Monthly Archives: March 2011

Photo Finish and Recovery

I’m still feeling excited about last weekend’s race!  I’ve been searching for more races online.  I have awhile to decide, but I do have my eye on the San Antonio Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in November.  It’s so far away though 😦

There is a 4 mile race this weekend I am considering, but I feel a little uneasy about it.  It sounds like a lot of fun (and the t-shirt is awesome), but I’m worried that I haven’t fully recovered, and I don’t want to injure myself.  I have until Friday to decide, so I’ll see how I feel in a couple of days.

I probably haven’t done as much as I could have during recovery.  Most of Sunday was spent on the couch and I was incredibly sore on Monday.  I was hobbling around all day at work.  It was mostly my calves that felt so stiff.  Tuesday was a little better and today was much better.  Maggie and I took Bailey for a 2 mile walk tonight, to ease back into some activity.  The walk wasn’t bad, but I actually feel a little sore from it now.  I hope this passes quickly!

The official race pictures were posted online today.  While I liked some of the pictures, I couldn’t bring myself to pay the asking price – $25 for one jpeg or $75 for all downloads.  Seriously?!  I need to get into the sports photography business – I could sell mine for just $5-10 and pay for the camera in no time.  Although I’m not going to buy any of these photos, I did snag a few of the proofs to share.

I really look like I’m struggling here.

I love the series of us crossing the finish line.

How much would you pay for race photos?  It’s a good thing Pat was there to take a few “free” finish line pictures 🙂

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My First Half Marathon

The race was awesome!  I loved every minute of it, and I can’t wait to run another.  A lot of training went into this run, and it feels good to say that I am officially a half marathoner.  I’ve been smiling all day!

I was up at 4:45 AM and was moving a little slowly.  I made us each a peanut butter and banana sandwich and rushed out the door.  If it wasn’t bad enough that I was late to pick up Maggie, it wasn’t until I got in my car that I was running on empty.  So we made a quick stop for gas before heading to Sugar Land.  We still made it to the race about 20 minutes before start.  We each took a pre-race Gu in the car and put on our D-tags.  I had pre-race jitters and was so excited to get started.  We got a few comments and cheers on our tanks as we were lining up to start 🙂

Before I knew it, the national anthem was being played, and we were off!  The first two miles went very quickly.  The humidity was about 95% (!) when we started, and I was nervous about that.  I could tell it was harder to breathe, but we took it slowly in the beginning and I think that paid off.  It was a little strange to be running while it was still dark outside, but it peaceful at the same time.

The race course included a 4 mile loop.  We entered this loop during the third mile, and knew we would have to complete the loop twice before heading back to the finish line.  The sun was coming up as we ran through here, and I was surprised to see how beautiful the neighborhood was.  The houses were so big, they rivaled River Oaks (one of the wealthiest zip codes in the US, located near downtown Houston).

The loop wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  There were plenty of spectators cheering along the way and two or three water stations.  Wearing shirts with our names on them was such a good idea.  It was really nice to have people cheering us by name and congratulating us on our first half marathon.  When one woman with young children yelled to us, “Go Jessica!  Go Maggie!” her kid turned to her and said, “How do you know their names?”

When we hit the 5th mile, we took our first Gu.  I didn’t need it yet, but I knew I would.  We began the second loop at little after finishing the 6th mile.  The way the loops were set up, it was hard to tell who was on their first loop and who was on their second.  It was around the 7 mile marker that we realized that the race distance was off.  When we passed what the said was the 7th mile marker, we were actually closer to 6.5 miles according to our Garmin.  As we went by, the volunteer read off, “9:42 pace”… ha!  When we passed the 8th mile marker, though, the volunteers knew they were off and said, “You’re at about 7.5 miles.”  We began to wonder if the race was going to be short, but hoped that these markers were just off.

