Tag Archives: travel

The Breakthrough Year

30 Nov

Without fail, at the end of every year I always seem to reflect and think “wow, what a crazy year.”  So hang with me for a moment here when I tell you – 2016 has easily been the most tumultuous year of my life.

I am a software/test engineer and my job has always involved some amount of travel, but up until this year, that typically meant maybe a one week trip every 8-10 weeks.  This year, that all changed.  In the first third of the year alone, I was gone for half of January, the entirety of February and March, and half of April.  

While I was on the road, I was also dealing with a pretty big breakup.  I was in the process of ending a 9 year long relationship (I say in the process because as you might imagine, breaking up with someone is incredibly difficult when you technically live with them and yet are never home) and while it was something that had been in the works for a while, you don’t flip your life upside down like that without incurring some mental stress along the way.


I lost my dog in the “divorce” and honestly, I’m still not over it yet.

I thought I was handling things ok, but as I look back – I was flailing.  I was making the best of a difficult situation, sure, but I was staying out way too late, drinking way too much, making way too many “temporary friends,” all while claiming to be seriously training for the Utah Valley Marathon.

In March, I flew from Salt Lake City to Virginia Beach for the weekend to run the Shamrock Half Marathon with Hollie.  The weather conditions that day were tough, but I had been essentially living and training at altitude (SLC is approximately 4400’ above sea level) for months.  I had secret hopes of a PR and ended up incredibly disappointed to run 1:38:10.  “I’m a 1:38-1:39 half marathoner,” I remember grumbling to Laura.  “That’s just what I am and what I’ll always be.”


Not. Pleased.

Of course, Laura never lets me throw too much of a pity party and I’m eternally grateful for that. Chatting with her got my brain back into a more positive gear. Out of all the stories of weather related misery, I noticed that one person happened to PR at Shamrock. I also knew that Laura was seeing success and enjoying working with her new coach, and I knew that oh, coincidentally, Mary and Laura had the same coach. I finally realized that if I wanted something to change, I needed to do something different. That it was stupid to think I wasn’t fast enough for a coach.  I gathered up all my courage and made a phone call. And then a day later, James became my running coach.

What happened over the next few months is something I’m still processing, and writing this post (and reviving this silly blog) is a way for me to do that. As I mentioned, I did end up running the Utah Valley Marathon but it became less of a goal race (I only gave James 11 weeks, I didn’t expect miracles yet) and more about getting another 26.2 under my belt and enjoying the time in Utah with my best friend.  I might go back and recap it at some point, but that is for another day.


I guess I’m gonna run a marathon tomorrow or some crap like that.

After taking some time to recover from UVM, the focus became Dublin Marathon at the end of October.  I was still traveling quite a bit for work over the summer (and to Texas, no less – I have SO much respect for all you runners down south) but my attitude had changed.  Workouts became a priority, if I had a quality session on the schedule I was doing everything I could the day before to make sure it went well.  Nutrition was still a challenge due to some circumstances out of my control but I started making better choices when I could. (Long story short: I was working 16 hour days, unable to leave to go get food, and surrounded by donuts constantly. Damn delicious donuts ….)

More importantly, I started turning down happy hour invitations and I focused on getting more sleep. This all makes me kind of sound like a drag, I know, but I was really doing it because it made me happy.  I won’t try and tell you it was all glitter and rainbows, but most days, I hopped out of bed completely PUMPED for my run that day – even if it was just an easy hour of jogging.


Not turning down ALL the happy hours though, gotta get your tan on sometimes

As Dublin crept closer, I had my doubts.  There were some amazing workouts that had me feeling on top of the world and then there were some reality-smacking-me-in-the-face moments that had me wondering if a BQ would even be possible.  I ran the Hartford half marathon in early October and while I did set a PR, I was minutes off of where I secretly thought I would be. That race would lurk in the back of my mind for the next 3 weeks until Dublin.  


My goodness … I’m moving so slowly, yet feeling so terribly.

Even as James and I discussed the race plan for Dublin, Hartford was there whispering – “you’re a fraud, none of this is real, your watch is broken, you don’t deserve 3:2x.”  And then suddenly, I was in Dublin. In the starting corral. And suddenly I realized if I wanted this, all I had to do was execute.  The fitness was there. One bad race didn’t erase everything I had done, all that I had worked for. I could let my mind ruin it for me or I could just tell myself to just. shut. up. and execute.



I ran 3:22:56.  A 4 minute negative split.  And while I do intend to recap the race itself, I will say here – the second half of my FULL marathon was 1:39:22.  Around the same time as I was racing HALF marathons earlier in the year.


