September 29, 2013

Seven Bridges Marathon giveaway winner (plus stage race results!)

Man-orama, sorry you guys had to wait so long for these giveaway results! If it helps, I was out running a million (OK, 53ish) trail miles on three mountains over three days this weekend. The icing and compression socking was out of control around here. After the finish of the three days of trail thrashing, did I continue to pamper my body with healthy foods and recovery tricks? No! Instead, I threw my compression socks on the floorboard of the car (so tired of being wrapped up tighter than King Tut), swaddled myself loosely (see previous parentheses) in a blanket, ate large amounts of cheeseburgers and pizza and nachos and funnel cake and fries, and guzzled icy root beer.

But I came home with this cool mug out of which to drink my recovery root beer.


Lasting all three days equals winning. 

I have a lot more beans to spill about his event, but I'll wait until I have less of a junk food hangover to type up the deets.

So on to what you actually care about, the race entry winners! Here are our five winners for an entry to the Seven Bridges Marathon, chosen via random.org. If you didn't win and still want to try this race on October 20th, my friend at mruns.com has a coupon code for 10% off race entry: MRUNS01

#80 Darnell Allen

#12 Bean

#55: Bethany Graham

#14 egb

#8 Anthony L

If you are one of these people, please email me at yomommaruns(at)gmail.com so that I can get you hooked up with your registration. Thanks to all of you guys for entering!

September 27, 2013

Carrera 5K and Family Day 2013: where work meets healthy

**Last day to enter to win one of FIVE entries to the Seven Bridges Marathon/Half Marathon. Go here to enter

You already know that I think 5Ks are as painful as childbirth (definite exaggeration -- plus they are too short to count in that category), but there were some great (read: not painful) parts of my most recent 5K. 

Mainly the hula hooping part after the race.


But let me rewind. I hardly ever run 5Ks. Part of the reason for not running them is the expense per mile factor. I think that's why I originally got hooked on marathons because they only cost slightly more than half marathons. So if you calculate the cost per mile, marathons are a better bargain. According to the same math/logic, 5Ks are the worst bargain, well usually anyway. The good part about 5Ks is that many of them are for a charitable cause, which increases your value per mile. My most recent 5Ks were benefiting the Children's Hospital, a track for my daughter's elementary school, and Girls on the Run -- all worthwhile causes. 

This weekend's 5K was a little different. First, it was free for us because it was sponsored by my husband's employer. So no entry fees were going to charitable causes, but it was a great way to promote health, fitness, and family fun amongst the employees. Basically, the healthier employees are the better off the company is. I love, love, love this idea and think more businesses should practice it. 

For this event, they provided a healthy lunch, a million (OK, ten, but still) bounce houses, face painters, balloon shapers, hula hooping (above), a timed 5K and a 1-mile fun run. 


Plus the Vulcan, which you can check out if you aren't from my town and don't know why we are Vulcan obsessed around here. 


I ran the 5K, and my two oldest kids joined in the fun run. 


Next year, the kids need to run the 5K because they were pretty disappointed that they didn't pass out awards for the fun run. In their minds, they totally won. 

For my race, I was really, really hoping to get a PR. Not because I had really trained at all for a 5K recently, but just because I wanted to see some visible speed progress. It's the one thing that you don't get on trails because they're all so different and almost impossible to compare one race to the next. 

This course started at Railroad Park, wound around a few blocks and then turned around to come back to the starting point. That would have been a great plan, except about 21 minutes after they started the 5K, they started the 1-mile fun run in the exact same location. So just as I was coming down the finish chute, there was an army of small children, plus parents marching with strollers, bearing down on me in the opposite direction. It was awkward, and I tried to stay to the right as much as possible and give people a heads up that I was coming in the opposite direction. 

My miles went like this:

Mile 1: 6:41. Perfect. Sub-7 was my goal for every mile, and I'm nailing it. My legs feel fresh, and it's not too hot outside.

