Thursday, February 28, 2013

NOLA Half Marathon Weekend Recap!

   After months of training and planning, NOLA weekend was finally here. It's been a crazy few months and Dudley and I were so excited, because you know what's awesome? A long weekend in New Orleans! You know what's NOT awesome? A plumbing emergency at 11:00 pm when you have a 6:30 am flight. Yes, that's right - our plans for a fun weekend away were almost derailed at the last minute because the faucet in the bathtub wouldn't stop running. It wasn't on full-force - it was more of a continuous stream. But we definitely had a dilemma on our hands. What to do? We didn't want to change flights, or have one of us stay to wait for a plumber. We also couldn't just turn off the water for the weekend because our pet sitter moves in while we're gone (with four dogs, this is a true blessing). We couldn't leave her without water for the weekend! After about an hour of deliberation (and of trying to fix the faucet), we decided that we'd leave a key out for out plumber (who we have worked with a lot recently) and hope that he can come by sometime the next day. And thankfully, he was able to and the water was fixed within a few hours. Very stressful way to start a vacation though. I don't recommend it.
   Our flight down to New Orleans was pretty uneventful (unlike our flight back). I made sure to wear my EN gear because I knew there would be some East Nasties on the plane. And there were - Gunjan, Kayla and Lennie. Love it! Look out New Orleans! East Nasty is taking over!
   Once we finally made it to New Orleans, it was only about 8:30 am. Since we couldn't check in until much later, we stashed our stuff at the hotel and walked around a bit. You know what? New Orleans is pretty creepy at 8:30 am. As busy and alive the French Quarter is at night - it's almost completely deserted that early in the morning. The only people out and about were beer vendors restocking the bars, a couple of runners getting their last few miles in before the race on Sunday, and a few stragglers from the night before trying to make their way home. Very surreal scene.
   We decided to walk down to Cafe du Monde, because that's what you do when you're in New Orleans. You go to Cafe du Monde and eat beignets. What's a beignets, you say? Check this out:

You know you want some.

   I won't go into detail here about our experience at Cafe du Monde, because the end result was me eating some of that powdered-sugared goodness you see above, which was awesome. HOWEVER - when pretty much the ONLY things you offer are coffee and beignets, it shouldn't take over 45 minutes to be served. Just sayin'. 
   After Cafe du Monde, we wandered around New Orleans and took in the sights while waiting for the race expo to open at 1:00. Typical touristy stuff:

St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

Historic town homes

George Rodrigue's Blue Dogs on Canal Street

   It was fun. Exhausting, but fun. We got to the convention center (where the expo was held) about 20 minutes before it opened. I was more than happy to sit for a while and get off my feet. That walking is tough! I only had my Pumas to walk around in. They're cute, but they have NO support. Definitely need better shoes next time.
   By the time the expo opened, a line of runners had formed a line that went out the door of the convention center. Really? Dudley and I had no use for that, so we remained seated for a few more minutes and let the line pass before walking right into the expo.

I've never been in a corral this low.

Back of the official race shirt. Pretty cool!

   It was nice to get there right when the expo opened. Even though there was that huge line to get in, the crowd dispersed quickly because the event space was so big. No lines to check out or masses of people blocking the booths. It was almost like our own personal expo. Of course, the one time I did try to buy something, the register broke so we ended up standing there for about 15 minutes anyway. Whomp whomp.
   While we were at the expo, we got a text from the hotel saying we could check in. YAY! We were both hungry and really ready for a nap, so back to the hotel we went. Of course, who do we run into at the hotel? Only 8 more East Nasties! Did I mention we were taking over New Orleans? 

Hello Prince Conti Hotel
 Once we checked in, I was so tired that I immediately took at nap while Dudley went out and got some food for us. I'm not too proud to say that I ate my shrimp Po' Boy while lying in bed. No, I don't have a photo of that. It wasn't pretty.
   The race wasn't until Sunday so next day and a half, we pretty much did the tourist thing. We hooked up with friends at times, but we mainly just enjoyed the sights, sounds and food of New Orleans. I think they fry everything here. 

