Catching Up: Journey to 26.2

Planning a wedding took a lot of my time during my little hiatus from blogging. You know what else did?

Training for a marathon.

Taking the Plunge

After our wedding, I found myself with a ton of free time that I wasn’t used to having and a lack of motivation to work out for the sake of working out. I didn’t run much for the last couple of months before our big day and instead did a lot of strength training to get ready for it. I knew I needed to sign up for a race to motivate myself to start running again, especially with the holidays coming up. That’s when I found the best race ever, the Asheville Marathon and Half!

I picked this race for a few reasons. First, Asheville is where we had our “mini-moon!” At around three and a half hours away, it’s the perfect distance from home to be a destination race without breaking the bank. Asheville has become one of my favorite places. Surrounded by mountains, laid-back folks, totally weird in its own perfect way, lots of craft beer and good wine… you can’t go wrong here. Another thing sold me on this race: the ENTIRE thing is run on the grounds of The Biltmore Estate. Running the full would give me the chance to explore parts of the estate that are normally not open to the public. I was sold. I registered for the race a few weeks after our wedding, and then it was time to start training!

Marathon Training

For a training plan, I picked Hal Higdon’s Novice II Plan. I average about 30 miles a week on the plan with one 20-mile run. I was worried about the one sorta-long run during the week that maxed out at 8 miles, but it really wasn’t an issue. I just planned to leave work right at 2:45 (my contract time) on those days to get my run in. Training through the winter in South Carolina was glorious! It was great to run at about 4:00 in 50-60 degree weather. I did my weekday runs solo, but usually met up with some running friends for my weekend long runs when I was in town. Since I trained through the holidays, some of my runs let me explore places besides Aiken, which was a fun way to learn my way around!

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Out of all my training runs, this 14 miler was my toughest one. I’m pretty sure it was all mental because it was my first time running longer than a half marathon. I also did this run in Newnan, GA, where I’m not as familiar with runner-friendly roads. I did a lot of car-dodging the first half, then did 7 miles on my husband’s old high school’s cross-country track. Not the most exciting, but I got it in!

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My 19-miler was the best. I had my running girls with me for most of it, and our local ice cream shop had a special ice-cream-for-breakfast event! I had never had a hot waffle topped with ice cream, but you MUST TRY IT! It’s even better after running long on a cold morning!

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Before I knew it, it was time to taper and get ready to race! I personally love the taper. It’s the perfect time to catch up on everything you don’t have time for during training, like cleaning your car, sitting on your butt watching Netflix, and snuggling with dogs.

 

 

 

Race Weekend

We traveled up to Asheville after work on Friday with both of the doggies. All week, the forecast was for freezing rain the day of the race… until Thursday, when they started predicting 3-6 inches of snow. Don’t I have the best luck with weather?! I packed way too many options for the race, because I was sort of in denial that it would actually snow. I was also nervous about getting to the race if there was accumulation, because we opted to get a cabin about 30 minutes away in the mountains. We got to our place at Cabins of Asheville, right up the road from where we stayed on our mini-moon, and got the dogs settled. It was so cozy! I definitely recommend these cabins if you are planning to visit this area.

On Saturday, we spent the day exploring downtown Asheville with my running girls Missy and Sheri. We met up for lunch with our friend Nancy, who ran the Saturday half. She filled us in on the course and as we ate, it started flurrying outside!

We headed back to our cabin for an early dinner. I made spaghetti and bison meatballs from Run Fast Eat Slow. Then, it was time to get my gear ready before an early bedtime! We planned on being out the door by 5 AM to give us plenty of time to get there in the bad weather. I had the sweetest helper while I got all my stuff ready.

