Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First Marathon Follies

Let me warn you now, you may find yourself involuntarily shaking your head and muttering “Oh honey, no” quite often throughout this post.

To give you a little background, I started running a mile or two alongside my dad a couple days a week when I was in 5th grade. Through middle and high school I ran cross country and winter/spring track. I also did that racewalking thing during the summer. I wasn’t a complete running newb when I got it into my head that I wanted to run a marathon. But running a marathon is a whole different ballgame than 5 & 10k races.

Throughout college I stuck with running, and did about 60 to 90 minutes of it 6 days a week. They were casual runs through University City and Fairmount Park. I didn’t do special types of workouts, track my mileage, or any of that stuff. I just ran to stay fit.

On a whim, I did a half marathon towards the end of my freshman year. I swore I’d never run a race that long again.

It’s funny how we sugar coat the past in our memory.

My junior year I thought it would be cool to say I ran a marathon. The starting line for the Philadelphia Marathon was just a few blocks from my apartment and the race was coming up soon. How convenient. I registered for the race about 6 weeks in advance. I’d been running almost everyday of the week for years, so why not scratch this off my bucket list.

On race morning I rolled out of bed about 30 minutes before the start of the race. I threw on my beloved shiny blue tights that were at least 10 years old and a cotton sweatshirt. Before I left my apartment I had my typical pre-run snack, 2 slices of toast with peanut butter. I pinned on my number, tied my key and timing chip to my shoe, and it was go time. I fell in line with the crowd walking past my building and followed them to the starting line.

I had no idea what pace I should be running at, heck, I didn’t know the pace of my daily runs. I just started out at a speed that felt easier than a typical run. My only goal for the day was to survive.

Around mile 12, I settled in with a group of women who were also doing their first marathon. I hung with them until mile 18 when two of them stopped at a medic tent for band-aids and vaseline. There was no stopping for me at that point, I’d gone too far already.

At mile 19 I thought, hmmm, I should probably have some water. I had gone 19 miles without consuming any food or beverage. I had never tried to to eat or drink while actually running before, and was afraid my stomach would cramp if I did. Lucky for me it was only about 40 degrees that day.

By mile 22 I was feeling completely dreadful. My neck was bloody from the collar of the sweatshirt rubbing up against it. I was hallucinating. The painted lines on the road were wiggling in front of my eyes.

It was the closest thing to an out-of-body experience I’d ever had. I’d gone to a happy place inside my mind, and stared down at my tired, heavy legs like they were someone else’s. I had a half-cup of water at Mile 23 thinking that might help.

I did make it to the finish line in 4:01:57 and didn’t require medical attention. It was a triumph. I promptly swore I’d never run another marathon again.

I wish I had some pictures to share, but only a hard copy photo exists somewhere in storage.

Here's a fair representation.

I didn’t the want the under-ripe fruit and soggy soft-pretzels they had at the finish line. I wanted my favorite burger from a nearby pub. So I waited until I went home, showered, and got to the restaurant to finally eat after the race. Subsequently, I felt like I’d been hit by a bus for the next 2 weeks after all this.

Once I regained use of my legs, I lost my head again. I thought, hey maybe I should try to break for 4 hours next year. I trained differently (albeit not a whole lot smarter) and improved my time to 3:35 the following year, thereby earning my 1st entry into Boston Marathon. Pretty amazing considering my training plan was still rather “unconventional”.

Which leads me to a future post about a critical mistake I've been making for years (and I know many others have too). Why faster isn’t always better when it comes to training runs….

Anyone else have a crazy race story they want to share?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Can't fight this feeling anymore

Did you know I’ve run 13 races in the past 6 ½ months? Well, it's no wonder I was ready for a break after last week's race.

It felt so deliciously indulgent to sleep in late (5:30 am), stay up late watching TV with the hubby (10 pm), and not have to make any bargains with myself. Mr.Blondie and I even had a date night out for sushi. On a week night! We’re just two crazy kids.

