Saturday, January 26, 2013

Charleston Half Marathon Recap

Wow, what a weekend!   Late last Friday afternoon, we packed up and jumped in Jenny’s car to head toward Charleston for the Charleston Half-Marathon.  We chugged some bottles of water on the way down.  Thanks to my tiny baby bladder, we had to stop on the way into town for a potty break (consider this foreshadowing).  We headed straight for Burke High School to pick up our packets.  It was pretty chaotic because you had to figure out your bib# and then pick up your bib and double check to be sure your timing chip was working.  The whole place smelled like Fazoli’s and my stomach started grumbling for a breadstick!  We picked up our race shirts…  these awesome long-sleeve tech shirts!

We bought some Jelly Belly Sports Beans from one of the vendors, and then headed back to check in at our hotel in Mt. Pleasant.  I worked on laying out my race gear and pinning my bib onto my jacket and getting everything just perfect for the next morning.  We checked out the menu for our dinner restaurant and looked at the race website for information on the best place for our fan-club to watch us.  Then, we headed to meet Jenny’s parents for dinner at Al Di La in West Ashley.  It was awesome that the race fell the same week as Charleston Restaurant Week, so we were able to enjoy 3-course dinners for just $20 each.  I will absolutely return to this restaurant next time I’m in the Charleston area.  Between the 5 of us, we sampled lots of different items on the menu, and every bit of it was wonderful.  I ordered the Bruschetta, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad for Antipasti, the Strangozzi Spoletina for Primi, and then finished with Strawberry Gelati for Dolci.  And, because it was Italian, we decided it would be OK to have just one glass of wine with our dinner, too. Despite how good the Fazoli’s smelled at the expo, I was thrilled we chose to eat out instead!!

We came back to the hotel and crashed (I slept like a ROCK until about 5:20, and then since my clock was already set for 6:00am, I ended up getting out of bed around 5:30).  After a wake-up shower and getting mostly dressed, we headed downstairs for the hotel breakfast.  We’ve been training a lot in the afternoon/evenings for this race, so I hadn’t established any sort of breakfast routine.  I was hoping to find a bagel for my pre-race fuel, but since there was none, I ate some grits, bacon, eggs and toast.  I was praying this wouldn’t make me sluggish or sick during the race! 

After breakfast, we didn’t have much time left before we needed to head out to the starting line, so we gathered the rest of our gear, and jumped in the car to head back to Burke High School.  We arrived in plenty of time at the start to hear the high school drumline play and the National Anthem before the race.  We chatted with Jenny’s friend Betsy and wound up crossing the start line about 2 minutes after the gun due to the crowd.  Here we are before the start!  (Note to self... get someone else to take your pre-race picture... self portraits are so bad).

The first mile went by fast, and we had both discarded our outer layer of throwaway sweatshirts.  Shortly thereafter, I also tossed my gloves.  I snapped my one and only picture as we started to make our way out to the battery.   

The crowd of runners was pretty thick for those first few miles, and Jenny and I got separated a few times, and she got a ways ahead of me when we hit King Street.   Ryan was watching for us around mile 4.5 and ran with me for about a block (Never underestimate the power of seeing someone you know along the course!)  I caught a glimpse of Jenny up ahead and ran my fastest mile to catch up with her.  We stuck together for the next few miles until my baby bladder wouldn’t let me wait any longer.  I dipped into a gas station during mile 7 for a potty break, and was on my own from there on out.  Luckily, we had made our way out of the city at this point, so the roads were flatter and my ankles weren’t bothering me as much.  We were mostly on backroads with not much to look at, so I turned up my iPod and zoned out to the music for the next few miles.  Around mile 8-9, my timing chip came detached from my race bib, and I had to pick it up and carry it the rest of the way.  (For future reference, if they don’t use the timing chips that attach to your shoe, go ahead and put it somewhere it won’t be dropped – I would’ve been SO mad if it had fallen off and I didn’t notice it).  The marathon split off from us somewhere between mile 9 and 10, and either I never saw the 10 mile marker, or there was none.  I worried for another long mile about missing the mile marker and wondering how I was doing on time.