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Pack – Nathan Firestorm 2L; Shirt – Stiletto Running; Leggings – BCG; Shoes – Brooks Adenaline GTS 16; Watch – Garmin Forerunner 235; wrap – Momentum Jewelry; buff – race swag; jacket – Target; gloves, hat, ear wrap – Academy Sports; pickle juice shot, two Gu, hot hands packs – Academy Sports

Race Day 

We woke up at 4 AM on race day to…. SNOW! There was about 4-5 inches on top of my car, and it was still gently falling when we left the cabin. Thankfully, the city was prepared and salted the roads, so we had no issues getting to the Biltmore. The employees and volunteers seemed genuinely excited to be there and were so helpful, which helped calm my nerves a bit. I was super bundled up, but not enough to hang out around the starting line. We waited in the barn to stay warm until the race started, after a 30-minute delay due to the weather. Before long, it was time to line up!

Missy and Sheri were using the Galloway method, but Jeff and I planned to break at each mile, so we split off pretty soon into the race. I was feeling good and set out on my own at around mile 3. I got way too hot and had to take off my jacket right around that point, then caught up with my girls right before we got to the Biltmore house!

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I hung with them for a bit before picking up my pace a bit. Jeff and I found each other right around mile 8 and hung together until the course split between the half and full at around mile 10.

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These pictures can’t come close to doing the course justice. I’m sure it’s beautiful without the snow, but on this day, it was a winter wonderland. I felt like I was on the set of a Disney movie the entire time.

The course took us over hills, bridges, trail, gravel, and through vineyards. It was so gorgeous!

 

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Miles 15-20 were a bit of a blur. I perked right up around mile 20, because the course took us right past the finish line!

Seeing Jeff and Missy waiting there and cheering gave me a burst of motivation that I really needed at that point. I was starting to get tired, and had officially entered into the realm of running farther than I ever had before. The mental game was on. The last six miles of the course were out-and-back, which definitely played on my mental strength. I took my pickle juice at about mile 22. I was skeptical about it before the race, because everyone I asked told me I would know when to take it. They were right! I knocked it back when my legs started really feeling like lead. It helped me for a bit, but I hit the wall HARD at mile 23. So many people were walking at this point and I was so ready to be done. Doubt started creeping in as I texted my mom telling her how hard it was. She ended up sending my inspirational texts about every 5 minutes until the finish. Did I mention she’s the sweetest? 🙂

That last 5k was the toughest one I have ever run. I finally understood why everyone says you aren’t halfway through a marathon until mile 20. I drew on every mantra, memory, and power song that I could to get me to the finish line. With a quarter mile to go and the finish line in sight, I stepped up the pace as much as I could.

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After 4:54:36, I finished. The tears flowed as I realized just what my body and mind had accomplished. From the first day of training to the moment I crossed the finish line, I learned so much about my own strength and will. The marathon can and will change you.

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See that profile?! I definitely earned the rest of the day that I spent eating tacos, drinking wine in the hot tub back at our cabin, and snuggling with the pups and my #1 cheerleader throughout this whole process.

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So, did I convince you to run Asheville? If you’re even just toying with the idea of running your first half, full, or challenge weekend, DO THIS ONE! From the course to the staff and volunteers, this is an amazing race. If you decide to join me on March 17-18 next spring, you can sign up here. Use these codes for a 15% discount off ALL EVENTS between now and July 31!

Enter invitation code JULIABIPS2018AMAROCKS and discount code  2018AMAJULIAROCKS for your discount. I’ll see you at the starting line!

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Hello. It’s me.

I’m alive. For the record. Life has been rather busy since I last posted! What have I been up to?

Getting Married

bips-1387The wedding will get its own post soon, but here it is in a nutshell: Hurricane Matthew + the ultimate pre-wedding meltdown + the best day ever.

Work

IMG_6211Because ya gotta pay bills somehow, right? (Just kidding – it was a fantastic year and I’m already emotional because my babies leave me in just 8 days 😦 )

Running, Running, and More Running

18274947_10208314011519678_4194667512918776320_nSince my last post, I have run 4 more halfs and….. I AM A MARATHONER! This epic weekend will receive its own post ASAP!

