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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Jazz half-marathon 2011, 1:32:38 and a new PR!
After the race this Saturday
Hope your holiday is filled with all treats and no tricks!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Middendorf's Manchac ten mile race recap

This race last year was the first time I ran sub 8's in any race except 5k's. It felt amazing! This year...not so much. This is my third under-performance in a row, which sure sounds like I'm doing something wrong.
And I am. Last week I ran a half, followed by two speedwork sessions this week in an attempt to get faster (still sucking at them, by the way). The result? I had lead legs from mile one. I could barely lift them!
The race is about 45 minutes away in Manchac, Louisiana, so far in the middle of nowhere that doesn't think it exists. Hence my choice of a my warmest, thickest T - the kind you never wear because by the time it's cold enough for the thickness, you need long sleeves - for a race that was in the 80's and full sun. The drive over was nice, and not too early since the race started at 8. I tried to document the sunrise on the drive across the spillway. Look how bright blue the sky was by 7:15 am!

Lake Ponchartrain
Sun peaking through the cypress swamps
Close to Manchac

They couldn't find my registration.
We started a little late and since the race starts straight up a hill (bridge, I mean, we just don't have hills in Louisiana), I shrugged off my slow pace. But by the end of the first mile I realized that I wasn't getting any speedier. I decided that was OK; I'd run about 7:15's and try to pick up the pace at the turn around. I reasoned that it might just be that I needed to warm up. The course is completely in the sun and my head started baking a little. I knew at mile 3 this was a throw-away race: I just could not get into it. Luckily just then a fellow ran up to me and said, "Hi, I'm Kenny, I'm going to run with you and chat awhile, and I'm not going to hit on y'all because I'm gay."
Kenny is the camera-ham in green. Nice legs, Gracie.
So! Kenny and I ran together for most of the remainder of the race. I lost him between miles 6 and 7, but he was entertaining company although his pace slowed and held me back a little. I didn't mind because I thought we'd probably both speed up at the turn around.
Hello, headwind! I guess I didn't realize we'd had a brisk tail-wind the entire first 5 miles, so the last 5 were straight into the wind. I increased my effort, but I only barely held the same pace. I was by myself for most of the second half, and kept basically the same position the whole way. I finished in 1:12:18 by Garmin estimate, 6th female and far slower than I intended to run.
I suck.
I think I will have a few easy weeks (including the Jazz Half Marathon, but I'm running that in costume so it's no pressure! It's Halloween weekend) then buckle down to a training plan.
Any training plan suggestions? I think my goal race will be the Louisiana Marathon in mid-January, but the plan has to incorporate two marathons as long runs because I already have two on my plate.  I like plans with running every day or almost every day because when I take days off my legs get oddly sore in the front (no idea why this happens).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I wore this in public

Sorry, people of New Orleans. Someone forgot to hit "start" on the dryer last night.
My color-theory professor would turn over in his grave if he were dead.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Huge discount for RnR New Orleans, today only!

RnR New Orleans offers a Saints Win Discount: if you register the day after a Saints win, you can deduct the same amount as the point spread. Given the Saints' pummeling of the Colts last night, today you can get a whopping $55 off registration for the March marathon or half marathon. 
Offer expires midnight tonight!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weird, just weird

