Friday night, I ventured down to Tuscaloosa with the kiddos to spend the night with my brother in law, Jay, before my race Saturday morning. I ended up ordering that Lululemon I was coveting, and had it priority shipped out, and after much drama surrounding it’s arrival, it came. I was hoping it would be here around lunchtime. I had it shipped to my in laws, because I figured FedEx would show up there, than before my house. I wanted to leave by 2:50ish, as soon as I picked Addy up from school. At 2:40, I got the confirmation that it had been delivered, so I swung by to pick it up on my way to scoop up Addy. Whew!
The drive down was nothing short of awful with the cries of “I’m hungry!”, “I’m thirsty!”, “I have to pee!”, “I hate Michael Jackson! Play a girl song!”. I was contemplating jumping out of my moving vehicle. We stopped by to do the packet pick up, and it was outside and WINDY, y’all. I knew the wind would be a deciding factor in this race.
Since my runs have been less than stellar since Mercedes, I was just hoping to finish with a decent time. I would love to PR, but with my mental state, I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I decided I would run what felt good and see what happened. I was hoping for a best case scenario of 2:05.
I settled into bed at a reasonable 11:15. (not reasonable at ALL!)
I decided the next morning that I would run by Panera for a bagel and coffee. I was worried about eating so late, but I decided that since it was a tailgating tradition, I needed to step up my domination. John gave me some last minute encouragement in the form of, “If you don’t change your attitude, you aren’t going to PR. You are in Tuscaloosa. Step it up.”
I mean, besides, Nick Saban was watching anyway.
Mary came to run it and it was chilly and windy at the start. I opted to not mess with gloves, and my hands were freezing. Note to self: over sized sweat shirts are NOT your friend.
The start line…
The course started in downtown Tuscaloosa and wound back into the tornado destruction areas. I ended up spotting two fellow girls in lululemon who were running about the same pace and drafted them for a couple of miles. They had signs along the course that had facts about the tornado damage. And especially in Forest Lakes, there hasn’t been a ton of rebuilding. Running through that area, and knowing what it looked like before, was something that I don’t think I can describe. Tuscaloosa is my second home, and seeing these homeowners outside in their pajamas holding up signs and cheering us on only brought that emotion to the surface. I almost lost it when I was coming up a climb, and looked over at nothing but empty lots, with one freshly built house, and the homeowners were standing outside. As we made the turn, I got a whiff of fresh lumber and saw dust and could hear the pep band up in the distance playing the fight song… it was quite an experience. One that will definitely stay with me.
While this course wasn’t as tough as Mercedes, it wasn’t joke either. It had some climbs and the wind was a factor, for sure. There is nothing like pounding your way up a hill is 35 degree weather, only to be hit in the face with a head wind as you near the top. The wind was so cutting at times (This is a possible TMI), my boobs would get a tingly feeling like when I was breastfeeding and my milk would let down. (Gross. I know. And I just shared it with the Internet. I should be ashamed.)
The course looped back on itself through Alberta City and I could see the leaders coming through. I figured Mary would be towards the front, and she didn’t disappoint. She was with the first smaller group of speedsters and went all, “Whoo! girl” on me.
Around mile 8, I caught sight of a flash of red in my peripheral, and low and behold, it belonged to me. Jay had brought the girls out to see me along the course! I ran over and gave Addy a quick kiss, and I figured Claire would cry that she didn’t get one, but as they passed me in the car, Claire was blowing everyone kisses and doing her beauty queen wave.
Once we hit Jack Warner, we only had about a 5K left and I came up on a girl and started chatting with her. She was trying to sub 2 and she figured we were close, so I just hung with her and chatted. The last mile and half to 2 miles were on paved trails and let me tell you… that SUCKED. Combined with the mile markers being off… and I wasn’t a happy camper towards the end.
But seeing my watch lifted my spirits…
And I had this waiting for me in the parking lot… can’t complain with that!