Just after the mile 11 marker, we entered Riverfront Park in North Charleston.  It was really pretty and I enjoyed running through the park, except the 0.25miles worth of gravel at the very end.  Exiting the park, we passed the 12 mile mark and I couldn’t have been happier to see that sign!  We started to see some finishers come back to run with their friends, which was inspiring because we knew the end was near!  As we got into “town”, a lady shouted out “just 3 turns from here”.  So I picked up speed.  My phone GPS had already declared that I had met my goal of 13.1 miles, so I knew I was close and I really gave it all I had left.  However, there were at least 4 or 5 turns… wah-wah-wah.  By the time I finally saw the finish line, I was SO focused on the clock that I didn’t even see Ryan, Jenny and Jenny’s family cheering me on (they tell me they were all screaming and could’ve reached out to touch me).  Jenny snapped this pic:

My goal for the race was to run faster than Georgetown, and I beat my previous official time by 5 minutes and 22 seconds…. Finishing at 2:20:55.  I’ve been whining a lot that if I hadn’t stopped to go to the bathroom, I could’ve broken the 2:20 time barrier, but I didn’t dream that was even possible for me this weekend, so I guess I have a new goal for my next half!   I’ve come a long way since my first half-marathon in Savannah – improving my overall time by 15 minutes 34 seconds.  I’d say improving by 55 seconds for the next one is a goal I can definitely accomplish!

 We skipped the Beer, Shrimp & Grits after the finish (seriously, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted LESS at that moment) and headed back to our hotel for a shower.  We met up with Jenny’s family again at a restaurant/bar called Midtown, which as it happens, is co-owned by one of Ryan’s friends from high school.  I ordered a beer and loaded cheese fries.  Best decision ever!  I would absolutely love to see the city of Charleston allow the race to be reversed and run INTO town instead of OUT of town.  I think it would make for a fantastic finish and bring LOTS of runners to the Charleston area, however this is a race I would love to run again.  The flat course made it easy to meet my time goals and the big crowd of runners was really motivating.  Oh, and not to mention, check out this pretty bling:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Georgetown Race Recap... 3 months later

Well, as this post is publishing, I'm  at the starting line of my 3rd half-marathon in Charleston, SC.  Hopefully the recap of that race will hit the blog in a little bit more timely manner than this one!  I actually wrote this recap 2 weeks after the race but for some reason never got around to posting it.  Without further adieu...

So the Friday before our race in Georgetown, Jennifer and I started our day with yummy hot drinks from Starbucks (Caramel salted mocha for her, Skinny White Hot Chocolate for me), and then hit the road to the Tanger outlets for some pre-race retail therapy.  Jenny & Ryan picked up our race packets on their way down from Columbia, and after some grocery shopping for the weekend, we headed to Pastaria 811 to meet Lindsey & Jimmy for dinner.  I got my usual favorite, the house salad and Penne Ziti a la Vodka.  Next time you’re in Pawley’s Island and have a hankering for Italian, you need to visit this place!  After dinner, I set about getting everything laid out for race morning.  I pinned my bib to my shirt, hooked my race chip to my shoe, and laid out EVERYTHING (from toothpaste to socks and shoes, and my race fanny pack, complete with T.P. to help prevent any potty emergencies along the course).  I woke up nearly every hour on the hour throughout the night.  Not sure what my fear of sleeping in is, but I had a dream earlier during the week that I overslept and missed the start, so needless to say, I was awake before my alarm. 

