Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Recap

Monthly recap, May Edition!

Miles ran: 75.0 (lowest since January, which was expected given the taper and post-race rest)
Rest days: 19 (yikes!)
Highest mileage week: 33.5 (the week of the race)
Long runs: 2
Pace workouts: 1
XT days:  1, but does painting my kitchen count? Because I did that over the weekend. 
Tempo or interval runs: I did one hill interval workout pre-race
Favorite run: it was only part of the day's run, but probably the March of Dimes 5k. New PR, a good cause, and an award!  (edited after I realized the 5k was actually in April.) The 6.3 miles I ran last weekend where I found my pace
Current goal: set up my next training plan while everything is still fresh, and maintain a 20 mile/week base until I start training again.  
Current obsession: waiting for our new sofas to arrive! I've purchased accessory decor items, painted the adjoining kitchen, and can't stop trying to envision the finished room! At the 1-year mark in this house (late June), I want to feel like at least the downstairs is pulled together and really feels finished. Have I mentioned that I LOVE decorating?!?
Current need: A bunch of organizational bins for when I attack the upstairs! I'm going to go all Monica on our storage space. Oh, and I need a freaking haircut. STAT.
Current excitement: Some exciting things going on at work, mostly. NERD ALERT.  
Current bane of my existence:  Nothing even worth mentioning. Life is good!
Current wish list: Some new mp3s. I really don't have an excuse, I just need to do it. 
Current indulgence: The 4 pairs of shoes I purchased recently. What?! I said I needed new shoes last month!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Find your wings and soar

It's true--I have a low grade obsession with Target. Pretty much every weekend I go to Target to buy household goods and some of our week's groceries. Yesterday while walking through I saw a little square piece of wall art inspirational decor that said
find your wings and soar

For a split second in my mind, it read as
find your wings and sore

And I thought to myself, that's exactly what this week was like. 

Lately I've been noticing that my stride has gotten shorter and it's gotten much easier to run mile after mile at about a 9 minute pace. One of my coaches back in Illinois said he'd never correct our gait because it would correct itself to seek efficiency eventually. I think I've finally arrived at "eventually." I think I've finally hit my stride, so to speak (is that even a pun? or the literal use of the phrase? I'm not even sure). 

On Saturday I went out to hit my 6.3 mile loop and was amazed to finish it faster than ever without feeling like I was even pushing the pace. Mile after mile, it just ticked off: 9:07, 8:47, 8:35, 8:34, 8:38, 8:45, 0.3 mi @ 8:49 pace. Total of  6.3 miles @ 8:45 avg. pace. My calves were a little sore on Sunday. So when I walked through Target and saw that decor, I knew it was literally my sign to write this post. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2009 schmoothousandnine

I have some awesomeness to report. 

No sadness--I just love HIMYM and this Barney-ism. But awesomeness, yes. I do have awesomeness. What you ask? Thanks for asking. This is what I have:

more miles so far in 2011 than in all of 2009

At the end of 2009 I'd covered 463.3 miles. It was a huge accomplishment for me at the time. I was in a different place as a runner and in life. As of today, I've covered 475.4 in 2011. And I'm loving doing it! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little running, a little mid-week randomness

My first run back
I finally got to run today, my first since Cleveland. I hit my usual 4 mile loop through the park. My legs were really heavy for the first mile, but I got into it and the pace seemed natural to me (negative splits from 9:28 to 9:00, yeah baby!). I got a little extra motivation toward the end--as I was crossing the main road back to my neighborhood, the tornado siren started going off! I don't think I've ever finished my run with such focus. :)

The storm was kinda crazy. I ended up in the basement for a while. My husband and son were ushered into the basements of their respective buildings (work and daycare) downtown. We had roughly walnut or ping pong ball sized hail. We still missed the brunt of the storm though, thankfully. Here in the Show-Me State I think we've all been mostly holding our breath and looking toward Joplin as they braced for another storm. 