All in all, this was an excellent run and I am so glad I did it. It was another PR for me and Mary, as well!
2:02:58 was my official time, 21st in my Age Group, and 346 overall. I am proud to say I was in the in the upper 1/4 of finishers. It feels good, y’all.
Sub 2, here I come!!
I have officially completed 1/3 of my Spring half marathons and let me tell you, I am still floating on cloud 9 about this race.
I was sort of (okay a LOT) freaking out about it. The pressure I was putting on myself to sub 2:15 this race was INSANE. I got a surprise in the mail from Mary (which. when she told me she was sending me something, I was totally expecting a funny saying on a pair of thong underwear that we kept seeing in Key West.) on Thursday, and tears were in my eyes when I opened it. The bracelet says WWCD? What would Clowney Do? Getting that bracelet from Mary, helped me calm the eff down and realize that I could do this. It may not be this weekend, but it was coming.
I knew the weather was going to be cold and everyone kept telling me it was going to be 25 at the start. I knew I would need some throw away clothing for along the course. I decided on the piece of clothing I have owned the longest. I know Philly was glad to see it go, since it came from an ex-boyfriend 13 years ago, but at one time, it was the only sweatshirt I owned.
I packed my bag the night before, because, well, that 4 am wake up call was NOT my friend.
These numbers blow my mind. Too early and TOO cold.
We made it downtown to wait inside Boutwell to stay warm. Shannon was running her first full and my goal was to stay with her and Kelly and knock out as many 9:40 miles as we could.
The corrals were crazy busy and we ended up hanging on the sidewalk until the gun went off and people starting moving. I decided to shed the sweatshirt before crossing the start line since temperature wise, I was comfortable in it what I had on. Yes, I said goodbye to it. Sue me. I was sad to see the sweatshirt go!
Maleah snapped this pic of us-I love how caught off guard I am.
We started out conservative.. especially for us. 10:00 first mile. I’ll be honest.. I was a little mad. I know how I do in races, and I tend to fall apart around mile 10-11. I needed to have those good times in the beginning to make up for a crappy ending.
Now, since I can’t read an elevation chart, a friend so nicely told me, “Once you reach the Chevron in 5 points, it’s all downhill from there.” This course is generally flat, minus miles 4-6 with some steep climbs. I saw the Chevron, and just beyond said Chevron, was a hill. LIAR, I said in head. But then, I came through 5 points and there was another Chevron and it was literally starting a downhill.. so. Yeah. My bad. Right after the 10K split was a hill and I just kept pushing up it (yep. Me. I pushed myself UP A HILL.) and lost Kelly and Shannon around that point. I kept holding back with them because I was afraid I would need to push later from them.
I did walk through my first water station that was uphill and Kelly and Shannon caught back up with me. We ran through the Highlands for a little bit.. just long enough to spot Dad and Karen! I ran over and gave my dad a kiss, all while Karen was screaming “That’s our daughter, Rachel!! Right there! Run Rachel!” and people were turning around and cheering. Definitely a racing highlight for me. Dad and Karen always come out to support races, no matter how big or small and it means so much to have them there.
Karen snapped this pic..
I think mile 9 was a good bit of downhills and I took a GU at that point. I was still feeling good, still had some left in the tank and I was holding out for that final stretch. At one point, I looked around and realized, I was in the presence of mostly men and I just started weaving in and out of people, picking me feet up. It felt good. No matter how many races I run, mile 10-11 is ALWAYS the longest and the hardest. You wouldn’t think it’d be that way. You’ve hit double digits, and you have less than a 5K left. I believe this was the point that I did some bad math in my head and thought I was going to come in around 2 hours, but I realized, even if I feel off and had to run walk the last 2 miles, I was going to make that sub 2:15 goal. That got the adrenaline pumping again, and it helped me pick up my step– I started seeing 9:15′s and 9:14′s for those final miles. I kicked it up through the shoot, and crossed the finish line with a clock time of 2:09. By the time I made it through the finishers shoot, the texts and tweets were coming through. I had broken both goals I set for myself this year. A sub 2:15 and a sub 2:10.
