Monday, April 27, 2015

Meet Four Crazy Back to Back Half Marathoners

I feel like I never fill y'all in anymore.  I suck.  What can I say?  So the back story.  I grew up part of my life in Indianapolis, IN and part of it in Pittsburgh, PA.  My dad, one sister and brother all live in Indy and my mom and other sister live in Pittsburgh (as do I).  So I've always been torn between the two cities.  I do, however, consider myself a Pittsburgher.  

I love the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  It's my favorite race.  The crowd support is amazing.  The course runs through the city I love.  I wouldn't change a thing about it.  Ok well maybe that West End Circle.  Am I right?  

Anyway, I also have a love for Indy and Indianapolis hosts the largest stand alone half marathon in the country.  It's a race I've always wanted to do.  Guess when it's held every year?  The SAME weekend as the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I have a goal to run Pittsburgh as many years in a row as I can in Pittsburgh.  I want to have a streak 25 years long if I can.  Whether that be in the half marathon, marathon or relay, I never want to miss Pittsburgh.  Having said that, I have this strong desire to run Indy.  You see where this is going right?  



I got the bright idea to run the Indy "mini marathon" as they call it on Saturday and the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on Sunday.  I wondered if I'd be able to talk one single person into doing it with me.  Who would be crazy enough? Well meet them... my FOUR crazy friends, none of who needed coerced (AT ALL) to join me on this wild adventure.  


KATE:  


  • When did you start running?  I have been running since the summer after my Freshman year of college, about 6 years 
  • How many half marathons have you run?  3: Pittsburgh 2014, Buffalo Creek 2014, and Shamrock Shuffle 2015
  • Half Marathon PR:   1:58:18 clock time at Buffalo Creek Half 2014
  • Goal for Indy: Keep a steady "all day" pace to save my legs for day 2. I would be happy to finish around 2:10. I am SO excited to run the lap on the speedway track because I went to the Indy 500 last year
  • Goal for Pgh:  I would be happy to get right around 2 hours but I'm not putting my money on it (trying to be realistic). As long as I finish blister free I'll be happy! I'm running on Team JDRF to support my little brother so I'll be using that as motivation to keep my legs going. 
  • What is the craziest athletic event you've ever participated in?  This isn't so much crazy as it just is proud. In 2013 I ran Pittsburgh Relay for the marathon with four other ladies from TPA [CrossFit Gym]. My team didn't discuss any goals prior to the race but we ended up placing 10th out of 239 teams! I joke that had I realized we were doing so well I wouldn't have been bobbing and weaving to high five little kids in the crowd. Also, doing a keg stand halfway through Shamrock Shuffle was kinda crazy!
KELLI:  

Big Sur Marathon last year


  • When did you start running?  About 10 years ago 
  • How many half marathons have you run?  I think 9
  • Half Marathon PR:  1:54:13 - Boston Trail half marathon!!
  • Goal for Indy: 1:55
  • Goal for Pgh:  Under 2 hours, around a 1:58
  • What is the craziest athletic event you've ever participated in?   Riding 120 miles on my bicycle in Las Vegas in 90+ degree heat as a member of Team In Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
KIM:  
At the end of her first half marathon 

  • When did you start running?   I started running in Jan of 2014.
  • How many half marathons have you run?  I have run 2 half marathons.  Buffalo Creek in Oct of 2014 & The Shamrock Shuffle in March 2015.
  • Half Marathon PR:  2:26:13
  • Goal for Indy:  just soak it all in and have fun!
  • Goal for Pgh:  have fun running with Susan and take some awesome photos along the way.
  • What is the craziest athletic event you've ever participated in?   I would have to say signing up to run B2B half marathons. 
TRACEY:  

        On her way to a sub 4 hour marathon
  • How long have you been running?   15 years (minus pregnancies and a broken elbow that put me out 5 months) 
  • How many half marathons have you run? 19 (may have missed one or two)
  • Half Marathon PR: 1:46:46  Buffalo Creek 2012
  • Goal for Indy:  Under 1:50
  • Goal for Pgh:Under 1:55 (if I can still move my legs)
  • What is the craziest athletic event you've ever participated in?  Ragnar DC!

