Monday, October 31, 2011

Leaf Peepers

We took our annual fall trip to the North Georgia Mountains on Saturday. It’s been a hectic month so we made our trip a couple weeks later than usual, but it made for even more colorful foliage and fantastic landscapes.

This Saturday was no exception and started off equally as hectic. First I had to meet my teammates for the Atlanta Marathon Relay to pick up our registration packets and discuss our game plan for the following day. Then we had to stop by and help our (transient pilot) friend move some furniture out of his current crashpad, since he's moving yet again.

We didn’t get to our intended destination until almost 4:30, so we had to get moving if we wanted to make it to the top of Amicalola Falls.

Girlfriend was in a mood most of the day. Her daddy came home late the night before after being gone on a long trip, and we kept her up much later than usual. It was all our fault really.

She’s a pro at pouting. Here she is standing statue still with her back to us because we wouldn’t let her stop at the playground before our hike (but she did get to play once we got back).

So into the backpack she went. We had some ground to cover and were already running short on daylight.

Mr. Blondie was a champ. Not only did he carry her on his back for the hike, but also up and down these stairs.

Here we are at the "bottom of the top", just a little farther to go

And looking down from the very top

Then back down again

We were too late to hit Burt’s Pumpkin Patch on the way home. Our supermarket pumpkin will have to do this year. Em did get to help me pick it out of the bin, lol. Our requisite stop for Dairy Queen Blizzards on the way home hit the spot though. I’d been looking forward to that part the whole second half out of hike :)

Do you have any fall traditions?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where the Party Meets the Pavement

Thanks to Amanda’s giveaway over at Run the to Finish, I have a free entry to the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale in a couple weeks!

Isn’t that the beauty of the half marathon? As opposed to a full marathon, with a running base of 25 miles a week or so, you can just pencil one into your schedule.

Weekend Getaway? Yes, Please.

When we lived in Ft. Lauderdale a few years ago, it was Mr. Blondie’s first year working as an airline pilot. That meant I had a lot of free time on my hands, which in turn meant I did a lot of running and quite a few races to keep myself busy. I’m excited to be going back to “old-stomping grounds”, so to speak.

 A1A Half 2007

Although I’ve never done the 13.1 race before, the majority of Ft. Lauderdale races follow the same format. Start somewhere along Las Olas Blvd, run up A1A to the half-way marker, turn-around and run back down A1A to the finish. Up until this past year, my half marathon PR was 1:43, which I set at the A1A Half Marathon in 2007. I hope I can finish well under that time now.

The monotony of a pancake flat course can be challenging too. Would you rather run a completely flat course or a hilly one?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Change of Plans

This weekend, well, it pretty much sucked.

For weeks, I’d been planning to meet up with Shelley. She was visiting Atlanta for the weekend, and we were going to run the Fast Past Race 10k together. I was all set to run a mean 10K with the stroller :)

Instead my grandma passed away, so the three of us traveled to NJ.

I sort of knew when we saw her 2 weeks ago that would be our final goodbye. It was a gradual decline, so I had time to process the grief in pieces. It would have been worse if it were a total shock. She went peacefully Friday morning, and was surrounded by love with her husband and children by her side. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

May we all be struck down by a bolt of lightning, but this had us in tears….of hysterical laughter. The funeral director offered us a coloring books and some crayons to keep Emily occupied during the viewing (we hung out in a separate room with her). May I present to you a sample of the WORST COLORING BOOK EVER.
Titled: Koalie Goes to the Funeral

Koalie helped bring some comic relief to the occasion. We were passing it around to all the adults on the sly, and everyone was busting a gut. There were some equally lovely burial illustrations.

Sorry for such a downer post today. That's just how it goes sometimes. Thank goodness this weekend promises to be much better with a lot of fun things planned.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are you Sure I Didn't Run a Marathon? (Race Recap)

Don’t be fooled by the smile on my face. This had to be one of the most difficult races I’ve ever run. And I’ve run a race or two in my day.

