Friday, November 21, 2014

Five For Friday - 11/21/14

I had a pretty great week! It was full of fun and running!

Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. I'm so thankful my mom came to see me at the Avengers Half on Sunday. It is so fun to have someone there cheering you on. Being single and traveling to races means I don't always have someone there for me at the end. I love that my mom is proud of me and one of my biggest cheerleaders. And that she lets me go on endlessly about my races! ;)
My mom & my niece Morgan

2. I am thankful for all of the Disney employees who cheered us on for the Avengers Half. Especially all of the ones wearing Mickey hands and giving high fives! They totally rock in how cheerful and fun they are.

3. I am thankful for the fun, little details that runDisney races do. Like this finisher's certificate for Sunday's race...signed by Captain America. I totally think it was the real one. Don't you think? ;)

4. I am thankful for Eva and Dave at Fleet Feet in Rancho Cucamonga. They do a lot for the running community. I see them on quite a few of my runs during the week and they always say hello. They also hold a few group runs every week so I've gotten to know some of the local runners through them. Last night, they had a New Balance Pub Run where we could try on NB shoes for the run. I tried a pair of 880s and they were fun. Not as fun as my Clifton's but I am glad I got to experience them.

5. Finally, this week I am thankful I saw this view the other morning.

I am so blessed to see so many beautiful sunrises/sunsets because of my runs & bike commutes.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ms Marvel Runs The Avengers Half Marathon - A Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran the Avengers Half Marathon, my 29th Half, at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth!

I wanted to run this because I am a geek and I love the Avengers. Actually, I love Loki/Tom Hiddleston…

Um, what was I saying? Oh yeah, right…the Avengers Half. ;)

So, I was pretty excited to run it and had been thinking about what costume to wear for it for quite a while. Sadly, there aren’t many strong women characters in the Avengers movie universe right now and I figured there would be a ton of Black Widows so that was out. I thought about maybe being a female version of Hulk or Hawkeye or Falcon but that didn’t feel right. Finally, I decided to be Ms Marvel. I just needed a few key pieces and I would be all set. It also felt like it would be an easy costume to run in. Because though I planned to treat this like a training run, I was hoping for 2:20.

I went to the expo on Saturday morning to pick up my bib and shirt. I tried not to spend too much time there but did do a little shopping there and then in Downtown Disney. Oops.

I didn’t buy a skirt but 2 very cute shirts (Tinkerbell & Brave inspired - 2 of my fave Disney characters!), some headbands, and magnets to add to my collection. I ate lunch in Downtown Disney too and then drove back home went to Michaels to pick up the red ribbon for my costume. I finished putting together the outfit that afternoon. I was ready!

I hardly slept at all Saturday night. I was too nervous about missing my 2:30 alarm. Getting up that early sucks but I actually love that the race starts at 5:30. I got up with my alarm and had 2 breakfast crisps. Then I got ready, packed everything I needed to take and hit the road by 3:20. I got to Disneyland by 4:05, changed into my Cliftons, hit the restrooms at the parking structure (so much nicer than having to use the port-a-potty) and then headed to the start. I was in Corral B and I went up to the front since some runners I knew would be in Corral A. I saw my friend Ryan and we talked while we waited for the race to start. I had one gel about 5:15 and stuffed one into my arm sleeve. Who knew they could be a convenient place to store gels!

One thing I love about Disney is they go all out with everything they do. We had entertainment while we waited and the start was pretty darn cool. This is during the singing of the National Anthem.

Then it was go time! They were actually sending corrals A & B at the same time so there was no extra wait.

We were off! It was a little crowded at the start but not too bad. We ran into California Adventure first and it was all lit up with Christmas lights and there were characters out and about. They had stations where you could take your picture with each of the Avengers and there were quite a few Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. on the course “recruiting” as well. We left California Adventure and ran into Disneyland by Splash Mountain and then the Haunted Mansion (which looked amazing with its Christmas decorations). Next was Pirates, around the lake for Tom Sawyer’s Island to Big Thunder Mountain and then into Fantasy Land. I saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs riding the carousel and then we ran thru Cinderella’s Castle. Next it was down Main Street to the huge, beautiful Christmas tree in the square. I did a lot of sightseeing while in the park but I kept up a pretty good clip. My 5K split was 32:54, a 10:37 pace.

Once we left the park, we ran on city streets. As we were running down Harbor Blvd, we got a taste of what was to come. We could see the area ahead of us was really dusty and there was a cross wind kicking up. After mile 4 we made a left turn...into a headwind! It was blowing pretty strong. I tucked in behind this big, tall guy but then had to pass him because I was going faster than he was. We made a right turn at mile 5 so had a crosswind again but then a left run after mile 6 back into the wind. My 10K split was 1:05:12, a 10:31 pace. Which looking back on I think is interesting because I wasn't trying to go faster and thought I had slowed down with the wind.

