Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 : Year in Review

What. A. Year.

2012 was a great year of running for me, but 2013 was even better! So many incredible miles run and races completed.  I finally broke out of my 1:30 half marathon plateau, and am hopeful for a PR in 2014.

Yearly Mileage
2010 : 1088 miles
2011 : 1447 miles
2012 : 1363 miles
2013 : 1490 miles

My highest mileage month in 2013 was March, with 172 miles.  My lowest mileage month was November, with 90 miles.  June had exactly 100 miles, and only the last 2 months of the year were less than that.  

2013 was my highest mileage year, and held the greatest number of races I've ever done in one year : 16. 7 of those races involved PRs of some sort.  And instead of running 4 half marathons like I did in the past two years, this year I ran 7, three of which were under 1:30.  

2013 PR List
 5k : 2 PRs
4 mile : PR
10k : PR
13.1 : 2 course PRs
15 mile : PR

I didn't PR in a marathon, but I did finally get around to running my 2nd marathon.  
I believe I would have PRd easily if I had actually been in shape for the distance...

I am looking forward to 2014 and another year of racing.  I'm hoping for at least one race every month this year.  Last year, I didn't race in January, September, or December. This year I already have a race scheduled for January, and believe I have a race to do in February as well.  March and April are also taken care of, so I should be off to a good start!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Blue Ridge Marathon give-away

And the winner is...Trish Friederich!  Send me your email address and I'll pass it along so you can get your registration code!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Running for the Hills : Blue Ridge Marathon give-away

I'm not really sure why I love running up hills so much.  I used to avoid big hills whenever possible.  They were hard, and it hurt to run up them.  But living in a hilly/mountainous town, it's pretty hard to avoid hills forever if you don't want to run the same 1 mile loop over and over and over again.  So at some point, I started branching out and trying hills that scared me when I first moved here.  And of course, they gradually became easier.  There are so many hills that I now run on a regular basis, that I used to avoid like the plague.  And now, they are just one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, like running anywhere else.  And they feel good.  There is something about pushing myself up a hill, that feels amazing.  Sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it hurts, but I still love it.  Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the feeling of accomplishment when I reach the top, maybe there really is no explanation.  All I know for sure is that downhills are awkward and hurt in all the wrong ways, flats are boring and also hurt my legs if I get stuck on them for too long, and uphills feel good.

This spring, I will be running the Blue Ridge 1/2 Marathon for the fourth time.  I am in love with the first 4 miles of the course.  (or...miles 2-4...the first mile is pretty flat)  Running up Mill Mountain is fun.  While others are struggling, I am in my element.  Sure, it's a long hill.  But it's really not that steep.  It's certainly not any harder than the hills I run on a regular basis, it's just longer.  I power up that mountain like I was born to do it.  Of course, then I have to go down the other side, which is impossibly steep and always makes me feel certain that either my knees or my hips will blow up before I get to the bottom.  But I've run it 3 times with no injury, and last year I sprinted down that hill, trying desperately to keep as much of a lead as I could.

This spring, I'm excited to say, there has been another big hill added to the course.  (I mean, I hear it's big...I really have no idea what it's like)  I'm a little bit disappointed that this will most likely change my overall time (I can't count it as a course PR if the course is different!), but there is actually a chance that it will help my time.  The flat part of the course after Mill Mountain always drags out for me, and the extra hill might give me the energizer that I need in the last half of the course.  We shall see.

In other news, this is my week to give away a free entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon!
The 2014 race will be held on April 26.

To enter, simply comment on this blog post, telling me about your relationship with hills. 
 Love them?  Hate them?  Love to hate them?  Hate to love them?  
Has your opinion about hills changed over the years?

Be sure to check back on Sunday to find out the winner!  
Winner will be chosen by random number generator, 
and will be contacted by email, as well as announced here on the blog. 
Good luck, and I can't wait to hear your stories!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finally, a "long" run

I feel like I've hardly run at all since the Richmond Marathon on November 16th.  Between rest, weather, travel, and overall busy-ness, running has been falling through the cracks.  I've been getting about 3 runs a week, and most of them only about 4 miles long.  2 weeks ago it was Thanksgiving travel that got in the way of running, and last week it was a 2 day Math conference in Charlottesville, and my photography show.

