April 22, 2014

Boston Marathon results and giveaway winners

Boston, Boston, Boston, I love you so much. Because I'm typing on my phone (just can't get as wordy as I like here because typing is too slow!), this will be a brief summary of Boston.

Because qualifying for Boston took A LOT of hard work for me, I saw the race there as the prize. You work hard so you can enjoy the spoils. Then last year's bombings happened, making this race even more meaningful. Not only was it my prize for personal hard work, but add to that a sense of determination from every runner and spectator to prove that good will not succumb to evil in the world. The feeling there yesterday was a mix of pride, sadness for this who suffered, elation that an American won (which I heard shouts of along the course -- "The American won. The American won."), excitement, and joy. I've never experienced anything like it. 

My family was able to catch up with me to take the pic below. Unfortunately I didn't see them, although they thought I did. Nope, just a lot of that crazy excited arm action going on yesterday. Notice that in this pic I'm running the same path as Meb ran a few of hours earlier. I love that about this sport: the elites and rookies run the same path on the same day.

My goal was to enjoy every minute of the course. The only real running goal I had was to not walk Heartbreak Hill (below). Nailed it! 

My favorite spot on the whole course (other than the finish) was Boston College. Those kids were so fun. If you go in for one high five there, expect to ride that wave for another 500 high fives. They were pumped.

But the whole course was full of Boston Strong. And Boston was just that yesterday.

I finished in 4:11, not a personal record and slower than my first marathon, but it felt amazing. My only regret is that I didn't slow down more on Boylston to savor that experience. I just wanted to stand there and soak that in, but I got swept through with excitement. 

The support I felt from family and friends yesterday was overwhelming. Thank you to all of you for believing in me and showing so much love yesterday. 


Winners of the Ortholite giveaway are Kristie Northern, Tanya Sylvan, and Teresa Millstone. Congrats, y'all! Please email me your shoe size and address to yomommaruns(at)gmail.com. 

April 20, 2014

Headed to Boston

If you could possibly feel a heart swell with excitement, I think I'm doing that now. 

We're catching our connecting flight in Baltimore, and we're surrounded by blue and yellow Boston gear, plus the occasional hint of orange from this year's gear line.

Alone with no kids! This is weird/awesome/scary/the best.

My daughter thinks it is this.

Why are ten year olds so smart?

I also picked out a book at the library that I thought my husband and I could enjoy in five minute intervals. 

I said "intervals" because I'm a runner. 

And in case you missed my Facebook post, check out my interview with ABC yesterday. http://www.abc3340.com/story/25291022/local-mom-ready-for-boston-marathon

There is a video out there somewhere, but I haven't located it yet. 

Time to go to airplane mode and get my Demetri Martin on. 

And last day to enter the Ortholite giveaway (last post)!

April 17, 2014

Ortholite review and giveaway

As a runner, you buy into some things because they are cool, like these dolphin banana snacks I found at the Oak Mountain 50K. 

I made them practical by also eating the jelly bean in the dolphin's mouth. Not just for show.

Then you buy into some things because they are practical, like this hydration pack that I resisted for so long but now cannot live without. 

Fist pump for hydration.

Today's post is about the practical, something you can't even see while you're running: your insoles. 

Ortholite sent me these Fusion insoles to try out for Boston Marathon training.

I honestly don't spend very much time thinking about my insoles. Although I wear several pairs of shoes that already come with Ortholite insoles, like Salomons and Nikes, I don't notice them because they work. Meaning that if they didn't work, I would be annoyed and ripping them out and wondering what was wrong with them. 

In fact, the one time I had an issue with drainage in a pair of Salomons was when I put a different (non-Ortholite) pair of insoles in them. After we crossed a couple of creeks, those other insoles felt like running on soggy sponges the rest of the race. 

When I read this packaging, that light of understanding past mistakes went off in my head. Ding, ding, ding. No wonder those shoes didn't drain. The other brand of insoles I used didn't have moisture management like their distant, more functional cousin Ortho. 

Ortholite also offers the following: 

Unfortunately, I really need the antimicrobial more than anything else on this list. Sister's gotta get some odor eaters, or just some more Ortholites. For this reason alone, I was happy to freshen up the insoles of my older shoes. 

