Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SeaWheeze 2015!

Yes!!  Two posts for the month of August.  This is a BIG deal (heh, not really).  After our busy weekend last weekend, you’d think we’d take a weekend to stay at home and relax.  But, that sounds very unlike us.  Especially because it was SeaWheeze weekend!!!!  Plus, it was our 7-year anniversary this weekend.

SeaWheeze is one of my favorite weekends all year and definitely my favorite half marathon.  First of all, package pickup on Friday and the race start on Saturday are located in downtown Vancouver, with stunning views of the water and the mountains in the background.  On top of that, the decorations at the pop-up lululemon store and package pickup are always on point.
I don’t normally buy anything at the showcase store because by the time I’ve arrived in the past, it’s pretty much sold out except for very small sizes (which I am not).  This year, I decided to treat myself a bit.
I was pretty bummed that there weren’t any Tracker shorts left in my size.  I bet I could find them super marked up on eBay already =(  Lululemon has done a lot to help out with this problem.  Namely, imposing a 15-item limit and opening the store for 2 hours to runners only (I just didn’t get there in time).

I digress.

So, after we picked up our packages, we checked in to our hotel, went in search of food, and went to bed.  Pretty exciting stuff.

We got up at 5:30 am on Saturday, which was a lot easier than it sounds.  It’s the one good thing about living in Eastern Time Zone when your favorite race is on the west coast. 
Start line
I had developed a race strategy because, after my 2:10 last week, I was thinking that I could get something close to 2:05.   My plan was to run 9:40 miles until mile 7, run the next three miles at 9:30, and then the final miles at 9:20.  Alternatively, I was going to run with the 2:10 pace group and then break off if I was feeling good around mile 5 or 6.  Because of my race plan, Adam and I started together, but weren't planning on running together.

I ran my first two miles way too fast:
Mile 1:  8:50
Mile 2:  9:09
But then I settled in to a couple of 9:30 miles:
Mile 3:  9:30
Mile 4:  9:30
A little too fast, but it was early and I promised myself I’d settle down from then until 7.  Well, I lied to myself.  We started running up the hill to the Burrard Bridge and I was feeling great, even though I was running uphill.  I also wanted to get around as many people as possible because I knew from the last two years that things can get a bit gummed up when running over the bridge and I wanted to get ahead of as much of that as possible.  So, I accidentally ran a few faster miles:
Mile 5:  9:01
Mile 6:  8:51
I took a clif shot and some water at the water station around 5.5 miles (almost right in front of lululemon hq).  I was fully expecting the next mile to be tough as we ran up and over the same bridge, but after we got to the top, we would be running down the same hill that we ran up to get to the bridge.  Despite the uphill, I was still running a surprising pace and feeling even more surprisingly good:
Mile 7:  9:02
Mile 8:  8:54
It was about this point that I started doing some math in my head.  (I often entertain myself while running by doing math in my head)  Anyway, I knew that to theoretically run a half marathon under 2 hours, you had to average 9:09/mile.  I had never thought to set that as a goal because I just thought my speed and fitness weren’t quite there yet.  But, I started thinking that I was probably pretty darn close to averaging 9:09 or under because I had only run two miles over that pace.  I got pretty excited, but I still had a long ways to go, so I didn't want to get too excited.  I tried to run somewhat conservatively (key word "tried"):
Mile 9:  8:39
Mile 10:  8:54
Mile 11:  8:54
Mile 12:  9:01
Mile 13:  8:31

To the finish:  1:41
So, let me just do the math . . . the total time was 1:58:11!  
I'm still pretty shocked that I was able to pull that off.  I was fairly certain that I could go faster than I did in Iowa last weekend simply because the course was less hilly and not on gravel roads, but I never thought I'd go that much faster.  
Cutest medal ever
On top of this, my husband also beat his own person best time by approximately 5 minutes! 

Talk about a runner's high.  I felt like I was walking on clouds the rest of the day, admittedly with cement legs, but still . . .  We were both feeling so great that, after a Tim Horton's stop, a little nap, and a shower, we decided to check out the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park.
The bridge was pretty swing-y, but it was less disconcerting than I thought it would be.  Once you got to the middle of the bridge, there was a fantastic view looking up the canyon.
The crazy thing was that the waterfall was apparently more than a waterfall, it doubled as a water slide!?!  I wasn't touching that with a 10-foot pole.  I'm assuming that the water was cold and it was not exactly warm and/or sunny outside.  However, there was a group of guys that were apparently not so worried about the cold water:
At this point, we were starting to realize that we were approaching our limit for the day.  So, we decided to eat a big dinner and call it a night.  What a fantastic, amazing, memorable day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Maybe I'm back for a bit?