Yesterday was a slushy, icy mess, and I probably would have fallen and broken something if I had tried to run, so I stayed inside and baked a chocolate cake instead.  I was pretty stir crazy by the end of the day, but never quite managed to talk myself into working out.

We had a 2 hour delay today, and since it rained all night, by the time I headed to school, the roads weren't too bad.  After school, it was 40 degrees, so I headed out to run as many miles as possible.  The weather is supposed to turn nasty again tonight, so hopefully today's 9.5 miles will get me through the next few days if the weather prohibits running.  It felt really good to get out and run so many miles, I haven't run that many miles since the marathon.

Part of me is getting antsy to run another half marathon, but the other part of me is exhausted from 3 road trips in 3 weeks and in no hurry to leave home again any time soon.  We'll see what happens...

Chocolate Coffee Cake

It doesn't make any sense to me when foods are named according to ingredients they don't contain.  Like coffee cake.  I suppose you are supposed to eat it with coffee, but if it doesn't have coffee in it, it shouldn't be called coffee cake.  It's so misleading.

I've been craving chocolate cake lately.  I was going to make a Chocolate - Guinness Cake, but then I decided to use coffee instead of Guinness. So I made a small pot of coffee, used 1 cup of it in the cake, and used the remaining scant 1/2 cup to make the icing.

Chocolate - Coffee Cake
2 1/8 c flour
2 c white sugar
3/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c veg oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1 c coffee
3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixer on low speed, and whisk together the wet ingredients in a 2c glass measuring cup.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix.  Grease and flour two 8.5 inch round cake pans.  Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 40 minutes at 350.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks.  When they are cool, cover the top of one with glaze, sprinkle on some mini chocolate chips, add the second cake, and then add the rest of the glaze on top.  

Chocolate -Coffee - Cream Cheese Glaze
1/2 c coffee
2 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp brown sugar
confectioners sugar

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Arugula Rolls Take 2

I guess I've been neglecting this blog.  Sadly, kitchen experiments have fallen by the wayside in favor of my newer hobby, photography.  I'm having my first show this coming Friday, and I'm super excited.  I've been pretty busy getting ready for it though!

Staying busy with photography doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, it just means I haven't found the time to document everything I've made.  Tonight was a whirlwind in the kitchen, as I'm looking ahead to a busy and disorganized week, and have no idea when I will have time to cook again before next Sunday.  I made crock pot pulled pork, tuna salad, baked chicken thighs, carrot soup, and arugula rolls.

Arugula Rolls Take 2

red wine
bread dough

preheat oven to 450

For the bread dough: Combine 2 tsp yeast, garlic powder, ginger powder, a dash of salt, 1 tsp sugar, 6 oz hot water, and a bit of olive oil.  Add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour.  Knead in white flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Cover and let rise for 30+ minutes.  Punch down dough, add a bit more flour if necessary.  Roll out the dough into a large rectangle.  

For the filling: Chop some garlic, 1/4 of an onion, and a few strips of bacon (chopped), and cook til browned.  Add chopped mushrooms and kale.  When the mushrooms are almost done, add some red wine.  Let it cook for awhile, then spoon out the wine.  

Construct the roll: Spread shredded cheese and arugula on the rolled-out bread dough.  Add the cooked ingredients on top, sprinkle on some more cheese.  Roll up the dough.  Spread some cornmeal on a baking and lay the roll on the cornmeal. Sprinkle some cheese on top.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Latrobe Turkey Trot 5k

As of now, this was my last race for the year.  But, I still have 30 days to find another one...I've never done a Christmas race before...

As with last year's Thanksgiving race, I ran this one with my two brothers.  Of course they finished ahead of me, but thanks to the short-distance speed I have acquired in the last 6 months, I was respectably close behind them.

