Viking 1/2 Marathon Recap

Crossfit, crossfit, crossfit. I haven’t been in this much continuous pain in a long time and I am loving it! Last night we worked on deadlifts and push presses.  I have really bad form with a lot of different things we’ve done but I’m totally cool with that.  It just means I have room to improve and makes me want to try harder.

Alright, now that I have procrastinated enough on putting up my latest race recap.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure…. Last Saturday Karla, one of my running friends, and I ran the Viking ½ Marathon.  I went through a few different emotions with this race.  I was on the fence about it when I registered, then I became really apathetic about it and could have cared less to run it, and finally got excited about it the week of the race.  Sheesh, all those emotions for one darn race!

viking

Friday, Karla and I made the roughly 5 hour drive to Greenwood, Mississippi, for packet pickup.  Greenwood is in the part of Mississippi that’s known as the Delta.  It has incredibly flat lands which was one of the big selling features of the race.  Another selling feature {for me} at least was the fact that the race was offering a free make your own trail mix bar for the runners.  Unfortunately, when we got to the ‘expo’ (it was actually just a packet pickup location), there wasn’t even a stray piece of granola signifying the bar even existed.  I’m assuming that they ran out of stuff. *sigh* I was disappointed.  Anyways, we grabbed our bibs, shirts and some information about the town and headed to our hotel.

Really disappointing race shirt; the bib was cool though.

Disappointing race shirt; the bib was cool though.

I just have to take a minute to brag on the hotel we stayed at, the Hampton Inn.  Their staff was out of this world friendly and the hotel actually opened up the continental breakfast an hour early just for the runners.  In all the races I’ve traveled to, that’s never happened.  After getting a recommendation from the hotel clerk we headed to eat at a place called Websters.

How cute is this place?

How cute is this place?

It was SUPER cute and once again, the staff was incredibly friendly.  Southern hospitality at it’s finest, I tell ya.  Not to mention it was absolutely delish!  I ordered a grilled chicken gyro with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and feta complete with a plain baked potato and fried dill pickles.  Don’t judge.

Whole lotta noms on that plate.

Whole lotta noms on that plate.

6:30 Saturday morning my alarm went off; it was super nice getting to sleep so late.  I grabbed my clothes that I prepped the night before and went in search of food.  Usually I eat my own food but I knew that I could get my hands on freshly made waffle from the hotel.  It didn’t disappoint.

Waffle

Side note – I ate terrible those two days… But it was good!

Karla & I

Karla and I got to the race, snapped a few pictures and looked for a the portopotties.  I didn’t find any. Fabulous, I love starting a race having to go pee. Whatever, time to line up. Since this was such a small race there were no corrals, just go where ever you wanted.  I had a good laugh at the guy on the loudspeaker because he was giving instructions for the fast people  to be in front (duh), average in the middle, and “if you ain’t ever ran a ½ marathon and don’t know your pace, just go ahead and get in the back.” Well ok.

starting line

The National Athem was sung and before I knew it, we were off.  The downtown roads of Greenwood are really pretty brick pavers which is great if you’re not running on them.  The unevenness of the pavers coupled with the fact that they were wet from the rain kept me guessing how long it would be until I tripped (which thankfully never happened). Did I mention it rained/sprinkled the entire time we were there?

Anyways, I had previously decided not to race this and just enjoy the run which is exactly what I did.  I was bummed that there weren’t a lot of course spectators but the ones that were there were great.  The other thing I was bummed about was that the course had so many turns I couldn’t really enjoy the scenery.  Seriously, we made a turn on average every .25 miles. I joked to someone that I felt like Alice in Wonderland; I kept waiting for the Cheshire Cat to make an appearance.

Mile 3 I stopped for a potty break, mile 6 I rocked out to some AC/DC, mile 7 I did a little dance knowing I was over ½ way done.  I was having fun just letting my body run it’s happy pace (somewhere around 9:30ish).  Mile Everything was going great until mile 11.25 where I got a shooting pain under my left knee cap.  It felt like someone had stabbed me with a knife and I almost crumpled to the ground.  But as quick as it came, it was gone.  Very bizarre.  That same shooting pain would happen two more times before the finish. It didn’t slow me down, just scared me a bit.  At one point towards the end of the race we were actually sharing a lane with traffic; there was less than a foot between myself and very large vehicles.  That was TERRIBLE planning and incredibly dangerous.

