Monday, March 31, 2014

I Guess I'm Just That Age

It's a good thing I love weddings, because it seems my friends have all hit this particular milestone at once. This weekend took us up to Port Orange - the same city where the March 1 wedding was held. To say we were happy to go would be an understatement.

This wedding was especially important because Matt was a best man. Actually, he was one of three best men. Mark, the groom, is just too likeable and loyal to choose just one. Like Jeff and Cayla, we've known Mark for nearly a decade, and Shane has been an important staple in our lives for about four years now, so obviously this wedding was going to be amazing just based on that.
Saturday morning, the first photo of the day: Matt and Mark greeted each other with a warm hug.
We arrived at Mark and Shane's house late Thursday. While the boys went to grab food, Shane and I stayed up until the wee hours talking about the hilarious antics of our respective men. I love the ease and comfort of seeing college friends; it's always like no time has passed at all. (I guess it kind of hadn't...we had just seen them three weeks ago!)
Shane and the maid-of-honor, twin sister Danielle, getting their toes done!
My hip had been hurting Thursday, and I woke up to run Friday but immediately decided against it. I was exhausted, and my hip was just twinge-y enough to be a good excuse. Instead, I spent Friday picking up one of the other best men from the airport, then got my nails done with the bridal party before the rehearsal.
The three best men awaiting instructions at the rehearsal.
Afterward, we grabbed dinner and drinks in Daytona.
More socializing...we rarely see these guys, so we had to squeeze as much time in as possible!
Saturday, I rolled out of bed early. I was hoping for rain, but it chose to hold off until the ceremony. We stayed Friday night at Mark's parents' house, and their neighborhood is just gorgeous for running.
Heels, traveling, and dehydration caused some intense calf pain in the first half of the run, so I stretched a little while taking in this gorgeous view.
I wanted to get in six miles; I paused about halfway through to stretch my calves and enjoy the view. I ended up at 5.6, because I was worried toward the end that I might be lost and turned on Google Maps to get myself back home!
Mark's parents' backyard...what a great place to end a run!
When I got back to the house, Matt voiced his concern that he wouldn't be able to go over his speech/have help getting ready without me. I reminded him that he had a tux to wear, and really wouldn't need my help.
I did my hair and makeup, then took a sneaky picture of the dress.
I had the honor of getting ready with the bridal party and riding over to the church in the limo, so I got to have a sneak peek at the dress.
Serious perfection right here!
The limo was a 30-person stretch Hummer. Way more appropriate for clubbing than church!
The wedding was beautiful, of course, and I choked up no less than four times during the first ten minutes alone.
Truly meant to be :)
What else is there to say about weddings? I got to see old college friends, we enjoyed amazing food, and we danced the night away.

The speeches were equal parts poignant and funny.
Can't get enough of these guys!
It was Cayla's turn to just enjoy the festivities!
I seriously think tuxes should be appropriate for daily wear!
The beautiful bride!
Cayla and I agree: being a guest is definitely more fun and less stressful than being the bride!
Mark's parents were kind enough to give us their hotel room, so we were right there for the after-party that night, and had breakfast with the newlyweds the next morning.

I'm tempted to strong-arm some people into getting married soon just so we can go enjoy yet another wedding. Despite the driving and the residual exhaustion I'm feeling today, it was still a fantastic and perfect weekend.

Did your friends all start getting married at the same time?
How do you deal with running while traveling? 
Do you like to run before a big day? Even though getting up early after a late night out is tough, I know a morning run will give me energy for later in the day. Plus, I love celebrating events with a good run!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two Great Runs

Tuesday's run was the kind that runners love...and spouses of runners dread. Why? Because I came home totally pumped and wanted to tell every single detail as soon as I walked in the door.

Matt was very accommodating, but he had his "I'm kind of judging you/laughing at you" face on.

I had done T25 with Elizabeth, but it was only abs, so I really needed a run, but it looked liked maybe it wouldn't happen due to errands and some weird timing with dinner. I had planned to run a flat route and do a tempo run, but the sun was setting and I knew I'd be finished in the dark, so I needed a better route.

I know it's not recommended, but I decided to do my tempo on the bridge. Double speedwork points!

Temperatures in the 60s, clear skies, and daylight?!
So here's basically what I told Matt, but with less flailing and marginally better use of commas.

Mile 1: Keep it slow, self. A tempo run has to start slow; I might be so excited to be running and my legs feel so fresh but I need to save my energy for the bridge.

A blurry shot as I began my second ascent on the bridge.
Mile 3: This isn't as easy as it was a minute ago, but I'm nearly done, I can slow down soon, just get through this mile...

