09 March 2015

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

I am getting excited for my next upcoming goal race - the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (CUCB) in Washington, DC next month. And after last week's announcement that peak bloom will (finally) happen during race weekend, I am SUPER excited for the explosion of color that is sure to greet us as we cross by the Tidal Basin.

This will be my third time running this race and my goal is to finish in under 90 minutes. A Twitter friend introduced me to Gipis, an app I'm using for my training as it is one of the first I've come across that has an actual 10 mile training plan. As my BRF Jason and I finished up our run yesterday, he commented that my runs have been shorter lately, and that is one of the thing I'm liking about this training plan. I'm running 4 days a week, and some runs are quick 15-20 minute speed sessions. While I haven't finished the race, and therefore am not 100% sure how effective these shorter speed sessions are, I am intrigued to see if they will help power me through the finish in my goal time. I also signed up for the virtual training plan from CUCB training partner New Balance, and while I'm not following that plan, it is quite interesting to see the differences in what is recommended there versus on Gipis. I'll let you know how things turn out come April 12!

Another thing I'm excited about it rocking my Ink n Burn Cherry Blossom again for this race. It was three years ago when I first ran this race that I also ran for the first time in Ink n Burn. I have to thank my #CorralG Captain Linz for introducing me to this amazing company. A "Made in the USA" company, local to Linz in SoCal, this company makes absolutely BEAUTIFUL artwork apparel. My first piece was my Cherry Blossom v-neck which I HAD to have to run my first CUCB in! Last year I rocked my Cherry Blossom skirt for the race (and somehow I didn't get a picture in it!). This year, I'm deciding which combination to rock - it may be back to my cherry blossom v-neck with my new to me Healing Mandala shorts!

Ink n Burn is GREAT for running or for whatever - I am even known to rock some of my great Black Friday sale items to work at least once a week. They make absolutely beautiful apparel, that is comfortable, cool (both literally and figuratively), and eye-catching! Everyone is always asking "where did you get that" when I'm wearing my Ink n Burn. I can't wait to see what comes out next - and remember, this year EVERY design is a LIMITED EDITION print - so if you fall in love with something, better snag it while you can.

Can't wait to check in with you in a few weeks and show you what I wore to ROCK my Cherry Blossom 10 miler PR!

02 March 2015

Year of the Sheep (Goat? Ram?)

Happy Chinese New Year! While, officially, Chinese New Year was last week, I read that it's a celebration that goes on for awhile. And since I'm just a plain, old American, my celebration of Chinese New Year is weak at best. However, when I started hearing that it was the Year of the Sheep, something rang a bell. I went on Google to confirm my suspicions - yes, I was born under the Sheep. So I've spent the last week or so thinking about how I can use this as an opportunity to start fresh.

I'm not just talking about your typical "new year's resolutions" gone bad six weeks into the new (calendar) year. I'm talking about a full recreation of what I want with life. If you don't know, a few years ago I lost my job doing what I really loved doing - faith and environment. It's the main reason I didn't want this blog to just focus on my running. That's part of who I am, sure, but it's not all I am. I wasn't sure at the time which direction I wanted to go with my life, but having worked for the local running store in a previous "tough time" I knew I would thoroughly enjoy coming back. And I've had great opportunities for growth over the last year while I've been back in Atlanta and working for them again. But there is a void... there is something missing.

I've been keeping an ear to the ground, listening to what's on the horizon and applying for various jobs, trying to find the right fit. But nothing stuck. I've been frustrated about it, I've been questioning what's this all for, trying to understand the direction I'm meant to go in. But still, I have felt lost over the last 18 months.

(Maybe I shouldn't be sharing all of this... but they know I'm looking because they know the finances of this position, for a person like me, aren't cutting it. But I'm going to keep sharing, because that's what I do.)

I've found THE job. It's exactly the arena I want to be in, in the place I've wanted to be for YEARS. And it gets me to a goal I stated to a friend 15 months ago when I came home. I'm not going to share any more details than that at this point, but I am working with close friends and people I value for support to put together a rocking application package so that I get this job. If you believe in such a thing, I would greatly appreciate prayers that this is where I'm meant to be and that things work out.

But there are also things besides figuring out my work life that I want to start focusing on. For one, I have a goal race coming up in April - Cherry Blossom 10 miler. Yes, 10 miler. For me, this is my FAVORITE distance, because you can really test yourself to push the limits of what you're capable of. My goal for this race is to finish in under 90 minutes. I have a "back-up" race two weeks later, one I've been wanting to do for a long time, the GW Pkwy Classic, another 10 miler where I can shoot for my goal if I don't make it at Cherry Blossom. I am working through a training plan right now - shout out to Gipis for actually offering a 10 mile training plan - with lots of tough speed work aiming to get me a finish time of 1:23 and change. And that's based on my own performance. The only hitch so far is that I got sick last week after DONNA. I HATE being sick, really anytime, but I really hate being sick when it messes with my training. Sure, the weather has been crappy, but I still want to run. So, hopefully whatever this is goes away soon so I can get back to it. I feel like I have a good base to build on, but if I don't get back to it soon...

