Monday, October 31, 2011

A Not So Halloween Surprise

Happy Halloween Folks! 

Josh and I celebrated Halloween by attending the Leonard Halloween Extravaganza; however, I'm a horrible blogger and didn't take one photo. Boo. I really wished I had because Josh dressed up as Richard Simmons, and boy was he wearing some short shorts.
Sweatin' to the Oldies

And for the Surprise ...
I don't know if you knew this, but I am very goal-oriented, and this is especially true when it comes to exercise. I work best and I am much more dedicated when I have something to achieve. So, before I even toed the starting line of the St. Louis Half Marathon, I signed up for another race.

And not just any race. If you caught this post, you might know what I'm talking about...


Eek! I'm totally pumped and ready for this new and exciting challenge. I'm especially even more excited that my family is planning on making the trip down to New Orleans to cheer me on.

This will be me in 18 weeks:
Except I definitely won't be starting with the Kenyans.

So I apologize in advance if posts tend to be more 'running oriented' because my life will be consumed with marathon training for the next 126 days. 

Food will be for fuel. Sleep will be for recovery. And I will be counting my waking hours until I can pull on my Asics and hit the pavement. Aka: Running will be my life. And call me crazy, but I can't wait!

Stay tuned for my New Orleans marathon training plan. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

St. Louis Half Marathon Race Recap

If you want to catch up, please see the following St. Louis Half Marathon related posts:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I finished my fourth half marathon. Going into this race I had a range of goals from simply finishing with a smile on my face, to smashing my PR with a sub 2:20 time. I am proud to say that I ran the best race I could and gave 110%.


Thats right. I ran a sub 2:20 and set a new PR of 2:18.

Heres how the event went down.

Like I've said before, I recruited my friend Rachel 4 weeks prior to run this race with me. Being the all-star that she is, she agreed to spend her weekend driving to St. Louis, running 13.1 miles, and driving back. Thank goodness, because this race (and training) wouldn't have been near as awesome without her.

Rachel arrived at my house at 8am on Saturday morning to make our 6 hour trek to St. Louis. With a quick detour to Illinois, we made it to the Expo at 2:00 with just enough time to pick up our race bib and packet, explore the booths, and pick up some last minute running-needs.

Exhibit A: These fanastically awesome headbands.
My true goal in any race.
After the expo, we were both craving pasta. The hotel concierge (I love that word) recommended a small  family-owned Italian restaurant right up the street.
Holy yum! Needless to say, we stuffed our faces.

We then headed straight back to the hotel. Our crazy Saturday night ended with me in bed at 8:30 and out like a light by 9. I prefer "dedicated runner" opposed to "boring grandma" thank you very much.

Even though we had 2 alarms plus a wake up call for 5am, I was up by 4:30 do to pre-race jitters. It was pointless to lay there tossing and turning so Rachel and I got ready and pumped up in our room. We both packed tons of options. Rachel decided to go with the most comfortable option; I decided to go with the most mismatched option.
See that excitement?!
Rachel dedicated her race to her cousin Jennifer.
And I dedicated mine to my rockin' Big Brother.
Since our hotel was about 20 minutes west of St. Louis, we decided to take the MetroLink into the city.  I am not confident driving through big cities, especially if the city is packed with 25,000+ runners (hence, accidently making a detour to Illinois the day before)!  So I would strongly recommend this option, as it was easy, cheap, and dropped us off right by the start line.

Don't let the tired faces fool you...
...we were pumped!
We made it to the start line by 6:40, stopped at the Porta Potties (which were plentiful and moved quickly), and found our corral with plenty of time to spare.
The starting line was beautiful, as we could see the arch in the background. Tons and tons of people!
The race started at 7:30, and by 7:50 we finally crossed the start line. Clearly, Rachel was ready to get this race started.
During the first mile we passed by the iconic St. Louis Arch and by Busch Stadium.
At the start of races, I am always extra cautious not to start off too fast, as that is supposedly the #1 mistake with runners. The first few miles were flat and beautiful and I had to keep telling myself to slow down because I didn't want to crash and burn at the end. As a result, the first 2 miles were some of the slowest miles of the race.