Adulting

18404046_10208329051575670_8793015558423701217_oI’m headed back to school, y’all! In a few weeks, I will start my M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning with a focus in Instructional Coaching at Clemson University. I am beyond excited and also kinda freaking out about juggling everything, but we will make it work!

Stay tuned for more details about wife life/bridezilla mode/tears at mile 23!

XX

Julia

When a Training Run Becomes a Race

Howdy! I’m linking up this week over at  Mississippi Piddlin and HoHo Runs as well as at Run Megan Run to catch up on this past week.

With only one “real” week of school left, the end-of-year mania is stirring up: benchmarks, awards, field day, OH MY. I finally nailed down some wedding-related details this week, including the last big task of booking our tent and rentals. Now it’s on to smaller details like welcome bags, table numbers, and favors (which Mr. Groom and I are “crafting” together). The tent was unnecessarily stressing me out because a.) I didn’t really want one and b.) I didn’t realize how RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE they are. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of the tent, because our venue has some really beautiful, very old oak trees and I didn’t want to hide them. However, the estate’s house isn’t large enough to hold all of our guests, and my mom was adamant that we get a tent in case we have record-setting rain like we did this past October. Yay! Obviously she won that debate and here I am with a slightly messed-up budget. It’s only money, right? 🙂

Anyway, on to the running part of this week. It was actually a race week for me, but I didn’t have a goal in mind for this one. The forecast all week predicted rain, and having just run my big half three weeks ago, I was just looking to finish this one.

Monday | Rest

Thank goodness there was no workout on the schedule for today. Lady somehow ran into the retaining wall outside last Sunday while she and Molly were wrestling and scraped up her side pretty badly. We cleaned her up the best we could, but when I got home from work on Monday afternoon, she had had a blowout in her crate. It was EVERYWHERE. So after the lovely experience of cleaning up doggy doo from her bed, blankets, and Kong, and scrubbing her crate, and cleaning the surrounding carpet, I took her to the vet to see what was going on. I’m happy to say that her parasite tests were negative and she is healing up nicely now! Thankfully, she didn’t need stitches, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Thank goodness for rest days!

Tuesday | 3 Mile Progressive Run

It rained on Tuesday, so I took my workout to the treadmill. I definitely got bored, even with some higher inclines thrown in, but it wasn’t too bad. Pretty uneventful, though. After I finished, I did strength training on my legs/lower body for about 30 minutes or so, which I didn’t keep track of. Maybe I should start doing that…

3.00 miles; 10:36/10:08/9:18 

Wednesday | Speedwork

I won’t lie. I bribed myself with pizza to get through this workout. Judge me if you want. I hit the track around 6 on Wednesday to tackle some fartleks. After warming up for one mile, I alternated 2 minutes of faster running with 2 minutes of easier running for 3.5 miles, then had a .5 mile cooldown. I peaked in mile 3, but managed to keep all of my surges between about a 7:30-8:30 pace. I followed this victory by bringing my sweaty, probably smelly self to pizza and trivia with Jeff (I am a font of useless knowledge. It’s my forte). Life is all about balance, y’all. 🙂

5.01 miles; 46:45; 9:20 pace

Thursday | 3 miles easy

I skipped this run. Teeheehee. My school celebrated its 80th Anniversary with a snazzy gala, so I ended up sticking around until it ended at 7:00. By the time I got home, I was pooped, and combined with the tough workout from Wednesday, I was not feeling a run.

Friday | Cross

I had planned to skip cross-training today because I knew I had a race coming the next day, and while I wasn’t planning on actually racing, I still wanted to have fresh legs so I could at least finish comfortably. Looks like this logic worked!

