Monday, November 11, 2013

Run Happy: Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

One of my main goals with moving across the country in addition to soaking up this slice of mountain town beauty that we have with Asheville, has been to see as much of the east coast as we can before moving back to Oregon.  And wow, we've seen quite a bit in the seven to eight months that we've been here.  Boston, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Carolina, all over North Carolina and more.  We've truly been living this adventure and we are far from done.  When I found out that I had an opportunity through Brooks to get a free entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah half or full marathon, I didn't want to pass up the opportunity.  I mean, a chance to run in a fun race environment, see the charming city of Savannah that I'd heard nothing but good things about, AND run a race like this on my birthday, November 9th!  Yes, Please.  And Thank you Brooks!  I had so much fun. What a fantastic event!

The past few months of running and making decisions about races have been in a sort of wishy-washy/non-comittal phase.  I changed my mind so many times about what I would do with this Savannah weekend.  At one point I thought I was going to do the full marathon for fun.  Then I changed it to running the half for a fun, easy run and a chance to travel to Savannah.  And I finally decided that I would push myself a bit more this weekend so that I had a good idea of where I was starting fitness wise with Boston training.  I went into Savannah really not having a specific goal.  I didn't even know my plan after the gun went off.  As soon as I was midway through the first mile, I knew my goals:

  • Run happy
  • Push myself comfortably hard
  • Run by feel and NOT by my watch.  I only looked at my watch at mile splits.
  • Tell my body to run as close to 7:30s as possible.  I have this pace easily if I get in the zone.  And I was surprised at how easily it came!  
  • Run my race without comparing myself to my race shape self.  
  • Enjoy being in the race.  Soak up the energy and music around me. Be in the present moment with my thoughts.  
What a great and fun race!  I guess I wouldn't call it a race race as far as know, that dig deep kind of feeling... but it was definitely more than just an easy run.  I pushed myself comfortably hard.  Nothing that hurt but a pace that felt strong, controllable, and like something I could keep up for a long time.  Really, I met all of my goals!  I ran with a smile much of the time, had a few conversations, and soaked up the atmosphere!  I felt strong.  My body, mind and spirit were happy!  What a great place to be off of the past several weeks of 25-30 miles a week (with mostly easy running).  And what a great way to celebrate turning 35 years young!  

I'm very happy with my overall time and experience in this race when I consider where I'm at with fitness, my goals, my comfortably hard effort, and what I expected for this run. Great place to be going into base building for Boston training: 

1:38:19 (I had predicted a 1:42 based off of my earlier wishy washy goals.  That gave me corral 2 out of 20 something.  20 corrals!  That says something about how BIG these Rock n' Roll races are.)

The thing I'm happiest about is how consistent my splits were.  When I first saw that I was running 7:30's I thought it might be too fast so I started to let my Garmin guide me instead of letting my body run by feel. But I fought that and really tried hard to not pay attention to the watch but instead to what my body was wanting to do. And it wanted to run in that 7:25-7:30ish range!  I figured the worst thing that could happen was that I slowed way down at the end and couldn't hold on to that pace at this point in my training. And that would tell me where I was.  But that never happened.  Instead I found myself feeling strong mile after mile.  I think I chose the perfect pace for a perfect mix of 
Comfortable Control
Pushing Myself more than usual

I admit, I was ready to be done at the end!  There was no way I could do this pace all over again for another half right now.  Maybe by April but certainly not now!  

.17 @ 6:32 pace 

What a well-run event!  In addition to loving the course and race experience, I fell in love with Savannah.  After the race, I spent a good hour sitting in the sunshine by a beautiful fountain on one of Savannah's many park benches.  Then after a shower and change of clothes I spent the rest of the day walking the streets of Savannah and soaking up all the charm it has to offer.  Oh, Savannah, I'll be back to visit again!  

The trees in Savannah are something I could stop to look at for hours.  They are the kind of trees that stop you in your tracks and speak to you.  Old, wise, whispering trees.  So many secrets and stories to tell.  This was one of my favorite spots to spend time.

Anyone that knows me well, knows how much I love old and used bookstores.  Especially the kind in a beautiful city that are tucked in... just waiting to be discovered.  That was this bookstore.  If I wouldn't have had my eyes open and taking in my surroundings, I might not have found it.  So glad I did.  It was a highlight of my trip for sure! And yes, those black and yellow Brooks PureFlow 2s do go with that outfit! Ha!  I had cute red flats on but they had to go. I'll take comfort and function over fashion any day.  Besides, that is my fashion.  They are my favorite shoes to wear with many things (the blk/yellow ones). I love running in them too but I'm pretty sure I need a bit more support for the majority of my runs.
Things that say hello to my heart.  Just one of the many things that caught my eye in that old bookstore.  Words, nooks,

After my time in Savannah I spent a night in Charleston with good friends.  As I started to drive home to Asheville on Sunday morning, my husband said he needed a bit more time to get ready for my arrival (think birthday) so I spent a few hours exploring downtown Charleston by myself.  I put my running shoes on and gave myself a run tour.  Another charming city that I will return to!

