Sunday, October 20, 2013

Runner's World 10k and Festival

Josh and I ran in the Runner's World 10k yesterday and went to the accompanying "festival afterwards." It was so amazing! I had my doubts since we don't normally do 10k's and it was 1.5 hours away, but it was so worth the time and the money. It was held at the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA. We got there just in time to park, pick up our packets, check our gear, and get to the finish line.

The course was pretty hilly, but there were so many people running it that it went fast and was fun. Josh finished in 44:38 with a 7:11 pace (he's such a speedster!) and I finished in 54:10 with an 8:43 pace, which I was very pleased with considering I've only been running 1-2 times a week, no more than 4 miles at a time, for the past month. The weather was beautiful, the leaves were changing up there, and it was fun to run through a new city.
See the flame archway in the back? Pretty cool!
As soon as I crossed the finish line, Josh said, "Sarah, Jenae is right up there!"One of the reasons I had been so excited about this race was that I knew my favorite running blogger (Hungry Runner Girl) would be at the event and I was hoping to meet her. I got over my feelings of awkwardness and went up and met her! She was super nice and we took a picture together that she put on her blog! And she invited us to stay with her if we ever go back to Utah! Basically best friends now :)

After the race, we picked up our T-shirts and wandered around the expo for about an hour. The rest of the day, they offered different seminars about running.

The first one we went to was on nutrition and was by John Graham (Director of Sports & Human Performance, St. Luke's University Health Network) and Pamela Nisevich Bede (Sports Nutritionist and Runner's World Columnist-also a 16 time marathoner and Ironman!!)

Take away points:
  • what you eat is important: it's not just the night before the race that counts, but the few days leading up to the race, as well. This goes for training runs also!
  • If Gu's make you cramp up, you probably need to chase them with more water to help them break down in your stomach. One suggestion was pretzels.
  • Don't eat too much fiber the day before/morning of a race.
The next seminar I went to was for Women's Running, and how running as a woman is different than running as a man. This was by Summer Sanders (two-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, TV personality, and mother of two), Dr. Laura Dunne (Sports Medicine Physician and mother of three), and Jennifer Van Allen (Runner's World Special Projects Editor and author, and Ultramarathoner!). I liked this one a lot more than the first one. 

Take away points:
  • Don't let someone else's definition of success become your definition of success. What is great for you might be mediocre for someone else, and vice versa. 
  • Don't judge your current performance to past performances, because you are at a different stage of life than ever before. Stay focused on the future and what you can keep doing to improve. 
  • Focus on why you run; i.e., I want to run for a long time, so I need to focus more on taking care of my body for the long-term (strength training and core exercises more)
  • Jennifer Van Allen started a running streak 142 days ago, where she has run at least 1 mile every day since she started. This has meant that sometimes she will only run 1 mile at a 15/16 minute pace in order to recover from longer runs. I like this because the focus is on getting out and running rather than how fast you are going. 
  • Running helps with your mental health.
While I was in the women's class, Josh went to one on running longer and faster. This was by Budd Coates (Rodale Senior Director of Health and Fitness and four-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier) and Jonathan Beverly (Editor-in-Chief, Running Times). 

Main message: 
  • Go slow! Do slow long runs and do speedwork, and gradually these will come together, but don't try and go your race pace on every run.
One of the things I liked most about the event was being around people who love being active and running, as well as being around so many people who are AMAZING--like Olympians and Ironmans Ultramarathoners. If they can be so awesome, I can be just a little bit awesome. 
Overall, it was a great event and a really fun day! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New 1/2 Marathon PR!

Yesterday was a great day. I ran in the Mad Anthony Half Marathon and set a new PR!

Had you asked me 48 hours ago if I thought this was going to happen, I would have set no, due to several unexpected circumstances leading up to the race.

1. I wasn't planning on running this race. I was originally planning on running a race last Saturday, but due to my procrastination, registration filled up before I registered. Because of this, I had to extend my training plan a week.
2. I only ran once the week before the race, due to circumstances beyond my control.
3. I pretty much ate crap all week (i.e. pizza several times throughout the week and Mexican food the night before).

