Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cran Tastic

Well, Ill tell ya.  I feel like I've fallen off the wagon here.  Thanksgiving = tomorrow.  Christmas = less than a month away.  Yikes!!  I've never been a big turkey kinda girl, but I've come to love Thanksgiving for a few reasons.  Its a great time to come together with my family, who I don't get to see nearly as often as I like - everyone contributes so my aunt doesn't pull her hair out, and we have a great time catching up, eating, and plotting our Christmas shopping (lord help us).  Two years ago, Greg's and my lives changed forever when we found out we were expecting our perfect little guy - Thanksgiving week.  Right now, we have so much to be thankful for - health, our little family, our extended family, and a great relationship.  Not to mention a roof over our head, food to eat and good jobs.  Life is wonderful, and its important to recognize how good it is - I don't do it nearly enough.

But I will be honest.  The food is divine.  All of the fall harvest veggies, the once a year turkey, my moms homemade stuffing, and my favorite- the cranberry relish.  Super technical stuff (or not).  But if you don't have a recipe for it will not be disappointed by this.  Swears.

Sugar Free Cranberry Clementine Relish (serves 16)

2 cups whole cranberries, rinsed
4 clementine oranges
1 tbsp clementine zest
1/4 cup nectresse (or other sweetener of your choice)
1 tbsp each: ginger, allspice, cinnamon, salt
1 cup seltzer

Pour the seltzer into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add in zest and spices, simmer for 2 minutes.  Add in sugar, simmer for 2 more minutes.  Dice clementines to cranberry sized bites (what, that's a measurement!).  Add in clems and cranberries, reduce heat to low for 10 minutes.

Best served the next day, in my experience - the flavors settle in beautifully!

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Yum.  Perfect served with turkey, atop morning oats, or in a delish leftovers packed wrap.  Now let's hope it makes it till tomorrow (whistles innocently).....

have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

OBX Marathon - Lessons Learned

Well, alot can happen in a week.  Last week at this time, I was sitting on the beach, playing in the sand with Greg and Rob, and just relaxing.  My legs still ached from their 26 mile jaunt on the beach, and reality was a distant thought.

I've been back to NY for 4 days now - there is snow on the ground, I have my winter coat out, we have ripped apart our bathroom (because all house decisions should be made at 3am in Pennsylvania) and I've gotten in a nice easy 7 miler on my post marathon legs, as well as a few nice easy spins and swims.  I' not ready to commit to another race right now - off season is awesome.  But I'm far enough away yet fresh enough to look back at my 5th marathon (3rd stand alone) and my 2nd failed attempt to break 4.  I think I know what I need to change next time to meet this goal, here goes....

Lessons Learned from OBX  - aka - what to do to PR next time (or in my case break 4 hours!):

1.  Travel is BAD for PRs.  Last time I tried to break 4 I drove 7 hours the night before.  Dumb.  This time it was 12 hours 2 days before.  I don't think this was as much of an issue this time, but sitting in one spot in the car, especially overnight (we drove through the night because strapping a 1 year old in a carseat for 650 miles during the day is just rude).  So it screwed with my hours and also my muscles.  Not a problem to run a marathon, but probably a problem to run it as well as I want to.  If I do a destination marathon again I will either run it just for fun or I will do it toward the end of the week instead.
Sand is fun, but not halfway through a race.
2.  Know the course in terms of geography.  This sounds like a big fat duh, but let me 'splain.  The OBX course had 3 plus miles of trail in the middle, which I knew about.  But, being from New York, I equated trail with our trails here.  Mendon.  I knew it would slow me down a bit, but I forgot that NC really doesn't have dirt.  They have sand.  So my "dirt trail" really was a "rocky sand" trail.  It didn't break my PR dream, but my miles pre sand trail was 8:30-8:40 per mile, and the sand portion averaged a 9:30 mile and trashed my legs a decent amount for the second half of the race.  It still would have been what it was, but I would have prepped a bit more with some dedicated trail portions of my long runs.
3.  Drive the course.  Again, a big ole "no kidding".  But not for terrain in this case.  I like to read the elevation charts so I can mimic my runs with them, which I did in this case.  But for run courses, I like to take the course fresh so that the scenery is new and I don't get bored.  In this case though, knowing where the big hill was would have helped.  Knowing the sand portion would have helped.  And knowing where the f*(#&ck the finish line was would have also helped - aka, when I had my tantrum at mile 23 and flipped out with the double mile at miles 24 and ....24.  I wasted so much time not knowing if the race had an end, whereas if I had driven the course I would have known, duh, where the end was.
4.  Use a *&@#%^&^% garmin- Knowing that the mile markers were off might not have helped my overall time (even the 4 hour pacer said the course was long) but it would have saved my sanity.  Makes  big difference when you think you are running 9 minute miles and the mile markers tell you that you are running 11 minute miles :-P  PS _ I do own a garmin.  I am just lame and run with a $20 timex.
5.  Run 4 days a week, not 3.  I have been following a plan for the last 2 marathons with a 3 run a week plan - tempo, speedwork, and long run.  They are all focused on paces, but I think one extra day a week easy run would help out in terms of time on my feet.  Maybe an easy run the day after a long run to help on tired legs.  I did 2-3 back to back days for my last ultra and that helped a ton.  So I guess the next marathon would NOT be on the edge of tri season :-P
6.  Add in a 22 mile LR - Conventional wisdom says you hit a wall at mile 20 - that the race is 2 races - a 20 miler and a 10k.  So I think going beyond that 20 mile mark would be a smart thing to do.  I averaged a 9:00 pace for the first 20 miles, and a 10:15 for the last 6.8  yikes.

