Friday, March 29, 2013

Sub-2 Dreams

Y'all know that one of my primary goals for 2013 is pulling off my first sub-2 half marathon, among other speedy goals and general fitness things. My half PR currently stands at a 2:09, so I have a little bit of work to do - 9 minutes (and 11 seconds) to cut off to hit at least that coveted 1:59:59.

I've decided my time is just 4 weeks from now:

Nike Womens DC - you're mine.

I am almost done with Week 1, and am excited about the work I've done already. I have only these five weeks to get back in gear, and get some really tough workouts under my belt, but I'm ready. With this course, I feel that I have a great chance to make this happen:

It's nothing completely out of control, and with one realy good downhill, I think this course provides a great chance to not only do a little work, but that it sets me up for a great sub-2: two hills, one great downhill, and completely (or almost) flat all the way inbetween.

So that being said, I've got a tough five four weeks. My longest run since the marathon (prior to last week's Publix Half) was two 6-mile-ish runs, and a handful of wimpy runs inbetween those. My speedwork with the Athens Road Runners has certainly been helpful to getting myself back in gear. With those regularly accounted for, and thanks to running with some fabulous people, I think those are going to make all the difference. With that, a lot of this is on me to rock solo.

My plan, friends (image links to Google doc training plan):

- Rest/XT:  There are two days of Rest/XT each week. My intention is to take one as a full rest day, and use the other for some true cross-training and strength days.
- Speedwork: 1 day of speedwork per week. While this plan has specific speed sessions mapped out, I'm working with our track coach every Wednesday. He knows of my sub-2 plan and is going to help make sure that I've got my ground covered. So these days may not be totally according to plan, but still in target zones.
- Runs:  Increasingly steady pace. I think I know that I already need to move up those paces a little bit, but I'm only in week 1, so will see how I feel coming off this week.
- Long Run: 1 long run each week at a moderate pace (10:18 or 10:24). Given that my longest run has been those 6 miles, I'll still be pushing it through those days. Looking forward to getting in some good mileage again!

Please note that this plan is derived from Runner's World sub-2 training plan and drastically modified to squeeze into my 5-week time allotment. I'm also not totally starting from scratch, thankfully, and thus why I'm jumping straight into an 8-miler to kick myself off this weekend and successfully complete week 1. Before you start any training plan, no matter how rigorous, consult your doctor, read it thoroughly and think about what's best for you and your fitness, timing, and strength. I think this is going to work well for me, but that's knowing my own limits.

So yeah - much to do, four more weeks to go! Wish me luck!You can also follow along with my newly coined #sub2orbust hashtag - all the things related to the next four weeks will likely be tagged. Join me... and apparently the lots of other folks using it too!

Other advice, tips, and suggestions for hitting a sub-2? What is your magic race time goal?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Track Tuesday 12 + A Giveaway!

My Track Tuesday this week was actually on a Tuesday! On a track! But... definitely not speedwork, but that's okay. I got to take on a new adventure (semi-new, anyway): the concept of the RUNch.

What is a runch, you ask? Great question! A lunchtime run: lunch + run = a runch! Not a new concept, necessarily, but it's really just starting to become a word. Pavement Runner talked about it here and Blonde Ponytail talked about it here. I've taken part in a few solo runches here and there, but for some reason am particularly excited about yesterday's. Still not sure why, but perhaps we'll uncover that here.

Many thanks to spending my should-be sleeping hours laying wide awake next to a snoring dog, I missed my alarm yesterday morning to get up, out the door and to the gym on time to get my scheduled 5 easy miles in. I then woke up (for real) upset about that, frustrated with some other on-goings, and knew that I needed to get my miles in, despite having no time after work. My solution? Packed my bag and got ready for a runch instead. Glorious.

Those 5 easy miles were really 4.37 miles with splits at 9:56, 9:55, 9:42, and 9:43 and then some, plus another half-mile walk back to the student center to get back to work. Heavenly. And just what I needed to get through the rest of a long day!

