Dec 29, 2011

I Hate Monkey Balls!

They say that there is a first time for everything and Christmas Eve was my first time falling flat on my face during my long run!! I tripped on a monkey ball and down I went!! It was bound to happen because I had almost fallen on one of those darn things twice!! I have seen these things before but I never knew what they were actually called. I guess a monkey ball is a seed pod from a sweet gum tree. Man I hate those darn things now!!

I ended up scraping my chin and my knee, cut my finger, another finger is swollen, and my other knee is bruised! I felt like such an idiot but I think Maura is the only one who saw!! Maura has been taking me around her neighborhood for some long runs so I've now learned to watch out for monkey balls!!
On another note, a much more positive one, I finally saw Caroline from Canadian runner in exile while we were on our run. Caroline and I always register for the same races but have never met. She recognized me and said "Sandy is that you? It's me Caroline. Merry Christmas!" I was so surprised to see her that I probably didn't greet her properly. It was great to see you Caroline!! Please stop by Caroline's blog and check it out. She is a great runner and her little boys are so cute and like to run just like their mom!

In spite of the fall, we had a great 17 mile run and I'm not sure how she does it but Maura doesn't run with her Garmin on her long distance runs but she can gauge the pace and the distance right on the money. She scolds me if I keep looking at my Garmin so I have to sneak and peak at it! She doesn't wear her Garmin when she runs marathons either but somehow meets her goal time! Me on the other hand, babysits the Garmin and would never leave home without it on race day!

I have gone on several runs with Maura since I have been on vacation and I don't think I have ever ran so many quality miles in a single week. The routes that she takes me on are pretty hilly and challenging for me a well. I took advantage of the time I had off and really enjoyed getting a few long runs in that I normally would not able to do since I work and get home too late.

I hope everyone had a great holiday.  I have been busy spending time with my family so I am way behind on reading all of your blogs and hope to catch up once my household is back to normal again. Have a happy and safe New Year!

Dec 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I just wanted to take the time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I also wanted to thank everyone who takes the time to read my blog, offer advise, comment and share in my ups and downs of running and life in general!

I am looking forward to new year full of new challenges, goals and good times running and just enjoying the sport. Even though we all have some level of competitiveness in us, it is really important for me to keep running fun and not burn myself out, especially with all of the other things I have going on in my life.

I wish each and every one of you a very prosperous New Year. I hope you achieve all of your running goals and goals in general! I will be enjoying my holiday with my family and savoring every moment of the 10 days that I have off from work!! 

Dec 20, 2011

Hills and Thrills!!

This week was not a very productive week in terms of running or any kind of workouts for that matter! I did way too much resting this week that's for sure! Here is how last week turned out:

Monday: REST

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: Spin Class

Thursday: REST..I was all dressed and ready to walk out the door to go to the gym, then my daughter called me and needed to talk so I didn't make it!  I swear I was going to do my speed work but I had to be a good Mom and be there for my daughter when she needed me.

Friday: Ran 2 miles on the dreadmill and then did 45 minutes on the elliptical


Sunday: 14.81 Miles of very steep climbs for the first 6 miles.  This was by far the steepest climb I have ever done in my life! Although it was downhill at the end, it was a pretty good workout! This run may have somewhat made up for all of the resting I did in the beginning of the week!

Friday after work I met up with Maura, a friend from Daily Mile.  We have conversed and emailed for the past couple of months and we finally set up a time to meet and chat.  As I mentioned before, Maura is a great runner and I know that I can learn a lot from her. On Sunday, I ran 14.81 miles with her and she warned me about the steep climb for the first six miles! The highest elevation we reached on this run was 3000 feet. My quads are really sore now to say the least!

I enjoyed the fresh clean air and I will definitely be back to do it again!  It is a challenging run and I am sure that it will make me stronger!!  Maura and I will be running a 16-17 miler together this Friday but on a much flatter course at a much faster pace. Maura gave me lots of good tips on how to be a better and smarter runner so I will be testing out her tips and maybe I will be running a 3:17 marathon like her soon.... it's okay to dream, right?

