Out of Retirement

You might remember my friend and former blogger, Melissa.

She lives in DC and wrote Hungry, Healthy, Happy for awhile. We met through our blogs, decided to take our online stalking relationship to real life stalking and the rest is history.

Well, Melissa just finished her first marathon and because I’m selfish and wanted to hear all about it, I asked her if she wanted to guest post. She totally fell for it. I don’t normally accept guest posts. In fact, this is my first one. Probably my last one. But I love hearing about this kind of stuff and I was thinking you might too.

So without further adieu…

Out of blogging retirement to tell you all about my marathon?!?! Yes, please! After all, the only real way to validate my achievement is to toot my own horn via the internet, amirite? ;)

So, those of you who read my little old blog back in the day may remember the following chain of events:

  1. Run a 20 minute PR in the half marathon (1:34:38) to my complete and total shock. Qualify for the NYC Marathon.
  2. Train for a different marathon (because NYC couldn’t possibly be my first <eye roll>). Become horribly, debilitatingly injured to the point that I could barely walk. Cease marathon training. Avoid the doctor because: uninsured.
  3. Rest and (sort of) heal injury. Train for NYC Marathon.
  4. NYC Marathon cancelled due to devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
  5. Be salty about NYC Marathon cancellation.
  6. Run Richmond Marathon the following weekend only to have my bastard knees soul-crushingly give out about 8 miles in. Fight through until mile 20. Hobble off the course feeling extra super sorry for myself.
  7. Continue to feel sorry for myself and not run again for 4 months.
  8. Run another (slower) half. Get injured again.
  9. Get insurance. Go to PT. Have my body beat into submission so it will work as designed.
  10. Be HEALED!

The PT really worked. I got back to running in November of last year and joined P and Michelle (among many lovely others!) for the Celebration Half Marathon in January. When I mentioned to my co-worker that I was thinking of running the DC Rock n’ Roll Half in March, he asked, “Why not the full?” I didn’t have a good answer, so I signed up. Seemed like a well-thought-out plan.

I proceeded to tell myself my goal was simply to finish–not for time, not for glory, just for the achievement of actually RUNNING A MARATHON (<–yes, that requires all caps in my world). Running a marathon is a pretty sweet accomplishment, and I wanted to be part of that club.

If you followed me in the past, you know I was militant about my training. This time? I was so un-me, it was mildly baffling. I made a training plan, but if I missed a workout, I didn’t really think about it. (It was a long, cold winter, yo.) I slowed down my runs to 9ish minute mile pace (instead of the 8 minute insanity that likely caused all my injuries) and did exactly 2 speed workouts. Not 2 speed workouts per week. Two speed workouts TOTAL.

HOWEVER–in typical Melissa fashion, I fell. A lot. Well, twice. Once on the ice just one mile in to my 18 miler. I got up and finished the run, then went to urgent care for a pretty seriously sprained right arm. It was really fun not being able to feed myself or fasten my bra for the two weeks following that. The second fall, sweet baby Roo (that would be my dog) got under my feet, and I fell on my face. Because I have no shame and needed to be coddled, I took selfies of my scraped fat lip and posted them on Instagram. The world needs to see that kind of thing. I also tore my favorite running tights and made mincemeat of my knee in that fall. I actually had to sit down and put my head between my legs because I was seeing spots and thought I might pass out. So that was super fun. Oh, and that happened just a week before marathon day. Naturally, I went out the next day and blew through 11 miles like I had something to prove. I know that if you don’t post it on Instagram, it didn’t happen, but I took a picture of my Garmin, which is almost the same. Also, running fast miles less than a week before my race might not have been the smartest move, but since when do runners do smart things?

Roo sees me taking selfies and needs to get in on it. I understand.

After serious taper crazies (I have never had so much nervous energy in my life), I woke up on race morning completely terrified but also strangely ready. I was able to meet up with Steph, an old friend from Michigan and my training partner, before the race, and seeing her calmed my nerves a tiny bit. I still felt like I was going to throw up, but felt better that a friendly face was nearby to hold my hair back.

