Race Shout Out and Marathon Musings

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

1) Rachel is running her first marathon on Sunday!!! I’ve been sending her good luck vibes for the last couple of weeks to make sure they make it to Scotland in time.  Through this whole process, I think Rachel and I have been on the same page.  Every weekend, after the long run, we’re both like, “WHY THE F**K are we doing this?”  Followed immediately by “GIVE ME A BEER!”  I’m excited to see her recap and race bling!

Surly that can’t be it?  I’m so sorry if I missed you.

GOOD LUCK, RACHEL!

So, for the past couple of days my life has been busy with non-running related activities (what are those again?).  Two of our best friends are getting married tonight (the continuation of the bachelor/bachelorette parties from a few weeks ago), and there will be cupcakes, and there will be wine.  Tomorrow (AFTER the post wedding BBQ) I will restart my clean eating.  I am not strong enough to pass up cupcakes and wine.  And I’m not sorry.

Also, as a result of this wedding, I was fixing my toe-nail polish, and after stripping the old stuff off, I realized that the corner of my big toe was black.

EWWWWWWE.

I don’t know the rules of losing toenails (I tried googling it, but couldn’t handle the images/descriptions for more than a few seconds), but I’m hoping that a black corner does not equal a total loss.  I’ve been so proud of my feet through marathon training because I’ve only gotten 1 big blister, but I’m scared that this might ruin everything.  Also, it sounds painful.  Can one run a marathon without a toenail and be comfortable?

Let’s talk about something else.

In other news, I can now stalk the Chicago weather on a daily basis.  I’ve been looking at weather.com for the last few weeks to track any trends, but now I can obsess over day-of statistics! So far, things are looking great! In fact, this whole time I’ve been worried about excessive heat…looks like I may have to worry more about colder temps instead.

I think I’ve also calmed down a bit from my I’m Going To Have a Marathon Induced Heart Attack! episode thanks to blog land.  Turns out, taper madness is a real condition that makes you truly experience symptoms of paranoia/anxiety/obsession.  I kinda thought it was just me, but when I started seeing everyone else writing posts about the same things, I realized that I am not alone.  So thank you, blog peeps! Luckily I’ve had this wedding to help get my mind on other things.  Next week I’ll have to create another distraction.

Speaking of next week, I will be doing my marathon countdown, and I plan on having one long “Get Your Head in the Game” week with lots of quotes, Pinterest finds, and general “pump me up” inspiration. I have no doubt that I can run the marathon I want physically, but I need to get my head on the same wave length.

I hope you have a good weekend!  What are you up to?

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Let’s Have a Dance Party!

Thanks for all of the good suggestions about pace groups yesterday! I think I’m more torn than ever.  But I don’t need to make my decision until the expo, so I can mill it over for a bit (is this a real phrase, or did I make it up? Can you mill over something?)! (UPDATE: Thanks to Hyedi, I know know that you mull over something.  Like wine.  Mulled wine is yummy!).

Basically, it comes down to doing what I know I should do and what I want to do.

Meanwhile, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am legitimately experiencing extreme anxiety over this marathon, and I have been for the last several weeks, probably much more than I’ve let on.  (I know Rachel, who is running her first marathon this weekend, gets me on this).  I keep thinking that there is something else stressing me out and keeping me up at night, but nope.  All other life stressors have pretty much come and gone, and I’m still going nuts.  So, it’s just this dumb marathon.  Granted I tend to be a little OCD in general and I get fixed on things, but this kind of event doesn’t usually make me get chest tightness.

I HAVE completely invested myself physically and mentally for the last 4 months (and however long before then to build a base), and devoted more time to running and recovery than I care to admit including a 20 mile run in San Antonio, land of riverside margaritas.  Easily the most time I’ve ever spent prepping for a 3-4 hour presentation.  But considering the big universe out there, this race shouldn’t be causing this much stress.  This is my hobby, damn it!

Since we’ve limited our booze intake by a significant margin, and I’m trying to avoid gorging on cookies, and all I’m allowed to do are these little tiny versions of the runs I’ve been doing for the last 4 months, I am actually having to calm myself down manually. I don’t even know where to begin. Bring on the lavender candles, herbal tea, and deep breathing techniques.  (For the record, yoga actually makes me more stressed because I can’t hold the poses).