 My running buddies Mark and Kristy were there and we met-up before the race.

Check out this Superwoman. They offered everything from a 5K to a 50 miler during the weekend-long event. On top all the miles she’s running with her Atlanta Running Tours company and with Big Peach Running Co, she chose to run the half-marathon. The 10K was more than enough for me. She had awesome finish and didn't even get her sneakers dirty!

Going into this, I was expecting pinestraw covered walking paths and rolling hills through the forest.

Don’t be fooled by this picture either. The course looked like this for about a milli-second.

Oh no, it was really was more like this

The entire race was a narrow track of roots and rocks with a 1500ft flux in elevation. There were points were you had to use your hands to get up a hill or had to turn sideways to shimmy around a ledge.

For someone used to road races, it was hard to be patient. The trail never became wide enough to run any way but single file.

When we came to a small, dried-up stream bed, I thought this would be a good opportunity to pass some people ahead of me since there was enough room to get around them. I was getting antsy to make a move. My toe got caught as I leapt over, and I face planted on the other side, scrapping up my knees and elbows quite nicely.

We were only a half-mile in at this point. Did someone say patience?

It felt like forever before my Garmin chirped for the first mile. One stinkin’ mile done. I couldn’t believe it. I was sure we had to be at least halfway done. I almost left my Garmin at home because I didn’t think it would work with the tree cover, and my pace would be irrelevant anyway. It worked fine, and I was very glad to have it since my sense of time and distance was completely distorted.

Around the mile mark is when the other women dropped off, and I began playing leap-frog with the woman who I thought she was the lead. After a few minutes of dueling, she with shot ahead of me on an uphill and disappeared from sight.

With about 2 miles left, I ran through the lone aid station and they confirmed I was the second place female. This gave me the boost I needed to keep pushing. I figured first place was out of reach, but I sure as heck was going to hold onto second.

My Garmin continued clicking onward with no finish line in sight. Then suddenly, there it was. Sweet Jesus, blue sky and an open field ahead. It was clear shot to the finish, and the first place woman was in view!

I sprinted my tail off but couldn’t close the gap. She beat me by 8 seconds. For my first trail race, basically since high school cross-country sometime in the late 90’s, I couldn’t have been happier with second place though. It was another 6 minutes before the 3rd place lady came in.

Was this road runner in over her head entering a trail race? Totally. Was it a great experience? Absolutely.

Our friends Kurt, Krysti, and son Jakob live in the area and met up with us after the race to do some more hiking.

We planned to do 6 miles but cut it short at 4. It was taking longer than we expected and the kiddos were getting really fussy. I was pretty much over it too, but I didn’t want to ruin it for the group. Thanks for giving me an out Emily.

I also have to give big shout out to Mr. Blondie for waking up so early in the morning on his day off, driving the 2 hours each way to the race, and entertaining the kiddo for hours while I raced. You’re the best!

Now if you’ll excuse me. I need to waddle off and find my foam roller.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quick Trip and Fear of the Unknown

Well hello there! It's been awhile.

Last week was another good mileage week. I hit 30, and I'm beginning to think 40 may be an attainable goal in the upcoming weeks.

Sunday: 5k race w/ stroller, 2.5 miles
Monday: off
Tuesday: 9 miles (8:04/mi pace)
Wednesday: 6 miles (8:07/mi pace) 15 mins elliptical, 10 min core work
Thursday: off
Friday: 10 miles (8:00/mi pace), 10 min core work
Saturday: off
Total: 30.5 miles run, 15 mins elliptical

My grandma was admitted back into the hospital, so Emily and I did a quick trip up to NJ on Saturday morning to visit.

The visit started off good. She didn’t know we were coming so her face lit up when we walked into the room, and she was able to address us by name. As the visit went on, she got more confused and you could see her frustration that the words weren’t coming out the way she wanted them too. You don't always need words though, so we made sure to shower her with ample kisses.

