Monday, April 29, 2013

Green 6.2 Race Recap

This past Saturday, I ran the Green 6.2 race here in Houston, Texas. I woke up around 5:50 AM feeling very motivated! I put on my race outfit, ate a Clif Bar, and drank about 4 oz of water. I double checked I had everything in my race bag, and then Robert and I headed out.

Parking was easy, and we made our way to the pre-race area. We met up with my friend Stacy who was running as well, walked around to check out the vendors and stretched/warmed-up. About a half hour before race start, I took an energy gel and another 4 oz water.

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At 7:30 AM, Stacy and I lined up in the corral area not too far from the start line, put in our headphones and I got my Garmin ready to go for the race. Despite the extreme humidity and the beating sun, I felt confident that I could undoubtedly give 110% and would achieve a PR, whether it was below my 55 minute goal or not!

The race began at 7:45 AM, and I tried to get in my zone quickly. The first mile I had to do some weaving but it did not have an effect on my pace. Around mile 1.25 I arrived at the first water stop, and grabbed a Gatorade. I had another gel with me that I had every intention on taking at mile 3, figuring there would be another water stop about that time. However, by mile 3.5, I found myself wondering where on earth the next water stop would be; the heat was killer, and I did not wear my hydration belt thinking it would just slow me down.

The first 3 miles went fine, but after I passed that 5k split, I fought more thoughts of walking than I care to admit. Every time my brain would tell me to walk, I would just counter it with different mantras -- pain is only temporary, pride is forever. You know you can beat your current PR! Strength is running when you want to walk; you are physically fine it is just your mind wanting you to walk!

By mile 4 I just had to take a break, so I walked for about 2 minutes and it seemed to help a lot. Finally, at about mile 4.5, the second water stop appeared. I grabbed some water and drank half of it, and poured the rest on my head to try and cool down.

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I eventually reached the point in the race where I could SEE the finish line! I looked at my Garmin and realized that even though I would not beat that 55 minute goal, I was still going to PR! I made my legs move quicker, wanting to beat every extra second possible, and I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 55:50!

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In one word, I was ecstatic! I pushed myself in terrible weather conditions and beat my old record by almost 2 minutes – I felt so proud of myself!

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I met up with Robert, grabbed a water, banana, bagel, and a free Michelob Ultra (score!). Later, we found Stacy, and relaxed for awhile until they announced the winners. This race was so much fun, and the course was fantastic – flat and concrete. Overall, I would highly recommend this race, but if I could ask them to do one thing differently, it would be to space out the water breaks better. Put one at mile 1.5, mile 3, and mile 4.5. Other than that, great organization!

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QOTD: Have you ever had to overcome an obstacle during a race? How did you conquer it?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekly Recap 4/22 – 4/28

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone had a good week. It has been pretty good here in Houston; training went well, and I had a 10K race on Saturday that was a lot of fun! I also met my mini-goal of stretching every day! My next race is the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon, and I am ready and excited to get back to training for a longer distance event.

My workouts this week:

Monday: Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs (40 minutes)

Tuesday: 3 Mile Tempo Run (Pace: 9 min/mile)

Wednesday: Jillian Michaels 6-Week Six-Pack (35 minutes)

Thursday: 4 Mile Maintenance Run (Pace: 10:30 min/mile)

Friday: Rest Day/Stretch

Saturday: Green 6.2 10K Race (Recap to come!)

Sunday: Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs (40 minutes)

Sneak peek of my race this week! Find out if I PR’d in my recap tomorrow!SAM_0439

QOTD: How did your week go? Did you have a race?

