Monday, October 17, 2016

Catch up (never published from 2015, whoops)

It has been a while since the Tobacco Road Half Marathon. I have done a couple races since then and just never wrote about them. So here is a catch up post.

In April, I ran the RunnerDude’s Trust. Believe. Conquer! 25K; which was put on by a local running event company,Trivium Racing, and my running coach from RunnerDude's Fitness. It was a great race because so many of my running group friends were running it. 

The course consisted of  two loops that were pretty hilly. It being two loops was actually nice because not only were there a lot of people that I knew running it, but there were a bunch of people volunteering to help and spectate as well. No matter where you were on the course, you ended up running into somebody you knew. Plus you got to see everyone twice so you knew where to look for people the second time around.  It was very motivating.

The course was pretty tough with a lot of rolling hills. The day was cool with bursts of  relentlessness strong wind, that always seemed to be the worst when going up some of the worst hills.

Going into the race I did not have any expectations. I knew I wanted to get under 2 hours 30 minutes. I had trained for this race but had raced hard at the Tobacco Road Half Marathon two weekends before. So I had no idea what my performance would be like.

 I started off with Brittany, Laura, Will, and Bobby. I started off hoping to hold a pace below 9 minute miles for the entire race. We started the race off at a pretty good pace. Eventually Brittany, Laura, and Bobby took off. All of a sudden they started getting further and further ahead. At first I thought I was slowing down , but realized they were speeding up. All the power to them, but I knew I needed to pace myself. Especially since I was still on the first loop. I ended up finding a good pace next to Will. We ended up running the whole race together. It was really nice to have the company. We barley talked, but just having his presence was nice and helped me keep a faster pace then I probably would have kept if I was by myself. 

I forgot to mention that my other goal for this race was to beat Bobby. Bobby is a great guy with a funny sense of humor. We like to banter back and forth.  He's always giving me a hard time and he's faster than me even with walk breaks. During past races I have tried to keep up with him, only to have him blow out a fast pace. Then he takes walking break,s and when I almost catch him he starts running again and ends up beating me. So I joked that my only goal for this race was to beat Bobby. 

When Bobby took off with Laura and Brittany, Will predicted that Bobby would lose his wheels around mile 12. Sure enough around the 12 mile maker we saw Bobby up ahead walking up the hill and going to the porta potty. We ended up passing him there and were able to maintain our lead on him. So I reached my goal of beating Bobby and he never hears the end of it ;)

A little while after passing Bobby we picked up Brittney. Her stomach had started bothering her so she had lost Laura and our other friend Brandon. So I finished with Brittany and Will. The last 3 miles were the worst. It was all I could do to keep going. But with Brittany and Will by my side, we fought through it putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until the end. Just when you think you are at the end they made us go around back into the parking lot where we originally started. I finished in 2:22:30 with an average pace of 9:10 per mile. My half marathon split would have been a sub 2 hour half, which made me really happy. We had really slowed up those last hilly 3 miles. I was very satisfied with the race and my performance.

Overall it was a wonderful race. It was very well put together. There were a couple issues with not all the cops being there because of their misunderstanding that it was on Easter weekend, even though it had been set up over 6 months in advanced. Other than that the race was amazing. The volunteers were outstanding, especially since I knew almost every one of them. 

Our friend Brandon had probably ran the smartest race, running it as a progression. He had been behind us for a good distance and then speed up past. Eventually he had caught up with Laura. At the very end Laura turned it on and ended up beating Brandon. We still like to give Brandon a hard time about it. Laura is sneaky though and is a lot more talented than I think she realizes. The girl has speed and is really good at kicking it into another gear at the end of a run or race. She is my hero :)

Laura ended up placing second in our age group (30-34). I got excited because I ended up winning 3rd. We got an Easter baskets since it was Easter weekend. The basket had a chocolate bunny and some candy, plus a $10 gift certificate to Dicks Sporting Goods. My friend Saundretta had watched watched Hannah  for me while I ran so they were there for the rewards ceremony.  As soon as I received  my basket, Hannah grabbed the chocolate bunny and ate almost the whole thing before I fully comprehended what she was doing. Little booger.

