Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Hip Don't Lie :(

So I've been reading running blogs for a while. And I'm a pretty faithful commenter if the writer complains about an injury preventing them from running. Reason being: I've been THERE. I had to stop jogging my senior year of college when I had a sharp pain in my right knee. This was never officially diagnosed... I had a PT at my church look at it... and she said it was either due to a slight tear in my meniscus or a tight IT band. RICE [Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation] thankfully healed it. But that doesn't mean I wasn't dramatic about it as I sat around icing and propping up my knee. I may or may not have secretly cried that "I'd never run again." Um it's not like I was wounded in battle. Or was in a debilitating accident. I just needed to rest. Luckily it healed before I got to the "Do You Wanna See What My Life Is?" point ;)

I guess I've been pretty fortunate up until now. I've read about other runners' injuries and I only had the minor soreness, aches, and pains that come with training for a half marathon. I left encouraging comments and trained away. Probably two weeks before the half my right hip started getting kind of sore but it wasn't bad enough to prevent me from running or something I noticed once I had warmed up. I felt SO GOOD on race day. And although it wasn't a PR for me... the 2010 Shamrock Half is the best race I've had so far. In terms of not running out of steam and level of fun. I want to get back to that point. Where I'm drinking a Yuengling on the beach feeling like I've come so far.

I'd say my "overall soreness" was probably less for my 3rd half...BUT...for the first time I had pain in specific areas after the race. My left foot and right hip were sore. I vaguely remember twisting my foot weirdly when we had to run onto the grass to let an ambulance through. I almost bumped into someone...so I'm pretty sure that was what was up with that. And luckily that pain is gone. My hip was sore for the 10k... I took some Advil before the race.. and really it was the least of my worries if you read THAT race report. Initially I thought maybe the 6.2 mile run helped get out the kinks...
but I tried running yesterday on the treadmill and I realized...I need to take a break from running :(

I did one mile in 9:55 and my hip was sore the entire time. I could feel myself limping/altering my stride. I then did a mile and half on the elliptical. (I HATE the elliptical. I know most people love it. They should be glad I'd never fight them for it.) And then I did 7.5 miles on the bike. This didn't really seem to irritate my hip, thankfully.

But... I think I need to take an entire week off from running. I'm currently Googling treatment for a sore hip flexor. I don't think this is anything that a break from running won't cure. But if anyone has any insight...or preventative exercises I can do... I'd appreciate it.

Realistically, I'm probably due for a running break. I was diligent about training since the end of December. I'm "listening to my body" so things don't get worse. And waiting until I feel better to sign up for my next half. This might be the Marine Corp Half. Or might be a race in June. We'll see. And if any one "isn't feeling it" about going running this week...just think I'd kill be to able to cover those miles!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today Was a FAIL

My girl Taylor Swift has a song out right now Today Was a Fairytale.

I like it...but it couldn't be a further from the truth if I were describing the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k. More like "Today Was a FAIL."

Really, I'm being dramatic. But as fun as it is to read great race reports, admit it, sometimes its more exciting to read about an "off day."

So, I developed a cough on Monday. Not sure if this is due to a cold or allergies. But it doesn't sound good. I had been taking Advil Cold & Sinus, but I ran out of that on Thursdsay. On Friday my friend Melissa (who I signed up for the race with) called me to let me know she couldn't run the 10k anymore because she has Tonsillitis :(

My right hip and left foot are still hurting from the half marathon :-/ A normal person would just raise their imaginary white flag and say "I surrender." Oh no, not I. I decided I'd survive. I asked my friend Rebecca if I could run with her family. We tried to meet up, but it was just too many people and it didn't work out.

It took me 3.5 HOURS TO DRIVE HOME ON FRIDAY. (It should take 1.5-2 to get from DC to Richmond, VA. On Thanksgiving it took me 3 hours, so that length of time is absolutely ridiculous not being a holiday. I heard a street sign fell down on the beltway near where I live. So let's partially blame that.) My original plan was to go to the race expo before March Madness even started. The Ohio State-Tennessee game started before I made it to Richmond :(

When I finally got to the expo it was around 8:10 P.M. The Expo ended at 9:00 P.M. so I didn't have high hopes my size shirt would still be there. I got a "leftover" 2009 bag and a size large t-shirt (I ordered a small). I know it's my fault for not getting there earlier, but at the same time I paid $30 for the race...which should have communicated to the race organizers "Order Me a Small T-Shirt" and "I need a 2010 race bag." I guess races are really like flights and they are "overbooked" to cut costs. At least in this economy.

The weather was expected to be a chilly 35 degrees F at race start. I didn't have an Under Armour top so I decided I was going to try to buy one Friday night. I got to Dick's Sporting Goods at 9:40 P.M. Wouldn't you know Dick's actually closes at 9:30 P.M. FAIL. I decided I'd check Target for a knock-off variety. Target only had running tank tops.

I settled on wearing one of my brother's snow boarding shirts and went to bed.
I probably should have acknowledged a pattern of "Hey, nothing seems to be going my way." But it wasn't until I was actually participating in the race...that I realized overall this was not going to be an enjoyable experience for me. Even if it was for the majority of people in Richmond.

Mile 1
I had a spot at the beginning of my wave. I took off trying to run at a pace I could "maintain the whole race." I looked at my stopwatch at the mile marker it said 8:44. "Oh shit" was my only thought. "I need to slooooow down." I wanted to average about 10 min/mi until the end.

Mile 2
I hit this mile around 19 something so that was more "like it." The only problem was my calves felt tight AND I started coughing uncontrollably :( I wasn't "fine." I was sick. I paused for a second to stretch my calves on the smallest curb I've ever seen and kept running. After going a little bit farther still coughing I thought "What am I doing? This is dumb. I'm going to make myself more sick than I already am."

