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Nike Women’s Half-Marathon Recap, Part II

At last, the long-awaited race report! Instead of prolonging the inevitable, let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Picking up where I left off….

My alarm sounded bright and early at 5:15am and I rolled out of bed, threw some sweats on and groggily stumbled down to breakfast in the hotel lobby. Without too much talking, I scarfed down my typical pre-run meal: a bagel with peanut butter, heavy on the pb. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I passed on all the wonderful-smelling caffeine and washed down my meal with some good old-fashioned water. Yum.

Can't you tell I'm excited?

I wanted to stretch out and slowly get ready before leaving for the race. It helps the err, bathroom department, if I’m not rushing around nervously. With a little over an hour to kill, I changed, stretched, sipped water and enjoyed the cooking channel on TV, making mental notes of meals I want Dustin to make me 🙂

More awake this time.

Finally, it was time to head to the race. After a quick photo-op, Jenna and I moved outside to what we thought would be a quick and painless bag drop-off.

Photo snapped by Digital Royalty before the madness.

Wrong. So, so wrong.

My only complaint about this race was the setup for the bag drop-off. It was so chaotic it wasn’t even funny! People were just standing still, herding themselves around the buses we needed to get to and drop off our bags. Instantly shifting into panic-mode, Jenna and I dipped and swerved through thousands of people (literally, thousands), cut a few lines, dropped off our bags and ran to the start.

We made it just in time.

….

Tells ya how long it took, huh?

After a big sigh of relief, I loaded up my Garmin and relaxed for a few minutes while the announcer did his thang. Before I knew it, the gun sounded and I was off!

Miles 1-3 were easy peasy, my legs got into a groove and I just enjoyed the course. It was still dark out when  we started, which I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. It was fun taking various pictures and watching everything shift colors as I ran along. I sipped some water at the mile 2 marker and took my first Clif shot block at mile 4. Better to take it before you’re tired, right?

Miles 4-6 had some rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Mile 7, however, sucked hardcore. It was all  uphill. The whole thing. No leveling out or slight downhills here. Nadda. Just 100 percent incline on narrower roads that made my thighs scream.

But I survived. Obviously.

And then came the downhill. Because what comes up, must come down. Mile 8 was nearly all downhill and when I say downhill, I mean downhill. My legs were racing and I had to pay close attention to maintain proper form so my knees and shins didn’t curse me later. I made up the time I lost and then some though, which pumped me up for the second half of the race.

My go-to fuel.

I popped another shot blok at the beginning of mile 8 and chugged right along. My knees were starting to give me a lot of pain, but thankfully my hip (where I had been having serious pain before) was doing just fine. My energy was high and I cruised right through miles 8, 9 and 10 without much thought.

The views constantly changed on this course, which is phenomenal. We literally ran through every region of San Francisco. Commercial, residential, coastal, woodland (that’s when I say it seemed like we were running through a more woodsy area 🙂 ). The constant change definitely kept me distracted and the time flew by.

I ate another shot block at mile 10 and ran through another really crappy hill, but not as bad as mile 7. But still, by then my legs were saying “Uh, what the hell, Sam?” I told them to shut the eff up and keep moving. Bam.

They listened and were rewarded with what? Another glorious downhill! At this point, it really registered in my brain that I could actually PR on this race, which I didn’t think would be possible when I toed the starting line. Why, you wonder?

  1. I was under-trained.
  2. I was having a lot of hip pain during race week.
  3. The mile 7 and mile 10 hills are killer.

So when I got through the second horrid hill and this new revelation dawned on me, I gunned it downhill. With only a little over 2 miles left to race, I just wanted to go all out and get the fastest time I possibly could. No more holding back, no saving it for later. Just run.

The final two miles were a lot of fun because of the crowds. There were cheerleading teams rooting for you, Nike had a bunch of fun signs up and the fans were really supportive. Volunteers handed out a square of Ghirardelli chocolate in the last mile, but I politely declined (meaning I vigorously shook my head and kept my mouth shut, because for some reason I was convinced they would try to shove it in my mouth?). Before I knew it, I was in the finish chute and could see the final timing mat up ahead!

As I neared, I just ran as fast as I thought I could. When I saw the handsomely dressed firemen holding a blue Tiffany’s box that I knew would be handed to me, I ran even faster. Talk about motivation, eh?

Finish time: 2:10:03

Six minutes shaved off of my old PR time! BAM!

