Race Recap: Run Like a Diva Half Marathon

Have you ever signed up for a race really far in advance and just sort of forgot about it?  Back in March my Momma, Brittney, and I signed up for the Divas Half Marathon in Peachtree City, Georgia.  It was a race we decided to do purely for fun and it would make for a good weekend getaway girls trip.  Race week was upon us before we knew it and I began to get nervous.  I could obviously complete the distance but the heat and humidity worried me.  It took a lot of reminding for me to come to terms that this race was for fun.

Brittney and I took a half day off from teaching so that we could have plenty of time to make it to Atlanta and not feel rushed.  Momma and I picked Brittney up and the fun began.  We made a pit stop in Chattanooga for a piece of cake at the famous City Café.  It is literally impossible for me to come through Chattanooga and not stop for cake.  Try it out if you are ever in the area.  After our brief stop, we were back on the road.   photo 2

We decided to head to Expo before doing anything else to ensure we would have plenty of time to browse and get our packets.  Packet pick up was in a field house and it was basically a cluster thanks to all the cars in one tiny area.  Luckily we found a parking spot and headed inside.  Most probably will not agree with me but I love expos.  I like to see products in person and obtain some samples and just look around.  This expo was extremely underwhelming and left us feeling slightly cheated.  They did not even have fuel which put us in a bind since Brittney had planned on grabbing some gels.  Packet pick up was efficient and the volunteers were very friendly.  Mom had decided to drop down to the 5k due to some knee issues and it was no problem. We all had personalized bibs and my Momma’s said “Go Momma Pat”.  We loved this feature.  My big complaint was the shirts.  At registration I was excited that they had sizes up to 3X because a lot of times women feel left out when they can’t order their size.  However the shirts ran entirely too small.  Brittney ordered a medium and ended up taking my 2X shirt while I bumped up and squeezed into my Momma’s shirt that she ordered.  That was kind of a bummer so hopefully Divas will work on that issue for future races. photo 1

After getting our packets we hit up one of our go-to places for dinner.  Outback never disappoints.  Our server did not know that there was a half in town so we got to explain to her what a race was and she mentioned that her and her boyfriend recently started running.  She even wrote us a sweet note on our bill.  We were all three pleased with our meal.  photo 4

Race morning came and I don’t think any of us actually wanted to run.  We were tired and not looking forward to running in 100% humidity.  Thankfully I was able to eat a peanut butter sandwich and banana for breakfast.  We stopped in the lobby to request late checkout and I sure am glad we did because it was then that I noticed that I did not have my bib.  Rookie move.  Once we got on the road we began to realize that traffic was going to be an issue.  Cars were lined up for miles and we watched helplessly as the time we were supposed to be on the shuttle passed.  Finally after what seemed like hours we made it to the field for parking.  Busses pulled up and it was every woman for themselves.  People were seriously crazy.  We made it right on time and we obviously panicked for nothing although in the future I would highly recommend  a better parking situation.

The 5k started right on time and we stood by the starting chute in an attempt to cheer on my Momma.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to see her so we wandered around to stretch and hydrate a little before it was our turn.  This race used corrals but people sort of stood wherever which was kind of frustrating but it was all for fun so we didn’t really mind.  I’m not sure if there was an actual gun start but everyone started running and we followed suit.  The first couple of miles were on roads and had a few hills.  The hills weren’t like the ones that we have in Knoxville but were more long inclines.  We decided to run the first three miles and then switch to run/walk intervals after that.  The humidity was out in full force but I’m glad that the race organizers were honest when they said that the course was shaded.  The sun was rarely on us at any point in the race.

Around the three mile mark the course switched to a cart path.  I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this section but I ended up LOVING it because you never knew what was going to come next and it felt like a casual run on the greenway instead of a half marathon.  The only hard part was a few congestion issues but even that was rare.  Water stops were plentiful.  I read on the Divas Facebook page that some women were complaining about the lack of water stations but Brittney and I would both agree that were far more than any other race we have done.  I believe we counted ten and two of them towards the end were only a half mile apart.  Given how hot and humid it was, I was beyond thankful for plenty of hydration.  The cart path allowed the race to remain shaded and we kept a solid pace with our run/walk intervals.  After mile five we took some gel and that really boosted our energy for the rest of the race.  Our run/walk intervals dropped to about 3ish minutes running to 1:30 walking.  I was kind of disappointed to see our pace drop but I can honestly say we were having SO. MUCH. FUN.  Chatting with Brittney made the time fly by and even though we were quite literally dripping with sweat, we were enjoying ourselves.  I kept commenting on how this is one of the only half marathons I have ever done that I actually had a good time at.  We texted my Momma at every mile marker since we knew she was waiting on us at the finish line and she sent lots of encouraging texts our way.  photo