I also did the Tar Heel 10 Miler in April. It was a pretty race. It had a lot of hills and was really crowded. They really need a better corral system because it was a mess. Not to mention it was so crowed at the start of the race that it was hard to move let alone get into a comfortable pace. Luckily I had no time expectations for the race and was just looking to run by feel.

A unique thing about this race is that near the end there is this horrendous hill you have to climb. So the event coordinators make it a separate challenge, "Laurel Hill Challenge". 

The race describes it as follows:
"Get ready for the Laurel Hill Challenge! Laurel Hill Road passes through one of the most exclusive and beautiful neighborhoods in Chapel Hill, but it has a reputation for being one of the most challenging roads to run up. Over the course of approximately one mile, runners will climb just over 200 vertical feet. Runners will cross a timing mat at the bottom and top of Laurel Hill Road. A separate split will be included in your final results."

It was a beast of a hill and knowing you would be timed on it made it so I ran the whole thing. I'm pretty sure I would have walked some of it otherwise. Only problem is that once you reach the top of it there is another hill. Good lord I was mad. haha.

I finished the race feeling pretty exhausted. It was a great race. I'm not sure I would do it again unless I had some friends my pace that wanted to run it with me. 

In May, I ran Race 13.1 Greensboro. My goal had been to get a course PR. Last year I was going for my first sub 2 hour half and had missed it by 29 seconds. 

Everything went well up until mile 10. I was running with Brittany and Laura. The day was humid and got worse by the minute. The course consists of a ridiculous amount of rolling hills. It reminds me of a rollarcoaster. Last year we had been lucky and got a nice cool day. Not this year!  

At mile 10 the  humidity and heat started to get to me. I just wasn't feeling it . The relentless hills, heat, and and humidity were working against me. Plus I think we started out too fast for the course. Luckily Brittany and Laura helped get me through it. I had lost them for a while but they ended up waiting for me and telling me they wanted to finish together. The elements were getting to them too. 

At that point we were still set to get a sub 2 hour half. Then we came across the hill of hell, and I just did not care about my time anymore. We walked up that evil hill and talked each other to the finish line. At the top of the last hill our friend Duncan met up with us. He is super speedy and finished over a half hour before us. He helped run us in. He was laughing because usually we are all talkative and  we were dead silent. He asked us if this was the part of the race where we were not talking, hehe. Umm, yeah!

Laura and Brittany still finished a bit ahead of me. I was just a hot mess and could not get my legs to move. 

Hey you win some you lose some. I was just happy I finished the race with some of the best running friends a girl could ask for.

Will I ever do this one again... I don't know. This time of year is so hard with the weather.  Maybe I will sign up on race day next year if it is another cool day ;)

That puts me at 9 Half Marathons!

Friday, March 20, 2015

New Half PR! Tobacco Road Half Marathon

I had heard great things about the Tobacco Road Marathon. I signed up for the half marathon before it sold out. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run another sub 2 hour half marathon. This sounded like the perfect course to do it on. They promote it as  "Flat, Fast, and Fun". I would not call it flat, but it was a pretty fast course with some great downhill sections.

I was excited to be running it with one of best racing buddies, Brittany. I was a little nervous as we had not run together as much lately, so I was not sure how fast her race pace would be. So I was a little worried I would not be able to keep up. I knew it did not really matter because we both are each others cheerleaders, and we highly encourage the other to do their best. -- Running friends are the best!

My day started at an ungodly hour of 3 am.  I got up and got ready to leave at 3:40 am so I could get to the hotel Brittany and her boyfriend, Jason were staying at in Cary for 5 am. I had purchased parking for the race but they said you needed to be there by 5:30 am to guarantee a parking spot. We just chilled in the car for an hour keeping warm before the race. The race started at 7 am. Having to get their so early was my only real big complaint, but it is a very popular race so I guess I just have to suck it up. I know people who had to get up at 2 am for Disney races.

Going into the race I was not sure what my plan was. I really wanted to race it. I am currently training for a 25k (RunnerDude's 25k) for April 4th. I kept thinking that I would race this half and then see how I felt for the 25k as far as actually racing it.

My training runs have been going really well. I have seen a good increase in my speed. So I felt pretty good going into the race. I wasn't really nervous. My plan was just to go by effort and go from there.