The weather for this race rivaled that of the Lewisburg 1/2 a month ago.  It was in the low 20s, just like that race, but this time it was also windy.  My feet went numb during my warm-up.  Doing striders/sprints with numb feet is not one of the more comfortable things I have ever done.

I started the race right on the starting line.  Well, right behind the girl who shoved herself in front of me shortly before the gun went off.  I thought I would be able to get ahead of the crowd, but no such luck.  As soon as the air-horn sounded, I was boxed in by a big crowd of people.  Guess I need to work on my quick-start.

My lungs were hurting pretty bad from the cold air before I even reached the halfway point, but since it was only a 5k, I made myself push through it.  I kept pushing until the last 2-300 meters, when there was a hairpin turn that showed me there were no girls in sight behind me.  So I backed off just a bit, because I was hurting and didn't want to hurt myself too bad.  My experience post-Beckley race has me running a little more cautiously.  I don't want to get sick again from over-straining my lungs.

I looked at the time-clock as I crossed the finish line.  It said 17:15.  Which made absolutely no sense.  I wasn't delusional enough to believe for even half a second that I had PRd by more than a minute.  Turns out the clock was 2 minutes off.  I finished in 19:15, which is much more realistic and believable.  Official race results have my finishing time a few seconds slower than that, but they timing company made so many mistakes that day, I'm going by the time I saw as I crossed the line.  +2 minutes.

After finishing, we had to stand around in the cold for over an hour, waiting for results.  They announced me as second female finisher, which was wrong.  I was third.  But they had no record of the the actual second place girl and told me to just take the medal.  After going through some more awards, it came out that numerous people were not on the results list. So they did some investigation while we continued to stand freezing in the cold.  And then they decided to cancel the rest of the awards ceremony due to extreme confusion and disorganization.  So...we stood out in the cold for over an hour. For nothing.  Yay.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Richmond Marathon

I really didn't think it would take me this long to get around to putting together this blog post.  I would have had it typed and posted the day of the race if I had had my computer with me, but typing out a whole post on an iPad was not appealing.  And now that nearly a week has gone by, I'm sure my feelings about the race are not nearly as strong. That might be a good thing.  Also, I'm pretty sure this post is very long and rambling.  Feel free to skim.

First, before I go into my rant about my awful race experience, the race itself is a great event.  The spectators are great, the on-course support and music are great, the race started on time and smoothly, etc.  This race is known as "America's Friendliest Marathon" and it certainly was one of the best I have run in terms of great spectator support and on-course entertainment.

I left Lewisburg shortly after 1 PM on Friday.  I meant to leave closer to 12, but that didn't happen.  Ugh, packing. Thanks to the GPS navigation feature on my phone, I didn't have any trouble finding the race expo.  Picked up my number and swag bag, made a quick stop by the Blue Ridge Marathon booth to ask about the rumored changes to their half marathon course (they added more hills!) and then headed to the hotel.  Again, thanks to my phone's navigation, I found the hotel easily.  There was a great sunset when I got there.

Since I'm lazy, and didn't feel like driving in search of food, and the hotel bar happened to have a grand total of 1 pasta dish on the menu, I decided to just eat there.  Chicken Alfredo.  Wasn't the best I've ever had, but it wasn't terrible either.  Of course I had my usual pre-race Guinness with it.  I generally eat sitting at the bar when I travel alone because there's always the chance that the bartender will entertain me.  No such luck with that at this hotel.  The bartender barely even spent any time behind the bar.  Eventually, someone else came and sat at the bar though, and after arguing over whose job it was to provide the entertainment, we ended up talking.  Turns out we both like photography, so we ended up sharing photos as well. I had a fun time, and I'm glad I stayed after dinner instead of going up to sit alone in my hotel room.

