Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December recap

December was a tough month. It started out fabulous, took a hiccup with a breakup and lack of motivation to do anything, but I'm healing and getting back on track.

Total Mileage:  56 miles. Looking back over the past few years December has always been a low mileage month. Typically I don't work out that much when going home- combine that with taking another week off to just deal with emotions and you get less than 60 miles.

Highest Mileage week: 17... not even 20 miles, just sad.
Next month will be different as I signed up for Jess' challenge. I chose the intermediate option which requires me to run 20 miles / week through March 

Races Planned / Completed: 1/1

4th year in a row running the Rudolph 5k. Also first time ever placing first in my age group, however due to changing the awards group, I got nada.

New to Me: (Because you should always be trying something new) 
  • Won front row  ICE seats at the Predators hockey game. Seats go for hundreds, so this was surely a first and last time this will happen (unless I win them again!) 

Although it wasn't big enough to have a duet, it was still fun and I played some mean "Joy to the world" with my feet. 
I also got to lift a car due to a long enough lever #science * my friend Sarah did as well. 
Accomplishments for December
  • After 3 years I placed in the Rudolph 5k
    1. Started watching Breaking Bad shortly after series finale and finished it just before Christmas, accomplishment in my book. 
    Current Book:  As stated above, most free time was spent catching up on BB. I did download a bunch of free books on kindle Christmas Day, so there will be a lot reading this month.

    Current Excitements/ Obsessions:
    • Just booked our sunset downhill bike ride in Hawaii, aside from that, anything Hawaii related
    • Cleaning out my diet. In the last month I've found several different types of foods that are not working well with my digestive system. I bought probiotics to help, but I'm also in process of streamlining the foods that aren't working so well. My thoughts are not only will this cause me less stomach pain, but also will cause me to lose a few lbs since it will eliminate excess inflammation in my system. Time will tell in a few weeks. 
    Current Songs

    I"m not a big country fan, but something about Miranda Lambert's "Mama's broken heart" is really catchy. 

    Current Treat
    Finishing up mom's christmas cookies- the sooner the sugar is gone, the better. 

    Current Goal (s):  
    • Lose 7-10 lbs before leaving for Hawaii 
    • Adhere to Winter Challenge and run 20 miles / week 
    • Run 1 local race in January 
    December Major takeaway: Most use running as an outlet when things aren't going great. I am the opposite. I tend to hole up and do nothing vs. working off my emotions. I need to do better on not penduluming. I need to work on allowing running to be part of my lifestyle and not just when its convenient. I know this sounds crazy considering how many races I've run, but truth is I do just enough to get by.  

    How was your December?

    Friday, December 27, 2013

    Favorites from the Holidays

    Since Thanksgiving I helped out on a month long project at work that basically doubled my responsibilities and ate up a lot of free time.  I haven't been able to blog about the holidays, so here are the highlights in bullet form.
    • My work does not throw a Christmas party. Instead they choose a day in December to bus everyone to Wal-Mart and you pair up and shop for 'angels' from different organizations we sponsor. To get everyone in the spirit they supply Christmas accessories, games, and prizes throughout the day. The past 2 years I've won one of the tackiest outfits, this year my heart just wasn't into pulling out all the stops, by still think its tacky

    2011 "The Stirrup pants"

    2012 "A christmas tree"

    2013- "The Midriff" sweater
    Photo: My favorite day at work #christmasshopping #uglysweater #healthways

    Another successful year shopping for the kiddos and bottom right is my partner in crime Joe borrowing 2011's sweater vest and he came in 3rd... its the gift that keeps on giving. 

    • This year I participated in Courtney's Christmas Sock Swap. I love both shopping for swaps, as well as receiving- always fun to see what others come up with. My 'secret Santa' was Daniela (unsure if she has a blog) and she did not disappoint. Timing of receiving this gift was perfect as I had just got home from a bad day when I saw the green mailbox sitting on my counter.  In addition to the 2 pairs of Christmas socks, she also included a lot of fun goodies I cannot wait to try. Thanks again Daniela!!!