We ate our breakfast and plotted out where we should try to park, loaded up into the car around 6:40 and headed to Georgetown.  We found parking easily about a ¼ mile from the starting line and decided to jog to the start so we’d be warmed up to stretch.  Last year in Savannah, we laughed at all those doing any “warm up” jogging.  We learned during our training this year that it helped a lot if we stopped to stretch after a little warm up jog.  After that, we found the bathrooms first for a last potty break, took some pre-race pics, then it was time to line up!   This was a totally different start line experience than Savannah, and I have to say, I’m in HUGE favor of the small race.  No corrals and delayed start, just run up to the start line and GO!  We were able to spread out fairly quickly and set our own pace.  We passed Ryan and my dad right after the start line, and I figured we would see them again in a few miles.  We passed the 1-mile clock at under 11 minutes, and I knew we were on track for a great race (my goal was a 2.5 hour half marathon, so that meant keeping an average pace of 11:27).  My dad was on his bike and we saw him several times in the first 3 miles at unexpected points, so we nicknamed him “ninja dad”.  Unfortunately, he got a flat tire early on, so that slowed his progress a bit.  We hit the first of the bridges and it wasn’t NEARLY the challenge I thought it would be.  We started to see the leaders coming back toward us about half way over the bridge, and started giving some superlatives.  My favorite was “best hair club” which was three guys running together… one with just seriously great hair, one with a Mohawk, and the third had an awesome beard going on.   I also got really excited when I saw the first few women leaders, because I think it is just so awesome that running is a sport in which women can really excel.   We kept our stride up and over the hill, and when we reached the top and turned around, we high-fived and celebrated all the hill training we did over the last few months.  

When we came off the bridge, we were at about mile 6, and we saw Dad and Ryan once again cheering us on.  Yeah, Ninja dad! (and husband)!  We were still keeping up an average pace of less than 11 min/mile according to my Nike+ app, even though the GPS must have picked up some extra distance at some point because it started giving me the mile updates about a quarter mile early.   We raced through town and met a lady who was doing something she called the “Galileo” technique, where she walked ¼ of every mile.  Apparently she shaved a lot of time off her running by doing this, but I don’t think it’s something I’d ever do while running a race.  This was also the point in time when we started seeing LOTS of people who had run the 5K walking along the course and cheering for us.   I decided that I wished they would’ve removed their race bibs and just cheered, because it seemed a little like they were taunting me with the fact that their race was already completed and I still had 6 miles to go!

We continued through town and there was a long straight-away leading up to the next bridge.  Since I had driven over this bridge in August, I knew it was going to be a challenge, but it was pretty scary to watch it growing bigger and bigger before my eyes as we ran closer to it.  I do remember my ankle started feeling a little funny at this point in the race and I was trying really hard to get on the least slanted part of the road.  (Hard to do in a town that is  probably prone to flooding and has a pretty steep slant on most roads for water runoff).  The next thing I noticed was that the mile marker on our side of the bridge was mile 8, and the mile marker on the way back was mile 12.  The leaders were coming back over at this point, and I was a little disappointed to see that the hair club had split up L.   Apparently, I didn’t study the course map that closely, because I had no idea that we wouldn’t be running over the bridge, doing a quick turn around, and coming straight back.  We chugged our way up the bridge, and I walked a little bit to catch my breath, and really picked up speed on the way down.  There were about 3 miles of winding through an undeveloped neighborhood  on the far side of the bridge.  Every time I thought we were close to turning around, we’d make another turn and the sun and wind were in our faces the whole time!  When we got way out by the water, I was excited to see my dad and Ryan again around mile 10.  It was SO good to see our little cheerleading group in what was otherwise a deserted neighborhood with no crowd support.  After seeing them, I picked up my pace a little and split off from Jenny and Jennifer to take a quick potty stop.  

After mile 10, I kept telling myself only a 5K left!  Then, at mile 11, only 2.1 miles left!  Splitting up the end of the race in those little distances was the only way I could fathom finishing!  About mile 11, I suddenly became concerned again about my goal to finish in less than 2.5 hours.  Was I going to make it?  I should’ve asked dad and Ryan how I was doing on time, but I totally forgot!  When we got back to the bridge, I knew we had about 1.5-1.75 miles to go.  I decided to pull out my phone and check the actual time to see if I thought we could make it.  The race started at 7:30, so I needed to finish by 10am (or very close to it) in order to make my goal.  When I pulled out my phone, I saw it was 9:38.  Though the basic math was pretty hard at that point, I knew I had 22 minutes to run less than 2 miles, and that got me really really excited.  Jennifer and I were pulling away from Jenny at this point on the bridge, and I started to worry if I should slow up for her to catch up or if I should continue on ahead.   Jennifer and I quickly consulted and decided Jenny would want us to try and do our best, so we decided to go for it and then when we finished ahead, we would go back and run with Jenny until she finished. 

