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Race Recap: Atlanta Half Marathon

26 Nov

Good morning!  Happy Black Friday!  Anybody out there shopping?  I am NOT – what I buy I have to pack.

And I already have enough to pack.

(Insert heart palpitations here)

Thank you for all the kind thoughts last night.  I woke up this morning feeling like myself again – with really sore legs. 🙂 I have a long and slow walk planned for later to get myself stretched out.

Ready to hear about my race?

My alarm went off at 5 a.m. and, despite not sleeping all that well (pre-race jitters – at one point I got out of bed and slept on the floor?), I popped out of bed.

I made myself some nice, strong coffee …

… and choked down some whole wheat toast with peanut butter.  Eating at 5 a.m. isn’t easy!

We left our apartment around 6 and headed downtown to Turner Field (home of the Braves).  Traffic was atrocious and it ended up taking us almost an hour just to get off the highway!  At 7:15 (the race started at 7:30) I finally just got out of the car and sped-walked to the start.  I was in good company – I heard people telling their traffic stories for the first half of the race and still saw people running to the start when I was at mile 3!

Bruce snapped this as I got out of the car and headed towards the start.  Ready to run!

I had planned on running with my friend Rachel, but in a crowd of 12,000, we couldn’t find each other!  I didn’t mind, though.  I pretty much trained by myself, so I was used to running solo.  And I struck up conversations with people along the course. 🙂 You’re never alone in these things.

The first three miles flew by and I was feeling awesome.  I was following the crowd, but running at a pace that felt comfortable.  At one point I looked down at my garmin and realized I was running sub-10:00 miles!  It felt great.  I took my first walking break somewhere in mile 4, knowing that we were coming up on some hills at Atlantic Station.

Right before mile 4, we turned the corner and saw IKEA!  It was fun, because I think we had all kind of gotten lost in the run and suddenly knew where we were!

Miles 5 and 6 took us through Atlantic Station.  It was fun to run through a place where I had spent so much time wandering around.  Mile 7 was through Piedmont Park, which was fun because it was so pretty and there was a much-needed downhill!  I was starting to feel the race in my legs and my stomach was cramping up a little, so it felt good just to open up my stride and breathe!

I was starting to lose it a little bit through miles 8 and 9.  I took some nice long walking breaks to try to build up some energy.  Mile 8 was actually my slowest mile and I was starting to think to myself – “Okay, there are only 5 miles left.  One trip around Stone Mountain.  You can walk the rest if you have to.”  I was trying not to psych myself out when I heard someone shout my name.

It was Bruce!  He had brought his bike and was riding the course to cheer me on.  It had taken him awhile to find me (Bruce: Do you know how many blondes wearing pink there were?”), but I was so glad he found me when he did.  I needed the boost.

Smile of relief!

After I passed Bruce, I was pushing myself to mile 10.  I wanted desperately to get to that 10 mile mark, because after that I was only running a 5K and that seemed a little bit manageable.  I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do it when I turned a corner, looked to my right and saw a monstrosity.

Grady Memorial Hospital.

Listen – if I can work as a chaplain at Grady, I can finish a half marathon.  I started praying for the chaplain on call and the patients and staff spending their Thanksgivings at Grady and I took off.  I hit mile 10 and kept going!

At this point I would like to point out that it was someone’s idea of cruel and unusual punishment to plan the last three miles of a half marathon on an incline!  Seriously – three miles.  ALL UPHILL.  There were a couple more walking breaks.

But I didn’t care.  I saw Bruce again.

I held up three fingers and shouted “THREE MILES TO GO!”

The last three miles were kind of grueling.  My legs were KILLING ME.  My stomach was cramping.  I had zero energy.  I remember thinking around mile 11, “This is going to hurt tomorrow.”  But I kept going.

As soon as I started in on mile 13, I just started smiling.  I couldn’t believe I was about to do this!  Bruce was waiting for me right on the final stretch and was screaming and cheering and smiling.  I cannot put to words how amazing he has been through this entire process.

I crossed the finish line and it felt surreal.  Did I really just run a half marathon?