Finally, mile 13 came and I knew I was in the home stretch.  I entered the finisher’s chute and heard someone scream my name.  At first I thought there was another Gina (I’m in a strange town, far from home) but I looked any way and saw my friend Karla! 🙂 I was completely confused but found out later she was having foot pain and decided not to push herself through to the finish.  (She’s a smart cookie.)

Medal

I dig the medal.

We headed over to the finisher’s fest,  grabbed some water and pizza and then listened to the band for a little bit before heading back to the hotel.  My final time was 2:05:31; not too bad for just having fun.

WatchOnly the finish was chip timed (not the start) so I’m going with my Garmin on this one.  Overall, I enjoyed the race.  Although, I’m not sure if I’ll make the drive back up here again next year or not.  The hospitality was amazing but the race itself wasn’t.

Question:  Have you ever felt unsafe during a race?

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Weekly Workout Roundup

Eep! Today’s the first day of April!! I’m not an April Fools’ Day prankster but I adore getting a good laugh from those that are.
I hope you all had a great weekend filled with lots of fun, fitness and family.

April-Fools-Day

The weather didn’t really cooperate this weekend but I still had a great time. From running my last 1/2 marathon of the season (recap to come later) to eating way too much food with my husband on Easter, it’s safe to say I thoroughly enjoyed the past few days. And to cap the Easter weekend off right, I vegged out on the couch watching The Lion King and listening to the thunderstorm. {I know. I’m really exciting aren’t I??)

Lemon strawberry shortcake I made. Not clean but SO good!

Lemon strawberry shortcake I made. Not clean but SO good!

Tomorrow marks another chapter in my fitness journey…..I start CrossFit! I am simultaneously excited and pee my pants nervous. I know that it’s going to be challenging but I will benefit from it tremendously. One of my big goals for this year is to increase my strength and tone up. I say, bring on the pain!!

Crossfit-Painsource

As for my workouts last week, I feel pretty good about them. Nothing stellar but it was race week so really anything goes, right? 😉

Monday: 3 mile run, 3.75 mile walk with the hubs.
Tuesday: yoga (hip flexors) 4 mile tempo run.
Wednesday: yoga (sun salutations)
Thursday: 30 minutes cycling.
Friday: nada except traveled to race.
Saturday: Viking 1/2 Marathon; enjoyed a low pressure (no PR) run and finished with 2:05:31.
Sunday: enjoyed Easter. ❤

Question: How was your Easter weekend? Are you an April Fools’ Day prankster?

Mississippi River Inaugural Marathon (1/2) Recap

This past Saturday I ran the Inaugural Mississippi River {half} Marathon in Greenville, Mississippi.  I had decided to run the race in honor of my stepmom Starla’s ongoing battle with breast cancer.  She’s actually going back this morning for more surgery.  They thought they got everything with the double mastectomy last week but found a small amount of cancer in one of her lymph nodes.  We’re all praying that this will be the final surgery.539568_582279051800520_2118421503_n

Friday afternoon my running buddy Stacey and I made the 5 ½ hour drive up to Greenville.  We arrived at packet pickup and were greeted by amazing friendly volunteers.  In just a matter of minutes we got our bibs, shirt and some freebies (GU chomps and a cowbell) then headed to find some last minute cold weather gear.

bibs

Apparently Stacey and I both missed the memo that it was going to be FREEZING race morning.  Whoops.  We found some adorable gloves on clearance at JCPenney but no head gear.  Then it was time to grab some grub.  We went to a restaurant, Garfields, in the mall (where packet pickup was) and waited….and waited…and waited for our food.  It finally came but wasn’t anything special.  However, it was food which I guess is all that really mattered.

food

My turkey avocado sandwich with very little turkey and basically no avocado.
And french fries I didn’t want…

Stacey and I headed to the hotel to get ready for an early morning wakeup call.  Since this was a point-to-point race the runners had to be bused to the starting line.  We had been cautioned several times through e-mails to make sure to be at the buses no later then 6:30 or risk being left Saturday morning.  We made it to the bus area by 6 and hopped on.  I have never been so happy to be on a school bus in my life; it was 35* degrees outside and I was in a skirt.  Fantastic planning, Gina.

buses

We made the 13ish mile trek to the starting line in Arkansas and were treated to a beautiful sunrise.

sunrise

herding area

I enjoy the irony of the picture. The check out the sign.
The way the buses lined up, it really felt like herding area for the runners.

