Monday, April 30, 2012

Marathon To-Do List

Marathon week has arrived.  I've been too distracted the last couple of weeks to realize how quickly the days were ticking away. Now today the reality is sinking in... Marathon #2 is just 5 days away! In many ways, I feel ready but doubt has definitely reared its ugly head.  

I still have no idea what I'm going to wear. I had an outfit semi-planned, but I think the weather is going to be warmer than originally expected (high now of 73). I think I'll be packing an assortment of interchangeable tops/bottoms to make a gametime decision.

My To-Do List for marathon week...
  • Print out driving directions
  • Figure out babysitter for kids Friday afternoon
  • Plan/pack race outfit and post-race clothes
  • Tweek playlist for the last 13 miles / Charge ipod
  • Plan meals for a week of clean eating
  • Drink Emergen-C twice a day all week
  • Watch an inspirational sports movie 
  • Treat my feet to a pedicure plus manicure
  • Book a massage appointment for next week
  • Finish work projects by Thursday
  • Relaxing reading
  • Early to bed all week

Do you have any rituals that you do during a big race week?

My last long run didn't go as planned this past weekend.  I was highly unmotivated.  The weather was blah. We had a crazy schedule and a very sick kiddo (meaning momma didn't sleep much).  Saturday afternoon I finally got myself out the door with all the gumption I had left.  Just one mile in and my husband texts that he's gotta head into work earlier than expected.  So after 8 miles, I returned home to finish the 10.5 miler on the treadmill.  I hate it when training ends on a sour note.  This afternoon will be my last "effort run" - a 6 mile tempo.  Here's hoping it goes down with more encouragement.

Workout plan for the week…
Mon – yoga, bike, run 6 mile tempo
Tues – yoga, easy 5 miles, spin class
Wed – yoga, 3 miles at race pace
Thurs – rest
Fri – rest

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Taper

Just 10 days until the Wisconsin Marathon!  In a way, it seems like I've been training forever for my second marathon, and then again, it seems like race day has come quickly.  I threw a 10k and three half-marathons into my four-month plan.  Some questioned if that was too aggressive, and yes, I was slightly worried about injuries and burnout. However, the warmup races have broken up the monotony and kept training alive and exciting for me.  Most of all, I think cross training has been instrumental in staying healthy. (Knock on wood... anything can happen in 10 days!)

I'm super excited but also very nervous.  I started off with a goal to get below the 4:30 mark... then my Yasso 800s had me thinking 4:20 is possible... and now I'm down to 4:17 as my goal, which would be exactly one minute off each mile from marathon #1.  Not 100% confident that's possible, but I'm still willing to give it a shot!

The taper can give some runners a mental breakdown.  It's hard to trust your training and decrease mileage so far in advance of the big day.  Last week I ran only 30 miles and it felt weird after pounding out 45 mile weeks.  I've been trying to use the extra time to get ahead on the work-front - so I'm not stressed/busy next week.  Plus we celebrated Little Girl's 4th birthday for nearly four days.  I like to make a big deal out of my kids' birthdays, but after last night's big Chuck E Cheese party, I was done.

To keep myself run-ready, I've been knocking out 5 miles daily at a healthy pace.  Short and sweet.  This weekend I'm looking forward to a solo long run.  I've been blessed this training cycle to have buddies on all my long runs, but I'm also a firm believer in the solo run - to prep myself mentally for the long race that lies ahead. I need to be able to push myself... by myself.  I also try to add extra Yoga into my taper routine. I love the stretch and calming aspect of it.  Every time I do yoga, I think to myself, "I need to do this more often."  That's why I signed up for the May Yoga Challenge here.

Finally, I'm working on the marathon outfit, which goes along with weather stalking! We finally got a look at the extended 10-day forecast today and it's looking sweet... but you know that will change 10x before race day.

I've entered this photo of me and my kiddos into the iFitness Mother's Day contest.  You can only vote once (per IP address), so please VOTE NOW HERE.  You might as well get it out of the way now - or else I'll be begging you for the next two weeks... :)  Thank you!

Note:  I did not make the nuun Hood-to-Coast team (named an alternate) in which this picture was originally taken for.  I was pretty bummed as I was convinced my video was a winner.  Oh-well... but congrats to those ladies that did.  I'm sure it'll be a great time!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Race Recap: Oshkosh Half Marathon

This past weekend, I headed back to my roots in central Wisconsin to run the Oshkosh Half Marathon.  This is the second straight year I ran Oshkosh (2011 race).  It's not often that I duplicate races but the Oshkosh event is priced right ($40) and comes with with free hotel and babysitters (my awesome parents!).  Plus my hubby gets to run the 5k at the same time.  He's been running more often lately and it paid off... he ran his best 5k time on Sunday!

