Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Running just as fast as we can…

Holdin' onto one another's hand, Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me, And we tumble to the ground
And then you say…

Oops…sorry.  I got a little carried away there…I thought I was alone. :/

So ever since I ran the 1/2 marathon every one from ESPN, Runners World, and even Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall have asked me “Suzi, what is next?”

My answer of course is…I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!!!

What??  You don't believe me??  Well this is my blog…you don't have to!  :P

OK, but seriously…what is next?

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The best part about this journey, the Weight Watchers part and the running part (and the journey of life obviously!!), is that it is *never ending* on how far you can go.  You never stop growing as a person and you never stop learning.  There is no limit! 

A lot of people have asked me if I would ever to or plan to run a full marathon.  My answer right now is…No.  Would I love to put myself in such an elite group?? Fuck yeah I would!  Would I love to be able to say to myself and others, “I ran a full marathon!”?  You betcha!!  But to be honest, I have no desire in running 26.2 miles right now at this point in my journey.  I have no desire to run even 20 miles right now, and to be honest, most times I don't even want to run 10 miles (and rarely do!). 

But that's my answer right now.  Will that change??  Maybe.  Who knows, maybe by my 30th birthday I will do one (I’ll turn 27 this October).  But for right now, it’s not something I want to work on.

So what do I want to work on??  One word…PACE!

I’m not a fast runner, nor do I think I ever will be.  I ran my 1/2 marathon is a slow (Slow to me anyways) 11:35 pace.  My average pace is around 10:20 to 10:40.  My doctor says I could be running around the 8:00 mark…eek!  That would be fantastic but I’ve seen myself run around the 9 minute mark and I think I’d like to work on that.  I’ve never really focused on speed work and I know that with the weather getting crappier it will be tough to do (hard to do speed work on a treadmill I’m told…but I’ll do it anyways.  That's how I roll!).

I love the 5K races.  They are short and sweet and you can feel the speed and determination all around you.  My PR to date is 31:32 at the Paige's Butterfly 5K ( I ran that race with a belly full of beer & Chinese food by the way).  I would *love* to break the 30:00 mark at a 5K.

My next race will be the Brueggers Halloween 5K at Beaver Lake.  This was the very first race I ever did, at the very same place.  I am going back this year with a vengeance!!  It is a trail run, so obviously the results differ a bit from a road race but I plan to give it everything I got.  A lot of the races lately, like the 10K and 1/2 marathon, I have ran them thinking “ok just finish this!”.  This one I want to run thinking “ok girl, time to kick ass”!  I know I wont break the 30 minute mark here and that is not my goal.  I haven't set my time goal just yet.  

I also want to do another 1/2 marathon!!  I am completely smitten with the Rock ‘N' Roll marathon series and I would really love to run another 1/2 through them.  This is going to take some planning and talking with Frank though.  As I stated before, money isn't thrown around easily here and we struggle a lot.  We have some things we want to work towards next year and planning for another vacation might not fit in.  But either way, whether its 50 miles or 500 miles away, I plan to run at least ONE 1/2 marathon next year (and a year perhaps??)

So it looks like during the fall/winter I will be working on getting my (comfortable) pace somewhere in the 9 minute mark (or maybe even faster!) and work on getting my 5K’s under the 30 minute mark.

I should say that there is one other big item I want to work on and that is…consistency.  My running the past few months before the race was not very consistent.  I want to be the person who runs 3-5 miles a few times a week and enjoys it.  That would be the true blessing!

I said this before and I will say it again…I was looking forward to the race being over so that way I could go back to running for fun because that's what it should really be all about anyways.  And this race taught me that you can have goals and train AND have fun.  I’ll never be an elite runner or even a semi-famous runner but as long as I know I am being the best runner I can be and WANT to be, that's all that matters!  I don't need to prove anything to anybody.  Just because someone can rust faster and longer than me doesn't make me any less or any poorer of a runner.  I have goals and as long as I keep working on them, I am the best runner out there!

It’s funny because since I have gotten back from the 1/2 I have been *bitten* by the running bug.  I’ve ran more and I’ve ran harder than maybe I ever really have before.  I actually *yearn* to get out there and run!!  I’m enjoying this little running high and I hope it doesn't go away anytime soon. 

