Friday, May 31, 2013

Night Run 8k Race Recap!

During my Arizona vacation I was psyched to have the opportunity to run a race! I love racing, and it's even more exciting to race in a new location! I was very glad to share this race experience with my sister. Running is one of our absolute favorite things to do together.
When I was picking dates for my trip to AZ, I scouted out races that would be in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, or within a short distance from where we would be staying. Once I found the Night Run, I knew right away I wanted to run it!!

The Night Run was held in down town Scottsdale, with the start at the Civil Center. (P.S. If you've never been to the down town area- GO. Night or Day, there is lots to see and do.) They had a 3 mile fun run/walk and an 8k.

Pre-race packet pickup closed at 7, and the race started after dark at 8pm. We picked up our packets and got our bibs and walked around. It was warm, almost 100 and I was interested to see how well I would run in the heat. I did some minor stretching before the race and hit the line for the porta-potties. (While I was in line I chatted it up with 3 women standing in front of me who had just hiked the Grand Canyon the week before!! Hello, new bucket-list item!!)

 My goal for this race was ultimately to just enjoy the experience of running at night and have fun. This would also be my first race post-marathon, so I was just excited to be racing again! I had no idea what kind of time to try and shoot for because I hadn't been timing my runs at all prior to the race in keeping with my May Goal to #RunfreeforMe. My goal was to run all sub-10 minute miles and finish in under 50 minutes.

The start was a little bit confusing- someone was talking on a microphone, but I couldn't hear them at all. All the runners bunched up together at the start. There were lots of people and we unintentionally started towards the front of the group. It was very congested for the first few hundred feet but it thinned out pretty quickly.
Tabitha and I started out together, but she said she might not want to run the entire thing at my pace. She is a faster runner than I am, so I assumed this meant she would pull ahead and I told her to go when she felt good! Before we knew it someone yelled out "Mile 1". There were a ton of Garmins beeping around me and I was tempted to ask someone what pace we were running, but I decided not to. I didn't want to spoil the fun we were having by getting hung up on our speed.
After Mile 1, Tabitha said she wasn't feeling super good and she was having a really hard time holding pace. We were talking, and I tried to distract her and help her keep her head in the game, but she just really wasn't feeling it. Finally she told me to keep going, she was going to drop back and walk a bit and see if she felt better.
There was a young girl, maybe 8 or 9 running with her Dad and he was pacing/coaching her. It was so fun to see! They ran alongside us for a few minutes and they were listening to some good old country tunes on his i-pod, so we were all singing along. In my head I made a mental note to not let that little girl beat me!! :)

It was really a beautiful night to run and SO much fun! The course had a lot of turns and we seemed to be going in circles. We ran by a lot of restaurants and bars and the feedback was interesting! Some people were standing out in the street clapping and cheering and high-fiving, while there were quite a few others who were name-calling and booing. It was not your average race atmosphere, to say the least!
I was feeling really, really good and my legs just kept moving. I was passing a lot of people, and trying to just hold to what felt like a steady pace. Apparently I missed all the mile markers, so after Mile 1, I never knew where I was on the course. This made it difficult because I was trying to run hard, but yet not burn out and have nothing left to finish on.
The course was mostly flat with one of two small inclines. I was feeling really, really good and I was moving!

As we got near to the end we circled back around Civic Center Park and I knew we were getting close. Pretty soon I could see the finish line and I started to kick it with all I had. I have NEVER been a strong finisher, but this race I was really flying at the end. I still felt really great and still felt strong mentally and physically.
As I was flying towards the finish, all of the sudden that little girl & her Dad from earlier in the race were right on my heels!! They were kicking it & I was kicking it and the race was on!! She ended up crossing the finish line right in front of me, but according to our chip times, I actually finished 3 seconds faster than she did. 

My official finish time was 45:09, with an average page of 8:50, finishing 266th out of 651 runners! I was stunned to see that I had run all 5 miles at a sub-9 minute pace!! I completely blew my expectations out of the water! I was super happy with how well I ran the race and how good I felt post-run.
After I finished I ran back out along the course to find Tabitha. I expected her to be right behind me, but I didn't find her until Mile 4.
After we split she ended up running some more, but unfortunately got sick around Mile 3. Even after getting sick (twice) she still ran like a champ and finished!!  

She had a very tough race and I am SO proud of her for finishing! Her grit and determination to finish inspire me! I was really worried about her post race, but after getting re-hydrated and some sleep she was good as new!

