You can bet your Uranus! Breaking Barriers!

Guess whose life got hectic and crazy this month?!  This girl!

Geez, I had a full intention of writing a recap of the Flying Pirate half weekend, but by the time we got back from that wonderful trip, I was running a local half, Owl’s Roost Rumble which left me just two days before I shipped out…okay, we really took a bus…to Washington DC with 200+ 8th graders and I was finally running the Nike Women Half Marathon this past Sunday. Breathe..phew!  3 half marathons in 14 days + 2 trips out-of-town = 1 tired runnergirl.

So this will be an action packed recap of each race!

Flying Pirate Woo Hoo Crew Weekend

If you are ever want an excuse to go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to run then this is your event!  This race became my instant favorite from when I ran in its inaugural year in 2010.  This marked the 4th year of this race and it just keeps getting better!  I opted to run the Pirate’s Challenge again this year, the First in Flight 5K on Saturday and the Flying Pirate Half on Sunday.  3 medals, 2 tees and some sweet swag, it is a no brainer!

18 of us traveled to OBX on Friday, getting in at various times.  We weren’t able to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Outer Banks Brewing Station, for dinner.  The place was too packed and we wouldn’t be able to sit together as a group.  So we opted for Five Guys instead.  Once we finished dinner, we all headed back to our rental house and settled in for the night knowing we had an early morning.

Saturday morning, 15 of us were taking part in the 5K!  That is the largest group we’ve had doing an OBX race ever!  Some of us were running together; others were walking with their boo’s.  Nick, H and I were running another family 5K together.  The course for the 5K is pretty fantastic!  You actually circle around the Wright Brothers Memorial before climbing the hill to the very top.  Once on the backside of the hill, you trot down the Greenway for an out and back.  Though H is usually enthusiastic about running, she wanted NO part of it that morning.  She wasn’t feeling her best, I was trying to keep my cool, and Nick was trying to keep both of us from losing it.  It wasn’t our finest moment. By the time we reached the finish line, H had declared she was back in retirement.  However, within 5 minutes and some water and bananas, she was already talking about our May GoFar 5K.  She makes me laugh!girlsonlypic

On Sunday, 8 of us were running the half.  We all were in really great spirits that morning.  None of us were stressing the race.  Most of us were running the race for the experience vs a time.  I had thoughts of trying to PR, but once I hit mile 10, my legs had another idea and I struggled a bit through the trail section of the course.  By the time I hit mile 12.5 and started the single track trail section, I was done.  The sun and heat were at play this year vs the torrential downpour we ran in last year.  I was beaten down by the end of the race and was happy to see that downhill finish.  I was pleased with how I ran, doing the best I could, given the conditions.  Everyone had the same opinion: we all wished it was just a bit cooler.  We enjoyed the post race festivities for a bit and made our way to Mama Kwan’s for a round of fish tacos and Bushwackers. We spent the rest of the long weekend relaxing on the beach, visiting the Currituck Lighthouse and enjoying an afternoon in Manteo.  We can’t wait for next year’s race!half runners

Owl’s Roost Rumble Trail Half

After running this one last year, I was hooked!  It’s a great trail half covering 4 different trails and Greenway near Bur-Mil park.  I’ve only trails just a handful of times and by no means am I good at it.  I run very cautiously, fearful I’m going to take a tumble at any moment.  So running this one, it always pushing me outside my comfort zone.  Katie and I signed up to run it, but found out that Melanie J and Dena were also running it too.

The women’s wave started at 8:15 and we were off!  We ran down to the Greenway and hit Owl’s Roost, the first trail.  This one is my favorite of all four.  It follows along Lake Brandt and it is pretty fun to run.  There aren’t too many roots or rocks and I fell into a good groove for the 5 mile trek.  Once I popped out of the trail and ran down the Greenway to the next trail, Nat Greene.  This one is a bit tougher for me.  A little hillier and more technical than Owl’s Roost.  It too follows along the lake and has a some really great views. I hung in there for the 3 miles along this trail. 552881_10200316853618635_1097519077_n

After another quick water break, the course takes us down Lake Brandt Road near the dam to Piedmont trail.  Although this trail is fairly flat, the roots on this one are ridiculous!  I have big feet and I have a really hard time tip toeing through all of the twisty roots.  I had a near fall on this one, snagged my toe on a tiny stump and both feet came off the ground.  I totally caught myself somehow before I took a spill.  I was getting tired through this 3 mile section and I was not picking up my feet as much.