Friday, April 26, 2013

New to runDisney - Glass Slipper Challenge & Coast to Coast Medal 2014

I know I do not usually do two posts in one day, but I just heard the most exciting news EVER and had to share!
runDisney has added a 10K race to the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, along with a new challenge! It is called the Glass Slipper Challenge, and you get a special medal if you complete both the 10K and half marathon during the weekend (19.3 miles total). That is 3 medals, and 4 if you do the 5k as well.
But that’s not the only news – if you complete both the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (January 19) and Princess Half Marathon (February 23) in 2014, you get a newly designed Coast to Coast Medal with a pink overlay and lanyard! So cute!!!
The New Coast to Coast Medal!
Registration for the 2014 Princess Half Marathon opens on June 11, and the Tinkerbell Half opens on July 9. However, if you are doing both of these races, then you can register early for the Tinkerbell Half on June 11 (according to the press release, there is a limited number of spots for early registration).

I absolutely loved the Princess Half this year, and next year I plan to run the Tinkerbell Half as well as the Wine & Dine Half, but that new challenge is extremely tempting!

QOTD: What are your runDisney plans for 2014 after hearing this exciting news?

TRI-ing Something New/Race Prep

This week has been one of new experiences – in one race I did my first trail, obstacle, and muddy run. In this spirit of discovering (and conquering) unfamiliar territory, I have decided to sign up for my first triathlon! The Cooper Sprint Triathlon to be exact (same organization that put on the Color Me Cooper Race last weekend). It takes place on July 20, 2013, and begins with a 350-meter swim in a 50 meter outdoor pool, then goes on to a 12-mile bike course on concrete roads, finishing up with a 5K run on concrete roads that is described as ‘fairly flat.’ I have always been interested in doing a triathlon, and am so excited about this event!

If any of you have done a triathlon before, advice is greatly appreciated!

 

Also, this Saturday I have a 10K here in Houston (Green 6.2). I have been prepping all week by drinking plenty of Powerade Zero, and eating more carbs than I usually do. I love race weeks - I get pasta, sweet potatoes, and pancakes - so yummy! I have also replaced one of my training runs this week with strength training, and have been doing extra stretching so I don’t have tired legs on Saturday.

The weather forecast shows that it may be on the warm side despite the chances of thunderstorms. I just hope it doesn’t reach 80 degrees until after the race!

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My goal is to finish in less than 55 minutes, but I would be okay with just beating my current PR time of 57:47, especially with the good ol’e Texas heat making its way back to us.

I hope everyone is having a great week of training, and good luck to all who have races this weekend!

QOTD: When was the last time you tried something new, and what was it?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lauren’s Picks – Race Fuel

One of the many aspects of running that I enjoy is experimenting with different kinds of race fuel.

Fueling while running is very individualized, and takes a lot of trial and error in finding what types of fuel works best for you, and how often to take that fuel during your run. It is very important that this experimenting is not done on a race day, because trying something new can have bad consequences (i.e. Gastrointestinal -- AKA ‘GI’-- irritation… not fun when you are trying to PR!).

That being said, I have decided to compile a list of fuels that are my personal favorites and work best for me. Hopefully this can serve as a starting point for others, or maybe help someone discover something new!

My Pick for Best Gel:
Vi Fuel

Why?
1. This gel caused me almost no GI stress. I think that speaks for itself.
2. It is very easy to take while running. I have found with some fuels (gels & chews) that I have to stop running because the consistency is so difficult to swallow/chew while also making sure my breathing is not affected.
3. Taste. It is actually pretty good!

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My Pick for Best Chew:
Clif Shot Bloks

Why?
1. Easy to take 1-2 at a time to avoid GI stress and take in a little energy at a time.
2. It is easier to chew and swallow than other brands; however, I have not found a chew that I can eat while running. I always have to take a walk break.
3. I have not tried a flavor of the Clif Shot Bloks that I did not enjoy. They are all delicious!

Side Note about chews: I usually do not use them during the hotter months because it makes breathing much more difficult – the consistency causes the chews to stick in your mouth and creates thicker, stickier saliva, which is a pain to me, but may or may not be to others.

