Running with Friends

In today’s world I sometimes feel like that if an activity is going to have purpose then it has to be done with someone else.  Facebook, Words with Friends, Instagram, going to a movie, etc.  Stuff is just better with someone else.  I’ve never been much for running or working out with someone else.  Too much to worry about.  Am I slowing them down?  Am I going to hard for them?  Am I talking too much?  Do they see my back flab bouncing?  I get so concerned about the person I’m with that I forget to focus on myself.  But here lately I have had a change of heart.

My best friend Ashley works at an elementary school that has a track and every day she goes out to the track and runs.  I’ve gotten many texts over the past few months telling me how fast she was that day or how much she is improving.  Parts of me were jealous because she is where I want to be and where I once was.  Running comes easy to her.  But most of all I am so proud of her for putting her mind to something and sticking to it.  Here lately we have been doing a few runs together and it is really helping me.  If I’m not excited about them, she makes me pumped.

how can you not show up when you have this waiting on you?

how can you not show up when you have this waiting on you?

We recently went with my Momma and let her get a head start on her walking while we stretched.  I ran with Ashley until I got to Momma and although we weren’t wearing a Garmin, I knew we were running fast.  Running with friends makes it easier but running with someone better than you is what makes you better.

twinning/running

twinning/running

This past week we met to run the old road (a perfectly flat and scenic 3.1 mile course) and although I didn’t say it out loud, my goal was to run to the turn around which would be farther than I have ran without stopping in a while.  Usually if I even make it to 1 mile without stopping then I stop as soon as my watch beeps.  So we took off and it was decided we would stay at a comfortable pace and not go all out even though Ashley probably wanted to.  When our Garmins beeped at one mile she coaxed me to NOT stop.  Thank the good Lord we made it to 1.5 mile mark.  Woohoo.  When I stopped for a walk break I told her she could go on but she stayed with me.  Friendship at its finest, folks.

After a quick walk break we picked it back up and ran another mile.  I had to stop one more time for about a minute and a half to catch my breath but once we started running for the final time, I knew I could make it all the way back.  Not our fastest three miles, but I am proud of the continual effort I made of not stopping.  It felt so good!  Running with friends really does help.  If nothing else, it is motivation to actually show up to get the miles in.  My best friend is inspiring me on a daily basis to get back to where I once was in terms of running and is pushing me past what is comfortable.  Hopefully by the end of the year I will be faster and we can smash some PRs together.  watch

Race Recap: Pilot Fireball Classic 5k

Pilot Fireball Classic 5k
Official Time:  33:05  (10:39 pace)
Age Group: 34/87

Athena Division: 16/39

When it comes to change, I’m not a fan of it.  If I find a race worth doing then chances are that I stay loyal to that race and will more than likely participate in it every year.  The Knoxville Track Club hosts a fantastic 5k race every July 3 since most people have the next day off of work.  It is flat and fast down Neyland Drive and starts at 9pm.  The late start can be a huge damper for some people but I really don’t mind.  The only downside is the heat/humidity and the hot asphalt.  The past few years the heat has been exhausting.

Knoxville has been having some crazy weather lately and I was a tad concerned for my new shoes when the radar showed a 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms for race night.   Ashley signed up to do the race with me and we both made the decision to run it regardless of weather.  Parking can kind of be a hassle at this race so we made sure to get there an hour early and it worked out great for us.  We were able to find indoor bathrooms with NO lines (you’re jealous, right?) and found a nice little hallway to get some pre-race stretching in.  Ashley’s coworker ran the race too and she got us glow sticks to wear on our wrists!  They took me back to Hood to Coast and all the glow stick memories.

the obvious before picture

the obvious before picture

It was really crowded at the start but I just got as far left as possible to avoid any potential bobbing and weaving and so I would be out of everyone’s way.  The gun went and we were off!  While I had no official goals for this race, I wanted to set a 2013 PR which would be anything under 34:10.  I wrote paces on my arm for a finish of 32:30 and tried to come as close as possible to it.  I went out slow and steady and just tried to focus on myself and not any of the other crazies around me.  I made it just past the one mile marker before stopping for a walk break.  There is a long downhill, but not steep, grade before the turn around since it is an out and back course.  I made sure to run down the hill to make up for any time I would lose by having to walk up it.  I saw lots of people I knew who were on their way back and it was fun to yell and cheer for each other.  To my surprise I was able to make it up more than half of the hill before walking.

