2013 Year in Review

Who doesn't love to reflect on a great year? This was a huge year for me personally, professionally, and most of all, athletically. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, and really proved that I am capable of so much more than I think.

Some of my favorite moments from 2013:

Starting off 2013 with a new 5k PR - Bane's first snow - coming home after a snowy 10-miler during HM#2 training and deciding it would be a great idea to sign up for HM#3 and my first tri

Pushing myself harder than ever at the Virginia is for Lovers 14k - a day at the beach with Bane and Ben - accepted to ODU for my 2nd bachelors degree, in Civil Engineering

Hard work pays off at my 2nd half marathon, a 30-minute PR!

My first triathlon - 3rd half marathon (and I discover that I love runcations) - first "fun run"

Running comes to a halt mid-month due to injury...have to bail on a race for the first time BUT I pick it up in the biking department and bike this bad boy for the first time (on a 30-mile ride, no less, my first one over 17!). I also officially begin my 2nd college career this month by taking 2 summer classes.

My return to running at my 2nd triathlon - first 8k race - deciding to run the Charleston Marathon and beginning preliminary training - in New Jersey with my husband to see two of our friends get married - day trip to Colonial Williamsburg

Family beach day - Dave Matthews concert with my dad - my first tri bike - getting the hang of this triathlon thing at Tidewater Tri! Also (not pictured), we celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary and I finish my summer classes with A's in both.

First family trip to the Outer Banks - I somehow convince Ben to bike from Buxton to Hatteras and back (20 miles round trip) - seeing He Is Legend in Richmond, our 80something-th concert together - (with mixed feelings) I become an official ODU student - Bane becomes a water dog

PR at Patriots Sprint Triathlon (and worst race photo of all time) - finish my first tri season with my first Olympic at Outer Banks Tri - (not pictured) I commemorate my accomplishments and celebrate this transitional time in my life by getting a tattoo

I turn 26, Ben and Bane dress accordingly -  on my birthday I take the first step in making 26 my marathon year by actually registering - 4th half marathon - place 3rd in age group at super fun Jordan Bridge 5k - fastest race pace ever leads to a new 10k PR (and I wear my Boston shirt because the Sox are about to win the World Series!)

A distance PR and half marathon PR on a hilly course with a head cold = WINNING - conquering 13.1 with my 5th and final half marathon of 2013 (6th total) - we celebrate Thanksgiving with my family in the mountains of North Carolina - (not pictured) we spend a weekend in the Outer Banks, same weekend as the OBX marathon

I run a lot and take a lot of running selfies - new 10-mile race PR and unofficial half marathon PR - New York!!! - new distance PR's as marathon training ramps up and then taper begins - Christmas!!!! - (not pictured) I finish my first semester in engineering school with a 4.0

Bonus: All my training and races this year put me at over 1000 miles for the year! That's just over double my mileage from last year!

I am still having a hard time believing I managed to fit allll of that in this year. If someone had told me a year ago that that's what 2013 would hold, I don't think I would have believed them. 

I had 2 goals for 2013: conquer 13.1 and run a race every month. I think it's safe to say I blew both of them out of the water. I ran 5 half marathons this year, and PR'ed at 2 of them. What I most wanted was redemption for my first half marathon, and I got it in the form of a 30 minute PR at Shamrock this year. The half marathon distance no longer scares me - in fact, it might be my favorite!

As for my race goal, technically I didn't complete it because I missed May (injury) and August (no races worth running). However, I completed 18 races this year, so even though the timing wasn't exactly right, I think I can check this one off. 

I started 2013 with some ideas for what I might want to accomplish, but still with some reservations. I was afraid of actually committing to a lot of the goals I had, in fear of falling short. Over the course of the year, I worked hard both mentally and physically to actually complete those things. I learned so much this year, but I think the biggest lesson is that I can do anything as long as I put in the time, energy, and determination required. 

I'm starting 2014 with even bigger goals and dreams, and they really scare me, but I feel a little bit more confident knowing that I've worked and achieved goals before, and I can do it again. 

(Almost) Christmas in NYC

This post is ridiculously long, but I loved every single second of our trip and want to remember as much as possible!

