Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Recap

Miles: 56.2

Races: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

Current Running love: The weather.  My northern self is loving these 40 degree, sunny days.  Perfect running weather.

Current Running want: To register for a lot of races, but I am showing restraint and respecting my budget. I have added a couple and am currently deciding between a few late winter marathon options. Anyone ever trained for a Donut Dash?

Things coming in December:

We are still streaking!! How is everyone doing so far?  I unintentionally started two days early, so I am on day 5 and so far, so good.

Marathon Mom and Jill Conyers are hosting a 14 in 2014 Challenge, getting runner to commit to running 14 race in 2014.  It's completely free and a great way to challenge yourself in the new year. So stop by and sign-up!  Tell 'em I sent you!

For anyone who loves A Christmas Story, there is a race to commemorate the 30th anniversary.  Being a huge fan myself, I was pretty darn excited.  The race is taking place in Ohio and passes by many of the locations from the movie. My race budget doesn't allow that kind of travel for a 5 or 10k, but they do have a virtual race complete with leglamp medal.  It kind makes me want to dust off my pink bunny suit or at least drink some Ovaltine.
Oh Fudge, that is a fun medal. Source.

Anyone running a fun holiday race?  There are so many!

Monday, November 25, 2013

We're going streaking!

As I mentioned the other day in my Runner's Festivus wish list post, the holidays are bearing down on us and in an effort to make the holidays fun, the Jayhawk and I are going streaking and we are inviting you to join us. It will be a group thing. Heck, we might even get the dog involved.
I'm not sure I like the sound of this.
Now that your mind is sufficiently confused, we are actually talking about a running (or workout) streak!  In an attempt to ward off the holiday pounds and excuses about being too busy, we have decided to challenge ourselves (and anyone who would like to join us) to 1 mile per day, everyday from Thanksgiving until New Year's.  If you are not able to run like the Jayhawk who is currently rehabbing a nasty hammy pull, you can substitute another way of being active for 15 minutes each day (cycling, competitive dog walking, intense vacuuming, etc).  The point is to not let the craziness of the holidays prevent you from being the awesome active person that you are.
We all love to eat gingerbread men, but no one wants to look like one. Well, he is kind of cute.
To cap it all off, we are doing Something Fun on January 1.  It can be anything that you think is fun and active.  Maybe a snowball fight if you are lucky enough to live in a winter wonderland, or a trail hike to watch the sunrise on New Year's Day.  It just has to be something fun to celebrate your hard work and start the new year off right.

So we hope you can join us for a nice streaking party.  Stop back and visit to link up your activity reports.

How do you stay active during the holidays? Do you have any fun New Year's traditions?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fuelin' Up Friday: Hungry for more.

Now that I've found a race time fuel that works for me, Island Boost, some of you may be wondering if this means the end of Fuelin' Up Friday posts.  Will I retire my barf gear?  Will I change my blog name? Fear not.  Even though I have successfully fueled my way through 2 Marathons without hurling, 7 Bridges Marathon and Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, there are still many aspects of fueling that I need to perfect: pre-race, post-race, and additional during race options.
Our team logo from 2 Ragnars.  Yes, I have a rep. No, I didn't puke in the van.
Though Island Boost works wonders for me, I will be the first to say the no one fueling option works for everyone (see all my attempts at very popular fueling options).  I would like to have additional options in case for some horrible reason I don't have Island Boost (like a forget it home or TSA confiscates it or I consume all of REI's supply).  I also think different types of fuels are appropriate for different types of events.  In my opinion, gels or liquids are ideal for marathons both for the rapid absorption but also for their convenient packaging and carrying ability.  However, I don't have these kinds of space restrictions when biking thanks to the huge pockets in my cycling jersey, so I am open to different forms of fuel.

So fear not.  More fuel reviews are to come. If you have any ideas of new products to try, feel free to leave a comment.  I am always up for an adventure and being a guinea pig.

New reviews will begin in two weeks. There may even been some barfing, but no guarantees.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Runner's Festivus Wish List

Since the Holiday Season is rapidly approaching, I thought it was a good time to put together a list of runner's need (and wants) as gift giving begins.  If you are a runner, you could oh so subtly email the link to your family members or leave copies lying around the house. You know, just to make it easy for them.

