A New World Sweat Record! – The Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon and 5k Race Report

There are a lot of reasons why I’m so late in writing this race report, and only one of them is (slightly) valid – namely, my camera experienced some type of catastrophe in which the memory card (but not the entire camera) somehow got wet and therefore corrupted, resulting in me losing all of the pictures from the 5k the night before the half marathon. I’ve had way too many other things going on, so I delayed writing the report in hopes that my memory card would magically fix itself and I would be able to get the pictures back and write this report with the glorious photos it deserves. Spoiler alert: cameras do not usually magically fix themselves. I’ve been putting this off for too long, so now, without further adieu and with a mix of pictures I have stolen from my dear friends JC and Jenn, I give you the Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon race reports! Brace yourself – Amish people and my relentless enthusiasm ahead.

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There’s so much more where this came from.

The weekend didn’t start off on the best note. My flight was delayed by two hours and I had underestimated the time it would take to get from the Philadelphia airport to the start of the 5k. JC picked me up (ready with food and even gluten-free beer because he is the best) and we battled rush hour traffic to make it to our hotel at 6:18 pm. The 5k start was set for 6:30! Fortunately, Jenn was able to pick up our bibs and the hotel was right across the street from the race start, so we quickly changed and sprinted across the street! Whew!

The 5k was the first time I had run in two weeks since getting sick with bronchitis, so I really wasn’t sure how it would go. Obviously, that’s not a great sign since I had a half marathon the next day! Fortunately, I was so enamored with all the adorable Amish children everywhere while simultaneously being so disturbed/impressed by all the Amish people running in the race in long dresses and pants that I really didn’t notice what I was doing. JC ran all over the place taking pictures of me from a million angles, but alas, this was with my currently defunct camera, so I have none of them.

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I’m sure you’d rather look at pictures of adorable Amish children than me running and trying not to die anyway.

It was extremely hot and humid, and JC and I remarked at how much we were sweating during a 5k that we weren’t running terribly quickly! It did not bode well for the next day, but we were having so much fun that it didn’t matter. The 5k even took us on a short trail through a corn field, which was basically the greatest thing of my life. I’m not saying that I’m only running races in which Amish people are highly involved from now on, but I’m not not saying that. I was determined to finish under 30 minutes (because that obviously matters?), so I did.

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Jenn runs with her hair down, I sweat through my clothes.

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Hanging out with reader Meghan after the 5k! She is extremely fun.

I had forgotten a sports bra (ran the 5k in a yoga bra), so JC and I headed out after the race to head to the outlet mall so I could grab one. Interesting fact: the only thing I ever forget for races is my sports bra. We got all set up and headed to bed early for the race the next morning, although we unfortunately missed out on the bonfire and s’mores party after the 5k. We also discovered that my camera was broken and prayed it would be fixed by the next morning. Not so much.

I was pretty nervous about the half marathon, as you know. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a PR effort, and after getting sick, I was also pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire thing. I decided to just do the best I could at each given moment, whatever that was. Race morning dawned like a sauna. We were all sweating through our clothes before the race even started. After a great 5k the night before and knowing that I had the hospitality of the Amish to look forward to, I really tried to focus on just being excited and doing the best I could. With the scenery, that was pretty easy to do.

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I figured I wouldn’t have the energy after the race for a jumping picture, so we did one before.

The first few miles of the race were beautiful and scenic, but boy were they hot. I’m always hot when I run, so I tried not to say anything about it, but I knew things were bad when JC said at precisely mile 0.5 “Oh my God, I’ve already sweat through my shirt.” We were running through farmlands, so there was no shade, and we were also running directly into the sun. I focused on keeping my efforts even and not psyching myself out about the heat, but people all around us were walking very early on. Fortunately, there were lots of sites to behold and JC and I hadn’t run together in awhile, so we caught up on all the Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon Club gossip.

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If you’re not into pictures of Amish children, you probably should stop reading now.

JC appointed himself my personal photographer and ran all over the course taking photos, which was fun for me (and useful since I regularly get asked for pictures of me running and I have surprisingly few without tons of people in them) but probably pretty annoying for everyone around us. I’m not sure the compression shorts and running clothes soaked in sweat and clinging to my body is my best look, but it was certainly the look of the day for pretty much everyone out there. I call it “humidity chic.”

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Tallest corn I’ve ever seen. If it had been like three feet taller, it would have possibly provided shade, which was all I could think about.

As much fun as we were having and as much as we were enjoying the scenery and thinking about ways to steal Amish children, it was hard not to think about how much running we still had left to do. The only bad thing I have to say about this race is that the water stops are pretty far apart (every 2-3 miles), especially for the heat and the difficulty of the course (it’s constant rolling hills). I tried to replace as many fluids as possible at each stop, but it was hard to do without making myself sick. Fortunately, the race had the foresight to put out coolers full of ice every so often, so I grabbed some each time and stuffed it down my hat, sports bra, whatever! It was all about survival.

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Ice was so clutch. Except that it immediately melted.