    • Last week I had written a post about the most recent heartbreak relationship hiccup. Prior to putting it down on paper, one of the best distractors for me was to get creating in the kitchen. I finally broke in my amazing grape purple kitchen aide to assist in all sorts of treats the roommate and I created.  

    My favorite was my chocolate covered cookie dough and oreo balls with fun toppings. For some reason I decided it was a good idea to make 2 batches, so with 50 balls to consume / give out in less than a week I more than satisfied my sweet tooth along with a few co-workers. I love seeing others giddy about something I created, so I'm going to start experimenting more in the kitchen.

    • I decided to break up the drive back home by spending the weekend before Christmas in Louisville visiting one of my best friends. It was fabulous catching up, meeting her new beau, and visiting some old and new sites

    Natalie and me 

    Brewery that opened since I moved away. If you're familiar with Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC), the original brewmaster left and opened up Against the Grain Brewery right next to Louisville Slugger Field. I enjoyed the beer and ambiance, but wasn't a big fan of the food. 

    Photo: Was shopping in Louisville and runners kept going by so I decided to change in car and go for an impromptu 7 mile run #trails  #cherokeepark #perfectweather
    While Natalie worked, I went shopping in my favorite part of town. Weather was in the 60s, so many runners were out and about. I had a suitcase in my car with running clothes so I decided to discreetly change and then run toward the closest park I was familiar with. It was nice to have an impromptu 7 mile run with mix of road and trails. 

    • Once I got home to Ohio, it was a priority of mine to catch up with 2 of my best guy friends from highschool. It's amazing how much time can pass by but we're still able to pick up where we left off. It's friendships like these that make me wish I did live a little closer to Ohio
    Brandon, Jackson, me

    • Getting to see these adorable faces light up on Christmas was priceless...
    Excitement of a 3 yr old 

    Codyn and Gweny 

    • This year for Christmas I only asked for 2 running related items- a different color handful sports bra and a "50" pandora charm to represent running all 50 states. 
      • Eric was able to find the "50 shades of gunmetal grey" handful (already own white, black, and purple)  It's been difficult to track down a size medium in other colors prior to holidays, so I was uber excited he found a "new to me color." Just checked out their website and looks like now they are fully stocked in the adjustable bra. Battle cry pink is next on my list. 
      • Apparently Pandora actually doesn't make 50 charms, but mom was able to snag me a comparable charm to fit my bracelet. Out of principal I will not add it to my bracelet till after Hawaii. 
      • My last running related gift was a surprise to me-a new Garmin. I had asked on Facebook for suggestions on a new watch since my 405's life is coming to a close. I decided to wait till after Hawaii and then start a new journey with a new watch. Dad apparently read the facebook comments and decided to surprise me with a 210
    I haven't run yet, but so far playing around with the features was quite easy AND its super light weight and skinnier than my 405- both wins in my book. 
    • Last but not least- my mom posted a Christmas photo of my brothers and I from 1987- so much of it was too precious - cheesy grins / smirk from me, sweater vests, obnoxious collar on my dress, the hand placement etc. I mentioned it would be funny if we tried to "re-create" the photo. No one said one way or the other, so I just let it slide.
    •  Last night we were talking about it and decided last minute to try. Mom's and dad's closet to the rescue. I borrowed a red sweater and pinned on a doily and little bow, Eric and Andy borrowed tight sweater vests from mom and ties from dad.  Definitely keeping this. 
    Up close and personal with doily 

    Finished product

    In hindsight we should have put up a blue sheet and sat in such a way that our heights matched the photo vs. this stair step approach. There is always next year with a different photo. 

    How were your holidays?

    Any fun running related gifts?

