Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Surf City | Pre-Marathon Thoughts

So basically... it's HERE.
Surf City, and obviously therefore, my first full marathon, is 3 days and change away. Am I terrified? Meh, a little bit. Nervous? Not really (yet). Excited? Heck yes!

I'm almost packed. The music will come together.

I feel like I should be nervous. And I'm not yet. I'm excited to join the thrones of those that have accomplished the 26.2 dream, whether one time or hundreds of times. (Speaking of, have you seen the really awesome infographic that Running Shoes did?)

I know I can trust my training. It was far from perfect, but it's far enough to get me from Start to Finish. I've got people behind me, cheering me on, and I'll have my family and some friends standin' on the curb doing it in person.

I'm so excited. Just hope that emotion carries through until Sunday! I mean, I've worked hard for this:
  • 18 weeks.
  • 334 miles (plus two tomorrow and a slooooowww two on Saturday).
  • Countless 6 am gym days.
  • Just as many 8 pm, post-work days.
  • Sacrifices.
It's my turn to prove that I can. To show how far I've come since last January at half marathon #1 and how far I know I can go with full marathon #1. Just watch it - I'm comin' for ya, Surf City!

Think positive thoughts on Sunday. And thanks for reading my rambles.

PS. You can live track me here! Please feel free to follow along and send good vibes!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Surf City | Week 17

I have one week until I can say I'm a marathoner. Me. A marathoner. Who would have thought at any point that I'd actually make it this far?

Monday: Rest
Monday was also travel day back from Austin. After rolling out of bed, hightailing it back down to the outlets in San Marcos for the most productive and most time-controlled trip ever (we had exactly an hour and twenty minutes, and I got to all 3 stores I wanted, victory!), we hightailed it back up to Austin to the airport. Thankfully we all left almost all together, so there was no way to leave someone behind.

I slept the entire flight back to Atlanta, drove home and desperately wanted to pass out when I walked in the door at 6:45. I ended up staying up a little longer to start unpacking, get some things done, and apparently didn't pass out until 10. Oops.

Tuesday: 45 Minute Tempo
I had packed for the gym and everything. I was going to go after work. After being at work until 7:15, I headed towards south campus to get to the gym... and kept on driving. I couldn't do it. Not with bags to unpack, dinner to make, and too many other things floating around in my head. Disappointed, especially as my only goal for tapering was to not miss a run at all. Urgh. Mental game, 1, Megan, 0.

Wednesday: 3 miles
2.57 mi / 25:32 / 9:50 pace
I decided at the last minute on Tuesday night that I needed/wanted that extra hour of sleep in the morning, so I sacrificed running in a warm building for running outside in some bitter coldness. Worth it? Totally. Not a great run by any means, but a run  nonetheless, given how Tuesday went.

I've also decided that the best part about running is the  how-many-colors-can-I-wear-at-once game.
 Happy to have gotten some miles in, felt like a fool running down the street in safety green and a houndstooth headband, but man... the cold felt good. I ran out of time, otherwise I'd have pressed on for more. Oops.

Thursday: 3 miles
3.27 mi / 30:26 / 9:18 pace + .36 cool down walk / 6:02 / 16:45 pace

Friday: Rest
Happily rested - took my casual time gettin' up, on the bus to work, and caught the bus home, which always delays the evening. Went to watch some things on Netflix in bed, only to discover that my laptop won't recognize that it's plugged in - and the battery doesn't hold a charge so it has to be plugged in to function. Cue freak out. Frustrated, went to bed at somewhere near 8:30 pm (on a Friday! I'm such an old lady) and called it a day. Prayed for my beloved little Dell and that she wouldn't be totally dead.

Saturday: 6 miles
6.1 mi / 1:00:03 / 9:50 pace
Dell is dead. Cue freak out, Part II.

