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2014 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay Recap

5 May

YOU. GUYS.

rhianna-omg

I friggin’ did it!  I ran 6.1 miles in the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay!

This isn’t going to be as in depth as my previous race recaps because I just ran a portion of the relay, but let me start at the beginning.  I spent the majority of Friday and Saturday trying to do as little as possible except stretch and hydrate.  I was convinced that I would roll my ankle or Kevin Ware my leg at any given moment.  RISK NOTHING ITS MARATHON WEEKEND!  I went to bed super early and was basically up at 5:30AM when Christina left with her dad and sister for the start of the race.  My future sister-in-law started us off strong as our first relay runner!  I then managed to pace around my house, talking to my pets (and myself) and trying not to binge eat all of my anxiety.  I tried eating half an English muffin and literally could not get it down, I was so worked up!  Note to self:  running a leg of the relay that starts later in the day is THE WORST.  I managed to get myself redonk stressed by the time I headed to my exchange point at 9AM.  It was a tad chilly by the time I started running around 10:30, but for running purposes the temps were perfect.

Since the Race Joy app completely crashed the morning of the race, I relied on text messages from my team as people started/finished running.  No big, we are all pretty close so we were texting each other anyway.  When I got the call that the first 2 legs were done, I headed to my exchange point.  I didn’t run into any road closures on my way to Relay Exchange 3, so it took me all of 10 minutes to drive there and find a parking space basically at the corner of 5th Ave.  BONUS!

The exchange point was well coordinated but hectic with so many people hanging out waiting for runners, plus spectators just hanging out to cheer.

Pittsburgh-Marathon-Relay-Exchange-3

I had to go to the bathroom, but I was way to nervous that my runner would come as soon as I got in line.  Instead, I ended up standing under a tree for 20 minutes in a nervous cold sweat.  There was a guy announcing the last 3 numbers on the incoming bibs and that’s how you knew when your person was coming.  It felt like he was auctioning my sanity off to the highest bidder.  Eventually I heard my number and saw my runner appear!  I put the medal around her neck, gave her a big hug and I was off!

Pittsburgh-Marathon-Relay-Leg-4-Map

Clearly I didn’t remember to hit start on my Garmin until I turned the corner onto Penn Ave!  I also forgot to let Christina know that I was starting my leg, so that sent her into a scramble to get ahead of me.  (Not an easy feat with all the road closures!)  That would not be my last rookie mistake of the race…

My first mile was too fast.  I knew that was going to happen because I was all pumped up and I had Tom Petty singing American Girl to me, so I hit the bathrooms at mile 1 and forced myself to restart at a more sustainable pace.  People had told me the crowds on this leg were awesome, but I could never have imagined that they would be as amazing as they were!  There wasn’t a single block that I ran in Homewood or East Liberty where people weren’t lining the streets – standing, in chairs, under tents, outside restaurants, cooking out, hanging out with greyhounds, giving high fives, just an incredible turn out.

I have never given so many high fives to little kids in my life, it was awesome!!!!!  I tried to keep my energy high and positive the whole time and the crowds were totally feeding it.  I told myself that somewhere in the middle of my leg, I would try to take in Gatorade and whatever fuel was offered.  Frankstown Avenue was a very long, long stretch of road and I was trying to stay in my zone as much as I could.  That’s the only explanation I have for the fact that at some point I was handed Body Glide/Vaseline on a paper towel and absent-mindedly ATE IT.  Ok, I didn’t eat it necessarily, but I definitely put a big glob of it in my mouth.  When I realized that it had the texture of Crisco but no taste, I immediately spit it out.  I was laughing hysterically at myself (inner monologue style) when I noticed the woman running next to me looking horrified. At which point I powered up and ran the HELL OUT OF THERE and away from anyone who saw my hysterical faux pas.

toddlers-tiaras-cheesin

Thank God I didn’t swallow or chew or bite down really.  As soon as it hit my tongue I realized my mistake and saved myself!  I called my mom and told her about this afterwards – we both could not stop laughing at how typical that is of me!!  Anyway, thankfully there was a water station immediately afterwards so I could sort of rinse out my mouth and keep going.

Nothing else significant really happened after that until mile 5, where I got a sudden jolt of HOLY SHIT I’M RUNNING IN THE PITTSBURGH FRIGGIN’ MARATHON and managed to negative split on this mile.

Just before I crossed Relay Exchange Point 4, my phone was ringing and it was Christina!  She was living a nightmare trying furiously to get ahead of me and the road closures and wasn’t able to get where she needed to be.  Having her voice in my earphones instead of stupid music as I crossed that timing mat was seriously so cool!  I felt like she was really with me in that moment, almost more than if she had been off in the crowd cheering.  I immediately found my runner and wandered off to the side of the parking lot to try and hold my tears in.  I had done it – a PDR at 6.1 miles and my most significant running experience to date.  Not long after, Christina found me and gave me the biggest biggest hug in the world while I basked in all of the moment’s glory.

Pittsburgh-Marathon-Relay-Finisher

I was emotionally and physically exhausted, so we decided to head home by way of Subway and just come back for my car later in the day.  I was seriously on cloud 9 all day yesterday and I basically still am!