MS River

The downfall of being bused in was that we had roughly 1.5 hours of waiting time before the start.  I snapped some pictures and tried not to freeze.

Brrrr

Before I knew it we were lining up for the start.  I had my sub 2 hour goal in mind but I really doubted that I was going to be able to do it; especially since I would be squaring off against an incredibly strong {and cold} headwind.  See the thing about running in the Delta is that it’s all open plains; no trees or buildings to block the wind.  On the plus side, the Delta is incredibly flat.  The only incline was the bridge and that was basically flat, too.

before running

Ready to run but I can’t feel my legs…or my toes…or my nose…

3…..2….1….. And we were off.  I knew that I would need to maintain around a 9:10 pace to get my sub 2 goal but I wanted to give myself a bit of wiggle room so I planned to keep it around 9.  The first 2 ½ miles took us over the Mississippi River; the bridge was absolutely gorgeous.  Looking up and seeing the suspension beams was so cool.

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Miles 3-6 were the absolute toughest for me.  My toes were numb and I was having fairly bad calf pain, most likely from not stretching / warming up properly.  Coupled with the headwind I really thought about ditching my sub 2 goal and just using this race as the training run for the marathon in 2 weeks.  Then I thought about my stepmom and how she couldn’t give up with her fight.  I felt terrible having even considered backing down.

Mile 7 was where I put my big girl panties on and stopped internally whining. I had been watching my splits and knew that I could still pull off a sub 2.  I decided to lose myself in the run and just have fun.  The crowd support was amazing and I was having a blast high-fiving any poor soul that happened to put their hand out in my direction.  I thanked the volunteers at the water stops and shook a few of the police officers hands for directing traffic.  The next time you’re running, thank the people who are helping out, race volunteers are seriously amazing!

Mile 10 came and I knew that there was only a 5k left.  I remember actually feeling a bit disappointed knowing I only had 27ish minutes left to run; however I was also excited because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to get the sub 2.  I wasn’t fatigued at all and knew I could pick it up a bit. {side note: When you’re just getting into a groove by mile 10, you know you’re made for marathons.}

Mile 13 came and I finally caught a glimpse of the finish line.  Sweetness.  I kicked the speed up and coasted to the finish line at a 7:53 pace for a finish time of 1:58:24.  I’m not usually an emotional runner (I didn’t even tear up after I finished the MCM in memory of my brother) but I actually got a bit choked up thinking about Starla and everything she had just gone through with the double mastectomy.  She is such an amazingly strong and courageous woman and inspired me throughout the entire run.  I was proud of my sub 2 finish but even more proud of Starla.

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splits

My {negative} splits.
You can see where I was having trouble with the early miles.

Stacey also finished very strong (especially for being sick all week) at 2:06.  After the race, a friend of ours that lives in Greenville surprised us.  It was so great seeing her and getting a quick hug.  Then we all headed over to get some food and chocolate milk.

Laura

Donuts

My overall impression with this race is that it was amazing.  With inaugural events you never really know what to expect but the event staff did a great job building hype and then living up to that hype.  From packet pickup, to the finish line, and everything in between, this race was exceptional.  There were plentiful aid stations, volunteers, and phenomenal crowd support with lots of cheers for the runners.  You could tell that the entire town really took pride in this race.  I think this inaugural event was just the tip of the iceberg and that it’s going to become a ‘must-do’ race in this area.  I can’t wait to see how awesome it is next year!

Question:  Have you ever fought hard for a goal? How did you feel once you reached it?

