Friday, April 18, 2014

Princess Half Marathon Recap, Part I - Everything that could go wrong...

I haven't been enthusiastic about writing this recap because the race didn't go well for me.  The last time I ran Princess, I wrote a 3-part recap including details about our stay in Orlando, the expo, as well as the race!

I wanted Princess to be my post-baby half marathon because I've run it before, I absolutely love it, and it would give me the perfect amount of time to train.  When Disney announced they were adding the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and starting the Glass Slipper Challenge, I wasn't initially sure I wanted to do both races.  I thought I would take time to think about it and see how I felt once I started running again.  When race registration had been open less than 24 hours and the Challenge was already 93% full, however, I decided it was time to pull the trigger.  I signed myself up to do 19.3 miles in 2 days!

We drove to Orlando on Wednesday and stayed at the All Star Sports Resort, like we always do for Disney races, and we planned to come home on Sunday after the half marathon.  Meredith did great on the car ride.  She got fussy for the last 45 minutes, but she was really tired from not having a good nap and being stuck in the car all day.  We ate dinner at the resort and I got her to bed without any problems.

Two hours later when Pete and I were getting ready to go to bed, Meredith woke up.  I tried to get her calm down but she became progressively more upset.  I ended up putting her in bed with me (our room had 2 double beds) and she slept in short spurts either laying on my shoulder, or laying next to me.  Every 30-45 minutes she would wake up and cry and I would rub her back and sing to her a little and she'd settle back down.  She also kept getting hotter and hotter and I knew she had a fever.

At 8am I asked Pete to take Meredith to breakfast so I could get a little sleep.  I think I slept about an hour while they were gone, but when they came back we knew we needed to take Meredith to an urgent care facility.  Long story short, she had her first ear infection.  We got her some antibiotics and spent the rest of the day taking care of her and helping her get some sleep.

Poor sick baby.

On Thursday evening we left Meredith with my mom for awhile so I could go to the expo and pick up my race packet.  At that point I knew Meredith would not be participating in her kids' race, but I still picked up her packet and got her t-shirt and personalized bib.

I love race expos - seeing everyone hyped up about the race, checking out all the cool fitness gear - that's when I start to get really excited!  Disney expos are very impressive.  They're at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and it's basically a huge room full of booths selling all my favorite running things.  This year I bought a new Bondi Band (because I forgot to bring the one I planned to wear) and a Sweaty Band.  I don't like Sweaty Bands for working out because they fit a little snugly on me and give me a headache, but they have been great to wear around the house just to keep the hair out of my eyes.  We didn't stay at the expo too long because we were tired, but I was very excited to have my bib!

After 24 hours of antibiotics Meredith seemed almost completely better, but I was starting to get sick.  When I don't get enough sleep and get run down, I start to have sinus trouble, which was exactly what happened in Orlando.

Feeling better!

Between taking care of Meredith and not being able to breathe through my nose, I was barely sleeping.  On Friday I knew something had to give if I was going to be able to race, so I took some Benadryl and took a very long nap.  I usually don't take Benadryl because it makes me so drowsy I can barely function, but I needed something to make me sleep.  It helped a lot and I started to get better and feel more like I was going to make it.  I took more Benadryl on Friday night and went to sleep early so that I could get a decent amount of rest before the 10K on Saturday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A cool thing

A cool thing happened to me this morning.  I went to the Y to do a quick treadmill run (I've been doing those lately because I just can't take the pollen outside).  I ran 3 miles in 32:21, doing quarter-mile intervals at different speeds.  I've been trying to focus on getting faster lately - adding in interval runs and doing a lot more strength training.  Anyway, I was pushing hard and felt pretty good during my run.  I walked for about two tenths of a mile but the rest of the time I was running.

As I was walking out of the fitness center and heading to the nursery to pick up Mer, a guy who I'd seen working out while I was running stopped and asked me how far I ran.  He then asked if I just run "tons and tons of miles" and I told him I used to do fairly long runs while I was training for half marathons, but that now I'm just doing about 3 miles at a time.  He told me he was trying to get into running but he suffered from boredom and shin splints, and told me he was impressed with me and how I was "just chugging along" on the treadmill.