Next up... MY goals... but I'll save that for another post.   

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boston Trail Half Marathon Race Recap

So yeah I ran my 18th half marathon and that felt pretty darn amazing.  I hem hawed around about this race for awhile.  My friend and co-worker Nikki signed up to run this race and it was going to be her first ever half-- her first ever race, in fact.  Nikki asked me if I would consider running with her.  It wasn't that I didn't want to do the race, but I was waiting on my kids' spring sports' schedules and I had originally wanted to run the Pirate's 5k, which was the same day.  Yada yada yada, I decided to run the half marathon race with Nikki.  

Natalie (fellow pharmacist), Nikki (our tech), Moi, my friend Kelli (not an pharmacist but she's an accountant ha!) 

Nikki is new to running and she told me that she was going to run a slower pace.  I was totally ok with that, but then she told me she was planning to run a 14:00 mile and I'll be honest, I panicked a little.  I started thinking about being on my feet for 14 minutes per mile for 13.1 miles and I got scared that I couldn't do it.   The morning of the race Nikki told me she just wanted to finish before noon (that meant less than 3 hours).

It was a beautiful day for a race, however, and I just wanted to enjoy my time running.  I tried not to think about running for 3 hours.


Nikki told me that she starts off slowly for the first 4 miles or so and then she picks up.  It was definitely true, right around the 4 mile mark Nikki seemed to get into a groove and she really picked up her pace.



Nikki also refused to talk to me.  Ha!  She had her headphones in and would only speak a yes or no if spoken to.  She was focused on running and that was it.  It's not a bad thing by any means, but poor little old chatty runner me didn't know what to do with herself.  I chose to take in the beautiful scenery.


This was an out and back course, so I knew we would see Kelli along the way.  I'm not sure what mile marker it was (maybe 8) and I saw the beautiful Kelli barreling on down the trail right on pace to a 1:55 half.  She amazes me! 


After we saw Kelli, we started watching out for Natalie.  Soon enough we saw her smiling face.  I hope it was a pick me up for her to hear Nikki and I cheering her on.  I think that was the only time Nikki spoke!  haha


We hit the turn around point and I have to admit I was VERY happy.  We were at the half way point at 1:26.  I told Nikki that meant if we kept on pace that we could run a 2:52 half and meet her goal of coming in before noon. 


After running in silence for 6.5 miles, I noticed something about Nikki.  She wasn't really laboring that badly.  I kept checking on her and she said her energy levels were good.  She was taking water and Gatorade as I told her.  She had one Gu at mile 4 and another planned at mile 8.  Everything was perfect for stepping up the pace and having a faster back half.

I didn't tell Nikki what I was doing, but I picked up the pace.  I ran about 6 to 8 feet in front of her the whole time, forcing her to hang on.  We started picking off people left and right.  After awhile, I asked Nikki if she noticed how well she was doing and that she was passing so many people.  I think she got pretty pumped about passing everyone.  We'd see someone up ahead and I'd challenge her to get her next "victim."  We weren't being mean, but it was so motivating to be passing people.  Nikki passed about 15 runners in the back half of the marathon. AMAZING!

Around mile 10 Nikki did hit her wall and that's when I really started talking to her.  I told her not to mentally give up and not to go to that self defeating place.  I told her to think about the old (40 pound heavier) Nikki and what she would say to her.  I told her to show everyone how strong the new Nikki is and finish with everything she had.

Nikki did amazingly well those last 3 miles.  She pushed herself hard.  She didn't walk one single time and she never gave up.  I'm so proud of her.

