Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebration Half Marathon Recap: A PR!

On Sunday, I ran the inaugural Celebration Half Marathon. I think at one point months ago I contemplated running the full, but then I snapped back to reality and told my marathon brain to shutup. I am so glad I did not run the full. I heard many great things about the race from full marathoners - well organized, lots of support, more spectators than expected, etc. but I could not imagine doing two loops on that course.

Craig and I had a carpool date with Victoria and so in the wee hours of the morning we snuck over to her casa and she chauffeured us on down to Celebration. We were concerned about parking but literally found tons of open spaces about a quarter mile from the start. Score.

I was bragging about the fact that I took two Immodium (one the night before and one the morning of) so that I did NOT have to defile the port a potties. There is something about a race (even a teeny tiny 5k) that makes my stomach go haywire. I tried this method for Disney and it worked like a charm. Well, I guess my stomach is stronger than I think (not sure if this is good or bad) because it said, "Screw you, Immodium," and I ended up cutting about a hundred people in line to abuse that port a potty. I guess I am upgrading to three Immodium. I do not know if I should be proud or ashamed about this.

Even though I used the port a potty a total of THREE times, when we lined up at the race start I had to pee again. I contemplated how many people would notice me squatting in the bushes before the race, and then just told myself that if worst came to worst I could just pee on myself while running and everyone would think it was sweat. Yes, these were real thoughts. Sorry, Victoria for thinking about peeing on myself and then riding home on your leather seats. In all seriousness though, if it meant a PR, I would probably do it. No shame over here.

But, I digress...the race started after a national anthem that was sung by a woman and not the man advertised. Victoria and I started with the 3:40 marathon pacer (8:24/mile pace). Let me tell you, this man was booking it. My first mile was 8:20. He was a good ten seconds ahead of me. I wanted him to be my rabbit and eventually pass him, but he was going way too fast so I decided to play it safe. I honestly was not thinking about PR'ing because I was two weeks out from my last marathon and had not run much, or very hard since. This was a race to see where I was at, speed wise.

Victoria stuck with the pacer and I watched her short self pass me and thought, "Dammit man." I wanted to run faster at that point, but I kept telling myself to run my own race. Run MY pace, not anyone else's.

I settled into a running groove that scared the crap out of me. I was running miles in the 8:00-8:20 range and that is rare for a half mary. My half marathon pace is 8:43 (and that's my PR) - usually I run about an 8:40 pace the first ten miles, then hit the wall and shuffle to the finish around 8:50-9:00/mile paces for the last 5k. Seeing miles clocking in at 8:15 scared me because I felt like I just might fall over and die by mile 10 if I kept that up. Surprisingly, I did not. I had a steady pace for miles 2-10. I felt good. I felt like I was maintaining a comfortably hard pace. I wasn't dying, but it wasn't easy either. I hit the 10k around 51:00 and I was still going strong. My splits miles 1-9 were: 8:20, 8:13, 8:15, 8:18, 8:09, 8:04, 8:07, 8:17, 8:18.

I hit the 15k around 1:17. A new 15k PR. I've never run one under 1:19. This was an 8:16/mile pace. I was thinking at this point that I was the biggest badass in the world, and wtf was going on. So unreal. I felt good  though...until the dreaded mile 11, my archnemesis. This is where I usually slow down, and I did slow down but not by nearly as much as normal. Miles 11,12, and 13 were: 8:34, 8:46, 8:39. The last .22 was a 7:58 pace.

This is good news for my running. I'm starting to hit the wall at the same point, but it is having less impact on my speed. I realized I had a chance of a 1:50 half marathon around mile 11.5 and I picked up the pace a little bit more. I still had something in me. I wasn't letting this race go.

At mile 13, I saw the finish. I will add that mile 13 on my Garmin came earlier than mile 13 on the course, but I expected that. My official Garmin distance was 13.22. Not terrible, but I have run the tangents better for sure. I could have had a sub 1:50 time if I had actually run a 13.1. I was giving it my all at this point (which was a 7:58 all needs to get faster) and I knew this was a big PR. I crossed the finish line and was so freaking proud of myself. Official time: 1:50:28. A 4 minute PR. This really was a Celebration half marathon (hehehe, I had to).