Finally we were within range of the finish line.  Some local high school cheerleaders were handing us feather boas and tiaras so that we would look like true divas at the finish line.  Brittney and I both passed on the boa but took a tiara.  The finish was at the corner of a long incline.  We put our pride to the wind and powerwalked up that hill like it was our job and kept a lookout for my Momma the entire time.  Once we rounded the corner we took off and finished strong.  There was pink everywhere and so many people yelling and cheering for all finishers.  I could hear Momma screaming the loudest of anyone.  The finish line chute was fantastic.  Handsome fireman were there to hand out our medals and they had volunteers there to give us champagne and roses.  We were truly pampered like Divas.  The post race food selection didn’t have a lot of variety but it was nice to have volunteers to hand us our snacks.  We found my sweet Momma who ROCKED her 5k and made our way back to the shuttle since we were already cutting it close on check out time at the hotel.  photo (5) photo (1)

Once we showered we were on the road headed back to good ole Tennessee but not without a stop for post race refueling at The Varsity.  We ordered every artery clogging thing on the menu and didn’t even think twice about it.  We also swung by IKEA to check out some things since Brittney and Momma have never been.  It was a lot to take in but my gosh how can you not love that place?  photo (2) photo (3)

I think all three of us were thankful to finally get home and get some rest.  It was a quick trip and although the race had a few logistical issues, it was a great course with plenty of water and support and the bling was completely perfect.  I would definitely do this race again and I’m already looking forward to my next destination race.   photo (4)

Have you done a Divas race or an all womens race?  What is your favorite post race meal?

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Playing Catch Up

Hi!  I’m so thankful that I’m back here writing.  As you may remember from my last post, I took a long hiatus from blogging.  You all haven’t been updated in quite some time and I like that this blog is essentially an online journal of my life so I wanted to fill you in on what I’ve been doing all this time.  Below are just some of the highlights of summer and some races that I have completed.  I sure did enjoy lots of crazy adventures over the past several months.

