Sunday, September 30, 2012

Half Marathon Love

In a couple of weeks I will be running my 10th half marathon when I run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.  I can hardly believe that I'm saying that considering I just started running just 3 short years ago when I started training for the Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

Spirt of Pittsburgh November 2009:  Tracey, Me, Dad 
I love the half marathon distance.  It'a a challenging distance, but not one that pushes you to the point of wanting to stab out your eyeballs with ice picks.  What?  Just me?  I also don't feel as much pressure during the half marathon distance to be super speedy.  It's not like a 5k where everyone expects you to go balls to the wall.  Yep, I've said it, the Half Marathon is my favorite distance!

In honor of the Half Marathon here are the links to all my half marathon posts.  I expect you to read them all and get back to me with your favorite!   Ready set go!

Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon, November 2009:  2:17:22 (I didn't write a blog then).  This will always be a special race because it was my first and I honestly didn't know if it was something I could even do.  

Pittsburgh Half Marathon, May 2010:  2:09:20 (I didn't write a blog then).  This was an awesome race too because I improved so much in just 6 months.  

Decker Half Marathon, December 2010:  2:21:06.  A special race because I had spent the 6 months prior battling back from my broken bones and kidney stones. 

Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon, March 2011:  2:17:12.  All in good fun, but I didn't love this race.  By far my least favorite.  

Decker Challenge Half Marathon, December 2011:  2:14:43.  Decker is always so much fun.  I was doing this for fun and it was really a good time. 

3M Half Marathon, January 2012:  2:08:33.  This race can only be described as EPIC.  Damn banana boy! 

Livestrong Austin Half Marathon, February 2012:  2:20:50 (Paced my friend Kelley).  A fun time running with Kelley.  GREAT day!  

Zooma Women's Half Marathon, March 2012:  2:19:59 (Paced my friend Kelley).  A horrible course, and equally as terrible weather, but fun nonetheless!  

Pittsburgh Half Marathon, May 2012:  2:07:22 PR.  My favorite race because it was run in my favorite city, with one of my favorite friends and it was a PR.

Ok I doubt you read ALL of them so just tell me what's your favorite race distance?  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NYC Marathon Marathon Training Long Run: 20 Miles

Brrrrr it was a chilly wake up this morning.  I woke up on my own about 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off (5:30) and, of course, was cursing the sport that is running.  Tracey and I both needed to start early in order to make it to our kids' games today.  As I drove to the park to meet Tracey, I quickly realized the only people awake were the runners and the hunters!  

Tracey and I started out on our own for the first 5 mile loop.  It was pitch black out and a little spooky as the fog rose off the lake.  It was also FREEZING cold (44 degrees.... yes I've become a wimp) and running didn't seem like too much fun. 

Tracey and I couldn't even see our Garmins and I thought we were running fast, but I wondered if it was just my body bucking the system.  It turns out we were running a tad fast. 

Mile 1: 9:59
Mile 2: 10:19 

I guess it was probably around the 2.5 to 3 mile mark and the sun was starting to brighten the sky.  I could read my Garmin and saw we were running a little fast for a 20 mile run.  I asked Tracey to back off the pace a little.  I had to keep my final goal in mind and that was to make it through this WHOLE run.  

Mile 3:  10:18 
Mile 4:  10:35
Mile 5:  10:33

And just like that the first quarter of my run was over.  We were back at the boathouse to pick up Barb and my friends Tim and Cooper (Tim's son).  Barb wanted to run 15 today and Tim and Cooper wanted to run 10.  I haven't seen Tim for awhile so it was nice to chat it up with him for awhile.  Tracey and Barb lead the pack and we settled in behind them for a nice 5 mile loop. 

Mile 6:  10:43
Mile 7:  10:33
Mile 8:  10:16

For whatever reason, these miles felt the absolute easiest.  It's so nice to have great company and concentrate on the conversation and not on the running.  My body was warmed up but not yet tired.  I wish all 26.2 miles of the marathon could be just like these.

Mile 9: 10:17
Mile 10:  10:30

Before I knew it we were back at the boathouse and saying goodbye to Tracey (she had just 10 on her training plan today).

Bye bye Tracey, thanks for 10 awesome miles.

Barb, Tim, Cooper and I set back out AGAIN for another loop.  We all have a lot to talk about because we actually have a lot in common, whether it's running or other parts of life.  I know it probably sounds cheesy, but connecting through running is pretty awesome.

There is really nothing to report over the next 5 miles.  My hamstrings and butt did start to hurt a tad, but I was still feeling pretty decent at this point.

Mile 11:  10:46
Mile 12:  10:32
Mile 13:  10:37
Mile 14:  10:52
Mile 15:  11:02

It was time to say goodbye to Tim and Cooper.   I think they were having such a great run that they wanted to run a bit more, but Cooper had homecoming tonight and didn't want to over extend himself.

Thanks so much to Tim and Cooper for joining me!  I feel so spoiled.

At this point Tim and Cooper passed the baton to Lisa who decided to join in for the last 5 miles.  I warned her that it was going to be a SLOW final 5 miles, but she agreed to go along with us anyway.