This morning, I made it to the gym (three cheers for that!) and got to test-run this awesome tank from ViewSport, an awesome line of athletic apparel ranging from tees to tanks and other fun stuff:

Confession: I had to look up what "Go Ham" meant. #oldlady

ViewSport is awesome - no girl likes to be that one that's like, crazy uber sweaty and just looking gross. However, this stuff makes it kind of, well... fun! When you exercise and begin to sweat, an invisible image appears. They call it Sweat Activated Technology - and the more you sweat, the clearer the image becomes! ViewSPORT reveals messages and images as you workout, anything from "Go Hard" to "Beast Mode," and hence their tag line motivation revealed. Fun, right?

So truthfully, I don't sweat tons (I know, hate me now), so I was kind of nervous that this wouldn't work and I'd just be talking about another tank top. Being that I spent my morning at the gym instead of running outside, I threw on a long-sleeve tech tee over, and left that on during my 3 miles today, just to ensure I'd have something to show you. It worked!

And many thanks to my friend Jacob at ViewSport, I'm giving away one ViewSport item to you too! Get excited - there's some adorably awesome shirts on their website! Giveaway is open through Sunday, March 31, and will be announced on Monday, April 1 here at #runmeganrun. Don't miss out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additionally - any item in ViewSport's Easter Collection is 40% off with the code 'EASTER40' at check out through April 2!

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week too? Are you a regular runch-er?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Race Report: Color Me Purple 5K

Color Me Purple 5K | Athens, GA
March 24, 2013
We all know I like color. We all know I like running. We all know I like combining the two and running any color run I can.  So when I saw the Color Me Purple race, sponsored by our UGA chapter of Relay for Life, and not to mention that it was a whopping $15, I knew this race had to be done. Thankfully, I quickly pulled on board a few friends and turned it into an adventure.

Relay for Life is a really big production here at UGA - it's the second-largest collegiate Relay in the country, and is coming up here in a few weeks. I saw this race just a few weeks ago from one of my students who has been super involved in Relay the last two years. It's a more-than-fun way of just handing over a check or making an online donation - you get to donate and run and play in a little bit of color-clouds. Who's in?
They couldn't even get balloons to stay up it had started raining so hard!
Little did we know what kind of adventure the weather wanted to create for us too. It poured all day Saturday (thereby cancelling  my group run with ARR), poured and thundered all night, and poured until about 5 minutes before go time on Sunday morning. Meh, what's a little rain hurt anyone?

Chandler, her coworker Jane, Paula, and her boyfriend Zack all joined in for the wet, purple fun - and it was a blast. The UGA 5K course is no joke - for the awesome downhills it provides, you're given the equivalent (or worse) uphills in return. But all in a good time; this race isn't one I'd run for seriousness anyway! 
Jane, Chandler, me, Paula and Zack, pre-rain, pre-color.
I don't remember it actually raining during the race itself - it may have drizzled, but I honestly feel like once we were moving, it didn't really continue to storm. Lucky us! There were only three color stations, which made me kind of sad, but had it not been raining, maybe there would have been more. The Relay-ers are a really fantastic bunch and were out there the whole time with posters, cheering, and being really great course support even in the crappy weather. 

All in all a good time - you can never go wrong with a little color, a little rain to throw you all off, and friends to look like a fool in a downpour with on a Sunday morning. Thanks y'all for a great Sunday morning!

Post-rain, post color.
Have you ever done a color run? What'd you think?

PS. All photo credit to Chandler.  :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: KT Tape

As I mentioned in my expo recap, I finally got the opportunity to try KT Tape. I’ve wanted to prior, but the lines have always been an hour+ long and I didn’t want to spend the $20 on a roll before I got to talk to someone and be shown how to properly apply . Yes, there are tons of instructional videos out there, but I prefer that old-school way of talking to people.

One of my dear besties, Tina, used KT Tape for her shin splints during the Surf City Half and now swears by the stuff, so I knew it was a good thing to at least give a try... 

My knee’s been bothering me a little bit lately, though I can’t pin-point where or what.  I still wasn’t sure come Saturday afternoon, but after spending 13 hours in heels on Friday, I figured a little extra stability in my run on Sunday surely couldn’t hurt.

I had my knee done up – even with the exciting options of colors! KT Tape has some of the brightest, most obnoxious colors out there and needless to say, I’m in love. 