This made me smile so big on the inside (I smiled a normal amount on the outside so as not to look like a weirdo) because I remember when I was that person who was blown away by people who were able to run consistently.  Even 10 straight minutes of running seemed like a ridiculously long time back then!  Honestly, I couldn't really believe it - someone was watching me run with jealousy?  Crazy.

Little reminders like that of how far I've come keep me motivated.  I went from a total non-runner to running a half marathon, then got pregnant and didn't run for almost a whole year, and now I'm back to being a runner again with two more half marathons under my belt.  Other motivation to get faster - my dad has started running and sends me his 10K times fairly frequently (he runs 10K almost every day) and he's faster than me!  I know he reads this blog sometimes.  Dad, I'm coming for you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon Recap

I'll be honest - I was not looking forward to this race at all.  In the three weeks between Princess and WB, I ran twice.  I kept hoping something would come up that would get me out of doing the race.  Tired and unmotivated, I just wanted to stay home and get some extra sleep.

Since no crisis occurred, we packed up the car and left for Wilmington on Saturday.  The trip went well and I picked up my race packet that night and even made it to bed at 9pm.  When my alarm went off at 4:45, Pete told me that I could just sleep in if I wanted and I was so very tempted.  But I didn't want to have dragged Meredith across the state and stayed in a hotel for no reason, so I got out of bed and got ready.

We stayed in a really great hotel that was right next to Mayfaire Town Center, an outdoor shopping center where the finish line would be.  Since there was no convenient parking at Wrightsville Beach where the race started, the race organizers had buses to shuttle runners from Mayfaire to the start line.  It took me maybe 5 minutes to walk there from our hotel and I got right on a bus without having to wait in line at all.

After a short ride I arrived at the start line and had an hour to kill.  It was about 48 degrees at that point and I was freezing.  I was wearing crops and a tshirt and had stupidly forgotten to wear something warm that I could throw away.  I just stood huddled up the entire hour before the race, texting Pete about how this wasn't as cool as Disney races and thinking of all the things I could have worn instead.  That was the lowest point of my motivation for this race - all I wanted was to be back in my warm hotel room drinking a big mug of coffee.

The race was fairly small compared to Disney races, about 3000 people.  My bib said I was in corral 2, but there wasn't really any organization to the corrals and everyone just sort of lined up in front of the start line.  I lined up near the 2:30 pacer and was planning to stick close to her, despite my failed attempt to run with a pacer at Princess.  The corral actually made a slight turn directly before crossing the start line and because of the way traffic was flowing I lost the pacer.  I decided not to worry about it and just do what I could.

I was very stiff from standing still in the cold for so long, so I started out really slow.  Who am I kidding?  I always start out really slow!  I tried to keep it comfortable and avoid any leg cramps.  All I could think about was how far I was from the finish line and how long the race was going to take.  I thought briefly about trying a run/walk approach but decided to at least run until I felt like I really needed to take a walk break.

I trudged steadily along, watching the other racers around me and listening to their conversations.  It was early (the race started at 6:45) and it was very quiet and dark on the island.  We ran over a couple bridges and had stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the sunrise.  The sky was a beautiful array of purples and pinks and the water was like glass.  I really wanted to take a picture but I'm not really a take-pictures-while-running kind of girl so I enjoyed the view and kept going.

We left the island around mile 3 by running over a drawbridge.  There were several people at the bridge warning runners to watch their step because we had to run over some metal grating.  I did stumble at one point but didn't come close to falling.  We crossed the bridge into Wilmington and I knew we would run by Mayfaire around mile 4-5.  I kept thinking that I could just quit the race and run right to our hotel and go back to bed.  I was going slow, 12:00-13:00 pace, but I felt good other than my mental sluggishness.  There was a timing mat at mile 3.5 and I crossed it around 44:36, with an average pace of 12:50 at that point - SO SLOW.

When I was around mile 5, I remember a really fast guy running past me and realizing that he was running the full marathon (a double loop of the half marathon course).  He was so incredibly fast and ended up finishing the marathon about 30 seconds before I finished the half!