Cleaned the house for a bit in the morning while (more importantly) waiting for it to warm up outside. With absolutely nothing but this run on the agenda for the day, why bother going out in 30 degrees if I have time to wait until it's 50, right? Right. Best move on my part - got to head out for a run in January in shorts and a long sleeve tech-tee. Busted out hard on 4:1 intervals for the whole run, pushed hard, even at the end when I had to jog out a little extra arm of the road to ensure I broke the 6-mile mark. Felt awesome - great last long-ish run of training! Weeee!

Got this for Christmas, and was finally not afraid to wear it out for a run.

Sunday: Cross
13.06 / 53:46 / 14.6 mph pace
Felt like the first legit cross-training session in a long time, even though I pumped out nearly 7 miles last Friday in Austin. Played a little interval game from the few spin classes I took a few years ago - push hard on the verses, push harder during the chorus. Made for an awesome workout and even better last XT day! I wish I had stuck with these more lately.

Spent the evening at the dog park, finishing cleaning the house so I can leave in peace on Friday, and cuddling with this kid:
Her life is hard.
By Sunday evening, I also picked up a terrible knot/cramp/Charlie Horse in my right calf. After the dog park, spent some time rolling it out with my stick, dosing it in Icy Hot and trying to stretch it out. Come today, Monday morning, it's still here, so I spent some of the morning rolling it out again, Icy Hot-ing up, and wearing a compression sock as a boot sock to hope that it works itself out today. Hope for the best, y'all!

Total Week Run Miles: 12.3 miles
Total XT Miles: 13.06 cycle
Total Week Miles: 25.36 

Bring on the last week of the training plan. Oh. Em. GEEEEE. And to get rid of this pesky calf knot - hoping these compression socks do the trick today - hope for the best - and to spend the week rolling it out if I need to!


How did your training go this week? Any last advice for me for my first marathon on Sunday? Tips for things to do/not to do during the week leading up to it?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Track Tuesday 8

I'm pairing up with Denise at Run DMT to bring you a weekly thread where you can brag, show off, cry or celebrate your weekly  (or whenever it is) speed workout. Whether it's Monday, Tuesday, or never, you can link up (at the bottom) and tell us all about your session!

My Track Tuesday actually became Track Wednesday this week, and even then wasn't much of a track sesh. I was in no mental capacity to get in a 45 minute tempo run on Tuesday night after 10 hours at work and with lots to do around the house (namely unpacking from this weekend) and sucked it up and went home. At least I did get done what I had missed the gym for - unpacked, made my lunch, and was in bed at a decent hour. 

So today's post is more like Track Tuesday Lessons. Things I have picked up on over the last 18+ weeks since I've begun seriously committing participating in Track Tuesdays. I'm officially into my taper mode so I'm out of Track Tuesday opportunities for now. Don't you worry, I'll be back at it! But for now, I bring you these lessons.
  • Speedwork works. Even if just helps shave some minutes here and there off your race time, you'll see the difference. I certainly have, given that I PRed my half at three of the four half marathons I ran October-December this past fall. 
  • You need to commit. Sure, it works. You just need to make sure you're committing to doing it, in some form. My plans have alternated weeks - one week would be a tempo, the next week a speedwork session, then back to tempo. 
  • Push yourself. Much like my first lesson from 2012, you're often more capable than you think. And track workouts are a great way to see just how much you can push!
  • Emotionally-charged runs work well. Maybe that's just me. But that day that I was super aggravated with all things life and went and killed a 9x400 session? Awesome. Maybe it does really work... 
  • Track (pun not intended) your progress. Keep track of your splits, your warm ups, your pace and total mileage. It makes it so much easier to see that progress -- and then you know your effort is worth the work.

Do you do regular speedwork as part of a training plan? Did you this week? Link it up! If you post on Twitter, don't forget to use #TrackTuesday too! Do you have any additional lessons or things to consider with speed work?