Mile 2: 7:10. Why did this suddenly become the worst race on the planet? My legs feel like buffaloes just latched onto them to hold me back, and I want to vomit. Part of me thinks, if I just go ahead and vomit that means I can stop and end this torture. Another part of me thinks, wait until the finish line to vomit so that it brings some street cred to this race. Like people will be saying, "Holy shiz, runners were vomiting after the 5K. That course must have been crucial."

Mile 3: 7:05. OK, fine, I made it this far, so I might as well finish. Wait, why are all those kids at the start/finish line?! Are they about to be running this direction? Maybe I can get there before they let loose. Starting horn sounds in the distance. No I cannot. Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, pardon me. 

Final time: 21:24. I really had no idea whether or not I PRed. At that point, I was just so happy to be finished with that torture. I gave up on my dreams of PRing after the first mile, but I somehow eked one out by 9 seconds.

My next 5K goal: to get control of those miles. Like shoot for 6:50 for all three miles and not that crazy variance. I really wanted to keep all the miles in the 6:xx zone, but that was a fail. 

After the race, they handed out age-group awards, and I won first in my age group. Then they did this cool thing where they had the top three, male or female, come up to the stage and get a special plaque presented by the BBVA CEO Manolo (far right in pic below). 


I really liked that they just did top three, regardless of gender. 


And we got really lucky with the weather that day. It had been miserably hot the whole month leading up to the race, and the morning of the race, it rained an ocean worth of water on our town. But with a 1:30 race start, we missed the rain and just benefited from the cooling aftereffects. 

The only thing I would change about this event would be to either start the fun run somewhere else or start it later so that runners aren't colliding as they are sprinting in opposite directions. 

My kids would only change that we didn't stay long enough to satisfy their demands for balloon animals and bounce houses. 


And that we made them wash their faces as soon as we got home. 


The whole crew.

Favorite songs from my 5K playlist: 

Does your employer ever sponsor healthy living events? What are they?

If you could convince them to sponsor any healthy living event, what would it be? 

Do your kids get competitive in races? Mine were completely chilled out about the race until they got to the start line. Then they immediately decided to push to the front with a determination win. Hmm, I wonder where they get that from.

September 24, 2013

5Ks put the mega hurt on me

Distance runners, I have a question for you. Are you surprised every single time you run a 5K by how incredibly painful it is? You would think that weekly speedwork sessions would be a decent reminder that your speediest running takes more energy than normal. Even with my we-never-stop-talking treadmill posse, there is some silence on speedwork days.

So you probably guessed by now that I ran a 5K this weekend. I'll post more on the specifics of that race later, but I was using it as my speedwork for the week. The race was on Saturday, and I'm still sore! Especially my obliques. I guess I was doing some extreme (for me) arm pumping. I was really hoping that our living room dance parties would have prepped me better for the 5K arm pumps, but it turns out that fast running is the thing that actually helps to prep for fast running. Weird-y. 

Here's the rundown on last week's training, which includes tapering for this weekends' stage race. So excited about that BTW. 

1. Yoga and a rest day for the running feet.

2. 7 easy treadmill miles, with a weird knee glitch in my first mile. It's been a while since I've had a niggle that was so painful that I stopped a run. In my opinion, I tried to start the run out too fast on the treadmill. I slowed down for the first mile after that, and the knee pain went away. 

4 run club road miles. This was also the day for our boxer run at Life Time. Yes, we lost a contest and had to wear boxers. Yes, some people's boxers were the coolest (see Superman below), and some people "forgot" that we had to wear them or had to go to a "meeting" at the same time as the boxer run.


Instead of being really cool or "forgetting," I borrowed my son's Sponge Bob boxers, which I wore over compression shorts so as not to accidentally reveal any business. That is a legit fear when borrowing boxer shorts from a small child, making loose boxer shorts turn into very tight boxer shorts. Then I added the most obnoxious socks I have to the ensemble, to verify to everyone (especially the people at the club who didn't know about the boxer run) that the entire outfit was a joke. It may have just verified that I am super goofy. 


The boxer shorts, tights, and colorful socks combo was not just my idea. Add some mouse ears, and this bad boy is a ringer for Minnie.