We were keeping a decent pace, but around halfway through the race, I started having a really hard time with my breathing. I wasn’t running too fast and my heart rate was not extremely high, but my chest didn’t feel like it was able to expand fully and I wasn’t getting enough air. I know from unfortunate experience that this is what it feels like when I try to run with bronchitis, and it made it hard to run for extended periods. I reminded myself just to do my best that I could each moment and keep moving forward, and that’s what we did. It helped to walk up the hills, and everyone around us was slowing down too. We noticed lots of ambulances and people dropping like flies on the side of the road, which was pretty scary. It was a big wake up call to just stay safe and do the best we could to get to the finish line in one piece!

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It’s pretty hard to impress me with a race sign, but this is my new favorite.

There were a few randomly really exciting things on the course. The first was a rather unexpected pair of camels that showed up around mile 9. At least, I think it was mile 9. I might have been delirious. It was kind of ironic that there were camels because at that point we were so hot that we felt like we were in the Middle East, and then those camels appeared out of nowhere. I took a picture with the camels and JC tried to get them to kiss me, but it looked more like they were going to spit on me instead so we high-tailed it out of there.

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Camels on the course – that’s a first!

We were walking some and running as much as my breathing situation would allow, but regardless of how fast (or slow) we were moving, I couldn’t help marvel at the beautiful scenery around us and be amazed by all of the (very fast!) Amish people who were running the race. I was so hot in my technical gear and I just could not get over how they were running in pants and suspenders or long dresses. Talk about tough! I refused to let JC take pictures them because it seemed a little gauche (and I know the Amish sometimes do not want pictures taken of themselves) but trust me, it was amazing.

At mile 10, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in a race happened. I literally thought I was hallucinating. We turned onto a gravel road and I saw a sign that said “Rita’s” nailed to a telephone pole. It seemed odd to me because clearly there was not a Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard store nearby since we were in the middle of farmland. EXCEPT THERE WAS. The race had set up a Rita’s station at mile 10 on this gravel road next to a cornfield! I asked what flavor the italian ice was as if it mattered. When they said mango, it very briefly crossed my mind that I do not like mango, and then I ate it anyway. It was the best thing I have ever eaten.

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I wanted to live at this station. MANGO FOREVER.

Interesting fact about the Amish – despite the fact that they were clearly very supportive of the race (they work all of the aid stations, hand make the medals, and are basically the only spectators), they do not cheer at all. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with their faith or not, but it was very interesting and a little odd to run past tons of people who are just staring at you. This didn’t really fit well with my plan to engage them all in conversation and become best friends with them and then meet my future Amish husband (sorry AJ), but I guess you can’t win them all.

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Considerably more pep in my step after the Rita’s station

With just a 5k left to go, we knew we weren’t setting any records. I knew it would be one of my worst half marathon times ever, but I also was surprisingly at peace with that. I knew I was running as much as I was physically able to at the fastest possible pace I could muster. What more can you ask for, really? Plus, I got to spend a lot of time with one of my favorite people who I have not seen in far too long while looking at beautiful scenery and thinking about how to convert to the Amish faith (Amishness? That’s not right) so I can get some adorable Amish children of my own. That’s a good day right there.

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We also took my new favorite race picture. If you look closely, I have a calf muscle!

As the race wound to a close, I was simultaneously relieved and sad that it was over. It was such a wonderful experience – truly everything I hoped it would be – if you take away the boiling lava hot weather. That’s hardly the race’s fault, though, and I hear it has been much cooler in previous years.

JC and I finished the race right around 2:40, which would normally embarrass me, but I was honestly proud of myself for focusing on the experience and doing the absolute best I could and being at peace with that. Did the thought cross my mind that it’s a full 50 minutes slower than my half marathon PR? Yes, I would be lying if I said otherwise. But that really doesn’t seem to matter that much because this race was a hell of a lot more fun. It also probably didn’t hurt that even finishing in that time, there were many many people behind us because it seemed like pretty much everyone was having a rough day.

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Finishing strong and sweaty

After the race, we heard that 50 people were treated for heat illnesses and many were taken away in ambulances! Pretty crazy and definitely not the norm for weather in Pennsylvania at this time of year. I’m just glad we made it through in one piece with plenty of stories to show for it! Oh, and a pretty sweet medal too.

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Pretty much the most cheerful running partner in the world. He never has a bad day! And he always brings me beer.

As one final note to a great day, I also got to meet faithful reader/commenter and fellow blogger Elle from A Fast Paced Life!  We had been trying to get together the whole weekend and I am so glad it happened!

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Hooray for blogger meetups!

In case you skipped the whole entry: In summary, I didn’t have the run that I hoped I would a few months ago, but I’m happy with the one I did have. I may have been (a lot) slower than I planned, but I did the best I could and most importantly, thoroughly enjoyed a race that I have been waiting to do for over a year! I’d highly recommend the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon to everyone in the world, Amish or otherwise. You won’t regret it, but you might set a new world record for most sweat produced by a human being during a half marathon. I’m still rehydrating!