Kelly suggested that I read this article about common pre-marathon mistakes, and one of them talks about letting yourself get too worked up about the race. I’m really needing to make an effort to chill out for the good of the marathon.

So, instead of this being Amy’s Marathon Freak Out #2, I’ll simply call this, Let’s Have a Dance Party!

If you haven’t seen this and you like to be entertained, you need to watch! Admittedly I have no clue what the hell he’s singing about, but his dance moves make my life a happier place.

I haven’t been training with music.  The only runs I’ve used music for were the ones on the treadmill, and even then, I had it playing in the background (instead of using headphones), and the faster you go, the less you can hear. Even the 5-K I ran in July was music free.

It hasn’t been bad at all.  It has actually been really liberating. In the spring, I was starting to get really mad at the music and its inability to make me run faster during races, so going silent helped eliminate some of that anger.

BUT.  I’m planning on taking my shuffle to the race. My hope is that I won’t turn it on until mile 20 when I’m in need of some motivation.  I’ve read somewhere that music loses its motivational ability pretty quickly, so I want to make sure I make the best use of it.

Problem is, I’m not really a “music” person.  Unless it’s Rosemary Clooney or Frank Sinatra, or, Journey (BECAUSE I LOVE JOURNEY).  So when I’m trying to select music, I’m looking at a huge bunch of songs that I don’t know, especially if they aren’t played non-stop on the radio.

The ones I want to keep on there:

1) Don’t Stop Believing: beautiful song, and totally motivating when you are starting to not believe.

2) Kids in America: Surprisingly, really helps my pace and disposition

3) Song 2 (by Blur): This is also the “whoo hoo” song if you lived in the 90’s.  Makes me want to go…whoo hoo!

Everything else is up for grabs.

I feel like this question is asked in every running forum, but new music comes out everyday, so those lists become irrelevant pretty fast (says the girl with nothing on her “must play” list made in the last 15 years).

So, the advice I need today….what’s your favorite running song?  

Also…just now I almost said, “is it only Tuesday?” but then I realized that it was actually Wednesday! What a happy surprise!

Have a wonderful day!

Which One of You Pace Groups Wants Me?

I’m allowing myself to have a minor freak out over details this week.  Next week, assuming all of my fears and concerns and worries and general anxiety have been soothed and solved, I will move on to pep talks and inspiration and some loud Chariots of Fire music (extra points if Mr. Bean shows up).

But today. Today is Amy is Freaking Out Over Her Marathon #1.  Please consider this as an open invitation to give me honest and unsolicited advice, because oh my goodness am I listening! Not that I’m ever NOT listening. But you know what I mean.

Marathon Dilemma #1: Pace Groups. 

So, before I get into that, I was doing my daily stalking of the B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association).  (Congratulations to all of you who got accepted for 2013!).  Registration is still open, which is pretty crazy.  We are currently into the 2014 qualifying window, and spots are still open for 2013.  Apparently, yesterday morning, there were still 2500 openings available.  I have never entertained the possibility of running Boston 2013 because it didn’t occur to me that spots would still be open this far into registration.  Even though I’m certain after this upcoming weekend’s races and the roughly 1 billion people hoping to BQ at Chicago that I won’t be getting in, there exists just a slight glimmer of hope.  Just maybe.

However, I stumbled upon this little tidbit of information on the Boston Marathon facebook page.  I don’t know how I missed it until now, but this makes my heart happy!

I set my 3:30 goal assuming that the times would be reduced by 5 minutes as they have been the last couple of years.  But, the times will remain the same! So, to qualify, I have to run 3:34:59 or 8:11 mile splits…5 minutes slower than I have been anticipating!

Herein lies my dilemma.

I’ve been planning on running with a pace group.  I figure when the going gets tough and I lose the ability to think, and I start fading away physically and wanting to curl up in fetal position , I can say to myself, “just stay with the pacer, and you’ll be ok.”  That’s it.  Just stay with the pacer.