I was relieved to see the Greenway again.  Stretched my legs out a bit while I made my way to Big Loop, the last trail.  This one is pretty easy to run other than the mile long uphill finish.  By the time I reached the finish line, I was ready to be done running.  Although I had hopes of running this one faster than last year, I was a bit slower.  I felt like I had run it better this year than last year, so I’m not sure what that means in regards to my time.  Overall, I was pleased and had a great time at our post race celebration at Ham’s.

Nike Women Half Marathon

I had mentioned in an earlier post about my sheer delight when I got into this race and the day to finally run it was here!  This was also the first race that I was doing everything entirely by myself.  With most of our group’s races, I usually have at least one other person running it too.  Not this time.  I was on my own with everything.

I was up in DC already with our school’s 8th grade field trip and after leaving them on Friday afternoon, I made my way to the Expotique via Metro to pick up my bib.  I stopped by the Nike Georgetown to pick up some Nike DC gear.  The branding for this race was awesome and I spent a lot more money than I had planned, but everything was so badass!

Expotique was really cool. Not like any Expo I have ever been too.  It was definitely made to have a spa feel and totally catered to women.  There were bra fitting areas, shoe demos, places to get your hair and make-up refreshed by Paul Mitchell and bareMinerals, and 400765_10200357145865916_784835968_nplenty of samples of Nuun and Luna Bars.  My favorite part of the Expotique was the “make your own” race day sign at the Luna station.  It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!  I made H a race day sign. There were plenty of places around the Expo for photo ops.  It was well-organized and super quick to move through.  I was thankful.  I feared long lines with over 15,000 women registered to run.

I headed to Virginia in the late afternoon.  We were staying with some dear friends Friday night.  Nick and H made their way to Virginia also on Friday.  I was so happy to have them up there with me in DC to be at the finishing line.  On Saturday, we said good-byes to our friends and headed to DC to stay closer to the finish line.  We stayed in The Churchill Hotel, one of the Nike discounted hotels.  The hotel was amazing!  We were thrilled with the location (we were across the street from the Washington Hilton where the Correspondent’s dinner was taking place!).

We settled in and headed out for food. I yelped some nearby places and we decided to try Founding Farmers.  It had great reviews and was featured on several Food Network shows.  It did not disappoint!  We shared the Deviled Egg and Smears, Dips and Table Breads appetizers.  Nick ordered the Farmhouse soup, a kicked up Chicken Noodle soup.  H opted for their cheeseburger.  I would have liked to say I tried that, but she killed it!  She ate the whole thing and said it was the best burger she’d ever had. I was torn between two different entrees, the Black Pepper Gnocchi and Sausage and the Chicken Pot Pie.  I chose the Gnocchi dish and I was so glad I did.  It was rich and creamy.  The basil thyme amaretto cream sauce complimented the peppery-ness of the gnocchi.  The sausage and mushrooms added to the overall flavor of the dish.  I can’t wait to visit this restaurant again when we come back to DC this summer.  We took H by the White House and ended up catching the Presidential Motorcade as President Obama was escorted to the Correspondent’s dinner!  An adventure filled pre-race night!

Race day finally arrived!  I woke up at 4:30am to give myself plenty of time to walk from the hotel to the Metro.  I had a short ride on the Metro and short walk to the race start.  Because I 936907_10200357153026095_232417616_narrived so early, I was able to visit the port-a-potties only having to wait just a few minutes.  First time ever!  I was in my corral by 6am, an hour before go time.  I just took everything in as the hour passed.  More and more women streamed into the corral and by 6:40am, it was fairly packed.  At 6:55am, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Shalane Flanagan came on the stage to announce the start of the race!  It was amazing to be in the presence of two Olympians.  They were both running the race too and I secretly hoped I’d see them on the course.  No luck!577554_10200357153666111_1015203709_n

At 7am, the horn sounded and we were off!  I thought that perhaps they would stagger the corrals, but that wasn’t the case.  It was a whole group start which lead to a bit of chaos.  It was fairly hectic through the first few miles.  I saw some women go down, others would stop and start walking without any kind of warning.  It was a little unsettling.  By mile 4, the craziness had calmed and I started to enjoy the race.

