Sunday, May 19, 2013

Checking In (taking mind off Pens game)

Not a whole lot is happening, but there are some things that I can update you on.

I ran 26 miles this week.  I ran my standard 5 days... today's run was 10.2 miles and went pretty well.  I say pretty well because it probably would have went really well if I would have had my pre-long run coffee.  Unfortunate circumstances led me not to have that coffee this morning and believe me I felt it.  I realized that I must be hella addicted to caffeine because once I took my Chocolate Raspberry Roctane at mile 5 I felt normal again.  ha!  Until then it felt like I just couldn't get into a groove.  Oh well.  These things happen.  It was a beautiful day and I was able to run on the resurfaced part of the trail.  I can't decide if I love it or not.  Part of me thinks it feels like running on a gravel parking lot and another part thinks that just might be cool.  I saw the cute little geese family (5 babies) again so that made my morning.

Speaking of morning, I've been getting up before everyone else does and getting my run in early these past few days.  It's definitely getting warmer in the mornings and I'd rather not die of heat exhaustion.  Last summer I did this too, so it is what it is.

After "test driving" the Polar FT7 with H1 transmitter I bought recently, I'm sadly returning it.  I don't know whether I got a crap sensor or that I'm just too little for the strap or what but I can't seem to get this thing consistently working for me.  I've tried every little trick I could find but it's just so inconsistent.  I don't need yet another thing to fiddle around with and worry about during a run, either.  I'm planning on exchanging it for the sensor that works directly with my Nike+ Sportwatch.  And, if that doesn't work either then screw it.  I guess I don't need to worry about my heart rate.  lol.

One thing I would like to talk about is possibly joining a training group.  Elite Runners is starting their Fall marathon and half marathon training groups soon.  It's a decent price for what you get.  They are planning on doing the Columbus marathon/half marathon but say that you can train with them for a local race as well (aka Buffalo Creek - my planned race).  I had a fleeting moment of considering Columbus, but I'm just not comfortable leaving the kids like that for a race.  Seems a little selfish?

Anyway, I'm thinking this would give me a resource of people who more than likely know a hell of a lot more about running than I ever will, a group of people to train with on those long runs, and just some support and guidance.  This would be my 3rd half, so I'm not new new, but still new-ish in my mind.  I had a split second of stupidity of considering a full marathon, but I know I'm better off waiting until 2014 to tackle that.  And let's face it, it would also be good for me from a social aspect because Lord knows I'm lacking in the adult real life friend department.  I don't know.  They also have a yearly option that is a great deal too.  And I'd get discounts at the store I already shop at, discounts on races I'm already thinking about doing, etc.

I think I keep talking myself out of it for what reason I really don't know.  I mean, I obviously can train and complete (decently) a half on my own.  I've already done it twice.  But I could definitely use some pointers before I do something stupid and either crash and burn or hurt myself or both.  And I've learned from the two half marathons I have already completed that it is more fun and less work even to run with people than without.

I'll keep thinking about it.

I've still been lazy about the gym.  I did an at home weights workout this week, but I really need to get back on some machines.  I've been looking at another more local gym because driving clear up to the North Hills is honestly a big downer.

Other than that, I'm just hanging in there.  I'm feeling really great.  I'm enjoying the easy running on the local trail again.  Part of me feels guilty for not doing speedwork and I worry about losing fitness and agility but I probably shouldn't.

So, to join a group or not - that is the question.  Oh, and the other question is - Kennywood season passes or no?  Worth it?  Hmmm...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Now What?

I don't have a race officially registered for until the Great Race 10K in September.  Way too far out to start "training" for, and I will put in some decent training specifically for that because I'd love a significant 10K PR.  I'm also kicking around doing the Liberty Mile in August and a 5K sometime in August as well, to fit in with my 10K training plan.  I'm still looking at a fall half to round out my year.  The kids want to do a Halloween race together, and I think that will be fun.  Then maybe I'll do a Turkey Trot or other late 2013 holiday race.

As for now, I'm going to work on building my mileage back up and hitting a mileage peak of around 35 mpw.  I'm not going to do a bunch of structured speedwork until I start officially training for the Great Race. I may add some strides/bursts to some runs, but I'm just going to keep my focus on easy and injury free to build the miles.  I've used my Polar a couple of times and I'm having some issues with it.  When it works, it's great.  Unfortunately it is finicky and unless it is positioned perfectly or perfectly moistened or whatever it fizzles out on me after 5-15 minutes.  My heart rate information that I've gathered so far seems to be right where I expected.  I just wish I could keep the HRM working consistently.  I may be calling Polar for help if I can't seem to keep it going.

I'm also out running with Tori a couple of times a week, although at this point I don't add those miles to my weekly total since our ratio of walking to running is more walking.  I know that will change in time, so I'll have to factor in my own running with that to make sure I'm not overdoing it.  I'm having a blast trudging through the park with her, though.  :)

Last week I ran 24 miles.  I did a 4 mile run on Wednesday, 5 miles on Thursday, 5 miles on Saturday, and then 10 miles on Sunday.  I felt pretty good during each, although I so have a slight knee niggle going that I can't totally blame on running.  Let's call it - kids jump on mom knee.  In fact, it doesn't even bother me while I'm running, just when I'm sitting down.  I'll keep tabs on it and will take care of myself as needed.