Less than 24 hours after we arrived in NJ we were back on a plane to Atlanta. Mr.Blondie had a break between flights and met us at the gate when we landed. We hung out for a little bit, then dropped Mr.Blondie off at his gate before leaving the airport ourselves.

Brittney sent me a message she’d be passing through town and I had intended on meeting up with her. Unfortunately after all the morning’s activities, Emily At least I got a 4 hour nap out of her. Sorry Brit, we’ll make it work one of these days!

Fortunately I was off from work on Monday, giving me a chance to decompress. Mr. Blondie was off as well, so we got a rare, full-day at home together. Yay for obscure holidays.

So the North Face Endurance Challenge is this weekend. I’m reading the participant guide and thanking the smidge of common sense I have for only choosing the 10K.

We’ve hiked in quite a few GA State parks, so I *think* I know what to expect in terms of terrain. I’m not scared of the pain from a hard effort. It’s my general lack of trail racing experience that has me all nervous. How do you handle passing/being passed on narrow strips of trail? What if I don't know which way to go?

Is there any special trail racing etiquette I should know about? Any words of wisdom to share?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

5K Double Header

The weekend started off as planned with a 5k race I registered for a few weeks ago. There were at least a dozen to pick from, but I chose this one since it was at Georgia Tech. I think the campus is pretty and I’ve been meaning to do a race there.

Really mom?
It was the 13th year of this race. It was nicely put together, and they had a sizeable turnout. They offered me an extra youth-sized shirt for Emily at registration, and had face painting and activities for the kids afterwards. It was a fun morning.

Unfortunately my chip, as well as many others, didn’t register properly and there was confusion with the results. They’re still trying to straighten them out, but I left knowing I was 5th female overall and I think 1st or 2nd age group.

My Garmin clocked a perfect 3.1, leading me to believe the course had to be a bit short. I stayed within the cones, but certain didn’t run perfect tangents.

People were really laughing and pointing at us on one particular downhill portion of the course. I know what you’re thinking. They were laughing at us more than usual, which led me to look over the front of the stroller to see what Em was doing. She was holding onto the sides of the stroller with her head pushed back into the seat and a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face. Yeah, we had a bit of momentum going.

It was funny until I saw runners coming back the other way. There was a turnaround point at the very bottom of the hill. Then all I could think about was Crap, I gotta get back up this. Even mole-hills feel like mountains when you’re pushing the stroller.

My plan was to run an additional 7 after the race to get in 10 for the day, but it was all over once Em saw the bounce house. I ran an additional 6 with her when we got home.

Later that evening we were supposed to join Mr.Blondie on one of his trips. He picked up a lousy trip he didn’t have to do (it would take a whole other post to explain what makes a trip “good” or “bad”), solely because it had a long Saturday night layover at a beach hotel. When it was time to go, DENIED. The flights there and back were completely full.

With this disappointing change in plans, our Sunday was now wide open. As I was cruising this morning to see if they’d posted the results from the previous day, I saw there was another nearby 5k scheduled to start later in the afternoon.

You know the saying, “Running is cheaper than therapy”. Well, running 5k’s is also less expensive and more wholesome than going to the movies or the mall. We had found our activity for this afternoon.

The “race” was a casual event of about 100 runners. It was nice, flat out-and-back course, but I hadn’t realized what a head wind we’d be up against on the way back. It was like pushing a sail boat at full mast. Oh my, I had to stop and walk for a little bit.

They announced my time as 21:57 as we crossed the line and handed me an index card with my place written on it. Old school, simple and easy. I was 2nd female overall and 1st in my age group. Again the course was a bit suspect as I clocked 3.08 miles. I’m totally waiting for the IAAF to call and revoke my record. Heh.I kept going for another 3 to reach it 6 miles for the day.

It's a major award. Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.

If you run, what's your favorite distance for races or workouts?