If you are looking for a basic (meaning not with built-up arches) insole that will drain well and keep your foot dry and smelling better, these are the insoles for you. Ortholites have proven time and time again, across millions of pairs of shoes, that they stand the test of time and wear that runners throw (or stomp) at them. 

You can purchase them online, or you can win one of three pairs that Ortholite is sending to three of you. Check out the Rafflecopter below for entry details and get to entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway ends on Boston Marathon race day. Happy winning!

April 15, 2014

Tranquility Lake 6 Mile: where I hurdled a snake

When I finish a marathon, I walk like a cowboy the rest of the day and am usually sore in my hips for a couple of days. When I finish a 10K or 5K, I feel completely normal afterwards, but my obliques kill the next day. 

This tells me that I need to rock some oblique workouts to get stronger in these short distances, especially on the trails. 

Tranquility Lake 6 Mile was no exception. Oblique killer! 

Still smiling post race. Probably because their obliques are stronger than mine. 

This is the first race of the Southeastern Trail Series, where participants can choose the short or long series. The long series builds up to a 50K for the final race, so along the way, you are slowly graduating to longer distances. The only exception is the Run for Kids Challenge, which is next month, that has a 50K and 12-hour option. 

I'm in for the long series, which is why I went with the 6-mile option on Sunday. Plus it jived better with my training plan. 

As always, these races feel like family. There are a lot of the local Birmingham Ultra Trail Society runners who come out, but it's also not uncommon (and is very cool) to see some regulars from around the state and surrounding states.

The course: This course has some gentle curves and hills. For the most part it is very runnable and great for a beginning trail runner (shout out to my friends who made this their first trail run and only fell once!). I didn't have my watch synced so I don't know the exact distances on things, but there is one steeper, longer climb about halfway into the course that I decided to hike. But I ran the rest with no regrets. 

Course designer and race director, David Tosch.

While it's a relatively easy course, you still get to run around the lake, through some rocky single track, and over some bridges, giving you enough variety that it isn't boring. The longer distance is a double loop, so be prepared to hike that big hill twice.

Race director and results coordinator, Marye Jo. 

My race: I was going to use my watch for this race, but the GPS on my Garmin never synced. So I went out completely on feel. Was I breathing to hard or not hard enough? Were my legs burning a little or starting a small fire? I felt like I was pushing my edge the whole time, but I wanted to be careful not to go over it because six miles is still six miles. Not short enough to go all out and not long enough to warrant being conservative. Basically, my plan was to totally wing it and try not to see too many people pass me. Unfortunately they didn't work out too well on the second loop. A lot of guys passed me, but fortunately they were guys and not girls (minus the rockstar 3-miler girls who passed me on the first loop). So I came out in the first place slot for the 6-mile ladies in 53:03. I really wanted to try and speed up with the guys passing, but I also didn't want to burn up and regret it in the last mile. I'd love to go back and see what would happen if I attempted to run the one really giant hill instead of hiking. Boom or bust?

Scariest moment: My first time jumping over a snake that looked ready to strike. On the first loop, we passed some cabins with kids out on a little patch of asphalt riding their bikes in a circle in the middle of our path. No big deal, free obstacle for us to weave through. On the second loop through, the kids had cleared out and were sitting with their adult chaperones on the cabin porch watching the runners fly (a very generous description of my own performance) by. As I neared, I saw it. A black and red striped snake that was rearing its head to strike. See below for an idea of how it looked. 

Almost exactly what I imagined witnessed.

I saw it about two steps before its fangs were poised to sink into my ankle, so I jumped over it and yelled "SNAKE!" to warn the children so they wouldn't die. 

The rest of the mile or so to the finish line, I day dreamed about how brave I was to leap over a snake and how this probably counted as some type of trail runner graduation, like now I was in middle school for trail runners since I had successfully navigated past a striking snake without hesitating. Bonus points for simultaneously shouting out warnings to nearby possible snake victims. 

I crossed the finish full of the joy and anticipation that surrounds an impending dramatic telling of your own heroic tale. But before I could spill how cool I was, I heard someone say that the kids at the cabins had planted a fake snake. So instead of them being grateful to me for warning them of a possible snake attack, they were laughing their butts off at how gullible I was. Laugh it up, kids. One day you'll be the pansy adult screeching and leaping over fake reptiles and rodents.  

Best moment: Watching our friend Bob cross the finish line of his first race back after months of chemotherapy. Look at the smiles on everyone's faces. The happiness radiating from him in that moment was totally contagious. 