Yes.  Yes I did.
My unofficial time was 2:33:08, which wasn’t that far off from my garmin – 2:33:09 (averaging an 11:30 pace).  I must have done some drifting, because my garmin showed that I ran 13.30 miles.  I think learning not to drift is something that just takes time.  Here are my splits:
Mile 1 – 10:05
Mile 2 – 9:50
Mile 3 – 9:49
Mile 4 – 11:26
Mile 5 – 10:55
Mile 6 – 10:10
Mile 7 – 10:19
Mile 8 – 14:06
Mile 9 – 11:28
Mile 10 – 13:39
Mile 11 – 12:42
Mile 12 – 13:21
Mile 13 – 12:20
13.00 – 13.30 – 2:54 (9:30 pace)
Phew!  All in all, not bad for my first half marathon, right?
Yes, I said FIRST.  Not only.  Would I do this again?  Absolutely!  It was incredible to see what my body was capable of.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!  I felt like you were all running with me.
xoxo
Sarah

I Did It!

25 Nov
Four months ago, I hadn’t run in four years.  Today, I ran 13.1 miles.

My unofficial time was 2:33:08.  I’ll post a longer recap later, but I just wanted to check in and thank you all for the support, encouragement and prayers over the past couple of months.  I truly mean it when I say that I couldn’t have done this without your support.

As I was running through the streets of Atlanta today, I said a special prayer of thanksgiving for every person who checks in here and reads my ramblings every day.  You all bring so much to my life.

And now I’m off to ice every part of my body.  Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Twas The Night Before Race Day

25 Nov

‘Twas the night before race day and all through the home
A high-strung runner took deep breaths, finding some inner shalom.

12 hours until the race!  I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!

Let’s look at my morning to-do list

Take Marissa to the airport –> Done! She was at her gate with plenty of time to spare AND had free wifi and gchatted me from the flight.

We have a tradition of me taking a picture of her every time I drop her off at the airport. 🙂 Apparently the controversial body scans weren’t even turned on today at Hartsfield Jackson when she went through.  How boring.

– Set up internet at the new house –> UGGGGGH this is turning into a process.  I’m trying to get the same internet service provider we had when I used to live there and it’s not working.  I called and the woman told me they didn’t service that area.  I know they do.  Then I live chatted and the guy told me I had to verify the address by calling.  So I called back and the office was closed.  Then I took a deep breath.  CT friends – what kind of internet do y’all have?


Buy an inexpensive salad bowl (we’re bringing salad to the Lloyds for Thanksgiving and Bruce just called and reminded me that I prematurely packed ours!) –> Done!  I went to IKEA, because they have a good selection of inexpensive multipurpose bowls.

Added bonus:  IKEA is fun to walk around.

And I want that mirror.

(Ahem – Mom)

Go to the farmer’s market (for the last time, sniff) to buy lots of fresh veggies for said salad –> Outsourced to Bruce, who said he would stop at the grocery store on his way home so I didn’t have to go out and deal with Atlanta traffic again.  I love my husband. 🙂

Hydrate and fuel –> Done!

Lunch was the largest plate of macaroni and cheese ever.  I may never recover.

I’m actually still full from this!  I’m going to keep dinner on the light side.  And my water bottle hasn’t left my side all day!

Pick up and vacuum the living room –> Done!  But I realized through this process that I am definitely going to have to spot clean the carpets after our furniture is moved out.  Oy.

Do laundry –> Done!  Four loads of laundry, washed, dried and folded!  Except now it’s sitting on the living room floor.  I guess that defeats the purpose of the above “to-do”.

Charge my garmin(!) –> Done!

Pack for tomorrow and lay everything out for the morning –> Done!

I bought a 6 pack of Deer Park water today for $2 at Target, drank two of them and mixed gatorade in the bottles.  I’ll carry one when I run and have the other for after the race.  The good thing about these bottles is that they are are pop tops and will be easy to swig from while I run.

(On my longer runs, I’ve been carrying this Nathan Sprint Hydration Carrier, but I wanted to carry more gatorade than usual tomorrow, so I’m going this route.)

Every laid out!  Notice a color theme?

Bag is packed, chip is ready to go on my sneakers and pins are on the bib so I could put it on in the morning.