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

    The one time I place first in my age group

    I don't have many 'traditions' here in Nashville, but running the Rudolph's Red nose run with Becca is one of the few we participate in on an annual basis, despite the race being hard and the fact that I actually don't like 5ks all that much. 

    This year 2013- 23:03
    Couldn't get a non blurry photo

    Lots of changes this year as compared to the past 3
    • They finally had a packet pick up a few days before the race- they very well could have had one every year, but never was one within 2 miles of my house- super convenient and alleviated us having to get downtown early and stand around
    Displaying photo.JPG
    the BIGGEST bib I've ever worn 
    • New course. The race actually was postponed 1 week due to heavy rains + freezing over day of race... something crazy about 'unsafe conditions'. Although they did re-schedule the race, they all out cancelled the Christmas Parade that starts after 5k. Since no parade, they could get away with changing course. *Unfortunately this was one of my favorite parts about the race because entire streets are lined with spectators trying to get prime front row standing for parade, thus by default, will also cheer for runners while waiting. 
    • Awards. The last 2 of the 3 years I ran this race I placed 4th in my age group according to the results they post on the board. Come to find out BOTH years that one of the top female finishers was in my age group, thus bumping me up to 3rd. You have to be present to receive award, so 2 years in a row I missed out on some deserved bling.  More on what happened with age group later... 

    I don't do speedwork nor do I feel I'm in 5k shape, however each year I get a little bit stronger and a little bit faster. I have 3 loose goals for this race:
    • Don't walk
    • Beat last year's time
    • Finally place and stick around 
    2 of the 3 I accomplished. 

    The first mile was actually pancake flat which I appreciated knowing what I gathered was in store for us based on elevation map. I didn't run with music and I hate hearing how heavy I breath, so it had me a little concerned. I know this course was a quick change due to no parade, but if they ever have to use this path again, it needs to be lit- parts were pitch black and hard to see. Clocked in first mile at 6:45

    2nd mile we had turned around and headed slightly back toward start so we got to pass the runners (which I like). B knew how bad I wanted to place and when I passed her she yelled what # of female I was... don't even remember at this point. We get to pedestrian bridge and of course have to run up it. I stopped to walk and to take off my long sleeve as I was sweating. Walk #1.  When we got off the bridge we winded through broadway and up 2nd avenue. 2nd avenue is a L-o-n-g steady incline and it was always my least favorite part in the old course, so I was disheartened to see we had to run all the way up it, turnaround, then run down--- at least it was lit up with pretty Christmas lights. Walk #2 a little bit up the hill. Watch is dead so I can't verify exact time, but 2nd mile much slower at 7 something

    recycling my 2011 photo

    The last mile started out great because I was able to get a steady downhill in, passed B but she didn't see me, and got a nice little boost when passing my gf Kristi and she shouted my name. We had to go up the bridge again and I implemented walk #3 for a bit --- why do I feel the need to walk during a 5k is beyond me. During my little break I got passed by this girl I had scoped out as my "competition". Once we got to top of bridge and made the descent, I could tell by how easy she was taking the downhill that she had bad knees. I open my stride to pass her and then low and behold see the 3 mile sign and kick it in for the finish. Little disappointed that time was barely over 23 since its nice to see a lower number, but blew last year's time out of water on an equally as hard course. 

    Afterward my "competition" came up to me congratulating me for beating her. Turns out she was a really young looking 44, so not even competition at all. 

    For the first time in my adult life, I  got 1st in my age group 25-29 and she ended with 4th or 5th in the 40-44 with a time of 22:57ish... clearly that is where the competition is and not in the younger crowd. 

    B and I are waiting around for awards to be announced and through asking around I find out although I did get first in my age group, that is not how the awards are being given out this year. Low and behold they change awards this year to the categories of top 3 male and female overall,  0-12, 13-18,  19-65, 66-99 You have to place top 3 in that range in order to receive award. I placed 6th in the 19-65 category, wah wah. What kind of race has categories that large? I can understand maybe 10 year ranges, but seriously 19-65?? 