I called Dad but they were still stuck over on Highland. I called John and he informed me that I was smart to come in around when the wheelchair racers finished, because I had a tv finish.
I found Donnie when he got done and we went over to Boutwell for the after party..
Jim N Nick’s provided the post race food.. and if you know me, you know I do NOT eat BBQ. But I happily ate this pulled pork sandwich.
I was on cloud 9 all day. I couldn’t believe what I had accomplished. I also couldn’t believe the outpour of support from twitter and Instagram. Seriously.. blog friends ROCK.
Me and my medal! And all of my Lululemon glory, I might add.
Donnie and I drank and chatted for a while until it was time for Shannon and Kelly to finish. I don’t ever get to spectate races, and it’s nothing short of amazing watching those relay teams and individuals cross a marathon finish line. Some are elated, some are struggling, but they are all badasses in my opinion.
Me, Shannon, and Kelly
Me and more beer… lesson learned. Beer is proper post race hydration. No matter how yummy.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this goal. My next goal is obviously a sub 2, or as close to it as I can get for Nike in April. I’ve got one more half in two weeks, and the goal there is to finish. As of today, I still have no desire to do a full marathon, but the desire to complete a 70.3 is growing, so I think that will be the next big goal.. probably for 2014. The year of my 30th birthday.
Mercedes was a great course and honestly, the best I have ever felt physically and mentally through an entire race. I guess all that hill training paid off.
My official time was 2:06:37.
Thank you for all of the support that y’all have given me.. it feels amazing to get that sub 2:15 monkey off my back.
Once a upon a time, in a land far far away, I set a goal for my running. That goal was 2:15. I thought, if I could run that, I’d never complain about running. I’d be happy with that time for ever. After 3 years time, I’ve realized that’s not true for runners. We strive for greatness from ourselves. In November, when I had a 12 minute PR on a half marathon with a time of 2:20, while I was proud of the PR and how far I had come, I was ticked I didn’t break 2:20. I was on the cusp of that 2:15 time goal, that was my elusive white rabbit. I swore then, that I would break 2:15, come hell or high water, but I also realized, that while breaking 2:15 was all well and dandy, it wasn’t good enough anymore. I wanted a 2:10 now.
So, I set my mind to it, and got my training all laid out. I started running outside instead of the treadmill. I forced myself to run on the hillier side of town to prepare for Mercedes. And in the beginning, I felt like I was getting slower. That I was just beating up my body. One evening, I was running with my little group after a couple of weeks of solo runs, and I found myself able to keep up with Shannon, who typically runs off and leaves me. I found myself not slowing down with Donnie, but pushing myself. I found my breathing to come easier and my legs able to take the hills.
I may still hate that hilly Oktoberfest course, but I’ve forced myself to run it. One night last week, I ran it in 27 minutes. 2 minutes faster than I have ever raced a 5K. Those hills don’t hurt like that used to. Don’t get my wrong, they don’t feel good. But I’ve somehow, flipped the switch over to ”just keep going”. It may hurt, but just keep going. My training runs are right on par with a 2:10 half for Sunday. But I know and am trying to prepare myself mentally that I still may not do it. But I could also smoke it out of the water.
It’s been so long since I trained so hard for something, and I really want that number on the clock to reflect the blood, sweat, and tears poured into this training. I know that I am not defined by the number on the clock, but I really want it to read 2:10.
I feel sorry for my coworker… she is getting the majority of my race week neuroses. My piriformis muscle is flaring up and I’ve got a soreness in the arch of my foot. So, naturally, I think I’ve torn a ligament or pulled a muscle. I’m planning on running tonight.. nice and easy. Swimming tomorrow and be done until Sunday. I’m also going to be doing some of the stretching videos this week from FitnessGlo.