Driving back home to the Blue Ridge mountains truly felt like returning a place where my soul is most alive.  As much as I love charming old cities in the south and many of the cities and small towns I've seen along the east coast, there's surely something about this artsy mountain town that has my HEART completely.  How will I ever leave this place?  A piece of my heart will always stay...that's a fact.

I drove into my driveway last night to see little bouncing faces and heads peeking out of the window...barely containing their excitement over surprising me for my birthday.  My first step in the house was greeted with a chorus of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!", big smiles, and squeals of laughter.  The night only got better from there.  Gosh it feels good to be loved and have people to love in return.

Now time to retire a pair of shoes (love my Ravenna 4's) and start looking towards a successful happy Boston training!  Here's to Running Happy!

These Brooks Ravenna 4 shoes have more than many miles on them!  Time to get another pair.  

What do you think of the Rock 'n' Roll half and full events? Have you ever done one?  


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Monday, November 4, 2013

Running Happy, Training with Joy, and Counting Personal Bests Other Than the Time on a Clock

Running with my daughter for her first 5k this summer brought new meaning to  RUN HAPPY , the very fitting for running slogan for Brooks Running

Watching the New York City Marathon was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.  It got me charged up, inspired, and excited about the idea of running (and even training for) another marathon!  Honestly, I was wondering if my joy and excitement for marathon training would come back to me any time soon.  I've been hoping it would since I'm signed up for Boston 2014.  What a dread it would be to train for a marathon when you're really not all that into it.  I mean, those long runs?  I can't imagine clocking a 20 miler without having the DESIRE to train and accomplish new goals.  It's this desire and motivation that keeps me focused during those long runs, time spent logging mileage and putting in the hard work.  Whatever the desire or goals happen to be, you have to really want to do it if you're going to find any joy in training for a marathon.  At least that's the way I see it.  So, I'm really happy to find myself feeling EXCITED to train again.

As I made my way around my favorite dirt path for my easy 5 miles this morning, I thought a lot about where I'm at with running.  I kept coming back to the question that my friend Raina, from Small Town Runner asked this morning:

"Could you be content with all of your PRs as they are, never to do speed work again-- if it meant you could run injury free for the rest of your life?" 

One of the happiest 10ks  I've run, The Best Dam Run. A minute off of a PR but I was still happy.  And even better with friends Raina (second place woman that day) and Nicole. 

Good question Raina!  Definitely one that got me thinking.  A PR...Personal Record is why many of us train for a specific race.  It's exciting to push ourselves to new levels of personal bests.  It feels good to conquer new goals and see our times improving...our legs get faster...our paces easier.  However, I think for many of us, it really isn't about the time on the clock anymore.  It becomes more about finding our Personal Bests or Personal Records with running in other ways.  That's where I'm at right now.  My answer to Raina's question at this moment in time (not saying it won't change in a few months from now) is:

YES, I could most definitely be content with all of my PRs (time-wise) as they are, never do speed work again (even though I probably will during my Boston training) if it meant that I could run injury free for the rest of my life.  YES!  

Would my answer have been YES many years ago?  I don't know.  Doubt it.  In fact, I never had my first real injury until an accident where I tripped over a rock in the forest in 2010 and tore my hamstring completely. This was right after I decided to train for something again after having my babies.  Even during my eight years of competitive running in high school and college...No injuries.   After that 2010 injury, I've had many. And after my last few attempts at PRs in the marathon, I've kind of come to a point in my almost 35 years of living where I'm truly just content running easier and training more for the JOY of running than chasing any big numbers on the clock.

Rock n' Roll Portland last year was far from a half marathon PR (right after Boston 2012)  but I felt so happy running it for a workout and keeping it easier.  When I see this picture, I'm even more set in my answer to the question above.  YES, bring the running for the rest of my life over a PR any day!  

When I first started training for something again after having kids, it was hard not to let my Personal Records from high school and college hang over my head.  Whether I was intentional about focusing on them or not, they were always there in the back of my head saying "Okay, here's the bar.  Let's see what you've got now."  I let them define me as a runner instead of seeing that I was most definitely at a different place in my life.

