Thursday, October 22, 2015

Race Recapping: Maple Leaf (VT) Half-Marathon

When I was looking for my Vermont race, my main criteria were as follows:
1) Flat (or at least not a lot of hills)
2) Close by--you can go 6 hours away from Boston, but I knew I would be going alone the day before, so that was out of the question
3) Big, but not too big.  I was looking for a race where the time limit was higher, but also did not want to race with 35,000 other people.
Look at all those people! (Photo credit: Maple Leaf HM Facebook page)

So I came upon the Maple Leaf Half Marathon in Manchester, Vermont.  It was several hours away (I think it took me at least three hours to get there from Boston), but still doable for little ol' me.  The website made the race sound and look appealing, and the registration was only $60 which is pretty reasonable for a long distance race. SIGN ME UP!!!

The day before the race, I picked the kiddos up from school and quickly drove them to Grandpa's house and dropped them off until their Daddy got home (which was only 20 minutes later).  I punched in the address for the packet pick up, and got on the road by 3:30.  Since the expo is three hours away, and it was only open until 7pm, I felt so rushed!! Once I finally made it out of Boston traffic, I thought "Oh, this drive will be a breeze". How wrong I was horrible!! I'm a Southern girl, who is used to getting to places on interstates with speeds of 70 miles per hour.  The GPS put me on state roads that were slower (around 50 mph) as well as twisty and curvy.  Driving westward, I was also driving into the setting sun, so couple that with not knowing where I was going, I was certainly taking my time to get there!The direction the GPS took me was northward through New Hampshire and then westward into Vermont.  Since there is also a Manchester, New Hampshire I had a moment of panic thinking I had input the wrong state!!!

I made it to the "expo", which is in quotes because it was three tables. Seriously, there was a table for the VT Health Insurance Exchange, another one handing out Eddie Bower bags, and one for the Lions Club, which was the primary beneficiary of the race. So I picked up my race bib, safety pins, verified that I did not order the extra shirt, and away I was....back to Massachusetts.  All of the hotels near the race where too expensive for me, which blew my mind once looking at them.  This was a very rural state, so I did not see how they could be over $100. Oh well.

I found my way to Williamsburg, MA and my motel. And that is certainly an experience.  I got there after dark, and the front office was closed.  There was a sign saying to go to another door, which looked like the owner lived.  I knocked, no answer.  Knocked again, and again no answer.  There were some guy hanging out in the truck and drinking beer, they knew what my problem was and told me to check the door of the front office.  I would find my key in an envelope taped to the front door. Ummm, ok.  Sure enough there it was! Wow, this place is country.  I knew I needed to eat, but the thought of getting on these winding roads in the dark was not appealing, so I brought everything I had in the car into the hotel, and ate what I had originally packed for breakfast.   I was going to make coffee with their in-room coffee maker, but the water that came out of the pipes was cloudy.  Thanks, but no thanks.

I slept fitfully that night, being in a strange place, in a strange bed, with a dying cell phone, and having to get up for another 1 hour drive in the morning.  The morning came and I was able to get dressed quickly, and got in the car to get out of Dodge! When I munched on the store-brand English muffins that I had brought (never getting that brand again! YUCK!), and made my way on those twisty roads up to Manchester. I got there about 85 minutes before the race, so I bought a large cup of coffee at the McDonald's, and then made my way to the starting line.  When I got there, the temperature was in the lower 40s, the coldest it had been so far since moving here. But it was perfect for the race--mid 50's with only a light wind.

I started the race, and ran solidly for 8 minutes.  I MADE myself walk a minute at that point, because I knew that I did not want to go out too fast.  I was able to slow down the second mile, a little too slow, and tried to pick up the pace for mile 3. I had some success, until I got to mile 4 where the first big hill was located. It had an elevation gain of 137 feet, and kept going for another mile. So those two miles slowed down, but I was able to pick up speed with a couple of downhill miles.

Of the entire course I ran, miles 8 and 9 are probably the only parts that I will remember.  Why?? Because of what I was labeling as "Cry Hill".  Those two miles combined had an elevation gain of 340 feet, and my pace slowed. I felt like I was crawling. And I had to walk myself through this part---This is not a training run.  You cannot stop your watch and you CANNOT STOP. You HAVE to keep going.  My pace for each mile was around 14:50, and once I made it through that part, my speed picked up....a bit.

How was it?? Well, it's over. Finished. State #4 marked off the list.  I'm not sure I would recommend it, because there are so many races you can choose from.  I would probably advocate for someone to run something flatter, and maybe a month later so you can enjoy the fall foliage of the area. 


Another state filled in

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weight on Wednesday--10/15/2015

A day late on the weight in, and several weeks late on an entry on this topic.  Blogging seems like such an EASY thing to do, but somehow everything else pushes it aside. And before you realize it, it has been one day...two days...three weeks since your last entry.  And in a way, if you let it, this can easily happen to your exercise routine.  I have been offered a part time job substituting at my children's school,and while I LOVED the experience of it last year, I feel that if I take it, my running will suffer for it. It is totally selfish on my part, it's not like I am a professional runner who needs hours and hours of training a day. But I know everything and everyone else will take precedence over it.

Anyway, back to my weigh in for the week.

                        9/30/2015          10/15/2015
Weight            148.0                   147.2
Fat                   36.2                     36.3
BMI                23.9                      23.8

So it seems that I am continuing on the path of losing water weight and gaining fat percentage.  I have started a new nutritional supplement so I am hoping that will help keep my weight in check and assist in the fat burning portion of my weight loss. I'll let you know how it goes at the end of the month. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Race Recapping: Narraganett Bay (RI) Half Marathon

When I decided to start my "50 in 50 Before 50" Challenge, I knew I better get a move on!! And with moving to Boston, and so many states sooooo close together, this was a great opportunity to get a lot of them done. I could drive 3 hours and be in a number of states in any direction.  We've lived in Texas where you joke that you can drive 8 hours and still be in the same state. Sad...because it's true.