    As soon as we found that out, we changed and joined up with a bunch of folks for dinner. 

    Overall the vibe felt different this year- maybe because they had a new event management team running it? I feel each year they scrimp on swag, after race refreshments etc. I'll still probably do it again just because it's nice to keep the tradition alive, but maybe next year I'll just dress up ridiculous and not attempt any goals?

    Until next year

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    I will not be broken

    I haven't blogged in a while because I've been dealing with some emotions that I wasn't quite sure how to place and until I could fully vet them out, I felt no desire to do or write about much running.  I purposely don't blog about too many personal issues for the simple fact I don't like feeling "exposed" when you have no idea who may stumble across this page, but also, the internet is not necessarily where you want to air your dirty laundry. At this point  I think part of me needs to 'express myself' so I can fully move on, so in some small way this is my therapy vs providing interesting material for you to read. If you're expecting rainbows and butterflies, come back a different day

    I'm 29 and haven't experienced fully a "real" relationship. I've dated plenty, but there has always been some flaw that either prevents me from committing completely, or the other side of the coin, they end things with me unexpectedly. It's a running joke with my married friends that they love to live vicariously through me as I'm their only single friend. Although I know their intentions are "you're so lucky, you  have the freedom to do what you want and you have so many adventures" eventually it wears on you because maybe I want someone I can share my adventures with? Maybe I'm tired of being the 3rd wheel, giving others advice on their relationship, and convincing myself it will happen to me 'when I least expect it'? Here's a thought that no one wants to talk about: Maybe it won't happen. What if you already met the one you're supposed to be with, but he or she screwed it up and that door is closed? What IF you just never find someone who can make you happy and you do the same for them?

    I never gave much thought to those questions, assuming it would happen in the elusive "a few years" until I hit 25. I was at my now sister-in-law's bachelorette party in August of '09 and as the beer and liquor were flowing, everyone started gushing about their own relationships and how they couldn't wait to get married so on and so forth.

    I remember being on the party bus starting to tear up because here my brother was about to get married in a few months, I was surrounded by ladies who were all either married or in serious relationships, and I had no one. (it should be noted that I was in a low point in my life with other aspects, so the relationship status affected me more than it should) My cousins, trying to be helpful, started filling my head with the promises that online dating could bring and began to share the success stories of friends they knew who went that route. 

    I joined match.com with no clue what I was really looking for, just with the hopes that the "emptiness" I was feeling could somehow be filled (note: NEVER join a dating site to try to fill a void)  Eventually I did meet someone, Mark, whom I fell for surprisingly quickly and he, the same. To spare the details of the whole progression of the relationship, I will keep it simple and say he was just about to meet the family at my brother's surprise 30th birthday + he asked the big question about my thoughts in moving down to Atlanta with him for a job (he knew I was unhappy with work and looking for something different) In making plans on how this would 'pan out' he just up and cut off all contact- didn't show up for our plans we had scheduled 2 days after that last phone call, turned off his phone, deleted me from facebook- just gone without a warning or explanation.

    Aside from humiliation, he BROKE me. I cried for days then eventually went numb and completely shut down. I quit my job and shortly after was kicked out of my apartment (I lived with co-workers and since I no longer worked there I wasn't allowed to live there). I was fortunate that one of my gfs allowed me to live with her for a few months in her 1 bedroom apartment otherwise I would have no where else to go since I knew very few people in Louisville. I never got my closure or over him completely.

    Eventually I moved to Nashville and started a new life. One night while out I saw someone that looked like him, and when I got home I drunkily found him on facebook and sent him a message. To my dismay I woke up the next day with a 2 page letter from him explaining his actions along with a fun fact that he too had moved to Nashville. Needing my closure, I agreed to meet up and somehow got trapped in his web of lies and started dating again. Would you believe the same exact thing happened and he disappeared AGAIN?!? This time I was more pissed than hurt and I can say its been one of the defining moments that has since hardened me and caused me to not be able to trust fully and open up to men. What's hilarious is since this happened, he has tried to outreach me twice more (facebook and linkedin) and I finally had to just tell him to leave me alone a few months ago.

