Sunday, October 31, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Spinx Run Fest Half Marathon

Results (based on Guntime):
2h 13m 32s (10:12 min per mile average)

Overall 829/1304
Age Group 86/ 131

Garmin Time*: 2h 12m 36s (10:05 min per mile average)
*The event was chip timed, but I can’t find the chip time in the result… Or maybe I am just blind today.


We got up at 6am and jumped into our race outfits and got some breakfast. For me that was one whole wheat sandwich thin with grape jelly and a banana. I know, that’s not a whole lot, but given my history with stomach issues, I rather eat a little too less than too much before a run. Terry? Well, that’s another story not for me to tell, but only so much: To see what he eats before a race makes me feel queasy just by looking at it!

We were at the Baseball stadium (start and finish) around 7:15 am and ran into friends as soon as we walked into the stadium. That’s were we hung out until it was time for Terry to toe the start line. The marathon start was at 8am and the half marathoners started at 8:40am. Elvis did his thing and sent the marathoners on the road.

I spent the rest of the time getting rid of my extra layers, use the bathroom (score for regular bathrooms in the stadium), check my bag and then stand around for little longer until moving over to the start line, where I ran into some more friends.

Our sending off ritual was a 80s type outfit with wig that was dancing crazy… I thought maybe a take on Flashdance? Anyone want to chip in?

Miles 1-3: 10:22, 10:00, 10:03
Warm-up miles, but really a little slower than I was hoping for, especially mile number one… The first three miles just zipped by. My relay team captain spotted me… thanks to me wearing our team t-shirt. I started my nutrition strategy at mile two and with the goal to pop one gel blast every two miles. I know, that seems very little as well, but it really worked for me at least over this distance. Never change the winning team! Haha!

Miles 4-8: 9:45, 9:45, 9:47, 9:58, 9:52
Those miles were my strongest miles out of the whole race. I had fun being out there, but was also focused on how my body needs and how I feel. I kept on popping gel blasts at mile 4, 6 and 8. Also had some really nice conversations going on here and there. For the hydration portion, I picked up water at EVERY aid station and had a half full water bottle with me, so I was independent from the stations. Worked out great.

Miles 9-12: 10:27, 10:19, 10:26, 10:23
Right at the end of mile 8 the rolling hills start and while doing my training run on the course a couple of weeks ago, I already decided for me, that it was okay to hike up those rollers instead of trying to run then and be exhausted at the top. I played leapfrog with a lot of people. They passing my on the uphill while I was walking and then I passed them on the downhill. In this stretch, things started to get a little tougher, but also during this stretch, I saw so many friendly faces that made it a little easier to push forward. Seriously, you can’t beat a home race… So many friends out running and spectating… So much fun!

Miles 13-13.16: 9:51, 9:26
Right after the 12 mile marker is another short hill, but then it’s downhill from there… Until you get to the stadium and there’s another short hill (that one sucked royally!)… Other than that, it was time to just put everything I had left on the road. Having the finish line at the home plate was super cool… Just the portion were you see the finish line already, but you have to run around the whole field first is a little rough…. Coming in at under 2:15 hours…. AWESOME and makes me very happy!

Post Race:

Got my medal and then walked up the stadium stairs (that’s as fun as it sounds) and grabbed some water, pumpkin bread (yummie!) and pineapple. There I also ran into some friends again and we traded a couple of war stories. I got my bag and then sat down to wait until Terry comes in… He ran is second marathon in 3h 41m and I couldn’t be more proud. After finding him in the finish area, we headed out right away…. Time to rest!

Race Review:
4.5 out of 5 stars! I think this is a great race with a great course and an awesome finish. With many races going on parallel (Kid’s marathon, 5K, half and full) the spectators in the stadium always had something to look at. The gear check and finisher food area was spotless and running very efficiently. The package pick-up the day before was also done very well. The only thing that I see some potential for improvement is the aid stations and bathrooms on the course…. There could be more of them.


Terry and I already talked about it and think we’ll going to do it again next year!


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Plan–For Now Anyways

"Too much focus on the outcome, contaminates the performance"
- Josh Beckett
Do I have a goal time? Sorta kinda. Do I want to share here? Nope. Thinking of it… I maybe mentioned it in previous posts… Can’t remember right now.
Anyways, instead of focusing on the outcome (goal time), I will focus on the  run itself and on the following points:
  • SMILE a lot and ENJOY being able to do this
  • grab water at each aid station, pop a gel blast at each mile
  • keep steady for the first 9 miles and see what’s left after that
  • slow down before walking
The half marathons gods also smiled down at me, when this package was in the mail, right on time:

I am all for supporting the local shops, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to get the raspberry gel blast in the last couple of weeks. Well, this should take care of things!

