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Posted by on Jan 20, 2013 in Races, Running | 18 comments

ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon

I’m so excited to share the events of yesterday’s race with you!

After a long and crazy day, Dave & I made our way up to Amelia Island late Friday evening to meet up with my coworker, Janny, and her husband, Alex, for the ZOOMA race expo. The expo was pretty small and only had a few vendors (it was nothing like the Savannah Rock n Roll Expo) so we didn’t stay too long. It was hosted at the Ritz Carlton though, so it was in a very luxurious location. The Ritz was buzzing with runners and decked out in pink for the girl’s getaway themed weekend.

Ritz

 

After checking out the expo, we went to unload our stuff at our condo, which was literally right next to the Ritz Carlton. My family goes to Amelia Island during the summer and we stay at a beautiful condo right on the ocean, so that is where we decided to stay for the race.

Beach View

Not a bad view, right?

Fast forward through dinner (shrimp and grits) and a rough night’s sleep and it was time to wake up and catch the 7am shuttle to the race. When my alarm went off at 6am, I was not feeling up to 13.1 miles. To be honest, I was actually in a little bit of a mood. I usually wake up on race mornings excited and nervous, but yesterday I was just annoyed that I wasn’t able to stay in bed. I ate half a protein bar, got dressed and assembled all my race gear.

Race Gear

 

After taking the shuttle from the Ritz to the start of the race (it was a point-to-point course), I began to get a little bit excited. I always find the energy of other runners to be infectious and I was able to meet up with my sister so we snapped some photos and chatted before it was time to head to the start line.

Dave also ran yesterday, so I had him there for some motivation. I guess the ‘girl’s getaway’ weekend scared a lot of the male runners away because only 14 men participated in the half marathon.  Dave was a good sport though and laughed along with all the women who were teasing him for being one of the only dudes at the race.

My dude

 

It was a very chilly morning (YAY!) so I was happy when the race started right on time at 8am. I love running in the cold, but I don’t care to stand around and wait in the cold.

I ran with Dave for 2 miles, before he pointed out a pacer who had a balloon tied to her that said 1:50. Dave knew that my goal for this half marathon season was to finish a race in under 1 hour and 50 minutes, which is almost 3 minutes faster than my PR. He took off and left me to hang with the pacer, who was one of those people that made running look easy.

Pacer

 

That was basically my view for the next 9 miles. I had never run with a pacer before yesterday and let me tell you…it was an AWESOME experience. This chick was incredible and she did an amazing job at motivating and coaching the runners in her group. Her personal best for a half marathon is a 1:32, so she was able to average an 8:20 pace with us and talk with no problem at all. One thing she said during our time together that stuck with me was this:

“Don’t look down. Look ahead. You’re running forward, not into the ground. Stay focused on what’s ahead of you, not what’s below you.”

I have a tendency to look down when I start to get tired and every time she caught me looking down, she would tell me to look up and she was right. I actually felt better when I was looking forward. I was able to breathe better and I felt stronger mentally when I could see the distance I was covering.

She was also an incredibly smart runner and forced us to speed up on the parts of the course where the wind was at our back and then she allowed us to slow down when we were running against the wind (which was insanely strong at some points during the course). When we were running against the wind she kept telling us not to fight it and to conserve our energy because eventually we would be turning and it would be at our backs again.

In addition to listening to her words of wisdom and encouragement, I also enjoyed listening to the other women running in the group. Some of them were training for marathons and one girl was even training for an Ironman. I found all of their stories to be very inspirational, which fueled me to keep going when I felt like slowing down.

By the time we reached mile 11, I knew a PR was within my reach if I pushed for it. I felt great and I hadn’t even needed to tap into my Gu supply. The pacer told me that my form looked strong and to go ahead and push forward and that is exactly what I did. I turned up my music (I had such a fun playlist – can’t wait to share it with you) and took off to complete the last 2 miles by myself.

The final result?

ZOOMA PR

 

I did it! I came in at 1:49 and set a new personal record! The last quarter mile of the run finished in the soft sand, so nobody was sprinting to the finish line. It was super tough to run that last leg of the race, but I knew when I saw the clock that I had achieved my goal.

