Monday, August 31, 2015

New Focus.

Happy Monday Ya'll!

I can't believe today is already the last day of August! Seriously--has this summer not absolutely flown by? After last winter, I'm no where NEAR ready for cold weather again. Ugh. But on the bright side, fall isn't so bad, right? And, umm, can we talk about how my 1 year wedding anniversary is coming up in a little over a month?!?! Holy cow. I started this blog after our wedding so I can't wait to talk about it again! It was such a wonderful day. :)

Anyway, today I'm talking about food. And marathon training. ha.

I typically try and eat pretty healthy about 85-90% of the time. I don't believe in completely banning certain food groups and although at one point in my life I was a slave to the scale, I no longer let it control my day-to-day actions. I maybe weigh once a month, if that?

That being said, marathon training is pretty brutal. And afterwards, I want to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. And much to my dismay, I've been reaching for the wrong foods afterward. Cookies, chips, cake, candy... pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. As I said, I don't believe in getting rid of food groups completely because I think we all need to indulge occasionally but I am going to make a commitment during the month of September to clean up some of the pesky little habits I've gotten myself into before it becomes more of an issue.

This is not me saying I need to lose weight. I'll admit, I've gained 5+ pounds since starting training but my race times haven't suffered any so I'm not too concerned. I know that I'll get back down to my "normal" weight in time. I like being strong, I like maybe not looking exactly like the "runner" type and surprising people... I love my body and this is simply about me giving it what it needs.

Will there still be junk food?! Umm, duh. Have you seen my sweet tooth? It's insane. But in moderation. Everything in moderation, right?!

So, here's to celebrating my body in September and giving it what it needs.

Have a wonderful week ya'll! I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my big 16-miler on Saturday!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TOTR: You'll know at the finish line.

This could quite possibly be one of the hardest race recaps I've ever had to write. Not because it was a bad race but because there were so many things that made Saturday special that I'm not even sure where to begin! 

I'm going to talk about my volunteer experience in another post (hint: it was AWESOME) but today, I'm linking up for Tuesday's on the Run!

So... where to start. 

The Wintergreen Spartan race is no joke. It's a super (middle distance) but I've heard from NUMEROUS people that it's harder than many... well, almost all... the Beasts. For those of you who don't know, Wintergreen is a ski resort. So, you can only imagine why people would say it's so tough. ;) 

For some perspective, this is a shot from my volunteer spot. Notice that I'm looking dead even with the tops of several mountains. And this was only MID WAY up the "death" march, which I'll talk about later. 

So, of course, being typical Sarah, I totally disregarded all of this and basically went into this race thinking I wouldn't need fuel (wrong), wouldn't need long socks (wrong), and would be okay testing out my brand new trail shoes (wrong). ha. Basically, I broke every major running rule there is on Saturday. 

In addition, I woke up on Saturday at 3:30am, left Peter's parents house by 4, got to Wintergreen by 5:30, volunteered until 1:30 and then raced at 2. 

Again, do as I say, not as I do. 

Anyway, so once my volunteer shift was over, I headed back down the mountain and QUICKLY got ready for the start of the race. I downed some Spark, popped O2 Gold, changed clothes, switched out my shoes, and made it to the starting corral with about 5 minutes to spare. Luckily I was in such a rush/panic to make it that I didn't have time to notice how completely exhausted I already was. 

There are several reasons why I love Spartan races so much but mostly it's because the community is incredible. Saturday was my first Super and my first time racing alone and I have to be honest, I was pretty apprehensive about it for a long time. But as soon as I hopped over the wall into the corral, I immediately remembered why when I originally thought of this plan I knew it would work. Fellow Spartans are AWESOME and it's such a community atmosphere that if I needed any help along the course, I could count on them to get me through. 

Once the announcer got done pumping us up (he's the BEST), it was go time. My legs were a little tired from the get go but let's be honest.. it was only going to get worse from here so I sucked it up and went with it. 