    I proceeded to have 2 more failed and upsetting relationships that year and that is when I made the realization that I couldn't successfully date until I was happy with my life and got to the point where I felt that I didn't need a guy, that my life had purpose without relying on starting a family. This is actually one of the reasons I started my 50 state quests- to find myself and be comfortable in my own skin.

    Now, 3 years later, I'm happy with my life- I have a good job, great family, built up a support system finally in Nashville, and have seen and experienced a lot in my running quest. As my journey was winding down, I decided to give internet dating another real try. I went into the process knowing it wasn't a big deal if I didn't find someone because I didn't need any void filled, however it would be nice now that I have more free time to have someone to spend it with. I went on quite a few dates keeping it light knowing that I had enough sense to pick out when I found the right person.

    Finally I went on a date with Lee and everything was different- for the first time in years I found someone who I was 100% comfortable with being myself around, whom I fully enjoyed his company, and I had zero doubts that he would fit in with the family. The topper is I felt 'safe' with him and there was never any trust issues. I saw real potential for what could be and I told him right off the bat that I had no intentions of being intimate with anyone until I was officially in a relationship with them and I felt like I was ready-- going to be honest here, this is not the usual approach a 29 year old would take, however learning from my past mistakes I needed a new approach to protect myself. As time went on and we got to know one another, I was beginning to feel like this was something special and worth the wait (like back in the old days on how it used to be)

    2 saturdays ago was a BIG day for us. We had tickets to a beer fest, followed by his work Christmas party (cocktail attire) and since the party was down the road from my place it would be the first time he was staying the night after several of months of dating. We talked like adults about the next step in our relationship and how even though he was staying the night, no pressure or expectations on what would happen.

    We went to the beer fest, had a fabulous time, and after a few hours I went from feeling good and in control to blackout drunk without warning. I got sick at the restaurant and all over his car as he was taking me home. There are bits I don't remember but he basically dropped me off at my place angry with me, he left, and neither made it to his work party. The next day he called and said we were done because I broke his trust in the ability to make sound decisions and that I ruined what was supposed to be a special day. To dig salt in the wound he was upset that I had posted the below photo on facebook because he felt that was me admitting that nothing was wrong and I was completely disregarding the outcome of the day. In my mind I was trying to be positive because the day started out great and I wanted to remember the good, not the bad.

    To say I was completely blown away by his unexpected change of heart would be an understatement. I hadn't felt this betrayed since Mark, and what made me upset is that he used the reasoning that I 'broke his trust' by drinking too much as the event that destroyed us (complete malarchy) when in fact he broke my trust and failed me as even just a friend by dropping me off when I was sick and not staying to make sure I was okay. It's ironic that one of the traits I loved about him was that I felt safe, however his actions that night proved opposite. 

    I wasn't sure if I was going to write this in my post since I haven't told my mom yet, think I just need to come out and say it so I can get over it-- Sunday I was lethargic, upset, achy, zombie like that I just chalked it up to potentially being hung over combined with a broken heart. Monday nothing changed so I went to doctor thinking I may be sick since there was a bug going around the office-- between blood and urine tests they found traces of the flu and rohypnol in my system. As crazy as it sounds, part of me was relieved because my onset of blacking out and getting sick made sense, but on the other hand, I felt violated and vulnerable... yet pissed that one simple action somebody carelessly chose to do had such a negative impact on my life. 