And feel free to add the button to your site and entry, too!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Surf City | Week 16

I knew this week could potentially be really long - lots of work stuff coming up, and while exciting, a very, very busy weekend ahead in Texas. I pushed through, made good of it and am happy with the outcome! This was my first official week of tapering - I've dreaded the mythical (or legit) taper madness, but truth be told, given that I was out for a week and a half with that cold, I feel like now I can just appreciate being able to run at all during these next two weeks (eeek! TWO!?). My goals for tapering weeks are really that I just can't miss a run or a session - need to carry it out, make it count, and maintain all the work I've done since October 1.
Tapering reminder!
Monday: Rest
I really don't remember last Monday at all. Resting is wonderful for that very reason!

Tuesday: 10 x 400m / 5K pace
5 x 400 / 2.62 mi / 23:00 / 8:46 pace + 2.25 cycle cool-down
I knew, even as I was barely walking into the gym, that a 10 x 400 sesh was going to be rough. Being that this was going to be my first whole week back in training since the chest cold from hell, it would be a stretch if I got to 10 repeats. The track was completely empty, which was awesome, but I could only push my body so far. 5 repeats it was - still a half success! Read more here, and check out our posts every Track Tuesday!

Wednesday: 4 miles pace
4 mi / 36:57 / 9:14 pace + .25 cool down
So so so happy with these 4 miles. Pushed myself hard, just to make sure I was still in the game and ready to get to work. Great morning at the gym to start my day and the boost I needed to be sure that I finished out the week strong!

Thursday: Rest
Thursday wasn't originally my rest day, but after the long day that Wednesday became, and the amount of stuff I needed to do before heading to the airport straight from work on Thursday afternoon... it just wasn't going to happen. Thankfully Heather and I got to make a 24 Hour Fitness date for Friday morning, so I got to make up for the fact. Success.

Friday: 3 miles
3.1 mi / 33:17 / 10:44 pace + 6.72 mi cycle / 40:00
HP and I ventured up to a 24 Hour to get our sweat on. She was doing Body Pump and for as much as I wanted to try it, I wasn't sure that I should jump into something new just two-ish weeks out from the race. So I ran instead on the dreadmill - it's been awhile since I've done that and I remember why. Ha! No time goal for this run, just a solid 3 miles to gear up for Sunday's long run.

Saturday: Rest
Our sorority board meeting was all day Saturday and went straight into the dinner and induction ceremony for our new chapter at Texas State. Full post coming soon of all the fabulousness! Amazing weekend and so excited I got to be there to celebrate these women and their accomplishments.
They all wanted to wear cowboy boots together - LOVE.

It's such an amazing opportunity to get to see a new chapter form - from meeting two of these girls at our Convention in July, to meeting my little sister when I visited in November, and seeing them through all this. Knowing their ups and downs, seeing them continue to push forward and not let it drag them down for too long, it's so much fun to help them celebrate and see that they have so many sisters, both active and alum, who are there to support their new endeavors. So excited to see this chapter grow, thrive, and make Texas State even more awesome than it already is. Congratulations to our 19 Alpha Nu founding mothers!

Sunday: 10 miles
8.44 mi / 1:26:11 / 10:12 pace
Sunday morning after the last of our business I got to meet up with one of my former co-workers from Texas State, Andre, (who I used to spend many mornings running with) and get in some miles around San Marcos. Through some of my old running stomping grounds, around some new areas that have popped up in the last year and a half... it was wonderful. Got quite warm towards the end, but an awesome run overall. At first I was disappointed I ran short, but realized I still went over my scheduled miles for the week with that, so I call it a success anyway.
Andre and I, post long run!
Happy with this week overall - here's to Taper Week 2 and counting down to the madness that is to be 26.2!

Total Week Run Miles: 18.16
Total XT Miles 8.97
Total Week Miles: 27.13


How did your training go this week? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Surf City | Marathon Music

My running playlist needs a makeover. Like, a total overhaul. Especially since I've been doing so many runs inside on the track, and trying to focus, I don't regularly run with my iPod anymore - with that, it needs some help.

