Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day Run

I started out my Memorial Day morning with the Celebrate America 5K in Alpharetta. After fighting the alarm clock, I drove to the AMC near North Point Mall. There were so many people!!! The race website said the turnout was over 1000 and I don't doubt it. I made my way through check in and then my day was COMPLETELY made..the AMC theater generously had opened their doors so that we could use their restrooms. It was SO nice to use a nice clean restroom with zero lines. Thank you SO much AMC at North Point!

Then I lined up near the front of the shopping area and the race began. I spent the first mile trying to get around the large groups of people who wanted to run together very slowly. The humidity was completely unreal...it felt like it was misting at one point. The water station came up near the 2 mile mark manned by very sweet and enthusiastic Girl Scouts and I loved the drink and water to pour over my head. Mental note: I need to buy a bottle to carry with me during these super humid races...I always feel so revived after the water station. And then I got a side stitch and had to walk it out. Once that was over I tried to push it to the end, although the finish line did sneak up on me a bit! Finish, cookies, banana, water, and relaxing until the awards.

During the awards I was called up for 3rd in my age group, which was not reflected in the results (5th). So I guess I have someone else's ultra cool eagle plaque...I'm a little confused on that one, but I'm still excited with the results.


Even though I walked for about 30 seconds during the side stitch, I still was able to take about 40 seconds off my time in a little over a week. My goals with these shorter races are to motivate myself to train and to run faster. I am running faster, but I need to work on training more consistently....

The stats:
5K
26:06 (both watch and official)
142th overall
35th female
3rd/5th in age group

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fresh Pancakes and a 5K

Last weekend I got my booty out of bed early to run in the Alpharetta Mayor's Challenge. I registered for the race to give myself a reason to train since I find it much easier to make time to do so if I've put down some money. And of course because The Original Pancake House was providing a pancake breakfast for the finishers and they're super yummy!

When I arrived in Will's Park, it stuck me that this race was the first time I've been completely alone. Before I've either raced with someone or had someone on the sidelines to cheer me on and this time it was JUST me. I ran around the park a little bit to warm up after checking in and picking up the every lovely, yet comforable poop-brown race shirt. It's pretty nice and I made a mental note that I should come back some other time to run. I ran by that park during so many of the long runs leading up to the marathon, but had no idea it existed.

Walking up to the starting line I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who was also sporting a Garmin. He'd also done the Georgia ING, so we swapped stories until the start. The mayor of Alpharetta lead the race in a nice car that quickly distanced itself from me. The first mile went pretty quickly and I was impressed when I checked my pace...much faster than usual and not terribly uncomfortable. After the mile mark I passed the cutest little old man and I was so impressed that he'd kicked my butt during that first mile. And then the humidity hit me like a brick wall. I was sporting my hat and I had to take it off and curse at myself for not putting my hair up in at least pigtails and looking around for the water station. That is my one complaint about this race. The water station was after the 2 mile mark and the cups of water were the size of the ones used to rinse your mouth out in the bathroom. I drank a little and and rest went on my head and I charged on past the farmer's market (mental note to check that out in the near future) and back around to the park and finished the race. Water, bananas, and pancakes were enjoyed next to the DJ's booth while people watching. Then I walked past the bubble machine to cheer on the early 10K finishers and later 5K finishers before I went home.

Overall it was a fun race that I want to do again next year. I ran it faster than last month's 5K, but still didn't kill myself. I think I'm going to continue to do local 5K/10Ks over the summer to motivate myself and to get faster for a pontential half marathon in the fall.

Race Stats:
Overall Place: 66
Overall Female: 19
Age Group: 5
Watch Time: 26:48
Offical Time: 26:43 (How did that happen???)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The World's Ugliest Cupcakes

This weekend is going to be incredibly busy. I'm running the Alpharetta Mayor's Challenge tomorrow morning and throwing a good friend a shower in the afternoon. So I had to duck out of hanging out with Mandrew so that I could get the food situation under control before going to bed. Luckily a bunch of people are bringing things, so I JUST had the veggie platter, hummus, pitas, deviled eggs, and cupcakes.