Breaking the 1:50 barrier was actually sort of emotional for me. I remember thinking during my very first half marathon, “I just want to run the whole thing.” Eventually, that goal turned into, “I want to run it in under 2:10.” And that became, “I want to run it in under 2 hours.” See the progression? However, I remember thinking that running anything under 1:50 was unattainable during those first few half marathons…and even a year ago I thought I would never see a 1:4x on a race clock. It just seemed so far out of my reach.  But I did it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I achieved something that not too long ago seemed impossible.

I also won 1st place for my age group and got a super cool mug as my award…

1st Place

I made sure to find my pacer after the race and tell her how much I appreciated her helping me reach my goal.

Pacer2

And I wasn’t the only one who was setting records yesterday! Janny ran her FIRST 5K EVER and did AWESOME!

Janny's 1st 5kJanny started doing bootcamp with me a few months ago and when I heard about ZOOMA I encouraged her to sign up. I made her a training plan and then she did the hard part…she actually did the work! She trained, changed up her diet to include more veggies and water and yesterday her hard work paid off. Not only did she run her first 5k, but she felt great when she finished! She even did yoga afterwards with a bunch of other runners on the lawn of the Ritz. Yes, she’s an overachiever.

Dave rocked his race too and finished in 1:47 (only 2 minutes ahead of me, but who is counting…).

Zooma group

 

After the race, we hung out at the Ritz for a while and enjoyed free wine, pastries, coffee and fruit while listening to a live band.

We finally left the festivities around noon and walked to our condo to shower and go grab some lunch at a local restaurant called The Surf.

Post Run Treat2

I was craving something salty, so I ordered a shrimp wrap and some french fries.

Post Run Treat

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the historic downtown area before going back to the condo to curl up in our pjs and watch movies (Aladdin and Wedding Crashers).

It was a wonderful day filled with exciting accomplishments! Now that I’ve achieved my goal of running a sub 1:50, I’m thinking a sub 1:45 could be next on my list….or maybe I’ll never run again….you know, practice the whole ‘quit while you’re ahead’ thing.

Even though I’m still living on that runner’s high from yesterday, I’m really looking forward to the flexibility of incorporating more cross training and weights into my exercise routine this week.

Question: Have you ever pushed yourself to achieve something that you once thought was impossible? 

 

 

 

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Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in Races, Running | 2 comments

Savannah Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Yesterday I completed the Savannah Rock n Roll half marathon with my sister, Michelle!

What a phenomenal run! Yesterday’s race was incredible and dare I say…my favorite race to date?  I have ran several races, including 15 (now 16) half marathons, but I can’t remember a race that was as much fun as the Savannah Rock n Roll.

Michelle & I woke up a little before 6:30am on Saturday filled with nerves and excitement. Our hotel was 2 blocks from the start line and at 6:30 we could already hear people outside our hotel gearing up for the 8:00am start. The energy and anticipation outside our hotel was palpable and it sent my nerves into overdrive. Shortly after 7am, I made my way downstairs to grab something to eat from the complimentary breakfast buffet. The lobby was buzzing with runners and I could feel myself getting pumped for the day’s race. I opted for a hard boiled egg and some toast.

Since I typically run early in the morning before work, I’m not used to eating before I run. However, I knew I needed to eat something to keep me fueled through the race. I was only able to eat 1/2 the egg and 1 piece of toast due to my nerves and lack of appetite. With food and butterflies in our stomachs, Michelle & I headed down to the start line around 7:45 to find our corral.

We were located in Corral 4, which was only a block away from our hotel. There were over 10,000 runners competing yesterday and I’m not exaggerating when I say I could feel the electricity and positive energy coursing through my body as we waited in our corral for the race to start. Hence, I was smiling like I slept with a hanger in my mouth…

There are a few things I loved about the start of this race. First, I loved that they allowed a pastor to come up and pray for the safety of all the runners before the gun was fired. I felt like it was something that would only be done in the South, and it made me feel at peace and at home in the midst of all the excitement. Second, I loved that each corral started the race 1 at a time. There were a few seconds in between the start of each corral, which obviously allowed the initial start of the race to be less crowded. I was able to easily fall into a good pace & I didn’t spend the first 2 miles weaving in and out of people, Frogger style. The other thing I loved about starting in waves was that the people in each corral got their moment of glory. The announcer took time to get each corral amped up before they were released to start and whether you were running a 6 minute mile or a 12 minute mile, you were treated like an amazing athlete. And finally, I saw a Vizsla at the start line and I was instantly filled with warm and happy thoughts. *Fun fact: I actually purchased Ob from a breeder in Savannah.*

Four minutes after the start, the gun was fired for our corral and we were off!