She ran the second half in 1:21 (5 minutes faster than the front half).  That's 46 seconds faster per mile people.  That is HUGE!



Nikki's final time was 2:47:49 and that was WELL under her goal of under 3 hours and well under 14:00 minute miles that she predicted prior to the race.  

I am beyond proud of you Nikki.  Celebrate, and savor this moment.  You have so much more in you that you don't even know is there.  It's only just begun. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I am Lion, Hear Me Roar

You guys today I have to tell you about my friend Kim.  You may remember meeting her in this post. Ok fine, you don't feel like clicking that post, well then I'll just give you the brief run down.

Kim started her fitness journey in January 2014 when she signed up for the couch to 5k program.  She ran her first 5k in March of 2014.


Kim has gone on to run a 10k, then a 10 miler, and then her first half marathon in October 2014.  She has since run another half marathon and has 2 more on her schedule in May.

But running isn't why we're here.  It's CrossFit.  Kim started her CrossFit journey in April of 2014 and this year I signed her up for the CrossFit Open.  Yes, you read that right, IIIIII signed her up without her permission.  The reason?  Because I knew she could.

I loved watching Kim experience the highs and lows of the Open.  No matter what type of athlete you are, there are highs and lows to the Open.  It doesn't matter if you're Rich Froning or my friend Kim, it's part of the process.  Kim's lows came in the form of self doubt, but every week her doubt was superseded by her performance.  She was stronger than she thought and went harder than she thought she could.

I remember 15.2 and how nervous she was.  Kim told me she really couldn't do it and she was going to scale the workout.  I KNEW that she could do it.  I encouraged her the best I knew how to go for the 65 pound over head squat and not scale.  She said so many times she really didn't think she could do it.  Thank God we all knew she could.

Wouldn't you know that little shit grabbed that bar and did 10 unbroken OHS.  I sat back and silently did the evil laugh.  muhahahaha My plan was working.  Kim was gaining physically, but more importantly mentally.


Basically the same thing happened week-to-week.  Kim went further and harder than she even believed she could and everyone at our box took notice.

Last night during our Open closing party, Kim was awarded the MVP for her intramural Open team.  I stood and watched her receive the award (even though I was in the bathroom when her name was called) and I saw the look on her face.  She was the humble Kim that she always is.  Probably a part of her was thinking "I don't deserve this."   She doesn't like the attention, but she sure deserves it.

Well this whole post is just to talk to Kim and tell her.... You DO deserve it and I love seeing you beaming in this picture.  I signed you up for the Open Kim to show you there is something that lies within you that hasn't even begun to be tapped into.  Your capabilities are beyond what you can possibly imagine.  I hope you got a glimpse of that throughout the Open and you'll begin to look at yourself through the eyes of everyone at our box and see the amazing person we all see.


It's no mistake that you were chosen as MVP.  It's not because of your Toes2Bar, your snatch (ok well maybe), or because of your double unders.  It's because of your heart.  Yours is the biggest I know.  I'm beyond proud of you and the effort that you put into the Open both mentally and physically.  I hope you've enjoyed this experience and actually celebrated yourself because you deserve it.

I leave you with Kim's favorite saying.  "If you want to be a lion you must train with lions."  Kim, you my friend are a lion and I love to hear you roar!

P.S.  I'm still waiting for my $20 (registration reimbursement).  Ha!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

CrossFit Open Reflections 2015

Hi guys, I have to apologize for being a bad blogger.  I've been in a bit of a rut for awhile.  I'm trying to snap out of it.  I'll begin by telling you about my CrossFit Open experience.

I signed up for the Open because last year it did so much for my confidence.  This year I didn't have the same experience, but that was more because of the format of the Open than anything else.  I kind of felt like I did lack luster this year, but then I started reflecting and I really did things I am proud of.

15.1:


I nailed my Toes to Bar this year and I'm really proud of that.  Also, my best moment of the open came during 15.1 when I nailed a 75 pound snatch from the ground.  I was so excited hitting that weight and (obviously) so was my coach Tammy.  