Despite all of this (or maybe because of might just be my best fuel food!), I had my best race ever! The weather was absolutely perfect, the course was beautiful and not too hilly or too flat, and my legs were very rested. My time was 1:56:50.  I didn't bonk at all and the miles flew by!

Happy as a clam the whole time!
Perfect weather!
The things that made this race so much better than the last one were the weather and my training schedule. When it was so hot at the race in June, I felt like I needed to drink so much water, which just made me cramp because I am not used to drinking that much during a run. For the race in June, I ran 12 miles the week before the race, leaving my legs pretty tired. This time, I just ran 8 miles last week on my long run and rested the 4 days before the race this week, leaving me feeling ready to run.

The biggest thing I learned though, was how important it is to get up and try again! During the race in June, I thought I would never run again, I was so miserable. There were even times while continuing my training for this one that I wanted to quit because I was getting bored and it just wasn't fun anymore. But I kept going because I didn't want my training to be for nothing and I knew that it was important to have a good race to help get rid of the memory of the bad one. And it paid off! It was so fun and I'm so glad I stayed with it. Now it's time for a break...:)

Looking back at all of the races I have done (I just added a box on the side to help me keep track of them) has helped me realize that I am getting faster! While it may only be a few minutes at a time, there has been improvement. It's also cool to realize that I have done races in 6 different states (excluding 5k's and 10k's). It will be fun to see how many states I will hit by the time I am done with my racing career!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Orleans!

Josh and I have never been to New Orleans before, and neither had my friend Lauren. So, we decided what better way to spend a summer weekend than meeting up in this crazy city and exploring it together! Plane ticket was booked, hotel was booked, swamp tour was reserved, we were ready to go.

We show up at the airport to pick Lauren up and I get out to hug her, when she says, "I ran into an old friend we both know from college at the airport," then she yells across the street, "hey, do you want a ride?" At this point, I think it's a little strange that she would offer this person a ride without checking with me first, but I figure it's fine. Then I look across the street, and it's my beloved LUCY! Those rascals planned her surprise visit without me even having an inkling of an idea about it!
Still in shock! I was pretty much speechless. 

It was so fabulous to be with the girls again. We had lots of fun at BYU together, and now that we are spread out across the country, it was so good to reconnect! This definitely needs to be a regular event.

It was a very busy weekend!

Day One:

  • Beignets

  • Oak Alley Plantation

  • Coop's Place for lunch: fried crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp creole, duck quesadilla

  • Jackson Square and Bourbon Street

Day Two:
  • Swamp Tour, complete with gators, bugs, and wild hogs

  • Fried Alligator and Catfish Po' Boy for lunch

  • Trolley and Garden District  

  • Softshell crab and oysters for dinner

Day Three:
  • City Park

  •  Paddle Boating 

  • Saying good-bye  :(

Overall, I loved New Orleans! It's very unique and there's a lot to do. I'm sure this won't be the last time we make a trip down there...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Choctaw Indian Fair

We are always on the lookout for fun/unusual/novel things to do while in the south. Partly because it is fun to do fun/unusual/novel things, partly because it tends to happen naturally that most of the events that take place here are unusual and novel for us, and {generally} fun.

While googling one day, I stumbled upon the Choctaw Indian Fair. Choctaw is about 2 hours away from us, so at first I was a bit skeptical, but knowing that if we didn't go, we would just be watching The West Wing and sitting on the couch {again}, we decided who cares about driving 4 hours to go to an INDIAN FAIR? C'mon, let's be real, that's a no-brainer.

We made our way over to Choctaw and were pleasantly surprised with a fabulous evening. First, we got to see THE world champion of hoop dancing and his cute little son practicing on the side.

The biggest reason we went though, was because country star Josh Turner was performing. This was great for many reasons: Josh has always been a big Josh Turner fan (maybe it's the name), it was super cheap, and the venue was super small with a crowd that was 80% over the age of 60, which made it easy to get close to the stage.  Josh Turner's voice was smooth, deep, and beautiful, and his wifey played the keyboard and sang backup with him! Super adorable. There also aren't many concerts that stumble through Mississippi, so to find someone we had actually heard of and really liked was all but a miracle. 