I wrote myself a reminder note – with a little inspirational message on the bottom. 🙂

– Don’t psych myself out for the race –> I plead the fifth.  Actually, I’m calmer than I would have thought.  Just ready to run!

***

Oy – I got distracted while I was writing this and now it’s after 8:30 – in 12 hours I will be running!  I’m excited, because I’m running with a friend from church, my friend Chris and his sister are running and I’ve connected with two other bloggers running as well.  I definitely do not feel alone in this.

It’s hard to believe that four months ago, when I was still working my way through grueling 24-hour on-call shifts at the hospital, I put this out there as a out-there possibility of something to do post-CPE and now it’s almost here!  I’ve been thinking a lot about my training for this race, its correlation to CPE and the new chapter we are about to embark on soon.  I’ll share those thoughts post-race when I’m a little less distracted.  I really feel like something awesome is happening in my life right now!

Alright, it’s time for me to take a shower and crawl into bed.  5 a.m. comes early, y’all!  Say a prayer for me!

xoxo
Sarah

(p.s. I’ll update as soon as I can on here, but I will be able to tweet from my phone, so check in with me on twitter to find out how I’m doing!)

Wear A Dress Tuesday At The Expo!

24 Nov

Guess where my pointy boots took me today?

The Atlanta Half Marathon Health and Fitness Expo!  No full body shot today, but I am wearing a Target dress, cream-colored turtleneck from Kohls and my knee high black boots.  Silver clustered earrings, but no bracelet or necklace because I packed them already!

This is going to sound incredibly vain, but I am in the middle of the Great Bang Debate of 2010.  I have them pinned back here because they are in that annoying in-between stage.  Should I cut them back or let them grow?  I think I’m indifferent at this point, so I wouldn’t object to taking a poll on my blog!

Let’s get back to the expo …

It was held at the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead.

I love Buckhead.  Being there always makes me think I’m a little bit fancier than I actually am.

I wish I could have gone to the 4:30 p.m. “Inspirational – Getting Through the Run” seminar.  It would have been interesting to hear different people’s approaches.

Side note – I just re-read that and realized I typed “seminary” not “seminar”.  I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.

This way!

The number pick up was really well organized, so we had plenty of time to meander through the expo.

It was smaller than the expo at Bruce’s half last March, but there was still plenty to look at.

Bondi Band!  I know these work really well, but I think wrap around headbands look terrible on me.  I did buy something else, though …

A Spibelt!  Weird story – on my long runs, I would wear a reflector belt of Bruce’s to carry my phone and keys.  I HATED it.  It wouldn’t sit on my hips (it would bounce up and down) so I would have to wear it cinched at my waist and it made me so uncomfortable.  I really wanted to run with my phone or point and shoot Thursday (come on, capture moments!), but I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing that belt.

Fast forward to this morning.  I was reading Caitlin‘s blog about her favorite things and she linked to a Spibelt, saying that she carried her point and shoot and three packs of Gu during her last marathon and couldn’t feel them at all.  I commented, saying that I wished I had time to order one and she suggested checking out a local running store OR looking at the expo.  When I was wandering around the expo, I turned a corner and came across a Spibelt booth!  The saleswoman said to me, “Have you ever heard of spibelt?”  I laughed and said, “Funny story …”  I bought the basic model, but spent $2 extra and got the waterproof one.

The rest of my swag!  Bruce is jealous that the shirt is long sleeved. 🙂

By the way – check out what color corral I’m starting out of – PINK!

Dinner was a huge batch of homemade Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese!

I’m enjoying carb loading.  I may run another one of these just so I get to carb load again.

Served on a bed of romaine and diced tomatoes!

Delicious.  I’m still working the consistency of the cheese sauce in this recipe, but as soon as I do I will post it!

Alright, I’m off to read in bed.  I started a book last night that Gilbert gave me about a Navy Chaplain who served in the first Marine Battalion to enter Iraq.  It is intense and I cannot put it down!  The work that military chaplains do continues to inspire me.

Goodnight all!  Happy Wear a Dress Tuesday!

Spackling and Taper Time!