After carefully studying the weather forecast, I decided on this outfit…

So if you see me on the course tomorrow…. Pls tell me that I “look strong” and that the finish line is just around the corner! HA… Only, if you are spectating just around the corner of the finish line!
Now it’s time to relax and rest up!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hay In The Barn

Tonight, I did my final run in preparation for the Spinx Half this coming Saturday… The hay is in the barn and I am happy with how the training went down.
Taper week has been going… Easy… And because I only had sweet and short runs left to do, I took the doggie with me. Well… Always an experience, but she is doing much better than she used to.
For tonight’s run, I took the dog and the camera… I am getting serious about multitasking!
Obligatory leash wrestle for the first five minutes.
Group picture… Of tonight’s running group!
Catching the last sunshine on Paris Mountain.
Big ‘ole tree.
The sun is going down fast!
This picture proofs, I need a better point and shoot camera.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Those last 5 lbs - again

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, just sharing some thoughts and actions of mine.

It's not the time to push the panic button quite yet, but it was time to make (once again) a better effort concerning my nutrition.

In the summer, I hardly wear jeans or pants for that matter... Skirts and dresses and a couple of shorts... Workout gear is made out of spandex and therefore is pretty forgiving plus/minus 10 pounds. Anyways, it's not summer anymore and while I was mostly ignoring the number on the scale for several months now, the "Jeans Test" can not be fooled. They still kinda/sorta fit, but some of them were not comfy anymore.... think "Muffin Top".

Another big motivator to loose a couple of pounds was my upcoming half marathon this Saturday.... Weight loss means, less weight to haul over a 13.1 mile course... If that's not motivating then I don't know what is.

In order to keep my goal in sight and track able, I signed up (for free) at an online calorie count website, I found over a blog post from Laura. My experience with food logs are pretty limited, but what I found appealing at first was their recipe analyzer tool. Basically, you can type in any recipe you have sitting at home and it gives you the nutrition information per serving.

The site gives you a log for food, activities and weight. First you have to define your weight loss goal (mine was 6 lbs) and the time frame in which you want to accomplish this goal (for me: by race day, which was around 5 weeks). It won't let you enter a weight loss goal that is too aggressive... Max I think is 2 lbs a week.

Then you choose your activity level and your daily calorie intake target. I chose a sedentary activity level, since I sit at my desk most of the day which results to a little under 2,000 calories per day need for a female my age and body composition to stay at the same weight. I chose my intake target at 2,000 per day which means that I shouldn't gain any weight on days I stay within that target and don't to any workouts. My weight loss opportunity should arise for days where I hit my eat target and burn more calories, so I would have a calorie gap!

So much for the theory. The reality unfortunately looks a little different. We are just a couple of days away from my target date to have lost those 6 lbs and all I did loose was one measly lbs. To say I am frustrated, doesn't really describe the situation... And of course, I am not expecting any weight loss miracles during taper week. It's especially weird/funny/comical, because according to my food and activity log, I had an average calorie gap of 500 per day since I started logging.

This only leads me to one conclusion: My food tracking isn't especially accurate. I have a high confidence in the accuracy of the activity log, because that one is pretty straight forward. But the food log... I must be underestimating my intake... A LOT! Especially, since I don't cook most of my meals (I know, it's bad!) myself, it's sometimes hard to guess. A small factor also is (I think), that I started back up with weight training around the same time and while the scale hasn't moved much, my pants fit me better again.

But not all is lost! I will certainly keep this up over the winter because it makes me more conscious about my food consumption, not only in quantity, but also in quality.

The food quality aspect has been especially interesting, because it gives you an analysis based on nutrients and vitamins in your diet. After a couple of weeks of tracking my food, I noticed that I didn't take in enough calcium. On the one hand, it's a complete no brainer, because I stopped drinking milk months ago (swapped with almond milk) and also have little dairy in my diet to start with. On the other hand, it just never occurred to me, that I am not giving my body all it needs... Too little calcium equals weak bones... For an endurance athlete, that is a stress fracture waiting to happen! So I started taking calcium supplements to balance this out. I also have a deficiency in potassium... And still need to find a solution for that... And don't say bananas, tomatoes, potatoes... I eat that on an almost daily basis and it's still not enough.

Feel free to weigh in on the topic! ;-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On a high note... And not so high note!

This morning was my last long run before the Spinx Half Marathon this coming Saturday.