After mile 5, something clicked with me mentally and physically.  I have no idea what it was, but I quickly went from running a 12:30 pace to 11:30.  After a mile or 2 at that pace I was running at 10:30.  I know 10:30 is slow for the majority of runners, but for me that is FAST.  I do not run at a 10:30 pace, even when I'm running 3 miles through my neighborhood!  And the craziest thing was I felt GOOD.  I wasn't breathing heavily, I didn't feel like I was straining.  It felt like a comfortable pace with just the right amount of effort.

I hit the halfway point at about 1:15:00.  I carry my cell phone when I'm racing without Pete and try to text him updates when I can.  At that point the only time I was walking was through aid stations just long enough to drink a cup of water or take a Gu, probably less than 30 seconds.  I texted him "half" at one of the aid stations around mile 6.5, knowing that he would realize I was doing pretty well.

At that point I really started to feel good about myself and the race.  The fact that I was sustaining the 10:30 pace and feeling so great was really starting to encourage me.  I started envisioning myself crossing the finish line and getting a PR!  I really think that the power of positive thinking helped me push more than I usually do.  I planned to text Pete again when I hit 10 miles, knowing that if I kept up my pace till then I would have a really good chance of PRing.

After a few more miles I started envisioning not just a PR, but beating my goal time of 2:30:00!  That was my goal time for my very first half marathon and I came close at 2:34:43.  Recently, I had been feeling like that goal was unattainable because I was just so slow and hadn't seen much improvement.  In fact, I'd seen the opposite of improvement with my recent horrible time at Princess.  I kept feeling good, however, and moving fast (even 10:00 or 10:15 pace sometimes) and I started to feel like 2:30:00 was within reach.

10 miles came around 1:53:00, the fastest I have ever run that distance.  I thought about texting Pete, "10.  Going to PR."  But I didn't want to jinx myself, so I just texted "10" and knew he would realize I was doing extremely well.  He told me after the race that he was surprised when he got my halfway update and shocked when he got my 10 mile update!  He and Meredith were at breakfast and he said they actually had to finish up earlier than planned to make it to the finish line in time to see me.  When I hit 10 miles and had taken no walk breaks (other than the aid stations), I felt on top of the world.  I kept doing math in my head and knew that I had 37 minutes to run 3.1 miles if I wanted to beat my goal time.  I could do that.  I could absolutely do that, even with a few walk breaks.

I started feeling tired during that last 5K, but I knew I was going to make it and that kept me motivated.  I took a few 1 minute walk breaks during those last 3 miles, but when I was running I was still moving fast.  My right knee was starting to ache a little bit, but the thought of crossing that finish line and meeting so many of my goals kept me going!

We headed into Mayfaire towards the finish line and I started looking for Pete in the crowds.  He spotted me before I saw him and I heard him shouting my name.  He was holding Meredith and seeing them there right in front of the finish line made me so happy!  This is cheesy, but I think about Meredith a lot during races and how I hope to set a good example for her by being healthy and meeting goals.  I ran past them and got a quick high five from Pete and then plowed on towards the finish line.

The clock said 2:31:something when I crossed, but when I stopped my Garmin it said 2:28:09.  I did it - I crushed all my goals...and I wanted to sit down and drink about a gallon of coffee!  My official time was 2:28:05.

I'm not sure what exactly made me perform so well at this race.  Conditions were perfect - mid-50s and low humidity (my favorite running weather), and the course was extremely flat.  I do think a lot of it came from feeling good and positive thinking.  I honestly didn't think I was capable of running a half marathon so fast!  Now I have to set a new goal...2:15:00?

One thing I have to say about this race is how wonderful the spectators were.  They were even better than Disney spectators, which is saying A LOT!  There were people out cheering on Wrightsville Beach at 7am and there were even more spectators throughout the rest of the course.  Everyone had their name on their race bib and I lost count of how many times somebody yelled out, "Go Tina!  You're doing great!"  It means a lot when a random person makes the effort to look for your name and encourage you.  The race has a March Madness theme and all the aid stations were decked out in different college sports gear.  It was fun seeing all the different fans and their set ups!

