Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back / Moving Forward 2015 Edition

   It's time to look back on last year's goals and see how I did. This should be relatively easy, as I only had two goals for last year. I know that might not seem like a lot of goals for an entire year, but the second goal was a doozy.

GOAL 1 for 2014: Take a photo every day.
   For those who follow me on instagram (@myllstogo), you know I've completed this one. The point of this exercise was to appreciate the every day things in life. And you know what? It worked! Before taking the photos, I can't tell you how many times I've walked in and out of a building / park / down the street without really paying attention to my surroundings. Now, I'm constantly looking around for something cool to photograph. Granted, I also took a lot of dog photos, but I have a lot of dogs. They're easy targets for my camera.  Grade: A

GOAL 2 for 2014: Survive Ironman Chattanooga.
   Here is exactly what I wrote about this goal in December, 2013:
"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."
   I have to admit - I freakin' nailed this one. I was hoping for a 13-14 hour finish and I finished in 12:16. I was THRILLED. While some of the training was tough and tedious, and the race hurt (BAD at times), I loved every minute of it. My first Ironman experience was so great that I'm a little scared to do another one because it can only go downhill from here. But I probably will. Maybe in 2016. Grade A++

  Some of you might remember that I have a long-term goal of running a half marathon (or longer) in every state. Unfortunately, this got a little sidetracked because of IMCHOO, but I was able to fill in two states: Arkansas and West Virginia.

   I'm hoping to cross off Mississippi, Kentucky and Illinois next year, and hopefully a few more. It's getting more difficult to travel to races since I've hit a lot of the close states. I'm going to have to start flying places. I can see why people try to do two half marathons in one weekend. Travel is expensive, y'all.

GOALS for 2015:
   Honestly, I don't really have any. At least, as of right now I don't have any. I'm going to keep up with my reading challenge of hitting 52 books in a year (two years running!) and I'm obviously going to continue with triathlons and running, but I don't have "the big goal" like I did last year. I mainly want to keep trying new experiences and learn a little bit every day. And I'd like to learn to sew and maybe take a cooking class or two. Oh - and I want to break 2:00 in a half marathon. Ok - I guess I do have goals. I'll try to make a coherent list and get back with you.

   I hope everyone had a great 2014 and wish everyone the best in 2015! See you on the roads!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Medal Recap!

   Unfortunately, this is going to be a pretty short post compared to past year's medal recaps. Due to training for IMCHOO, I didn't race that much this season and I especially didn't race longer distances (which are the ones that generally give out medals). However, I did sneak a few races in, so let's get to it.
   My first medal of the year was for the Little Rock Half Marathon in March.

   I know you can't tell from the photo, but this medal is huge. It's probably 4 inches in diameter - about the size of a saucer. Giant medals are what the Little Rock race is known for, and they don't disappoint. The full marathon's medal was about the size of a dinner plate. Seriously. It was ridiculous, but totally what I'd want after running a marathon.
   I liked this medal. Good quality, pretty heavy, and you can see (from the small bit that I have shown) that the ribbon carries the color scheme throughout. If I were going to choose a race strictly on the quality of the medal - this would be the race. (Race recap here.)

   This medal was unique in that it was optional.You had to pay more at registration if you wanted a medal. Since I'm from DC and this race has been on my bucket list for a while, I splurged the extra $$ and got the medal. I guess a lot of people don't read their registrations very well because I had about 10 people come up to me after the race and asked where I got my medal. Their loss because it's pretty nice. I could do without the outlines of the runners on the right hand side, but I like it otherwise. (Race recap here:)


   This was my first, and sadly only, REV3 race as the company was purchased last year by Challenge Triathlon. Top notch race experience in all respects, including the medal. Big, colorful, matching ribbon - what else could you want in a medal, right? But wait - there's more!

   I also happened to place 2nd in my age group. So, along with some really cool prizes, I got the above medal. You can't really see it, but it's engraved with "2nd Place."   

   If you put them together, you get this crazy, super medal!  It's awesome. Nice job REV3. (Race recap here.)

   This race was amazing. If you haven't done it, you really need to. It's a quirky little race on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia. The medal fits with the theme, but I didn't really like how the ribbon was kind of camo colors, and everything else was red, white and blue. No big deal, but I would have liked them to match.