I was on the left side of the road at this point. I couldn't believe this was happening. I basically meandered aimlessly to the right side of the road (in the middle of tons of people trying to do the 10k in about an hour. One guy almost hit me.) Once on the sidewalk I started unpinning my number. Not that you have to take your number off to quit, I guess it was symbolic? Or I was embarrassed to be wearing a half marathon t-shirt and quitting a 10k (whether coughing fits were a good reason or not.) And I guess I was discarding the fact that my spandex and shoe chip were dead giveaways I wasn't a spectator. I walked the opposite direction of the race toward the starting line for maybe 10 steps.

I THEN thought about my friends asking me about my finishing time. This blog. Getting a DNF. And how hard it would be to find my parents. Sadly it might have been the difficulty of finding my parents that really pushed my decision over the edge. But I did come to the decision "I'm too stubborn to quit." I pinned my number back on with the three safety pins I still had, did two very deep lunge stretches on the sidewalk, and started running (in the right direction).

I think I thought I was at the 2 mile mark... I didn't realize I was actually pretty close to the 3 mile mark...

3 Miles
I hit this at 32:something. The 5k mark according to race results says 33:08. That's SO BAD! But in my mind it was all now a numbers game and I could work with it. I had to beat the 1:05:45 I got last year six days after the Shamrock Half and I would at least know I had improved.

4 Miles
I think my watch said either 42 or 43. I decided I needed to drink something. I forced myself to drink a cup of Powerade then kept running. This must have helped with my cough. Or I just blocked the fact that I felt bad/was coughing out of my mind temporarily.

5 Miles
Right before I saw the mile marker I saw a friend from college spectating. I told her "I feel like crap" [With a smile on my face. I couldn't help but be amused at how ridiculous this little race had become for me] her response was "You're almost done!" TRUTH. I think my watch said either 52 or 53 minutes.

This race wasn't about a PR. It was about finishing in less than 1:05 and not getting something even worse.

I told myself I was going to walk briefly at the 5 mile mark and then give it everything I had to finish. Which is what I did.

The whole time talking to myself (I'm pretty sure out loud. Ahh..I'm such a NERD.)
"Come on Meredith. You've got this! Only one more mile. This is what you wanted to do at the Shamrock. Take off. This is your chance. One more mile"

The weird thing is the Monument Ave 10k is more of a "community race" than something the majority of participants take seriously. i.e. (Finishing is more important than finishing times.) A lot of people sign up for the wrong "waves" and had run out of steam at this point. Some were walking right in the middle of the street with iPods on. Others weren't running very fast. I was weaving around all of these people. I at least realized "I know how to finish." I went as fast as I could (not 8:44/mi fast. But I think my pace had to have been under 10:00 min/mi... since I finished in 1:03:14.)

6.2 Miles
I for a second almost cried happy tears when I saw the 1:03 on my watch. I was so glad to be done. And I had beaten my time from last year when I just jogged the thing 6 days after a half marathon. Obviously, I have it in me to do better than this. And better than my PR from college of 1:02:54 (since unpinning one safety pin could have taken up to 20 seconds...)

But, all things considered. I'll take it. I'll sign up for a 10k that doesn't fall the same week as a half and hopefully I'll be well next time. Until then, I'll take it!

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I had ran since the half. I went on a 2 mile run Wednesday in 19:12.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shamrock Half Race Report

After the race this past weekend I realized there was NO WAY I could only write one post about the Shamrock Half.

I did a 1,2,3, punch of posts on Monday about:
Did I mention yet how much I LOVE THIS RACE? Maybe because it was my first half. Maybe because I think Yuengling is delicious. I'd have to say [nationally] this race is REALLY a hidden gem. We get running magazines at the gym where I work. The Rock n' Roll races and Disney races tend to get a lot of advertisement. I'm not actually sure which company puts on the Shamrock but I know it's different than the company that does the VB Rock n' Roll. As far as I know... this company puts on the Virginia is For Lovers 14k and Blue Moon Wicked 10k. I'm not sure what else.

I'm a big "holiday" person. I guess I never fully grew up because anything that involves dressing up/themes/or costumes sounds like a great idea to me! I think part of the reason I like the Shamrock so much is there is a VERY clear theme going on in this race. The race technical shirts are green, so even people who didn't go out and buy a green running outfit are "dressed up." That said: A TON of people dress up for this race. At the very least a green shirt. Many more go for goofy costumes. I have no clue how they do that for the full 13.1 miles. But its one of those things where you are scared you could look stupid, until you show up at the starting line and then start questioning what ELSE you could have done to be more festive/tacky.

There were 4-5 DJs along the course and a Live Band. The crowd really gets into it! For example there were a bunch of teenage girls spectating dressed up as super heroes. A guy in a Banana costume. And a few "beer stands" along the way. (We opted to pass on the beer until the end). There's also quite a few signs with fun phrases on them. Basically, just as you are starting to get bored, something is ahead that interests you. (Not quite the band at every mile that a Rock n' Roll race would have, but still a fun and VERY FLAT course.) The race starts on one of the main streets in Virginia Beach (Atlantic Avenue), goes onto what looks like a closed off interstate(Shore Drive) then you run through a base (Fort Story), past a lighthouse where you can see the water, through the neighborhood streets on the base, then back down Atlantic Avenue, before your turn to finish on the Boardwalk.

The finish line celebration is superb. There's a huge "party tent" on the beach with a live band. You can have up to four free Yuenglings or Yuengling Lights on draft. There is Irish stew. And you are on the beach. Really I can't think of more that I would want. Except maybe a long sleeve finishers t-shirt!! And THAT was what they gave out this year instead of a lunch box!!!

The race also emphasizes "going green" and has made a lot of green efforts. If you are into that sort of thing.

On the morning of the race we woke up at 5 AM and starting getting ready. We found one of the most random radio stations ever to listen to. One of those "we play everything" stations. So I got ready to songs I hadn't heard in a loooooong time.

Oh and I had my half marathon breakfast of champions:
Vitamin Water XXX and a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar

I discovered a year ago this works well for me and I'm a creature of habit.