The marathon start-time was 8:00, so I didn't have to wake up too ridiculously early.  I think I got up at 5.  I had my usual pre-race breakfast : PB&J and a banana.  I headed out the door around 6:20 to head into Richmond to find parking.  As I left the hotel, there was a light rain.  It occurred to me that I should probably go back up and get my rain jacket, and maybe re-think my race outfit, but I decided against it.  I got into the city and began the search for parking.  The start and finish lines were about half a mile apart, and the goal was to get a spot closer to the finish line.  However, I am completely unfamiliar with the area, and there was traffic everywhere, and roads closed everywhere, and I ended up just pulling into the first parking lot and empty spot I could find.  Shortly after I parked, the skies opened up with a downpour. It was still early, so I just stayed in my car.  For about an hour. Watching the rain and desperately hoping for it to quit.

Around 7:20, I figured it was time to get out of my car and search for the start line.  The rain had stopped, thankfully.  It started again 10 minutes later as I was on my way to the start line.  I was wearing shorts and short sleeves, so I ended up pretty cold.  I wasn't planning on warming up at all for this race, but I ended up jogging around just to stay warm.  While standing on the starting line, I met someone wearing the same orange mizunos as me, and we talked a bit until race time.  When the race started, I got boxed in behind the 3:15 pace group.  I stuck with them for the first mile, but didn't like being surrounded, so eventually I slowed down to get behind them and then ran around the group.  For most of the race, I ran whatever pace felt comfortable.  I wasn't wearing a watch.  I hit the 10k and half marathon splits in good time, and wasn't feeling too badly.  My feet started hurting around mile 9, but I was knew that was going to happen pretty early on in the race, and it didn't slow me down.  By mile 19, I was in a good deal of pain.  My shorts were chafing my legs (I knew I was going to regret not wearing tights...), my hips were hurting, my feet were hurting, and one calf was feeling weird/kind of numb.  The 3:15 pace group caught up to me shortly before the marker for mile 20.  They said they were running a few minutes ahead of schedule.  I stuck with them for a little bit, but then we came to a water station and a bunch of them pushed and shoved me while trying to grab water.  I lost my stride and couldn't get it back.  The pain was just about unbearable, and I wanted to walk pretty badly.  But I knew if I walked it would be a long way to the finish line.  I managed to keep a slow, painful jog going for the next few miles.  I never really felt like I hit a wall, I just hurt too much to move my legs any faster or to make my stride any longer.  Finally, when I reached mile marker 25, I found the strength to pick up the pace.  I doubt that I was moving particularly fast for that last mile, but it was at least faster than a crawl, and I suspect it wasn't too far off the pace I had earlier in the race when I felt better.  

I crossed the line in 3:21:39.  About 5 minutes slower than marathon #1.  Considering how much pain I was in, I was impressed that it wasn't any slower than that.  I was given my finisher medal, a bottle of water, and a fleece blanket as I made my way through the chute.  And then I had to try to figure out how to get back to my car.  I had no idea where I was.  I was in a lot of pain.  I was cold.  I was so exhausted and overwhelmed, it was really hard not to cry.  I was in a field at the bottom of a hill.  I assumed my car was somewhere in the uphill direction, so I started walking that way.  I knew my car was on the corner of 9th and Clay.  The race finished on 5th.  So I found 9th street.  And then I started walking in what I desperately hoped was the correct direction.  Uphill, downhill, past street after street.  Wanting so badly to just sit down, curl up in the blanket, and cry.  Thank goodness for that fleece blanket!  For some reason, I thought I didn't need to check a bag, and that I could get back to my car before I started violently shivering and needing my sweats.  If I hadn't had that blanket to keep me semi-warm, it would have been 50 times more awful. Finally, after 30 minutes of very painful and cold walking, I found my car.  I cranked up the heat and headed back to the hotel, drinking my recovery shake as I drove (mint chocolate chip ice cream, water, chocolate protein powder). Again, thank goodness for GPS, because I don't know how I would have made it out of Richmond without it.  There were a few sporadic signs for 64, but then I would get to an intersection and wouldn't know which way to go.  Luckily, my phone told me which way to turn, because there definitely were not any signs to tell me!  I got back shortly before 12.  I was getting late check-out at 2.  So I had time for a nice hot shower, and a quick nap.  