Tabbed and saved for next year.  So whats next?  I dunno.  If I want a PR, I might do Buffalo in May or Rochester in September.  If I want to check off another state and go see some family, its Olathe KS in April, Burlington VT in May or Estes Park in June.  Or all 3 :-P

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OBX Marathon 2014: The Pit of Fire

Whew.  Well, excuse the ramble in advance - I want to write this report while its fresh, but A) its long, and B) Im still on vacation.  I walked away with alot of lessons learned I can't wait to apply to the next marathon, and now that I've had a chance to reflect....thats what I'm calling this race.  A big ole lesson.  We'll talk about that in the next post, but for now, here's the 411 for OBX 2014.  Spoiler alert - I missed sub 4.  You probably figured that one out :-)

Backin it up - we arrived in OBX Friday morning after driving through the night.  We got settled in, picked up race packets, and headed to the beach.  Such a gorgeous place.  After an early night, we headed to Kill Devil Hills for Greg's race - a 10k.  He did really well- a PR! and Rob and I hung out at the festival and had a blast - pics to come.  Greg was happy with his result, but bitched about a sand trail with ping pong ball sized rocks that went on for half the race.  I kidded with him about the fire pit, as he is known to um....stretch the truth post race.  (I ate some crow later for that one :-P)  Post race, we grabbed some grub, headed again to the beach, and I did a shake out 2 miler for Sunday's race - my right leg still felt tight, but not too bad.  Saturday night Rob decided to get up at it nixed pre race jitters sleep - I only got 4 hours anyways :-P

Pre Race - I grabbed some coffee, applesauce oats and a pb flat.  Taped my gu's to my tights (I am so high class) and Greg and Rob dropped me at the start.  This was a point to point race, so the boys headed home (at mile 21) and took a nap, planning to rendezvous at mile 21 and then the finish. I hopped in a potty line, took care of business, then had the rest of my powerade, did a few stretches, then headed for the start line.  After a quick prayer (welcome to the south, y'all), they started the elites.  I was in corral 2, so we had 90 seconds then....GO TIME!!

Miles 1-8:  These miles were awesome.  I started out averaging 8:40 miles, which was about 30 seconds above race goal, which I know was a big no no.  But I felt great, effort felt minimal, and I just felt so happy to be alive and running.  The miles seem to tick by effortlessly, and I began to dream of.....a 3 on the clock at the finish.  Dangerous but exciting stuff. At mile 9, we rounded the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk and then moved onto part 2....

Miles 9-13:  $hit.  The first thing I thought of as I saw the woods ahead.  I saw some trail, which I knew was no big deal, but I knew my 8:30-8:40 pace was history.  Headed into Mile 9 at 1:18:xx....and into another world.  The trail, I soon realized, was alot like Mendon Ponds.  Hilly, and beautiful.  But, um, with rocks.  All across the path.  And North carolina....doesn't have dirt.  That have sand.  As in, beach sand.  And these sadistic people put 4 miles of sand in the middle of the damn course!  Yikes!  I sorta laughed about it and did a mental apology to my not so hyperbolic husband (yes, I really apologized later!) and trekked on.  I was saving some of my time in the bank for when miles got tough later, but $hit happens.  Took my first walk break at mile 11 - the water stops were every other mile, with gu at miles 7, 17 and 21.  Perfect hydration for me, and I took a gu at mile 5 and 10 to date.  Exited the hilly, sandy, crap at mile 13, and hit mile 13.1 halfway mark at 1:56:xx, an 8:55 pace.

Miles 14-21:  I was so excited for the road, I almost kissed it.  I tried to chat up the woman next to me to kid about how bad the course was swept for the last 4 miles and how awesome it was now, and...nothing.  It was a recurring theme - seems as if southern hospitality just did not apply to these runners.  Oh well.  I run for me time, so I was fine with it.  I had a healthy diet of Ed Sheeran, Pitbull, Lil John and other bad pop rock to indulge in, and miles to go. feet hurt.  The rocks in teh trail certainly took a beating on my foosas, and it seemed as if the last 13 miles would indeed be willpower driven.  Nevermind.  I still clocked off 9:00 miles pretty consistently - miles 14 on in 2:06, 2:15, 2:24, 2:32, 2:41, feelin good.  I saw a familiar SUV pass at mile 17 and I fist bumped - I was so happy.  Only 8 miles to go....oh I can taste that sub 4!  We turned into a development at that point, and my music died.  ^;#!@%%^.  I spent a minute fixing it, and hit mile 19 late in 2:52, which was a little weird to me...was I slowing that rapidly?  Hmm.  I was thrown a bit, but I did my mental math (as all you racers know, it keeps you (in)sane but occupied...I could still do it if I hit mile 21 by 3:01.  Hit mile 20 in 2:59....wait.  There's no way I pulled a sub 8 minute mile....maybe mile 19 was off?  COOL!  Mile 20-21 dragged a bit - I knew my boys were at mile 21 with a go go squeeze, nuun and hugs, so I trotted on.  Saw my world at mile 21 as promised - Rob gave me a sqeeeee! And Greg filled me up with noms.  I didnt stop - I was on a quest.  Blew them a kiss (he gets it) and I moved on.  Ahh, those happy miles.  Then came mile 21.  3:12.