So I've never made cupcakes before...lots of cakes, but never cupcakes. I was so pleased with how great they looked coming out of the oven, through the icing, and then it all ended. I tried to decorate them with the bride and groom's first initials and hearts. The first pic is of the better cupcakes and the second is when I started laughing hysterically at my remedial decorative icing skills. I now have total respect for grocery store cake departments.

Loads of finales on TV this week. The Biggest Loser was amazing as always. Jerry, the oldest participant ever at 64, won the at home group and Helen, the oldest of the finalists at 48, won the title. I really thought Tara would take it--she was such a fierce competitor and never fell below the yellow line, but as soon as Helen walked out my jaw dropped. She's smaller than me!!! That show is incredibly inspiring, but I think this season took it to a new level with the half and full marathons and ending.

LOST...so good. I can't believe there's only one season left! I can't get over the final 2 on American Idol! I didn't think Kris would make the finals until he sang his second song. I can't wait to see what happens for that.

Now to rest up for tomorrow's 5K and subsequent pancake breakfast. Yummy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trophies in the Office

So a few weekends ago Amro and I did a 5K with some friends. I had really low expectations for myself. After all, I'd come off a marathon so I'd been training to go slow forever, had just had the mother of all colds, and just had not had a lot of training in a month. But I still wanted to do it because it had been something we'd looked forward to doing as a group, so I got my booty up early, picked up people, and headed to Flowery Branch, Georgia to run and more importantly get my race T-shirt.

This was such a different experience from the last two races I'd done since college. Both of the others were HUGE, had tons of sponsors, and were in ATL. The Run for Camp Hope was a small race in an even smaller town in Georgia, but was really fun.

The race started and Mandy and I took it easy (she had the insider knowledge that the second mile was around a very hilly subdivision she had lived in as a kid) and the boys even kept up for about a half mile. Then we broke away and kept passing and getting passed by guys. We reached the first mile and water station feeling great and ready for those hills. We went down this killer hill and Mandy pointed out the cute house that she grew up in and all I could think was that there would be an uphill equivalent to the hill we were going down. However, there were three gradual uphills, which weren't bad. I was so happy to be running with Mandy because she pushed up the hills more than I think I'd have done alone. We got to through the second mile and got more water. The last mile is a bit of a blur. When we got back to the high school we picked up the pace and hung out with this super tall guy and I pulled away when I saw the end because I thought the guys was hurting and I wanted to beat him (and I did).

After we were done we went to cheer on the boys. I was pleasantly surprised by all of their efforts because they all finished in the faster range that I expected. Mandy's dad kicked all of our butts though and when he told Mandy that she won her age group her face broke into pure joy. We went over to the results board and saw that Mandy and I had both won our age groups (nice that our age difference is what it is...I don't think we'd ever compete against each other in any age group!) and Mandy's dad and Amro got second in their age groups! How exciting! We collected our trophies and went to Chik-fil-A for breakfast.

So here are the stats. I didn't kill myself on this one...there was really no point since I hadn't trained for the speed required for 5K and I really just wanted to enjoy the run. I went into it with no expectations and was so excited by such a great outcome!

27:35
Overall Place: 22nd
Overall Female: 5th
Age group: 1st

First Marathon

ING Georgia Marathon
March 29, 2009
Atlanta, GA

Ah my first marathon...so many memories.

Before the race: Got up around 4 am to eat and get my stuff together. Amro and I drove to the North Springs station and it was FULL of fellow runners. The trip downtown was nerve racking—there were delays because they were single tracking, but I guess I should have expected that on a Sunday. Walking to Centennial Park in the dark and seeing how many people were there was exciting. I grabbed my Clif bar, gum, and left to join coral 3…