Saturday | Aiken Triple Crown 10-Miler

And here we are… The race I didn’t plan on racing. When I first registered for this one, it was mostly driven by the fact that it was part of Aiken’s newly created Triple Crown Race Series (which included a 5k and Half Marathon). The actual Triple Crown race was once held annually, but this year was its first running in several years. The forecast did not look optimistic for the morning of the race, but when I woke up, the skies looked fairly clear. I hate running without music and was less than excited at the prospect of running 10 miles listening to myself breathe. 🙂 I took a chance and bought my phone, and there was no rain! It poured all night on Friday, though, which was perfect because about two miles of this bad boy were on the dirt horse roads that are common in Aiken. We kicked off at 7:30 AM with me in the middle of the pack. I started out at a decently comfortable pace, but couldn’t keep from pushing myself. I felt strong throughout this whole race, despite not doing much of a taper (if at all) or having a strategy. Maybe that’s what helped me–just getting out there and running, and not worrying about when I’d take my GU, or whether to walk the water stops. I just ran it. Looking at my splits definitely makes me smile, because I was able to keep up a great pace throughout and had a really strong finish.

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I crossed the finish line and waited for other runners to finish and got some pictures with my Sole Sisters. 🙂

Then the awards started, and I was very surprised when…

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This happened! I’m lucky to be able to run in a small town, because I know I could never place in a larger race. But I’ll take it!

My official chip time was 1:31:40, but I also clocked my fastest 10K yet, according to my Garmin, with a time of 55:59. Hopefully I can beat that at the Peachtree this summer!

10 miles; 1:31:40; 9:07 pace

Total Weekly Miles: 18

All in all, not a big week in the mileage category, but a great week for speedwork and racing. Here’s to the last week of school — next week is all about field day and our farewell to first grade celebrations!

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Weekly Wrap No.5

WeeklyWrap

Hello, friends! I’m linking up over at Mississippi Piddlin and HoHo Runs to recap week one of PEACHTREE training! It’s crazy to think that the 4th is only 8 weeks out, but here we are already!

I am LOOSELY following Nike+ Running’s Intermediate 10K coach program. I say loosely because I’m awkwardly in between the intermediate and advanced plans, mileage-wise. I didn’t want to jump into the advanced one and burn out, so I decided to try the intermediate one and really focus on speed work this summer.

May 9-14

Monday | No plan?!

Monday was the day before my plan officially started, and conveniently Aiken’s monthly Sole Sisters meeting! I was so happy to finally be able to meet up after joining the Facebook group a couple months ago. We got in almost 4 easy miles alternating running and walking. It was the perfect way to jump back into running after Run United. After we finished, we headed to Maria’s, a local Mexican restaurant. Cheers!

3.66 miles; 45:52; 12:32 pace 

Tuesday | Rest

You guessed it! Tuesday was consumed with yard jobs and more wedding planning. I lead an exciting life, my friends.

Wednesday | Speed Work

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On the agenda for today was my first speedy day (and, coincidentally, the first day of training). I headed to one of Aiken’s running tracks and did a one-mile warm-up followed by 2.5 miles of fartleks and a .5 of easy running. Despite the INSANE HEAT (although this is nothing compared to how it will be in a few weeks), I was really pleased with my pace. I alternated two minutes harder with two minutes easier. My harder paces hovered between about 7:50-8:30, with my final one averaging around 7:20. Score! It was tough but gratifying to see some good pick-ups, especially towards the end.

4.00 miles; 38:02; 9:30 pace

Thursday | 3 miles easy

After a minor wedding-planning-fueled meltdown, I headed to the track for some easy miles. I was truly running off the crazy. There is nothing that some sweat and take-out sushi can’t fix.

3.12 miles; 30:31; 9:52 pace

Friday | Cross

After work Friday, Jeff and I hustled over to the gym and I hopped on the indoor bike. That was victory number one. Historically I have skipped my cross days, then felt guilty, and then continued to skip. Resolution #1 this training cycle: speedwork. Resolution #2: cross train (including STRENGTH). I meant to snap a picture of my stats when I finished my bike ride, but we were trying to hurry to head down to an Augusta Green Jackets game, so I immediately grabbed some water and fit in about 10 minutes of core work.

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Still a win! It was great to get in something besides running for the first time in a long time.

10.00 mile bike ride; core work

Saturday | 3 miles

I was wanting to do something a little different than road running, so I took my run to Hitchcock Woods around 10:00 on Saturday morning.