I love running on familiar grounds from the past.  I used to live and work in downtown Oshkosh (during my college summers), so running there is always an enjoyable trip down memory lane. The course is pretty flat with some nice scenery through the UWO campus, Riverside Cemetery, South Park and neighborhoods.  I personally love the part along the water on the Wiouwash Trail (especially this year since it wasn't a flooded mess of mud).

You never know what April weather will bring in Wisconsin.  Last year we ran in rain, sleet and snow.  This Sunday, it was beautiful sunshine with perfect running temps in the low 40's.  Chilly enough to jump around pre-race but super comfortable while running.

The morning started with a quick meetup with other area bloggers... I love me some Wisconsin girls!

JenniferKimRachel, me, Lish, Michelle, Sarah

I think we're ready to go!

The race started and my legs felt great, fresh after two days of rest.  I was only a couple miles in and the battles in my head immediately started.

"I just don't care. 
I could care less about my time today.
I just wanna run..."

"If you don't give it a decent effort, you're going to be disappointed.
 It would be a shame to waste such a perfect race day/course.
Push through it... Don't think. Just run."

"Channel your inner Shalane... Cold Execution."

I fell into a pace that was just one step out of my comfort zone. I wasn't pushing, but no lolly-gagging either.  I was quiet practically the entire race.  Typically I'm tossing out cheerful "thank yous" and "good mornings" to spectators and volunteers.  This morning I just was not myself.  I found myself easily annoyed... with runners who cut me off or did the whole leap-frog passing thing. At one point, a runner crossed the course right in front of me and I completely plowed her over (not on purpose!).  Mile markers were missing so I didn't even track my splits.  I had no idea of where my time stood and didn't really care.  I didn't take water and forgot to GU until mile 8.  Definitely not my typical race mode.

My legs and body felt fine the whole race.  I'm probably in my best running shape ever right now.  But I just couldn't get my head and heart into the race.  Yet somehow I pulled out another sub-2.  I came around the last turn and saw the clock started with a 1... so I gave a hard sprint to the finish line. 

I had no idea what my finish time was, but I knew it was close to my Myrtle Beach PR.  I almost felt guilty... how could I PR on a race that I didn't give 100%?  Well, I didn't.  Later that day, official results were posted.  I tied my standing half PR - right down to the exact second.  I couldn't even do that if I tried.  

Official Chip Time
(average 9:01 pace)
#32 out of 88 age group
#209 our of 619 female division
#580 our of 1209 overall finishers

I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  One of my 2012 goals was to run a sub-2 half marathon and I've done it three times now.  Anytime I get below that 2 hour mark, it's much appreciated.  However knowing my own capabilities, I know I could have done better.  The fact that I was bounding up and down our steps the next morning is a clear sign that my legs had more to give.  And then I ran a 5 mile recovery run at a 9:19 pace the next day... opps.

With 11 days to go before the Wisconsin Marathon, it's given me a lot to mull over.  I need to clear my mind and get the run-joy back in my heart.  I can't go 26.2 without it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Little Blue Pill

I've been living in a bit of a fantasyland.  Seriously, the past couple months have been the best start to a year for as long as I can remember.  So much so that I just said to my hubby last week, "The shoe's gotta drop sooner or later."  Damn, I forgot to knock on wood.  This past week, a black cloud moved over my little world... my bubble that has been the perfect balance of family, fitness, work and friends. Nothing major or life-threatening, but drama that was enough to weigh heavily on my heart.

You see, I give 110% in just about anything I do.  I don't like, don't know how, to do things halfway.  Do it right or don't do it at all.  That's kinda my mantra in life.  I believe in treating others as you wish to be treated.  I try my best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt even when popular opinion says otherwise.  I believe the good in people. I help people to the best of my ability. I sincerely want everyone to like me, thus I forgive too easily. While these may sound like good things, they also bring me hurt and pain.  Not everyone is happy to see me so... happy.  Whether it be in the fitness arena or in the workplace, there is a tricky balance in being a leader.  In order to inspire, you need to put yourself out there, to make yourself somewhat vulnerable.  And with that comes risk.  My mind turmoils today whether that risk is worth the rewards.  I easily get wrapped up in the momentum, and eventually need to step back and check myself.  Check my priorities in life.  Am I where I want to be?  The answer is usually a renewed focus on my marriage, children and my personal health... and let everything else fall into place after that.