At about 6.5 miles, we turned onto the Santa Ana River path. We had a headwind again here all the way til mile 8. I had planned on running the first 7 miles at a 10:40-10:50 pace and then dropping to a 10:20 pace for the last 6.1 miles. I changed my plans with the wind though. I didn't want to tire myself out by going too hard into the wind so kept at my same effort. I almost got hit by a huge tumbleweed in this stretch but luckily a volunteer stopped it just in time. I was really glad I was wearing sunglasses because the dust was horrible and we felt like we were sandblasted. During this stretch there was a huge Marvel cosplay group with all the characters which was a lot of fun, especially because there were a few Ms Marvels in it. I got a bit of an energy surge from all of their high fives!

After mile 8, we turned into Angel Stadium. We got to run around home plate and see ourselves on the jumbo tron and there were bands playing in there. It was a lot of fun. As we left the stadium, there was another Captain America WWII cosplay group. Mixed with true veterans, I think. I high fived all of them too. Once we left the stadium, it was time to turn up the pace! My 15K split was 1:39:02, a 10:40 pace. I evaluated how I felt and decided to drop to a 10 min pace and see how close I could get to 2:15.

My last 4 miles were 9:59, 9:58, 10:08, and then after mile 12, I picked up even more...9:26! I felt great all the way to the end. Finally, we hit the 13 mile marker and it was just a little bit more. I could hear the crowd and the announcer and I was looking for my mom but mostly I was smiling at how much fun I'd had. I crossed the line in 2:16:29! Yeah baby! Woo! I was so, so happy with that time. That was better than I'd expected or even hoped! Woo! Can you tell I'm still just a tiny bit excited?

I heard my mom yell my name just after I crossed the finish line and waved to her. Then I got my sweet medal.

A very cool spinner medal for the Inaugural Mission, wouldn't you say?

After getting my medal, I went thru the chute to get my water and snacks and head to the reunion area. When I got there though, they were kicking us out because they were worried the wind would knock over the stage and the tents. I found my mom though and she took a finisher's photo for me.

Then we went to Downtown Disney to find someplace to eat. We had breakfast at the Rainforest Café and then headed back to the car. I was a little sad it was over but I was one, happy Ms Marvel!

I think that I could have started my push earlier but I ran it smart and I finished with a time I'm very, very happy with. I love runDisney races. I know they are expensive but they are so much fun, especially if you enter into the spirit of the event. I can't wait for the Star Wars Half in January!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five For Friday - 11/14/14

Happy Friday everyone!

This has been a very strange week for me. The beginning of the week started off great with my run but quickly went down hill with 2 terrible phone calls. :( I wish the news in both cases had been better but they weren't unexpected so I was prepared. Though there has been a somberness to the week, it has been a good week and I still have a lot to be thankful for.

Here's this week's list of 5 things I'm grateful for this Friday:

1. On Sunday, I went to visit my grandpa and his dog, Rocky. It was my last visit with Rocky and I knew this because he's been having trouble the past week and had stopped eating. My mom called to let me know that my grandpa was putting him to sleep on Monday so I could go say goodbye.

Rocky was such a funny, smart, and loving little guy. He made my grandpa very happy and kept him company and active. Rocky was sometimes too smart for his own good and could find trouble quite easily but he made us smile and laugh. I am thankful for the years of fun and love we had with him and that I got to say goodbye one last time.

RIP sweet Rocky.

2. The other phone call I got was from my dad to let me know that a family friend was at the end stages of her battle with pancreatic cancer. Her family brought her home on Monday and she passed away on Tuesday. Rest in peace, Kim.

Kim helped me at a time when I was completely lost. She gave me a job as the nanny for her 2 kids when I didn't have any other options. At a time when I didn't feel like I was worth anything, she put her trust in me and made me realize I was a good person. I wish more than anything that she hadn't suffered the past couple of months and that she was still here to see her grandkids grow up but I am thankful I knew her.

3. I am thankful I didn't screw up my left calf last night! I knew...KNEW I shouldn't do any leg work last night with the Avenger's Half on Sunday but decided burpees didn't count and would be fine. They are just burpees, right? Well I had only done a few when my left calf twinged. It didn't hurt exactly but I definitely felt something and had a little bit of a limp after. Needless to say, I stopped and just did upper body after that. I went home and iced it and this morning it was okay. It feels like it needs to be stretched really well but I was able to run on it and it didn't bother me at all. I was very lucky!

