The family..

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SouthEast, PA, United States
This Blog is all about me and my life as a mom of a beautiful 9 year old and my dear husband who entertains me as much as my girl does.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shamrock Race - THE MARATHON

RACE DAY -  I woke up feeling awesome. I don't have trouble sleeping pre-race thank goodness.  Grabbed a bagel and could only eat half. No problem, listen to the body. It doesn't want food.  Drank some coffee and some OJ and headed up to hang out and wait for race time.  Our hotel was in a perfect spot so we waited on the balcony to watch the half marathon elites cross the line. They are simply AMAZING to watch.  Then we headed out for the corrals.  I had been obsessing about the weather and the weather channel said 60 and cloudy all day until 4pm.  I ended up wearing my hot gear capris, skirt on top with my compression shirt and another Under Armour hot gear shirt on top of that. Trust me, I don't look good in just compression gear :)  I had bought arm warmers at the expo so I threw those on as well.  It was chilly and overcast, great day for a race.

I met the 5 hour pace girl. She was a hoot. I wasn't targeting a time although 5 hours would be nice so I wanted to know who she was and her strategy.  She was hilarious and told people that she would talk the ENTIRE time so be ready. I lined myself up behind this group and snapped a picture too.

The race started and we were off. I wanted to run by feel but keep myself on the slower side of race pace for a half since I had to do double the distance.  I settled in at a nice 10:40 pace and pulled ahead of the 5 hour group.  No big deal. I was feeling good. Right before the first water stop, the 5 hour group flew by be. I dropped into step with them and they were doing a 9:30 pace - ouch! That was going to kill them.  I let myself fall behind without care.  Turns out they were stopping at water stop #1 so I quickly caught up to them and we tackled the first hill together. The lady was funny and told stories the entire time. Turns out she is a teacher from Pittsburgh who loves to pace marathons and just run. She was crazy and funny. She was still singing and talking at mile 19 - Lord bless her!

So the first few miles were great. Everyone was chatty and I talked with all sorts of random people. I pulled way ahead of the 5 hour group and i felt great. I maintained 10:40 miles and was sailing through the first hour. I fueled as planned. Gu and water at 4.5 miles. I carried my own Nuun to avoid the Gatorade so I sipped that as needed.  The sun came out strong at mile 6 but I was hoping it would go away soon. The part of the course that went through the coast guard base was inspiring and I was zipping through all those men in uniform giving them high fives. I had to slow myself down then since I looked at my watch and was doing <9 min miles. Stupid adrenaline. I really do feed off a crowd.  I hit the next water stop and was off again.  At this point we were back to the bridge and I stopped to walk up it while I let my husband know I was headed back towards him. I was 10 miles in and loving it.  Getting a bit warm though.

After we got back to the beach side we turned and headed up the boardwalk. This was hard. The wind was strong and so was the sun. I learned the ocean isn't that scenic anymore when you are fighting your way into the wind. There were 2 girls I was pacing behind and all of a sudden the one girl yells "ouch" and jumps off to the side. Oh no, looked like she cramped. I hope she made it back out there. I never saw her again.  I made it off the board walk and found my hubby! I gave him a kiss and handed off my arm warmers and kept on running.  I hit the half in 2:24. Not bad at all. About 7 minutes slower than my half PR but I wasn't aiming for a half here.

The next few miles I slowed down a bit. I was averaging right around 11 min miles.  Looking good. Starting to get tired but loving the crowds and loved watching the runners coming back to the finish.  The sun was getting hotter and my stomach was not happy with the liquids. I drank some Gatorade and probably shouldn't have so now my stomach hurt. At mile 17 I started to to take walk breaks. I defaulted to a run 3 min, walk 30 secs, run again pattern. This was working for me although this gradual uphill was tough.  I kept passing and being passed by the same people.  I was hanging tough and my muscles were tired but not revolting. Chalk one up for me.

The course through Ft Story was a sauna. I'm sure of it. The sun was beating down and I couldn't get enough water to pour on me. I kept up the run walk pattern, texted a few people, and even took some pictures. I was enjoying this thing anyway.  The bananas being handed out by the Ft Story crew were a God-send and it felt good to have something in my stomach that was solid. I had stopped consuming liquids at mile 18 due to the pain so I devoured the banana hoping it would help. I think it did, eventually, at mile 25 :)  I pushed through the rest of Ft Story and was grateful to turn for home.

