Friday, December 20, 2013

Mt. Dora Half Marathon: Race Recap

It was hilly. It was hot. It was tough. The end.

Not really. But kind of. 

 I ran the Mount Dora Half Marathon on 12/15. I tried to be positive and upbeat. "Yeah, hills make me better. I'm making myself a faster runner!" Pause not. The hills were tough. The race was tough. I was hoping for a PR, but it didn't happen. 

I was excited for this race. I think I was excited just because I hadn't run a race in two weeks and I am becoming an addict who needs her fix of a race at least twice a month. Which means my wallet is crying.

I was also excited because I dressed up (as much as you will ever see me dressed up) in my Pro Compression Holiday Socks. I was pretty cute.

I tried to run a new pair of shoes for this race (I have a bad habit of testing new shoes during races). They are the Saucony Mirage 2 and I really like them. Light, but supportive enough for a half marathon. We shall see how they hold up for my 18-20 miler tomorrow. 

That Sunday morning started off with a torrential downpour on the way to Mt. Dora. Lovely. So bad that the traffic lights on the toll road went out. Craig was not happy with me for waking him up at 5 am for this. Luckily, the weather cleared up and it was not raining when we got to the race start.

We picked up our packets and hung out in the car. I ate half of a Mountain Berry Clif Shot Block and made Craig eat the other half. My race nutrition has been a nightmare lately and I am trying new things to see what helps. I loved the Clif Shot - flavor was muy bien.

 I had to use the port a potty TWICE before the race and I almost didn't make the start because I was in line. Better planning next time. Craig and I made our way to the start just as the national anthem was ending. I braced myself for the hills and the pain.

Yeah, right.

Literally, after the first quarter mile there was a hill. I was thinking, "Damn. What a long race this will be." My original goal was to PR.That quickly changed. Hills make everything worse. They make me slow. 

Miles 1-3 were 8;55, 8;49, 9:03. After mile three, I told Craig to go on without me. I was pretty dramatic. 

It went something like this ^

 Being the lovely boyfriend that he is, he smiled and told me he would stick with me for a little longer. He had said he would run the entire thing with me, but I figured he would ditch me. He is fast (1:35 is his half PR) and I knew I could run a sub 2, but I am not about that 1:35 life. So I guess he was just being sweet. Or he didn't want to wait 25 minutes at the finish line for me.

Anyway, we kept on going. There were lots of hills, but the downhills were awesome. As in, we flew down them. Every uphill was about a 9:00/mile pace, but the downhills were were around 8:00-8:15 pace/mile. So it evened out. The course was beautiful. It took us down a road that reminded me of Anne of Green Gables. Beautiful overhanging trees, lots of shade, and tons of old, cute houses. The neighborhoods are adorable in Mt. Dora. Miles 4-8 were definitely my favorite part of the course.

Miles 4-8: 8:55, 8:47, 8:51, 8:53, 8:54. 

I took a 2nd surge Energy gel at mile 7 and was feeling good. I love these gels. They are not thick and can be taken without water. Plus, they are delicious. And I need caffeine during a race, so these are a perfect for for me.

 Mile 9 came, and I started to run faster. Craig and I (yes, he was still with me. Too nice) were not running super fast, but I think runners were getting tired. We passed a lot of people, which gave me more energy. Mile 9 and 10 led us to an out and back, so we started seeing the lead runners, which was cool.

Mile 9-10: 8:47, 8:47

Mile 11: dun dun dun.The mile that I began to unravel. I was getting really nauseous. Which meant that I needed fuel, but I was too queasy to eat. What a catch-22. I slowed down here, but kept running. I told myself NO walk breaks.

Mile 11: 9:01.

Mile 12 sucked. A lot. I was close to throwing up everywhere and had to hold it back. I didn't want to stop and throw up because I was trying to come in at the finish with a decent time. I wanted an overall pace of sub-9 miles. So I trudged on. Craig still stayed with me. I would not have kept running without him. He was great.

Mile 12: 9:22.

Mile 13 started off slow, but when I had about a quarter mile until the end, I picked up the pace and mile 13 was 9:14. Once I knew I only had .10 to go, I turned on the speed. 

The last .16 of this race was a 6:54 pace! No lie. We were booking it. It did help that the finish line was after a downhill. 

We crossed the finish in 1:57:33.

Not a PR, but my second fastest half. And with hills. I'll take it!

I'm not sure what I was thinking in this selfie.

The medal was neat. It spun, which entertained me for about 5 minutes.

The lighthouse in the middle spins.

I spent the next hour in my Crocs visiting Panera to eat some mouth watering food. These Crocs are 8 years old, btw. Great investment.