  • Will I ever run a 5:2x-5:30 mile again?  Hmm, probably  not unless a bear was chasing me.  
  • Do I ever want to run a 2:2x 800 meters again?  Um, no thanks.  Why? Could I?  Probably not a chance.  
  • Will I finally run a 19:xx 5k and redeem myself from that 20:01 just a couple years ago?  Yes, I think this is likely if I can get over my fear of racing.  
  • Will I get to taste a PR in the marathon and finally run a sub 3:20?  Gosh, that would certainly be nice wouldn't it?  And very possible. If it happens, great!  But if it doesn't and I can honestly say that I trained with JOY and Balance, then I'm content running whatever my legs give me on race day. These legs of mine have many years of hard mileage on them and they might just be telling me that they're not going to move as fast as they once did.  That's ok. 

For now, as I start building a base for my Boston training, I'm set on making some new Personal Bests. But I'll be taking those personal bests in:

  • Running strong and happy (this might very well mean slowing down with times)
  • Staying healthy (mind, body, spirit)
  • Not letting training take over too much of my life (I have a tendency to be a bit obsessive about things sometimes) to where my balance pie has too many of the running/training slices and other much more important things take a hit.  
  • Getting over my fear of competing with myself in races.  This alone will bring more JOY to my training. 

As far as Running Happy and Training/Living with Joy?  Well, if I need any reminders of how to do that, all I have to do is watch how my kids live life. They are just happy to be alive and they so easily find JOY in the simplest of things.  I'm so thankful to have this time being their mother.

Her Joy is contagious!  

Here's to personal bests (whatever that means for us), running happy, and finding joy in living and training!

What about would you answer Raina's question:

"Could you be content with all of your PRs as they are, never to do speed work again-- if it meant you could run injury free for the rest of your life?" 


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Friday, November 1, 2013

Not as Bad as I Thought, a Video for the Mamas, and Yes, Yes, Whiplash is Wearing My Lululemon Tank

I posted yesterday about the stories I'd heard about how insanely happening this neighborhood is on Halloween.  This had me a little concerned about the quantity of candy crap we'd  have in our house for the next _____ months so I was already plotting ways to make it all disappear.  So, how'd everything hold up to rumor?

  1. This neighborhood WAS definitely NUTS as far as the amount of people roaming the streets.  Woah!  I've never seen anything like it. It was much more like a festival than a night of trick or treating.  
  2. Because we hosted a party with a few friends, we spent a lot more time AT our house and LESS time trick or treating.  In fact, when we did go out trick or treating, it was so crowded that we didn't cover much ground, many people were handing out one piece (us too) so the candy would last, and my kids wanted to be home handing candy out and playing with their friends.  This meant GIVING LOTS of candy AWAY and ending up with hardly anything.  But our kids think they have a lot.  SCORE.  
The Hubs truly did rock his Whiplash (from Ironman 2) costume.  He was a little scary actually.  At the end of the night when he wanted a kiss or two, I made him go back to being my husband first. As much as I like a man in uniform, Whiplash just isn't my type.  Sorry Whiplash, didn't do it for me.  No matter how awesome you look in so many ways.  

For those of you that missed yesterday, here's Whiplash: 

And here's Whiplash in my house with my daughter (Yikes!):

Good job with the electrical engineering skills hon

And Whiplash and the family:

I didn't start thinking of what my costume would be until about an hour before everyone arrived at our house.  I was pretty stoked to have thrown together a quick Superhero Mom costume.  Thanks to my Lululemon Racerback Tank (a staple), my Handful Bra that makes me look like I have a partial rack (maybe), the cape I made for my middle daughter last year, a wig and a sloppy sew job of a felt belt.

When Whiplash was getting ready, he wanted to wear some dumb brown long sleeve shirt under his bad A silvery gear.  NO WAY was I letting him get away with such lameness.  It was either shirtless or something else.  So I told him to try my black Lulu tank since I had two.  Ha!  He squeezed into it and BAM, just like that, we were wearing matching shirts!  Who would have guessed that that scary Whiplash dude was wearing a size 4 lulu tank?  Now, let's hope he didn't stretch it out too much.

I'm ending this post with a link to a video I shared yesterday.  This one is for all you moms out there.  I think there is something in here that almost all of us can relate to.  We are NOT alone.  I watched it with my kids and it was even better.  Enjoy.

I don't know about you but I'm really excited for a run today so I can sweat out all the crud I consumed last night.  Here's to a great Friday and an early bedtime for my sugar induced sleep-deprived kids!  Good luck to all you teachers out there...I remember this day so well!

Happy Friday,


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