I am also thrilled about some great deals that I scored at the REI Half Yearly sale his past Saturday!  I have been wanting to upgrade my Garmin 305 to a newer model but just didn't see the logic in replacing it when it works perfectly fine.  Well, if you can buy a used Garmin 310XT that is in great condition for much of nothing then is worth spending the money. A new 310XT retails for about $399.99 so I scored big time on this one! The 310XT can be used for other sports like biking and swimming but I will be using it just for running. I tried it out on my Sunday run with Maura and I really liked it. The face seems smaller than my 305, it feels lighter and it has the wireless data transfer option which is pretty cool too.

I also bought four other Garmins that were super cheap.  I bought two 305's, a 405, and another 310XT. Some do not have boxes and are missing some of the parts but those can be replaced for much of nothing. I will have to find homes for all of these once I test them all out and make sure that they are working properly.

I have touched on the fact that I love cupcakes, right? Well, I was also thrilled to death when I received the special Christmas menu from my local cupcakery!  Their Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcake is to die for!!  It tastes just like the real thing in the form of a cupcake!  I have never tried some of these special flavors so I guess I will be buying a ton of the minis and sampling them all! 

I am still catching up on wrapping presents but managed to finish up all of my last minute Christmas shopping. Buster kept me company while I attempted to wrap presents. He is just the sweetest little boy. Just two more days of work left and then I will be off for ten days!  Time to relax and spend some much needed quality time with the family....

What is your favorite treat that makes you cheat? Mine is obviously cupcakes!

What are your plans for the holidays? I will be home spending time with my family.  My sister will be visiting from Florida so we will be busy catching up and trying to squeeze in a million things into a weeks time.

Dec 16, 2011

Holiday Half Marathon Race Photos

I am so incredibly happy in all of my race photos from Brightroom and I wish I knew why.  I think the lack of stress and running this half mary strictly for fun would be the only explanation. Shawna on the other hand is not looking as happy as me.  She had a great race so her photos are very misleading yet very entertaining!

Is part of my tutu missing?

What was I thinking about..a BQ?

This is my favorite pic of Shawna!
Riverdance move?

Is that a black wing on my back?

I Am Running.......Out of Time That Is!!

It seems like the holiday season takes forever to get here but when it gets here, it comes and goes so quickly!!  I am usually on top of my Holiday "To Do List " which includes Christmas shopping, decorating, tree decorating, Christmas cards, gift wrapping and party planning but this year I have fallen way behind.

All of decorating was done on time and I got a little bit of shopping done early on. I usually try to come up with a cute idea and take a special Christmas picture but this year I ended up using a picture from my last half marathon.  Does it look familiar? We even hired a new photographer this year.  Thank you Shawna. I think I am going to force her to run more races with me so she can take pictures of me and my family. My husband is always the one who has to run into the picture and beat the timer on the camera.  He usually ends up messing up the picture and we spend the entire day trying to get it right! We usually include the dogs too and that can be very challenging as well!! This is what our Christmas card looks like this year.

I haven't wrapped a single present...not even one! I have most of my shopping done and I have everything stored in my closet.  I have created a major traffic hazard in my closet and I can barely get to my work clothes.  

Good thing able to access the other side of my closet that has all of my running clothes. That's all that really matters, right?
Is it weird that I hang all of my running clothes?
I ended up taking two days off after the Holiday Half Marathon for some reason or another so as a result of my laziness, I will be busy cramming all of my workouts in the remainder of the week.  I was planning on running last night but my daughter called me and wanted to come over to talk so I ended up not going to the gym.  It was raining so road running was not an option for me. Running isn't looking good for today either because I am meeting up with a friend that I met on Daily Mile.  We are practically neighbors and she is an amazing runner.  She runs 50+ miles per week and has conquered the Los Angeles Marathon in 3:17:40!! She swears that her secret is just putting her mind to it and believing in herself.  I guess I need to borrow her mind on race days! I am just not that confident I guess.

As much as I love Christmas, I am starting to feel a little stressed out!! I have yet to send out the invitations to my Christmas party on December 26th!  I really need to do this right away so that my family and friends don't make other plans.  My sister and her family will be arriving from Florida on Christmas Day to visit and they will be here through January 4th. I am looking forward to seeing them and spending some time together.  I have already warned her about my busy training schedule that must go on in spite of her visiting and she's fine with it.  She likes to bike ride so I might drag her along with me to carry my water and keep me company.