This week alone I have ran 5 out of the 7 days!!  I believe that is a first for me!! WHOO HOO!!  Today I ran 3 1/2 miles around a 10:14 pace, getting down to the 9:20 marks a few times too.  My heart wasn't 100% in the run, but I exceeded in the goals I set for myself. 

You know, I had this vision in my head the other day looking at myself in the mirror, all dressed up in my running gear, which was all Nike apparel.  I thought about Nike, the company, and how no matter what your fitness level or weight level is, you put on a Nike shirt…you feel stronger!  I looked at myself in my black Nike Dri-fit Tee, and black and red tempo running shorts, and all the tattoo’s and I thought…man I’d be a kick ass Nike spokesperson.  A spokesperson for the non-elite!  A spokesperson for the “regular” people.  I could help out people locally to get fit and become runners.  My goal would be to spread the message of Nike to the general everyday people…JUST DO IT! 

Of course, no job or position actually exists, but I think it would be pretty bad ass and I think I would love it.  Nike should ask me to do this, and make me an official Nike Spokesperson for my hometown.  Just saying…JUST DO IT!!  ;)

 

On a side note: Tomorrow is my weigh-in at Weight Watchers. I’m pretty positive I’m still up from vacation but I know its nowhere near the 8-10 lbs it was last week!!  Either way I have been adapting the mindset to accept it and know that I am back on track and I am making healthy choices and *that* is what matters!!  :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Anchors Away!

If you’re not a member of Weight Watchers you are probably not aware of what they call their ‘Tools for Living’.  There are 8 different “tools” they provide you with for helping you to not only help you to make better choices when it comes to food and fitness but just to help provide you with a better life overall (in my opinion overall).  I want to talk them for a second (and focus on one in particular) because I think every one should know about them!  They are:
  • Winning Outcomes- What are your winning outcomes? Dream up your goals!
  • Storyboarding- What's going to lead you to your winning outcome?
  • Empowering Beliefs- Believe that you *can* reach your goal!
  • Mental Rehearsing- Try to mentally put yourself in every type of situation that might tempt you, or empower you.
  • Motivating Strategy- This is similar to Mental Rehearsing in my opinion…play mind games with yourself people…the good, positive kind!!
  • Positive Self-Talking- You should all be doing this now anyways!!
  • Reframing- By far my favorite “tool”.  Recognize, realize, rethink and REFRAME your habits and your mindset. 
  • Anchoring- Well I’m about to tell you what that's all about in this post :)
Honestly, I use a lot of these tools in everyday situations, not just food related ones.
Lately, I have really been finding myself leaning on the ‘Anchoring’ tool and a recent blurb in the October issue of ‘Fitness’ magazine helped to remind me how important having an anchor can be.
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The kind of anchor I am talking about is one that motivates you to keep moving onward, not keep you still.  You want to find something in your life that keeps you motivated and keeps you wanting to grow and become stronger!

Recently for me, my anchor has become my medal from the 1/2 marathon.  Every time I look at it, or even think about it for that matter, it motivates me to want to get out and go for a run.  It makes me want to be a better, stronger runner.Just this weekend I went and ran with more desire and fight than I have in the past few months!

Another anchor I’ve had recently is my black Nike dri-fit shirt.  I bought this before the 1/2 marathon and I wore it while I ran the race.  I wore it today just as a regular shirt all day (its really comfy!) because as soon as I looked at it, I knew that it would remind me of how strong I have become and would help me to stay on track with my eating since its smaller size than my other dri-fit shirts (I’m not into Nike Medium size shirts…their shirts tend to run a bit small & now the larges are too big!!)…as you know, my eating is something I’ve been trying to tame back down to normal .  And guess what…it worked today!!

I’ve had other anchors in the past.  Some of which will *always* be anchors for me, such as my 10% locket from Weight Watchers along with the 25, 50 & 75 lbs washers that are on the locket that I got from Weight Watchers as well.  See…Weight Watchers knows how important these anchors are and they are great at helping to give them to you.

But you can give them to yourself!!  I’ve also had necklaces, bracelets, clothes…silly things that have all been or are anchors for me.  I once had a red rubber band that became an anchor for me that I wore on my wrist for MONTHS!  When I would get hungry, or I should say when I would *think* I was hungry, I would play with it and flick it around on my wrist.  95% of the time, it really helped!!