I started scouting out races in the New England area, and found several different websites that offered a variety of races in the states I was looking to check off my list.  One of the first ones I placed on my calendar was The Narragansett Bay Half Marathon in Rhode Island. I knew I needed to run several races during the summer season, since winter (November through April) can be brutal up here in Boston.  Not knowing the summer weather, thinking it would be mild and enjoyable, I registered the race and marked in on the calendar.  I called my in-laws and asked if they could watch the kiddos an extra week, and that would make this trip a little more enjoyable.  Traveling with my husband without kid? YEA PLEASE!

Having not lived in the Northeastern part of the country, I truly did not know what to expect for summertime weather.  But I have lived in deep South Texas, where temperatures can to 110-degrees in the summer, and we wore shorts 10 months out of the year.  I was not prepared in the slightest for 90-degree temperatures in an area that does not have central air conditioning. So on this particular Sunday, the temperatures were already at 72-degrees when the race started 7am.  Looking at the race course elevation online, I was prepared to walk the BIG HILL after the first mile. Ugh, it was pretty big, but sadly, I have experience worse. And I did experience worse in this race.

The race was actually very nice (I can say that since it has been almost three months--HA!), as we ran through neighborhoods and along walking trails.  Though I do have say that the "musicians" the race director advertised were, at time, lame.  And that would be a generous term to describe them.  Don't get me wrong, I love listening to bands along race courses, but when a garage band comes out to entertain runners for several hours, please do something other than just playing cords.  Music gets a lot of us motivated and pumped up to run, and it is so depressing to see three guys sitting on milk crates using this time to get their name out and not doing their best.  OK--rant over.

As we were running along the course, it came. It was huge.  And I had to remind myself, "This is a race. This is not a training run.  You cannot stop and you cannot stop your watch."  It was....THE HILL. Looking on the map, it shoots straight up, and it was just as brutal in person as you see on the map.  But you talk to yourself, encouraging yourself to get through it, and I was relieved when I completed it.  I rounded the corner, and do you know how depressing it is to pass your car?? Seriously, I ran past the parking lot and saw our car! It was so tempeting to cross the street to get to it, climb in, and leave. And then I remembered that Joel had the keys! HA!  So no luck for me.

The runners kept trucking on along, and then we ran down a steep hill....only to turn around and run right back up it.  Who thought that having hills at mil markers 10 and 11 was a good idea? Seriously, people!

My May half-marathon in Kentucky was my worst one (2:45:28), and on this hot and humid day in July, I thought had I done better than that one.  But once again I was wrong.  My final time was 2:48:40. Disappointing, but with moving 1200 miles, my training the few weeks before was also disappointing.  It was a lesson that you reap what you sow....or now.

Rhode Island is marked off my bucket list.  Three states down, forty-seven more to go.

See that tiny piece of red? Well, I ran that state!

Nice piece of bling!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Joining the gym

I admit it---I am a fair weather runner. During the spring and fall, running outside is awesome. Back in Kentucky, March and April were my favorite months, because the weather was PERFECT for outdoor running.  Especially after being cooped up all winter.  Running in the cold or running on the treadmill is just not exciting.  The clean, spring air. The beautiful blue sky. The mild wind instead of the harsh winter blows. Yes, running in the spring is definitely my favorite time of year.

Now, after moving to Boston, I KNEW I was going to join a gym.  Boston got over 100" of snow last year, and since I have never lived in an area with such harsh winters, I started scouting out places to join. I did not have to look long, since GymIt is literally within a short walking distance of the house. (Though when the snow starts falling, I will start driving there. No need to slip on ice to get my exercise on!).

While the weather has been decent the first few months here, the winter is still several months away, I decided the last day of September was the perfect time to join, for several reason. 1) In an effort to lose weight, I need to add strength training to my workout routine, and I was itching to get started on that regiment. 2) It was my birthday this week, so I had some extra month to help pay for it. The good thing about GymIt is that their monthly fee is only $20, so it is perfect for those of us on a budget. 3) The weather was turning into nasty weather. It went from 80 degrees to 50 degrees almost overnight.

I walked into the gym and asked about working out as a "try it before you buy it", and they agreed!  Wow, loving this place already!  I entered my information into their system, and away I went into their facility. I was really, really blown away by the place! There were at least 20 televisions in front of the 100+ cardio machines.  They have treadmills, rowing machines, a variety of different styles of elliptical machines, arc machines.  You name it, they probably have it. There is a weight section with free weights, TRX machine, as well as weight machines.  They also have a large area of free space so you can lay out a yoga mat to stretch, or just create your own little space to complete your workout. They have a locker room, complete with showers, and (of course) lockers, which can either be rented on a monthly basis, or used on a daily basis, as long as you take your lock off each day.

One thing that I was TRULY impressed with (on top of everything that I mentioned above) was how CLEAN the place was!! For $20 a month, you expect some run-down place that has three working machines and maybe 10 free weights, with dirt and grime all over the place. But this place was spin and span, not a single spec of dirt in sight! Wow, I almost want to say it was cleaner than my house. But I have two small boys living there, a ballpark would be cleaner than my house right now.

Overall, I am really satisfied with my choice, and am very excited to see how my weight will drop (hopefully) and to diversify my workout routine.