Tag Archive | Half Marathon

Mile High Hijinks

October 13-19, 2010 – Denver, Colorado

I was graciously invited by Regina and her sister Claudina to visit Denver, CO.  And Regina has been quite persistent. She’s been trying to get me out there for YEARS. 5 years to be exact. Rob and I shied her off with a variety of excuses.  Then, I divorced Rob and ran out of excuses. I hadn’t seen these two since my wedding in 2007. I love them to pieces. They’re like long-lost sisters or cousins. On occasion, I’ve even told people we were cousins.

Regina, me, and Claudina - August 2007

I cashed in my Frequent Flyer Miles and booked a flight to Denver. Regina has had slightly ulterior motives. She’s trying to get me to move to Denver. Since I was in the midst of my city search, I added Denver to the list. What did I have to lose? By many accounts, Denver would be my kind of city. It’s accessible to the mountains where you can enjoy as many outdoor activities as you can stomach. It has an art scene and an award-winning restaurant scene.

Regina's dog Bruiser - Jr. Host

I couldn’t have asked for better hostesses. I stayed with Regina and Claudina in their cozy townhome/railroad-style apartment. I wish I had taken pictures of the place because it was so cute and chic.

I did a lot of exploring while I was there… most of which was by choice on foot.  Denver is a very walkable city with wide well-maintained bike/walking paths. You can definitely feel the altitude difference, especially someone like me who lives at sea-level and has asthma. That didn’t stop me. My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to go out to mountains and hike. I suspected that happened as a ploy for me to plan a return trip.

Invesco Field, which was literally right up the street from Regina's house

A view of the Millennium Bridge in Downtown Denver

Night view of the same bridge

Larimer Square

Falling Rock Taphouse

Big Blue Bear: Colorado Convention Center - "I See What You Mean." 40-foot high steel sculpture, encased in a fiberglass and cement composite, by artist Lawrence Argent.

Denver also has a thriving art and craft scene. It’s a little on the hipster side, but I can’t help but envy them for it. Claudina and I perused much of the Craft and Yarn stores in the immediate vicinity.

Crocheted public art adorning construction site near Union Station

Fancy Tiger - Craft shop

Fancy Tiger Craft shop

Local Craft Show

Of course, I ate like someone who was just rescued from a desert island. I do this every time I go out-of-town. It’s now part of my modus operandi.

Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Iced Coffe, and Phở from Phở So

Tom Ka Kai and Thai Iced Tea from Thai Basil

Drunken Noodles with beef from Thai Basil

There was also some drinking involved… I shan’t disclose exactly how much except to say the margaritas were fantastico.

Margaritas from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant - They packed a big punch. The little one in front was mine.

Out of all the eateries, my favorite was Snooze A.M. Eatery. By Saturday, Darius had arrived. Snooze was recommended to him. We waited over an hour for a seat, but it was oh-so-worth it.

Circular Booths at Snooze

D's Pancake Flight - Buttermilk, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin pancakes

D's Chorizo breakfast taco

My "Sandwich I Am" - soft pretzel roll filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty, served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise & house hash browns.

I was also there to run Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon with Regina who was running with Team-in-Training.

Regina and reminder of who she was running for

It was freezing at the start!

Regina, me, and Darius freezing at the start of the race

The Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon was a great Half Marathon. The course was very scenic. It brought you past many of Denver’s landmarks like Pepsi Center and Coors Field. My favorite part of the course was in City Park. There was a point in the park where you had breath-taking vista of the city and the mountains. Unfortunately, my ankles were not fans of the crowned roads through the park. I learned the hard way not to run on the outsides of crowned roads.
Darius started well ahead of us. Regina and I kept a good pace… until we needed to take a potty break. There wasn’t nearly enough portapottys along the course route. We eventually stopped at a coffee-house to use their facilities. The wait cost us about 10-12 minutes on our overall race time. It did give us a nice opportunity for a photo-op.

Regina and me at our Potty Stop

Somewhere in city park, Regina had some hip troubles and I continued on without her. I was doing well until I got to some of the uphill sections around mile 9 and 10. After that, it was a struggle to finish. The altitude didn’t help with my asthma. I did finish. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

Sprinting to the finish - photo by Darius Daniel

Darius and I at the Finish

Regina and I at the Team-in-Training tent - photo by Darius Daniel

After the race, we had my favorite post-race meal – burgers! Don’t ask me why I love burgers after a race, but with a 1900 calorie post-race deficit I’m not going to question it.