It doesn't happen if you don't take a picture of your Garmin.

I met Katy earlier that morning and she finished right after me with a PR! So awesome. I finally also got to meet Michelle and even got to stalk her baby Evan when her family was at the finish. (He is as cute as his Instagram pics). Michelle PR'd too which is amazing! It was PR city. We snapped a cute pic and got to chat for a bit after the race.

Lovely ladies (photo cred: Victoria)

My runnin' buddy. 

What is even cooler than PR'ing is that I WON MY AGE GROUP! As in, first place. Never happened in a half marathon before. Yay yay yay!


Thoughts on the race:

This course was fast and flat. I loved it. Half the time I wondered where the heck I was at, and where I might be going (lots of neighborhood loops and running through preserve boardwalks) but it still was a good course. I got to see a lot of identical white houses with picket fences that I could never keep clean. The support was EXCELLENT. Water at almost every single mile and they were also handing out Cliff bar gels, which I ended up taking. I would run this again in a heartbeat. Honestly, for a first race I was expecting a lot worse, so I was pleasantly surprised. And for $40 I got a great race, a good tech tee (V neck!) and a nice medal. Definitely a must do if you are in the area. I can't speak for the full, but I did hear good things.


My fueling plan was different for this half than any other, and I think it played a big role in my PR. I ate two pieces of Cinnamon raisin bread before the start and drank a lot of Nuun. I took a salt stick at mile 4, a Powerbar gel at mile 5, another gel at mile 7, a salt stick at mile 10 along with my last gel. I actually wish I had taken another gel around 12, because I think it could have boosted my last two mile splits. Eating this much for a race is something I have never done (I used to do halfs eating NOTHING and only drinking water and Gatorade before the race). I definitely think that fueling more has done wonders for my speed. Last February, I ran my PR half time - and it was a 2:03:47. My PR for this race was 1:50:28. That's 13 minutes in one year. I have worked my butt off to get to this point, but I know I can take even more time off my half.

What does this mean for my running? I am not sure. It kind of scared me to be running the paces I did, but it excited me more. It means that my tempos need to be much faster. My mile repeats should be sub-8. My track intervals need to be faster. Which they will be - I am not going to underestimate myself. I am going to push hard this spring training season and see what I can do. My goal (a lofty one, but still my goal) is a 1:45 half marathon. Will it be hard? Hell yes. That is an 8:00/pace. I have to take 25 seconds off per mile to achieve that goal. Is it doable? Hell yes. I just took 20 seconds off per mile during this half marathon from my previous PR - and I took that much time off in exactly a month.

My goal race is the Swamphouse Half Marathon on March 2. If I make my goal, awesome. If not, I have many more months to work on it in 2014.

And whether I ever PR again or not, I will continue to eat this after every half marathon:

I love you, BurgerFi.

What are your race goals for 2014? 

Have you noticed an improvement in your running because of fueling changes?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Madness

It's Monday. Le sigh. 

That ^ was me today. I could not hang. I rocked a sweatshirt from 2006 (you read that right - as in, eight years ago), jeans, and tennis shoes to work this morning. So that in itself should speak for how I felt. I did not feel like teaching, I did not feel like working out. I did not feel like doing anything but catching some zzzzz's.

I am trying to get better about setting a weekly schedule and sticking to it. Too many times I will plan to take a spin class, work on homework (I am getting my masters degree), or be productive in some other way, and then I will convince myself I need to rewatch season 9 of SVU. And so I put that at the top of my to do list. I guess the bright side is at least I can cross one thing off?

This is the worst TV scenario ever.

I <3 Stabler.

Sorry, last one. 

So tonight I am planning on folding my laundry, which has been sitting in the same spot for two weeks, making something other than Tijuana Flats for dinner, and making a schedule of what I need to do this week. I am already exhausted thinking about it. I need a Jeeves in my life.

