Running On Average

I Ran and Got My Green Thumb

It’s Monday once again!

I had a super productive and amazingly fun weekend. Friday, after a two-hour nap (oops), I cleaned the kitchen and ran some errands at Target and Sephora. Then came home, baked a frozen California Pizza Kitchen pizza and folded laundry while watching National Treasure. I live a wild life.

I bought The Art of Racing in the Rain at Target, but haven’t gotten to start it yet. Has anybody read it? Thoughts?

Saturday, I was up at 6:15 for no reason so I decided to get the day going. Started by having the breakfast of champions.

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Then was out for a run at 7:30. It was a gorgeous morning for a run. A little warm and muggy, but I really enjoyed it. I did 3 hilly miles at a little under a 10-minute pace. It doesn’t seem far or fast, but I’m making a slow comeback I hope. I really enjoyed this run and it was the best I’ve felt during one in a while. I also made friends with an adorable golden retriever puppy!!

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After my run, I had a slightly healthier breakfast. Balance.

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Then got to work cleaning the house: dusting, vacuuming, straightening up, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. I was done by 10ish, so I de-stinkified and headed over to Bed, Bath and Beyond for some frames Dave and I had on our wedding registry. I wanted to surprise him with them when he got home. Smile

Best part of the day: Dave took an early flight and got home at 1:30pm instead of 10pm!! It was so so so great to see him! We spent the afternoon napping, then making Strawberry Filled Vanilla Rolls and buffalo chicken wraps for dinner and relaxed the rest of the day.

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Sunday started by going to Mass and making the final decision to switch churches. I haven’t been a big fan of ours for a while, but the priest’s “homily” was awful. It was basically a beg for money, but in a very rude almost shaming way. The actual homily last the last 10% of the time, maybe. So we’re out. Time to find a new church.

Afterward, we split an iced latte from Get-Go (cut with regular coffee because it was grossly sweet) and made an actual breakfast of champions: bagel thins with cream cheese, turkey bacon and eggs packed full of veggies, eating al fresco in the beautiful weather.

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We decided to get our green thumbs on and headed to Home Depot for a planting and flower adventure! It started to rain while we were out looking at all the flowers and I was just stupid giddy happy. The smell of dirt and rain= summer. We loaded up and headed home to create a little container garden on our back patio.

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We have Shasta and African daisies, marigolds, some cute blue flowers, basil, cilantro, and sweet mint (I loooove growing mint). Aren’t the containers adorable?!

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The weekend finished up with a BBQ at a friend’s house. I have no pictures of this, but it was great fun. Pretty simple with burgers, chips, roasted veggies, and a cheesecake (because why not?). The weather was so weird. It would be nice and sunny for a while so we’d be sitting outside then out of nowhere it began pouring so we all made a mad dash for indoors. It happened a few times! Haha

Now it’s back to reality. I do like my job, but man, I’d love the weekends to be longer!!

How was your weekend?

What’s your favorite flower? (Mine are Gerber daisies!)

The Cold, The Warm, and The Rain

I wrote an entire post and then deleted it. #EpicFail

Saturday it was still cold, but warm enough and with nice enough weather that I got to run outside. WOO!!! I did 13+ miles at a 9:51 pace. My goal was to keep a 10:00-10:20 pace, according to my training schedule, but the pace I kept felt really great. I didn’t get tired until mile 11.5, but I finished strong so I’m happy.

Starting the run:

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I ran mainly on the roads, which were pretty clear except for some icy/slushy patches. I ran on the paths a bit, but they were pretty snow-covered so it was little agility game!

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Knoxville Marathon Recap

The Expo:

The Knoxville Marathon expo wasn’t huge, but it was really nice. I got my race bib and swag bag with no trouble at all. The chip timing was attached to the bib itself, so there was nothing to stick on your shoe, which was nice. The bag included a Bear Naked bar, which was oh-so-delicious, and a small bag of rice because…carbs. I also love that the marathon shirts were different than the half marathon shirts. And the full ones were yellow. Winning!

After we picked up my essentials, Dave and I wandered around a bit, enjoying samples that included chocolate and glass bottles of water.