You know what's weird? My sister in law has a blog. I discovered that my brother Johnny is taking the GMAT and applying to another grad school from her blog. This is also the way I learned that my brother was having his tonsils removed (followed shortly by multiple psychotic drug-induced ravings from same brother, who was sure his hydromorphone was giving him kidney failure).
I have to keep up with my Army brother Joey by coercing my husband, who has access to Army email through his government job, to email him - thus reducing my husband to a courier of messages like, "Are you taking your glucosamine for your knee? Make sure you wear socks to bed when you're in the field so you don't get a chill."
The best way to keep up with Abe, my running brother (who lives less than half a mile from me and works at my favorite coffee place, which is less than a quarter of a mile away) is to make politically inflammatory Facebook statuses in the hopes that his idealistic, sophmore-at-a-liberal-arts-school self will comment in indignation and, in doing so, reveal a tiny bit about his every day life.
I can't talk to Sam because he doesn't talk. He says five words a month, and they usually aren't to me.
Nate makes it challenging. He doesn't do social networks because they are beneath his brilliance and he won't text because it costs him ten cents and darn it, if brilliant people aren't always broke. His emails are often brief and in Haiku form, so spend large portions of my day wondering if he really is caught in summer thunder, or if the phrase was allegorical.
Izzy said something to me but his voice is so deep now I couldn't concentrate, I was too busy wondering where my cute little baby who used to play Three Musketeer dress up all day went. And who is this 6-ft giant with a beard?!
And little Matthew is still too young to be allowed to use the phone without permission, twelve being apparently the age of phone accountability at my parents' house.
Communicating with my brothers is so weird.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gulf Coast Half Marathon race review

Gulf Coast Half Marathon - Mandeville.
Hosted by Joe Relaxo, whoever the heck that is.
The race: One of a series of Gulf Coast half events. Over 1000 people run, so it's mid-sized. It is still rather warm weather mid-October, but the start is at 7:00 am and that avoids some of the heat and humidity.
Registration and cost: You can get in for $40 if you register early. Prices go up to $105 for race day! Packet pickup is available in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or Mandeville, but all on different days. Not convenient. No pickup morning of, which is strange 'cause you can register morning of.
Swag: Cotton T - but kind of nice looking - and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener.
Course: The course is really pretty. It starts in Fountainbleau state park and includes sections on the Trace (a paved bike trail in the woods), along Lake Ponchartrain, in the park, and in Old Mandeville.
The finish line, complete with an announcer who calls out names of finishers (rare in a smaller race)

Support: Plentiful aid stations - I think there are 11 - with water and some with Gatorade. Some locals come out and watch; not tons but some. Chip timed but no time on the course.
Post race: Band, beer, and taco salad (weird-o).
Lines of cars heading out of the park
Etc - Major issue with this race is that there is only one way in and out of the park, which causes a bottleneck, AND the course goes along this route as well! This is the only flaw for an otherwise enjoyable and well-run race, but it's a biggie: Just like last year it took me an extra 20 minutes to get in thanks to the backed-up line of cars trying to get into the park, and just like last year I sat in traffic waiting to get out. The drive home should have been under an hour; it took us an hour and 30 minutes.
So overall? It's a pretty little course and well-run, but don't do it unless you plan to stay for the whole after party (and there's kind of slim pickings as far as food goes, so if you think you'll be hungry, bring food).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I look like when I run.

I can't give credit to this because my sister posted it on my FB wall from who knows where.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Joey's home!

Joey, soldier bro', randomly decided to come home this weekend for a visit. He also decided to make it a surprise and rope me into being his accomplice. Naturally, the first thing I did was text my dad and inform him that Joey was coming home but to pretend he was surprised. My family does not do well with surprises. They are invariably gone on a long trip / replacing the toilet / not speaking to each other (it is amazing how silent a house with eleven people can actually be) / in the throes of influenza / at the ER / protesting a rezoning law / digging a well / giving birth / buying a dog / taking the ACT / giving twelve pets a flea bath* when you try to surprise them.
Joey arm wrestling Abe and Sam

After picking Joey up at the airport, we took Joey and Abe to dinner at Figaro's, where the salad is literally so good I would take it from a small child (kids don't like salad anyway, right?). We drove across the lake to my parent's house on the Northshore where everyone valiantly pretended to be surprised...we ended up staying a long time, and since the drive home is an hour, David and I didn't get into bed until almost 2 am. Unfortunately that's all the visit we got, since Joey was only home briefly to pick up his car and drive it back to Georgia.
I think it's a 12 hour drive so that sucks. But we were all glad to see Joey alive and well and I think he was happy to get some real food; that child ate enough pasta at Figaro's to fill a bathtub.

Anyone else have military family? How do you handle the long trips and distance?
My Dad was a Coast Guard officer before he retired and, when he was captaining ships, would be gone often for long periods of time. He retired and became a school teacher and he's home twice as much now! I think it kind of drives my mom nuts!