I have some super random stuff on my running playlist - everything from Survivor to Neon Trees to Ke$ha to Psy. Like this:

BUT - I currently have just about 2 hours' worth of songs in my playlist and need at max, 5 hours. So, bring 'em here: Your marathon music suggestions for 2013. New faves? Trusty go-to power songs? Faves to get you through a hard workout? Share 'em here!

I'll be sure to share my final playlist prior to marathon weekend, and my iPod thanks you for helping to shake things up a bit!

What are your running playlist must-have songs or artists? Thanks for your suggestions!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Texas-Bound & Pretty Muddy Discount Code

I got to see a whole bunch of these wonderful women again!
Happy Thursday and for me... happy weekend!

I'm off to Austin and San Marcos in the gloriousness of Texas Hill Country for the weekend - one of my favorite places ever. My sorority national board is having our annual winter business meeting there BUT - in more exciting news - we're also inducting our newest chapter at Texas State University - San Marcos on Saturday night! I used to work at Texas State, and had long dreamed of an OPA chapter starting up while I was there, and while I'm no longer there... it's a great reason to go back and visit!

I'm leaving tonight, heading down to San Marcos on Friday to get things in order for the weekend. Starting Saturday morning, we'll be busy hustling our way through business, getting ready for the colonists' family and friends dinner, and then late that evening, we'll be inducting our Alpha Nu chapter! Sunday is a celebration brunch, then more business all day long! Most of us depart Monday, so at least we'll get some fun time in there. But oh my, so excited for these colonists! They've been working hard for over a year now, and after getting to meet several of them so far, cannot imagine the pride and joy they feel in finally reaching this goal!

But, more pertinent to you...
The fabulous women at the Pretty Muddy Women's Mud Run is offering a special, awesome blogger discount to you! Get excited! Pretty Muddy is small, but has a number of events in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois and Texas for you to check out.
They are offering a one time $20 discount to you, just for reading (so thanks!). Unlike their inaugural season, there will not be any daily deal (GroupOn, Living Social, etc.) offer this year for their races, so if you're looking for your discount, now's your chance! When you go to register, enter the code first - a new registration option (Past Participant) will open and there's your stellar discount.
The code is GIRLTIME. They chose that code because so many women do this as teams and have such a great experience with their girlfriends - what better than a mud run to do that at, am I right? This special expires at the end of January…after that the price will never be this low again! Jump on it! Don't forget to check them out on Facebook too!

Have you ever done a mud run? Are you signing up for a Pretty Muddy race? Which one are you going to be doing?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Track Tuesday 7

I'm pairing up with Denise at Run DMT to bring you a weekly thread where you can brag, show off, cry or celebrate your weekly  (or whenever it is) speed workout. Whether it's Monday, Tuesday, or never, you can link up (at the bottom) and tell us all about your session!
Today's scheduled doozy was a 10 x 400 track workout at 5K pace - do-able. With time looming until Surf City, I really want to make these count to the best of my abilities. However, I also should have known better given this is my first speedwork since before Christmas, really, and first post-sickness. Yeah, I don't think about such things. I just wanted to run!

Today's workout turned into a 5 x 400m session, which I'm not stoked about, but moderately satisfied with. If I can at least stick with speedwork through these next few weeks of tapering, then I'll consider myself happy and knowing that I at least carried out the training plan. 

My work outs usually go as such: 400/800 m warm up, 400 repeats, 400/800 cool down. Today turned into a 800 m warm up, 5 x 400, and 400 cool down. 400 m splits at 1:58, 1:53, 1:55, 1:56, 1:58 and 400 m cool down. Decent for the 5, at least, so I'll call that a victory. I also headed down cool down on the bike for 10 minutes to end the morning.

Do you do regular speedwork as part of a training plan? Did you this week? Link it up! If you post on Twitter, don't forget to use #TrackTuesday too!

And feel free to add the button to your site and entry, too!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta [The Race]

Hot Chocolate 15K | January 13, 2013
Atlanta, GA

You can read my Expo review here.