It’s weird because in a way, it doesn’t feel like I did anything drastically different yet at the same time, I feel like a completely different person than when the year started.

As far as running goes, I loved the workouts I was doing, but none of them were totally foreign to me – it wasn’t like I was being presented with concepts that I had never heard of or hadn’t tried before. (That’s not to belittle the impact hiring a coach had — more on that later).  I didn’t make any dramatic dietary changes, I still drank beer and ate desserts and all that jazz. There isn’t one major thing I can point to and say “that’s it – that’s how I ran 3:22.”  It was really a lot of small changes that added up to something big. Which is not to say that it was easy, just that it wasn’t some huge overhaul.

And as my running and approach to running changed, I found my attitude changing about other things.  I found myself opening up, accepting other points of view and opinions, allowing myself to feel and think and care about things again.  I don’t claim to have it all figured out now, but I think I was frozen in a cycle of unhappy relationship – unhappy at work – unhappy with running – drink to numb the pain – repeat.  Tackling the most superficial of those problems just happened to lead me down a path where I started solving the harder ones too.  2016 wasn’t just a breakthrough for running, it was a breakthrough for my life.

To wrap this all up in the cheesiest of ways, allow me to hop on my soapbox for a moment. If you’re unhappy with your life, it truly only takes a few small steps to start changing it. If you aren’t reaching your goals, reevaluate and try something new.  At the end of the day, the beautiful thing about life is that YOU are the one in charge – you are the one who gets to set your own priorities and make your own decisions. I sat around waiting for my life to happen, to change, to get better, to refresh itself, etc, for far too long.  2016 was the year I realized — you have to change your own life.

A Very New Jersey Weekend

2 May

There was a lot of excitement this past weekend beyond that lil’ old race I ran.  In no specific order, here are some of the highlights:

1.  Going to Wawa


Umm I think I was talking about this on Instagram for probably the entire month of April.  Dear Wawa, please extend your chain into Upstate New York.  Your coffee is the best gas station coffee I have ever had.  Love, Heather.


2. Going to Vincentown Diner

There was a lot of hype over this diner and I have to say, every word of it was true.  Typically when I go to diners I stick to breakfast food, but the menu here was really quite extensive and all of it sounded delicious.  I went with a Reuben, but also really wanted to try a few of their salads and burgers.  Next time, Vincentown.  Next time.  We all also gorged ourselves on dessert and basically waddled back to Hollie’s afterwards.  It was fantastic.

Sometimes we wear things that arent spandex.

Sometimes we wear things that arent spandex.


3. Meeting Hollie’s fiance aka Fueledbyfuel aka Mr. LOLZ

He showed up with a box full of red velvet cake.  Enough said.

In all seriousness, it was great to get to know Tim a little bit and I don’t think he was too offended by our ridiculousness.  Though we did ask him to take quite a few photos …

Setting out for a nice 6 miler around Hollies neighborhood.

Setting out for a nice 6 miler around Hollie’s neighborhood.


4. Learning about gypsies

There are some amazing shows on TLC.  I’ll leave it at that.


5. Going to yet another diner post-race

Get in my face immediately.

Get in my face immediately.

They put my eggs on top of my french toast and for some reason, I thought this was the greatest idea ever.  I’ll blame low blood sugar.


6. Spending time with two of the most fun people on the planet

Saying our goodbyes.

Saying our goodbyes.

Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before our next adventure.


Where was the last place you road-tripped to?  Do you love New Jersey diners as much as I do? 

New Jersey Half Marathon Race Recap – 1:38:05

30 Apr

A few months ago, Hollie talked me into coming down to New Jersey to visit and run this race.  Actually “talked me into” makes it sound like a lot of effort on her behalf- I’m pretty sure all it took was one Facebook post.  But I digress.

Originally I intended to shoot for about a 1:40 at this race, but after a handful of decent workouts in the past few weeks, I started to wonder if I was in slightly better shape.  Due to that, and to the fact that my fall racing plans impact my plan of making Buffalo my goal race (more on that later), I went into this race thinking that I would race it all out and let the chips fall where they may.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before.  I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before. I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.


I was trying to be enthusiastic, but due to poor logistics at the expo and realizing that the half started way earlier than I thought it did, I was sort of stumbling around Hollie’s house like a zombie.  I finally pulled myself together, procured a cup of coffee, and we all hit the road.  On the way there, I distinctly remember telling Laura that my main mission would be to find a porta-potty (foreshadowing! wee, fun!).  I also felt myself starting to get hungry, and ate half of a Picky Bar I found in my car (more foreshadowing! such fun!).