The beginning of the race wasn’t very scenic, but it was lined with spectators who came out to show their support. I got a killer cramp at mile 3 and I started to panic that I was going to have a repeat of the Marine Corps half marathon. I told myself that I could breathe through it and that’s exactly what I did. The cramp was short lived and I was able to run it out within a quarter of a mile. I settled into a nice groove and by mile 6 we were running through the beautiful and shady streets of historic Savannah. Temperatures were in the low 60’s (a.k.a perfect) and I clocked 7 miles in less than an hour. I had the best time watching all the spectators who came out with signs and shakers to show their support. My favorite signs of the day included…

  • Don’t Stop! ← That’s what she said.
  • If running were easy, it would be called your mom.
  • Worst parade ever!
  • Those pants make your butt look fast!

I literally laughed out loud when I saw those signs. By the time I hit mile 7, I started thinking there was a chance I could set a new PR. I was feeling great and I hadn’t needed to stop for water or gatorade once during the race. I picked up the pace a bit in hopes of breaking 1:50 and I got into the zone. I think it made a huge difference running with people who were completing the full marathon. The half marathon didn’t split from the marathon runners until mile 12, and the vibe from the marathon runners was infectious. Unfortunately, just before I hit 10 miles, my body locked up. I stopped for about 45 seconds and inhaled my Gu packet before continuing on at a slightly slower pace than my previous 9 miles. I was good to go mentally because I was genuinely enjoying the race, but my left knee started to hurt due to the weird incline on some of the roads and I knew I needed to slow it down. I kept a decent pace for miles 10 and 11, but by mile 12 I had slowed down quite a bit. With only a quarter of a mile left, a man ran past me and said “Come on – you’re almost there! Make yourself proud!” With his words of motivation running through my head (←pun), I kicked it up a notch and sprinted (I use the word ‘sprinted’ in its loosest form) to the finish. The final result?

I missed setting a new PR by less than 2 minutes, but I’m still so proud that I ran a race that was competitive for me. I know this time isn’t that fast for amazing runners, but it is fast for me. 

I was greeted at the finish line with water, gatorade, chocolate milk, pretzels and fruit. I wasn’t feeling that great, so I just took the water and went to find a place to sit. The race finished in the lovely Forsyth Park.

Even though I didn’t set a new PR, this race will still go down as one of my all-time favorites because it was just so much fun! I truly think I smiled during every mile (even that grueling mile 12) & I’ve got a serious itch to do another Rock n Roll race! The city of Savannah and the people at Rock n Roll sure know how to put on an event. I thought the entire thing was well organized, from the Expo to the finish line, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in running long distance races.

After the race, Michelle and I made the 1.5 mile walk back to our hotel (yes, that walk was painful) where we chilled for a few hours before heading out for wine lunch.

We spent the rest of the day shopping in downtown Savannah before grabbing sushi for dinner and calling it a night.

I’m back at home now and curled up in bed with my crazy dog. I’m already looking to sign up for the next Rock n Roll run…New Orleans anyone? Or San Fran? You pick! 😉

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Posted by on Nov 4, 2012 in Races, Running | 1 comment

Savannah Rock n Roll Expo

Wow! What a fun and memorable race! But before I tell you about the 13.1 miles I ran this morning, I have to tell you about the Expo because it was an absolute blast and totally worth mentioning.

On Friday afternoon I began to stress about making it to the Expo in time to pick up our race packets because the reviews I read alluded to long waits and lots of traffic. I fully intended on the entire event being a nightmare, based on the information I got from last year’s runners. Fortunately, all my stressing was in vain because getting to the Expo was a breeze! Michelle & I hit no traffic and parked right in front of the expo around 5pm on Friday night. We spent 2 hours perusing around all the different tents inside and grabbing as many free samples as people were willing to give us. The theme for the night was similar to that of a carnival.

They had fun photo booths and lots of games, including my personal favorite, Skee Ball!