I guess now it’s time to just trust the training…
I doubt y’all will be shocked to learn that I signed up for a 10K at the last minute.
I ran a good bit with Donnie and Shannon this week, and running with them really showed me how much I have improved over this training cycle.
So, after running a total of 24 miles during the course of the week, 10 of the miles logged on Friday morning, I loaded up in the car and headed to Birmingham for the Village 2 Village 10K. It starts in Mountain Brook and runs to Crestline Village and back. It has some pretty intense hills, but since I have only ran one previous 10K, I was hoping for a PR and my ultimate, somewhat-not-really-attainable goal was for under an hour. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to hold up after everything I had asked of them that week.
I stayed with Shannon through most of it, but she stayed a few steps ahead of me through the last two miles. I always had her in my sights, so I knew I was keeping a good pace (I’m trying not to obsess on my watch so much).
The course was beautiful.. gorgeous homes and views of the golf course. When I rounded the corner for the finish line, I saw the clock hit 1 hour and I got a little sad. But Shannon reminded me to look at my watch… 59:47. I had done it! My official time was 59:43.. a 9:38 pace. Not too shabby, y’all. That made is a 9 minute PR from my last 10K. So, I will take it and wear it proudly.
Gigi is the ultimate Spectator, y’all. She has to be on her death bed to miss a race. Even when I tell her it’s cold and to stay in her jammies. Love you, Karen!
So, with less than 3 weeks until Mercedes, this weeks training is intense and I am staying pretty exhausted. But, if it gets me a sub 2:15, I will take that as well.
Of course, all I can think about now is what I am wearing for Mercedes.. I bought a jacket, toboggan, and capris for it, but now I am wondering if it’ll be too hot for it. Typically, by Mercedes it’s pretty chilly around these parts, so it may have to be a game time decision.
Does anyone have an suggestions for me?
So, when we last left off on Ragnar Part 1, we were settling in at our first exchange.
We ate dinner at the exchange, and I got heckled by a 13 year old boy over my Beat Notre Dame button.. let’s be real. I put him in his place.
The alarm went off around 1:30 am, for Mary’s leg to start. I think she ended up starting around 3 am.
While she ran, We decorated the inside of the van…
I had yet another twilight run, this time a 4 mile run across the bridge into Marathon Key. Most people would be all, “Oh how awesome!” But you know who lives around bridges? Birds. You know who has a gigantic fear of birds? THIS GIRL.
The exchange fell on some gravel rocks and sand, so I had to be super careful coming in. But, we still did our handoff…
Getting back in the van, everyone was all, “Oh Rachel! Did you see the beautiful peacocks on the side on the bridge? They were gorgeous! They had these beautiful feathers!” No. Rachel did NOT see the beautiful peacocks on the bridge. Rachel got the beautiful scenery of the used condom on the bridge and the crap that someone took and tried to cover up like a cat with toilet paper. Yep. You read that right… someone dropped a deuce on the bridge and LEFT IT. Who does that?!
But I did see this gorgeous sunrise after.. so that kind of makes up for it, right?
After everyone finished their legs, we headed to eat breakfast at a Cuban place.. it was delicious. Then we headed to our final major exchange.
It was another high school, even though people were asleep in the gym like a refugee camp.
I, myself, rolled out a yoga mat in the grass. And my van mates took pictures.. rude.
Mary and I planned some stellar matching outfits for our final legs…
Major props to Lululemon for these amazing skirts.
After what had to be the hardest 2 mile run in my running history, I was done with my Ragnar legs!
Since Glenn was bringing in the final leg to Key West, we raced to the hotel to drop off the van and get to the finish line so we could all cross together.
Everyone was digging on Coach’s shirt….
Mary and I at the finish… awesome lady who talked me into this crazy adventure!
Celebration Champagne at sunset… yes, please!