Overall, this was a great race. Race day packet pick up, good (but challenging) course, good medal, and it was $30. Yes, $30. I can't say no to that price. You shouldn't either if you have a chance to run this race next year! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Randomness

I have a baby seal for a cat. His name is Huxley.

This is just cute. 

This was an ad on my Facebook.  What in the...? I could not stop laughing. 

 I'm obsessed with the Park Ave light circles in Winter Park. They make me happy.

This is a big ass leaf from the trees in our yard.

 Next to a ukulele for comparison.

Even kittiez foam roll.

 If it fits, I sits.

My sister Sarah just graduated from FSU. Which meant that my other sister Emily and I were very bored.

Bored for hours. 

 But it was worth it. BTW, we had to wait for almost 30 minutes to take this picture. This fountain is quite popular for graduation pictures.

 One of my students gave me this as a Christmas gift. I love.

 I tried to make kabocha squash like STUFT mama the other night. I failed.

 He was waving to me in his sleep.

 Craig made me this for dinner the other night.WINNING.

Monday, December 16, 2013

OUC Orlando Half Marathon Recap: My first pacing experience

This recap is late, but you know what they say...better late than never. 

I signed up to be a pacer for the OUC Orlando Half Marathon that was put on by Track Shack back in the summer. I absolutely love Track Shack - I am part of Marathonfest, a marathon training program that Track Shack hosts, and it is unbelievably awesome. Seriously, I would not get half my runs done without Marathonfest. I'm a co-dependant runner.

Only a few of the large Marathonfest group before the race. Can you spot me?

I ran my first OUC race last year and it was a PR. Loved the course and loved the medal, shirt, etc. It is a really great race, and seems to be turning into a destination race for Floridians. This year is was on December 7, and the weather conditions were sucky, for lack of a better word. It was HOT, and HUMID, and to be honest, if I was trying to race, there was no way I would have PR's (so congrats to everyone that did!)

So, after my Space Coast fail I was a little nervous about pacing the half marathon. (The half was 6 days after Space Coast). I signed up to pace the 2:15 group. The pace per mile is 10:17, which is a good minute slower than my long run pace. I was worried about being inconsistent, but that morning when I woke up, I decided that I was going to try my best to be the best pacer possible, and have a lot of fun. Ended up doing both. Boo ya.

The race started at 7am, and I had to be at the Track Shack tent by 6:20 to get my pacing sign, meet everyone, and be available for questions for anyone that wanted to run with me.

All the pacers before the race.

I was getting really pumped when I saw all the people that planned on running with me! Some of them were running their first half, and some were trying to PR. I told them that we would have fun and explained my strategy (run straight through, no intervals) and that my goal was to get them through the finish line about 30 seconds under 2:15:00.

Before I knew it, it was time to grab my pacing sign, and line up in the crowds. 

One of my favorite running buddies, Rick, found me before the start of the race and told me he would run with me. I was so happy to have someone from my running group there. Rick and I usually stick with each other for long runs and he is awesome.

The national anthem was sung, the horn blasted, and we were off. I knew the first mile would be slow, and it was (10:34), but I warned everyone who was running with me about that. This race had almost 4,000 finishers and the first mile was very packed. We picked it up the next two miles (just under 10:00 each), so that our average pace was just about 10:15. I wanted us to be able to finish strong, but to have some extra seconds in case something happened during the race.

The miles seriously flew by. Rick helped me so much with pacing because my Garmin (though I love it dearly) tells me my overall pace per mile, but only for the mile I am running. It does not tell me overall pace for my entire run. Rick made sure we were sitting around a 10:15 pace the entire time. He was awesome.

Before I knew it, we were passing the 10k, and then we were at the halfway point. I was feeling good because the pace was pretty comfortable and I wasn't pushing myself. I loved carrying my sign and I thought my arms might be tired by the halfway point, but they weren't at all. Everyone was chatting away and really enjoying the crowd support and volunteers. They were SO cheerful and positive! So many residents came to support the runners, which really helped morale. Much of this course is through residential neighborhoods, and seeing families, dogs, children, etc. really made the run enjoyable.

We passed the 15k and had a great pace still. Right after that we came to a tailgate that I had heard about through Facebook and they had.....BEER!

They were giving it out in these lovely cups. 

Rick and I shared a cup and the beer was delicious. It was cold and definitely hit the spot. I love beer on race courses. Usually I skip it if I am trying to run fast and "race," but since this was more of a fun run, I helped myself. The people there were probably wondering who the alcoholic pacer was for the 2:15 group.

Miles 10 and 11 passed pretty quickly after the beer stop, but there were some "hills." More of inclines, but that's all we have in Orlando. We kept our pace consistent and still had a 10:15 pace. 

Rick spotted a race photographer just after mile 12, so we turned on the smiles and posed. 

We are just so photogenic.