Oh hey there.  I know I’ve been MIA for awhile now (that’s probably an understatement), but I’ve been thinking for awhile about making an effort to begin writing here again.  I’m really not sure how long it’ll stick this time and I’m not entirely sure why I got the urge to start blogging again.  I’m not really looking for internet head pats (although I won’t complain if they come my way haha).  I guess I miss a couple things about blogging.  First, this blog serves as a fantastic journal and repository for pictures from hikes, races, and other miscellaneous trips and activities.  Second, I like that it adds a little extra accountability for staying in shape and on track if I’m working through a training plan.

So, my goal is to slowly backfill a few posts from things that I’ve done over the last 17 months (wow, it has been a long time since I posted here!), but also writing one maybe two current posts per week.  Okay, let’s dive on in and see how long this lasts…

I’m just going to backup to last weekend, because it was a blast!  Adam and I attended a family reunion in Iowa for my mom’s side of the family.  Now, traveling to Iowa from DC isn’t exactly a quick endeavor, especially if you’re trying to travel on Southwest and can’t leave until 7:30 at the earliest.  Long story short, we had decided to fly in to Chicago-Midway and then drive to Iowa.  We were already looking at arriving between 1am and 2am and then our flight was delayed nearly two hours (thanks, Southwest…).  That meant we ended up going to bed in Iowa slightly before 4 am.  Here’s the kicker:  A bunch of the family members, including us, had decided to run the Amana Colonies Back Road Half Marathon / 5K at 7am that morning.  Yes…I was so excited to run a hilly 13.1 miles (Iowa is not as flat as you think) on mostly gravel roads on 2 ½ hours of sleep.  But, we did it.  We got up and on the road by 6:30 am to drive the 25 minute drive to the start line.  We barely made it and it would have been even tighter if the race hadn’t started about 5 minutes late.
2 hours of sleep, but don't I look chipper?
The race ended up being a blast.  I’m trying to teach my sister how to run an even paced race, rather than going out fast and slowly dying.  So, I ran the first 6.5 miles with her making sure she didn’t go any faster than 9:30/mile.  After that point, I ventured off on my own to see what kind of a time I could get on this gravel, hilly course.  Coming in to the last couple miles, it looked like there was a pretty good chance that I could get under 2:10.  I was pretty excited about the possibility because my previous PR at the distance was 2:12:54 from the Birmingham Half Marathon in 2012.  The terrain had worn me out, however, so it was going to be close.  The last mile was paved and I was never so glad to feel pavement under my feet.  I got an additional spring in my step because I saw my parents waiting on the side of the road and then my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  I rounded the corner and could see the clock ticking down very close to 2:10…I picked it up and got it by the skin of my chin.  My official time ended up being 2:09:59 haha.
There were 22 members of the extended family that completed either the half marathon (6) or the 5K (16). 
A family that exercises together . . . 
It was an awesome start to the weekend, but we both needed a nap.  Of course, there would be no nap until we drove another 30 minutes, went swimming at the hotel with my adorable nephew, and then ate some lunch.  At that point, we took a two-hour nap (thus doubling the amount of sleep we’d had in a 24 hour period).

That evening, we had the actual family reunion at a park that I used to go to as a kid.  The playground has definitely been updated, but it was fun to see my nephew and my cousins’ children playing at the same park at which we used to play when we were younger.  Lots of food, lots of catching up, and lots of playing:
Boys in blue with bubbles
After that, it was time to go to bed EARLY.  I think we were asleep before 8:30.  I can’t tell you the last time that happened.  After nearly 12 hours of sleep, we had a relaxing morning hanging out at the hotel and then headed to the Irish Democrat for one of my favorite Cedar Rapids delicacies:  cheese wantons with what must be crack infused honey mustard sauce.  It has to be crack in the sauce because I hate even the slightest hint of mustard flavor, but I cannot stop dipping the wantons, fries, my fingers, anything into this stuff.
Then it was time for sad good-byes and a drive through the Iowa country side for our flight to DC.
Not Iowa =(
It was an exhausting weekend, but it was so fun.  I loved seeing my family and am super excited about my new half marathon PR!!  I can't wait for my next post on the Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver!!!!!