Mile 1- 10:48 
Mile 2- 10:42 

At mile 3 I saw a man in his full military outfit (is it called an outfit? or uniform? or ensemble? I don't know) running the full marathon. So incredibly inspiring, and totally worth the few emotional tears that came. I love being a patriotic sap. Rock on soldier!
Mile 3- 10:24 
Mile 4- 10:29 

At mile 5, these cute little YMCA girls had a mini-finish line and were cheering their little hearts out. My favorite thing about races (besides the medal) is crossing the finish line, so I was not going to miss the chance to cross two finish lines in one race!
Mile 5- 10:27

I'd like to take this moment to comment on the race volunteers and spectators. Being a Rock-N-Roll series race, there were bands at every mile and each were amazing. But between the mile markers and bands were crowds and crowds of support and spectators cheering their little hearts out. I can't recall one quite moment on the course as there was always a crowd at every corner and sidewalk with signs and noisemakers. Made the first 6 miles fly by!

Rachel enjoyed all the entertainment as well. Two thumbs up for the volunteers! Plenty of water and hydration at every station!
Here we are reaching mile 6, where we were at our fastest. At this point in the race I felt amazing and was enjoying every second!
Woo Hoo! My legs were feeling great and I was on top of the world!
Mile 6- 10:06
Mile 7- 10:27

Then there was the mile 8-9 stretch. During miles 1-7, there were a few rolling hills but they were easy and we got an immediate pay off by having a decline once we reached the top. But miles 8 and 9 was horrible.
Beautiful? Yes. But it was completely up-hill the entire way. I am proud that I did not walk once, and I didn't even let my pace really slow down, but it took a toll on me physically and mentally. I was hurting once I finally made it to the top.

Mile 8- 10:34
Mile 9- 10:26

At this point, I stopped taking pictures. I could only focus on pushing forward and keeping one foot in front of the other. Despite the fact that my pace hadn't yet suffered from that 2mile incline, it was quickly catching up to me. Even though mile 10 was slightly down-hill, I began having a sharp pain in my right hip and knee and my pace began to slow.

Mile 10- 10:46

Rachel was being an amazing cheerleader and I could tell she felt good. At this point I felt I might be able to finish by 2:20 but my knee was only getting worse. Rachel kept saying "We're rocking this. We're totally going to do this!" She said it enough times, I actually started to believe her.

At mile 11, there was another hill. Its funny how I tend to go faster up hill, then slow down once we are going downhill. Each hill slowly picked away at my mentality and I kept thinking to myself "Why in the heck did I not train on more hills?!" It wasn't that the hills were bad, it's just during training I avoid hills at all costs so any incline totally kicks my butt. When will I learn?

Mile 11- 10:34
Mile 12- 10:56

To reach the top of mile 13, we had to climb another small hill (I was cursing in my head at this point- dang those hills!), then it was a decline for the last .1 miles.

Mile 13- 10:23
Mile .2-   1:58 (a 9:34 pace)

Total 13.2 miles- 2:18
(My Garmin read and extra .1 miles, which means I really need to pay more attention to running the tangents!)

Victory is sweet my friends! Thats the smile of a new personal record by more than 10 minutes!
Rachel smashed her PR too, maybe because she is a rock star.
And look who we ran into at the finishline. Good friend and fellow speech pathologist Amber, who rocked her half marathon with a time of 1:54. Yea, she's a rock start too.
Yay for running SLPs!
So that my friends is my fourth half marathon story. Amazing and perfect in every way. Here is the final breakdown, per my Garmin:

Now I have a sub 2:15 goal on the horizon, and a marathon in my future. But that's a whole other post....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Agh! Did you know today is Thursday? Which means today is Thankful Thursday. Which means I almost forgot to post what I am thankful for today. Phew, that was a close one. I know you were so very concerned that I hadn't checked in yet, but you can rest calmly now. Here we go.

1. I am thankful that my husband fixed my car last week. Luckily, he's not one who's afraid to make mistakes. If he doesn't know how to do it, YouTube is his best friend. And while an auto-mechanic 'quoted' us for a $1000+ fix, my Hubby did it himself for 50 bucks. Take that over-priced mechanic! My husband rocks.

2. I am thankful tomorrow is pay day. I mean, who doesn't love pay day? Makes all the craziness seem worth it.

And did I get a face-full of crazy today.

Exhibit A:

3. I am thankful I got to run today. I have taken the past 3 days off due to the St. Louis Half Marathon and I plan to only run a few miles, as to not over do it.
We actually went to a really snazzy and cool fitness club in Fayetteville to cash in our guest pass and I loved every minute of it.
Club Haus has a real modern feel to it, state-of the art equipment, and awesome group classes like Bodypump, Pilates, Hot Vinyasa, and even ballet barr classes! The down side includes no pool and the steep price of $79.99 a month for a family of two. Ouch. Guess we'll keep shopping for the perfect gym.