The last few miles were tough. I was tired and SOOOO hot. I was cursing the sun. Stupid weather people, what do they know?  I kept going with walk run walk run walk run with no care for time. The 5 hour group caught me and passed me in mile 19 and I didn't care at all.  As we came down to the last mile there was a Superhero water station that I was eternally grateful for in addition to a Live Strong group that even made me a quick poster with my name on and Ran with me for a few steps. That was just awesome!

I made the final turn on to the boardwalk and the finish line was SO FAR AWAY. 8 blocks really - but damn!  I was tired but I couldn't walk now. There are people watching. Yup, I guess I am influenced by other people.  Darn Peer Pressure!  So I kept running and running and running. Then I saw my husband and he took my picture then joined me on the course. I had to ask him to leave because he was making me cry and I already couldn't breathe!  He was so awesome to do this for me.  So I kept running and I made it. I really did.  I crossed the finish line. I had run 26.2 miles in 5:13:37.  It is something incredible and unbelievable and amazing. It was hard and it was worth it!

Shamrock Marathon Weekend - Part 1

I did it, I finished my first marathon!  So I am re-capping all that went on before I forget all the small stuff that made it an awesome experience.

The race was being held in Virginia Beach. I choose the Yuengling Shamrock marathon last October. I had decided earlier in the year that 2012 would be the year I would run my first full marathon. I was focusing on Marine Corp in DC in Oct. 2012 but while training for the Hershey Half in the heat of summer, I decided there was no way I could handle marathon training.  The search began shortly after that and I decided a spring race was the answer.  I was coming off half training in Oct and I could simply jump right into full training.  I picked VA Beach because #1 - It's Flat and #2 - we love that beach and area.  The downfall was the race was ON my husband's birthday. He happily agreed to let me run on his birthday and I signed up.  Uh oh, guess I was doing it now :)

The training went well. I wasn't focusing on speed, just finishing so there wasn't a lot of pressure. Leading up to the race I was obsessed with the weather. Remember, I picked this race because it's in MARCH and it's supposed to be cool. Not 70 or 80! Each day the forecast fluctuated until it settled on 60 and cloudy. Whew, I can handle that.

We arrive in VA Beach on Friday and checked into a hotel at 31st street. I had picked a hotel as close as I could get to the finish and start lines.  My husband was running his first 8k on Saturday.  We went to the Expo, which was packed, and then grabbed some dinner before heading off to bed early.  There was a passing rain storm Friday evening and my husband was a bit worried about running in the rain but it cleared out in no time.  The next morning we woke up, grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and headed out to the starting line - directly in front of our hotel. My husband was a bit nervous but I dropped him off at his corral and moved down from the start to take pictures.  It was really odd to not be the one racing. I wanted to a wear a big sign saying "I am a runner too!". I saw numerous folks watching the 8k wearing full and half race shirts, I think they felt the same way. The race was awesome to watch and the wheelchair division made me tear up each time I saw them. It was awesome to watch them race by either in hand crank cycles or with someone pushing them. My husband did awesome in his race and NAILED his time. He had just run his farthest race at his fastest pace.

We spent the race of the day lounging around, doing a bit of shopping, went back to the expo, and grabbed some awesome BBQ.  Off to bed early again - I had a huge day in front of me.

To be continued.....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lenape Survival Challenge

One of the races I was looking forward to this spring was the Lenape Survival Challenge.  It is described as

"A unique two person team event that begins with a 4.5 mile
run through the scenic hills of Schwenksville, followed by a
.5 mile run/climb up and back down Spring Mountain, and finishing
with a 2.5 mile canoe race down the Perkiomen. "

I wasn't worried at all about the running part in the beginning. The mountain was going to be walked up no matter what (although my partner is MUCH better at walking hills than I am), but the canoe, now that is a different story.  We got there bright and early and people started asking us if we were ready to get wet. Apparently everybody falls in the river.  In addition, there are several parts where you have to navigate the rapids with the dive team standing by who will rescue you if you go under three times. Nice to know they let you suffer first before they save you.