There was entertainment along the course about every 2 miles.  The two drum bands in 644496_10200357154866141_1908155560_nthe tunnel at mile 1 and again at mile 10 were outstanding.  I was throwing my hands up, keeping up with the beat.  It was awesome!  In addition to the entertainment, there were the “miles of encouragement”, as I called it.  It started off around mile 6 with inspirational words on signs, mile 7 were posters of quotes and sayings and mile 8 were reasons why we run.  It was really cool and the miles passed by quickly.  Once we passed mile 10, you could feel the surge towards the finish line.  We were headed back towards the start/finish line and we just had 2 miles left once we turned onto Pennsylvania Ave headed towards the Capitol.

Those last two miles flew by and once I could see the finish line, I just kept a good even 935122_10200357156586184_1334792668_npace and pushed towards it.  Once I crossed the red carpet, my bib was scanned and I was congratulated for finishing the race.  I was ushered towards men in tuxedos with silver trays holding little blue Tiffany boxes, our “medals”.  Each participant receives a Tiffany finisher’s necklace.  DC firefighters were passing out the boxes to each runner.  I quickly snapped a picture and headed towards the post race food line.  I grabbed a blue Tiffany bag and a few snacks.

The finisher tee tent was next.  Nike has it set up right.  Each runner gets in a size line where you grab your finisher tee.  You can try them on, right then and there and make exchanges once you exit the tent, if needed.  It’s a brilliant concept!  I wish other races would do that.  It’s much more convenient than having to return later to an Expo to make an exchange.  I found Nick and H in the crowd by this point and they followed me down the line as I passed each station until we could reunite.

Just like the Expotique, Paul Mitchell and bareMinerals had tents set up for you to have your hair and make-up refreshed after running.  I didn’t take advantage of these areas.  The lines were really long.  We did wait in line to take pictures with the Nike background. I didn’t realize until then that there were not photographers at all along the course or finish line.  I am disappointed about that now.  I usually purchase a picture from each race, luckily I have some great pictures that I can use. I hope they change that for future DC races.

The whole Nike Women half experience was first class!  Nike does it right.  I had an awesome time at the race and the whole event was fantastic.  Other than a few bumps, the mass start and the lack of photographers, this is an amazing event!  I am now thinking I might put my name into the lottery for San Francisco.  I’m hooked.476313_10200355588626986_1195147229_o

Half Fanatic status update!

By having run 3 half marathons in 14 days, I moved up in the ranks!  I am now at Uranus!   And I might just stay there…it makes me laugh. I’m at Uranus. Now that’s funny.

All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing until you decide that your essential purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.

~Robert White

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Spring Break! Grab the Chipotle Aioli!

This week has been my Spring Break, a much deserved reprieve from school.  My shoulders have returned to their proper position, instead of hanging out somewhere near my ears.  My sleep patterns are topsy turvy, staying up too late and waking up still too early.  I have savored long out-to-lunch lunches vs plastic box lunches (aka as microwave meals) since I have had longer than 20 minutes to scarf down some food.  I’ve had time to eat my breakfast and enjoy a second (or third) cup of coffee. Most importantly, time spent with H and my family has been so nice.

H and I went to visit my sister, brother in law and their newish baby S for a few days.  My mom was already there, so we joined her for the middle part of this week.  H and I drove down mid-day Tuesday, just in time for my sister to get off of work.  I was so happy to get in some baby lovin’.  I hadn’t seen my beautiful niece in a few months and it was so wonderful to see her.