I am of course hoping that the pacers know what they’re doing.  I’ve read some blogs of pacers who kind of screwed over their groups, but those were for smaller races.  I’d like to think that Chicago would have a competitive process for choosing these people who fearlessly lead hopefuls to victory.  Maybe?

Also, apparently the pacers keep a consistent pace throughout the race.

Luckily, both the 3:30 and 3:35 time groups are offered in my corral.   But which one do I choose?

(First, I’m being confident and positive Amy and assuming that I can keep up with these groups at all.  Obviously there is a HUGE chance that I won’t be able to hang after the first 15 miles.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there).

Should I go with the 3:30 group and give myself five minutes to fall behind pace?  This gives me wiggle room to not make some mile splits at goal time, or use the bathroom if necessary, or stop to walk, or curl up in fetal position for a bit, or whatever.

OR

Do I go with the 3:35 group and hope that I’m feeling good enough the last 4-5 miles to pick up speed and come in somewhere around 3:33-3:35 since I saved so much energy by going 11 seconds slower per mile?

For me, going out too fast usually means that I start out about 6:45 and run my first few miles in the 7:00 range (not the best idea).  I don’t think starting at 8 or 8:11 will make or break me energy wise.  Plus, the one time I tried negative splits, I didn’t feel like it helped me at all.

So, do I give myself a cushion or do I conserve a bit of energy and hope that I have it in me to go crazy the last few miles?

My inclination is to go out for a 3:30, but I feel like everyone will say to go out slower and then pick it up for the last few miles.  But what if I’m too tired to pick it up?  I’m not giving myself any wiggle room if I go out slower.  But what if I really can’t handle 8 minute miles. I think I know what Pre would suggest!

I don’t know what I’m going to do.  What would you do and why?

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Also, the problem with following all of the “big” running blogs is my envy over their participation in all of these cool relays.  The running social media world was recently taken over by Hood to Coast coverage (thanks to the 3 Nuun sponsored blogger teams who were tasked with talking about the race and Nuun as much as possible), and I added it to my bucket list.  It looks AMAZING!  Mountain AND Ocean views!

So, this race just happened, but they are already getting people pre-registered in anticipation of real registration in a couple of weeks.  Apparently this thing sells out in 1 day…10 months in advance! If only we could find 10 other people willing to commit to something 10 months in advance (and you know, running at night and living out of a van for a couple of days).

I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday!

Marathon Reflection Monday: The REAL Taper Edition

{So, this is the post I had wanted to do LAST Monday}.

Way back when I first started training for a marathon and the whole concept of a 3:30 finish time was pretty abstract, I thought if I could do my last 20 miler with an average of 9 minute miles (1 minute slower than marathon pace), my training would have been a success.  

This is based on my Half Marathon Land ability to run races a minute faster per mile than my long runs.  Also, the experts at these things say long runs should be between 30 seconds and a minute and a half slower than race pace.

But first…

OMG TAPER!!!  But really this time! (for the record, this may be the first time I’ve actually ever typed out “OMG” but if any occasion calls for it, it’s this one!).

If you didn’t know, Aaron and I were both quite ill last weekend and decided against running our last scheduled 20 mile run.  After weighing the options, we decided to postpone the long run to Saturday.  Even though it was not ideal to allow only a 2 week taper,  we didn’t feel adequately prepared.  On marathon day we would have been 5 weeks out from our last long run.  Physically, I don’t know if that’s as terrible as it sounds, but mentally, it was quite unnerving.

So, we woke up and did our last 20 miler on Saturday.  I knew from the beginning that I’d take it slower than normal just to make sure my legs didn’t get too trashed.  Mornings have been cold and dark, so we started much later than we had during the summer…at about 7:40.

We did the same course we did on our first 20 miler.  Lots and lots of uphill with an eventual 6 mile downhill at the end.  Truthfully, it was a rather uneventful run in the best way possible.

Everything felt good.  I fueled at mile 7, drank a half liter of Gatorade at mile 10, and fueled again at mile 16.5.  At no point did I hate running (GOOD!).  My body didn’t hurt, and even my feet didn’t get tired (EVEN BETTER!).  I didn’t get depressed over the amount of mileage left (considering some of my earlier long runs, this is a huge Amy breakthrough).  It did start getting warm at around mile 15 and I was thirsty, but it was nothing compared to some of the temperatures of summer.

