Friday, September 12, 2014

The 30 Day Countdown Begins!

Commence panic mode.

I keep a countdown widget on my phone so that every morning when my alarm goes off stupid early, I see that calendar first thing.  It's the reminder that I need in these exhausting final weeks that we are almost there.  It's no longer months away, it is weeks away and pretty soon just days.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and drudging through miles.

The 30 day mark also triggered a mass reaction of panic mode.  We ONLY have 30 days left?!?  I'm not ready.  I don't feel ready.  When I took on the Hanson's approach I knew there would be no 20 mile run to help me prepare.  That part really excited me at first and now it has left me a little terrified.  I know the theory behind their plan, and I just have to trust it.  "Trust your training" is something always preached in the running world, so I am having to let go of that fear and just roll with it.  Admittedly it has been hard to see all my fellow runners post about their 20+ mile runs.  Every time I see one a little wave of doubt creeps in to my mind.  I took on Hanson's because I wanted something completely different and something that would challenge me on so many levels. So, I'm trying my darnedest to not let those thoughts of doubt creep in and instead focus on race day. Then and only then will I know if I made the right decision.
On my tempo run yesterday, I had a lot of time to think.  It was a ten mile set so I had plenty of time to find ways to distract myself.  It was also day 6 in a row of running and my legs felt like concrete blocks, so I welcomed any distraction.  Since we are only 30 days out I started thinking about the things I'm looking forward to after Chicago.  In no particular order...
  1. I look forward to sleep.  Oh Lord, sleeeeeeeeeep.  Don't get me wrong, I'm an early bird and enjoying being up and productive.  It's more about having the option to sleep in instead of my alarm that is currently set for 4:30 or 5am 6 days a week.  Especially Sunday mornings, I miss lazy Sundays.
  2. I look forward to boycotting bagels and pasta for at least a year.  Ick.
  3. I look forward to not having to spend at least an hour every single day stretching and foam rolling.  Between the runs themselves, stretching, work, and sleep there really isn't time for anything else during the week.
  4. I look forward to not having to wash sweaty disgusting workout clothes three times per week. Yep, three loads of just workout gear per week.  Over it.
  5. Speaking of, I look forward to not being a sweaty mess every single morning.  
  6. I look forward to going back to my Zfit strength training crew.  I still don't miss burpees though.
  7. I look forward to that first Saturday after Chicago.  It will be the first Saturday I have slept in, in over 5 months.  Instead of preparing for the long run, I'd like to spend my morning preparing for what patio I plan on having brunch at.  With lots of mimosas.  Like normal people.  
  8. I look forward to getting the best pedicure money can buy.  During marathon training calluses are your best friend, they protect you from blisters so you don't want to lose them.  During training I just accept ugly feet as a way of life.  I still proudly wear flip-flops because quite frankly, I really don't care what people think.   A pedicure now would just be a waste so once I'm all healed up from Chicago, I'll take that french pedi with a hot stone massage...ahhhhhhhh.
  9. I look forward to having the energy to cook again.
  10. I look forward to being able to stay up late (as in past 9:30) so that I can spend more time with my family.
You make a lot of sacrifices during marathon training, and it is something you just have to be able to deal with it in order to make it all work.  These final few weeks are always the hardest because not only are you physically drained, but you're emotionally drained as well.  I just want to race!  I either want to sleep, eat, or cry these days.  So basically my husband is married to an infant.  30 month....I can handle anything for one month.  I think I can, I think I can.....

Friday, September 5, 2014

Race Report: Oregone Wine Country Half Marathon

Well it's been over a month since I've blogged, oopsy.  I've been just a tad bit busy!  August was the month from hell and I'm convinced the universe was trying to kill me.  Between work stress (that still hasn't let up) and running crazy miles (149 for the month), I was downright exhausted all day every day.  Our weekend getaway that we have had planned since January was much needed!  Last Friday I logged a 5 mile run and then we loaded up and headed for the airport!  We arrived in Portland around 2pm and headed to The Westin to check in, drop off our bags, and then start exploring.  This was our first trip to Oregon and I must say, I fell in love.  Everything is so green!  Not to mention the temperatures were a glorious 60-70 degrees during our entire stay.  You win over a Texas girls heart with that one.  One of our first stops was to the Deschutes Brewery pub in downtown.  Being the craft beer nerds that we are, this was a must!  Texas gets several Deschutes brews around town, but luckily they had an entire menu of brews that were new to us! We ordered a flight of those #duh

Brandon insisted that a growler come home with us back to Texas.  This trip was for his birthday, so who am I to say no.