Work follows me everywhere!

Work follows me everywhere!

I talked to the pacing group to learn a little more how pacers work. Because of my stomach, I ended up not using one, but I know for next time. Dave talked me into buying another shirt, too. We were stuck between two. He liked the one that said “It’s not just a hill, it’s a rite of passage,” but after much debate, I settled with this one. It had a cool back side and the other one didn’t.

That was kind of it for the expo. It was fun and pretty chill. There was nothing overly wow-ing about it, but it suited me. I have to find out where I can buy those Bear Naked bars, though!

The Marathon:

WARNING: I don’t take photos during races. So, not many pictures, but some fantastic written imagery. You’ll love it.

On Sunday, I woke up briefly at the unholy hour of 3am, afraid of missing my alarm. I re-woke up at the equally unholy hour of 4am, this time intentionally, and dragged my butt out of bed for breakfast. I made a peanut butter sandwich and sat on the hotel room floor by the bathroom, so as to not wake Dave up by turning on the room light. I wasn’t hungry and found myself irrationally angry at the poor sandwich. It wasn’t the peanut butter’s fault. The bread didn’t do anything wrong. I just wanted to go back to sleep. But I forced that sandwich down, sans crust, and made sure to drink enough water first. Then I tried to get another hour of sleep, but without lying completely down so my food would, ya know, digest. It took some finessing and a lot of pillows, but I finally fell asleep again.

Then 5:30 hit and the real alarm sounded. It was go time. Up, showered and dressed, feeling nauseous the whole time. Like seriously-I’m-going-to-puke-right-now, nauseous. I will say that my body was kind enough to let my colitis alone on Sunday, probably one of the best days it’s been in a while. And I am incredibly grateful for that.

Why am I doing this again?!

Why am I doing this again?!

Bib, check. Hat, check. Nathan bottle with nuun, check. Extra nuun, check. Swedish Fish, check. Tissues, check. Tampons/pads because yeah I got that lucky, check. I had everything. My Under Armour bra was stuffed to capacity. After about the 10,000th trip to the bathroom, we left the hotel a little after 7am to make our way to the starting line (and porta johns). I don’t know if it’s because I have a nervous bladder, colitis, or it’s just normal for runners, but race mornings are basically just a series of bathroom stops with getting ready interjected in between. Apparently I’m all about the TMI today.

Anyway.

The corrals were labeled A-E and I was in Corral C. The weather had cleared from Saturday so instead of being rainy, it was overcast and cold. It was 34 degrees, but was supposed to hit the mid 50s over the course of the run, so there I was standing in a Nike running skort and long sleeve Under Armour HeatGear, freezing my butt off. Dave kept his arms around me until the National Anthem was sung and the starting gun had gone off. Then I scooted into my coral and was amazed at how quickly it moved! Definitely quicker than any Rock ‘N’ Roll race I’ve done. I was across the line within 2 minutes of the gun start.

Me with my personal blanket. I mean, Dave.

Me with my personal blanket. I mean, Dave.

Ready, Set, Run!

Ready, Set, Run!

American Flag with a neon color back drop...'Merica!

American Flag with a neon color back drop…’Merica!

There was a brief dip as you crossed the start line, then the uphill began.  It really wasn’t bad. I kept an easy pace, taking in the buildings and the scenery. It was still grey outside and there is something s cool about running a race in the early hours. Yes, the waking up early sucks, but having this big event going on while so many are still sleeping is something special.

The first porta john didn’t come until mile 2.5. Made a stop and was on my way. The sun was rising by this point and the temperature rose into the mid 40s (I’m guessing) and it was perfect. I absolutely loved the first half of the race- every bit of it. People were out front of their houses cheering us on, one man had Krispy Kreme doughnuts if we wanted them (no way, José!) A house had a sign saying that runners could drop their jackets there if they were hot and pick them up later. Southern hospitality for the win!