There's absolutely no way possible I could go into every single detail about this course or the race. So instead, I thought I'd break it down into a few simple bullet points of various thoughts and feelings I have about it. 

1. It was the most challenging race I've ever ran in my entire life. No doubt about it. I'm not sure that I ever fully ran a mile the entire course. I literally scaled mountains for 4, almost 5, hours. The "death" march that I alluded to earlier consisted of starting at the base of a black diamond slope and ending at the VERY top. It was brutal. I'm in good shape and even I was struggling at various points on the course. 

2. Emotionally, this race was almost just as challenging. When you start pushing your body to the limit for long periods of time, you start questioning EVERYTHING. Your commitment, your abilities, YOUR LIFE. ha. I can't even begin to tell you all of the random thoughts going through my head. I even shed a few tears going up the mountain--not because I couldn't do it but because I was thinking about my husband and how much I missed him. Lol (Literally saw him right before I went to bed the night before). I have to think that this is what will be happening during my marathon in November. 

3. I'm the strongest I've ever been. There were several obstacles I've struggled with in the past and had no problems with on Saturday. There were only two that I couldn't do--one of them I think I probably could have done had my hands not been so slippery/I had gloves and the other is the rope climb out of the water. I need to work on that. I know I'm strong enough to do it but I need to figure out a better technique. 

4. I should have been more prepared in regards to fuel. Around mile 5, I started crashing out. Luckily mile 6 provided shot blocks but I could definitely tell I was struggling at various points. Next time, I know I need to wear my spibelt. 

5. Note to self: never, EVER wear brand new shoes to an endurance race. Again, I very much underestimated how tough this course was going to be. I have blisters on my heels to prove my stupidity. 

6. I should have spent more time getting my bag together before the race. I brought compression sleeves with me and of course, totally left them back at Peter's parents house. I have some pretty nasty rope burns from the Tyrolean Traverse that could have been prevented. On the bright side, it makes me feel tough. 

7. I have never felt more accomplished than I did when I crossed the finish line on Saturday. Blood, sweat, and tears LITERALLY went into this race and the feeling of finally finishing after almost 5 hours was one of the greatest feelings in the world. I hope this is how I feel after my marathon because there's nothing like it. Every time I look at my medal, I smile. 

This race was one of the best experiences of my life and even though it would have been fun doing this with a big group, I'm glad I tackled it alone. I needed it. I needed to get out of my comfort zone for a few hours and have to rely on myself and strangers to get through. I learned a LOT about myself during that time--mostly that I'm capable of some impressive stuff. And oddly enough, I feel much more confident about my marathon in November after Saturday. 

My advice to you? Go do something that scares you. It's so worth it. 

Have a great Tuesday everyone!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thinking Out Loud

Ahhh. One of these days I will get back on a normal posting/commenting schedule but let's be honest--working in college, no matter what department, in August is TOUGH. So much to do!

Our kids are officially back in school so the gym has been POPPING!

Anyway, it's Thursday, I have a few minutes on my hand, and it's time to Think Out Loud for a bit!

1. I'm heading to Charlottesville tomorrow for the Spartan Super at Wintergreen! Can we just talk about how much I love Spartan races? I mean, come on. Why else would I wake up at 3am to volunteer from 5:30am-1:30pm only to turn around and race 8-10 miles at 2pm?! Talk about a long day.... but so worth it.

2, Speaking of crazy, marathon training has gone well so far. Minus the fact that I totally miscounted how many weeks I have left. Go figure. I had a 14 miler on Saturday that went surprisingly well and was actually my new PDR. I felt confident afterward so I'll take it! This weekend is supposed to be a 10 mile race pace run but I'm going to substitute Spartan in for that. My long run next week is a 16-miler so my plan is to run a half marathon that morning and tack on 3 additional miles afterward.

3. I already need another pair of running shoes. Blah.

4. My power hour class is seriously kicking butt and taking names at the moment. I'm having so much fun teaching it! I never thought I'd enjoy group exercise as much as I do! But I love the relationship I've built with the ladies I teach and it's so AWESOME to see how much they've improved since the beginning of summer! I started teaching this class just a short summer thing and now it's one of the best parts of my week!