14 Nov

Hello there!  Meet my new best friend …

I have been a spackling fool today.  I picked up this tube at Hope Depot this morning for no other reason than the fact that it goes onto the wall pink – but IT IS AWESOME.  Seriously.  You should use this for all of your spackling needs.

(And for those of you who don’t love the color pink as much as I do – it also comes in blue.)

Kari and I got a ridiculously amount of packing/de-cluttering/organizing/spackling done today.  The boxes definitely don’t fit neatly in a corner anymore!  There are so many of them.  But it’s a good thing.  I am so grateful Kari came down this weekend (did I mention her sole purpose was to help me pack?!).  I have awesome friends.

After a few hours of non-stop packing we headed out for a run/walk to enjoy the beautiful day.  We decided to run to Emory and back, but run three miles and walk the rest.  We ran 3.0 miles, then walked for 2.56 miles.  Check out our running splits!

     Mile 1 – 9:40 
     Mile 2 – 9:37
     Mile 3 – 10:05

The last 0.25 mile was a hill that absolutely killed us, so I’m shocked we kept the pace we did!  I love running with people – it pushes my pace in a good way.

We are LESS THAN TWO WEEKS from the Thanksgiving Half Marathon, so I am officially in taper mode.  Short runs ONLY.  I was hoping for one final long run before the race, but it just didn’t happen.  We are moving, I’m working 40 hour weeks, Bruce is working 50 hour weeks, I’m scrambling on some ordination stuff and it’s getting dark too early for me to run after work.  I’m happy I was able to train up to 10 miles and I’m confident I can dig and find the other 3.1!

We dug into our college days (and my recipe archives) and made her mom’s delicious Cheddar Chowder for dinner.

This was, by far, the best batch we’ve ever made.  We let the cheese sauce simmer a little bit longer than usual and I threw in some sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Oh myyyy.

Do yourself a favor and try this recipe sometime this winter.  You won’t be disappointed (vegetarians, feel free to substitute the ham for kidney or pinto beans!).

Late night snack.

Starbucks Nonfat Peppermint Mocha.  Need I say more?

I think we’ve hit the proverbial packing wall, but maybe we’ll get a second wind and pack a few more boxes before the night is over.  If not, there’s always tomorrow!

Goodnight friends.

Bacon, Veggie, Egg & Cheese Sandwich

11 Nov

My sweet friend Andy has been spoiling Bruce and me rotten ever since he found out we were moving.  The latest was a trip to the Marietta Diner, one of my favorite places to eat outside of the perimeter.  It’s actually been on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives!  On our way in, I pointed out a display of mugs that I’ve always loved, saying I needed to remember to pick one up before we left.  And Andy surprised me and bought me one!

Isn’t it neat?  The spoon won me over.

I love it.  Thank you Andy!

Of course I wanted to use it as soon as possible, so I decided to brew up some coffee after I got home from my run tonight.  Once the smell of coffee hit my nose, I knew I needed breakfast for dinner!

Bacon, Veggie, Egg & Cheese Sandwich
(serves 2)
4-6 pieces of Bacon
4 eggs
Splash of Milk
1 Tomato
1/4 Onion
Cheddar Cheese
1 tablespoon Butter
Salt & Pepper
2 Bagels (or 4 pieces of Toast)

Start with your bacon, cooking it slowly on medium.  I actually finished the bacon and put it in the oven to stay warm so I could use the same burner.

While the bacon is cooking, dice your tomato and onion.  I think tomatoes and onions are the best vegetable combination ever.

Once the bacon is done, start to heat your skillet for the eggs.  Put 1 tablespoon of butter into the heated skillet and let it melt.

Butter is key.  Don’t use spray.  It’s impossible to flip eggs with a spray.

Whisk your eggs with a splash of milk.

And add to the hot skillet.  Once the bottom side is cooked, flip!

I split the eggs in half since I was making two.

Season with salt and pepper, then add your tomatoes and onions and top with slices of cheddar cheese.

Fold over!  By the way – this is kind of messy.

Toast your bagels and add your eggs.  Top with bacon!

Dinner.  Delicious.

I’m off to try to figure how to set up online payments for my student loans.  Can you believe the six month grace period is over?  Has it really been six months since graduation?  That’s insane.