We left home on Thursday morning, not quite as early as we planned but isn't that always the way it goes? We finally hit the road around 9am and had a 7.5 hour drive ahead of us. The drive took longer than expected also - we had hoped to make it in time to enter the lottery for tickets to The Book of Mormon that night. When we figured out we wouldn't make it, I got on StubHub on my phone and was able to purchase tickets. They were pricy, but we had seats in the front row and paid under face value even with fees included, so even though they were expensive they were a good deal.

We stayed in Brooklyn at a place we found through AirBnB, and had just enough time to drop the car off at the building, get our show tickets printed, and catch a train to Manhattan. Once we got to Broadway we had a quick dinner at a cafe before it was time for the show!

Our seats were the first two in the front row of the orchestra section. I had never been to a Broadway show before, and I loved the experience of sitting that close! I'm sure there were better views straight-on in other sections, but I loved that the actors were literally right.there. We could also see into the orchestra pit. I thought it was neat being able to see some behind-the-scenes things we wouldn't have seen in a different section.

The show itself was phenomenal! I was thoroughly entertained and thought it definitely lived up to the hype. It was a bit crude at some points, but that was to be expected. I'm definitely glad we made the choice to see this show, because it was something we both had wanted to do for a long time.

After the show, since we were already in Midtown, we walked to Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Everything was so pretty lit up, especially the tree!

Around 10:30 we made it back to our place and saw it for the first time and met the host. The apartment was gorgeous, amazing views of Manhattan. The host was Australian and super nice and hospitable. We were hungry so he recommended a late-night spot a few blocks away. I think we finally got to bed around 1am - long day but so much fun already!

Friday we slept in a little bit. We had no concrete plans until around 5:30, and we weren't sure what we wanted to do. We headed into Midtown again planning to your NBC studios, but the next available tour wasn't for another hour. Instead we decided to do Top of the Rock, which was truthfully the better decision. What a view!

After Top of the Rock we started walking to Niketown, but on the way I spotted a Zara and went in. I got a jacket I've had bookmarked on my computer for 3 months, and it was on sale, score! I spent more money than I should have at Nike, but...it's Nike, and I love it. Oh well.

I started getting some pain in my knee this week, so next we went in search of a running store so I could get a brace for it (I was worried about all the walking I was doing in shoes that were not made for walking). I tried a tri shop first, no luck, but they directed me to a running shop nearby. At first the boy who showed me where the knee braces were was completely unhelpful, but then another girl came to help and she was awesome! She actually discouraged me from using a brace and gave me some free strips of KT tape instead and recommended her favorite reflexologist in the city to me. I didn't have enough time for it before my run (she recommended 72 hours, or at least 48, and I only had about 36), but it is something I plan to look into at home. 

After the running store we made a stop in Chelsea before heading back to the apartment. We ate lunch at Chelsea Market (and saw Google on the way there - nerd husband says heyyy) and walked the Highline. I really loved what we saw of Chelsea!

Afterward we went back to Brooklyn to get ready for the real reason we came to New York in the first place. One of our favorite bands since high school, Brand New, announced last month that they were going to play two shows, two full albums at each show. We got tickets to the first night, in Long Island.

Getting there included me having to pee is some bushes outside a 7-11 because they had no restroom, and that should have been an omen that my expectations would continue to fail to be met the rest of the night. The show was good, in some ways great even, but we didn't end up seeing what we (and the entire venue) thought we'd be seeing, and unfortunately that kind of ruined the whole experience. I wish I could have enjoyed it more, I was just shocked and confused that it went down the way it did.

We made it back to Brooklyn at nearly 1am and went straight to bed.

Saturday morning we were lazy again and had nothing on our agenda for the day. After we got ready we decided to go to Williamsburg and tour Brooklyn Brewery. We got to the brewery about 45 minutes before the next tour, so we took some time to walk around and explore Williamsburg. We walked to a really nice waterfront part and sat there for a few minutes before heading back to the brewery for our tour. The tour was short but quite informative and interesting! Afterward we hung out in the bar area and finished our beers, bought a couple of beer glasses, and left.