Yesterday I ran... twice. In the morning with a jogging stroller, I pushed that weight up hills and relished in the pain.  In the evening, I busted out another 3 miles on the treadmill... the last half at an 8:20 pace (that's fast for me!).  Afterward I was completely dialed-in at Spin class.  I felt in tune with every song and pushed myself hard. There is something about a hard sweat that makes worries trickle away and perspective clear.
This is my therapy.

No matter what gets thrown my way in life, I will never again be that fat girl who ate a gallon of ice cream or got wasted with beer.  My drug of choice is endorphins, and I will forever be on the run in search of them.

This weekend, I'm escaping "home" to Wisconsin.  We have a nice family get-together planned to celebrate my Little Girl's birthday... and I run the Oshkosh Half Marathon on Sunday.  I've got tension and stress under my skin that is gonna explode at the starting line.  If weather cooperates, I'm going after that PR, or at least another sub-2.  If you'll be in Oshkosh, don't forget the bloggy meetup!

Are you racing this weekend?  Good Luck!
How do you deal with adversity in life?  Does it make you wanna run too?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oshkosh Half Meetup

For anyone running the Oshkosh Half Marathon this weekend, there's a bloggy meet-up happening right before the start of the race.  Stop by to chat, get in the group picture, and then we'll walk to the start line together.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 22, 2012
6:20ish a.m.
Race begins at 7:00 am
Meet by the corner of Ceape and State Street
(one block east of Main St.)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

2011 Oshkosh Half Marathon

I ran the Oshkosh Half last year.  In fact, it was my first 'attempt' at a sub-2.  I wasn't ready and the weather was horrible... rain, sleet, snow, we had it all.  See the race recap HERE.  I'm heading back for redemption... It's my hometown turf, so that makes it an easy (cheap) race for me.  The course is pretty  flat so a PR is possible if weather conditions are good.  Cross your fingers!

Extended forecast is looking really good 6 days out...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Start the Taper

Today is nothing like fun.  It's April 15th and I spent the morning finishing our taxes.  Working for yourself has many perks, but taxes are not one of them.  Secondly, I'm painfully sore and our house has too many steps. As I got frustrated with the taxes, I took breaks to roll my quads and calves on the foam roller.  It's a labor of painful love... hurts like hell, but it'll make all the difference tomorrow. (More on foam rolling here.)

Yesterday was my last 'big mileage' before the Wisconsin Marathon on May 5.  I knocked out 22 miles in wet weather at a sweet pace... sub-10 min miles!  I was exhausted, but very happy with how it unfolded. I've been plagued with some odd muscle twitches around my right knee lately, but thankfully no problems yesterday.

I started solo at 6:30am for some quick mileage before meeting the Sole Sisters later. Skies were gray but no rain in sight... yet.  I ran but one block when the drops started.  I turned back for my jacket and hat... and ditched my electronics in the car (not killing another ipod this time!). I'm not a well-versed rain runner, but I pushed through the showers for 8 miles.  By time I made it back to the car, I was drenched.  I quickly changed my hat and shirt, refilled my water bottle (is it even possible to dehydrate in rain showers?), downed some GU Chomps and headed back out.

This time, I had Laura, Heather and Barb by my side. It was like a whole new run. They had fresh legs and kept the pace honest, even as I began to tire.  More importantly, our conversation helped to alleviate some 'issues' rambling around in my head. (Run friends are so good at talkin' it out.)  The rain continued to spatter on and off with occasional heavy rainfalls. When we hit the turn-around point, I could literally wring out my shirt. The last couple miles were a real push to maintain pace. I could feel my legs aching, but was afraid to stop in case I couldn't start again!

Thankfully, I had warm clothes at the finish.  I stripped off the wet.. which was everything!  We had a good laugh because my feet were literally smoking when I took my shoes off.  And my toes bright white prunes!  It was a tough long run - both physically and mentally - but I passed with flying colors.  Did I mention a full 22 miles with no music!?!  It was just the confidence boost I needed as I officially head into THE TAPER.

22 miles in 3 hours, 38 minutes (9:54 pace)
This run also put me over the 500 mile mark for 2012!

22 in the bank Baby!

The pace was pretty close to my desired race pace for the marathon. My goal for marathon #2 is to take one minute per mile off my last marathon finish... which would be a 4:17 or a 9:48 pace.  It still sounds daunting for 26.2 miles...

