Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peachtree Road Race 10K Recap


It's been a bit of a tradition in our household to run the BolderBoulder each year. The race is the United State's second largest 10K, topping out at about 55,000 runners. The course is fun, the crowd is always awesome and the weather is generally awesome (It's Memorial Day weekend). Well this year since we were all the way in Georgia we decided that there would be no BolderBoulder. Instead I decided to try out the largest 10K in the states--the Peachtree Road Race. Let me tell you, there was some poking and prodding to get me to sign up for this. The Peachtree happens on July 4th, in Atlanta. There are over 60,000 runners--all sweating their way to the finish line! Every time I hear about this race--I hear that it is incredibly fun, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking "Dudes, it's Atlanta, in July--hot and humid...are you nuts!?"

Anyways, this year has been basically a theme of pushing myself to try new things so I figured, "hey, I tried fried okra, and liked that--might as well try this race and see how that goes too." I entered the lottery to get into the race in March, waited anxiously and then in April found out I was in the sub-seeded or second wave. Realizing that I had a good 3 months to prepare for this diddy I set a few goals (finish, finish in the top 100 for women and get a decent time for the amount of time I have to run right now and finish in the top 10 for my age group)

So, fast forward to race day. The hubs and I drove up to Atlanta the night before and stayed at our favorite Bed and Breakfast--the Social Goat. I highly recommend this establishment as a place to stay when visiting Atlanta. It's in the heart of historic Inman Park, steps away from the zoo, a huge park, the baseball stadium, and a number of good bars and restaurants. It's a perfect example of an urban farm (yes, there are animals!)--and the B&B is comfortable and cozy. The owner Kristie and her partner are super nice and knowledgeable about all things Atlanta. Plus, it's close to a MARTA station--good for us on this trip since we needed to trek on down to Lennox mall to the start of the race.

On race morning the hubs and I got up early--5am early, put on my super duper race outfit:

Super Duper Race Outfit
got to the MARTA and traveled with our fellow racers--and about three regular people down to the start.  First stop: the bathrooms. Nice bathrooms, long lines. Something I'll never understand is that I saw a LOT of people in very late corrals in line before me--like a "Y" corral trotting on into the was 6:30 AM--their start wave was predicted at 8:45! Sleep in! Come a little later--poop in the comfort of your home! Maybe they just wanted to be part of the action.

With the bathrooms out of the way I pinned on my number, and got up to my wave. I started feeling a little nervous as the announcer started telling us every minute we had until start time, but I just kept focusing on what I needed to do--stay relaxed at the start--remember what I'd read about the course: down hill the first 3, then a hard hill at four, and rolling through 6.

The gun went off and off we went...within a couple seconds one person dropped a roll of $20 bills on the ground! I mean like probably $200. People started trampling to get the money and while I saw it..I was also afraid of getting stepped on, so unfortunately it was someone elses lucky day!

I got going on the course and just like they said, deep downhill the first three. It felt easy and relaxed, which is good but also I felt like means to also hold steady and remember what is coming ..we got to the 5K and I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that I was at around 19 min for the 5K. In a position for a pretty  good time! I could feel the urge to start to push coming over me--and then I saw it..This hill, I think they actually call it Cardiac Hill. A big descent probably about a quarter of a mile. This was a push that required my good old cue words "Not fast but steady, not fast but steady" all the way up. I felt like I conquered the hill but paid the price on the pace just a bit.

4-6 were good miles, rolling hills--nice pace..

I actually ended up accomplishing all my goals for the race--top 70 for women, top 10 in age group and I got a better time than I expected. In the end I got done and I was thinking to myself I had more to give, but wasn't exactly sure where I was at--so I played it safe and smart the entire way. In my "training" I've really just been hammering out runs--no real structured workouts to gauge where I'm at. Half the time I don't even wear my Garmin, I just go by I basically guessed a goal time.

Here's what my thoughts on the race itself.
Good organization with water stops, lots of fans, good corral set up and enough bathrooms etc. The course is point to point so it's hard for fans--The hubs missed me at every single point and was racing along in the MARTA to even try to get to the finish line. Basically you have to split up and decide that your fans are going to be at the end or the beginning.  You could station them at the end--and they could push into the course (say mile 5) and then get to mile 6 to see you, but don't think they will be able to see you start and finish. No way--unless you have a bike. We are strongly considering this.