....and some random
Today's accounting:
6 purses (including two I plan to deconstruct for their bamboo handles)
1 pair dress pants
1 dress shirt
1 J. Crew dress shirt for Mr. Joanna
1 J. Crew zippy sweater (which looks HUGE in this picture) for me
$5. 19

I know it sounds a little crazy, but remember those girls from my birthday lunch? Well, we played a little hooky from work today and got a fancy-schmancy breakfast at a gorgeous bakery in my neighborhood, then headed to the Outlets. What Outlets? The Goodwill Outlet. Yep. That's what I said. The Goodwill Outlet. Where you buy clothing by the pound. At the rate of 79 cents. Even if stuff ends up not fitting, at worst it was maybe 30 cents wasted. And you can just donate it right back anyway. Win-win.

I think we went mostly out of curiosity, and I have to say, I had a blast. We dug through these huge bins of everything and found some great items. It's definitely an experience, and an insanely economical way to shop if you have the time to dig through the mostly unorganized bins and inspect everything you think you might want.

And for those of you who do crafty things, this is BY FAR the cheapest way I've ever thought of to get bamboo handles. I'm using mine (from that light green number--haven't decided if I'm going to destroy the gray-blue one yet) to make something sort of like this. It's going to be awesome. You're all going to want one.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On whining and babies

Believe it or not, "whining" and "babies" are two entirely separate subject matters for this post. I struggled trying to decide which part to write about first. But, since it's a running blog, I'll give you running (whining) first.

On Running/Whining
This is the last post I'm going to write about Cleveland. I just need, psychologically, to wrap it all up and move on. I know that all runners bonk eventually. And I get that it was my day to bonk. I guess I've had races that were slower than planned before, but I'd always known why (I was postpartum, it was raining like cats + dogs, etc). But total bonkage was new to me, and it was crushing, both physically and emotionally. Thank you all SO much for your kind words of support and inspiration. I'd really wanted to go sub-4:10, then try for a sub-4 on the next training cycle. But, that clearly didn't happen. I still want to go sub-4 eventually, but it may take one more marathon than I'd originally intended. I keep having to remind myself, I bonked, but I improved, and by 11:20, which ain't little. Before I leave this topic, and promise to stop whining about Cleveland, I want commit to writing my biggest lessons learned.

  1. It's hard to try for huge PRs in both the half and full-marathon in one training cycle. Admittedly, I was more devoted to a huge PR in the half, but I wanted both. Next time around, I'll focus on the full marathon and trust that the half-marathon time will just happen as a by-product. 
  2. Two nights' of bad sleep is detrimental to a full marathon. I know Tall Mom Running shared this lesson learned after Boston, but I just couldn't change my travel plans to include a longer stay. I flew to CLE on Saturday, raced Sunday morning, and flew home Sunday night. It made for bad sleep. Next time around, I will plan to arrive for a 2-night stay before the race, or a Friday arrival for a Sunday race. 
  3. I need more than one 20-miler on the training schedule. For the goals I had when I started training for Marathon #1 (Detroit '09 for those of you keeping track!), one 16-18-20 long run cycle was sufficient. This time around I did two 16-milers, one 18-miler (and skipped the second planned one), and one 20-miler. Next time around, I will devote more weeks to longer long runs
And with that, I'm going to move on from it. I really cannot thank you guys enough, again, for all the encouragement, thank you, thank you, thank you. Runners are the best. 

On Babies
Today has been a pretty awesome day--a day all about my little boy. Today was a little more emotional than I expected. See, three years ago yesterday I looked like this: 

And three years ago this evening, my beautiful, amazing little boy was born. He doesn't look anything like this anymore. He's blond, and sleeps a lot less. He has changed my life in so many ways.

Today we had a party with friends from the neighborhood and work. Little Boy got tons of awesome gifts that have kept him entertained all afternoon. We had all kinds of yummy food, including some cupcakes that I made with my friend from next door. We made Devils Food Cake cupcakes with green, blue, and white with green sprinkles as a buttercream frosting. YUM.

I found myself feeling pretty emotional about his biggest gift, though. We finally removed the toddler bed (which his crib had converted to) and upgraded him to a twin bed, complete, of course, with all new Cars-themed bedding. (if you're not in the know about little boys, Cars and Thomas pretty much rule their world). We also finally replaced his changing table (which hasn't been used in ages) with a child's desk that he can use until he's raised.