A large part of the course went through a residential neighborhood called Landfall and there were so many people "tailgating" in their driveways to watch the race!  They had tables, music, group of people were drinking Bloody Marys!  Landfall is a beautiful community to run through and the residents were very friendly and encouraging.  It was so nice of them to sacrifice their streets for the race.

Another awesome thing about this race was the FREE BEER they had at the finish line!  I'm not a beer drinker and all I wanted after running was coffee, but I still realize that free beer is a really cool thing!  Now if only they had free wine...  Actually, at mile 13 there was a little tent set up with people handing out beer to runners!  I seriously considered grabbing one to bring to Pete, but then I realized I would probably spill most of it while running the last tenth of a mile so I passed them by.

Even aside from my PR, this was a fantastic race in which I definitely plan on participating again.  I hope that Pete will run it with me next time!  The race organizers did an excellent job, the course was beautiful and flat, and the spectators were incredible.  I was so full of negativity that morning at the start line, but the race was so much fun and well-planned that it completely killed my negative attitude!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2013 Goals in Review

Overall, I'm fairly happy with the work I did towards my goals this past year.  I had my shortcomings, of course, but mostly I did pretty well. 

Stay active and eat healthy throughout third trimester
Umm, I'm not sure what I meant by "stay active" since I was 100% inactive from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  I think I did one prenatal yoga DVD and one other prenatal exercise DVD sometime during the third trimester, but other than that I was L-A-Z-Y.  I gained way too much weight during pregnancy and it really showed after Meredith was born.  In all the photos I look enormous and it took awhile for the weight to start coming off.  I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight now, but my body still doesn't look the same.  I fit in 90% of my old clothes which is great, but some things still don't fit the way I'd like.  Lots to work on, but I have returned to running and being active and that makes me very happy!

Have a safe and healthy delivery
Definitely checked this off.  Meredith was a big, healthy baby and I had a wonderful birth experience.  My doctor and all the nurses were fantastic and I can honestly say I enjoyed childbirth (thank you, epidural!).  The recovery was a little more on the unpleasant side, physically, but we had no major issues or complications.

Successfully breastfeed for one year
We got off to a rocky start with breastfeeding but I'm so proud that Meredith was exclusively breastfed from about 4 weeks old to just under 6 months and she is still breastfeeding once or twice a day at almost 1 year old.  I hope to fully wean her not long after her birthday, but I can tell she's not quite ready yet and I don't want to push her.

Complete Couch to 5K once approved for exercise by my doctor
I started Couch to 5K but did not finish it because the intervals weren't feeling right for me.  Also, my postpartum running had lots of starts and stops and it took awhile for me to get consistent with running again.  Still, the primary reason for completing C25K was to get back in running shape, which I did.

Start and stick with training plan for Princess Half Marathon
I started training for Princess in October and stuck very closely to the training plan.  Last time I trained for Princess I ended up skipping a lot of the long runs near the end and this time I really wanted to get them all in.  I did great until I was sick for the first 2 weeks of 2014 and I missed several long runs, but I made up most of them and felt very prepared.  The longest distance I covered before the race was 12 miles, compared to 11 miles when I trained in 2012.

Practice yoga once a week once approved for exercise by my doctor
I have practiced yoga exactly zero times since Meredith was born.  Well, I've done the P90X yoga DVD once or twice, but that's it.  I've really missed going to yoga class but it's been hard to find the time (and childcare) to make it to my old studio.  I really loved Gotta Yoga and I miss it a lot.  I'm hoping that with weaning and Meredith starting a Mother's Morning Out program soon I might have a chance to go once a week.  It's certainly obvious how much I'm lacking in flexibility these days!  Although I did bust out a headstand randomly one night last week.  I was proud (and surprised) that I could still do it!

Cook dinner at least 3 times per week
Once Meredith settled into a predictable routine I got a lot better about cooking.  We used to get takeout A LOT because I just didn't keep ingredients on hand to cook a lot of dinners.  I've tried to get better about keeping a well-stocked fridge and pantry and even do some (extremely) loose meal planning to make sure we have home cooked meals most nights.  Meredith is eating what we eat now which motivates me to cook healthy meals.  She doesn't eat a huge quantity of food yet, so we still have a lot of leftovers and I usually eat them for lunch.  I'd say I cook at least 3 times during a normal week, sometimes more.