Citygrille Burger from City Grille - Half lb. freshly ground sirloin, melted Swiss, bacon and the Grille's zesty Caesar dressing

This was a good trip. In case it isn’t obvious, I really liked Denver. If it was the 27 year-old version of myself who was an avid climber and outdoorswoman visiting, I’d probably just have Myles and my things shipped to me in Denver. I wouldn’t even bother with my return ticket. However, my current incarnation is very gun-shy about moving halfway across the country again. As much as I love Regina and Claudina, I think they’d get tired of me quickly… hahaha. So, Denver is going to stay one of my favorite vacation destinations. Besides, I have some mountains I still need to explore 😉

Phenomenal Philly

September 17-19

I’m continuing my tour of the U.S. for the Great City Search. Next stop Philadelphia. I went to meet with some friends and to run another Half Marathon. It was decided that a road trip was in order.. I was surprised to discover that it was only a 5.5 hour drive.

Veterans Memorial Bridge - Delaware

Philadelphia City Hall - Hipstamatic Pic iPhone 4

Reading Terminal Market is a food-lover’s dream. There are stalls and stalls of tantalizing food. Fresh fruits and veggies. Cuisine from around the world. Cheeses. Desserts. It was sensory overload.

Reading Terminal Market

Bassett’s Ice Cream is absolutely delicious. If I hadn’t been so full from the Pad Thai we ate, I would’ve probably gotten my cone… or fought D for the rest of ours.

Bassett's Ice Cream at Reading Terminal Market

D with the Ice Cream we shared.

Even though it was too early for Halloween, we went to Eastern Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls. This was a big deal simply because I don’t like going to Haunted Houses. I’m jumpy and easily rattled. It makes for a nerve-wracking time for me and oodles of entertainment for anyone accompanying me. D can vouch that he was highly entertained by my level of hysteria. I’m not the best person to be the judge of scare level since I’m easily frightened, but D claims that this show is among the best he’s seen. Despite screaming the entire tour, it was definitely fun.

We met up with my dear friend Ben! (I feel compelled to always exclaim his name… Don’t ask).

Ben and I

We went to Monk’s Cafe which was highly recommended by a Philly Food Blog. After eating and drinking there, there is good reason. First, the beer selection is listed in a booklet! I love Belgian ales. I felt at home. They are renowned for their mussel pots, which was great for us, but poor thinking since we were dining with my Jewish friend. (slaps hand to forehead!). Thankfully, Ben had already eaten and didn’t mind that we gorged ourselves on shellfish.

My Thai Curry Mussels - Monk's Flemish Sour, fumè, Thai red curry, bais, garlic & coconut milk

D's Ghent Mussels - Ghent Saison Dupont, fumè, parsley, carmelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic

We want to sample more of Philly’s nightlife and headed to Good Dog Bar. Of course, I was enthralled by the decor. They have a gallery of dog portraits on the wall.

Good Dog Bar - Philadelphia

Saturday was first full day of sightseeing. Perhaps, the phrase FULL DAY was taken too literally. We had breakfast at Bonte. They make Belgian street style waffles. They mix the fruit into the batter and cook it.  It was light and tasty.

Strawberry Waffle from Bonte

After our light breakfast, we walked to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. I’m a history buff. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting those sites. The last time I was in Philly was for a high school field trip.

Liberty Bell

Independence Hall - Hipstamatic Pic - iPhone 4

Room where Declaration of Independence was signed

Clock on Exterior of Independence Hall

We had lunch at City Tavern, which is a reconstructed replica of tavern where many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence socialized. It was über touristy, but we didn’t care. The food was good and in keeping with our historical theme for the day.

Bread made from recipes that date back to the 1700s

Fried Oysters appetizer

My Turkey Pot Pie

Next was the worst call on my part – the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo wasn’t bad, but it was the worst choice the day before a Half Marathon. I really wanted to catch up with my childhood friend Michelle and her family. It didn’t dawn on me that there would be A LOT of walking. By the end of the zoo visit, we were beat. I feel horribly about it because it put D and I in a bad position for the next day’s Half Marathon.

Lucia, Me, Delia, & Michelle

Lucia with her favorite statue

Polar bear napping

We power-napped after the zoo and attempted to Carbo-load at Nodding Head Brewery.