Seeing his room without his baby furniture in it was momentous. And seeing his total joy when we asked if he was ready for a big boy room was priceless. My little boy is growing up. Even the baby furniture is gone. I both was and wasn't ready to see his room so differently.
he'll always be my baby. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cleveland Marathon, Part 2

Ok, back to the story--back to the start of the race. Long post warning

This is the part of the show where I'm finally going to tell you what my Pace Band said: 4:04. And for a long time it's going to look like I was on Team Awesome. And for parts of miles here and there, I was.

Miles 1-5
As the race started out from the Stadium, I had a surprisingly hard time navigating the crowds to hit my first mile pace. It shook my confidence for a moment, but I knew better than to panic. I methodically made up for it in the second mile. This stretch was through downtown--a part of races I always enjoy. I love seeing the buildings, hearing the sound of thousands of feet running the streets. The rather intense fogginess of the morning added to the effect. I wish I could say I remembered a lot about the landscape, but truthfully, I look down when I run, and on top of that, I was pretty focused and just wasn't looking around much. I do remember that the early section of the race reminded me of running Detroit, which was kind of cool. Actual mile times in black, target times in blue.

Mile 1: 9:56/9:48
Mile 2: 9:26/9:38
Mile 3: 9:16/9:13
Mile 4: 9:15/9:18
Mile 5: 9:06/9:08

I know these times don't look off-mark, but by mile 4 I knew I was working too hard to hit them, but I had no idea why. Sure, it was crazy humid, but it was cool--in the 50s--with a very light mist. Certainly that couldn't be blamed. And I'd fueled properly. I decided it was early race stiffness, and assumed I'd run out of it.

Miles 6-10
I honestly can't tell you much specifically about these miles. I really wasn't looking around much. Around mile 6 or 7 I looked for the Redhead Cheering Section. Not seeing them, I assumed B.o.B. was ahead of me, they'd seen her, and moved up the course to cheer her into the finish. Sadly, no (you can read what happened here). I Gu'd shortly after mile 6, as planned. The spectators and on-course entertainment were awesome. Church groups, community groups, school groups, it seemed like everyone was out and cheering, misty fog and all. And every single one of them helped to keep me moving and smiling, even if I hadn't run through the stiffness; even if mile target times weren't getting easier to hit.

Mile 6: 9:18/9:08
Mile 7: 9:01/9:03
Mile 8: 9:19/9:08
Mile 9: 9:18/9:03
Mile 10: 9:07/9:03

Miles 11-15
Right around mile 11 I knew we were heading back toward the Stadium, where we'd started. I was starting to watch for the marathon/half-marathon split when I heard a guy on a bullhorn. Oh, on-course entertainment, I thought to myself. I've never heard an on-course entertainer quite like that. I think he's encouraging the ladies to chick people. Where is this guy? Oh, there is is. WHOA, those chicks with him are wearing really colorful wigs. COLORFUL!?! Wait! It's the Redhead, Jen B., and Spike!! We spotted each other just about the same time, I think. I waved and gave them a huge smile and just laughed and laughed listening to Spike's encouragement on his bullhorn. Best cheering section EVER that did not include a two-year-old. 

Mile 11: 9:16/9:13
Mile 12: 9:10/9:03
Mile 13: 9:08/9:23
Mile 14: 9:32/9:08
Mile 15: 9:20/9:13

The marathon/half-marathon split was rather unceremonious, but the sign was plenty big and did its job. So I turned, Gu'd and went on my way. By the half, I was only about 1:15-1:30 behind pace, which was fine with me. And I smiled thinking about my support system back in the Central time zone, which I knew was tracking my splits and cheering me on. Plus, the bands and groups on course were great. I heard "This Little Light of Mine," which I love. I heard some GNR (and really, who doesn't love some GNR on a Sunday morning?!?), some early 2000's stuff.

But miles 14 and 15 had both missed their mark, I was doing a pretty careful eval of the pace band, my legs, and my head to gauge how things were going. I decided that there were only really a few "fast" miles left to go before the 80 second "cushion" in my pace would start to kick in around mile 20-21. I decided I could handle just a few more "fast" miles and then start to slow it down.

Miles 16-20
I think this section of the race was my favorite. For miles 17-20 we ran through Rockefeller Park, which was really nice. The park had areas named for different countries, and had a pretty canal. I saw a girl walking and encouraged her, which I never do. But she looked like she could use it. She would later return the favor, when I needed it. 