On Wednesday, my sis had to go back to work, so my mom, H and I got to babysit. 🙂  I2013-04-03 14.51.13 needed to get a run in as well, so I headed out early so that we could go to lunch at the Bass Lake Draft House.  The fam tried it out the past weekend and my mom suggested it, knowing that the place was right up my ally.  It was so good that we ended up eating there one more time before we left yesterday.  I ended up trying two sandwiches, El Diablo and the Steak and Cucumber pita. I’m pretty much addicted to their chipotle aioli. The food was fantastic and the cold beer post run was well deserved!  Mmmm….chipotle aioli…oh wait…where was I?

Every time I visit my sister,  I pass the turn for the American Tobacco Trail on the way to her house.  I have friends who have run the Tobacco Road Marathon and Half or have traveled there for a Saturday long run.  They all rave about how nice it is and that’s a great place to run.  I was going to finally have the opportunity to check it out.  So excited!  In addition to running the ATT, it was also the start of April which meant another 5 by the 5th virtual run!

I laced up, drove the 20 minutes to the trail, and headed out once I got my bearings of where I was going.  Since I had to run 5 miles, I was just going to do an out and back along the course.  The trail isn’t really a woodsy “trail”, which I knew, but more of a pea gravel trail so I was happy to be running on a softer surface, just to mix it up.  ATT is very flat too; I had a slight uphill grade going out.  I had an awesome run!  The weather was perfect and the trail provided a lot of scenery and the miles flew by!  I ended up running the fastest 5 miler so far during this virtual run series, beating my February 5 miler by :30!  April 5 by the 5th

It was a great visit to my sister’s!  We enjoyed our time with them, relaxing, hanging with baby S and the rest of the family.  I look forward to more trips especially during the summer, when H and I can head down for a few days here and there.  I also would love to plan for our running group to head to the ATT for a summer Saturday long run.  It would be a great way to mix up our summer running and maybe we can sneak in a visit to Bass Lake, I’ll definitely need another chipotle fix.

 

 

A Balancing Act

7 days of exercise this week, really?! I’m still in awe that I did it and I wasn’t totally shattered by the end of week and it didn’t disrupt our family life. At the start of the week, I wasn’t sure I was going to get any runs/exercise in with a school meeting Tuesday night and the hubby traveling for work, but somehow everything worked out!  Funny how that happens…

Here’s some of this week’s highlights:

Monday and Wednesday: Some running with some of my runner girl friends (Christie, Amy and Amanda), a solo run and Body Pump (Monday).

Tuesday:  Body Pump with 2 of my friends, Katie and Bekah.  Total bonus day of exercise!  I left school, hit the 4:30 class at the Y near my school, stayed through 5:15, freshened up, and headed back to school for parent night at 6pm.  True testimony that anyone can make time for exercise…where there is a will (or craziness) there is a way.

Thursday:  Another girls running club day!  We had 45 girls show up for some yoga.  Andrea led us through breathing exercises and several poses.  The girls (and Bekah and I) had their share of giggles, but settled down after a bit.  They really did a great job! I also realized how much I missed yoga! I need to find a way to mix in classes again.  I grabbed H from school and we headed out for dinner.  No cooking while Daddy’s gone!

Friday: March 1st started the March “RUN EVERY DAY” challenge hosted by I ❤ to run.  I was so torn because I didn’t really have time to run at least one mile before a group of us were heading out to celebrate Katie’s birthday, but I really wanted to see if I could even keep up with a streak for a month.  I finally gave it amends and thought, worse comes to worse, I could just start my own streak on Saturday.  After a few brews and some yummy pizza at Brixx, the hubby and I headed home for the night.

On the drive home, I couldn’t get the challenge out my head.  It was 9:30pm, I had a few beers and a full tummy, but I kept thinking I only have to run a mile, I only have to run ONE mile.  I could run a mile, just one, right?  I changed into my running clothes, threw on my reflective vest and called on the 12athon God and reminisced about our Drunk Pregnant Bunny run from last year’s challenge and headed out to run.  Though that day was way crazier than my mile run, who knew that all that 12athon silliness would be a prelude?!  Nick looked at me like I had literally lost my mind…perhaps I had.  I intended to stay just within our cul-de-sac, but actually felt good and headed out along my normal running route.  I giggled a lot about the ridiculousness of all this, I talked and sang to myself (not a big fan of running at night by myself), and knew that this would make a great story at some point.  Nick was waiting for me out on our driveway, just shaking his head when I showed back up.  March running streak…it’s on!