15.2 

Again, I nailed another movement hitting 65 pound OHS relatively easily.  That did NOT happen last year.  Then, I managed SIX chest to bar pull ups.  They were actually chin ups as I used the reverse grip, but who cares.  My chest hit the bar peeps!  I'm sick of minimizing my accomplishments.  This was HUGE for me and it's ok to say I'm proud.  Right?  


15.3 

Damn you 15.3 and your gosh darn muscle ups.  I couldn't even start the workout.  Nonetheless I still did wall balls and some jump roping.  I was actually pretty proud of my wall balls.  I suck at wall balls pretty bad. Actually I suck at any movement that requires legs. Ha! I made a plan, however, to go 5 at a time and I stuck to it and didn't get nearly the number of no reps I anticipated.  14 lbs at a 9 foot target.  Bam!  


15.4 

Handstand push ups?  Really?  2 weeks in a row a movement I can't do which means... I can't start.  I scaled.  This workout was a burner, but I was happy with my performance.  65 pounds overhead is still a lot for me.  I don't know how that's "light weight" to some people.  Maybe next year I'll be able to say 65 pounds is light.  One can dream!  



15.5 



So horrible.  Screw you thrusters.  Screw you.  I hope I NEVER see you again.  Sorry not sorry.  

And that's it.  The Open is over and once again, I am invigorated to see what I can accomplish before next year rolls around.  I'm pushing myself and being consistent and this year I will NOT minimize what I can do and what I accomplish.  I'm going to celebrate.  Come celebrate with me!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CrossFit Open Workout 15.4

I probably should have written this post right after the workout happened because my reflection might have been tainted a little by time.  Nonetheless, here's my recap of 15.4.  


The Rx (as prescribed) open workout started with HSPU (hand stand push ups), which I can't do strict.  That automatically put me out of the Rx workout.  I had to scale and I wasn't happy about it, but it was that or do nothing so scale I would.

The scaled workout was as follows:

8 minute AMRAP 

10 Push Press 65 lbs 

push press

10 Cleans 75 lbs 

clean


I was nervous as usual because pushing 65 pounds overhead isn't easy for me.  Couple that with my bad shoulder that had been flaring up and I just didn't know what I could do.  I prayed 8 minutes would just go by quickly.

Just before I was set to go, George walked in with Nicholas and my dad to surprise me and watch.  That made me extra nervous, but I was glad they were there.  They sat right in front of me and I told myself to just get busy and do the best I could.

65 lbs is heavy for me and it didn't feel great from the get go.  I decided to use the slow and steady approach.  I wanted to complete one full round in 1:30 and therefore get more than 4 rounds in.  I kinda knew that was shooting for the stars and made my "B" goal 80 reps.


I felt so slow on the push presses and I probably was.  I wasted so much time at the top of each rep making sure I was locked out.  My shoulder just makes that hard and I worried I'd get no-repped.  


Nonetheless, I made it through the push presses and in good time.  On to the clean.

The clean felt relatively "easy."  I mean not EASY, EASY, but it didn't feel as bad as the push press.  I got through the first 10 unscathed.






I finished my first round in 1:15 and rested until 1:30.  That was my plan right?  To do the round in 1:30.  So I took the rest.  Well, the next round was harder and slower and I got back to the push presses again after the 3:00 mark so there was no time to rest.  

I some how powered through another round of push presses and then the cleans.  At the end of round 3 I was done.  I went back to the push presses and actually said out loud "I don't want to do this."  The weight just felt so heavy.  

Somehow I managed all 10 push presses and everyone was screaming at me.  I got on the bar for the cleans and started banging them out.  I dropped the bar at rep #5 and everyone roared to get the bar back up.  I did.  Dropped again.  Yelling again.  I got one last rep and time was called. 