Goodnight!

p.s. I squeezed in a 2.25 mile run this evening.  It’s hard to get these runs in now that it’s getting dark earlier!  I ran 2.25 miles in 22:47, averaging a 10:08 pace.  It felt great!

The Luck Of The Draw (Or Not?)

9 Nov

These things we do to keep the flame burnin’
And write our fire in the sky
Another day to see the wheel turnin’
Another avenue to try

It’s in the luck of the draw, baby
The natural law
Forget those movies you saw, little baby
It’s in the luck of the draw

Bonnie Raitt, Luck of the Draw

I love this song.  Bonnie Raitt is right – sometimes we can’t control our deck of cards.

But I am starting to think I can control the way I react.  I am choosing to see the bright side of things.  I am choosing to be happy.  Some days it is not easy, but every day it is SO worth it.  Bruce and I are going through tons of changes and transitions in our life right now, but I am refusing to be brought down by fears and anxieties of the unknown.

I would remiss if I didn’t say that focusing on eating healthy, hydrating properly and exercising weren’t a huge part of getting me to where I am today, where I am completely at peace with both Bruce and me quitting our jobs and moving 1,000 miles away.  If there is ever a time to focus on whole body healthfulness, it’s during changes!

So onto lunch!  We didn’t have much at home, so I browsed the frozen meal section at the grocery store (watch this Today Show segment about finding healthy and inexpensive frozen dinners).  Luckily Stouffers Meals were on sale, so I grabbed a lasagna!  I used to eat these when I was at Grady and on call because they were so filling and would keep me functioning when I was up all night – you would think I wouldn’t want them anymore!

Paired with some baby carrots.  It was delicious, but I was hungry again by 3:30/4.  I scrounged up some leftover halloween candy, but it wasn’t enough.  I ended up scarfing down half of a clif bar when I got home from work so I wouldn’t pass out on my run.  I need to remember afternoon snacks!

Anyway, I got home and headed out for a run.  In all honesty, I am really ready for the race.  I want to run again because I WANT to run, not because I know that I need to in order to stay on track for training.  I want to take long walks and do pilates!  I want to take more than a day off and not feel guilty.  I am so glad I have been able to get back into a running groove, but I will be glad when I can balance it out with other activities again.

Needless to say – Lilly had to push me out the door this afternoon for my run.  I was sluggish to start, but once I started to pound the pavement, I felt awesome.  I covered 4.12 miles in 43:52, averaging a 10:38 mile.  That pace puts me on track for a 2:20 half marathon – I would honestly be thrilled with that.

I went up some pretty respectable hills, too!

Dinner was actually kind of exciting.  For the past three years (literally) I have been on a quest to learn how to make Fried Rice and I am almost there!  It didn’t taste as good as Top Spice but Bruce and I both agreed that this was my best attempt yet.

The key ingredient?  SUGAR.  No joke.

I used added onions, peas, carrots, a tomato, piece of chicken and two eggs.  Once I’ve got a good handle on how to make it myself, I’ll share it on here.

It’s been such a wonderfully relaxing night over here.  We are cranking along on our puzzle, catching up on each other’s days, watching some Monday Night Football and talking politics (spurred by Matt Lauer’s interview with President Bush).  Oh!  And I’m looking at some photos I took with my new wide angle attachment this afternoon.

Can you believe I took this with an 18-55mm lens?  I was able to capture all but a small piece of the new building (if you want some perspective about how much of a monstrosity the new building is, compare it to the bridge that connects it to the old building).  Incredible.

I’m off to find a snack and head to bed!  Goodnight!

Saturday Smiles and Giada

7 Nov

Three things are making me smile tonight.

1. I got a call from my pastor this afternoon and she said that Phil is fine and will be released tomorrow!  Thank you for your prayers.
2. My sister has literally been picture texting me the entire wedding that we weren’t able to make it to today.  Technology is awesome – it’s like I’m in Maryland with my family right now, I didn’t miss a thing.  Congratulations Jill and Tom!
3. I cut my long run short today and am now cozy by the fire getting ready to do a puzzle with my husband.  I feel a little bit bad cutting the run short, but I just wasn’t feeling it and I know my body well enough to stop when I’m not feeling it.  I trust the training I’ve done so far.  I’ll get one more long run in at the end of this week and then start to taper.  I ran 3.0 miles and slowed to a walk for about a mile.