I ended up with 9 miles in 1:30 hours. Fairly speedy for me and I am very happy with the run and feel like I ended this training cycle on a high note.

 For the run, I joined a group with tons of speedy athletes and of course, I got spit out at the end of the pack which is alright, since I expected it. Until around mile 4, I still had a running partner, but after that I was on my own.... Doesn't look like it hurt the pace hmmm??? ;-)

The not so high note was the instant soreness I felt right after stopping.... I hadn't noticed it until then, but my 7 mile hike up and down Table Rock yesterday left me SORE!!! I assume, that the coming down the mountain, dragged by a 50 lbs dog has a little something to do with that.

The hike was beautiful, but I didn't take one single picture, but one of my co-worker snapped pics all the time and hopefully, I will be able to share a couple of them over the next couple of days.

We also have family from Terry's side in town over the weekend and once I sorted through those pictures, I will share some here as well.

So long! ;-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Barn Quilts in North Carolina

Okay, this post is totally coming out of the left corner... Bear with me! ;-)

Last month while traveling through North Carolina for the Blue Ridge Relay, I noticed "signs" on barns... After a while, I started to take pictures of them, when I wasn't too slow. When getting back home, I did some online research and found the Quilt Trail.

Here are the couple of barn quilts, I was able to capture.




So long! ;-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Hybrid's Third Season

When I started to work out again, I got back on the bike that I bought a couple of years earlier back in Germany. After getting my road bike last year in spring, the hybrid was really not being used anymore. Poor thing. Until last Sunday... I think I found it's calling today.... It turns out, that I have a decent mountain bike on my hands.

I thought about trying out mountain biking for a while now, but never found the right place and time to do so until now. Somebody posted a "low key" mountain bike ride at the Palmetto Trail Croft Passage in Spartanburg and I decided to come along, after checking that "low key" translates into beginner friendly.

Not only was it beginner friendly, I also got a quick introduction into mountain biking... use back brakes, keep your weight on your back wheel, keep your cadence high etc... Very helpful. The ride leader knew the trail like the back of his hand and there also were a lot of on the go instruction like how to take an upcoming turn and so on.

At the beginning, I thought they were joking of the trail not being technical, but really I have nothing to compare it to. After a while I got a little more used to it and on the way back, I thought it wasn't that bad anymore. Of course, I still was super cautious, especially on the downhills... Only one time I threw all caution in the wind... I couldn't see the ride leader anymore and the trail forked. I was just hoping that I picked the right trail and charged after the group!

I think mountain biking could become a real alternative for me during the winter months, when cycling on the road in the cold just doesn't sound appealing.

And one thing I learned: Socks are not optional on a mountain bike. Within minutes my shoes were filled with sand and it was rubbing against my skin with each pedal stroke.

You may excuse the absence of a pedicure! ;-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Party! Diaper Party!

I learned something new recently.... The baby shower is for girls only and if boys are at the party as well, it's called a "Diaper Party". Last Saturday I was invited to one of those for one of my closest friends and Maid of Honor.

It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed myself and spending time with the parents to be and their friends, that I haven't met before. All around, a great evening.

 The baby is a German/ British production, which showed in the table decoration.

The parents to be unwrapping their gifts.

 One half of the party guests/ hosts.

And here is the other half of guests/ hosts.

 And this is all for the first couple of months for baby Jonathan.

I am glad I ran 13 miles earlier that day, because I basically ate half of the food on the table.... Well, maybe not half, but a quarter.... It was all so yummie! I thought I would never be hungry ever again, I felt so stuffed that night! ;-)

Good times!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Putting the SLOW between Long and Distance

 After my last post, I ended up doing.... Nothing. I just couldn't get myself to do anything and by the time I almost mustered up the courage to roll from the couch, I started having a headache. I still had that headache waking up the next morning. Don't know what is going on there... Too many headaches lately.

Anyways, I finally took some Advil and when the pain was gone, I headed out for my run. It was 10.30am by then already. But since it has cooled down by now, that wasn't a problem.

I wanted to clock my last 13 miler before the race in two weeks and that's what I ended up doing, but it sure was boring this time! Recently, I always had a plan for my long runs and most of the time, they were broken up in 20 to 30 minutes increments with a goal for each part. Or like last weekend when I did my long run with a group and we basically chatted the miles away. This time, I was keeping it VERY EASY on purpose... the whole time... SLOW!

Needless to say, I was on the road forever for these 13 miles and I was bored out of my mind. Also, I felt more tired at the end of the whole thing than I can remember having been after my previous long runs.