The only thing that totally bothered me during my long run this weekend was my Amphipod handheld!  I've never had this kind of issue with it before, but I wasn't even 1/2 a mile into the run when I noticed that the bottle was leaking like crazy and dripping down my arm, etc.  I tried fiddling with the lid and drinking some of the fluid I had in it in case it was overfilled (the only time I ever had a slight leak with it, that was the issue), but nothing seemed to help.  The cover was sopping wet the entire run and when I was done my hands were sticky and chapped from being wet with gatorade and the whipping chilly wind.  Boo.  Hopefully this was a one time problem, but I guess we'll see.  I have my iFitness belt sitting in an online shopping cart, but I haven't had it in me to hit "checkout" yet.

Another thing I need to get my ass back in gear with is going to the gym for the weights.  I've been slacking big time on this just due to time constraints, but I need to figure it out.

That's pretty much it, really.  This week I hope to get 5 runs in - two 3 milers, a 4, a 5, and another 10.  Ten miles seems to be my "comfortable" long run at this point.  It's not incredibly strenuous, but I feel like I've done more work than just the daily run.  Hopefully over time I'll be able to say 10 miles is "just a short run".  lol.  Or not.  We'll see.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2013

Saturday night I was tired as hell.  I'd had a long day but knew I needed to keep hydrating and eating the right (typical for me, anyway) things the day before a race.

Dinner was penne with italian turkey sausage and garlic bread.  For my bedtime snack I had Devil's Food cake and green tea.  I was (thankfully) able to get into bed by 9:30, but not before I noticed that all of my favorite running clothes and especially socks were dirty.  Crap!  Nick said he'd take care of it for me and got them washed and hung to dry while I stayed in bed.  I just prayed that I'd have something dry in the morning.

The alarm sounded bright and early at 4:45.  I got out of bed, drank some water and made my CoCo Wheats.  I also drank some coffee with creamer.  Gotta stick with traditions here.

I was sad to discover that the running skirt I'd had my mind on wearing was still a little too damp for my liking.  Again, crap.  So instead I chose a pair of black shorts with pink trim to match the bright pink shirt I was going to wear (Tori and I wanted to wear similar race outfits this weekend).  It ended up being a good thing, because these particular shorts have a huge zipped pocked on the side that was big enough to carry my ID and a Hammer gel (For some reason, Hammers do NOT fit into the gel loops in my SpiBelt).

As planned, I did wear my Spibelt so I had my iPhone with me.  I put some Roctane and Espresso Love in the loops.  Having the iPhone was awesome because Nick could track me more closely through the race.  The Runner tracking service only texted at the start, the 10K and the finish, and that was hella cool in its own right, but with "Find My iPhone" Nick was able to pretty much watch me as I ran.

I wore my flowery Bondi Band too, which I got TONS of comments and compliments on.  Someone who works with Girls on the Run even stopped me after the race and asked me where to get them and how much they were because she thought they'd be perfect for the girls.  I gave her all the info and told her they could even do custom styles!  I love my Bondi Bands!  I've even bought them for Tori, which you can see in her pics in the last post!  They keep sweat off your forehead and out of your eyes, keep your hair back if you have a tendency toward wispy end flying around, for me they also keep my scalp from getting sunburned, and they are just cute.  Ok, enough of my Bondi Band love, but seriously, they are awesome.

My Oakleys were also a necessity once the sun came up.  Thank goodness for polarized lenses.  I also wore my hot pink Asics arm sleeves, which I know I have professed my love for on here before, because it was a little on the chilly side.  I knew it would warm up, though, so these would be easy to just rip down and/or off.

Anyway, we left for downtown around 5:30 (again, we only live right here in the Mexican War Streets, so it's not far).  By the time we hit the bridge, traffic was already bumper to bumper and just creeping in.  I had the ParkPGH app running and it showed that the garages were starting to fill up.  We were lucky to get a spot in the garage we had planned all week for - the one on Stanwix and Ft. Duquesne.  It was expensive, but we had planned on that and felt it was worth it.

In the garage, I got myself together.  I got my bib pinned on, my SpiBelt on just right and made sure I had everything.  From here, it was just a short walk over to Corral B - fitting for me, right in front of the Wines and Spirits store.  Tease!  haha

Security was super tight, which was greatly appreciated.  Family was not allowed in or near the corral.  At the guarded gate, I said goodbye to my family - hugs all around - and stepped in.  It was around 6:20 or so and it was still pretty empty.  I looked around the sparse crowd and didn't see any pacers yet, so I just kind of situated myself toward the back 1/3 of the corral.  It didn't take long for the corral to start filling up, though.

