The F- Word

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Yesterday marked the beginning of a new season. If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for 30 seconds lately, there isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve heard this particular season was just around the corner. Those dreaded PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, for those who wisely avoid Starbucks) mentions, UGG boot sightings, and chatter about crisp, cool mornings. All things reminiscent of that F- word, otherwise known as…

Fall.

Since it’s only mid-September, the southern half of the US still has no idea what it’s like to wear long-sleeves or have the desire to go apple picking. I mean, my damn A/C has the electric bill jacked up over $200 and as much as I love seeing Sam Adams Octoberfest in the grocery store, I can’t justify drinking it while sweating. As far as the South is concerned, it’s still summer.

But you see, yesterday while walking out of the garage I felt a breeze cooler than 80 degrees. Hard to believe, but it was even cooler than 70.

Austin Weather

We’ve been hitting the pavement at 4am during the week and the lowest I’ve seen was 75 (and that was with 90% humidity) so this was basically a gift from heaven that didn’t require an absurdly early wakeup call.

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The dogs have been running every mile with us and yesterday the plan was to tackle 5 miles with a double out-and-back, which allowed for a swim break at the halfway point. Probably not 100% necessary since the weather was gorgeous but Bo (who hasn’t run 5 miles in 3+ years) definitely picked up the pace on the back half of the run.

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It was a quiet morning and the miles were easy. Sox’s head was on a constant swivel since she had never been on the trail before and had to see EVERYTHING, so keeping her focused was interesting. Running in a straight line apparently isn’t something she’s interested in learning quite yet.

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Once our miles were done, we spent an hour at Auditorium Shores so the dogs could play and swim a little. Well, Bo did most of the swimming. Sox paced up and down the shoreline a couple hundred times trying to decide if she wanted to get her feet wet. And then…

“Hey Bo … come closer. I want to play.”

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“Closer. You’re still too far away.”

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“Fine, I’ll come to you.”

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“Oh SHIT, I’m going to die!”

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“How do I swim?! I’m going to die.”

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“I hate you guys. I can’t believe you just sat there and took pictures.”

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Needless to say, she didn’t spend a lot of time in the water after that.

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Sunday morning got me pretty pumped for fall, but my hopes and dreams were crushed when I saw this week’s forecast:

September Austin Weather

Rude. Just rude.

Welp, that brief glimpse was glorious, but fall is still a mythical creature I’m waiting to encounter. And hopefully sooner than later.

That damn F- word.

Five Things Friday

1. It’s officially one week until the Healthy Living Summit

I’m really looking forward to finally meet some of my favorite bloggers and discover many new ones, attend informative sessions on photography & networking, and spend time with so many like-minded people. HLS keeps adding new events and awesome sponsors, like Reebok for example, who will be hosting a Crossfit workout for us! I’ve been to a couple blogger meetups before but never a conference. It’ll be nice to not feel uncomfortable whipping a camera out at a meal and to discuss WordPress and social media tips with people without their eyes glossing over!

2. Football is back! 

Sure, it’s only preseason right now, but regular season starts in less than a month!

3. I recently discovered something I’d probablyyyyy be better off not knowing about:

Umm, yeah. It’s freakin’ delicious. I had it in my greek yogurt this morning and it took things to another level.

4. I’m ridiculously excited to have dinner & drinks with this girl tomorrow night!

Paula was one of the first running blogs I followed after starting mine in 2010. We {unknowingly} kicked off our running addiction at the same race! And then there was that time I was at Tu Tu Tango in Orlando and she insisted I order the chocolate calzone.

AND my trip to Florida was made. It would only be right that I take her to an equally amazing restaurant while she’s in here in Austin. I have my work cut out for me but think I can make it happen. I mean, it IS Austin after all 🙂

5. And another thing for tomorrow. 12 miles. Twelve glorious hot miles. The last time I ran that far was about three months ago, so tomorrow should be FUN!

Not bad. It definitely could be worse.

What are you excited about today? Any big plans for the weekend?

Hot, hot, hot

Back in the beginning of June, I committed to outdoor weekday runs. Determined to become a runner who embraced hot weather pavement pounding, I headed out every Tuesday and Thursday night to get some miles in. It was hot, and the pace wasn’t my fastest, but the runs were done every single week like clockwork.

Then marathon training started. I needed to start hitting faster paces in my speed and tempo workouts. No matter how well fueled or hydrated I felt I was, I still couldn’t drop the pace as low as it needed to be. Incredibly discouraged, my goal for the Philly Marathon was bumped up to sub-5 from 4:40. The heat kicked my ass at the track, leaving me defeated and upset.