Mile 4: This feels too slow. I need to find a balance...there it is. Ah, DONE. I am INVINCIBLE!

Final splits.
You all know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a grueling run worth being proud of. I was seriously elated all night.
Post-run glow. (This is just for you, Kristina - see, I DO sweat!)
Today, we did T25 again, and then I met Kristin at Fit2Run for the Wednesday fun run. I wanted to get in five miles, but after yesterday's T25, last night's hard run, and this afternoon's workout, my knee needed the break. We kept the pace easy and I chose to cut the run a little short.
Our gorgeous was a breezy 68 today. I love springtime!
Kristin and I talked the entire run; I felt light and happy. It was just the run I needed to complete today's workout without pushing too hard.

Tomorrow we leave in the early afternoon for the second March wedding I've been talking about. I am so excited. I have a new dress that really pushes me out of my comfort zone (meaning it's not black), and Matt is going to look so dapper in his tux.

I'm planning to get a run in either Friday morning or Saturday morning before the festivities begin. Fingers crossed that the weather stays gorgeous!

Sorry to gloat about the weather; you all have my permission to tease me right back from May to October when I'm roasting at 5am!

How are your runs going this week?
Do you like tempo runs?
Bridges: love them or hate them?


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Things I've Learned from My Half Marathons

Long-distance running is a wonderful teacher. (It's also pretty relative. There was a time when 4 miles seemed like an impossible feat for me!) You have to respect a distance that bleeds into the double-digits and during which you may need to literally eat while you run.

Now that I've done six half marathons and am gearing up to try-try again for a full in the winter, I find myself reflecting on those previous races. They've definitely taught me a lot.

Half #1: Naples Daily News 2011
The pain in my face is real. I stupidly ran this because I'd paid, even though I had no business running it.
My first half marathon, run on literally zero training, taught me the value of following a plan. I let work and stress get in the way and ended up "running" this half in 2:56. I came out of it humbled, injured, and angry at running. I learned from this race that dedication is key. I was fired up to try again and do it right next time.

Half #2: the St. Pete Women's 2012
Training well with my partner really helped us PR this race!
Learning from our mistakes, Kelsey and I trained our hearts out for the St. Pete Women's Half the following year. And boy did it pay off! I PR'd by over 40 minutes, finishing in 2:15 on the nose. This half taught me that you can achieve way more than you expect if you do the training. I never expected to run a race of this distance in that kind of time. I learned that sometimes dedication means running at 4:30am. This race also taught me the value of long runs! I'll never neglect those again.

Half #3: Naples Daily News 2013
Kelsey and her oldest daughter cheer me on at the finish.
There was a light and dark side to my lessons with my second attempt at the NDN, and I think this one was the biggest learning experience for me. While I did learn to take failure in stride (my time was 2:37, and coming off my PR that was hard to swallow), I also learned that I need some time off between big races. This race had me convinced that January was a bad race month for me in general. I raced this half totally burned out, and it showed. I learned that rest and recuperation are key.

Half #4: Fort Myers Beach 2013
Lesson learned: stay positive!
 If half #3 taught me to accept failure, then half #4 taught me to stay positive. After the second NDN half, I decided to change my mindset. I vowed to be more positive about running, because after all, why run if I don't love it? This race was supposed to be my first full, but an injury knocked me down to the half. I nearly didn't run it at all - I was on antibiotics for an upper-respiratory infection - but I just couldn't back out. This half was painful in many ways (my finish was my second-slowest at 2:41), but I felt like superwoman for finishing because I stuck it out and gave it what I had. I raced smart for my circumstances. I learned that we can't control every aspect of race day - like the jump in temperature or my illness - but we can control our attitude. I learned to be mentally tough. On a practical note, I also learned the importance of hydration on fueling during the training for this race!
Half #5: Suncoast 2014
I wonder if Mom knew she was going to be matching me when she went with her purple vest!
I was so excited for this half. It cut through my parents' neighborhood, meaning I'd run most of the route at one time or another and knew exactly what to expect. I wanted to make up for the previous half's bad luck, and boy did I! The weather was cool and overcast; it even rained toward the end. But what I learned from this race was 1) to never underestimate the energy boost a cheering section will give you, and 2) making friends on the course is a great distraction. This race taught me that coming into the finishing chute with your hands raised is totally acceptable, because even if you don't PR a race (my time was a respectable 2:24 on this one), you've still done something amazing. I also broke two "curses" on this race: the January-curse and the mile-9-slump!

