Sunday, October 26, 2014

Run United Half Marathon

Another slow "race" in the books for me.  Saturday morning dawned bright and cold.  It was about 34 degrees out, which was a step up from last year's 26, but still not ideal.  It was probably 36 or 37 degrees by the time the race started, but it was still far from warm.  I started out at a comfortable pace.  I realized in the first couple of miles that the pace I had settled into was two slow for a good race, but it's hard to speed up once I've settled, and I really had no motivation to speed up.  I spent the rest of the race trying to speed up, and mostly failing.  It's hard to find motivation when there is no one anywhere near you for the entire race.  There were only 29 runners total.  My friend Jim won the race in 1:34:32.  I finished in 1:39:53 (last year 1:32:49).  The 3rd finisher was 3 minutes behind me.

It was a gorgeous day, and almost warm by the end of the race (turned out quite warm and beautiful in the afternoon), but I just wasn't in race-mode.  I'm finding that although running is going well and feeling good, I am not back to race-shape yet.  My body isn't ready to race, and my mind isn't ready to force it either.   I know the lack of any competition in this race made it hard to be competitive anyway, but I'm not sure that I would have had the energy or will power to race even if there had been people near me during the race.

This Week's Runs/Rides
M: run 4.2
R: run 4.3
Sa: run 13.2
Su: bike 21

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10/18/14 Chasing Waterfalls : Sandstone Falls

Today was Bridge Day, and just like last year, it was gray and cold out.  I went by myself the last two years and got some cool photos, but really didn't feel like going alone again.  None of my friends were able to go this year either, so I decided to skip it.  In the middle of the night last night, I decided that I should go somewhere else instead of sitting at home all day.  So I decided to check another waterfall off of my bucket list.

Sandstone Falls

I was driving along the road (still about 15 miles away from my destination) and saw a sign for an overlook, so I pulled off to check it out.  It offered a view of the falls from the opposite side that I would see them from eventually, and from high above them.  

 Just a little bit further down the road, there was another overlook, so I checked that one out as well.  It was a view of the river.  There was someone bird-watching there, and he pointed out a Bald Eagle's nest to me.  He also told me that the pair of eagles had been flying around a lot the day before, catching fish, and hanging out in the nest.  Of course they didn't bother to appear while I was there...

After the second overlook, I continued on up the river til I finally got to the bridge crossing it, then headed down river until I neared the falls.  I caught a glimpse of mist rising off the falls before I reached them, and pulled over to snap some photos.

Eventually, I reached the actual parking lot and set off down the boardwalk that overlooks the falls.

The leaves were colorful, the falls were awesome, and I had lots of fun taking pictures.  I even got out my tripod so I could take extra-cool photos of the falls.

After I took lots of photos, I went for a run along the river.  It was nice to run somewhere new.  It was also really flat.  I took the opportunity to run a 1 mile time trial off of a track.  I ran the TT during the 3rd mile of a 4+ mile run.  I finished it in 6:25.  Not my fastest, but not too shabby considering I woke up short of breath this morning, for no explicable reason.

After my run, I headed towards Bluestone Dam, which was sort-of on the way home anyway.  I had heard that there were frequent Bald Eagle sightings there.  But once again, I was disappointed.  And I didn't have hours to sit there waiting, so I had to head home.  I'll catch sight of one eventually!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Sunrise, a Scenic Railroad, and a Rainbow...What a day!

I'm in my seventh year of teaching, and so far, there have only been 2 years that my job description was the same.  The other five years have all been different.  This year's "something new" is that I spend 6+ hrs a week as a teacher assistant in the 2nd/3rd grade classroom.  Somehow, this turned into me getting asked to go along on their field trip today.  Since most of my Thursday schedule involves that class anyway, it wasn't too hard to take care of my 2 other classes and be free to go along on the field trip.

I suspected that I would be tired after a day-long field trip, so I got up extra early this morning to get my run done and out of the way.  4.8 miles in the moonlight, watching the fog in the valleys, and then I somehow got cleaned up and fed and it was barely past 7.  So, I headed to work early to get some things done before we left on the field trip.  I glanced out the window somewhere around 7:25 and saw a gorgeous pink and blue sky.