The race started almost on time (amazing for any race) and we took off up the first of many hills. This course is not flat by any definition. My partner was awesome and we went right up the first, then the second, then the third hill.  We passed so many people who dropped to a walk while we held it steady up those hills.  We were doing awesome for a pair who was concerned that we would finish last.  The 4.5 miles went quickly and soon we were at the bottom of the ski resort, Spring Mountain.  Here is where I got tired. Walking quickly uphill is not easy. My partner, Jodie powered ahead and I did my best to stay with her. We passed 3 other teams on the mountain. At the top we turned and ran down the steep hill into the valley again (okay I kind of jumped down and almost walked in a few steep spots versus run but I got down).  Now the fun part was set to begin.

We rounded the bend and ran to the canoe launch point. We donned life vests (thank goodness for those) and tentatively stepped into the waiting canoe.  We had a quick 5 minute lesson before the start of the race with a guy standing on a picnic table pretending to paddle. It wasn't quite enough.  I had NEVER steered a canoe before and I was in the back so it was my job.  We zig-zagged down the river and crashed into some trees twice. I just couldn't get that darn thing to turn.   Eventually I figured it out (even though 2 other teams passed us) and we were headed down river.  The rapids were approaching and we were nervous.  The girls in the canoe in front of us almost flipped and I quickly turned to the left of where they went down hoping for a better path. I was also heading for the divers, just in case.  We made it safely down the rapids and grounded out on the other side but we easily pushed off and were on our way again.  We succesfully navigated several more obstacles like trees and rocks and other rapids and were elated with our acomplishment. We even had time to pose for some pictures along the way. 

As we approached the end, we had to go under a bridge and head for the bank on the left to exit.  At this point we were so confident and distracted by the finish line, that we didn't see the HUGE rock under the water. We hit it and flipped sideways. The life vests are awesome and my head never went under.  All I could think was "Wow that's cold water!" We popped back up and grabbed the swamped canoe before it could go downstream without us.

We had no way of getting in the canoe or getting the water out, so we towed it to the exit. It was a bit scary as other canoes careened into us but the guy at the ramp finally helped me flip the canoe and empty it. We carried it up and out of the water and across the finish line!

We had finished in 1 hour and 32 minutes which was well under out goal of 2 hours. We were wet and cold but estatic. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 5K time falls ..

I have been striving to reach my 5K goal for quite some time now.  It is Not easy to take time off of 3.1 miles. That is a lesson I have learned well in the past year.  I came so close last November with a time of 30:30. Ugh that last 30 seconds has been haunting me all winter.  This spring, I once again signed up for the running class here at work. Not so much for the techniques and tips but for the constant challenge the coach provides.  In my "what do you want to get from this class survey", I answered "Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes!"  Coach Jen was determined to make that happen for me. She pushed me on my times and said things like, "That was great, I know you can be faster", all the while encouraging me.  So last Thursday night (the day after our final class), I headed out to a local no frills, cheap entry fee, 5K to see what I could do.

I was feeling okay heading out. I had skipped the gym during the day so I had fresh legs. I was nervous about a race at night (first time for me), the wind (the finish was into the wind), a course I never tried before, going alone, and most of all failing.  But it is better to have tried and failed then to never have tried at all so off I went.  I got to the place with only 20 min to register and find my way to the start. There was no parking and I had to park far away and jog up to the registration table. Luckily they had 3 people efficiently working the sign in table so I was through in no time at all. I traded my $10 for a chance at my goal!  I decided to do a warm up jog because it was freezing and windy outside so I headed across the grass and down the trail for a bit and then headed back to the start. We lined up, listened to the usual rules and guidelines and we were OFF! 

I was in the mid-back of the back and I hit go on my watch as we crossed the start line. I was stuck in a huge mob of people with no where to go and i was beginning to panic. I really wanted to have a good start to get a lead on my time goal.  I looked down after a few hundred feet to see what pace these people were making me run only to be surprised that we were doing 8:14 and I was flying along with them without even caring.  Woohoo, off to a good start. We crested the hill and things began to thin out and I could settle into my goal pace. I wanted to maintain a 9:30 pace so I settled in at about 9:25 for a bit of a cushion.  I was off and running.