Around mile 4 we reached an area called the Sequoyah Hills. ABOSLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Nice houses, green yards and trees, a gorgeous view of the Tennessee River. Of course, as we turned into the Hills there was a giant sign that read, “Welcome to Sequoyah Hills – Where All That Hill Training Pays Off!” Consider us warned. But Elizabeth was right. The hills were rolling and encouraging. I was listening to Rob Thomas, jammin’ out, air guitaring, drumming, having a grand old time. I later realized I should have saved this energy for miles 20-26. Hindsight is 20/20.

The signs in the Sequoyah Hills were fantastic. Some were naughty! “Blah Blah fuels with (picture of a chicken) Breasts!” “Blah Blah gets a nipple massage!” “Blah Blah isn’t a virgin anymore! (with a  picture of cherries)!” I’m assuming the last one was for someone’s first half or full. Anyway, the signs cracked me up. Then came a mile or so stretch with a series of signs. The first sign was a picture of a dog’s head, the next sign “Goes,” the next sign “WOOF.” Then a picture of a cat’s head, “Goes” “MEOW.” Going through a whole string of animals. Do you know where I’m going with this?

You got it! At the end there were signs saying, “But there’s one sound” “No one knows.” Then “What” “Does” “(picture of a fox)” “Say?” Then a shit ton of posters saying “RUN!” At this point there was a big crowd with people cheering, some with fox stuffed animals, some dressed as foxes, all yelling and having a blast! I cracked up at this point. It was just too good. They put a lot of effort into it! Right after that was the relay exchange, followed by another poster that said “If you were running the relay, you’d be done by now!” Yeah, thanks!

Mile 6.8-7.3 was THE HILL. It is a 150 ft. climb in ½ mile. But it’s not gradual. It’s up – brief reprieve – up again. But dammit, I did it, and I passed so many people. Thank you Pittsburgh for your awful hills! This thing was no match for me! But I was grateful for the following downhill.

Thumbs up, running strong

Thumbs up, running strong

At the end of mile 8, we were running through a wooded area, when signs started popping up saying “Git ‘Er Done!” “Mile 8 – It Gone!” “Hey, Jack!” And so on. The water station at mile 9 was Duck Dynasty themed and it was friggin’ amazing. The volunteers were dressed in camo, with duck calls, handing us water and cheering us on. I had to laugh again. Too funny. And definitely fitting.

A little before mile 12, I saw Dave in the distance and got stupidly excited. I waved and he actually saw me and waved back. Around a bend and down a hill.

Where's Waldo? We found him!

Where’s Waldo? We found him!

All smiles at mile 12

All smiles at mile 12

When I got to him, I saw him holding this absolutely fantastic sign.

Bacon as motivation? Yes!

Bacon as motivation? Yes!

Each member of my family is a strip of bacon! He made my little sister, Ronnie, a small strip. (She is teeny.) He high fived me, and I grabbed him for a quick kiss, then kept running. We ran around a loop so at mile 13, I saw him again. So I posed this time.

Keeping it classy at mile 13

Keeping it classy at mile 13

13 miles to go

13 miles to go

At the halfway point, I was doing good, but the mass of runners was really thin. Mile 16, I wanted to take a walk break, and I walked for literally one step, before going “NO! You are not doing this!” And tagged onto a girl, trailing her up a hill, nice and steady. It was a long ass hill.

Running running running. I don’t know if the course profile lied to me or I was just getting tired, but the second half of the course definitely felt more hilly than the first half! Running running.

Mile 19, I saw Dave again at the bottom of a hill, holding this sign.

There is a Reese's cup on that poster. It surpasses bacon. Yes, I said it.

There is a Reese’s cup on that poster. It surpasses bacon. Yes, I said it.

Where are the other runners??

Where are the other runners??

7 miles to go! Running on the highway with cars driving by was wild. They blocked off 2 lanes, so it felt pretty safe. And it was a lot of downhill. Hallelujah! After the highway, some ladies were handing out fruit. I know the rule, don’t try anything new on race day, but I took an orange slice and it tasted DIVINE. A chatted with some older guy from Kentucky and we plodded along. This was a long out and back strip and it was actually pretty flat.

