Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Support Team

   I receive a lot of comments from people about how disciplined and dedicated I am to running and athletics. And I an extent. Yes, I've run a few 10-12 mile solo runs before. Yes, I'm the one getting out of bed at crazy hours to go run in 20-degree weather or ride in 95-degrees. However, about 85% of the time, I'm getting up at crazy hours to go meet the FTP crew, a group of East Nasties or, more recently, the Team from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to run with Dudley, though not as much as I'd like (awwww...). It just makes it SO much easier to have at least one other person out there - especially when the weather is bad.
   Which brings me to last night. We've had a lot of crazy weather in Nashville recently. Freezing temperatures one day, 73-degrees the next, and then a round of tornadoes just for the heck of it.

Seriously...this is how it's been.  
   So last night was the regular EN night. The temperature wasn't bad for running - in the low 40's, but it was WINDY. Rumor had it there were wind-gusts of 63mph, which I technically think would have blown me over so I'm not sure if that's true. However, it sounds bad-ass, so I'm going with it. The route was hilly, it was supposed to rain AND we had to run over this...

The infamous Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge

I have to say I wasn't all that excited to run under those conditions - especially the bridge part. I kind of pictured a "Wizard of Oz" sort of scene where a gust of wind just picks me up and blows me over the edge of the bridge into the Cumberland River. And if I had been by myself, I probably wouldn't have gone. But the East Nasties were not deterred. (For the record, they have NEVER missed a Wednesday night run since their inception in 2006. Rain, sleet, tornadoes, ice - whatever. They're running in it.)
   So off we went. And the run was a crazy as I thought it would be, especially the bridge. I got hit with a pretty good gust of wind close to the top that almost took me off my feet. However, the wind was my friend on the way back as we had a tailwind. It was like someone was pushing me up the hills. Nice!
   Unfortunately, the route was only about 4 miles, and I, along with Alicia, Bernadette and Sara, needed 5 miles. This is where the true support comes in. Even though everyone else stopped running, what did we do? That's right - we kept going. In the cold, dark and crazy wind. And, of course, it had started raining by this time. The last half-mile was uphill and against the wind. The rain almost felt like little needles against my skin. It would have been SO EASY to just say "screw this." But I couldn't. Not with those three with me. End result? 5.01 miles in 48:50.
    The players might change from workout to workout, but the fact remains the same. I would not be doing what I'm doing without my "team." So to my husband, the group at FTP and to my East Nasty family. Thank you. And if you don't have a team. Call me. I'd love to run with you sometime.
   Only a few more days until I give away the Dinner for Two at J. Alexander's!! Click here to help my fight against blood cancers!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

TNT Week 4 Update!

   It's hard to believe I've been a part of TNT for a month now. WHERE did January go? Seriously. (Insert a moment of panic as I just realized that the NOLA Half Marathon is less than a month away. Yikes!)
   Anyway, back on to the point of THIS post - the TNT update. The Team met at Stones River Greenway in Donelson at 6:45 am on Saturday. Yes, VERY early on another cold morning. There were many of us there, but most decided to stay in our cars until the very last minute. It was only when Coach Carey appeared that we finally extricated ourselves from our warm cocoons and gathered at the trailhead to check-in. I don't think I've mentioned the check-in before. It's just a sheet with all of our names on it. We're supposed to check-in and out. I'm good with the's the checking-out that I seem to forget. I really need to remember that. I certainly don't want any search parties going out for me!
   Right before we started, Sammi (from LLS) stepped forward and told us about her race last weekend. It was a 100-mile ultra, y'all. Yes, you heard right - 100 MILES. And I think signing up for a marathon would be crazy - here she is running 100 miles. Ugh. She's a rock star.
   Sammi also gave the Mission Moment for the week. She told the story of her grandmother, who was Sammi's best friend, and her battle with lymphoma. While Sammi was talking, she passed around a photo of her grandmother, which is something that she carries at every race. I don't think there was a dry eye in the group. Sammi told about the monetary worries her grandmother had while battling the disease, which eventually took her life. I knew that LLS did many things, but I thought it was more on the research end, but I didn't think about them helping patients with insurance and other monetary concerns. But they do! And my fundraising helps that. Very cool.
   After the Mission Moment, we got started with the run. The route was a simple out and back. Remember how I mentioned Nashville has so many awesome places to run? Well, this is another one and I don't run it near enough. It's part of the Nashville Greenways system, and runs along, you guessed it, the Stones River. What's great about this particular greenway is how long it is. If you turn left, you'll eventually meet up with the Shelby Park Greenway, which is where I frequently run with the East Nasties. And if you turn right, you run to the Percy Priest Dam, which is a Nashville landmark.

