Atlanta Half Marathon: Three Days Later

I DID IT!

I didn’t mention what my time goal for the half marathon was in my last post, because I didn’t want to look like a lame-o if I didn’t make it … but I did! WOOHOO! The goal set by my coach was to finish in 2:25:39, and I ended up finishing in 2:24:40 – almost a minute ahead of schedule! I still can’t believe I pulled it off. That’s 33 minutes faster than my finishing time in April!

Our day started at 4:30 a.m., when we rolled out of bed and dragged ourselves down the stairs. Brad’s dad drove us to the race, and stuck around for four and half hours in the cold to take pictures and watch us finish. Thanks, Bill!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Brad and Steph before the Atlanta Half Marathon

… I now know that my cheapo Target sports bra, while fine in the comfort and support department, is not doing me any favors visually. NOTED.

The Atlanta Half Marathon is nowhere near as big as the Nashville Country Music half we ran in the spring, but there was still a pretty huge turn-out.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Atlanta Half Marathon 2012 - Starting line

My husband, Fasty McFasterson, was two starting corrals ahead of me, so I checked out my surroundings and let the familiar feeling of mild annoyance wash over me. I’ve found recently that I really tend to fuel my running with anger … probably because I’m so cranky in the morning, which is when I usually run. I’m kind of a jerk, I guess. But how annoying is it to hear someone yelling, “You can do it! You’re halfway done!” when you’re only at mile 5 out of 13.1?! I HATE that.

Anyway, because it was Thanksgiving, there was a lot of this going on:

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon - Costumes

I do not understand how people can run in costumes. I can barely run in running clothes. But somehow, I made it to the finish line. I was really close to hitting my goal time, so I dug up some energy and sped up. That’s why I look so horrific in pictures like this one.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Steph at the finish line

Am I doing lamaze breathing?!

After I finished, I caught up with my father-in-law right away, and we finally found Brad back at the car. He was bummed out about some major IT band issues he experienced during the race, but I think he still ended up kicking butt with 2:16! We both need to remind ourselves that we’ve only been running for 11 months – just the fact that we’ve survived two half marathons each is something to be proud of.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Atlanta Half Marathon - Finisher Medal

All that effort so early in the morning made for a pretty laid-back Thanksgiving. We relaxed with Brad’s parents and a pot of soup, and saved all our cooking and baking for Friday. Pictures and recipes are coming in another post!

Oh, by the way – my runner’s knee was nowhere to be found on Thursday. I really, really slacked on my strength-training, so I’m very lucky. I SWEAR I’m going to do better with that next time around! However, I hope this will serve as a pick-me-up to those of you struggling with runner’s knee. Despite how horrible and hopeless it seems when you’re dealing with it, you CAN get past it and get to pain-free running. Stay positive! And there’s my cheesy enthusiasm for the day. And now I hate myself.

So, how was your Thanksgiving?!

     

Countdown to the Half: ONE DAY

Holy crap, the half marathon is TOMORROW!

I’m a little nervous, but I feel SO much more prepared than I was for my last one. I actually made it through 12 full weeks of training (as opposed to my solid THREE back in April). I wish my longest run had been longer than 10 miles, but at least I know that I have covered 13.1 before, and I survived.

For the past few days, I’ve been running without podcasts to see if it helped me focus on my breathing. It did, but it also gave me a lot of time to think. Our running coach has been amazing and has very high hopes for us, and I really want to live up to his expectations. He set a time goal for me that is going to be VERY tough, and he keeps assuring me that I can do it, but all I’ve been thinking about during my past few runs is how difficult it’s going to be. But I guess all I can do is trust my training and try.

I celebrated the culmination of our training by treating myself to a couple Lululemon pieces. Lululemon is CRAZY-expensive, but their stuff really is great. With my two new shirts and headband, and my other tried-and-true gear, I should be good to go.

Eeeeeeek! Wish me luck!

Any last minute advice? What are your running must-haves?

     

Countdown to the Half: 6 Weeks

Guess what, everybody! I’ve been running long enough to kill a pair of shoes!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - New Balance WR1400
Them things are dead.

Technically, my New Balance 1400s are racing flats, which means they wear out faster than regular running shoes, but WHATEVER. SHUT UP. I’m awesome! I’m a runner! Plus, my new ones are really pretty.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - New Balance WR1400
(I swear my ankles aren’t actually crooked. I’m just standing/photographing at a weird angle.)

Want to know another reason why I’m officially calling myself a runner now? A few weeks ago, Brad and I ran a race in Gwinnett called Ella’s Run, and … we actually … WON AWARDS. We both placed second in our respective age groups. Yes, you read that right. I know what you’re thinking – there must have been like, two people in my age group. INCORRECT. THERE WERE 17. You can look here if you don’t believe me. If you do, you’ll also see that my time was not fast. I mean, it was a time that someone like Bianca or Alex could get while, like, wearing flip flops and singing showtunes. But for whatever reason, 15 other women my age were slower than me. It could be because the course was really hard – half rough trail, lots of steep hills – and everyone else was like, “Screw it. It’s 9 a.m. and I’m in Buford. No one’s around to see me blow this race.” Whatever! I’m awesome! I’m a runner!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Ella's Run 5K
Photo via Right to Hike on Facebook. I’m the one in the yellow shorts, muttering “Get out of my way, fools!” under my breath.