You are reading that correctly - Chicken Fried Bacon

   I wish we would have set our Garmins to track our walks, because we probably walked five miles each day. Not the smartest thing to do before trying to PR at a Half-Marathon. But I'll come to that in my next post - RACE DAY!  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Incentive Tuesday and TNT Week 8 Update

   This post is going to be short and sweet because I still have my NOLA race report to write! But I wanted to update everyone on my fundraising for TNT! Check out the chart! I'm currently at $3,930 or 79%! How awesome is that?
So many little, purple runner girls!

   Everyday, I'm humbled by the stories of how the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has assisted those fighting blood cancers and I'm honored to be helping out the cause. In fact, I totally geeked out this weekend at the TNT table at the New Orleans Half-Marathon Expo (I have no idea why I feel the need to capitalize that, like it's all one formal name or something...). Anyway, I went up to the women at the table and just RAVED about the TNT chapter in Tennessee, going on about how nice and supportive everyone is. The ladies at the table were very kind, but I'm pretty sure they thought I was insane and wanted me to move away from their table before I scared others away.
   But back to the title of the post - it's INCENTIVE TUESDAY! That's right! If you donate between now and Sunday, March 10th, you might win a J. Alexander's Dinner for Two (you really didn't think I'd give away just the one certificate, did you?)! And yes, as before, if you have already donated, you are eligible to win!! Entries will be done by denominations of $5, so the more you donate - the more chances you have to WIN. Again - Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much for all of your support!
   Click here to help my fight against blood cancers!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Worst Flight Ever

   I just returned from the NOLA Half-Marathon, and I'm going to write a review on that soon. But first, I have got to tell you about our trip home. As you probably have guessed, we made it home safely, but I wasn't sure things were going to work out that way.
   Our flight was scheduled at 2:30, but was delayed until 3:00. I knew there was bad weather all over the country, but New Orleans was pretty calm. Yes, we were under a tornado watch, but other than one five-minute downpour, the weather didn't seem that bad.
   Once we were seated, the captain made the comment that we should expect some bumps during the flight. Now, while I'm not a frequent flier, I do fly enough to not get all freaked out about a little turbulence. I'm not happy about the bumps, but I'm not one to panic over them. So I made note of the captain's announcement, and then settled into reading Runner's World while we barreled down the runway.
   Takeoff was a little bumpy, as was the first 10 minutes of the flight, but nothing too crazy and certainly not anything worse than what I had experienced in previous flights. But then the bumps got a little more frequent...and a little more drastic. The plane not only would bump up and down, but side to side as well. There was one time when I looked up and we were kind of flying at an angle, like we were banking for a turn - only we weren't turning...
   So this went on for about 5-10 minutes, and I'm thinking, "OK - this is bumpy, but we're fine. This is fine." But then things got bad. I mean saying prayers to God asking for forgiveness bad. The kind of flight where you are literally hanging on to your seat because you HAVE to or else you WILL fall out. At one point, we dropped so violently, that I had that weird feeling of weightlessness you get when you drive over a steep hill too fast or you're on a roller-coaster - only you're not doing either. You're in a metal tube that will explode on impact if something goes wrong. It just seemed impossible that the plane could keep taking jolts like that and still stay airborne! It took everything I had to not freak out. I just focused on my white Puma shoe (the right one) and kept breathing deep to stay calm. In fact, I kept saying that over and over "just breathe, just breathe."
   Two other things helped me to stay (somewhat) calm. One was that right before we hit that giant bump, the pilot came on and said "Hang on to that hot coffee!" I figured that if he could joke about the turbulence, then he must not be stressed about it. He had to have things under control, right? Right?!! The other thing was a bit of wisdom from a member of the military Dudley and I had the privilege to sit next to on a bumpy flight to Texas a few years back. After mentioning something about the turbulence, he looked at us and said "Well, at least we're not being shot at!" Kind of puts things in perspective.
   Fortunately, after about a half-hour, we were above the storms, and had about 10 minutes of "smooth" travel before starting our decent into Nashville. Of course, my nerves were so rattled by that time that relaxing was impossible. I just wanted to get on the ground. I have never wanted to be off a plane so badly in my life - and that includes the time when an emergency exit door came loose mid-flight. Sure - the door was open, but the flight wasn't violently shaking and about to break apart like this one felt it was about to do. (Sidebar about that trip - we made an emergency landing back in Nashville where they fixed the door. The mechanic had a roll of duct tape with him. DUCT TAPE! TO FIX A PLANE DOOR! Whatever he did- it worked.)
   As proof I'm not exaggerating about the flight, I spoke to a friend who was also on board. She said she started to cry and grabbed on to a stranger's leg when we hit the big bump. And my husband was white-knuckling it the entire time. He took NO comfort in the captain's joke about the hot coffee. In fact, I think Dudley's exact words were "I'm thinking I'm about to DIE and he's making JOKES?!" Fortunately, I'm happy to say that I'm currently sitting on my sofa with my wonderful husband and awesome dogs and I'm very thankful to be home. Even with the crazy flight, NOLA was a wonderful experience. Race report to follow soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

