Monday, October 20, 2014

The Columbus Marathon race recap.

This seems so appropriate for my 100th blog post!  My favorite race in my favorite city deserves a special spotlight.

On our way!

I initially signed up for the half marathon and in June after going to the HDSA National Convention in Louisville in June.  I was pumped up, I was inspired, I wanted to run another 26.2 for my Dad and to celebrate my birthday by running the same marathon - twice - in the same year of my life.  My intentions were good, I had other races lined up to help with training runs and I was really excited about this year's race season.  Yep, I'm a *real* runner now, I have a race season!  It's crazy.

Flat Lindsay, ready to go.

Check out those Bride and Birthday girl buttons on my awesome sash!

Things were going well and when I ran the Emerald City in August I was on par with where I needed to be to run the full 26.2 again.  When I got a sinus infection following the race, was out from training for a whole three weeks, I was really skeptical about being ready.  I thought I would dredge on and finish somehow, but the more I thought about it I knew that was a bad idea.  Could I have finished?  Sure.  Would I have ended up in a walking boot with a stress fracture from being severely undertrained?  Probably.  No bride wants to wear a walking boot down the aisle so I decided to play it safe by sticking with the half marathon.  The race was sold out and I couldn't transfer my bib back to the half, so I made the turn with the half marathoners and called it a day.  Best decision ever.  The only thing is I feel weird about wearing a 26.2 shirt I didn't earn and hanging a 26.2 medal on my rack I didn't complete… so I'll hang it in the back.

Hellooooo from the starting line!

SO… to the actual race!  We headed to Columbus on Saturday late morning after dropping Penny off at her favorite doggie boarding spot.  (She subsequently broke out of her crate in the middle of the night and the staff found her in the small dog yard in the morning, but that's neither here nor there… she does what she wants.) We stopped for Raising Cane's for lunch and met up with our wedding florist and checked off our very last vendor after having all the others booked for at least the last 10 months!  We made it to the expo at around 3:30pm, right during the Ohio State game, and it was PACKED.  I was so surprised at how busy it was during the game, but not everyone who runs this race is from Columbus so I can understand.  The expo was big and awesome, as usual, and held at the Columbus Convention Center.  There was a Nike store, other race vendors, the few running stores in Columbus were represented, and many fun booths with swag and gear.  I picked up a few packages of sports beans and made my way upstairs to pick up my race pack.  They had the list of those celebrating their birthdays and gave out birthday buttons again, but I didn't get one because my birthday is today, Monday, instead of either Saturday or Sunday.  No worries, I had my own birthday button to wear!  I was pretty much in and out without any problems.  Kyle and I went to Olive Garden, our old stomping grounds, for dinner instead of my desired Spaghetti Warehouse just for logistical purposes and I was full and happy.  We went back to our hotel and set the alarms for 5:00AM - someone (not me) wasn't happy about it, but he's a good sport!

I woke up just a few minutes before the alarm went off and I was up and ready to go.  I fixed my hair a bit and of course put on some mascara (cameras are everywhere, hello!) and put on my very favorite race outfit to date.  I was celebrating my last race bling before the ring and I wanted to go in bridal style!  I had a shirt made with some pink fabric paint but my cat, Felix, jumped on the table just as I had finished it and walked right through the paint.  Fail.  I bought another shirt.

I was ready to go and we headed to Panera for my usual bagels for the drive.  Yes, I eat two plain bagels before a half!  My other races have been on Saturdays and I forgot until we pulled in that Panera doesn't open until 7 on Sundays instead of 6, so that didn't go so well.  There was luckily a Tim Horton's not too far away and I got my bagel fix there. The one perk of race season - bagels.  Mmmm.

The weather was perfect, about 45 degrees with an expected high of about 55 and sunny for the day.  Honestly, this was my ideal running weather and I was loving every second of the cool air.  In the corrals there were so many people that you couldn't feel the coolness and I was warm while waiting for the race to start.  The start and finish was combined this year, unlike previous years, and it was a bit confusing to get into the corrals when the whole block was fenced off.  I was in the very back in corral D and that was the only entrance I saw into the area and there were TONS of people.  The bathrooms there were way backed up and I had seen some further up and fought the crowd to get to them and back into my area.  I think that's definitely an improvement they will need to look into for future years if they choose to keep that same place for the combined start/finish, but they're aware.  I don't know how the A and B corrals ever got where they needed to be unless there was another gate to get in that I never saw.