I finished 20 miles in 3 hours and 53 seconds.  9:02 pace.  It felt comfortable and strong, and is almost 8 minutes faster than the first go 5 weeks ago when I wasn’t focused on taking it easy or going slow.

And more than that, it gave me the confidence that has been wavering over the past few weeks.

With all the good things that running brings, it can also turn into an all-consuming quest to be better (than myself or others) or to crush goals.  Both worthy aspirations in my book.  But I am incredibly competitive and Type A.  The underlying pressure of meeting my goal of running a Boston qualifying marathon has sometimes driven me to insanity.  I’ve felt inadequate, weak, or just plain not enough during this process.

Yesterday, I tried to go back to why I came up with that crazy goal in the first place.  It wasn’t because I really thought I could qualify on my first try.  The odds are not in my favor, and looking around blog land, many faster runners than me aren’t able to run marathons that fast.

I set a high goal so I would work hard and give it my best effort.  To say that I would simply finish would allow me to take it easy.  I wanted to give this marathon training my all, and I knew the only way I would do that is if I set my bar high.

I don’t know if doing this long run was the best idea.  The general consensus during #runchat yesterday was that trying to make up runs during taper time is pretty much the stupidest thing you can do (I of course didn’t publicize our 20 miler to the marathon #runchat people for fear of being judged). I don’t know if I’ll recover enough in two weeks.  But I am feeling a billion more times confident in my ability.  And I think that is everything.

I ran the final long run that I wanted, and my hope in myself is renewed!

So, now all we can do is make this a very effective taper and we’re pulling out all sorts of stops. Air filters running constantly in the house, hanging out in the steam room at the gym everyday to get rid of residual sickness crud, being diligent about daily vitamins and supplements, and eating so clean it hurts (with the exception of some special occasions coming up).  I’m also going to try to put those yoga for runner’s DVD’s to good use (they have been used exactly zero times during this marathon training season), and ice/stretch/roll muscles everyday.

And that’s about all we can do.  Training is done.  Now it is time to sit back, and hope that our efforts over the last 3.5 months were enough.  And if they weren’t….well, at least it looks like I’ll be able to finish  my first marathon in under 4 hours!

Have a fantastic week! I’ve seen some fantastic race PR’s from this weekend!

Weekly Race Shout Outs and 33 + 2 Questions

Um, Hello Race Season!

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

Shantarella who is running HER FIRST MARATHON in South Africa!

Kelly who is running the Rock n Roll Denver Half this weekend!

Lindsey is running her FIRST half marathon this weekend!

Allison who is running a half marathon with her myTeamTriumph!

Hyedi who is running a 5-K this weekend (and is hopefully feeling better!)

GOOD LUCK!

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1) First: TWO WEEKS AND TWO DAYS!!! Oh my goodness, I can’t even handle it.

2) I admit…after the first game, I was pretty worried.  I asked Aaron if I could retract my decision.  BUT, I’m at peace now.  I mean, it takes me a few miles to warm-up, so why wouldn’t it take a team a few games to warm-up?  GO GIANTS!!!

3) So, aside from just more of the same running recaps (boring this week since the taper), I’m fresh out of things to say until next week when I anticipate a daily freak out session that you may have to help me through.  Should be fun.  But, until then, I thought I’d catch up on some Leibster Questions.

The lovely ladies Lindsey, Allison, and Shantarella each nominated me for the award (THANK YOU!), and provided the following questions to be answered. Incidentally, all three are up there racing this weekend!

Allison’s Questions

1. Why did you start blogging? I started out blog stalking.  Then friends started getting their own blogs.  I was like, I want a blog too! I posted for about 9 months before I figured out what I wanted to write about.

2. What three words best describe you? Short, caffeinated, competitive

3. What is your favorite comfort food? Sweet and sour pork.  And cookies. I’m a sucker for cookies.

4. What are the top three things on your Bucket List? Go to Europe (Like seriously.  There is this whole amazing continent full of art and wine, and I’ve never been there.  NOT COOL), Get Interviewed on The Today Show (I’m not above creating a crazy YouTube video to make this happen), Run the Boston Marathon (preferably BEFORE I’m 80).

