Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Half Marathon PR!

I just got back into town and pulled up my race results from Sunday.... Chip time: 1:55:39! My last PR was 1:59:51. WOO HOO!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Loved the ING!

My experience was a little different this year than last. For starters, I didn't get downtown with minutes to spare like last year. I took the east-west MARTA line instead of north-south and had an easy commute. (The east-west has a MUCH lower ridership on race days and was the way to go!). Of course, I ended up getting on facebook this morning (why I don't know...) and ended up with about 5 minutes to get dressed and out the door! After I made it to the train station, I felt very relaxed. I arrived downtown with about 45 minutes to get to gear check and use the "happy can" (the official name, not my own creation). I was not nervous at all about the race ahead of me like I was last year. The weather was a little chilly at 45 degrees but once we started running, felt great.

I was in corral 2 (as opposed to 7 last year) so got to see the starting activities and a lovely sunrise starting over downtown before we took off. I did have a celebrity blogger siting. Natalie from The Negative Split whizzed past me making her way to her corral. I only recognized her from her outfit which she posted on her blog. Had she not been darting up to the front of the pack, I would have said hello but didn't have the chance. Kind of funny since I had never met her before. Well, still haven't, I just saw her in passing. You feel somewhat stalkerish when you see someone like that out and about. You feel like you know them but you realize you really don't. You want to yell, "hey so and so, how are you" but then you realize they are going to look at you like you must have mistaken them for someone else.

We took off and I was over the start line within a minute or so of the start (last year it took about 20 minutes to get from corral 7 to the front). For some reason I missed the 1 mile marker and before I knew it we were at mile 2. All the other miles just flew by like that as well. The ING is my favorite half, I really enjoy all the neighborhood support and cheering stations as well as the tour of Atlanta. if you aren't from Atlanta, maybe you wouldn't find it so interesting but being born and raised here, I think it is cool. I do think there seemed to be less cheering stations this year than last year but maybe that is my imagination? Who knows.

There were plenty of well stocked water stations just about every mile or so. The only thing they didn't seem to have that I have seen at most halfs were the GU gels (or Clif or whatever...). They had them last year but not this year.

The one thing that was a MAJOR improvement over last year was the bag check. Last year, they had volunteers that would search for your bag post-race. Picture a bunch of freezing runners waiting in a line for 30+ minutes to get their bag. UGH. This year it was like the Thanksgiving half, you just find it yourself. It took 2 seconds and I was on my way.

Sadly, I do not know my time. I *think* it was better than last year. Definitely lower than 2 hours which is my goal. My stretch goal was sub 1:55 but not sure on that one... I do know that the leader of the full marathon had not finished by the time I did so I am pretty sure I beat last year's time based on that since last year the leader passed me around mile 12. I should see results later today. Honestly, it sounds so crazy to say this even still but it just felt like a training run. No big deal.

All in all, a great race as usual. Lovely weather. Perfect actually. On to tennis this afternoon. (I definitely could not have done that last year after the half!)

In other news...

1. The drama at our house while I was gone was the toaster dying! It must have been suicide as there are no signes of foul play. No eggos to be had this morning. Tragedy.

2. The pollen is out in full force. It has rained buckets for the past three days but already my car is coated in yellow just from overnight. INSANE. If you aren't from GA, we may not get snow but we get pollen. Every spring, our cars and homes are coated in layers of yellow. Yuck!

3. Apple Spice Cake with Cream Chees frosting. That would be a Fruit and a Dairy on the food log, right? ;)

have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

well those runs at Stone Mountain will come in handy...

I got selected in the lottery for entry to the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. Check out the hills on the map! YIKES!

Very excited to get an entry! Now I just need to work on making up a reason to get sent to our office in San Francisco that week so I don't have to use my sky miles! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

ING, the second time around...

It seems like more than a year ago but here we are again. The ING. My first "big" race, one year later. I remember the excitement of going to pick up my race number, the amazement at all the cool running related things that I *had* to have. The slight feeling of being a beginner by "only" running the half instead of the big kid's full marathon. My how things have changed.