The start was very congested. Brittany and I had already talked about starting out slower and not trying to weave in and out of the crowd. Typically you end up just wearing yourself out before you even truly get started. Our first mile was 9:27. We had planned to run near the 2 hour pacer but the crowd was pretty big around them and after the first mile they took off like bats out of hell. I think they were making up for the first mile but it was a little crazy how fast they were going. A group of us were complaining / talking about it.

Eventually we caught back up with the 2 hour pacer and passed them. They finally seemed to be back on track. At that point we were clocking all our miles in under 9 minutes. My secret goal was to try to keep every mile under 9. We only had 3 over 9 minutes and the slowest mile was the first mile.

Most of the course runs on the American Tobacco Trail in Cary, NC. It is a really nice shaded wooded trail, that is mostly compact dirt. It had rained the day before, so I though it felt nice and spongy. Only a few parts were muddy. Also, I like out and back courses. I like knowing what to expect on the way back. Plus I love watching people run by, it makes the time fly by. I'm a people watcher.

Typically when I run with Brittany, we talk the whole time. During this race we barley spoke. We were working hard ;)

When we hit the turnaround point,we had seen the 1:50 pacer pass not too far ahead of us. Then saw the 2 hour pacer behind us. At that point I knew we were near a 1:55 finish. I tried not to get too excited since I knew we had a pretty long gradual hill coming that had the potential to slow us up.

I had a Blueberry Huma Chia Energy Gel around mile 8. Brittany and I had ran 14 miles the weekend before with a 30 minute fast finish. I had not taken in any nutrition during the run, and remembered that I wish I had during those last 30 minutes struggling with my energy level. -- I was having a hard time trying to eat it on the go, going up the gradual incline, and my nose was stuffy so I was having a hard time breathing. I kept laughing to myself, thinking how ridiculous I must look to the people coming the opposite direction. I also wondered if any photographers caught me with gel dribbling out the corner of my mouth, hehe. But I got it done, and it really helped me with the last half.

Toward the end of the race the loudest breather I have ever heard was just behind me to my left. He was driving me crazy. Sometimes just hearing other people struggle can make you tired. Finally he passed us and I was so thankful. He had headphones on, probably so he didn't have to hear himself.

Crossing the finish line together
As we got to the last 5k mark, we started picking local landmarks to compare how far we had left. Brittany would say "we have from the studio to Battleground parking lot". Then "CVS to the studio". It really helped get through those last miles. The best is when we could start to hear the crowd, then you turn the corner and there is the ginormous American flag hanging above the finish. Brittany and I crossed the finish line at 1:55:04. I even got to ring the PR bell. It was all very exciting.

Later we found out Brittany won first place for females in the military for the half. She won $350!

Overall it was an awesome race. I got to PR and do it with one of my best running friends. We are now talking about doing the full next year.

I highly recommend this race. It is a beautiful course.

Here are the stats:

Next up: RunnerDude's 25K!!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Massacre Marathon Relay Recap

This past weekend I ran in my first relay race. The Massacre Marathon Relay was held at Country Park in Greensboro, NC. The marathon consisted of doing 16 laps around the park.  I was on a team of 4, so we each did 4 laps. I ran last.

My running group, the RUNegades, had 4 total teams competing. We all set up our chairs together and cheered each other on. It was a really fun experience.

The teams were:

  • Team Trust (my team)
  • Team Believe
  • Team Conquer
  • Team Preserver

On my team we had Thad (our running coach), Margret, Karen, and Colin. Technically we had a team of five. Thad was having an open house at the studio and had forgotten it was the same day as the relay. So he ran the first 2 laps and Colin was nice enough to run the last 2 laps for his turn. It worked out really well.

Thad ran the first lap, which was the longest lap at 2.2 miles. Every lap after that was 1.6 miles. I was really nervous the first time I went because I was not sure about how to do the baton transition from one runner to the next. It ended up not being a big deal at all.

The baton was a hollow pipe. So the funny thing was that sometimes when I was running, I would naturally bring it up near my mouth. Every time this happen it would make funny sound when I would breathe into it. Kinda like blowing on a paper towel roll tube. It made me chuckle every time.

Country Park is pretty hilly. According to my Garmin I gained 935 ft of elevation during my 4 laps that totaled 6.2 miles. Going into the race I had no expectations of how I would do. I felt ok. Early on in the week I had been dealing with some pretty annoying calf pain. So I was a little worried about how my calves would like this course.