5. What is one skill or sport you wish you were really good at? I wish I was good at any sport.  I really suck at sports. But I really wish I understood the financial realm and economics. Sloan on Newsroom helps me, but I’m still a deer in headlights when people start talking about advanced concepts.

6. What is one goal you would like to achieve this next year?: I’ll let you know AFTER the marathon.

7. Five things in your gym bag or purse are _____? Kleenex, lip gloss, wallet, pen, cell phone (this is my bag…I don’t actually carry a gym bag…that’s what husbands are for!).

8. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor.  And then a Disney Imagineer.  Not even remotely close to either.

9. Where is your favorite vacation destination? San Francisco (now that I don’t live 30 miles away), and Disneyland/ Disney World.  I do love me a nice beach though.

10. What was your favorite childhood TV show? Hmmm…Full House, and Muppet Babies. And of course World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

11. If you could change careers, what would you do? Best selling author/professor.  The author of Jarhead taught at my college, and he’d fly in every week from his home in L.A. I could deal with that lifestyle I think.

Shantarella’s Questions:

1. What is your biggest achievement ? Endurance running.  In a few weeks, I will definitely say “running a marathon.”  I truthfully never had to try very hard to be successful.  This is probably the first thing in my life that I’ve actually worked my butt off for.

2. What is the best thing about where you live ? FOOD.  Green chile is amazing.

3. What is your favourite beverage? Water! And wine.

4. What was the last book you read ? Still reading The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois. Non-fiction is hard to read when you’re using it as a bedtime book.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Hopefully living somewhere near the ocean or water

6. Whats your favourite blog? My own!

7. What would be your dream job? See # 11 above

8. Cupcakes or Cocktails ? BOTH.  Seriously, Shantarella….what kind of question is that????

9. Where would you like to go on your next holiday? I NEED to get to Europe. But first up, Chicago!

10. Whats your favourite Disney movie? This is like asking me to choose between children….hmmm…The Little Mermaid.  And Aladdin. And Peter Pan.  And Wall-E. Just, all of them.  I think that’s the safest answer.

11. What car do you drive? A black SUV that I’m in love with!

Lindsey’s Questions:

1. What is your favorite inspirational quote or motto? Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.

2. What is the #1 played song on your iPod? Hmmm…I haven’t kept track in awhile.  If I had to guess, I’d say Don’t Stop Believing. I love Journey so much it hurts.

3. What’s your least favorite chore? DISHES.  I HATE dishes.  I’d rather clean toilets.

4. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Play the violin. And I’d like to be able to talk intelligently about economics.

5. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? My name was SUPPOSED to be Aimee, the French version of Amy, so I’d start there.  I also really like first names that should be last names or names that make me sound like I play Lacrosse at Harvard.

6. What story does your family always tell about you? Either the pigeon that wouldn’t leave me alone when I was learning to ride a bike, or when I sped down the mountain on skis and had to wait for my dad and the bottom of the hill (I was like 7).  My sisters like to make up stories about how mean I was to them and I how I did things like lock them in the car.  I think they’re being overdramatic.

7. What was the first concert you ever went to? Hmmmm……I think Pavarotti.  He actually came to Albuquerque to perform maybe 11 years ago and my family is a bunch of opera crazies.  It was a big deal.

8. Do you prefer summer or winter? SUMMER! Although, running in summer is not fun.  I hate being cold.

9. How did you get in to blogging? See above

10. What is something you have always wanted to try? Backpacking through Europe.  I’m kind of past the right age now though. And I can appreciate the value of a comfortable bed and my own bathroom.

11. The best part of waking up is? LIVING!

AMY’ S QUESTIONS for everyone:

1) What is your favorite social medium?

After all this time, Facebook is still my favorite.  I love Pinterest but I liked it more before it was overrun with weight loss tips and “pin now, read later” captions.

2) What are you doing this weekend?  

The last 20 miler.  Unless something goes very wrong.  And then I’ll finally get to really taper too!

Have a fantastic weekend! 

The Start of Taper Madness and Outfit!

Thanks again for all of the encouragement on Monday!  Getting sick this weekend was not the end of the world, and I’m trying to remember that.  Initially I was disappointed that things didn’t go according to plan.  But all is not lost…YET, anyway!