When my corral finally set off, I was so cold/nervous that my teeth were chattering. I know–I’m not dramatic at all. But after about a half mile, I settled in and just felt excited that I was RUNNING A MARATHON.  I tried not to run too fast and reminded myself that my primary goal was to FINISH. Still, I did have a secondary goal in mind of finishing in 3:45–Chicago qualifying time–so there was a fair amount of people dodging going on. In general, though, I tried to enjoy the energy and not lose sight of the fact that we were running along the National Mall, which in itself is pretty cool.

About 6 miles in came a killer hill. I’d run it before and knew it was coming, but we’re talking at least a quarter mile of steep incline, so I basically hated my life for those three minutes. There was a ton of crowd support, though, so that ensured I wouldn’t wuss out and walk or anything. Around mile 8, I spotted a co-worker who’d come out to cheer me on, so that made me pretty happy, and shortly after that, I caught up with the 3:40 pacers. While I said my primary goal was to finish, and my secondary goal was to qualify for Chicago, my tertiary goal (I’m so annoying) was 3:40. Or–more specifically 3:38. I have no idea why I picked that number, but I wanted it. I wasn’t going to be heartbroken if I didn’t hit it, but I knew I could, and I was going to try for it.

Mike and Tim, the pace group leaders, introduced themselves and made me introduce myself to the group (Melissa, from Michigan, Project Manager, first time marathoner). Now, I have never been a particularly social runner–or person, if we’re being honest. I’m a little shy and usually feel awkward and like I’m talking too loudly and saying stupid things. But this group felt different–safer somehow. They were supportive and interesting and actually super helpful. Mike and Tim told us when to ease up on the pace, gave us tips about the course, and were generally entertaining throughout. Miles 8-20 flew by. I’m not even exaggerating. I was smiling obnoxiously the whole time.

I also saw my parents a few times and a couple other co-workers who’d come out to cheer, which was the best. I got so excited when I saw them, and it was really nice to have people there for me–I’ve never had that before, and I was surprised at how much it helped! I also pointed out to my spectators that I was “running with the fast people!!!” I am so embarrassing.

About mile 21, we headed out to a long and lonely loop around a park, and my legs started to get tired. I kept up the pace, but I started to feel a new kind of pain around my upper thighs that I’d not experienced before. This is where it got pretty mental, and I really had to talk myself through. The pacers were about 20 yards ahead of me, so I told myself to run my own race. That I knew it was going to be hard. That if I wanted to hit my goal, I was going to have to work for it. That I could slow down, make it easier, still finish in 3:45, but I wanted that 3:38, so I kept pushing.

Then, it got hilly. I was displeased. After 3 rolling hills, I figured we had to be leveling out. Nope. Another hill loomed a half mile ahead as I crested what I had hoped was the last hill, and a rather loud expletive escaped. Pretty sure I just shouted what everyone else was thinking. While the hills were probably good for my body because they forced me to change pace, they were not good for my mind, which didn’t want a challenge at that point. I wanted to be done.

But even though I was tired and even though the pacers were closer to 40 yards ahead by now, my Garmin told me I was still running in the 8:–teens, which was PLENTY fast for me. And while the last few miles should’ve felt long and endless, they weren’t. Before I knew it, I was rounding the bend to the stadium with the finish in sight. My Garmin clocked the course about a half mile long (running through a tunnel confused it), so it was just slightly infuriating when I thought I should be done, but still had a half mile to go. When I realized where the actual finish was, though, and how close I was to it, I bolted. I have never been so happy to see a finish line in my life. Evidence: last mile: 7:21. I may have been a tiny bit excited. I saw my parents as I entered the chute, too, which made me even more excited, if that’s possible. I think I yelled to them, “I RAN A MARATHON!!!!” So much cheese.

 

When I crossed the finish line, I was handed my medal. I saw my pace group leaders right away and went over to them to give them hugs and fall all over myself with gratitude to them for helping me through. Mike took my medal from me and put it around my neck and told me I’d earned it. I kind of got all weepy, but recovered quickly when he revealed that he was actually a Secret Service Agent. I guess that makes sense given the horrific events in Boston last year and the fact that we were in the Nation’s Capitol and all, but still. Took me right off guard. Oh, and his name wasn’t Mike, either. Heh.

Official finish: 3:38:06.