On my first lap I was nervous. It had been a while since I had raced and at a shorter distance. The whole strategy changes. You definitely put the pedal to the floor when you run one of these because you know you can rest in between your turn. I decided not to worry about my time and to only focus on how I felt. I would push it just past my comfort zone. The hills sucked, but I enjoyed the fact that through my training with RUNegades, I am becoming a pretty strong hill runner. Often times I would pass a good number of people on the hills. I would only look at my Garmin when it would signal I had completed another mile.

I could not be more ecstatic about my splits:

My Laps:
Lap 4: 12:22
Lap 8: 12:26
Lap 12: 12:30
Lap 16: 12:38

I cannot believe I went below 8 minute miles, let alone on this course.  I feel so excited, and so sore today, haha. I'm excited to see how much I've progressed in my running since joining the RUNegades.

I'm so proud of every team. We all did it in under 4 hours, which is so cool.

For overall teams this was our places out of 161 finishers: 

Believe - 23rd place in 3:12:56
Conquer - 68th place in 3:44:24
Trust - 76th place in 3:48:55
Persevere - 95th place in 3:59:29

This will definitely not be my last relay race!

Did I mention we got a medal and a hoodie too?!!!

Today I purchased my new best friend for when I have sore muscles, which I definitely have today. It is called the Gaiam Restore Pressure Point Massager. I bought it at Target for about $16, which included NC state tax. It targets pressure points to help increase circulation and alleviate sore muscles. It feels amazing! Why did I not buy one sooner? The foam roller is ok, but this really gets into the spots I need it to, like my calves.

Next up is the Tobacco Road Half-Marathon on March 15th. I plan to do another sub 2 hour half. My first sub 2 hour half  just  does not feel all the way right. My Garmin read only 12.83 at the end of the race instead of 13.1. So I want to do it and feel really good about it. The course was certified but I still feel like a cheater. That is just too big a difference.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Fitletic Hydration Belt Review

I run all my long runs with my Fitletic Hydration Belt. I absolutely love it. My first hydration belt had one big water bottle that you wore to the back. The waste strap had no give to it and was made of nylon. I hated it for my long runs because if it happened to touch my bare skin, it would rub me raw. Also, as I would lose some water weight as I would run, the whole belt would loosen and really start bouncing. Trying to adjust it on the fly was horrible. It drove me crazy. I hated spending so much effort on something I felt I shouldn't have to worry about.

Wearing my Fitletic 16oz Hydration Belt
during my first marathon.
The Fitletic belt is so comfortable. The waste band is elastic and never bounces. The material of the pouch and water holders are like a wetsuit. It is pretty waterproof, and it is a comfortable material. I have never had chafing problems with this belt.

The center pouch can fit a good amount of things in it. I keep 2 GUs, chap-stick, headphones, and my car keys in it. For my marathon I used the two exterior GU loops, which also worked great.

I prefer to wear mine towards the back
It has two 8oz bottle holsters. In the summer I like to fill one bottle with a sports drink and the other with water. It did take me a while to like having two water bottles. I was used to having just one big one. I had to get used to drinking from two and having them balance. I hate when one is full and the other is empty. Not a big deal, it can just feel off balanced. So I just rotate drinking from each bottle back and forth to keep them balanced.

I thought I would like the race bib toggles, but the way I wear
the belt low makes it so the bib would hang down way too low. Plus I like to wear everything to the back. It just feels more comfortable.

I like to have my Galaxy S 3 with me for emergencies so I also bought the Running Belt Phone Holder Accessory. My ginormous phone fits in it perfectly. I also put a credit card and some cash in the interior pocket encase I need it. I have worn it during a lot of rain, and so far it has fully protected my phone. It gives me fast easy access to my phone, which is really convenient.

Overall I absolutely love this hydration belt. It is comfortable and durable. I like that it is mostly black and blends into my running clothes. It's a must need accessory for me, but not one that I want to be flashy about. I have ran 6 half marathons with it and one full marathon. Not to mention the hundreds of training miles. It is so comfortable that I even forget I am wearing it after the first couple of miles.

I highly recommend it!

What's New 2015?

Well I obviously have not been blogging since the marathon. The holidays were a complete blur. I cannot believe we are already into February of 2015. Time sure waits for no one.