I drove us all to the starting line with these pre-race Jams blaring:

Bad Romance
Tik Tok
Party in the USA
Ride Wit Me
Sweet Caroline

One of my favorite things about races is probably the car ride there with music blaring when "normal people" are sleeping. I always have too much adrenaline to realize I'm tired or for it to feel early. Parking was a bit of an issue. We had to park 10+ blocks from the starting line and got to the starting area later than we wanted. We were in the Port-a-Potty line when the National Anthem was sung and the "Elite" runners started. I think we actually ended up starting with Corral 5 (instead of our own Corral 4). Not that it matters because of the shoe chip.

Mile 1:
We took it easy. Just chatting away. There were lots of people around us. It felt slow to me, but I knew I was running at a slower pace than I had been training. I looked at my watch at the 1 mile mark...never before reaching the marker. I did a [mental] Janice "OH. MY. GOD." when it read 11:45. There is pacing yourself and then there is running entirely TOO SLOW. This probably happened because of the mass of people/starting with a slower corral.

We passed the first of a few "beer stations" that had been set up along the course.

*Also worth nothing, Meghan and I do a Hi5 after every mile. We each take a turn on top then fist pound with an explosion :)

Mile 2:
The only thing I was thinking about was getting our time more "on track." Even though Meghan wasn't worried about time, I wanted us to finish in under 2.5 hours. The main reason being that I think if you run "too slow" it really just makes the entire experience more painful/longer than it needs to be. Once we could see the mile 2 marker we kind of sprinted to it. My watch read 22:something. My thought was "Okay, that's better." We were now going at a faster pace.

Mile 3
A DJ was playing the YMCA. This was really fun since everyone still had a ton of energy. Picture yourself in a pack of runners (all wearing green) doing the YMCA. That was me.

Mile 4
The Biggest Loser theme song was playing? Kind of cool since I love the show. It made me wonder if a previous contestant was running the race. Then the thought crossed my mind if one wasn't...WHAT was this DJ trying to say....regardless Meghan and I ran by waiving our hands in the air and got a shout out from the DJ

Mile 5
My favorite mile! There is a live band that plays Irish Pub Songs. I got a compliment on my hair from some random runners. One told me never to dye it. "I said I'm not. Then it wouldn't fit the theme of this race." This got more laughs than one. I didn't really think my comment was all that funny so running boredom must have been beginning to set in.

Mile 6
Boom energy gel was passed out! I think the race info said it was supposed to be at mile 8. This was really surprising. Meghan and I each frantically grabbed a Watermelon gel for later. There was also a DJ playing Eye of the Tiger. That song could never, ever get old!

Mile 7
We were now running on the base. Meghan and I did our signature singing/screaming of "Whoaah we're halfway there. Whoaaah living on a prayer. Take my hand and we'll make it I swear.Whoaah we're halfway there!" This actually pumped both of us up. And I think the people around us.

Slightly after mile 7 was the first time I drank something :-/ I skipped the water station at mile 5. I wasn't that thirsty yet, not thinking I'd have to pass the mile 7 mark before I could get Gatorade. I chugged this and felt sick for one second. Then I kept running.

Mile 8
I ate my Boom! gel for the course of this mile. Watermelon was a good choice because the flavor wasn't too strong. I was starting to get hungry at this point. There was a girl who had gotten sick on the side of the course and an ambulance was called. We ran on grass for a little bit to get out of the way of the ambulance. Once we got back on the road we saw our friend Sarah. The lighthouses were fun to look at from this point of the course.

Mile 9
We stopped at the waterstop. I drank water this time instead of Gatorade. After the waterstop we lost Sarah. BUT we saw my parents! We also talked to this guy running in a beer bottle costume who tried to card me. I told him to look at my shoe tag.

Mile 10
Meghan and I did a "HOOAH!" cheer in honor of the Army 10 miler
We saw my parents AGAIN. They had gotten in their Jeep and driven down to the next mile. I wasn't expecting that.

Mile 11
Guess who we saw? My parents. I can't believe they were at three different spots! There was a sign that said you're almost to the beer. I also sang one line of Don't Stop Believing. We met two ladies in their 30's who are running partners. Meghan told one it was her first and last half marathon. One of them said "Never say never." I said I'd never do a full and my friend pushed me to do the Marine Corp Marathon. She was wearing a 26.2 shirt.

Mile 12
Meghan and I sang a little Party in the USA. Meghan started to tear up a little when she realized she would actually run the whole race. I kept screaming "We're almost to the beach!" "We're almost to the beach" "You look awesome!" "You're so hardcore!" "You are SO legit."

A random girl from NJ started talking to us. She said she loved our halfway point song. It helped her. And she had lost her friends. This was her first half. I started telling her she looked awesome too. The course turned onto the boardwalk! 6 blocks to go! A spectator was chanting "Yueng-ling!" "Yueng-ling!" "Yuneg-ling!"

Mile 13-13.1
We sprinted. Meghan sprinted FAST. Haha. I sort of wasn't ready for how fast she decided to take off. I was lost in the realization "Oh my gosh. I could keep going! I'm only stopping because the finish line is there." I'm not sure how much farther I could have ran but my guess would have been at least 14 miles. Or to the 15 mile mark.I felt great! I had been jogging at a slower pace than I usually do. We finished in 2:26:32 (Chip Time). That was 45 seconds faster than I did it last year and I felt like I was on a jog. Not about to cry/die.

This was my first taste of "I should go for a full." I know I'm not fast enough yet. Or mentally ready for this commitment.But I've said I want to do one in my lifetime and for the first time it truly seemed possible!

After the race I had 1.5 beers and ate the vegetables/meat out of my stew. The first Yuengling I POUNDED. (Whoopsies.) My friends were taking slow sips and mine was gone ;) One beer after a race is so refreshing much more after that makes me start to feel gross.

We hung out on the beach for a little while. And took fun pictures

I'm for sure doing this race again next year. I still haven't decided IF I were to commit to a full which race I'd pick. Originally I was thinking a Rock n' Roll could be exciting. Or Disney. And the MCM gets a lot of praise. But honestly, I love the Shamrock so much that might be the full marathon I'd pick. Not sure when. But if anyone is looking for a full marathon to sign up for next March... Based on the half experience I've had, I'd say the full has to be double the fun. And wow, Yuengling really does a great job of marketing itself. It's everywhere in this race.