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned the woods on here before, but I’ll say it again. They are AWESOME. With 70 miles of trails spread amongst 2,100 acres, it’s paradise for hikers, equestrians, and the occasionally nutty trail runner. I probably saw around a dozen people out riding in the FABULOUS weather. While the trails are nicely shaded, they are mostly soft sand, so running in there is tough. Luckily the views and friendly faces make the going easier. My favorite thing about the woods is that I have never felt unsafe in there and they are extremely clean. I love that they’re smack in the middle of downtown Aiken, but you feel like you’re miles from everything. I still have a ton of trails left to explore in there!

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I ended up stretching my run to 5 easy miles to make my time on the trails worth it, which was smart, since later that night we went to The Big Mo, a delightfully retro and quaint drive-in about 30 minutes away. And, of course, you can’t go to the drive-in without….

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FUNNEL CAKE! That bad boy only cost me $2.50 and I don’t want to know how many calories. Seriously, though, for $8.00, you get to see a double-feature of current movies (we saw Captain America: Civil War and Jungle Book) and you can bring blankets and not get weird looks from strangers! It’s a win-win.

5.00 miles; 1:00:11; 12:02 pace <— forgot to pause watch when yielding to horsies. Oops!

All around, it was a pretty great week running-wise. This week I’m sticking-ish to my plan but will be participating in Aiken’s Triple Crown Road Race (a 10-miler). I say participating and not racing because I do not plan on killing myself trying to be fast (fast for me, at least) on what I’m assuming will be a hot and humid morning. Instead, this will just be an extra-fun training run that happens to include bling at the end. Yay!

On another note… today marks ONE MORE MONDAY in the school year and only 12 days left with my munchkins. I will miss those sweet faces, but SAYONARA, FIVE AM WAKE-UPS! Or, more accurately, five-AM work wake-ups… But I’m not thinking about that right now. 🙂

Total mileage for the week – 20 miles

 

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Teacher Appreciation, Progress vs. Perfection, and Other Rest Week Reflections

Hey there! Happy Friday! This week, I won’t be recapping any workouts because guess what — I don’t have any to recap! That’s right. I have been taking recovery to heart this week and aside from working–HARD–on the yard and herding six-year-olds all day, I haven’t been doing much physical activity. I’ll spare you a photo of my feet, but I have my first real runner’s toe. The Brooks are about to be retired, but I would really love to not have a blood blister pop all over them before that. Plus, I’ve been catching up on some wedding planning (the most bittersweet, yet summative sentence of my existence lately). Since I’ve had plenty of time (maybe too much) on my hands this week, here’s some other musing.

Teacher Appreciation Week

I feel like I don’t deserve this week. Seriously. We give our veterans A DAY but I get a whole week. I thought about this one morning this week after walking in to work to our PTO’s latest surprise (more on that in a bit). I love what I do. I love spending time with my students. I love seeing them grow, hearing their ideas, and being their confidante. I get home before Jeff does, and I’ll have this summer to work on house projects, finalize wedding details, and go on vacation. Yes, I do have a lot of paperwork and meetings. No, I don’t get paid huge wads of cash. But, I see my family when I want to. I can take off when I’m sick. I laugh daily and not one day is the same. I’m thankful for this week, but I also think there are others who are much more deserving of a week of recognition, praise, and a heartfelt “you inspire me.”

