honey Stinger Waffle I'm eating.

SWIM: (Finish time: 29:29)
   Unlike last year, when all of the women in my wave were joking and laughing before the start - we were all just standing around this year. It was pretty quiet, which was weird. I started getting nervous. That "what the heck am I doing here," awful pit in my stomach kind of nervous. Funny thing is that this was the first real emotion I had felt about this race (see previous post). I started getting concerned I would have a panic attack in the water. So I made a few jokes about alligators to lighten the mood a bit. I don't know of the other ladies appreciated them or not, but it calmed me down a bit. 

Walking down the starting ramp

Hanging on out the pier

We're in the water!  I'm one of those yellow dots.

   The swim itself was OK. The current was strong, which was really helpful, but I didn't feel great. I didn't know why. I never felt like I was in any danger of drowning, but the swim just seemed like it took forever. I used this time to plan the rest of my race strategy. Yes, I was IN the race, and just now thinking about how I was going to tackle the rest of the day. Basically, I decided to see how I felt and push when I could. Very scientific plan, huh?  

Out of the water!!  
   First thing I noticed out of the water is that I had a headache and was a little disoriented. The latter was expected. Try swimming and then immediately running and see if you're not disoriented. But the headache was a surprise. One of the reasons I didn't feel that great in the water, I guess. 

BIKE: (Finish Time: 2:58:06)
   After running a football field distance with my bike in cleats, I was out of transition and ready to ride.

   The bike is, by far, my favorite part of a tri. From last year, I knew that this course wasn't that difficult compared to what I usually ride, however, I forgot how bumpy is was. And it was rough. There were dropped water bottles and sunglasses everywhere. I was bummed because I lost most of my secret weapon because of the bumpy pavement - my Smarties. You see, my dear husband had bought me a giant bag of Smarties a few weeks back because they are my favorite candy. I would mainly eat them after coming home in the evening. Of course, being pure sugar, they would keep me awake.  So I thought "hey - these would be great for maintaining energy on race day!" So I put a several packs in my Bento Box to eat on the ride (along with other nutrition). Unfortunately, I was only able to eat one pack before I hit a bump and the rest went flying. I'm sure the people behind me were like "What the...?  SMARTIES?"
   So I never got my sugar fix, which was bad because I needed it. I had ZERO energy on the bike. My normal "I'm going to catch the next person" attitude was non-existent. Not to be a complete whiner, but I'd also been having back pain in aero position over the past two weeks (long story - one hip was higher than the other which caused pain to shoot from my hip to my knee) and while it has gotten better, it still was "there." Nothing to quit a race over by any means, but enough to kill my desire to really hammer on the bike.  
   One thing I saw this year were wrecks. Prior to this race, I'd never seen a bike wreck during a race. Today, I saw two. I've been very fortunate when riding and it's scary to see things like this. I'm hope everyone was OK and able to finish the race.

Coming back in to the finish!

RUN: (Finish Time: 2:20:48)
   Considering I didn't feel great for the bike and swim, I wasn't expecting too much for the run. The heat wasn't an issue this year. It was around 70 and overcast. But running is my weakest event. I just thought to myself "take it one mile at a time." I grabbed my remaining packs of Smarties and ran out of transition. I was VERY happy to hit the one mile mark feeling OK, because I was already feeling sick at this point last year. Unfortunately, this was the point where my Garmin battery decided to die, so I couldn't track my time.

Starting the run

   This race is great in that you run through town several times so you can see your friends and family a lot over the 13.1 miles. I think all of Augusta came out to cheer. It was LOUD out there. It was awesome and definitely helps the morale of everyone out there. It was really cool to see my parents and Dudley cheering for me. I think my parents really got a kick out of it. My mom seemed so surprised to see me every time I passed. It was funny.

At least I LOOK fast...

   This course is also cool because you can see the other competitors. I was able to see all of my East Nasty friends out there, AND my FTP training buddy Kathy who I'd somehow missed when we started the race (we were in the same wave). It was great to hear "Go Kristine" or "Go East Nasty" from the crowd. I know encouragement annoys some people, but I'm all for it. Go ahead - ring a cowbell in my face. Lie to me and tell me I'm looking strong. Don't care. I'll believe you.
   Mile-by-mile the race got shorter and shorter. I walked through the water stops, but ran the rest. For the most part, I felt OK, but my back started getting to me at about mile 9. That slowed me down until about mile 11. Once I saw that mile marker - I just sucked it up until the end. I didn't know my exact time, but I figured I was hovering around the 6:00 finishing time - which was my goal time for last year. I just put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I remember thinking "I need to buy all of the Ironman crap while I'm here because I'm NEVER doing one of these again!" Finally, I turned the corner for the finishing line.  
   I don't recall them saying my name as I passed through the finisher's chute, though I'm sure they did. I had kind of blocked everything out other than just getting to the line. Again, the crowd support was crazy. The chute was cacophony of screaming, clapping, cowbells, whistles and vuvuzelas. It was awesome. And I was so happy to be finished. 

   After getting your medal, you're ushered into the athlete's only area for food. I wasn't hungry at all, but I took some pizza, a coke and a beer for Dudley and headed out to find everyone. Kicker was - I couldn't find them. I thought for sure they would all be at the exit of the athlete's zone, but they weren't. So I hovered a bit, but still no husband and no parents. I sat and ate a little and waited. Still no family. After about 20 minutes, I saw Dudley across the park. I "ran" to him (still carrying his beer). Turns out, they had been on the course waiting for me to pass by. They totally missed my finish! Bummer.  

With my parents.  :-)

    Yep - I did it. Broke 6:00. I'm happy about that. I now wish I had a better mental attitude towards the race because I think I could have hit 5:45. I totally lingered in T1 and definitely could have pushed more on the bike. Had my Garmin been working, I might have seen my time and pushed it more on the run, too. But what can you do? You have the race you have.
   Looking back, it was a great experience. At the time, I didn't enjoy it so much. And though I swore during the race I wouldn't do another Half-Ironman, I probably will. It's kind of addicting. Plus, I now kind of want to come back and see if I can hit 5:45...

   Thanks to my husband, who I'm sure would much rather me do a sport that doesn't require me to get up at 4:45 almost every morning. He's extremely supportive and I hope he knows how much I appreciate him being there. Love you D. 
   Thanks to my parents. This year has sucked for my family, but we're closer because of it. I appreciate them even more now knowing how easily I could have lost them to the fire. They drove 8 hours each way to watch me race for 6. I love them dearly and I was thrilled to have them at the race.
   Thank you to Andrew, Jessica and the athletes at FTP Coaching for your guidance and support. Triathlon is by nature a singular sport. It's been wonderful to have a community to turn to for advice and encouragement. Plus, you make me faster. Bonus.
  Thanks to my awesome running club - East Nasty. You guys inspire me in so many ways.  ENFL!
  And thanks to all of my friends and co-workers who have supported me this year. Some race - some don't. Some think I'm insane - others have been inspired to give exercise a try. Either way - thank you for hanging in there with me this year. Hope to see you all on the roads soon!