This Jeeves will be purrfect.
I'm off to be an adult. Soon I will have a recap up of my half marathon PR...and another post on how to incorporate healthiness one, tiny step at a time in your routine!

Until then, goodbye. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Disney Marathon Recap

I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon for the first time last year. I did Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge and hated it. It was miserable. Partly because I didn't get to train properly (my last long run(s) were a 10 miler and then The Jacksonville Bank Marathon the day after. Did the 10 miles then proceeded to eat bad tacos and woke up doubled over in stomach pain the next day, unable to poisoning is a bitch). Long story short, I was unprepared. Also, I ran a half marathon 6 days before Goofy and my legs were not fully recovered. I had a bad impression of Disney and their races just because I did not enjoy my first experience. I was not a happy runner. Disney and the volunteers, course, etc. were AWESOME, I just couldn't appreciate it because my legs had revolted.

So I swore that I wouldn't do another Disney race...but then registration opened and so many of my running group buddies (aka "Team Ed," named after our awesome Marathonfest group leader) were signed up, so I figured what the heck...I would give it another shot. My sister was also doing it and I am a sucker for races.

I honestly was not that excited for this race until the expo. Any expo gets my blood pumping. I love them. I want to buy all the things and eat all the samples. Plus, Cigna and the AT&T Fam Cam were there, giving us the opportunity to take pictures and then have them printed out and sent to our email. Pretty dang cool! My favorite is the 360 photo that my boo and I took together. He was a good sport and put on the pirate hat with fake braids attached that I suggested forced him to wear. Hehe.

I also liked this Cigna one (quality is bad, sowwy). The quote is so true.

I think I was also excited about this race because it had been a full two months since my last marathon, thanks to my Space Coast fail. My last completed full was the Savannah marathon in early November. I was ready to run long this time. Mentally I was refreshed and my body had been able to recover and take time off from running long. My last longer/faster run was the Jacksonville Bank half that I ran last minute with my sista two weeks prior to Disney and it was a PR, which was a good mental boost for me. I knew I could finish Disney comfortably. I figured I would run it with all my friends and have a blast.

And I did just that...sort of.

Race day morning:

2:15 am was our wake up call since my sis and I were meeting two of my friends Rick and Mike to follow each other to Epcot. We wanted to make sure we parked next to each other and didn't want to deal with the hassle that trying to track someone down at Disney can be. So at 3:15 we met up and moseyed on over to Disney. The drive was not bad and we were parked and walking up to the bag check area by 4:10.

We used the porta-potties (3 times for me), ate, and complained about how freaking early it was. Then we went back to our cars to nap for 30 minutes since we had so much time to kill. After our shuteye, we started the cattle herding walk to the corrals.

Rick, Mike, myself, and Sarah before our nap.

Ed, our group leader, had agreed to meet us in Corral I and start with us. He is a perfect Disney marathoner (has done all 21 marathons!) so this was extremely nice of him. If you are a perfect Disney marathoner, you get the very nice amenity of starting in Corral A. So Ed is a saint for coming back to Corral I. This also meant we could run on autopilot and not focus on pace so much. Ed is so great about keeping our splits consistent and making sure we don't go out too fast.

Team Ed from left to right: Steve, Mike, Rick, me, Ed, and Bill

We met Ed, took some group pictures, and waited for it to be our turn to run across that start line! Carissa, the best race announcer ever, gave Team Ed TWO special shout outs before the start. I have to admit, it was like being a local celeb for five minutes. Everyone around us was like, "Who's Team Ed?" and we got to respond, "It's us!" So that's my rise to stardom. I doubt I will ever surpass that notoriety.

The race:

So the start line loomed closer, Mickey gave us the go ahead, and we were off! It was just as crowded as I remember, which was a little frustrating, but it pans out around mile 5 and got a lot better. Miles 1-5 flew by. I seriously wish my running group could come to every race with me. Chatting with them and laughing as we run makes it so much fun. We passed the 5 mile checkpoint at 52:10 with a 10:26/mile pace. A little slower than I anticipated, but it was early. We had a lot of time to speed up.