4. I am thankful for obnoxious bike lights and reflective clothing so cars can see me now that my bike commute home is in the dark! I look like a rolling Christmas tree/disco ball and I love it. :)

5. I am thankful for a supportive and loving family and great friends!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Be Your Own Superhero

I run the Avengers Half on Sunday at the happiest place on earth! I. Can't. Wait! I was thinking of going as a Falcon but have decided to go with Ms Marvel. Let's hope I can pull it all together by Sunday.

Besides the costume thing, I am still trying to figure out how exactly I'm going to run it. I was thinking of doing it as a Fast Finish long run. Maybe the first 7 miles at an easy pace (say 10:50) and then pick it up to the pace I hope to run for the Dallas Half (dreaming of 10:20) which is in just 31 days now!

Time seems to be flying by! The countdowns to my upcoming races are going much faster than I expected. Especially the one for the LA Marathon. Just 121 days. Yikes.

Here's last week's numbers:
Running - 46.5 miles (my biggest week so far w/7 runs including 1 double)
Cycling - 121 miles
Weight training/pilates - 3.75 hours

My training has been going really well still. Knock on wood. I'm seeing improvements in speed and how my legs feel after a run. I ran an awesome 10 Miler on Sunday. And I lost another 3+ lbs so I'm down to 170.6. Woo!

My weight is not dropping as quickly as I'd hoped. I'd hoped to be at my goal weight (150) by the Dallas Half but that's okay. I know that I have put a lot of muscle on so I'm okay with where my weight is. I am really noticing the difference in how my clothes are fitting and, like I said, how I feel after the run - much, much, less soreness and not tired. That right there makes me very happy.

Now, if I could just figure out what to do on Sunday, I'd be ecstatic.

What would Ms Marvel do? :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Five For Friday - 11/7/14

I missed last week! But here's my list of 5 things I'm grateful for this week:

1. I'm SO grateful my grandpa is okay. He hit his head on Monday and had to get stitches. He's 92 and very active and I am lucky I get to have him in my life.
2. I'm grateful Jenks lets me sleep at night. I've fallen asleep before 8 the past 2 nights (yes, I'm OLD! ;) ) and he hasn't made a peep the whole night until the alarm went off in the morning. What a good boy! And cute!

3. I'm also grateful he didn't bite me when I put him in that costume! ;) (he tried though...that's my boy!)

4. I'm grateful I got to take my mom to see the Dancing With A Twist show on Saturday night. We have watched a lot of Dancing With The Stars (2 of the pros put on the show along with others from SYTYCD and American Idol) together and it was something we did while I was recovering from surgery last year and going through chemo. It was a very small way to be able to thank her.

5. And finally, I'm grateful I have a fun, safe place to run near work during lunch.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Next Phase

So...I am starting the next phase of my training. Did I mention that I signed up for the LA Marathon on 3/15/15? Well, I decided that instead of trying to figure out what to do to get there on my own, I would get a coach again! I asked Justin (@gilletterunning) if he would take me on again and he said yes. We start next week!

My training is going really well and I think I have done okay but I think part of is just the benefit of having lost weight and regaining my strength. I need/want more specific workouts to reach my goals. I am looking forward to the torture, I mean, fun workouts he sends me. ;)

Here's what I did last week:
Running - 41.5 miles (7 runs, including a double on Thursday)
Cycling - 124 miles
Gym - 3 hours. I didn't make it to the gym after RnRLA and I didn't make it on Saturday either. Saturday, at least, I worked out with the weights I have at home.

This week has been stellar so far. On Sunday, I ran 15 miles which is a post cancer Personal Long!
Funny thing was it was at a faster pace than the RnRLA. I ran the first 10 miles at an 11ish mile pace and then 4 at HMP and then a 1 mile cool down. I felt really good at the end too. Where RnRLA had me wondering if I was fooling myself about how far I'd come, this run gave me a lot of confidence that I am improving.

On Tuesday, I ran 8x400s and that went really well too. I averaged 2:04 for the 400s and ended up setting a post cancer PR for the 10K. Woo! It was a really solid and fun run.

Then today, I ran 8.8 miles and ran 5 at tempo (9:50) and that went just as well. I felt really good and was pleased with how it went. And then I found out I set another post cancer PR for the 10K! Have I mentioned how much I love my Garmin? I love that it tells me when I set a new record. It's like a high five from my training partner. :)

One other change I made is that I decided to go back to doing Pilates on Wednesdays and maybe Sundays so I will only hit the gym 3 or 4 times a week now. I really need Pilates or Yoga to help with the tightness in my hips, shoulders, and back.

So, that's the latest. I am one happy runner girl right now and I'm really getting excited for the races I have coming up!

Hope you are having a great week! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Recap

On Sunday, I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon. It didn't go perfectly but it was a lot of fun. I did learn a few things:

1. Pack your fairy wings in the car the night before so you don't forget them.
2. Eat enough before the race and don't forget to bring water for before the race.
3. Don't go out too aggressively in the first half of the race if all the hills are in the second half!