What’s next? Not sure. If I never run another marathon, I will always be happy with the one I did run. The fact that I did it is enough. Reaching my goal is the icing on the cake, and honestly, I don’t know that I can top this experience. And after several (ahem, three) false starts in the marathon distance, I’m just so freaking proud of myself that I finally finished one.

That Time I Didn’t Totally Hate Running

My work had an ugly sweater contest yesterday. I came in third!

(If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this.)

That’s not a sweater. It’s a t-shirt. This is Florida people. Don’t go thinking we own actual sweaters around here. I had a hard time deciding between this shirt and the one that said “Merry Christmas Bitches!” Obviously, I chose the more work appropriate holiday humping shirt and it paid off handsomely. And by handsomely, I mean not at all because I didn’t get jack for third place.

I didn’t let the lack of a (deserved, if you ask me) prize get me down because my new Mizuno Wave Rider 17s came in the mail!

So pretty! So shimmery!

I went for a four mile run and the jury is still out on if I like them. The ankles are comfortable but the top of the shoe is really tight, which I’m not sure I like. They also might be a touch too narrow, but that could be in my head because the blood blister on the bottom of my pinky toe (from my last race) is aggravated by running in general.

I’m going to loosen the laces for my next run and see how it goes. I may or may not return them for the wide version. I’m a little apprehensive because I’m afraid they’ll be too wide. #neverhappy

Anyway, I’d like these shoes to work out for me. They’re light, cute, and make me feel like prancing. Also, I don’t want to go around presuming they are magical or anything but…

I’ve never had an outside run where most of my miles were in the eights. Usually I hate running outside. It almost never goes well and I’m miserable, but yesterday wasn’t so bad. Well, my face was covered by at least 40 gnats at the end, which was disgusting. I don’t want to think about how many made it in my mouth. That is probably #6 on my list of why I hate running outside. I’ll go ahead and answer the question you’re probably already thinking besides, “how could a runner hate running outside?”

Reasons I Hate Outside Running

  1. Humidity
  2. Heat
  3. Lack of available bathrooms to poop in
  4. I have to carry water or run a boring loop with water fountains
  5. I might get shot
  6. At least 40 gnats in my face

So what I’m saying is, either the shoes are powered 9:00 minute mile cheetahs or I became amazing within one week.

I’ll keep you updated on that answer.

Five for Friday

1. I went for a run last night. This was my view.

That means my run was not on my beloved treadmill, but outside in the land of gnat clouds. The temperature was in the low 60s (that’s our cool front) when I started and everyone on the path was already in winter jackets and long sleeves. Florida is hilarious when it dips below 72F. There is no reason for any of us to own a quilted winter jacket.

2. I ran five miles. I didn’t feel omgamazing but I felt alright and this is how it went.

I know it’s only five miles (no walking! hive five), but I couldn’t even get one mile like that during my race. Apparently I’m not meant to run races but boring mile loops around a lake.

3. I got my first Christmas card in the mail. (From this girl who just changed her blog name. You know you’re gonna have to change that again in 10 years right?)

There are several things I like about how this was addressed. Probably the first being that all our last names are Hamm. There’s something delightful and disgusting about the name Pants Hamm.

4. Last weekend, we went to see Steve Byrne at the Improv with a bunch of friends and got to meet him after the show.

He’s on a show called Sullivan and Son on TBS that we don’t watch, so we had no idea who he was but we had a good time and Steve was a nice guy. Some of his routine was a little too offensive for me (and I am really hard to offend) but other than that, worth seeing.

5. Hubs and I watched Winter’s Bone last night.

Yeah, I know it’s old. I have a lot of catching up to do. Anyway, I bought the movie on super sale and have been meaning to watch it for awhile now.

I’m going to sum it up quickly so you don’t have to watch it.

*Spoiler Alert*

*You’ll thank me later*

Jennifer Lawrence is dirt poor and raises her two younger siblings because her mom is crazy and her dad’s in jail for cooking meth. Dad jumps bail and disappears “mysteriously.” (It’s not really mysterious.) The dad’s debt threatens to take the family house so she has to find him. She walks from house to house asking people where her dad is while wearing a sweet deer sweater.