So the endurance work is done.  Time to rest up the body and prepare for 26.2.
Oh-wait... I'll be racing the Oshkosh Half Marathon next weekend!!
Who planned this schedule?  Yes, I'm crazy like that...

• • •

For those of you who read my post yesterday on the
perfect running partner, Patty finished her first Mary in 5:03.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Perfect Running Partner

This post is dedicated to my training buddy and good friend 
who is running her very first Marathon in St. Louis, Missouri this Sunday.
Patty and I were introduced last fall and I immediately liked her.  She is so incredibly 
easygoing and we run really well together (for ALL the reasons in the chart above!)
She is also a member of the Illinois Air National Guard like my husband, 
so we spend many talks swapping military stories and gossip.

I love the fact that Patty isn't afraid of a cold winter run.

A Christmas Eve long run with the Sole Sisters.  I think it might have been on this long run that Patty told me she registered for her first marathon.  It started my wheels turning, "Hmm, maybe I should run one too..."  The rest is history.

A scenic long run with Patty that was full of snow.

 Battling knee issues in the midst of training is no fun, 
but Patty made it through her first 20 miler!

Patty, Barb and I ran nearly all our big mileage runs together, 
each of us training for a different marathon event.

 Look at us all matchy-matchy!
I struggled on this simple 13 miler.  I think Patty literally pulled me along.

We celebrated the start of Patty's taper with some cold brews
after a Friday night long run.

All the hard work is done.
Your 26.2 is just one big victory lap.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Race Recap: The Virtual Jelly Bean!

The 2nd annual virtual Jelly Bean race was a huge hit!  With nearly 700 people registered, the race spanned over 48 U.S. states and six countries.  Thank you all for participating.  I loved reading your messages and emails during race week.  One thing is for sure... YOU all inspired others to get active with you! I had to laugh at how many husbands got suckered into a run to fulfill the "friend" extra point.  Congratulations to all the finishers!!  I'd like to highlight you all, but below are a sampling of my favorites.  (See more photos in my facebook album.)

This year, I added more events to the Jelly Bean.  Congratulations to the ladies below who finished ALL 4 EVENTS!  That's a 5k, 10k and half marathon run, plus a 21k bike ride - all in one week! Sorry no prizes, but you did complete 'RockStar' status in my book!
Dee Cajiuat
Heather Oakes
Judy Fishbaugh
Lindsay Barnes
and me!

 Led by Sheila A., the Towpath Turtles gathered a large group on Day 1 in Ohio.
... and I see someone made cupcakes!!

 Whitney and her bike group in Arkansas took advantage 
of the new bike category in the Jelly Bean this year.

Nicole's Weight Watchers group got creative with their Jelly Bean race.
Each woman picked a different jelly bean color to dress in.
They made it a family affair with the husbands and children too.

And of course, my group in Peoria, IL that kicked it all off. 
If you missed it, read my race recap here.

Jill and Anna had a breath-taking run with their husbands in North Carolina.

When Jess K. sent me this photo from her run in Ohio,
I instantly wanted to be there on that trail with her!

Vanessa and her gorgeous surroundings belong in a magazine, don't you think?

Look at the bed of beautiful flowers Jo Lynn and her pals found in Texas.

Kelly and her friends got festive in Wisconsin.

 Katie and Melissa had a group of six who shaped their hair into bunny ears
 and painted their faces like the Easter Bunny himself.  They called their race
 "a HARE-raising run".  During their run in Washington, they
were eyed up by a policeman and even made some kids scream.

Jill and her husband enjoyed their first run together in years.

Stephanie even brought medals for her kids' finish line run.

Melissa embraces the Jelly Bean spirit!

Shanda's son completely photo-bombed this picture, 
but he earned it since he ran the 5k with his mom!

(random drawing of all finishers based on points earned)

Kathy Savela  (Knuckle Lights)

Diamond  (Bob Harper DVD)

Hikermom  ($10 iTunes gift card)

The Captain  (Fitsok men's socks)

Bruce Hofstetter  (Reebok men's shirt)

Katherine Carson  (nuun prize package)

Tracey Sylkaitis  (Fitsok women's socks)

Shanda Warren  (Aquaphor prize package)

Kelly Janowski  (GU Energy prize package)

Aimee Gardina  (P.F. Chang's $10 gift card)

Allison Milancewich  ($35 Road ID gift card)

Melissa Kirkham  (Tough Chik prize package)

Jessie Powell  (choice of skirt from SparkleSkirts)

Courtney McDonough  ($30 lululemon gift card)

Lisa McClellan  (autographed copy of My Life on the Run)

Cassandra Zell  (Sexy Mom's Running Club prize package)

and my personal pick for...
Carmen dressed up in a full bunny costume (with her Tough Chik jersey!) and 
ran the streets of Galesburg, IL.  This mother of six has an electric personality
and will be receiving a special prize pack from me.