  • Completing the Three-Way Challenge at the Flying Pig Marathon.  Back in the spring my (unpaid) coach/mentor/friend Bryan had challenged my best friend Brittney and I to complete this challenge at one of his favorite races.  The challenge consists of completing a 10k and 5k on Saturday and then running a half marathon on Sunday.  It was good timing and we jumped on board this crazy train and agreed to do it.  Boy, it was hard but we completely enjoyed ourselves.  I really struggled through the half thanks to unnaturally sore legs but just completing the challenge was a feat in itself.  We are already planning to return to Flying Pig next year only we are NOT doing the Three-Way again.  We also got to meet up with Lindsay, a fellow blogger that I found through Instagram.  She is just as fabulous in person and we seriously adore her.  Just another example of how blogging/social media can cultivate so many friendships.  Side note: a few weeks before the event, the directors sent an email asking if anyone wanted a sign to be made for them.  I responded with a sign that corresponded with mine and Brittney’s blog and surely enough there was a sign for us.  The guy holding it was dancing in the streets and acting so crazy so it was almost fate that he was the one to hold our sign.  Had he not been so wild we would have missed him.  I absolutely could not resist the photo opportunity.    photo photo (2) photo (1)
  • Setting a PR for the 5k on a trip to Charlotte.   After missing the mark on a 5k PR at the Spring Sprint 5k, I gave up on trying for the spring and shifted my focus.  We traveled to Charlotte for an impromptu birthday trip for myself and when I saw a 5k would be offered I decided to give it a try.  We got lost on the way to the race and when I arrived they had already closed registration.  After telling them I drove over four hours just for the race they decided to let me join. It was pouring rain and the start was a very long walk through a few neighborhoods so I didn’t even have time to do anything prior to the race.  I just hustled to the start and got there right as it was starting.  The rain was cold and since the whole fiasco of getting registered had stressed me out.  Somehow on this hilly course I found myself a PR.  My watch turned off from all the rain about a mile in so I had no clue what my pace was but I just knew I was ready to be out of the cold.  Thankfully I crossed the finish line with a new PR of 28:22.  The crazy thing is that I was too frazzled to even care.  After a suuuuper hot shower at our hotel that evening I finally felt better.  I’m very glad that I finally nabbed a new 5k PR after a LONG time of trying.  photo (3)
  • Directing a 5k.  This was my third year being a race director with the Knoxville Track Club.  This year I asked Brittney to help me since she is a little more Type A than I am.  We made a great team and the race went very well.  I had a grad school function that morning so I sort of led the morning charge and then handed the reins to Brittney.  She did a great job and it was a very successful race.  photo (4)
  • My Momma donated her hair and we rode the Virginia Creeper Trail.  You wouldn’t have known it by looking at her since she used to always wear her hair in a bun, but my mother’s hair was extremely long.  She has been growing it out for a couple of years and it was finally time for her to donate it.  My goodness she had a lot of hair.  I went to the salon with her and she had no problem at all getting it all chopped off.  I would encourage anyone who has ever thought about donating hair to absolutely do so.  We also went to Abingdon, VA and rode the Virginia Creeper Trail for her birthday.  This was a great long ride and since we didn’t really have to even pedal all that much, we got to actually enjoy the outdoors and take in some nature in a beautiful place.   photo (6) photo (5)
  • Ran a few races and met some blog friends in real life.  I was so glad that I decided to run the Expo 5k this year and hang out with some fun people.  It really is amazing how fun races can be when other people go with you.  It is always a great opportunity to catch up.  I finished in 30:25 but that was me trying as hard as possible that day.  I met a lovely new friend, Katie, from Instagram!  Her and her now husband were in town for a wedding and she ended up running the race.  It was great to meet her and watch her KILL it in her age group.  Hi, Katie!!  photo (7)
  • Took a trip to the beach.  Momma and I traveled with her childhood best friend and her kids to Myrtle Beach for a week of relaxation.  We made sure to get up every morning and get a run or walk in.  The week was spent getting some quality ocean time, eating good food, and just taking a break from the craziness of life.  One morning it was pouring rain so Momma and I ended up walking up and down the stairwells on our 14 floor hotel as well as running all the hills in the parking garage.  photo (9)
  • Worked Vacation Bible School.  My handsome fella and I teach VBS at our church each year.  This year we were placed with fourth graders and they were a fantastic group.  I challenged them that if they could all learn the week’s theme verse then they could each pie me in the face.  They rose to the challenge and I had whipped cream up my nose for at least a week.  photo
  • Enjoyed some water park time.  We got passes to the local water and theme parks through my work this summer and made sure to take advantage of them any opportunity we got.  I was thankful to always be able to go with friends and spend some time getting filled with chlorine.  One of the most exciting times was with my longtime gal pal Holly’s kids.  You don’t know joy until you take kids to a water park.  They were happy as clams.  photo 2 photo 1
  • Began student teaching.  After an entire year of graduate course work, I was finally cleared to student teach.  Luckily I got placed with a fun middle school not too far from my house.  I have a great group of kids and a phenomenal mentor teacher.  It has been quite an adjustment but I’m having fun and learning many new things.  Of course I made my mother take a picture of me on the first day of school just like every other parent does when their baby goes off to school.  It was an exciting day!   photo (11)
  • Started to enjoy the long run.  I enjoy running but absolutely LOATHE the long run.  Slowly but surely this summer I started increasing my distance.  The longest run this summer was 10 miles and that was done through run/walk intervals.  I also had a pretty stellar 7 miler this summer that I was extremely proud of.  Hopefully in the coming months I can get very comfortable with distance and work on getting even faster.  I have lots of plans for distance in 2015.  photo (15) photo (16)

Wow.  So that has been what I’ve been up to. Nothing terribly exciting but still a lot of fun in my book.  Fill me in on what’s new with you!

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Welcome Back to Blogland

Hello out there!  Can anyone here me?  It is hard to believe that it was April when I last posted.  I’m sure none of you have even noticed, and that is okay too.  I’ve missed this little piece of internet space and I’m glad to be back.  There are so many reasons that I took a hiatus from blogging and to be honest it was much needed.  Although my blog is definitely not my job (I make absolutely nothing and rarely even agree to product reviews), it started to stress me out.  I would often find myself thinking I had to do something just so I could get a photo opp or a blog post out of it.  I became worried about what everyone else was blogging about or promoting and lost sight of why I even started this blog in the first place.  As soon as I realized that it was becoming a chore I knew I needed a break.