I drove down to the Georgia Dome in the pouring rain and paid my $10 to park to go pick up my race number (UGH!). I picked a great time to go this afternoon as there were little to no crowds. I walked right up and got my number and goody bag. This year I graduated to corral 2 (woo hoo!), last year I was in the last corral, corral 7, so it is quite exciting to have earned a spot closer to the front!

I LOVE the race shirts this year! Very simple, not a lot of advertisments ...

I milled through to pick up any freebies like any self respecting freeloader! One year later, I am kind of over the whole expo thing. I do like the free LARAbars mmmm, mmmm, mmmm and seeing what other races are out there to run but beyond that I seem to see mostly the same shirts and sunglasses at the other races. Granted, this one isn't huge so might not draw as many vendors. I did bump into a cool vendor at Disney that I will have to tell you about in another post... I picked up some Larabars, a duffle bag from publix which had a cute little banner thing inside. You can't really tell from this pic but this banner is about 11 inches by 24 inches and has these handles on it. You write "Run Karen Run", "you are almost there", "are you almost done so we can go home" or whatever cutesy saying your spectator wants to say and it rolls down to the size of a long pencil for easy transport. If I ever have a spectator, I am going to insist that they carry it! (HA)

So, pick up my freebies and my race swag and I am back on the road home in about 20 minutes. All in all a very productive afternoon!

It has been raining non-stop for the past two days and it supposed to rain all day tomorrow as well. The forecast calls for clearing on Sunday for the race - YAY! I am looking forward to the run. The race winds through a lot of neighborhoods and they call come out to cheer. Some set up music in their driveways - everything from a sound system playing CDs to a live band. So much fun! I can't wait :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My fit-link lesson this week was about sabotaging your success and the excuses we make to avoid working out or eating properly. The takeaway from the lesson was "you are your priorities". Hmmmm... My excuse is, "I don't have time to eat properly". I would LOVE to have healthy meals but don't have time to make them so I eat out. I generally grab whatever is convenient. Sometimes thought is given to the nutritional content, sometimes not. It depends on how long it has been since my last meal. If I have waited too long to eat, Five Guys Burgers and Fries speaks to me like no other!

This week, I bought a tray of chicken breasts at the grocery store and popped them in the oven to bake Sunday morning. While those were cooking, I tossed together a pot of vegetable soup. It literally took me about 20 minutes to get all that going before I headed out to my tennis match. Now I have dinner for a week, just need to come home heat it up, steam some broccoli and I am good to go. Kind of pathetic that I use time as an excuse, when I see how long it actually takes to prep my food, isn't it? Sometimes you just need someone to point out the obvious...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stupid Nutrition Labels...

You would think all this nutrition information would have sunk in by now. You would think wrong. I got suckered into eating something so good that was so wrong today. Yogurt. Can you believe it? It looked innocent enough sitting there in the dairy case. How bad can yogurt be? It is yogurt, you don't need to read the label.

Sure, you can go with fat free, light or full fat, fruit on the bottom. Whipped, mousse, extra creamy, not so creamy. There are even yogurt drinks. All in all, no matter which you get, it can't be that bad, right? Yes, obviously the 100 calorie version is the spartan choice but even if you *splurge* (which sounds ridiculous for yogurt), you might get 2 or 3 grams of fat and 200 calories, right? You would be wrong again.

I have a love-hate relationship with FAGE Total yogurt with cherry. Yes, I failed to read the label before I fell in love. This yogurt tastes exactly like cherry cheesecake without the crust. OMG. YUM. As I am eating, I thought to myself, how can this taste so good? Why do other yogurts not taste like this? Perhaps I should write to Dannon or Yoplait and let them know they have some work to do. Then I read the label.

HOLY *&^! - this yogurt has TWELVE grams of fat! (yes, they have a 0% brand but it doesn't have the cherries in it). I was eating what amounted to a tub of butter with some cherries stirred in. Those FAGE people are pure evil. Drug dealers of the yogurt world. Don't go there people - you might not be able to turn back and I don't think there is a 12 step program!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Where does the time go...