We got somewhat close to the race start at Monmouth Park and then boom!  Huge line of cars.  The volunteers at the expo had warned about this, and I honestly thought we left early enough to avoid the traffic but apparently we underestimated just how bad the congestion would be.  By the time we were able to park and I pinned my bib on, it was 6:30am – leaving only 15 minutes until the start of the race.

Let me spare you the agonizing details and just say that I had a choice to make: stay in line, use the bathroom, and fight through the hordes of walkers or get my butt to my corral and find out how long I could run before an emergency situation popped up.  I chose the corral.

Miles 1-2

As soon as the gun went off for the wheelchair start, I realized I didn’t have my Gu.  Typically this wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but I woke up so full from the night before that I didn’t eat a real breakfast.  As I mentioned above, I did have half a Picky but I didn’t trust that could fuel me through a PR half marathon attempt.

I stood there waiting for my corral to be released and realized that having to poop and facing the almost certain bonk that was waiting at mile 10ish was probably not going to make for the best race ever.  I decided to run by feel and not force the pace.

I started just behind the 1:40 pace group and tried to hang with them for the first two miles.  I felt like I was working too hard to keep that pace.  I told myself, it’s just not your day.  Hang tough for as long as you can, and readjust your goal to 1:41-1:42.

Miles 3-5

The only thing I remember from this section of the race is the mental struggle to stay positive.  I kept my head down and did my own thing, not looking at my Garmin, and just tried to enjoy myself.  I got ahead of the 1:40 group at some point here, and thought about how funny it would be when they swallowed me back up later in the race.

Miles 6-10

At this point, I caught up to a handful of girls and one guy who was cracking the cheesiest jokes as loud as he could.  I stayed with him for a mile or two and honestly – he was the biggest difference in my mental game.  I was laughing out loud and joking back with him.  It was genuinely fun, and for once, my race photos actually reflect that I might actually like this silly running thing.

Dare I say ... Im enjoying myself??

Dare I say … I’m enjoying myself??

I eventually broke away from the funny guy and realized that I wasn’t feeling nearly as bad as I thought I would.  My lead-legs were gone, and my stomach – thought a bit uncomfortable – was not entirely revolting.  I was still worried about my lack of fuel, and was disappointed to have not seen gels being handed out on the course.  I told myself to keep ignoring the Garmin and keep the pace steady.

Miles 11-12

think it was around mile 11 where I saw the best cheerleaders!  I was so totally in a zone at this point that when spectators started popping up with more frequency on the course, it didn’t really phase me.  All of a sudden though, I thought I heard a familiar voice – and sure enough, Laura and Danielle!  I was so happy to see them; I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to see anyone out on the course because the rushed start led to somewhat uncertain logistics.



Seeing the girls put a spring in my step, all the way until the final turn onto the boardwalk.

At this point, it felt like you should be almost done, but my watch only read 11.8 miles.  The wind – although not terrible at around 12MPH – was now a direct headwind.  For some reason, I was still afraid I was going to bonk and told myself to just stay in the comfortable pace zone.  I think I was mostly just traumatized from previous terrible boardwalk finishes at races in Virginia Beach.

Miles 13-Finish

When I passed the mile 12 marker, I finally had the guts to look at my watch.  That was the first point I realized that I was close to a PR.  I was having a hard time figuring out how that was possible, but I knew with only a little over a mile left, it was time to push.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the  boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles.  I don't even know who I am anymore.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

When I finally saw the finish line, I knew it was going to be close, and I just tried to sprint as hard as I could. Unfortunately, I came up a little short.

This is my aw crap what the fuck face.

This is my “aw crap what the fuck” face.

My “aw crap” moment only lasted for about a second.  Even though I was 20 seconds shy of a PR, I honestly never expected to have this kind of race on that day.  I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off even if everything went smoothly pre-race, and obviously, not everything did.  To have run by feel for the majority of the race, while having fun, and turn in my second fastest half ever?  I’ll call that a success any day of the week.


California International Marathon (CIM) Race Recap

16 Dec

If you want time to move a little faster, train for a marathon.  It feels like Wineglass was yesterday, yet here I am, a week late on writing a recap of CIM.  Strange.

I won’t talk too much about the actual race itself – basically, everything I’ve ever read about it was true.  Tons of porta-potties, busses to the start were PERFECT, the course has the potential to be very fast if you don’t go out too hard, logistics of expo + race were great.  I would definitely go back and run it again; I had a great time.