However, on the same token, I have been enjoying the extra spice at work this week. Our PTO rocks. 🙂

 

Podcasts

I started listening to Serial: Season 1 last spring when I had a longer commute to work and was instantly hooked. I listened to it nonstop for about a week. I didn’t listen much to podcasts over the summer, since I had plenty of time to read, but I recently started back up on my long runs and longer trips. Some favorites:

  • Serial: Season 2. While I’m not as into this season as I was with Adnan’s, it’s still intriguing. I haven’t finished this season yet, as I usually pull it up while on the elliptical or stair climber (i.e. not often).
  • NPR’s Ask Me Another: I know. I’m a nerd. I have never denied this. If you’re a fellow nerd, closet or proud, you’re nodding your head in agreement. YAS. AMA’s like trivia at your favorite bar, except you can listen to it in your pajamas, petting your dog, obnoxiously yelling out (often-incorrect) answers. If you have not sipped from the AMA fountain yet, you need to, my friend. Ophira Eisenberg could be my best friend and I’d be totally fine with it. This podcast is great for long runs because it’s like having a crowd of funny people to entertain you while you’re pounding the pavement.
  • Mojo for Running: This is my new commute podcast. The episodes are almost always under 20 minutes and have given me so much helpful information, and I’ve only listened to about 10 episodes in the past few weeks. When actual running takes up so much of your free time, it’s hard to find time to read running blogs, magazines, etc. for tips and ideas. With Mojo for Running, I can learn a ton of new things and actually have time to apply it!

Progress vs. Perfection

Practice makes perfect. We’ve all heard it. But this week, in my recovery-fueled pensiveness, I’ve been thinking a lot about that short but loaded sentence. I’m about to get all philosophical here. Pardon me. I’ve been thinking about this sentence in terms of two very different, but key parts of my life:

1.) running

2.) teaching (specifically, reading)

Perfection in Running

Is there such a thing? Like many other runners, I am on a quest to become faster and go further. I do not have one end goal in my mind, and to me, that is what perfection is: an end. To imply that practice will end in perfection also implies that that practice will one day be no longer. So, why would I want to be a “perfect” runner (not like that would happen, anyway)? Aside from becoming injured during training and not getting to complete a race, I don’t think I could feel truly let down by running, because I know I will never be perfect. There will always be a new record to set, a new goal to achieve, a new process to master. It’s exhausting, but also exhilarating.

Perfection in Teaching

NO. I am not perfect. NO. My students are not perfect. So again, I ask, is there such a thing as perfection? How can you define the perfect reader? Unless if the next Shakespeare walks out of my apple-bordered classroom door one day, I don’t think I could define it. I don’t focus on perfect readers, because again, to imply that there is a perfect ideal implies that once you have reached that ideal, you’re done. There’s no more point to reading.

I’m sorry–NO. Reading is, in itself, a practice, and a life-long one. In that sense, it’s a lot like running. One reads, runs, or does both not to become perfect, but because it’s a practice that relaxes the mind, invigorates the body, and opens doors for the soul.

But I digress. I need to run to let these thoughts out, instead of unleashing them on some unsuspecting Internet bystander.

Confidence

I would once define myself as a girly-girl. I would gladly spend more money on clothes, cosmetics, shoes, or my hair than any other item (including food, in college :)). However, I posted this picture as my Facebook profile picture earlier this week and (once again), I got to thinking.

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There is no head-tilt in this picture. There’s no eye contact, let alone a sassy gaze. There isn’t a skinny-arm pose, or a popped knee (at least, not an intentional one :)), or a duck face, or a filter.

Nope. Instead, there’s sweat. There’s a gigantic frizzy “ponytail” that was tame when I set out. There’s visible dirt. Thank god technology geniuses haven’t figured out how to emit smells from computers, because then I really wouldn’t have any followers on here.

However, I think I look beautiful here. Someone might be reading this and thinking “Wow. I might not be able to smell her sweat, but I can smell her cockiness. UNFOLLOW.” And to that… I am not sorry. I know that I am not the only woman on the planet who has, at one time or another, felt too skinny, too chubby, too intense, too sensitive, too indecisive, too decisive, too curly, too straight, too made-up, too natural, too feminine, too tomboy, too high-maintenance, too frumpy.