But yesterday morning I couldn’t take it anymore. I was starting to feel anxious and edgy, like a junkie looking for their next hit. I couldn’t make it through a full week of workout abstinence. I gave in and did an easy 45 minute run on the treadmill before work.

And tonight I’m blogging to you from the great state of New Jersey. I caught a flight here with Emily after work yesterday.

These are the shenanigans that ensue when grandma and grandpa are in charge.

They're all having a blast.

With a top-notch babysitting service at my disposal, I was able to get in a nice run first thing this morning. It was 31 degrees when I stepped outside. Y’all know by now that’s my kind of weather. I went a little faster than I wanted to, but with the cold temps and pancake-flatness of NJ, 10 miles felt like a breeze.

I also went to a race today. Don’t worry I wasn’t competing. I was there to hang out with my BFF since elementary school. Her boyfriend was competing in a local duathlon (5k run, 10 mile bike, 5k run).

Bless his heart. He was dead last out of about 200 athletes. They were already dismantling the finish area as he was coming in.

Here's what it looked like about 2 hours earlier.

But he had a great attitude about the whole thing. Over lunch he was already talking about the tough mudder and warrior dash he wants to do this summer. We went over what he needs to do to prepare and I even sketched out a rough training plan on a napkin for him. We’ll work on fine tuning that, but it’s already a lot more structure than the “plan” he’d devised.

I’ve got a frosty 5 miler on tap for tomorrow morning, then we’re making the rounds to visit some more relatives. There’s always so much to fit into these short visits.

Hope y’all are having a great weekend too!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

I didn’t keep the PR streak going today, but it was still a solid race. My time was 1:38:32, putting in me in 13th place out of 1,063 women in the 30-34 age group. I gave it my best shot.

The only thing I’m annoyed about is I thought I was on pace to run a PR. I knew I didn't start my watch exactly at the starting mat, so I wasn't paying attention to the overall elapsed time since I thought it was wrong anyway. If I had pulled my head out of my derriere my Garmin, and done some simple mental math using the course clocks, I would have seen what was going on.

Um, check out that total distance. I was on pace for a PR if the race were 13.4 miles long. However, running that extra distance pushed my total elasped time well above my goal.

Yeah, I didn't do so well running the tangents. That's nearly impossible to do in a big race though, but 13.4 miles? Jeez.  Now I wish I’d pushed the downhill portion of the course, miles 6-9, a little harder. I was worried about bonking at mile 10 by pushing too hard, "since I was on PR pace" already. Can I plead race induced delusion?

But coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn’t change anything now. Live and learn. It's a challenging course and it was 20 degrees warmer than my half mary in January. I'm still proud to have beaten last year's time by a minute and a half.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to play the San Diego Rock and Roll half marathon in June yet. Even if I do decide to race it all out, I’m going to take the next month to recover and regroup. I’m ready for a break.

This summer I’ll build base miles, and using what I learned at the RRCA training course, approach the fall season with a whole new training strategy. Everything I thought was the “right” thing to be doing all these years has been completely turned upside down. Much more about that in the months ahead. I think I’m going to be in a good place this fall racing season.

Congrats to all my other readers who raced today. I’m seeing crazy PR reports all over the place. Love it. Awesome job!

When I got into the car, I took my finisher's medal and proceeded to stuff it in the console. I realized last year's medal was still crammed in there along with a bunch of others. Come on, isn't that where you store all your valuable items too :)

Time: 1:38:32
Pace: 7:32
Overall: 427/10898
Gender: 78/6189
A/G: 13/1063

Weight: 108.8
BF: 15.6%

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If you really wanted to stalk me....