Enjoy every single moment I have with my daughter
I'd like to think I've hit this goal out of the park.  I'm not perfect and I'm certainly guilty of having my nose stuck in my smartphone more than I should, but I do make a big effort to savor the moments I have with Meredith.  I am so happy and fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom and very fortunate that this was an option for us.  I know it's not for everyone but it's definitely for me!  I'm a homebody by nature so it doesn't bother me to be in our house most days.  I love watching Meredith discover new things and noticing all her little mannerisms.  She's my best buddy already!  I get teary thinking about her turning a year old, but it's been the best year of my life by far and she brings me more joy every day!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Update

So...I've been silent here for a long time.  Needless to say, having a baby changed everything - my priorities, the amount of spare time I have, my day to day activities.  Now my baby girl turns one year old in 10 days and I couldn't be happier or love her more!

I just reread my post about my running goals in 2014.  My secret goal was to run 3 half marathons in 2014 and I'm proud to say that I'm 2/3 of the way there!  In February I did Disney's Inaugural Glass Slipper challenge, which included the Enchanted 10K on Saturday followed by the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.  It didn't really go as planned, but was still such a blast!  Yesterday I ran the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon and had an awesome race even though I wasn't exactly enthusiastic about the event.

Right now I'm feeling incredible, but I'm not sure whether or not I'll do a third half marathon this year.  I would have enjoyed running the Rock 'n Roll Raleigh race in April, but unfortunately it's sold out already.  Raleigh tends to be pretty hilly as well, so I won't miss those.  The Tar Heel 10 Miler is still on the table, but Pete and I would probably have to make that trip without our daughter, which we haven't done yet.  I'm not worried about leaving her with her grandparents and actually am looking forward to doing that sometime soon, but I don't know if I want to get up at 6am on my first night away from my built-in alarm clock!  I need to research spring half marathons in Charlotte, but those also have a reputation for being hilly.  I guess if I want to do a third I need to just suck it up and embrace the hills!

Also, the WB Half went so unbelievably well, I'd love to just leave it at that.  But I know that would be counterproductive.  I need to let my time inspire me to work harder and get an even better time!  Now that I've conquered 2:30, I guess I need to set my sights on 2:15...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Race goals for 2014

This past weekend was the 5th Disney's Princess Half Marathon and I've been burning with jealousy every time I've seen photos of the event!  That race will always feel special to me because it was my first (and only, at this point) half marathon, but even aside from's just so much fun!  Here are a few of my favorite things about the Princess:

  • It's completely focused on women.  The men definitely take a backseat in this race.  It's practically impossible to find men's clothing or shoes at the expo.  Instead all the booths are dedicated to things like running skirts and cute headbands for the ladies!  It sounds cheesy, but it feels great to be surrounded by so much girl power for a weekend!
  • Glitter, tutus, and tiaras abound.  I'm a true girly girl, so I love anything that involves lots of pink and sparkle!  My first time I didn't feel like a confident enough runner to really dress up, but I plan to change that in future races!  I do have my pink tiara Bondi Band, but I'm ready to add a tutu to my race day ensemble!
  • The course is nice and flat.  There is, of course, the painful run up an exit ramp around mile 11, but the rest of the course is flat and easy.  I'm certainly not running through hill country here in the North Carolina piedmont, but my neighborhood (where I do 90% of my running) has several small hills.  I try not to exclude the hills from my routes and it made a huge difference when I was running in Florida.  I felt like running required a lot less effort!
  • There is plenty of entertainment.  I knew before I ever started running that I would struggle with getting bored during runs.  When I ran the Princess, it flew by because there were so many fun things to look at - Disney scenery, marching bands, gospel choirs, character displays.  I spent the entire race going, "Pete!  Look, it's Splash Mountain!  Pete!  Look, there's a pirate ship and Captain Jack Sparrow!"  Not to mention you get entertainment just from looking at the costumes of other runners on the course!
  • There are water stops at practically every mile.  I didn't realize how amazing this was until I did a 10 mile race a month after I did the Princess and there were only 2 water stops for the entire course.  I was so thirsty!  I definitely got spoiled at Disney where there was a water stop at almost every mile marker.  I don't like to carry water bottles when I run so this is a huge plus for me.
  • Everything is incredibly well organized.  Yes, it's a pain to get up at 3am to catch a bus to Epcot and then you have to walk about a mile to the start corrals, but it's worth it because everything at Disney runs so smoothly.  Everything is always on time, it's clear where you're supposed to be, and they make sure to provide plenty of entertainment while you wait.  If you stay at a Disney Resort you get free bus transportation to the start line and back to your hotel after the race, as well as to any other pre-race events like the expo.  It's wonderful not to deal with the stress of driving somewhere and parking issues the day of the race!
  • The medal is awesome.  Run Disney medals are without a doubt some of the best I have seen.  I love my Princess medal so much!  I can't wait to add to my collection!