4. I am thankful that this amazing recipe got two thumbs up at the Clark abode last night. Anything with the words 'soup', 'potato' and 'cheese' is bound to be good in my book!

Plus Jenna is a complete genius.
5. I am thankful for fall TV. I swear our DVR is so backed up, we would last months through another writer's strike.
Remember when they had that writer's strike a few years back. Man, my entertainment levels sure suffered during those times. Those were dark, dark times my friends. I had to resort to reruns, board games, and face-to-face conversations with people. Lets just stop talking about it...

6. I am thankful I have two dogs, that way they keep each other entertained and I don't have to pay as much attention to them. I'm only slightly kidding. Sort of.
Seriously kidding. But it is nice that they play with each other all day, then sleep soundly at night. This gal isn't gonna complain.

7. I am thankful it is cold and raining. Scratch that. I'm just thankful it is cold so I can wear my cute jackets and scarfs. I definitely don't prefer the rain.

Cold rain just makes me want to snuggle up with my hubby by the fireplace and drink hot tea. Actually, now that I think about it, that doesn't sound too bad.

Okay, so another edit: I AM thankful for the cold and rain. Anything that increases snuggle time is more than welcome!

8. I am thankful it is documentary night in the Clark household. Film of choice: Forks over Knifes.
This might result in another vegetarian/vegan experiment again. You in Josh?

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Lazy

So yea, I've been a little lazy these past few days. I keep looking at the pictures of the past weekend and relive it in my head over and over again. It was amazing. It was awesome. It was wonderful. And I promise to share it with you soon.

Here is another teaser from the race.
Just some more proof that I actually did finish and I'm not just making things up.

And to make this post non-pointless, here is a cute little video.
This makes my little speech-therapy heart burst with joy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Well, I finished!

Well, I finished!
Recap to come soon. 
Spoiler alert: Awesome race. Awesome weather. Awesome run.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My St. Louis Half Marathon Goals

The laundry is not done.

The Garmin and Ipod are not charged.

My bags are not packed.

The music playlist has not been made.

The car is on empty.

So believe it or not, I am totally ready for the St. Louis Half Marathon!

As mentally ready as I am, I'm nervous thinking about my goals for this race. I obviously want rock this race's face off, but I don't want to set myself up for failure. So to avoid that, I am going to prioritize my goals. That way I can at least accomplish something!

Saturday goals: (yes, pre-race goals totally count)
1. Have an awesome road trip with no junk food.
2. Limit my spending at the Race Expo to $25.
3. Eat a filling, yet healthy pre-race dinner.
4. Get a good night's sleep without anxiety or nightmares of sleeping through the race.

Sunday goals:
5. No regrets. Give it all I've got!
6. Cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
This is not what I mean. That race was not entirely fun.
7. Run the second half of the race faster than the first half.
8. Set a personal record (under 2:28)
9. Finish at or below 2:20.

Since this is my fourth half marathon, I want to leave everything on the course and give it all I've got! NO REGRETS! If I don't finish below 2:20, I'll be okay, but only if I give 110% and couldn't have pushed myself any hard.

So, friends, wish me luck! Cause I might just need it...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This week has literally flown by.

How come on Monday I always feel, "Ugh, can't believe I have a whole 5 days until the weekend!".

Then on Tuesday I wake up saying, "Monday wasn't so bad, but I still have 4 days left! Ugh!"

Wednesday I feel, "Ugh, it is only Wednesday? At least the week is halfway over."

But Thursday always sneaks up on me, and I'm like, "Woah! Today is Thursday? That means tomorrow is Friday?"

Crazy how that works.

Luckily, the entire world now has a song to remind them of this progression:
(I don't know what is more pathetic: this song or the fact I am referencing it.)

So, I am very thankful it is Thursday today, and that tomorrow (aka: Friday) is the last day of the work week. In general, Thursdays are very good days, don't you agree?

I am thankful that I am running my fourth half marathon this weekend. I know I've mentioned it before, but seriously, I'm super pumped to rock this race's face off! Though training hasn't been as diligent as I had planned, I still accomplished a lot of goals and I'm happy where I'm at. 

And I haven't mentioned it before, but I am over the top thankful for my impromptu, running buddy Rachel who has decided to run this half marathon with me. This hot mama jumped into training in week 8 and has rocked all our long runs. I am stoked to have such an amazing running/traveling buddy like her.
The fact that she is a little nutty like me doesn't hurt either.