I took this pic while waiting.  That's how far I was from the start line.  Really cool view of the sun rising, too.  :)

I couldn't stand totally still so I bounced around a bit, enjoying all the sights and sounds.  Around 6:45, the pace teams showed up.  I spotted the 1:50 half pacer standing with the 3:40 marathon pacer not too far from where I was standing.  How's that for good judgement?  I headed over near them, as did many other people.  I chatted with a couple of girls who were obviously friends and talked about that awful tendency to start off too fast, etc so a pacer was a necessity.  Glad I'm not the only one with this "problem".  I noticed that the pacer (who had yet to say one word to any one of the people gathering around her) had "Mc Lovin" on his bib.  I thought to myself - ok, cool, this guy is going to be silly and fun.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The entire time we were waiting on the gun to send us on our way, he was more interested in talking to the 3:40 marathon pacer than anything else.  I don't know, maybe even a "hi guys, let's have a great race today!" would have been nice.  Instead, just every few moments he held his 1:50 sign up a little higher so people could see it.  He had this look on his face like the last thing in the world he wanted to do today was pace a half marathon.

The pacer wasn't the only one that didn't seem elated to be alive on this fine morning.  At JASR, everyone stood around laughing and being friendly and excited.  The crowd around me seemed so super serious.  The lady standing next to me kept chanting "we can do this we can do this we can do this".  The announcer even told everyone to say hello and good morning to the people standing around them and I will tell you that only half assedly happened.

But, whatever, I wasn't letting other people into my head.  Just before the race started there was a moment of silence for Boston.  Then there was the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America.  Both were lovely.  I forget who the singer was, but she was awesome.  Ryan Clark was a co-announcer too and of course that was really cool.

Right before we took off they played Renegade.  I should have expected that, but on this particular morning it was a pleasant surprise.  I sang every word.  Out loud.  Some people looked annoyed but I didn't care.

The gun went off and I was elated that this wasn't a typical shuffle and fart around to the starting line kind of race.  When we took off, we took off.

Then I did one of the stupidest things EVER.  I had my watch all synced up to the satellites for the past 10 minutes or so and in my excitement I hit CANCEL when I crossed the start line instead of START.  damn!!!  I scrambled to get it back up, but I probably lost around a tenth of a mile doing that.  I felt (and still do) like a total dumbass for doing that.

Now when I say we took off, I really mean that.  Once my watch was up and running, I really wanted to check out the pace we were going because it seemed that ol' Mc Lovin was just flying.  My watch showed 7:47 going through the strip district.  I got a little scared because I didn't think I'd be able to keep up for 13.1 miles if that's the pace he was going to hold onto.

The Strip District was just a mob scene.  There were so many runners smashed together closely and of course everyone was doing the weave and push through to jockey for position thing.  It was tough to stick with the pacer at this point, and I didn't want to blow myself out early on so I was satisfied with just being able to see him and be in the vicinity.  I had serious doubts about this race creeping up on me through this point.  Between my watch screw up, the antisocial pacer, and just the sheer crowd I couldn't seem to get through, I started thinking that maybe this wouldn't be my day.

I skipped the first fluid station.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I never take in fluids that early in any run, so I don't see a reason to start.  Second, since many people did take advantage of the station, this allowed me to move up and get a better position on the road.  I was still behind the pacer, but only by a person or two.  I wasn't worried about it because he wasn't the talkative type, nor did he seem to be giving out all those awesome tips like Lou from JASR did.  So again, I was satisfied just being near him, but not necessarily with him.  Once I found a comfortable place within the pack of runners after that first station, I felt a little better about the race and my doubts started to subside.

We went over the first of five bridges (16th street).  No big deal at all.  Barely qualified as a "hill" to me.  We went through East Ohio - the ghettoist street on the North Side - and then turned down Cedar where I utilized my first fluid station.  I used every one from here out.  We went over the bridge back downtown and then came immediately back over to the North Side again.  The pace seemed to be all over the place to me, but I kept with it because there was still a ton of weaving in and out going on.

The spectators were fantastic.  I had absolutely no need for my iPod.  I'll remember this for next year.  Totally unnecessary and just extra crap strapped on me.

3/5 bridges done now.  You could tell at this point who trained in the area and/or on hills and who didn't.  A chunk of the pack started to fade off.  I finally felt warmed up, personally.  With that, my arm sleeves came down, and I took the right one totally off and hooked it into my SpiBelt.  I kept the other one around my wrist in case I needed to wipe sweat away.

Some time around here I kept noticing a god awful shit smell.  Seriously. It smelled like someone totally defiled their drawers.  I moved to the opposite side whenever I caught a whiff of this, but I am not kidding when I say this happened the entire race.  I never could tell who or what it was coming from but it sure was nauseating.

One of the best spectator crowds in the whole race were the folks (I believe they were representing Urban Impact) standing outside of ACAC (church here on the North Side).  Balloons, music, people yelling, high fiving.  It was great.  That's something else I allowed myself to do during this race - I had fun!  I high fived random strangers, head banged to good bands, sang the songs I knew, waved to people, talked to people, and just freaking enjoyed the entire time.  It kept my mind off my pace and the technical aspects of the race that can suck the fun straight out of any run, really.