I feel like an inadequate blogger. I don't know where my time has gone lately. The weeks this year just seem to fly by and there has been little time to sit and update everyone on what has been going on. Bad blogger! I'll just start with today and work backwards :)

I am in the "longer distance than I care to admit" phase of marathon training right now. For me, anything over 15 seems to take a little more focus and time commitment than I would prefer. Too bad George Jetson doesn't live in my neighborhood to help figure out how to do those 20 miles at warp speed! Actually, I do good right up to about mile 15 then start fading a bit. I do LOVE the fact that 15 miles seems like nothing. It seems so crazy considering I had a hard time building up to a 5k a little over a year ago. There must be something to this training thing!

Today involved a last minute decision about where to run. I loved Tribble Mill last week and the lack of big hills but wasn't looking forward to the mental aspect of having to go around it 7 times to get the mileage in. Stone Mountain, well, it is my favorite but with some tightness in my left calf from one of my workouts this week I wasn't sure that hills were a great idea. I have NO idea why my calf feels like I had picking up 100 pounds weights with it. Do you ever have mystery muscle soreness for reasons which you can't recall? It would be different if both hurt. Nope, just the left one. So strange...

Back to the run... Tribble Mill or Stone Mountain or some nice flat road with air-conditioning or fans overhead and some nice person set up every mile or so with dixie cups of water, it didn't matter where, I really just wanted to find the easiest place to log my miles. As I was getting in my car, I was reminded that my parking pass for Stone Mountain runs out on March 31st and that made the decision for me.

I couldn't pass up one more run before I had to ante up for the next park pass. I remember when I bought it last March, I was worried that I might be wasting my money much like someone who joins a gym and only goes once or twice. The passes or $25 or $30 and I have, in one or two previous years, purchased the parking permit and literally only driven into the park that one time I bought the permit and had the sticker on the windshield subconsciously taunt me the rest of the year for not working out. I am proud that I got my use out of it this time!

The run today was mostly uneventful. The first 15 miles were easy enough (it is all relative, I wasn't setting PRs but just cruising along trying to make it 20 miles). I think next time I might run with the water belt. Normally, I stop every 5 miles as I pass the car to drink water and grab a GU gel which works great. Today I noticed that I really start feeling more dehydrated in those last few miles. I really wished I had some water with me and by the time I got to the car, I was not feeling that great. Sort of a combination of thirst and nausea. It was kind of odd. I will say I did not hydrate all that well yesterday so I might have been less hydrated starting the run than normal and that is really the only thing I can figure into the equation. Lesson learned. Note to self, what is more uncomfortable, puking in a parking lot or wearing a water belt? Hmmmm..... :)

FIT Link! I know! I know! What is going on with FIT link? Well, much to my surprise, last week I lost 2 pounds. Six weeks into the program I have met my goal. YAY! I am always suprised when I lose because going into it, I would have said I had not lost weight. My cohorts were stepping on the scale and dropping big numbers and I just knew I was going to be the one to walk away in shame over having not lost anything. I continue to feel like I am eating so much food. It is healthy mind you, but it feels like a lot. I wanted to participate in the group to get help with nutrition and I can say that it has helped me in that aspect. I do think about meals differently now. I am MUCH more conscious of getting in the right servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc. I still work in some junk from time to time to satisfy those cravings but it is much less than I had in the past and I even catching myself turning away from the junk in favor of a healthier choice. Shocking.

Last week was a lesson on alcohol and how is slows your metabolism. Sort of a scared straight for a few people. Did you know 1 drink can slow down your metabolism by 33% for up to 24 hours. Yep, you heard me. Two drinks? 77%. You can drink ONE glass of red wine but you need to chase it with mass quantities of water to equalize everything back out. All you social drinkers be aware! You hard core drinkers, well... you have some work to do.

Other nuggets of wisdom from the class:
1. Starchy carbs really should only be eaten after a workout or in the morning.

2. Any excess food you take in gets stored as fat. You might have already known that but you mostly think in terms of excess carbs. Excess protein can be stored as fat as well. Anything over and above what your body needs becomes fat.

