Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day

In order to gain extra insight and encouragement, during my C25K program I started following runners and runDisney fans on Twitter. It is fun to be able to bounce thoughts or questions out into Twitter-World and actually get responses and feedback. (It's also seemed like a better idea, posting to Twitter, than barraging all my Facebook "friends" with my crazy new obsession.) Lots of these new Twitter friends are from Florida, and surprisingly enough there was good few I was following from the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers group, which I found out about later. Through Twitter chat, I decided to join Marcia (@TravelEatRun) & Genna (@RisforRunning) and sign up for the Clearwater Turkey Trot Challenge on Thanksgiving morning.

Genna, myself & Marcia (Thanks Marcia for sharing the photo!)

What I failed to realize until about 12hrs before this race was that "The Challenge" consisted of a 5K, a 1mi AND a 10K. I didn't really think about all of this, I was on a running high...I was officially a half marathoner and I could do anything (HA!). We all managed to find each other before the start of the 5K and it was refreshing to meet some Twitter folks in real life...and have faces (and voices) instead of just words.

The Turkey Trot itself was insane. There were SO many people participating. Then there was no rhyme or reason to how everyone lined up for the race. All participants (fast/slow runners, walkers, stroller pushers, children) were grouped together. The 5K began and we got separated VERY easily in the crazy sea of bodies, trying to weave in and out and around slower participants. Marcia introduced me to Rachel (@RunnersTales), another runDisney fan, and we managed to stick together. Conversation was super easy since we both loved Disney and were training for some of the same races.

With 3.1mi completed, we circled back around for the 1M run. Marcia was gracious and ran a bit slower so I could keep up with her. The road was just as crazy with participants, us weaving in and out and around. We thought it would have been better if the race organizers could have suggested that the slower participants & those pushing strollers or pulling wagons.

After 4.1mi done only the 4th day after 13.1, I realized I had made a mistake in registering for the entire challenge. There was no way I was going to be able to run another 6.2mi. I wished Marcia good luck and headed home. It would have been so great to socialize more with Marcia, we were both training for the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon in January, but it was still early on Thanksgiving morning and a full day was ahead.

My mom's side of the family all gathered for Thanksgiving Dinner. This was the first time since Christmas 2007 where none of us were missing. Since neither my cousin John nor I live in the Tampa Bay Area, it's been difficult for us to coordinate our Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays since Matt & I rotate those holidays between both of our families. Since 2007, my grandmother has been blessed with 4 GREAT-grandchildren!
 November, or Movember as we now call it, is an extra fun month is our house because Matt grows a mustache to help fund-raise for prostate cancer and bring awareness to men's health. Matt formed "Saved by the MO", a team of six, and together they raised $621 throughout the month. With 22 days of mustache growth, it's amusing how you can barely see much growing on three of these four guys below!

Written: March 14, 2013

-Do you participate in Thanksgiving Day events? Do you participate solo or is it a family affair?
-Does your family get together for Thanksgiving? Is it a big affair like my crazy family, do you keep it smaller or does your family do something entirely different?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hi! I'm Jill & I'm a RUNNER!

Back in June I started the Couch to 5K program. I had attempted it before and got too eager, and failed. This time around, I wanted to succeed so I followed the program nice and slowly like it suggests. On a few rest days, I did take a spin class until about halfway into the program where I had to run more. I didn't want to get so sore to where I'd lose momentum. Along the way I signed up for my first 5K, because I knew I'd be more likely to quit if I didn't have something I was working towards.  Around the Week 4 marker, I treated myself to a real pair of running shoes. The Brooks Ghost 4s were a huge improvement from the old, cheap shoes I had AND I was wearing the wrong size! Who knew? At the end of C25K I logged a total of 56 miles and completed my first 5K on August 18th. It was a downhill race, so you're time is actually faster than a normal 5K (accept this one had TWO hills I walked up) but my time was 00:35:41 and a great starting personal record.
Again, knowing races would help me continue running then I registered. I ran The Mud Crusade in September with two mommy friends in Atlanta. It was definitely an experience!! We took this one slow, as Julie was injured, and we had to wait a few minutes at each obstacle. A bunch of husbands and wives are signed up for the Warrior Dash in May 2013 so I'm looking forward to that race!
In the search for Fun Runs, I stumbled upon The Firefly Run to be held in Atlanta in early October. This race has lots of energy, and with it being a night run lots of glow in the dark and flashing lights. There were music stations set-up throughout the race and some runners dressed up in costume which kept my amusement on high alert. I guess I should have started blogging about my journey into running months ago, because now I cannot find my final time for this race.
All this time, I had been dreaming about running Disney. Come on, all the Disney Magic into a race, where do I sign up!?! Well, somewhere along the line, I learned the WDWMarathon was going to be celebrating it's 20th Anniversary. This sounded like the ultimate Fun Run! On Labor Day, I decided on The Princess Half Marathon in February, which is also the 5th Anniversary celebration of this race. By this time I was already following lots of runDisney fans on Twitter and read through lots of race recaps of the Disneyland Half Marathon held Labor Day Wknd. I just couldn't help myself, and as the registration filled up for the WDWMarathon, I got more and more anxious (and impulsive) and jumped right on in!