Parthenons, dams... what else do you need in a city?
   We went right. I had only been out this way on my bike, never as a runner. It's much hillier as a runner. There are also a lot of bridges on this greenway and we had to watch for ice. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad and we all got back in one piece. I did kind of wuss out on the way back going up the biggest hill on the greenway. I got about 1/2 way and just said "forget this" and started walking. My excuse was that I still had to run AFTER this run because I needed extra mileage for my NOLA race. But I was really just lazy. It happens sometimes. 
   And now the big news. Last week I said I wanted to break $2,000. Well - I did. And more. I'm now at $2,320! AMAZING! Seriously. I'm blown away. I'm also currently the #1 fundraiser for Tennessee Team in Training. So now I have THAT to defend. No pressure. Because if you know me at all, you'll know I'm not competitive. At all.  ;-) So here is the new Runner Girl Chart! Dun dun DUN! (That was supposed to be dramatic music, but it doesn't really come off like that in blogland, does it?)

Almost halfway!  WOO HOO!

      Remember - I'm still giving away the J. Alexander's Dinner for Two on February 4th. One more week to go! The more you donate, the more chances you have to win! Thank you everyone for your help! Click here to donate!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

City Running

   Tonight I met up with my FTP group for a run. One thing that's great about Nashville is that there are so many really cool places to run. We have parks, greenways, neighborhoods and city sidewalks. We have hills, flats and in-between. Want to run along the river? You can do that. Want to run part of the one of the hardest marathon courses in the US? You can do that, too.
   So tonight we met up at Centennial Park, which is in central Nashville for those of you who don't live here. One random thing about Nashville is that we have full-size replica of the Parthenon at Centennial Park.

Because nothing says Nashville like the Parthenon.
   Anyway, from Centennial Park, we headed out for the "Vandy route." This route heads up West End Avenue and around the Vanderbilt University campus. It's a loop that, other than the brief time in the park, is completely on busy city streets. This particular route is different than most other routes I do because it passes through two of the most traveled streets in Nashville - West End Avenue and 21st Avenue. So you're dodging pedestrians, waiting at stoplights and other things we normally don't do on our runs. But one thing I noticed tonight was all of the different scents of Nashville. Strange, I know, but you have to think about something when you're running, right?
   The first thing you smell when you leave the park is J. Alexander's, which just happens to be my favorite restaurant. Smells SOOOO good. Of course, it made us want to stop in and eat a boatload of french fries, which could defeat the point of the run. So we just kept going. You actually pass a lot of restaurants on this route  - Stoney River, Ruth's Chris Steak House, PF Chang's, Mellow Mushroom... it's definitely not a route to run if you're hungry. The scents just follow you throughout the run. The worst part is that you pass Krispy Kreme right towards the end of the run. That's just torture.

Ummm...Krispy Kreme...You know you want one! 

   Of course, you also get the scents of truck exhaust and random cigarettes when running in the city. Those kind of make me sick - especially when running. But fortunately, before too long, you come across another restaurant scent and you're good to go again.  :-)
   GREAT news on the TNT front - I hit $2,000!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Only $3,000 to go!! Click here to help!



Monday, January 21, 2013

TNT Update!