At 2:00, my friend Amanda picked me up and took me to Steak & Shake for a bacon cheeseburger (post-race lunch of champions).  And then I had to hop in my car and drive the hour and a half to Chesapeake, VA to visit more college friends and go to a bridal shower for one of them.

finally back in the hotel, and still alive

Also, I discovered when I removed my shoes that the end of my second toe on one foot was dark purple.  I think I am currently experiencing my first ever running-related toenail loss. It made walking really really painful for a day or two post-race, since it banged into the front of my shoe every time I took a step. 

It is now 5 days post-marathon.  I am walking without pain now, although I still get occasional twinges of pain in my calves. I have not run yet.  I don't have time to run today either.  I think I will have time tomorrow, and I will probably go for a jog.  I'm running a 5k turkey trot with my brothers a week from today.

Even while in terrible pain in the middle of the race, I knew I wouldn't be able to say "I'm never running a marathon again."  I'm sure I will run another one someday.  However, I sincerely hope that next time I am able to train properly.  I feel positive that if I had actually been in shape for the distance, I would have easily finished in 3:10 or less.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Marathon #2, Complete

I'll post more in-depth when I get home to my laptop, but for now, here's a quick recap. 

I survived. It was not enjoyable. I don't recommend running a marathon alone in an unfamiliar place. The course spectators/entertainment were great, but nothing takes away the pain of running 26.2 miles that you are not in shape for.  

I crossed the line at clock time 3:21:45. I imagine my chip time was just a bit faster than that. I have no idea what place I came in, I will find out when results get posted. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's getting closer...

5 days til marathon day.  YIKES.  Why did I think this was a good idea?  I probably should have just stuck to running halfs.  But oh well.  I signed up for it, I got one 20+ mile run done in the last few months, and I'm going to run this race.  And hopefully I will run it faster than my first marathon (3:16), but we'll see about that.   The Richmond Marathon is rumored to be fast and flat.  Fast sounds good.  Flat sound awful. I hope there are a few little hills to make me feel at home.  I'm still on the fence about whether or not to run with music, but I'm very tempted.  I haven't raced with music in almost 2 years.  But 26.2 miles is an awfully long way to go with no music.  Hitting the wall without even having a good song to carry me is not something I want to think about.  If I thought I was going to be competitive, I would be likely to leave the music behind.  But since this is an international race and it is unlikely that I will even place in my age group, I think I might just look at it as a run instead of a race, and allow the music.  We shall see.

This week:
M: 6.75 / 52:53 / 7:49
T: off
W: 9.51 / 1:11:33 / 7:31
R: off
F: 4.7 / 32:42 / 6:57
Sa:  off
Su: 4.53 / 34:26 / 7:36
total : 25.49

Here's the map and elevation profile of my run from Wednesday.  It has my favorite training hills for the Blue Ridge 1/2 Marathon.  They are shorter, but much, much steeper than the run up Mill Mountain in Roanoke.  
On the run this week, I felt great, and I was racing the sunset, so I had a pretty good pace going.  The first three miles are hilly, but they aren't strenuous, and they are part of a 6.5-7 mile loop that I run fairly regularly.  I flew through that part pretty quickly.  Shortly after mile 4.5 is the first big hill.  207 feet of elevation to climb in about 0.44 miles. I did it in just under 4 minutes, which I believe is the fastest I have ever managed on that hill.  Then it was rolling hills, a long steep-ish downhill, and then another big climb.  276 feet of elevation to climb in 0.62 miles.  I powered up that one at a pretty good pace as well.  Someone I know drove past me about halfway up and said they wished they could run downhill as fast as I was running up the hill.  Once I got to the top of the hill, I knew I only had 2 or so miles left, so I turned on the speed even more, because it felt good, and because the sun was already below the horizon. I did manage to make it home before dark, but I did have to remove my sunglasses in the last mile, and it was dark not long after I got home.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Taking it easy