The important thing to do is to go out and *find* an anchor for yourself.  It could be a piece of paper with a word scribbled on it…it doesn't matter as long as it motivates you and helps to keep you on track with whatever healthy lifestyle plan you follow!

It doesn’t need to be expensive, or fancy, or come from Weight Watchers or some other weight loss group.  Only *you* will know when something is an anchor for you!

Everybody deserves to have something they can look at and think to themselves “This is why I am doing this.  This is why I am here.  This is why I am awesome!”  So go out there and try to find that special piece that reminds you just how awesome you are, how far you have come and how much farther you are going to go!  And who knows…if that $450 coach purse is the *only* thing that could be an anchor for you, then I’ve just given you the excuse to go splurge. ;)

You guys think Beer is my anchor in disguise??  Hmmmmm…

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hall Pass for the scale challenge

You would think that with the previous two posts I’ve had that I would be feeling on top of the world right??  Like nothing can get me down and I’m unstoppable??  Well, true and false.

I do feel unstoppable.  The amount of accomplishment I feel inside myself is so extreme.  It’s something I truly have never experienced it before.  And a blog reader put it best in his comment to me…no one can ever take this away from me.

But of course…I can sabotage my own ‘high’ and that's just what I unintentionally did.

I knew that while I was on vacation I would indulge.  I wasn't planning on counting my points really of any of that nonsense.  I do this from time to time and while I don't recommend it for everyone, I know how to make this work sometimes for me. Obviously, it doesn't work every time but sometimes its just the kick in the butt I need to get my mind charged up and my metabolism fired up.

But this time, I took it a bit too far.

My plan was to give myself Monday to still be “off plan” and get it back together on Tuesday.  Yeah…that didn't happen.  What did happen was food, food, food and beer, beer, beer.  Not my extra girly light beer either.  I went back to my good old buddy Coors Light for about 5 straight days. 

Wednesday!!  Wednesday was time to get back in gear!!  What's that??  Cheese, pepperoni, crackers…What??  Where did it all go??  Oh shit, I ate it ALL??  Oopsies.  My bad. Wait, dinner is coming up??  Goulash??  I’ll take one giant bowl please!!  Oh and grab me another beer too please…13 is an odd number so that's make it even. 

Obviously…come Thursday morning, the day of my Weight Watchers meeting, I knew that I would not be getting on the scale.  I made myself so physically sick with food the night before that I was up all that night with heartburn and a stomach so full I thought I was going to burst. 

I got on the scale that morning and saw that I was up almost 6 lbs (almost close to 10 on some days). 

I knew I had slipped, and I had gotten out of control.  I let the race, the Philly trip and the vacation take over me and set me back into old habits.  Habits that now a days I know how to control and handle if I do decided to indulge in them.  All of that was lost to me now. 

Thursday morning I woke up feeling awful.  More awful then I felt in a long time.  I sat down with myself and really started to think about *why* I was doing this to myself…what it worth it…Did I truly enjoy it?? 

Well I can tell you guys this…It wasn't worth it and honestly, I did enjoy parts of it.  But I didn't enjoy it enough to let it take over me or to ruin the amazing progress I have made.  So after having this mini pep talk with myself, I got online and I looked at my blog, the blogs that inspire me, my fellow Twitter buddies, even pulled out my medal from the 1/2 marathon and some magazines.  I found all the inspiration I needed to get motivated again and get back on program!!

Now in the past when I have done this and knew I didn't want to face the scale, I would just not go to the meeting.  But I knew I *needed* that meeting.  Due to how busy I’ve been lately I haven't been able to stay for my meeting and I don't doubt for one second that that is also a factor in my own self destruction.  But I had to go and see my leader and tell her all about the race. 

So ladies and gentlemen…for the first time ever in my Weight-Watchers journey…I used the WW No Weigh-In pass.

100MEDIA_IMAG0365I was a little shocked to learn how many people didn't know about this.  It’s located on the last page of your member book.  Funny enough, right under where you set your goal weight with your leader. 

My amazing leader Cathleen put an A+ on it, because she said the scale didn't matter this week…I ran a 1/2 marathon!! 