   Unfortunately, I couldn't make it out to the TNT training run this Saturday AM, so I don't have a recap this week. BUT - I do have a fun incentive program going right now for people who donate to my campaign.
   For every $5 someone donates, they will be entered into a drawing for a Dinner for Two at J. Alexander's! For those of you who aren't familiar with J. Alexander's, they are an awesome collection of restaurants with amazing food. And yes, those who have already donated will be included in the drawing. The winner of the gift certificate will be announced on February 4th.
  And here is the new updated Runner Girl chart!
That's 174 little runner girls!  

   My new total for fundraising is $1,745! WOO HOO! Still a way off from $5,000, but I'm getting there. I would LOVE to hit $2,000 this week, so tell your friends, neighbors and family members - if you donate, you might win a FABULOUS dinner!
   Thanks to all of you who are helping my fight against cancer! Click here to learn more!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm Sponsored!! Well, Sorta, Kinda...

   One thing that is very popular with running / triathlon companies right now is advocacy sponsorships. Rather than solely sponsoring athletes on race results, they will sponsor people who will actively promote their product at races and through social media. In return, the athlete will receive some free and/or discounted products for them to use, give out at races and write about in their blogs/twitter, etc.
   I had heard about these sponsorships, but didn't really know how to go about getting one. Then I saw a company that I LOVE advertise for their advocate sponsorship program, the Hive, so I applied. And I got selected! So who is this company? They only make the tastiest energy waffles, bars and gels in the business. That's right - it's Honey Stinger.

I'm a member of the Hive, y'all!  

   So what does this mean? Well, honestly, not too much. It's not a "real" sponsorship where I get paid to race or get my face on the packaging (which would be AWESOME, BTW), but it's kind of neat and I might get some swag out of the deal. And you will see me eating Honey Stinger products at races or possibly writing poetry about how much I love them. Oh wait - I've already done that (and that). So really nothing will change. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Honey Stinger and was already a huge advocate for them. I just now might get a t-shirt out of it!  ;-)
   And GREAT news on the TNT fundraising front, but that's for a different blog!
I'm fighting cancer through Team in Training.  Click below to help!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Coldest Run Ever

   Just a short little follow-up from last night's post. I did make it to my 5:30 am run with FTP this morning. Fortunately, it wasn't raining. Unfortunately, it was SO cold I almost couldn't run. I know that technically, the Mercedes Half Marathon was colder since that was 20 degrees with a 13 degree wind chill. However, today felt worse, even though it was 10 degrees warmer. Not sure why I thought those 10 degrees would make a difference, because anything below freezing is, well, freezing. But it was miserable out there.
   On tap for today was a one-mile warm up, then three one-mile repeats at near threshold (which for me is about an 8:15 mile), and then a one-mile cool down. I generally warm up after I start running, but today, running made me colder. I guess it's because I'm SO FAST! (HA!) My face got so cold that I felt like I had just come from the dentist and had a mouth full of Novocaine. I could barely form words - my mouth just wouldn't work. And that wonderful ventilation in my Newtons (yes, I'm back in my Newtons!) that I love in the summer? Well, that just freezes your feet in the Winter, especially when you step in a puddle - and there were LOTS of those out here this morning.
   So the good news is that I finally made a Monday morning workout. The bad news is that I possibly might have lost my little toe from frostbite. Oh, the sacrifices we "athletes" make for our sports!

I'm fighting cancer through Team in Training.  Click below to help!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

And the Rain Came Down

   Nashville is having an identity crisis when it comes to weather.  Remember how it was so cold last week that Dudley had frost on his fleece? Well, it was a total reversal of weather this week. It got up into the upper 60's this week. We went from running in tights and layers to shorts and t-shirts. I'm honestly surprised I'm not sick.
   Unfortunately, though it was warm, it pretty much rained the entire weekend. I don't mind running a little rain, but the TNT run on Saturday AM was a downpour. Of course, it was only sprinkling at the start and then poured during the run, and then stopped when we were finished. Oh well.
   The run itself was fun. The entire TNT group was together this time. Last week was only Coach Carey's group. It was nice to meet more people and hear more about why they are with TNT. Again, as with the smaller group, most of the people I met had trained with TNT previously. Some have done it four or five times! The Mission Moment was given by a woman whose mother survived multiple myeloma. She was originally given 4-5 years of survival, but did great with her treatment and is really doing well after 10 years! This is the same type of cancer Dudley's uncle is fighting, so that's encouraging.
   I also received a little TNT swag. Once you hit $250 in fundraising, you receive a t-shirt. YAY! We also all received terrycloth wristbands. I've never used a wristband before, and considering it was raining, it got soaked and couldn't serve its purpose, but I'm sure when it gets warmer it'll come in handy.