5. Speaking of group exercise, it's funny to think that a couple of years ago if you had asked me to get in front of a group of ladies and lead class, I would have seriously died. Like, straight up would not have done it. ha. It's such a confidence booster!

6. Nine years ago yesterday, I moved into my freshman dorm. NINE! What the heck?! Funny thing was, I never really left. ha. Minus a 6 month stint at a bank (BLAHHHHHH!), I've been at UVa-Wise since 2006!

7. On that note, does anyone else love Timehop as much as I do? It's probably one of my top 5 favorite apps.

8. This made me laugh. A lot.

9. I passed my first semester of grad school with flying colors! Woo!

10. And finally... my MAC IS BACK!! It's still SUPER slow but at least now it's not randomly shutting down and not turning back on. :) That's a positive, right? I have a feeling I will be in the market for a new computer within the next year or so. But until then, I'll make it work. Considering it's about 6 years old, I can't complain too much. It's had a pretty good run.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday! :) I promise I'll be better at commenting again soon too! :)


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TOTR: Fall Racing

Happy Tuesday! We're one day closer to the weekend, one day closer to students coming back... one day closer to my MARATHON!

Linking up today for Tuesday's on the Run!

So, last November, on a whim and a KILLER deal, I decided it was time I signed up for my first full marathon. Let's go back about 5 years when I said I would never, EVER run 26.2 miles for fun. Funny how things change.

Anyway, it's now the second week in August, my marathon is LESS THAN 100 DAYS AWAY, and it's about time I got my butt in gear for training.

I've been putting it off for a several weeks now--a combination of being "lazy" (aka, not wanting to do structured runs), not finding a training plan I particularly liked, and letting loose for a few weeks--something I desperately needed for my sanity.

Well, last week I finally decided it was "time". I've done some research and found a plan that works for me, that I'm comfortable with and still has me running 6 days a week. I'm a creature of habit and enjoy my early morning runs before work and wanted a plan that would still allow for those--albeit structured a bit differently. It's challenging, it's scary, but most of all, I feel confident with this plan that when November rolls around, I will be ready for whatever Richmond throws my way.

On the docket this week--
Monday: 50 minute "easy" run. I pushed it a little longer so that I could hit the 8 mile mark
Tuesday: Speed workout (2 minutes full out sprint, 4 minutes recovery, 7 x's)
Wednesday: 45 minute  run
Thursday: 50 minutes
Friday: 40 minutes
Saturday: 14 miles

I like that there's no mileage attached to the work week runs. It's the first plan I've seen do this and I can appreciate it because a lot of my morning runs are done on the treadmill. I push myself a little harder on these because I want to get as much mileage in as possible during that time frame.

I'm a little nervous about my 14 miler this weekend but I'm hoping I can recruit a buddy to run at LEAST a few miles with me.

So obviously, my marathon is the biggest item on my fall calendar but here are a few other races that I'm either a) doing b) signing up for or c) considering. I'm a very go-with-the-flow kind of person and tend to sign up for races on a whim (like my marathon) so this is ALWAYS subject to change.

Saturday, August 14th: Guest River Gorge 5k

Saturday, August 22nd: Virginia Super Spartan @ Wintergreen

Saturday, August 29th: Bluegrass Half Marathon

Saturday, September 12th: Eastman 10K Road Race in the AM, Glow Run in the PM

Saturday, October 3rd: Highknob Hellbender 10K

Saturday, October 10th: Fall Fling 5k

Saturday, October 31st: Haunted Half Marathon

Saturday, November 14th: RICHMOND MARATHON!!! 

Lots of good ones in there! I'm looking forward to a fun and exciting season. Summer races are my favorite but I can't knock a good fall, cool weather run.