Saturday: A group of girls had made plans to run a local trail, Owl’s Roost mid-afternoon.  I wasn’t sure if I’d meet up with them or not, but H wanted to stay out another night at her grandparents and Nick was still tired from his trip, so it was the perfect time to get a run in without missing out on family time with them.  4 of us (Katie, Andrea, Sarah and I) met out 5 by the 5that the park and headed out for the 5 mile trail.  It was also the perfect distance for this month’s Mommy Run Fast 5 by the 5th challenge.  We all stuck together and had a great run!

Once we headed back to the parking lot,  Amy was just finishing up with her run and we headed for a quick brew.  After many appetizers and two desserts (!!), I headed home for movie night with the hubby.

Sunday: Long run day!  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel this morning, but I slept great and 2013-03-03 13.07.23apparently all my carb loading Friday and Saturday worked perfectly.  Kathy and I hung together for our 9.75 miler along the Greenway.  We both had a great day running and I enjoyed our time together this morning.  H and I had plans to see Annie this afternoon at a local theater, so I instead of doing the normal bagel trip, I opted for some homemade Mexican eggs instead and got home shortly after she did from the in-laws.

I learned a lot about balance this week, how to continue to juggle all the things that I have going on daily (work and family).  I learned that I can always do more within any given hours of the day.  I also reconfirmed that exercising and running doesn’t have to affect my family life.  I can make it all work with the help and support of Nick and H.

We need to debunk “work[out]-life balance.”  It’s not about continuing an impossible balancing act. What we need is a stronger support system.

~ Amy Tiemann, “Mojo Mom”

Lakeside Trail 8 mile race

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One sweet ass,well deserved hoodie

I’m going to be honest…I signed up for this one for the hoodie.  Yup, there it is.  I am a hoodie hoarder.

I am not the best trail runner, having only run 3 trail races EVER, I knew that between the 8K and the half I’ve run before, the Lakeside Trail 8 miler was right in the middle and it wasn’t going to be too tough…or would it?!  I had three goals for this one:  Stay vertical, have fun, and grab a hoodie at the finish line!

A few of us had gone out to the trail a few weeks ago to just check it out, all newbies to the course.  I hiked the majority of the route with H and Carole and felt a little better that I could potentially run it.  Sure there was “the Wall” at mile 1, but that just meant I’d have to slow down and be more cautious than I already am running trails.  I underestimated the hills, the one water crossing and the mud (thanks to yesterday’s rain!), lots of mud.

At mile 2, I felt pretty good.  Just got into a good groove, passed some runners when I could (the course was really narrow and some runners weren’t up for letting anyone pass, even when I yelled out “On your left.”  or “Runner”).  Those first 2 miles went by fairly quickly and I didn’t find myself checking my watch for mileage yet.  I hit mile 4 at the turn around, I chose not to stop for water since I was carrying some, and started my journey back. I also gave me a head start on a group of runners I was having a hard time passing

The "Wall"

The “Wall”
photo:
offnrunningsports.com

earlier.  I felt great through mile 6, sipped some water and  took a Shot blok and kept on running.  By mile 7, the wall (both the physical and mental one) reached up and smacked me a bit.  I made my way down the stone steps, carefully.  My legs were done and I walked up the majority of the hilly sections, reminding myself to pick up my feet on the few downhills.  I was happy to see the pavement, knowing I had less than .5 mile left to the finish.

I came around the corner only to see Nathan and Russell, cheering on runners in the woods.  The rest of the Crew were at the finish line, snapping pics and cheering.

Originally, I thought there was a chance I’d finish under 1:30 (my time estimation), but I was held up behind several groups of runners and I couldn’t pass when I had the gumption to pass, so I just held on to my original plan: get the hoodie, have fun and stay vertical!

Mission Accomplished!481218_4632373922018_1460437716_n

That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success.  They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.

~ Kara Goucher