Pittsburgh-Marathon-Relay-Finish-Stats

The rest of the day, I fielded phone calls of people asking what the heck happened with the Race Joy app and why our team’s numbers were so messed up on marathon’s website.  Turns out that our first runner didn’t wear her timing chip (aka because her dad and sister lost it somewhere downtown).  The real problem started when the runner who handed off to me decided to keep running to the finish line with her timing chip on.  Sooooo basically it looks like we were a 1 man relay team that started at leg 3?  Thanks for not reading handbook jagoff!  God I’m such a hall monitor, but seriously.  READ THE FRIGGIN’ BOOK.

khloe-kourtney-side-eye

Thankfully I had my Garmin so I know my stats and that’s all that matters!  We signed up for the relay as a fun race, so I’m not really upset about the timing chip issues.  My only real goals were to finish injury-free with a medal and a PDR – and I accomplished all of it!  I am so ready to take on the next challenge!  Also, for anyone wondering about the Race Joy issues/refunds, see below.  They have been awesome via Twitter and other social media as far as communicating with users. For such a new company, I’m pretty impressed at how great their customer service has been with handling such a large issue.  Hopefully they work out the kinks, the app seems really great!

Race-Joy-App-Issues

It’s Finally Marathon Weekend!

2 May

It’s here.  Pittsburgh Marathon weekend is here.

khloe-kardashian-shitballs

The last 3 days have been pure psychological torture for me.  Every time I think about the race, my stomach drops, I get a pit in my throat, my heart starts racing, and I feel just completely sick.  I think about the race about 300 times a day, so its been an interesting week.  Keep in mind that I’m only running a 6.1 mile leg of the marathon relay.  It will be my longest distance to date.

I feel mostly prepared.  I’ve been staying on track with nutrition and hydration, and I’ve performed well on my long training runs.  I’ve been building up to this since January, struggling through one polar vortex after another, and it’s finally here.  According to my training log, I’ve logged 103 miles over 4 months.  I don’t really know if that’s good or bad, but I have to accept it for what it is.  Each month, my mileage and frequency of activity increased, my pace improved, and my weight is somewhat decreased.  I would be lying if I said I did the best I could, because really I can always push myself harder.  I’m still struggling to fight the laziness in my mind.  But, I did what I did and now I feel mostly prepared.  I just have to believe in myself now.

let-go-let-god-kardashian

let-go-let-god-kardashian2

I will be heading to the expo tonight to grab our relay team’s stuff and then I have less than 48 hours to hyperventilate, have panic attacks, hopefully not binge eat, rest, and try to calm the fuck down.  On that note, I’m signing out!  The next time you hear from me will be post-6.1!

Checking In!

22 Apr

I was just testing you guys to see how long you would come here to stare at an indecent plastic humanoid before you quit reading my blog all together.

Glad you guys are committed!

I have been SUPER busy lately, but I am managing to stay on track with my training.  Easter Sunday was my scheduled long run – my longest distance ever y’all.  5 miles!  The point in my training plan where shit gets real.  I still can’t believe I did it.

North-Park-Lake-Shore-Loop-Map

Shout out to Ron, the runner/2010 BM finisher/marathon coach/all-around good guy for randomly finding me and sticking with me for those 2 miles!  Despite the fact that your “easy pace” was more like a sprint to me, and despite the fact that I was super self conscious and tried to take a dozen walking breaks to scare you away, you stuck with me.  When I finished my run and got back in my car, I realized that the only reason my pace was so great was because of Ron and his ignorance of my awkwardness.  I finished strong – I felt horrible but great all at the same time!  I barely even had time to gather my thoughts or stretch because I had to high-tail it back home to get ready to drive to New Castle for Easter.  Phew!

Easter was very low key this year as we are all trying to eat cleaner.  The kids are finally old enough to enjoy Easter without the bunny.

Easter-Dinner-2014

I’m starting to feel really nervous about the relay, but I also have something big to share with you in the upcoming weeks!

That Time I Peed Outside

14 Apr

I almost hate to type these words because I don’t want to jinx anything but…my Sunday long run was awesome!

I don’t know why I get myself all worked up and pscyh myself out, but I was a nervous wreck on Saturday.  I mean, 4.5 miles.  For me, that’s quite big jump from the steady 2-3 milers I’ve been logging lately.  I was nervous about everything – would the weather hold up, what should I wear so I am max comfortable, where should I go, blah blah blah.  When I left the house to open Changin’ Time, I put on my trusty old drawstring running capris that I trained in most of last spring.  By the time I left the laundromat, I was all ready uncomfortable (like I never want to wear them again) so I decided to run home and change into my long running tights.  I wasn’t interested in having any excuses to give up!

Then, I drove over to South Side to run on the riverfront trail.  I don’t usually run this trail, but it’s mostly flat and heavily populated on weekends so I thought it would be ideal. (Heavily populated is ideal because I’m less likely to take walking breaks if people can see me <- I’m pathetic.)  I was absolutely nauseous the whole way to the parking lot because I wanted so badly to have a good run and to actually prove to myself that I could do it.