I also am in the lottery for NYC, and hoping to get picked so I can check off my major for the year. I'm down to that as really my only option as I have made a MAJOR commitment this year -


I am super excited but also REALLY nervous. I am comfortable with the bike and run distances of a half Ironman, but I am really uneasy about the swim. I am a sucky swimmer because for some reason I'm afraid of drowning. I have no idea where it comes from, but the last time I did a tri, I did the breast stroke for my swim because I feel like I can get a better breath that way. I've got a friend who is helping me put together a plan and give me advice on the swim... we'll see if I am able to really commit to freestyle for the race. I wanted to do Augusta because it's a straight, downstream swim, but the cost was a little out of my budget, especially for a first.

The reason this "locks" me in to NYC as my only option for a major this year (besides not getting picked for the Berlin lottery) is that it's the day before Chicago. In Georgia. So, fingers crossed they draw my name next week!

I've got a few other races in mind for the year, but those are my two main goals in the race arena for 2015. The other thing I'm focusing on is another go at Climate Ride! I'm pumped they brought back the northern California ride, so as long as I hit my fundraising goal of $2400 in time, I'll be heading out west in May to ride from the redwood forest, down Pacific Coast Highway, into San Francisco! It’s around 300 miles (depending on if I take the short option of 65 miles or the long option of 100 miles on day 3) over 5 days. It’s guaranteed to be EPIC!

Another thing I really focusing on this “new” year is getting back to a healthier weight. Between taking time off running, living a crazy life in the retail world, and just being plain lazy, my weight has crept up. So the other night I committed to Weight Watchers (again) with the goal of really getting down to my “goal” weight. I’m aiming for 135, which honestly means losing 25 lbs based on where my weight was the other night when I signed up. I haven’t been this heavy in awhile and it is mentally weighing me down. I want to be healthier – so while my goal number is 135, I’ve never paid attention to when I weighed that before, but if I get down to 140 or even 145 and feel healthy, I’ll call it quits. I will say when I went to the doctor last week, he told me when I was there in June, I was 143. I’d like to get down around that number again for sure. And it will make Climate Ride and the Ironman a little easier to not have to carry around so much weight. But more than weight, it’s about eating healthy, which has gone out the window over the last few months, so that’s mainly my focus, less on the scale. I know once I get my eating in check, the scale will reflect that. Which means no more Cheez-It binges – I managed to say no to the SALE at Publix last night – no more eating out multiple times during the week, and no more candy. And I don’t mean no as in never again, I just mean no as in this can no longer be the norm like it’s been for awhile. 

So, that’s my plan for this “new” year. It’s going to be the year of ME! I remember my cousin Allison talking about the time she declared the year of “Me” and amazing things came her way. I’ve had those thoughts almost every year since she told me this, but this time, I can feel it. I’m going to make things happen, because I’m done sitting on my rump waiting for things to come to me. I’m going out there and seizing MY moments!

25 February 2015

DONNA recap - day 3

Sunday, February 15: Race Day!!

So, the main reason I came down here had finally arrived, but let me tell you, up to this point I had an amazing time and was so glad I made sure to be in town for EVERY event leading up to the "MAIN" event. When I originally was chosen to be an ambassador, I intended to run the full and get redemption from last year's race. But after my goal race in the fall, I sort of slacked off. Like, only ran 10 miles in ALL of December slacked off. When I realized it, I knew there was NO WAY I was going to be ready to run a full in February. So I mentally set myself up for a fun half, with no real time goals, because my "A" race for the spring is Cherry Blossom.

What worked out really well being the "ambassador slacker" was that I had the distinct honor of driving Dave McGillivray (uh-hem, the Race Director for Boston, if you didn't know) to the airport after the race. I keep getting ahead of myself though...

Race morning always comes early. And I am NOT a super fan of mornings. But we headed down to the start, bundled up for the cold that we THOUGHT was going to chase us all morning. But it ended up being a beautiful day for a run. I enjoyed getting there early and grabbing some Dunkin coffee and munchkins before the race, as well as hanging out with fellow ambassadors, Krissy and Marcia. We got to chat with a few other folks before it was time to get started. Oh wait - one last port-a-potty stop before we line up. Meet you guys over there... except, when I came back I couldn't find them, which was fine because like I said I was the slacker ambassador "just" doing the half (Joanie, as she is affectionately known, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, would KILL me for using that word - 13.1 miles is no joke!) it wasn't as important to line up with everybody.