On our way to the castle! Photo credit: Rick

Mile 6-7 are some of my favorite miles because you go through Cinderella's castle and Main Street. There are TONS of spectators at this point and I felt so pumped up! We decided to stop for a group photo in front of the castle. Normally, I am against photos during a race but I did not plan on PR'ing and so I figured, why not? Might as well get my money's worth. I am SO glad we stopped - our pictures are amazing!

So pretty!

My favorite picture

Before the castle scenes, I took a Powerbar Performance Energy Blend gel at mile 5 (my new favorite race fuel), even though I was not hungry. I knew I needed to fuel before I felt like I needed to. I also took a salt stick at mile 4. My fuel plan for the race ended up being like this:

Powerbar Performance Energy Blends/Cliff gel: Miles 5, 11, 14, 17, 19.5, 23
Salt sticks: Miles 4, 8, 11, 14, 17, 19.5, 23

My fuel plan worked like a charm. I was never exhausted, hungry, or tired during the run. I had a LOT of energy and felt great after the race. Also, the next day I was not nearly as ravenous as usual. Not sure if I can attribute it to my fueling, but I definitely think fueling properly and so efficiently made a big difference.

Back to the race...

Miles 7-14 were filled with the Richard Petty speedway, Animal Kingdom, Everest, and knowing that there was a long stretch of highway ahead of us. We hit the 10 mile checkoint in 1:43:10 at a 10:19/mile pace. Faster, but not as fast as I thought we would be by that point. I thought we would be in the 9:5x range for overall pace. It was not something I was concerned with though, because I wasn't feeling too well during these miles.  I was honestly getting cranky and was upset I still had a half marathon left to run. I stopped for a picture with Rafiki with Mike and Rick just because I figured I would get done around 4:45 and that is not even close to a PR - so a picture wouldn't hurt my time at all.

Don't I look awkward?

We hit the halfway checkpoint in 2:15:31, with an overall pace of 10:21/mile. Our pace was dropping, and I could feel it. Rick asked me how I was doing, and I told him I was tired. Ha. Well, too freaking bad because we were only halfway done, he told me. I let him know I didn't plan on PR'ing and that we could all have fun together and finish whenever we finished. Might as well enjoy it! That was my plan, anyway......

Then came mile 14. I am not sure what happened. We were going through a water stop, and the group stopped to walk, and I continued to jog. If I walk through a stop, I will walk the rest of the race. I have to keep my legs moving. So, I did. According to my Garmin, mile 13 was 10:49. Mile 14 for me was 10:03. I could feel that I was moving faster. But I felt okay. Actually, I felt great. So I started running faster. Mile 15 was 9:53. Mile 16 was 9:50. At this point, I had lost my group. They were behind me and I thought to myself that I had to take advantage of how good I was feeling. I was experiencing second wind, which is so rare for me. I felt ON TOP OF THE WORLD.

I put my headphones in at Mile 16 and told myself that I had a ten mile training run. I was so pumped. My music playlist was new and the songs were getting me hyped. Mile 17 was 9:20. Mile 18 was 9:23. Mile 19 was 9:46. Mile 20 was 9:43. I was running faster, passing people, and feeling so awesome. Never before have I felt so alive while running, so happy and free. Yes, it sounds cliche, but that's how it went down, people. I was killing it. I passed the 20 mile checkpoint in 3:23:20, with an average pace of 10:10/mile.

I realized at mile 20 that I could PR. Not by much (my current PR was 4:34:37), but maybe by a minute. I made that my goal. I could not stop to walk these last 6 miles. I could not focus on the pain. I just had to run. AND I DID.

Pictures that Rick took around mile 24-25 during the final stretch in Epcot.

The last 10k of my race (or the last 6.60 if you are going by my Garmin) was an average 1:08:30. Average pace of 10:22. Incredibly fast? Not even close. Off my 10k time by quite a but. But the last 10k of a marathon is where I usually bite the dust. As in average mile splits in the 12:00/13:00 minute range. Not a pretty site. But this race was different. Yes, I hurt. Yes, I wanted to be finished. But I kept going. I didn't stop to walk once. I pushed through it all. And when I looked at my Garmin at mile 25 and realized that I could negative split this race, I ran hard. I gave it all I had.

