01 April 2014

Achievement Unlocked

Last Sunday, in a monsoon with temps in the 40s, I completed my first half marathon - The Love Run in Philly.

I'm still in awe that I completed a half marathon - my app said I went 14.79 miles total, not just 13.1. Add the 1.5 mile walk from the hotel to the start line, plus the walk back to the hotel and I covered a lot of miles.

I'm not sure what possessed me to do a half marathon in March, but the winter was a rough one and my training suffered. I was seriously considering bagging it and eating the registration fees about 2 weeks out before someone posted on the race's Facebook page that "anyone can do a half marathon - there was no need to run the full distance." With that in mind, I was determined to finish, knowing there was no shame in walking part of it.

The morning of the race I found myself chatting with a few other women in the corral before the start. I ended up trading places with one of them the first 3-4 miles until I finally put some distance between us. I managed to run/walk the first 6-7 miles comfortably, taking advantage of all the water stops, even though it was anything but warm. Stay fueled and hydrated is what all my friends reminded me.

I'd been holding off using the port-o-lets until the last possible moment - but after the 8 mile mark, I could hold out no longer. That was a mistake. I was soaked to the bone by this point and while I got my pants down easily, getting them back up was a challenge. I think it might have been better if I had simply squatted by the side of the road and peed. (Sorry!)

About the 9-9.5 mile mark I hit the wall. My legs started to ache and the cold got to me. The only part of my body that was dry at this point was my face - that was only because a had a baseball cap on and the rain wasn't blowing sideways. I slowed to a walk about this time when someone came running up next to me and said, "I thought that was you. Can you run a bit?" It was Chris, the woman I had been chatting with in the corral.

Together she and I walked the last 3.5-4 miles, keeping each other's spirits up and encouraging one another. At one point we encountered the course photographer, so we stopped and posed for a photo together. We both we dragging by the 12 mile mark - but knew the end was close.

When we hit the 13 mile mark and turned the corner to see the finish line, we looked at one another. She asked me if I had enough gas to finish strong. With a nod we both started running and crossed the finish line together.

When they placed the medal around my neck I started crying.


Me, the girl who ran her first 5K in July 2013 had completed a half marathon - in wretched conditions nonetheless. Seriously, I don't think that I could have had any worse weather.

My official time was 3:25:14. I went into the race without any time expectation. There is a part of me that is slightly disappointed I didn't finish in under 3 hours, but given the weather conditions, I'm just happy I finished.

I asked Chris if she would take a pic of me at the finish and she kindly obliged. We made our way over to the refreshment tent and I thanked her for keeping me focused and motivated to finish. I wanted to give up so many times towards the end, but having her companionship those last miles was enough to banish those thoughts. Plus I wanted the bling! I'd gone too far to concede now.

Once I got home to Jersey, I stood in the shower until the hot water ran out. My legs hurt. My feet were fine. I found that walking downstairs was the hardest thing to do. I didn't think I would ever walk normally again. I took some Advil and crawled into bed around 8p. I slept until 8:30a the following morning. I was surprised that I felt much better the next morning. I scheduled myself a massage for Monday afternoon - best thing ever. By the time that was over, I was feeling really good. Slept well on Monday night and this morning I was feeling almost normal.

Despite the craptastic weather, I really enjoyed the experience. I'm looking forward to my next half this fall with friends - the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton. But first, I've got a 5K next weekend - in Philly again. Maybe after that I'll have enough energy to channel my inner Rocky Balboa and run up the art museum steps.

02 February 2014

Running Season 2014 Has Begun!

I started my 2014 running season this morning with a the Pre-Game 4 Miler in Morristown. The super cold temps here have kept me sidelined more than I have liked and I waited until the last minute to register for this race. When the weather looked like it was gonna be clear, sunny, and in the 50s, I asked my race buddy if she was up for it and the rest is history.

I finished (unofficially) in 0:56:17 - even after face planting at the 1/4 mile mark. Despite landing on my hands, they weren't skinned. My ego was more bruised than anything - there was a house with several young men sitting out on a balcony. They say me go down and cheered "She got up!" when I picked myself up and resumed running.