This week:
T: 4.7 / 34:11 / 7:16
W: 4.82 / 37:56 / 7:52
Sa: 10.15 / 1:21:50 / 8:03 w/T
week total: 19.67

I didn't actually intend to take so much time off this week...it just kind of happened.  I meant to run after school on Thursday, but I was so exhausted when I got home after the Halloween festivities, I had to lie down for a bit instead.  And Friday I worked non-stop til 10:00 at night so there was no time for a run then either.  And today...I just didn't feel like it.  Yesterday's 10 miler w/T was great though.  It was about as fast as I could go while talking on and off, and I was out of breath for a lot of it, but I figure it was a good workout for my lungs.  And my legs felt great.  I actually could have run a few more miles.  But we opted to quit before we completely exhausted ourselves.  

The Pumpkin Saga continues...

The Kale
(steamed with garlic and ginger)

The Pork Chop
(cooked in pumpkin cider, sage, and ginger)

The Linguine
(tossed with a pumpkin/apple cider/sage/ginger cream sauce)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another race week

This week:
M: 4.7 / 31:07 /6:37
W: 10.1 / 1:13:16 / 7:15
Sa: 13.1 / 1:32:49 / 7:05
Su: 3.69 / 28:48 / 7:48
total : 31.59

Monday I started out on my run and felt good, so I kept picking up the pace.  Was shocked when I got home and found out exactly how fast I went.  I knew I had been flying, but an avg 6:37 pace has got to be my fastest training run ever. 
Tuesday I was super busy, left home at 7:25 in the morning and didn't return until 7:45 that night.  I briefly contemplated running instead of eating dinner, but my stomach had been growling since 5 and I didn't want to pass out in the dark 2 miles from home, so I skipped the run.  
Wednesday I planned to run about 5.5 miles, thinking I might add a mile or two if I felt good.  Well, I added a mile, still felt good, added another, and just kept on going.  Never looked at my watch til I got home.  Figured I had gotten 8.5 or 9.  Was pleased to see that I got over 10 miles!  It felt really good, and the pace was great too.  
Thursday was another busy day, got home after school and had just enough time to whip up a batch of cookies and get back to school for our annual Italian Night.  If I hadn't run 10 miles on Wednesday, I probably would have tried to run either before school or after the dinner, but since I had such a great run on Wednesday, I just took Thursday and Friday off.  
Saturday was the Run United Half Marathon in my town, which I was on the planning committee, and won.  (No, it wasn't rigged, it was just a small race that didn't attract any big-shots.)
Today I was a bit stiff, and wanted to go for a jog to loosen up a bit.  

In other news, I have been getting photos of some absolutely stunning sunrises from outside my classroom. 

Driving home from Italian Night on Thursday, 
I had to pull over and snap a few photos of the stunning sunset.

And in more photography-related news, I took some photos for friends today, and we could not have asked for a more perfect day.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue with puffy white clouds, and the leaves were pretty colors.

I am absolutely loving this photography hobby of mine, and hoping to start growing it into something slightly more than a hobby.  I'm just taking photos for friends so far, but will happily start taking photos for others if I get asked to!

Inaugural Run United 1/2

My 15th half marathon so far, and my 6th this year.

I knew it was going to be cold on Saturday.  I was thinking it would be in the low thirties, but that it would probably be at least high thirties by the end of the race.  However, when I woke up on Saturday morning, it was nineteen degrees!  That solved the problem of whether or not to race in shorts.  If it had been in the 30s, I probably would have worn shorts and just hoped my knees would deal with it.  But 19 degrees?  No way.  19 degrees still isn't cold enough for long pants though, (I'm not sure I could ever race in long pants no matter how cold it is...) so I opted for cut-off tights under my shorts.  Just long enough to keep my knees semi-warm. As for the shirt, I quickly ditched the idea of the thin long sleeve under my short-sleeve "It's a Hill, get over it" shirt, and dug through my box of shirts until I found my fleece-lined moisture-wicking running shirt.  I can't believe I had to pull it out in October, and for a race at that.  Oh well.  I don't have any pictures of my running outfit, but it was pretty bright.  Lime green long sleeve, turquoise short sleeve, bright blue shorts, gray tights, and black and white striped gloves.  The gloves were another thing I debated, but in the end I was glad I wore them.