And that was my thought exactly.  I know that some people are very strict with the scale and must face it either way.  I too and sometimes like that.  But sometimes, you just cant face it.  Yes, I faced it at home so I knew where I stood, but I knew that getting on that scale at the meeting and having to come home and put it in my etools would be concrete, and I just didn't want that to happen. 

Some weeks when you know you’ve been real “bad”, getting on the scale and seeing that # go up can be a good thing!  It can re-motivate you and give you just the kick in the ass you need.  But sometimes, when you are already down (I’m also insanely stress about a current car situation we have & other things in life) seeing what you already know just makes things even more shitty and if you are like me…sometimes I go *FURTHER* down a hole, and I definitely did *NOT* want to do that.

So I used my No Weigh-In pass and I am not ashamed to say that I did so!

You know what else I did that same day…I tracked *everything* I ate AND drank (yes people…all 8 beers).  I ran for the first time since the 1/2 marathon (3 miles…legs still tight but overall it was a great run).  I went out to the mall and got my medal engraved (they offered this at the marathon but I didn't have the $$):

scaledAnd of course, I went to my Weight Watcher meeting and stayed for the entire thing.  I’m so glad that I did!  It was great to tell my leader and my members about the race and have them ask me about how close to goal I am.   It was just what I needed to keep me motivated and to remind me why I am here on this journey to begin with.

Now of course…I cant give glorious news about yesterday (Friday).  I had a big OOPS day all day long pretty much and the scale this morning is not my friend again. 

But today is a new day! I’m already in my running gear and planning to take advantage of this cooler fall morning.  And of course, I plan to kick ass as plan again today!!

We will always fall down, but we can always get back up.  Where there is an uphill there is a downhill and vice versa. 

I know that next week, the scale might not be in my favor yet but at least when I step onto it, I will know that I made my best efforts to pick myself up and dust myself off!!  I will know that I am mentally stronger and next time I will be even *more* prepared to face challenges like this. 

This surely wont be the last time I fuck up, but maybe it will be the last time (and only time) that I have to use the No Weigh-In pass…cause I don't think they let you use that once you reach goal & lifetime.  ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Its the eye of the tiger in Philly!

So by now I’m sure that everyone has read my blog post about how I ran the ING Philadelphia Rock ‘N Roll 1/2 Marathon right??  Well if for some reason you were sleeping and missed it, please go check it out!!

But for those of you who are utterly sick and tired of hearing me go on and on about the marathon (which better not be any of you! ;) here is a little recap of the trip itself!!

We we’re looking forward to this little getaway more than you could possibly know.  This is actually the first time that Frankie and I got to take a vacation together, just the two of us.  Plus, things at work have been pretty tough for us (we work for the same company) and the time away from familiar faces, our house, even this state, was very much needed.

We are actually off the rest of this week as well.  Today we going to focus on cleaning this messy house and I plan to get the Halloween decorations out.  It’s never too early in my opinion.  ;)  Obviously as you can tell though…I am delaying the house cleaning by writing this wonderful post.  I ain’t no fool!!

I was hoping to have a butt-ton of pictures to show everyone but heres the thing…A.) This camera kinda blows and it ruined some of my pics. Grrrrr!!  B.)  When I’m on vacation, I just want to relax and enjoy.  If you follow me on Twitter you probably noticed that I was barely on there at all.  I dont check my email, or tweet, or text, or even like to take out my phone.  So while I didnt grab a butt-ton of pictures, I guess a grabbed a hand full. 

So we left Syracuse, NY for Philadelphia, PA around 10:00 Friday morning…here we are driving with our much needed coffees…

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He looks so thrilled huh??

Pennsylvania welcomes ME!!  Awww thats so nice. (They probably wouldn't have been so welcoming if they found out about the EZ Pass incident years ago though huh??)

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The trip through PA is excruciatingly boring!!  I mean I love trees as much as the next person but what the fuck?? 

Thank god for the Lehigh Tunnel!!  It’s by far my favorite part of the drive.  I always feel like batman driving through there.

Ladies and gentleman…please turn on your headlights and remove your sunglasses.