I learned two things on this run:
  1. Running without my hair tied back is not advisable. I don't know what happened to the hair tie I normally have on one of my wrists, but I wish I had it a few times during this race.   
  2. I'm pretty spoiled running down here on the shore. There are HILLS in Morristown - which proved to be quite a challenge for me. 
It was a great day to be out and run. I've got one more (short) race before my half at the end of March. In the meantime, more snow is coming our way. I just hope it blows through quickly and the temps warm up so I can be back out on the road training for the half. I can't stand being on the treadmill for more than a mile. 

Looking forward to the half and all the other races I've got on my calendar for the year - including three mud runs. It's gonna be a great one!

09 January 2014

New Year, New Project

the finished piece
My craft interests come and go in spurts - sometimes I'm sewing up a storm, sometimes I'm stitching up a storm. When I've not been running lately, I've been busy with my sewing machine, making placemats, aprons, and for my first project of this year, a rag quilt for the man friend.

Last fall, we went furniture shopping together - he was looking for a new sofa and loveseat for his family room and wanted my input.  He got it, but he didn't listen to it and went with a different set than I picked out. When it was delivered, he sent me a text to say he hated it. When I asked why, he said it was too dark for the room.

When I went over to his house again, I had a look. It was a dark leather (darker than the set I liked best), but I didn't think it looked too bad. The set he had in there previously was dark - navy, I think. However, I made a suggestion that a light colored throw on the back of the sofa would lighten things up. He joked, "why didn't you get me one?" just as an idea was going through my mind.

Initially I was going to go to Kohl's and pick out a couple throws for his family room. However, when I did, I was disappointed by the selection. I ended up not getting anything and looking a couple other places, before I happened upon a rag quilt tutorial on Pinterest. When I saw that, the wheels in my brain started churning. I could MAKE him a lap quilt for the family room. Handmade is always better than store bought, right? (Well, not always, but in this case, it is.)

front and back of quilt
Then came the dilemma of fabric and colors. I needed something that wasn't too feminine, but also something that wasn't too dark. I walked into the local quilt shop on the Friday before New Year's Eve and saw a flannel quilt.

The lightbulb went off - flannel! That'd be perfect for the cold winter months. So the process of choosing fabrics began.

I opted to go with seven different fabrics - if I had thought it out better, I would have gone with eight. I picked up 1.5 yards of each and took them home. My stitching group from NYC has a tradition of starting a new project on New Year's Day. I had intended to start a cross-stitch design which I had picked up while I was in Cincinnati for Xmas, but instead decided to start prepping the fabric for the rag quilt.

It didn't take me long to cut all the fabric squares, the batting squares, and quilt them together. The difficult part was arranging them in a pattern that I liked. (This is where I was kicking myself for not going with eight different fabrics.) Eventually I was pleased with the layout and started the process of sewing the squares together, then the rows together.

ready for gifting
Once it was assembled, the process of snipping the seams began. This was the most tedious part of the process and I subjected myself to the season premier of the The Bachelor in the process. (I was too lazy to change the channel for starters and I'm not sure if there was anything better on TV that night anyhow.)

Four washes later (and several full lint traps) it is finished and ready to go. I wasn't sure how to gift it but then I saw I had some extra strips of flannel left. I quickly folded a piece over, sewed a seam up the side and turned it right side out. I rolled up the quilt, and wrapped the strip of flannel around and tied it in a knot.

Hoping he'll like it as much as I do. It's not perfect - it was a learning piece. But I enjoyed making it so much, I want to make me one - in pinks, of course.

19 December 2013

Handmade Christmas

One of my traditions, be it Christmas or birthday, is to give a handmade gift along with a purchased gift. Over the years I've spent hours working on various projects, sometimes not finishing them until the night before the event.

Over the summer I started dating someone new - the wine guy. I'd already made him a set of placemats in a autumnal color scheme which we use regularly when I'm over there for dinner.

I wasn't planning to make him another set, but when I found this fabric, I just had to do it. He once commented to me that everything in his house was wine related. Well, he didn't have wine related placemats - until now.  I decided to make matching napkins as well though I only completed two - the others are coming. (There's also a matching apron for me in progress.)

We exchanged gifts last weekend (since I'm going to be out of town Christmas week). They were definitely a hit with him.  I haven't had dinner at his place since then, but I look forward to seeing these placemats on the table.