 

Unprepared

It seems like it’s been forever since I have done a real race, and now one is finally upon me! This Friday, I’m heading up to Pennsylvania for the Bird-in-Hand half marathon, which I’ll have the pleasure of running with my dear friends Jenn and JC! This race, of course, is the one in Amish country where little Amish children hand you water at the water stops, the Amish community hand makes all the medals, and they even participate in the race! If you’ve been around for awhile, you know how excited I’ve been about doing this one. Despite the fact that I’m certainly not in tip top shape and never was going to be at this stage, I was hoping to at least run the entire race and just have fun.

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. I mean, the fun will definitely happen, but the running the entire race part? Doubtful. Last week, I mentioned that I was sick. As it turns out, that got worse throughout the week, and I actually have bronchitis, which is basically the only illness I ever get. I finally went to the doctor and got some medication, but the damage is pretty much done. I haven’t worked out at all in a week, and I haven’t run in nearly two weeks. That does not bode well for my ability to suddenly up and run a half marathon when I’m not in great shape anyway!

This also is really throwing a wrench in my plan to train for and run the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, KS on October 12. I haven’t done a long run of any kind in a few weeks. I’m trying to stay optimistic (or rather, less pessimistic than normal) and hope that I’ll be able to string together some good workouts in the next month and a half, but I just don’t know what will happen. I know I’ll be out there hopefully completing the marathon, but it won’t be the way I was envisioning.

I have really mixed feelings about this. Last year, not being sufficiently trained probably wouldn’t have bothered me that much. I guess this time I was really hoping that all the pieces would fall into place and I’d successfully complete the whole training cycle. I was hoping to do as well as my back would allow, and the ironic thing is, my back has been great! My back has been allowing me to do anything I want within reason – it’s the illness and the insane tornado that is my life at the moment that is throwing a wrench in everything.

All I can do right now is focus on doing the best I can in the time I have left and enjoying the races. It was never going to be about my finishing time for either event, but I did want to feel like I was giving it the best effort I could and had done as much training as possible. While I guess I am doing that given the circumstances, it’s definitely not what I was hoping for. I don’t know how things will go, but at least I’ll have good company to enjoy the day with! That’s all that matters.

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I’m certainly not going to be the fastest, so here’s hoping!

LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever gone into a race with way less fitness than you were hoping? How did you feel about it?

Worst Epiphany Ever

Do you ever have those epiphanies about yourself that you realize are obvious to literally everyone else  in your life? That’s embarrassing. Today, I had one of those epiphanies.

I am incapable of relaxing. 

I told AJ this breaking news and he was like “Um, yeah. I live with you. I know.” I think people have probably told me in the past that I can’t relax, but I didn’t want to believe them. I wanted to be the “cool girl” – laid back, go with the flow, effortless beach hair that looks like the kind in the commercials rather than the actual beach,  etc. But no, I must admit. It is true. I cannot relax.

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NO IT IS NOT, SCOTT.

How did I reach this conclusion? Well, as you all know, I have a lot going on right now. I don’t need to list all that out because there are plenty of people busier than me and no one really cares how busy I or anyone else is. That being said, I started my final (hooray!) class for my Masters this week and shit has hit the proverbial fan. After a fantastic weekend in Washington D.C. this past weekend, I got home very late Sunday night and barely made it out of bed Monday morning. I’ve got what appears to be a sinus infection, and I can barely drag myself to the office (I have my own office and only two other people work in my building, so I’m not infecting anyone) let alone work out.

If you’re a normal person, you might be upset about not being able to work out, but you’re probably not freaking out about it. If you’re a normal person, your first thought when realizing you’re too sick to work out is probably not “Oh good, now I can get ahead on my school work!” It’s probably “I should eat a lot of pizza and cookies and drink a lot of water so I get better soon.” I’ll let you guess which one of those thoughts was mine.

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Thank God for Dominos and their gluten-free pizza because srsly.

I just can’t seem to chill out ever, no matter how beneficial it would be for my body or mind. Some fellow bloggers have talked recently about being “Type A, but lazy.” I am basically never lazy. If I am too sore or tired to run, I replace it with something else. If I am too stressed out to write a blog post, I do my school work instead.

Sometimes I think that something has got to change, and maybe it does. But then I think “If I relax, how will I get everything done? WHO WILL MAKE AJ LUNCH?” It’s hard to prioritize when it feels like everything is equally important. While working out maybe shouldn’t make that list, I know how good it is for my mental and physical wellbeing, so it seems necessary.

There is no point to this post other than to say that I discovered the world’s most obvious quality about myself. And I don’t suppose that I really plan on changing it? Oh my God, does that make me even more insane? But hey, admitting you have a problem is the first step, or something.

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NO TIME THERE’S NEVER ANY TIME

LEAVE A COMMENT: Are you capable of relaxing, or are you Jessie Spano in disguise too? 

Perception vs Reality: T-Rex Edition

My girl Suz had a post this week that made me think, and I like posts that make me think. She wrote a post about perception versus reality as it pertains to her blog and how she actually is in real life. I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about this as it relates to my own blog for one primary reason – you guys like meeting me, but I am terrified of meeting you.