We stretch in gas-station parking lots 'cause we be cool like that.
(And it was fun to totally embarrass Noah.)

The Night Run was a fantastic race and I loved running it. It was a great experience and if you are a Scottsdale local, I'd definitely recommend you check it out in 2014! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

World's Longest Roasting Stick.

Happy fake Monday to you! I hope you all had a wonderful ______ (insert word of choice) weekend. This was a working weekend for me, so no super-exciting weekend events from me.

I didn't post yesterday, out of respect for the fact that though Memorial Day is usually full of cook-outs, swimming and family; the real reason for the holiday to is remember those who have given everything for our country. I am so, so, SO grateful for all of those who have served and currently serve to protect our nation. The freedoms and liberty that I enjoy on a daily basis are because of their sacrifice. They are all heroes, and their families, who love, wait and support them deserve our unending gratitude and appreciation.  If you have served- in the past or presently, love someone who serves or have lost someone who served; thank-you for your sacrifice.

And now for some would-you-rather Memorial Day style. Browsing back through the history of Memorial Day celebrations in my family, we've never had a particular tradition. Each year we celebrate the day with family or friends in a variety of ways.

One year we had a record rainfall the week before, which almost cancelled our plans to have friend camp out on our farm. They decided to come regardless and the rain ended up being the main attraction; we found a gully full of water, built a dam and had a monster mud-fight. Probably the most epic celebration ever.
(Kansas farm kids are not afraid of dirt or mud.)
Would you rather;

Have a water war, a board-game tournament or sweat it out in a game of volleyball?

Have a bonfire, attend a parade or spend the day at the lake?

Grill hamburgers, steaks or hotdogs?

Or enter a contest for creating the loooongest roasting stick in the State of Kansas. We still need to improve this skill because the world record for the longest hot dog is 250 feet........

What did you do to celebrate Memorial Day?

Ketchup, mustard or sauerkraut on your hot dog? 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Arizona 2013 - Day 4.

(Day 1, Day 2, & Day 3!)

Our last day in Arizona was so bittersweet! I kept thinking 'tomorrow I have to go home' and I would get so sad, but also excited, because I do love my home routine, but I HATE saying goodbye to my best friends. All three of the guys had to work during the day, so Tabitha and I enjoyed a day to ourselves and the guys enjoyed some peace and quiet from our babbling.

First thing in the morning Noah & I hit the gym for a quick sweat session. For the first time in my life I wore shoes that did not match my workout top- and I chose to do it on the day when the most people ever (my normal gym traffic- 0-6 people. that day - 20-100 people.) saw me and my un-matchingness. No, that's not a word, and no, not a single person cared, but I sure did.

The gym was HUGE and I'll admit- I was intimidated because there were SO many other people. I tried to just act like I knew exactly what I was doing, but it was a major fail. For my workout I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical followed by a back/bicep circuit with free weights. I then alternated 10 minutes rowing and 10 minutes StairMaster for a total of 40 minutes.
Noah was working out in the machines area, and at one point he was using the pullup machine at the edge of the free weights area. Like the nice sister I am, I went over and put my arm around his waist to say hey.......oh hello- YOU ARE NOT MY BROTHER. I swear this guy and Noah could have been twins, and they were also both wearing grey Under-Armour shorts. I literally died of embarrassment. Try choking out an explanation  to that one......I'm not sure the guy believed me, I'm pretty sure he thought I was trying to pick him up. Uh-uh Mr., I've got much classier moves than that.
(Most embarrassing gym-moment of my life.)

Post workout mocha/coconut smoothie from the cafe in the gym. Ridiculously expensive and way too sweet for my tastes. I'm glad to say that my homemade mocha/coconut smoothie is so much tastier and significantly cheaper!!

After the gym I went back to the house to pick up Tabitha. Time for some serious retail therapy! Tabitha and I love shopping together and we hadn't been able to go shopping since she moved to Pennsylvania in January. For us, shopping is usually talking/people watching/not spending any money. Best combination ever.  :)
I have always had a major dislike for escalators and refuse to use them unless coerced. I have zero coordination and all I can think of is "I'm going to fall/My shoelace is going to get sucked into the steps/Oh gosh I hate heights."

For lunch we tried a little sushi joint in northern Phoenix. I love, love shrimp tempura, and Tabitha's favorite is the California Roll. We also both got spicy tuna.

We spent the evening climbing Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Our trip to Arizona last summer included climbing Camelback Mountain, so we knew that was something we definitely wanted to do again this trip!