I finished in 4:29:22. First half: 2:15:33. Last half: 2:13:49. I RAN NEGATIVE FREAKING SPLITS.


I still can't believe it when I think about it. The PR I knew I could make happen around mile 20. 5 minutes is great, and I ran a sub 4:30 race, which I am proud of. But nowhere near as proud of the fact that I ran a SMART race. I paced myself correctly. I fueled perfectly. I listened to my body. I ran the last half of a marathon faster than the first half. That feeling is so incredible, and I am still on a runner's high.

Finish photo with Team Ed!

I am not an elite athlete. I am not fast by most people's standards. But I am a marathoner and I am so proud of my accomplishments. This was my 11th marathon and by far, my favorite. It has ignited my love for the distance and for the sport of running right when I needed it. It has made me excited for 2014.

Congrats to everyone that finished any one (or all four) of the Disney races last weekend! BE PROUD of what you accomplished!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

IDEA Inspired Blogger!

Oh yes, I am one! 

I applied to be an IDEA Inspired Blogger and was accepted! I am really excited - I want my cute lil blog to grow and this is a great step.

I was also accepted as a #Sweatpink ambassador.

I am so excited about both of these developments! I really want to try and branch out and meet more people through my blog.

If you want, you can also follow me on Bloglovin'

I have been a little (ok, a lot) AWOL lately - between graduate classes starting, school back in session, and a marathon (a recap soon to come), I have been a busy Kat.

Anyway, I promise a Disney marathon recap ASAP and a healthy recipe that I threw together the other day and LOVED!


Never gets old.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Greetings, 2014

I happen to be a very goal-oriented person. I love challenging myself and I love rewarding myself for accomplishing things I would not have done, say five years ago when I was binge-eating cheeseburgers and dying my hair black (yes, those things used to happen).

That picture was taken during a cheeseburger eating challenge in 2009. To warm up for it, I ate a quarter pounder from McDonalds. No lie. 

That being said, I get so annoyed when there is a huge influx of people posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. about EVERYTHING they are going to accomplish this year and how, "2013 was hard, but I am so happy that it was hard because I learned a lot about myself." They talk about all the things they are planning on changing on January 1 and how THIS year is going to be THE year of greatness. Maybe I am cynical or cranky, (or both) but I believe that if you want to make changes you should start NOW. Why wait until January 1?

That being said, I made some goals in December and have been trying to stick with them for about a month now. How's it going? Pretty good. There are days when I don't succeed, but I am trying to not focus on the one day that I didn't succeed, but on the other 29 days out of the month that I DID succeed. And I think that makes all the difference! It's perspective, people.

That being said, here are my goals for 2014 that I started implementing in 2013. Note: they are not extremely specific. I have running related goals, but these are my personal goals. I wanted these goals to be able to be applied toward my ENTIRE life, every single aspect of it.

1. I think that loving myself is so important, and something that I struggle with. Sometimes I feel ugly. Or fat. Or stupid. And I need to stop giving in to those negative feelings and remember that I am awesome!

2. Positivity is not my strong suit. I am a glass half empty kinda gal. But after doing some reading and pondering, I have come to respect the power of thoughts. If I am constantly negative, how can I expect good things?

3. I like to snack. End of story. I snack way too much.

4. I have been a lot more aware of what I am giving my body for nourishment and I want to continue that in 2014 and take it a step further. I would like to focus on eating lots of whole foods and eating clean.

5. A lot of times I compare myself to other people or look at what I DON'T have. Which is crazy, because I am SO blessed! I want to try and be thankful every day for all the things I have been given.

6. I do work out a lot, however I would love to get a set schedule (i.e., legs on Wednesday, arms on Friday, etc.) so that it is easier to plan workouts and stay consistent.

7. Why not?! Hehe

I hope 2014 has been good to everyone so far! I woke up with a pounding headache and made my sister go get me fast food. Womp womp womp. Good thing I am focusing on the positive!