3. Strength training (solo) plus a long foam rolling session. Rest from running. I haven't done strength training by myself in a long while. Most noticeable difference between group and solo training: it goes by so fast because I don't spend half the time talking. 

4. 12 miles, long run. I did these on the treadmill, which is nice sometimes because it's easier to hit the prescribed pace (or close) for the day: 9:10. Oh plus there's that air conditioning thing that kind of rocks when it's hot outside.

5. Rest day. Took the little kids swimming instead, and later they did this to repay the favor. 


6. 3.1 miles in 21:24. At the Carrera 5K presented by BBVA. PR by 9 seconds, and I was third overall and first female at the race.

Fact: brighter shoes make you run faster.

7. Rest day. Scheduled to run 10 easy but instead ran 0. Family plans trumped running plans for the day. 

And looking at my total mileage, it appears that I'll tip the 200-mile scale for September because of the stage race this weekend. It's almost like I'm training for a 63K next month or something.

Some good/funny things from my week:

"We don't only hire bodybuilders or marathon runners..." From my training for my new job at Gold's. It just made me laugh that we are in the same category as bodybuilders and that somehow if you run a marathon you are suddenly one bad mama jama. Like, duh, obviously we hire bad-a marathon runners, but, everyone else, don't worry -- you're OK too. 

Sport wash samples that they gave us at my last BTC long run. 


Ultra-mullet sighting.


My four year old writing his first (accidental) word. Somehow in his scribbles, he spelled cool


Amazing leftovers. 

Brown rice and quinoa mix, fresh spinach, curry, shrimp.

Going away party for our trail running buddy, Jeremy.


Some things I missed this week: 

Doing my long run with my Saturday morning group. A treadmill long run is just not the same.


Seeing triple...of those trail race shirts.

Trail running! I didn't get my fix this week, but I'll get plenty this weekend. And this sign cracked me up on our last trail run. Huh? Isn't all of the ground unstable and rocky on Alabama trails?


Ice cold water stops. Which I only get when my buddy Michael heads up a trail run. 


Running with my brother! We haven't fit in enough hang time lately. 


Which race/run distance hurts the most in the days after the race? If I really race, any distance can make me sore, but the 5K was surprisingly intense on the oblique soreness. 

What are you missing lately and hoping to fit in more of this week? 

**Don't forget to enter to win an entry to Seven Bridges Marathon!

September 20, 2013

Giveaway: Seven Bridges Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K

Like running? Like water? Like combining things you love and rolling them up into a juicy burrito of awesome? Then you should check out the Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN. Coming up on October 20th, Seven Bridges gives you a chance to explore the gorgeous water, hills (but mostly from a distance), and trees surrounding Chattanooga. I want to go to there


If you're looking for a little less time on your feet, the half marathon takes you over four bridges, or the 5K takes you over two. 


This event is in its third year, so it's still a smaller race. Last year, there were over 400 finishers, and with a cool town like Chattanooga as the host(ess), my educated (read: obvious) guess is that that number is going to keep growing every year. 


The swag looks legit too. I love the bridges on the ribbon, and well, orange is where it's at. So A+ on that one, y'all. 



And about those hills. I don't see any climbs over 100 ft., and I'm guessing that those spikes correspond with bridges.


Living in Birmingham, we're only a couple of hours away from Chattanooga, and people here talk about Chattanooga as if it's the really cool big sister of Birmingham. Like, one day I'll be punk rock enough to dye my hair fire red and be in the recording studio all night with my band like my big sister. Except it's really like, one day I'll be metro enough to have an aquarium the size of a small city and a classic enough to have a song all about you written by the great Glenn Miller

Tennessee Aquarium

For more info about the race itself, check out these reviews. Last year one of my running buddies scored a huge PR there, and these are a few of his thoughts on the race.
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic race! The course is challenging but not as hilly as you'd think for the area. It was well organized for only being in its second year. The thing that really stood out to me was the scenery. Running along the river and over the bridges provided some great views of the river and the surrounding mountains. I also liked the novelty of running over that many bridges (including one over a dam)! The shirts and the medals were both nice. Chattanooga as a whole has a lot to offer. A vibrant city with so much to do! I would definitely do this race again.


