Monday, March 26, 2012

Publix Georgia Half Marathon: Race Recap

A earned a brand new personal record last weekend at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!  It was tough race at parts, but I finished strong and had a great time running with my mom!  First let's start with the pre race activities... 

So Friday we went to the race expo and enjoyed a tasty chocolate buffet.  Saturday was just a day spent hanging out.  I was really excited about our pre race meal though.  There are lots of great pizza options in Chicago, but I miss not having a Mellow Mushroom around.  My junior year of college they built one in Tallahassee and I ate there almost every week to grab the $5 small pizza deal.  When I lived in Orlando we enjoyed getting Mellow every now and then too.  My aunt, Wendy, cousin, Emily, mom, and I went there for an early dinner Saturday.  

We ordered two medium pizzas; one chicken caesar salad and one meatball, spinach, mushroom.  It. Was. Delicious.  I think I had four pieces.  

The evening was rather quiet too.  We watched a movie at home (Larry Crowne, which wasn't that great) and were in bed by 10pm.  

This was going to be my third half marathon.  My main goal for this race was to have fun and enjoy running with my mom.  As far as race time I was hoping (really hoping) to get under three hours.  I was so close last time at the Iron Girl.  I was a little worried with this course however because of the hills.  There are barely hills in Chicago, so I wasn't sure how it would go.  

My alarm went off early at 4:30am and I got out of bed right away.  After I got dressed I made sure to drink a big glass of water and ate a blueberry Clif Crunch bar.  Aunt Wendy drove my mom and I to the Marta train station where we boarded the train into the city.  The train was full of runners.  The race was relatively large with about 18,000 people running the half and full marathon.  We followed the crowd of people to Centennial Park and after a quick stop at the bathroom we made our way to our corral.    

After the National Anthem the race started.  Thankfully it was a rolling start and we passed the start around 7:12am.  It wasn't actually too crowded a start which was nice so there wasn't much bobbing and weaving through people.  

The weather was really comfortable around 68 degrees and warmed up just a bit as the sun rose.  Although there were hills I really enjoyed the course.  We ran through several different sections of the city; it was nice.  
Mile 5
My mom was a great motivator throughout and I was glad she was running with me!  There were plenty of aid stations and we made a decision to walk through them all.  I got water at all of them and Gatorade at most.  Honey Stingers were had around mile four and mile eleven, with some croissant around mile eight.  There were also some good cheering sections along the route from local business, organizations, and everyday people.  All the spectators and volunteers were great and helped make the run interesting.
Some guy had a plate full around mile eight so I grabbed one!
To meet my time goal of under three hours we needed to stay under a 13:43 mile, which was definitely doable.  I decided to break the race into three parts and gradually get faster with each third.  I was worried we started to fast around 13 minute mile, but it felt comfortable and we pretty much kept to that and under the whole race!  

Mile nine was actually one of our fastest miles with an 11:53 pace!
Around Mile 10 or 11, smiling just for the cameras
Then mile ten came, ugh.  The whole mile was a big hill and I could feel it.  It was our slowest mile at about 13:20.  My mom said we had done well enough in the beginning that we had around 43 minutes to finish the last 3.1 miles within my three hour goal; I could do that!
Mile 12 (hands are in the wrong order; I was tired)
The last two miles were not easy though.  We were running directly in the sun, it was getting hot, and I was tired.  I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other.  This last bit was also a long, slow incline to the finish.  I kept a pretty good pace, which was hard, but I was ready to finish and knew I would be happy if I had given it my all.  
The final sprint to the finish!
I was giving as much as I could and was worried if I would be able to give it that final push for the finish line stretch.  However, as soon as we turned the corner I dug down, picked up the speed, and sprinted down the chute.  It felt like I was flying - I have no idea where the burst of energy came from but it was exhilarating.  
We crossed the finish line with a time of 2:45:35!!!  Not only did I beat my goal of under three hours, but did it by practically 15 minutes!  I was so happy and proud.  We got medals placed around our necks, a heat blanket, water, and big bottle of chocolate milk.  I gave my mom a big hug and thanked her for motivating me along the way!  
Boy was I tired!  After a couple pictures and much needed stretching for our legs, we walked into the park to grab our food bag from Publix.  It was full of goodies.  I didn't eat any of it then, but drank about 3/4 of the chocolate milk; it is one of my favorite post workout treats and great for recovery.  
We walked around the park for a bit and then made our way back to the train which included climbing yet another hill, they are everywhere in Atlanta!  Aunt Wendy and Emily were there to pick us up at the station and congratulated us on our races.  

The rest of the day consisted of a nice long bath, tasty meal at a local restaurant, a nap with the cat, and hanging out with the family.  
I had a great weekend in Atlanta seeing my family and running once again with my mom!
I never imagined I would run a half marathon, let alone three.  It is absolutely amazing what you can accomplish if you keep a positive attitude and work hard! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Georgia Half Marathon Expo and the Chocolate Buffet

I was in Atlanta this past weekend to run my third half marathon the Georgia Half Marathon.  We have family that lives there so it made for a great chance to visit family and run a race.  I arrived midday Friday and my mom picked me up at the airport.  From there we decided to go to the race expo to pick up our race packets.  As soon as we walked in we discovered that part of the expo hall had been turned into a mini Publix store!  