The first mile wasn't bad and I was settled in and going with a bunch of people. There was still some dodging and passing to do but not too bad on the rail trail we were on.  I the 1 mile split, the man yelled out 9:25 as I passed.  Awesome time considering I was a few seconds behind the real clock on my start time.  Mile 2 included the turn around which is where the hill is on the course.  I ran up the hill and talked myself through the recovery at the top to the turnaround point at 1.55.  It's a pure out and back which means a 180 degree turn around a cone at 1.55 miles.  I turned around and picked up the speed to head down the hill.  I had to make up for the drop in pace that hill cost me on the way up it.  As I came back to mile 2 the split said 19:07.  So I was slowing down a bit but my goal was still within reach!

Mile 3 was the hardest.  Always is.  I was trying hard to keep my pace up but my legs were wearing out at this point.  I was consistently passing and being passed by the same man who was run walking (or more like sprint walking) and it became a game for me. Hear him coming, speed up, he passes me, he walks, I keep going at a slower pace, repeat.  Funny the things that entertain you on a run.  As I came to the final bridge crossing with 0.8 miles to go the wind kicked in.  I knew I was in trouble when I felt my legs blow backwards on each forward step.  Oh no, not now.  I said a quick "please God", dropped my head, and pushed into it.  The final path back takes you through a parking lot with cheering fans (love you guys!) and then up a hill to the final small drop off to the finish.  I was pushing as much as I could now. no time to look at my watch, just had to run!  I pushed up the hill to the crest and I was so happy to see the clock say 29 something at the finish line ahead.  I dug as deep as I could and ran down the slight hill and pressed stop right over that line.  My Garmin clocked me at 29:46!  I had done it! I finally broke the 30 min barrier!

Pure joy was mine :)

Now I wonder if I can break 29:00......

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Family event!

This past weekend was the first official race of the year. To make it even better, it was a family event.  I convinced DH and DD to run the 5k too.  My husband has been doing awesome with his running going from couch to 5k in only 10 weeks!  Woohoo - go honey!  This is even more shocking because he has not been consistent with exercise programs in the past. 

In addition to DH, I convinced our 8 year old daughter that she could do the 3.1 miles also.  She is a swimmer and plays soccer so she has base fitness but running is a whole new beast. She had started training with us but got knocked done by a bad cold and cough so her running time was limited. She only had a few mile, mile and a half sessions in prior to race day.  I told her I would stay with her no matter what and that we could walk, the only goal was to finish!

A mile into the race she was doing awesome and passed the split at 12:00 min exactly.  She was beginning to feel it though with her "I don't think my little legs were meant to go this far Mom" comment.  After tht first mile she decided she was dying of thirst and of course I didn't bring any water but the water sation was at the 1.5 mile mark. Let me tell you - that was a long half mile.  She made it to the lovely lady with cups of cool water and downed hers and mine.  It refreshed her and we were off and running again. Mile 2 was mostly down hill so it was an easy break. We walked, jogged our way to a 26:00 min split at mile 2. Slowing down but still moving along.  Mile 3 is of course uphill and this is where it got tough. It was a very long mile for her and at this point she got mad at me.  She thought the race should be shorter and I was talking too much! So to prove her anger, she ran up the hilly parts and walked on the flats. So there Mom!  Gotta love the mind of an 8 y.o.  The final challenge was a significant uphill (which she ran up of course) and ended up with a tear generating side stitch.  We walked it out and then headed for the finish line.  Her teacher also ran the race and he came back out to cheer her on in that last stretch and made her feel so special.

She crossed the finish line in a full out sprint and finished in 40:54.  She did an awesome job and she was so happy to just finish it.  We went and congratulated Dad who rocked his first 5k and finished in 35:28. On the way back I stopped by the results board in time to see them fill in DD's name for 1st place in the 9 and under girls age group.  I told her that she won and then the tears started.  That trophy was the best thing ever for her. She worked really hard to get it and has been beaming about it since.  I'm glad someone in the family gets awards for running!