I'm pretty pleased I had enough energy to be a goof the entire time and didn't burn out. I'm still smiling thinking about Sunday!

Monday, March 22, 2010

So What Now?

Besides the Monument Avenue 10k this weekend?!

I'm thinking spectate (or run) the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in April. It's sold out but I DOUBT it is on Craig's list. I really am DYING to spectate a big race though!

And register to run the Marine Corp Historic Half in May. I already know one girl who is running this race. I'm going to have to get faster if I want to run with her.


...Oh and the Shamrock Race Report is coming later this week!

"Run a race with a friend...."

There's a very good quote I've heard---
[I guess from teachers. When I Googled the exact phrase the first link was an education website]

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

So true. They left out the importance of being able to crack open a coconut. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is about more than just education or nutrition.

Tell a friend good luck and they'll eventually cross the finish line; run a race with a friend and they could become a distance runner for life. At the very least they'll remember it for life!

I realize I'm not that fast of a runner naturally. Sometimes I don't even think of myself as a runner because I've yet to get an "official time" that sounds impressive. But you know what I have my treadmill times. And I know I've done 2.5 miles in 22:10 and 3 miles in under 26 minutes. And 6 miles in under an hour.

I think I was nervous about the Shamrock because I didn't KNOW if I was trying for a PR or going to have a "fun race." And what would happen if I started with a "fun race" mentality but then my friend I was running with needed to walk and told me to go on... would it be too late to PR? I think a PR was definitely within my grasp but if I didn't start the race with that mentality there was no way I was going to realize my full potential. So was it even worth it? If that happened I'd want to do another race this Spring anyway.

Ideally, the Shamrock would have been the race to try to destroy my PR.
1) It's flat as a board. (There was some joke about a "heartbreak hill" on the course. I'm not even sure where that joke could have been referencing as a slight incline.

2) I was familiar with this course. I ran it a year ago and could recall the course in my head.


4) The weather was perfect! It's not hot or humid yet in VA. But, I didn't have to wear running pants. And we couldn't see our breath in the AM like last year.

5) I've been training pretty hard. Probably harder than necessary "to just cross the finish line."

6) Not that I could have known this ahead of time but I "felt great" the entire race.

That being said... I LOVE Running. The Race Bug has bitten me for sure. I'm slowly but surely finding more friends to run races with...but I don't really have a friend who is slightly faster than me and could push me in a race. I have friends that blow my times out of the water and would never want to run with me. And friends that are less experienced than I am (which is a really weird statement to be making, but I guess I should just embrace it). So as I work to get faster I can either run races alone or run with friends at a speed that is slower than the one I've been training at.

I get the whole "running is a sport. Break your PR. Break your PR again and again mentality." If I didn't I wouldn't be reading running blogs, a book by Hal Higdon, and making myself sprint last laps at a speed of 8.5* on the treadmill. *If you're really fast just read 8.5 as 10 or higher.

BUT, I can see all the positives that running has added to my life. I would be a completely different person if I didn't run. And I know this because I never ran in high school. I feel like so many American's aren't tapping into the benefits of running. I wish they would because in addition to the whole "obesity thing" being a non-issue, I personally find that the mental health benefits and increase in energy are the best rewards.

I'm not saying if you're hardcore and have never ran a race with a "newbie" stop the hardcore training. But I have to say words can't even describe the feeling of jogging next to a friend who is about to cry happy tears at mile 12 when they realize they are actually going to complete their first half marathon without walking. Or when a random girl runs up to you at mile 12 and thanks you for the "Living on a Prayer" sing-a-long you started at the halfway point. It "really helped her" and she wants to finish the race with you because she lost her friends in the course of the race.

That was what I was blessed enough to experience yesterday. And I'll never forget it! Who knows how many races I'll do this year or in my lifetime. But, moments like that are what it's all about. I think running can be a pretty intimidating sport to a "newbie" or someone who doesn't run period. Luckily I've had some great encouragement from more experienced runners than myself and I do my best to keep that "Chain of Love" going whenever I can.

So proud of this girl! She accomplished a life goal yesterday!
If I'm being honest one of mine after we ran the Army 10 together was probably to be by her side to see her complete a half ;)

Shamrock Half Race Result!

Okay, so I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I said NOTHING about my goals for the Shamrock Half Marathon. The reason being that I originally signed up to run this race by the side of my friend, Meghan. It was her first half. I did the Army 10 Miler with her in the fall when I was training for the OBX half.

In DC, all the snowfall that we had made getting to the gym pretty difficult here over the winter. Meghan wasn’t able to train as much as she wanted. I think the longest run she did before race day was 8 miles.

I didn’t want to leave her side. But I also didn’t want to walk. PERSONALLY, I don’t think I would have been able to run an entire half marathon with only one eight mile training run before the race. Up until yesterday I’ve also only ran half marathons alone. So maybe that’s why in my mind this seems pretty impossible/painful. And she did at least know what it’s like to complete a 10 mile race…..

I showed up in Virginia Beach on Friday night to pick up my packet from the expo. I finally got a race technical shirt that fits me (third half’s the charm!) I also bought a Shamrock Half Marathon T-shirt and shot glass. Last year I NEVER would have spent the extra money, but I knew I really liked this race and figured I’d advertise it to everyone I see at the gym (and anyone who asks me for a vessel with which to measure their liquor.) My three friends who were doing the race (MEGHAN, Sarah, and Caitlin) weren’t coming into town until Saturday. I used Friday night to catch up with some friends from college/watch March Madness.

On Saturday the four of us running the race checked into the Homewood Suites in Virginia Beach. It wasn’t ocean front (about a 15 minute drive to the starting line). But it had a special rate for Shamrock runners. We each paid $22 for a room with a kitchen, king size bed, and queen size sleep sofa. The hotel also had a free breakfast (that started early on raceday), pool/hot tub (Score!), and offered us a late checkout for free. I’d totally stay there again! For whatever money the hotel lost offering a cheaper rate it must have gained in loyalty by catering to the needs of runners!!!