1. Compression Socks: Let's be honest, my feet swell to look like Christmas hams when I run (see any of my bloody feet stories). I started using compression socks as part of my long run recovery this summer, and it has really helped to reduce the swelling. Now they just look like bloated sausages (lovely image for you during Fesitvus Dinner).
Feet up, Wine down.
2. Road ID: I train primarily by myself and though I carry a cellphone, there is no excuse for me not having one. If you care for the runner in your life and want to keep them safe, this is a must.

3. Foam Roller: We all talk about the importance of stretching (dynamic or static, you pick), but there is also the importance of massage. A foam roller is a great way to both help massage tired mussels. Alternatively, a personal masseuse would also be fine.

4. New Sneakers: Any marathon training cycle is likely to take 1-2 pairs of sneakers and these babies ain't cheap. A new pair of sneakers is always a welcome addition, but always consult your runner for specifics first (or get them a gift card to the local running specialty shop). (Note: An off the rack pair of kicks is likely to start the airing of grievances)
Color is always key when shopping for running shoes. Oh, and fit.
5. Race Entry Fees: Does Active, RunDisney, or the RockNRoll series make gift cards?  Well the should!  How awesome would that be as a gift! Let's be honest, this runner's habit is kept on a budget and race entry fees would be greatly appreciated!

6. Body Glide: You can never have too much and it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Nothing says "I care for you" then glide to protect your wobbly bits from chaffing. (Note: Could be handy during the Feats of Strength)

7. Fuel:  Runner's are frequently hungry.  I don't know one that would turn down a case of race fuel or healthy snacks they could keep at their desk.  Afraid of picking out some yourself? Monthly subscriptions to sites like RunnerBox take care of it for you!
Perfect stocking stuffers.
8. Membership to a local running club: After running itself, there is nothing runner's like to do more than talk about it.  Running clubs allow them to do both at once. In addition, membership can help you get discounts on races and at local running stores. It's a win-win.

Ok, there's a good starting list, so go out and get your holiday shop on. Is there anything I missed that is on your runner's wish list this year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Post Marathon Check in

First off, Thank you everyone for the kind words!  I really appreciate it.  I train mostly solo, so it's really fun to get so much support from other runners!
It's been about a week and a half since the marathon and recovery is going really well.  Overall, my legs felt pretty good after the race so I was able to get in a few workouts along with some good stretching last week.  Unfortunately, my toes needed an extra day or two before I could really start running again.  Yes, they did bleed again during this race (right around mile 15-16), but I think it was mostly because they weren't fully healed from 7 Bridges.  It's the same two toes that always bleed and the poor things look like ground meat. I will spare you the photos, but needless to say, that will probably be on the top of my goals list for my next marathon.
Looks innocent enough, but it was one of the uglier scenes I've ever seen inside.
Overall I am pretty happy with how the race and training cycle went. The format of my training plan worked really well for my life and I will definitely be using it again. I accomplished a lot of my race goals, finally found a way to fuel, and feel far more confident with the marathon.  Dare I say I might actually be starting to like the distance? The Jayhawk remarked after the race that I wasn't nearly as spent as he expected me to be (maybe he thought he would literally have to lug me to the car).  To be honest, he has a point.  I think I am still a bit nervous to push too early in the marathon and I run end up running comfortably for a lot of it.  Another thing to work on for the next one!
I somehow ended up with at least a dozen Moon Pies after the race. They were a staple of recovery. (source)
Right now I've been working on figuring out what the 'next one' is.  I've resisted the urge to sign up for every race in a 50 mile radius, though I am slowly starting to add items to the list over to the right.  I'm hoping to find a marathon in late winter/early spring so I can take advantage of all the training I did this fall and all the new found excitement I have for the marathon.

How much time do you take off after a big race? How quickly do you register for the next one?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Race Recap: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Part 2

You can find part 1 of my recap here.