NOLA Half Weekend!!

   The NOLA half-marathon is this Sunday. Originally, I was trying to be all bad and go for a sub-2:00 time. Now I'm not sure what the heck is going to happen. You see, I'm kind of a creature of habit. I like order and lists and crossing things off. If my workout says to run 800 repeats on Tuesday morning, then I want to run my 800 repeats on Tuesday morning. But over the past month, my work has picked up significantly and I'm working much later - sometimes until 9:30 or 10:00. So while I WANT to do my workouts at the day and time that my training dictates, I'm more often than not squeezing them in when I can - often late at night. This totally stresses me out. Not to mention, I'm missing out on sleep.

This is my life.

     I know I'll finish, but running is SO mental that there is a pretty good chance I would turn this into a "fun race" at the first pang of discomfort if I were running alone. However - I'm NOT running alone. I have a kick-ass group of East Nasties pacing me - my A-Team: Allison, Alicia and Ashlee. We're all shooting for a 2:00 race. My game plan is now to just follow them and hope I can hang on until the finish. We'll see how it goes!
   Apparently, there are around FORTY East Nasties going down to race NOLA this weekend. So. Very. Cool. Also, I read that Mo Farah, Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan are all racing as well. Talk about elite athletes. Those are three of the biggest names in running! No matter how I do time-wise, it's going to be a great weekend!
Click here to join my fight against cancer!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again...and TNT Week 7 Update!