Overall: Do this race if you are wanting to build up to a 50K through the series or if you are looking for an easy way to break yourself into trail racing. Also do this race if you are just looking for a really fun Saturday morning with some cool people.


And now for a totally unrelated Boston update. The weather forecast for Monday/race day is my perfect marathon weather. Kind of makes me wish that I actually had a time goal in mind, but I'm still really into my goal of getting the most high fives. I just wish there was a way to prove that I win this.

April 11, 2014

Tomoka Marathon 2014: my first time real deal pacing

The one sure way to get myself to run the 22 miles on my training plan during spring break is to sign up to pace a marathon. What's four more training miles, right? Especially when you lazed out on (that means completely skipped) all of your other runs for that week. There is pretty much no way in the hottest place you can think of that I was going to do that long run without the push of some people counting on me to pace them. 

Running in the USA (love that site) told me that there was a new race just a little over an hour from Ocala, FL, so I looked it up. When I saw that the course ran through Tomoka State Park, I was in. If you can't have trails, running through a state park is the next best thing. Because I knew that I wasn't going to be racing this event, I contacted the pacing group to see if they needed any more volunteers, and luckily they did. 

So just like that, I was going to pace the 4:15 group. The weather, which was perfect marathon weather the whole first part of the week, threw us for a little bit of a loop as race day approached. First it stormed like crazy the night before. No big deal for us runners, as long as you stand beside a taller person when the lightning strikes. Then the next day it was going to be in the 70s. Again, not a huge deal if we had been training in the summer going into a fall race but a pretty big deal for runners who aren't trained for higher temps. They decided to increase pacer times by 5 minutes. Then someone else wanted to switch with me so that they could bail earlier. In the end, I got the 4:40 group. Good, I thought. This will be easy, I assumed. Always assume that assuming anything about marathons will be easy is a mistake. Got it? Good. 

Thanks to my mom, I was able to take off the night before the race and spend the night in Ormond Beach with my friend.

Grandma babysitters, making marathons possible all over the world.

This friend (below) just ran her first half marathon in November, and a couple of days before the race, she decided to just go ahead and all willy nilly join me for the Tomoka Half. So let's get this straight: new to marathoning, already spur of the moment racing, and got a PR that day. Somebody is on running fire. 

Me and my I'll-just-run-a-half-marathon-on-a-whim friend.

Travel: The drive from Ocala was insanely easy. Ormond Beach is not a crowded town at this time of year, and there was never a problem with parking anywhere we went. Also, the morning of the race, we had a volunteer pass to park at the Casements, so there was no problem there for us either. We saw other people walking from a few blocks away to the start line. Still not bad.

Swag: Shirts for this race were gender specific.

And I'm forever glad to see a sweatband in my swag bag. I may or may not have definitely worn it to the club the next night. 

Here are the medals. Trees!

Race morning: I got in my usual nutrition of some nut better, grain (rice cakes instead of oatmeal on this day), maca powder, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and a granola-style energy drink. 

We got to the race in plenty of time for me to pick up my 4:40 sign and file into our self-appointed corrals, meaning the pacers staggered themselves with their signs to give people an idea of where to stand. Several people in the corrals talked to me about their goals for the race. It seemed as if the majority of runners surrounding me were attempting the half, but I also talked to several people who were attempting their first marathon that day. 

During all the chitchatting, I noticed that the 7 a.m. start time came and went. And went and went and went. There was something going on, possibly road debris from the storm the night before, but I never actually heard what it was because the announcer wasn't easy to hear in my section. Eventually we started near 7:30. 

Waiting for action. And waiting and waiting.

Runners during the anthem. 

The course: If you want canopied trees and tranquility, this is your race.

There were even a couple of miles on trail. It wasn't technical, but it also wasn't standard road running. Because of the rain the night before, the trail/jeep road had some large puddles that we had to hike into the brush at times to avoid. Not sure it mattered much in the end because I sweated so much that it was as if I had stepped into the ocean anyway. 

Trail portion.

There was also a lot of water to ease our marathon minds, something soft and fluid to balance out the pounding of our feet. 

If the weather was a little cooler on this day, I would say that this is a perfect PR course. Enough change of scenery that you don't want to stab your eyeballs, but the course is also very flat with the exception of the one bridge at the beginning. 