Thankfully this break allowed me to have a completely carefree summer.  I worked a fun summer job that allowed me to work with tourists on a daily basis in my hometown.  Yes, my job was driving a short schoolbus full of river tubes but it was so fun and I really enjoyed it.  This break also allowed me to find my writing voice again.  I got to the point where I didn’t look forward to blogging because I felt the need to produce certain content or document every race.  Hopefully my personality comes through in my writing and people can see that I blog because I love documenting my life, my weight loss struggles and my adventures of learning to become a stronger runner and athlete.  photo (1)

One other very important aspect of taking a hiatus has to do with weight.  Back in the spring I finally stepped on a scale to see a number in the 100s.  199 to be exact.  I had been chasing that number for months and I finally saw it.  I even weighed myself three more times just to be sure the scales were right.  But, you know what?  It didn’t feel like I thought it would.  Sure, I was happy, but I thought that somehow that number would all of a sudden make me feel better.  It didn’t.  That was the last time I saw that number and haven’t seen it since.    The measures it took for me to get to that number were not realistic.  Taking three fitness classes a day and pounding out the miles are not something that is sustainable long term.  It would be impossible for me to follow a strict eating and workout plan like that forever.  I try to always remain positive on this blog.  I share my struggles but always keep a smile on my face and have a “hey, it’s okay” attitude.  There’s nothing really wrong with that except that eventually that facade eats away at you.  I didn’t feel comfortable putting my true and raw feelings on my blog for fear of looking like a failure.  I didn’t want to write about when I sat on my couch and stuffed my face with three bags of microwave popcorn and four candy bars, and three bags of jelly beans.  That’s not inspiring.  I didn’t want to write about eating a peanut butter milkshake every day at work because there was a dessert shop next door.  That’s not motivating.  I didn’t want to write about the immense lack of self confidence I felt when I tried on my clothes after a binge.  photo

But this summer I had some great blog friends reach out to me and I was honest with them in my struggles.  They didn’t judge me or criticize me or make me feel like a failure.  They were supportive and encouraging.  This made me realize that it is okay to share struggles and stumbling blocks with others because chances are that someone else either feels the same way or has felt that way before.  Struggling does not equal failure.  It took a long time for me to realize that.

Even with a summer of fun and a summer of not so great eating, I am mostly happy with where I am right now. I’ve raced a few 5ks and have still been able to remain in the under 30 minute range.  I have faced my fears of long runs and have completed two ten milers.  My body is strong and I am fit.  It actually surprises me that I haven’t been as intense and my weight has gone up yet I still remain just as strong as I was during spring racing.  Hopefully I will do a post on that soon.  I’ve backed off on my workouts and haven’t been as obsessed as I have been in the past.  These days I’m mostly logging miles but in the coming weeks will be adding a new cross training regimen to my routine.  That excites me.  I have several big races planned for the fall including a half marathon this weekend with my Momma and my best friend, Brittney.  Girls weekend!

As always, thanks for listening/reading.  Surely to goodness none of you even care that I haven’t posted in four months but if you do then thanks for lending  your eyes and ears to my word vomit.  Y’all are awesome and the blogging community has brought so many wonderful people into my life.  I look forward to writing a catch up post so you know where I’m at in life right now.  Have a great Wednesday!

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Race Recap: Spring Sprint 5k

Two years ago I did this race to celebrate my birthday and ended up getting a hefty PR.  So when the race feel the week of my birthday again I threw the idea out to Brittney and Coach Bryan that we could make this our spring goal race while the weather was still ideal and use it as a little pre-celebration to my birthday.  While we didn’t officially set an actual time we had hoped to run it in, both Brittney and myself had the goal of PRing which would be anything below a 28:36 for me and 28:10 for her.  We had both put in the hard training and while we hadn’t specifically trained just with this race in mind, our bodies were prepared to give it all we had and leave nothing out on the course.  I will be honest in saying we were hoping to have anything in the 27 minute range.

The day before the race I had some serious stomach issues and got very ill at school.  I texted Brittney while laying out in the middle of the hallway with my legs up the wall trying not to pass out and told her that this had better go away by the next morning.  Luckily for me I felt better as the day went on and I was ready for race day.

Race morning wasn’t super eventful.  I ate my usual breakfast of toast and peanut butter and then met Bryan and Brittney at the race site.  It was a smaller crowd and I was thankful to see some familiar faces and get some socializing in while attempting not to stress about what we were about to embark on.  Brittney and I chose not to wear our Garmins and to completely trust Bryan who would be pacing us.  The goal was to run consistent and even splits and then have a strong finish. After getting to the start line we realized we would have to line up fairly close to the front due to no chip timing.  This wasn’t really a problem since it was a smaller race and I never got the feeling that we were holding anyone up.