   So I've finally gotten off my butt gotten motivated and started doing something athletic other than running. Before last week, I had only been to the pool twice since Augusta and had only been on my bike once. Very sad, but it's been too cold to ride. I know, I know...I have a bike trainer. But ugh. Those aren't any fun at all. And honestly, I was just over the smell of chlorine. The thought of going to the pool didn't appeal to me at all.
  But - race season is right around the corner so I'm back on the bike and in the pool. The first time back in the pool was, well, interesting. First off, it'd been way too long since I'd been in a bathing suit. I forgot how unflattering they are. Plus, I'm so amazing pale that I almost glow. But, the only way to look better in a bathing suit is to swim more. And so I did. And it hurt. Swimming isn't supposed to hurt. Ok - "hurt" might be a little too strong, but it was obvious that I hadn't been in the pool in way too long. But I didn't drown so I can't be too upset about it.
   Now the bike was another story. THAT was painful. FTP has been having bike training sessions since January, but I haven't been able to make one until Saturday. And while it felt good to be back on the bike - even on a trainer, I'm going to be feeling the results for a few days. I worked the Nashville Predators game (megatron crew) after the workout and really had a hard time climbing the stairs out of the arena. Not a lot of fun. But it's what I get for ignoring my bike for so long!
   Of course, I still had all of my running to do this week as well. It's been tough to hit all of my runs because of my schedule, but I got them all in. Some were on the treadmill, which I hate, but you gotta do what you gotta do. (Sidebar on running on the treadmill... WHY does the Y have to play sappy movies in the cardio cinema? They were playing "Mr. Holland's Opus" last week. REALLY? That movie makes me cry every time! Ugh. Have you ever run on a treadmill while trying not to cry? It's not a pretty sight.)
   I also made it to TNT training this week. It, again, was freezing. But the Mission Moment brought home why the Team is out there running every week. Zeke is a new runner who got into TNT in honor of his mother, who passed from leukemia, and his cousin, who is currently fighting it. I can't imagine having cancer hit one family so hard. Fortunately, his cousin is doing well.
   My fundraising has kind of stalled for the week. I'm still at $3,410 and 68%. However, I do have some outstanding checks and I won a few extra donations from Coach Casey from TNT from a group training run trivia game. FINALLY - my ability to retain useless knowledge has come in handy. Those donations will be reflected once they are added into my official total by LLS. But for now- the chart remains the same.
Next up - the New Orleans half-marathon. It's this weekend. I was really hoping for a sub-2:00 race, but I'm not sure that's going to happen now. Just too much work and not enough serious training. But I'm REALLY looking forward to the trip. There is a huge East Nasty group going down, plus - it's New Orleans. How can you not have fun in New Orleans? Can't wait!!  
Click here to help me fight cancer! -

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Corgis

   Yesterday, I posted a photo of my two Corgis asking for donations to my TNT campaign:

Because who can resist a corgi?

   Sure - they look all cute and what not in this photo, but for most of the shoot - Toby (the Cardi on the left) looked like this:

So pathetic. He wants a belly rub.

And Henry (the Pem on the right) looked like this:

What's up with the sign, Dad? I can't read!!

We finally got them to sit...though not together.  And Henry kept trying to run away, stepping on his sign every time.

Toby isn't too sure about this...

When we finally got them together - Toby was the ideal model.  Henry...well - not so much.

Henry - look up!

No - look over here!!  

And then this happened.

Of course - I finally get "the shot" and the signs are blurry.


How I do love those dogs though.  :-)  And they still want you to donate to my TNT campaign.  $10 is all they are asking for!  Won't you donate $10 to help fight blood cancer?  Don't make the Corgis sad - donate today!!  THANK YOU!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 6 TNT and Conquering the 11.2!

   It's been a crazy week - nothing too bad...just a lot of work. But cancer doesn't rest, so neither do we. The TNT group met up at Lipscomb University early Saturday morning for our weekly run. The Mission Moment was given by Meg, whose mother is fighting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I can't imagine having to face a situation where a close family member is fighting cancer - especially my mother. Some friends know that my mother is currently fighting a blood disease that is related to leukemia. It's non-cancerous (Thank God), and she's able to be treated with medication. But listening to Meg made me think of my own mom. It really hit close to home.
   Now, on to fundraising. I had a winner for my J. Alexander's gift certificate - my friend Donnie, who I work with at the Titans. Congrats, Donnie!! And my new total is...$3,410 or 68%!!  WOO HOO!
Getting closer and closer...

   Again, I'm continually impressed with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They do everything they can to set the members of TNT up for success. After the run, there was a fundraising clinic and a nutrition clinic. They even had people there to help set up our websites. If you've never done it, fundraising is seriously intimidating. But TNT pretty much holds your hand the entire time so you never feel like you're out there alone. Plus, the other team members are very supportive and more than willing to help you out if needed. It's just a group of fantastic people, I tell ya!
   In non-TNT news, I tackled the 11.2 loop out at Percy Warner Park yesterday with Sarah and Sara from EN. Though I've ridden it before, it was the first time I've ever run it. Wow. It's pretty brutal. Over 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss, with grades to 10-12%. It's extremely scenic and has actually been featured in Runner's World. But as I said - it's tough. Especially if you've been running on flat routes over the past few months, which we have. Knowing that, we took it very easy. No need to get injured, right?  I'm happy to say that at no time did any of us complain. In fact, we were all still smiling at the end of the run, which doesn't always happen on shorter, flatter runs. I think we were all so happy with finishing the famed 11.2 that we didn't care if we were in pain! It's kind of a badge of honor to run the 11.2 and I'm proud to say that I did it. Probably won't do it again for a while - but I'm glad I did it!
  The next two weeks, I won't be running as much because I'm tapering for the NOLA half marathon. I'm not so sure about the 2:00 goal now. Work has really interfered with my training. But it'll be a good time for sure! I'm really looking forward to it!
Click here to help my fight against blood cancers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