Prize Winners...
Please email your name and address to
You have until Monday, April 16 to claim their prize.
After that date, a new winner will be drawn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New 2U CrossTrain - April

I've been slacking on one of my favorite challenges of the year... New 2U CrossTrain.  Hosted by (Just) Trying is for Little Girls, the challenge is to step outside your comfort zone and try one new cross training activity each month of the year.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, it's month four, and this is my second completion.  Crap.  Maybe I'll do two this month?

I believe in cross training full-heartedly.  It keeps your body burning calories, building muscle, and makes you a stronger runner.  I believe it also gives you the right to call yourself an athlete versus just a runner.  Running is my first love, always will be, but I've learned firsthand that pushing mileage can causes injuries.  And this girl does not handle injuries very well... might as well commit me to the crazy ward.  

Two years ago, I suffered a stress fracture in my heel that took me out of my running shoes for nearly 8 weeks.  During that time, I took up Spinning to keep my legs moving. It is now my favorite cross train.  In fact, next month I attend a certification class to become an official Spinning Instructor.  It's also a great activity to have a "fitness date" with a pal who may not be "up to speed" on the run.

My New Cross Train - April
My gym buddy Kelli has been trying to get me to her favorite class called Full Body Blitz. Last night I finally went... only because the timing was at the same time as the Kids Zumba class, which my girls have been missing.  It's a win-win.  Kids get to Zumba while momma squeezes in a little sweat. 

My friend Stephanie set up a spot for me - right in front.  Oh-geesh, I hope I don't make a fool of myself!  Thankfully, Full Body Blitz is not like TurboKick or Zumba, where there are quick routine moves... often making newcomers feel uncoordinated and awkward when they can't follow along.  The moves instead are concentrated efforts, where form is more important than speed.

The class is taught by one of my favorite instructors ever.  Amy is tough, fun and thorough with instruction.  She gives off this "bad-ass" feeling in every class she teaches (which I love!).  Not to mention, she's like inspiration staring you in the face... her body is exactly the athletic shape that I strive for!  Of course, she's also a runner.

Full Body Blitz was quick circuits, 30 seconds on each activity, for 50 minutes total.  True to its name, we worked every part of the body... arms, legs, glutes, shoulders, abs, you name it.  My whole body is slightly achey the morning after.  Each participant had an assortment of fitness toys at their feet...

I was quickly reminded how much the instructor Amy loves to do squats in her classes... and lots of them!  Squats with weights, squat dips, squats with hovers... you name it, she does it, over and over again.  My thighs were completely burning - especially since I ran 8 miles of hard intervals earlier in the day.

I'm usually a fan of pushups.  I love strong shoulders, but this was my first time doing pushups on the bosu ball.  Wow, that was so much harder!  Intervals of mountain climbers and butt kicks were also weaved into the circuit to add some cardio.  I had sweat dripping from my temples.

At the end of Full Body Blitz, we hit the floor and focused on the abs.  I've never used a pilates ring before and really liked that incorporated into an ab workout.

MY FINAL TAKE:  Full Body Blitz was a great workout with some much need strength training (my weakness!), but it was hard work.  I may go back again simply because it coincides with the kids' class.  However, it's not something I would carve time out of my schedule for.  Honestly, I'd rather break a sweat on a Spin bike, running or cruising down the trail on my mountain bike.  I call those fun exercise and I steer more towards that in my fitness these days.  I tend to lose myself in those activities and only stop because I have to.  In classes like Full Body Blitz, I get a little bored and find myself watching the clock to see how much torture is left...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Race Recap: Lincoln Presidential Half

I registered for the Lincoln Presidental Half Marathon just a couple weeks ago.  My rationale was two-fold...  First, I needed a baseline of how well (or how badly) I can run hills during a race.  After reviewing my marathon route for May 5, it looks like there is some decent elevation changes.  So I wanted to have an accurate guide for how much hills would kill my pace.  Secondly, the medal for the Lincoln Presidential Half was a giant penny.  Possibly the most coolest medal I've ever seen and I wanted it.  It was completely worth it...