Again, Barb, Lisa and I didn't have a shortage of things to talk about.  The conversation was easy and a nice distraction from the actually running.  Barb and I were both feeling a little tired.  For me, I was dealing pain in my butt and hamstrings.  Barbs toes hurt.  It was nothing we couldn't push through, but we were both ready for this run to be over with.

Mile 16:  10:52
Mile 17:  11:03
Mile 18:  11:13
Mile 19:  11:34
Mile 20:  11:25

Again, thanks to these ladies for joining me for this run.

I honestly, don't know what I'd do without running buddies.  I think I'd stop running!  Ha!

Total:  20 Miles in 3:34 
Average:  10:42 

I can't even believe my second 20 mile long run of marathon training is finished.  Just one more 20 miler and my long, long runs will be finished!  Woo hoo!!!

This is probably my best long run to date and I really couldn't be happier.  Although I couldn't imagine running 6.2 more miles TODAY, I hope I'll have it in me in 5 more weeks.  Until then, Keep Calm and Run On!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Running Versus Racing

Today I signed up to run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.  It's being held on October 20th, just two weeks before The NYC Marathon.

My training plan has a two week taper and I'm scheduled to run 12 miles that weekend so I figured 13.1 would be ok.  The question, however, is whether to RACE or to RUN.  There is a difference you know.


I've decided to just use this race as a training run.  That means, I not going to push hard.  I'm going to run my marathon pace (maybe a tad faster) but NOT my half marathon pace.  I know some of you out there don't understand signing up for a race and not giving it your all, but I'm not one of them.  I really enjoy the race feeling and atmosphere and love getting a free T-shirt.  Ha!

I don't feel like I have to go out there and give it everything I've got just because it's a race.  After all, who out there even knows, or cares for that matter, if I'm running my personal best?  I've done a LOT of races just for fun including last year's Austin Half Marathon, Run for the Water 10 miler, and Zooma Texas Half Marathon.

Those races, for me, were about having fun with my friends and sharing in the camaraderie that goes along with racing.   I never once regretted not giving it 100% because hanging back with my friends gave me just as good of a fulfilling feeling.  Different, but good nonetheless.  There's nothing like crossing the finish line with a friend by your side!

Tracey is running the Buffalo Creek half and going for a PR.  I REALLY wanted to be there to support her and watch her and I might as well run the race too right?  So I'll be out there, once again, running a race for fun and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So what do you think?  Is it stupid to sign up for a race if you're just doing it for fun and not to race?  Have you ever run a race for fun?  Weigh in! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Well Check Edition

Jack Thomas Tirch.  5 years old.  41.5 inches tall (20%).  41 pounds and 6 ounces wide (54%).  A perfect square.  

Ella Elizabeth Tirch.  7 years old.  45.75 inches tall (15%).  43 pounds and 4 ounces (15%).  Very petite.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lutherlyn Field Trip

Today was Jack's field trip with his preschool.  We went to Lutherlyn Camp and had an outdoor adventure.  

We started off with all the kids making their own name tags on pieces of cut wood.

Jack liked his.

We then lined up and headed out the door for the first part of our tour-- the games.

We played a game sort of like Marco Polo but it was called bat and moth.

Jack wasn't too keen on participating.

But some of the other kids did and they had fun.

Next up was the Taxidermy "shop".  Jack was being very shy the whole day for some reason, but he perked up a bit with all the stuffed animals.  He thought Daddy would like this turkey.  Funny side note:  As we were driving to school today a chicken turkey crossed the road and Jack screams at the top of his lungs, "shoot it!"  Oh my!

The next part of the tour was the more outdoorsy part.  We got to take in some of the scenery...

... and hike into the woods. 

It was a tad chilly and wet for my liking today, but I did appreciate the scenery that I have been missing for so long in Texas.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but behind the children is an uprooted tree.  The size of this thing is amazing when you see it on this level and there were 1000s just like it.  It's something I took for granted for so long, but I missed trees like these while we lived in Texas.

All and all, the kids had fun learning about the great outdoors.

I know I enjoyed watching them take it all in!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Keep Going and Keep Being Me

Today as I woke up, I allowed negative thoughts about working out to creep into my mind.  I planned to do CrossFit today and I'll admit it still intimidates me A LOT because it's just so damn hard.  Then I said to myself, "Self, you can go into this with a good attitude or a bad attitude and having a bad attitude isn't going to do you any good."  So I decided right then and there, in my car on the way to CrossFit, to have a GREAT attitude.  I promised myself, no matter how hard the workout looked when I looked at the board, I'd still keep a good attitude.

So yeah, that didn't seem so bad to me.  Not the first part of the WOD anyway.  It was a 15 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) of pull ups (jumping for me), burpees, and hang and clean split jerks 75 lbs Rx (I used 45 lbs).  You "climbed the ladder" with each round, starting with 2 of each exercise and increasing it by 2 with each round.  So the first rounds was 2 pull ups, 2 burpees, 2 hang clean split jerks the next was 4 of each and so on.