Before I start my post(s) about the Hot Chocolate race, I want to clarify two things: first, I did serve as an Ambassador for HC Atlanta, which solely meant that  I got to help promote the race and got a few free race things (not a race entry); and b) despite knowing issues with RAM Racing in the likes of DC and Chicago, I was trying to remember to be [cautiously] optimistic given that Atlanta is a new city for them. That being said...  I like chocolate. I like running. I like running for chocolate.

Saturday night, my sister and I headed down to Atlanta to hang out at Heather's house for the night, so we didn't have to leave Athens at oh-dark-hundred hours. So grateful to have Heather to crash with, and to host us both. Convenience at its finest. Since we were able to buy a parking ticket for Turner, we were thankful able to leave a little later than had we needed to park downtown and shuttle - but even still, they recommended that runners arrive by 6:30 am. Considering the 5K didn't start until 7:45, and the 15K until 8:15, that was a little brutal.

Heather, me and Brandi before the race! Sorority sisters!

We got to meet up with Brandi and her mom, Karen, and take in our normal pre-race photos and fun before we headed towards the corrals to see my sister, Brandi, and Karen off in the 5K. Afterwards, Heather and I headed to gear check and get in to our corrals once all the 5Kers had taken off. 5K runners were assigned corrals A-G, and 15Kers I-N. In total between the two races, there were nearly 14,000 runners taking over Turner Field on Sunday morning! Insanity!

This race and fun turned out to be particularly special to me because while I didn't run with them per se, I got to run with not only my true, blood-related sister, but my letter sisters too. What fun! 

My goal for the race was to run a steady pace and aimed for a 1:35 finish - that would put me on target for (slightly faster than) goal marathon pace and get me a PR for sure (the only other 15K I've done was over five years ago, 1:44:xx). Given that I was still finishing my battle with the chest cold from hell, I'd be happy with anything ballpark to that and would be a great last race pre-marathon.

I'm sure glad I checked the course elevation last minute online - this course was no joke!
I mean seriously. I took it semi-easy up until the 5K mark, took in my first Gu, and tried to plow through until the mile 5 marker or so where I knew it got tough (did I mention I was glad I actually checked out the course elevation?). I mean, Atlanta is hilly, that's a given, but this course sure did show them off! Good push, for sure. My first Gu didn't kick in until just before mile 5 and when I took my second Gu at the 10K split, I didn't feel that come into play until nearly mile 8 - but they sure did the trick at the end.

The course(s) both go under the Olympic rings at the Turner complex - I believe the 5K started through there and the 15K finished through there. I was dying for a photo, but just wanted to finish at that point. Thankfully, the road down into the parking lot, and the finish line, is a gradual downhill that at least encourages you through for the last of the long haul. It was exciting to see my sister at the finish line waiting for me! :) I got my chocolate (more on that below!), ate up, waited on Heather, and ran with her in the last .11 miles to the finish (I think I got better finish line photos the second time around!)
Myself, Heather, and sister.
Final time?

If I'm not good at meeting my time goals then man... I don't know what. 9 seconds to spare, race average of 10:06, and more than I was expecting. Happy last race before the marathon! 

And what's even better than that? That's right... that post-race party that gets all the hype. So worth it. Of course, with nearly 70 degrees and pretty much 100% humidity in January, the last thing I wanted was hot chocolate. The fondue, however, was divine and certainly worth that course! There were tons of stations to get your finisher's mug and chocolate goodness, and I waited in line for maybe all of 30 seconds before I was up at the front. Even with 14,000 runners, they had this down to a science and it was fast
Yeah, pretty much best post-race food ever.
Race Pros
- Turner Field is a great location - tons of space, allows for maximum space for pre/post race gathering, bathrooms, gear check, etc. 
- Awesome race swag (a new tech-ish hoodie never hurts!)
- Fantastic post race party!
- Challenging course - awesome, but challenging
- Volunteers were fabulous! 
- Positive experience overall!
Race Cons
- I wish there had been different swag for 5K/15Kers - 5Kers pay about $20 less, but get the same sweet sweatshirt. Maybe 5Kers could get a long sleeve shirt, 15Kers the hoodie? 
- Parking confusion
- Pre-race communication seemed spotty (learned that some folks' emails went to spam, some got theirs, I still never saw mine)
- Communication with Atlanta Police/parking folks about where to go to actually park
- Ridiculous Atlanta Januar weather... but RAM Racing can't help that fact!   
Sister love. So happy she was here this weekend!