We’re both feeling much better (Aaron is still pretty sneezy, but he is likely also experiencing the allergies that come with the fall season).

We ran 2 and a half moderately paced miles on Monday and our “tapered” version of a hill workout yesterday.  The tapered hill workout felt way too easy to be real.  In half marathon land I would have not been a fan.  But now, it just seemed like we needed to be doing more. Aaron said I had a look of determination as I ran up each set (actually, he said something more along the lines of I wanted to make that hill my bitch).  I guess better late than never to take this marathon seriously? Is this what taper madness is all about?

Since we’re putting in less mileage, we are really focusing on eating clean because putting on extra weight right now will not help us go faster.  Dinner is strictly grilled fish and veggies for the next couple of weeks (YUM…).  This weekend was an “I’m sick so I’m gonna eat whatever I want” situtation, plus, we had a few nights of birthday celebration dinners, so it feels good to eat foods that don’t make my stomach revolt.  Not that I love fish.  I HATE fish.  But it is a necessary evil. And hopefully it will help come marathon day.

I also picked out my mommy-sponsored race day outfit! I’m going with the Lulu pace setter skirt (aka business in the front, party in the back).  I accidentally picked up the “long” version, but I think it turned out for the best because the shorts underneath are longer and don’t ride up. As a rather short person, the long skirt might make me look like a 1950’s cheerleader, but at 26.6 miles, I’d rather not be a chaffed up mess. I also chose the race length cool racer back (shorter than the normal version).  I took both out for a test run, and everything seems to hold up! If I bomb on race day, it won’t be because of my outfit! Thanks, mom!

The skirt has 3 gel pockets which I am happy about! In general, I tend to fuel less often than the every 6 miles/every 45 minutes that is recommended because sometimes (always?) squeezing that little gel down my dry throat just isn’t even appealing.  My plan is to take a Clif Shot at miles 7, 14, and 21.  They do hand out Clif shots along the course and bananas at some point, but I don’t want to risk somehow missing those stations and then not fueling.

In other news, we got our Chicago Marathon “confirmation tickets” in the mail on Monday! This included our bib number and corral information along with everything we need to know about Marathon weekend.  It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever gotten in the mail (close behind college acceptance letters)… and I may have sat there and memorized the booklet! I know I’m stressing and freaking out more than a person should over this marathon, but I am really and truly unbelievably excited. This is really happening, and in just a few weeks, for better or for worse, I will have crossed the 26.2 finish line!

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Marathon Reflection Monday, The ALMOST Taper Edition

I won’t beat around the bush here.

I didn’t run 30 miles this weekend.

I didn’t run any miles this weekend.

At about 11 am on Friday, my mild sore throat that I’d had for 4 days got worse.  I knew by about 2:00 pm that I was in fact, infected with the deadly cold.

So, I came home, hopped into bed, Aaron whipped us both up some hot toddys (it was happy hour after all), some soup, and some grilled cheese on Udi’s gluten-free bread for dinner, and we fell asleep hoping to wake up on Saturday  miraculously healed.

Um, not quite.

I woke up at 9:30 on Saturday even worse.

Aaron attempted a run on the treadmill before realizing that he couldn’t breathe.

We hung out, slept, drank tea, and medicated ourselves hoping to wake up Sunday miraculously  healed.

Um, not quite again.

We were both feeling better overall, but I was still coughing and sneezing.

Apparently the accepted rule is that it is OK to run if your symptoms are above the neck.  Our lungs were congested, so we decided that trying to run 20 miles or running at all was not the best idea, especially because the mornings have been pretty crisp the last week. Plus, all rules aside, we just flat out weren’t feeling well.  Doing anything that didn’t involve laying down wasn’t high on our priority list.

Throughout this process we’ve had to make some hard cost/benefit analysis with regards to running.  This by far has been the hardest.

It isn’t ideal to do your last long run 2 weeks before your marathon, but we will be running our 20 next weekend.  It will be a very slow, easy 20, but our last long run was two weeks ago (5 weeks out from Marathon Day), and I’m not feeling comfortable in my endurance level.