After the tour we walked a few blocks to a movie dinner theater called the Nitehawk. It is based on my father-in-law's dinner theater, The Commodore, and the owners worked closely with him to open their theater. We had never been, so we went and got a short tour of the theater, which was quite lovely!

Our plan next was to go back to Manhattan and go to the MoMA. On the walk to the subway we stopped so I could buy a scarf and ring from a street vendor. For some reason, I was really excited about doing so.

We got to the MoMA with about 2 hours until closing time, and since we were starving, our first stop was the cafe in the museum. We figured we had enough time to hit 2 floors of the museum, which were the 2 we really wanted to see anyway. We saw so many amazing works of art! It was completely overwhelming and I was on sensory overload, but it was an awesome experience. 

After the MoMA we got on the train and headed uptown. Our first stop was to see the diner from Seinfeld - we took a quick selfie and then left, because we are not weird and awkward at all. We ate dinner a few blocks away at a tiny but amazing Italian restaurant (I had to have my pre-long run meal of garlic basil linguine). At dinner, I was able to cross something off my bucket list - we left a $100 tip for our waiter! I don't know why, but this is something I have wanted to do for a while, but never really found myself with the right opportunity. Our waiter wasn't even ridiculously incredible or anything, but I think we were just so happy to be in New York together, to be fortunate enough to just...be in that moment, that we wanted to share the love and make someone's holiday. 

By the time we finished we were completely exhausted. We headed back to Brooklyn where I ate my pre-run dessert of Cheerios before passing out.

Sunday was our last day in New York, and I was up early to get ready for my 14 mile run! My first guide met me in the lobby of the apartment, and we ran through Brooklyn and over the Williamsburg Bridge to meet my second guide. From there we went across the Manhattan Bridge back to Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, through lower Manhattan and ended in SoHo. I was physically beat by the end but it was worth it. I got to get in my run AND see so much of the city, doesn't get better than that! We had some train changes that prevented us from getting back as soon as we would have liked, but we finally made it back to Brooklyn to pack up. Before we left, I was starving and wanted breakfast (at 1pm), so we hit up a diner about 3/4 of a mile from our apartment. I ordered a ton of food, and it was completely perfect and amazing. And with that, we headed back home!

Weekly Workouts 12/16 and 12/23

Ack, so many posts, so little time! Has it really been 2 weeks since I posted a workouts recap? Oops. Things have been so crazy these last few weeks I feel like I've barely even sat down at a computer for more than 5 minutes.

Week of 12/16-12/22
This week was a stepback week in running mileage, yay! I had my longest weekday run ever at 9 miles, but my long run was only 14 miles. Excuse me for a minute while I laugh at the fact that I just said "only 14 miles" hahahaha wow, thanks marathon training! The bad news is I started developing some knee pain (I am thinking runner's knee, but not positive) that hasn't totally resolved itself. It hasn't affected my running in any way, so that's good, but it's still annoying to not be able to bend my knee correctly. The whole week I ate and drank WAY too much and slept not enough at all

I was not expecting much from Monday's run. Sunday night I hung out (i.e. drank wayyyy too much) with a friend who is in town who I hadn't seen in a year. I woke up Monday feeling sufficiently crappy but that didn't change the fact that I had 5 miles to get through. Surprisingly, they weren't terrible and I even pushed myself to make the last mile my fastest at 9:16, and ended up with 9:40 average overall. It's hard not to enjoy a run with a view like this!

I see this view on my runs 5 or 6 times a week and it never gets old!

Tuesday I did an hour total on the trainer, but because of some things I had going on, I had to split it in to a 40-minute and 20-minute session. I also completed a weight training session - started my strength training for runners program again, which meant 12 reps, my least favorite workout! I would much rather do higher weight/fewer reps than lower weight/more reps.

Wednesday was 9 miles. I ran the first 4 alone and was struggling to get through them. After the 4-mile loop I was back at my house where I met my dad and a friend and we finished the last 5 together. The pace was still slow, but it was nice having company! Later, I realized that I was exactly a month away from the marathon, scary but exciting!