Other than that, training for the half has been going fine. We did a trial run with our coach a couple weeks ago so he could plan our pacing charts, and I ran my fastest mile ever at 9:55. I fully realize that 9:55 is still pretty slow, but considering that I started off running 14:00-minute miles in January, it’s a decent improvement. It’s tough for me not to be hard on myself, though. I asked my coach recently why I’m not faster. I asked him, is it because I’m not trying hard enough? Am I not in good enough shape? He assured me that it’s mostly genes. Some people are built for speed, and some aren’t. I definitely fall in the latter camp, and I have to live with that. I guess I’m lucky to have two legs, or whatever.

Anyway, I can’t believe we’re halfway through our half marathon training already! I have a confession: I haven’t been doing my strength-training to protect my bum knees. This is extremely foolhardy, considering that my physical therapist straight-up told me I’d get injured again if I didn’t keep up with my exercises. It’s just so hard to find time to run as it is, you know? But I have to get back into it. I HAVE to. After all this hard work, if I screw myself over right before the big race … it’ll be bad. Real bad.

Anyone else training right now? How’s it going?

     

Countdown to the Half: 11 Weeks

I survived my first week of half marathon training, and my first race since our long summer break! I’m so glad I signed up for the Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival 5K.

Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival 5K

I was scheduled to run four miles this weekend, so when I hit the finish line, I just kept running. I think everyone thought I was insane, but hey – you gotta do what you gotta do.

Because I’m still rather out of shape, running four miles takes me a fairly long time. Luckily, I recently met my new favorite running buddy.

Apple - iPod Shuffle
Photo via Apple

I’ve never been a fan of listening to music while I run outdoors. I get anxious when I can’t hear everything in my area – cars, bicyclists, rapists, angry geese, etc. But I recently discovered that when you listen to podcasts, you can still hear the world around you. Maybe because of the space in between the words? I’m a newly-minted fan of Pete Holmes’ You Made It Weird podcast, so I had a great time on Saturday, cackling to myself and looking like a crazy person while I jogged along.

Pete Holmes - You Made It Weird - Podcast
Photo via Bumpershine

(Sidenote: I absolutely love Pete Holmes. I interviewed him during Just For Laughs Chicago, and he is the funniest person I’ve ever met, hands down. The first time I listened to his podcast with Jenny Slate, I laughed until I cried. You should check it out. You should also watch this video from our interview. I’m the harpy cackling in the background.)

Anyway, back to running. Brad was kind enough to let me borrow the iPod Shuffle I got him for his birthday, but I’ll have to get my own soon, to use on days when we run at the same time (but not together). I’m waiting until Wednesday, though, because I heard Apple might announce more color options! I’m holding out on the off-chance they decide to release a gold glitter version. It could happen, right?!

I think this little guy is going to be extremely helpful when my long runs start getting really long and lonely. We’ve only got a few more weeks of single digit distances. YIKES.

To my fellow runners out there: Do you ever run with headphones? If not, how do you fight boredom during your long runs?

Countown to the Half: 12 Weeks

Happy day-after-Labor-Day, everyone! Who’s hungover? Not me. I spent my day off watching Cougar Town and eating chicken pot pie. Holla!

Brad and I officially start our training for the Atlanta Half Marathon this week! I’m hoping to post weekly about our progress – an idea I’m blatantly borrowing from Miss Bianca and her Marathon Mondays series.

It’s going to be a rough 12 weeks. After my success with my running coach before our last big race, Brad decided to get on board for our second half marathon. We both met with Coach Sean on Sunday to run a test mile on the track and gauge our fitness. Despite our very lazy summer, I’ve still managed to shave a minute off since my last test mile in April, so that’s cool. Unfortunately for me, that means my runs are going to get a little tougher. Meanwhile, though, Brad’s test mile clocked in at 7:44. Uh, WHAT?! Brad is really fast. I am really jealous. But I’m not jealous of his training plan, which is going to be hard as heck. My runs are going to seem easy-breezy in comparison.

What that means, sadly, is that Brad and I probably won’t be running together very often. It’s a bummer. I want him to improve and do well, of course – I don’t want to hold him back – but I’ll miss his company while he’s off kicking ass.

This time around, I’m just going to stick to what worked before our last half marathon. I absolutely loved my New Balance 1400s, so I’ll be getting another pair at the end of this month when I hit the 200 mile mark. And just in time – they came out in a new color!

New Balance - WR1400 - Blue

On the agenda this week, I have a three mile run, an interval run, some cross-training, and a four-mile run. An easy week to ease back into the game. I just hope the weather cooperates. I blame the Atlanta heat completely for all the slacking we did this summer. I like running a lot, I really do – but I don’t like anything enough to do it in 90 degree weather. Not even outdoor margarita drinking. And that’s saying a lot. Outdoor margarita drinking might be one of my very favorite things on this here crazy planet.

Stay cool, everybody!