I am thankful for Donut Wednesday at work. Sometimes the donuts are from infamous Rick's Bakery, sometimes Krispy Kreme, sometimes Harps, but always good! And the yummy frou-frou coffee adds to the awesomeness. Oh, and it is all free. "Free" gets me everytime. 

Speaking of free, I went to a random salon's 'big event night' tonight because they were giving free eye brow waxings. Sign me up! If it is free, I'll practically do anything. Plus they were giving away free champagne,  cheese and crackers, and door prizes! So, really, I am thankful for anything that is free. But who isn't, right?

I am thankful that the past few days have been crisp and chilly! Fall is here ladies and gentlemen, and I'm loving every minute of it! I've been getting to wear scarfs and cute jackets, and not sweat when I drink my morning tea. Oh so nice.

I am also thankful for all the little things in my day, such as...
when my socks do not have holes in them.
when somebody changes out the toilet paper roll.
that I am a heavy sleeper.
and that The Husband tucks me in and kisses me every night.

What are you Thankful for today?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

St. Louis Half Marathon Training in Numbers

I can't believe the Rock and Roll St. Louis Half Marathon will be here in 1 week. A mere 7 days away before I toe the line of my 4th half marathon, before I can cross another state off my running list. I am so excited to be starting this race off injury free and feeling the strongest I've ever felt. I only hope that my progress during training will reflect in my abilities on October 23rd.

Since this has been such a long process, I thought I'd break down my training into some numbers. Lucky for me, I keep a detailed calendar of each run so I can look back and see what I did right and wrong:

Number of weeks: 12
5 weeks of 'pre-training' and 12 weeks of official training

...long runs: 10
Definitely skipped a few, oops!

...long runs with friends: 9
Makes the miles fly by.

...speed workouts: 5
Oh, so now I know why I'm not any faster...

...speed workouts completed solo: 4
Despite being a low number, at least it's better than zero!

...runs with the puppies: 0 
Ajax couldn't keep up and Sully is too young

...runs with the Husband: 5
Life and running are better when he's around

...runs in the rain: 0
Lets hope I'm as lucky on race day

...toast with PB consumed before long runs: at least 20
I easily ate 2 before each long run. Why fix it if it ain't broken?!

...coconut waters consumed after long runs: 8
Refreshing and replenishing! 

While I didn't cross off every run on my half marathon training plan, I am happy with my dedication to this race and my injury-free body. (Number of times I've mentioned my excitement over not being injured...countless!).

Next time I will share with you my goals for this race and what I hope to accomplish! FYI: I probably won't be breaking any amazing records.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I woke up in a wonky mood this morning. The kind of mood when I know I'm 'off' and could care less about snapping out of it. Where I almost expect and want things to go badly, just so I can stay in my pissed off mood.

Definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. 

Definitely do not want to be thankful this morning. 

Definitely have probably dragged you down with me in this somber mood. So let me put on a forced smile and be thankful about some things in my life. 

Fake it till you make it, right?

I am thankful that my kitchen is no longer in the middle of the house. Now that it is in the back corner, you can sit in the living room and not even know that the dishes are piled high and the counters need to be cleaned.

If I need a glass of water, I'll just do it with my eyes closed. 

I am thankful for sunny, warm afternoons.

I am thankful for walks with the husband and dogs.
And when the sun shines in my eyes.

I am thankful for amazing friends who encourage my craziness and even give me tips on accomplishing my outlandish aspirations.
This said friend's name is Nora, who is attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon and rocks my running socks off. Although she is my fastest friend, she always slows down to run my pace. Now that is a true friend!

Yes, that is an old picture of our Memphis weekend. Recycling is good.

I am thankful for having an active husband, who I can coerce into running with me. 
Funny how I've been training months for a half marathon, and this man can keep up without barely breaking a sweat. And when I say funny, I mean totally makes me sick.

However, I am NOT thankful for my wacky hair in the above photo.

I am thankful for progress in the craft/game room. And having a handy husband.
I'm gathering my inspiration from Pinterest. Pinterest is heaven for the decorating dummies like me.
I am thankful for the awesome rock climbing around Northwest Arkansas. The husband and I ventured out to Lincoln Lake a few weekends ago and we loved every minute of it! 
 Of course, I'm not nearly as skilled as Josh is, but I can hold my own on 5.7 routes like this one.
Well, look at that. Apparently I did have a lot to be thankful for today.

And you know what, I'm in a much better mood now. 

Faking it DOES make it. 

I hope that you have a wonderful Thursday!