Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Run Like a Diva, North Myrtle Beach Half Marathon

Another race, better yet another flat race! The Run Like a Diva races are a series, primarily aimed at women. The result....an explosion of pink. A few men gave it a try, some were even fun enough to dress up for the occasion.
The expo was in a community centre on Friday and Saturday. The race was on Sunday morning. It was a decent sized expo and since this was a women's race it featured a lot of stuff I didn't see at other expos, like sparkly skirts. There were stands for allowing you to make up signs and take pictures with them..part of the fun atmosphere of the weekend.
The Medal

Before the Half Marathon started there was a sizeable field of 5k runners that ran before us. I felt a bit bad for them as a fair number had to fight through half marathoners just to cross the start line. Then the rest of us were off. For once I wasn't shy about moving up to the front of the pack. I knew this race would attract a lot of walkers and not everyone lines up according to their pace. It seems I made the right choice as I pretty much ran with the same crowd for most of the race and didn't have to dodge anyone.
Accidental Bitch Face

This race was super flat with only a couple of mild inclines. It wound through the area surrounding the beachfront in North Myrtle Beach, but we didn't really see the sea. Since we doubled back toward the start at one stage, I got to see my cheerleaders (Martina and Boomer) at the start, 5 mile and 7 mile points. Every couple of miles there were aid stations with gatorade and water and at around 4/5 points there was live music/ a DJ. Of the the races I've done this year there seemed to be the most spectators at this race. The points mentioned above, as well as the finish were packed with people and there were loads of others scattered along the course. People came out of their houses to watch and some even put out water and sweets. It seems North Myrtle Beach can get pumped up for a race...good on ya! Including one man following his wife/significant other on a bike....the saint! This made for a nice pick me up whenever I was feeling bad. After seeing Martina  and the pup at the seven mile point we headed away from the Ocean Blvd. area and along a stretch of highway.

 At this point the sun was out and it was strong. Although we have had some nice weather here in SC for the last few weeks...they haven't exactly been heavy on the running for me as I've been trying to baby myself through these race heavy couple of months. Soooo I haven't exactly adapted to the heat. On an encouraging note I am starting to recognise when I am beginning to overheat. Most of the water in my bottles started to go over my head and at every water stop after the 7 mile mark, I took my couple of sips of water and then walked to pour the rest over my head and back. A bit of a shock to the system but I started to perk up after a few cups :)
Again my left leg was a bit sore after about the 10 mile mark but not enough to slow me down too much! It seized up after I finished but a bit of stretching released whatever was causing the problem.

We ran through some nice neighborhoods towards the end, that reminded me a bit of Bluffton, and then it was back towards the 'downtown' area for the finish. Along the way I got talking to an awesome women, Janet. Her husband is deployed and they trained together (albeit apart) for her first half. I checked afterwards and she finished her first half in under 2 hours. I hope it isn't too stalkerish that I looked her up but I was curious. Janet if by some fluke you read this...great job and I hope your husband gets home soon.

About a quarter of a mile from the finish I got handed a pink boa and a tiara. Now I know I looked ridiculous but it's all part of the fun, and Martina said she'd skin me alive if I didn't appear at the finish wearing them. So I did!!!
Crossing the finish line I was confronted with a line of tall, shirtless, very muscled firemen. One of them even put my medal around my neck..normally its just shoved into my hand, maybe because I always look like I'm going to spew. As part of making all the racers feel like Divas, I was also handed a long stem red rose and given a choice of champagne or ginger ale in a flute. Fancy!!  There were bagels, bananas and cookies as I walked through the finish area. Music was playing and up on stage awards were being handed out. There was also a pool party at a local resort afterwards but I had to rush off as usual...always on the go.

Rockin the Boa
The puppy was exhausted after being cooed over and loved on all morning and I needed a shower. We camped at Myrtle Beach State Park, which was not only beautiful but had the added bonus of a 12 pm check out time. Lots of time to shower and pack up the tent. Strategic packing meant our lunch and cooler full of drinks as well as other beach supplies stayed at the front of the car so we were able to checkout and park the car before heading to the beach for a couple of hours before the drive home. Despite liberal and frequent applications of sunscreen, I now have a burned backside....aw well it might get rid of that sexy shorts tan line I'm rocking.