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Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Frankie drove a few more miles then I took over at the next rest stop because I refused to let him drive anywhere near the city, or even within 50 miles of it.  Ok, so enough about the road already. 

We stayed at the Sheraton City Center hotel.  Or as we noticed that night, it must just go by the name “aton” now…

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Here is the room we stayed in…total cost for 3 night was $427.  Mmmmm Hmmmm.  Dont get me started.

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Frankie in his signature “Hi, how are ya?” pose:

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Now let me tell you about the hotel right here and now.  The price may seem a bit high…$427 for 3 nights…surely is there is someplace cheaper right??  Not really.  Not with a location like this anyways.  We were within an mile of *SO* much.  It really is in the heart of center city.  And I was less than a 5 minute walk to the starting line of the race.  I didnt have to fight with 20,000 people on where to park or any of that nonsense thank god, so that made the price of the hotel worth it.

So to park your car at the hotel…$38 bucks a day.  How about kiss my ass??  Another blessing though is the parking garage across the street that is only $5 for the day or $18 for 24 hours.  We parked the car when we arrived and never took it out.  So it was in the garage from about 2:30 on Friday and out at around 10:00 Monday and it only cost us $34!!!!!  Boooooyah!!

Who wants to know about the $43 piece of bacon?????  Well first let me tell you about the night before

I tweeted the photo below (minus the fucked up bottom portion of the pic. no clue why this camera does this) on Friday night.  That my friends is a 12 pack of beer…that cost us $26.  Thats right folks…$26.  Here in NY…we by our 30 packs for cheaper than that.  I forgot about the beer laws in PA.  Obviously Frankie and I learned that we could never live there because they don't accommodate us us alcoholics very well at all. 

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We found some Chinese restaurant that sold 6 packs so we bought two and almost threw up when she said the total.  Thankfully the next day we found a store farther away that sold actual 12 packs at the more reasonable price (but still high!) of $13.

So we put that beer on ice and decided to go out and see what we could do.  We had already eaten dinner at an Irish bar and restaurant…Con something or another's.  It was pretty good.  Expensive of course, but good.

Well after walking about 8 million miles we decided to go to McGillin’s Ole Ale House.  This place was great!  The perfect kind of bar for Frankie and I.  There were some irish dancers that entertained us for a few minutes…

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And the best part…$6.50 pitchers!!  We had, oh…about 7 or 8 I think. 

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Also we split some of the biggest Texas cheese fries we’ve ever seen.  And seriously, these things were AMAZING!!  We barely made a dent in them.

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So between all the walking, the beers, and the cheese fries.  We were SPENT!

The next morning we woke up feeling not %100.  We were surprised that we didnt feel worse but still not up to par and not really in the best of shape to go wandering around philly looking for breakfast.  The hotel did not offer a free breakfast but there was a lounge in there that offered a full continental breakfast for a cheap price of $17. 

Now normally…I would never pay such a price but it sounded 1/2 way decent, it was right there and we were still close to our room if we had to make an emergency trip so we said screw it and decided to do that.  Biggest mistake of the trip!

The eggs were DISGUSTING!!  Seriously worse than egg beaters, and I like egg beaters!!  The “potatoes” were cold and not even seasoned.  The bacon was rubbery.  It was all so gross.  I ate 1/2 a slice of bacon and felt sick to my stomach so I didnt eat another thing.  Normally, I would have caused a stink and gotten my meal for free and maybe then some, but I was in no shape physically of mentally to fight about this.  But this mistake put us back big time on our fund situation. 

Anyway, here are some photos from Friday and Saturday of us around town:

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That is Frankies “Im a tough guy in Philly” look. Oooooh scary!!

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I look scared in that photo.  I think I was about to almost fall in the water fountain.

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This is me Friday night…a little drunk…pin-up posing on a steam pipe, that I grabbed with my bare hand…that was hot. Yup.

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This is also Friday night…infront of GlaxoSmithKline…a pharmaceutical company.  What I am doing with my hands is pretending to munch on pills.  I was like an addict who needed her fix.  Don’t show this one to your kids folks.

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Why are we not in bed yet??  We can barely keep our eyes open.

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This is from Saturday.  We went to the Mutter Museum.  Something I have *always* wanted to do.  And well, for $14 a person I’m sad to say that I was less than impressed.  It was pretty cool and I’m glad I got to say that I did it.  But it wasnt as impressive as I imagined. 