The excitement of registering for the WDWMarathon set in immediately...slowly the nerves and anxiety started to emerge. What did I get myself into? Would I be prepared? I don't want to be picked up by the sweepers! The more I read through training guides and runner blogs, I decided it might be best to look into a longer (not 5K fun run) to help better prepare myself to runDisney. I found the Lady Speed Stick Women's Half Marathon which coincided with our Thanksgiving travels to Tampa.
I truly felt unprepared going into my first Half Marathon. I knew I could & would finish, but had no idea what to expect from this race. In October I only logged 43.67mi, but according to my training schedule I should have been over 100. I visited an orthopedic after having some weird feelings in both my knees. Luckily it's nothing serious, I was given a few stretches to do daily, a prescription anti-inflammatory and doc recommended trying to ice my knees multiple times a day. I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to injure myself during the race. 

I really enjoyed my first race expo, although it was smaller than I was expecting.  I got to check out a few different brands of race apparel and found myself a cute shirt to commemorate this race. From this point, I put all negative thoughts aside and pushed forward because I was going to finish a half marathon!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My 1st Half Marathon!

My alarm went off way too early, I rolled out of bed eager to get dressed and head from Odessa to St. Petersburg. Matt was a trooper, he decided to escort me to the race. Since this was my first big race, Matt suggested I get a photo in front of the start/finish line.

One of my Alpha Xi Delta sisters from Auburn was also running this race and it was fun to find her before the race. It has been MANY years since we've seen each other but try our best to keep up with each other on Facebook & Twitter. Cindy was also in town for Thanksgiving & ran the 5K with a family member.
I headed to my corral where I stayed near the side so I could wear my jacket until the last possible second. The wind coming off the water was crazy! Since I'm a rookie, I didn't know anything about throwaway clothes or wearing a garbage bag to fend against wind chill. Soon enough, it was time for the race to actually begin so I handed over my jacket and kissed my hubby goodbye (for good luck).

I knew I could run an entire 5K without intervals so I decided I would run straight through for the fist 3.1 because I had read it always takes a couple miles for the crowds to spread out. As all the corrals moved forward at the start I saw a sign that said "Run like there is wine at the finish!". At 7:16am, I was slightly over a mile in and two of the cutest grandmas PASSED ME! I could not believe it. 

Now when you look at my split times, you'll see where this wasn't the best idea. I mostly train on a treadmill, so when I get out on the open road I do not know how to pace myself! I do not average an 10-11 minute mile pace, more towards a 12 (or closer to 13 when running intervals). I obviously was not pacing myself properly!
Miles 4, 5 and 6 were a much better pace for me, at this point in my training. I even found a nice interval pace around some other interval runners. One woman had "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13" on the back of her shirt and I just kept reciting it over and over to myself.
Around Mile 6 I noticed my iPhone battery was in the "red zone". I was using my iPhone to supply tunes, run Nike GPS, tweet mile markers & thoughts and text Matt my whereabouts so I knew when to look out for him. I decided to turn off the music at this point, it was smart but I really missed the distraction.
Mile 7 & 8 were rough, the course took me down the St.Pete Pier, all the way around the building and back up the pier. The wind was CRAZY! I felt like I was running super fast but I was barely moving. It took a lot out of me. I was worn out and I still had to run all the way to Tropicana Field. Somewhere in this stretch I spotted Meghan, she looked great! I was very envious; I had been reading her blog and following her training. This was not her first Half Marathon (she was also training for WDWMarathon) so I reminded myself I only started running 5mo prior and pushed on.

Cindy planned to meet up with me around Mile 10 or 11 and she spotted me after my loop around Mirror Lake, I think I was walking as much as I was running at this point. It was right before Mile 10 when my iPhone completely died. I wasn't prepared for this, at all. Cindy & I walked a bit together, it was a nice break & she had some wonderful encouragement to share with me. We parted ways and I proceeded on towards Tropicana Field.

I finally made it to Tropicana Field and while it was cool to be running ON the field, the air in the building was stagnant. I couldn't breathe and decided to soak it in and walk it. Between 1st and 2nd base, the Sweaty Band crew started to pass me (they were running intervals too) so I decided I should try to use their timing since I had no way to pace myself. We eventually parted, I was exhausted and there were fewer racers on the course, though I could see I was still ahead of plenty of them (which made me happy that I wouldn't be finishing last).

It took all that I had to run the last half mile straight. As I got closer to the turn from 1st Avenue to Bayshore Drive, I could make out a recognizable voice. This voice was my mother, she was screaming at me...I ran faster to get away from her. I could see the finish line, then I spotted my dad, Matt, Abigail & my nephew Will, so I waved and sprinted to the finish. That's me in the teal shirt, saturated with back sweat. Gross.
My split times were a lot different than what the Nike GPS App on my phone had me at. Overall, I was proud of my average pace, it was what I was hoping to achieve but really had no idea after those last miserable three miles.
I am so glad I ran this race. This Half Marathon was intended to be a learning experience for me and it truly was! I was under trained for this race and I know I can do better, but I finished. In my book, finishing IS winning!
Written: March 12, 2013

-Have you ever raced purely for it to be a learning experience? If so, what did you learn?
-If you are not a runner, have you done something to help you learn and grow so you can plan how to move forward?