Hopefully a two week taper will be enough time to fully recover before the marathon.  I’ve felt good after the last two 20 milers, so if we take it slow, and go overboard with recovery efforts, we’ll hopefully be fresh and ready to go on marathon day.

The good news is, I’m feeling better today, so I should be able to get all my runs in this week, and finish training strong NEXT week.

Regardless, we have 3 weeks to go (aaaaahhhh!).  I’m keeping my mind in the game (insert High School Musical sing off here), and staying optimistic for a strong marathon.  This weekend was definitely a bummer and I’m not happy about it, but we are trying to be flexible and avoid giving up.  At this point, that’s about all we can do.

And what fun would this process be to follow if everything was smooth sailing?

I hope your weekend runs went better than ours did!

Race Shout Outs and a Bit of Maturity

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

Sarah who is running a half marathon in Maui.  Jealous on so many levels! Did I mention she actually lives in Hawaii?

Fellow Albuquerque Runner Blogger Beth who is running the Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon this weekend.  I almost signed up for this race too!

Rachel who is running a half marathon in Scotland! This is her last big race before the big day! And by big day I mean her first marathon next weekend!

Allison who is volunteering for a triathlon with MyTeamTriumph this weekend! While she isn’t technically racing, these events are so awesome, so my fast thoughts are going to the Captains and Angels!

Good luck to you ladies and everyone else racing! 

Just by looking around blog land, I can see the excitement building up!  Marathons are just around the corner!  I’m at the point where I am literally bringing it up in conversations with strangers.  Stranger: “this is some weather we’re having.”  Amy: “Well, I’m running a marathon in 3 weeks, so I’m LOVING cooler running temperatures!”  Different Stranger: “Thanks for choosing Starbucks, how may I help you today?”  Amy: “Pumpkin spice latte and I’M RUNNING A MARATHON!!!”  You only think I’m kidding. P.S., how awesome are pumpkin spice lattes?

This weekend is the last 30 mile extravaganza before tapering starts on Monday.  I’m hoping for a good strong finish to training (we’re on day 4 of the slightly sore throat..UPDATE: sore throat just got worse and now I’m sneezy.  NOOO!!!), and especially after some encouraging speed workouts this week that truthfully surprised me both in pace and personal disposition, my hope is renewed for a goal accomplishing marathon!

Also encouraging….The Boston Marathon registration is going on right now.  A couple of days ago, they were more than 1,000 registrants below where they were last year, and, qualifying times were slower.  Several key qualifiers (including Boston itself), were plagued by the heat wave curse, and it looks like it has made a huge impact.  BUT, this hopefully means that qualifying times won’t go down significantly for 2014.  I’ve been hoping for a 3:30 marathon, but if I have a 5 minute window, I would not be sad.

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So, I’m now officially a 28 year old.  While we’ll probably celebrate a little bit more AFTER the 20 miler (I’ve been told to keep my Sunday free for secret plans), my birthday itself was pretty low key.  I ran of course because not sucking at the marathon is more important to me right now than taking 28 shots in 28 hours. Not that I’ve ever tried something like that before…  But I did have a cupcake!  And wine.

I’ve been terrified of birthdays the last few years, but I’m starting to get over it.  I’m even kinda starting to be ok with the idea that I will be 30 in 2 short years (trust me, this is Amy progress).

I am very grateful for another year of life, and for the first time I’m actually feeling pretty confident in my skin, and I think I owe much of that to running.  For the first time I’m not really concerned with how I look in a bikini, or if my hair looks perfect, or even if I’m caught outside my house without my 4 inch heels (I’m REALLY short.  People who are 5’2 make me jealous).  It is truthfully an amazing feeling to have that pressure that I’ve had since the age of…10? to be thinner/prettier somewhat off my shoulders.

If I want to cut down weight, it is because I want to be a faster runner.  If I eat grilled chicken and skip the french fries (doesn’t happen TOO often, but it does happen), it is because I want to fuel smartly for my run.  And half the time that I’m in public now I’m running, so running clothes, sweaty hair, and no make-up.  Turns out those things take a lot less work!

Aside from running, this newly discovered self-confidence is my proudest accomplishment of the last year, and I’m looking forward to another year of improvement and growth. And cupcakes.  And wine.