When I look at this picture, I see my best self. I see someone who knows where she’s going. I see someone who is strong–and that’s a word I never would have used to describe myself before. I see someone I would have looked up to when I was younger. Wearing pink and glitter doesn’t make you weak. Having muscles and outrunning boys doesn’t make you aggressive or manly. I’m so happy I learned that. It took 24 years, but I learned it. Making time to run does not make you selfish. Going to the store with wet hair does not mean the world is ending. It means you’re making a choice: Be a nutcase or contain that stuff with some endorphins (just kidding…. kind of).

As you can see, my mind is itching to get back into training (Peachtree Road Race, I’m coming for ya!). But I’ll close with this: I will not apologize for prioritizing my health, or liking myself. And you shouldn’t either. Because, after all….

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Race Recap: AEC Touchstone Energy Run United Half Marathon

Whew! How is that for a race title? Let’s just call it the Run United Half. Okay? Okay.

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This is the race that started it all for me last spring. Jeff signed us up for the 5K in an effort to force us to work out once college ended and adulthood began. I was seriously annoyed at first, but that finish line got me hooked!

Before I get started on this year’s recap, I need to make one thing very clear. It was HUMID today. If you’re wondering how humid, exhibit A:

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This is the only shot I took along the course. We were running on grass at this point around one of Aiken’s many horse tracks. So beautiful, but so incredibly wet! By about a mile in, I was drenched with no hopes of evaporation. Therefore, I did something that made me feel basically Olympian. I poured water on myself. Repeatedly. It was great.

The half started at 7:30, and it was SO WONDERFUL to be able to sleep in a little later. We didn’t have to head downtown until about 6:45 AM. Score!

I tried to follow a better strategy today by not getting carried away at the start. There was a pacer for 2:00 and 2:15, but since I was shooting for between 2:05 and 2:10, I wasn’t really sure where to go. I ended up in between both, but stuck back for the first 3 miles or so. I caught up to the 2:00 group at around mile 3 and stayed with them until about mile 8, when it really started heating up. I was pretty pleased with my overall time at this point, so I decided to run my own race and do what I was comfortable with. The course itself was extremely flat–I don’t think I ran uphill the entire way–but also had a few miles sprinkled throughout on grass or sand. It was nice to have the distance broken up, but the sand running was TOUGH. I could really feel my hips working overdrive to stabilize the rest of me. The grass, however, was an awesome break from pavement! This race’s course wound its way through downtown Aiken, through the horse district (beautiful!), some residential neighborhoods, our local running track, and back through downtown. I love this course because at the very end, you bank right and are at mile 13 with the finish line just up ahead. So exhilarating!

Despite thinking that I was being conservative my first 3 miles, my splits are telling a different story. Once again, I forgot to turn off my watch after I crossed the finish line, so it’s a bit longer than 13.1. You can definitely tell where the heat started to get to me at around mile 8.

Anyway, I came around the bend at the finish line and I think it will always be one of my favorites. You wind up right in the heart of downtown’s festival area and there are tons of people cheering, pee wee cheer squads, and a random guy dressed up like Buddy the Elf (He’s there every year. I don’t know why.) When I had the finish line in sight, I booked it at about a 7:16 pace. I finished this one in 2:06:53, comfortably beating my 2:10 goal. Yeaaaahhhhhh adrenaline! After I crossed, there were some cute little kids handing out swag:

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And of course, the finish line photos had to commence:

But best of all, I had to celebrate running my first-ever month with over 100 miles!

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Jeff ran the 5k race with a time of 29:22 (9:27 pace) which is impressive because he pretty much did not train. It’s so impressive I sort of hate him. 🙂

So now, it’s time for some much-needed R&R before I start training for the Peachtree Road Race this July! I’ll be running Aiken’s Triple Crown (10-miler) in three weeks, but I’m not planning on it being a goal race due to the heat and focusing on the Peachtree. I’m looking forward to using my time off of running this week for wedding plans (five months out!)