When we hit 8 miles for real, I was feeling pretty good.  During most of our long runs I hit a wall around 7 miles, so I was impressed that we were still going strong.  At 8.5 miles there was a woman handing out orange slices.  I debated taking one (just think of the germs…) but my craving for the orange juice outweighed any germaphobia, and I ate one.

We walked through all the water stations just long enough to drink our water, but it wasn’t until we finished 9 miles that we took our first non-water or Gu walk break.  Even with the walking, we still finished that mile in 10:20.

We decided to take our last Gu at the next water station we saw, which ended up being just a little past the 10th mile marker.  The crowd had thinned out a lot by this point, and there were not many people close behind or ahead of us.

I really hit my wall around 11 or 11.5 miles.  After mile 9, we started walking once or so per mile, but we tried to make up for it by running under 10-minute miles while we were running.  Around the 12th mile marker there was a guy playing a bagpipe!  But no more water.  We didn’t see another water stop after the 10th mile marker, and that was disappointing.  With the heat and humidity, I really could have used it.

The last mile was kind of confusing.  I wasn’t sure if the race would end early, but I really wanted to finish strong through the last little bit with all the spectators.  So I suggested we take one last walk break around 12.5 miles, to allow us to sprint to the finish, thinking we still had 0.60 miles to go.  Around this time, we passed the guy who came in first place.  He was standing on a corner cheering for everyone else, and I thought that was really cool.  I should have known how close we were to the end! 

When we picked up our pace, we came around a corner… and there was the finish line!  We sprinted to the end at under an 8-minute pace, but it was over quickly.  I thought we’d have a little bit longer to end with a faster pace, but I’m pretty sure the course was short.  My Garmin said 12.74 miles when we crossed the finish line.  We finished in 2:11:12!

The last stretch was so fun.  I heard one lady call out, “You’re not virgins anymore!”  I was so excited to see my husband standing at the finish line with the camera.  It felt so awesome to finish, and I was so happy with our time.  Even if the course was short, we were still on pace to have finished in my original goal of 2:15.  But I think my 1/2 marathon official time still counts – it’s always possible my Garmin was a little off too?  Either way, I love the smiles on our faces as we crossed the finish line 😀

Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:14
  • Mile 2:  10:27
  • Mile 3:  10:25
  • Mile 4:  10:17
  • Mile 5:  10:10
  • Mile 6:  10:32
  • Mile 7:  10:15
  • Mile 8:  10:03
  • Mile 9:  10:13
  • Mile 10:  10:20
  • Mile 11:  10:04
  • Mile 12:  10:21
  • Mile 12.74 / 13.1:  7:51
  • Total:  12.74 in 2:11:12  (10:18 average pace)

I’m really proud that even with our walk breaks, all of our miles were under 11 minutes.  It was our first time running this distance, and I think we paced ourselves very well.  Strong arms!

After the race we picked up a banana and some other snacks, and went to find our finisher’s t-shirts.  I love the red tech-tees they gave us and can’t wait to wear it on my next run 🙂  We didn’t stick around long after that because there didn’t seem to be too much else going on.

The race was so much fun.  I really can’t wait to run my next half.  It might have to wait until the Fall because of the Houston weather, but I definitely plan to do this again.  Thanks to everyone who has followed along with my training.  Your encouragement really does keep me motivated!

I’ve been eating everything in sight and took a short nap this afternoon.  Any tips for recovery after a half marathon?

The Night Before

I am so anxious for the race tomorrow morning!  I’m excited and nervous and wish I didn’t have to go to sleep before we start, because I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to sleep.

I’ve been excited all day – it’s hard to think about anything other than the race!  We went to the outlet malls this morning, and that was a good distraction.  It was the first time in awhile that I had a lot of success there.  Loft makes my favorite petite jeans, and they were all on sale for $20 so I bought 3 pairs, of course 🙂  I also found a dress at Banana Republic.  I had tried it on last time I was there, but decided I wasn’t ready to pay the $80 price tag for it.  Good thing I waited – today it was on sale for $40!