There was lots of great food to taste all over the expo including lentils, tomato soup with avacado, chips and salsa, Annie's cheddar bunnies, hummus and pita chips, bread with olive oil, cranberry juice, lemonade, and Chobani!
We checked out all of the booths at the expo and admired some cute running gear.  My mom ended up finding some shoes and new headphones.  I needed a new running hat and found a good one at the Nike shop. 
In our race packet we got a great bag that can double as a backpack or handheld bag.  The race shirts are great too!  They are gender customized and have a great design.  

Later we got to my aunt's house to see the family and had a tasty grilled chicken salad for dinner.  Our plans for later that evening were to attend the Celebrity Chocolate Buffet at the Four Seasons.  The celebrity this Friday was Dolvett Quince from the Biggest Loser.  We arrived to see a grand set up of chocolate.  It all looked so pretty.  We were lucky enough to get a nice reserved table in front of the buffet.  We saw Dolvett standing to the side and went up to speak with him.  
He looks exactly like he does on TV and was just as friendly.  After meeting we all chatted for a bit.  We told him that we were running the half marathon this weekend.  I never really know what to say when meeting people, but my aunt mentioned my weight loss and Dolvett congratulated me.  He said he had to give me a hug for that because it was amazing.  We chatted a bit about healthy living; I said although it can be hard at times it is all worth it.  We also talked about running for a bit and I mentioned I would be doing my first marathon this year.  He then gave me one of those high fives he always gives his contestants.  He was really so nice and supportive and it was so cool to meet him.
I have to admit it was kind of strange meeting a personal trainer at a chocolate buffet and discussing my 100 pound weight loss before getting ready to eat a lot of chocolate but, whatever, it was still neat.  It was special event and too good to pass up!

To the chocolate!  Everything on the buffet line looked delicious. 
My aunt works at the hotel so she introduced us to many people that work there including the pastry chef.  We got in line to fill up our plates with chocolatey goodness.  I think I went up to the buffet about three times.  I loved the chocolate fondue with the fresh strawberries and pineapple.  The fudge squares, brown butter chocolate chip cookies, and the Guinness cupcakes were also my favorites.
The three of us had a fun evening indulging at the Chocolate Buffet!

What chocolate treat would you like to see at a chocolate buffet?   

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Updated Running Gear

Last week I made a trip to Fleet Feet.  I have been running in the Asics GT 2160 since about September.  Recently I have noticed a few aches in my legs and that the shoe doesn't seem to have as much cushioning, which is a clear sign to me that it is time for new shoes!  The shoe has been great though, so I thought I would see what the updated 2170s felt like.  The friendly sales person found my size and as soon as I tried them on loved them.  They are almost exactly the same with a few small adjustments.  It is a tad lighter, has a stream lined look and feel, better heel support, and comes in an awesome color.  I really like them! 

As the sales person was measuring my foot she noticed that my left arch falls when I stand up.  I had never noticed this before.  She asked if I have ever used or thought about using orthotic inserts, which I haven't.  Essentially they go inside your shoe in place of the liner.  They are meant to help with alignment and in my case she thought they would help with stability for my arch.  I tried on three different types and sizes to find the insert that would be the best fit.  The Superfeet Orange ended up being the best fit.  As soon as I walked with them in I felt a difference; the insert really fits the bottom of your foot.  I figured they were probably worth a shot.  I have some runner's knee issues and tight IT bands sometimes, so I thought the inserts could help that and help keep my body aligned while running.  I went ahead a purchased them that day and had her put them in my GT 2160s to walk home in.  She recommended walking a few days in them before going on run so my feet and legs could get used to them.  They were about $50, but last about a year or through two pairs of shoes.  

I loved the updated Asics, but had some birthday money to use on Amazon and decided to get them online instead of at the store.  As soon as I got home I ordered them plus a new sports bra from Moving Comfort as I was in desperate need.  Your sports bra shouldn't have a birthday and I believe mine turned one about four months ago, so it was definitely time.
Wednesday I got a slip in my mailbox telling me that my packages had arrived, but the postal person didn't leave them.  It was a bit of a run around trying to actually get the packages in my hands.  After a few calls and a failed trip to one post office I made it to the correct location Friday.  I ended up waiting a full hour in line at the "slowest post office in the world," but finally got them that morning.  

I wore them for my long run of eight miles this morning.  I got up early to get in the miles and awoke to cold and cloudy weather.  It was a good run though.  The shoes felt great and I am happy with my purchase.  I have only worn the orthotics for about three runs, but so far so good.  
I love the look of these shoes!
I also tested out my new Moving Comfort sport bra.  I usually wear the Fiona style, but decided to try the new Jubralee style.  It was really comfortable and supportive; it might be my new favorite.  
I am looking forward to good runs ahead with my new gear!  Just two weeks now until the Georgia Half Marathon