    I've been struggling. I've been so stressed out about this situation that I've vomitted countless times due to my stomach being in knots. I eat once a day because I have no appetite and I managed to lose 6lbs last week. I keep reminding myself of the downwhirl spiral I took with Mark and how I can't let that happen again, but each day is a constant struggle to stay positive. I continually playback in my head how things could be different if only ______________.  This weekend I hit a breaking point. I had a friend ask if I wanted to join an event downtown where thousands dress up like santa (or some type of Christmas character) and travel in herds to the bars for games and cheap beer. I went to the store to buy an outfit and then once purchased I chickened out because I was too scared to be around large groups of people all drinking when I had no desire to be in the situation I was in the week prior. I was letting my fear prohibit me from going out and enjoying what would have surely been a good time.  

    I think my roommate had been catching on that I wasn't doing well and has been making it a point to check in on me when she doesn't stay the night- God Bless her. I've been trying hard to occupy my time with friends and activities because I refuse to let Lee break me the way Mark did. I'm in a funk right now since I have one state left. A huge chapter in my life is coming to a close and I don't have direction on what to do next, so I'm already in a vulnerable state about that. After having a very therapeutic conversation with my dad last night I'm feeling like maybe things will start to swing up? I am facing my fears today and will have my first drop of alcohol again at another beer fest, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous, but I can't let my fears prevent me from missing out on experiences with friends. 

    I know life will go on, he's just a silly boy, it gives you experience etc, however even my dad pointed out that I've had a LOT of experiences over the years. There isn't much that I haven't been through when it comes to men and I am now back full circle asking myself "what if it doesn't happen?"  For years I've told myself the reason I've been in all these messed up situations that leave me dumbfounded is because the person I'm supposed to be with I would normally pass up, but due to being 'damaged goods' I can now fully appreciate the potential my person has to offer. That notion of positivity has officially reached its expiration date. For the time being I'm done searching and cupid is going to have to bang down my door and throw someone at me full force before I get on the relationship train again. 

    So today is the first day I can officially pick up the pieces and move on. No more tears shed, no more sulking, and instead, more living. This is a one time, get of my chest post so I can close this chapter and finally begin to enjoy the holidays 

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    November Recap

    Is it just me or did November whirl by? I sound like a broken record, but not a lot of running took place in my world. A typical week was 2 runs, 3 if lucky. 73% of the miles I ran were actual races this month vs. training runs. To my IRL friends they all think I'm "super runner" who spends all her free time training. Reality and in blog land, I'm a giant slacker! I know you're not supposed to compare yourselves to others, but I'm human so I do. I need everyone else's discipline to rub off on me!

    On to the numbers!

    Total Mileage:  62 miles- I really thought it would be higher, sside from being busy, I've noticed that with daylight's savings, I'm less motivated to run after work since it gets black by 5pm. Looks like I'll need to do more mid day lunch runs if I expect to get my

    Highest Mileage week: 21- again thought this number would be higher, but for some reason I did more 3 mile runs vs. my traditional 5 during the week.

    Races Planned / Completed: 4/4

    Half Marathon # 48 (VA) Woodrow Wilson Bridge 1/2 (recap) One of my prettier and laid back runs

    Ragnar Vail Lake Trail (recap) Probably the most exhausting and fun time dressed as Super Mario brothers. 

    State # 49 (OK) Route 66 1/2 Marathon (recap) Girls weekend, cold temperatures, awesome bling

    Annual Turkey Trot 5 mile (recap) new PR* (technically my 5 miler in Ragnar was 4 min faster, but it was down a mountain so I'm not counting it) 

    New to Me: (Because you should always be trying something new) 

    • Ran a trail race / trail Ragnar Relay- harder than I anticipated 

    • Finally got to cross off my bucket list getting to see 2 animals that have been my favorites since a little girl. Cuteness overload!!! Got to see both, and many others, at San Diego Zoo. 
    A panda

    Koala- fun fact- they spend large amounts of their time sleeping because they don't consume enough calories to do much else. 
    • Out of the many times I've been to San Diego, I still failed at visiting one of my FAVORITE breweries. Finally was able to make that happen this month. Pure Happiness @ Green Flash - $1 each for those tasters :) 