The reason for that, quite simply, is that I’m afraid that what you get when you meet me won’t quite measure up to whatever it is you think I’m like based on my blog. It’s not that I intentionally misrepresent myself, it’s that this blog is imperfect and only has the capacity to show so much of my life. Not to mention, it’s clearly written down, which is different from talking to someone in real life. So with Suz as my inspiration, I decided to go through some things that you may or may not be thinking and tell you how true they are. Make sense? I didn’t explain that very well, but go with it.

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Eh, it’s night time and I’m tired.

1. I’m hilarious. I’m not tooting my own horn here – this is the thing I hear most about my blog, namely, that it is really funny. I’m not that funny in real life. If you talk to me, it is not like talking to Kevin Hart. You will not be rolling on the floor laughing. People would certainly say I’m witty and that I’m a good story teller, but I’m not innately funny. I’m much funnier in the written word than when I’m speaking, probably because I’m generally overwhelmed by social anxiety if I have to talk to someone new. Sorry to crush your dreams.

2. I’m independently wealthy. Not true, but I’ve been very fortunate to always have good, well-paying jobs. I get a lot of questions about how I afford to do so many races and travel all over the place, and the answer is a combination of the travel tips I’ve mentioned, the fact that I do have a very good job, I live in a ridiculously cheap area (South Carolina for the win!), I don’t spend my money on much else outside of travel and running, and, from time to time, I have credit card debt. You want real, you got real. I don’t have a trust fund, but I am lucky and I know that. I’m not stupid enough to think that everyone in the world can travel as much as I do, but I do think that everyone can travel more than they think they can.

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And by shoes, I obviously mean running shoes.

3. I’m extremely bold and adventurous. True. I’m just as adventurous in real life, if not more, than it comes across on the blog. I love trying new things as long as they do not involve birds in any way. I’m pretty much game for anything. The better story it will make to tell later, the better.

4. I make new friends easily. True, in a superficial sense. I can talk to anyone if I have to. It’s easy for me to meet people at races and spend hours running along and swapping life stories. It is very difficult for me to make real friends. I have a difficult time connecting with people on more than a superficial level, even if we trade all our dirty secrets. I find that most people think we are better friends than I think we are. I don’t trust people very easily, and it takes a long time before I care about someone enough to actually consider them a friend. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how it is. That being said, once I do decide that I care about someone, I care about them forever, no matter how bad the relationship goes. It is my fatal flaw.

5. I don’t care about my times when I run. I’m weird about this. I don’t really care about my times in most marathons (you know, when people are actually watching and my time is actually being recorded), but I get very upset with myself over my pace during normal training runs. I get super upset about a run that goes worse than I think it should. It’s made coming back from injury really challenging. I wish I could swap my mentality around so I cared more about races and didn’t stress out so much about training, but it is what it is.

6. I run every day. If you’ve been reading awhile, you know this is obviously false, but some people think that because of how many marathons I’ve done. No way. I run three times a week. I do work out almost every day, though.

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#thestruggle

7. I have a positive perspective on my injury, so I have a positive perspective on everything. Not even close. I’m one of the most innately pessimistic people you will ever meet. Some people would say I’m a realist, but I’m too pessimistic to give myself that much credit. I like to think I’m not pessimistic in a Debbie Downer kind of way, but I probably am. At least if I am, hopefully I’m more like a sarcastic and witty Debbie Downer than one you want to smack across the face. Anyway, I have to work really, really hard to be positive about anything. I am gloom and doom all the time. I am the queen of the catastrophic scenario. It doesn’t mean it necessarily seems that way all the time when you’re talking to me, but my head is one big black hole of “OMG everything is coming crashing down and this is going to fail and my dog is going to die and GAH why does everything have gluten in it??” If I have a positive thought, it is the exception, not the rule. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. When I talk about positive things here, it’s because it’s particularly noteworthy and I’m trying to avoid bringing you guys down.

8. My hair is naturally this luxurious. True. #blessed

9. I watch the Real Housewives all the time. That’s how I get all the GIFs. False. I rarely watch Real Housewives. The GIFs are hilarious enough to stand alone, and I find them all over the internet. I spend my time watching more refined reality television like Party Down South, 19 Kids and Counting, and 90-Day Fiance. Also, I like a good drama series like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and the like.

10. I’m cringe-inducingly honest. Even more true in real life than you can imagine. I feel bad for AJ. I either say nothing or I say the truth. I am really good at holding my tongue, but I won’t lie. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and I try very hard to be tactful, but I’m definitely one of those people who you don’t want to ask a question that you don’t want to know the answer to. BYE FELICIA!

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For some reason, people don’t always want to hear the truth and I have no idea why.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What perceptions do people have about you? Are they accurate or not? Is there anything about me that you’re wondering about? 

 

Pushing Through

First, go check out my guest post on my pal Katie’s blog, Skinny Minnie Moves! If you want to know how to get super fit through weightlifting, she’s your girl. I obviously wrote about running because I know nothing about weight lifting.

Second, if you make it all the way through this post, I have a surprise for you at the end!

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Sneak peak!