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, November 9, 2013 Fort Olgethorpe, GA
Field: 1500 between the half and full. There is also a 5k and Kids race.  Beware, the half and full filled up in August this year, so plan ahead if want a bib.
Spectators: For such a small race, there were a good number of enthusiastic spectators.  The race offers a spectator shuttle to move fans around the course because many of the roads are closed/limited to traffic. 
Start:  The 6th Cavalry Museum at Chickamauga National Battlefield.
Course: A double loop course through the battlefield.  It was beautiful and an incredibly enjoyable route.
Schwag:  Long sleeve tech shirt and dri-fit hat. If you are a first time Half or full marathon finisher, they give you a framed copy of your bib number at the finish.  It's a really nice touch.
Other: The post-race food was ample to put it nicely.  Perhaps they heard I was coming.  There was a tent specifically for runners serving fruit, cookies, MoonPies, Soup, Banana Pudding, and Pizza.  I may or may not have visited it more than once.  In addition, there were many food vendors, bounce houses for the kids, and a live band.  There were still large crowds at the finish when the marathoners were finishing. It was a true party at the finish line and a great family race.
No, it's not pre-race jitters. This runner is cold and standing in front of a cannon.
The start of the race is pretty fabulous.  Instead of the classic pre-race horn or even gun, Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon sends you off in style by firing off a real Civil War Cannon.  It's loud and totally awesome.  So with one loud boom and lots of excited/nervous clapping, we were off.
Boom goes the dynamite cannon.
My plan was to tuck in with the 4:15 pace group for the first part of the race. Oddly enough, the one of the 4:15 pace leaders happened to be the very pace leader, George, from 7 Bridges Marathon who initiated my mid-race birthday serenade!  He is a very nice and funny gentleman and makes for an excellent pace group leader.  He gave the 4:15 pace group some sage advice pre-race:
I laughed because it is so true! The mile 20 gremlins always seem to appear.
In true me fashion, I stuck with the pace group for 1.5 miles before deciding that the pace was slower than I wanted.  It's always good to toss your marathon race plan out the window in the first 2 miles of a race, right?  I decided to run on feel and run at a comfortable pace for as long as I could.  I figured staying between the 4:15 and 4:00 pace groups shouldn't get me into trouble.
The reenactors camped out the night before.  Good thing they have wool uniforms.
So away I went, plodding along at my own speed.  I felt relaxed, yet still cold.  Though the sun had come up, the temperature hadn't changed much and my feet were pretty cold from standing in a frosty field before the start.  There were even runners with frost forming on their shoulders from their sweat! It remained cold throughout the race and my gloves didn't come off until after mile 20 (both literally and figuratively).
Monument to the Ohio Infantry.
 Around mile 6, I started running with a nice fellow in a red shirt (I didn't catch his name) who was running his second marathon.  He lives in the area and actually does most of his training at the battlefield (jealous because it is so stunning), so he told me a little about the park and the different areas we were running through.  Red Shirt Guy asked about my marathoning past and I fessed up that until recently I was an avid barfer in races.  He laughed and mentioned the advice he received from one of his friends:
While I appreciate the sentiment about hard work and pushing yourself, I truly believe that the marathon is far more pleasant when you are not throwing up!
It is always nice during the early miles of a marathon to think about things other than the race ahead.  For me, it's all about hitting a comfortable stride and staying relaxed. Red shirt guy and I chatted and ran together through the half (the only time I looked at a clock the entire race!) at which point we joked that the practice lap was over and it was time for the race lap.  I lost him shortly afterward around the mile 14 aid station (I plowed on through with my hydration pack), and then was out on my own for the rest of the race.  Yes, I blatantly wasn't following the sage advice I heard at the start. (Are you noticing a trend here?)
The race shirt is fits great.  It was a different color for each race.
The second loop was still as fabulous as the first. There were more fans on the course.  I was more familiar with what was in front of me, which definitely helped me stay relaxed.  I started to utilized the aid stations for oranges and the miles just kept ticking by.  After losing red shirt guy, I gave myself one rule: It's not allowed to hurt until after mile 20.  Those thoughts were not allowed to enter my head and it wasn't until after mile 21 that they start to show up.
Medal, hat, and surviving Moon Pie (it's friends were eaten during the car ride).
Shortly after mile 22 I rounded a corner for a short stretch (maybe about 0.1 miles) leading up to another corner. I was all alone and I kind of tucked my head down to grind through it, when I heard in a loud, booming voice "Elisabeth, is that you?" The volunteer positioned at the corner was non-other than Chris, a gentleman that I ran with for 7-8 miles of the 7 Bridges marathon!  It was a wonderful surprise and just what I needed at around 22.5 miles!  I stopped for a quick photo (sorry I couldn't chat longer!) and then continued along my way with a new bounce in my step as Chris called out, "You got this girl!"
Kicking it into the finish, hoping those kids in the back don't catch me.
With 5k to go, I knew that I would finish and now it was all about the mental game.  I did a good job battling my tired thoughts/gremlins and only slowed down once or twice.  Just before mile 26, the race turned a corner revealing the field with the post race party, fans galore, and a short lead up to a left hand turn before the down hill finish.  As I pushed down the hill, I heard the Jayhawk off to my right cheering and with that, I cruised into the finish with a new PR of almost 6 minutes.
Thanks to the Jayhawk for the awesome finish photo!
4:10:27 (Half splits: 2:02, 2:08), 4th in age group