IT WAS THE WORST PART. I found that I definitely preferred the hills and the twists and turns. They gave me small chunks to work with. One long flat stretch and my oomph and motivation began sinking. I took another orange slice on the way back. Then a few minutes later *bam.* Sharp pain in my stomach. I walked a little and luckily it went away. Onward. I did have to stop in the middle of a bridge and just stretch out my hip because it was killing me.

Still smiling at 23!

Still smiling at 23!

At mile 25, I made my final pit stop and then went for it. I almost wanted to walk a downhill past our hotel, but my inner self put a quick stop to that. “A DOWNHILL? Wtf is the matter with you? Coast this puppy.” So I did. And walked bit of the evil final uphill. Then, there in front of me was Neyland Stadium.

Home Sweet Neyland Stadium

Home Sweet Neyland Stadium

26 point freakin 2!

26 point freakin 2!

I ran into the stadium and they announced my name and I got to watch myself cross the 50-yard line finish line on the jumbotron. It was so freaking cool.

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And I was so happy because I got a shiny new metal and a shiny new PR! IMG_3892

My 2nd marathon is in the books!

My 2nd marathon is in the books!

 

Dave met up with me in the stands afterward and we got some pictures on the field, then had food! YEA FOOD!

Couldn't have done it without this guy

Couldn’t have done it without this guy

Feeling like a superhero with my marathon blanket

Feeling like a superhero with my marathon blanket

Afterparty fueling

Afterparty fueling

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So I didn’t make the time I wanted. And I had a total of 8 bathroom stops along the course, so my time didn’t match the clock. But I ran a 4:35:55 by my watch and I am so happy with that. And what’s better is that I really enjoyed this marathon. Way more than DC. Yeah, there were points where I was like “ok, this needs to be over now,” but there were people I ran with and talked to who were so much older than me and still getting out there and that was so inspiring.

If I did repeat marathons, I would do this again in a heartbeat. Knoxville, you rocked my socks! I am already looking for my next race.

Did anyone else run the Knoxville Marathon? What did you think of it? Did you conquer Noelton hill?

Running and Ulcerative Colitis

Last time I blogged, I wrote about having ulcerative colitis and it screwing up my runs. I was originally diagnosed with colitis when I was 17, during my senior year of high school. At that stage in my life I was not a runner- at all- which I suppose is good because it may have completely turned me off from running. It was took until sophomore or junior year of college until I really got my colitis back under control, but even then it was something I struggled with during every rugby and track practice, match, and meet.

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My Rugby Days

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My Sprinting Days

Before my first 5K, my stomach was in knots. I wanted to run the whole race, with my longest race prior being a 200 meter sprint. But I also wanted to make it without stopping for a bathroom issue. And finish the race in under 30 minutes. I put a lot of pressure on myself.
I did all those things. Ran without walking or stopping and finished in 29 minutes and change.
That gave me more confidence and I began running longer. A month and a half later I ran my first 10K, no bathroom stops. 6 months after my first 5K, I ran my first half marathon then 6 months after that my first marathon. They were all huge accomplishments and stepping stones for me, and I felt like after each race, I was kicking colitis in the butt. It felt great! It wasn’t easy and there were runs that still made me feel awful and a few times I’d come home and cry to my mom that How could I ever run a marathon if I can’t run XX miles without an issue? But I always pushed through.
Since I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, my stomach has been taking a life of its own. Some days it’s fine, others it feels like my colitis is out of remission. Worse, sometimes I will start a run feeling great and fantastic, only to be suddenly searching for a bathroom a few miles in. It makes me worry before every run and wears on my mind. It makes some runs worse than others.
Two weekends ago, I ran the 14 miles I had planned after failing to do it the weekend before. WOOT! And it was glorious! I did the first 8 on my own, circled back to pick up Dave and out we went again for the last 6 miles. Afterward I was ecstatic.

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The top of one of the Big Hills. It’s steeper than it looks.

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Last Wednesday, while on my 6 mile interval run my ankle started killing me 1/2 mile in. I finished the run, but found my ankle started to swell/grew a lump under my ankle bone, so I skipped the Thursday easy run and moved Friday’s lifting to Thursday.

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Ice ice, baby!

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Post run snack. The world’s smallest apple.