I ROCKED the strength test both completing the task in record time and planked it out for THREE minutes along with a fellow fitlinker on my team to earn our team an extra 25 points. Woo hoo! The challenge was 15 pushups in one minute, 40 squats in one minute and plank for two minutes. I did the 15 pushups in 21 seconds, the 40 squats in 35 seconds and held the plank for 3 minutes for some bonus points. (Did I mention the winner of this 8 week challenge gets free personal training?) Going into last week, I had a rough 2 weeks with travel but am back at home and back on track. I got to do my half-way point measurements and have lost 1% body fat and several inches here which is always good! I had a few great zone workouts this week and am ready to peel off some more inches and gain some endurance in the home stretch of the program.

In other news.... Spring has sprung and so has my desire to get back out on the tennis court! I miss it! I have decided that after the Ironman in September, I am going to focus solely on running as the race type of choice and work in more tennis. The Ironman is something I want to do just to prove to myself that I can but ultimately, I think I would be just as fulfilled running the occasional half marathon (my distance of choice) and playing tennis. Perhaps, I am just a little burnt out on the obligation of the training schedule, not sure. Either way, I am scaling back in a way to give myself some breathing room. Deep breath in, exhale out :)

I am truly looking forward the ING half marathon next weekend! It was my first experience at anything over a 10k and am looking forward to the repeat. Next weekend will be crazy as I am picking up my race packet on Friday, have 2 tennis matches on Saturday, race on Sunday, tennis on Sunday afternoon and then leave Sunday evening to pick up my Mother in Shreveport and drive her to her new home (an assisted living facility) on Monday and then drive back Tuesday. Whew!

Have a great weekend! I have tennis tomorrow afternoon and am really looking forward to getting back out there. Somewhere in between, I will be working on washing my seemingly endless piles of workout clothes! Is it just me, or does it seem like you are always washing workout clothes? one last thing, speaking of tennis... the new ratings came out last week and I got moved up a level from 3.0 to 3.5 in USTA - woo hoo!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Disney Princess Report

Two words: LOVED IT!

This trip was more of a whirlwind than the birthday extravaganza I had in January for the marathon but still had a great time. The expo was basically the same as for the marathon. This time though they had characters at the expo so I could get a picture out of the way up front (you know how I like to stalk the characters during the race!)

I had not originally planned to run in costume for the race but after attending the expo, I was hit with the burning desire to piece together some sort of frilly costume for the race. For me, this is HIGHLY unusual in that I generally prefer not to draw attention to myself. I located a Target store in the area and purchased a child size "fancy nancy" skirt that I was able to piece together to do the trick. Add one sparkly Bondi band and I had a costume of sorts. (I would have LOVED to run in a tiara however I am afflicted with a larger than normal head and one size fits all does not include me!)

In typical Disney style, the race starts pretty early and with the time change that weekend it gave me extra reason to be nervous about whether the alarm clocks were set, etc. I never sleep well the night before a race because I can't get my mind off worrying about whether I will sleep through the alarm. I had three alarms set and did wake up! I left the hotel at 4:45 and made it in plenty of time. The Disney race is great in that you park right next to the finish so you really don't need to bag check. At around 6:00ish I headed to the start line which is a little over a half mile from where you park and tried to wedge my way into corral A (I was in the first corral!)

We were wedged in like sardines! I could not really even get into the corral so was sort of on the outside of the fence between corral A and corral B. The gun went off and the Fairy Godmother gave us her final blessings as we crossed the line.

From the start I had to weave through A LOT of walkers. I was kind of surprised at the number of walkers who were placed in the first corral. Not even one mile into the race I bumped into two of my friends, we call them "the Wendys" because they look alike and, well, they are both named Wendy.

I was pretty excited to see them as the odds of running into 2 people you know at the beginning of the race out of 8,000 runners are pretty slim. I ran with them for the rest of the race. In usual Karen and Disney style, I stopped for 1,000 photo ops along the way. I generally just took my time and ran a slow paced, fun race. Here are a few of my pics:

...and a good time was had by all! The race was followed by a mad dash to shower, pack up my room and get back to Daytona Beach for my ride home with Rick.