As for my actual race execution?  Well.  To be fair, I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve been a little shady over the past several weeks on the various injury issues that have been plaguing me.  Mostly because I’m embarrassed.  Currently, I have bursitis in my left hip, a VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle strain, excess fluid and bruising (but not a stress fracture!) in one foot, and extreme tightness in both calves.  Ridiculous, right?  I feel like either an idiot or a huge wuss.  I can’t help but think that maybe the aches and pains I feel on the reg are the same aches and pains that every runner feels and is able to fight through to do great things.  On the other hand, I took a look back through my training logs and realized I haven’t taken more than 6 days off from running in over 2 years.  So, the best way to fight a nagging soft tissue injury is probably not to continue to train through it.  For years.  Got it.

All that was a long-winded way of saying that I knew I wasn’t in perfect shape going in to this race, and I was truly ready to expect anything from a 3:40-4:40 finish.  I really just needed to finish one.  Stubborn.

Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.

Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.

It was very cold at the beginning, and really, throughout the entire race.  I ran in shorts and I’m wondering if that was possibly a mistake.  I never felt warm and had goosebumps for a good portion of the morning.

The water stops in the beginning were a mess.  Water was spilled everywhere, with no sunlight and 25 degrees?  It was an ice skating rink.  People were slipping, falling, coming to dead stops.  The volunteers couldn’t keep up (I don’t blame them, they were basically standing in the cold on the ice.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it).  I didn’t actually get any water until the stop at mile 10 due to the chaos.

Between the lack of water and the cold, I was cramping very early on.  My left calf felt tight from the very start, but by mile 8 or so, I was cramping in both hamstrings and my right hip flexor.  I knew it was trouble.  I ignored it and pressed on.

I had tried to stay with the 3:45 pacer, but realized (too late) that he was a bit fast.  Nothing awful – he was running 8:25s instead of 8:35s – but I think it took its toll on me.

I hit the half at 1:51:49 – right where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately, I knew I was only going to slow down from there, rather than pick it up.  I told myself it was time to put on my music, plug away at it, and just try to keep the pace around 8:35 as long as I could.

Severe cramping started at mile 15.  I was literally laughing out loud at how ridiculous I felt.  My lungs and my brain were ready to party.  My legs were having nothing of the sort.  I started walking through aid station.



I hit mile 20 and knew that I would finish this thing, even if it meant walking 6.2 miles.  I took walk breaks when I needed, for however long I needed.  I had some really strange shooting pains up my hamstrings that would cause my legs to buckle if I kept up a run for too long.  It was kind of hilarious.  Around mile 23, I struck up a conversation with a really nice girl who was also taking a lot of walking breaks.  It was her first marathon and her luggage had gotten lost on her flight in.  She had to buy a new pair of running shoes at a local running store the night before, and they didn’t carry the kind she had been training in.  Her feet were killing her, but she had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing.  We both laughed and stumbled our way through the next mile.  Eventually we lost each other; I hope she finished strong and will be back again to tackle another marathon.

I remember seeing the guy dressed up like Jesus with a “the end is near” sign, and I realized I was almost there.  I managed to run my way into the finish and was so unbelievably happy to be done.  4:02ish.  Slowest marathon ever.

Happy, but also in pain.  A lot of pain.

Happy, but also in pain. A lot of pain.

This has been the year to run personal worsts, I guess.  I am not disappointed with the time, or the race – I really meant it when I said my only goal was to finish.  Is it a bit disheartening to look back on this year and feel like I’ve gotten slower?  Sure.  But I know that what I need is to rest.  Work on cross-training, stretching, strengthening.  And then come back and kick ass in 2014.

All in all?  I got to go to California with a really good friend, have an amazing time, and run a marathon.  How can you be mad about that?

New York City Marathon Part 1: The Adventures

14 Nov

How annoying is it for someone who didn’t even run the marathon to break up their recap of marathon weekend into two posts?  SUPER ANNOYING.  But I’m doing it anyway, suckers.  There was just too much awesome to try and consolidate.



Laura and I piled into my car armed with pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, water, and Diet Coke.  All the road trip essentials.  I don’t remember much about the drive down because we were chatting up a storm the whole time.  Excitement was running high, and I couldn’t wait to actually get to our hotel and do this thing.  Whatever ‘this thing’ was.

We finally got to our room around 8 or so, and after laying our things down and surveilling the small tiny space, decided to go out and hit the town.  A quick look at the MTA website got us a transit plan and soon we found ourselves in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

No shame in our tourist game.