My splits were a little all over the place, but I’ll show ’em anyway so I can reference them later:

  • Mile 1: 9:21
  • Mile 2 : 9:45
  • Mile 3: 9:32
  • Mile 4: 10:18 –> rolling hills start!
  • Mile 5: 9:22
  • Mile 6: 9:41
  • Mile 7: 12:17 –> that nasty, never-ending hill.
  • Mile 8: 8:52 –> The glorious downhill that followed.
  • Mile 9: 9:56
  • Mile 10: 10:05 –> The other big hill.
  • Mile 11: 9:53
  • Mile 12: 9:04
  • Mile 13: 8:46

After snagging my necklace and finisher’s T-shirt, I immediately chugged chocolate milk, ate a banana and went to the stretching tent they had set up for us. A foam roller has never hurt so good. Afterward, I couldn’t wait another second, so I unwrapped my new race medal:

I love it! Now I can actually wear my race medal all day long and not get weird stares 🙂

Overall, I think this was a great race. Nike really did a fantastic job setting everything up and making sure you had an enjoyable experience. The course was gorgeous, the support was fantastic and there were plenty of hydration and fueling stations (Gatorade handed out stuff just like my shot bloks, but I didn’t take it). I would definitely consider racing this one again!

I’m really happy with my performance in this race as well. It became very clear how much stronger I’ve gotten since my last half because this course had much more difficult hills, and I still snagged a PR. I maintained a faster pace, learned more about myself as a runner and ended with a big goofy smile on my face 🙂

And there ya have it! I took pictures on a disposable camera (throwback!) throughout the course, but the photo center near my apartment has a broken machine right now so I still haven’t been able to get them developed. Once they are developed, I’ll make another post so you can check out the scenes I ran through!

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Nike Women’s Half-Marathon Recap, Part I

First things first, drum roll please! The winner of the Ghirardelli chocolate giveaway is…

Congratulations, Krisi! Just send me an email with your address so we can get your goodies in the mail 🙂

Moving right along, this weekend was such a fun-filled, extremely busy weekend that I’m going to break it up into sections. So let’s travel back in time to Friday, shall we? I woke up bright and early with my bag already packed and ready to go, then carried it up to work. Let me tell you, taking a packed suitcase through the metro system is not fun at all. Especially in rush hour when everyone’s trying to get to work. Some people are just plain grumpy. No bueno.

But I got to work, knocked stuff off of my to-do list left and right, then boarded my direct flight from JFK. I made sure to have the essentials ready to go:

A book, magazine and Ghirardelli chocolate. Yum. Unfortunately, we ended up on the plane for an hour before we actually took off, so I finished my book, half of my magazine and a quarter of my chocolate (it wasn’t full when I got on the plane) before we even got in the air. Good thing I had backup material.

My iPod ended up being great entertainment and I read through the latest issue of FITNESS, Self and Runner’s World by the time we touched down in San Francisco. Phew. I tried my hardest to stay awake the whole flight so that I would sleep well and suffer less jet lag. Mission accomplished. I got to our hotel, ate some food and promptly passed out in my comfy bed.

The next morning I woke up to this beautiful sight:

You just don’t get that in New York! Maybe it’s childish, but I always get giddy whenever I see palm trees. It just screams vacation to me.

Jenna and I spent most of the morning and early afternoon wandering around Union Square, either exploring the area or working. We bought some goodies at Niketown and headed over to the expo.

There was a lot of cool stuff going on throughout the expo, including Run the Runway and Neutrogena makeup consultations. It was very clear that this race was for women. After picking up some stuff, Jenna and I discovered the best thing going on in the whole tent.

Spin for a smoothie! Hop on the bike, spin away and you power the blender to create your own smoothie. Yum!

At least I can say I’ve technically spun in jeans and boots now. But I think I’ll stick to workout clothes. Heh.

Some more fun at the expo…

Jenna and I walked around the city some more and ended up spotting a bright patch of grass in the distance. Like a moth to a flame, Jenna and I rushed over to see what it was. We rarely get to see nature  living in the city, so we were hoping to find something good.

We ended up finding Yerba Buena Gardens!

It was so pretty! Everyone was just lounging around, enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. It reminded me of our parks back home, but a bit on the smaller side. Small is never a bad thing!

There was a waterfall that ended up being the perfect spot for us to relax and have some cool water sprinkle us.

Finally, we went back to the expo because we had some work to do. And by work, I mean interview running phenoms Kara Goucher and Joan Benoit Samuelson! They were both super cool and very down-to-earth. I loved getting to know them a little bit more and hanging out for a few minutes.

The rest of the night entailed a pre-race dinner filled with typical carbo-loading and then an early night. Until next time…

Feel-Good Friday: Off to California!

Cause I’m leeeeavin’ on a jet plane.

Don’t know when I’ll be back again.

Oh babe, I hate to go.”

Alright, I don’t know if I’m leaving on a jet plane, I’m just leaving in some sort of plane. I do know when I’ll be back again — really late Sunday night. And babe, I don’t hate to go…I’m stoked to be headin’ west!