Some of the hotels I researched online were requiring a two night stay for a discount or increased their rate because they knew a lot of people would be needing a hotel during what is typically their “off season.” Side Note: There is NOTHING that irritates me more than people who try to make a buck off of the running community (which is known for being friendly) and [most-likely] do not run races themselves. GRR. It makes me want to scream at them “Get off you’re ass or stop acting like one!” Not like I’ll ever encounter them. But that’s my opinion of greedy hotel owners and the people putting premiums on race bibs on Craig’s List.

Anyway, after checking into our hotel. We went down to the beach. Then we checked out the race finish line. The marathon bananas, pretzels, and bottles of water were already sitting out. We also saw a Yuengling truck making a delivery! It was a really warm day so Meghan and I didn’t bother to bring sweatshirts. As soon as the sun went down we realized this was a mistake and we’re both the proud new owners of VB souvenir shop sweat shirts. Mine’s black. Probably not something I would have bought otherwise. But, I’m sure I’ll laugh every time I wear it. And any piece of clothing that makes me happy is a worthwhile purchase.

We went to dinner at Giovanni’s Pizza & Pasta. Besides an understandably long wait for our food, (everyone and their brother (who was a runner) wanted pasta in an area known for seafood) I was pleased with this restaurant. We ordered three very different dishes [seafood Alfredo, pasta with meatballs and tomato cream sauce, chicken cacciatore] and all were delicious.

This was actually my first time EVER carb loading with pasta before a race. I’m weird and don’t really like pasta all that much. I might do it again. Since I felt great during the race…

After dinner it was more March Madness at the hotel (let’s not even discuss the bracket I made with Kansas winning it all) and I went for a dip in the hotel hot tub. I met two runners from OH-IO (a mother and daughter)…then it was bedtime. Right before bed Meghan told me

“I’m glad you’re doing this with me. This is one of my life goals. I’m nervous but excited to make it happen.”

Ironically, I had ran the most halves of anyone in our group, and I was the one who slept the WORST. I’m mostly blaming allergies/excitement but in the tossing and turning I decided..

“I CAN’T leave Meghan. There is NO WAY I can leave Meghan. I’m trying to run 4 of these this YEAR. This may be the only half marathon she does in her LIFE. I’m going to stick with her.”

Meghan (and I) ran the entire race in 2:26:32.

45ish seconds faster than I finished the race last year.

45ish seconds slower than I finished the OBX Half.

I have so many things I want to share that it’s going to take more than one post. BUT for those of you dying to hear a result. There it is. Oh and here is the four of us in a pre-race picture at the Homewood Suites on Cleveland St.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Here We Go!

To a non-runner tapering probably sounds like the greatest thing ever. "You can finally be lazy!" Personally I don't like it.

I dislike tapering for a few reasons:
  • I tend to naturally lose a few pounds in the course of training. Not running much for a week and having an appetite like I still am chalking up tons of miles is annoying. Yes I know, I know. I'm going to go run 13.1 miles on Sunday. This time around I'm actually making a point to eat pretty healthy. I guess it's just a will power thing. And opens my eyes to the fact that running really is the only reason I can eat whatever I want. (Sigh).
  • The combination of increased nerves+decreased endorphins is not fun. My body has spent the past two months getting really used to a routine. Having to rest more than a couple days makes me somewhat cranky. Then without a long run to calm my nerves. I get more nervous about the upcoming race. I realize I NEED to rest for a week, but all I want to do is fast forward to race day. Patience. It's a virtue. One I'm still looking for ;)
  • Again with the food. I have to think about if it could potentially upset my stomach on race day. Even if my non-running friends want to eat wings and brownies when we get together on Friday night, I won't be touching them.
Okay, so maybe tapering isn't that bad. But it's just different than "taking a relaxing week off" or going on a vacation. It's a physical break not a mental one.

Something that has helped TREMENDOUSLY is that I'm tapering during an exciting week. St. Patrick' Day+ March Madness=Distraction city. If this were an intense week it may have been hard to get all the miles in.

I ran last Friday and Saturday. Then ran Tuesday and Thursday. My goals for Tuesday and Thursday night were geared toward pace.

Tuesday's have typically been my "long run night." I decided to make Tuesday my most intense workout of the week. I think some people don't do more than a 4 mile jog when tapering. Mentally I needed something a little more challenging to feel confident going into race day.

I had planned to run 4-6 miles. That afternoon the 11 year old I baby-sit on a whim wanted to go on a run. She NEVER wants to run. I really wanted to be like
"SHHH! Not while I'm TAPERING!" But I usually have to beg her to go on a 1 mile run, so I agreed.

Then that night I went to the gym. I did 4 miles in 38:10. Went to the restroom. Then ran another mile in 8:52.

Thursday I ran 2.5 miles in 22:10.

My main goal for this week was that every distance I ran I wanted to push the pace since that's what I hope to have the energy to do toward the end of the half. We'll see. Knowing I can run that fast is at least a confidence/endurance boost. And with that I'm off to VA Beach!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tapering...and Being RANDOM

This is my taper week...well I'm officially tapering for 9 days before the half marathon.

Last Friday I ran 3.5 miles.
Saturday I ran 4 miles.

I haven't ran since Saturday.

Tomorrow night I'm running again. The most I would do would be 6 miles in an hour. I think I'll set the treadmill at a pace of 6.0 and just see what happens. I know I need to "be good" but doing a run somewhat like I described would help me mentally if I feel up to it.

Since crickets chirping is really all I have to report on my runs the past two days, I figured why not post 10 Random Things about me like Adam (sort of) tagged me to do a week ago. When I started this blog.. I didn't tell anyone at first...then I only told close friends and family.

I'm pretty excited to now have you Randos (aka. followers/bloggers I've never met) reading my blog :) You all offer running advice, the least I could do would be give you a little background into who I am!