I booked it for that last mile.  There was a girl in a pink long sleeved shirt, and another girl in black that I was determined to pass before we took the last turn onto Front street.  When we took the last turn, there was a guy in a Clemson shirt that was walking, and Jennifer said “Why would you walk NOW!?”, so of course, we weren’t gonna let anyone walking beat us, and we also passed him.    We could see the finish line, and I’m pretty sure I started giving it my last push a little too early, but then I also saw my parents on the side of the road (iPhones in hand making videos), so then there was no stopping me!  This time around, Ryan was cheering for us just before the finish line so he could see me cross (Savannah was WAY too crowded last year).  We finished with a time of 2:26:17, 3 minutes to spare on my goal of 2.5 hours, and a new PR by 10 minutes and 12 seconds for me!  Getting my medal and a drink, I quickly turned around and ran back up the block to catch Jenny’s last bit of her first half-marathon.  (Yes, we were those obnoxious people in her finishing pictures running along with her and screaming like a bunch of crazies).  We then snacked on some bagels and fruit, more water, and caught up with Lindsey, who finished WAY ahead of us, in just under 2 hours!  There was live music, and some free massages.  We took full advantage,  stayed around for the awards presentation, snapped a few last pics and then headed back to the house. 

Overall, this race was an awesome experience.  It was so fun to train with my friends and then accomplish the goal of not only finishing, but getting a new personal record. Since this race was such a fun experience, it didn't take me long to start researching our next race and we settled on the Charleston Half Marathon.... say prayers for me this morning!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

on the eve of my 3rd half marathon....

I realized yesterday that I didn’t really tell too many people that I’m running in a third half-marathon in Charleston this weekend.  The first two were such a big deal that my whole family came to watch.  This time around, it’s just me, my running buddy and bestie Jenny, and my husband Ryan is coming to support us.  (Jenny's family is coming to see her cross the finish line too, because they weren’t able to be there for her first half in Georgetown). 

I came across this post…. "Confessions of a Marathon Trainer"  written by a runner who is running a marathon this weekend.  She really expressed a lot of my thoughts about running.  I too have a hard time doing math and simple spelling during a run, and it’s also comical the thoughts and conversations that happen as you get up into higher mileage and your blood  sugar drops so your brain isn’t functioning all that well. 

Also, since I never ever posted my race re-cap from Georgetown (yep, it’s been written for a LONG time), I decided I’d schedule it for a post tomorrow at 8am, the exact time when we will be at the start line of the half-marathon in Charleston.  I promise myself (and you!) that I’ll post a re-cap of our race in Charleston much sooner than the 3 months that have passed since we ran in Georgetown.  Another goal I have for our race this weekend is to capture a few more pictures along the way, so you can see the race from my perspective, rather than just hear a whole bunch of descriptions of what I see J

Also, looking for someone to run in front of us the entire way with this picture pinned to their shirt…. Any takers?

Friday, January 11, 2013

resolved... 2013

Well, now that we know how 2012 turned out, it’s about that time to talk about goals for 2013.  I liked paring down the resolutions to four categories last year, so I’m going to stick with that again. 

1.       Faith –  for real this year, going to read the Bible, cover-to-cover.  Well, actually, I’m going to read everything between the front and back cover, but not exactly in order from beginning to end.   I’ll be reading along with our church using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan.  I’m already 11 days in and you can use the YouVersion App for this reading plan, so I have the paper PDF calendar cut up in tiny pieces for my regular calendar, but I’m also checking off the readings using the app.   Double the accountability, right?