Overall a great weekend. Would I recommend this race......yes. Especially to anyone running their first half. The whole thing was designed to really make the participants feel special. I'm a bit jaded (not quite the right word, but I can't think of a better one)...so I just zoom in and out of expos and race finishes but I think I'd really appreciate the effort if it was my first big race. The atmosphere reminded me of the Flora Women's Mini Marathon at home...a 10k with a field of 40,000 (mostly) women running to raise money for charity. There was a bit too much pink involved in this race for my liking but if thats my only complaint it must be good :)

Run Like A Diva Half Marathon 1:56:55 Chip Time

My GPS didn't kick in for some reason so I pressed lap at each mile marker so these are only approx. splits 9.20, 8.34, 8.39, 8.30, 8.37, 8.37, 8.40, 9.17, 9.02, 8.42, 8.48, 9.18, 10.45

Monday, 28 April 2014

Weekend Scenes: Mrytle Beach

Natures Exfoilant

The Pier at Mrytle Beach State Park

Someone didn't like the waves!!
But looooved the beach

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Disney World Marathon

Well I did it. I finally signed up for another marathon. A $$$$$$$pricey one too. I don't think I'll be racing this one, I have other plans for a PR. A bunch of us from work etc are driving down to Orlando next January to run the WDW marathon/half.

Cue evil laughter.....I even got my housemate to sign up for the half, she didn't want to miss out but I do believe her words were "I hate to enable you but....". This is the second race I've registered for next year. Damn I have a problem :) I'm barely surviving my crazy race schedule right now...another two close together and then they space out a lot more. Thank goodness!!

Am I the only one who can answer yes to all these questions?
Credit: the Louisiana marathon

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Weekly round up

An ok week this week! Still tight in a lot of areas but I'm managing. One or two days it's been pretty humid, a little preview of summer.
I've been keeping up with the strength training series and yoga, they've been helping. 

Monday: rest
Tuesday:2.5 miles with the pup + strength progression series
Wednesday:5 miles with the pup  + strength progression series
Thursday: rest
Friday: hot yoga
Saturday: a rainy 5 miles with the pup  + strength progression series
Sunday: 7.5 miles

For a weekly total of 20 miles.

I would have liked to go to yoga today but the day was a bit jam packed. After all our running together the pup (I should really should stop calling him that now that he's 16 months old) was mucky. He was due a haircut and wash...badly. It took forever but I took my time and his hair looks really good. Between the haircut, wash and combing he tought I was torturing him lol. Besides trimming the dog I spent a couple of hours on the lawn which is really starting to grow.
We also got to go to Easter dinner at my friends house as her family were visiting. They've kind of adopted us...it look like I got an extra set of parents at the ripe ol age of 30. 

It's been pretty rainy here the last couple of days...the river is roaring right now, it looks pretty close to overflowing.

By the way... I don't have any fancy contacts or anything but I just thought I'd put out there that the Run Hard Marathon and Half here in Columbia have a special discounted price right now,  for next years race, in honor of Boston. It's $37 for either race if you sign up on Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palmetto Half Marathon

So half number three in 2014 done. Saturday I ran the Palmetto Half Marathon in Columbia, SC. This one was close to home with only a twenty minute drive across town. 
I drove up on Friday evening after work to Sports Academy to get my bib and t-shirt. There was no expo of any kind but there were discounts on some other races and products through a virtual goodie bag. I really liked the medal for this race and the t-shirt design was nice.

The race:
The race started in the Sandhills Village outdoor mall. We left the mall and after a mile had a long descent down an entrance ramp onto another road. After couple of miles of pretty boring scenery we entered a residential area with beautiful houses, very fancy. Interspersed throughout this neighborhood was a golf course and a number of ponds. We looped around these ponds for around 2 miles. 
Other than that loop this course was an out and back. Besides 3 decent hills (including a run back up the road ramp) most of the course was small rollers, pretty standard for most of Columbia. The aid stations felt like they were a bit more spaced out at points than other races (but that could have been me) but there were plenty of volunteers and medics along the way.