The course is pretty fun. I liked the descent at the beginning and then the rolling hills--also the way it went through Atlanta--and not the crappy parts either. I liked that it was point to point and I actually enjoyed that it was challenging. It kept me engaged the entire time. I thought that was great. 

Maybe I missed it but I saw the mile markers at 2 miles and 5K--NO WHERE ELSE. I literally thought I was finishing when I came upon the HUGE overhead photographer station which apparently is located at mile 6 (not labeled btw)..this resulted in a great picture of me (finally breaking 40 min hooray!) then realizing wtf, I'm not actually done! I was passed the station at that point-- I wish they had gotten that memorable moment. In short--no clearly labeled mile markers makes Cody very confused and unhappy.

Confusing finish area. I *think* there was some sort of corporate party area..this wasn't clearly labeled. We got lots of peaches and ice cream--then left. At the BB everything is clearly labeled--plus you get a tee shirt AND a lunch bag. ::Shrug:: I really missed the lunch bag this year :(

This guy--Made the race:
Peaches and Sweat!

As I predicted the weather was warm and damp. I was quite moist at the end of the race as was everyone else around me. I cannot imagine how the people in later waves must have felt.  It wasn't horrible though--and 60,000 people must think it's okay..when you go through the numbers--it is a TON of local people. All these Georgians running this race. They obviously haven't gotten the memo about Atlanta in July ;D.

Oh. Afterwards we went to Fox Bros BBQ--it is one of the best BBQ places I have ever been to.
The entire trip was really fun! In short. I would recommend and repeat this race! 


When asked to identify "exceptional performers," often times people will name someone other than themselves. They often name someone famous, a great athlete, an actor or performer. It's hard--even uncomfortable to look to yourself and say "I have greatness inside me. The potential is there."

 I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Or more specifically what makes what separates "great" from average? When I think of truly great performers, they all have two things in common: the first--a clear goal. And the second--they know the goal, why they want to get it--and are willing to take a risk. Sometimes that goal appeared to be HUGE (I think of Roger Bannister--breaking the 4 min mile, Sir Edmond Hillary climbing Mount Everest, my friends who have wanted to go to the Olympics etc)--and even the people closest to them have said "IMPOSSIBLE!" and yet, they believed in themselves--and took risks to get there. Some risks were big (Look--people thought if you ran faster than 4 min you would explode) and some--a bit smaller (one friend of mine moved across the country--to a place she had never been and a climate she had NEVER experienced before!) to get to their goals.

These two things--A goal, and a risk--it seems pretty simple, yet it can be so challenging--you get to a barrier to your goal: Time, money, moving, kids, your job--and all the sudden: you have to take that risk--and ask yourself: is my goal worth it? Everyone I can think of who has gotten to this fabled "greatness" has said it was.

When I look at the quote above, I think it's awesome. I agree. We all have the ability to reach our own definition of greatness. It may not be climbing a huge mountain, or breaking a barrier, or going to the Olympics--it's YOUR definition of greatness! It's about setting that goal, and then knowing that when you set the goal there will inevitably be a risk to achieve it.

If when faced with the risk, you identify it, and decide the end state of your goal is worth the risk--even in the face of failure to see what CAN happen--THAT is when greatness occurs, and boundaries are pushed.

Good luck finding your greatness and taking those risks.

---This is how I find my greatness. How do you find yours?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The long road...

Wow, it has been a moment since the last blog. I just looked at the last date of the post and it was November 17th!
Things have been so busy around here and I feel as I am just now starting to "settle" into life in Georgia. That doesn't always mean relaxed but at least I know my schedule and have somewhat of a routine down.
Since that last post a lot of things have happened: I was essentially playing where in the U.S. is Cody. I traveled from Georgia, to Colorado, to Oregon, to Colorado, to New York, to Georgia (did you get that?) We celebrated our first Christmas in Georgia, and I started to really get involved in my new job.