Last year was a really great running year for me. I ended up finishing the year with 1,150 running miles. My original goal had been 1,000, but then when I hit my goal two months before the end of the year, I decided to go for 1,200. I missed it by 50 miles due to my recovery week after the marathon and then my complete laziness during Christmas week. However, I don't regret it at all. In 2013, I ran 410 miles, so I more than doubled that in 2014. It was the first year I consistently ran all year. It truly is a part of my life now.

2014 Running Year Highlight Recap:

This year I am attempting to do the Run 2,015 miles in 2015. I'm running as a 3 person team, Collective sMiles. I was almost going to attempt it myself, but that averages to about 5.5 miles a day. I want to run happy and injury free. I'm still going to see how many miles I can get in this year. I just want to be smart about it. A challenge like this is not worth the risk of overdoing it. Plus doing it as a team is fun. In January I ran 120 miles, which is my second highest mileage month to date.

I am currently training for my running coaches first official race, the RunnerDude’s Trust. Believe. Conquer 25K. It has been a great way to keep my long run miles up. Plus I love supporting his business, and I'm excited to run with all my Greensboro running friends. It should be a really fun race.

I am doing my first relay race next weekend. It's the Massacre Marathon Relay. I'm running with a team of four.  It should be a good time. My running group, the RUNegades, has four teams running. The four teams are Trust, Believe, Conquer, and Perseverance. We are team Trust.

Well hopefully my next post will be about my awesome marathon relay experience :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

OBX Marathon Weekend Recap

After months of training, the big weekend was upon me. My husband and I were making it a mini vacation with our 2.5 year old daughter, Hannah. We left for the Outer Banks on Friday. Crossing the bridge into the Outer Banks, we were greeted by the beautiful, huge, red moon coming over the water. I also noticed the Washington-Baum Bridge I would be running over at mile 23 of the marathon, gulp.

Colington Cafe (Picture from their website)
We went out to eat at Colington Café. It looked like an old B&B on the inside, only with all the rooms converted into dining rooms with many tables. The décor at first seemed a little old lady to me with lots of old looking flower patterns and old fashion hats and baskets. However, as the night went on the décor started to grow on me.

My favorite part was that they sat us in our own room, so we didn't have to worry about Hannah embarrassing us. Normally she does very well in restaurants. But of course she is a toddler, and at almost three, she is really beginning to test her boundaries. She likes to yell no on occasion and can talk really loud... The food was delicious!

We then went to the hotel. We were pretty tired, but Hannah was all wound up from sleeping in the car for almost four and a half hours. We tried having her in a bed by herself, but she kept jumping on it. I tried to sleep with her, and she kept kicking me when she would toss and turn over and over again. I had it when she head butted me. The rest of the night was a blur, so let’s just say I did not get much sleep that night.

Tim & Sally's 10K
The next morning I got up early to go see some of my fellow RUNegades / RunnerDude Fitness friends run the 10K and 5K. It was Tim’s first 10K, so I was excited to see him run it. I enjoyed getting to be a spectator of the race. It actually got me a little emotional as I started thinking about what it would be like to cross the finish line of the marathon.

Tim did awesome on his first 10K. I was really happy I got to be there for him. I know how awesome it is to have people you know supporting you in a crowd full of strangers. His wife Sally ran by his side the whole race. It was really sweet. Tim ended up beating his time goal by 5 minutes!!!

After the race we hung around a bit. Tim and Sally told me about their race and gave me some pointers, since some of the 10K course ran on the marathon course. Our friends David and Rachael showed up soon after that. David was running the 5K. Both Sally and David were doing challenges where you run two different races and complete them both to get a third bonus medal. It was very neat. To participate, I would have had to run the 10K and the Marathon. Not thinking that was a smart decision for my first Marathon, I opted to just stick to the main attraction. David ran the 5K and the Half Marathon. Sally ran the 10K and the Half Marathon.

I missed David's 5K as I needed to get back to the hotel to Jeremy and Hannah. I got his finishers results via text though. He had done a fantastic run and had earned himself a new 5K PR. So far this race weekend was going great!

When I got back to the hotel, Jeremy was in the shower and Hannah was still sleeping away at 9:45 am. Not surprising, the girl was tired from all her overnight shenanigans.