Anyway, I arrived around 7:00 and before I knew it, it was 7:25 and the wheelchair athletes were off!  I ran into a few instagram followers/friends (Hey Katie! Lyndsey! Lisa! whoop whoop!) The big perk for our large field of athletes is they have a double start so everyone can enjoy it since we're wrapped around either a city block or in this case in a U shape this year.  The national anthem was sung, and the fireworks were set off.  Those of you who know me know I HATE fireworks, but it sure was a pretty way to start the day!  Then once the A and B corrals were off they did the whole thing over again for the C and D corral and that is truly one of my favorite parts of this race - it's all about the experience for everyone!  The new start was electric - the street was lined with speakers so the music was pumping and the fans at the start in the new bleachers and all along the roads were packed in.  There's always great crowd support but I think this years start was better than previous years!  The first two miles flew by with all the people and cheering.  I didn't feel as cramped nor did I experience the dodging that comes with bigger races and people all trying to get away from each other at the start, it was fabulous.

One of my favorite race signs! Others included "Run like Ebola is chasing you!l, "I don't know about you...but I'm feeling 26.2!", and "You've got me!"

Every mile of the Columbus Marathon has a patient champion represented and the mile is decorated with their chosen theme.  All of these kiddos have been patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital, home of my first nursing job out of school, and it holds a special place in my heart.  It was my mission to have a fun time, high five and greet each and every patient champion, and all the parents in mile 11, the Angel Mile, who were there to honor their angels who have already finished their race.  It is always a very emotional mile for me, but this year after some experiences I have encountered in my nursing career, it hit even closer to home.  I wanted to hug and thank each family for supporting US through their grief.  I'm tearing up just writing about it, and I can't explain what it's like to see these people smiling and cheering in honor of their children for US.  I have a special bond with some families and have shared in some part of their grief over the last year, and I can only imagine their faces as I ran through the mile.  Every sign of their babies, some smiling, some intubated but with pretty bows in their hair and their big eyes looking at the camera, reminds me of my job and my families.  Our families. I am so thankful for my job and these families who trust me with their babies day in and day out, and my heart is both full and aches in a constant feeling of wondering if I did enough, if we did enough, every day that I work.  These families are like my families and they are there for all of us running through their mile.  It's more than I can put into words.  More than I can properly convey.  I shook the hands of each parent holding a sign of their sweet loved children and wiped the tears with my sleeves as I carried on.

I had no intentions of PRing.  I had no intentions of being able to run the whole race considering how the last few weeks have gone.  But when I was finishing mile 11 and my RunKeeper app told me my time and I was figuring it out in my head - if I kept running, I would CRUSH my PR.  There was a PR gong waiting in the finishers area to be hit by all those who scored PR's that day and I wanted to HIT IT.  So off I went; through mile 11, the turn into 12, past the 13 mile sign and across that finish line in 2:40:58 according to my RunKeeper.  2:42 official time.  I had done it!  My PR of 2:46 was SMOKED, my last weeks time of 2:50 DEMOLISHED… I had finally freaking done it.  Minus greeting those parents and patients and the slow down through the water stops - I had run the whole half marathon.  I was elated and got through the finishers area with my marathon medal (whoops… but it's the bib I had!) and got my finisher goodie bag, water, chocolate milk and cookie.  I went out the athlete exit to look for my family and fiancĂ© and to FIND THAT GONG.  While it was a big cluster of people, I never found the gong.  I found my family and I got hugs and pictures and we called it a day.  I was on top of the world and I knew that if I wouldn't have felt guilty having them wait several more hours for me, I would have kept going and finished that marathon.  Just knowing that I could have done it had I really wanted to makes me feel like I can do anything.  On this day last year I completed a marathon, not knowing how I would make it through and with a lot of convincing from my sidekick, Carrie, I crossed the finish line.  This year - I could have done it.  I know I could.  I am confident that with the right mindset I can accomplish all of my dreams, both physical and beyond that.  I know I will one day get to my goal weight, I know one day I'll finish that triathlon and I will finish another marathon.  I have so much life ahead of me and I know I will accomplish everything I want to do in my life - and that is enough for me.  It may sound arrogant and it may seem cocky - but the confidence I have in myself and my abilities isn't something I had a year or 18 months ago.  The mental changes I have had over this two year journey is bigger than the pounds lost or the new clothes I can fit into.  The Lindsay who hid behind jokes and smiles is no longer hiding - they are genuine feelings that I have 99% of the time.  Not every day is good, but there is good in every day.  Yesterday was both a good day and there was so much good in the day that it was palpable.

My hubby-to-be met me at the finish! And my step mom's finger also made the shot! Haha!

I'll see you next year, Columbus.  My favorite city, my favorite place.  My home.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Inaugural Queen Bee Half Marathon!

You guys, I've got 10 medals for 10 half marathons.  I can't even believe it! I'm so glad I could celebrate my 10th with my good friend Leah during the Queen Bee half marathon here in Cincinnati.