While doing all this traveling, I picked up some sort of terror illness. I seriously have never been so sick in my life. A hacking cough, hard to breath, something that would not ease up, at some point, while coughing it seemed I cracked a rib (no really).
I got sick around Thanksgiving, and the illness prevailed until...well mid-January! This, along with all the traveling essentially created forced down time for me..which was good and bad. I needed the rest, but wow. I hadn't planned on it going on for weeks and weeks and weeks, sapping my base down to nothing. It was pretty disheartening. The cold had settled in my lungs, which was also limiting my exercise options to some degree.

In mid-January I finally started running 3 times a week, first for about 35 minutes and I'm now up to about 4 days a week, with my long run at 9 miles--this week probably pushing to 10. It hasn't been easy! That's why this post is titled "The long road..."

Usually when I have come back from down time there is a certain amount of anxiety and excitement that goes along with it--and those feelings have resulted in me losing a bit of composure and pushing too hard--my schedule will tell me 20 minutes and I will blow that off, run 50 minutes, at a super fast pace and pay for it the entire next week.

This time, because I have been sick..and at times my lung capacity actually limits my potential, I am taking it as an opportunity to practice patience, and some self-talk. When I feel anxious or even negative about a run I work to reframe the situation. On one run I moaned aloud..."I'll NEVER be in shape again! This is a losing battle!" In this case I worked to re-frame the situation, telling myself "Okay you feel weak, but you still got to 50 minutes today..feeling weak is not the same as your aren't performing as weak as you think." I ran faster at the beginning than at the end, so I took that as a positive from the run as well.

Right now, in each and every run--I'm working to take two to three positives from each run to build confidence in myself and the training base I'm working to rebuild. "I ran further," "the pace was a bit faster," "I maintained that pace for longer today." I know if I can maintain, say 7:35 pace for 5-6 miles I can set a mini-goal to try to average that for 7 to 7.5 miles on the next run. This has been extremely helpful for building up my confidence and showing that I can indeed still run. I've actually told myself, "it's still there, you still have it."

The next step in this long road back is finding a goal to shoot for. I'm contemplating a couple different races coming up in the area. One thing I am thinking about is what would I really like to do? There are a variety of types of races around my area: road races, trail races, mud runs. I've done a lot of road races, and right now I'm sort of contemplating doing a trail race just to spice things up and have some fun trying out something different. I have a goal time in mind for the half marathon for 2012, but right now coming back from down time, I'm thinking this time is more appropriate for either the summer or fall of 2012, and the spring could really be used for building strength, endurance and exploring some other types of races, so that is what I'm thinking about right now in terms of goals and race selection. I'm going to be deciding this fairly soon because it will also drive a bit of my training, and also of course give me something to look forward to!

So, there is where I'm at on the long road that is running, illness and recovery.

Have you ever experienced a set-back in your training?

How did you deal with it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Georgia Runnin'!

Greetings from Georgia! It's been a busy last week since we first took off for the Peach State. We rented a house, have gotten to know our new town--including tasting "local" food such as barbeque, skillet apples, and fried fish, and we even took a tiny road trip up to Atlanta! Oh, and I also started my new job, found a local running store and group, and did some exploring on my feet.

So, what's it been like so far? well--the barbecue is good: exhibit A: here I am tearing into some ribs on our first night in town. Yum, yum! Note to self though: the barbecue is good but it's also filling. This is not a place you can eat at every night, especially when they serve sides like delicious skillet apples.

Atlanta is not too far away and it's pretty neat. We took a quick trip there to pick up our car, and then we went to Zoo Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta was Zoo Awesome in a few ways. My favorite things were the gorilla exhibit, and the panda exhibit.

The panda exhibit had four pandas--a mom, dad, baby, and juvenile. Here's the dad, Zing Zing. He was super awesome, he came right up to the window and was checking us out, then he got up for a closer look--and I died from panda over load!

So now you know a little bit about what I've seen and eaten since arriving in Georgia, but what about running!? Well running has been--interesting to say the least. Here are the good things:
1) I've been able to get in three good runs. Two nearby my work. I work in an area that is pretty conducive to the running. It's nice, safe and there are quite a few areas to run in--including the ability to connect onto this really long running path that goes for about 10 MILES from my work!