But still, the song is stuck in my head and I think it’s appropriate. So there.

Anyway, happy Friday! I’m currently on my way to sunny California (even though it’ll be dark when I arrive) for the Nike Women’s Marathon, so fingers crossed all goes well. If you’re super concerned (that’s you, family and Dustin), I’ll be posting on Twitter once I land. Promise.

So other than the fact that I’m on my way to San Francisco, which obviously makes me feel good, here are some other things that have made me feel good this week:

Fall foliage. We had a bit of a heat wave last weekend, but the leaves are still changing color. I took this photo when I was visiting home a few weeks ago and currently have it set as my phone background. It just screams beauty to me.

Pancakes. But not just any pancakes. Banana Bread Protein Pancakes, recipe courtesy of Julie. Dustin and I made these and they are so. effing. good. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

And yes, I know that’s one huge pancake. I only had one and couldn’t even finish the whole thing. Filling.

My new purse. I’ve been lusting after this purse ever since I saw it on Pinterest and immediately added it to my “Wish List” board. My good ole’ Aunt Sue saw how much I wanted it and this week an early birthday present arrived. Woohoo! Thanks again, Aunt Sue!

My new boots. This is yet another reason why I love fall. I searched for weeks for boots I loved, and I finally found some! It doesn’t hurt that I got them at Macy’s on sale. Gotta love scoring big on a sale.

Steve Jobs. His death is so sad and we all know how I feel about cancer, but I really find his words so inspiring. I’m very happy people are paying him due diligence and honoring his memory.

What’s made you feel good this week? Any restaurant or sight-seeing recommendations while I’m in San Francisco? 

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Ghirardelli chocolate giveaway! It’s open through Sunday! 

Making Goals: October

It looks like you guys are just like me: big fans of chocolate and wine! Remember, the Ghirardelli giveaway is open through Sunday and you have five ways to enter, so don’t be afraid to utilize every way! Just make sure to pop back in and leave a comment telling me you did it so you get that extra entry 🙂

Moving right along, it’s time for some new goals! I know we’re well into October now, but it never hurts to set up some goals for yourself. Here’s what I’m striving for during Halloween season:

Fitness:

Training has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, especially because my plan went from 10 weeks of training to 6 in a matter of a few days. My body has gone through a bit of a shock, and I’ve been experiencing some hip pain that I’ve been keeping a secret (until now), but I’m still confident I can finish the race. Ideally, I’d like to finish it without walking. In a perfect world, I’ll finish faster than my last half-marathon. It’s only my second one, so I’m not setting too many goals for this race because I don’t want to get mentally bogged down. I’ve never been to Cali, so it’s time to have some fun!

  • Get back into strength training.

Once the race is over, I have a good two months before I have to begin marathon training. I’m thinking about heading out for another half in December, but no concrete plans have been made on that quite yet. In the meantime, I want to focus on regaining my strength with weights. That means cutting back on the cardio and vamping up the heavy stuff. I’m excited!

  • Continue yoga and spinning once a week.

Both of these methods of cross-training have done wonders for my body. I want to keep solidifying a workout routine so that I only improve my game in both areas of discipline.

Health & Nutrition:

  • Get back on the vitamin bandwagon.

I did great on this goal in August, then completely bombed in September. Time to hop back on the gravy train and pop those pills once a day.

Life:

  • Consistently blog once a day.

I go through these spurts where I do really well with my blogging schedule, but then it falls by the wayside when things get busy. I’m so dedicated to this blog and my readers, and I’ve been working on a lot of things behind-the-scenes, so I’m really making the effort to blog once a day. If I know I’m going to be super busy on a day, I want to plan ahead and schedule a post to go live later.

  • Start studying for my PT certification.

As we all know, I completely bombed on this in September. My fingers are crossed that it calms down at work a bit so that I actually have the energy to study at night.

  • Enjoy California!

I’m only going to be there from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, but I’ve never been to the West Coast! I’m determined to find a Yogurtland while I’m over there, and then I just really want to soak everything in while I’m away. I’m so excited to go and I wish I had more time so I could really explore, but I’ll take whatever I can get!

  • Go on date night every other week.

Dustin and I went on date night last weekend and it was so much fun. We just caught dinner and a movie, but it was really nice to get away and just spend time with one another again. I know it sounds weird because we live together, but I miss him a lot. We both get up very early and work long hours, so by the time we’re done with everything at night we just crash in bed. I’m hoping to go on more date nights so that we can actually enjoy one another’s company.

What are your goals for October? Same as mine? Anything different? Tell me! 