So here's what I've got for you: a chance to win one of five entries into this race! You and your friends can all win and make it a road-trip-party-athon. And I'll have some extra race swag to mail to winners too. Just a little bonus with your win.

To enter: Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page (for the people who have blog commenting problems) telling me why you want to win. Is it for an awesome training run, redemption race, sightseeing adventure, or you just like punishing yourself by running marathons? Check your calendar first to make sure you can actually make it there on October 20th!

For bonus entries: These are completely optional! But if you do them, make sure to leave a separate comment for each so I can count them all. 

* Like Seven Bridges Marathon on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. Leave a separate comment for each share! 

* Like (or already like) Yo Momma Runs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow (or already follow) Yo Momma Runs on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

I'll close this giveaway next Friday, Sept. 27th, to give you (and your four friends who win with you) enough time to plan your trip. Random.org will help me out with picking the winner.

Seven Bridges Marathon is providing the entries for this race. I was not compensated for this post. 

September 18, 2013

I'm registered for the 2014 Boston freakin' Marathon!

In case you didn't see the Facebook post, I got my Boston confirmation! Finally! I was feeling so nervous because several folks in my running group got their confirmations on Friday just a few hours after registering...except for me. They have to verify your time before they send out your confirmation, and I guess it's just slower verifying a smaller race like Mercedes. I could also just be totally making that up. Whatever it was, I was the last to know, but that didn't void my obnoxious excitement. With that email confirmation, it just got real real up in here. So real that I made hotel reservations.

Start line on qualifying day with my big bro/expert pacer.

It's a good thing they let me in because on the day I qualified (in February 2013) I went ahead and put it on the calendar for April 2014, which BTW equals a lot of scrolling through the calendar app. BQ problems. It was (and still probably is) my only solid plan as of now for 2014.


Ahh, the iphone memories of that week.


Turns out that between now and then, I've got some other cool (to me) goals in the mix. 

This is my upcoming racing schedule, on which I'm trying so hard to limit myself to one race per month. That sounds like an easy goal, but I tell you that it's harder than it might seem. Because I won an entry into the Southeastern Trail Series, I have those races that I can run for free. Plus with the Alabama Outdoors run team, I can run the Alabama Outdoors trail series for free as well. So it's really hard to convince myself to pass up on free races, but family comes first. And to thank my husband for eagerly planning our Boston adventure in April, I'm trying to keep other running slightly chilled out. That's another reason that lately I've pushed some of my long runs to Friday, so I can create a better running/family balance. 

So here's what's coming up:

Sept. 21, Carrera 5K, Birmingham, AL. This is an event that is sponsored by my husband's employer for the workers and their families and friends. Pretty cool, right?! So our whole family is in on this day together. And I think this is the only race that my husband cares about me running. Even though on most days he is totally bored/over my running, he really wants me to do this with (read: in place of!) him, and I'm definitely going to shoot for a 5K PR. 

Sept. 27, 28, 29, Birmingham Stage Race, 53 miles total. I'm going to go ahead and predict that this race will end up being closer to 60+ miles. This race director is quickly becoming well known for making extra challenging courses (and adding in bonus miles for our enjoyment). This will be my first stage race ever, so I'm focused on recovery, not racing each individual day, and staying healthy  in order to complete all three days.

Oct. 12, Crusher Ridge 63K, Ruffner Mountain, AL. This is the point in my race schedule where I begin to question my sanity. This equals 39 trail miles, which will be a distance record for me. My plan is to take it slow and easy and just finish!