Thanks RAM Racing!

 I served as an Ambassador for the Atlanta Hot Chocolate race. While I did not receive compensation or a comped race entry fee, I did receive two shirts and a race hat from RAM Racing prior to the race. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Surf City | Week 15

Inspiration quotes for the next few weeks:

Running is like mouthwash; if you can feel the burn, it’s working.   Brian Tackett

This was my first official week back (at least, semi-week) after the onslaught of the head-turned-chest cold that knocked me on my feet. I hate being sick. I hate resting. Put both of them together and I'm a mess. Especially since I'm supposed to be training! At least it mentally prepared me for tapering - and at least during (official) tapering, I can still be running! Silver lining people, it's all about the silver lining.

Monday: Rest
Well at least I finally got one day right! Students were back on campus today, my students had their first executive board meeting... back in the swing of things at UGA! Minus, you know... this whole running thing.

Tuesday: 45 minute tempo 
I really wanted to run today, but couldn't get myself to get up and go to the gym. In hindsight, my body was telling me to still take it easy and just rest one more day. I thought I was feeling better, but spent the day at work hacking up my lungs again. Sign taken, body, thank you.

Wednesday: 5 miles pace
2.12 miles / 22:57 / 10:49 pace + 2.20 miles / 11:56 cycle
I knew I wouldn't get to five miles, but given that I got up and went to the gym, I just wanted to get some miles in. Not a great pace, but a good pace, and happy with it given that I was still sniffling and just a little bit icky. I layered up in full tights and a sweatshirt, hoping I'd sweat out the last of the cold. Didn't totally work, but you know... whatever. Cooled down with a few minutes on the bike, just to keep moving a little bit.

Thursday: Rest
I know it said rest, but I really just wanted to get moving and get some miles in. Like I said, I'm not good at this whole resting thing. :) I got home from work and busted out a few quick miles to make up for yesterday's shortage and to try and get some good work in - and then raced home for laundry,

Friday: 5 miles
5.0 miles / 48:50 / 9:46 pace + .36 mi cool-down / 4:28 / 12:24 pace
Busted out a few miles before work because after work I had to bolt to the airport - sister came to town! First the miles: decent. Only walked about 3 laps of the 40, so I'm excited that I feel like my lungs aren't super mad at me anymore and are coming to terms with the fact that I'm going to keep pressing on. Take that, sickness.

My little sister lives in New York and hasn't been down here to visit yet, so a few weeks ago when she found a really great deal on tickets, she texted me and within 15 minutes, had a flight booked! She was also semi-excited that we were already running Hot Chocolate on that Sunday, so she signed up to do the 5K! Perfecto!

After the airport, we headed straight to the Hot Chocolate expo so we could pick up ours and Heather's race stuff. I was a little more than annoyed that we had to pay for parking and would have to pay for race day parking - couldn't there have been a better location for free expo-ing? You can read more of my expo thoughts here. After that, it was back up to Athens for the night to chill and get in some quality time with my seeeester.

Hot Chocolate expo!

Saturday: Rest
Well, kind of rest. Gave my sister the grand tour of Athens and campus, with Miss Molly in tow. It was a gorgeous day (um, hello 72 degrees in January!) so we got to make the most of walking around downtown and giving her the full campus experience! We also found our way to the state botcanical gardens, where I've never been, with the pup in tow. Fun extra side adventure, and photos to come! Saturday night we headed down to Heather's new place in Atlanta to get rested (and a lot closer) for the race on Sunday! Excitement abound! 