I walked downtown to the race area and hung out inside the community college for awhile getting ready, then changed into my bright blue racing shoes, stripped off the sweats, and went out for a warm-up jog.  It hurt to breathe.  At least I had that fleece-lined shirt keeping my lungs a little bit warm.  I was able to break a sweat though, so I figured that was a good thing.  Other than the fact that I did not want to be wet with sweat while standing on the start line.

The race started promptly at 9, and we were off.  2 guys jumped into the lead pretty quickly, and I let them go.  My right foot fell asleep in the first half mile.  It woke up again at some point... I kept a pretty steady pace, working hard, but not hard enough to really hurt my lungs.  I was worried about how they would handle the strain in the cold, and I didn't want to overdo it too soon.  The miles rolled by, and no one passed me.  I loved seeing the signs my student's had made posted out on the course, they were great!  The turn-around was somewhere around 7.5 miles.  The hills getting there were pretty tough, but thankfully they are a bit easier coming back.

I don't like out and backs, but the one nice thing about them is that they let you know how far behind the competition is. My friend and former running-buddy Jim wasn't too far behind me at the turn around, probably less than a minute.  I'd never been ahead of him before, but he hasn't been able to run as much as me lately, and he sprained an ankle about a week ago.  The next guy was probably another minute or so behind him.  I was running along, surprised at how spread out everyone was, and surprised that I was barely seeing anyone coming towards me.  I knew the race was small, but I figured there'd be a few more people within 5 minutes of me.  I was at mile 8 before I saw the 2nd place girl, roughly a mile behind me.  Any motivation I had to push for a PR died at that point.  I already suspected that due to the tough course and the cold air, I wouldn't be able to pull it off.  And it was pretty obvious that I didn't need to pull it off in order to win.  With a marathon in 3 weeks, I figured staying healthy was more important than a PR.  So I kept on chugging along, trying not to really slow down, but not trying to push the pace either.  Miles rolled by.  I noticed that there was still heavy frost on the grass along the side of the road.  I passed by mile marker 10.  Shortly after that, it occurred to me that I normally start my kick at mile 10.  I started to pick up the pace a little bit, but it was more of a struggle than usual, and I didn't feel like trying that hard, so I settled back into my previous pace.  I never saw mile marker 11.  I know it was there, because I saw it on the way out, but somehow I missed it on the way back.  As I was thinking that surely I had passed it (right?!) I saw mile marker 12.  That was a relief.  I still didn't really feel like I could comfortably pick up the pace, so I just kept on keeping on.  As I rounded the 2nd to last turn (from that point, it was one block up a hill, then turn right and run about 3/4 of a block to the finish) the 2nd place runner came up behind me saying "they sent me the wrong way!"  I still hadn't really kicked, and I wasn't about to kick just to beat someone who rightfully should have beaten me by a minute or more.  So I just stuck to his heels.  Beating him wasn't important anyway.  I just wanted to beat all the other girls.

I crossed the line in 1:32:49.  4 minutes slower than Beckley, but the course was a lot harder, and the air was a lot colder.  Normally, I would be upset with a time that slow, but this one really doesn't bother me.  I made the decision not to push the pace, and I know it was the right decision.  Besides, there's always next year to get a faster time.  I beat the 2nd place girl by about 18 minutes, so there really wasn't a "race" involved.  I came in 3rd out of 54 total runners.  Not a bad turnout for our first half marathon, and 20 degree weather.  (It was still in the 20s when I finished the race shortly after 10:30!) We had 36 runners pre-registered, so it's nice to see that we got quite a few more on the day of, despite the weather!

Some of my friends and students were cheering for me at the finish line, which was also really nice.  One of my students ended up hanging out with me for the rest of the morning, as I waited for the awards ceremony.  I got some great pictures of her playing in the fallen leaves.