Less than 5 minutes later, the sky was gray and cloudy.  Not a hint of color to be seen.  I got some work done and then we piled into a few cars and headed towards the Cass Scenic Railroad.  Highlights/Entertainment on the trip up included 7 yr old girls singing along to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and a 7 yr old boy requesting his favorite song : Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball."  Thankfully, "Wrecking Ball" was not on the iPod. I enjoyed getting to talk to a parent I didn't know very well, while the kids sang and played games in the back.  I also enjoyed the scenery.  Some trees are still green and too many have already lost their leaves, but there's still a decent amount of color on the rest of the trees.  There were a few lingering clouds hanging out in the treetops that looked really cool as well.

Once we arrived at Cass Scenic Railroad, we watched a short film about the history of the old logging town/lumber industry, walked through the little museum, and then boarded the train.

After the trip up the mountain to Whittaker Station and back to Cass, we had a picnic lunch and spent some time on the playground before heading back to school.  The ride back was quite entertaining, but sadly I don't remember the specific funny quotes that I wanted to remember.  I'm tired. Once back at school, I did some work and uploaded/edited the photos from the trip.  I just happened to glance out the window at one point and caught this:

Sometimes, it pays to stay at work late!  But it has been a very long day and I am looking forward to a good night of sleep!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pumpkin Peach Muffins

(Original recipe calls for 1 1/2 c flour.  I put in 1/2 c wheat flour and 1 1/4 white flour before adding the peach.  I let it sit for a bit to draw some of the moisture out of the peach, then added more flour until the batter returned to the consistency it had before I added the peach.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

5 miles. No, 6 miles. No, 7. How about 8?

I thought I was going to do a 5 mile run in the rain today.  But the rain stopped right as I started running.  And I felt too good to stop at 5 miles, so I thought maybe I would do 6.  But I neared 6 miles and was still feeling strong, so I figured I'd do 7.  I finally started feeling tired somewhere around mile 8.  I certainly can't complain about running the extra miles!  I love that feeling of being able to just keep going.  Weekends are good for that.  During the week I'm either trying to beat the sunset, or I'm trying to finish before my body realizes it's in desperate need of dinner.

This Week's Runs
M : 4.5 
W : 5.1
R : 6.7
Su : 8.6
total miles : 24.9

No biking this week.  Besides the fact that I really just like running a lot more, I also don't like biking after school because of traffic.  I was going to try and bike at some point this weekend, but I didn't have time for anything yesterday, and today was rainy.  The bike is clean right now, and I'd rather not get it all muddy.  So, finally a "normal" week of exercise with nothing but running!  

The best news for the week is that my runs on Wednesday and Thursday were completely foot-pain free!  Today was almost pain-free, but my foot hurt a bit somewhere around 6.5 miles. 

This week's sunrise photo

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Espresso Bean Cookies

1/2 stick butter
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1+ c white flour
1/3 c chocolate covered espresso beans

Beat butter, oil, and sugars together in a stand mixer.  Add the egg, salt, soda, and vanilla, mix well.  Incorporate the whole wheat flour, then the white flour.  Crush the espresso beans, then mix them in. 

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

One-of-a-Kind Photography Adventure

Yesterday was a long, exciting day!  I ran the Beckley 1/2 in the morning, then had to immediately rush home, get cleaned up, get some food in my belly, and then head back out for a 6 hour photography adventure.

Step 1 of the photography adventure was photographing a farm in VA, 
about 30 minutes from Lewisburg.  

Step 2 of the adventure started when this arrived:

We climbed aboard (they put me in the front so I could take pictures), and flew towards Morgantown.

I-64 and the Greenbrier

Summersville Lake

Milan Puskar Stadium

Part of my assignment for the day was to take aerial shots of a baseball field that is under construction not too far from WVU.  Once were were done circling the construction, we headed to the airport, where we were met by a police escort which sped us through traffic and red lights straight to the football stadium.  We watched the first half of the game, then headed back to the airport and our helicopter. 

Step 3 of the adventure was photographing the absolutely gorgeous fall foliage that we flew over on the way back home. 

I've been absolutely spoiled on the view of fall foliage from above.  
It will never be the same from the ground...

A very exhausted me arrived home around 7:15 PM from this adventure.  I started sorting through the 700+ photographs, but didn't make it very far before calling it quits and crawling into bed for some much needed and hard-earned sleep.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Beckley Half-Marathon 2014 : Jogging for the win?