Here are the deets. You know, if that's your sort of thing...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moving Ahead and the Grocery Store Deal of the Week

Mr.Blondie flew up to NY on Monday with Emily, so he could visit the family dentist for a long overdue check-up. His lower wisdom teeth (that he should have had removed years ago) have caused pockets of decay to form in the adjacent molars, and now he needs TWO root canals in addition to having the teeth removed. Neither his awesome new health or dental insurance plans cover oral surgery for wisdom teeth removal anymore (I thought that was a pretty standard procedure?!). Yeah, yesterday was kind of a bummer news day.

Thanks for all the pats on the back though. It really did cheer me up! At least the 42:46 still stands as correct. I updated the sidebar :)

Today is a new day, and there’s lots of stuff to look forward to. My RRCA class is this Friday and Saturday. I hope to learn a lot of new stuff to share with you.

It’s supposed to be sunny with a high on 79 on Sunday, so it should be a perfect 55 degrees or so when the race starts. I beat my goal for this upcoming race back in January, so I’m not sure what I’m shooting for now. Maybe I should forget the watch again? It’s quite a challenging course, so I don’t know if another PR is a fair expectation. I just want to run faster than last year. Anything above and beyond will be icing on the cake.

And for another random aside, I stopped in Publix today to pick up a few more Greek yogurts. Can you believe I paid 10 cents for this?

6 Voskos Greek Yogurts: on sale $1.00 each
 -used (4) $.75/1 “blinkies” (dispenser on store display) and
(1) B2G1 Free* from 1/23/11 RP (RP= Red Plum newspaper insert)
Total price: $.34 each

2 bottles Worcestershire Sauce: on sale $1.00 each
 -used (2) $.50/1 printables (each doubled to $1/1 at register)
Total price: free

Sundown B12 and Potassium: regular price $3.99 and $3.89 respectively
 -used:(1) $6/2 Sundown store coupon (Publix Green Advantage Flier- in store) and
(2) $2/1 Sundown manufacturer coupons (Kroger “Get More From Your Pharmacy” booklet – in store)
Total price: free plus $2.12 in overage

*They made me take back my second Buy 2, Get 1 free coupon for the yogurt because it made my balance go negative. I’m saving it for another day, but you could also use that coupon for additional savings if you’re buying other things.

I know this big weekend for a lot of runners around the country this weekend. Best of luck to all of you who are racing this weekend too! Are you ready to go?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I never expected to win a race that size. It was complete shock and excitement when I saw my name listed as the overall female winner of the race on Sunday. The race director assured me things would be straightened out and they’d send my award. Well, I was just informed there was actually one woman who finished ahead of me in 41:xx. She ran through the 5k finish chute instead, so her chip didn’t register properly.

You've all have been so encouraging. I’m happy with my time, and it’s a little a lot silly in the grand scheme of things……..but is it all right to say I’m feeling just a little crushed right now?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Worthy of a Guinness (St. Paddy's 10K Recap)

After taking in all your feedback to my dilemma last week, I still waffled back and forth with my decision. Ultimately I decided it was easier for me to slip out of the house by myself, then it was to wake up a soundly sleeping kiddo and lug all our gear to the race. The Blondies will need to be up and on the road by 5:15 for next Sunday’s race anyway. One Chinese fire drill in a week is enough.
The race grew by almost 1,000 runners from last year. With the 5 & 10k’s combined, the start was pretty congested with all 3,000 runners taking off at once. There were quite a few people who took a tumble, so they may want re-think that for next year. After about a ½ mile the crowd thinned out and I was able to settle into a rhythm. I was annoyed with myself for forgetting my watch/Garmin. It was probably a good thing after all to pace myself exclusively on PRE. Looking down and seeing 6:XX/mi pace would have freaked me out, and I probably would have slowed down.
The 10k course was 2 loops of the 5k course. The good thing about a looping course: you know what is coming next. The bad thing about a looping course: you know what is coming next. It’s rather demoralizing knowing you still have another trip around the same circle of hell you just completed.
The course was a nice mix of hills and flats. Not bad for an Atlanta race, and the last .2 was downhill. Gotta love when that happens.
However the last mile was just a sea of humanity with the 10K runners lapping hundreds of 5k'ers still on the course. I knew I was towards the front of the pack, but really had no idea where I stood in the rankings. I was in my own world of hurt crossing the finish line and failed to catch my time. I knew I had to be somewhere under 45 minutes, so I was pleased with that.
I stood around for a good hour afterwards waiting for the results to be posted. They never did post the results, and told people to check online later. As I was walking towards the parking lot they finally got the awards ceremony underway, so I went back to listen. Since they had so many age-group medals go uncollected in previous years, the race directors decided to do only top finisher awards for these categories: overall male/female, masters, stroller, Jr. League Member, and Kilt runner (it was a St. Paddy’s day race after all).
The 10k overall female winner finished in 36:24. Wowza! No wonder I never saw her ahead of me. There was no way I could have beat that smoking time, so I was happy just to leave with my PR.