For all the loveliness of the course, my goal times were slipping away from me, and I was starting to accept that there was nothing I could do about it. I'd mentally given myself a 7-second per-mile pace window, meaning that anything upwards of 7 seconds from my pace band was fine. For a while I had stayed within that window or made it up from mile to mile, but by mile 17 I just simply couldn't. I willed my legs to move faster, and couldn't believe the pace number on my Garmin wasn't budging. But it wasn't. Not even a little. 

Mile 16: 9:25/9:13
Mile 17: 9:46/9:13
Mile 18: 9:38/9:08
Mile 19: 9:32/9:08
Mile 20: 10:01/9:13

At mile 19 I did the math quickly and thought I could still go under a 4:10, barely. A sub-4:10 had been my mid-range goal. Not even a mile later, at the end of mile 20, I knew it was not physically possible. I just simply could not will my legs to move any faster, and I'd fallen too far behind. Around this time I gave myself permission to walk all the way through water stops without feeling like I had to make up the time. That took off some pressure, and it helped me keep running between water stops.

Miles 21-25
I wish I could tell you the moment it happened. Like the moment I first knew I was pregnant with my son. Or when I was 16, running intervals for cross country, and I knew in an instant that I had a stress fracture. But I can't tell you exactly when I hit the wall. All I know is that I hit it so hard I cried on impact. I'm a grown woman. A marathoner. I've given birth. And I cried. On the course.

It wasn't even tear-filled crying. Just sobbing, trying hard not to burst into tears completely (why oh why was I wearing mascara?!?). Let me tell you something. There is nothing dignified about crying on a marathon course. It lacks the element of strict physical control you've honed over the 16 or 18 weeks you've trained for the event. While it's happening, all you want to do is go home. Get out of the cold drizzle (which the mist had now turned into). Stop moving. And all you can do is keep moving forward, in pain, watching your goal slip farther and farther away, unable to do anything at all about it. Your choices are simple: move forward, or get a medic to help you. Those are the options. I had more than one bike-medic offer to get me help when they saw me fighting to hold back tears. But as miserable as I was, I was going to see it through.

We ran by the lake for a while, which was reminiscent of the half-marathon I ran in San Francisco. Then the course returned to city streets, again reminding me of the last few miles of Detroit. I was walking more, and not just through water stops. It was in that stretch that the girl from the park passed and encouraged me. I thought it was incredibly classy, and kind.

Mile 21: 9:42/9:18
Mile 22: 11:14/9:33
Mile 23: 10:14/9:28
Mile 24: 11:28/9:38
Mile 25: 11:41/9:38

The Finish
Mile 26: 11:04
0.2: 2:39 (Garmin measured it as 0.32 miles, GPS error accumulated from the whole race)

I knew how close I was, and I tried to run as much of it as I could. Finally, I came over the bridge, passed the 26th mile marker, and turned toward the finish line. I scanned the crowd for the Bloggy cheering section, but I couldn't imagine they'd stayed out in the rain after B.o.B. had finished and was probably cold and hungry. I sped up as much as I could, thinking I could possibly beat the clock from rolling over to the next minute. More than anything, I was just thankful to be done.

Chip time: 4:16:07
1446/2633 finishers
408/1002 females
76/173 age/gender division

Finish Area
I got my medal (which is awesome, btw), some chocolate milk, looked around (unsuccessfully) for Jodi, Jenn, and Dave, and headed toward the bag-drop area. I walked for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably 10 minutes, and found it. Even the lady that retrieved my bag asked me repeatedly if I needed medical attention. I was shaking, shivering as an only possibly related matter, and still trying very hard to maintain control of my emotions. I told her I was going to be fine, but thank you. I got my bag, walked to an open space, and sank to the floor. Still half-crying, I started digging through my bag for anything that might be a comfort. My new hoodie sufficed, although I hated to get it wet with sweat and rain. Mr. Joanna called just then; later I felt bad that he'd had to live those awful moments with me. And I still had to walk, in the cold rain, back to my hotel. Thank the Lord I'd put an umbrella in my drop bag (#neuroticoldpersonbehaviorftw).