Half #6: Paradise Coast 2014
Could this starting-line photo be any more perfect?
The pattern I've noticed in my most recent half marathons is that the more positive I feel going into a race, no matter my goals, the better experience I have. This race, which I ran the day after my birthday as a celebration for myself, was my best by far. I remembered my previous lessons: fuel, hydrate, dedicate and push yourself, and be mentally tough. Coming off Ragnar, I had no goal. I just wanted to have fun and do my thing. But here's the beauty of teaching and learning: when you remember the lessons and apply them, great things happen. It took three half marathons (not including the distance I raced overnight for Ragnar) in between to do it, but I finally earned a new PR (2:11) on this race. More importantly, I learned the value of digging deep and challenging myself. I learned that even training mostly alone, I am capable of great things. I learned to balance running with others, running alone, long runs, speedwork, and other training/cross-training techniques. Oh, and I learned the right podcast can really give you a leg up.

One of the best things about running is how much it teaches us about ourselves and our abilities. With these lessons under my belt, I feel ready to tackle my first marathon in November. I know now that I must (and more importantly, CAN) do the training; control what I can and let go of what I can't; and stay positive and mentally tough.

(Detailed race recaps can be found under the "My Races" tab at the top of the page.)

What have you learned from your previous races?
What is your favorite distance to race?
Have you ever had a race that was just ROUGH, but taught you a lesson?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

And So it Ends

Today marked the last day of spring break. Usually, I wouldn't count the weekend as part of the break, but because I was technically working on Friday, I'm counting it.

I'm going to miss break. We have 9 weeks left of school before summer vacation, and these 9 weeks are by far the most stressful. I'm reminded that every year, April and May are my lowest months for running and blogging. I'm just so swamped, stressed, and blinkered. My eyes are set on May 28, and I have time for little else.

It will be hard to say goodbye. During break, I had time to...

Catch up on Candy Crush:
Don't let the level fool you; I'm not addicted. I can stop anytime I want!
 Cook real breakfast:
I'll miss you, morning bacon.
...including plenty of complex carbs:
I couldn't resist!
Run after sunrise:
I'll miss you, daytime park runs.
Hang out with Matt and Archie:
While Matt gets work done at home, Archie does his best to be a cute distraction. I took probably a dozen of these photos while he preened on Matt's hand, and Matt just went about his business...literally.
And catch up on my cute/funny internet memes:
Very, very true!
Also very, very true!
So how did I end my break? The best way I know how. At a baseball game! Elizabeth knows a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, so he got her free tickets for today's spring training game against the Rays. We joined Elizabeth and her husband Roniel for a hot, sunny day at the ballpark.
The Jet Blue Stadium is really nice, and we had great seats, but...
...we were in the sun from 1-3 pm. My nose is definitely Rudolphy. I even put on SPF 50!
The Rays won 9-2, and even though spring training games don't "count" for the regular season, it was great to celebrate a win at the first game I've attended this year!

Am I ready to go back? Sure. But I'm not going to lie...this time of year is REALLY stressful. I hope to be able to stay on top of blogging and running while the craziness that is quarter 4 unfolds!

What is your favorite breakfast food?
Do you addicted to Candy Crush, or a different app?
Are you a baseball fan?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Day on Break

I've been really determined to live spring break to its fullest this year...and while that may no longer mean going to the beach everyday and enjoying strawberry daiquiris, it does mean waking up "early" and doing as much as possible.

Here's a look at my life today.
My alarm goes off and it's time to make sure my workout plans for the day are still on! "Early" is relative, but if I need an alarm to get out of bed, that counts as early to me.
My morning routine is intense!
The first person awake uncovers Archie's cage so he can wake up, stretch, and eat breakfast.
Speaking of, my pre-T25 breakfast can't be too heavy. Today I had grapefruit and one piece of bread with PB.
I didn't get any T25 pictures today, so here's one of my "lunch"...A regular and chocolate peanut butter and banana sandwich! So healthy.
After lunch, it was run time. My left calf has been really tender so I wore one compression sleeve today. It was HOT. I soaked my legs in the pool after.
Just two miles, but it was brutal today.
After my run, I showered, got my hair cut, and took a nap! Not pictured - I had leftover curry for dinner and Archie threw the rice around.
Then it was time to meet some of the GGM girls for wine and reunion. It was SO nice to see them again!
Tomorrow I'm actually going to work even though it's still break...I'll be helping a couple teachers at a sister school improve their teaching methods. Which means...BEDTIME!

What does you typical day look like when you're not at work?