I started running again after the second water stop and my belly started to ache a tiny bit so I just pulled my spandex off my stomach and that offered some relief.  Around 2.2 miles I took a walk break then told myself I was going to run again until I got to 2.75.  Mentally, that was really hard for me.  I was hot, but I was cold, I was tired, but my breathing was fairly good.  There was a lot of opposing forces going on in my brain.  2.75 showed up on the Garmin and I told myself if I stopped running then I wouldn’t meet my goal.  So I just kept on.  The finish line came into sight in the distance and unfortunately I could not dig deep enough to “kick it in” but I still continued to run through it.  My boyfriend was at the start of the finishing chute cheering and clapping and I wish more than anything that I could have sprinted through the line but I was running and that was enough for me.

can you see the glisten on our skin?

can you see the glisten on our skin?

At the finish line I found Ashley and we squealed with excitement over meeting our goals.  I finished more than a minute faster than my fastest 2013 5k.  Ashley ran a 30:57, close to 4 minutes off her time at Cove Lake 5k just two weeks ago.  We were so happy!  My sweet friend Brittney also found us since she had been volunteering for the pre-race festivities.  I was so excited to see her and gave her a huge hug, obviously forgetting that I was sweaty and stinky.  Hope she didn’t mind.  We stuck around for a little bit of the awards knowing we wouldn’t win but secretly hoped our numbers would be called for some awesome door prizes!  No such luck.  TJ’s friend Zach came to watch Ashley run and they suggested we go back to Zach’s pool to cool off.  Best idea ever.  Nothing like going for a midnight swim in spandex and sports bras after an amazing race!

Brittney loves when her sweaty friends hug her!

Brittney loves when her sweaty friends hug her!

This race was mentally tough for me but I’m proud of the way I handled it.  I came out with a 2013 PR in a tough race and pushed through it.  Currently I am on the lookout for my August race and I’m really hoping I can find one and knock off my next big goal!

Race Recap: Knoxville Half Marathon 2013

The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon holds a special place in my heart.  It is the first half marathon I ever did after ignorantly signing up my freshman year of college.  It was the race to show off my hard work after being a contestant on the Biggest Winner.  It was the race that I PR’d on last year and the race that I ever ran eight consecutive miles in.  I also happen to be on Race Staff and work alongside my dear friend Robyn doing goody bags.  We stuff bags for about six hours the weekend before the race then hand them out on race day.  Needless to say, this is my race.

No matter how sentimental this race is to me, this year went a little bit different.  I’ve struggled with my weight really bad the past few months and have really packed on the pounds since last year.  I’ve stopped running and prefer to just take shorter walks.  I am finishing up my senior year of college with lots of hard credit hours.  I had to work 13 hours at the expo the day before the race and got minimal sleep on race eve.  And yes, I am complaining about all these things when most people have it way worse.  I was really tempted to drop to the 5k and just cheer my mom and our friend Yvonne on while they did the half.  But that seemed like a cop-out to me and I wanted to cross that finish line with two very special ladies especially since my Momma was doing this race for her birthday.  The decision was made to suck it up and just walk the entire 13.1 miles with them.