After I got cleaned up, I went to meet part of the bloggy crew to recap and return a shirt that had gotten stowed in my drop bag. Seeing them and decompressing was undoubtedly a highlight after the race we'd all had. But we'd all finished. We were all marathoners. 

I know. I know. RunningFirst has already reminded me that I took 11+ minutes off my PR, and I should celebrate that. AND I AM PROUD of that accomplishment. I KNOW that every runner totally bonks during a race every now and then. I KNOW that the weather wasn't the best. I KNOW that I slept like hell for the 2 nights before the race. I KNOW

But this was not the race I'd planned for. Trained for. Hoped for. And it hurt like hell. I burned through every gear God gave me just to finish. And it didn't have to be that way. At the end of Lewis & Clark last October, I felt great. At the end of Martian in April, I was ecstatic. It needn't have been this way in Cleveland. So what went wrong? I need to know. I want to go 26.2 again, and I never want it to feel like this again. 

I know this has been a VERY long post--thanks to those of you who are still reading. All told, even though race day bit the big one, this training cycle was a blessing to me. I'm choosing to see it for the good in it. It was the me time I needed in an otherwise beautiful and stressful life. It was the introduction to my city that I needed. It was a goal, and I needed that, too. And while just 24 hours ago I was cussing under my breath that I'd never do this again, now I just want it more. I will NOT let this beat me. I am a runner. 

Cleveland Marathon, Part 1

Oh, where to even begin?? I know what you all want. You want a finishing time. But that's at the end of the race, so you're going to have to wait. :) I will tell you that I finished in one piece and I PR'ed, but it's a whole lot more complicated than that, unfortunately. Sit back and relax. Story time.

My flight out of StL was at 8am on Saturday. As the trip started, I started reading Matt Long's The Long Run, great inspiration before a race! Total tear jerker though. I had to stop reading sometimes to keep from crying in public. RUNNERD, party of one! I arrived in Cleveland in time for lunch, which I had to force myself to eat. All told, a smooth trip.

Sidebar: I want to give a big shout out to Cleveland for a minute. You don't hear a lot of awesome things about Cleveland, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was great. It was super easy (and only $2.50!) to hop on the train from the airport to downtown, where the terminal was centrally located and easy to get to and from. The downtown itself is surprisingly nice--beautiful buildings, shopping, walkable. 

Before checking into my hotel, I went to the host hotel and caught the shuttle to the Expo, which was about 15 minutes away in Euclid. The Expo was about what I would expect for a race of 18,000 people. Lots of vendors, some big names, good energy about it. I picked up my packet, wandered around for a while. Bought a marathon magnet for my car. Then, just as I was leaving--I was maybe 10 feet from the door--I saw some girls looking through their packets and I thought to myself, I hadn't actually looked at my bib. I don't know why I even thought it. Or why I stopped (after a moment of deliberation) to do it then. But I'm glad I did. Because there was no bib in my race packet. WTH?!? I quickly made my way back to the packet pick-up area and immediately saw my bib in a small pile that had been left behind. I grabbed it, relieved, and then went outside to wait for the shuttle back downtown.

I made my way down the street to the Marriott. (huge high-five to them, btw. It was a great hotel experience, especially during a stressful time when the hotels were overbooked and downtown was crazy busy). I got myself all checked in and settled, bought a banana for the next day and some snacks for that night. Took in the view, to which the picture doesn't do justice.

I read for a while and relaxed, and before long headed to the race-organized pasta dinner, where I was to meet up with some other bloggers. The dinner was held on the ground floor of the Hyatt, which is gorgeously renovated.

I didn't see any familiar faces at first, so I got some dinner and sat and just chatted with people around me. This included an older couple, the wife of which was their official photographer. They were completely adorable. Then there was the vaguely eastern European training group that didn't talk at all. It was quite the mix. After a while Jodi and I found each other and I got to "officially" meet her, Jenn, and Dave, and I'm so glad I did! I had such a good time with them. You can read a bit more about how Cleveland became a "destination" race over at Dave's blog. Yeah, I'm not one to mince words.

Back at my hotel, I settled in for a night of pampering. I opened my 1,200 calorie box of whoppers (because, really, when else can you get away with buying crap like that?!?). Gave myself a pedi. Watched tv. Read my book. Thought about the race, strategy, and trying to visualize going through it. Laid out everything for morning.