No shame in our tourist game.

Unsurprisingly, Times Square at 9pm-ish on a Friday night is a total zoo.  It was kind of cool for a few blocks and then we both kind of looked at each other with the “omg get me out of here eyes.”  We turned up a random street to get out of the crowds, and just like that, accidentally found our mecca.

Rooftop bar on a temperate November night?  Not packed to the rafters?  40+ beers on tap?  AM I HALLUCINATING?!

Rooftop bar on a temperate November night? Not packed to the rafters? 40 beers on tap? AM I HALLUCINATING?!

A couple beers and a delicious appetizer and sandwich later, we started to turn into the old ladies that we are.  It was time to call it quits and rest up for our long run adventures the next morning.



Our loose plan was to start running around 9, head over the Queensboro Bridge and to the park, and then just circle the park for awhile until it was time to head back.  I don’t think either of us really understood how sneaky the bridge/hills in Central Park are, however.  I remember gloating at the beginning of our run, during the portion where it felt like we were stopping ever 30 seconds at a cross-walk, that this would be “the easiest 18 miles ever!”

Before I was hating life.  It was basically the most perfect morning of all mornings.  The reservoir  is freaking gorgeous.

Before I was hating life. It was basically the most perfect morning of all mornings. The reservoir is freaking gorgeous. #nofilter #seriously #hashtaghashtag

We had agreed that we were going to be huge tourists and just take pictures the whole time, and that pace/distance wasn’t really a concern as long as it was a reasonably long run.  I started to struggle somewhere around mile 7, which is like … really mentally defeating when you’re staring down 10+ more miles of relentless hills.

Oh look, the finish line!  You know what I never want to do?  Run a marathon on THESE FRIGGIN HILLS >:|

Oh look, the finish line! You know what I never want to do? Run a marathon on THESE FRIGGIN HILLS >:|

I will admit I was glad to hear that Laura was struggling too.  It’s not that I wanted her to be having a crappy time – just that I already felt so bad that not only do I run a lot slower than she typically would be under the best of circumstances, but it was going to start getting even slower.  The fact that she wasn’t feeling it at least gave me some mental relief and by mile 11 or so, I started to just look forward to the post-run party.

Stolen from Laura, mostly because I'm amazed at how cute we look when I know both of us just wanted to keel over.

Stolen from Laura, mostly because I’m amazed at how cute we look when I know both of us just wanted to keel over.

At a certain point, we just got excited about stopping to take pictures.  Rocks are cool!  Let’s stop and take some rock pictures.

Again, we just look like we're having much more fun than I think we were actually having.

Again, we just look like we’re having much more fun than I think we were actually having.

We both agreed that A) we were going to be satisfied with 16 miles on the day and B) we were going to crack a Guinness the second we were back in the hotel room.  It was truly the thought of Guinness and my cold scrambled eggs that powered me through the last few miles.  That and putting some ice on my angry knee.



After lounging for a decent amount of time, Laura and I got ready and took the train back into Manhattan; this time, Battery Park was our destination.  The Statue of Liberty, a street vendor lunch, and Starbucks were high on our to-do list.

Stolen from Laura.  The first time I kicked my leg up, I was shocked at how not-far-up it would go.  WTF hamstrings.

Stolen from Laura. The first time I kicked my leg up, I was shocked at how not-far-up it would go. WTF hamstrings.

Sadly, neither of us realized that you needed to buy advance sale tickets to get on the boat to Liberty Island.  Boo hoo.

This is as close as we're gonna get, Lady Liberty.

This is as close as we’re gonna get, Lady Liberty.

We mulled over what to do from there; we were too far away to meet Hollie and her fam for dinner on time and didn’t want to mess with her schedule, so we decided to head uptown instead and meet up with some friends for drinks.



(Strangely enough, my best friend also happened to be in NYC for the weekend, entirely unrelated to the marathon.  My other good friend from college lives in NYC, so it was pretty great to have a mini-reunion – it had been probably 6-7 years since the three of us have all hung out together.)

Laura and I were both a little lame since all the street vendor food had done a number on our stomachs.  We sat out the booze on this go-round, and just spent a half an hour or so catching up.  I was really grateful Laura was game for this – it was great to see my friends, but I know it wasn’t much fun for her to sit there with people she didn’t know who were all essentially reminiscing.