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My Pick for Best Energy Bar:
Clif Bars & Honey Stinger Waffles

Why?
1. Neither causes any GI stress for me, so I sometimes will use these as a pre-race fuel. I have not tried to eat one of these during a run, though. I think it would be too much to take in while running at the same time, or would require a lengthier walk break.
2. They both really work; I always have a lot of energy after eating one of these!
3. Delicious would be an understatement for these energy bars. I could probably eat them every day!

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My Pick for Best Fuel on a Budget:
Individual Honey Packets

Why?
1. Little to no GI stress.
2. Easy to take while running at the same time (the packets are very easy to open too).
3. They taste great, and they work just as well as other fuels!

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QOTD: What is your favorite type/flavor of race fuel?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Color Me Cooper 5K: Race Recap

This past Saturday, Robert and I ran the Color Me Cooper 5K race. Before the race, I expected to report that it would have been just another color run, but in actuality, it was quite possibly the hardest 3.1 miles I have ever done in my life. It was a trail run with obstacles (along with mud thanks to the rain from the day before) and more hills than I could have counted. It was definitely a fun and different experience!

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As with most races though, lessons are learned. From this one, I learned 3 things about my running future:

  1. I am 95% sure I will never ever do another trail run in my life: The entire time I was running, the terrain was dipping and rising constantly – there were almost no areas of flat land, and my ankles were very sore the next day. Even though I had every intention of working out on Sunday, it just did not happen. I ended up sitting around icing my ankles instead. I will be reading race information a little more closely before signing up in the future because before I arrived to the start area for this weekend’s race, I did not know it was a trail run.
  2. Along with trail runs, I am not so sure I want to do a mud run either: Even though I have to admit they look like a good time, after I ran through the mud this past Saturday, I felt like I had 10 pound bricks on my feet. The mud stuck to my shoes and made running much more difficult (side note: thank goodness I wore my older ASICS from last year and not the ones in which I currently train).
  3. I REALLY want to do another race with obstacles: I loved the added challenge and had a ton of fun getting past the obstacles during the Color Me Cooper 5K. I will be trying to find a race that offers a lot of obstacles (without the mud)!

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DSC02933 We had fun with our jumping pictures!

We really enjoyed participating in this race, and it was very well organized. Also, as it turns out, it was chip timed (very surprising!). My official time was 32:41, which I will gladly take knowing how hard that course was! This was Robert’s first timed race, and his official time was 39:45!

QOTD: What is an important lesson you have learned from a past race?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekly Recap 4/15 – 4/21

This week was pretty good for training. Like last week, Friday was the only day that I did not do any stretching, so not too bad! I also decided to replace my usual Wednesday maintenance run with some strength training for a couple of reasons. One, because I had a race coming up on Saturday, so I did a mini-taper. Also, I combined a maintenance pace with a tempo pace for my Tuesday run.

My workouts this week:

Monday: Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs (40 minutes)

Tuesday: 4.09 miles for Boston (First 2 miles pace: 10:30 min/mile – Last 2.09 miles pace: 9 min/mile)

After running my 4.09 miles in my race shirt547949_10101429200742218_640705737_n

Wednesday: Jillian Michaels 6-Week Six-Pack (35 minutes)

Thursday: Speed work intervals – 3 x (1200 meters race pace + 400 meters walk)

1200 meters = 0.75 mile (Pace: 8:45 min/mile)
400 meters = 0.25 mile (Pace: Comfortable walk)

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Color Me Cooper 5K Race (Recap to come!)

Sunday: Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs (40 minutes) Rest Day/Stretch

And one final thought for today…529145_223705181088182_893447210_n 

QOTD: Did you have a race this week? How did it go?

Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon Part 3: Race Recap/EPCOT

I crossed the start line and immediately there were spectators cheering for us. It was difficult not to sprint out right away, but I held back knowing that I would surely regret it later on – not to mention the humidity felt like it reached 100%! The first picture moment I encountered was the Princes. I paused my Garmin and stood in line, and when it was my turn for the picture, Flynn Ryder smoldered at me – it was great! I started to run again and un-paused my Garmin, and what happened? It restarted on me! I shrugged it off and just let it run, and did not bother to pause it again after that, nor did I even look at it again for the remainder of the race. Next, I took a picture with the Villains – there was Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen, Lady Tremaine (evil stepmother) along with Anastasia and Drizella (evil stepsisters). They played their parts so well!

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Another couple of miles, and we entered Magic Kingdom. I knew the best part of the race was about to emerge. I made the turn down Main Street, and there it was, Cinderella’s Castle. It was early dawn when I arrived and the castle looked more magical than ever and I found myself getting choked up. I was actually running a half marathon in my favorite place in the world. It was a moment to remember! When I ran out the front of the castle, I heard my name being shouted and Robert was there at the very front of the spectator crowd, cheering for me! I was so excited since I had told him to enjoy the race retreat while I was running, and just try to get a few pictures of me crossing the finish line, but he decided to surprise me there instead! He is the most incredible husband ever!

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While in Magic Kingdom, I was able to get photos with Gaston, Tiana, Naveen, and Louis, as well as Cinderella and Prince Charming. Not too long after exiting the park, it was the half-way point, where Disney played the song chosen by the majority of the runners. This year’s song was “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. Good song, but I voted for “Touch the Sky” from Brave!

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The miles really flew by; I was lost in the magic of running at Disney, and was able to get in my zone. Apparently there were markers at every mile during this race, but honestly, I missed the majority of them! Along the back roads, I was able to get photos with Mary Poppins, Burt and the chimney sweeps, guys in tuxes presenting each runner with a beautiful glass slipper, and Genie. Lots of pictures and lines, but I figured it would be alright since it was my first half marathon, and my time would be a PR no matter what! Eventually, I passed the point where they hand out the gels (Clif shots), and finally made it to the Biofreeze area. The back of my legs were starting to feel a little tight, so I put some Biofreeze on, and felt like new after a few minutes.

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Around mile 10 or so, I was heading towards the dreaded “hills” – they are highway overpasses – but still, a hill at mile 10 is rough! As I was about to go up the first of THREE, an Army Man from Toy Story was shouting at us military style – “Run soldiers run! Faster!!” – I absolutely loved it! I made it through the first hill, then the second, and finally the third. During the third hill, I decided to just put my camera in my fuel belt because I was not stopping anymore until I crossed the finish line.

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I got back into my zone, and the next thing I know I’m staring at Spaceship Earth in the near distance. At this moment, “Go the Distance” from Hercules came on my iPod, and it was all I needed to pick up my pace. When I entered EPCOT, the instrumental build-up to the final part of the song helped boost my spirits and pace even more! When the song was over, I pulled out my earphones, and soon after passed the choir singing joyous music. I made the final turn and saw the finish line; I sprinted and crossed it, with a final chip time of 2:40:47!

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I grabbed a box of snacks and a Powerade that the volunteers were handing out, and then received my medal. After going through the post-race picture line, I found Robert and promptly sat down and forced myself to eat. After a little recovery time, we boarded the bus back to the resort and were in EPCOT by lunch. It was a glorious day – we rode all the rides, got some pictures with Chip & Dale, and Aurora (I did not see her during the race), ate a huge pizza for lunch at Via Napoli (best post-race lunch ever), drank a couple beers in Germany, and closed the park down watching Illuminations! It was wonderful walking around wearing my medal, and when I would see others in theirs, we would give each other a congratulatory smile and nod. The cast members were also very enthusiastic about the medals, and always congratulated everyone!

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Overall, this was a wonderful weekend, and I hope that everyone who is able to experience the Princess Half Marathon has as much fun as I did!