2.       Budget – we’re sticking to our budget this year (seriously, we must!).  We’re REALLY trying to save money on our biggest area of spending (food) so that we can pay off our student loan debt.  We would absolutely LOVE to kiss those payments GOODBYE!  You can see we switched over to a monthly menu plan, and so far I'm loving it.  It is hard work once a month, but then it simplifies things a TON for the rest of the month.  

3.       Health – run another half-marathon (going to accomplish that next week) and plan for my 4th !  Also want to make better decisions regarding food and keep up a regular fitness routine, to include running at least 3x/week, and perhaps picking up speed.  Talking to my running buddies about starting this plan after next week's race!
Charleston Marathon

4.       House – I’ve got MAJOR plans in the works for our house this year.  We got a new TV for Christmas and that is snowballing into a big re-arrangement of furniture in our house, new chairs for our den, and I hope the plans also will include new paint throughout, getting countertops re-done and a few more improvements along the way!  Stay tuned for posts on our progress!  **Since I originally wrote this post, we have already purchased some super cute recliners from Marshall's.... Let me just tell you, never hesitate to negotiate with the manager for a better deal... hurrah extra 20% off and getting two chairs for less than the original price of one!**

So those are just a few things I'm looking forward to in 2013... what are your goals this year??

Thursday, January 3, 2013

resolved.... a look back at 2012 resolutions

Well, here it is January 2013, a brand new year!  Let’s look back at last year’s resolutions

1.       Memorize more scripture… well, originally I started out verse by verse, and then got involved with memorizing the first book of James when I participated in the James Bible Study by Beth Moore. I memorized James 1:1-25.  I’m a little disappointed in myself that I memorized all but 2 verses of the first chapter.  However, memorizing 25 verses is quite a feat, and that’s nearly 1 verse for every 2 weeks out of the year, so that was pretty good.  I’m considering whether to continue the challenge to memorize the entire book of James this year, or to see about memorizing different parts of scripture.  What do you think?  I’m also pretty disappointed that I didn’t do a good job documenting the other verses I memorized this year.  I’ll try to do better J

2.       Cash only budget for food… yep, didn’t stick to this one.  We followed our spending much more closely this year, but by and large, still spent a VAST amount of money on food.  Going to continue this as a goal to help us save some more this year, except we won’t do the cash-only version since I can never keep up with cash.  We’ll just be tracking carefully on our budget in the giant excel file (yep, I'm a big spreadsheet nerd).   

3.       2nd Half-Marathon – DONE!  And with a PR to boot!  And I’m in the midst of training for my 3rd half, coming up in just a few weeks, so I’d say I kicked that resolution’s behind!    Overall, I could definitely stand to continue making strides in the healthy food choices department and need to figure out what my next fitness goal is after this half marathon!

Me, Jenny & Jennifer after the Georgetown, SC Half-Marathon

4.       Figuring out household chores… definitely NOT done.  Teamwork is key here, as clutter doesn’t bother me and dirt doesn’t bother my husband.  So, if he can help me keep the clutter in check, I can work on the dirt.  Still LOTS of room for improvement though! 

So 2 out of 4 isn't too bad, considering it's not often that resolutions are kept.  Did you keep any of your resolutions or goals from 2012??  Check back later this week to see my goals for 2013.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review

The year 2012 has been an interesting one to say the least, but we made it through, and here are some highlights!

Made some resolutions..... check back later this week to see how I did! 
Ryan started taking a Statistics class at our local tech school 

Spent a long weekend in NYC with my girlfriends from work
Celebrated Ryan's 28th Birthday

Spent lots of time with my girlfriends Leigh & Leigh since they would both be moving soon!
Celebrated my first-day-of-college friend Taylor's Bachelorette Weekend with my first-ever trip to St. Patty's in 5pts

Tour-de-food around Columbia before our best friends moved away! 
Celebrated Taylor & Peter's Wedding Weekend in St. Simon's Island, GA