Recap of Race goals:
  1. Finish.  Yes!
  2. No barfing.  Barf-free is the way to be! I used 3 Island Boost at 5,10,15 miles and a bunch of orange slices. And I definitely made good use of the post-race food.
  3. Smile.  Yes! I am hoping there is photographic evidence somewhere!
  4. Haul ass and winRun the best race I can that day. I did.  The cold weather got to me a bit more than I realized, but I am happy with how it went.
How was your weekend?  Any races?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Race Recap:Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Part 1

A lot went on this weekend with the Marathon and exploring new places.  There were so many photos to share, I thought I would divide it up into several posts.  You are welcome.  Big thank you to the Jayhawk for his photographic skills while I was out running.

Quick Visit to Chattanooga
Friday night the Jayhawk and I made the quick journey up to Chattanooga, TN. Only 20 minutes from the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon start line, Chattanooga was the prefect place for us to spend the pre-race night. After seeing Chattanooga on foot a few week ago, I was excited to have the chance to explore. Though we didn't have a ton of time, we did get to see the famous Choo-Choo, which was made infamous by the Glen Miller song and had a great dinner at Urban Stack.
"Woo, woo Chattanooga there you are."
The Choo-Choo now resides permanently at the station which has been converted into a hotel. It's a fun idea with much of the original history and architecture preserved. They have even converted train cars into guest rooms. It's the one time you can sleep in a train station without feeling like a hobo.
The Florida Monument.
Pre-Race prep
The pre-race weather forecast showed the same temps as 7 Bridges Marathon (40s low/60s high), so I had planned to basically wear the same outfit. However, when we headed to the car in the morning, it was completely frosted over and only 33 degrees out. Yikes. I made a game time decision at the start line, and changed into my capris in the car (sorry people parked next to us, but you know you liked it). Thank heavens I did, because it didn't warm up that much during the race.
It's interesting to think what this area may have looked like 150 years ago during the battle.
This was the first time the Jayhawk has joined me on race day at a full marathon (he was running the 5k) and it was really fun to have him there. As we were discussing when I might arrive at the finish-line (between 4-4:30 depending how it went), he asked in jest if I could run a little faster today so he wouldn't have to wait in the cold so long. Sure honey, I'll see what I can do. While I was out on the course, the Jayhawk took a nice hike through the battlefield and took some great photos.
Even the reenactors looked cold.
A little background on the park
Now, I'll be honest. I'm not much of a civil war buff and I really didn't know much about the park before we got there, besides that it just commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the battle in September and that it was the most significant Confederate victory on the Western front.
Here is what I have learned since then. The battlefield is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the civil war, second only to Gettysburg, with over 34,000 casualties in just 2 days. Throughout the park there are monuments to each of the states (Both Union and Confederate) that had units in the battle and there is a small museum with artifacts that have been discovered around the battlefield.
This is one of the more beautiful and incredibly well maintained parks I have run through. It's no mistake that the race is always on Veteran's day weekend and that many participates are from Team Red, White, and Blue. The battlefield is an impressive monument crafted with tremendous care and detail. It honors those who have fought for our country and the sacrifices they have made. Spending Veteran's day weekend at the battlefield was a powerful reminder of what so many gave to preserve our freedoms.
How did you spend your Veteran's Weekend?