We hurried up and had breakfast, then rushed back for Hannah's diaper dash race. Upon getting out of the car Jeremy threw his back out. Not a very good sign for the rest of the weekend, but he was a trooper and proceeded to head to Hannah’s race.

We had told Hannah all about the diaper dash the week before, and she had been excited. This morning she was having none of it. As soon as they said "go" she just sat there staring off into space. When I prompted her to go, she firmly sat down. I tried to get her to stand up, but of course she was planted. Finally I picked her up and crossed the finish line, laughing, and grateful that this race had been free. As we were going back to our car, Hannah started saying she wanted to run in the race. Oh toddlers!

Diaper Dash

We went back to the hotel. Hannah and I enjoyed some time on the beach, while Jeremy took a nap to hopefully help with his back. Hannah loved walking in the sand and finding sea shells. It was very relaxing. I loved getting some alone time with my bean.
The beach right outside our hotel room

Wild Horse Adventure Tours
We spent the rest of the day on a Wild Horse Adventure Tour in a hummer. We got to see the Wild Horses, which was really neat. It was a great way to spend the rest of the day.

We enjoyed the tour. The 13 passenger hummer was very comfortable. The ride back was pretty cold though, due to it being open, but they provided blankets and I had brought a hat and blanket for Hannah. So we survived.

It was pretty neat riding on the open beach and then pulling into random areas looking for the horses. The horses traveled in small herds of 2 to 4, that we saw. They were funny because they would wait for each other. Hannah really seemed to enjoy it. I would definitely recommend Wild Horse Adventure Tours.      

The morning of the marathon, I woke and got ready just like any other race. Everything felt kind of like a dream. I was more worried about what I ate and how I felt. Luckily everything felt great.                            

Am I really doing this?!!!
We drove to the course start in Kitty Hawk, NC. I was happy that we got there with plenty of time to spare so I could just focus on the race. We took a few pictures by the start banner, and I made my way into my corral. The corrals were not very defined. They just had signs for A-D. The elites were placed in the A corral. I was assigned to corral D because when I had signed up I had projected my time to be 5 hours. I literally had no idea how long it would take me.

This year the event organizers had added pacers for the first time. I had trained for 4:30 and then had my plan adjusted to 4:15. I had been having an internal battle about what pacer I was going to use. The decision was made for me when they ended up not having a 4:15 pacer.

When I got in the corral, I could not locate the 4:30 pacer and by the time I did there were a good 500 people ahead of me to get there. Knowing from past experience in half marathons I knew that the beginning of the race is the most congested, and that I should be able to catch up to them without a problem once things thinned out.

The journey begins
I met two other ladies in the corral who were also running their first marathons. It was nice to be around other newbies dealing with the nerves. Then before I knew it, it was time to GO.

When I hit the starting chip mat I took a deep breath and thought to myself "here we go, we are really going to do this". I spotted Jeremy and Hannah up ahead. Luckily I was on the same side of the road as them, so I was able to wave to them and blow kisses to Hannah.

I felt really good and just kept reminding myself to run a smart race. I knew I needed to hold back and not start too fast. I wanted to have enough in the tank to finish the race feeling good and strong. So I just started listening to the conversations around me and enjoying the beautiful fall trees. I eventually found myself clustered up to the 4:30 pacer. The group was pretty large, and was pretty congested, so I decided to go ahead of them. From then on I just focused on effort and running my forever pace.

One of the funny things I saw was a pastor standing outside her church dressed in her robes along with some other men dressed in robes. As we passed, she said she was praying for our health and that we would get a PR. Then I heard one of the men with her ask what a PR was, and she told them it was a personal record. It was definitely entertaining and made me smile. Not something you see everyday out running.

I would not say any of the race was a blur. I was pretty aware of everything the whole time. I focused on making it a really good, positive experience. I got a lot of joy interacting with spectators. I high fived kids with signs saying "free high fives". I hit signs that said "hit for energy". I said good morning to just about anyone I made eye contact with. I also thanked volunteers. Most of all I kept a smile on my face. Why do something like this if you are not going to have fun?!