I saw the finish line just around the lake, and knew we would finish strong. We were passing a lot of runners, but our pace was consistent. By that time, it was almost 9:15 so it was miserable outside (the understatement of the year) and you could tell a lot of people were hurting. We tried to pump them up and have them run in with us, which was cool. Runners are so nice to each other. 

We crossed the finish line in 2:14:29. 

Looking good.

I was so happy! I had done it. I paced perfectly and got in thirty seconds under. The race announcer even commented that the "2:15 group is awesome, coming in within a minute." Seriously, that made my morning.

What did NOT make my morning was the line for free beer after. We had two Mich Ultra vouchers but the line was like 30 minutes long. I love beer, but I'm also impatient and I knew I had some in my fridge, so we said forget it. Rick and I took some photos, got some chocolate milk, and hung out for a bit before leaving. The race had a good after party with massages, ice, beer, and chocolate milk. My kind of perks.

Rick and I after the race. We make an excellent pacing team.

Some things I loved about the race:

1) I was able to run with one of my former student's mother and she ended up with a 20 minute PR! She had to ditch us around mile 8 for a bathroom break, but she found me after the race and that alone made me so happy. 
2) People cheering, "There's the 2:15 group! Go 2:15 group" everyt ime we passed supporters. I felt like a celebrity and it was AWESOME. It really kept me going and gave me more excitement. I think it helped other runners too.
3) The thanks I received after the race. I have never in my life felt so appreciated! Tons of people told me thank you for pacing. Some told me I helped them make their goals. I had some who PR'd and others who told me thanks because they stuck with me for half the race and then went on to finish faster with negative splits! It was one of the most rewarding experiences. 
4) The free race swag. Well, duh. Track Shack hooked it up. Free Brooks pacer tee, event tee, the awesome medal (see below), and a gift card to Track Shack, plus free race entry. I will definitely pace this race again next year if I have the chance!

 Lookin' fine with my bling.

All in all, a SUPER fun race (the race I have had the most fun in to date) and an excellent event put on by Track Shack. Run this race next year if you are able to - it is worth it!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Things I'm Loving aka Things I Want

Um, hello, how freaking cute. Anyone that knows me knows I am a crazy cat lady, so I must procure this shirt ASAP. 

The Mizuno Rave Widers 17

Crazy Running Girl has a great review of the shoes and it makes me want them so badly! I have been wanting a lighter shoe that has stability and have had no luck soon. Maybe these are my shoe soulmates?

I also want this on my front porch:
No explanation needed.

Pro Compression marathon socks in argyle
Because who doesn't like argyle?

And finally....

One of Mile posts' "I Run This Body" sweatshirts. In grey, just like my soul. 

So please go get me all of these things. K bye!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to be lazy and productive at the same time

Welcome to my Saturday! Aka Caturday.

 This is how it went down, in chronological order. I have the uncanny ability to be productively lazy. It's a gift and a curse. I figured I would share in case anyone would ever like to try. Just follow the steps below - they are a recipe for success. Or failure. Depends on your perspective.

1. Run a half marathon. Proceed to convince yourself that 99% of Americans are still sleeping in their beds while you are in Orlando running 13.1 miles in unbearable conditions for December. This obviously entitles you to whatever the heck you want for the rest of the day.

Photo cred: Paula from Eat: Watch: Run - there is no other way put into words the atrocity that the weather in Orlando was yesterday...and has been for quite some time.

2. Eat. Then tell yourself that because you ate, you must rest. Continue to rest for hours upon end, because it wears you out to keep resting for so long.

3. Do three loads of laundry, fold them, but don't put them away. The fact that you even did laundry in the first place should be rewarded. With a cider. Or three.

This cider literally tastes like liquid Jolly Ranchers. Which is good for my taste buds, and bad for every other aspect of my life.

4. Organize your house, but don't clean it. Cleaning should be saved for another day. There's always tomorrow, right?

5. Watch five episodes of American Horror Story Asylum. Scare yourself into taking a shower. See, you weren't lazy, you took a shower! (6 hours after you ran a half marathon, but whatever).

This show is amazing. But it really does scare the crap out of me.

6. Leave the house to get Panera for dinner. The fact that you got out of bed qualifies as an accomplishment. It does not matter that you did not even drive and you convinced your bf that he needed to chauffeur you. You left your bed and that's all that matters.

7. Eat Panera. So productive! And tasty.

I love their Thai Chicken Salad. This is not my actual salad. I got it to go and then inhaled it so fast that there was no time for pictures.

8. Play with your new Samsung Galaxy 3 Tablet. 

This thing is pretty cool and I do not regret my Cyber Monday purchase.

9. Google "cat memes" and then laugh hysterically at what Google provides you with.

10. Complain about the fact that Sunday will be too busy and you don't really want to do anything.