   Everyone at Hatfield McCoy also got a mason jar. If you placed, you got a sticker on top of your jar. 

   Unfortunately, the label maker wasn't really working that day, so my sticker is a little rough, but it's the only time I've placed in a half-marathon so I love it. (Race recap here.)


   I loved this medal for its simplicity.  Sure, it's fun to have really colorful medals, but I thought the shiny silver was nice. I loved the purple ribbon, too. (Race recap here.)


    Here it is. The Big One. The quest for this medal took an entire year of planning and six months of training. I love it and don't care that there is a Little Debbie logo on it. Don't. Care. The only thing I would change is that is says that we did a 112 mile ride instead of a 116 mile ride. (Race recap here.)

   It's Hipster Santa! Very cute. I love how runners make up Santa's beard. I do wish there weren't quite so many logos, but I get that. Sponsors want to see their logo everywhere. I also wish the 5k had a separate medal. Again - I get it. One medal is a big cost savings, but there is a huge difference between a 5k and a half marathon. I think the medal should reflect that. But it's still cute.  (Race recap here.)

   So that's it for 2014. It's been a lot of fun and look forward to a great 2015!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon Race Recap

   Saturday, Dudley and I ran the inaugural Team Magic Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon.

Hipster Santa is watching you! 

   Based on my recent seasonal funk, I really had a hard time getting pumped for this race. Seriously - I've never been more "meh" about a race, especially a half marathon. I think part of it had to do with the weather. It was cloudy and rainy for the past week, and that morning was more of the same. Plus, my recent traveling has gotten my training all out of whack. I just didn't feel prepared, either mentally or physically. But I had a lot of friends doing the race, and I didn't want to be lame and bail, so I sucked it up and went.
    The good news was that the race had a late start (10:45), so we didn't have to get up crazy early like most races. Though, as much as I liked sleeping in, the later start kind of threw me off. I wasn't sure when to eat or how much caffeine to have. I have a definite routine on race days that starts the minute I wake up. Saturday, I woke up and just kind of hung out. It was weird.
   Anyway, we finally headed down to the race around 9:00. Mt. Juliet is about a half-hour away, so I figured this was more than enough time to get there, pick up our stuff and get ready to race. And it was, though barely. I don't know what Mt. Juliet traffic is like generally, but it was CRAZY on race day.

East Nasty pre-race (Photo courtesy of The Blonde Mule)

   After checking in and making the rounds to find my friends, it was time to race. My goal for 2015 is to finally break 2:00 in a half marathon. I'm pretty close - 2:06, but that's actually a lot of time to shed. Since this race was supposed to be basically flat with only one big hill, my plan was to stick with the 2:00 pacer for as long as I could and see how it all worked out.
   And it worked great - until we hit the big hill at mile 2.5. And it was a big hill. One of those that you see in the distance and curse because you know it's going to hurt. A lot. There was a water station right before the hill, and when I grabbed the water - I lost the pacer. So much for my plan.
   But I kept trudging along. The whole thing about the race being flat was a big, fat LIE. The course was pretty hilly and a lot harder than anyone expected. It was also CRAZY windy. Like the "turn a corner and it feels like someone is smacking you in the face" kind of wind. So, rather than time, I mainly focused on my form. As someone who doesn't come from a running background, I'm always amazed at how small changes in form can make a huge difference in speed and energy. Surprisingly, the miles ticked by pretty quickly. I hit a dark place around miles 6, 10 and 12, but with the exception of mile 12 (which was the longest mile EVER), they passed pretty quickly. Just 2:04 later, I crossed the line with a new PR.

PR on a hilly course? I'll take it! 