What races are on your calendar this fall?!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday ya'll! Now the start of the semester is less than 2 weeks away, the days are absolutely FLYING by. I seriously feel like it was just the weekend?! Definitely no complaints on my end though. Time to soak up the remaining bits of summer because starting August 19th, it's about to get crazy around here.

Linking up with Claire, Heather, and Virginia Bloggers today for Friday Favorites!

1. I will be heading up my first Couch to 5k program starting on Monday! I'm pretty nervous just because running is something I have SUCH a big passion for and I don't want to screw it up! That being said, I'm really looking forward to it! I remember the excitement I had when I completed my first 5k and I want to help others feel the same. This sport completely changed my life!

2. My weekend with Peter! We have absolutely nothing planned but when he's on his night shift rotation, it feels like we NEVER see each other so I'm really looking forward to a weekend alone and doing whatever we want. Those are the best, am I right?!

3. Okay, this is a weird one but I'm really digging the Today Show lately. There for a while when they had that whole Ann Curry debacle, I kind of switched back and forth between a few different morning news programs but Savannah Guthrie is finally starting to grow on me. And of course I love Carson. I find it funny that in high school, I'd rush home from school to catch him on TRL and now I'm waking up early to catch him on the morning news. ha. And I'll be honest, I think Willie Geist is hot.
Okay. I feel like that was definitely weird.

4. These protein power balls! I made them for the first time in FOREVER last night and they were so good. I make a couple of substitutions--I use oats instead of coconut, add in a few drops of unsweetened almond milk, and use PB2 instead of almond butter because I'm freaking obsessed. But it literally takes two seconds to make and are awesome when you need a quick pick me up after a workout. They taste like brownie batter! Always a win!

5. Yesterday officially marked 100 days until my marathon. Time to hit the ground running! I talked about it a bit yesterday but Monday officially starts my training cycle. I've finally found a plan I like, am mentally prepared for those grueling long runs, and am ready to prove to myself that I can totally rock out 26.2 miles. I'm looking forward to all parts of it--the good days, the bad runs, the "wall", the feeling of finishing something I said I would NEVER do... absolutely ALL of it! Life is about to get super crazy but here goes nothin'. ;)

Have a wonderful weekend! Relax, have fun... do something spontaneous. Enjoy life!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thinking Out Loud


Another crazy busy week around here and with students coming back in a couple of weeks, it's crunch time! This time last year I was still partially doing student activities/outdoor rec along with my current job as Assistant Director of our wellness center so I'm interested to see how this year will compare. Anyone that's ever worked in student life at a college knows just how INSANE the first 2-3 weeks of school are.

Anyway, time to do a little thinking out loud!

Linking up with Amanda!

1. I pretty much really need to start actually training for my marathon. I don't feel like I'm completely screwed just because my weekly mileage is at a good place, I do a lot of interval/speed/pace/hill runs, and have been doing some pretty long runs on Sunday's but for peace of mind, I need to start my actual PLAN next week. ha. People always tend to ask me for advice on training plans and if I'm being COMPLETELY honest here, I've never actually followed one. Like, ever. I've basically winged all of my half marathons... which isn't ideal but I did hit a sub 1:40 last time so it works for me. Unfortunately, I don't think there will be any winging 26.2.

2. I've been back on a hardcore Quest bar kick lately. Double Chocolate Chunk heated up + PB2 = PERFECTION.

3. I'm running the Wintergreen Spartan Race in 2 weeks... by myself! AHH! I'm volunteering and then running and although I know I'm never really alone on a Spartan race, it's still SLIGHTLY intimidating. I keep telling myself I can back out if I really want to but.. part of me just really wants to prove to myself that I can do this thing alone. And the Wintergreen Super is no joke. From everyone I've talked to, it's one of THE HARDEST races they've got. Even harder than some of the Beasts. Oh boy.

4. This is neither here nor there but.. it's kind of annoying when your favorite bloggers start doing ONLY sponsored posts. Like, I get it but... I miss reading the good stuff!