10 Random Things About Me

1. If you haven't clicked on my Twitter link..I should start by saying my parents weren't Hippies/Pilgrims/Native Americans/or New Age activists who named me "Inspired." My name is Meredith. When I started doing long runs I got a Product Red iPod requesting that Apple engrave my name on the back as:
me(RED)ith gail

It's pretty convenient that I have red hair and red in my name. Hence the inspiration for the blog name.

2. Red is also, conveniently, my favorite color. For the majority of my childhood I liked blue. When I was a Freshman in college I decided I was sick of blue and red was a lot more exciting. Certain shades of red don't look all that great with my hair...but overall it's just a much "happier" color to me than blue.

3. I'm a huge fan of iTunes. The post I'm currently most proud of is this list of songs about running. I wrote it last week then burried it with posts about my training. So, if you'd like to at least "browse" 30 songs about running. Go here.

4. I've been jogging recreationally since I was 18. In college I ran all the time but usually 2-3 miles. Occasionally I'd push myself to do a 5 mile run and I completed a 10k. My senior year of college and first year out in the real world I met more and more people who had done long distance races of 10 miles or more. I decided I too wanted to get serious. THEN I found out how much fun endorphins are after runs of over an hour. It was like falling in love with running all over again. Or on a deeper level.

5. I'm currently nannying/apartment sitting/and working at a gym to be able to live in Northern Virginia. I came up here originally for an IT Consulting job... when Shit Hit the Fan with the economy... it also did in my...life? I was laid off and running is one of the only things that has gotten me through that. It still is actually. I guess "It Wasn't Personal. It Was Just Business." But let me tell you, when that person is YOU... it's pretty personal. I've since decided I'm interested in doing gym membership sales. So it probably was a blessing in disguise. Now I just have to realize that dream in 2010.

6. I gave up candy for lent this year. So far I've cheated 3 times. I had a Jolly Rancher when I had a sore throat. One tangerine Jelly Belly at my friend Rebecca's house (I really can eat just one). And today I ate a Lindt truffle. I was having a bad [enough] day to not even realize I cheated on Lent with a piece of Lindt. I feel like I was so unintentionally creative it doesn't even count. I'm going to add it to my exceptions list.

Gum, One mint after a meal, Chocolate Chips, Chex Bars, Yogurt Covered Pretzels, Fruit Snacks, All Other Sweets and Baked Goods...
One freebie "Lindt" candy.
It's still challenging me because I like chocolate. And I'm not eating chocolate chips from the bag. Only if they are in things are they okay.

7. I've lived in Virginia my whole life. I grew up in Richmond, VA. Went to school in Harrisonburg, VA at James Madison University...one of the most friendly/fun places I've ever been. And now am living in Northern VA. I do NOT wish to settle in VA. But I am making the most of it for the time being.

8. Summer is my favorite season. HANDS DOWN. I like Spring because it means Summer is coming. Fall is permissable because of Football, my Birthday, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Winter is a pretty depressing season for me. DC this past year had record snow fall. That WAS a little annoying but really it's the cold weather that bothers me. I do not think I had any more hatred for this winter than last winter. It's the season not the precipitation I dislike.

9. I'm a Cliff Bar Addict. (There could be worse things.)

10. I wear Asics (I'm still trying different styles). The gel seems to make this brand most comfortable for me. I will not buy them accented in only blue. Just because I think that's boring. The first pair I had were accented in purple. Then I had red+navy. Then orange+rose. Now pink.

And this isn't a "Thing"...but here's a picture of me...not in running gear. I'll have enough of those to post when I write my first race report! Oh and if you haven't already done this (and want to)...TAG! You have an excuse ;)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

26.2 [Weekly] Miles!

There really must be something to the idea of cutting back your weekly mileage before an increase. Last week I ran 17 miles. I didn't even make it to 20. But I was feeling so burnt out I knew this decrease was necessary.

This week (Friday, March 5- Thursday, March 11) I ran 26.2 and felt great for basically all of them! I'm pretty sure this is the most miles I've ever ran in a week, so for symbolic purposes I ran the distance of a marathon rather than just 26. Yeah I know, I know, if I were training for a marathon I'd get up to like 40 miles in a week. But this is a fun mini-accomplishment for me.

Fri, March 5: 4 miles
*Note what you are about to read is not a reenactment. It is THE realization I had while typing this post.
Sat, March 6: 10k ........AHHH OMG DAMMIT. I forgot I went on 10k and 5k runs this week. I was just adding them in my (Elementary School Level Math) [Running] Head as 6 and 3 mile runs. I went on a symbolic weekly distance of 26.5 miles :-/

*I then Googled this. I'm considering ordering the workbook from Amazon. It would give me something else to do on the treadmill. Either way the dog looks like it enjoys running which I can relate to. And there are probably pictures.

Sun, March 7: 5k
Tues, March 9: 11 miles
Thurs, March 11: 2.2 miles (20:32)..I think

For a grand total of 26.5 miles.
That's kind of a lot!

Now I'm all set to taper. (I actually don't really like tapering all that much. I may post about that.) I feel like March is flying by! I know I'm ready for this race but it's weird that it's almost here. AGAIN.

3 Halves in 365 days. A year ago I thought I'd just do one...A year ago this blog had come to a halt...A year ago I was on a completely different career track...and as tough as this past year has been

I can say running has been a constant. And I have had some experiences I wouldn't trade for the world :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This is All So Crazy!

Tonight I did something new. I went on an ELEVEN mile training run. Previously, I had only run eleven miles(without stopping) in an actual race.

This was much different than my attempt last week. This was my "last chance workout." The Shamrock Half is less than two weeks away and I will not be doing another super long run between now and then. I knew that I wanted to do eleven miles without stopping. Oh and my friend Meghan ran on the treadmill next to me! So I wasn't alone.

I ran at a pace of 10:30/mi for the first nine miles. Mile 10 was probably around 10:15. And Mile 11 was 9:58. So I did 11 miles in roughly 1:53:00. I don't have an exact time because the treadmill stops you after an hour. And I was trying to do the addition in my head.

My muscles felt great endurance wise. Unfortunately my stomach started aching around mile 4. I actually didn't drink a thing until I had run 7 miles. Usually I drink something after 5ish miles. I knew that drinking anything before 7 miles would only make my stomachache* worse.