This however WAS impressive…

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What you are looking at is cheesecake frozen yogurt on the bottom and then orange sorbet on top with some graham cracker crumbs.  OMG.SO.GOOD!

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It was so good, I went back on Sunday too.  ;)

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This place now houses a cafe and stuff.  We didnt go inside but I loved the outside.

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We went to the race expo on Friday night.  I didnt take any pictures there.  It was alright.  There wasnt a big crowd thank god.  Basically there was a lot of stuff I couldnt afford to get but some neat things to look at it.  Not as glamorous as I thought it was going to be though. 

So next up would be the dress and fancy dinner right??  Yes and no.

Saturday night we were hanging out in our hotel room & eating Subway…why??  Because we were almost broke.  The hotel had to take $50 deposit from us, and between some of the meals, that awful breakfast, the $26 beer…we were CRAZY low on funds.  The only “souvenir” I got what an awesome pink Sigg water bottle at the Luluelmon shop.

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We had reservations for dinner at the Union Trust Steakhouse.  I had even called to tell them what the special event was and everything.  We were really looking forward to this dinner.  But…a steak alone was $42 and to get a side salad with that…add $12.  We put away $200 for the dinner but even that might not be enough and besides that we had $20 to our name.  We still hadnt paid for parking and had no clue at that point how much it would be.  So, with heavy hearts, we cancelled our reservations.  This gave us $$ to go get lunch so we went back to McGillins where I got a 1/2 pound hamburger and ate every single bite of it!  It was the best post-race meal I could ask for…

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We decided to still get dressed up and go out to dinner someplace else though.  So I mustered up whatever energy I could into looking good in my size 8 dress…

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So…where did we go dressed up all fancy like that you are probably wondering????

CHIIIIIIIIILIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSS Baby Back Riiiiiiiiiibs!!  Thats right folks…we went to Chilis!!  We had gone there the day before for lunch and we said you know what…its fairly cheap and we know we like it so we’ll go there.

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I decorated this Chili which helped a Childs Cancer network:

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Now some of you are probably wondering how the shoes were huh??  THEY WERE TORTURE!!!!!!!!!  Seriously, I couldnt even tell that my body was in pain from the race because my feet were so beat up.  I also ended up with this awesome piece of flesh taken off of my foot…

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Those shoes are the devil!!  That walk back to the hotel that night in those torture devices was harder than the 13.1 miles I ran earlier in the day.  Screw you Carlos Santana!!  Stick to making music, not shoes.

We decided to make our way back home early Monday morning.  And according to the money in our pockets, its what we needed to do anyways…

We were so happy to see these signs:

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So, that about sums it up.  It was a fabulous getaway and its a moment I will be reliving in my head over and over again.  I couldn't have asked for a better race experience and I couldn't have asked for a better time with Frankie.  It was nice to get out and do something different.  We made a few mistakes money wise, but lessons are learned.  It’s an expensive city and there's just not much one can do about that. 

Now we’re back home…recovering and resting.  My eating has gotten a bit out of control but I’m getting back into the swing of things.  Sometimes you just need to let go a little and enjoy…which I surely did. :)  

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I ran the Philadelphia Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon!

So I’m back from Philadelphia and I’m proud to announce that I can now say to all of you…I have ran a 1/2 marathon!!

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This was without a doubt, the most gratifying experience in my life.  The sense of self-accomplishment is surreal and I am still in awe over the entire experience.  I can’t believe I did!!  I really did it!!  I told myself on December 3rd, 2009 that I was going to run a 1/2 marathon, and on Sunday September 19th, 2010 I did just that!