I’ve had a really good few days since I last posted. I think I’m starting to get into the swing of things with my new schedule, and I’m terribly impressed with how productive I’ve been this weekend. It probably didn’t hurt that AJ has been out of town since Thursday night, but nonetheless, I’m pleased. A brief recap:

I ended up staying at work an hour and a half late on Friday, long after my boss had left, so I could finish something up I had promised him. I definitely didn’t expect to be working late on my first Friday at the new job, but it is what it is, and I liked what I was working on. I ended up writing a proposal and an entire report this week plus some other stuff, and my boss was thrilled with what I gave him – a huge relief since I had pretty limited experience with the type of proposal I was writing. I went home and made dinner and then went to bed early in preparation for Saturday’s long run! I was determined not to skip it after last week.

Of course, waking up on Saturday morning I had instant feelings of regret. I may need to think my workout schedule because my legs are just brutalized by the time Saturday morning rolls around. They actually feel worse Saturday after taking a rest day on Friday than they do on Friday after working out the whole week, so I’ll need to work on that. Fortunately or unfortunately (since his presence forced me out the door), my friend Chuck had agreed to meet me and run my whole 16 miles with me for God knows what reason. It was my first time running with my group since getting back from Tulsa, and as excited as I was to see everyone, I was not excited about the stifling humidity outside. I wasn’t feeling great after 10 – pretty dizzy and weak, thanks to the absolutely profuse amount of sweat dripping off my body (seriously, I was the sweatiest person in our group). We had looped back to our cars at that point, and I gave serious consideration to just going home and finishing the other 6 miles later in the day after I had rehydrated a bit.

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And I hate looking at pictures of myself, so this should give you a good perspective on where my head was.

Ultimately, I decided to keep going. I’m not really sure why – possibly the swarm of gnats buzzing around that made me want to run away – most likely because I knew deep down there was a limited chance of me heading back out the door by myself a few hours later. So Chuck and I waved goodbye to everyone else (who had been much more sensible and quit at 7 or 10) and headed back out. It was mostly fine until 12.8 miles, when I just could not run anymore. I was way too dizzy and weak and felt like absolute crap, but we had to get back to the cars, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t putting 16 miles on my legs that day, so that’s what we did. I can’t decide if it was the right decision or not, but it’s done now. I didn’t feel right the rest of the day and actually ate my lunch sitting on the kitchen floor because I was too tired to walk the 10 feet to the table. Then I watched hours of bad reality television and Criminal Minds and succeeded in scaring myself to death – smart idea when I was home alone, no?

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It’s really unfortunate that I find crime shows so fascinating when I am the most easily frightened person alive.

Today, I was an epic tornado of productivity! I wrote a guest post (I have the hardest time with those because I never have ideas)! I worked on Ramblen! I cleaned (I do not clean)! I did dishes (AJ always does the dishes)! I did all the laundry, including the comforter (I hate washing the comforter)! I went grocery shopping and bought PRODUCE like a mfing adult. I made all of AJ’s lunches for the week and mine. I made dinner. I planned out all the meals for the week. And I also tricked Chuck into riding two loops around Fort Jackson with me for a total of 24 of the hilliest, most brutal miles I’ve ever ridden. So actually, he probably tricked me, because I was all “Hey, want to ride tomorrow?” and he was all “Yeah totally, let’s meet at the Fort” and I was all “OK, that sounds like fun!” and then he probably cackled to himself because I had no idea what I was in for and good Lord, those are some big, nonstop hills. But, I did them, and I’m proud of myself. And now I’m continuing the productivity by writing this post! Look at me go!

I also have a new favorite song. Hearing this just put a huge smile on my face all weekend. While I might not ever have this much body confidence, it’s nice to hear from someone who does!

Ok, now your reward for making it through this post! After I mentioned last week about eating a Kind bar before my long run, one of my lovely readers (who works for Kind) contacted me and said she would send me some goodies since I love the brand so much! Well, I was completely overwhelmed when three HUGE boxes of Kind snacks ended up on my doorstep last week. It only seemed fair that I would share some of that great stuff with y’all, too! So I’m having a little giveaway to say thanks for sticking with me.. You’ll get: two packages of granola, a 12-pack box of Kind bars, and some other fun surprises!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Winners, Coupon Code and a Life Update!

Thank you all SO much for your amazing enthusiasm over my giveaway with Qore Performance! I’m happy to announce that the winners are Melissa and Conni, and they have been notified via email. But I have good news for you too!

Qore Peformance is offering a coupon code since so many of you wanted to buy the shorts! Use code “staycooltrex” to get 20% off through next Wednesday (8/19), and 10% off through the end of the summer! This is HUGE so take advantage of it while it lasts!

In other news, I started my new job this week! It’s certainly been a whirlwind. I think when you’re an adult, you kind of think of your first day at a new job like the first day of school. There will be a lot of annoying paperwork, some lectures, maybe a few meetings, but at the end of the day, you won’t really do anything of substance. Well, that was not the case for me! I think they had been looking for someone for so long that they had a ton of work that had piled up, so it all got dumped on my desk within an hour of my arrival on Monday morning. Whoa.