Nov. 9, Savannah Marathon, Savannah, GA. So looking forward to this race. My first, and therefore my favorite, marathon. This race has become an annual tradition. Some friends from Gainesville, FL, come up with their families, and we all hang out for the weekend, with the race as our reason for coming. I think we're up to three people actually running this year. For the past two years, our ratios were struggling. Two out of the 24 people visiting were running. OK, so that includes kids too, but some of them are old enough to run. As a bonus, this year I'm pacing one of my BRFs (best running friends) in what will be her first ever marathon. I'm not sure if she's more excited or if I am.

Nov. 23, Tranquility Lake 50K, Oak Mountain, AL. This is the capstone event of the Southeastern Trail Series. The whole purpose of the series, other than to have a blast running and eat lots of food at the finish line, is to prepare someone to run a 50K, so each race builds on the previous distance, until you get all the way up to 50K. I love the concept!

Dec. 14, Coldwater Mountain 50K, Anniston, AL. I'm not sure if this race still exists because when I googled I found zero info, but at one point it was a thought and on a schedule that I saw somewhere. If I don't run this, I will gladly take December off. 

Feb. 16, Mercedes Half Marathon, Birmingham, AL. My goal for this race is to be a Bell Runner, who raises money for the Bell Center, an early intervention center/program for kids with special needs. I don't plan to run more than the half marathon.

Feb. 22, Mt. Cheaha 50K, Heflin, AL. This is a maybe right now. My brother-in-law (same one who ran with me this year) from Maine really wants to come run it again as well. If he does, I am 100% in, but otherwise, I'm on the fence.

April 21, Boston Marathon, Boston, MA. As of right now the plan for this one is to have fun! No PR attempts, no gluing myself to my Garmin -- just run and enjoy the city and the people along the path to Boylston. And it looks like registration is already full for 2014. Because of the bombing last year, I think more people than ever are determined to support this event and show the world and crapster terrorists that we are strong and refuse to be bullied as a nation/city/running community. We're making a family road trip out of it, which means my family will be there to support me on the sidelines on race day, and my sister is still trying to plan her flat foot marathon to coincide with my finish. If you know any buck dancers, tap dancers, cloggers, or flat footers who would like to join her, please let me know! 

Which race are you most looking forward to on your schedule? Of course, B-town because it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Do you race every event you sign up for, or do you run some just for fun? I usually say I'm running for fun but can't get the racing bug out of my psyche on the run.

Have you ever run for a charity? Which one? This February will be a first for me, and I'm really excited to try and serve the community while I run. Running is all about me, me, me, so it will be nice to switch that focus. 

September 16, 2013

Ridge to Ridge Trail Race, 22 miles (plus Hotter n' Hell and Adios Summer)

So there were a couple of races in between my last race report and this one that I never told you guys about. I know you're shaking your fist at the sky right now. Well, quick summary for you right here and now. The first of those two races was Hotter n' Hell 18 miler that wasn't necessarily hotter than hell, but it was harder than hell. I hadn't run much during my month long summer road trip, and this many trail miles was a pretty scary way to break my legs back into running. My quads were cramping up horribly which isn't normal for me. The calves are my usual go-to cramper. It was a double-loop course, and it was really hard not to stop after that first loop. So hard that I walked for about ten minutes before I decided that I wasn't going to turn around.



Here's what the 9-mile loop elevation looked like. I finished the 18 miles in 3:44. And just for a bonus, I hiked it a third time to help sweep the course post-race. Where these brilliant ideas come from, I don't know.


That elevation chart tells me that I freaking earned this medal and shirt. 


_____________________________

My next race went a bit better. August 10th was the Adios Summer 15K at Ruffner Mtn. Ruffner is known for eating unsuspecting trail runners alive. It's got brutal hills, rough terrain, and wild (read: poison ivy filled) brush. But for some reason, I've so far had great luck with my trail races there. For my second time ever, I came in first overall in my event. The first time was also at Ruffner. So weird. 

I think it was due to Melissa's braiding skills. Also, thank heavenliness that I have had a haircut since then. My hair was getting out-of-control long, which equals hot. 


The best part of this race? No, not the hills. And why don't the hills look worse in this elevation chart? I swear they felt twice as high. 


No, the best part was definitely the awards. Useable frying pans. Cannot beat a skillet for a prize. Ever. Don't even try.