The group that made it down…
After eating a delicious dinner, Mary and Prateek said I had to experience a bar crawl on Duval Street since I had never been to Key West…
We started out… somewhere. I can’t even remember. That’s sad.
But second, we went to Hogs Breath. We didn’t stay long.. their band was taking a break.
We went to Sloppy Joe’s next, where apparently, I found a lucky penny? Who knows. It was apparently a big enough deal to necessitate a picture.
Mary and I did the Cupid Shuffle and the Wobble.. which has apparently, not made it’s way into Key West because we got accused of making up the dance before coming into the bar.. Nope. I don’t make them up, just rock them.
We headed next to Irish Kevin’s.. where I showed the awesome signs of knowing how to rock a cowbell and got called up on stage to showcase said talents during Blister in the Sun.. I wish I had the video of me telling him to dig into his little bag for something for me to bang my stick on. I’m sure it’d make my parents proud….
Surprisingly, I woke up feeling good the next morning. Mary and I went in search of a hot tub, but we didn’t have one, so I settled for a hot bath.
We met the group for breakfast, where I had some delicious french toast.
I had a friend try to disrupt my meal.. but Clint was nice enough to shoo him away.
I also made a new friend….do not be jealous, I saw him first!!
You don’t want to miss the back end, y’all!
We visited the Southernmost Point…
On our way back to Miami, we relived our Ragnar adventures and stopped to try to find Glenn’s lost hat at my final exchange.. I am not sure how I missed that it was an adult store, but after all of my “That’s what she said” jokes, the van agreed that it was a fitting choice for my 3rd leg.
All in all, Ragnar cannot be put in appropriate words. Yes, these people may have been strangers in the beginning, but we now share a team bond. It was an AMAZING experience and I would do another in a heartbeat.. in fact… anyone want to run Ragnar Napa Valley?!
Yep. So. I’m a little late blogging about this.
But I am super stoked to say that I got in the Nike Women’s Inaugural Half in DC. The date is April 28th,2013 and I plan to make this my best half yet. I want to PR this course. The best thing? I get to run it with my Internet bestie, Molly!!
A lot different from RNR DC and I am super excited. I was worried the courses would be similar, but this one totally rocks!
Did anyone else get in? Are you as excited as I am?!
I think setting my goals for 2012 seriously helped me stay focused, so I decided to do it again for 2013. I also want to do a monthly re-cap of how I am doing with these goals, just to keep me in check! Here are my goals for 2013:
- Run/swim/bike a combined total of 1500 miles.
- Run 3 half marathons this Spring.
- Complete 3 tri’s this summer.
- Don’t die during the Ragnar Relay.
- Run a sub 2:15 half marathon.
- Cook dinner every night for an entire week.
- Grow an herb garden and use it!
- Balance between my goals, John’s goals, and what’s good for the girls. Reaching goals take sacrifice for all parties, and it’s very easy to become selfish with what you want, and not what’s best for the family.
- Take the girls on a weekend trip.. somewhere fun but within driving distance.
- Be able to do the splits.
- Continue with cross training and weight training.
- Clean up my eating… being more mindful of what I am putting into my body.
- Go to a Pro Football Game.
What are your goals for 2013? Should I add anything to my list?
Happy New Year, Y’all!!
Today marks the 3 year anniversary since my life changed.
3 years ago today, I ran my very first race…The Rudolph Run 5K in Huntsville.. finishing in 35 minutes.
I thought it was going to be something I’d mark off my bucket list and move on. Because.. well. Running sucked. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was really hard. I remember wanting to quit SO. BAD. during that first 5K.
But somehow, signing up for my first half marathon sounded like a good idea…
The 2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon
and with very little training, I crossed the finish line of that as well. I didn’t consider myself worthy enough at the time.
After that race.. I started to see a change in myself. I wasn’t happy with the way things ended with Disney, and I decided to step up my training.
I ran Savannah in November with Kelsie and Lindsey.