But most importantly, I talked to my boys. I heard my son say, in his precious almost-three-year-old voice (with, I'm sure, some coaching from Mr. Joanna), "Good luck tomorrow. I love you!" And that was all I needed to hear.

Unfortunately, I slept like crap. I must have woken up 4 times in the 6.5 hours I was in bed. At 5:15 I was up, getting dressed, going through all the motions, and at 5:50, headed out to meet the bloggy crew. I was barely inside the Renaissance when I heard Morgan (who I met at Martian back in April) yell my name from above. She was there with Spike, B.o.B., Jen B., and the group from dinner the night before. It was the burst of sunshine I needed to get me going. We laughed, hugged, got all geeked out about the race, and headed out. I walked part of the way to the start with B.o.B., who is just as lovely in person as she is on her blog. It was great meeting her! I split off from the group to go to the bag drop (which was chaotic), then headed to an over-flowing start area. No one could get even close to their appropriate starting area (signs with paces to let you know about where in the pack you should be). So I lined up where I could find a spot, enjoyed the national anthem, and waited for the gun.

I wish I'd known what was about to happen, and at the same time, I'm glad I didn't. I'm afraid that if I'd known, I might have walked off the course at that moment and gone to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the day instead. And that, after all, is NOT what I spent 16 weeks training for. Stay tuned. Part 2 is coming shortly, with all its gory details.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Off to the races

.Since blogger was down yesterday I didn't post. So here I sit in the cincinnati airport waiting for my flight to cleveland. game time.

Am I nervous? Yes. Excited? Check. Constantly checking the weather.affirmative. Wondering if I should have brought my detroit jacket?

My last run was wednesday in 73 degree weather with 91 percent humidity. It was finally a not so fun run, and oddly that comforted me. So let's do this thing.

Wish me luck. This is me signing off until show time!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Taper? What taper?

It just hit me today that I'm tapering. I think I've been in denial. Then today I looked at the training plan and realized that there's no pace run tomorrow, just a short, easy run. No speed workout next Wednesday. And holy crap, the race is in TEN DAYS. I need to be storing up glycogen and hydrating, resting, and getting mentally prepared. It's time!

Taper madness will come. I think my denial is a form of taper madness all by itself. The taper is change, and change is scary*. Training has gone well, can't I just keep doing that? ha! I'm thrilled about the upcoming test, but there are doubts. We all have doubts. And the taper is the time to chase them away, to reflect on all that you've done and get your head in the game once and for all. It's time.

So I ordered my pace bands (and I'm still not ready to tell you what they say--sorry!). Checked the extended forecast for Cleveland, which I will do every day from now until then. The countdown is ON!

* I actually love change and thrive on it. Changes in training are scary, but absolutely thrilling too. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Recap

Yep, it's a two-fer Sunday. You know I couldn't miss doing an April Recap. 'Cause April was kind of a big deal. :)

Miles planned/ran: 165.4/148.5 (easily my highest mileage month EVER!)
Rest days planned/taken: 5/8
Highest mileage week: 42.7 (also a new record)
Long runs planned/ran: 5 (counting the Martian Half)/4 (life happened, which was OK!)
Pace workouts planned/ran: 3/3 
XT days planned/done: 4/1 
Tempo or interval runs planned/ran: 3/3
Favorite run: Oh, it's a tough call between the perfect 18-miler and my favorite speed workout, but I think the award has to go to the 18-miler.
Current goal: CLEVELAND, finishing healthy, happy, and at a time I'm not quite ready to admit yet. :)
Current obsession: making a to-do list of house projects for the week after the race
Current need: new worky work shoes
Current excitement: Uh, everything?!? Cleveland, fast approaching the "slow season" at work, using/wearing all the fun stuff I got for my birthday, yesterday's new 5k PR, the kiddo's upcoming birthday, etc. 
Current bane of my existence: the butt pain (THANK YOU Jessie for the advice!). Massage on Tuesday should help. 
Current wish list: a magical 8-ball that will accurately predict the weather in Cleveland, Ohio for May 15
Current indulgence: food (I may have started the crazy taper-fueled eating binge already), and still shopping for house things.  