Today I noticed that the date has been set for Princess 2014 - February 23!  I've got it on my calendar already.  I can't wait to get back in shape and start training in the fall!

I've been thinking a lot of about the races I want to run in 2014.  Princess is, of course, on the top of the list.  I've also set a goal that I haven't told anyone else yet - I want to run 3 half marathons in 2014.  They'll probably all be in the early spring, but it's possible I could run one in the fall as well.  Running one in the summer would be brutal in the North Carolina heat.

For my second half marathon of 2014, I plan on running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon.  Pete actually found this race for me.  It's about 4 hours away from where we live and it's at the beach, so that's a nice perk!  The course is flat, there are plenty of water stops (I checked), and I think it will be a good race for me.  The race is usually in March so it will come about a month after the Princess.  Since half marathons aren't completely brutal on the body like full marathons, I think I'll be well prepared to run another one that soon.

I'd like to run the third half marathon in April, but I don't have one picked out yet.  I know there are a few in Charlotte around that time so I need to start researching.  The Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill is also in April and I definitely hope to do that again as well!  It might be tough to plan 2 race weekends in one month, so half #3 might have to wait until the fall.

It's a bummer to have race fever so bad when you're 34 weeks pregnant, but I'm having so much fun planning out next year's race season!  And hopefully this summer and fall I can squeeze in some local 5Ks once I'm up to it...maybe even with jogging stroller in tow!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I feel humongous.  My face is puffy, my arms are jiggly, my back has rolls, my thighs rub together.  Getting out of a chair is a challenge, as is rolling over in bed.  I'm out of breath after climbing the stairs.  I am really ready to have my body back!  I do love my big belly, but it's becoming very heavy to carry around and the baby is soooo low!  Sometimes I use my arms to support the weight of my belly just to have a little break.

I've actually reached a point where I would like to stop going out in public.  Most of my maternity clothes are too small or uncomfortable now and I feel like a slob no matter what I'm wearing.  I'm much more comfortable at home in my sweat pants and one of the hubby's t-shirts!  Also, it takes so much energy for me to run the simplest of errands.  I need a nap after going to the grocery store.

Most unfortunately, my due date happens to be 5 days after my cousin's which I'm the matron of honor.  It's understood that I might not make it to the wedding, but right now there's either a baby shower for me or a bridal shower for her every weekend.  I squeezed myself into a maternity dress for my baby shower, but that's not really an option anymore so I've just worn leggings and a somewhat decent looking top to the other showers.  I actually hosted one yesterday and had to wear Uggs because by the time I finished setting up, my feet were too swollen to go into the black flats I had planned to wear (not to mention all of my other shoes).

Okay, I'll stop whining now.  But seriously...I am over being pregnant.  Bring on the next stage!

Only about 2.5 more weeks before it's considered safe for baby girl to make her big appearance and that feels like forever.  Once I hit 36 weeks I am going to try every superstition and old wives' tale that supposedly induces labor!  I'm ready to have my body back, but I also can't wait to see and hold my daughter.