And followed it up 2 weeks later with the Ruben Run.. now known as the Magic City Half… where I had my first face plant on a run.
SEVEN half marathons, a 10K, 2 triathlons, and a multitude of 5K’s. A completely changed mindset. All from attempting to cross one thing off my bucket list.
It’s a little insane to think about how something so small can completely change who you are as a person.
… We Would Go Insane…
There comes a time in your life when you realize that you are off your rocker completely. As a runner, I tend to get weird looks when I talk about races, PR’s, distances, time goals, etc. But, the looks that I am getting about this one, top them all.
Earlier this summer, a friend and I were talking about a Ragnar Relay. They were describing it’s awesomeness, and I’ll admit, it sounded like a good time. Not sure what a Ragnar Relay is? Well, the easiest way to describe it, is that a team made up of 12 runners (Or 6 if your Ultra crazy) covers 200 miles in distance while essentially leap frogging each other. Each runner takes 3 legs totaling anywhere from 12-20 miles, depending on which runner you are. Oh, and you basically live in a van without showering, sleeping in a bed, or eating real meals. Yes this sounds like my kind of fun. Is it out of my comfort zone? You betcha. You know I don’t camp or generally like the outdoors, so I know this is a stretch for me.
But when Mary put out feelers for needing a team member for the Florida Keys, I jumped at the chance… well. Actually, I thought long and hard about it. But, I felt like the universe and stars were aligning since it happened to be the weekend that we are going to Miami anyway for the National Title game. We start in Miami on Friday and run down to the Keys. On Sunday, we come back to Miami and J flys in… perfect timing, right?!
Still unsure of what a Ragnar really is? Here is a video I found… I’ve watched a LOT of them.
I think the real challenge will be trying to pack for a trip to Miami AND a 2 day race in ONE bag. Any tips for that one?!
Last week I ran the Magic City Half Marathon in Birmingham. (I know, I know. Last week turned a tad crazy on me.)
It was a pretty chilly morning, but was promising for excellent racing weather.
John and Addy came down with me… Claire was with GiGi and they spectated at Railroad Park.
We always have a pretty strong Cullman crew representing at races.
It ended up being delayed about 30 minutes for the Powerade truck not being there yet. But once the start gun went off, I was in good spirits. Donnie was supposed to help pace me, but had been sick like me so we weren’t sure how long we would stay together. He ended up waving me on around mile 5. I was glad that I turned on the virtual pacer on my watch– I really think that helped me stay on track. The miles really flew by and I was just enjoying the race, the people, and the city. They had the 5K people merge with us around mile 6, but by the time I hit them, it was mostly walkers and I wasn’t a fan of that at all. My hip started protesting me around mile 9, but I was still in good spirits mentally. As I made the turn into one of the loops, I saw Shannon not far behind the 2:00 pacer and I didn’t think she was going to be able to pull out her sub 2 hour goal. Honestly? This is the worst loop in a race. I really hate when races loop. You never know how far ahead those people are who are turning out. As I turned out, I could the 2:20 pacer close behind me, and just thought, “Stay in front of her. Stay in front of her.” But it took a lot out of me to cross the overpass over the railroad tracks. The 2:20 pacer ended up passing me around 12.5 and I just didn’t have it in me anymore. My foot had started to go numb and my hip was screaming at me.
I saw my family at the finish line, and I high fived the girls, but they ended up running out with me. I finished in 2:20:30. A 12 minute PR. Not too shabby. I certainly shouldn’t complain about it. But let’s be honest, while I am proud that I was able to shave that much time off my half marathon time, and only trained for about a month, I am a little peeved I couldn’t pull a sub 2:20 out of it. But I know I left it all out there on the course and had nothing else to give.
My dad took some pictures… I am not looking like I am having a good time.
After the race… I look like I am about to die.
Quite possibly the best race picture ever… and totally worth every penny I paid for it.