And you all, of course! I’m so happy to have “met” all of you within the last year, and thank you for being the awesome, supportive, funny people that you are!

I do however wish getting older didn’t have to come with wrinkles.  Because I am still a little bit vain.  Though maybe this will be the year that I actually stop raising suspicions when I try and buy myself a bottle of wine…?

HAPPY WEEKEND!

Rain, Mile Repeats, and Van Gogh

Just a few things on this lovely 13th Day of September…

1) We’ve been having rainy weather these last few days.  I’m uncontrollably giddy every time it rains in September because of this song.  I’m going to have to say that this is my all time favorite.  It makes me want to twirl around Central Park on a rainy fall afternoon.

2) The sudden change of weather means everyone is getting sick.  I flew home from Austin last week and left Aaron there for the man version of the bachelorette party (or bachelor party if you want to get all technical).  One of the guys spread his sickness to the others, and when Aaron got home on Monday afternoon, he was well on his way to misery.  I have known Aaron for 4 years and this is the first time I’ve seen him sick.  Meanwhile I’ve been fighting off a sore throat and irritated sinuses for 2 days now.  I want to finish training off strong, but hanging out in bed with a fever doesn’t quite fit into that plan.  The thought of missing my last 20 miler is downright scary.  MORE AIRBOURNE!!!

3) I hate 800’s. The mere thought makes me want to punch people (Bart Yasso maybe?), and when I start, I turn into the worst whiniest version of myself, and I’m miserable the whole time.

Yesterday I decided to do (4) mile repeats instead.  Turns out my mind was completely cool with this switch up.  I’ve been aiming for 3:30 800 splits, and I usually hit 1 under, 2 right at, and the rest somewhere between over and way over.  Yesterday my mile splits were 6:58, 6:53, 6:49, and 6:42 with a half mile recovery between each…FASTER THAN MY 800’S!  (faster than my last couple of 5-K’s too).  And I felt great.  I started really feeling the last one, but at no point did I feel nauseous (first time ever during my marathon training interval workouts), and my legs and lungs really rose to the challenge.

I hate to even admit this because I DON’T want to be a happy marathon person.  I don’t want marathons to become part of my lifestyle.  But mentally and physically, miles made so much more sense than 800’s.  Overall, I got in 7.15 miles in 1 hour.

5) I always think it’s funny which of my blog pictures people find most interesting.  This little beauty was viewed an overwhelming amount of times yesterday.

As a runner, my standards for what qualifies as an acceptable restroom has gone way down (two years ago I could count the number of times I’d used a porta potty on 2 fingers).  Finding happy hour at Fish Tails and the gentle murmur of ocean waves prompts the need to pee. So to answer your question, yes, I did use this facility, and it was actually pretty fancy!

6) Here are the photos from the Houston Museum of Fine Art. They had some awesome modern pieces (including a much better Pollock than the one below), but that exhibit didn’t allow pictures.  The philosopher’s piece wasn’t supposed to be photographed either (they should probably have a sign instead of yelling at poor camera happy unsuspecting tourists).  But as the descendant of a French Impressionist, Impressionism is my favorite, and I had a blast spending the afternoon with Cezanne and Monet and other friends Picasso, Van Gogh, and Pollock.

Entrance to the Museum

LOVE this design

Cezanne

Monet

Pollock

Piccasso

Van Gogh

Van Gogh Detail.  CRAZY. 

I hope you have a wonderful (maybe rainy) day! And go eat a cupcake! 

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Texas Edition

I am incapable of taking pictures of “normal” subjects.

Arranging a bunch of smiling people in front of landmarks? Not my thing.  Old torn down motels that create eye-sores in towns? Far more interesting to me.  (As is beer apparently? One of these days I hope to start a separate tab of Amy approved microbreweries across the country, so I drink for the cause!).  Even as a kid, I took pictures of road signs and funky trees.

Here’s a sample of what I saw in Texas.  Less Alamo and River Walk, more, well…I’ll let you be the judge.  I’ll have to do a whole separate post with pictures just from the Houston Museum of Fine Art.  Who knew all of those amazing paintings…were in Houston.