Before I go into all the details, I will lay out the basics.  As you all know from my previous posts, I really tried to not set any “standards” or time goals or even walking restrictions with myself.  I told myself over and over again that the goal was simply to FINISH and ENJOY the experience!  And I did those two things and then some!!  I mentioned how even though I wasn’t setting a time for myself, if I could finish somewhere around the 2:30 mark I would be overjoyed.  Well folks, here are my stats and my finishing time:

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My pace was definitely a bit slower than my normal 5K races and training runs but I still made my 2:30 mark!  And here’s the other amazing part…

I ran the entire thing!!  I didn’t have to stop or walk any of the race.  Well, there is the exception of the water/cytomax stations, which I would walk through but those were only for 10-20 seconds.  I was told that it was good to do this and I’m really glad I did.  And I stopped once at mile 5 to use the bathroom, because of course I had to pee!  Oh, and side note…thank you to the person who shit ON the toilet instead of IN the toilet. Classy!! (And no folks, I did not use that toilet. I decided to wait for another one to open up…theres another minute LOL)

So lets start from the beginning…I woke up at 6:00 in the morning.  Surprisingly I had slept pretty well the night before (thank you Coors Light).  The night before I had laid out all my race gear.

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Oh, and the day before the race we spotted these signs all over the city while we were out walking…they got me SO pumped!

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That morning I drank some water, some Gatorade and a little bit of coffee.  The night before I was chasing beers and water so I felt pretty hydrated and was just trying to drink for thirst.  I was ready to head out the door!

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I normally eat a bagel before any race and that was my plan but once we left we started walking with the crowd and I never made it to get a bagel.  I was very leary about running on an empty stomach but thankfully there were vendors with giant pretzels there so I ate 1/2 of one and 1/2 a banana.  I felt good! 

The line for the bathrooms was ridiculous!  But because I was aaaaalllllll the way in Corral #18, I had time to wait. :)  (the rest of these pictures come courtesy of Frankie)

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So yeah, it was just me and over 19,000 other runners.  Making my way through the crowd was surreal.  Seeing all the elite runner from Kenya and Ethiopia was awesome!  I couldnt believe I was going to be running the same streets as these people!!  Especially…RYAN HALL!!  For those of you who dont know who Ryan Hall is, he is an amazing American Runner who holds many records.  He won this race last year and was coming back to keep his reign, but unfortunately he had a tough run and came in 13th. 

But as I was making my way up the corrals I actually got to see Ryan Hall run by at the mile 5 mark.  And that right there people was the first moment where I really felt like a runner!  Like I deserved to be there and I deserve the right to call myself a runner!  Sadly, I didnt get any pictures of him since I wasnt holding a camera and Frankie didnt take any, but that moment of watching him run by will never leave my mind.  That moment right there was when I knew I had to rock this race!!

Of course…I still had about 20 minutes of waiting and walking up the corrals though…

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The woman you see behind me in the long sleeve shirt and white hat is Chris.  I met her at the beginning of the race in Corral 18.  And guess what people…

We ran the race together!

Honestly, if it wasnt for her I dont know if I would have kept going like I did.  We paced each other the whole time, stopped at the bathroom at the same time, water breaks at the same time…it wasnt until about mile 6 or 7 till we really realized this and realized how much we were helping each other out.  She told me she had just started running in January and we shared a few quick stories.  When we got closer we would give each other high 5’s and say “almost there!”  It was an amazing experience and I feel extremely blessed to have found someone like that in the sea of runners.  Her encouragement is what kept me going!  I really wish I got a picture with her afterwards though. :(  I think I found her name on the results sheet.  I would love to find a way to contact her and thank her again.  Some people really frown upon having a pace partner but I think we made it work!

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Well people, here is the boring part with no pictures, just my recap.

I ran the entire thing wireless!  No Nike+, or Ipod or phone. Nothing!  The only thing I held were my sunglasses and GU gels.  This kind of freaked me out since I run mostly with music, but I figured with the bands around the course and all of the people that all of that noise would be enough.  Plus, lately the music has been distracting me in my runs for some reason.  With that said though…the bands were kind of poorly spread out.  By the time we got to some bands they were already done and no one was playing music in between.  I know that the course was new and a different promoter took over and some of the news stories I read about the race expressed the same feelings I had.  I guess there are some kinks to work out before next year, but I was still good with no head phones.

So lets talk pace…11:35…thats pretty slow for me.  I average around 10:20 or less in races.  But for it being my first 1/2 marathon, and the first time running 13 miles in my life, I will take it!  I started out very slow (hence why my 5K time is about 3 minutes slower than normal) because I know I have a tendency to take off at the beginning.  I did this at the Paiges Butterfly 5K, where I finished good and PR’d but I lost a lot of steam by starting out at a 9 minute per mile pace.  I kept thinking about what my Dr. said about starting out slow and saving the speed for those last few miles.