I took my GU as planned around the 5 mile point.  Now, this was when MY watch said five miles, so it was deifnitely off due to the start.  But it seemed to work out ok.  The first gel I took was the Chocolate Raspberry Roctane.  I had great success with this during my 12+ mile long run the previous Sunday.  I don't know what it was, whether I slammed back a cup of Gatorade and water too quick with it or whatever, but it sat like a rock in my stomach for the next mile or so and I felt extremely nauseous (the intermittent shit smell did NOT help with this at all either).

My family was near the Humane Society, but I didn't see them.  They got a pic of me, though.  Well, kinda.
You can just barely see my head behind the lady in the pink tanktop.  LOL.  Still a cool pic of the race in general, though.  Thanks hun.

Just past here was the 10K line.  I realized that I may have just gotten a 10K PR (and I did - 51:44).  Sweet!  Now I was feeling strong and much more confident.

West End Bridge.  4/5.  Another huge crowd fade out.  I didn't have a problem.  Mc Lovin was settled in just to the northwest of me chatting up two marathoners.  Whatever.

The downhill on Alexander to Main St in the West End was pretty dramatic!  I wasn't expecting that.  There was a great party going on down there, including a pretty decent band that was playing the Steve Miller Band song, "Joker".  This was one of the ones I proudly sang along to "I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker"!!

The West End seemed to go by in a flash and then we were up on Carson Street.  The running crowd was much more spread out now.  I finally felt like I could run easy and settled and was able to keep a consistent cadence.  Carson Street was my favorite part of the whole race.  Lots of people acting crazy, dressed up in costumes (even Waldo), tons of packed in crowd support, signs and music.  A group of people had gummy bears on large trays to hand out.  I didn't take any because I thought "hey, this is Carson, they're probably soaked in vodka and that's not race friendly".  lol

I remember feeling like I was heading toward a fade myself somewhere around 9 miles or so.  I made sure to take a Gatorade and a water from the next fluid station and I took my Espresso Love.  Life was better again.  They were giving out GU at some point around here but I didn't take any because I have my own flavor preference and brought my own.  Some guy cut me off and almost knocked me down to get one.  This guy continued to practically run me over at every station from here to the end of the race.  He'd literally come out of nowhere to push me out of the way and step on my feet.  Maybe he was the source of the shit smell?  Would serve him right.

By this time, I was running right with the pacer.  I was either beside him or right on his heels.

The Birmingham Bridge.  This was where us half crazy folks split off to head back downtown while the bad ass mofos kept on going.  My initial thought as I headed onto the bridge was "this can't be over already?!  That was way too fast.  Kinda sad.  I have to do a full.".  So, there, at mile 11+ I made the decision to do a full 26.2 at some point (next year - I still want to build some more mileage on my legs first).

There was a fluid station not too far up the bridge.  Again, I got trampled by Mr. Way Taller than Me tough guy.  This time I inhaled my Gatorade instead of drank it.  oops.  I went into a terrible coughing fit and just tossed the cup away.

By the time I came to after the delirious choking fit and pulled my head out of my ass over the race almost being over I realized that I couldn't see Mc Lovin.  Now, it wasn't out of the norm that after fluid stops he'd be way ahead and there was some catch up that had to happen.  So, I sped up a bit.  He was nowhere ahead that I could see.  I looked back over my shoulder and saw that he was a bit behind me.  I slowed down a tad to his pace again knowing that there was a hill to conquer and almost 1.5 miles to go.

Well, Birmingham bridge was no big deal, but after that was a pretty cruel hill.  Some may even consider it inhumane.  The whole next mile was just up up up and up.  Tons of people were dropping out, hobbling to the side or at the very least walking.  Not me.  My mind flashed back to the Frigid Five Miler and the fact that I'm still kicking my own ass for walking 10 steps up that Lodge hill.  Yes, it's the end of the race.  Yes, my legs aren't as fresh as they were an hour ago.  Yes, it's pretty freaking hot.  But quitting is not an option.  As my mind and legs remembered that hill it occurred to me that this particular hill really wasn't that bad.  I stayed strong.  There was only around a mile to go - that's nothing!  Crowd support was really helpful here.  Most of them were city cops and EMS!  With every "this is it, just get up this hill and you've got a long downhill" I felt stronger and stronger.

Somehow I pulled ahead of Mc Lovin and felt good doing it.  I didn't see him again.  But I did hear him finally speak to the group!  "Let's go 1:50 group!  You can do this!  Don't lean forward!  Leave space for your lungs so you can breathe and get up this hill!".  

The top of the hill - aka the biggest sigh of relief.  From here I just let my legs relax and carry me down.  I felt great.  Somewhere around here my family was standing and got a great video of me.  I looked really damn good.  I'll try to get it uploaded and linked up here.

Mc Lovin yelled out again!  "This is it, group!  This is the pace right here!  Follow me!".  I was well ahead of him and had no plans of backing off.

I felt like I was just gliding down the hill.  It felt amazing.  I could see the finish ahead.  The crowd was almost deafeningly loud.  I soaked it all in.  I saw the flags on either side of the road for the finish.

Then I saw the clock.  It had just clicked over 1:50, and it was my understanding that we were around 2 minutes behind clock time.  Could I possibly, truly, really be going sub 1:50 here??  I just kept running toward that line, enjoying those last precious seconds of adrenaline rush.