Let’s back up …

I spent all morning packing and rewarded myself with some Thai takeout.

Spring Rolls and Chicken Fried Rice.  I have been on a quest to learn how to make fried rice for the last year and I think I’ve finally figured it out.  I’m going to try again this week!

I had planned on running Stone Mountain and Bruce was sweet enough to come with me.  I think he was actually happy that I cut my run short, too.  It was getting chilly and he was hanging out by the water!  We stopped at Target on the way home to look for an inexpensive game for the night (I packed all of ours!) and found ourselves in the cooking/baking section.  Question – do y’all watch Giada?  She has a huuuuuge selection of products now.

I usually try not to get caught up in celebrity products, but her stuff is actually really nice!  It’s really sleek and modern.  And the coffee maker intrigues me.  And also …

… I think the spoonula is the greatest invention ever.

We ended up being sold on a puzzle for under $4!

That picture was taken in Hawaii!  Maybe if I clicked my uggs three times, I will be transported there?

I’m honestly still full from lunch (I think that was part of the reason I wasn’t feeling the run) so I kept it simple for dinner.  Cereal + Fire = Cozy.

Puzzle time!

Friends, Food, Coffee and Running (Half Marathon Training 11/4/2010)

5 Nov
Happy Thursday!  Tomorrow’s Friday!  My favorite Second Lieutenant is town visiting for the night!
After some morning speed cleaning (I like to give guests the illusion that we are clean and organized, even though we’re moving in a month), I headed into work just before lunchtime.  We had a class over lunch yesterday and got pizza, so the rest of my loaf of bread from the other day was just begging to be eaten!  And again – who needs a spoon for your soup when you can dunk bread in it?

I can’t believe I went through that loaf of bread in two sittings.  I honestly didn’t realize how HUNGRY I would be with all of this distance running!  It’s crazy.

After work I snuck out for a 2-3 mile run.  It was 50 degrees and windy – MY KIND OF RUNNING WEATHER!  I love it when my face feels completely windblown – I feel so alive!  The run was awesome.  A lot of times I’ll go out for a short run and be completely exhausted at the end and feel like a terrible distance runner (even though I can run long distances when I prepare myself mentally and physically).  Today I finished and I felt like I could have gone another 3-4 miles!  It was amazing.  I ran 3.61 miles in 36:56, averaging a 10:13 pace.  Blissful.

Onto dinner …

Gilbert is actually in town en route to Fort Benning for Airborne School (meaning he gets to JUMP OUT OF PLANES FOR A MONTH) so we wanted to make sure he had a good dinner before heading out in the morning.  We went to Chili’s (I totally devoured a Quesadilla Explosion Salad) and stopped at Starbucks on the way home!

Question – Has Starbucks always made a Thanksgiving Blend?  I have never seen it before and I feel like a bad coffee drinker.

I didn’t buy a bag because last time I was at the grocery store I was intrigued by a five pound bag of coffee and am only about a third of the way through it.  I think I may actually buy some for Thanksgiving itself.  Has anyone tried it?

I was good and grabbed a decaf coffee (I’ve been trying to lay off the caffeine a little bit and I drank the entire french press this morning).  When I got home I added some skim milk (I usually drink coffee black, but there’s something about coffee with milk at night that’s so … smooth) and am now enjoying the last bit of the evening with Bruce, Gib and Top Gear reruns.

I couldn’t ask for a more perfect way to spend my night.

Goodnight all!

2, 4, 6, 8 …

4 Nov

2 is the number of miles I ran when I got home today. (2.00 miles in 20:27, averaging a 10:13 pace)

4 is the number of full weeks I have left in Atlanta. (I realized this and cried this morning)

6 is the number of times I said, “Doesn’t anybody care about Thanksgiving?” when I came across Christmas decorations in Target today. (They haven’t even sold all the leftover Halloween candy yet)

8 is the number of cylinders in the Mustang GT that Bruce brought home from work today.

We took it for a ride.

Bruce let me drive.

It was LOUD.  And awesome.

The end.

Goodnight.