Alright, so that happens for about an hour. Oh, and it’s cold out. I guess that’s why it’s called Winter’s Bone because there’s no other explanation. Although, no one ever seems really cold in the movie so I question the temperature.

Anyway, after asking enough people, she finds her dad. He’s dead in the water (literally) and she has to chop his hands off to prove it (best not to ask).  Finally, she gets to keep the house. Then she makes her siblings feel like crap unintentionally.

The end.

When I say nothing really happened in this movie, I am not exagerrating. However, this is what is written on the back of the box.

IMG_20131213_065518_108

Hubs mentioned that we did technically have pulses during the movie. So they got us there.

A New Attitude

I already forgot about that race that shall not be mentioned. Amazing what a few days and a lot of beer can do. Thanks, beer.

I’m already formulating a plan for my next race in January. I’d tell you what that plan is but then I won’t follow through because, well, I’m a quitter. That’s why part of this new plan (that I will tell you about) involves an attitude adjustment.

Once my mental state goes downhill, it’s over for me. I can’t get it back. I read all these blog posts about how people tough it out and dig deep during a race, and I wish that was me, but it’s not. This basically means that I’m the least competitive person you’ll ever meet because I give up so easily. I find it really easy to stop caring.

So if you like to beat your friends in races – or in anything really – I’m the girl you want to hang around. I’d be like the old lady that Finnick carried on his back in Catching Fire, except I’d be completely able to walk and 30 years younger.

If I was a dog, I’d be this dog.

So, goal #1: Attitude adjustment

I’ve had several people tell me that I get inside of my head too much when I race. Not sure how I’m going to go about fixing that but I guess I have a month to figure it out. So here’s to not being a poopy pants anymore. Also, here’s to not actually pooping my pants anymore. Why not go for two goals?

I’m already excited about my next race, so I think that helps. Plus, you know my attitude is starting to change when this doesn’t get me down:

stats

Pretty sweet place there.

What do you do to keep up your morale during a race? (If you tell me you repeat mantras, I’m going to delete your comment. haha. Just kidding. Maybe.)

Shoe Drama

Shoe drama. I gots it.

I’m sure some of you knew this post was coming. Running shoes and I have always had a dicey relationship. I think I’ve found the perfect shoe but then it gets discontinued. Or I seem to find something wrong with the shoe, even if there might not really be anything wrong at all. Like my Brooks Ghost 5, for example. They are probably the shoes I should stick with because they never gave me a problem, they wear right in the middle which may mean I’m heel striking less, and they even lasted a crazy 700 miles.

I just can’t stand the sight of them.

Ugh. Denim blue. The worst. Those are dying to be worn with some khaki Bermuda shorts and a fanny pack. (Sorry, to those who wear these. I’m sure you look beautiful in them. Especially this girl.)

Lately, I’ve been alternating between the Brooks Glycerine 12′s and the Mizuno Wave Creation 14s. The Glycerines feel good and I like the look of them a lot.

But man, the flexibility is not there. They feel so stiff after six or seven miles like I’m in a pair of clodhoppers, so I’m hyper-aware they are on my feet. Do people still use the word clodhoppers? We should bring that back into common rotation. Try it. ;-)

The Wave Creations are decent, but they wear on the inner heel so I’m probably heel striking more. They make my feet look more gigantic than they already are but they’re cute so I forgive them.

Also, after about 11 miles, I feel like I need more padding in the forefront of the foot. These aren’t anywhere close to minimalists, so I’m not sure what that’s all about because I never had that issue during the two years I wore the 12s.

So basically, I can run shorter distances in both the Brooks and the Mizunos fine but they will not do for marathon training. So, I’m going to do what I do best: buy shoes I don’t really need right now but have convinced myself that I do.

Say hi to the Mizuno Wave Rider 17s (and to your mother) for me.

I can’t decide which color. Help!

I wore the 15s for awhile but they were a bit too narrow and rubbed on my pinky toe to the point where I was limping after a race. I’m willing to give the 17s a chance since they were completely redesigned and are freakin’ adorable. Adorable is important. When you look like I do after a race, it’s important to keep something looking good.