Thursday I needed to get in 5 miles before leaving for NYC, so I headed out at 6:00am. It ended up being one of the scariest runs of my life. I don't know if I was in any real danger or if I was just on high alert running alone and in the dark (most likely scenario), but I was creeped out enough by a guy who came up running behind me, out of nowhere, and then stopped when he got right to me, that I called my husband and dog to meet me. It was smooth sailing after that, but I think it will be a while before I put myself in that situation again.

Friday was an unplanned rest day. I had thought I'd be able to sneak in a core workout while we were in NYC, but I wouldn't even have had time if I wanted to!

Saturday was my planned rest day since I had a long run on Sunday.

Sunday was my long run in NYC! I was really looking forward to it, and it lived up to my expectations. I will be doing a full review on the run and the experience with City Running Tours.

Week of 12/23-12/30
My last big push before taper time! This was actually my peak week (by less than a mile, from Week 11) and it ended with my longest run yet: 22 miles!

Monday I ran 5 miles with a training buddy at an easy pace. I don't like to run the day after my long run, but sometimes it just happens that way.

Tuesday was Christmas Eve, and I frantically tried to pack in all the errands, gift-wrapping, and working out I needed to do that day. I somehow got in both my workouts, a (boring) hour on the trainer and a strength training session.

Wednesday I had the most glorious 5 mile Christmas run! I spent all day planning to run at a certain time, then not getting to, rescheduling, then repeat...I finally got it done right before dark and it ended up being the best run I have had in quite some time!

Thursday I was up ridiculously early to hit up the after-Christmas gift wrapping sales with my mom, and afterward I ran with my dad around our old neighborhood. My stomach wasn't feeling great and my legs felt like bricks, but after a couple of miles I started to get more comfortable. I was running around a 10:15 pace the whole time but the last mile I pushed myself to kick it into high gear and busted out a 9:34 mile 5!

Friday was a rest day! I spent it shopping with my mom and resting up (fighting a cold, grrr) before my BIG run, my last long run of marathon training!

Saturday was the biggest day yet of my running career, no big deal. Not only did I run 22 miles, my newest distance PR, but those miles put me at over 1000 for the year! That wasn't something I had set out to do, but it was a pretty cool milestone to reach. I ran 14 miles alone before meeting my dad and training buddy to finish the last 8. Having them there was a huge help. I felt pretty good for most of the run, but I started to lose some steam around mile 18. I remember being about 17.5 miles in and actually saying out loud, "It's been over 3 hours, what's another 45 minutes?" Turns out...it was a lot. 19 miles in, I was hurting pretty badly, mentally and physically. I got a little pep talk from my peeps, cried it out for a few seconds, and kept going. I posted a picture the night before my run, just a simple picture that said, "You are going to be great. Keep going." That was the mantra I adopted for this run, and I kept going back to it when things got tough. Once I got to mile 20 I was actually starting to feel a little better, at least mentally. Physically, I'm not sure if the movement I was making could still be considered "running," but I know that my feet were off the ground and somehow I was moving forward, so I guess it counts. I had to slow down during these miles but I never walked or stopped. At mile 21 I actually started to pick it up a little. I think it's more mental than physical, but no matter if I'm running 5 miles or 20, once I get to that last mile and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I tend to suddenly get a little pep in my step. I actually hit 22 miles a little earlier than I had planned, and since I technically wasn't at the "finish line" (the sidewalk in front of my house - it's where I finish all my runs, I don't stop until I get to that point) I just kept on trucking. I turned on my power song and with every block I crossed, I kicked it into higher gear. I ended up running an extra .2 miles and Garmin tells me my pace for that last .2 was 8:46! Overall pace for the run was 10:41, not too shabby! That's actually about 10 seconds per mile faster than I ran my 20-miler. I would be very, very pleased to run that pace in 3 weeks. This run was not easy, but other than wanting to stop and chop off my left leg starting at around mile 19, I am really happy and pleasantly surprised with how it went.

Sunday I did some strength training in my new home gym! I have been working out at home for almost a year now and my workout space has been less than ideal. I have a mat, some dumbbells, and a little corner in living room. It's all I've really needed, but I will admit it's been pretty limiting. My sweet, romantic husband took it upon himself to upgrade some of my equipment and help me expand my space as part of my Christmas present!