* These are actual examples.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gulf Coast Half Marathon 2011 - recap

Last year, I ran the Gulf Coast Half in 1:46 and it was the first race that I felt I was "fast" in. Seeing an 8:05 pace made me realize that I could run faster than my typical 8:30 - 9:00 pace, and was the first reason I ever contemplated attempting a BQ. This year, I wanted to take ten minutes off my time from last year and run a 1:36.

The Gulf Coast Half starts at 7 am, and it's nearly an hour's drive from our place - on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, a.k.a. The Boonies. Besides the drive, I knew from experience that parking would be a nightmare and we'd better get up early. David and I stumbled out of bed at 4:30 am, and even though I knew fueling had been an issue for my last race I couldn't eat anything. I made toast but after one bite I tossed it. I think it's these early mornings that get me!
The race starts and finishes in a state park, and we arrived with 50 minutes to spare, but by the time we crept single-file to the parking lot, we had just half an hour to do a bathroom run and get to the start. I met my little brother Sam and my dad before the start. Sam calmly informed me that he was feeling sluggish and, rather than run a 1:20, he would have to run a 1:24. This cracked me up. Sam is very, very, very quiet. He rarely talks, but when he does it is to the point. It turns out that his projection was almost spot on!
I started near the front and mistakenly went out too fast, but I thought I'd be ok since the announcer cheerily told us all that the second half would be accompanied by a brisk tailwind. I figured if I tired it would pick me up! The race went by quickly and smoothly, but my pace was all over the place. My first mile was fast, then I had a few at goal pace, then I hit a long, slow section. Part of the race is along the lakefront, and rather than a tailwind we had a stiff headwind that kept at us all the way in. In addition to the wind, the sun was surprisingly strong for such an early race (it was also surprisingly warm; the temps were upper 70's all the way to 80 F). The miles along this stretch were my toughest and slowest. I should have taken a Gu here, since I brought one in lieu of breakfast, but I didn't; I felt tired near the end but I didn't feel like my blood sugar had crashed.
Of course, I love seeing people I know on the course. This time, I only saw Sam - he was in 5th at the time and keeping a nice pace. There is only a short portion that doubles back, and I left it before David got there, so we missed each other.
Sam looking...ill.

There were a few funny things about this race. The first is that after mile one, when we spread out, two guys and a girl passed me over the entire rest of the race. And I passed two guys and a girl over the entire rest of the race! This was weird, since my pace was bonkers!
The other - embarrassing - thing is that my dad was waiting for Sam, David, and I to finish. As I neared the finish, another girl was just seconds behind me (she trailed me the entire race; after she told me I was pacing her, poor gal), and my dad made a huge scene hollering that I needed to hold the pace, another girl was just behind me, etc. I did hold my pace, and crossed the line ten or twenty seconds ahead of her. I felt so bad for her! But I went up and apologized later and she was such a good sport. The funny thing is that she actually beat me by two seconds! She had started far in the back, but since the race was chip timed she came in behind me but placed higher!

Sam, who finished in 1:23:50 and won his age group, waited for David with me. David forgot he had registered for this race and only realized it three weeks ago. He had been training for another half that is two weeks away, so he had this one sprung on him. But he still finished in 2:00:44, not bad at all!
I finished in 1:35:13 and was inexplicably disappointed in my time and place. I was 10th overall and 5th in my age group; I beat my goal, too. I think it has dawned on me that from here on out, I have to work to get faster. For an entire year, all I had to do was show up and I'd PR - but that was because I was running seriously below my intrinsic potential. Now, I'm running at my level of natural ability, and if I want to PR I have to work for it: train, monitor my pace, consider my fuel. When I don't - like today - I struggle to meet my goal, and still under-perform. Given my long-term goals, I should be able to run faster than I did today, and it should feel easy to me. I guess it's time to face the music and start working harder!

Tell me about the race for which you trained the hardest and ran the best you ever have.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Foody Friday: Sweet Potato Toppings

Just like I love a good loaded baked potato, I like my sweet potatoes with toppings, too.
What a colorful dinner!