I will be free from work starting on December 23 until the New Year so I am also looking forward to the time off.  I love my job but we all need a break once in a while and I never take more than a couple of days off of work at a time.  I also have plans for Buster (the stray dog that I found back in October) during my time off.  Let's just say that Buster is not going to be very happy with me when he finds out that I am scheduling an appointment to  take his manhood from him....

Buster is kind of blending in with couch behind Roxy.
So is everybody else ready for Christmas or is it just me who is running behind?

Dec 13, 2011

2011 Recap and My New Year's/Running Resolutions for 2012

I started participating in races in 2010 and only did two my first year (a half and a full marathon).  I really started getting serious about running in 2011 and signed up for my first 5K and 10K. I participated in seven races in 2011 and would love to participate in at least ten in 2012.  In 2011, I PR'd in a Half Marathon, a 10K and a 5K and in 2012 I will shift my focus to my Marathon time!
I love running and races are so fun!! I find that I have amazing energy when I am around other runners who love the sport just as much as I do!  Although I have my list of on-going Running Goals that are mainly related to improving my times, I have decided to focus on a specific set of achievements for 2012.

1) Run 3 Marathons in 90 days and become a bronze level Marathon Maniac. There are no time requirements, you just simply have to finish!!  It's not about the time, it's about the finish line."

2) Run the remaining two marathons needed to earn the Beach Cities Challenge Medal in the OC.  The Long Beach Marathon is the first one in the series for me and I completed it last year so I just need to complete the remaining two.

3) Run a marathon in under 4 hours.  I have to figure out how to shave off 5 minutes and 17 seconds off the clock since my current PR is 4:05:16.  I will continue to work hard so that my goal of running the Boston Marathon is that much closer to becoming a reality!

"In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail."Anonymous
4) Continue to stay committed and train hard, work on my speed, and push myself to do my very best. Time is my main issue since I work full time and get home pretty late. I also have a family so sometimes running has to take a back seat so that I can take care of my priorities at work and at home. I also want to remind myself that in spite of my running goals, I need to make sure that the sport continues to be fun for me.  My last race of the year was ran strictly for fun and I had a great time. I think it may have been one of the most enjoyable runs that I have ever had because I wasn't focused on my Garmin and I actually enjoyed the scenery and the holiday atmosphere that this race provided.  It was a great way to end 2011. I think that sometimes we get too caught up in PR's and competing with others that it really takes the fun out of the sport. We are all human with different levels of ability and there will be times when we fail to meet our goals and that is what makes us strive to work harder. My belief is that the only time we truly fail, is when we fail to try!

I should probably have a resolution to eat better but I love to eat so I will save that one for next year!

Have you set any New Year's/Running Resolutions for 2012?

Dec 11, 2011

Holiday Half Marathon: 12/11/11

There are a few good reasons why I chose to run the Holiday Half Marathon: it was close to home, I wanted the cute Snowflake medal, and I wanted to dress up in a cute Christmas outfit and have fun...and that's exactly what I did!!

Weather Report: 43 degrees at the start..brrrrrrr!!

The Elevation Chart of the Course not only looked like an EKG Chart but was a little intimidating at first.  I usually get excited when I see that the course is somewhat flat but if you look closely the inclines are really small and there is a lot of downhill action going on too. The course what not as bad as I thought it was going to be so that was a bit of a relief.

Shawna and I received so many nice compliments on our outfits.  Neither one of us had ever ran in a tutu before and they didn't bother us at all just in case you were wondering.  I didn't even notice that I had it on but then again I am used to carrying a million things with me when I run. I have no idea where the tank tops are from because they were Christmas gifts so I felt bad having to tell people who asked that I honestly didn't know where they could buy one.

We started in the back of the crowd so we spend the first two to three miles weaving and that was not fun. There were a ton of walkers and they were in the middle of the course walking like it was no big deal. After mile three, the crowd started to break up and that's when the up and down hilly pattern began. So many runners were dressed up in Christmas attire so it was a really, really fun race. Everyone was super friendly and I think we even got called Candy Canes a couple of times! I spotted other runners dressed up as Gumby and the Grinch. I also noticed lots of colorful tutus and Santa outfits.