Part 2: The Race coming up on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And it's good for #6!

Marathon #6 is in the books.  Many race goals were achieved (see smiling photo below)!

Full review coming.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pre-Marathon Prep and Race Goals

So, I'm not sure if you have noticed that little counter to the right, but race day is rapidly approaching.  Like any good marathoner I'm going through the typical series of prerace neuroses: avid weather stalking, continued reading and rereading of the race day schedule, and excessive debating of my race day outfit (is it really cold enough for capris yet?). So far everything looks good.

The Prep
As my Dad would say, the hay is in the barn, or as the rest of us would say, the work has been done. Now it's time for the victory lap to celebrate all the hard work. Here are the totals for this training cycle.
There was also a 25 minute visit on the elliptical one day because all the bikes were full.
The Race
The race takes place at Chickamauga National Battlefield, site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War.  Being a Yankee, I hope they still let me race, but if they chase me, it might actually help me PR. Chickamauga Battlefield is in north Georgia, just a stone's throw from the Tennessee border and my last marathon triumph, Chattanooga.  7 Bridges Marathon actually ended up being a perfect dry run, as it's start line is only about 20 minutes from the start of Chickamauga.  The Jayhawk is joining me for this journey (he is in the 5k).
The south is a funny place.
The Goals
I started this training cycle with some very distinct goals in mind: PR and sub-4, but as training went on and I had a little hiccup with my hip, speed work was dropped to make sure I got to the line healthy.  So, I actually have no idea what should be a goal for the race, but there are a few classics that I like to include.
  1. Finish.  I still feel I am gaining confidence in marathoning and finishing helps build this.
  2. No barfing.  I accomplished this feat for the first time in Chattanooga, and now I feel spoiled. Next thing you know, I'll be expecting a personal masseuse at the finish.  Oh, wait.  I've been wishing for that for months (here and here).
  3. Smile.  I worked hard and chose to do this with my Saturday morning, so I better damn well have fun. Sometimes I think I get caught up with times and thinking too much about the race. Don't take it so seriously and enjoy the experience.
  4. Haul ass and win. Run the best race I can that day.  I don't want to finish with anything left in the tank and regret it. I am planning on tucking in with a pace group in hopes that I don't start like I was shot out of a civil war cannon (that's how they start the race instead of a gun, but I don't think they shoot runners out of it).
Notice I didn't say anything about bloody feet.  I have to save some goals for next marathon cycle.

Anyone have a race this weekend?  How do you change your goals when training doesn't go exactly as planned?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Recap!

As predicted, October was very busy. So busy that I didn't even post weekly workout updates! I'm sure you all have been on the edge of your seats wondering how my mileage has been.  My running mileage was definitely down in comparison to previous months, but most of that had to do with trying to taper for 2 marathons in 3 weeks and having a sharp increase in biking. We will see how these changes work out for the second marathon in a week.

Miles: 54.6 running; 127.7 cycling


New experience of the month (though totally not running related): I officiated my brother's wedding! Everything went well and I think I was more nervous than either the bride or groom.  I didn't mess up and it was legal.  Win-win.

This is getting old experience of the month: I bled through my socks again during 7 Bridges Marathon.  This makes me 5 for 5 for sock bleeding during marathons so hooray for being consistent.  The good news is now I am only bleeding through my socks, not my shoes as well. Baby steps or should I say less bloody steps.
Ah, memories. L to R: Goofy Challenge '08, Birmingham Marathon '10, 7 Bridges Marathon '13 
(Houston '06 and NYC '07 not pictured)

Current gear want:  Still want a personal Masseuse.  I unfortunately didn't get one for my birthday. There is always Festivus, right?
The Monster was a witch for the 9th year in a row.  So predictable.

Things I'm excited about: November is finally upon us!  That means Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon is only 7 days away!  Time to start looking at weather reports and over obsessing about what to wear/eat/do for the next 7 days.  Tapers are fun. :P

How was every one's October?  Any big plans for November?

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