But all is good.... I feel ready to finally conquer the 13.1 mile distance in a race and become an official half marathoner.

Also, some Swamp Rabbit trail news, in case you are planning on traveling on the trail in the next couple of weeks. There is a section locked down now north of the Furman campus until December 2nd (according to the signs). They posted a detour on roads, that I marked greenish on the map.

Edit to add: They have this area locked down, because the ground is polluted with asbestos and who knows what else. That short part never got paved because of this and now they are trying to fix it.... and pave it.

How was your weekend? Anything fun happened?

So long! ;-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Note

This must be a new record! No posting since Sunday.

Okay, let me recap last week:
  • recovered alright from my Sunday ride disaster
  • worked long hours
  • was still able to squeeze in an evening workout most days
  • blogging, kind of took a back seat
 I was off today for an immigration appointment and spend the rest of the day running errands. Finally back at the house now and about to head out for something.... or stay in for something.... It's going to be either a trainer ride or a swim. We'll see.

In the meantime, I will spend some time with the hubs, since I will be on the road over the weekend.

Hopefully, things are going to return to somewhat normal over the next two weeks and things are going to get more regular in blog world too! ;-)

Happy weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dehydration Station

Today's post could have several different titles:

"Back to old stomping grounds"

"Ridus Interuptus"

"Laterne Rouge"

.... But yes, "Dehydration Station" probably describes it best.

Alright then, let's try to put a little bit of sense behind those bullet points.

I wanted to ride my bike today and I felt like joining a group. When I still lived out in Duncan, I joined the Great Escape (in Spartanburg) afternoon ride almost every Sunday, but I haven't been back since I moved. There used to be an 30 mile option, but that one isn't done anymore, so I joined the 40 mile group with an advertised speed of 15-17 mph.

Right off the bat, I thought this group might be a little to speedy for me, but the first 10 miles weren't all that bad... The rolling downhill might have helped with that. Around mile 15, I really felt pushed to my limits and kind of decided that I will turnaround. I am very familiar with the area and didn't think twice about it. But the ride leader and one of the guys that were close to the back talked me out of it. So my mental turnaround point came and went and I still tagged along.

From then on, I actually had some company in the back and got to talk to a couple of people which made me forget the struggle for a while. Besides, the guys let me draft a lot. But still, I carried the "Laterne Rouge" most of the time. If it wasn't for one of the guys, I would have lost the group several times, but he always reeled me back in... gave me pep talk to not get too frustrated.

Once we hit the 35 mile mark, everyone was off at their own pace and I definitely dropped off the back by then. My pep talking friend left the group earlier to take a short cut home, but the ride leader stuck with me. At one stop light, we had to stop for a couple of seconds and I felt a little light headed, but once I got rolling again, it wasn't too bad.... other than not having any juice in my legs left. A little after the stop light, I saw a runner on the side of the road and recognized a training buddy that had a cycling accident a couple of months ago. So I stopped to say hi and then the $h!t hit the fan. I felt so light headed, that I had to sit down on the side of the road. It took a while until the ride leader noticed that I wasn't behind her anymore and she turned around to check on me. Between my training buddy and the ride leader, it was decided that I won't get back on the bike. So she rode back to the shop (fortunately not far away anymore) while my buddy stayed with me while I curled into a ball on the ground. Several times, I thought I would pass out.... Getting in the car of the ride leader was the roughest part and for a moment I thought I am done... passing out... hurling... something. Once back at the shop, I still had an audience. I was hoping that everyone would be gone by then, but no such luck.... They fed me chips and coke and after sitting in the shade for half an hour ago, I felt pretty back to normal again.... What a ride.

Today, I learned a lesson or two about hydration.... Hope that is not going to happen anymore, because the whole trip was pretty scary.

Before I left, the ride leader asked me to join them again and not get discouraged by this episode.

We'll see. In general, this was a fun ride and with better preparation and maybe not a long workout on the day before in my legs... cooler temps.... and more bike fitness.... I should be golden! ;-)

Here are the stats... Witness my steady decline! ;-)


Saturday, October 9, 2010

What the cool Kids do!

This morning, I finally figured out what the cool kids do on a Saturday morning! THEY RUN... DOWNTOWN! What was I thinking, running on the Swamp Rabbit Trail all the time, when the party obviously is on Greenville's sidewalks??