The 17s go on sale on December 4, so expect me to be bitching about them around the 18th. If they don’t work out, I’m giving up and going back to the Brooks Ghosts. Hopefully the 6′s didn’t change too much from the 5′s because I need this vicious cycle to end so I can go back to spending my money on less important things like rent and electricity.

 

Back to Long Runs

I registered for another half marathon.

Best Damn Race

Actually, I have four half marathons coming up. I can’t remember what I’ve mentioned on the blog, so here’s my schedule:

To say I have not been training would be…well, that would be correct. I haven’t. I’ve been doing two 3-mile weekly runs but I haven’t been running long on the weekends like I should be. I have a really good excuse and I think that’s what counts.

beauty sleep

I knew the not running had to stop at some point. So last weekend I promised myself I would get back to long runs. About a month ago, I ran/walked 7.5 miles, which made nine miles sound reasonable without dying, so that was my goal. Good news. I lived.

Last week

I did those miles alone and I woke up early for them, thank you. Also, I was expecting a 10:30 pace, so it was way faster than I expected.

Besides a stop to take off my long-sleeved shirt because I thought it was cool enough for one of those (ha!), a stop to poop (you’re welcome), a stop to fix my crappy Garmin, and a stop at a water fountain, I ran the whole thing. Soooo I guess I didn’t run the whole thing. My point here is I did it and I have no idea how people train alone.

Yesterday, Michelle and I set out to do 11 miles. I even busted out my new Camelbak for the occasion. (Stole this picture from her.)

me and michelle

Two miles into our run, Michelle took a nose-dive into the sidewalk. I’m not exaggerating when I say she hit the ground hard and there was a lot of blood. (She got some pretty good scrapes including four stitches and some sore ribs. I’m sure she’ll tell you guys all about it in her next blog.) Because I’m a horrible person, I did quickly weigh the options of helping her up first or pausing my Garmin. Sometimes my decisions even surprise me.

Today

That’s right. I helped her up first for all of you who think I’m a monster. See? I do nice things sometimes. I even offered her CPR several times but she declined.

Anyway, Michelle’s husband picked her up. Since he had all the kids with him, I thought it would be easier to run the two miles back to her house instead of cramming in the car. I got back to her house, made sure she was ok, leveled up on caring points for the day, and headed to the gym to finish the last seven miles of the run.

I’m feeling ok on my long runs but I’m not ready to race yet so Michelle and I are using the Baldwin Park half this weekend as a training run. Tweet Michelle some good vibes so that her ribs feel well enough to run by next weekend!

Hills. Ugh.

Why is it so hot and muggy here? Didn’t California know I was coming?

The high is supposed to be 72 and the low 55. That is the only weather I will accept. Get with the program California. And here I thought you were perfect. Hmph.

Don’t even get me started on the hills.

Mygodthehills. They’re everywhere. If I wanted to run up a hill, I would increase the incline on the treadmill which I’m not going to do because that’s just silly.

What I’m trying to say is, I ran. During that run, I took a turn on a street called Cerro, which was just a bad idea all together. Luckily, this was part of my view.

And that right there is how California tricks you into coming back for more.

I ran 2.5 miles (9:43 pace), stopped back at the house to walk a mile with mom, and then ran another 2.5 miles after I dropped her off. The second half was slower by 10 seconds. I felt super impressed with myself because I hated every hot, hilly minute of it. Even though it was split in two, I’m calling that my long run for the week.

Stuff Lately

1. I ran 3.11 miles in 30 minutes last night. That’s not my goal pace and my lungs were ready to quit at the end, but I didn’t need to walk and it’s a full minute faster than the pooptacular that was Sunday’s run. Sure, it was on the treadmill and in ideal “weather” conditions, but it was enough to make me think I’m magnificent again.

2. I finished Orange is the New Black (*love*). Then I started watching House of Cards. Then I started watching Parks and Recreation. Then I watched some movies.

Don’t even need 15 seconds. I’m not doing anything with my life ever.

3. Is everyone watching Dexter but me? I feel like I’m the only one that’s still a part of this CBS/Showtime blackout. There’s nothing worse than watching half a season and then not being able to watch the rest. Plus, Homeland is back in a month. Showtime is cutting it a little close for my taste. I know that I could “go outside” and “enjoy nature” with the time I have back in my life each week, but that won’t happen. I’m sitting on the couch and waiting for it to come back.