QOTD: Have you done the Disney Princess Half Marathon? What was your favorite part?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon Part 2: Magic Kingdom/Pre-Race

DSC02558 The day before the race, I allowed myself to sleep in as long as possible. I hoped that the more restful I felt on Saturday, the easier it would be to wake up at 2 AM on Sunday. Robert and I also planned for a relaxing day at Magic Kingdom.  When I am at Disney World, I cannot help but rush around to all of my favorite rides, so when we arrived at Magic Kingdom, it was nice to just stroll down Main Street and really take in everything. 

Throughout the day, we were able to get on all of our favorite rides (except Splash Mountain – it was closed for refurbishment), and see the parades and shows. We unfortunately did miss Wishes, which I was not thrilled about, but an early bedtime was necessary that night. One final thing I would like to mention about Magic Kingdom is that the new Fantasyland addition is amazing, and we were able to eat lunch at ‘Be Our Guest,’ the new restaurant located inside the castle from Beauty and the Beast. I could probably talk about this restaurant for a while, so I will save the review details for another post. What you need to know now is that the atmosphere is incredible, and honestly, the food is pretty good (definitely a step above usual theme park food)!  

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We headed back to the resort around 5 PM, and picked up dinner from the food court. I did not want a heavy meal since the race was the next morning, so I had a turkey sandwich with some chips. I had also been alternating all day (actually, the past 3-4 days) drinking water and Powerade Zero to stay hydrated. While relaxing and watching some TV (Tangled was on the Disney channel, which was fun since my race outfit was themed around Rapunzel), I did a lot of stretching, and also made sure to lay out all of my race gear so I would not forget anything -- there was no way my brain would be in ‘thinking mode’ at 2 AM.

267826_10101331747494308_1837513445_nLastly, I set more alarms than what was probably necessary (2 on my phone, 2 on Robert’s phone, 1 on the hotel alarm clock, AND an automated wakeup call from the front desk), but I really wanted to get on the first bus out of the resort at 3 AM since I was in corral A. I had also heard that the closer to 4 AM it is, the longer the lines are to get on a bus, and I was not about to risk being late or even missing the pre-race entertainment. I got into bed around 8:30 PM, and thus began one of the toughest times I have ever had trying to sleep! And even though it was not as early as I would have hoped, I did eventually fall asleep, and let me tell you, 2 AM arrived quickly.

When the alarms went off, I was surprised at how awake I was; my adrenaline was pumping! Excitement and nervousness ran through me as I put on my race outfit and tiara, and yes, a little bit of make-up (a princess has to try and look good for the camera even when she is drenched in sweat, right?!). After doing a few warm-up stretches and double checking that we had everything, Robert and I grabbed our breakfast (bagel with peanut butter + a banana) and headed out the door. We were in line just a few minutes past 3 AM, and got on the first bus to EPCOT!DSC02606DSC02610DSC02614 We made it to the pre-race area in the EPCOT parking lot, where there was a DJ and picture opportunities with a few Disney Princesses. There was food and water for purchase, and more port-a-potties than I have ever seen in my life. My favorite part was checking out all the costumes people created! After getting my picture with Rapunzel, and doing some stretches, the DJ announced for those in Corral A to head to the race start. Everything became very real in that split second. Robert helped to make sure I had everything I needed for the race, gave me a kiss, and reassured me that I would do great (he is the best!). At that point, I began my trek to the corrals.

SAM_0396It was about a 20 minute walk, and it went by fast. When we reached the corral area, there were even more port-a-potties (Tip: The lines in this area are much shorter than at the pre-race area). I reached corral A, and did some stretches. There was so much entertainment at the start line. They had guest speakers, videos, inspirational stories to share, and it made the time go by quickly. All of a sudden, the race was about the begin! The Fairy Godmother said her magic words, Bippity Boppity Boo, fireworks flew, and the wheelchair race began. After a few more minutes, it was time for corral A to head out. The Fairy Godmother sent up fireworks for us, and finally, my race began.SAM_0398

QOTD: Do you ever get pre-race jitters? What do you do to ease them?