November Recap

I can't believe we are already 3 days into December! I am really looking forward to this month - for one, I finish classes in one week and will be free to really focus on my marathon training! I am also inexplicably REALLY excited about the upcoming holiday season. I really hope this month doesn't fly by too fast.

November was a GREAT month for me, and since I didn't really blog about it, I did want to hit some of the highlights.

On the 3rd I ran the City of Oaks Half Marathon in Raleigh, NC, where my sister- and brother-in-law live. I had only been to Raleigh once before this and was blown away by how beautiful the course was! It was a perfect fall day, with multi-colored leaves in view on the whole run. It was great. The only downside was that it was HILLY! I have run maybe....6 total miles of runs with hills, ever. That was my experience with them. I had no idea to expect them on this course (didn't do my homework I guess), so I was definitely caught off guard. I had a head cold and was honestly unsure how this run was going to go, and if I'd even be able to finish. Despite these things, I had an amazing run and felt (mostly) great, and ended the day with a new half marathon PR - 2:09:59 - and a distance PR of 14.22 miles. I wasn't trying for a PR at all and was shocked that I had done it. It's only a PR by 15 seconds, but when I set my previous goal, I had REALLY wanted to be under 2:10 and I came up a little short. I actually got teary when I saw my results and realized that I had finally made that sub-2:10 I had been searching for. I was on top of the world!

The next weekend, I had previously planned to run the Outer Banks Half Marathon, but ultimately decided against it since I knew I'd already be traveling 3 weekends this month. I ended up finding myself there anyway, since some friends invited my husband and I to their beach house for the weekend. We headed down on Saturday after my long run - a new PR of 15 miles! - and spent Saturday and Sunday there. The OBX Marathon and Half Marathon were being held on Sunday and, while I planned to go out and watch the race...when the time came, sleep was more enticing. However, later in the day we were out and drove along a little bit of the course, when I saw the last marathoner. She had just reached the halfway checkpoint, over 3.5 hours into the race, and the cop car was following right behind her. I cannot express the emotions I felt watching this woman. She was visibly struggling just to walk - it didn't take me long to figure out that she was in for a long second half of the race and was in danger of not even finishing for her. My heart ached for her in a way I think only we runners can ache for each other. Our friends commented on how at that point they'd just give up, and my heart sank at the thought. I emphatically disagreed with them. For the rest of the day, my thoughts kept coming back to her, and they still do sometimes when I run. Everywhere we went after that (especially restaurants!) there were runners still decked out in their marathon bibs and medals, and all I could think about was how I can't wait to join their ranks!

The following weekend I was on the road again, this time to my other sister-in-law's in Richmond for the Richmond Half Marathon, my 6th ever and last for the year. I headed to the expo on Friday night to pick up my packet and was so impressed! I love an awesome expo, and it had been a while since I'd been to one. The official merchandise was great - I picked up a shirt that says "2013.1" My goal for this year was to conquer 13.1 and I really feel like I did it, and wanted to commemorate that, so the shirt was perfect! I was also able to pick up a "Virginia is for Runners" shirt, which I have been eyeing for a while, from my favorite tech tee company. The race itself was also great. I was expecting hills, but they weren't nearly as rough as City of Oaks. I started off the race feeling kind of rough. It took about 5 miles for my brain and legs to get in sync, and after that I felt amazing. The miles seriously flew by and before I knew it I was in the home stretch, running downhill (yes!!!), and then crossing the finish line. I honestly don't know that I've ever been so happy in a race before! Even though I knew I didn't PR (nor was I trying to - thankfully my accidental PR at City of Oaks really took off the pressure for that), I still finished in 2:12:15, only a couple minutes off my PR. And with that race, I officially qualified for Half Fanatics! It was a great race and I was so, so happy to feel like I spent all year battling the half marathon, and I totally won.

A couple days after the Richmond Half Marathon, these beauties were released:

Now, I'm not one to get excited about medals, but this was pretty exciting for me. Seeing the medal I'll get when I cross the finish line of my FIRST MARATHON was big. And, as if I needed another sign that Charleston needs to be my first, what is on the medal but the (New) Cooper River Bridge?! This bridge is a Chucktown icon and is part of the reason why I'm in school to be a future bridge-builder. True story. Running helped give me the confidence to go after this dream and there is nothing the race directors could have put on that medal for it to be more special to me.

The next weekend was finally a weekend at home, and I spent it running a new distance PR of 17 miles. SEVENTEEN! Even though it was quite an eventful run, with an emergency Hardee's pit stop and trying to rescue a stray dog from getting hit in traffic, I ran it a little bit faster than my 15-mile run 2 weeks before it.

The last week of November was Thanksgiving, and what a holiday it turned out to be. Going out of town to the middle of the mountains turned out to be just what I needed. I felt refreshed and like a load had been lifted off my shoulders. I had a great time running our own turkey trot with my dad, hitting up a legit Christmas tree farm, and spending time with my family.

In terms of running, November was my best month yet with 125 miles total and my highest week (36 miles). I can't wait to see what December brings!

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