77 reps.  Meh.  I don't know, I thought I had given it all I had, but now (after over 5 days of reflection) I wish I hadn't rested at all and I hadn't taken so many "I feel sorry for myself because I can't breathe" breaks.  Does it really matter? NO!  

One workout left folks!!  












Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon Race Recap 2015

Ok so how in the heck did I get talked into running the Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon?  It's only one of the hilliest half marathons in all of Pennsylvania.  I didn't make that up, I believe it is ranked 5th or something like that.  I planned to do a spring half marathon, but not THIS race.  Tracey had told me numerous times how miserable it was and how she'd never do it again.  Why then, when she said she was signing up (I knew shouldn't couldn't walk away from that race without a respectable time, in her mind) did I agree to do it with her?  Not only did I agree to do it with her, but I made sure to recruit some others as well.  Jaime and I agreed to run together and we both agreed, we just wanted to survive.  

After a VERY LONG and cold winter, I found myself in the second week of March without having run a single mile in over 5 weeks.  I had dropped down a few months ago to running just long runs on the weekends, but getting those in between snow, ice and freezing temperatures just wasn't a priority this year.  I'm not going to make an excuse, I simply didn't do the work.  Mind you, I have been workout out and diligently at CrossFit, I just haven't been running.  Oh so now you're all up to date.  

The day before the race, I got a text from my friend Kate asking if I was planning to run rain or shine.  I let her know we would, and it most definitely would be raining.  100% at all hours of the race.  There was no doubt when I went to bed Friday night that we'd be running in the rain.  Saturday morning it was about 45 degrees and pretty much constant rain.  I was surprised when I walked in the church (where racers were waiting) and saw Kate.  She willingly signed up for one of the hilliest ever half marathons, IN THE RAIN!  I don't know if she's a badass or a dumb ass.  Ha!  The former I think!  

Back:  Emily (CrossFit friend), Tracey, Jaime (my running partner)
Front:  Moi, Kate (the badass), Kim and Charlene 

I told Jaime slow was fine and told her we should go for about a 10:30 pace.  Ha!  I have no idea what I was thinking.  Between the hills  and my legs (which were extremely sore from 4 days of CrossFit) I wasn't even in 10:30 running shape.  We all agreed, having fun was a goal with this race and agreed we would walk the hills.

We were met with our first hill around mile 1.5 or 2 and we were already walking.  This portion of the course was one of many out and backs and Tracey saw us walking.  She told us we had no business walking yet.  This wasn't even a hill.  Holy shit, I'm in trouble.

I really wasn't enjoying running even though I was running slowly (which normally equals happy running for me).  It was cold, I was wet, my legs hurt and I just wan't having much fun at all.   I felt like I was holding Jaime and Kate up and told them to go on without me several times.  Jaime was adamant that she wasn't leaving me.

Mile 1: 10:47
Mile 2: 11:19
Mile 3:  10:50
Mile 4:  11:16
Mile 5:  11:32 (definitely more walking)


I think the really beastly hill started at mile 5.  I mean these hills were like nothing I have ever seen before.  I remember thinking that the hills were so steep, I probably couldn't even ride my bike up the hills.  We walked and it KILLED my hamstrings.

 We finally made it to the top of the GIANT hill where we were met with Jello shots and a keg.  Some of us partook (hint... NOT me).



I surely would have barfed had I tried that.  Kate was having so much fun on this run.  Clearly for her, she was in her happy running place.  She even said to me one time, I can't believe you're not having fun.  No Kate, no I am not!  At least we were half way there.  But, and this is a big but, all the hills we climbed we had to turn around and do the other way now.  Ugh.  Knowing what was waiting for me was slowly killing my spirit.