Going into the marathon I had been worried that I would get lonely as I had done all my really long runs with friends. The funny thing is that I never felt lonely. I didn't even listen to music. I brought headphones just in case, but never took them out. I found an inner peace that kept me company throughout the race. I focused on the scenery and the perfect weather conditions. I found all the positive aspects of the journey and just lived in the moment.

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Around mile 9, I was surprised to see Jeremy and Hannah. It was right after I had passed the Wright Brothers National Memorial. It was so good to see them. I ran over and gave them a hug and kiss. I laughed when Jeremy said "keep going", as if I was wasting precious time coming over to see them. I smiled about it for quite awhile.

Around mile 10, we entered the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve portion. I found this section to be somewhat challenging but the beauty of the trail kept me focused and happy. Most of it was on a hard packed dirt road, however, there were loose rocks everywhere. I was careful not to roll my ankle or fall on any of the rocks. I smiled when I thought of my "I Run 4 Buddy" Ava, telling me not to fall in a video she had sent me.

Then we came upon an awesome water stop that was handing out orange slices and banana bread. I helped myself to both. They really hit the spot. The woods portion ended on a single track trail. I actually really enjoyed this section. It felt like pillows after being on the rocky road. It was also rolling hills, which I enjoyed. A lot of runners were struggling through the woods portions and were complaining about the rocks and the hills. I actually really enjoyed this section. I liked the change of scenery and terrain. The trails were lined by beautiful live oaks splashed in beautiful autumn colors. I truly felt like this was an adventurous journey of different lands.

As we came out of the woods a volunteer would say "Congratulations, you made it out of the woods". I thought it was cute.

I hit the halfway marker, and evaluated how I felt at that point. I was still feeling good and had found my groove. I thought to myself that I had just started a half marathon now. My own mind game.

Around mile 14, we turned onto a road that was lined with the biggest crowd yet. I was a little overwhelmed, until I noticed some amazing familiar faces. There Jeremy stood smiling with Hannah telling me I was doing an amazing job. Such an energy booster. I had figured I would only see them at the start and finish. I was really happy to have seen them two times in the middle of the course as well.

The rest of the run leading up to the Washington-Baum Bridge went well. I made sure to fuel and hydrate. The only time I walked the whole time was through some of the water stops to make sure I ate and drank properly.

When I hit mile 20, it felt surreal. I had ran 20 miles twice in training, but this time by far, I felt the best about those 20 miles. I knew every step after this was a distance PR. I had been really worried about these last 6.2 miles in the days leading up to the race. Yet, as I was actually staring them down, I felt a sense of determination and fire. I would do this!

Washington-Baum Bridge
(Pictures from Marathon Website)
Soon I saw the ominous Washington-Baum Bridge in the horizon. I had wondered how I would feel at the bridge when I would think about the upcoming race. I had wondered if going up the bridge would feel terrible at mile 23. I actually found myself excited to see the bridge. I knew I would finish this marathon at this point, no matter what. The bridge was a landmark. I yelled out "yeah the bridge". Runners around me looked at me like I was crazy, haha.

Running over the bridge was breath taking. The day was perfect, and it was hardly windy at all. I found myself passing lots of runners, as I ran up the bridge while many were walking up it. I actually found the bridge to not be that bad. I think it helped to train in hilly Greensboro. When I reached the top, I did a little fist pump for the cameraman. And then welcomed the downhill portion.

Reaching the top of the bridge
The last 3.1 miles did seem to take the longest, but I still felt really good. At this point many runners around me were struggling. There were some stretching out tight legs, and some that were walking. We passed the big inflatable crab. I got really excited when we passed a bagpiper. It was so cool. I got chills.

The last mile was by far the hardest. I could feel my left calf starting to cramp up a bit. It was on the edge. I was so happy to know I just had one mile and I would be done. The crowd started telling us the finish line was just around the corner. I laughed and told the runner near me that they better not be lying. She laughed and said "Right!". I looked down at my Garmin and knew it was true.

I turned that corner to a roaring crowd cheering for all the runners. Then I started to hear my name. I looked around and spotted Sally and Tim. Then Rachael and David. David ran out behind me and ran for a bit cheering. It was so awesome. I missed seeing Jeremy and Hannah, but Jeremy said I had almost looked at them. I was so overwhelmed with what I was about to accomplish.

I crossed the finish line as a marathoner. I thought I would cry, but instead I just had a stupid grin  that I could not get off my face.