Last week was pretty good as far as the running and getting back on the nutrition wagon goes. I took Monday off from boot camp - I was too tired to get up! I actually did not catch up on my sleep from the last week until today. I got in some good mid-week runs and 2 strength workouts during the week which made me feel like I was getting back on plan. Today, we had a lot of rain but I had a long run of 17 miles on the calendar and decided to go for it in the rain. I lucked out and the rain was light to non-existent while I was running. It did not start getting heavy until I got in the car to head home. I ran at a local park which was *supposed* to have a 3.4 mile loop but the loop ended up being more like 2.5 so I had to go around a few more times than I had expected. The only downside to that is the temptation to stop and get in your car every time you pass by. It ended up being a nice run - very peaceful as they were no other crazies out there in the cold rain today :)

Tonight - I must do laundry. UGH. Tomorrow if the rain holds out, we have the first match of our tennis season at 1:00 so I will get to sleep in again - YAY!

Have a good Sunday :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

one long week, one short post...

Well that was one looooooong week of traveling. I started out by leaving snowy Georgia behind for sunny California.

Note the distinct lack of snow on the streets. This was enough to close schools in the entire metro area for the day. I know, make fun of us but maybe we are on to something... well, if you are a kid, it is great! It was a bit slushy on the neighborhood roads when I left the house at 5:30 am but once on the roads, ice was not an issue. Since I was going to be gone for the week and didn't want to hassle with picking up my car at the airport late last night, I called a shuttle to pick me up. TJ, my driver, was in my driveway ready to go at 5:30 straight up. He told me not to worry about the ice as he was from New York and "we got nothing on him". He was a little upset about the lack of Quik Trips in my immediate vicinity but soon got over it. So off we go, TJ chatted up a storm and dropped me off at the airport about 45 minutes later. I highly recommend the car service...

Loads of flights were canceled that Monday, mostly to the northeast. Mine was on time and really had no issues at all. I arrived in Fairfield to a rainy day and it remained that way until Wednesday. I won't bore you with work but I had a great visit and had some amount of fun while I was there. I got to eat dinner in Napa Valley one night, had a great steak another night in a local small town (can't remember the name...), ate a famous "in and out burger" (don't tell my FIT clubbers) and got to see the Jelly Belly factory.

Thursday morning, I began the longest traveling day of my life as I left Fairfield for the short drive to the Sacramento airport at 7am pacific. I caught a plane to Salt Lake City, another plane to Atlanta and finally a plane to Daytona Beach. Two amazing things happened: 1. my luggage made it to Daytona Beach and 2. none of the flights were delayed! Hallelujuah!

Rick picked me up at the airport in Daytona and I stayed Thursday and Friday night. We had a great time at Bike Week, ate some seafood, saw old friends and just had a good time riding around in the sunshine.

My view from the back of the bike :)

I left Saturday AM on my way to the princess half-marathon at Disney. (I will post all of those pics later this week...)

My FIT club plan. How did that go while on the road? well, there were certainly good intentions... It is extremely difficult for me to stick to the meal plan on the road. I tried to make healthy choices when eating out, the issue was more trying to eat every few hours and working in those meals while in meetings in a satellite office. Overall I think I get a C for food during the week. I am certain I missed out on dairy and fruit servings that I normally can work in during the mornings and afternoons at home.

Exercise... well, another good intention. For whatever reason, I was just tired the whole time I was away from home. I don't know if it was the events of the previous week or staying out lateish for work related dinners or jet lag or me being lazy, or, or, or... Either way, I worked in one strength session and one running session outside of the half marathon yesterday. Another C.

Did I say a short post? sorry... Once I get to writing, I realize I have so much to blab about. I will leave it at that for now. The princess marathon was a load of fun, I will give the details on that later. Must run - I am either going to bed or going to attack a pile of laundry. I am pretty sure I am going to bed...