PRERACES

The course started out going directly up a long incline.  It wasn’t steep or anything but it was definitely an incline.  My favorite part about this course in particular is that it is held on the entire street so basically the course is wide open meaning little congestion.  We took our time getting up the hill and both of us commented how the pace felt a lot easier than we had expected.  It was nerve-wracking not wearing a Garmin but I completely trusted Bryan and also took lots of joy in passing some other people.  The first mile really did fly by because after what seemed like two minutes of running we hit the first water stop and the timer called out 8:55.  We were right on pace with even a little time to spare and I was ecstatic.  Slightly after that we made our way up the biggest hill in the course and I began to struggle.  Bryan reminded me that we had a downhill after it and a lot of flatness but it didnt’ help as much as I thought.  We made it up and then right around the halfway mark I lost focus.  It may have been the distress of a 7-year-old hysterically crying that threw me off but I just lost the groove and fell back.  It was completely my fault and I just watched as Brittney and Bryan seemed to get further and further away.

Prior to the race we had told each other that if one of us fell back that the other would keep going no matter what.  We also decided that even if both of us fell back that Bryan needed to maintain the pace so we would know where we were at in terms of being behind.  I tried frantically to catch back up but there was no hope.  The caller at mile number two called out 18:36 which wasn’t terrible but definitely not where I wanted to be.  I was actually surprised I had still gotten there that quickly despite the walk breaks I was forced to take.  Even though I knew a PR was basically out of the question at that point, I reevaluated my goals and decided to shoot for a sub 30.  It was around that time two years ago that I got sub 30 for the first time and it was the greatest feeling of all time.  The last time I had gotten any 5k race below 30 minutes was June 2012.  Quite some time ago.

I slugged through the final mile and came to the turn that led to a long straightaway finish.  I didn’t feel strong but I didn’t feel completely depleted either.  I couldn’t see what the race clock said but Bryan came back for me and told me I needed to push it to get under 30. Push it, I did.  Final clock time was 29:53 which was a sub 30 and I should have been happy.  That final kick took everything out of me and I walked out the finish chute and just laid in someone’s driveway.  I’m not sure if it was disappointment or just an overall emotional high from the race, but tears just poured out of my eyes.  I couldn’t make them stop.  Internally I knew I looked ridiculous and had absolutely no reason to be upset but I literally couldn’t make it stop.  Bryan and Brittney ended up finishing in 27:33 which was obviously a huge PR so I was super excited for my sweet friend even though there was that slight thought that I could have had a PR of over a minute had I been able to stay with them.

coach bryan

They had amazing post race food and I ate one of those chocolate mini-donuts.  It was lovely.  We stuck around for awards/door prizes and it was a good thing we did because Brittney actually placed 3rd in our age group and won herself a  nice little medal!  So proud of her.  Even if the race didn’t go as planned, I’m so thankful to have run a 5k in under 30 minutes and it can only get better from here.  I’m excited to see where my training takes me next.

Oh, and after the race we spent some time at Neyland Stadium for my alma mater’s spring football game.  It is dubbed the Orange and White Game (our school colors) and it is basically a scrimmage to get fans excited for the most exciting time in the South…fall football!  It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon!

neyland

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Race Recap: 2014 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon (Relay)

It has hard to believe that four years have passed since I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. I felt like I died trying, but I made it there and that’s why Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart. The following year I was able to run this event as part of the Biggest Winner team and then the next year I set my half PR. Last year I was able to walk it with my Momma and friend, Yvonne. Not only am I a participant on race day, I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to volunteer extensively for event.

The week leading up to race day, my training partner/BFF Brittney and I joined several other ladies to have a “bib party”. Basically we all meet and put name labels and timing chips on all bibs involved in marathon weekend. This year we labeled over 8200 bibs. I’m happy to report that I did not get a paper cut this year which is a major success given my injuries the past three years.

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This was my third year on the Marathon Organizing Committee (MOC) and I was thrilled to be able to be part of such a hardworking group. In the weeks leading up to race day, we had a few meetings to discuss the ins and outs of race weekend and spent quite some time checking out the numbers. This year was going to be our biggest event yet! I got Brittney on board and she became the captain for Kid’s Area and was a valuable asset on Expo Day. I joined my longtime friend Robyn as a swag bag captain even though she did most of the work. Primarily the jobs involved were stuffing all of the goody bags that participants would receive as well as hand them out on race day.