Well folks, those last few miles were the toughest as you could expect.  There was no thought of speed, only thoughts of “omg, my legs are going to fall off!”. 

The first 3-4 miles went by pretty easily.  I was worried about my knee since it had been giving me problems lately but it wasn’t bothering me much.  My calves were a little tight but it didnt take long for them to loosen up.  The miles seemed to be very long though.  When we hit the 4 mile mark I thought to myself “what the shit? Only 4 miles down?!?!”  I really started to question if I was going to make it.  By mile 5 I was already thinking that I’m not even 1/2 way through the course yet.  Plus it was tough because I never really knew my time.  The clock that was running was for the start of the race and I had no idea how late I had started…it was almost a 1/2 hour later come to find out.  But I quickly got those thoughts out of my head and refocused on my surroundings and the runners around me. 

People were hooting and hollering and spectators were all over the streets.  We got to run along the river which was beautiful.  And it provided a nice cool breeze that was very much needed on the sunny and hot morning.  Overall though, we couldnt have been blessed with better running weather!

I really wish I had brought my phone with me to take some pictures throughout the course but it’s probably better that I didnt have the added distraction.

Then we got to miles 9-10.  Oh.my.god!  My legs were SCREAMING!!  When we would go through the water stops my legs didnt even want to walk.  I was getting really worried that I was going to have to walk into the finish line.  We were going pass more and more runners who were walking and it was kind of sad to see.  I started to get worried because a lot of these people looked a lot healthier and more fit than I appear.  But with the encouragement of Chris we told each other that we are not stopping and we are NOT walking!!  We’ve already ran 10 fucking miles, we ARE running these last 3!!

So that's what we did, and before we knew it the Art museum which was the backdrop to the finish line was right before us.

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I threw my arms up while I crossed the finish line and I almost started to cry.  But I didnt want to look like a dork so I refrained from sobbing like a girl. :)

Chris and I gave each other high 5’s and congratulated each other on running a great race!  We thanked each other for running together and went to get some water and a banana. 

I then made my way through the sea of people to find the two most important things…

1.) Frankie

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Tell me that picture isnt HOT right??  Can you tell I want to die??

And of course, #2.) BEER!

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I’m still on a high from the whole experience.  I couldn't be more proud of myself or ask for a better experience.  I got to have fun, feel proud and meet my goal!  Inside myself I knew I really wanted to 1.) run the whole thing 2.) run it at around 2:30 and 3.) finish and I managed to meet all of those expectations, even though the last one was all that really mattered. 

Of course I can sit here and think of things I could have done differently.  Maybe I should have picked up my pace mid way.  Or maybe I should have started out stronger.  Maybe I shouldnt have found a pace partner…did it hold me back??  FUCK ALL OF THAT!!  I ran an AWESOME first time 1/2 marathon!!  Not only did I meet all the goals I set for myself but I had a blast doing it.  I didnt injure myself and I got this awesome chunk of metal:

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I wouldnt change a thing about the way I ran this race!  If I had done things differently, who knows if I would have been able to finish.  I couldn’t be prouder or more happy with myself than I am at this moment.

It’s crazy and sad to see how many people didnt make it across the finish line.  Hopefully no one was severally injured though.  My hearts go out to them!  They are truly Rock Stars for going out there and giving all that they physically could! 

With that said…I’m sore as fuck!  Keep in mind people that the two days before the race we did A LOT of walking.  I have no clue on the mileage but it was a TON.  So between that and the race, my legs are shot.  Thank god I took this week off from work!

I want to say *THANK YOU* to every one here and on Twitter for all of your encouragement, support and cheers.  You guys really gave me the support I needed to get through this.  There were many times throughout the course that I thought of some of you and the things you have said.  I didn't want to let you guys down and I’m pretty damn sure I succeeded at not doing that.

I’m still waiting for the official pictures to be posted online.  Once those are up I will hopefully be able to share them with all of you.  Also in the next couple of days I will do a full post about the vacation in Philly and some of the things we did…like how we paid $43 to eat 1/2 a slice of bacon.  :/  

XOXO