Salmon from Nodding Head Brewery

Of course, Sunday was devoted to my 2nd Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe I chose to run my 2nd Half Marathon just 2 weeks after my first one. I have D to thank for that. He made it sound as though it wasn’t a big deal. To a certain extent, it wasn’t.

 

On our way to the start of the race

Bright and chipper before the start of the race

I cannot fully express how much I love race day. I’m nervous and jittery, but I enjoy every minute of it. The Rock N Roll Philadelphia course is scenic. It starts in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and goes through downtown Philadelphia. It continues along the Schuylkill River. While picturesque, that portion of the race felt endless.

 

sprinting the finish of the Philadelphia Half - iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

iPhone 4 photo by D. Daniel

I hit the wall at Mile 10 and started having problems with my asthma.  I struggled and still finished 8 minutes faster than the Virginia Beach Half. Woohoo!

With my finisher's medal

After the race, we paused from some tourist shots.

The infamous steps of the Philadelphia Musuem. No running up them


We had lunch at Q BBQ and Tequila. I love a good burger after a race.

A much-deseved post-race Burger and Fries

All in all, I really like Philadelphia. It has the big city feel without being quite as overwhelming as NYC. It’s definitely on my list of places to consider.

Running away

As you might recall, I started running a few months ago. I started April 5th to be exact.

My original running stats

I was encouraged to run races. I was told that it was good way to train. Races would give me goals. I started with a 5K and then I ran the Xterra 10K trail run for my birthday. It’s sort of snowballed from there. At the writing of this post, I’ve completed 10 races.

TriSpan 10K - Wilmington, NC - photos by Darius Daniel - 7/10/10

Military Challenge 5K - Virginia Beach, VA - 07/31/10

ASYMCA Mud Run 8/7/10

Surfer's Healing 5K - 8/21/10

2010 San Diego Fire Run - 8/29/10

Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon - 9/5/10

Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon - 9/19/10 - photo by Darius Daniel

Neptune Festival 8K - 9/25/10

The question has come up why do I do it? Or why do I do some many races?

There are several reasons.

  • I’m a running-addicted, crack whore. Seriously. I am addicted to the Runner’s high. I am among a fortunate group of people who gets a high WHILE running. There’s even an article about how some people are addicted to exercise. A few miles into a run, I’m euphoric. It’s the best. The downside is that when I don’t run for a while I get a little down. Withdrawals. I guess that’s why it’s an addiction.
  • I got tired of being overweight. For years, I was between 25-30 lbs heavier. It started with a thyroid condition. I picked up bad eating habits. I dined out frequently. I was married to a Catering Chef. Need I say more? It got to a point where little things would tire me. When I was loading boxes during my move, I was completely wiped out. I’m only in my mid-30s! I knew I was in trouble if I didn’t do something. So I started running. The weight loss started off slow, but then took off like a freight train. The best part is that I feel great. My energy levels are up.

Before & After

  • I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I’m goal-oriented. I start a race and there’s a finish. Simple as that. Either I’m pushing my endurance or speed. After the year that I’ve had with moving and the divorce, I feel as though I’ve had quite a few setbacks. Running and completing races gives my self-confidence a much-needed boost.
  • I love the camaraderie. The running community is very supportive. From elite runners to newbies, people are always quick to offer support and advice.I’ve made a lot of new friends through running. A bonus is that the post-race atmosphere is festive. Then again, I think they may have to do with the free beer that’s available after most races.

ASYMCA Mud Run - Andy, Me, Darius & Leigh

Military Challenge 5K - Darius, Me, and Jess

Surfer's Healing 5K - Patty, Sarah & Kim

Surfer's Healing 5K - Cathee, Me, & Jodi

Now that I’ve gone over why I run, let me get something off of my chest.

Although I’m dating another runner, he’s NOT a reason why I run.

I mention this because when people find out I’m involved with another runner they jump to stupid conclusions. They act as though my accomplishments are suddenly less impressive. Why?! It’s not as though he runs for me. We barely run together. He’s an elite runner who’s been running for 8+ years. I’m a newbie. We participate in the same events, but certainly don’t finish together. If anything, he spends A LOT of time waiting for me.

Darius and I at Xterra 10K

I’m offended by the inference. It suggests that I do things because I’m motivated by men or I do things to impress men. Uh.. That’s a big NO. Rob is a road cyclist. I tried road cycling, but I hated it and didn’t continue. My point? I do things because I want to do them, not because of the people I’m involved with. Running is definitely a sport that takes serious time and commitment. There is no way I would do it for anyone other than myself.