2) I was able to connect with a group from the local running store for one morning run. More social runners! They were all really nice and also there were quite a few that were running in the pace that was good for me, which was nice.

I'm hoping to be able to meet up with some of the people from this running group for a long run Saturday morning as well.

3) I've located a few running paths that are close to our new home--and they literally go for 15-20 miles. They are pretty scenic, and you can also ride a bike alongside for bike-runs. We also found a neat park that is HUGE that has some running trails all through it--I guess the trails add up to about 10-12 miles--which is again not too shabby.

The bad:

1) My goal was to run 5 days this week. It will most likely be 4

2) Remember the path I told you about? Well it has varying levels of safety and security. This is an issue that is going to be anywhere you are--even Colorado, but I guess it really can be an issue here. I have been expressly told "DO NOT RUN AT NIGHT--EVER." I have also been told that parts of this path can be dangerous. Which makes me kind of sad...keep reading for more information on this topic.

3) This town is low on the bike and pedestrian lanes. As in, you could get swiped off the road. So, you could *possibly* run in the evening--on the side of the populated roads--but again that's dangerous. ::Insert another sad face here:::

3) These two factors make me sad for two specific reasons: After work I'd like to be able to come home, throw on my shoes and go for a run. But--it's in the evening. Thus making the bike path a dangerous option (no one wants to be robbed you know) and the roads dangerous (don't wanna be hit by a bus either). It's made getting to know the running options a bit difficult in the first week.

4) Finally, did anyone know that Georgia can have huge thunderstorms that last for hours and have the potential to morph into a tornado? I didn't know that. This actually happened this week and resulted in tornadoes that destroyed a lot of areas of the South and South East.

The way that I feel right now is that I know that running is important to me for a number of reasons, and it's a bit frustrating to have not been able to get in runs the way I want--and some of these things feel like excuses to me. However at the same time, I try to remember that this is also a time of pretty big transition in a number of ways, and I am working to manage ALL the changes. It's difficult to not harp on myself and get mired in negative self-talk because I haven't reached my weekly running goal. In the same vein, when negative self-talk arises, I remind myself of exactly all the changes that are going on, the positive things I have accomplished in running and in other areas, and to be kind to myself regarding my runs. I have tried to analyze the issues with the runs and look at what the controllables and un-controllables are for each one--and see if there are things I can change to increase my ability to get in more quality runs--and then see what is really an excuse and what I can change.

Here's what I came up with:
My solution to a lot of these issues is a multi-pronged approach (because I won't be defeated):
1) Running in the early morning, with a group--that actually worked out really well--and I also like being done with the run in the morning. It solves about 90% of these problems.
2) Finding a gym
3) Running near my work
4) Working to get to know my town better to try to find safer routes. They must be somewhere!

What I can say about this week and running is that it has been a week of trial and error. I know it's something that I have to work to settle into. New place, new home, new schedule. I have found that what I want to do is keep up my old running schedule because it provides comfort and familiarity, but it's difficult when I feel a bit displaced right now--nothing feels quite like "Home" yet! It's hard to be patient, and to know that I'll be settled in eventually--sooner than it sometimes feels and that there are a lot of things I can do to be able to still work towards my immediate, short and long term goals.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So say goodbye...

Busy day!! The blog time line is a bit messed up, and I keep wanting to use a ridiculous time machine analogy. I'm not sure if that works or not (imagine me sitting here scratching my head and trying really hard not to go off and find pictures of Michael J. Fox right now) or if it's just cheesy.
To bring it to the present TODAY we are heading off to Georgia! Next week is my first week of work, and we are going a bit early to get set up and find a house. It's of course a beautiful morning outside and as I sit here, I'm feeling sad to leave but excited to see what's ahead.

I think I'm feeling a mixture of two songs so I'll leave you with those:

A little bit of Florence---you know, the dog days are over and it's time to run towards the future...preferably I'll have amazing red hair and blue people with drums following me.