I knew it would be a fabulous event - they've been advertising like crazy and the organizers also run the Flying Pig every spring so they knew what they were doing.  The field was small but didn't feel like it even when the half marathon separated from the 4 miler runners.  I never had a time where I didn't have people around me, not including Leah :)

They sent out the final race details last week and I found out that there would be some pretty sweet mile sponsors and treats out on the course - so much so that I didn't even pack fuel for this race so that meant no fanny pack!  I would be free of carrying anything because Leah and I were riding together which was a nice change.  In fact, I lost my armband for my phone so I didn't even have music which is strange for me.  Our goal was to get me to run the whole thing and for her not to die since it had been about 10 years since she's ran (did I mention it was a whole marathon that she ran?  She totally had this, I knew it before we started!) and she teaches Zumba more days a week than some people work so she's in great shape.

Packet pickup was Friday at the Horseshoe Casino which was also where the race started and finished the next day.  The casino is new and I hadn't been yet, so I drug Kyle along to check it out.  There were tons of vendors, packet pickup was smooth thanks to the volunteers, and the expo (yes, there was a real expo for this race and I was thoroughly impressed) was stocked full of goodies and girly products thanks to P&G.  I picked up my new favorite shirt that says "I ran this Beeatch!" which has been the best race slogan to date.  Love it!

I found myself!

Saturday morning I met Leah in the parking lot of our gym and we cruised downtown to the casino.  We didn't hit any traffic and got a decent parking spot in the garage, headed inside, and waited in the warm building with real bathrooms to be used, a major highlight of the race!  We headed outside around 7:45 to get to the start line.  

I'll take this...

There was music and everyone was dancing, including an older gentleman on the roof of the casino parking garage that was getting everyone's attention as he jammed out to Pharrel's "Happy".  He made my day!  We heard some announcements from a local weather lady and then comments from the race director, Iris Simpson-Bush.  She seems fabulous and I kind of want to be as awesome as her!  A female barbershop quartet sang the national anthem and we were off!  There were a few men running and they had to start 15 minutes later - loved it! (Although they still passed us, I didn't mind)

The rooftop dancer!

The first two and a half miles were all uphill.  Seriously.  I was thinking this was a good idea to get them out of the way, and it probably was, but the extra effort came back to bite me in the butt at the end of the race and I didn't get the quicker start like I'm used to.  We averaged about 12:40 minutes/mile those first few miles and then when we hit the glorious downhills that followed we shaved a minute off the pace.  Starting at mile 4 they had all kinds of goodies - Twizzlers, Starburst jelly beans, Honey Stinger gel AND jell-o shots, the Queen's Royal Tea (iced tea in a race!), a Chippendale's mile (men in t-shirts that looked like Chippendale bodies, it was a trick!), and lots of great themed water stops.  I was very impressed by the creativity and also in the city of Cincinnati for coming out for a smaller race that is new - there was a decent amount of crowd support that I wasn't expecting and needed.. so thank you, all of you, for coming out Saturday morning!

It was our original goal, like I mentioned, to run the entire thing.  It's been my goal for this year to be able to run the whole race and PR, but it hasn't happened yet, and it didn't happen Saturday either.  I was giving it my all and after the opening hilly miles and another big hill in mile 6 I was totally exhausted.  I was ready to slow down by mile 8 truthfully, but knowing Leah had the car keys and we both had stuff to do later in the day I knew I had to keep going.  I thought at mile 10 I was going to have to start run/walking but Leah was so supportive and was the one cheering me on - yes, in my 10th half marathon and in her 1st official half (she has run a full marathon but never a half!) without any training, she was the one who was encouraging me.  She was literally running circles around me, and never stopped.  It was amazing!  She kept telling me it's all about the Zumba and it works!  So keep that in mind, all you non-runners, that you can do it too if you wanted!  We saw her kids right before the dreaded hill at mile 6 and they were so cute, as usual.

I made it until mile 11 before I had to slow down, and I finished the last two miles in a walk/run.  Leah kept saying "just think about how you can write in your blog about the race how you didn't walk! Just keep going!" but my shuffle was so slow I was better off walking really and as right as she was, my legs just didn't have it in me to pick them up and go any faster.

We finished the course in 2:53 for 13.55 miles, and I stopped my Garmin at 13.1 in 2:50, pretty much my average for the last few races.  We headed through the finish line running like Phoebe does on the show Friends and I loved every minute of it.  We got our medals from some handsome Army dudes, picked up water, chocolate milk, a banana, got a race picture taken together, and headed to the after party to collect our flip flops, free Skyline coney dog, and mimosa!  The mimosa line was really long and I wasn't feeling great so we skipped it and headed to the car.  The medals are awesome and they open up and have a mirror inside - a perfect addition to this fabulous ladies race.