I raised my arms as I felt like I just floated across the finish line.  If I'm being honest, I don't think I even really did that last second sprint to the finish.  I just cruised in off the momentum I had.  I knew I had PRed, I didn't need to injure myself over a few greedy seconds.  According to my watch, my pace cruising across the finish line was 7:07.  Mile 13 was 7:44.  Just wow.

I kept moving past the line as we'd been told to do.  Some people don't like to listen but security was doing the best they could with those folks.  An awesome volunteer hung that heavy beautiful medal around my neck and congratulated me.  I waited in line for my photo.  I got a cup of water and gatorade and thanked every single volunteer I could.  They were all truly awesome.  Someone gave me a plastic bag, which I was initially confused by and then I realized that I was to use it to carry my food and water.  Ok then.  I got a banana, a bagel, a smiley cookie and 2 bottles of water.  

I walked over to the finish line festival and immediately went into the Dick's tent inside.  I picked up a recovery shake and a megaphone for the kids to play with and took a look at their shirts.  I didn't like them because they all said "Marathon Finisher".  I know some don't agree, but I feel fake wearing stuff that says that because I didn't run a marathon.  A marathon is twice what I did.  If they would have had a half shirt, I may have bought it, but they didn't.  meh.

The next place I went was the Best Buy tent to get my result printout.  The guy had already started printing out my slip as I was walking up and handed it to me with a "great job!".  I looked at it and said out loud "No freaking way!!" and just laughed maniacally for a minute.  I'm crazy, I know.  But 1:48:52?  Yeah, I think I have a right to be crazy for a while.

Yep, I'll take that!

I pulled my iPhone out of my SpiBelt and got in touch with Nick who had already messaged me that they were nearby and on their way.  I made my way over to the family reunion area where they could find me easily.  I did some stretching and chugged some water.  I saw Nick and the kids and was greeted with hugs and smiles.  Then Tori demanded a shaved ice and said her legs were tired.  Heh, kids.

After the kids were settled in the grass with shaved ice with enough syrup on them for 10 people, I went over to the medal engravers.  I had to have mine engraved.  It was worth every penny.

May as well post a pic of the front of it too.  :)
Love it!!!

We hung around the finish line festival for a bit, talked with some charity folks and then headed out of Point State Park.  For just running one hell of a race, I felt really good.  No twinges, pains, soreness, nada.  I was half interested in stopping by the "Winners Circle" area they had set up where supposedly you were able to get adult beverages, but I lost all interest after discovering that it was the typical PA demonizing alcohol and keeping you in a cage thing.  So, I was like "screw that, I have IC Light at home".  And we made our way back to the parking garage and went home.

This was a really fantastic time.  After my initial "oh no"s over my watch and the crowd surge at the beginning, I was able to settle in and enjoy the experience.  You can tell a lot went into the planning of this race.  The security was great, the layout was great, the organization was great, the spectators were fantastic and the parties all over with bands and things was just amazing.  This was a true experience - not just another run.

I felt like I was running more of a race then JASR, which I ran more conservatively, but I still didn't feel like I pushed myself too hard.  My goal was to PR, but going sub 1:50 was just icing on the cake.  The whole day was wonderful.
I'm a Runner of Steel!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Kids Marathon 2013

I was really excited when Victoria told me that she wanted to do the kids marathon.  I'm always looking for ways to keep her active other than her twice a week gymnastics class, so when she expressed an interest in running, I was elated.

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that she said she wanted to do it herself.  She did not want either me or Nick to run with her.  I can respect that and give her mad props, but as a parent I was a little nervous about her being alone.  It ended up being just fine, though, the kids were well taken care of through it all.

Anyway, I guess I should start this "recap" on Friday evening.  Remember that I was super tired and had walked around an expo most of the earlier part of the day.  When Victoria got home from school, she asked me to go run a mile with her so she knew what it was like.  I was definitely NOT too tired for that.  1 mile wasn't going to kill me or ruin me for my race, that's for sure and running with my little girl was something I've wanted to do for a while!

So we got ready and headed down the street to the park.  I told her that I was only going to go as fast as she wanted to go.  She got to make the decision how fast, where to turn, and if we needed to walk some.  She was ok with that and I started up my gps, which she just felt so cool about.  lol

I was surprised by her ability!  I didn't know that she would make it a mile, but she did!  She only asked to slow down one time and then wanted to go quicker again.  All said and done, we got through 1 mile in a little over 12 minutes.  Not bad for a first timer!  It felt good to give my own legs a little shakeout too, I'll admit.  ;)

Saturday morning we had to have a little bit of an early start.  Vincent was headed to church camp and had to be at the church by 7:30.  Knowing that they were shutting some of the North Side streets down on account of the 5K happening, we thought there might be some delay in traffic.  Thankfully there wasn't.  We were even able to head back home for a little bit before going down to PNC park near the starting line.  We got there just as they were setting the corrals up.  It was very well organized.

Tori before the race.  She was so proud to be wearing a bib.  :)

Her corral.  By the time the race started this area was packed!