4. Hubs tried to read my blog at work the other day and found that it’s blocked now. He sent me this screencap. Luckily, it gave me official proof that I am entertaining.

I’ve been telling hubs that I’m entertaining for years.

5. This.

6. And this. (< — 24 Times Leonardo DiCaprio was a Total Bad Ass)

7. The best and worst decision of last weekend.

That’s a Reese’s Chocolate Molten Lava Cake from Chilis. It has liquid Reese’s on the inside. Liquid Reese’s! Looks like poop on a plate, tastes like heaven.

8. If you’re not already watching Breaking Bad, for the love, you need to do that now. Just drop everything. Even babies.

WW

Ok, don’t drop the babies. Just place them in a cage with some water until you’re done. I’m not a monster.

Six Miles of Suck

Oh, hey there stranger.

Dusted that baby off and plugged it in for the first time in four months. That can only mean I did the one thing I hate most during the summer: I ran outside. Spoiler alert: it sucked. And it was only six miles.

Hey, remember when I ran 18 half marathons and two marathons? Someone remind me how I did that because this was hard. And slow. And humbling. And I wanted to die on the sidewalk during the last two miles.

My second marathon was faster, so I once ran quadruple the miles at that pace. The only thing that kept me going was Michelle. No way in hell I would have finished those miles running if she wasn’t next to me telling me not to walk. Anyway, here’s a cute picture of Michelle and a crappy picture of my red face afterwards that I stole from her.

I’m going to take into account that it was disgustingly hot. And it was the longest run I’ve done in four months. And that I went to Crossfit on Friday and Saturday and my legs were (and still are) super sore. And I was tired. Well, I’m always tired. I have not been sleeping well for almost two months now. It takes me at least two hours to fall asleep every night…because of THEM. (Someone tell me how to get comfortable in bed, please.)

Even with all the negatives, I feel like that run shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. We did score some good Samaritan points by finding an iPod Touch and emailing the owner that we found it. Well, that was after looking at the selfies and booby texts she sent to friends. But still, that’s got to give me some good karma for my next outside run.

And because I haven’t posted a Crossfit workout in awhile, here’s what I did on Saturday.

How to: barbell deadlift (you can also do them with dumb bells) and kettlebell swing.

I used a barbell with 75lbs for the deadlifts and a 25lb dumb bell for the swings since the gym didn’t have a heavy enough kettlebell. So, don’t think you need actual kettlebells to do the swings.

You should try that Crossfit workout and then try to run six miles the next day in 200% humidity. You’ll love me forever.

First Run

The second gif in this post is mildly NSFW, so make sure your boss isn’t standing behind you. Unless you’re into that.

I ran, ya’ll!

I’ve been grounded from running for six weeks but I can’t say I hated it or even missed it. Every time I thought about running, I thought:

While I was in Texas, I decided to run a half mile during one of my normal walks after my recovery period was over. That was mostly because my walks were taking so long and I just wanted off the treadmill faster but also because I just had to know how this running thing was going to go down now that I’m toting a new pair of ladies.

Ok, so here’s the deal. It was a little awkward at first. During the first quarter mile I thought, “heyyyyy now, what’s going on down there.”

Picked that gif because of the incredible likeness to how I look running. I look just. like. that.

I decided to start slow and see how I felt from there. That half mile turned into 3.5 miles of pure awesome that I did not expect. After the first couple minutes of awkwardness where I kept thinking, “my God I am hyper-aware I have boobs and nipples,” I didn’t feel any different from pre-boob running and I starting kicking running’s ass in normal fashion.

I started around an 11:30 pace and ended up running a 9:15 toward the end. I felt pretty great. I took two walk breaks but still, that was a lot faster and longer than I had intended and…probably not the best idea.

My hamstrings were so, so sore the next day. Note to self: If you haven’t run in six weeks, do not run 3.5 miles at your normal pace idiot.

I guess those running endorphins lasted awhile because they clouded my judgement enough that I added a few races to my fall schedule.

I’ll be running all four of those with my long lost running lover, Michelle. Reunited and it feels so good. Now I suppose I’ll have to start training for those races at some point…