Monday, December 19, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Tradition

After a successful long run last Saturday, Josh and I spent the rest of the day doing one of our favorite Christmas traditions:

A puzzle! 
Yes, we are an old married couple who love puzzles! 

We love puzzles so much that we even completed one on our honeymoon. Seriously, Josh and I were made for each other! 
Honeymoon flashback: British Virgin Islands 2010

We set up the kitchen/living room so we could spend all day working the puzzle and watch marathon episodes of Dexter. Such an amazingly perfect weekend!
We have very different strategies for completing puzzles. I like to work the edges first and Josh likes to tackle an object in the middle. Since I work the puzzles outside-in, and he works them inside-out, we rarely get in each other's way.

We dominated you Santa!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Long Run Surprise

Is it already Monday night?! These past few days have flown by. Between last minute Christmas shopping, cleaning of the house, and quality hubby time, I haven't stopped. Luckily, I've been getting out of work early each day so I've had plenty of extra time to get things done. 

Last Friday night was spent catching up with friends over dinner, then hitting the sack early for my long run Saturday morning. I had plans to meet some people from the local running club, Northwest Arkansas Speed Association (aka: NASA), at 8:30 to tackle 12 miles. I was super nervous because 1) these girls planned to average a much faster pace than I was use to, 2) meeting new people makes me nervous, and 3) did I mention these girls were fast? 

Eek! I basically introduced myself as "Hi, my name is Alex. Thanks so much for inviting me to run with you guys. I'm really slow, so you don't have to wait on me."

Yea, steller first impression. I really know how to talk myself up.

The girls were super nice and welcoming. They said they were in no hurry and planned to just take it easy. Ha! This sentence replayed over in my head a few times during the run as a cruel joke. Such a mean thing to say to this slow runner.

But you know what happens when you set the bar low for yourself? You are very impressed when you do better than expected! 

Exhibit A: 
Mileage: 12.00; Time: 2:01:48; Pace: 10:09 

Booyah!! During this run, I beat my 5K and 10K personal record, and would have stomped my half marathon personal record if I would have ran 1 more mile! It definitely wasn't easy, but it felt SO good! 

Here is the mileage broken down:

Mile 1: 9:41
Mile 2: 9:01
Mile 3: 9:23
Mile 4: 9:25
Mile 5: 9:49
Mile 6: 9.57 <--Turn around point. Start the slow incline.
Mile 7: 9:29
Mile 8: 10:17
Mile 9: 10:23
Mile 10: 10:52 <-- Walked a few times. Getting way too tired.
Mile 11: 11:15 <-- Nasty hill. So over this run.
Mile 12: 12:14 <--Longer nasty hill. Get me outta here!

Ouch. Okay, so the splits aren't amazing. But look at those first 7 miles! Yep, those are 9's at the front. Rocking. 

I was able to keep up with the group during the first 7.5 miles, but after the turn-around spot at mile 6, the trail was slightly uphill the rest of the way. I slowly started to lose them and then the last 2 miles had some nasty, unrelenting inclines. Yay for hills at the end of a 12 mile run! 

So, while I started to bomb toward the end, my average pace still rocked. And this makes me super happy. Apparently what "they" say is correct: Running with fast people make you a better runner. 

I may start making this a habit. Hopefully no one will mind the slow girl tagging along.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fayetteville Half Marathon Recap

Alternate titles: I Love My Husband, Walking a Half Marathon Still Hurts, or I Heart Local Races.

Well, this was a race of firsts. My first race with my husband. My first race in the town I live. And my first race where I walked 3/4th of the time.

Since the race was in Fayetteville, I woke up in my own bed and felt the luxury of having my entire running wardrobe to choose from (instead of waking up in a hotel and searching through my suitcase for some packed running clothes and wishing I had X clothing article). Otherwise, the morning started off a like every other race: I choked down my breakfast of toast and PB (I seriously have eaten this for breakfast about 3x a week for the past year, but on every single race day I have to force myself to eat it. So strange), drank some coffee to get the bowels moving (TMI? Sorry, it's the reality of being a runner), and attempted to dress warm for the 26 degree morning. Burr!

Josh was super nervous about the knee/joint pain he had been having, which resulted in his longest run being 7 miles 3 weeks before. He hoped to keep a good pace as long as he could, ignore the knee pain as long as possible, and walk very little.

Isn't he cute? Poor boy was one of the only ones in shorts- we need to get him some proper running gear!

As evident by the possible alternate titles, the race didn't go so well. We were keeping a 10:00 pace and were feeling great until mile 4. Josh was wincing in pain with every step and I could tell he couldn't go much longer. 

We walked for a few minutes then tried to pick it back up, but he couldn't run for longer than 1 minute at a time. He described the pain as sharp, electrocuting, and worse with each impact. We walked the majority of miles 4-7, with occasional 1 minute sprints. He was so defeated and angry with his body and it made me feel so sorry for him. I know he wanted this to be a great first half marathon and it was completely out of his control.

At mile 8, Josh was limping pretty badly and merely starting to run was sending unbearable pain through his legs. This is where the running stopped and the mental task of walking 6 miles began. Seeing him so upset, there was no way I was going to leave his side! If we were to walk the rest of the way, we would. And I would be his little cheerleader the whole time.

Yea, it super sucked. And yea, my IT band was strangely killing me for walking 13.1 miles. But I wouldn't trade that 2 hours and 52 minutes for anything. I got to see my husband push himself when others would have quit long before. I got to be there for him, quietly walking beside him, while he struggled to complete his first half marathon. A lesser man would have given up, but we walked together, hand in hand across the finish line.
I would be lying if I said I didn't have tears in my eyes while we walked across the finish line. I was so proud of him. 

The Fayetteville Half Marathon was a great race! It was a wonderful course, cold but sunny weather, great volunteers, and lots of yummy goodies after the race. But best of all, I finished with my best friend. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ready To Run

This post was written on my iPhone, which was super awkward and quite difficult. Please excuse any strange picture placement and missed typos. 

Tomorrow, Josh and I are running the Fayetteville Half Marathon. This will be my 5th half marathon and falls perfectly into my marathon training schedule. It's crazy to think that I am almost half through!

Tomorrow's race will actually be Josh's first half marathon, so this race is a huge deal!! If I were running this by myself, I wouldn't think of it than more than a long run with a bunch of other people plus a bonus medal at the end. But since this is Josh's first, we're going all out.

Including photos at the Expo:

Some carb-induced comas:

Ugh! Horrible, hazy eyed photo...

And awesome pep talks from your's truly:

My only goal is to stay with Josh and ensure he has a blast. No time goal or pressure of a PR; just good ole fashion running to put a smile on my face!

Josh's only goal is to finish in one piece. Let's just say he hasn't been able to train as diligently as he would have liked (cough cough, merely running 7miles about 3 weeks ago). This is largely do to joint/knee pain, and the fact that he decided to start training 1 month ago. Crazy boy.

I'm just happy that I'll be running tomorrow with my best friend. Wish us luck!