I was really worried going into this that I'd have an awful run. I haven't run most of this week to give my stupid IT band etc a chance to relax. However, I've had some lower back/hip pain in the last few days so I really thought I'd be walking most of this. 
Once I got going I felt pretty good. I just went in with the plan that I'd run as much as I could and not worry too much about time. I made it to just over the half way point before I felt any knee pain. Then it was ok, I was able to maintain pace, so I knew it wasn't too bad. On the loop around the ponds I speed walked up a short but steep hill and that seemed to stretch something out, as I had another few miles before the pain kicked back in. When it got to mile 8 I told myself I could walk up the next big hill. Well that didn't appear until after mile 10. By then I'd been looking at my watch and doing some math....I could come in under 2 even running relatively slower. That cut down on any walking I did!!! 
The way back up the ramp wasn't as bad as I thought, I think all my hill training last year has given me some long term ability to run hills a bit better than I should. I only let myself walk for 10-20 seconds to catch my breath at the end of the ramp...knowing I could make myself start again at the top.
From there it was slightly downhill/flat to the finish. The loop must have added a half mile to the course because despite the out and back most of the way the finish was much closer to the entrance to the mall. than the start....amazing feeling realizing that. I felt much better at the end of this run than the other halfs I've done this year. Either I'm getting fitter (no idea how since I'm not really training fully) or the effort I made to drink more Gatorade and water during the race really helped.
 That did have one unfortunate side effect. When I push the last couple of miles of a race I retch right after I cross the finish line. At this race I felt like that at the beginning of the finishing chute but luckily I held it in until I crossed the line and hid behind a tent where someone had already puked.The lady handing me my medal should have been afraid very afraid...she came very close to being spewed on. Normally I just retch up air or snot (gross I know) but today it was two large volumes of liquid, sorry volunteer who had to hose that off. However a lovely lady brought me some Gatorade, to replace what I'd just lost, and a zip lock bag full of ice in case I was over heating.
Lets not even comment on the hair except to say my styling gunk literally fell into and went down the toilet the night before the race..
There was lots of food and water at the end, I skipped most of that since I was going for breakfast with my sweet friends who came to cheer me on at the end.
The rest of the day was spent lounging, well after a dreaded ice bath and some stretching. I've also made a point to take in a bit more protein.
I like how this sticker from the marathon I ran looks like it belongs with my shaker.

Overall I feel good other than my knees and hips, which were acting up anyhow. Today I'm gonna double up the yoga classes, morning and evening to really try speed up my recovery and hopefully allow me to get some miles in this week.

Chip time 1:59:14
Splits: 9:26, 8:59, 9:04, 9:03, 9:01, 9:04, 8:49, 9:30, 8:48, 8:44, 9:22, 8:59, 8:58

It's a sun catcher

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Weekly Roundup

This week has been better than the last few, less ITB pain, yay! It's still there but manageable. I credit two things for this, a massage on Tuesday that left me incredibly sore afterwards and the next day (never happened me before) and hot yoga on Friday. I think the massage moved some things around leaving me uncomfortable and the hip openers at yoga finished the job...almost. I've been able to run consistently and even threw in a faster run on Saturday when I'd normally run race pace.

Today for my long run I managed 9 miles, not without discomfort but it was more tightness than pain. I've been following along with some yoga classes on YouTube, not ideal but I've done enough yoga that I'm not any worst than I would be in an actual class. I don't know if I'd try it if I'd never done yoga before. Boomer decided he was stiff after his trip to the dog park and wanted to try it out....

Monday  rest
Tuesday Massage
Wednesday 4 miles, (average 8:54/mile) strength progression series
Thursday 4 miles,   (average 9:25/mile) strength progression series
Friday hot yoga 1 hour
Saturday 4 miles (average 8:38/mile)
Sunday 9 miles (average 9:17/mile) strength progression series

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Geez Spring don't hold back!

Pollen, pollen everywhere...makes it hard to think! Never have I seen this much pollen anywhere. Everything is a yellowy green color..the pictures don't do it justice. The change of seasons here in the US seems so abrupt to me compared to Ireland's temperate climate where one mild rainy season flows into another one almost the same.

I'm having some pollen allergy issues, which I've never had before...keep the tissues on hand. My immune system is always easily triggered as evidenced by my trip to Doctors care last year for an allergic reaction. Besides taking anti-histamines almost everyday and having an enormous pile of tissues everywhere I go, I now also have to carry an inhaler when running..given to me by the doctor last year. He sees my strong allergies as a potential route to excercise induced asthma. Do I see this as a probable exaggeration? Yes. Am I taking any risks? No. Another month and it'll be back to constant bug spray...since I'm allergic to most insect bites and have the scars to prove it.

Anyone have any good suggestions for dealing with these things....without an overload of drugs/chemicals. I've been trying to eat local honey (within a 10 mile radius) as I've heard that helps, and from a biological perspective it makes sense. Since Ireland doesn't have fire ants/Mosquitos I'm not really sure what alternatives are out there for bugs?