There are two ways to climb Camelback- Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon Trail. Echo Canyon is steeper & and a kick-butt climb while Cholla Trail is less challenging.

Last year we climbed by way of Echo Canyon trail. We were disappointed to find out that Echo Canyon Trail is closed until October for renovations. Cholla Trail was fun, but I missed the challenge of Echo Canyon.

If you visit the Phoenix area, I would definitely recommend you climb Camelback! It's a quick climb- most people summit in under an hour- and the view is amazing!! 
Our day ended with some Yogurtland action. Tabitha and I made an exceptional team when we get froyo. I always get chocolate/peanut butter/coconut/coffee/hazelnut flavors with brownie and cheesecake pieces. Tabitha always gets plain or fruit flavors with fruit on top and then we share our bowls bite for bits. This enables us to get the best of both flavor worlds without having to contaminate the flavors in our bowls.  I'm pretty sure I read in a magazine that Yogurtland was voted the best refueling option post mountain climbing, but don't quote me on it.

Our flights left Arizona the following morning, and it was back to home sweet home. I am so glad we were able to make the trip and spend so much time together. Growing up in a large family was fun, but being in adult in a large family is so amazing- so many best friends!!

If you could have been with us on one day of our trip, which day would you choose?? 

Froyo toppings- fruit or candy?

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to Run Hills Faster and 2 Confessions.

Happy Friday my friends! I hope each of had an absolutely amazing week-- three cheers for a 3-day weekend starting NOW!
This week the weather has been absolutely ideal for running! I am loving the cool early mornings- and the longer hours at night if I need to squeeze in a run after work.
I'm pretty sure you are all hoping that I spend the next seven paragraphs rambling about my ordinary run today........wish granted.

Today's run didn't happen until fairly late in the day. It was windy, and I was hoping that by waiting until later in the day, the wind would die down and it would be a bit more pleasant (read- easier) to run. It didn't, so I chalked this run up as a great training run for Relay Iowa, which starts 2 weeks from today!  I don't suppose we can custom order 70 degree weather with 5mph winds..........if it's 100 and 20-30 mph winds, we will grin and bear it. 

I really do believe that Kansas is one of the most beautiful states in the USA- and really a hidden gem. Yes, it's a fly-over State, to be sure, but if you look closely, you can find some absolutely stunning places. All of the photos in today's post are edited, but I don't think they come close to the actual beauty of Kansas in real life.
Since I was already running in some pretty serious wind, I decided to make my run even more intense by adding some hills. Actually, it wasn't my decision- it was the fact that I live in Kansas and a flat route is unheard of. I'm pretty sure the 2 bugs I inhaled helped me climb those beastly hills without slowing down.   In order to conquer hills at the maximum speed possible, I'd recommend a consumption of a minimum of 1 bug per hill you intend to run. Let me know how it works for you.......  

I was only planning a 3 miler, but I was feeling good so I extended it to 4 miles. My legs were this weird combination of dead-tired-don't-want-to-turn-over and hey-lets-just-make-this-an-all-nighter-and-run-until-the-cops-stop-us.
I've been switching up my running shoes for every run lately in an attempt to make each pair last a little bit longer. There is absolutely no logical truth to this attempt, because I will retire each pair after 300 miles, regardless of how many weeks it took to put those miles on the pair. Confession 1: I really did think I was making my shoes last longer until my sister pointed out the fault in my logic. 300 miles = 300 miles whether it takes 4 months or 8 months to run them. Oh. OH.  Don't make anything too obvious or I just might miss it. 

Tonight I ran in my Nike Dual Fusion pair. Confession #2- I bought this pair solely (pun intended- please laugh here) for the purpose of matching with my workout tanks. Yes, I'm that girl. I did try them on, and I did think they were comfortable, but it was mostly the pink that got me. It has turned out to be one of my best decisions (choosing pink has yet to ever turn out to be a bad decision for me, FYI) because they are super comfortable and I have loved having them in my running shoe rotation. I wouldn't use them for any runs that are double digits or more, but for my lower mileage runs, they are fantastic.

Have you ever bought something just because you liked the color?

What shoes are you running in right now? Same pair or you switch 'em up?

What was the best thing you ate today?
pb&j oatmeal for breakfast.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Arizona 2013- Day 3!

(Read about Day 1 and Day 2.)

Day three started out bright and early with a quick 2 mile run. I ran a very slow recovery pace after running the 8k the night before. It was nice to have a nice shake out run for my legs. I got back just in time to take part in a massive tickle/pillow fight. I'm not sure if there is any better way to start a day!