Even though it had been a long wait, I thought it was odd the winner didn’t stick around to collect her prize considering a running store gift card was involved.
I stalked to website all day to see what my actual time was. Around 7 pm the results went up, and imagine my surprise when I saw my name listed as overall female winner.
It turns out the “winner” had registered for the 10K, but then decided not to do the second loop. She ran the 5k instead and finished in 36:24. That’s what caused the mix-up in the results.
I finished in 42:46, which is over a 3 minute PR for me. After years of stagnating times, it’s exciting to see some real progress in the past few months.

The race director said she’d mail me the prize....Woohoo! Momma needs a new pair of shoes. Actually with this found money, I think I’ll treat myself to a pair of those compression socks that I see y’all raving about. What brand would you recommend?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tutus and Hairbows

I can't get enough of them :) Too bad they're socially acceptable for prima ballerinas and small children only.

The DVD from the photoshoot I won at a race a few months back was hand delivered today. Lisa from Clear Lens Photography was so fun to work with and I think she did an awesome job. Here are some of my favorites:

Mr.Blondie insisted we balance out the tutu pics with a fishing vest and cargo pants :)

Is there something outlandish you wish you could wear (or have worn) in publilc?

Please do not copy any of these photos without my permission.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Body Media Fit Update & Help me Choose

Latest update- I’ve been wearing this bad-boy for almost a month now. I’ve become more lax and find myself checking my stats less often. It’s becoming predictable what I’ll see:

Non-workout day: ~2100 cals burned
Day w/1 hour workout: ~2600 cals bruned

Notable findings:

  • I burn over 250 calories during my weekly grocery shopping trip. It typically takes me about 1.5-2 hours to shop and get everything unloaded into the house. Who knew it took that much effort?

  • Giving Emily a bath and getting her in her pajamas spikes my activity level to the same degree as my runs. She’s a feisty one alright.

  • I started at a 500 calorie a day deficit for the first 2 weeks. I was ready to gnaw my arm off. Too aggressive. Then went to a 200-300/day deficit (with the exception of my B-day weekend, all I know is I was way over).

    For the past week I’ve been breaking even on the calories in/calories out. I can’t function on any deficit the days when my runs are an hour or longer. I feel weak. And I get so hangry I want to hurt someone.

    On the scale, I’ve been hovering around 108 and 15-16% BF. Folks, I think that’s as low as this body can go.

    Four pounds doesn’t sound like much, but I can definitely see changes in my body composition. Up until now, I’ve been able to wear about 90% of my pre-pregnancy clothing. Now I can get into about 99% of it. (There are still some skinny jeans and white pants that may never see the outside of my closet again. I shall light a candle in their memory. RIP). But right now I’m wearing a pair of pants that haven’t fit in 3 years. This is a better indicator than the scale.

    Now real the intent of this experiment is to shave off some time in my races. I do feel lighter on my feet, but is it just the power of positive thinking? It remains to be seen if this will translate into better to race times. I’ve got a 10K coming up the weekend, then the half next week.