And here are some photos from the day that will speak a thousand words to you so that you don't have that much more to actually read. 

Coach Alex (yellow) and Olivia (blue) working the registration table.

Me and Kim (one of my Life Time runners!).

Melissa and me about to hit the trails.

Final instructions before we do this like Brutus. 

Kathleen, me, Mary, John.  You can tell by the sweaty messes who just finished running.
 _____________________________

So now to the hopeful finale of hot summer races -- meaning: please hurry up, fall weather. The temps for the September 8th Ridge to Ridge 20 Mile Race (actually 24 miles) reached 90, making it the hottest of these three races. That didn't stop a lot of sweaty folks from hitting the trails that day. Plus a lot of these people had just been out to the free trail race the day before this. We've got folks gearing up for the three-day, 60-mile stage race at the end of this month, myself included, so they're intent on making life tough for their legs in order to prep.


These hydration pack carriers had the right idea. There was an 8-mile gap between aid stations, which feels even more brutal in 90 degrees.


And I'm pretty sure that the race director takes special pride in finding the most challenging path between two points. He either loves or hates us all a lot to go to this much effort to make the hardest race possible.

Double this loop for the longer course.

At one point, I wasn't even sure if we were actually following a trail anymore because it just turned into the side of a mountain. If it weren't for the occasional blue flag, I would not have recognized this spot as a trail. Note: slippery pine straw and steep hillsides are not the best mix.


Then there was the brutal hike/run down into and up and out of the other side of the waterfall. We were all so happy to see the photographer on the steep climb out (frown smile). 

Photo by David Christy Photography

For most of the first 10(or 12)-mile loop, we had a pretty long chain of runners going, and by the time we hit the second loop, most of the chain had dropped out. I think the main causes were heat and the extreme inclines and declines that were killing off legs/knees/quads. But mostly heat.

Me, Michael, Bob. Photo by Zachary, one of the random non-racing trail runners we saw out that day.

By the second loop, our numbers were fewer, but we were still pretty determined to make it a decent loop, or at least to finish. My trail pal, Michael, was using the day as a training run, so he stuck with me through both loops. Luckily he was there to lend me a little water when I ran out with a few miles left. Oops, guess I should have filled my pack up again at the 4-mile aid station, even though I thought it would last the whole loop like it had the first time around. Turns out that I was downing it quicker the second, hotter time around.

I was very slow moving up the steep climbs, and at the end of the race, I was talking to people who weren't there (I swear they were behind us at some point, and I just didn't realize that we lost them). The effects of the heat were definitely setting in, but Michael just kept chatting away like everything was totally fine, which helped me to focus on something besides the pain and desire to already be finished. There is usually a point in the long distances that I wonder what I was thinking signing up for this, but I keep coming back for the physical and mental challenge plus camaraderie of the other trail junkies. Oh, and we saw some deer bounding in front of us through the forest. So there's also that reason to come back for more.

But, man alive, I was happy to be finished. When am I going to learn that doing these moves after longer races causes serious cramp-age? I think the race director thought I broke my leg doing this when I immediately fell over in pain. Nope, no breaks -- just a giant, debilitating calf cramp is all.

Cramp!!! Photo by mRuns.com.

My final time was 4:51, which was good enough for 3rd place that day, but I was just happy to be alive.

Photo by mRuns.com.

And happy that I saw this Zombies Hate Fast Food shirt. 

Michael and Jennifer.

What was the hottest, toughest race/run you attempted this summer? Would you do it again? I like the challenge of the heat (even though I hate it in the moment) because I know it's going to make me so much stronger for the fall/winter races. But it takes it out of me for a couple of days afterwards when I give a huge effort on a really hot, humid day. So, yes, I would do it again! And Choccolocco 50K still wins the prize for the hottest, worst race of my summer.

Do you ever get useful running awards? The frying pan was up there, but we also sometimes use the mugs they give out as prizes too. But I would have to say that cash is the most useful of all. Too bad I never win any of that!