5. I have absolutely nothing on my agenda this weekend.

6. My BFF's and I are planning a trip to Key West to celebrate my last birthday in my 20's in February. Slight depressing.. but more exciting than anything. Any recommendations? Peter & I absolutely LOVED our brief time in Key West on our honeymoon.. even if we only remember bits and pieces of it (hello, bar crawl!).

7. Grad schools is hard ya'll. But so rewarding! Especially when I'm already using information that I've learned with my clients. So cool!

8. I think after marathon training is over, I want to get back to crossfit. I miss the atmosphere and I miss just throwing some heavy weight around. I'm a runner by nature and it's easy for me to go and run on my own and get a good workout. But when it comes to lifting, I struggle. I still do it but I need more direction. More motivation.

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Alright, time to get some work done! Have a wonderful Thursday everyone!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

TOTR: Railroad Days 5k

Happy Tuesday! STILL without my Macbook--seriously Apple?! I dropped it off over 2 weeks ago for an "easy" fix. Go figure, right?

Anyway, now that my morning Power Hour classes are over for the summer, I can HOPEFULLY start getting back into a regular posting schedule. Who knew I'd miss blogging?

ANNNND because it's Tuesday, it means it's time for another edition of Tuesday's on the Run!

Today's a free topic so I'm going to talk about the race I did this past Saturday.

Saturday was one of my favorite races of the year--it's a local race and draws a pretty big crowd. It's been going on for 30+ years so people from all over come and check it out. And actually, a guy who is in his late 60's and consistently wins national track championships (AND STILL HITS 17 MINUTES ON HIS 5K!) always shows up so it's fun to watch. Basically, he's my life goal.

Anyway, I couldn't have asked for better weather for the race. Mid 60's and sunny.. just how I like it! It was an early start--8am--but I can appreciate that. That being said, I didn't pre-register and was totally running behind so I basically had to sprint back to my car after signing up and switch shoes/put on my bib/get ready. I counted that as my warm-up. ;) I hate being late for anything, especially a race, but I think that helped calm my nerves a bit.

Before the start of the race, there was a quick prayer and then we proceeded to do the Pledge of Allegiance--something I haven't done since grade school! I'm happy to report however that I still knew all of the words. Just for the record. ;)

Right at 8:15am, the gun went off and it was go time. I knew there was a girl in the field faster than me so my goal was to keep her in sight. She hadn't run a local race in a while so I wasn't sure how my time compared to her now but I figured if I kept her in range, I was doing pretty good.

Going into the first mile, I felt great. I was well rested, felt light on my feet, and knew I had a chance at doing pretty well. The girl in question and I stayed together the entire first mile. Our first split was 6:40 which is pretty quick but I didn't feel like I was struggling or anything so I kept at it.

The second mile is a big out and back and always feels like the longest part of the race. ALWAYS. Every year I dread it. Again, the girl in question and I were side by side the entire way. We were passing boys left and right and at one point, we started joking around wondering how the boys felt about being passed by not one girl but two. ;)

The mile 2 split came back somewhere in the 13 minute range so we were still crushing it pretty hard.

Mile 3 is when things started going downhill for me. Well, I didn't bonk out or anything but I definitely couldn't keep the same blistering pace we had been. I slowed down considerably. I went from running 6:53 on mile 2 to 7:05 on mile 3. Not BAD but not a sub 7.

The girl ended up getting about 15 seconds ahead of me but I kept my goal of keeping her in sight. I came across the line in 21:19--second overall female and a huge improvement over my time of 21:53 last year for the same race. I'm not sure what's gotten into me over the last month but I've had some killer 5k times. I've gotten closer and closer to that 21 minute mark. I'm not sure if I'll ever break it but heck, I didn't think I'd ever get sub 22 either.

So, no overall win but anytime you have a ridiculously good race, it makes up for it. :) I've been digging longer distance recently but I always appreciate a good 5k. Sprinting for 3+ miles always kind of puts you in your place, you know? By the time I crossed the finish line, I was SPENT.

I potentially have another race this Saturday but I haven't decided if I want to drop $30 for a 5k--seems little steep!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!