    Accomplishments for November: 
    • Survived trail running and liked it
      1. 5 mile PR- woot woot (37:08) 
      2. Finished 2 states leaving me my grand finale in January!  
      3. Finally finished 1st in our weekly trivia- landing us the "inner circle" seats at Thursday's Predator's Hockey game (closest to ice behind the players)

      Current Book: Way behind the times but finished Gone Girl gone by Gillian Flynn - EXCELLENT read with a lot of twists in plot. Highly recommend. 

      Current Excitements/ Obsessions:
      • Planning out activities in Hawaii 
      • Christmas Shopping
      • Condensing my wardrobe to 'staple items' as well as cleaning house with other random stuff collected over years. 
      Current Songs

      Portugal, The Man: Modern Jesus

      Current Treat
      In Oklahoma I was all about cakeballs - bottom right is oreo flavored. 
      Then mom made a peppermint cheesecake with mint oreo crust (photo didn't turn out, sorry) Now I'm on a mission to figure out what I can possibly make with this amazing cookie. 

      Current Goal (s):  
      • Finish Christmas shopping in next week. 
      • Organize and consolidate room
      • Place 3rd at Rudolph 5k this Friday-- I run it every year and it is HARD. Every.single.year I place 4th, so it would be nice to FINALLY get 3rd and receive a medal. 

      November Major takeaway: I realized I don't like to run in the dark by myself. I'm still incapable of balancing workouts and play on a whim, so December I am actually scheduling / pre-planning my workouts. Should be interesting to see how it goes. 

      How was your November?

      Monday, December 2, 2013

      ORCC Turkey Trot (Race Recap)

      Official Time: 37:08
      Division: 3 / 506
      Gender: 75/4217

      This year was my 3rd time running the Turkey Trot 5 miler... that's enough to now mark it as a "tradition"  that my brother, Eric and I will continually take part in as long as we're both in town for Thanksgiving right?!?!

      This year there was a lot of hype because:
      1. It was the 35th anniversary of the race
      2. Our Turkey Trot is officially the largest Turkey Trot East of Mississippi with 10,750 runners / walkers
      3. New course that featured a few downhills. 
      I'm not a fan of racing 5 miles as I go out too fast, die, then pick it back up again in the last mile or so for an attempt to 'finish strong'. This was true for 2010 race (left- time 40:36) as well as 2012 race (right- time 38:31)

      This year I was hoping to not repeat this pattern (spoiler alert, I did), but also I wanted run something in the 37s- no particular time, just faster than the previous year. 

      As mentioned above this is a brand new course, so despite my superb map reading abilities, I really couldn't get a handle on what it would be like race morning other than its "fast with a few downhills", so I was coming into it with the mindset of everything will be a surprise. 

      Yes... Eric is wearing the same shirt as the above 2012 photo... no he did not have any starring role in Star Trek. 

      For those that know me... I like to run practically naked- skirt and tank is my go to. I draw the line and add on the layers when its in the 20s. Today's start line temp was 23 degrees... thats colder than last week's Route 66 1/2 in Oklahoma. What is even more cray cray is that it was 18 degrees in Nashville- for once its better to be in Ohio than TN.

      Eric picks me up at 6:15 to avoid traffic and we managed to park about 1 mile away from start line. As we're sitting in the car, one of my middle school / high school friends, Laura, bangs on the door to say Hi before she picks up her packet. Next year, Eric and I are totally going to do race day pick up vs. fighting the crowds the day before- ridiculous. 

      We managed to cycle through bathrooms (no line) and head up the hill to start with 45 min to spare. That much time standing around in the freezing cold is not fun, nor do I plan to arrive this early as there was nothing to do. I did manage to watch the beautiful sunrise....