March of Dimes and bday recaps

The last few days have been a really happy time for me. My birthday was nothing short of fantastic and I got to run a 5k on Saturday for a good cause. {long post warning!}

Reasons my birthday totally rocked:

  • My little boy held a bouquet of flowers for me and stood by the front door waiting for me to come home on Thursday. Unfortunately I came in through the back--oops! Completely adorable anyway. 
  • My hubby bought me a few, small things that I would have considered luxuries to buy for myself. I think those are the best gifts! Not spending tons of money, not going over the top, but thoughtful things. AND he brought me donuts at my office in the middle of the day. He rocks my face off! (and no, I did not eat them all myself, but I thought about it!)

  • I lunched with two girls I've gotten to be friends with at work, then Thursday evening went out for drinks with one of them. We had such a good time! AND, she brought me fresh eggs from her landlord's urban chickens. Because I kind of have this thing with urban chickens. I mean, honestly, people do that?!? Apparently yes. 

  • I got thrown out of a colleague's office, lol. He had seized an opportunity earlier in the day and I was beating myself up for not having thought of it. He reminded me that I don't think of these things because I'm new at the job. He asked how old I was (he's my dad's age). I told him it was my birthday, actually, and told him how old I was turning. And he said, "Get the hell out of my office." I <3 my co-workers. 
  • Yesterday Mr. Joanna and I went to see A Prairie Home Companion live. I've wanted to see it for years. Probably since I read Lake Wobegon Days in high school. If you're from a small town and you've never read it--do! After the show we had dinner with a group of friends and hung out with some of them until late in the evening. It was such a good time!!
  • I got a ton of messages from friends on Facebook, through email, and a few phone calls. It put such a smile on my face! Not to mention the earlier celebrations I'd had with The Beastie, my parents, and my MIL. 
All told, it was a great birthday/weekend with friends near and far. And the weekend was great for another reason, too--I got a new 5k PR in a race put on by a great organization, March of Dimes. I'm pretty sure the swag was worth more than what I paid in entry fees--talk about a win-win! Here's the recap

The 5k was much smaller than the 2 mile walk, and started 5 minutes earlier. So the line-up was small, and there wasn't a starting mat. Everyone's start time was gun time, even though it was chip timed. They counted down and sounded a loud horn and we took off, going immediately down a short hill to start. I couldn't help myself, I just took off! I looked at the Garmin about a minute in and saw that I was under a 7-minute pace. Ooops! Had to rein it in, so I did, at least a little. The first mile ticked off pretty easily, at a 7:32 pace. 

Early in the second mile I caught up to a dude about my age. As I came up on him I saw him look over at me. He might as well have said it out loud--he did NOT want to get chicked! He picked up the pace and got about a shoulder ahead of me. He held on for about 30 seconds then "pulled over" and slowed way down and let me pass him. I'm pretty sure it was my only chicking of the day. I'll be honest--it made me smile. :) About half-way through the second mile I was surprised I was still holding my pace and feeling good about it. It started getting hillier and windy farther into the mile. Mile time: 7:45. 

At the beginning of the third mile I faced the steepest hill yet and was running into stiff wind. I was working hard and not moving very quickly. I kind of wanted it to stop for a minute, but I knew if I gave up for even a second I would hate myself for it at the end. I remembered my mantras and dug in and pushed. My pace follows the same curve as the elevation changes pretty closely. Mile time: 8:01.

In the last tenth I took off, per the usual. As I crossed the finish the timing crew started waving a thing like a ping pong paddle at me. Have any of you ever seen timing done like that? No finish mats, but hand-held sensors? It was a first for me. I wondered how they would handle the clumps of people. 

Total time (and new PR): 24:13. woot!!

I made a new local runner friend while waiting for the awards announcement. Then the awards came and something totally unprecedented happened: I took second overall for the women! Even though it was a really small race, I couldn't believe it! I got a little trophy, which my son has since confiscated and calls it the Piston Cup (since, of course, all things revolve around Cars). 

After the race, I headed out for a loop around the park to finish off the rest of my miles for the day (12 total). It's really not my favorite place to run, but the change of scenery was nice, and the weather was great. Overall, it was a great birthday and weekend. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it!