10 November 2013

Five MILES Under My Belt

Last weekend, I participated in the Beauty and The Beach run with my two race buddies. While we've done our share of 5K races together, the distance for this race was 5 MILES. Now that may not seem like much to some long time runners, but I've not pushed myself to do too much beyond the 3.1 miles that equal a 5K.

I've been also dealing with an IT band injury and going to PT for the past few weeks. Seeing that I've gotten relief from the pain and knee buckling that I was having, I decided if I wasn't hurting on Friday, I was doing this race - even if I meant I had to crawl across the finish line. I went for a slow, short run on Wednesday and didn't have any issues. I talked to my therapist and decided to be cautious but do the race.

I decided to run/walk this (as usual - I'm not up to running a full 5K distance yet) using a 3 minute run/1 minute walk interval. I have a bad habit of going out too fast at the beginning and getting winded early. This time I still went out a little faster than I intended (10:00 for first mile which was my fastest of the day) but when I crossed the finish line at 1:05:12, I wasn't winded. In fact, I felt like I could have gone another couple miles no issue.

I enjoyed the five mile distance maybe a little more than the 5K distance I've been doing. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it, but I surprised myself. Actually, after I hit the 2 mile mark, I had found a good pace and I told myself the next 3 miles would be a piece of cake. Well, not exactly a piece of cake, but it wasn't bad. I've already added another 5 mile race to my calendar - the Manasquan Turkey Trot on the 23rd. Now that I've got a baseline for the distance, we'll see if I can beat it. I'd be over the moon if I could do it in under an hour.

21 October 2013

Another Weekend, Another Race

If it's Saturday, it's likely I'm running a race somewhere. This past weekend was no exception. We turned it into a girls' weekend in Atlantic City as me and two of my sorority sisters went down to do The Color Run together.

As this was a non-competitive race, I made the decision early on that I was not going to run this - instead, it would be a fun time with my two girlfriends - both of which do 5K races with me, but one who is a walker, not a runner. That said, it didn't diminish from the fun factor.

We decked ourselves out in tutus, tiaras, faery wings, and wands. By the time we made it through the four color stations, we were covered head to toe with yellow, orange, pink, and blue - some of us more blue than others.

The three of us had a blast and decided over the post-race breakfast that we would make this a regular event - a girls' weekend doing The Color Run (or one of the fun non-competitive 5K events) each year.  In fact, I think we've got a weekend picked out for 2014 already.

14 October 2013

Where I Lose My Mind

Little did I know that when I completely my first 5K in July that I would find myself looking for races every weekend. Since Labor Day, I have ran a 5K all but one weekend.

Next weekend I will be going to Atlantic City with 2 of my dearest friends to participate in The Color Run. As part of this adventure, we shall be decked out in tutus, tiaras, faery wings, and wands. Yours truly has been tasked with making the tutus. 

I finished mine a couple weeks ago and took it on a test run at the Run Now Wine Later 5K in New Hope. One unexpected perk of wearing a tutu while running - you create a little more space for yourself. 

I've finished the second tutu and am about halfway thru the third. Each of them are different, but all feature pink as the main color. (It's a Phi Mu thing.). I used sparkle tulle in the last one - what the heck was I thinking? Glitter everywhere. EVERY. WHERE. But it looks amazing. 

After these are done, I plan to create a few more for me to wear during other races - I've got my black and orange tulle to make a Bengals tutu and likely will do something in cream and crimson as well. 

But back to the races...

After The Color Run weekend, I am following that up with two 5Ks the following weekend and then the first Saturday in November I will be doing a 5 MILE race with my Color Run companions. As that's a flat course, some of which I ran in my Labor Day race, I'm looking forward to it. 

If that's not madness enough, after talking to a couple friends, I officially registered for a half marathon - The Love Run in Philadelphia on 3.30.14. That's 166 days away. I'm nervous and excited about the challenge of running 13.1. 

Some days I don't know what happened to the girl I used to be. Still I have come to enjoy getting out and running through the woods - it's my down time, my me time. Races don't offer me the solitude that the woods do, but it's amazing to see how I've improved in a few short months. 

That said, if I ever start talking about doing a marathon, please slap some sense into me. Seriously.