Here I sauteed shrimp with mango, scallions, red bell peppers, and cilantro and made a sauce with yogurt, lime juice with pulp, and sriracha sauce. It was delicious on a baked sweet potato with extra yogurt on top!

How do you like your sweet potatoes?
If I'm eating them "plain" I love lots of salt and butter!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making the money!

Yesterday was a big day at work for me because...
...I got my September profit and loss statement and discovered that in September I made a profit! This is a big deal because my store just opened at the end of April! We became profitable after just 5 months, rather than the expected two to five years.
Whole foods strawberry shortcake
I treated my staff to cake for the occasion.
This is a big relief for me, because I don't have any business training or experience. I'm a pharmacist! But I'm also the store manager, and I was worried that I wouldn't have the savvy to turn a profit. Lucky for me, our overhead costs are very low, so we're squeaking by!

How has your work been lately? What is your job? Anything at work that has been hanging over your head?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sam's debut

This brother is running his first real race tomorrow.
Sam, looking like a poet

He's run a few local races before , including a 4-miler in which he beat a local standout who runs cross country for LSU (I don't want to be mean and name this person, but basically our pep talks before races pretty much always include, "Get out there and beat so-and-so!"). But this weekend's half-marathon is his first larger race, and his first long-distance as well. (He ran the Crescent City Classic 10k a year and a half ago, but he had not begun running seriously at that point and ran it for fun.)
I think Sam will be really, really good. He's not tall, just average, but has long legs and is quite lean. He doesn't run as far as Abe does, but his speed has passed Abe's up. He's still a teen so he has time for improvement, too.
I think if he has a good race he can do this half-marathon in about 1:20. 
Gone are the days when I could outrun my little brothers!

Do you have siblings or kids in sports? Are you their rabid fans? Do you urge them to beat other specific kids? Haha. Good thing I  don't have children; I'd be the soccer mom everyone hates.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clarence Demar Marathon Race Review

I already posted the recap of this race, but for those of you who might be considering running it, here's the review:
The Clarence Demar marathon is in tiny Keene, NH, and runs at the end of September/beginning of October.

The race: This is a really small race, only a few hundred runners. It's kind of a "runner's race' - no frills, no big medal, lots of local history.
Registration and cost: $60; you can register all the way up to the night before the event, which is cool. But frankly that's a lot for a very basic race.
Swag: None, pretty much. There is a tech-T, but it's cheap material ( I do like the no-sponsor plain back, but actually this race NEEDS sponsors in a big way, so I guess that's a bad thing). There are medals at the finish...and that's it. Age group and overall plaques are given; I was accidentally given the wrong one. In their defense I didn't notice either.

Course:The course is advertised as "fairly flat and fast" and I do think it would be fast for runners who are used to hills. It's actually a rather hilly downhill course, and several runners commented that the course mirrored Boston's course. The first half is a rolling downhill; the second half is more flat, with some rolling hills and a few tough climbs. There's a net elevation drop of about 300 feet. The first half, in the mountains, is beautiful; it gets a little boring as you go but overall a pretty and enjoyable course. A major disadvantage is that the roads are not closed for this race and the runners aren't even coned off; it's a little nerve-wracking in twisty mountain roads. There are police directing traffic at major intersections, thank goodness.
Then there is this hilarity. Yes, the official course map actually informs you that the finish is not marked....but it's near a storm drain and a manhole cover. 

And it's in Comic Sans. I hate Comic Sans.
Support: The volunteers were fantastic for this race; great attitude and very up-beat. However, there is no Gu or gels on the course and only half the stations have Gatorade. The miles are marked; time is not.
Post race: Pretty sparse - bagels, soup, soda, fruit, cookies, and massages.
Heck yeah I got a massage! Poor girl. I was SO sweaty.

Photos: I don't normally comment on race photos, but I thought this quote from the website kind of summed up the whole marathon:
"2011 Clarence DeMar Marathon, Keene, NH Sept. 25th  We had car issues and didn't make it to the finish line in time to photograph all the runners, sorry! Those of you whom we did get will have photos in three of the galleries. Everyone will have a photo with the race name. Thanks for looking!"