On a happier note I went to a hot yoga class last night. I've tried a few at different studios but this is the first one I really liked. It might help that it was led by my favorite yoga teacher or that the class this week focused on hip openers, it's like someone designed it for me :)

A busy day today...

The international festival was on today in Columbia. So much food. Then puppies first trip to the doggie park. Followed by my best run in weeks. Yay

Friday, 4 April 2014

Leibster Award

Hi y'all. I'm accepting a Liebster Award, a bloggers award shared between bloggers :) Thank you Kirsten for the nomination. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should for a good dose of inspiration.
1. How did you choose your blog name?
I'm very unimaginative. I started the blog almost a year ago when I was training for my first marathon, not that long after I'd moved from Ireland to South Carolina. 26point2 for the marathon and south for all my running in South Carolina.
2. Why did you start blogging?
I've been a runner since I ran in an athletics club as a kid. Sometimes I've forgotten that I'm a runner. Mostly times when I've let life, be it career, relationships or any number of things swallow me up. I always run the most when I'm in a good place and right now I'm really happy with life. I started the blog to remind myself of what I can achieve when I apply myself consistently and although I'm no expert on running or life, I'm constantly trying to learn. I see learning and teaching/helping others as the same thing, we're all on crazy journeys why not do it together.
3. What is something that you love about yourself?
I'm tough. I like most people have been through some really rough patches and as cliched as it sounds I've come out the other side of every one a stronger more confident person.
4. If you could pick your dream career, and money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?
Although I don't usually put much of an effort into my blog photos (sorry), I'm a pretty decent photographer, my dream job would be to work for national geographic, photography and travel...heaven!
5. What motivates you?
To be a better person, in every respect. I don't think negatively of myself but I know there are aspects of myself that I need to work on and I try!

6. What are two goals you have for 2014?

1) To run and PR another marathon. Although my first one was a great race, it was a horrendously hilly course and my IT band acted up throughout the whole thing. So specifically I'd like to run another marathon under 4 hours 30, as close to 4 as I can get.
2) To publish a kickass paper. I work in a lab doing scientific research. I'm a biologist but when I moved here, I moved to a chemistry lab..albeit with biological applications....cue one steep learning curve!! I did well with publications (the lifeblood of an academic career) during my Ph.D and last postdoc but I love my project now and would love to get some of what I'm doing out there.
7. If you could give your 16-year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Be confident but don't be naive (is that a contradiction?)! People will take advantage of you..don't let 
them, but for every one of those people there are a million good ones don't be too afraid to get out there.

8. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?

Hmm this makes me think superpower. To teleport, instant travel to anywhere in the world....yes please!
9. Where is one place you have never been that you have always wanted to go?
Cambodia to see Angkor Wat

10. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
Woah back up there...let's start with a solid nights sleep. A big brunch type breakfast at my favorite brunch spot, followed by a massage. I then teleport to the beach for a nice nap in the sun. Lunch. A hike in the mountains with the pup...dinner, a nice glass of wine and a sneak peek at the new Game of Thrones.

11 Are you going to pass the torch and nominate 11 other bloggers?
For a double nomination..Snapshotsandwhatnots 

My (well kinda) 11 questions:
Why do you blog?
If you could do any race in the world, which one would you choose?
What makes you happiest?
What's the best thing you've ever eaten?
What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
What's your favorite book?
What's the weirdest situation you've ever gotten into while running?
Were you always as fast as you are now, how much have you improved?
The hardest thing you've ever done?
What is your favorite song for running?
What is your ultimate lifetime goal?
The rules:
Thank the blogger who nominated you.
Answer the 11 questions given to you.
Nominate 11 other bloggers.
Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
Comment on your nominees’ blogs to let them know you nominated them.
Have fun spreading the blogging love!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New shoes and my pelvis is wrong!

Yay I love nothing more than new shoes.  My Brooks PureCadence 2s arrived today. Wearing them around the house they feel good, a bit more cushioned than my Saucony Mirages but good! 

I'm not running AGAIN tonight. I should be but I got myofasial release and massage instead and I'm feeling beat up to the tune of $110, ekk! Apparently my pelvis is slightly rotated which explains why I'm not getting more of a benefit from stretching. More stretching and time, my massage therapist is great tho and has shown me what muscles to target and how to stretch them....and I believe her since she is also a yoga teacher. I didn't even realize how tight everything was until I started to flinch with surprise as muscles were massaged.
Not a good money week but if it all keeps me healthy and injury free, I'll just have to work this stuff into my budget!