    I know my current 10k PR is out of line with the rest of my times, but according to the McMillan calculator I should be able to finish in 43:27 based on last month’s half marathon. Low 7:00/mile pace is fast for me, so that sounds scary. I’ve only raced a handful of 10k’s in the 15+ years I’ve been running, and don’t have a good 10k strategy. I think finishing around 45 minutes would be a major coup.

    I’d like to improve my 10K time. However, there’s actually prizes for the 1st stroller finisher in the 5 and 10k races this year. I did the 5 and 10K at this event last year…it’s a bummer they are starting both races together at 9am so I can’t do both again.

    Hmmm, what to do? 10k with stroller and try for the win? Or 10k without stroller and try for a new PR?

    Saturday, March 5, 2011


    Ok, I’ll admit I’m starting to feel a little burned-out. I’ve been pushing myself through every workout for the past 6 months with the thoughts of my next race. After the Georgia Half Marathon in a couple weeks, I’m going to unplug. I won't care about how fast I’m going, what my heart rate is, if I only reached 5.5 miles instead of 6 for the day.

    Remember when running used to be simple?

    I’ll slip on my shoes and run because I feel like it....stop when I don’t feel like it one with nature. Kumbaya.

    Next month, the Mr. and I are going to do something we haven’t done in over 2 years. Go on a vacation by ourselves! Our plan? Show up at the airport with backpacks and passports, then pick a flight off the departure board. Prague, Amsterdam, and Barcelona are tops on our list. We’ll be on whatever flight is leaving first with first class seats available :) This has been my dream ever since Mr.Blondie started working for the airlines.

    April will be my month to recharge. Then it’s back to business. This week I registered for the San Diego Rock and Roll Half in June.

    This is another thing I haven’t done in a few years….a destination race. Oh how I’ve missed doing these. Our parents will be watching Emily for this one too. Wine tasting in Temecula, staying out late with friends, and oh yeah, a race thrown in there to kick it all off.

    One of our friends is running his very first marathon, so I'll be there to help pace him towards the end of his race as well. Ooh, I can't wait.

    Anyone else working on vacation plans? Can you recommend some destinations and travel guides we should be looking at?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Just your typical weekday workout


    10:00 pm: Lay out running clothes, fill water bottle and leave on treadmill console


    4:20 am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

    4:30 am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

    4:40 am: Alarm goes off. But I don’t wanna run on the treadmill. Reset for 5:45. Will run after work.

    10:00 am: Mr.Blondie calls. First trip of the day is cancelled. Only a round trip to Podunk Falls at 5pm. Awesome, no daycare for Emily today. I’ll you see at home.

    4:15 pm: Hmm, I can either skip my workout today or do my planned 6 miles with the jogging stroller. There's so much stuff to get done around the house….

    4:30 pm: Locked, loaded, and ready to go

    • Mile 1: Look at you, worked all day and now you’re out with the jogging stroller. Go with your bad self.
    • Mile 2: Ugh, why didn’t I just get this over with this morning?
    • Mile 3: :::grunt, huff, puff::: This is some bull-shit. Where is the top of this damn hill already.
    • Mile 3.5: Just make it to 4 miles, then you can do 30 minutes on the elliptical while Em watches some Sesame Street.
    • Mile 4: You know the elliptical is gonna suck too, shut up and finish the run.
    • Mile 6: Hey, just run for 10 more minutes and you'll make it a full hour of running for the day.
    5:30 pm - Mile 7.23: You know if you keep going for another .77 you’ll have an even 8 miles. Then you only have to do 4 tomorrow instead of 6.

    5:36 pm: Woohoo, all done!

    6:15 pm: Sitting on the couch eating dinner (yeah that’s how we do it when Mr.Blondie’s not home)

    Ahh, I feel so good. Can’t wait to get out there tomorrow. 6 miles sounds pretty good....