So.. how does this stuff work, you ask? I had to ask too – I know it helps, but how? According to their website, “KT Tape is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissue) to provide a lightweight, strong, external support that helps to prevent injury and speed recovery. KT Tape works differently for different injuries… Depending on how it is applied, KT Tape supports, enables, or restricts soft tissue and its movement. By stretching and recoiling like a rubber band, KT Tape augments tissue function and distributes loads away from inflamed or damaged muscles and tendons, thereby protecting tissues from further injury.”

Did it work? Well, I think so. I’m starting to think my tightness in my knee is more along the lines of an IT band issue rather than solidly into my knee. My next long run/race I’m going to look into KTing again along the side of my knee and seeing how it goes. 

The only pain about this stuff is ripping it off after you're over it - they say it can stay in place (even through water) for up to 7 days!  After two days it was tough to rip off and hurt like a mofo to get off even under hot water in the shower. Just like ripping off a band-aid... but worse. But hey! It stuck! They stick to that part right (pun not intended, but acknowledged. Ha!), and I can only imagine what taking it off 5 days later would feel like. 

All in all, I'm starting to become convinced. Looking forward to the next time around and seeing if it aids in what I think is my issue - we'll see!

Have you used KT Tape before? Are you a regular believer?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Race Report: Publix Georgia Half Marathon [The Race]

The Race

I tell ya what, after working 5+ hours at a race expo, a 5 am alarm comes really early in the morning - not that it isn't early anyway, but when your 6 hours of sleep the night before a race is the most you've had in three days... it's early. Heather and I were up and out the door by 5:30 to get to downtown Atlanta, parked and to the race start area in Centennial Park by 6:15 or so. Surprisingly, parking wasn't chaotic, as we parked in a little side lot for $10 not even a block from the park - success! After finding gear check and volunteer check in (side note: Jayne, the volunteer coordinator, had rescued my brand new Under Armour fleece jacket and it was promised she would have it there this morning; all I had to do was pick it up after the race), we found our sorority sisters - so many of us! Brandi was running the half, Heather and I the half, Liz was running her first full and Jessica her third full. So many OPA-powered runners! Love these ladies and connecting over running, fitness, and the ins and outs of runner life. 

It noted online to be in your corral by 6:50 am. I have no idea what time we headed towards the corrals, but they were a total cluster. I was assigned to corral K, but after passing corral G, I saw no signs and the back-up of people was completely overwhelming. I found somewhere to hop into a corral where I saw lots of Is and Js, and given that the herd of people had already started moving, just stood off to the side until I saw a few more Ks pop up - ultimately, I figured it didn't matter where I started, given the chip-time, but I wanted to at least make it through with some peers who were about my time range (mind you, I didn't even see any pace groups for a good while in the corrals!). 