After we said our goodbyes, we headed back to our hotel to sit down with some takeout and start planning our day of spectating the marathon.  And that’s where the fun really starts …

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now

29 Oct

Planning, planning, planning.  Sometimes I think I actually enjoy the planning and anticipation of events (be it races, vacations, holidays, etc) than the actual events themselves.  I love seeing a busy calendar and the promise of adventures on the horizon. Needless to say, I’ve been in a state of perma-giddiness over the past week or so as Laura and I have been texting back and forth trying to get our plans for NYC settled.

I’m not sure when we floated the idea, but over the entire summer at the very least we’ve been talking about going down to cheer on Hollie in the NYCM.  Weeks of “can’t wait for NYC!” turned into “holy shit, we should probably like … book a hotel or make some sort of concrete plans.”  And now, here it is, our plans mostly finalized with nothing to do but get through this work week and get ready to have a friggin’ blast.

On the list of activities?  A long run out to and around Central Park, doing all the mandatory cheesy tourist stuff, making epic race signs and figuring out a spectating plan, hopefully meeting up with a college friend of mine, eating all the food, cheering all the cheers.  If you’re going down for the marathon to race or otherwise, I hope to see your lovely smiling shiny face there.  SO excited.


Here’s where I’ll come clean and say this isn’t the only reason Laura and I have been texting fervently back and forth to solidify plans…


We’ve been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for number 1
California, here we come


(All credit to Laura for the Phantom Planet relate, but since she posted it, I a) can’t get that song out of my head and b) have a really strong desire to watch season 1 of the OC.)


YES.  CIM 2013, we are coming for you.

I have no idea what this marathon attempt will be like.  It’s not really about trying to take another shot at a BQ (3:35).  In fact, a whole lot of things would have to go perfectly over the next few weeks for me to even think about going for a PR (3:45).  I just really feel like I need to run a strong marathon, and get the bad karma off my back.  I could honestly care less about my finishing time at this point; if the race was tomorrow, I’d probably shoot for 3:50-3:55 and be nothing less than thrilled if I finished feeling great.

Maybe it’s stupid to fly cross-country to not even “race” a marathon.

It probably is.

But, you only live once.  And I know that there is no possible way I will ever regret going to California and running a great race with a great friend, no matter what the time on the clock says at the end.  So game on, CIM.  Game on.


Will you be at NYCM? CIM? Tell me!  As my friend Lauren would say, I want to touch your face.

(Jk jk I won’t really touch your face … probably.)

Rock N Roll VA Beach Half Marathon Recap

5 Sep

I’ll just be upfront about this: I’d rather stab sticks in my eye than relive any part of this race.  I guess part of the whole “you have a blog where you talk about running” and “you can’t improve if you don’t honestly look at the races that went wrong” things are convincing me to address it.

I’m pretty sure everyone and their brother knows I went down to Virginia Beach last weekend to race the Rock N Roll half with Hollie and Laura.  (Side note: I felt almost sick to my stomach over the fact that as I was heading down to one of their races, Flotrack reported the Competitor group’s decision to pull all elite support and funding for their future races.  I won’t address that now, but I do have some thoughts I would like to share in the future.)

Pic stolen from Hollie.

OK I know, I know, photo reuse violation … I just think it’s a cute picture

I knew it was going to be hot and humid, and that a PR was probably out of the question.  I did, however, intend on racing.  I decided I wanted to try and keep the pace between 7:30-7:40 and see if I could squeak in under 1:40.  I would have been happy with anything <1:45.

I went out and settled into my race pace, pulling the classic idiot move of trying to run splits instead of listening to my body.  I remember seeing the turn and the finish chute for the 5k and thinking man, I wish I was done right now.

Yeah.  Here’s a prime piece of advice for you: if MILE FREAKIN’ 2.5 of a half marathon has you feeling like you already want to quit, you probably went out too hard.

I hit my splits perfectly for the first 5k, then started to fade almost immediately.  I couldn’t cool down and I felt unbelievably thirsty.  By mile 5, I decided to walk the water stops and try to keep running around 8:05-8:12 pace.  I figured if I could finish it out at goal marathon pace, I could still call it a good workout.

I forced down my Gu at mile 7.  That was probably my second biggest mistake of the race.  Between the excess water I was drinking (two cups at each stop, the stops seemed really far apart and I was worried about dehydration) and the fact that even on a great day, my stomach doesn’t necessarily handle fuel well, I was just an overheating mess of indigestion.

My stomach was sloshing, I was dizzy and slighty incoherent, but I just kept moving forward.  We turned into the base at some point and I just remember it getting unbearably hot.  I slowed to a walk just after mile 8.  A girl ran a few steps by me and shouted “aww hope you’re ok – I’ve been pacing off of you.”  She started to slow down and I warned her, “it’s gonna get real ugly from here.”