It's fun to get swag! 

   And as far as my fundraising is going I'm at $1,285, or 26%!! After only a week and a half! I'm totally blown away by this. I can't thank people enough. And, because I know you want to see it, here's my updated runner girl chart!  It's getting more purple every day!  

Seriously - this thing is almost blinding.

   Today I attempted to run 8 miles with my EN girls. Again, it started out with just a little rain, and then started pouring mid-run. Since my Newtons were still drenched from yesterday, I switched to my Brooks, which I hadn't run in for about six months. It didn't work out very well. I got about a mile in when my ankle started to hurt. Considering I already had a long run in for this week, the milage for today didn't really matter. I ran another mile before I decided to turn around and head back to the car. I figured if I did hurt my ankle, I wanted to be closer to the car, not further away. The pain subsided after about a half-mile, and there is no swelling tonight, so I think I'm OK. YAY! I have a lot of running to do this year! I would hate to be sidelined so early in the season.
   Tomorrow morning - mile repeats with FTP. 5:30 am. Hopefully, it won't be raining. I'm sick of running in the rain! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Because I'm a Big Geek - Part II

   I think I might have been a kindergarten teacher in a previous life because I'm totally digging coming up with visual aids. Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, in just ONE WEEK I'm at 11% of my $5,000 goal for Team in Training.  THANK YOU.
   My plan to achieve this goal was to, hopefully, have 500 people donate at least $10 towards my campaign. So I made up a neat little chart to help visualize that goal.

Don't look too closely - it might hypnotize you! 

   Yes, there are 500 little runner girls on here. Each purple runner represents $10 towards my campaign. I'll update the chart as time goes on and, hopefully, there will be a lot more purple on here! Only 444 more little runner girls to go! Surely, I know 444 people who would be willing to donate $10 to help fight blood cancers, right?  Thanks again for your support!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TNT Training - Week 1

   This was my first week as an official member of Team in Training. I have to say - I'm extremely impressed. First off- I'm totally blown away by my donation tally so far - $550!! That's 11% of my goal in the first week! WOO HOO! Thank you so much!
   Secondly, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been really great to work with so far. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but they have been wonderful. When you sign up for Team in Training, they send you all sorts of information about the organization and tips for fundraising. I have NO idea what I'm doing when it comes to fundraising, so this really helps. 
   You are also assigned a Coach, who helps train you for the race, and a Mentor, who helps you with fundraising. Within an hour of Sammi, the TNT coordinator for the Nashville LLS, setting up my fundraising page, both my coach and mentor had sent me e-mails welcoming me to the team. I thought that was pretty cool. Unfortunately, after a few e-mails we figured out I had been assigned to the "walkers" group, and though I'm not the speediest of runners, I'm definitely not a walker. But Sammi fixed that quickly and put me with the appropriate group. And again, within an hour, my new coach and mentor had been in touch with me. It's a very efficient group.
   The training group meets every Saturday morning at 7:00. In January. For those that don't live in Nashville, it's freakin' COLD in January at 7:00 am. Most running groups move their workouts until 8:30 am or 9:00 am this time of year because it's so cold. I'm guessing this has historically been the best time for TNT to run, so that why they have them so early. Whatever the reason, I found myself getting up at 5:30 on Saturday and heading down to Centennial Park to meet the group. And yes, it was bitter cold.
   There were about 12-15 of us that met, including Coach Carey and my mentor Jeanne. We did a quick round of introductions before the four mile run. I thought it was interesting that besides myself, there was only one other person who was new to TNT. Proof of a good organization when people return, I think! We also had a "Mission Moment," which is when one of the runners is asked why they signed up with TNT. The person who spoke (her name slips my mind, sorry), told of how her mother was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago. What got her mom though her battle was the thought of holding her grandchild again, since she wasn't allowed to hold a baby while fighting the disease. It was a truly powerful testimony, and I am in no way doing it justice, but you get the idea. Really brought home what TNT is all about.
   The run is kind of secondary compared to that. We ran four miles. It was cold. So cold that Dudley's sweat started to freeze on his fleece during the run (Dudley joined us for the run, not the meeting prior).