The night before, Heather asked if I had wanted to hang back and run with her or if I planned on actually racing. Even the morning of, I still wasn't sure. I wasn't feel my best, and still coming out of marathon recovery (my longest run had been the Taste 10K, and a few other runs 5-6 miles each). I figured I'd just start and see how things went, and if I feel into a groove, awesome; if not, I'd just finish with what I thought made sense. This course is no joke and certainly proves that even if you think you know Atlanta hills, they'll show you that you don't.
I started out, feeling like I was just trotting along for the first few miles. The course is a great one, taking you through some major Atlanta attractions and points of interest. The race starts in Centennial Park, centerpiece to the downtown blocks that make up the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, and the World of Coke. Almost immediately into the race, you're on Georgia State's campus in downtown, followed shortly by the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, and eventually the Carter Library and Museum, through the beautiful Virginia Highlands, a stint in Piedmont Park, through downtown, Georgia Tech, and back into downtown. If you're a non-Atlanta runner, this is an amazing course that really highlights Atlanta and all it has to offer. If I weren't in the city as often as I am, I would be pleasantly happy with what scenery the course had along the way - I was more excited that I ran by landmarks that I actually recognized and that  I at least semi-sort-of knew where I was! 
Running through Piedmont. Always my favorite.
Some of the great things about this course, especially if you're a regular Atlanta runner, is that about 70% of the half marathon course is covered by other races. The Color Run, Hot Chocolate 15K and Peachtree all have snippets (mostly in reverse, compared to today's course) along this path, so it helped that I knew where I was and what hills I was about to head into. Familiar territory is always nice in a race day environment! 
I didn't fall into a real 'groove' until almost mile 7, and had already taken two walk breaks by then, which is fairly non-characteristic for me, but again, wasn't sure I was actually racing this. At that point, I realized if I pushed just a little more, I could at least ball-park near my half PR, which I would be more than ecstatic with. At mile 9, I felt myself waning faster than normal, and decided to just keep pushing as best as I could. At 12, I just wanted to be done - as evident by those splits. It wasn't until probably a quarter into that last full mile that I actually felt like I was able to run the rest of the way in - considering I normally sprint the last entire half mile, this was rough.
At least I don't look like I'm dying! Mile 12.
Brandi's mom was waiting for me at the finish line (she'd been tracking us all via text), but she said I must've ran the last mile so fast, she wasn't ready for me! Oh well.
Half marathon #8 - done and done!
Final time: 2:18:20
2332/4951 women
47.57% age grade 
I went and retrieved my oodles of belongings (jacket at volunteer check in, food bag by Publix, gear check), and met up with Brandi's mom and dad to wait for Brandi and Heather to finish. Heather and Brandi had met up at some point and were finishing the race together - the plus to running with cell phones, though I know a lot of folks don't like to. After Heather and Brandi came through their sprinting finish (3:16), we hung out in the park for awhile, met some new friends, stretched, and relaxed. About the time we knew Liz would coming towards the finish, we made our way back to the finish line, cheering folks in for both the half and full. It never fails to get me to see folks crying their way into the finish, having finished their first half, or majorly PRed, or swooping up their toddler to carry them in with them. Emotional. Wreck. <-- that's me
How fun are the medals though, for reals?
We got to see Liz come through, looking great coming into her moment of glory! Never forget how that feels girl, you earned it! Congratulations on joining the 1% club! Heather and I then had to blitz off and head back to Piedmont for a little kickball action - seriously. We "stretched" out and played an hour's worth of kickball to end our fitness-filled day. We're dumb sometimes. But it was fun. 
And with views like this, why not?
And there you have. Half marathon #8 in the books, race #5 of 2013, and a great day in the pocket. KT tape review to come in on Friday, given that this sucker got a little longer than I intended!

 Did you race on St. Patrick's Day? Are you an all-green sort of runner, or do you never dress in theme?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Report: Publix Georgia Half Marathon [The Expo]

The Expo

I signed up for this race somewhere around Christmas. About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to also volunteer some of my time and work the expo - part of my goals for the year is to volunteer for at least two races. So many of my races have been great thanks to some outstanding volunteers and I wanted to return the favor, even if I couldn't do it on race day.
On Saturday, I was driving back up from Florida (that's a different story for a different day), and was supposed to be at the expo at 1:30. Traffic was horrendous just south of Atlanta, and apparently there was a St. Patrick's day parade in downtown - all places I needed to be! Super. I got to the expo about 2, met up with Heather, and we got down to work (well, correction, she'd been there awhile already).
We spent all afternoon working packet pick up and had a blast. It got a little chaotic for some points, but was a total blast. Heather and I kind of became some sort of team leads and helped organizing our packet system, bag and shirt pick up, and became our area leader's go-to ladies. All in fun times! Brandi spotted us, as did a few other friends - our sorority sister Liz was running her first full, Jessica her third.So many girls all together - how perfect!
Spotted! Photo cred: Brandi
Before the expo closed at 6, we got to take a quick break and check out the booths - some really fantastic booths. Lots of good free swag and fun stuff to stop and check out. The race had a ton of great merchandise, including a few tops I lusted over, but unfortunately just had to say no. With Publix being a main sponsor passed out mini cutting boards, and some biscotti spread, in addition to having an almost full-service store set up! Photography company was doing on-the-spot prints with some awesome props. Ragnar, runDisney, Rock 'n Roll were all there. I stayed clear of all those for now; no cash for the extra races! Soon enough. Except Ragnar - finally got to meet Lindsay! Hooray! ... and no photo to prove it. Womp. I also finally got to stop at the KT Tape table and get my knee taped - first time I've finally gotten to since the line was actually short - but more on that on Wednesday with my race recap.
 We were signed up to work until 6:30 and ended up being there until almost 7 - again, turned into those unofficial team leads. It was fun, seriously though, but surely regretted being on my feet all that time by the end of our shift. At that point, I was just hoping that the balls of my feet didn't throb that bad come first thing in the morning.