Weekly Workout Roundup

Looking back on last week, I have mixed emotions on my workouts.  I had some really great ones, and some really terrible ones.  Because I like to focus on the positive first, take a second to check out Saturday’s work  out.  🙂

*BOOM* Sub 2 PR!! I’ll have a full recap later this week, but suffice to say, Saturday’s race was ah-maaaaa-zing!  I kept a pace of 8:54 but what really surprised me is that I totally could have pushed it harder.  So a big thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your encouragement! I really didn’t think that I could do it.

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Another proud moment from last week’s workouts is the fact that I got in 215 {total} pushups.  If you remember, I decided to start the 100 pushup program again after failing to finish it last time.  I just nailed week 4 and today starts week 5.  This is really where it got hard last time but my friend Jennifer from Wine to Weightlifting started a “No More Girly Pushup Challenge” which is helping motivate me.

girly-pushups1

Even though I’m 4 weeks ahead of everyone else, I’m really loving the support and encouragement.  Plus there are PRIZES!! Take a second to check it out if you’re interested.

Now let’s talk about where I fell short.  No cross training or weightlifting whatsoever and Tuesday’s 8 mile speed work session ended at only 2 miles.   Rarely do I cut runs short but my heart was just not there.  That was the night before Starla’s surgery and I just couldn’t focus on speed work.  I had full intentions of making it up but then I traveled for work the next day.

So here’s the breakdown of my workouts this week.

workoutroundup

Monday: (am) Yoga – hip flexors, (pm) 6 mile run.

Tuesday: (am) 63 pushups, yoga – sun salutations, (pm) 2 mile run.

Wednesday: travel for work

Thursday: (am) 72 pushups, yoga – hip flexors, (pm) 5 mile run.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Mississippi River Inaugural Marathon (13.29 mile in 1:58:24)

Sunday: 80 pushups

The marathon is now less then 2 weeks out which means that my miles are reduced significantly.   BOO.  I didn’t experience any taper madness during the first marathon so hopefully these next two weeks will go by without me clawing my eyeballs out.  I do plan on hitting the gym hard this week for both cross & strength training.

Question:  What was your proud moment from last week?

Weekend Plans

First of all, let me start by saying ‘thank you’ to each of you for your prayers and sweet comments regarding my stepmom’s surgery.  Each comment was so sweet and pretty much had me in tears from the outpouring of love.  The surgery went very well and now she is recovering.  Starla still has a very long and hard road to travel with recovery, but we all feel very blessed with the current outcome.  She is such an inspiration to me and really all that she comes into contact with.

With that being said, I will be traveling later today to pickup the packet for my next ½ marathon and tomorrow, I will be running the Inaugural Mississippi River (half) Marathon.

ms river
This is the race that I’ve been talking about trying to reach my sub 2 goal.  I will be running it in honor of Starla and the battle that she’s going through right now.  With only two weeks until my marathon, I’ve already been lectured about trying to push myself too hard but if Starla can go through a double mastectomy, surely I can push myself for a measly 13.1 miles.  That’s my thought on that and I’m not going to change my mind. {crosses arms indignantly}

The race starts in Arkansas and finishes in Mississippi so this will be my first interstate race – yay!  The course brags about how flat it is and judging from the event page, I’ll have some beautiful views.

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mississippi_run_slide1  mississippi_run_slide5Photo Source

I’ve updated my playlist and will be jamming to some major rock songs from the 80s (think AC/DC, Scorpions, Joan Jett…) along with some newer songs from Neon Trees, Mumford and Sons, and Young the Giant.  Sprinkle in some oldies from the 60s & 70s  and some 90s heavy metal and you have a good idea of my playlist.  It’s pretty eclectic &/or random…just like me.  And hopefully will distract me for no longer then 1 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. 😉

Question:  What are your weekend plans?  Do you ever race in the weeks before a marathon or 1/2 marathon?

2012 in Review and Goals for 2013

I can’t believe today is the last day of 2012! I had so many great moments this year so I’m really sad to see it come to an end.  For those of you that are curious, I did manage to drag my sick butt out of bed Saturday and get a very cold and hilly 12 mile run in.  Although, I think I probably should have stayed in bed.