After walking all over Portland we called it a night.

Saturday was packet pick up day and more importantly we got to sleep in!  The one thing I have longed for during this entire training cycle is getting to sleep in.  It just doesn't happen anymore.  We slept in until 7:30 and let me tell you, glorious!  Packet pick up was about an hour outside of Portland so we rented a car (fun fact: it is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon) and took an adventure to the countryside.  The drive was absolutely gorgeous (despite the rain).  Evergreen Aviation Museum hosted packet pick up and it was by far the most unique expo I've ever been to.  Such a cool place that without running, I would have never known about let alone get to visit.  

If the weather had been better, we would have made the trip out to the coast.  However, driving along the coast isn't a whole lot of fun in the rain so we ventured back to downtown Portland.  The plan for Saturday was to lay low and rest our legs a bit.  Sunday was race day and a very early one at that!    

Race day!  Our alarms went off bright and early at 4am.  The shuttle was leaving The Westin at 5:15 sharp to make the one hour journey to Stoller Vineyards, where the start line was located.  I think we were still half asleep on that bus ride:

The sun was just starting to peak when we arrived at the race site.  We talked with several runners who had also made the journey from Dallas!  Turns out, we all wanted to run in cooler weather.  Shocking I know.  This picture really doesn't do it justice but the rolling vineyards (and massive hills) would be the landscape along about 80% of the course.  Beautiful!  

We didn't have to wait around at the start line long, which was great!  The temp was about 58 degrees and felt a-mazing!  It was funny though to see a lot of the locals wearing their cold weather gear, and Brandon and I were downright giddy in our tank tops and shorts.  

Before the gun went off, I thought about what my goal was for the race.  My number one goal is to always have fun, but strategically my plan (dictated by coach) was to start off really conservative and then settle into my tempo pace for the remainder for the remainder of the race.  This race was more about controlling my pace and having a strong training run.  When the gun went off, away we went!

Miles 1-6 were packed FULL of hills.  I mean every time you finished one big climb there was another one already waiting for you.  Having reviewed the elevation chart beforehand, I expected this and knew that if I made it to mile 6 it was mostly flat and/or downhill from there.  At mile 2 I realized I was getting a little too quick so I slowed it down and ended up having to stretch a bit at mile 3.  (splits below)  
Miles 6-10 - This was where I settled into my pace and honestly it felt great.  It felt effortless.  Exactly what I had hoped for!
Miles 10-12.5 - Damn you gravel.  Damn you.  This stretch of miles was solid gravel and not just a road with a few rocks sprinkled in it, gravel.  If you've ever had knee and/or ankle issues, you can only imagine just how awful this felt.  My splits for those miles tell the whole story:

When I hit the gravel at mile 10 I tried to get through it without walking but after two miles of it my knee felt like it wanted to give out so I walked the last .5 miles of the gravel road.  I figured at this point, it was a better safe than sorry move.  Oregon wasn't my goal race, Chicago is, so that was that.  You can see at mile 12 where two minutes got tacked onto my time because of it.  I was so so upset!  Once we hit concrete again I was right back into my pace.  Eh, well.  Given the course challenges, I was happy with my time. Certainly no PR but since that wasn't the goal, no need to dwell on it.

I will gladly accept my medal and cold beer, thank you.

  Brandon tackled the course in 1:53:13 which is well off his PR time but a super speedy finish anyways!  Hope you enjoyed your birthday gift!  Seeing the world on foot is way more fun with you around.
After we cooled down a bit, it was time to do some wine tasting!  There were SO many vineyards there pouring it up and we tried a few.  So much fun!

 This was a smaller race which I am a huge fan of!  Overall the race and packet pick up was very well put together and went off without a hitch.  If I did have one piece of feedback, it would be to offer more substantial post race food.  I didn't even see a banana!?  

The setting of the course was gorgeous, and the post race party was a blast.  Looking forward to doing another race in the Destination Races series!