And aid stations: plentiful, about every mile, and well stocked. My only complaint there was that they carried Powerade gels, and I pretty much can't stand any of those, just personal preference. Some of the aid stations had Swedish fish and pb&j sandwich squares. A lady was even holding out Swedish fish in her hand for us to grab as we ran by. Normally I would not take candy from a stranger's bare who-knows-where-that's-been hand, but marathons lower all standards of germaphobe-ness. 

Also, towards the end of the race, the safety of the course seemed to decline. At one point, we were just running on a two-lane road with no cones in site and cars trying to come around us. In my foggy marathon brain, it seemed like the beginning of the course had one of the lanes marked specifically for us with cones. 

Last, the mile markers were on point, visible and always there!

Pacing: My favorite part of this race!

Here are some notes that I sent in to my pacing group leader after the race:
We started out a little slow but caught up by the half. My group wanted to walk through aid stations, so I went with that option. Some miles had more than one aid station, so that slowed down those miles slightly. The heat/humidity was intense that day, so I'm glad we went with slower times for our pacing group/leaders. Nobody had an easy pacing job on Saturday! 
We started with a group of about 10 or more. More than half of those people split off to head back for the half marathon. I lost my last person from my original group around mile 20. The hardest part is pulling away from those runners who have shared their goals and hopes with you.
Plus, those last few runners who were with me really liked to sing, so I missed the human stereo system. Luckily, I was able to pick up some more people along the way to the finish who had been walking, usually for just a short time before they needed to walk again. One of my personal favorite parts of the race was trying to push runners to a strong finish, even though we didn't start together. In the last mile, there were a couple of runners who I encouraged to not let me pass them again (I had passed them once, and they made their way back around me). They took the challenge and picked up the pace to the finish. That was really fun to see. As this was my first time pacing strangers (as opposed to friends), I am amazed by how rewarding it was, even though I crossed the finish line alone. I'm really glad you covered that in the instructions because it was the opposite of my natural instinct.

Shout out to my singing buddies Tim and Sylvia, some of the funnest people I've ever run with. This was Sylvia's first marathon, and she finished very close to her goal time. Go, Sylvia!! If you ever read this, I loved running with you!

On a more personal note, even though I was pacing what would supposedly be an easy time for me, I found it very challenging. Is it the change in stride length or just the mental toughness of focusing so hard on keeping an even pace? In other marathons, I usually just go with what my legs can offer on any given day, within reason, but I was very focused this day on trying to keep the pace totally. Whatever it was, I was sore and ready to finish by the end, and I walked out of there all stiff and awkward like a cowboy on stilts. My feet also had tons of blisters from all the sweating. 

Anyone else ever had this experience with pacing? 

For those wondering, the sign is not heavy at all to hold, but when we got the winds off the water, it got a little crazy to hold onto. It basically turned into a kite when the wind swept through, so I just tried to hold it close to my chest when the wind picked up.

I swear that I was trying to make a normal smile face. #crazymarathonfinishface

Random note: At the finish, one of our non-runner friends said watching the racers come through made her tear up a little bit, and she agreed to run with us in Savannah this November. Running recruitment win!

Me standing with my friend who already had time to PR and shower.

Favorite quote of the day: One of my pacees made this comment after we lost some of our original group around the half. 

Marathons are like life. You start with one set of people, meet a lot of different people along the way, and end it all alone. 
And that's exactly what happened to me that Saturday.

Post race: They had great snacks at the finish and a surprise (to me) pancake breakfast in a building across from the finish line. When I came through, the announcers and volunteers were all still there cheering runners on, no premature packing up of the finish line.

Even though they had great grub, I still had to get my standard post-marathon burger on. Not a marathon for me without a burger after the finish.

And I cannot confirm or deny that later that night I was doing a lot of random dance moves on the karaoke stage. Awkward karaoke dance moves, just another way to flush lactic acid. 

Have you ever been an official pacer for a race? I had only ever paced for friends before this, which is definitely different and easier to me. With a friend, you go with what they want and need. With the official pace group, you stick to the pace no matter what. That can get a little lonely at times if you lose your group. 

What's your standard post-race meal? I always crave red meat. Iron deficiency?

Give me your go-to karaoke song. I need a standard. I switch it up every time, and sometimes that turns out much worse than I could have imagined (e.g. George Michael's "Faith").