Miles 4 through 6 went pretty smoothly and we were both feeling pretty good.  Right before Mile 7, Shawna's driver's license, which she made a special call to her Mom to bring to her so she could have her beer at the finish, fell out of her belt and she had to stop and wait for tons of people to pass so she could sneak in and pick it up.  We lost a little bit of time there.  We picked up the pace to recover some time in Mile 8 and then we hit a major issue at Mile 9... I won't provide the gory details of this issue because Shawna will kill me.  Let's just say that Shawna now knows that kettle corn, Wahoo's, pasta and a giant cookie is not the proper way to fuel before a race!!

Miles 10-13 were pretty strong and our last mile was our best mile at 8:09. We grabbed our post race goodies, took some pictures together and then headed over to get our free beer.  I am not a drinker so Shawna really wanted to watch me drink a beer. Yes, I gave into the peer pressure and drank the beer with her. I actually finished mine before she did.

We headed over to IHOP to have some breakfast and looked at the race photos that my husband took of the two of us and laughed at the crazy expressions on our faces.  My son kept Shawna entertained with his iPad and his newly acquired dance moves.  I think I even  caught a glimpse of Shawna doing the "Dougie" with him at the table.

Here are the official race results in case you are interested.  Congratulations to Shawna on earning a PR!!  She beat her time by two minutes which is great! I am so happy for her!! She actually snuck up on me in the end and beat me too! This was my last race for 2011 but 2012 is going to be a busy year with lots of races on the schedule!  I can hardly wait!!

Tu Tu Much!!

The Holiday Half Marathon was my fun run for the year and indeed it was! The official results are not out yet but I think we finished in right under two hours.  I wasn't looking for a PR and I felt great the entire time. Sometimes it just feels good to get out there and run with no pressure for time and it went a little something like this....

Full race recap of the Holiday Half Marathon to come....

Dec 5, 2011

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things with Hills and My Favorite Holiday Goodies!

It's feels good to be getting back on track in terms of training. The previous week was pretty unproductive so I had to get myself back on track this past week.  I managed to get all of my workouts in but being sick caused me to cut one of my runs short.  I was finding it a bit difficult to run and cough like crazy at the same time.  I was also out of energy and pushed myself to do as much as I possibly could before calling it quits.  Here is what last week looked like: 

Monday: XT Day#1: Spin Class 

Tuesday: 5.25 miles (Should have been 8 but too sick to finish) 

Wednesday: REST DAY

Thursday: 6 Mile Speed Workout on Treadmill (Seemed much easier on the treadmill) 

Friday: REST DAY (Went to the movies to see Jack and Jill..pretty funny!)

Saturday: 13 Mile Run @8:42 (We finished the last three miles strong!) 

Sunday: XT Day#2: 45 minutes on Life Cycle  

Total Miles for the Week: 24.25 

Holiday Half Marathon:
Shawna and I will be running the Holiday Half Marathon this Sunday so we did a mock run on part of the course this past Saturday.  We were not able to cover the entire course since we did not have access to all of it but we ran a good portion of it.  It is a pretty hilly course so I am not expecting to PR on this course by no means. My quads were feeling it after the mock run on Saturday! I guess they warned us by using the word "HILLS" on the Elevation Chart.

Shawna and I have decided to dress up and look very festive for this race so I don't know how comfortable we will be. I am in it strictly for fun this time but I am not so sure about Shawna! This is the last race of 2011 for me so I will spend the remainder of the year enjoying the holidays but will continue to stick to my training plan.

My Favorite Holiday Goodies:
All of the Christmas decorating is done at home and it is already starting to feel like Christmas at work.  I added some lights on my monitor and all the goodies are starting to show up at work too.  

I can resist most of the junk food at work but there is one thing that I wait for every year and it showed up today!

Linda's Homemade Toffee!!
A co-workers wife sends us a huge can of homemade toffee every year that just melts in your mouth.  I absolutely love it!!!  Is it rude that I took half of the can for myself?

While I am on the subject of my favorite holiday foods, have you heard about the 12 Days of Yuletide Yumminess at Yogurtland?  Don't miss out on these flavors!!  I haven't been!!

What are some of your favorite goodies that only come around during Christmas time? How do you resist all of the goodies at work?  Or do you not??