That's frost!! Crazy!
   After the run, a few of the team members went for coffee, but I still had a few more miles to get in, so I went and met up with a few ladies from East Nasty and knocked out six more. BAM!
   So, it's been a great week. Looking forward to more!!  If you'd like to help my campaign, please click here:  Thanks!! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Goals

   So it's a shiny new year. Time for resolutions, goals and the resetting of priorities. Well, it is for most people. To be honest, I'm not really one to make a lot of resolutions on the New Year. I kind of just set and change my goals throughout the year as needed. New Year's is fun and all, but for me, it's really just another day and actually a reason for people to procrastinate working towards a goal. "I'll start working out on January 1st." "I'll start reading in the New Year." Etc. Etc. There is absolutely no reason why someone can't wake up on some random Wednesday in June and start those goals. But, generally, they don't. They have to start on New Year's. Want proof? Go to any gym in America over the next week and see how many people are in there. It will be PACKED. Then wait about a month and go again and see how many people are there.
   HOWEVER - even though I'm not big on resolutions on the New Year, I'm setting some anyway. I'll keep track of them here and at the end of the year, we can check back in and laugh at how terribly I did at reaching them. FYI - not all of these are athletically related. Which leads to my list...
GOAL 1: Maintain a healthy balance of lifestyle outside of running/swimming/biking. This can be really hard for triathletes - especially those training for long course and get into your two-a-day workouts. It's SO EASY to get sucked into training plans and obsessing over your times and planning your next race. How do you know when you've possibly crossed over the line of athletic obsession? When your husband tells you "You know, we can actually go on a vacation without running a race while we're there." Oops. Point taken, honey!
GOAL 2: Take a vacation without running a race while there.  See Goal 1.
GOAL 3: Read 52 books in 2013. I used to be quite the reader. A lot of people probably would say I still am, but I don't read anything like I used to. I was the weird girl who brought "War and Peace" to read during my high school beach week. I'm a pretty quick reader, too - I finished "Gone with the Wind" in a weekend, so hopefully 52 books in a year won't be too difficult. Though some might have to be Dr. Seuss if I get desperate late in the year. First book - "Red Mist" by Patricia Cromwell. Hey - I never said I had to read heavy literature - just a book!
GOAL 4: Sub 2:00 Half Marathon. Yes, I snuck an athletic goal in there. This has been a goal of mine for a while. I'm A-L-M-O-S-T there at 2:09. Hopefully 2013 will be the year!
GOAL 5: Learn to knit. I just came up with this one today when I had insomnia and was looking at Pinterest at 4:00 am. I like pretty scarves! Why not learn how to knit them myself?!
GOAL 6: More music. I used to play out in Nashville as a jazz vocalist on a pretty regular basis. But when the economy tanked, many of my gigs did as well. And then I went to grad school...and then Dudley went to law school...and so on and so on. Result - I do about two gigs a year for charity. This needs to change.
GOAL 7: Get out more. I love my home and am quite happy sitting on my sofa with my pups and hubby on a Friday night thankyouverymuch. However, doing it almost every night, especially when the reasoning is because I have to get up early to workout (see Goal 1) probably isn't good. So expect to see me out and about more being all social and what not.
GOAL 8: Give back: This is an ongoing goal, not a new one. I try to be generous with my time and money for various charities. But I always feel like I could / should do more. Along those lines, I decided to join the TNT program for the Nike Women's Half Marathon, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm trying to get 500 people to give $10 to my campaign. If you can help, please click here:
   So there is my list. I'll probably add to or amend these as the year goes on. Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful 2013!!