We had brunch, then hit the road headed up to Sedona/Flagstaff. It was a beautiful day for a quick road trip! 

Notice the Starbucks-- venti iced coffees with double shots all around!!
My brother and I were arguing about sweetening iced coffee. I maintain that iced coffee is not to be contaminated by any sort of sweetener, but simply enjoyed in the fullest, richest state possible. He insists that you need to add at least 4 pumps of sweetener. Help a sister out- sweetened or non-sweetened??  

My sister & I frequently get guessed as twins- do you see the resemblance?

We took a hike through a canyon and found a spot for a picnic. The weather was just perfect for an hike- cool and sunny and breezy. Arizona heat is so dry compared to Kansas- no humidity! 

The canyon was really lovely, except for the abundance of bees. None of us got stung, but there were plenty of bees- too many for my taste!

(Yes, I was the genius who chose sandals for a hiking trip. Take a walk on the wild side.)

Wonderful people, beautiful scenery, perfect weather = fantastic day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear High School Graduate.

Dear High School Graduate,

Congratulations. Graduating from high school is an amazing accomplishment. Don't underrate it. Celebrate it! Please go hug your Mom and Dad. It won't be until your own child graduates from high school that you can fully appreciate everything they have done to get you to this point- until then- be grateful and know you would not have made it without them.
There's a big, crazy, wonderful world waiting for you- go get it!
Just remember;

It's okay to not have everything figured out. 
There is nothing worse than that question, you know exactly which one I'm talking about!
 "What are you doing now that you are done with school?" 
Gulp. Sweat drips off your forehead. *let me die now*
It's okay to not know. It's okay to be unsure. You DON'T have to have it figured out. Take baby steps. Some plans unravel- that's okay. Mistakes WILL happen- that's okay. Dust yourself off and keep going. You have your entire life ahead of you to be a grown-up, take it one day at a time. If you ever feel like you do have it figured out, that's totally fine; Christmas lights, child car seat buckles and parallel parking are there to remind you that NO, you don't.

Learning doesn't end at graduation. 
Learning is a lifelong treasure. Your schoolbooks are now closed, but the most important things in life; many of them you have yet to learn. Keep your heart and mind open. Expand your horizons. Don't stagnate. Life is  only as small as our minds are. Keep learning; and learning how to advance to Level 12 of Angry Birds does NOT count.

Be smart with your money.
No one likes to mess with the hassle of finances, but save yourself from a messy snowball of debt later in life. Seek out people in your life who operate with wise financial principles and ask them to mentor you and show you how they made wise choices. (and always keep a slot in your budget for running shoes & coffee.)

Make your family a priority.
You won't regret it- I promise. Relationships are not easy, and sometimes the people that are the closest to us hurt us the most. Your family was custom made for you by God. Please, please don't waste it. Cultivate relationships with them. Go to that softball practice. Send that 'I'm proud of you' text. Buy an extra ice-cream cone. Sit through that 8th grade graduation (bring water, it will be stifling hot). Be a friend to your siblings, just DON'T let your brother give you a haircut.

Everything you do today, counts for tomorrow.
I know, that sounds scary. It is. Your life will build on the day-to-day choices you make. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice what you want today for what you want in the future. Don't be afraid to tell yourself no. 

Keep a journal.
 You don't have to be Anne Frank, but keep a record of your life. Write about what you think. Write about what you see in the world. Write about what God is doing in your heart. Write about what you are learning. Write out your questions. Write about your adventures. Write about your heartbreaks. Write about your mistakes. Write about the people you love. Someday you might read back through and learn something, or someone else might read it; so make it funny. 

Set goals. 
You don't have to have a 10 year plan. You can fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. Set goals so you don't fly into your 10 year reunion with nothing by regret. Personally, financially, physically- set goals for growth. Set goals and work hard to meet them. There will be seasons in your life when your only goal will be to get out of bed in the morning- that's perfectly normal.

It's never to late to start over. 
Be humble enough to say "I was wrong". Be brave enough to say "I need to change". Be wise enough to learn from your mistakes. Be bold enough to go against the grain. Be kind enough to say "I am sorry." 

Tell the people you care about "I love you".
Laugh - a LOT.
Seek God with your whole heart.
Work your tail off.
Love your Life. 

~Curly Pink Runner

P.S. Don't forget to make your bed!

What was the best piece of advice you received when you graduated?