I met up with everyone, and it was awesome. I really was happy to have so many familiar faces at the finish. I loved hearing that both Sally and David had ran great races as well. They both got PRs and earned their bonus challenge medals.

Rachael, David, Me, Sally, & Tim
The marathon seriously could not have gone better. I am still in shock. I ran a smart race. I never hit a wall, and I remained positive the whole time. The weather was absolutely perfect. The Outer Banks was beautiful. The event coordinators run an amazing race. There were ample water / fuel stops. There were lots of energetic spectators. I highly recommend this marathon, so much so that I think I want to do it again next year.

I really believe I did so well because I followed my training plan from Thad at RunnerDude's Fitness. It is so valuable to train well, and to have a coach that is so supportive and helpful. Thanks Thad!

I also could not have done it without my husband Jeremy. He was super supportive, and made it possible for me to get in all my training runs. He spent many hours watching Hannah, and for that I am truly grateful.

I am lucky to have so many supportive friends and family; who blew me away with all their well wishes on Facebook. I feel so very blessed and loved. Seriously, I still can't get over it. I spent the whole trip home reading messages from all of you.

A special thank you to my "I Run 4" buddy Ava. I thought about you a lot during the race, and am so lucky to be paired with such an amazing little girl. You were worth the 3 month waiting list. My shoe charms were my lucky charms.

Last I'd like to thank all my awesome running buddies who ran with me at various times during my training. I could not have done it without your help getting me out there, and helping me get it done. Especially my friends Brittany, Laura, Melanie, and Cara who got me through the really long runs. You ladies rock!

I cannot believe I ran and finished a marathon! 

Here are all the stats:
Official Results
Garmin Splits on Strava
New Distance PR!
What's next.... Maybe the Charleston Half in January. I'm thinking I need a new Half Marathon PR.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Triad Ten Miler

I had signed up for the Triad Ten Miler on National Running Day. They were running a promotion where it was like $30 to register. It was a local race, so I thought it would be fun.

It was scheduled to be a training run. I had all intentions of keeping it that way, until I arrived at the race. It was a beautiful cool fall day. Not to mention, this was my first ten mile race. Our running group also had a lot of runners running the race as well. Which also fueled the fire.

I did not have a goal time in mind starting out. I just decided to run by effort, and not worry what my Garmin said. After the first 3 miles I was averaging under 9 minute miles. So I decided to try and run this race keeping every mile under 9 minutes. Which would be absolutly amazing for me.

It was a hilly course, but I was feeling good. The course was beautiful. It ran through some really pretty neighborhoods and along a nice golf course.

RunnerDudes & Dudettes
I had seen two of my friends (Melanie and Michele) from my running group running about 30 seconds ahead of me for the first 5 miles. I wasn't sure if they were trying to race or just run the course. We are all very close in pace and always tend to run near each other.

They were just far enough ahead of me that it would take too much effort to catch up. So I just kept running my own race.

Then at mile 5, Melanie and Michele slowed at a water stop. I was able to catch up and began running with them. We had a great time talking, and helping to push each other up over all the hills. It really helped to make the time go by faster. I also truly believe they were the biggest reason I ended up getting such a great time in the end.

The last mile was the hardest. It was a gradual incline and you could see far down the road, but could not see the finish line. When we finally hit the final stretch, we discussed how it would be fun to try to cross the finish line at the exact same time.

The announcer spotted us and started making comments about whether or not we were going to race it out in the end. We all silently stuck to the plan, and crossed at the same time. <3

Photo Finish!

It was seriously my favorite race finish to date. I am still surprised by the relationships you make with other runners. It's a bond that happens so quickly. I really enjoyed sharing that finish with Melanie and Michele.

RunnerDudes & Dudettes with awards :)

The best part, was that none of us had ever ran a 10 mile race, so this was a PR for us all. On top of that, we truly killed this race!

We finished in 1:27:15 (average pace of 8:43 per mile)! 

We were all super excited, as this was a really good time for each one of us. I'm not sure I could have kept that pace on my own.

The icing on the cake was that I actually placed third in my age group!

Such a fun memorable race!

Running Stats:
Strava Awards
Elevation Profile
Splits According to Strava
This sums it up :) Love my Sole Sisters!!!