She was in wave 10, as you can see above, so it was going to be quite a wait.  They were starting corrals every 3 minutes or so.  About half way through, a gave her a big hug and wished her luck and then headed over the bridge downtown to the finish line.
We got a pretty good spot.  Actually being here at the finish line gave me the jitters for my own race.

It wasn't long before I spotted the hot pink outfit and funky headband coming down the street.  She zipped by so fast I was lucky to get this pic of her crossing the finish line.  When she heard us screaming "Go Tori!" she gave the biggest smile.

There she goes!

I walked along side the finishing chute watching her take in the post race atmosphere of drinks, bananas, goody bag and medal handouts.  I'm going to come right out and admit that I cried a bit.  This was one of my proudest moments ever.  My baby girl ran her first race and obviously had a great time doing it.

Security was great.  They kept the kids in a parent meetup area separated by name and you had to show them your "Kid Claim" ticket so that they could compare it to their bib.  Then they released them.  This was awesome.

We headed over to the finish festival where the kids immediately got in line for the bouncy obstacle thing.  haha.

I must say that I was more impressed with the contents of Victoria's goody bag than the one I got.  Big bag of Dole Chia Clusters, Kennywood ticket voucher, baseball ticket voucher, blinky clip on running light among other things?  Awesome!

Victoria with her medal.  Garrett had to be in the pic too.

All in all it was a great time and now Tori says she wants to start training for a 5k.  Her ultimate goal (she says) is to be able to run a Halloween one in a costume.  Hey, a kid's gotta have priorities.  So, I'm thinking about starting her on a c25k type thing?  I mean, she obviously can already run 1.2 miles.  I just don't want her to start going too hard too soon.  I learned that on my own.  lol

Congratulations Victoria on a fantastic first race!  Welcome to the running club!

Pittsburgh Race Expo 2013

I went to the Expo on Friday.  I was not in the best of mindsets since I had gotten in at 4:30am, only had a few hours of sleep and didn't feel right at all.  But I wanted to make the best of it, knowing that Friday was my only "free" day without my older two munchkins who don't tend to do well in expo situations.

First of all I was extremely naive.  I figured hey, it's the opening day, and if I get there around 11 when it starts (for those of us who did not purchase the VIP package - those lucky folks got to get in an hour beforehand) then the crowd wouldn't be too bad.  HAHAHAHAHA.  Wrong.  We left our place around 11 am - we don't live far.  We got to the convention center area at 11:07.  Traffic was already heavy and the closest parking garage was already full.  There were swarms of people everywhere.  By the time we got parked and headed into the building it was almost 11:30!  Fortunately, once inside it wasn't too bad.  Things were very well organized and I had studied the map of the layout beforehand, so I knew where to go for the important stuff (bib pickup, bag pickup, pace team signup, and Elite Runners and Walkers... lol).

The first thing we did was pickup Victoria's bib and shirt for the Kids Marathon.  I was so excited that she decided to do it.

Then I found the booth where I could pickup my bib.  I was only second in line so it was very fast.  Right next to where I picked up my bib was the booth to get my shirt.  The shirt is ok.  Not my favorite, but not the worst, either.  I'll try to grab a pic of it because I haven't.

After I got my shirt, I finally took a look at my bib and noted that it said "Corral C" in the upper left.  Well crap.  I knew I had underestimated myself when I registered, and I was right on the borderline between corrals.  However, given my performance at JASR, and the fact that the pace group I wanted to run with was in Corral B, I really wanted to be in B.  So, I hopped in the Runner Services line.  AKA the longest line in the world aside from a PA DMV.  I think we were in line for over an hour.  SO many people needing help, mostly with transferring bibs from one person to another and switching up relay info.

I was kind of nervous, because I had heard through the grapevine around town and via social media that there would be absolutely NO corral changes due to security, etc.  I kept running plans in my mind on what I would do if I started in Corral C.  I could line up with the 3:50 marathon pacer and do the whole "start slow, end fast" thing I did at JASR or I could try to make sure I was at the front of the corral to hopefully come close to the others.  I could pace myself, but that really terrified me.  I'm a crappy pacer, usually.  So I was totally prepared to get a big ol "I'm sorry for the inconvenience" when I finally got to the little blond lady at the table.  She smiled and asked "How can I help you today?" and I took a deep breath and said I was hoping to be able to change corrals.  She took a look at my bib and said "to which one?".  I told her B and she said "that's no problem at all" and slapped a B sticker on my bib.  I was stunned and just said "thank you so much!".  She smiled and said "You're welcome.  Good luck!" and I was on my way.  The wait was worth it.  Just goes to show you that you can't trust everything you hear from people, even if they claim to be veterans of the race!

After Runner Services, I wanted to go pick up my goody bag.  To do this, you had to walk the whole way over to the other side of the building, walking through the Dick's Sporting Goods store.  Smooth move you marketing people.  And kind of annoying.  But I got to the counter where there was no line at all (thanks to at least 20 people working there) and I got my bag and my book with all the race details, etc.

The bag.  Well, the bag itself is actually pretty decent.  One of the better quality string backpacks I've had.  I was a little disappointed in the contents though.  I've gotten better stuff in an Elite Runners race bag.  Meh.  But, the stuff wasn't why I was there.  At this point in the day I was just happy to have something to hold the bibs and shirts and stuff I was carrying all that time.