Then I threw up.

Then I suddenly had a volunteer next to me with a water bottle.  Apparently, there was a medical tent nearby, I think he came from there?  I honestly don’t remember. He made me stop and finish the water bottle before going on.  I didn’t stop my watch, but I was also incapable of doing math at that point – I could have sworn I was there for almost 10 minutes, but reviewing the splits on my watch, it was definitely only about 4 minutes.

At that point, my mind had given up.  I stopped to walk whenever I felt like it.  I still felt dizzy and my legs felt like lead and jello at the same time.  I would alternate between telling myself I didn’t give a fuck about this race or running or anything, and telling myself that I completely fucking sucked at running.  My brain was throwing itself quite the pity party.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here.  Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here. Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I turned onto the boardwalk, looked at my watch, and basically knew a personal worst time was a guarantee.  I had no fight left in me.  I think I started walking before I even officially crossed the line.

Pretty sure I'm glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

Pretty sure I’m glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

1:51:22 was my finishing time.  A shiny new Personal Worst.


So here I sit, days later, entirely unsure of what to think.  At first I thought I just went out way too fast.  But this wasn’t a case of me picking numbers that I wanted to run.  The Boilermaker in early July was 73 degrees at the start with 89% humidity, and I ran an average 7:33 pace.  The temperature at the start of this race was 75 degrees with 94% humidity.  Yes, it was worse, but not by much.  And I’ve had almost two months of training on my legs.  Was it that unrealistic to expect to run a similar pace?

I don’t know what this means for Wineglass.  I can’t imagine backing off of my BQ goal.  I am considering running another half this weekend as a confidence booster … but it has the potential to do even more damage if I bonk again.  I’m also not sure I’ll be fully recovered by then.

What would you do?  Race the half or sit it out?

How do you get your brain to shut up when it’s making you doubt everything?

Virginia Beach Renewal

2 Sep

So.  I’ve been kind of ignoring this blog thing over here.  My running has been so up and down and with it, my emotions.  I am seriously in that mental train wreck of marathon training that is, well, familiar to me at least.

That said, you may have heard on various sources of social media that I went down to Virginia Beach this past weekend to hang out with this girl and this girl.  So it would be remiss of me to not talk about it.

The race itself was a disaster (for me, at least).  The flight home was even more of a disaster.  But getting to spend a weekend with friends?  Totally worth it.

Pic stolen from Hollie.

Pre-race pic stolen from Hollie.

Also, being back at the beach was not awful at all.

Virginia Beach Mayhem

Virginia Beach Mayhem

Laura and Hollie are seriously two of my most favorite people ever so getting to just bum around with them for a while was awesome.  The future is a bit uncertain in terms of get-togethers (except for NYC Marathon weekend, when Laura and I will be the best effing cheerleaders you have ever seen) so I’m really glad I was able to go.


Best part of the race: getting in the ocean after.

Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a running funk.  It’s not that I haven’t been getting the runs in, it’s more that I’m getting discouraged about pace, the way my legs feel, and how dehydrated I feel constantly.  I’ll recap the race soon but spoiler alert: I ran a PW, felt like shit almost the whole time, and am unable to figure out why I can’t get my racing shit together this year.

I will say though – having two friends who are so unbelievably fucking tough is an inspiration.  And I hate saying “inspiration” because it sounds so bloggy fake but really … there are no other words to capture it.  So yeah.  I had a terrible race.  Ran a personal worst.  But also ate amazing food, had super fun girl chats, ran around on the beach, splashed in the water, and got to explore Virginia with two awesome people.  So how can I complain?  This weekend has me feeling refreshed and renewed – ready to chase down the next couple weeks of training and bring it on home for a strong marathon in October.  Let’s go.

Adventures in Oklahoma

12 Aug

Last weekend, my mom and I flew down to Oklahoma to visit family for a long weekend.

I expected all of Oklahoma to look like this.  At least I lived my dream thanks to this one block in downtown Broken Arrow.

I expected all of Oklahoma to look like this. At least I lived my dream thanks to this one block in downtown Broken Arrow.

It was sort of bittersweet … we had booked the trip in early May.  My uncle has been fighting stage 4 cancer and we wanted to go visit before it was too late.  Sadly, he passed away the week before we flew down.

My uncle and my grandpa back in the day.  Hopefully, if there is some sort of afterlife or whatever, they are hanging out being dorks just like this.

My uncle and my grandpa back in the day. Hopefully, if there is some sort of afterlife or whatever, they are hanging out being dorks just like this.