After the outlets, Maggie and I made t-shirts for the race.  We bought tank tops at Target and iron-on letters and numbers at Hobby Lobby.  I love how they came out!

I’ve been doing every thing I can think of to prepare myself for the race.  I tried to fix my shoes after Bailey’s attack.  I think they are still wearable.  I had a hard time re-lacing them because Bailey ate the ends of the shoe strings and they are frayed.  I’m a little concerned about the insole on my left foot.  I put it back in, but it doesn’t feel the same as my right foot does – it feels like it has a little extra cushion now.  Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I hope my stride isn’t uneven because of it.

I’ve been drinking as much gatorade and water as I can stomach.  I have a hard time drinking enough water, but I know I don’t want to feel dehydrated tomorrow.  I put my race materials together and I charged my Garmin until it said the battery charge was complete.  I’ve set my clothes out for tomorrow.  Is there anything I’m forgetting to do??

I made sure to get 8 hours of sleep last night.  I’m going to do my best to get at least 7 hours tonight.  The race starts at 6:45 AM, and we’re supposed to be there by 6:00 AM.  Given that the race is half an hour away, I’ll have to pick up Maggie by 5:30 AM.  Which means I am waking up at 4:45 AM.  Ick.

In 12 hours I will be 1 hour into the race 🙂  Wish me luck!

Shoe Monster Strikes Again

Tonight was the last real training run for me and Maggie before our half marathon on Sunday.  The training plan called for an easy 2.25 miles of speedwork with 4 quarter mile repeats.  That sounded like nothing at this point!

The quarter miles went really well.  Our goal was to run each one at 7:00 or better, and we achieved that.  It felt really good to run so fast, and it’s fun to think that if you put the quarter miles together, we actually would have run a full mile in less than 7 minutes!  Our splits:

  • Quarter Mile 1:  1:43  (6:53 pace)
  • Quarter Mile 2:  1:40 (6:40 pace)
  • Quarter Mile 3:  1:45 (7:00 pace)
  • Quarter Mile 4:  1:44 (6:55 pace)
  • Total:  2 miles in 21:50  (10:55 average pace)

The second quarter mile was a record for us!  This run felt good, but even better when it was over.  I have been in training mode for so long, I am ready for the race to be here!

After the run, a few of us went out for some Thai food at my favorite restaurant.  Maggie and I split my 3 favorite menu items – cream cheese rolls, yellow curry with tofu and pad thai with tofu.  It was delicious as always!  Pat and I came home to a not so pleasant surprise…

I think this was Bailey’s way of telling me that she’s ready for my training to be over so I will spend more time with her.  I think the damage to the shoes is actually less than I initially thought, but it appears that she unlaced the shoes and pulled out the insoles.  The shoes were also soaking wet.  I’m hoping that I will be able to put them back together after they dry.  I don’t know what else I can do – I can’t buy brand new shoes with the race just three days away, and my old running shoes were giving me knee problems (which is why they are retired).

You would think I’d learn by now not to leave shoes anywhere within Bailey’s reach.  But I was rushing to get ready after we finished our run, and I must not have put my shoes in the closet like I normally would.  This isn’t the first time the shoe monster has struck.  She first ate one of my favorite pair of heels.

Not too long ago, she had another opportunity.  We keep a baby gate on our stairs, and Bailey is not allowed upstairs while we are gone.  We just can’t trust her (obviously).  Well one day, someone (not pointing any fingers!) forgot to close the baby gate, and Bailey had a field day while we were at work.  She discovered the bin where I kept all our extra summer shoes, which someone did not close last time they were in it.  When I came home that day, Bailey had eaten 3 pairs of my shoes.  One pair of flats that I really loved.

I will learn one of these days.  In the meantime, I’ll be hoping my shoes are in racing condition by Sunday!

Thirsty Tuesday

The best way to describe my tempo run last night was “thirsty”… I clearly didn’t drink enough water during the day and all I could think about during the entire run was waterThe plan was to do a 4 mile tempo run with 2 miles at or below 9:00.