From bag pickup we started to walk around and see what there was.

I'm not real big on high pressure sales or tons of BS advertising, and there was a ton of it here.  I don't like people grabbing me and pulling me aside to show me their latest invention.  I also don't get why window sales and deck sales and auto sales people are at a road race expo.  I understand that part of the "point" of an expo is for people to showcase their product.  And that's cool.  Maybe I'm just not real into expos.  I don't know.  What I did know is that I had a shopping list and a wish list and I wanted to snag some cheap stuff.

The first place I hit was Elite.  I love that place on a normal day but they typically have kickass expo deals.  Today was no exception.  The only thing I will gripe about is the Mizuno rep.  He was kind of a douche.  As I was walking through a pair of bright blue shoes caught my eye and I just looked to see what they were.  He took that opportunity to pressure me into trying them on, walking around, etc.  They were Wave Inspires.  They felt ok, maybe a little on the wide side to me.  I told him I'd think about it, but I wanted to look around first and he started in with "everybody says that" "this is my last pair"  "you might wanna just get them now" etc.  Ugh.  I was happy to get away from him.  I was hoping to score some shoes, but a) There were like NO trail shoes and b)  I really want to test some out first and the squished in atmosphere of the expo really didn't allow that.  So prices be damned, I'll hit a real store soon.

The next person I ran into was one of the guys that's always working in the Robinson store.  I asked him where the socks were because it is tradition that I buy socks before a race and we got to talking about what I liked (I currently prefer SmartWool).  He said he's also a SmartWool fan but recently started wearing Swiftwick and is a fan of those now too.  He talked about them for a bit and I picked up a pair to try.  I also got a pair of SmartWool.  I browsed through the racks a bit and didn't get anything else other than 2 Espresso Love GUs.  At the counter they had advertisements for the November Marshall Mangler trail run!!  I picked one up so I can consider that.

Also on my shopping list was Chocolate Raspberry Roctane.  I had tried this stuff out on my 12 mile run the previous Sunday and it was GREAT.  The flavor was much better than that glucose test Orange I had before and that run just went fantastic.  So, I wanted to use it in the race.  Of course I'd like something that was hard to find.  Elite didn't have it.  Other places didn't have it.  I finally found a half empty container of it on a table at Up & Running.  I snagged two.

Add Hammer gels to the "hard to find list".  Usually I get them at REI because Elite doesn't sell them.  Well (and I am assuming this is because of DICK'S) REI wasn't at the expo and it seems that no one else needs Hammer gel.  Boo.  I did end up finding some at Mojo's booth.  Hooray!  They had a steal on Hammer products, actually, so I got a bunch, including some other stuff that I will try in the weeks to come.

After I got my gels I headed over to the NuGo area where they had the pace team information as well as yummy samples!  A guy there gave me a pace tattoo thingy (which I didn't end up using) and a signup bib for the team.  We also verified that the pacer would be there in Corral B.  I was a bit disappointed in the fact that unlike what was advertised, the actual pacers weren't there to meet and talk with.  There was honestly very little information at all - just here's a tattoo and a bib to put your name and time on, see you at the race! Then again, maybe it was a good thing I didn't meet the 1:50 pacer before the race - more on him later...

One thing that I had on my shopping agenda was trying on an iFitness belt and possibly purchasing one.  I've heard great things about them and have come to the conclusion over the past few weeks that I am definitely in need of a hydration system for this summer and long runs.  My amphipod handheld is freaking awesome, but it has been empty at the end of my long runs on these 60-70 degree days.  So I'm in the market for something.

The iFitness booth was staffed by 2 girls who... well, for lack of a nicer term seemed like total dingbats.  They were also sick as hell and had gravelly throat voices and were hacking and coughing everywhere.  Yuck.  Anyway, they were advertising a "special edition" hydration belt so I asked what that was.  Turns out it has some grippy stuff on the back of it that keeps it from sliding around.  Cool.  Now, keep in mind that I am here at the expo on the first day, in the first few HOURS of opening.  They did not have a single belt in the color (black & yellow), size (sm/md) and style (16 oz hydration, preferably special edition) that I wanted.  WTF?  They kept trying to sell me another one and asking "are you sure you need the 16 oz instead of the 12" "what about another color", etc.  I'm sorry, but if I'm going to be shelling out $40+ for something I want to get what I want and need.  So, back to the drawing board on hydration belts.  At least they gave me a coupon for free shipping from their website.

We kept wandering around and I was getting "meh" about stuff.  I was tired as hell, Nick went hypoglycemic, and Garrett (3 years old) was just getting squirrelly.  We had been there for several hours, so that was expected.  So, we decided to head over to the Dick's store that we blew through at the beginning and then start heading out.

That place was a true mob scene.  They did have cool stuff though... lots of "Run for Boston" items, many different flavors of Pittsburgh Marathon/Half Marathon gear.  I picked up a grey and purple Pittsburgh 13.1 shirt.  I really liked it.  They had another shirt that I liked that was made to look like a football jersey that had the 13.1 on the back of it like a player number, but it wasn't in tech material.  FAIL!