And on to the recap...

The Expo
I went to the Expo on Saturday morning to pick up my bib and meet up with a few people. I knew Sue, a fellow Run It Faster, would be at the Fitletic booth and I found her!
 Then I did some shopping and some buying of stuff:

Then I went to the Got Chocolate Milk booth for the tweetup and met @PavementRunner and a slew of other runners, including Fireman Rob:

Then it was time to head back to have lunch with my dad who was in town to visit. Oh, here's my shirt and bib for the race:

Pre Race
I set my alarm for 3:30 and slept fitfully that night. But I think I got about 4-5 hours of sleep. I woke up with both alarms going off, got up and ate part of a bagel w/some orange juice. Then I got ready. I wanted to leave by 4:30 and almost made it out the door on time. I forgot I needed safety pins to pin my wings so I set them down to grab the pins and turned and rushed out the door. And you guessed it...I forgot my wings! I didn't remember til I was about 10 miles away and there wasn't enough time to go back.

I miraculously found the parking lot where I'd reserved my parking space (yay, go me!) and then finished getting ready (changed shoes, put on tutu, big, etc.) and headed to the race start which was about a half mile away. Got there, hit the port-a-potties, and then wandered around looking at all the costumes. About 15 minutes before 7, I ate half of my Honey Stinger Energy Chews. I had also forgotten to bring an extra bottle of water so had nothing to wash them down with. Doh! But finally, it was time to get in the corrals and wait for the start of the race.

The race started just before 7 with the wheelchairs, then the elites, then all the other corrals. My corral got to the start line about 7:18ish and then they counted us down. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

The Race
And we were off!

The race started off on a slight downhill. I was trying to run by feel and it felt really easy but I looked down at my watch and saw I was running a 10 min mile and worried that was too fast. I finally decided to just go with it and that first mile was 10:02 and the second was 9:52. Oops. I forced myself to slow down for the 3rd mile to 10:40 but the next mile was back to 10:15. Then the next mile I started to fade. I think I hadn’t been drinking enough water and I hadn’t eaten enough before the race. At mile 5 I had the rest of my Honey Stinger chews and I felt a little better after that. I saw my friend Tim finishing when I got to the 10K mark and then I heard my friend Josh (@bayou) yell my name just after that (he also cheered me at the finish and took the photos of me). Also, I heard my friend Tony from Instagram yelling at me a couple of times on the course. Those cheers really helped!

The problem, I think, was that from mile 3 to about mile 7.5, the course was uphill. Not a big hill really until the last bit but enough that I could see my pace dropping and got a little frustrated. I was still feeling a little tired but legs felt good. I could see the 2:15 pacers just ahead of me and I tried to keep them in my sights. I managed to hang near them until the turnaround at 9.5 miles and then lost them. I took a gel and was out of water in my handheld so walked a little thru this aid station to make sure I got enough water in.

I was afraid I would try to walk on that last hill in mile 12 but only walked a tiny bit thru the 11 mile aid station to get water and that was it. I wasn’t fast but I was steady. Then we made it to the top and it was downhill to the finish. I let my legs do what they wanted and ran as hard as I could. I finished in 2:26:16. Not the time I had hoped for but I'll take it. My A goal was 2:20 and my C goal was to beat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (he finished in 3:09 so I was good there). So I ended up accomplishing my B goal which was sub 2:30.

Here's my medal! Pretty cools, eh? Love the Halloween theme!

I ended up shaving 8 minutes off my time from the Leading Ladies Half in August. At first, I was
disappointed that I hadn't shaved off more but then I remembered that LLH was a great downhill course (included in pic above) and this one was not. I know that I have become much stronger since then and I had hoped to prove that to myself and I did.

I also think a big part of my problem was fueling and hydration. I ran 7 miles today and my legs felt great, not tired at all, so I know I gave everything I could on Sunday but not everything my legs could. Does that make sense? I know I had a 2:20 in me. I just need to get back into racing mode again. And run smarter! My garmin read 13.4 miles at the end. There were a lot of turns on the course and I did a terrible job of running the tangents. There was also a lot of dodging people. And of course, a lot of costumes to look at! Hopefully, I will do a better job of paying attention at Avengers Half (hmmm, that could be hard!) but for sure at the Dallas Half! :)

So, a couple of disappointments (forgetting my wings and not hitting 2:20) but overall I had a lot of fun and I am happy with how I did. I missed this race last year because I'd had surgery to remove my ovarian cancer tumor (along with a full hysterectomy and appendectomy) just 4 weeks before it. I was really pissed that I missed it last year. This year was I ran it to give cancer the middle finger. I think I did that. :)

Honestly, it just feels so awesome to be racing again. That, my friends, is the real win.