We ran a warm-up mile and then did our first “fast” mile in 8:38.  The speed felt good and I didn’t feel too tired, but I thought I was going to pass out from the thirst.  It was hot out and even though it was a short run, I was wishing I had carried a water bottle.  After finishing the first mile, I asked if we could pause our watches to find a water fountain.

We walked close to half a mile before finding water and it was so refreshing.  After our short break, we decided to go for the second fast mile.  We finished the second one in 8:29!  I was so happy with our speeds, but I know it doesn’t really count as a record because of our walk break :-p

We finished the third mile near another water fountain and decided to take another water break before continuing.  I was so dehydrated at this point.  When we started running our cool-down mile, we decided to stop at 3.5 miles.  We had finished our 2 “fast” miles and given the heat, it felt like a good workout.  But I am just a little disappointed with myself – I think that’s 3 runs in a row that I have cut short.  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:12
  • Mile 2:  8:38
  • Mile 3:  8:29
  • Mile 3.5:  9:44 pace
  • Total:  32:10  (9:12 average pace)

Only two more runs before the big race!  I’m getting excited!!

Seven is the Magic Number

Because…

Today is mine and Patrick’s 7 year dating anniversary 🙂

I ran 7 miles this morning.

My first half marathon is in 7 days.

I’ll start with the run.  Just like my long run last week, this one was rough.  Maybe I’m just making excuses, but I really think the weather has been a killer for me.  Last week we started the run earlier in the morning.  The heat wasn’t so bad, but the humidity was awful.  Today I thought I would wait for the humidity to go down a bit, and I didn’t start running until 11 AM.  It was only supposed to be 75 degrees or so, but it felt HOT.

I think I started out too fast, but I really don’t think that’s what’s getting to me.  A 10 minute mile doesn’t feel too fast, it feels comfortable.  But after running 10-15 minutes in the heat, my heart rate was up way too high for running less than 2 miles, and I knew it was going to be another rough one.  The walk breaks started during the 4th mile and it went downhill from there.

I took my Gu after completing 4 miles.  I finished my 20 oz water bottle right after that and forced myself to jog to the next water fountain to fill up again.  No matter how many walk breaks I took, I couldn’t get my body to cool down.  And at 6 miles, I quit.

My legs didn’t hurt and I wasn’t out of energy.  I was just hot and mentally exhausted/frustrated, and I gave up.  I stretched and started walking the half mile back to my car.  But I started to feel really angry with myself for quitting, and told myself that if I could just run 1 more mile, I would have at least run more than half the distance of a half marathon.  So instead of turning off toward my car, I took off for my last mile.

Of course, since I was letting myself off with just one more mile, I decided to book it.  I walked two or three times, but even with the short walk breaks, it was still my fastest mile of the day.  When I finished, I considered running/walking the last mile, but I could feel a blister forming on the back of my right foot, and when I looked down, there was blood covering my sock and shoe.  So I stopped at 7 miles.  My splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:03
  • Mile 2:  10:00
  • Mile 3:  10:06
  • Mile 4:  10:34 – Gu
  • Mile 5:  11:27
  • Mile 6:  11:10
  • Mile 7:  9:45
  • Total:  1:13:06  (10:26 average pace)

Looking at my times, I feel like maybe I was too hard on myself.  But I felt absolutely miserable by the end of the run.  The past two weeks have been rough, which makes me extremely nervous for the half marathon next week.  I feel like I’m not going to be prepared.  I hope that by pushing myself through my long runs in this heat, my body will slowly adapt.

Now for the fun stuff – our 7th dating anniversary!  Even though we’re married, it’s still fun to recognize the dating anniversary.  My parents always celebrate theirs, and I think it’s fun.  And since we were dating for more than 5 years before we got married, I feel like it would be sad to not recognize those 5 years anymore.

