Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back / Moving Forward

   2013 comes to an end today. It's amazing how quickly a year goes by. I'll be honest, I was looking at my posts from the past year and had completely forgotten I wrote out goals for 2013. COMPLETELY forgotten. So, it should be pretty interesting to look back and see how I did on them. Let's take a look, shall we?

GOAL 1: Maintain a healthy balance of lifestyle outside of running/swimming/biking. 
I think I did an OK job with this, but I'm not exactly sure how I can fairly judge it. It's funny because many people have resolutions to work out MORE, while I'm trying to back off a bit. Having a sprained ankle helped with this a lot, since I wasn't able to run for about two months. Grade B.
GOAL 2: Take a vacation without running a race while there.  
Technically, I did this twice. My family went to Albion, Nebraska in April to visit my grandmother. Not only did I not race, I didn't even run. It was really cold, windy and snowy at times, and I didn't bring the appropriate gear. And I say that I "technically" took two vacations without racing because Dudley and I also went to Maine in August and I didn't race, though I was supposed to. I had to drop out because of my ankle. Maine was amazing though, and I'm so glad we went up there - which we wouldn't have if not for the race.  Grade B+
GOAL 3: Read 52 books in 2013. 
Totally nailed this one. Finished my 52nd book last week. Grade A+
GOAL 4: Sub 2:00 Half Marathon.
This one I think I could have done if I didn't sprain my ankle. I PRed in the half marathon at New Orleans in February (2:06). I think if I could have built on that throughout the year, I would have been able to break 2:00 in a Fall race. Oh well. Maybe in 2014.  Grade B
GOAL 5: Learn to knit. 
Total fail. Didn't even try. Grade F
GOAL 6: More music. 
Total fail on this, too. The intent is there, but it just seems like time gets away from me. I actually had more gigs booked this year than last year, but two were cancelled. Sigh. Grade D
GOAL 7: Get out more.
This one is a work in progress, but I think Dudley and I got out more this year than last. We also saw more concerts. However, we could do a lot more. We're total homebodies. Grade C
GOAL 8: Give back.
Did well on this from a financial standpoint, as with the help from many of you, I was able to raise $6,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (THANK YOU!! ) Dudley and I also have several other charities we support. I'd like to do more actual volunteer work though.  Grade B

   As far as my "run a half-marathon or further in every state" plan goes, well, I only hit two new states in 2013 - Louisiana and California. I was supposed to get four, but Maine and West Virginia got postponed because of my ankle. 

My sad, still largely blank, map.

Moving on to 2014, I really only have two goals:
GOAL 1: Take a photo every day. 
I got this idea from the T-Rex Runner blog. I love photography, but generally only take photos at big events, rather than documenting every day life. And you know what? There's a lot of cool things in every day life that I'm missing. So therefore - a photo every day. And I'm going to post them so get ready for a lot of random photos - most likely of my dogs.

Goal 2: Survive Ironman Chattanooga.
That's it. I don't care about my time. Would it be nice to be all "I'm gonna kick ass at this race" and what not?  Sure, but I also need to be realistic. I have no freakin' idea what I'm doing or how I'm going to get through the next nine months (yes, it's only nine months away), and to be honest, I'm completely terrified. I KNOW it's going to be hard and it's going to hurt a lot. But I have to admit, I'm kind of looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to pushing myself to a new level and trying to accomplish something I never thought I'd be able to do.

So what about you? Have you set your 2014 goals yet? Are you doing something that terrifies you? If not, why?

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2014!!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Medal Recap

   This might be my favorite post of the year - the medal recap. I know some people don't think that participant medals don't mean anything, but I don't care. I love them. They're fun and they're nice mementos of an athletic achievement, no matter what your race time happened to be. So let's get right in to it, shall we?

New Orleans Half Marathon 
February 24, 2013

   The New Orleans Half was my first "big" race of the season. A huge group of East Nasties converged on New Orleans and pretty much took over. It was awesome and my current PR is from this race. Love the medal - from the Mardi Gras beads to the second line and mask, it's totally New Orleans.  Nice job, Rock n' Roll.