There are two times to run during the summer in Texas: early morning or late evening. Early morning (6-7am) you can expect 80-85 degrees with 80-100% humidity, depending on the day. Late evening (8-9pm) is generally in the ballpark of 90-100 degrees with humidity in the 30-40% range, again depending on the day. I logged enough long runs last summer during marathon training to know that yes, I can run through humidity, but my pace will be nothing to write home about. There were a few runs I was forced to do on the treadmill and my pace improved by over a minute per mile. That’s HUGE.

Yesterday I saw a tweet from Jeri that linked to an article on Women’s Running about running through the humidity.

From the article:

Running in humid weather can be a brutal adventure. Suddenly your normal pace takes a good beating as you try to navigate through the thick, soup-like summer air. Though the rays of beautiful sunlight are ever so enticing, running indoors might be a better option during periods of high temps coupled with high humidity. Check out this chart that shows how the percentage of humidity affects the relative temperature:

It’s one thing to push through the heat, but it’s another to be attempting to nail tempo paces (ahem, strenuous activity) when you’re in the extreme caution or danger zone. I’d rather successfully complete my runs than be disappointed week after week as the heat zaps my energy levels and decreases my pace, causing me to miss key workouts. Until it cools down just a bit, I think I’ll be moving my mile repeats and tempo runs inside to the hamster wheel. Better to be safe than sorry!

Is it fall yet?

How do you deal with running in the heat? Do you ever take the workout inside to be safe?

What’s your breaking point, temperature-wise, for when you know it’s time to hit the ‘mill?

2011 Jingle Bell 5K Race Recap

Two things I realized running the Jingle Bell 5K: I really love this distance and I really love racing in cooler weather.

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Let’s back up for just a minute to packet pickup. It was held at the Westin in the Domain. No frills, quick and painless. Parked, asked the front desk for directions, picked up the packet, and was back in the car in less than five minutes.

The race bag included a cotton long-sleeved tee, bib, course map, and jingle bells. Let it be noted I did NOT attach the bells to my shoes for the race, although everyone else seemed to have done so. Nothing a cranked up iPod couldn’t fix…

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Austin hasn’t been blessed with a solid bout of rain since May.

Until last weekend.

I was up most of the night prior to the race listening to the wind howl and rain pound against my bedroom window. From 3-5am the thunder and lightning were pretty intense. Part of me hoped it would carry on through the morning and cancel the race since I hadn’t had much sleep at all.

Event is rain or shine.  Cancellation will only occur if conditions are deemed a safety hazard.  At that time, all registrations will be considered a donation. Thank you.

But part of me REALLY wanted to rock these socks for 3.1 miles.

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After lounging around in bed until 7am, I began pulling myself together. Before the rain entered the forecast, I had planned on running in a Santa hat. The thought of wearing it soaked with rain was less than appealing.

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The game plan was to avoid cotton at all costs (too heavy when wet) and dress warmly, in festive colors.

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Mission Accomplished.

I made my way down to the Domain around 7:20. I stayed warm and cozy in my car until finishing my Nuun a little after 8. My stomach was killing me and I would have loved nothing more than to go home and get back in bed. Of course, this wasn’t an option since I was already there. The only option was to suck it up and deal. Surely I could power through 30 minutes of running.

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The race was chip-timed, but not with the usual disposable B or D Tag. It was a Velcro neoprene strap you claimed at the start line, wrapped around your ankle, and returned after crossing the finish.

Picking up my chip took a few seconds and afterwards we were herded to the starting. There were probably 5 people in between myself and the start, which is easily the closest I’ve ever been in a race.

I turned on my Garmin, and it proceeded to try its damndest to locate satellites. The high-rise buildings and apartments apparently were making it difficult so I hopped out of my coveted starting position to find a more open area.

No such luck.

Runners had officially taken off and I decided to ditch the Garmin.

Once I crossed the starting mat I immediately regretted stepping out of my original spot. While this was a super small race (less than 200 runners) it was incredibly congested and I was bobbing and weaving my way around walkers for a majority of the first mile.

I was thankful for my hat which shielded most of the rain from my face. I was also thankful for the arm warmers I grabbed at the last minute before leaving the house. I would have been FREEZING without them. The wind was miserable.

The course was pretty basic (two out-and-backs) and luckily I had it memorized because there wasn’t a mile marker until mile 3. I had no idea how fast I was going or how far I had ran until the race was nearly over.

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My previous 5K PR was 36:13. I wanted to beat that time and/or go sub-30. Considering the weather and the way my stomach was making me hate life, I would have settled for ANY time as long as I crossed that finish line.

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Official Finish
30:08, 9:43 pace

Carly and I have the Reindeer Run 5K on December 18th and I WILL break that 30 minute mark!