This is our spare room and has always been our catch-all room. It's our ferret/cat room, craft/home improvement project room, but mostly our junk room. We did some major rearranging and overhaul of our furniture and are in the process of turning this room into a room we can actually use. The animals will still live there, but I actually have a place to set up my sewing machine and craft area now. Its main use will be for working out, though. We have plans to put in a TV and some display areas for my medals and retired shoes. I can't wait to get it all set up! 
After I finished working out, I rested for a little bit then did yoga. I don't know if it was because of the run, the lifting, or the fact that it had been 2 weeks since I had done yoga, but my legs felt awful. I think it was good for me to do anyway, though. 

And now...I have arrived in Taper Town! 

High Five For Friday + The Big One

It's been a while...the day after my last post, my husband and I went to New York for 4 days, and things have not slowed down since!

I'm linking up today for High Five For Friday! Some of the things I am loving this week...

1. Christmas! Let's just go ahead and get that out of the way, because obviously it's at the top of the list. I got some running/triathlon goodies, and this may possibly be the best one (for my marathon in, oh, only 22 days!)

2. Running buddies! I think I've run more with others than alone in the past couple of weeks, which is unusual for me but much appreciated! I have really come to realize recently that, while I really do love running alone and need that time to myself, having a friend or two can really make the miles zoom by.

3. Our trip to New York. I am working on the world's longest recap of anything ever, but for now here are some highlights of our trip.

4. Weeds. So like 2 weeks ago I was obsessed with Scandal...then I had no episodes of Scandal left to watch and it was on to the next round of binge-watching. Weeds has been in our queue for years but I had never watched it until last week sometime. I'm not AS obsessed as I was with Scandal, but it's keeping me entertained. I rarely watch TV but when I do, it's because I'm on break and can host my own TV marathons.

5. Running. I know I already mentioned running, but this is different. I've been struggling with some serious indifference to running lately and going back and forth between loving and hating it. After my run on Sunday, I actually contemplated throwing in the towel on the whole thing. But then, a Christmas miracle...I had hoped to run in between opening presents at our house and going to my parents' house...didn't happen. Then I was hoping the new Garmin we got my dad would sway him into running with me after we ate...didn't happen. Instead I spent 5 merry miles running my normal route, alone, at dusk, and it was AMAZING! It was mentally and physically the best run I've had in quite some time. Whether it means I'm getting my running mojo back or not, who knows, but I will celebrate any good run at this point!

That leads me to...The Big One, aka my last long run before the marathon. I am running 20-22 miles, 14 alone then meeting my dad and a friend for the last 6-8. To say that I am feeling tired and worn out and overwhelmed at this point is a huge understatement. I am. Everything hurts. I'm exhausted. Every day there's a new pain somewhere that I didn't even know pain could exist. And yet, I just keep pushing. Because as hard as it is to keep going, I know in my heart it would feel so much worse to quit. I said I thought about dropping out of the race, and I was serious. Not for long, but I was. I told my husband, and he told me what I needed to hear: how disappointed I'd be in myself if I didn't follow through. I am not a quitter. I do not give up. Propositum tene, that's my motto.
(I don't have it tattooed on my wrist for nothin'!)
I've been thinking a lot lately, reflecting on everything I've done and accomplished this year, and it is A LOT. I have been so busy just DOING things this year, always working, always striving for the next thing, always pushing, checking goals off my lists and immediately making new ones, that I haven't really taken a step back to stop and look at all my hard work. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm astounded I was able to do even half the things I did this year, and a big part of that was preparing for this marathon. Now it's the day before my last long run. After tomorrow, I can punch my card to taper town. Making this training plan in June, I don't know if I ever really thought about this moment. Every run, I wonder how I'll get through it. But the most important thing I've learned? I will. I may not know how, but I will. Six months ago I didn't know how I'd get through training for my first Olympic tri, or how I'd get through the race itself. I didn't know how I'd run 4 more half marathons, and more than that on a weekly basis. I really didn't. But I've done it, just by putting one foot in front of the other. I'm not quite there yet, but I am so, SO close. All I have to do is keep going.