So, here's something about me you may not know - I wear glasses. I am nearsighted which means I don't need them to read books, but I do need them to drive and see further away. Except I NEVER wear my glasses when running (or riding my bike for that matter - bad, I know). I don't have any "sport" frames, and I sweat SOOOO MUCH they won't stay on. Plus, I have sensitive eyes (yes, like in that commercial), so I have to wear sunglasses even on the most overcast days. So, I'm heading to the front of the pulse start, trying to find the 2:00 hour pace group for the half, except I can't read any of the signs! I made it up near the 4:30 marathon pace team, and the first pulse started taking off, so I was just like, ok, here's where I'm going to be! I was planning on 2:00/0:45 intervals, which means running for 2 minutes and walking for 45 seconds. I had my watch ready to go, and kept to my intervals for the majority of the race, only walking a little extra thorough water stops and when needing to take my fuel (NOT forgetting it this year!).

The first few miles of the race are amazing - got to see Hal Higdon around mile 2.5 and give him a high 5! The people were out in full force cheering and there were so many "pitstops" where people had food and drinks set up in their driveways for the runners. We got to enjoy much of this same atmosphere at this point last year, because the weather didn't turn until later in the day. But these people really know how to turn out! I kept playing leap frog with some of the ambassadors in the 4:30 pace group (shout out to Holly and Elisabeth) and was super pumped when we made it to the beach. It was a beautiful sight and sadly my attempt at a photo without taking my phone off my armband sort of failed. As a half-marathoner, I only spent a mile on the beach and soon enough it was time for the split.

We were off the beach and heading back towards Mayo. Much of this is the same as the marathon course, but of course after a few more miles. I was feeling good, but wasn't trying to push it too hard. I was set on an "easy" run for my training plan, and aiming for a 10:34 average pace.  It was a little breezy on the beach, and I wasn't looking forward to how windy it would be on the bridge to Mayo, but that wasn't going to be for a bit.
But it came up SO fast! After running the full last year, the ramp up to JTB seemed to come quickly after making that turn off the beach. I had all kinds of memories of last year come flooding back - Linzie and I struggling up the ramp and across those last few miles, seeing the course go to black and the buses heading up the ramp from Mayo to go pick up runners behind us. But the sky was blue, the temps were AMAZING, and there was a little wind but it wasn't awful, as I came up to the final push over the bridge. The ZTAs cheering at the top of the bridge were GREAT (we missed them last year... ) and helped really get me over the hump. Oh, and I forgot to mention about this time the elites ran past us like it was nothing they had completed TWICE the distance in the same amount of time it took us to "just" run 13.1. And they made it look so easy clicking off those miles. In fact, when the first elite passed me, I was on a walk break, but when I was back running and the second elite passed, I thought briefly, "let's see if I can match his pace." Uh, NO! Damn they are FAST!
The REAL champions,
Donna and Dr. Edith Perez

Coming down the ramp and making that turn to head to the finish chute, I knew I wanted to push and run the last bit. I did end up taking one brief walk break so I could cross strong, but it was an amazing finish for me. No PR, no major speed, but this race wasn't about that for me. This race wasn't about feet to the pavement - it was about making a real difference in the race to a cure. It was such a great feeling to hit $500 and even see more donations come in once I got down to JAX. I still want to hit that $1000 total raised this year - and being at Mayo, learning about the work our donations are supporting, being around the people of JAX that get it, that see everyday what DONNA does for the community, running that route where Donna herself struggle with her demons of being diagnosed for the third time and deciding to create this amazing race to finish breast cancer - THAT is what this day was about.

So, I crossed the finish line, I grabbed an AMAZING spread from the VIP tent before rushing my pal Dave to the airport - that was super cool, and we had a cool conversation about all things running. And hopefully I'm able to head up to Boston next month and run the prep run with Adam and say "hi" to my cool new friend. But I wanted to get back to the party, to hang out with my super awesome friends, and enjoy more of the amazing atmosphere of what was happening at Mayo. Sadly, I didn't get back in time to watch Krissy (the speedster) or Marcia finish (I admit it, I stopped and showered before I got back - but also, traffic was a little crazy because JTB was closed for the race and they were rerouting people right where I needed/wanted to go), but I did get to see them in the tent and celebrate their amazing races.

I also got so see the girls finish the DONNA 110 - yeah, I missed speedster Dave who finished the marathon in 3:28! What a ROCKSTAR! And chatting with some of the other ambassadors - Krissy, Elisabeth, Dawn, maybe others(??) - we're considering doing the 110 in 2017!

Oh yeah, and I managed an average 10:23 pace. Not bad. Not bad at all. ;)

To help us continue to race #CloserToACure, please consider donating.
Some of the AMAZING DONNA Ambassadors after the race