Usually we go out to eat for our dating anniversary, but it’s been a busy (but fun!) weekend for us, so I decided to make us dinner at home.  We went to Costco today and picked up some risotto packages that looked really good.  To Kim and any other gluten-free friends – this risotto is gluten-free and it’s amazing!

I decided to try the Creamy Parmesan tonight, and just added baked tofu and onion.  I started by preparing the tofu.  I cut the tofu into cubes and sprinkled them with garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

The tofu went into the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Meanwhile, I prepared the risotto.  It was very easy.  I heated the rice in a bit of EVOO and added half a yellow onion.  I then added 2.5 cups water and the flavor package to the pan.  Pat contributed a little bit of butter to the mix 🙂  I then brought the rice to a boil and let it simmer.

I watched this…

become this…

and then added the tofu.

It was that easy!  I also made a side salad for us.  It included spinach, mozzarella cheese and ranch dressing.  I also added grape tomatoes that we bought at the store this morning.  Unfortunately, I thought grape tomatoes would be similar to cherry tomatoes, but I did not like these at all.  Neither did Pat.

Although the tomatoes were not a hit, the risotto was!  After dinner we went to Swirll for some frozen yogurt (I told Tara I was going to get some this weekend!).  I’ve been craving it for awhile now, and our anniversary seemed like as good excuse as any 🙂  I went for a combination of red velvet and birthday cake frozen yogurt, topped with all kinds of chocolate goodies.  No pictures though, because it was a melted mess by the time we got home.

The rest of my weekend has been dedicated to March Madness.  It’s been hard to peel myself away (up until today my bracket was in great shape!), but we did take a break for some fun yesterday afternoon.  We went to the Saint Arnold Brewery near downtown Houston.  For $7 you can sample up to 4 types of beer, and people hang out at the picnic tables there for a good part of the day.  We had been once before, but this time we came prepared.  We brought lunch, snacks and board games.  We played some Apples to Apples, and then we played a new card game called Bang!  I’m so addicted.  Has anyone else played Bang!?

Since this is a super-long post, I’ll leave you with a few questions…

Any suggestions for getting out of my mental slump when it comes to running in the heat?  I’ve been drinking a lot of water and Gatorade both before and after my runs, but it doesn’t seem to help much.

If you’re married, do you still celebrate your dating anniversary?  What do you do to celebrate?

What’s your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt?  I’ve been obsessed with the red velvet/birthday cake mix!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I celebrated today with a nice, green… run.  Another beautiful day, another run in the park.  Tonight we did some of my favorite speedwork:  quarter miles.

I love quarter miles for two reasons.  First, I can let myself run just as fast as I possibly can.  It feels good to put it all out there.  The second reason I love quarter miles is that they are over so shortly.  I put it all out there until I can’t give anymore, and then I get to stop to walk and recover.

Our quarter miles tonight:

  • Quarter Mile 1:  7:30 pace
  • Quarter Mile 2:  7:26 pace
  • Quarter Mile 3:  6:59 pace (!)
  • Quarter Mile 4:  7:03 pace
  • Quarter Mile 5:  7:26 pace
  • Quarter Mile 6:  7:21 pace
  • Total:  3 miles in 33:23  (11:07 average pace)

I know we’re just running for a very short distance, but I was so excited to see our pace for the third quarter mile!  I knew we had set a new quarter mile record when my Garmin beeped at 1:44 for that leg of our run.  My legs were beat by the end of this run.

I’m now relaxing by watching some March Madness 🙂  I hardly watch any sports (and never on TV), but March Madness is my one exception.  Between the bracket competition and the excitement of the Cinderella stories (my undergrad made the sweet 16 while I was in school!) I get really into these games.

Every year my dad and I have a bracket tournament.  The loser buys the winner breakfast (usually at Starbucks).  We’ve done this for years, but last year was my first true win against my dad (I think we tied the year before that – do you remember Dad?)… so this is serious business.

Do you do brackets?  If so, who did you pick for your final four this year?  My picks are Ohio State, Connecticut, Kansas and Florida, with Kansas winning the championship.