I'm also feeling a little bit old school:

Nothing like Boyz To Men saying it's hard to say goodbye. It is hard to say goodbye! I'll miss Colorado, my friends and my family..and the good times that made us laugh.

I will miss Colorado, but it will still be here. It always has and it will always be my home, and everything I have done here has gotten me ready to go to Georgia and experience it has to offer.

So, here we go--time get moving and see what Georgia has to offer!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Extra! Extra!

I come to this blog post bearing news! As is been pretty evident, the blog has been quiet over the last month, with nary more than the race recap. In order to get you all caught up, we'll go back to the beginning of October, so step into to my time machine and off we go!

First stop--Rock n' Roll half marathon, or the beginning of the month. I had applied for a variety of jobs, ranging from research assistant positions to mental health positions to a really good opportunity doing sport psychology mental skills with different types of companies. Along with hard running training there was also hard career networking going on. At the beginning of the month I landed an interview for a position teaching mental skills at a specific company!

Imagine me doing a little happy dance, but also doing a fair amount of preparation to kick some butt. I traveled to San Jose, raced, then turned around and traveled to the interview, did my very best, and came home and waited to see what might happen.....

A week went by and life was continuing on. During this time I was also still running AND still recovering from the Stage Five Clinger cold. I had a couple mediocre practices and was recovering from the half marathon. Finally, in the evening after a good workout--one in which I finally felt awesome, and was having a great time with my teammates--I returned to my car to a message: one that told me the good news that I also got the job! I sat in the car, feeling a mixture of emotions: happy, sad, scared...a lot of choices now weighed on me and my husband!

The next day, I found out more about the job, including a huge factor: this job required a move. We wouldn't know where exactly unless and until I received an offer. I listened on the phone as they made the offer...and said where we would be going...Georgia. Wow. Speaking of a change. My husband and I had to weigh many options...In one hand...we love Colorado, the lifestyle, our friends, and family. My husband is in school...We didn't know anything about Georgia except it was in the South! On the other hand, an amazing job and opportunity, in a new place--a new adventure.

We needed time to talk it over and make the decision....To make this story simple, after much discussion, and weighing as many options as we could, we decided that we should take a leap of faith and move to Georgia!

So. There you have it! We are making a very big and very exciting change in our lives! Within the past month we have already begun transitioning, telling our friends, saying goodbye, packing up and getting ready for this new adventure. All the while I have also been running!

The next few blog posts will help catch up the blog on our move--and how I have kept up on running while making the transition! It's an exciting time so hopefully you find these next few blogs interesting!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Long overdue--Race Review--San Jose Rock n' Roll half!

Wow, it's been busy month with no blog updates! For the record, I have been busy--which also for the record means that means there has been blog fodder, I've just been both choosy about posting as well as--too busy to post!

On October 1st-3rd my race support-AKA my husband and I traveled out to San Jose, CA for the Rock n' Roll half marathon. I'd been seriously looking forward to this race, and had a goal in mind to run a 1:20-1:21 half. I had been feeling pretty good, prepared and excited to go. The course was flat and fast, a bunch of my teammates were going as well as my coach who was ready to help pace a small group of us to around this time. It seemed like a perfect storm for good runnin.'

Well sometimes when you predict a perfect storm you get one--but not what you had envisioned you know?

A week before the race I also went up to Breckenridge, with the team for a weekend of running and bonding. It was a pretty fun weekend, but by the end..something wasn't right. I came home and my throat had that scratchy feeling, I had a headache, aches, pains--and a pit in my stomach. The pit that told my brain.."You might be sick." By Monday I knew it was true and I was rushing to the doctor. It turned out I had a pretty nasty cold..and all I could do was rest, rest, rest and try to get better (Check 1 in the minus box)

I ran less--no working out, nothing extra (no weights or plyos) and tried to get better..but the cold started rearing it's ugly head at night, making sleeping hard (check 2 in the minus box).

The husband and I talked about our options--including not going, but I still wanted to race--and I thought I could run through the cold. So Saturday came and off we flew to San Jose--and by then I was at least a bit better. In my mind I was still telling myself that my goal time of 1:20-1:21 was realistic.