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I mean, WHOA

Any time I have started a new job, no matter how qualified I am for it, I have been terrified and felt inadequate. I think a lot of people feel that way. So when my boss asked me to write my first proposal before the clock had even struck 9 am, I was a little unnerved. That said, it was quickly evident that there was way too much work to be done to dwell on whether or not I could do it, so I just got to work. Admittedly, it’s an interesting adjustment heading back to an office after a year of making my own schedule. The Columbia branch of the company only has 3 people in the office including me, with everyone else spread out throughout the state. I have my own (big) office, but nothing in it, so I need to work on that. It’s nice and quiet, and I’ve been working on getting into a routine.

So far, I’ve been waking up at 5 am most days so I can head to a class (either at the gym or at barre). I shower and get to work by 7:30 and leave sometime between 4:30 and 5. I’ve started doing yoga at lunch since I bring my lunch to work and have room to stretch out in my office, which I think is a rather efficient use of time since I generally hate taking the time to stretch. Every day after work this week I’ve headed out for either a run or a bike ride since Amanda is in town for work and I want to make the most of things while she’s here!

Please forgive me for being potentially a little sparse in the blogging/response department for the next week or so. I’m just trying to survive at this point!

And now, a serious question: Do you have a heart rate monitor? What kind? Do you love it or hate it?

And now, a not serious question: Does everyone get nervous on the first day of work or am I the only person who gets worked up about such things?

I Skipped My Long Run

I skipped my long run this weekend. But first, if you haven’t entered my awesome giveaway from Qore Performance yet, DO IT NOW!!

I started out with great intentions. First, I was going to run on Friday morning, since I knew I had to leave fairly early on Saturday to drive down to Kate’s wedding. That plan was screwed up when I found out that I needed to go into my new job for a few hours for a conference call right in the middle of what would have been my run, so I decided to make Friday a rest day and go Saturday instead, even though I knew I’d be very tight on time. Of course, my legs were killing me (sore from a week of tough two-a-day workouts) and it was pouring rain, so I decided to give my legs another day to rest and figured I’d be less stressed running Sunday morning instead.

When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted and I really didn’t want to run, but I got up. I put my clothes on, strapped on the ol’ Garmin, ate a Kind bar, and headed out the door. With thunderstorms off and on, it wasn’t ideal, but I was determined anyway. Then I stepped outside. As I waited for my Garmin to find its stupid satellites, I thought “No.” I just did not want to go out there. Usually I can convince myself that a few miles will be fun and then I end up doing more, but today, I just didn’t have it in me. My legs still don’t feel right, I’m exhausted, and my stomach is in shambles, as it has been for the past few days. So, I went back inside, put my pajamas back on, and went back to sleep.

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I know, I KNOW.

I can’t decide how I feel about it.

Part of me thinks it’s not a big deal since it’s definitely not the norm. I don’t tend to skip my runs or workouts regularly. We hear a lot that running should be fun or there is no point in doing it, but today, I knew it wouldn’t be fun. I was sore, my stomach was upset, and it wasn’t a good situation all around.

The other part of me wonders if all of that is a cop-out and I should have just pushed through. After all, there will be a point during the marathon when I want to stop, right? Not everything in life can be fun – sometimes we just have to do it. In theory, I agree with that, but for some reason I just don’t feel bad about skipping this run. AJ will be out of town next weekend, so I can devote my whole Saturday to the 16 miles I have planned. I’ll have time to run with my group and not worry about other obligations, and hopefully my stomach will be feeling better by then.

To stop myself from completely slacking off, I decided to punish myself with a few hours of group fitness classes in the gym. I started out with Zumba, which is basically my idea of fitness hell because I am so atrociously uncoordinated at it. I get a good workout, but I feel so ridiculous the whole time that it’s hard to enjoy it. And why is there always that one person at Zumba that is a freaking professional dancer and does all the moves THIS BIG and knows the entire routine without flinching? I spend half the class distracted by how this person can possibly be good at Zumba and forget to workout. I then did Bodypump, which I generally enjoy but which was really hard today. Also, the instructor could not stay on the beat of the song for the life of him and I kept getting distracted by  that. Hmm, I am sensing a theme…perhaps I am the problem. Nonetheless, I followed that up with Bodyflow, which was a new class for me and basically the most confusing thing of my life. “Yoga/pilates/tai-chi set to Top 40 hits? What? Oww oww oww my legs don’t bend like that owwww!” That pretty much sums it up. In short, I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t be skipping my long runs again for the foreseeable future.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Did you do your long run this weekend? Do you ever skip workouts?

I Put Ice Packs Down My Pants and It Was Awesome

The title means exactly what it says. I recently put ice packs down my compression shorts while running, and it was awesome.

Let’s back up.

One of my best friends from high school had been posting some articles recently about a new company he is involved with called Qore Performance. The company designs compression shorts and sleeves with built-in pockets that are designed to hold cooling packs or hot packs (like those instant hand warmers), depending on the weather. The guys that founded the company are golfers who were looking for a way to keep cool on the course during the summer, and they struck upon the idea of placing packs at strategic locations along the body’s main arteries that would help cool your core temperature.