Seriously now, this morning, I had a running date with three running buddies. The plan was to run the Spinx Half course in order to prepare for the race in three weeks and we said we are going to meet at the starting line which is located at the Baseball stadium. In that area, there is the Baseball stadium, a couple of bars/restaurants and shops... Nothing that is open at 7.30am in the morning, but still there were tons of cars.... from runners... the cool kids! ;-)

We took off a little after 7.30am at a good clip. I was planning on shooting for a 10.30 minute/ mile average for the run, since I did my previous long runs at 10.45 minute/ mile.... You know, pushing it a little. Well, I am glad I was running with a group today, because that made me push myself so much more... Funny enough, I felt really good for the first 8 miles, even though we clocked several sub 10 minute miles. I would have never done that on my own. After mile 8, things got a little more difficult and I started struggling a little. Around mile 10, I told the girls to keep on going without me, because I needed some walk breaks.... But somewhere on mile 11, I was able to catch up with them again and we finished together. Total time 2 hours 13 minutes... A 10:11 minute/mile average. Good run... Very happy about it!

After the run, we got a little bit of rest in (Terry ran 26 miles this morning) and then took off for some running shoe shopping. As I mentioned last week, it was time to retire the two pairs that I had in rotation for the last year. I have two spare pairs of the Adidas, but I wanted to keep rotating the Adidas with something else and ended up getting the new version of the shoe I was using in the past... The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10. For the last week, I tried to find a closeout pair of the 8's or 9's online, but no luck. Terry also found some new shoes and hopefully, that'll make and end to his blister issues that he is struggling with lately.

And since the day wasn't sporty enough yet, we then headed up to Tryon NC for an open water swim at Lake Lanier.... It worked out beautifully, that I got my wetsuit a couple of days ago and was able to try it out right away. Coach Katie organized the swim for her athletes that prepare for the Beach to Battleship Iron Distance triathlon in November and I able to join them... I didn't do the whole distance though, just haven't been swimming enough lately. I ended up with around 2,000 yards... goody goody. And yes, I LOVE the wetsuit. It's comfortable and it kept me toasty borderline a little too warm. I actually managed to get into the suit without help, after last night's wrestle, I didn't think that was possible.

Here we are about to head out. We ran a little late and everyone else already took off. Katie is on the board, just pulling one of her dogs on the board for a ride.

About to start back up, after taking a little breast stroke and chit chat break.

 And this is on our way back.... What a gorgeous day and a beautiful place to spend your afternoon!

So long! ;-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Look, what the Mailman brought!

This week was LONG! But one evening I got home and there it was.... my birthday present!!! Sweet!

A Wetsuit!

I know... It's kind of silly to get  a wetsuit now, since I haven't planned any triathlons this year anymore... But my b-day is in the fall and not in the spring... Nothing I can do about this! ;-)

That thing looks mighty small, doesn't it?

It also took a mighty long time until I finally got myself squeezed in and zipped up... I actually needed a little help... No pictures... Nobody wants to see that! ;-)

Impossible to look cute in that thing.

No matter, how much I try to strike a pose.

Well, I guess that means, I can might as well goof off! ;-)

Hope that everybody has a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hakuna Matata

As to be expected, this week is NUTS... Even more than last week already was.

So when I finally got home last night from work, the planned trainer workout was not even an option anymore... Instead, I curled up in bed and watched "Biggest Loser" and let others "move it, move it".

At work right now, I feel like this a lot:

I still try to keep a positive vibe.... After all... Stress kills.


Monday, October 4, 2010

A Whole Lot Of Orange

Last Saturday, I was at my very first football game. We went to see the Clemson Tigers play Miami.

The team colors of the Tigers are orange and purple... In clothing, orange was predominant.

So far, I have only seen football games on TV and only heard about "tailgating", but really didn't have a clue what it was all about.


We got there a little after 9am and the rest of the group already started up. We had a tent and we had food and beverages (adult and regular)... Unfortunately, our grill plan fell through, so we were a little short fuel. Fortunately, some of us brought out stuff that didn't need grilling.

We also saw the band practice.

This is a view over one of the tailgaiting areas from the stadium.

The stadium at Clemson seats around 80,000 people and it was SOLD out!

We were all the way up (second to last row) and could see to Lake Hartwell. Saturday was also a really hot day and we got slow roasted on the stands.

Celebrations after a touchdown for Clemson.

During half-time, the band performed on the field with choreography.

In the end Clemson lost. But all in all it was a good day with a great group of people, enjoying the last warm days of summer.

Would I go back? Tailgating maybe, but the game... Seriously, I don't have the patience to watch sports for 4 hours... Granted, people tell me, that the game dragged along unusually long.

So long! ;-)