Mmm Skyline!

Fabulous bling! 
(photo credit to the Queen Bee facebook page)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wedding Wednesday - October Edition!

Happy October! Also, my apologies for not posting this last week, I didn't realize that Wednesday brought us a new month  and a date for this post!

We are officially 66 days away! Only 9 more Saturday's before our dream day comes to life.

We've spent the last month getting lists of things left to do made, payments arranged, wedding bands chosen, celebrating our 1 year engagement date, and choosing my veil! Lots of little details have been brought to my attention and we're in the process of sorting out what is important, what can wait, what we have left to pay on and when those are due. We chose a venue for our rehersal dinner space that will double as a birthday party for our ring bearer and nephew, Levi. We also chose tuxedos for the guys and made some decisions on the florist.

Invitations went out this week as well! I'm excited to get RSVP's back and see the fun things our guests filled in. We used some mad libs, a "fun-o-meter" that's to be filled in, a place for advice and a song request. I have gotten so much positive feedback about how amazing these invitations are and I couldn't be more pleased with them. I also chose Kyle's wedding gift and got to work on it.

Next up? Getting together with all our vendors for final meetings, starting the dress fittings, and waiting for RSVP's to fill our mailbox!

Run Like a Girl! Half marathon edition.

This morning I completed my 9th half marathon! 

I was very much looking forward to the Run Like a Girl half marathon for a few reasons - 1. I LOVE running in Columbus!  It's a nice and flat area compared to much of Cincinnati. I feel home and happy in Columbus. 2. I haven't done a women's only race! No dudes running around shirtless and being all crazy fast and intimidating.

I didn't check the course map until last night. I knew it started in the downtown area so I assumed it would be similar to the Columbus Marathon course. I was surprised to find out I was wrong! We started at the Columbus Commons, a new park area I hadn't been to yet that was built a few years ago. We started and finished here, going out and back along the Scioto Trail, down and around, then out and back a portion of the Olentangy Trail. When I trained for my first half marathon, we used the Olentangy trail, but it is so long I don't think we ever made it far enough along it to where we ran today. 

I also want to clear up a misconception I had about Columbus being flat - not all of it is! There were some rolling hills on the trails and even though I felt good, they were surprising. 

Another small surprise was the extreme shift in the weather we had over the last 24 hours! When I left Cincinnati yesterday, it was 75 degrees with some rain. This morning I woke up to intermittent showers and a starting temperature of 39 degrees. THIRTY. NINE. I knew we were supposed to cool down with yesterday's rain but it was frigid. I hid out in the exit of the underground garage to stay warm while waiting on the start and then all of us that were hiding out in there got asked to move out. 8:10 rolled around and we were off!

Flat Lindsay ready to run!

I warmed up in the first mile and was feeling great. I was averaging 11:48 for my pace the first 3.5ish miles and was feeling so strong. That quickly changed as I realized I should have stopped at the bathroom I passed. I have never had to stop during a race but today was the exception. I asked the next water stop volunteers if there was a bathroom at the 4.5 mile turnaround and they said no. Shoot. I had to start walking before mile 4 just to make sure I could finish the race with clean pants. No joke. And you're welcome for this story.

When I made it to mile 5.5 I got back to aforementioned bathroom and life got a whole lot better and I was on my way. 

I caught up to a girl who I decided was running a nice, steady pace and I was going to use her to my advantage. We started chatting and I learned it was her first half (and she was doing awesome! And I thanked her for pacing me) and we stayed together from about mile 6 until 10 when I needed to slow down and eat some sport beans. I told her to go ahead and finish strong (side note: I saw her at the finish and told her she was awesome and needed to pick her next one). It was also at about mile 6 that we got out of intermittent sprinkles and hit a steady rain and sleet combo that was truly miserable. It was frigid, windy, and wet. A certain recipie for sickness.

Miles 10-13 I walk/ran due to my hamstrings tightening up in the cold. My Achilles tends to start cramping up when I slow down later in races and I ran until it started tightening up on me and then shook it out Taylor Swift style and repeated. 

I knew a PR was potentially doable, even with the bathroom stop, but the walk/run slowed me enough that I'd be just making it. My RunKeeper had me at 2:48:02 with my PR being 2:46. SO CLOSE. Stupid stomach.

The finish was fairly uneventful, there was a photo backdrop and men in tuxedos awarding bottles, yes...BOTTLES of wine for finishers. Way to go, race organizers! The medal and shirt are cute and I'm a happy runner.

So much pink!

Next weekend is the inaugural Cincinnati Queen Bee half marathon and 4 miler. I'm pretty excited for another women's race and running with my speedy and fabulous friend Leah! Here's to weekend number 2 of 3 halfs for my favorite month!