      .... as well as run into my cross country coach of 4 years- Coach Russ (I love running into blasts from the pasts when racing at home) 

      Mile 1- 6:45
      Despite starting in the first corral (there were 4 this year which included an elite corral, under 30 min), it was crazy congested the first 3/4 of mile and I couldn't have gone faster even if I wanted to due to all the bobbing and weaving.  Unfortunately as I was acquiring satellites I realized my watch developed a mind of its own and changed the settings- I wasn't able to see my pace until a mile was clocked.There was a slight but long down hill toward the end of the first mile. I love downhills, however with the cold it was really prohibiting opening up my stride, so I was starting to get discouraged that I wouldn't be able to beat last year's time since I calculated I was running in the 8s. Unfortunately as I was acquiring satellites I realized my watch developed a mind of its own and changed the settings- I wasn't able to see my pace until a mile was clocked- I was utterly shocked when I saw my first mile time.

      Mile 2- 6:41
      I do feel like I'm going too fast, but again no idea my pace. There was another downhill in this mile which I tried to coast and then the rest was relatively flat. Field was starting to spread out which made it nice to have a few people in front of me to judge my pace in relation to them. After the 2nd mile I realized I would really have to screw things up not to hit my goal. 

      Mile 3 - 7:48 & Mile 4 7:47
      I died- the end. I had to stop to tie my shoe (3x this race, mile 3, 4, and 5) and in doing so my legs decided to rebel and would not turnover. We reached the pancake flat out and back part of the course which I always find surprisingly difficult to run on all flat surfaces for longer than a mile (Welcome to Nashville!) It was nice to see all the runners on the back portion, however I kept experiencing that self doubt talk "I want to be taking it 'easy' like some of them, maybe next year I won't try to race it" Despite the thousands of runners, I did manage to spot Eric, he did not return the recognition and didn't respond to my calls. 

      Mile 5- (slowest mile) 7:55
      Surprisingly we had 2 slow uphills in the last mile- cruel to have 2 downhills at the beginning and then save the hardest mile for last. There was a lot of winding around a driveway until we could finally see the finish line in the distance. Still couldn't turnover very well, so instead of a giant kick I just tried to pick up the pace slightly. There was a girl "racing me" and I wanted to turn to her and say "its okay, i'm in the Dame division, no need to race"... she wouldn't let up, but I think she realized she picked up too soon and I pulled ahead. I crossed the finish line with time of 37:08. Although excited, had I known I was 8 sec from breaking 37 I would have picked it up sooner or maybe only taken 2 tie shoe breaks instead of the 3rd in the last mile. 

      I ran back about 400 meters to wait for and cheer on Eric - captured this gem of him getting beat by a youngster ;) 

      Ran into Laura while searching for Eric and we all walked the mile back to our cars. No frills, no after party, run and done. 

      Later that afternoon I checked the results and I got 3rd in my division... beat out the 4th place girl by 3 sec, wowzas. Last year unbeknownst to me I had placed 4th in my division and only realized it when a month later I received a plaque... I checked the rules and I guess top 5 get awards- doesn't make me feel as special but I'll take it! 

      Although there isn't a lot of excitement with this race there a few things that keep bringing me back:
      • Oppty to run into people I haven't seen in years- every year I spot a friend and am able to catch up whereas otherwise I wouldn't really have oppty to do so. 
      • My brother is willing to do this as well so its a nice brother / sister bonding time to share in the woes and triumphs of the race. 
      • I can continually improve. Since I don't race the 5 mile distance, the only races I've done for this distance have been this one. Each year I am able to run faster and its definitely a self-esteem boost to continually see improvement.

      I'll be back for 2014 aiming to run low 36s / high 35s. I would say that probably my favorite aspect of this race is that I keep doing it. I can always compete against myself and continually improve each year. I'll be back again for 2014 and will definitely be aiming to run low 36s / high 35s.

      Did you race a Turkey Trot this year?