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Qore Performance shorts with packs inserted

The reviews for the product are already amazing, but they have a very specific application – golf. As I read them, I decided to text him to see if the company was interested in testing out the applications of their product for sports like running and cycling. To be honest, I just really was dying for something - anything - that would give me a respite from the summer heat. None of the guys in the company are runners or cyclists, so they agreed to let me test out the shorts and sleeve to see what I thought and if there are any potential uses for their product in the more active sports.

To start, the shorts are insanely comfortable. Instead of making them out of polyester blend like most moisture-wicking fabrics, they’re made of nylon. The shorts have mesh paneling along the femoral arteries and crotch, which helps keep things delightfully cool, shall we say. The 7-inch inseam length is appropriate for wearing under baggier shorts or alone, and there are no worries about chafing! Qore is working on producing shorter inseams soon for those who prefer less coverage. The rechargeable packs can be cooled by dunking them in cold water (they freeze at 58 degrees) or freezing them – I chose the latter, figuring it was the only way to beat the Oklahoma heat!

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Close up on the mesh panels (with an appearance from Headsweats)

I took the shorts for multiple runs of varied lengths both with and without the packs. On shorter runs (45 minutes or less), they are golden! The packs stay nice and cold and you can truly feel the cooling effect. Does that mean I was cold during my runs? Um, no. It was 90 degrees with 80% humidity. There’s only so much these things can do. But those packs did give me cool spots to focus on that definitely improved my performance. Was it a coincidence that my first runs in the shorts were the fastest I had done since surgery? Maybe, but I don’t think so. That being said, for long runs, it is a bit tedious to recharge and replace the packs, so it’s probably best for workouts under an hour. The good news is that the shorts are so comfortable (and the mesh paneling so cooling in itself) that you can wear them by themselves and still have a great experience!

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Because the internet can never have too many pictures of me in compression gear…ugh

These shorts are a game changer for me. I seriously want to wear them every day (Scott, send me more!!) even without the packs. The packs themselves don’t cause any chafing and they soften as they melt, so there is no discomfort or restricted motion. I can only imagine how awesome they’ll be when the weather is warm but not boiling!

I also tested out the arm sleeve, which features a space for one pack along the brachial artery. I didn’t think the shorts would be great to bike in, so I tested out the sleeve. Generally speaking, I hate arm sleeves, which is part of the reason I never carry my phone when I run – they’re too hot! Made from the same material as the shorts, though, this sleeve is cool and comfortable. I rode for about an hour, and although the effects of the pack wore off in about 45 minutes, I could definitely tell a difference! It would be effective on the run or bike, depending on which you prefer and what type of gear you like to wear.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Qore Performance gear will help you work out for longer while feeling more refreshed than usual. Will you still be hot if it is 95 degrees outside? Yes, obviously. It is not an ice bath. If you’re looking for comfortable, moisture-wicking, light weight gear that can help you stay cool in the summer with or without the use of ice packs and warm in the winter with the addition of heat packs, this is your product!

I’m giving away one pair of Qore Performance Shorts and one arm sleeve! Enter below now or I will keep them for myself.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent the Qore Performance Compression Shorts and Arm Sleeve for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and effusive compliments are my own.

Things Are Looking Up

Well, I had quite the busy week last week! After what has been quite a lot of stress recently, it seems like things might finally be starting to fall into place. I’ve held off from talking about it until it all came to fruition, but now I can!

1. The Job - I got back to South Carolina a week ago. Ultimately, it didn’t make sense for me to stay in Tulsa and be away from AJ if I didn’t have a job out there. I decided I would head back home and continue applying for jobs in both South Carolina and Oklahoma to see what sticks. As sad as I was to leave Tulsa behind (and I really was – God bless those miles and miles of wonderful trails), it has been nice to be home. My main reason for coming home that particular weekend was that I had a job interview this past Tuesday that I needed to be home for! I had spoken with the company on the phone and thought the position and opportunity sounded really promising, so I was excited about the possibility. Sure enough, I was offered the job the same day as the interview, and after spending a day negotiating terms, I accepted! I’ll be doing work that I genuinely enjoy (lots of writing, of course) at a great, growing company that is small enough that I’ll be able to make a real impact. Even better, it’s a step forward in my career, and they were comfortable with me continuing to work on Ramblen on the side! Wins all the way around! I start August 11th.

2. A Great Run - Last week, I had a run where everything just clicked. I ran 5 miles and averaged under 9:00/mile, including one 1/4 mile walk break, and my last mile was 8:13! That’s probably my fastest mile of 2014. I was absolutely ecstatic, and even better, I allowed myself to just revel in the moment rather than thinking “So what, you used to run half marathons at a much faster pace than you did those 5 miles!” Ok, fine, I did think that, but I quickly pushed it out of my mind and decided to just be proud of myself. Of course, my next run was pretty crappy, but I had one good one. That means there will be more good ones! And I also did my long run in the pouring rain by myself this week – score one for mental toughness!