Oh, also in our wandering around, there was a GNC station with a big banner that you could sign in support of Boston.  We all signed it.  That was pretty cool.

All in all, it was a decent time.  I wasn't overly blown away impressed... It was pretty overwhelming and I had trouble finding everything I wanted to (I never did pick up the compression calf sleeves I had on my list), but I did talk to some nice people and let's not forget the success I had at Runner Services.  Next year (and yes, there will be a next year), I'll have a better plan and know more of what to expect.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So let's see...

It's been a while, eh?

Well, I've had a lot going on in that big bad thing we like to call the real world.  For me, when I have a lot of  real life situations happening, the first thing that gets cut is interwebs.  People who are close to me and know me know how to keep in touch.  I just like to put all my energy into the situations that truly require it.  Blogging/instagramming/twittering/etcing just don't fit into my scope of "real life importance".

This is honestly the first day in quite a while I've had more than 10 minutes to think in front of my computer.  So I'll give updating my best shot.

First of all - Happy Monday!  :)

Since my last post, so much has happened.  I believe that I had mentioned that 2 of my kids and my husband were in a car accident.  Well, since the van was a total loss, we had to go on the undertaking of a new vehicle.  That's always a crappy time.  I hate car shopping.  It's like pulling teeth to find a reputable dealer that isn't drooling over you and jerking you around.  I understand its all a business, but damn.  When I walk in somewhere just interested in a price I don't want to spend 2 hours with you going over a million things, filling out forms and going on test drives.  I can assure you that I've done research and pretty much know what I want and what I don't.

Bleh.  So, anyway, it took quite a bit of time and frustration but we got a replacement van.  It's pretty much similar to the one we were driving before.  It doesn't have a DVD player, which the kids were a little huffy about, but to be honest the DVD was a huge source of drama during some trips anyway.  Getting three kids to agree on a movie and a volume level isn't always easy.  But they'll get over it.

All three kids (plus husband, so make that 4 kids) aquired some nasty chest cold/virus/plague.  I wanted to put myself in a freaking bubble.  The youngest even got sent home from school after spiking a fever and vomiting.  Great times.

Somehow I was able to escape total devastation of this plague.  I had a sore throat for a couple of days, but went to my trusty Cold eez lozenges and Emergen-C Immune+ and it went away quickly.  What ended up happening to me was getting a mild UTI.  Again, great times.  I'm more susceptible to these than the average person due to all the fiddling with my insides that my OBGYN did during my last c-section.  I get a couple a year.  I try to catch them early before they go crazy.  I've gotten really good at being able to tell even the night before if I might wake up with one.  It's a sick game, but whatever.  I'd like to send a shout out and thank you to the makers of Cipro.  I'm one of your biggest fans.  Also to the makers of Northland 100% Cranberry Juice.  You are delicious.

My little girl celebrated her 8th birthday!  We had lots of Monster High fun.
The Star Wars cups were for the boys.

We went to Steelers Fan Fest at Heinz Field.  I am sorry to say that I was largely unimpressed by it.  I'm glad our tickets were comped and I didn't pay for them because I would have been really upset.
Garrett hanging out.

I got a new play toy!!  I've been moderately interested in heart rate and anaerobic vs aerobic fitness, so after much research I got a Polar FT7!  It came in the mail last week, and I put it on a couple of times but I haven't worn it out on any runs or anything else lately.  I'm planning on giving it a proper test drive this coming week.
I love getting presents in the mail!!

We went on a "daytrip" to see the kids grandma and realized that we can no longer consider 3ish hours according to the GPS to be a "short trip".  Back when we were young and childless we could do this and even when the older 2 were infants we could do this.  However, at 3, 6, and 8 years old this is just impossible.  We have to stop CONSTANTLY for everything from fighting to drinks to snacks to potty breaks to other random silliness ("I dropped my crayon where I can't reach it and if you don't stop right now and get it for me I'm going to throw the biggest screaming tantrum in the world and leave you writhing in pain from a migraine that feels like your head is going to explode").  This on top of gas stops and Nick's diabetic needs and the trip just gets longer and longer.  Getting home at 4:30 AM 2 days before a major race was not my idea of a good time.  Especially when the trip really wasn't for pleasure.  I don't want to get into it any more than that, but lets just say a major part of the drama over the past 2 weeks was family related.

My last week of training and my taper week went wonderfully.  Really.  With all that was going on around me I still stuck to my training plan and got it done.  I ran strong, I ran hard, and then I backed off (or at least tried to) when I needed to.  I felt awesome.  You can read up more on the specifics of my runs on DailyMile if you're so inclined.

Then race weekend happened.  And I will get into that in another post or 2.  I will give you a brief summary, though:

1.  The expo was "ok".
2.  The kids marathon was AWESOME and I am ridiculously proud of Victoria.
3.  My second half marathon went so great I'm still having trouble processing what happened.  I want to get to writing the recap even just on paper first so I don't forget all the awesomeness.  Yes, I PRed. ;)

So, that's a lot of what has been happening in a nutshell.  I'll get on to writing about race weekend and then for my plans for the future.