Sunday: Hot Chocolate 15K
9.39 mi / 1:34:51 / 10:06 pace
Last race before the marathon! Given this damn cold, I really wanted to push but not too hard to make myself fall back into a worse chest cold - goal was 1:35, just so I could be on target for marathon pace (which, really, is more like 10:30-11). Given the hills (yay Atlanta!) and the nasty humidity (almost 100% in January? Ew!). Recap to come soon!

After that, we hightailed it back to Heather's, showered, and Stub-Hubbed our way into this...
Rise Up!
 Seriously. Falcons playoff game, and one of the craziest games ever. What an experience - so glad my sister is into such randomness! More weekend fun coming later. So glad my sister finally made it down here and had the best whirlwind 51-hour weekend ever!

Total Week Run Miles: 19.45 miles <-- not bad for finishing up with that cold!
Total XT Miles: 2.20 cycle + some walking on Saturday <-- oops
Total Week Miles: 21.65 + change


How did your training go this week? Do you usually run through colds/sickness?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Race Report: Hot Chocolate Atlanta 15K [The Expo]

Hot Chocolate 15K Expo | January 11-12, 2013
Atlanta, GA

Before I start my post(s) about the Hot Chocolate race, I want to clarify two things: first, I did serve as an Ambassador for HC Atlanta, which solely meant that  I got to help promote the race and got a few free race things (not a race entry); and b) despite knowing issues with RAM Racing in the likes of DC and Chicago, I was trying to remember to be [cautiously] optimistic given that Atlanta is a new city for them. That being said...

Expo time! Who doesn't love a good expo? My sister and I headed over to the Georgia World Congress Center on Friday night right after I picked her up from the airport to pick up hers, mine and Heather's bibs and sweet goodie bags.
Friday morning was a little nerve-wracking: my sister had forwarded me a pre-race email that she had gotten earlier in the week - that I never got! That also had the link to buy your parking permit for race day parking at Turner Field. After about 5 minutes of reading the email, and going to the link, it didn't work! Not long after, Hot Chocolate folks were replying to Facebook posts and questions and indicated that race day parking was sold out. Um what? Not even all of us got this pre-race email! Super. However, they did have a plan already in place to run free shuttles from downtown Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park, so okay, there's a back up plan in place. Too bad the shuttles would be a) chaotic and b) there's a Falcons play off game Sunday at 1 (not that they could have planned for that). My hopes of being optimistic as possible were dashed a bit.

The expo itself was small - Hot Chocolate race gear (LOTS of fun stuff!), Big Peach (local sponsor) had a huge blow-out store area, and Rock and Roll Savannah and the Georgia Publix Marathon folks were out with race sign ups. There was a kiddie area, in addition to a chocolate display and free samples of chocolate squares and hot chocolate that we'll get at the race (the more chocolate, the better!).

Bib pick up is split up by the race (whether you're a 5Ker or a 15Ker), and then you're guided on to get  your swag bag - your sweatshirt, a hat (if you got one with a promo code). Being that the sweatshirts run small (they fit short), they had set up a Jacket Swap area, with already-opened sweatshirts for you to try on a size, so if needed, you could exchange your hoodie for a correct size. I appreciated this fact - this way, you're ensured to get a new sweatshirt that someone already hasn't busted open and tried on. Smart thinking. Thanks RAM Racing!

Georgia Publix medals - half marathon (L) and marathon (R).
We walked around a little bit longer, checked out the medals for the Georgia Publix race (I'm running the half) and headed out. They had just revealed these not too long ago on their Facebook page. So excited about the sparkly, glittery green goodness these medals are! How fun! I guess you can get away with such things with a race on St. Patrick's Day! The full marathon medal is the same design as the half, just a  bit bigger and a different color ribbon.