I attacked this part of the workout with my good attitude and managed to bust out 6 full rounds plus 14 pull ups.  A good attitude does prove to go a long way.

But then.... Ugh

We had to do 100 Ab Mat Sit ups (this is a FULL sit up with legs straight), 100 flutter kicks and 100 glute lifts.  Then 75 of each, 50 of each and 25 of each.  As soon as we started the two girls to my left started busting out the sit ups like nobody's business.  One girl is another one of the CrossFit instructors.  She was going so fast, I couldn't even comprehend it.  I felt like I was moving through molasses and I just couldn't get myself to go faster.

This is when the negative thoughts started to creep into my head.  I started telling myself I'm an idiot for coming to CrossFit and everyone else is better than I.  I was 20 reps into the first set of sit ups and I wanted to die.  My abs were burning and I wasn't even a quarter of the way there.  FOR JUST THE SIT UPS!!  The other girls were moving past me so quickly.  With each sit up 38, 39, 40 I had so much negative talk in my head.  I was already picturing everyone standing over me at the end tapping their feet waiting for me to finish (ok they wouldn't really tap their feet).

Then suddenly something in my brain snapped and I had a conversation with myself and told myself who I am.  I'm the type of person who always gives 100% in EVERYTHING I do.  It's just who I am.  I don't do things half assed. It's not in my nature.  I am a mother of 3 small children, I'm training for a marathon and right now I'm pretty much a single parent.  I drive my kids nearly 60 miles a day to and from school and their activities, logging nearly 2 hours of driving each day.  I'm doing the best I can to keep my head above water in most areas of my life right now.  And even if all that were NOT true, I'm still just me.  I'm a mom at CrossFit giving 100% of what I have to give.

I'm not going to worry any more if I'm the slowest or the weakest.  I'm doing the best I can and I'm just me.  So if someone needs to feel good about themselves because they can do more pull ups or sit ups, then let them (although I doubt anyone feels that way).  I'll be the sacrificial lamb.  The thing is, it doesn't matter.  I'm just me.  My workouts are for me and no one else.  I don't need to waste time and energy during a workout wondering if someone else thinks I'm good enough.  I know I gave 100% today and it was REALLY hard, but there's only one way to make it get easier.  Keep going and keep being ME!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ballerina Birthday Party

Today was Ella's 7th birthday party and this may have been my favorite party yet.  The girls just seemed to have so much fun and everything looked so cute.  I don't know though, they've all been so great.  This one just seems special since it was today.  

As always, Jami was there to help me in every step of the preparation.  We made the cake pops and I think they turned out too cute.  

I went solo on decorating the cake and basically I don't want to talk about it.  It did NOT turn out how I anticipated it would.  I was disappointed, but Ella REALLY loved it and I realize that is all that matters anyway.

You can see in the background we made each girl a print of ballet slippers.  Jami's aunt sketched this picture a long time ago and we shrunk it down and made copies for each girl with their names and then framed them.  They made a good backdrop for the cake and cake pops and I think the girls will like having them in their rooms.

I also made each girl a pretty pink tutu.  You can read all about how to make them here.  We asked the girls on the invitation to wear a leotard (or other comfy dance clothes) and provided the tutu when they walked in the door.  I was afraid some of the girls wouldn't want to put them on (you know how weird kids are) but they all seemed very happy about them and put them right on.

I also made these pretty pink flowers using the tutorial I found on Family Fun.  I attached them to dowel rods and they were given to each of the girls as another party favor.  Ella loved hers, so I hope the other girls did too.

We made pink lemonade to drink and served ham and turkey wraps (tortillas, ham/turkey, leaf lettuce and garden veggie cream cheese) with chips and pretzels.  I really wanted to keep it simple and girlie.  I think everything turned out looking GREAT! It helps that the dance studio is so beautiful itself.  Ella dances at North Pittsburgh Dance Alliance no naturally we decided to have the party at the studio.  If you're looking to have a dance party in the north Pittsburgh area,  I HIGHLY recommend having a party at North Pittsburgh Dance Alliance.  Jenn (the owner) was very accommodating and helpful and Miss Sam (the instructor) was awesome with the kids and incredibly sweet.

Once all the girls arrived and were dress, they took off to dance.  How cute are all of them in the matching tutus?  Too flippin' cute I tell ya!

They warmed up a little.

And got right in to learning a routine.

 Most of the girls have danced before, so learning it came pretty naturally.

I just can't get over the cuteness.  

Next it was time to eat.

Oh I forgot we had apples with carmel dip and cubed cheese as well.

Most of the girls seemed to enjoy the food.

They were just too pretty to serve them pizza.

Finally we celebrated Ella with her birthday cake.

She made here wish...

...and blew.

And just like that another birthday season is over.  I'm off the hook for another 11 months.  Even though the preparation and execution of the parties for my kids are kind of exhausting, I look forward to it and have fun every year.

This year is no exception and I'm pretty sure I had one pretty happy ballerina.