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Expo was a joy to work as always and our day started promptly at 7:30am in anticipation of all the runners who would come through when the doors opened at 9:00. Expo is one of my favorite parts of race weekend because of the hustle and bustle and excitement that fills the air.   Everyone is there for a sole purpose and you just can’t help but smile. I also love seeing and catching up with so many people who I might only see on this one weekend. This year was probably my favorite Expo to date!

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As an Expo worker, I’m on my feet (on concrete floors) for almost 14 hours. That does not equate well to running the next day. When Brittney and I talked about doing the half this year, we both decided to form a team for the 4-person relay. Neither of us had done the relay yet so it was a perfect opportunity to still race and get a medal yet run a shorter distance thanks to sore and tired legs. Our “coach” Bryan was doing the half so he would be our first leg and then we recruited our friend Scott to join us also. Thinking of a team name with a theme was tougher than we thought but we settled on Green Legs and Ham. The idea was for Bryan, Brittney, and I to wear green compression sleeves and then Scott would wear red and be our “ham” which totally suits his personality. Spoiler alert: Scott’s hammy personality really shined through on race day when he showed up as Waldo. Logistically we had worked everything out and we all opted to go to exchanges as a group instead of spread ourselves out.

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The best part of race day was knowing that my sweet Momma was ending her journey on the Biggest Winner team and that she was going for a fast half marathon. Just in case y’all didn’t know…my Momma is an incredibly fast walker so add in the “shuffling” that she has been doing and she was ready to be unstoppable. I was so thrilled for her. We got up on race day and ate our normal breakfast and made the hour commute to Knoxville. It was suuuuper cold on race day so we were glad to get warmed up on our walk across town to the convention center. Once inside, we easily found our team and the excitement began to amp up. Part of being a member of the Biggest Winner meant Momma and her teammates had a personal photographer on race day. David Luttrell was on hand to capture every moment of the team’s day and I’m glad he was because he got some great pictures of my Momma and even my relay team.

momma

About ten minutes before the race I gave my Momma a huge hug and wished her luck as our team had to make our way to the first exchange or else the roads would close. We had so much fun taking these crazy backroads and interstates to get to our spot but it was so worth it because we got to use indoor bathrooms and soak in the excitement at the first exchange. Our first runner was Bryan and since he was doing the half he was able to tell us exactly what time he would be through. As luck would have it, he came barreling through right when he said he would and then Scott was off! We cheered a little longer before heading to the next exchange. Since we were forced to basically drive the course backwards, we were able to see ALL the people who were still running on the boulevard and we honked, hollered, and yelled at my Momma who was moving along way faster than we expected as well as other members of the Biggest Winner team. We may have been obnoxious but I love good crowd support.

Scott and I cheering runners on at the exchange!

Scott and I cheering runners on at the exchange!

Once at the next exchange, we waited for Bryan to come down the hill towards the finish so we could cheer him on to his first SUB 2 HALF! After supporting him, we went inside to hang out and warm up until Scott got there. Brittney and I both had to use the restroom and I totally assured her that we had plenty of time until Scott got there but she was so worried she would miss him. How can you miss Waldo? I went to the bathroom alone and when I came back Brittney was gone and Scott was standing there with Cameron. Good thing that she didn’t go or else she would have missed him. Scott ran way faster than he had expected but we were all so happy to see him. Before we knew it we were off again to the final exchange.

We got there super early but it was fun to wait around and cheer all the marathoners on. I started my leg around mile 21 so it was where most marathoners would be starting to really struggle. Crowds lined both sides of the exchange area cheering every runner on. Waldo provided lots of entertainment for everyone while I tried to warm up. In perfect timing, we saw Brittney’s green legs coming at us and I threw my jacket to Scott, grabbed the slap bracelet, and I was off!

It started on a downhill which got me going at a fairly good pace to start off the run. The sun was out and the temperature was perfect. I passed several marathon runners and told them great job for encouragement although I felt super guilty since they were at such a rough part in their run and I was fresh. This part of the course was totally new to me and I enjoyed being unfamiliar with my surroundings. The Island Home neighborhood had wonderful crowd support with lots of signs and several of them were wearing themed tshirts. I didn’t care about pace at all but would glance down every now and then to see my average pace at a good number for me. My only goal was to get to the finish line to see how my Momma did. The run wasn’t really eventful except for seeing fellow blogger, Amy, with a sign supporting her husband who was doing the full. I let her know that I had passed him not to long ago so that she at least had an idea where he was.