I don’t like getting super personal on the internet, or in real life, or at any time, really.  I am sharing this because it was a great reminder to me that no matter how cliche the saying is – life is short.  We only have so much time on this planet and what we do with it matters.  Don’t hesitate to tell someone you love them, or how much they mean to you.  Don’t waste your time doing stuff you don’t love, or participate in activities that you aren’t passionate about.

I saw this graffiti on a trail marker while on my long run in Oklahoma.  It spoke to me.

I saw this graffiti on a trail marker while on my long run in Oklahoma. It spoke to me.

I see a lot of grumbling about training around the blog world.  I get it.  Every single workout isn’t sunshine and kitten farts.  Sometimes you don’t feel like getting up at 5am to get a run or a ride in.  Other days, you feel entirely worn down and wonder why you’re doing this to yourself.  That’s to be expected.  But if all you do is complain about the event you’re training for, and if it always feels like a drag: STOP IT!  Find something else you love doing: yoga, pilates, zumba, competitive beer drinking, underwater basketweaving, power-walking, whatever.  When you’re living out your final days, nobody is going to care that you ran a marathon.  Finished an Ironman.  Etc.  Those are accomplishments that only mean something if they are truly meaningful to you.

I am passionate about margaritas the size of my face.

I am passionate about margaritas the size of my face.


I am also passionate about my cousin's brigade of tiny shih-tzu pups.

I am also passionate about my cousin’s brigade of tiny shih-tzu pups.


I am extremely passionate about these miniature horses because MINIATURE.  HORSES.

I am extremely passionate about these miniature horses because MINIATURE. HORSES.


Seriously.  Miniature freakin' horses.

Seriously. Miniature freakin’ horses.

So with that, I remind you all to really try to live life to the fullest.  Try to enrich others’ lives, and be enriched in return.


Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

25 Mar

alternatively titled: Doing Nothing > Doing Anything Else Ever

Post race, my personal race spectator and I stuck around VA Beach for a few days to basically be gigantic sloths.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  The most strenuous part of each day was deciding whether I wanted sweet or savory for breakfast.  Then I realized it was a buffet, so just grab two (or three … or four) plates and call it a day, right?


Eventually we decided to let housekeeping into our room, so we set out to wander.  We found this delightful establishment called Waterman’s Surfside Grille and had the bartender hook us up with their signature drink – the Orange Crush.

You beautiful orange concoction, you.

You beautiful orange concoction, you.

It was about 50 degrees out that day, and this drink rocked my world.  I can’t even imagine how dangerous these would be on a hot July afternoon.

After a few of those, we decided to hit the Boardwalk, and I decided to be the world’s biggest touristy asshole.

I am a joy to be around, seriously.

I am a joy to be around, seriously.

Why would you not at least walk into the ocean once?

Why would you not at least walk into the ocean once?

My ankles froze almost instantaneously.

My ankles froze almost instantaneously.

I'm not entirely positive, but I think I'm saying "what kind of asshole does that, seriously"

I’m not entirely positive, but I think I’m saying “what kind of asshole does that, seriously”

Looking down the beach.

Looking down the beach.

It was quite an enjoyable couple of days and I was pretty sad to have to leave, even if it was a bit on the chilly side.

But, I couldn’t be too sad, because after heading home for a day, I went out to Boston to surprise my best friend for her birthday.  We spent an amazing weekend committing various acts of debauchery and eating anything and everything that was breaded and deep fried.

We are both in desperate needs of detoxes.

There will be no visual depiction of this part of the weekend.


A QUICK ADDENDUM.  And just to make this a somewhat running related post.

Thinking back on the marathon, two things stood out to me.

  1. I only ate one thing of shot blocks during the entire race and didn’t have breakfast before.  My stomach was out of control with nerves and my last race experience wasn’t helping.  Is it possible that when my legs seemingly didn’t want to move forward anymore that I was actually experiencing a glycogen shortage?
  2. It was so cold that I barely drank any water at all.  I just never felt that thirsty, and when you’re freezing, the last thing you want to do is throw a cup of cold water at your face for the hell of it.  However, upon returning to the hotel and scientifically analyzing my pee (so sorry, so gross, so not ashamed), I came to the conclusion that I was extremely dehydrated.  Trust me, I’m a doctor software engineer.  I can’t imagine that helped things either.

These are things I need to work on.  Along with not sounding so whiny, because honestly, I’m very happy with the final result.  I know I have a better marathon in me, but that’s what I had on that particular day, and I’m proud of that.