Expo was long and tiring, but so very fun.  I got to work with some amazing volunteers who really brought a special spirit to my day.  A blogging friend, Layne, came down to do the half marathon and I’m so grateful I finally met her in real life.  Lots of people came through my line that I only see once a year so it was a big reunion party.  It was just lots of fun and even though my legs and back hurt like crazy afterwards, it was worth it.

wrong number at expo

wrong number at expo

I tried so hard to sleep on race eve, but tossed and turned with no luck.  Race morning came and I snoozed as long as possible.  Fortunate for me, I literally live about four blocks from the race start, so I could afford taking my sweet time.  Momma and Yvonne met me at my apartment for the walk to the start line.  We got there just as the wheelchair division took off.  Nothing like easing pre race anxiety like showing up three minutes before the start.  We eased our way to the very back just as the gun went off.  Footloose was blaring as we crossed the start line and there were lots of cheers and high fives being passed around.  About a half mile into the race we passed my apartment and started the walk through campus.  There sure was a lot of camaraderie in the back and lots of people motivating each other.  I wasn’t full on complaining but I had no problem telling my Momma that I was already over it.  My legs were dead, my mind was shot, and my heart just wasn’t in it.  But it was important to me to finish.

We made it another four miles or so before making it to the Boulevard and Sequoyah Hills-a very important part of the course.  Momma and Yvonne often got a tiny bit ahead of me so I could slow down, then on the downhills, I would shuffle to them to catch back up.  There were a few people on bikes that kept on making random appearances, cheering us on, offering advice, and being so wonderfully kind.  One guy even had a Channing Tatum sign.  Thanks for the motivation, sir.  We trekked and trekked.  Around mile 7 we hit Noelton, the most famous course on the hill.  This is where Momma hit the wall last year.  Noelton has two parts…one big incline, then dips down and goes back up one more time for a smaller hill.  We made it to the big dip in the middle and Momma turns around and says “There is Kingston Pike, WE ARE DONE”.  I’m thinking to myself that no we are not done, we are just done with Noelton.  It was still a big feat getting up that hill but we all felt much better after making it to the top.

Once we hit the greenway all was well and it felt like being in Townsend again.  We welcomed the miles as we passed them and just tried to talk and have fun and make the most of our experience out there.  Towards the end of the greenway section, we passed two pregnant women…one of them was two weeks from due date!  What an amazing thing to be out doing a half marathon so late in pregnancy.   Kudos to her.

The last part of the course was extremely tough mentally.  We had less than two miles to go but they went so slow.  The hills were hurting, my feet were hurting, and my hips could barely move.  But we pressed on.  I can honestly say that it would not have been possible if my Momma and Yvonne hadn’t been there with me.  After finally making it to the course split, I could hear the cheers and see the stadium.  FINALLY.  We decided to just take it nice and easy across, savoring every moment of being on the field and having all attention on us.  We held hands and lifted them high as we finished in 3:336:42.  All of us had the exact same time on the results page.  Some very tall and very large UT football players handed us our medals and all was well.

the coveted finish line

the coveted finish line

Afterwards, I felt sick after stopping and my leg muscles started to cramp like crazy.  We took just a few pictures before meeting up with Yvonne’s husband and kids and my boyfriend.  Luckily for all of us, Yvonne’s husband had parked directly by the exit gate and drove us back to my apartment.  He had drinks and everything for us.  I’m really thankful for that and thankful that I didn’t have to walk back.

like mother like daughter

like mother like daughter

After a nice long nap at my apartment, TJ treated me to a large cup of red velvet ice cream at a local ice cream parlor.  The cold taste was amazing after a long hot day on the race course.  I tried to share it with him, but I devoured it.

the animal cracker on top made it special.

the animal cracker on top made it special.

That night, we headed back to Townsend for some more fun.  TJ and I sat outside for a nice long while and hit some golf balls and just enjoyed the perfect springtime weather that Tennessee is finally being blessed with.  Moving around definitely helped get rid of some soreness.

sitting on tailgates make for good post race recovery

sitting on tailgates make for good post race recovery

This race was my 11th half marathon.  After PRing last year and riding high, I had very big hopes for this year’s race.  I knew that I wasn’t prepared to run it and looking back probably shouldn’t have even walked it, but I did.  It was worth it.  The half marathon distance has been important to me for some time, but I think I’m going to take a break from the distance events and work on getting back (slowly) into running and maybe even doing the couch to 5k program.  I want to be a runner again and I specifically want to work on my 5k times.  Hopefully by the end of the year I can be back into running consistently and working towards getting faster at short distances.  Oh, and next year if I work expo all day I will not run the next day.  Lesson learned.