Five for Friday

1. I am oh so jealous of everyone running Vegas this Sunday.

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Good luck to Paula, Michelle, Cely, Ali, Ashley, and all of the other runners dominating the strip at night!

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I wouldn’t mind joining in on Sarah & Emily’s sparkly mimosa spectating extravaganza. Those that can’t run, drink. They’ve got the right idea.

2. I’m really looking forward to my 5K this weekend.

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While perusing the race website yesterday I discovered all participants receive long sleeved shirts and  … jingle bells! I honestly can’t tell you what I’ll do with them but I’m pretty damn excited. Christmas related items rank incredibly high in my book, and jingle bells are no exception.

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Some say rain is what PRs are made of, and since See Jane Run ripped the opportunity out from under me to see if this statement was true, I’ll be testing my luck on Sunday. In holiday attire. Here’s a sneak peek:

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3. These cookies are EVIL.

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Sugar cookies with a chocolate coated bottom and sprinkles. Sound pretty innocent, right? Please don’t be fooled. I bought them a couple weeks back for $2.99 at Target not expecting much. But once that last cookie was gone, we were distraught. I’ve never been impressed with sugar cookies but these stole my heart.

Then we went to Target earlier this week to pick up a few necessities. On display right in front of the store were many, many packages of these cookies for $0.99. Ninety-nine cents! Before I even knew what was happening, there were two packages in our basket.

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I want to tell you to buy them, but don’t want you to hate me when you realize you just.can’t.stop.eating.them. Seriously.

4. My office holiday party is tonight.

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Dueling piano bar, casual attire, open bar, and free cabs home. Does it get better than that?

Don’t think so.

5. We’ll FINALLY be decorating for Christmas tomorrow. And by finally I mean I still can’t believe we didn’t do it on Black Friday like the past few years.

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Once the decorations are up I bounce around the house like a five year old.

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Something about twinkling lights, sparkly garland, and Christmas Cookie candles make me giddy. And seeing our dog pose next to the tree Winking smile

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And once the decorations are up, it gives me an excuse to watch Elf every day and tell everyone around me that I like to smile because smiling’s my favorite.

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We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

 

Your turn: what’s something you’re excited about this weekend?

See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon Expo

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Yesterday morning Carly and I headed downtown to See Jane Run’s 1/2 marathon packet pickup at the Courtyard by Marriott.

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The hallway leading to the entrance was filled with inspirational quotes:

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The signage directed us to look up our bib numbers and then head inside to pick up our bib and packet.

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Not before posing for a quick photo with Jeanette though!

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After we picked up all of the things we needed, we worked the room to decide on the things we wanted. As usual, a familiar gravitational force pulled Carly and I to one particular section of the room

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Yep. Once again we were able to sniff out the wine at a race expo.

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Carly filled out cards for a giveaway for us. One of the questions was “How often do you consume wine?”

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Do we recommend wine? Why yes, yes we do.

The expo was fairly small and only featured a few vendors: SPIbelt, iFitness, Luna Bars, Barefoot Wine, Glam Headbands, Arbonne, and a couple shoe booths.

We then tore into our race bags and launched into photo-shoot mode:

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We were on our way out when a familiar face flagged us down – Tricia!

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We were on a mission post-expo to find Carly a new pair of shoes, as one of hers decided to kick the bucket today:

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RIP left flip-flop, Carly will miss you. We made a quick stop at the Round Rock Outlets, Target, and then headed home. It was time to see what was in our swag bags!

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Not bad See Jane Run, not bad at all! Love the race shirt – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a purple one before.

The course, however, is less than desirable. It’s not in one of the nicest areas of Austin, and according to Tricia, it’s a pretty hilly course with plenty of speed bumps. Yes, speed bumps.

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Oh, and the weather. Let’s talk about the freakin’ weather. Don’t get me wrong, Austin NEEDS the rain in the worst possible way. We haven’t had a good rain storm since back in May. But … it would be nice if it could hold off until at least noon. Or if the rain won’t go away, can we at least see a drop in humidity?

Pretty please?

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One thing is for sure – it is going to be an interesting race!

Getting the spark back

I have to admit, I’ve really been struggling with my treadmill runs lately. I get them done, yes, but I am bored out of my mind! It doesn’t matter how kickass my playlist is or what I’m watching on TV. I’m constantly eyeing the clock, watching the miles tick away, wanting to run faster just to get it over and done with. NOT the kind of relationship I want to have with running. But these aren’t exactly the temps I want to be running outside in:

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Cely, however, is a freaking rockstar and runs in the Texas heat at night. Lady, you’re my damn hero!