Celebrated Mary Elizabeth & Gabe's Wedding Reception after their return from their wedding in Jamaica!
Celebrated my little brother's graduation from Clemson
Celebrated Elizabeth & Billy's Wedding in Charleston
Convinced Ryan's parents to adopt a goldendoodle half-brother of Beaufort's  

Spent a few days at our family beach house in North Litchfield, SC
Celebrated my nephew Cooper's 2nd Birthday

Spent a little more time at the beach
FINALLY decided to run in my 2nd Half Marathon  

Spent a week at Folly Beach and went to the PGA Championship Golf Tournament in Kiawah Island
Celebrated Hilary & Kyle's Wedding (the same day we missed Jessica & Mark's wedding)
Ryan started taking some more classes at USC
Fall 2012 Football Season began with another Thursday season opener for the Gamecocks!

Lots of football watching going on!
Continued training for my half-marathon, hitting a few bad runs 

Ran my second half-marathon in Georgetown, SC and met my goal of running under 2.5 hours, setting a new PR at 2:26:17
Hosted a pumpkin carving party!  

Helped throw a SURPRISE party for my sister's 30th b-day
Visited the local corn maze with some friends from our Sunday School Class

My niece Elliott was born December 1st 
Celebrated our 3rd anniversary
Celebrated Christmas and my 28th birthday with family and friends
Ended the year with a few extremely relaxing days at the beach!

Monthly Menu - January 2013 - Happy New Year!

Part of the reason I considered no longer posting my menus is because I felt like I was in a rut and not getting too many new ideas.  The truth is, we've settled into certain "favorite" dishes, and I just make them over and over again, so my menu's tend to repeat certain things week after week.  However, I went back through the last two years' menus and made a list of our favorite recipes, and realized, there are about 60 different things we love, and we've just not been mixing it up too much.

Enter, the MONTHLY menu.  I know it seems daunting, but putting together a monthly menu wasn't all that hard, especially when I had the list of all our favorites right at my fingertips.  I tried to plan at least one crockpot meal a week, a night out for dates or other plans, and a few leftover/pantry clean-out meals each week.  I also tried set aside at least one weekend day to try new recipes.  Often, when I haven't made something before, we end up eating really late at night because I haven't given myself enough time for preparing a new recipe.  Monthly planning also assures that we don't eat the exact same meal (unless its leftovers) within the same month, hopefully cutting back on some of the boredom I was feeling about our menus.

And, since it's the new year, let's face it, I'm hoping this will also save us some money!  So here's to trying something new in 2013!

Week 1: January 1-5
·         Thai Chicken Bites with Rice and Edamame
·         Pork Chops and Baked Sweet Potatoes
·         OUT to eat once
·         Leftovers/Pantry Meal
·         Grilling Burgers, French Fries, Salads

Week 2: January 6-12
·         Chicken Pot Pie *New Recipe*
·         OUT to eat once
·         Leftovers/Pantry Meal
·         Grilling Steaks, Salads, Easy Onion-Roasted Potatoes
·         Breakfast for Dinner
·         Crockpot Lasagna with Salad and Garlic Bread *New Recipe*
·         Leftovers

Week 3: January 13-19
·         OUT to eat once
·         Leftovers/Pantry Meal
·         Dinner in Charleston before Half-Marathon!
·         Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Potato Salad and Cole Slaw
·         Buffalo Chicken Crescents (with Leftover Chicken) and Salad
·         California Turkey Burgers, Homemade Guacamole with Chips, Black beans
·         Beer, Cheese &; Corn Chowder (Freeze Half for Later)

Week 4: January 20-26
·         OUT to eat once
·         Chicken Chili with Cornbread
·         Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches *New Recipe*
·         Leftovers
·         Grilled Pork Chops, Potatoes and Salad
·         Baked Chicken Parmesan, Spaghetti, and Salad
·         Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Soup and Salad

Week 5: January 27-31
·         OUT to eat once
·         Chicken Burritos, Blackbeans, Rice  (Make double recipe and freeze for later)
·         Easy Crockpot Potato Soup
·         Leftovers
·         Meatball Gyros with Tomato, Cuc & Onion Salad