*These weren't the kind of cramps caused by dehydration. And it is possible for both males and females to experience the kind of pain I was in. I wanted to avoid a bathroom break until after the run if at all possible. And I managed to. My logic was that I've pushed myself through a 3 mile run in pain* before. So if I made it to 7 miles I could do that again, and cut the run short at 10 miles (if I had to). I took another "Gatorade Break" after 10 miles. For a split second I really thought about stopping. Then I realized I had it in me to keep going. I started running again.

At this point I had already told my friend Meghan "bye." She was done with her run and leaving. I was at 10.12 miles when Meghan ran back over to my treadmill. She was like "MILEY IS ON!" (The gym was playing Party in the USA). Meghan said "You are meant to run this mile tonight!"

Talk about encouragement! (I took out my iPod headphones at this point.) Party in the USA is one of my running jams. I think Miley is actually singing about running. And the Jay-Z song she is rocking out to is either Run This Town or 8 Miles and Runnin'. Without question.

I didn't even feel tired until after 8 miles. At 9 miles I was starting to feel it. Same with 10.
11 wasn't AWFUL but after Miley's song was done, the last half mile was kind of long. I'm hoping for a half marathon finish that is less painful this time around.

I've introduced speed work, more weekly mileage, and an 11 mile run to my training plan.
Only time will tell!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Running iTunes: Running Songs

Lately I've done a lot of posts documenting my training, which is all fine, well, and dandy.

[Last night I did a 5k in 29:19! I'm pretty stoked because that was more of a brisk jog than me truly pushing myself for 3 miles. And unless I ran a tenth of a mile in 19 seconds...last I checked I'm not Kenyan...I did 3 miles in under 29 minutes!]

But, I really want this blog to be more than just a documentation of my training. So without further ado, have you ever tried to Google running songs?

I HAVE. And it's just not that easy to find a complete list of songs ABOUT running. Or even a LONG list. Results usually lead to some message board or Yahoo answers with responses like:
"Born to Run, Ready to Run, Running Down a Dream"

and that's it. Yes those are good songs, but I wish someone would take some time to sit down and make a legit playlist. I can't be alone in this, so here is my stab at it ;) You can listen to this playlist at the bottom of the post! (I wish I could have put it at the beginning, but it was creating too many blogger errors that way.)

Side Note: I don't think I could actually run to an hour of songs about running. But I REALLY like adding a FEW to my running playlists because they pump me up. The nice thing is the more running related songs I compile, the more songs I have to pick and choose from!

I even grouped these songs!

Slower/(Good for Easing into a Run)
-Ready to Run
-Take Me Home Country Roads
-Thunder Road I'm currently obsessed with this one. Probably because I've already listened to the first two more times than I can count!
-When the Sand Runs Out
-So Moved On This is my pre-run "pump up song!" I frequently blast it on my drives to the gym. I love OAR. And at 3:21 they actually sing "It Felt Good to Be on the Run!" Kind of weird that a song about getting over someone is my jam. It's the only OAR song about running, though..I think.
-Down the Road I just love Kenny Chesney.
-Speed I already posted this song on my blog. Not a bad thing to listen to if you need to get in the mindset of a speed workout!

Songs I'm a Huge Fan of Running To
-Born to Run If anyone ever runs a long race where this song ISN'T playing, I'd like to hear about it! At the OBX Half this song was played on repeat for like 15 minutes before we started. Good thing I love The Boss...but, hey, I also love variety. It's like the party my friend went to in college where everyone got excited the first time Jesse's Girl came on. Then the guy DJ-ing thought it would be funny to play it 15 times in a row....actually I probably would have thought that was funny if I had been there.
-I Run to You I'm obsessed with Lady Antebellum. Need You Now is my favorite song of theirs. I Run to You is a close second.
-Red Dirt Road Oh Brooks & Dunn. WHY is this your last year on tour?! The fact that this song is upbeat and is decently fast makes it great to run to!
-5k One of the few "Indie Songs" I'm aware of and listen to frequently. Pretty awesome!
-Long Road to Ruin Proof that my musical tastes are all over the place. I get just as excited by this song as I Run to You. Lyrics include: "Runnin' through hell"
-Wild at Heart "You got me running baby..." This song basically compares falling in lurve to running!
-Check Yes Juliet Is it bad that I only recently discovered this song through a Google search? I probably should have had it on my iTunes long ago! "Run baby runnnn!"
-Here It Goes Again Treadmill music vid!
-Rocky "Gonna Fly Now" I've decided I have to do a race in Philly at some point. I've never even been to Philly!
-If You're Going Through Hell If you've followed my blog at all you know I love running to this song.
-Run It C-Brown. The role model from VA. NOT. Still a good song (Just don't tell Rhianna).
-Runaway (Love and Theft)
-Run this Town A good running song by Jay-Z, however, my absolute favorite of his is:
-8 Miles and Runnin' I couldn't find it on Playlist.com, but if you go on runs of at least 8 miles this is worth getting off of iTunes!!!
-Hit the Ground Running Keith. Enough said.

Maybe a Little Bit of a Stretchh
-There She Goes Girl Power Song? Just try to block out the ballerina on the birth control commercial (if you've seen that one) and picture a girl running fast.
-No Reins For some reason this song really paints a running image for me. No reins, a wild mustang running through a field. Either it will do the same for you, or I'm just weird.

-More Running Songs

If I'm being honest these are songs I'm a little less excited to run to. I've arranged them in descending order of my excitement. I realize everyone has different tastes though....

-We Run LA
-Who Run it
Actually this is only here because I discovered this song when writing this post. It's silly enough that I'll probably run to it to mix things up! I love songs that "the person on the treadmill next to me would never guess I'm listening to." They make me laugh.
-She's a Runner
-Running Down a Dream
-Keep on Runnin'
-Runaway (Bon Jovi)

I Personally Couldn't Run to These...