Turns out Heather was able to buy parking that afternoon (even though they were "sold out"?), so we grabbed that on our way out. And that was it. Easy, quick, mellow. Super. And that was it! Easy peasy! Have to love an easy expo.

The only true unfortunate part of the expo, and not that this could be helped (though could with a different venue) was paying $10 for parking, for what literally was a 15 minute trip through the expo. I feel that there could either be better locations to allow for a free expo or working with venues to accomodate and either vouch parking or provide a discount of some kind. Ah well.

Are you running Hot Chocolate Atlanta? The 5K or 15K? Hope to see you there!

I served as an Ambassador for the Atlanta Hot Chocolate race. While I did not receive compensation or a comped race entry fee, I did receive two shirts and a race hat from RAM Racing prior to the race. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lessons in Twenty-Twelve

2012 is what I called the year I became a runner - mostly due to the fact that I actually started running and racing, but also because I was realizing how much I was getting out of running. Sure, the stress relief and accomplishment is awesome, but there's some actual, real life lessons here. Check out some of what I'd consider the important lessons and values I took out of racing and running in 2012.

First half marathon | Callaway Gardens Half Marathon | January 29, 2012
  You're often more capable than you think.
I felt ready for that first half, or at least as ready as one thinks they can be for that first half. Mid-way through, I questioned what I was doing. Mile 11, I wanted to walk to the finish. But I knew I had come too far to give it up at that point. I made my time goal (2:20) by 8 seconds and realized that all along... I was more capable than I ever thought. You are more capable than you think.

Arizona 5K | February 25, 2012

 Running with friends is essential.
Though not every time, every race, making sure you have racing counterparts to share in the glory, and the frustration, of running is essential to finding the fun. I had plenty of races by myself, plenty with friends at the end or at the beginning, all of which stand out for different reasons. This one, in particular, kicked off one of my dearest friend's bachelorette weekends. Perfection.
ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon | April 22, 2012
It's all mental.
This also goes with the "You're more capable than you think."   ZOOMA Atlanta 2012 proved to be the ultimate mental game -- eating asphalt at mile 4 on a pretty rough up-and-down course and running the rest of the race with a bloody hand and road-rashed knee that burned every time you bend is a pretty rough mental game. I still can't recall the number of people that were shocked to see that I'd finished the race with a torn up hand. A friend had gotten into my head that day, who had just taken a major spill on a bike ride, who didn't let that stop her either. Game on.

Team Four Score & Seven Miles Ago | Ragnar DC | September 21-22, 2012
Ragnar is the best time you'll ever have.
Okay, maybe not a lesson. But something you need to know. The end.

Warrior Dash Georgia | May 19, 2012
 Allow yourself to have fun.
Sure, take those half marathons seriously. Try and BQ. But throw some fun in there - there are now so many opportunities to run for the hell of it and be goofy while you're at it. Warrior Dash and the Color Run were two of the most fun things I did this year, and so glad I got to run and be active... just for the sake of it. If it's not fun anymore, your heart's not in it.

Major half-marathon PR | Allstate ATL 13.1 | October 7, 2012
 You can surprise yourself.
Just when you don't think you're ready to give it all, or that your head's not in the right place, or that you're too tired after a 3:30 am wake up call before that half, you can make good things happen. Just have a little faith!

Operation Jack Half Marathon | December 26, 2012
Having a support system can go a long way.
Prior to the OpJack Half, I'd usually have races by myself or with friends, but I'd usually be the one cheering those friends in on at the end. OpJack was the first time my family or boyfriend had been able to be there  to cheer me on and be there for me at the end. Whether it's your family, or a friend, or even your dog, having someone can make a huge difference (just thinking of what it could have done for me at ZOOMA is a great example). So looking forward to having them at various point and the end of the full in February! Secondary lesson from OpJack: know your pre-race ways. Know that not being in your pre-race pattern can affect the race. And that's okay, just be aware of it!

What did you learn in 2012? About racing, running?