Alpha Delta Pi-athon
March 24, 2013



   The Alpha Delta Pi-athlon is a local sprint race that serves as the kick-off to triathlon season in Nashville. It's a really fun race, but do I need a medal for a sprint race? Nope. And in my opinion, if a race is going to have a medal, at least have the name of the race on the front of it. Honestly, I wish the race organizers would have just used the money spent on medals and donated that to the Ronald McDonald House, which was the designated charity.

   Ok - this is possibly one of the coolest medals ever. It's made from, what else, an oak barrel. Totally fits the Jack Daniel's theme of the race, and it's one of my favorites. If you ever have the chance to do this race, do it. You'll thank me.

Nike Women's Half Marathon
April 28, 2013

   More people probably run this race strictly for the medal that any other race. That's because it's you don't get a medal - you get a necklace. A Tiffany necklace, to be exact. And it's presented to you by handsome young men in tuxedos. Nice touch, Nike. The necklace is very cool, but I don't really wear it very much. But since I guess you don't really wear race medals in general, it's not much different from a regular medal in that sense. It's just smaller...and from Tiffany.

Harpeth River Ride
June 1, 2013

   Unfortunately, the Tiffany necklace wasn't the only thing I brought back from the Nike Half Marathon. I also came home with a sprained ankle. So, I was pretty much limited to cycling for a few weeks, which is why I signed up for the Harpeth River Ride metric century. I've done this ride several times, but not for the past few years. I don't know if the medal is a totally new thing, but I had never received one previously.  I like it. It's a really nice, high-quality medal and was a nice touch since the ride was really hard!

Music City July 4th 5k
July 4, 2013

   The July 4 5k was the first post-sprained ankle race for me. I was so happy to be out there, I didn't care that it was raining the entire time. And just check out that medal. Again, I don't think medals are really necessary for 5k / 10k, but I'll take it when they're this cool. I found out later that my friend, and fellow East Nasty, Meg designed it. Great job, Meg.

Buckhead Border Challenge
July 21, 2013

Finisher's Medal

1st Place Age Group

   I actually got TWO medals from this race. The first one is the regular finisher's medal, which actually had to be mailed to me because someone STOLE all of the medals right before the race.  Who does that? Anyway, the second medal is my 1st place AG for the Duathlon. I like both of these.  They had nice ribbons and were both unique, but still similar enough that you could tell they were from the same race.

Blueberry Cove 13.1
August 25, 2013

   Unfortunately, I didn't actually earn one of these beauties, but I was signed up and was there for the race, so I'm including them. This was a race I had to pull out of due to a re-spraining of my ankle. But look how cool these are! A local artisan donated them.  SO freakin' cool.

Riverbluff Olympic Triathlon
September 7, 2013


   I really liked this medal. Distinct design, quality ribbon (I should probably start including those in my photo, huh?) and it was heavy. One of those medals that makes you feel like you accomplished something.   

Heroes in Recovery 6k
September 13, 2013


   This is another medal that falls into the "not necessary, but a nice touch" category. The race is 6k, which is a unique distance, so it's nice to have something to remember it by. But this race also supports people who are recovering from addiction, some of who probably never thought they would be able to run a mile, forget about a 6k. This was a nice way to congratulate those "heroes" on their accomplishments on and off the race course. The ribbon had the date and place of the race (again- I really need to take a photo of the ribbons!).

   Another unique medal. I like the engraved goose. Would have been nice to have a date on it, but that's Ok. Ribbon was pretty, too.  You can see a little bit of it on the top left corner. I was a little worried that since this was a local race, that the medal would be cheap - but it wasn't.  Nice job, Goosepond.

   This is probably the most multifunctional medal I've ever received. It's a medal AND A wine-stopper! Pretty cool, eh? It was also really colorful with the grapes and the wine-colored ribbon. It was also the largest medal I received this year.  Love it.

   This was a virtual race that I signed up for strictly for the medal. I mean, come on - it's amazing. If you have ever seen "A Christmas Story," you'll think this is hysterical. 

   So that's it - all of my finisher's medals from 2013. I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane!  Here's to a great 2014!  