Thankfully my long runs on the weekend can be done outside. Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am (after sleeping through my 4:45 alarm) and got ready for my first outside run of training. My boyfriend, who despises running, agreed to go with me. I asked him jokingly at  first, and fully expected him to say no. Apparently he’s trying to get back in shape, so he jumped right out of bed after I did.

Another thing worth noting: this was my first music-less run. I nearly had a panic attack on Friday night when I realized I left my iPod at work. Thankfully I had someone to run with, and I think I may have liked that even better than music!

I planned on taking a walk break after each mile, but Brad’s knee was bothering him so we walked a bit more than that. 5 miles, 1:04 – I’ll take it! My shins were being little bitches, as usual. A huge thanks to Brian who offered some great advice on dealing with my shin splints! After tons of stretching, icing, and wine-ing I felt much better.

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Another week of marathon training is in the books. The trail run this weekend was just what I needed to rekindle the running fire inside of me. I can’t wait for next Saturday’s long run!

Oh Austin, you will be the death of me

I did something today that made me a little nauseous: I drove the second half of the Austin half marathon course. I drive the first six miles of it pretty much everyday, but I wanted to get an idea of what I’m up against for the rest.

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Kids, it was not pretty. I have been studying the elevation map for months so I knew I had a few hills to tackle.

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The map doesn’t do the climbs justice – it’s even worse in person. And the one which looks the most difficult? Mile 12. At this point in the race, I expect to crawl up the hill on my hands and knees. Maybe even shed a few tears. Possibly throw in the towel and call my boyfriend to come pick me up.

Alright, alright, I’m exaggerating. But wow, us runners have our work cut out for us. This course is no joke, and in hindsight I probably should have been training on the race route since THE RACE IS IN THE TOWN I LIVE IN! Duh.

I’m being realistic and not setting a time goal. I thought for sure I would PR in my last half, and actually ended up with a time slower than San Antonio in the fall. If I come in over 3 hours, I wouldn’t be surprised. If the stars align, weather conditions are ideal, and I set into a comfortable pace to achieve a PR? Just an added bonus. At this point, I am setting a goal “to finish”.

Speaking of weather…

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I know we’re still a week out, but seriously – why is it always forecasted to rain on race day?!

Today, however, was absolutely gorgeous. I set out for a 4 miler on Town Lake this morning. Sunny, cool, light breeze – perfection. The trail was packed with many walkers, runners, and cyclists taking advantage of the beautiful day.

Here are my splits:

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Great run, amazing weather, perfect morning!

How was your weekend? Did you have a killer run or race?

Distractions

Perhaps drinking countless glasses of alcoholic beverages on Friday with a half marathon on Sunday wasn’t such a fabulous idea. Seemed like a good one at the time. I was hating life this morning, and am still desperately trying to rehydrate. Hey, I never said I was a smart girl.

In an attempt to take my mind off the hangover and numb my pre-race nerves, Brad and I headed out for a day of retail therapy.

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We hit the mall first so Brad could get fitted for his tux at Men’s Wearhouse. Seriously, $170 to RENT a tux? It better do a little song and dance for us when we pick it up. I hit Victoria’s Secret to redeem a coupon for free underwear. Free is my favorite.

For my birthday, my parents sent me a gift card to Sur La Table. That place is dangerous, no exaggeration. I could have been in there for hours but since Brad was with me I tried to make it quick.

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I bought a 5 piece set of OXO Pop storage containers, a pastry brush, a microplane, and a lemon juicer. I also conveniently planned tonight’s dinner around these items so I can use three of them immediately.

I bribed Brad with lunch in exchange for a quick trip to the Coach Outlet. We hit Pei Wei, and then the Round Rock Outlets.

So much for a quick trip. The Coach store was an absolute mob scene – it was like Christmastime. Upon walking through the door, I was promptly handed a coupon for an additional 30% off anything in the store. My heart skipped a beat.

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Full Retail: $428 Outlet Price: $199 Final Price w/tax: $151

Happy Birthday to me! An absolute steal. I usually treat myself to one designer bag per year, but only from Marshalls/TJ Maxx/Outlet Store. This will be 2011’s.

After 30 minutes of waiting in line at the register, that baby was mine. Next we headed to Academy so I could grab a long sleeved dri-fit shirt for the race tomorrow and some Gu. And then our FINAL STOP, Target. We did a quick 20 minute grocery trip, and then went home.

It was a long day of shopping, but it really kept my mind off of things for a few hours. Now I’m sitting on the couch with butterflies, freaking out about the forecast for tomorrow:

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Not a fan.

Time to distract myself again – with cooking! On tonight’s menu is Shrimp sautéed in garlic & olive oil with wheat pasta, tomato, basil, and pesto. Simple, yet satisfying.

How do you deal with pre-race jitters?