The excitement &  energy at the expo was contagious! I love being in the presence of so many runners. And obviously, I love getting free things. I use the in-wash scent boosters by Downy for my workout clothes and towels and I about lost my mind when I saw they were  giving out free samples. Naturally, I asked if I could take more than 1 and when I was told I could, I took 12.

I also took a ridiculous amount of these Snickers marathon bars…

I don’t particularly love these bars, but they were handing them out like candy on Halloween and this trick-or-treater doesn’t discriminate against anything free. 😉

Michelle’s favorite tent of the night was by a vendor called BeeCause Charms. They sell the cutest charms for your running shoes. We got matching charms that say ‘sole sisters.’

& of course, I had to get a cupcake charm…

How stinkin’ cute are those? They would make an awesome Christmas gift for the runner in your life.

My favorite booth of the night sold hilarious running shirts and magnets. I seriously wanted to buy everything because each item I picked up literally made me laugh out loud.

Toenails are for sissies. Word. Even though I wanted to purchase it all, I only walked away with this shirt…

I’m a freak about starting/stopping my Garmin at the exact.right.time, so this shirt was very fitting (I ♥ puns).

And because Michelle has an obsession with all things bling, we got these matching light up rings, which we rocked in the race today.

I would run this race again just for the excuse to go to the Expo! The Rock n Roll team and the city of Savannah sure know how to put on an event. The Expo was well organized and the perfect kick off to the race!

I’ll be back later with a race recap!

 

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Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in Family Fun, Races, Running | 0 comments

Marine Corps Half Marathon

It wasn’t pretty. It was hot, humid and painful, but I did it! I completed my 15th half marathon and I got to do it with my amazing sister, Michelle! I couldn’t have done it without her. The race ran by her house at around the 7 mile mark…if she had been home, I would have stopped at her house and asked for a ride back to my car. You think I’m joking. I’m not. So I truly mean it when I say, I wouldn’t have finished this race if she wasn’t out there running too. Michelle rocked the race and looked cute from start to finish! I was so proud of her!

The race got off to a hilarious start & I literally laughed for the first mile (which caused me to cramp up in the second mile, but it was totally worth it). The race started at 7am, which to Michelle, meant we could arrive at 6:50am. We parked for the race at 6:56am…and Michelle had to pee before she could run. Needless to say, the gun went off at 7 o’clock.on.the.dot and the race started while we were waiting in line for those nasty porta-potties. While we were waiting, we ran into my friend, Bruce. By the time Bruce & Michelle went to the bathroom, every one had already crossed the start line and they were counting down the SECONDS until the mat turned off that would track your time and actually prove you completed the race. Let me tell you; if those mats had turned off before I could cross, we would have been taking off our running shoes and going to brunch. We literally made it with about 3 seconds to spare and were the very last ones to cross the start line, which resulted in hundreds of spectators cheering for only the 3 of us. Absolutely hilarious!

Go number 937 (←that’s me)! Holla!

The race itself was a difficult one for me due to the rising temperatures and humidity. Note to self: October is still too hot to run 13.1 miles. After our chaotic start, I cramped up at mile 2, but was able to breathe through it and I got into a comfortable groove around mile 3. That was short lived though and by mile 7 I was feeling extremely overheated. I took water at almost every station (they were scattered about every 2 miles throughout the course). I also took some Gu Chomps at miles 5, 8 and 11. I thought I had a chance of barely sliding under the finish at sub 2 hours, but unfortunately at mile 11 I hit a serious wall and slowed way down. I usually strive to run negative splits, but that was not the case today and at mile 11 I knew I wouldn’t be picking up the pace in the end. I ended up finishing in 2:04, which I feel content with, considering my lack of training. I hope to get back to my normal pace and run some negative splits during my next 2 races, but I’m glad I went out and participated in the Marine Corps Half Marathon this morning.  I didn’t think the entertainment on the course was great, but they had plenty of water stations, 2 Gu stations and some killer views…

The race has 2 bridges in the front part of the course and 1 serious incline ramp at the end, so if you’re looking for a challenge I suggest you sign up for the Marine Corps Half Marathon 2013. Overall, I felt the race was very well organized and on a scale of 1-10 I would rank it at a 6.*

 

*Note: If I had run a 1:48 and got a PR today, I would rank it as a 10…I may be biased due to my less than stellar time.

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