Etc - This isn't chip timed and for a 34 year old marathon, it still needs some work. For example, the course was long, almost certainly because we started well behind a spray painted "start" on the road. I commented on this, but I lined up with everyone else. My Garmin read 26.67 - that's more than poor tangent running. Oddly, the times were recorded incorrectly. If my watch time didn't match course time, I'd shrug it off. But I noticed that the time intially posted for me - 3:35:19 - was WAY off. Then I noticed that the time recorded on the website was different: 3:35:09. But my watch read 3:34:58, and I didn't hit the stop button on it until after I had finished and received my medal! As soon as I finished, David commented that the time on the clock had been "jumping around" (I, of course, was not looking, as I was too busy posing for the camera). Lo and behold, he caught it on film: look at the times in these two consecutive photos!
I approach the manhole cover...
Dude, what? I took one step and lost 9 seconds!
So that definitely needs work. Also of note, the course closes at FIVE hours, FYI for leisurely marathon runners. So overall? I loved the volunteers and the serious runners who participated. I had fun, and you couldn't ask for kinder people, but I really think this race needs to adopt some sponsors who can make this more of an event for the $60 fee. It needs Gu, more Gatorade, and a little course TLC. And next time the course and time need to be just a little more exact.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Training at work

Sometimes I have to do online training at work. They talk to us like we're not-very-bright six year olds.

Well, geez, Christopher, do you think it might be...that big button that says, "REPORTS" right there?!

Well, if it wasn't for Christopher Compass I'd never have known what "delegate" means.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Visiting Keene

The husband and I visited Keene, NH, last week, and despite the relative warmth I enjoyed seeing New England in the early Fall. I'm actually from Connecticut, so I get a little homesick for the Northeast. Keene is small, but clean, attractive, and very well behaved.

And every Jack O'Lantern counts.

Seriously. Keene holds several world records for...the largest pumpkin party? And the chamber of commerce would like you to know that YOUR PUMPKIN COUNTS!
We couldn't do as much as planned in Keene because as usual, our US airways flights were both delayed (mechanical) and we ended up in Keene 5 hours later than planned. I have sworn off US airways flights before, but this time I mean it. They have very poor customer service and problem-prone flights. The day before the race we barely made it to Keene in time for packet pickup, and the charming race volunteers recommended some pasta places. We went straight to Luca's, which was pricey but delicious. For dessert we had a chocolate pyramid, which was like tiramisu (heavy on the liquor) ensconced in a rich chocolate shell.

Obviously, race morning I was a little occupied, and David went to church while I ran. After the race, we went on a Fall foliage drive, with the intent of ending at a hiking spot. However, the first location recommended was closed, and by the time we reached the second it was dark. We went for about a mile walk in the woods but David was not happy with the dark and we headed back.

The foliage was just starting to turn, but the scenery was adorable regardless.
We caught the late football game at Vendetta's, a sushi sports bar with boutique beers. Somehow they make this work. The food, beer, and staff (one very friendly football-obsessed bartender) were all outstanding.
Our flight didn't leave until 5 the next day, so we had time for another outing Monday morning. So we climbed Monandock Mountain. What else would we do on tired, post-marathon legs? There were two separate trails to the top.The first started out gently sloping up, and was mostly just light woods.
My cute hiking partner, who complained the entire way uphill

I am seven.

The next trail was quite steep (few pics here, since David was protecting the camera for most of the climb) and it was straight up a rocky creek bed. Basically it was a climb up stiff boulders, and it was tough on my super sore legs.
My general fatigue caught up with me and I required a little rest.

I look so worn and wan here that I feel sorry for MYSELF!

(The trip down, by the way, was beyond murderous for my poor quads; I literally cried).
The view at the top, though, was worth the pain!
The peak behind us

Trying not to fall to our deaths

Overall verdict? Keene is cute and hospitable. I hope they win their pumpkin record.