We arrived in San Jose, I did the pre-race routine and run with my team--and felt okay, as ready as I could...and still telling myself my goal was realistic.

Sunday came, the race started and I ran the first 3-4 miles at the 1:20 pace (6:15). Right away the race felt really fast, and really hard. Generally speaking I know how to settle in, run a little slower at the beginning and pick it up in the later miles. Right from the start it felt HARD. I felt disjointed, that it was struggle and out of control. The concept of "Settling in" was non-existent. Not only that, usually where my music helps me get in the groove (literally) it was distracting me. By mile 5 I was actually asking myself if I should stop..which is just odd. Even stranger was that at the 5 K I had run 19 min, which isn't horrible and on pace, and at 10K I was 39 min, which again is on pace, but it felt as though I was doing HORRIBLE.

The upside was until about mile 7, I was running with another teammate and she was helping a lot, I knew we both had similar goals and unfortunately we were both struggling--which sucks but at least we were together. I thank her for her support in the slog.

By 8.5 miles I knew something was just off--and I actually STOPPED. I had to pull over, and have a personal talk with myself. I honestly had to re-evaluate what was going on...and let go of my goal. It absolutely sucked to have to stop to do that...and I'll be honest here--I've never done that before, so I'm not sure how I would do this again without stopping--but it cost me a lot of TIME in the race--so I've spent some time asking myself and thinking about how to re-evaluate mid-race, if this happens again.

I started running again, and rolled into the finish at my new pace of 6:30-40. I ended up officially running a 1:27--but take out my stop and I ran a 1:25.

As I finished I also realized my feet were hurting. A lot. After the finish, I took off my shoes to find three huge blister covering my feet.

I hobbled over to the "medical tent" ( I use this term lightly as the "medical help" I received included a dry paper towel--they weren't prepared for blisters--at a huge road race--go RnR).

I sat down, and immediately got a migraine. I think the term "For the Win," is probably appropriate here.

I have had migraines since I was a kid and it's always a possibility that I will get one but I rarely get one at or during races--given that so much was going wrong, including the inability to concentrate and settle in, the "distracting" component of the music and the fact that I got the headache about 5 min after finishing I honestly feel the migraine was right there--and I feel so, so lucky I didn't get it DURING the race. I would have freaked out. I also think that the migraine in combination with the cold obviously pretty much hampered my ability to perform at my best.

Honestly it sucks to go and want to do your best, and then things just start going wrong, but I also feel as though I learned some pretty valuable lessons:

1) Goals are flexible for a reason--seriously don't be afraid (or stubborn) about re-evaluating them! I hardly ever get sick, and I didn't understand how much things like lack of sleep and "illness" can sap it out of you when you try to race. I know it sounds naive, but when I get sick it's strep or flu--where it totally knocks me out completely and I didn't really know how to readjust. I thought I could just push through. Um. No, I actually couldn't. If I had been more realistic and also kinder to myself, and said, "hey new goals are run strong, and run 1:25, and have fun," I think it would have been a lot more realistic and also fun.

2) Remember the good: I imagined a different outcome, but some stuff went wrong and that didn't happen. I still ran a 1:27 (1:25!) and I got 3rd in my age group...and I would be willing to guess I'm in pretty good shape. That's how I'm looking at it!

3) Learn to be present and non-judgmental: Okay so I'm working on this one! A lot of times when I'm running if I'm not feeling it--even if it's just hard, or I'm tired or sore, I will totally start saying things like, "Why's it so HARD!?" "Why am I so SLOW!?" "What's going on!?" And then inevitably start pushing harder and harder and harder--forcing the run. This also happened in the race. Sometimes, that pace is just what your body needs to go--for whatever reason--and this concept of telling myself that this is where I'm at today, and it's okay...and then for instance looking at the scenery or enjoying that place or even just going with it and not beating myself up=super hard. This also refers to an ability to re-evaluate goals. In closing, flexibility, and releasing the Type A!

So, there you have it a bit of a blog update with a Rock n, Roll San Jose, with lessons learned.

What races have you done lately?

Has everything gone as you envisioned or have you had to re-evaluate?

How did you do it if you did have to re-evaluate?