P.S. I grew up in a very, very small town and went to school in the same building for elementary, middle and high school. Our music teachers are very talented and our program has done extremely well (think: we were New York’s representative band in the Independence Day parade in Washington, D.C., and  we were invited to perform in Italy but had to turn it down because we didn’t have the funding.) They are now participating in the Glee Give a Note contest, and if they win Glee will give them money to support our music program.

I cannot say enough good things about the music teachers at my old school, Oppenheim-Ephratah. They are hard-working, caring, unbelievably supportive, and 100 percent reliable. One of them, Mrs. Mott, was often my therapist, and I know many times when another teacher would help a child when they were going through a rough patch or got themselves into unnecessary trouble. Because it’s such a small town, the music program is in serious jeopardy of being cut and it would be such a shame because there are so many talented students in that building. If you feel so inclined, please consider voting for Oppenheim-Ephratah in the contest. You can vote once a day until November 7.

Long Run Fun

Well, yesterday’s long run definitely made up for last Saturday’s. I didn’t get bit by a dog, so that automatically made it ten times better. But I have to admit, I was skittish every time a little mutt came near me. Yet another reason why I’m not a huge fan of small dogs (except for Penny, Nina! I love her).

Anyway, I kicked off yesterday’s 9-miler in Central Park, covering three miles with Under Armour for their Power in Pink: On the Run in NYC event. A bunch of us headed out in a pack, but quickly separated as there was a good mix of people at different fitness levels. Libby joined me on the run, so I stuck with her and we stayed between a 10- and 10:30/mile pace. My legs felt fantastic the entire time and I was more than excited for the next six miles I had to cover.

Under Armour gave us these fancy headbands for participating. I think its cute, but not something I would wear on a regular basis. It stayed put more than other headbands I’ve tried, but the material wasn’t lightweight and I found myself adjusting it more than I’d like. But hey, I’m not one to turn down a free headband for participating in a good cause.

The next six miles went by fast. I focused on my breathing and made sure that my form was right (trying to stop all the heel-striking I do), which made me forget about the time. I took a shot block at mile six and it kept my energy up the entire time. I even made negative splits on the last three miles! Check it out:

  • Mile 1 – 10:09
  • Mile 2 – 10:14
  • Mile 3 – 10:18
  • Mile 4 – 9:20
  • Mile 5 – 9:41
  • Mile 6 – 9:58
  • Mile 7 – 9:51 (negative split!)
  • Mile 8 – 9:44 (negative split again!)
  • Mile 9 – 9:26 (negative split one more time!)

I came home hungry as a beast, so I quickly refueled with a giant cinnamon raisin bagel with triple berry cream cheese from Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company. But I wasn’t in Brooklyn — the shop is in Queens. This makes no sense to me, but it was delicious.

Dustin caught me spreading the love.

What can I say? It was that good. I contemplated a second one, but decided that might be a little much. Le sigh.

To make up for my behavior, I ventured out with Dustin in search of a puzzle. Don’t ask me why, but Dustin loves these things and he’s been dying to buy one for the last week. We ended up going all the way to Barnes and Noble in Union Square, where he picked out one of the city skyline. At least he was smart enough not to pick the one of Yankee stadium. Yuck.

He refused to stay still so I could get a non-blurry shot. “I have to do this puzzle right now!” Yes, sir.

In non-puzzle news, I headed out for five recovery miles today thinking my legs would feel heavy and be a little sore. I credit all the stretching and light walking I did yesterday after my long run because I felt great! I’m really happy with my times and couldn’t have asked for better weather. I finished in 46:41, with splits that looked like this:

  • Mile 1 – 9:22
  • Mile 2 – 9:30
  • Mile 3 – 9:25
  • Mile 4 – 9:26
  • Mile 5 – 9:01 (what?!)

I’m really glad I was able to keep my times consistent, especially because I usually shoot out way too fast and don’t save my legs for later. Apparently I had something left in the tank this time around, eh? I’ll take it.

And now, I have an announcement! A few weeks ago I told y’all that my birthday half-marathon in New Orleans had been postponed until 2012 (still super bummed about this) and that I was looking for a new fall race. Well, I find one! Instead of running a race in six weeks, I’m now running one in two. Yeah…on October 14, I’m headed to California!

Source

San Francisco, more specifically 🙂

I’m super pumped to be participating in the Nike Women’s (Half) Marathon, despite my training plan being  cut drastically. Luckily, I had been pre-training beforehand and I’m confident I can still cross the finish line strong. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this race, and well, I get a Tiffany’s necklace at the end. Which is handed to me by a fireman dressed up in a tuxedo. What’s not to love?!

I’m off to stretch some more. I need to go buy a foam roller, for real.

How was your weekend? Congrats to everyone who rocked a race!