Me & Darius at Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Is he the reason for all the races? Possibly.  When I first met him, Darius did 3 Half Marathons within a week span. Then he went on a few of out-of-town trips for races. He made it sound like the best time. I was intrigued. Then I did a few races of my own and I was hooked. Now, we have a fairly busy race schedule. One of my goals is to shorten his wait time for me at the finish line.

There you go… Now you know why I run. Any more questions?

1st Half Marathon

September 4-5, 2010

My mad dash to the airport had put in me in a tough predicament. I arrived home in Virginia a mere 20 hours before the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. I barely slept on my flight. I couldn’t get comfortable. I had the dreaded middle seat. My whole body was sore from running and dragging my wheeled carry-on through the city. I was emotionally exhausted from the week’s proceedings.

After picking up my bags, I headed directly to the Race Expo. I picked up my race packet which included my race number. Once had I had that, the nerves really set in. I barely noticed anything else at the Expo. I was just cognizant enough to buy a souvenir t-shirt. The rest is a blur. At lunch afterwards, I didn’t fully enjoy my sushi, which I love, because I was so distracted.

I finally got home and attempted to nap. My nap was thwarted by my very busy household. I was so short on sleep that it was almost criminal. I tried to unpack and get my race gear together. Instead of carb-loading, I had a light dinner of Wendy’s chili and a baked potato. I went to bed early. Despite only having had about 3 hours of sleep the night before, the sandman did not appear. I tossed and turned for hours before finally falling asleep.

I had trained all summer for this, but you can’t train for emotional exhaustion, jetlag and sleep-deprivation. This was shaping up to be my worst case scenario.

I was up bright and early and began tweeting my experience. Here are my tweets with additional photos and commentary.

It was a unseasonably mild day. Temps in the 70s with low humidity.  Perfect day for a Half Marathon.

I was in Corral 23 which had me starting 36 minutes after the official start of the race. That gave me 36 whole minutes to really get worked up in a nervous frenzy. I felt like crap from the start. I was sore and tired, but I was determined to run. I knew I would finish even if it meant it would take an eternity.

I was in a very slow Corral. There were a lot of walkers in my group. What was most irritating to me was not only were some people walking they were holding hands and forming chains 4 people across. I’m all for support and solidarity, but geez it was still early. Leave some room for the rest of us to pass. I burned a lot of energy early on just passing people.

During my training, I found that it takes me at least 3 miles to settle in and get a comfortable pace. I wasn’t surprised early in the race when I couldn’t quite get into a decent pace and rhythm.

At Mile 4, I really felt terrible and I was panicked. My asthma was bothering me. I was hyperventilating. My legs already felt like rubber. I still had another 9.1 miles. I was in trouble. I had a Gu Energy Gel and tried to focus on the music playing on my iPod.

Miles 4-9 went through Camp Pendelton. That stretch felt endless because the course wound around a bit. There was plenty of bands and cheerleaders along the way which helped significantly.

By Mile 7, I was really questioning my sanity. All I could think of was this shirt that I almost bought that said “This seemed like a good idea a few months ago.” I was so exhausted that I spelled Half Marathon wrong in my hashtag.

My tweet that said “struggling” was a gross understatement. I was at a point where I was really questioning whether or not I would finish. My asthma was really bothering me and I was using my inhaler almost every 0.25 mile. What saved me was all the support I received from friends. I received several text messages, facebook comments and tweets. All the communication nearly killed my iPhone battery, but saved my morale. The positive words and thoughts buoyed me onward.

Mile 10 put back towards the beach where I knew the finish line was close by. Only 3.1 miles left to go. I dug into the last of my reserves and picked up my pace.

As is my luck, my mom and sister kept calling while I was trying to sprint the last 0.5 mile to the finish line. I don’t think I’ve ever been that rude to my mom, but that was one time that I REALLY couldn’t talk.

I crossed the finish line at 10:33 AM with a total time of 2 hours 56 minutes 44 seconds. It was not the goal time I had in mind. With everything that transpired prior to the race, I was grateful to have finished.

I was euphoric and fatigued. I had finished my first Half Marathon. Even though I felt terrible throughout, I’m certain there will be many more Half Marathons to come. 🙂