My favorite part was running through Market Square and all the cheering plus knowing that we were almost done! I came across the final bridge and saw a good friend there who offered some encouragement before I barreled down 11th street towards the stadium. Thank goodness my team had obnoxious green legs on and that we had Waldo because I could easily spot them in the distance. It was fantastic knowing we were almost done and that as a group we had successfully finished a full marathon. The last hill up Estabrook gets me every single year but rounding that corner and heading onto the field is the greatest feeling ever. Before I knew it we were lined up running towards the fifty yard line and crossed in 4:25. I really wish I could tell y’all how great this moment was and how wonderful it was to have my training partners by my side.

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We collected our medals and headed to our own VIP tent where my Momma, boyfriend, and family were waiting. It was so nice to have my Momma’s best friend since sixth grade and her kids there to watch us all finish. They are closer than family to us and after the loss of their father this year, it was great to see them get to enjoy something so much even if it was just being on the field at UT. There were TONS of pictures to be taken and I was so thankful that we were allowed to remain on the field for as long as we pleased. We talked about our race, gave lots of hugs, and took lots of pictures. I literally could not wipe the smile off my face.  We hugged and congratulated other Biggest Winner teammates and talked with them about their races, also.

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The best part? Hearing my Momma tell me that she did the half in 3:12 which is 24 minutes faster than last year!!! I’m so ridiculously proud of her. She is so successful and has worked so hard to get to this point. My only regret is not being there to see her cross but there were lots of great photos of her so I’m glad we have those.

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It was a truly memorable day and I wish that all of these words could convey the happiness that the day brought. I’m so glad to be a part of this event and I think that the 4-person relay will now be my event of choice.

This past Thursday, we attended a party for marathon volunteers at Calhoun’s on the River. They provided a wide array of delicious food and I sampled just about everything. It was so fun to set at one big table with so many people that I love and talk about the race, running, life, and good food. This is also one of my favorite events with the marathon. Oh, and the views aren’t so bad either.

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After all the hoopla and excitement we’ve had with race week it is hard to believe another year has passed. We are already planning for next year and it might just be the best one yet. Have a great week, y’all.

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Fondue, Long Runs, PRs, and New Clothes

That title wears me out just reading it.  It has been a busy week for me and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend it with good friends and family and even try some new things.  Last week was Knoxville’s Restaurant Week where local restaurants offered a set menu for a cheaper price and a portion of the proceeds went to a local food bank.  Thursday night my sweet Daddy treated me and my handsome fella to a delicious dinner at Ye Olde Steakhouse.  The set menu for this night was massive and mostly had things that this picky eater would eat.  The men chose a 12 ounce prime rib as their entrée and I had chicken and shrimp.  After having appetizers, huge entrée portions with two sides, we opted to take our red velvet cake dessert in a to-go box and save for later.  I was stuffed to the max after that meal but so thankful that my Daddy treated us to it and that we got to try out a new local place.

Friday night was super special because we were celebrating the final night of Restaurant Week with our great friends, Brittney and her husband, at The Melting Pot.  We had made reservations almost a month in advance and we were so excited to finally get to eat there.  Everyone got all dolled up and we hit the town for a fabulous evening.  Although their menu was slightly small, the experience made it worth it and we enjoyed the ambience.  The cheese and bread were my favorites, of course.

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Saturday morning was long run day!  After talking with good ole Coach Bryan, the plan was to run 5 continuous miles at a 10:52 pace and then run/walk the remaining three miles and then going back to finish with my Momma.  Well, we ended up taking a detour and continued on the greenway before hitting up the hilly portion of the run.  I set my Garmin to overall average pace instead of lap pace which was new for me and I really liked doing that because I could better gauge where I was at and how I was feeling.  As the 5 mile mark approached it was clear that I should keep running.  I wasn’t sure how much I had in me but I felt well enough to continue the run.  The farthest I have ever ran without stopping for a walk break was 8 miles and that was March 2012.  Ironically the post I wrote about that longest run was posted the same exact day that Saturday’s run fell on.  How coincidental is that?  Anywho…we pressed on and I let Bryan pace me while occasionally looking down at the watch to make sure we stayed on pace.  Even though there were a few massive hills, we made up for it on the downhill and finished 8. 5 miles with an average pace of 10:52.  Right on the money and my longest run ever.  I was in disbelief but more and more here lately I’m learning that big things are possible for me if I just push myself.  That morning I never would have known that I would set a new distance PR.  We walked back to walk it in with my Momma and I ended the day with 11.5 miles.