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#rainselfie

3. A New Car – This started out as a bad thing, as I certainly was not planning on getting another car this week! I absolutely loved my truck (Dodge Ram) but I started to have more and more problems with it. It wasn’t anything earth shattering - another new set of tires, a motor in the door that broke, faulty tire pressure monitoring system, and a bunch of other things – but they all needed to be fixed, and the costs were quickly adding up. I had a lot of miles on that truck, and the thought of starting a new job and constantly taking it to the shop and having to work around that was really stressing me out. I decided to go look at new-to-me cars and seeing if I could get a great deal. Interesting fact about me: there is almost nothing that gives me greater joy than negotiating for anything, but especially cars. I basically live for it. I love the research, the conversations, the back and forth – all of it.  Long story short, I worked out an incredible deal on my dream car (Jeep Grand Cherokee) with no increased financial stress on my end!

Awkward story: after I signed the paperwork, the salesman asked if he could take my picture with the car so he could put it on the dealership’s social media accounts. I said yes and didn’t bother asking him to send the picture since I figured I could get it off social media. So I went back and checked all their social media accounts….yeah, they have never once posted a picture of a customer with their new car. I’m feeling a little violated.

4. Wedding Stuff – I’ll be the first to admit that wedding planning is not exactly my favorite activity, but it’s a necessary evil. That said, AJ and I decided to really sit down and look at what we wanted out of the day. We decided we wanted something relatively small – 50 -60 people, with an outdoor ceremony, a casual reception, and a focus on all the stuff we think is important (food, alcohol, fun) and none of the stuff we don’t care about (table linens, dancing, extraneous flowers). This weekend, we made huge strides towards getting everything planned out and booked, and we are so excited!  The wedding will be April 11, 2015!

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Why yes, our wedding reception IS at a brewery, thankyouverymuch.

Overall, things are definitely looking up! I’ve got a great giveaway coming up on the blog this week, so stay tuned!

LEAVE A COMMENT: How was your weekend?

The Plan for Fall

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to approach the fall marathon season and about what, if anything, I want to train for. It’s been hard to know exactly where to set my sights since I haven’t known what my back would be able to handle. While in Tulsa, I drank the Dom-N-8rz (Patty’s running group) Kool-Aid. Because she has been injured for awhile as well, it actually really helped me to feel more optimistic about fall races. I guess running with someone else who is hurt made me feel like I wasn’t as far behind. As I’ve been building up my mileage, I’ve had pretty great results – not necessarily with my tremendous endurance, because I certainly don’t have that back quite yet – but in terms of my back cooperating with the process, I really couldn’t ask for more. After a great 14 miles this past weekend, I’ve laid out a plan for how to proceed in the fall and I’m finally ready to share it! Watch everything go to shit now.

Training

I’ve decided that this training session will just be base building. No speed work, no hill work, nothing crazy. Just lots of easy miles and getting my groove back. I will be sticking to a run-walk plan for my long runs for the foreseeable future, as it’s working really well so far and I don’t want to push my luck. After my fall marathon is over, I’ll start easing back into the harder runs. I’m going to stick with the 3 times per week plan for now and supplement with lots of cycling and other cross training to keep my fitness up. Why mess with a good thing? Plus, it’s just really hot and running in the summer kind of sucks, let’s be honest.

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I don’t know what my excuse is.

September 6 – Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon, Bird-in-Hand, PA

I’m out of control excited for the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon. Running with the Amish? Are you kidding me? Um, I absolutely signed up on the first day registration opened…last October. I wish I was kidding. My mom and I will be driving up to Pennsylvania and I’ll be running the half with JC! I have no time goals for this race, but I’d like to run the entire thing except for walking through the water stops. I think that is viable, and mostly I just want to have fun! I mean, that is pretty much always the case, but you know what I mean. In my long runs over the month of August, I’ll be focusing on stringing together longer running segments and fewer walk breaks to build my endurance and get my body used to running for extended periods of time.

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I’m going to become best friends with every Amish person since I obviously won’t be blinding them with my speed like this guy. (Image from Lancaster Online)

October 12 – Prairie Fire Marathon, Wichita, KS

After waffling back and forth on whether I would be ready for Prairie Fire, I felt a lot more confident this week after finishing 14 miles. I definitely felt like I could have kept running. Although we were doing run/walk intervals, I’m ok with that – I often walk parts of marathons anyway, especially at the end, so why not actually train for that and follow my program? I’d like to do 1 mile running and 1/4 mile walking, so I’d end up running over 20 miles of the race. I feel good about that, especially in terms of keeping myself healthy. Since I’ll only be able to do 4 or fewer marathons per year now, I need to be strategic about which ones I do, meaning no marathons in states I’ve already done. The Dom-N-8rz are all headed to Prairie Fire, and Patty and I will be running the race together since we’re both in the same boat. I haven’t run a marathon in the state of Kansas yet, so this seems like an ideal race to slate as my comeback.

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Pretty sure this is what me and Patty will look like during Prairie Fire. More or less.

I’m feeling really good about my fall training schedule and races. It isn’t necessarily the traditional plan, but I think it is what is best for my body and my mind. Of course, my health is my priority, so if I start having any pain as the long runs get longer, I’ll definitely pull back. We’ll see what happens!

LEAVE A COMMENT: What are your fall racing plans?