 Mandolin shout-out for Lucy

We made new friends who came with us! Yay! 
(apologies for the quality of the photo taken by random teenage girl)

We didn't get to go to any of the other Indian Fair events, because we had to get back to our dear doggie, but it was super fun and I'll definitely go back!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Miss Mississippi

One of the perks of living in Vicksburg is that the Miss Mississippi pageant takes place right down the street from where we are living! Some of you may ask, "But Sarah, I didn't know you were so into pageants?" Well friends, I'm not. But I don't mind a good ol' fashioned parade, and that is exactly what the Miss Mississippi pageant provided me with last night.

While there was no candy throwing and no elaborate floats in this parade, it was complete with convertibles, police cars and fire trucks (with accompanying sirens), dancers, and young women beautifully adorned in feathers, sequins, and satin. What's not to love?
All set up and ready for it to start! 
(it's a little hot here)

Yes, they are pointing and smiling at Franklin. 

I forgot to mention the zombies!

THE Miss Mississippi, also pointing and smiling at Franklin. He's basically famous. 

In all seriousness though, it was fun, and, as Mississippi has proven to be very good for, something I have never done before, but probably something that I will do again (this is an annual event, after all). Who knows? Some day, we may even scrap together the $50/ticket and actually go to the pageant itself.

I've always been a bit perplexed by pageantry, seeing as I often go day-to-day with no makeup (during summers at least) and without brushing my hair (a year-round occurrence). I'm not much for dressing up all that often, either. However, skeptic though I was, I read some of the bio's of the contestants in the pageant and was thoroughly impressed. One of the girls holds District, Regional, and State titles in high school track, got 11th in the 400m at Nationals, and was even on the front of a Wheaties box! If you're not impressed by that, you should go run a 400m sprint and then talk to me. So alas, my initial skepticism was met with proof that there is more than feathers, sequins, and satin involved in pageants, for which I was quite relieved.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Now I Know Why My Husband Calls Me Crazy

On Saturday, I ran in the Jalepeno Half Marathon in Ft. Worth, TX.
Now, I had been to Texas before, and I even went running there on one visit. But I am living in Mississippi for the summer and train in a very hilly national military park for every run, so I thought, "13.1 miles in Texas in the middle of the summer will be FINE!"

I was mistaken.

I had high hopes for this race: I was training at an 8:30/9:00 minute pace, so this was my goal for the race. I had been doing speed work one day/week and had seen improvements in my pace and times. I had been running in MS for a few weeks and had been out some very humid days (as well as in DE). I thought I would be FINE!

Again, I was mistaken.

The first 5 miles started out great, I was trying not to push myself too much and averaged about an 8:30 pace. I felt good, I was passing people, the course was very flat, and I thought "Yea, I got this."

^^All smiles and thumbs up between miles 3 and 4^^

I had a Gu at mile 4, followed by an excruciating side cramp at mile 5. I get cramps like this sometimes that aren't normal cramps that you can just run through and they go away. They are bent-over-in-pain-I-think-I'm-going-to-die cramps. I don't get them all the time, but of course on raceday, I did. The cramp bothered me for the next 3ish miles, and at this point, the sun was beating down and I was only about halfway done with the race. I fought the cramp and the heat the rest of the way to the finish line, stopping to walk more than I ever thought I would and more than my pride will allow me to admit, but I finished!

Please enjoy the following procession of pictures, in which my face tells quite a story (also note the jubilation on the runner's faces behind me, in contrast with my own face):

My goal started at finishing at 1:45, then after the cramp hit, it changed to 2:00, then after the heat got unbearable, it changed to just surviving and finishing. Needless to say, it was definitely not my best race or run, but I am grateful that I finished, didn't pass out, and didn't get injured. This just means the next race has to be that much better, right??

Overall 304/867
Age Division 29/78 
10:51 pace; 2:22:13 time

8am: 81 degrees, 62% humidity
9am: 84 degrees, 56% humidity
10am: 88 degrees, 53% humidity

After the race, Josh and I went to downtown Dallas with our friends and their kids that we were visiting. We rode in an old trolley, went to a park/splashpad that was built above a freeway, ate from a food truck, and had gelato. Despite the disappointment, frustration, pain, and heat of the race, it was a fabulously fun weekend!