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Earlier this week we held a marathon staff meeting.  It is hard to believe that race day is less than three weeks away and I’m so excited for marathon week to get here and all the busy activities that come along with it!  Our staff shirts this year are pretty sweet if I do say so myself.

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On Monday night, Brittney met my Momma and I at the gym for some fitness classes.  We all took CXworX, Body Attack, and Spin Class.  Between two of the classes we met Bryan to run two miles which was supposed to be easy and untimed but ended up being done in 18 minutes which is smoking for us two especially right after a fitness class.  I was wore out Monday night and woke up nice and sore on Tuesday.  We also had some Biggest Winner training sessions this week which everyone worked super hard at.  These people are losing weight and literally disappearing.  I’m so excited for them and know what it is like to be in their shoes.  They are doing an awesome job!  All these hard workouts will be worth it come March 30!

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In other news, I’ve never liked shopping.  Not only do clothes and anything else you might purchase cost money, but I have a hard time making decisions when it comes to actually walking out of the store with something.  I dread dressing rooms and it burns a hole in my heart when something I try on is too small.  With my body getting smaller, I’ve sort of grown out of that (not completely) and have started visiting more clothing stores even if it is “just to look”.  This week I ventured into Old Navy since I saw they had a sale advertised and found their new Pixie pants.  According to their advertisements, this pant is supposedly fit for everyone regardless of size or Body Shape.  I tried them on in my normal size at Old Navy (18) and they just fell off of me.  I tried on the size 16 and they were huge in the waist.  So, guess what?  I tried on a 14 and they fit like a glove.  Holy cow a pair of size 14 jeans really went on my body and zipped right up no problem.  This is a huge non scale victory for me and I’m thrilled to be able to wear that size…even if their sizing is a little different.  Check out the Pixie pants because they really are super flattering!  Oh, and my favorite shorts from Old Navy also had to go down a size also.  This makes me so happy!

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I’m so glad tomorrow is Friday and I’m excited about my long run on Sunday!  Happy Spring to everyone!  Hope y’all are having a spectacular week!

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekends, Workouts | 8 Comments

Race Recap: 2014 Run for the Schools 5k

If you read the race recap of the same race from last year then you’ll know that I was not a fan.  But when some of the Biggest Winner team signed up for the race this year, I decided to do it with my Momma and not even worry about time.  She used to be the queen of walking 5ks, but after training with BW team, we were hoping to get some shuffling out of her for this race.

The race was basically the exact same as last year.  It was held at our local zoo and there were a million kids there to run to support their schools.  We found some of our team members and hung out until the start of the race.  We dressed for warmth but luckily it wasn’t freezing cold like last year.  My friend Laura who is in my graduate class even came up and found me which was awesome because it totally surprised me.  We snapped some photos and then the race started.

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Momma shuffled the first little bit and did super great.  We tried to maintain a solid walking pace and shuffle on the downhills when we could.  There were kids everywhere so it was a good source of entertainment.  Just like last  year, there were a lot of very steep hills but we pressed up them and even passed quite a few people.  I’m telling  y’all…my Momma is the queen of power walking.

Originally the goal had been to try to get a sub 40 5k for my Momma but the main goal was to simply have fun and enjoy being active.  As we neared the finish line, we were right on schedule with our goal except there was a small problem…the course was short, which we later found out was a consistent problem with everyone.  Hey, that’s alright because it was for a good cause and we weren’t out there to crush any sort of PRs.  I will say that I’m so proud of my Mom who basically did a dead sprint to the finish line and I could hardly keep up.  We crossed the finish line with a chip time of 40:10 which is phenomenal even if the course was about a tenth short.  I was so very proud of Momma for running hard to the end and finishing with such a strong time.  We spent the rest of the time cheering people in and chatting about the race and future goals.  3.7.14runforschools2

It is amazing how different a race experience can be when you’re out there just to have fun.  I look back on last year’s race and almost laugh because I finished this year faster than last even though I put so much effort into the 2013 race.  After the race I compared this year’s race picture to last year’s and the difference was crazy.  Sure, I haven’t lost an astronomical amount of weight but you can tell a huge difference in my general size from last year to this year.  I’m so glad I got to do this race with my Momma and watch her cross the finish line.  Next up…Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon!  3.7.14throwback

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