The race itself: I don’t enjoy crowds, so I was freaking out a bit with the thousands of people all around. The race started and it took 3 minutes to get cross the start. It took about a half mile before we were spaced out enough to run rather than walk. COLD! We passed my weekday stomping grounds (GSU Natural Science Center) and snaked around downtown. The water stations and neighborhood cheering sections were great. The water station by the lupus charity was awesome—they were playing Eye of the Tiger and it was like a block party that we just happened to be running through. I felt really great and was running too fast even though I kept trying to slow myself through the split of the full and half marathon runners. Hit the 7 mile mark just after an hour. About mile 8 I started snacking on my chocolate brownie Cliff bar. Saw the first photographer and tried to look fast. The porta potty lines were crazy until about mile 10, although the guys all seemed to have the rule of “just don’t pee in front of the cops.” After mile 10 a nasty side stitch hit and I had to walk it off, but I had recovered to hit the half marathon mark at 2:22 and thought the winner was probably finishing (and I was right on that one.) Decatur had a ton of signs that were amusing and helped me think about something other than the side stitch. Had a REALLY hard time from about mile 15 to 19 and spent a considerable amount of time feeling sick in several porta potties or running until I felt sick and walking, but then I suddenly felt better. I hit mile 20 and had a second wind of feeling as fabulous as the first 8 miles and that lasted until mile 22. The last 4 miles of the race were rough because I was so stiff, but that’s when I did most of my socializing. I ran awhile with another first time guy until he needed to walk and then until the Tech campus with a lady who was running her first marathon to support a charity. We passed people handing out beer and she nearly took them up on it. When we hit the water station off Tech Square, it hit me that there was a little over 2 miles left and that I would finish this marathon. The last water station was filled with the Tech band and it was all I could do not to ask them what’s the good word while I grabbed my last cup of water (To hell with Georgia!). The last mile of the race felt SO long, so I kept my eyes on the OMNI since I knew that was near the finish. COLD! When I saw the finish line I was so excited and started looking for Amro and discovered that it seemed like every dude was wearing a brown hoodie! I ran over the first line and felt like a total rock star crossing the finish line with a smile and hands raised (trying to get a good finish pic) listening to my name being called on the loudspeaker.

After the race: Stopped the watch and spotted Amro and got a little emotional when I flung myself on the fence to give him a hug. Then metal, heat wrap, cookies, pictures, and a COLD walk to Marta. Back at the car I called my biggest fans (parents) and told them all about the race. Got home, shower, nap, and woke up with TONS of energy and felt great, so we did dinner and a game night with Mandy and Drew. They were kind enough to bring me a gift bag with Dr. Pepper and M&Ms along with a sweet card to say congrats. On a side note the next morning I didn’t realize how sore I really was until I started walking downstairs and fell down a few steps because my legs didn’t have the range of motion they usually do.

Lessons from the race:
1) Take the time to use the porta potty before the race, especially if a chip is used for accurate race time. I didn’t because I wanted to start with everyone else and suffered for it by spending SIGNIFICANT time in 4 porta potties during the race.
2) Carry out the same hydration and nutrition plan in the race that was carried out during the long training runs. Training I took water every 2 miles and ate half a Clif bar every 8 miles. I made the mistake of taking Gatorade at the first water station, but turned my stomach. I also took fluids at every mile and started to feel sick mid race from all the fluid sloshing around. At least I was consistent with the nutrition with my yummy chocolate brownie Clif bar!
3) Even though Martha warned me, I went out too fast because it was exciting to be around others and died later. Pacing yourself is incredibly important.
4) Enjoy! I have never experienced so much support from strangers during a race. The volunteers, cheerers, police officers, and fellow runners were exceptionally kind, encouraging, and enthusiastic. I loved watching people jump out of the race to hug their kids, take a picture with a parent, or just thank a group of random people who came out to cheer us on. There were kids handing out water, a lady handing out orange slices, and lots of people handing out nuts and pretzels (that I really appreciated because they helped calm my tummy when I had a hard time.)

Although I didn’t hit the goal that I had set for myself (under 5 hours), I have never been more proud of myself. It’s pretty amazing to think that I was able to go from not running to completing a marathon in a span of 6 months. It was so hard to get into shape and make the time to train, but it was such an empowering experience. Finishing something that less than 1% of people ever attempt made me realize that I truly can do anything. I’m excited to have gotten back into shape, to made positive changes to my diet, to feel good in my own skin again, and to have inspired others to make similar changes in their own lives. More marathons, trying a half, and enjoying running are definitely in the cards for the future.

I’d like to give a big thank you to all everyone who had completed a marathon for all the great advice and everyone in general for the support.

Clock time: 5:18:53
Chip time: 5:15:23
Overall Place: 1755
Female Place: 555

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beginning of the Blog

I've gone back and forth about starting a blog, but I've finally decided to go for it. I'll use it to talk about my random experiences on public transit, running/racing, and life in general. Enjoy.