Miles 22-26.2?  or 27? or..... - WAIT.  3:12?  There is no way I ran a 13 minute mile.  I realized that this fact meant I needed exactly a 9 minute mile to finish in 3:59.  Fu$k.  I did a little pep talk - I knew there was a hill coming at mile 23, but I figured maybe, just maybe, they were a little late with the mile.  Mile 22.  3:23.  At this point, I saw the 4 hour pacer come up next to me with his crew, and I joined the crowd.  One woman asked him if they were going to make it.  He said for sure - his garmin had them at 22.4, not 22, so maybe the mile markers were off.  Ok, cool.  But then I saw another mile 22 on the road.  WTF.  And a huge bridge ahead.  My confidence flagged.  I walked more of that bridge than I should have, but it was a Mendon x2 hill at mile 23, and I was so confused about where we were in tha race (I race with a $30 timex - no garmin for me.)  No mile 23.  At the end of the bridge, I saw mile 24 in 3:44, which I thought was decent for the amount of walking I did on the bridge.  SCORE!  I knew at this point a sub 4 was out of range, but I figured I could pull off a 4:04.  Still decent, especially after driving 700 miles less than 48 hours ago and on 4 hours of sleep.  I can do this.  I would run for 2 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds.  Then run for....wait, is that a crab and a shark ahead?  It was!  A cheer station with costumed people, welcoming us to mile 24.  WTF???  And with that, my race fell apart.  I stood stock still for a second, wanting to cry, and then stalked off, unable to run at the moment.  A cheer sign right after the incident told me I only had 2.7 miles to go- and at that point, I realized that NC must have a new torture method for marathoners.  I hated the race, the state, and everyone.  I jogged halfheartedly for a minute, then walked.  Repeat 5 times.  Mile 25? appeared at 3:56, and the girl I was running with muttered "really?" under her breath.  A guy on the sidelines cheered us on..."One mile to go!" and we grunted.  Onward.  I was so mad at the race, and myself.  I let it get to my head, and I didn't care about a PR, or any damn thing anymore.  Just fuc%ing get me out of here.  Mile 26 in 4:06.   No finish line in sight.  A  guy right ahead of me that I halfheartedly passed asked...when will this be OVER?  And I had no response.  I kept jogging and finally saw the finish....grimacing (cant wait to see those pics) through the finish line in 4:09:04, no sub 4, no PR, and a broken runner.

Race Bling
I collected my medal, visor and some water, decided not to wait in the food line (yep, you had to wait to get your bbq or fries) and went to find my boys.  I collapsed into Greg, sobbing about how damn mad I was at the mile markers, the race, and mostly myself for letting it freakin get to me.  He hadnt seen the finish (traffic killed him) so I clued him in, and at that point, the 4 hour pacer came by, chatting with racers.  Turned out they missed their mark by 3 minutes, which sucks.  A racer with a garmin clocked the course in 26.84 miles, which wouldnt have mattered time wise for me, but its the second long marathon Ive raced (I understand tangents, but a marathon true to form probably would have been 26.3 or 4).  Meh.  I left the race dispirited, not gonna lie.

In the hours after the race, I decided I could be a brat for 24 hours.  It took less to come out of it.  I'm still dissapointed in myself mostly - I should have tossed those mile markers away and raced my race to my best effort.  I wouldnt have come in under 4, but I probably could have hit a 4:04.  My legs were shot, but my heart and mind gave up.  Its the second course Ive done this on, and it annoys the hell out of me because THAT ISNT ME.  But we all have our bad days, and even though I threw a friggin temper tantrum on the course, I finished.  As I looked up the results later, I realized that everyone struggled.  I finished in the top third overall - top 20% women and top 25% AG.  That's pretty cool.  And according to the garmin dude, my race results put me at a 9:16 mile, which is pretty awesome.  Still- for 21 miles that sub 4 was mine.  But as a wise woman said to me....3rd times the charm.  I'll be back for that sub 4.  And I have learned from this race - more on that one later.  For now, it's 8pm on a Tuesday evening and I'm on a beach.  My kiddo is in bed, and my husband is waiting for me with a glass of wine and a bubbling hot tub.  And that's what life is about right now.  I think I'll focus on that :-)

Night, friends.  Thank you for listening!