TNT Week 5 Update! 63%!!

   I know it's Monday and I'm a little late posting this update. But hey - the Super Bowl was on last night. I love y'all, but I'm not going to pass up the last football game of the season to blog! Though it was a great game - as someone who works in game-day sports production, I had empathetic anxiety for the crew trying to get the lights back on the stadium last night. WOW. I just knew how many people were FREAKING OUT over that situation. Makes my hands sweat just thinking about it. I would NOT have wanted to be in that control room last night. Anyway, back to the blog...  
   As I mentioned in my last post, the weather has been CRAZY here in Nashville recently. And Saturday was no exception. I had planned on meeting with the TNT crew at 7:00 am as usual, but not to run. I needed 11 miles, and the TNT crew was only running 5-6. Since I wanted my miles in one continuous chunk, I was going to meet with TNT, stay for the meeting and Mission Moment, and then head down to LP Field to meet FTP for their long run. Great plan, huh? Yeah, none of it happened.
   Oh - I got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning to head down to meet TNT. Around 6:30, I checked the weather and though it said "snow / sleet starting at 6am," nothing was happening yet. Plus, we've now had at least three false weather panics over the past week or two in Nashville, so I figured it'd be OK to head out. So at 6:50, I head on out to Fleet Feet, which is where TNT was meeting. Sure, it had started to snow a little, but the radar had the clouds moving on by this time. It wouldn't stick, right?
   Wrong. I didn't make it 5 minutes from the house before I realized I needed to turn my butt around and get back to the house ASAP. Two reasons - 1) the snow was sticking to the roads and my car has rear wheel drive. It is HORRIBLE in snow. Even a quarter of an inch is enough for me to get stuck (it's happened). And 2) the sidewalks were getting covered and I really don't need to fall and twist my ankle this close to the NOLA half-marathon. Considering I've fallen over nothing in the past, I didn't want to take any chances. So I went home. And pretty much just in time, because this was a freakin' blizzard for Nashville. I'd say that by 7:15, I wouldn't have been able to make it up the hill in my neighborhood.
   So I missed everything TNT on Saturday. No catching up on everyone's fundraising. No inspirational Mission Moment. There were a few brave souls who did make it out to the TNT and FTP runs and actually got some milage in during the storm. I, on the other hand, was back in the house, sitting on the sofa with my pups debating if I should try to go back to sleep or not (I did).
   But before you all start thinking I've turned into a big slacker, I DID get my 11 miles in yesterday with the fabulous ladies from East Nasty. Don't know what I'd do without those girls, I tell ya.
   Now - for the big reveal. I'm currently up to...63% of my goal or $3,145!! Booyah! I think last week was the best for me fundraising-wise since the campaign started. SO HAPPY! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
More purple than green now!! 

      Unfortunately, I lost my place as Tennessee's #1 fundraiser. Well, for now. ;-) But losing my ranking is actually great news, because that means more money raised for research and to help families fighting blood cancers!
   And a quick update on my giveaway. I had the drawing for the J. Alexander's gift certificate this morning, and my friend Dana (who is running the Nike Half Marathon with me) won. Since she doesn't live in an area with a J. Alexander's, she gave it back and told me to use it in another drawing. So I am! It will be Wednesday morning. Anyone who donates between now and then has a chance to win! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!