I let her use my camera during the awards ceremony and she took these.

Here's another picture of my gigantic, heavy, trophy. 

A local welder made all our trophies for us, they were really unique, which is awesome.  
Generic medals and trophies are so boring.
I got several compliments on the finisher medal which I had a hand in designing. 

All in all, it was a great race experience.  I think that overall the day was a success, and I'm looking forward to the 2nd annual Run United next fall.  Hopefully I will get to be a part of the planning committee again, it was a great experience.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Ravioli

It's been awhile since I made pasta from scratch!  But I've been wanting to make pumpkin ravioli and I had some time this evening (for once I wasn't too hungry to wait for dinner to cook), so I made them.

Pasta Dough
1 egg
1/4 c wheat flour
3/4 c + white flour
2 tbsp olive oil
garlic powder
ginger powder

big scoop of pumpkin
big handful of shredded colby jack cheese

Pumpkin Ravioli, 
with a Pumpkin Cream Sauce*, 
on a bed of Kale, 
with some Pumpkin Chicken** on the side.

And don't forget the Pumpkin Porter!

*Pumpkin, Heavy Cream, Sage, Ginger
**Boiled in pumpkin and Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat Beer

Yes, I love pumpkin!

Picking up the Pace...for an Upcoming Race!

Since I decided that I needed to work my lungs harder, I started really pushing the pace on my runs instead of going out for leisurely jogs.  It was awesome to see my average paces go from over 8 min/mile to below 7:20 min/mile.  And it felt great, too.  My legs are strong, and it just feels really good to go out and run hard and fast.

This week:
M: 4.7 / 33:57 / 7:13
T: 3.85 / 27:24 / 7:07
W: 6.75 / 48:45 / 7:13 
R: off
F: 8.36 / 1:06:07 / 7:54 (the last 6+ w/Birch)
Sa: off
Su: 3.76 / 29:12 / 7:45 (middle 3.1 w/2 local race buddies)
week total : 27.42

Birch wanted to run on Friday, but I had a lot of adrenaline built up after a busy day of classes, so instead of driving back to school to meet him after I changed, I sprinted back to school, and then we jogged a 6+ mile loop. Saturday I ran to the start line of this coming weekend's 5k, and then ran the course with 2 guys who I often see at races.  They wanted to see the course before the race, and I had no problem running it with them.  If they lived in Lewisburg and schedules coordinated better, we'd be good training buddies.  

I'm not so sure that 2 weeks of running hard will be enough to prepare my lungs for the half marathon on Saturday.  Especially not since I found out it's supposed to be in the 30s that morning.  Brrrrr.  We had our first frost yesterday, and the second today.  I'm going to have to remember to get out the door 5 minutes earlier now that I have to deal with thickly iced car windows.  Yuck.  But hopefully these two weeks of running hard will at least get my lungs a little bit stronger than they were at Beckley!

In other news, my middle school students have been hard at work making inspirational posters and mile marker quotes for the half marathon this Saturday.  Here's a few of them:

and the best : these are both small parts of a bigger poster
I love this depiction of someone getting stuck in my dust

Also, the finisher medals arrived at my door in the middle of last week and they are awesome!
I like finisher medals that show something special about the race or race location, so I had ours designed with our "Coolest Small Town" logo. 

Our final committee meeting for this race is tomorrow!  I drove the course with Jim today to see approximately where the mile markers will go so he can paint markers on the road.  I originally didn't want to be on the planning committee because when it started up about a year ago I was ridiculously busy and stressed beyond belief.  But I wanted to help design the course, so I said I would come to a meeting or two to help with that.  Then it turned out that we were meeting for less than an hour a month, and I ended up going to every meeting and helping with all sorts of little details.  It's been fun, and I was happy to give advice and ideas based on my various race experiences in various places.  We weren't able to use my preferred course options due to law enforcement not wanting to close certain roads, but maybe if this year is successful enough they will let us have a better course next year.  This year's course is an out and back on a hilly road.  It will be a nice challenging course, but out and backs are rarely enjoyable.