Friday, December 27, 2013

52 Books in 52 Weeks

   Disclaimer - this post has nothing to do with swimming, biking, running or races of any kind. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite as it's about sitting for long periods of time. However, though I was sitting, I was still getting a workout of sorts, but a mental workout rather than physical. Not to be a total geek, but one of my biggest enjoyments in life is reading a good book. Even as a kid, I've always loved to read. And recently, I've also found that many of my running / triathlete friends are also voracious readers. Must be part of our DNA that we can focus on a singular activity for long periods of time. Or maybe we're just so freakin' tired from all of the working out we do that we need to rest and just read for a while.
   Anyway, as I have mentioned (and is blatantly obvious if you have read any of my posts), I'm all about setting goals for myself. I also have a weird personality quirk in that if someone challenges me to do something, I pretty much have to do it (within reason - I'm not jumping out of a plane or anything). So when the reading social media site Goodreads (it's like Facebook, but with books), issued a 2013 reading challenge, I jumped right in there.
   The Goodreads Challenge was simple. Pick a number of books you wanted to read for the year and read them. I chose to read 52 books. I figured that was a nice number - a book a week. I could do that. Some people (like my FTP coach Jessica) went totally crazy and picked 100 books, others chose a more reasonable number like 26. Goodreads allows you to keep track of what books you read, as well as when you started and finished them. You can also see what your friends are reading and get recommendations based on your past books, which has nothing to do with the Challenge, but definitely helps when picking out new books.
  Well, as of yesterday, I finished "The Seven Sisters" by Margaret Drabble, which was my 52nd book. I did it! 52 books in 52 weeks! Honestly, it was harder than I thought it would be. It's kind of like training. As much as I like swimming/biking/running, there is a different feeling when you HAVE to go out and train than when you're just doing it for fun. There were times when I was like "I HAVE to read tonight or I'll get behind." Reading shouldn't be that stressful!
  You might be wondering where I got all of the books. Well, some were book group reads (I belong to 2.5 book groups. Two actually meet on a regular basis and the other is more virtual, though we meet every few months to swap books and eat cookies). Some I heard about on NPR - I'm a big fan of the NPR book recommendations. Some books I borrowed from the library or friends. For years, I used to buy every book group book in hardcover, but I pretty much ran out of room. So now I borrow when I can and only buy the book if I really like it. And yes, I'll read books I like over and over and over again.
   I also downloaded a lot of books from BookBub. BookBub is a service that scours sites like Amazon and Kindle for downloadable books on sale or even free. They then e-mail you book suggestions based on information you wrote when you signed up. So many books I read I had never heard of previously, but they were free from BookBub, so I downloaded them. Some were good, some were not, but they were free so what the heck, right? You never know where you're going to find your next favorite author.
   The topic range of books varied pretty drastically - some were non-fiction, some were business (marketing / social media), some were best-sellers and some were complete fluff. I read a lot about World War II this year, as that was a theme of one of my book groups. I think I could gone the entire year just reading about WWII. Fascinating time period in our history.
  As far as my three favorites?  I'll have to go with the following: "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walters and "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline. My big regret was not finishing a biography of Benedict Arnold. It was interesting in a dry, detailed-history sort of way, but it was taking me way too long to read so I put it aside. I'll probably finish it now that the Challenge is over.
   So that's it. That's what I do when I'm not out doing something athletic - I sit on my butt and read. And I love every minute of it. If you have any recommendations for me, please post them. And please join Goodreads and friend me! We can be book geeks together!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Story Virtual 5k

   Remember a few months ago when I posted this about the A Christmas Story race?  No? Let me refresh your memory.  I somehow came across a race that honors the 80's cult Christmas movie "A Christmas Story." The race is based in Cleveland and actually runs by Ralphie's house.  It also promised a sweet, sweet medal:

   Unfortunately, it was also the same weekend as the Memphis Half Marathon, so we couldn't actually go up to Cleveland for the run. Not that I would actually go up to Cleveland for a 5k…well, actually I probably would have for this race. Who am I kidding? Anyway, this race offered a virtual option, meaning we could sign up for the race, run the race in Nashville and have the race packet and medal mailed to us. Sounds fun, right?
   In fact, it sounded SO fun that a few of us started making big plans for the virtual run. Well, when I say "we," I guess I'm mainly talking about me, but I know others saw my vision of the race. We're talking a special packet pick up, joke race awards, possibly a special screening of "A Christmas Story"…something really cool. I even set up a special Facebook page for the race. It was like I was a race director! Except I'm not. Which is good because while we had the best of intentions for this virtual race, it slowly dwindled down from about 50 people interested to 3 actually running. Why? Well, life for one. People get sick or get busy and can't make it out to run a fake race (shocking, right?). I also did a really poor job of letting people know when the cutoff for registration was. Really poor job. As in - I didn't even know when registration cutoff was. Oops.
   But one of the main factors, I think, was that the real race directors sent the race packets directly to the participants rather than to the Team Leader, which was me. So while we had about 10 people actually sign up, there wasn't a whole lot of incentive for people to actually show up. I mean, why run in the freezing cold if you already have the sweet medal?! Who would do that? Well, me and two other people - my FTP training buddy Kathy and our neighbor and fellow triathlete  Kelly, that's who.

My shirt and bib number. How cute is this?

   Since we all pretty much live in the same neighborhood, we decided to run in a nearby park. The original plan was to run a 10k, but it was freakin' COLD and I had a lot to do that day, so we only ran a 5k. Well, Kelly and I ran the 5k. Kathy continued on and ran a 10k. Overachiever. No wonder why she beats me in every race. And yes, we made some random stranger take our photo when we were finished. Because that's what we do.
Kelly, me and Kathy post "race."  I was freezing.

   And, the whole point of doing this race - earning a medal of my own.

It's a major award!
   Even though the race didn't turned out as planned, the three of us still had a lot of fun. Plus, the swag was cool. Not only did we get the shirts, bib and medals - we also got a finisher's certificate and…OVALTINE!  Come on, that's funny. 
   And, for those who are paying attention - my streak is still alive! Only 14 more days to go!  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh Yes, They Call It A Streak!

   Today is December 9th. As of today, I have officially walked or run at least a mile every day since Thanksgiving. Yes, yes, I know…that's what? All of 12 days? And considering I workout almost every day anyway, this shouldn't be that big of a deal, right?
   But it kind of is because I'm working on an Official Streak. You see, my friend Amanda (ex-Nashvillian but forever an East Nasty) threw down a challenge to all of her running friends that we have to run or walk at least a mile throughout the Holiday Season, which is Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. And you're supposed to post your miles on Facebook everyday to 1) brag about what a badass you are and 2) keep yourself accountable. Unfortunately, my obsessive personality is such that when a challenge like this is thrown down I HAVE to do it (which is how I end up signing up for things like Ironman Chattanooga, but I digress).

I know, Barney, I know...

   When Amanda first posted the challenge on Thanksgiving, I was all "Yeah! I can do this! I'm in!" I really didn't think it would be that hard. You know why? Because while Thanksgiving was cold, it was unseasonably warm last week. I think it even got into the 70's at some point. It's really easy to get out and run when it's that nice out.
   But guess what? It's freakin' COLD here now. Not in the single digits, but still cold. You know what I mean - that bone-chilling kind of cold that stays with you even after a warm shower. The kind of cold when you think that you're never going to be warm again. And it's been windy / icy / rainy / sleety as well. Just not good running weather. So my motivation to get my butt off the sofa recently has been next to nothing. This was particularly interesting because I WAS supposed to run the St. Jude's Half Marathon on Saturday, but it was cancelled due to ice. So while I was trained to run a half, I was barely able to get a mile in that day due to lack of motivation. Funny how mental running is.
   I'm also not used to running EVERY DAY. Sure, I workout most days, but it's not all running and I generally have 1-2 days of rest a week. That won't work for the challenge! But because of the Streak, and only because of the Streak, I've been getting my miles in - 12 days strong so far. Have there been times where I've only gotten one mile in? Yep. In fact, today I only had time to walk a mile over lunch. I didn't really have time to change, so I did it in my work clothes. I actually ran into a co-worker (in a car) while I was out walking. She asked me what I was doing and I told her walking. She said, "You're walking? Just walking? But you're in heels!"  She officially thinks I'm insane. But insane or not - my Streak lives for another day! Only 22 more days to go!