Hipster Santa Finisher's medal (Photo courtesy of Team Magic)

   Overall, this was a fun race. I could have done without the wind and hills, but those can't really be helped. Plus, Dudley and I both PRed, which makes the pain a little more bearable. We had to run a little too close to auto traffic at times, but there was a good police presence and I don't think there were any incidents between cars and runners. Team Magic knows what they're doing and puts on a great race. If you have a chance to do one, you should.
   And I'm looking for a New Year's Day Race! If you all have any suggestions, let me know!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bumpin' & Grindin'

   Last Tuesday, I did took a giant step out of my comfort zone and signed up for a burlesque class.  Yes, that's right - a burlesque class. Why? Because to quote my friend Kim (aka The Blonde Mule) "life's a bitch and then you die, so why not take a burlesque class?"
   Some might be wondering how this came to be, because people probably don't immediately associate me with any kind of dance, especially burlesque. In fact, pretty much all I know about burlesque is that Cher was in a movie about it a few years back. Not that I saw it, so that reference doesn't really help. Anyway, the aforementioned Kim knows Freya, the owner of Nashville's burlesque studio, Delinquent Debutants, and took a class there recently. Our friend and fellow East Nasty Susi read Kim's review about it and thought it would be a great way to celebrate her birthday. (Sidebar - I love that I have friends who celebrate birthdays by taking exercise classes!) As a result, about 12 of us converged down at the DD studio on Charlotte for the "Bumps and Grinds" class.

Pre-Bumpin' & Grindin'!  Happy Birthday, Susi! (Bottom left)

   As stated, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into with this class. However I did know, though burlesque is known for feathers and glitter, what we were going to be doing was pretty tame by their standards. Very basic stuff. No swirling of tassels or anything like that. Which is good because the basic class had me nervous enough! (FYI - there IS a class on tassel swirling in case anyone is interested...)
   But once the class started the nervousness went away and the hilarity began. Y'all - I don't think I've ever had so much fun in an exercise class. Some of the moves are the same things you'd see in other exercise classes, but they're REALLY exaggerated (the bigger the better in burlesque!).  Example: "Bumpin'" is a hip thrust. We do that all the time for core exercises in triathlon. Granted, we also did some "shimmying," which is, and I'll make this a PG as possible because my mother reads this blog, the controlled shaking of your upper body. I can't really envision a use for shimmying in triathlon, but  hey - maybe it'll help with swimming. 
   After learning some of the basic moves, we learned a little dance routine. Fortunately, we were facing away from the mirrors, so I have no idea how I looked doing this thing, but it was a lot of fun. Everyone had giant smiles on their faces the entire time.
Strike a pose! (Yes, I'm imitating what the instructor because I have no idea what I'm doing!)

   Long story short - if you want to take a class that is equal parts awesome and hysterical that will completely get you our of your comfort zone - take a burlesque class. What's really great about it (for me anyway) is that it's beneficial to be curvy in this class. Unlike triathlon, you WANT things to jiggle and shake. As someone who is not naturally lean and feels like a giant at races, this was a welcome surprise. 
   So, check out Delinquent Debutantes and take some friends. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winter Blues

   Sorry, but this is going to be a giant whine-fest. Feel free to keep reading, but you can't say I didn't warn you...
   I'm officially over Winter. Yes, I know it's not Winter yet, but I'm done. I've already suffered through snow twice this season while traveling and it's December 1st. Thanks to the time change, it's dark outside whenever I want to run or ride. And you can forget about swimming. Pretty much the last thing I want to do on a chilly morning is get my butt out of bed at 5:00 am and jump in a cold pool. Nope. Just don't want to do it.
   I know I go through a similar funk every year, but this year seems worse. Generally, I don't get like this until January. You know - actual Winter. However, this year, I'm throughly annoyed and it's still technically Fall. I think a part of it is that we moved a few months ago, and it's about 15 degrees cooler in this house than the last one. It's like we live in a cave. It's stupid cold and all I want to do is wrap up in a blanket and watch sappy Christmas movies. Or true crime stories on ID. Either one. Just don't make me go outside.
   While there is a part of me that says "You're in the off-season, just relax a bit," I know I need to break out of this funk ASAP. I have a couple of half marathons on the horizon (including one this weekend!) and the Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 in May. Believe me, it's a lot more fun to do a Half Ironman when fully-prepared, than to just fake your way through one. I faked my way though Goosepond 70.3 two years ago, and I'm still having nightmares about it.
   I will probably have to fake my way throughout this weekend's half marathon though. It's Team Magic's TN Sports Medicine Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon. For the love of all that is good, I hope it's flat. If you're not doing anything Saturday afternoon, you should come out. There's a half marathon and a 5k if running is your thing. Plus, there's a Christmas parade after, if you just want to hang out. Either way - come on down!
  See you on the roads (if I can force myself out there)!