I didn't treat this like a normal race... no taper, no easy week beforehand, just one rest day.  I'm training for 26.2 so my plan was to use this half marathon as a tough training run.  I spent the early 5am drive to Springfield calculating paces and finish times in my head.  I settled on a 2:05 goal (mid-9 pace).

Then the race excitement started to flare up inside me.  Before the race, I met up with a bunch of other local Peoria runners who drove the short 1.5 hour south into the Illinois State Capitol.  We jogged, stretched, laughed, talked non-stop (maybe that was just me) and of course... took lots of pictures!

I even caught up with the Half Fanatics!! 
I was admitted into the Half Fanatics club (#1092) last spring.

One of the things I love about medium-sized city races is that everything is so easy.  There was little to none crowd cluster at the starting area.  Although I must admit that more porta-potties were needed.  Pre-race started with an "address" from Abe Lincoln himself and then we were off.  With a small race of only 1500, runners spread out fast.  Congestion was never an issue from after the first block or two... I love races like this.  I can find my pace quickly.

The first half was fairly flat and I felt like I was cruising.  But I had been forewarned that there were some big ups/downs in the second half of the course.  My head was busy, trying to figure out what to do. My experience was telling me to slow it down so I don't explode on the hilly backhalf.  But my legs were on auto-pilot.  I was running at a faster pace than my goal and I knew it could spell trouble when I hit the hills.  At the pace I was running, thoughts of a second sub-2 were swirling in my head.

Mile 1 - 8:55
Mile 2 - 8:59
Mile 3 - 8:59
Mile 4 - 8:53

Around mile 4, I tried to distract myself by chatting with fellow runners and giving shout-outs to cheerleaders and volunteers.  For a race this small, I was impressed with the number of spectators cheering us on.

Mile 5 - 8:59
Mile 6 - 8:45

About mile 6, the first of the big hills hit.  My friend Anna came up from behind, "Girl, I've been trying to catch you for 6 miles!" We ran together for a mile and then it was like hanging onto someone's coat tails.  She slowly pulled away - and ended up setting a new PR for herself.

From then on, there seemed to be one big hill each mile... steep decline and then a steep climb.  The first few I seemed to handle with ease, and then slowly, one by one, they wore me down.  I tried to have fun with it, chanting "I love hills" as I crawled up the slopes.  It didn't help much, although it did get some chuckles from my fellow runners.  My pace slowed tremendously.  I remember thinking at mile 10, "So what? Your goal was a 2:05.  You're well inside that."

Mile 7 - 9:09
Mile 8 - 9:05
Mile 9 - 9:09
Mile 10 - 9:25

At mile 11, we turned a corner and got smacked with the wind for the first time.  Most of the course had wound through neighborhoods and pretty parks that were heavy with trees.  I hadn't even noticed there was a wind that day... until now.  I was fading fast.

Mile 11 - 9:28
Mile 12 - 9:45

Then I hit the mile 12 marker.  Some guy yelled out, "All downhill from here..."  Music to my ears (although should I really believe him?).  Typically I study the course map and elevation ahead of time so I know what to expect.  I didn't this time, so I really didn't know if there were more hills coming or not.  I took a brief look at my clock.  I had 10 minutes until the 2 hour mark... to run 1.1 miles.  Decision time.  Why not?!  Go for the sub-2!

Mile 13 - 8:55
...and change for the final 0.1

As I came down the final 1/2 mile stretch, the streets were lined with a great cheering crowd.  Some guy was in the middle of the road screaming away at runners. I was working hard and he could see it.  He actually ran a couple steps with me and gave me a great pump-up to finish strong.  As I approached the finish line, I actually thought I might hurl (and thank you photographer for catching that feeling on film!).

Half Marathon #8
Chip Time: 1:59:11
Age Group: #28 out of 126 
Females: #173 out of 764
Overall: #556 out of 1434

It was hard-fought, but I finished under 2 hours.  I couldn't be prouder of this one.  It wasn't a new PR but pretty darn close!  Most importantly, it was a great measure of where I'm at in my marathon training.

After the race, they had a decent spread of food... oranges, bananas, donuts, bowls of chili, biscuits & gravy, and my favorite Jamba Juice smoothies.  I got my picture taken with Abe Lincoln and his wife Mary...

I hung around for almost an hour celebrating and chatting with friends.  I even ran into a fellow Tough Chik Carmen (who completely rocked this half with a 1:50!)

What an awesome race day!
So glad I decided to do this one!