But maybe you could? They aren't peppy enough for me. I'd rather listen to Lady Gaga or Miley...even if the songs aren't specifically about running.

-Runaway (Linkin Park)
-Easier to Run
-Running Away
-Run to You (Bryan Adams)
-The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Great song! Not workout material, IMO.

Okay...so if there is anything you think needs to be added to this list, tell me! Finally a Google search of running songs with more than 3 listed!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Cornucopia of Things

I have a BOUNTIFUL list of things to share with you all.

i.e. A LOT OF things to share with you all.

Topics include:
  • Even Stevens
  • "Mental Health [Running] Days" aka. "Running Hookie"
  • Weekly Recap
  • My treadmill 10k time
Even Stevens is a Disney Channel show I grew up on and where Shia LeBouf got his start. My favorite episode of all time was "Broadcast Blues." I suggest watching this video from 2:15-3:35....(It's funny! And really worth it to fully understand this blog post).

When I was in high school a guy I know actually used cornucopia in a history essay and our teacher circled it in red ink asking him what he really meant by this word. This was about a week after this Even Stevens episode aired and anyone who had seen it about died laughing listening to this kid try to explain himself.

Before I get to my recap for February 25-March 3.... you may have noticed I've been pushing myself pretty hard the past couple weeks (despite having a cold.) Luckily that cold is finally gone! I was quite upset with myself for only doing a nine mile run without stopping last Tuesday. Nine is better than 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, or 8.....BUT it's NOT eleven miles without stopping and I think if I wasn't so damn lazy before a half marathon (actually went on runs longer than 10 miles) I could have a much better time.

I'm not even sure if my last post fully conveyed JUST how frustrated I was with myself. BUT after taking the normal day off on Wednesday, I decided Thursday to play "Running Hookie." People sometimes take "Mental Health Days" from work meaning they don't go to work but they aren't "sick." After my nine mile run I decided I needed a "Mental Health [Running] Day." Thursday I would have done at least 3 easy recovery miles to bring my weekly total to 20+ miles. Instead I drove home to Richmond to see my family and we watched The Office: Baby Episode together.

Last week I ran a grand total of 17 miles. That's the lowest weekly mileage I've had in who knows when. HOWEVER, I'm trying again for an 11+ mile run this Tuesday night and I figured I might as well rest a little before I make this happen.

Last Week:
2 miles
4 miles

11 miles
(9 miles+1 mile+ .5 mi + .5 mi)

That looks so measley, but when it gets to the point where I'm not having fun anymore, that's what I need to do. Take an extra day off to update my iTunes and remember just why I enjoy running.

So Far This Week:

I did 4 miles on Friday. It wasn't a terrible workout. I was mainly concerned that I didn't feel that great.

Today, however, I FELT GREAT. I ran a 10k (on the treadmill) in 1:02:10. THAT'S FASTER THAN MY RACE PR! And honestly I wasn't even pushing it when it came to pace until the last mile. I ran the first 5 miles at a speed of 5.8 or 10:20/mi.

I'm already up to 10 miles for this week! And have plans to meet my friend Meghan at the gym on Tuesday night. One piece of advice I always tell myself is "listen to your body." Typically this applies to joints, bones, and muscles. If something hurts it's time to stop running. However, I used it this past week MENTALLY. I realized I was completely drained and needed to recharge...before a final push (and taper)!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

11 Miles. Piece of Cake.

Hahaha. Yeah RIGHT!

IF I can ever say that, maybe I'll actually feel like a runner. Actually if I can feel like that after a half marathon that would be a huge accomplishment. I've decided that I'm just not a naturally athletic person. I'm 5'2" and basically have no coordination in terms of team sports. I love watching them, but besides one season of softball (that I'd rather just forget completely), I never played a sport growing up.

Try as hard as I can, any run beyond 10 miles is really hard for me. Oh wait, I'm also not even running "that fast." I like half marathons because of the medal. And that people cheer for you. The more fun the race, the more excited I am to sign up. The free beer at the end is enough to make me keep running after mile 11. But after last night I'm really debating if I should even have a full marathon as a life goal*. Maybe, I should just accept the fact that I'm not naturally athletic enough to make it happen during my lifetime. A full marathon would be much more of a struggle for me than someone who has played soccer their whole life.
*I will revisit this thought after I run the Richmond Half Marathon in November (i.e. After a year of solid training.)

Anyway, last night I set out for the gym with a goal that I was going to run at least 11 miles. Tuesday night was the only free night I had this week for a long run. So I knew if I wanted a long run this week (Um. DUH) it had to be Tuesday. I spent the majority of the day feeling nervous about running 11 miles/pissed that I had to run 11 miles on the treadmill. I LOVE running, I just knew this workout was going to suck and I wasn't looking forward to it. At all. It helped that the Ohio State-Illinois basketball game was on at 9. I even had something I cared about on TV, so really I had no excuses.

Last night I ran 9 miles without stopping. I'm not sure about the time. I started at a 10:30/mi pace and sped up to at least 10:00/mi for the last mile. Basically what happened was that at 8 miles I realized I wasn't going to make it to 11 miles without stopping. I just "wasn't feeling it." Not sure if it was boredom running that long distance on my own, the fact that the basketball game was almost over and not even close, me being moody, or me just being lazy.

Anyway, I felt good about doing a 9 mile run, but decided I should do at least 10 miles. After taking a five minute break, I ran an additional mile in 10 minutes. Then after about a 2 minute break, I did two half mile runs, each in under 5 minutes. With about a 1 minute walking break in between.

Basically, I decided that I should get my body used to what it feels like to recover from an 11 mile run. And if you look back in the archives of this blog, the long run+a little more at a faster pace is the method of training I seem to be using this time around. I made this up on my own. Haven't seen a plan that suggests this. But I haven't looked at a ton of plans either. The other thought I had was that the past 3 weeks I did a 8.5 mile run, 9 miles, and 10 miles. I think it's okay to revert back to 9 this week before going for 11+ next week.

Next week is my last chance before I have to start tapering. 10 will happen regardless of if I keep going after that.

Oh and good news I'm really not that sore today!