Here’s a bit of humor to start your day off with.  Saturday morning, I couldn’t see while I was driving to meet my running girls but I chalked it up to the fact that I got up ridiculously early (4:45); turns out I was wearing my husband’s contacts.  It was a 45 minute drive to where we were running and I was already 1/2 way there so I did what any reasonable person would do.  I ran 12 miles with basically beer goggles on.  Did I mention that his prescription is -5.25 (basically blind) and mine is only -1.25?? On the drive home I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get pulled over.  I was pretty sure the “I’m not drunk, I’m just wearing my husband’s contacts” plea wouldn’t amuse a cop. Oy!! Ok, now that you laughed hysterically, let’s get back to your regularly scheduled New Year’s Eve post.

Happy-New-Year-2013-HD-Wallpaper-6Photo Source

I think what I’ll remember most about 2012 is that I feel like I finally rediscovered the person I was before my brother was killed.  It’s been so nice enjoying life and not carrying around unnecessary emotional baggage.

A lot of rediscovering myself had to do with rediscovering running this past year.   As of January 1, 2012, the furthest distance I had raced was a 10k.  I was just starting to get back into running and, with only one 8 mile ‘long’ (ha!)  run under my belt, I made the decision to run a marathon in memory of my brother.  10 short months and several races later I conquered the Marine Corps Marathon.  I didn’t start blogging until June so I thought it would be fun to recap some of my favorite fitness accomplishments from this year.

2012 – A Year of Fitness Firsts  

  • I ran my first 15k in February, the Double Bridge Run, in Pensacola, FL.  This race really is the one that flipped the switch in my head from someone who dabbled in running to ‘hey, I’m a runner.’
Taken at the Double Bridge Run 15k in Pensacola, Florida.  This was an amazing run! I was so happy to run it with Mary, my running inspiration - she's a beast on the road! (And also happens to be like a mom to me.)

The Double Bridge Run 15k in Pensacola, Florida. Luckily, I’ve learned how to take better race pictures since then.

  • I ran my first ½ marathon, Roll-n-Roll in New Orleans, LA.  I experienced quite a bit of marathon envy watching the marathoners split from the half-marathoners.  I wanted to call myself a marathoner so bad I could taste it at that point.

rnr

This is me ignorantly thinking that kayaking 2 miles would be a breeze. HA!

This is me ignorantly thinking that kayaking 2 miles would be a breeze. HA!

  • I ran my first ever beer run.  It was a 4k which added to the quirky fun.

gina

balloons

  • I set PRs in my 5k, 10k and ½ marathon.
  • I RAN MY FIRST MARATHON!! Need I say more?

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  • And finally, my legs logged 1,247 miles in 2012!!

The human body never ceases to amaze me with what it can do when you set a goal.  To go from very little fitness to running a marathon in 10 months is something that I’m very proud of.  Not just because of the physical aspect of it, but also because I conquered that annoying voice in my head always telling me “you won’t ever…” or “you can’t…”

2013 is going to be another great year that I get to tell that dumb voice to shut it.  Now that I have a solid year of running and my body is used to the abuse I give it, 2013 is going to be the year of focusing on speed.

2013 Goals

  • Run a sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon.  Realistically, I’m only 4 minutes away from that happening so this is kind of a default goal.  My real goal is to run a 1:55 (or better) 1/2.
  • Run a sub 25 minute 5k.
  • Run a sub 50 minute 10k.
  • Run a 4:15 marathon. (Hopefully I’ll get this one in February.)
  • Improve my running form.
  • Weight train consistently.
  • 6 pack abs!!

Personal 2013 Goals

  • Continue to grow in my spirituality – super important to me!
  • Give back more; donate my time to various causes.
  • Focus less on me and more on others.
  • Continue to encourage others on their paths to healthier lifestyles.
  • Find a better balance between clean eating, running and life in general.

Super Ambitious Goals (AKA ones that probably won’t happen but I’m going to try anyways)

  • Compete in my first triathlon.  I really, really, really want this one to happen but, realistically, the cost associated with getting into the tri world is a bit prohibitive.  That and the swim scares the daylights out of me.
  • Run my first 50k.  I’ve been researching these this week and unfortunately most of the ones in the South are in the spring and registration has closed.

Question: What did you accomplish in 2012 that you are super proud of?  What are your goals for 2013?