Go big or go home. 
Obnoxious tights are the new race-winner.
It's all about the bright blue/green/teal.

I had every intention of not being competitive during this race.  I knew it would be hard, but I was hoping I'd be able to focus on keeping my lungs breathing, and not on passing everyone possible.

I have officially broken my no-watch-during-races rule.  I am loving being able to track my runs on Strava, and since this is my first race after 5+ months off, I really wanted to be able to see what happened between the start and finish lines.  And of course I will want to be able to analyze every race from now on...  But I think it will be fine.  I had good reasons for racing without a watch for awhile, but I think I've gotten familiar enough with my own running not to let it hurt my races anymore.  I've gotten used to running by feel.  I will admit that sometimes during the race yesterday when I glanced at my pace, I wanted to speed up, but I never actually sped up without first assessing whether or not I thought my body could handle it.  And I never ended up in trouble, so I guess it worked!

I started out "jogging" when the gun went off.  It felt slow and relaxed.  My watch may have been clocking me at a pace that looked dangerously close to 6:30, but it was downhill, and I felt really relaxed, so I let it go.  I was near the front of the pack, and there were two girls in front of me, but I wasn't worried about it.  I wasn't about to start racing them in the first mile.  I gradually gained on, and passed, one of them in the first mile.  It took longer to creep up on the other, but I passed her somewhere around the 3rd or 4th mile.  It sounded like she stayed pretty close to me for awhile.  At one point, I thought for sure she was going to pass me, but she didn't.  Eventually, I got tired of hearing her footsteps behind me, so I sped up a little bit, and then I never heard her again.

For the first half of the race, I made sure I was keeping my pace relaxed and my breathing deep and even.  I was moving along at a good pace, and I was feeling strong.  Once I passed the halfway point and was still doing well, I let myself gradually pick up the pace.  As each mile went by without any trouble breathing, I got more confident and pushed a little bit harder.  During the last 2-3 miles, I had no idea if anybody was going to overtake me, and I knew that if someone passed me, I would not be able to keep up with them.  But of course I was hoping that no one would pass me, and that I would be able to hold my lead.  Because why wouldn't I want to defend my title from last year?!

Turns out, I could have slowed down in the last mile or two and still won.  But I didn't.  Or not on purpose at least.  When I crossed the finish line, my watch only had me at 12.9 miles, so I jogged around the parking lot until it hit a little bit over 13.1.

Overall, I am super happy with how the race went.  It felt good to finally get out there and race again, and I am pretty proud of myself for running a smart race and not going out too fast or ever running out of oxygen.  My official finish time was 1:32:53.  Significantly slower than last year's 1:28:20, and also the slowest time I've ever run on that course, but after taking a summer off, I'd say it's pretty good!  This race was a great trial run for me to see how I handle the distance, since it's a pretty easy course.  Now I can look forward to the tougher Lewisburg course!

I did start coughing up a lung as soon as I switched from a jog to a walk, but I'm going to blame the cold air for that.  It was in the mid-low 50s throughout the race, and since I'm still not acclimated to cold(er) weather, it felt even colder than that.  At least my lungs keep working while I'm running and don't try to die until after I stop...

Last year, I got interviewed by a reporter after the race, and later discovered an awful picture of me crossing the finish line, as well as an article that made me sound like a total snob.  I got interviewed again this year, and was wondering how bad they would make me look/sound this time. Thankfully, there's no picture of me dying on the finish line this year.  I don't think I sound quite as snobby this year...but I still wouldn't say I am very good at interview responses...or maybe the reporter just doesn't try very hard to make people sound articulate.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The pros and cons of an Eastern facing classroom

I have been really good (so far...) about getting out of bed on time and getting to work early this year. In theory, this is great.  I'm awake and ready to be productive as soon as I get to school.  In reality...this extra time in the morning is not getting me ahead on lesson plans.  Because my classroom has a window/door/deck that faces towards the East.  And the sun is rising just as I am trying to start working.  And...the sunrises have been really pretty lately!  So instead of getting school work done, all I end up doing is taking pictures of the sunrise.

This morning I was extra-ahead of time, and was in the building by 7:30!  And got NO extra work done.  I did get these nice photos though...

Evening update : the sunset was gorgeous as well.  Holly and I went to Walmart after our sushi date because I needed some folders for school.   When we walked out, we saw the sky and had to grab our cameras out of the car to snap some photos.