Mile 6: 12:55 THE BEAST and ALL the WALKING
Mile 7: 14:26 more walking, bathroom and keg stands (total time thus far 1:23:08)

Right at mile 8 my Garmin died.  Apparently the main memory was full (from not deleting workouts) and so it just quit.  By the time I realized what happened it was too late to even worry about it.  It sucked not knowing where we were or if I was going to be able to finish actually running.  I really felt like crap.  My pace was slowing (or so I thought).


By mile 10 the majority of the hills were gone.  We still had to run that one that Tracey told us wasn't a hill in the beginning again, but that did seem mild at this point.  Plus I was going to walk it again, so there was that!  Kate was antsy to finish, we were all soaked and cold, so she took off.  Jaime wouldn't leave me and promised she couldn't be going any faster either.

Once we finally made it up that last hill, we said we'd run the rest of the way and it felt so good.  I finally felt like I could be happy.  Just then we saw Kim and Charlene trudging up the last hill.  I felt for them, but was happy to know they weren't too far behind.

The finish was anticlimactic, but I did finish right with Jaime arms raised in victory.  I will NEVER run this race again.  Well... never say never.  Right Tracey?


Tracey, Me, Charlene, Jaime, Kim and Kelli (why wasn't she in the start picture?) 

Official Finish Time:  2:33:55 11:45 pace (our back half was actually faster by about 6 seconds per mile).  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

CrossFit Open Workout 15.2

By now you know the drill.  Thursday night at 8pm the Open workout for the week is announced and I go into panic mode until it's my time to go.  Only this week's WOD was a repeat of last year's 14.2 and I so I didn't exactly go into panic mode because I already knew I'd do better than last year.  


I still can't do unassisted pull-ups but I hoped with a reverse grip (chin up) I'd be able to get in a few.  I got to the box really early and spent a lot of time warming up and making sure my hips and shoulders were loose.  I squatted 65 pounds quite a fews times and it felt good. I looked up at the pull up bar, but was too intimidated by all the people there to even try.  I honestly didn't know if I'd get there anyway.  

Tracey was there competing with me and Kim and Ella were there cheering me on.  It meant so much to have all the girl support.  


Soon the 10 second count down was on and I grabbed that bar with the utmost confidence.  I swear I went into some sort of zone.  I blocked everything out around me (including those cheering for me... not on purpose) and focused on myself and my judge's counting.  



I went down 2 times unbroken and I think I got a little cocky because it felt quite easy.  On the third rep I tipped forward and dropped the bar.  


I can't believe I allowed myself to lose my concentration.  I refocused and went back to work.  I got no-repped one more time and that was it.  I had completed my 10 reps!  I looked to my judge Tricia just to be sure before I dropped the bar.  


During my last couple reps I heard the box erupt and I knew it was for Tracey.  I knew she had gotten a chest to bar pull up.  I didn't glance over at her.  I was in the zone, but I knew if she had done it I had to too.  Not to compete with her, but because she inspired me.  She tried and succeeded and I could too.  I tried the reverse grip and OMG I did it! 

I'm not all the way up here.  You have to get past collarbone for a chest-to-bar to count 
I was pumped up.  I couldn't believe I just did it.  Things started coming back into focus and people were yelling at me to try again.  So I did.  


It took every ounce of strength to muscle myself up over that bar.


It definitely was NOT pretty, but I managed to get SIX chest-to-bar pull ups (chin ups really) and for that I was so extremely happy.



My final score for 15.2 was 16 points.  That's more than 5 times what I got last year (3 points) and I'll take it.  Pull-ups are most likely finished for the Open and I'm happy about that.  I'm excited for accomplishing more than I thought I could on this WOD and I'm looking forward to the next WOD.




I'm also incredibly thankful to be going through the Open with these amazing women.  It's so awesome to have cheerleaders who I know believe in me and of course I believe in them.  We're all pushing ourselves beyond our limits and we're all making big things happen.  Sure we're not moving on to regionals anytime soon, but this journey isn't about that for us.

Kim, Me, Tracey, Meghan 

 In the words of my friend Kim, "I do this for me!"