Friday Dave and I drove back to Reading for his cousin’s baptism on Sunday. He’s the godfather. He’ll be a good one!

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I got to see my love, Murphy!

That Saturday, I had an early 16 miles on the schedule.

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Sunrise in PA Dutch country

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Love Under Armour Coldgear!

Less than 2 miles in my stomach started giving me issues. Moreover, the sidewalks were icy from all the snow that got dumped the week before, some of the sidewalks weren’t even shoveled. Then it started snowing and laying. A lot. So after I made my 3rd stop in 4 miles, frustration got the better of me and I decided to head home. I stopped at mile 6 1/2 and said hello to my grandmom and had a nice chat with her, then finished the last half mile and called it a day at a mere 7 miles. But not without large loads of guilt and making my little sister, dad and Dave convince me that it was okay.

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Freshly fallen snow on the run

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Winter running

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Not my best run!

Yesterday I FINALLY got my (hilly) 16 miler in! The weather was unusually gorgeous. After weeks being in the negatives, single digits or teens, a 50 degree and sunny day made me feel like Superman. I started off accidentally at an 8:33 pace, then averaged a 9:15-9:20 pace for the first 10-12 miles. Then I got so hungry and my legs started getting tired and my pace started falling. BUT, I finished my run with under a 10-minute mile pace so all’s well that ends well.

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16 mile success!

The Not-So-Long Run

This weekend I had a 14-miler on the schedule, but well, sometimes life has different plans. I have ulcerative colitis which means that sometimes my stomach has plans of its own and last week was one of those weeks. Treadmill runs are fine because, if I need to, the locker room is right there. But 14 miles without pit stops? I stressed all weekend just thinking about it. And it made me very irritable.
To the point where I texted Danielle and ask her about missing runs during marathon training. At the beginning of her last marathon training she sprained her ankle pretty bad and it hugely affected her schedule. She assured me that it wouldn’t ruin my race, but to try and run/walk or see how many miles I can go. So yesterday afternoon, I got all decked out in my gear, laced up my Wave Rider 16s, grabbed my boy and off we went to explore new roads!  He had mapped out (mostly in his head) an exploratory route. It was fun and zig-zaggy course. We paused at mile 4 and tried some strawberry Clif Bloks. The verdict is still out on them. Tasty, but I’m not sure how easy they’d be to chew and digest in a marathon. When we took a pause at mile 5 before heading back, Dave offered up these words of encouragement, “I hate you. Why can’t you be obsessed with 5Ks??” To which I responded, “I am obsessed with 5Ks. I want sub 24 minutes.” Not the answer he was looking for. 🙂

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Dave started dragging around mile 6 and our pace slowed. I began running all the cul-de-sacs while he walked past them and when we got to the final mile his knee was hurting something awful so he headed home and I ran some extra detour blocks. I ended up back in the garage at 8.98 miles. Oh HELL no. I ran back outside around the parking lot until I heard 9 miles in my headphones. Then I bee-lined for the bathroom. Life gets real. Anyway, at that point I was in the house, I was feeling great and after how awful I felt about last week’s run, I decided to stop while I was ahead. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, stopping short, but when you have colitis, you learn to deal.
Afterward I also tried a nuun in my water, and the verdict is still out on that, too. It was (mostly) tasty, but it tingled almost like it was carbonated. But not in my stomach, only on my tongue. WEIRD.

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Anyway, here’s a rundown of the paces. Can you tell where Dave got tired? 🙂
Mile 1- 9:38
Mile 2- 10:31 (got lost and walked a moment)
Mile 3- 9:40
Mile 4- 9:07
Mile 5- 9:33
Mile 6- 9:05
Mile 7- 11:57
Mile 8- 11:06
Mile 9- 9:46

SmartWool socks! Love them! And a blanket because I was FREEZING

Today was 4 easy miles on the treadmill. BORING! Today was 2 miles at 6.2, then alternating between 6.4 (verses) and 6.8 (refrains) for 2 miles to keep me interested. It felt great! And running at 1% on the treadmill felt like running downhill. haha

What do you use to fuel your runs?