Perks to working packet pick up? Super easy packet pick up!
Half marathon #8, here I come!
Have you ever volunteered at a race expo? Do you ever volunteer at the race expo you end up running?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Race Book 2012

If you remember, a few weekends ago I spent a Saturday afternoon being productive putting together my first race book, with much inspiration from Meghann at Meals and Miles. Well, she's finally here and I'm so excited to show it off! I may or may not have carried it in my gigantuous purse for a week in case I had an opportunity to whip it out if someone ... you know, asked.

It was on my doorstep less than a week after I ordered it - much faster than I had expected and I just about squealed when I saw it on my doormat. 

While I'll spare you looking at every single page, I'll show you some of my favorites and why they are so. Obviously, there's some significant ones (i.e. first half marathon), but there's some with fun stories attached that I'll always remember. I think I'm glad this blog is going hand-in-hand with these photos, as I'll always be able to look back and laugh at all the shenanigans I've participated in.

And now for the fun...
 First marathon page! Obviously the one that started it all and to kick off this running craze I've caught on to. Love how big my finish photo is and all the fun ones that come along with it!
 Color Run is just freaking awesome, and the first race I had done for super fun - without worrying about a time, worrying how long we took, or if I had screwed up. What a freaking blast! This race was done with a few coworkers from my office, a few sorority sisters, a few random folks I've never seen since, but was just such a blast.
 I really only like this Warrior Dash bib page because it's the only bib that's not stark white - ha! Love how it still holds on to what the race was all about: getting muddy, let's be honest. And I like that I had actually hung on to the wristband for this one, as it adds a little something extra. I think I want to be certain to hold on to any other race 'extras' so I can dress up some of the pages a little bit more.
 Obviously, one of the best times of my life. This page was hard enough to pare down to seven photos for, let alone doing a page of about 30 photos that were so tiny you couldn't actually see them anyway. These seven are from different points in the race, all very accurate as to what was going on and what we were feeling. And, naturally, the group finish had to be the largest of all. Love love love.
 I'm so glad that I messed around with photo layouts for every page, so first, they're not all alike, and b, I can really highlight some favorite photos or race moments. Running, participating in, and experiencing Wine and Dine weekend with some really fantastic people was unbelievable. Colleagues, one of my greatest friends, and a longtime friend all came together for a blast of a weekend - helping Heather finish her first half marathon was of course an amazing opportunity, but my first runDisney race surely didn't disappoint!
Peachtree was just crazy it and of itself - you enter a lottery for 60,000 spots, when 80,000 people have entered such lottery, and well... you don't get in, naturally. So I bought a bib about a week before the race and well... for a whopping hour and a half, I was Ashley. It's like a whole new identity! 
And I really enjoy that the back of the book allowed me to incorporate some photos with it too! Adds a little flare and fun to the entire thing, not just on the front!

Have you ever made a race book of any kind - whether printed or scrapbooked? What are your favorite race experiences that you like to highlight?

PS. This also makes for post 200! Crazy talk! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Track Tuesday 11

My Track Tuesdays have become any day but Tuesdays as of lately - Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday. Who needs a real schedule, anyway?
This week I joined our coach Al at his regular Tuesday clinic, only because Chandler wouldn't be with me this week and he knew I'd do better in a group (glad he catches on fast!). So at the bright, shining hour of 5:30 am, I was on the track with his regulars. Mind you, these were the same folks who blasted past me a few weeks ago, but also who therefore are the ones that push me to the max - and to what I know I am capable of.

Today's work out was 400 repeats, number varying per our abilities. Al set me up for 8 x 400s, which is a push I haven't done in awhile. I don't know if it was the frustration from Sunday's race coming out in me, but I kicked off on a great start with my first two laps at 1:49 and 1:50. It was then I realized that maybe I can gauge myself better than I thought (I also had a great anchor and great rabbit to chase that I used to pace myself). But check these suckers out! 
I don't know what the Split 2 is all about. Haha.
My 400 splits have never been this consistent, ever, and look! The last repeat was the fastest?! Who am I? Cooled down with 1 easy mile and called it a morning. What a great way to start my Tuesday and an even better motivation and confidence booster going into the half marathon this week!

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week? Make sure you link up!