P.S. If you’re a lady and looking to PR at your next race, I’m pretty sure that wearing Sparkle Athletic is a guaranteed way to do that. I got so many compliments along the course about my sparkly skirt. The “Fierce” shirt I wore is from Gone for a Run. I bought the basic athletic tank (not technical fabric) and it was perfect. I don’t like to wear very loose clothing when I run or workout, so the fitted style was just right. The glitter girl was precious too… Because life is better with sparkles. 🙂

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Weekly Workout Recap No. 4

Hello, Friends! It’s time for another weekly recap hosted by Run Megan Run. Click on over to join in the fun! (<— I should quit my day job to become a poet.)

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April 17-23

Sunday | 6 miles easy

After the AG5K trail race on Saturday, I was looking to take it easy with six miles through downtown Aiken. Jeff and I parked at the library, which I really need to get a picture of because it’s this beautiful brick mansion turned book haven. Is there anything more wonderful than that? Possibly, and that would be running through downtown Aiken. Think: flat, wide roads with medians lined with “winter colony cottages” (AKA mansions). It’s the best, and it made me even more excited for the Run United half this weekend! We didn’t end up making it out until about 2:30, so it was pretty hot out. Jeff went for a couple of miles (he’ll be doing the Run United 5k this Saturday) and I kept on going. We ended up meeting at The Pizza Joint after I was finished. It’s funny because when he texted me to say he would meet me at the restaurant, I wasn’t bothered at all. Then I realized: dang, my fiance expects me to go ON FOOT to meet him for food. This would have made me semi-irate a year ago, but the first thought to cross my mind was: sweet! I won’t be pressured to cut my run short!”. I’m basically a butterfly that has undergone metamorphosis. 😉

6.30 miles; 1:00; 9:37 pace 

Monday | Rest or 3 miles easy

Knowing that the rest of the week was going to be incredibly hectic, I hurried home right after work to fit in 3 miles before we had a meeting with our wedding coordinator. It was HOT, since I left at about 3:45, but after a cold shower, it was off to the Church — we’re six months out from the big day!

3.00 miles; 26:54; 8:58 pace

Tuesday | 5 miles

Looking to avoid the peak heat of Monday’s run, I held off until after dinner to run through the neighborhood. Perfection!

5.14 miles; 48:44; 9:29 pace

Wednesday | 3 miles

I had a feeling that I was going to be too distracted on Wednesday to run, and I was right! I had the First Year Teacher of the Year banquet after school, and needless to say, running was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do after my family left to head back to Hilton Head. This was the first run day (aside from optional rest/run Mondays) that I skipped during this training cycle, so I don’t feel bad…at all. 🙂

Thursday | 5 miles

Once again, I had something going on Thursday night, so I headed out at about 3:45 to get my miles in. However, it was a lot cooler out than the forecast predicted, and it was nice to stretch out after taking off on Wednesday. I seem to subconsciously run faster when I know I need to be somewhere later!

5.00 miles; 45:19; 9:04 pace

Friday | Rest

Fridays are for groceries, chores, and date nights. 🙂 Jeff and I went downtown to a couple of restaurants for Aiken’s Earth Day festivities.

Saturday | 10 miles

I overslept Saturday, and by the time I was ready to run, it was HOT. I wanted to be able to enjoy my last long run before the race, and it was also the day of our neighborhood yard sale, which I didn’t want to miss. I instead set out in the afternoon (what is up with me and the peak of heat lately?!) for five miles that I told myself I’d do at an easy pace, and make up the long run in the morning While I wasn’t totally knocked out after, I definitely was fast. I may have the fact that I had plans for that night to thank. Either way, my pacing last week has got me pumped for this Saturday!

5.00 miles; 45:28; 9:05 pace

So…..

I’m feeling very optimistic about Saturday. With 84.2 miles finished at the time of this post, this has been my highest mileage month ever, and I will finally crack 100 miles on Saturday! Woohoo! I splurged on a new *sparkly* running outfit, and that combined with how flat this course will be makes me confident that I can beat my goal of 2:10 (hopefully by a lot!). I don’t think I’ll be doing any more halfs this year due to the heat and wedding planning stress, so this is going to be my time to meet my goal for 2016. All the details will be on here this weekend! 🙂

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