You have to love South Side on Sunday mornings…

I censored her lady parts...you're welcome.

I censored her lady parts…you’re welcome.

For the first mile, I was feeling a bit deflated, too!  Sometimes it’s a struggle to get my body to move in sync right away, but I thought back to a convo I had with my future mother-in-law last spring when she was training for the Pittsburgh half.  She said something like, “I need the first few miles of my long run to warm up.  I always feel like I’m a mess for the first mile.”  At the time I remember thinking to myself:  Um…I basically only run a few miles at a time!  My entire run is her warm up!  I suck!   I’m so nice to myself, aren’t I?  I’m glad I remember that conversation, though, because it reminded me that it’s okay to struggle.  Just because the first mile or so isn’t working out, that doesn’t mean the whole run will.

I happened to be almost to the 10th Street Bridge when the skies just opened up and it started to POUR.  I mean really pour…

April-Showers-Running-1

I huddled under the bridge for less than 5 minutes and just as quickly as it started, the rain just completely stopped.  Conveniently, the top half of me was soaked just enough to cool me down but not make me uncomfortable.  I don’t know if my iPhone and Garmin would’ve survived if it wasn’t for that bridge!  I took the brief break to stretch out a bit and thank the lucky stars that I wasn’t feeling like this disturbingly amusing graffiti nearby:

Graffiti-SouthSide-Pittsburgh

A few miles down the trail, I knew I could absolutely not go another step if I didn’t take a bathroom break but….there was no civilized toilet in sight.  So, I finally made the runner’s right of passage and squatted in a bush.  You’ll be happy to know that I fought the urge to document the moment via Instagram.  It was my first time peeing in a bush on South Side sober.  Writing this down makes me realize the run was more successful than I initially realized!  It’s the little things…blow up dolls and urination benchmarks.

Anyway, I was really proud of how few walking breaks I needed and how consistent my pace was.  The rain did leave a humidity in the air and I was overheating BADLY on the way back – clearly the decision to wear long running tights backfired.  I need to invest in some warm weather running bottoms this week.  You know, after it’s done snowing on Wednesday.  I’m getting so excited for marathon weekend!  I’ve been logging more consistent miles, I’m feeling great, and I peed outside!  Woop Woop!  Happy Monday!

5 Thing Friday (Fitness Themed)

20 Mar

1.  Turning Up The Heat!

Clearly not talking about the weather. (Looking at you, fake spring!) This week was the week where I turned the corner on training.  With just 44 more days to go until the Pittsburgh Marathon (of which I am running leg 4 of the marathon relay), I started working with a virtual trainer.  Allyn, over at Triumfit Training, is also a personal trainer in real time, but all the way over in Washington D.C.   I’ve known Allyn since college, so when I read on her website that she offers virtual training options, I jumped at the chance to work with a certified professional.  I told her about my fitness goals aka being a better runner, and she developed a HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) circuit for me to do on non-running days.  She also gave me some exercises to do daily and some foam rolling work.

2.  Foam Rolling

Me and my foam roller! BFFs!!

Me and my foam roller! BFFs!!

So far the foam roller is basically my new BFF.  It deserves its own separate topic.  How did I not know about this?  I could foam roll all day.  And thanks to several sets of HIIT squats, I basically have been!  It’s incredible how sore I am, then after some foam rolling, water, and rest – I’m feeling good as new!  We actually bought 2 different ones, a regular foam roller and a deep tissue one that is supposed to be better but isn’t really.  After finding out how deeply enjoyable foam rolling is, I started You Tube trolling for more ways to use it.  It’s like healthy people porn.  I will stop there.

3.  Embarrassing Race Photos

Wow.  Like so much so that I’m not even going to share them here.  Or tag myself on Facebook.  Or remember that I ever saw them.  Or even remotely tell y’all where to find them.  Let’s just say – I looked about as great as I felt that day and my mom and I got a good laugh at them.  Moving on with haste…

4.  Reason #928350 Why I Love Running

photo 2(5)

If you follow me on Instagram (DO IT! @MichelleSFTS), you may occasionally see photos I post of things I see when running.  I realized the other day that those moments are just another reason why I continue to believe running is good for my soul.  This new pedestrian hobby of mine has given me such a different perspective of the beautiful city I love.  There’s something about the way the light dances on the river or the way the clouds look over a tree line that I just never noticed from my car at 60 m.p.h. while trying to figure out what lane I should be in during a 15 second time window.  Running has invited me to slow down, open my eyes, observe, and appreciate so much that I took for granted before.

5.  The Problem is Always Food.  Always.

Once a fat kid, always a fat kid?  Mentally, yes.  Since buckling down this week, I realized that my sugar addiction is out of control.  Yes, I’m eating clean meals.  But, I just want sweets and chocolate and diet soda all day long.  The more I tell myself not to eat them, the stronger my urge to binge.  That coupled with a boost in my appetite from upping my exercise are all ready proving to be counter-productive.  It has to stop.  Sheesh, you make one batch of scones and before you know it you are hiding in a corner pouring a bag of dark chocolate chips you found in the back of the pantry directly into your mouth.  It’s a slippery slope is all I’m saying people.

Nene.Diet

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