I’m still very happy I did this race and wouldn’t take it back.  It was great to see so many different types of people out there working hard and being strong for this sport.  Distance ain’t no joke and I’d like to say congrats to all the walkers, runners, and wheelchairs that finished.

New Year’s Day 5k: Race Recap

Having not done a race since September, I was itching to put on a bib and cross a finish line.  My Momma always told me that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will do for the rest of the year.  What better way to kick off 2013 than to do a race then, right?  After pitching the idea to my boyfriend, he decided it was time for him to complete his first race so he signed up with me.

so proud of our bibs.

so proud of our bibs.

I have an intense fear of accidentally over-sleeping on race day so I made sure to go to bed around 10 last night (although I woke up for the ball drop) and then I naturally woke up sans alarm clock 27 minutes before my alarm was set to go off.  I felt very Olympic.  After seeing that it was a torrential downpour outside, I made sure to add some motivation to my morning Wheaties.  36 degrees and pouring rain ain’t gonna stop me from starting my year off on the right foot.  Pun intended.

Luckily it was only a three-minute drive to the race site.  We parked next to my sweet friend Robyn and made the trek to the restaurant that was hosting packet pick up.  I was actually surprised at how many people had turned out to run in the freezing rain.  Go runners!  My friend Brittney was a tiny bit late so we grabbed her packet for her and met her back at the car.  After some photos, we were off to the start line!

woohooo, Robyn!

woohooo, Robyn!

After some intense start line deliberation, the four of us decided that it was best to simply focus on finishing this race.  No time goals, no set pace.  Just run and walk when you need to.  We wished each other luck then split up.  Brittney and I lined up in front of the walkers and behind the runners so we wouldn’t have to start out fast and still wouldn’t have to bob and weave.

The gun went off and we didn’t start running until the actual start line.  Strategy.  A little before the one mile mark, I needed to take a walk break.  I told Brittney to go ahead without me but she was a trooper and stuck with me the whole time.  We only took four or five walk breaks which was good given my current lack of “in shapeness”.  It felt like I was exerting so much effort but my pace was not reflecting it and that was a mental struggle.  But having a partner in crime really kept my mind occupied and it was nice to have a running body.  After the turn around, we saw Robyn getting her run on behind us!  So proud of her for getting out there when she will gladly tell you she would rather be in bed.  We just kept on running at what felt comfortable for us and that’s all we had hoped for.  By the end of the race, Brittney’s Garmin was going crazy and I was dripping sweat and rain from all parts of my body.  Good race.

running partner!

running partner!

We ended up finishing in 37:24.  Not our best but not our worst.  And we were not last.  TJ was able to finish his FIRST 5k in 34:54 and I am so proud of him, too!  They gave out wine glasses to the first 100 men and the first 100 women at this race.  The 100th woman finished in 30:XX so it was crazy to think that if I had been at what I used to be then I would have got one.  Oh, well.  Doesn’t really  matter since we aren’t drinkers.

Overall it was a great race!  My third year running it and always a great way to start the year.  I’m so happy to have had my running friends there to share in the fun and happy that my boyfriend did his first race and already has the running bug.  I can’t wait to do this race again next year and see how much time I can knock off in 2013.

repping the SFM shirt which is usually a much lighter gray.  thanks, rain.

repping the SFM shirt which is usually a much lighter gray. thanks, rain.

After coming home from the race and thawing out in a hot shower and taking an extremely long power/recovery nap, Momma and TJ woke me up to inform me we were all going to go walk.  So we were able to get in another 3.1 miles post race in the dark and in a light drizzle.  Yeah, really starting the year off right.  Cheers to a fresh start and new beginnings.

the only reason to run a race: the shirt

the only reason to run a race: the shirt