Friday, September 18, 2009

Its a Marathon, Not a Sprint

I have been a bad blogger. Yes, I admit it. I take full ownership of my bad blogging form. Work has picked up in pace considerably in just the past week with the season fast approaching. I can't wait for things to be in full swing around here come mid-October. Its very exciting.

One thing I hadn't realized until this morning is how much the Tupelo Marathon took out of me ... both physically and mentally. I have honestly felt like I have been cheating on a significant other with my feelings toward hitting the pavement. Between the weather, my exhaustion, and just a generally busy schedule, I haven't been finding the time to consistently run. This morning, I did get up and run about 8 or 9 miles at 5:30am and pounded it out on the streets of Lakeview. It really did feel good to get that done, so I think I am getting my groove back. Watch out Stella.

On the horizon? The Chicago Marathon is on October 11th, so I leave NOLA on the 9th to head there and come back on the 12th. So excited for another mini-trip to get another race under the belt ... and its a big one. This should put my sights back on the prize. I'll feed off the energy from this marathon and all the spectators, excitement, and overall fun of the weekend. Plus, the food in Chicago. God, I can't wait. This post race meal will be no Cracker Barrel, but I think I'll be fine with deep dish pizza and Tutti Frutti Gum.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I just made a shopping list that consists of: Bleach, Deoderant, Garbage bags, Chest of drawers, and Vasaline. Only a runner would appreciate that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days where you just feel fat? I know its a very 'chick' thing to say, but I am having one of those days.

I know I didn't gain 2olbs overnight, and I am not retaining fluid ... I just feel like I am bulkier, wider, heavier, and my clothes just don't fit right. It could be that because of post-race recovery combined with rainy weather conditions are keeping me from running like I normally do, but I still don't like the thoughts that I could be out of shape already ... and I just ran 26.2 miles not 4 days ago.

Thankfully my running partner assured me that its just a mental block of crazy that's causing me to feel this way, but I can't wait to crawl in to bed tonight for my fat day to be over. Watching the rail thin girls on Project Runway tonight won't help with my nightmares, though.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tupelo Marathon - In Review

This past Sunday, September 6, 2009, I participated in the Tupelo Marathon in Tupelo, Mississippi. Not knowing quite what to expect from a 'small town' marathon, I was very apprehensive on the drive to the backwoods of the Magnolia State. While I had done a small marathon before (Baton Rouge Beach - December 2008), I was guessing the Tupelo Marathon was going to be like a race in a whole other country ... and in a way, it was.

The first signs that we had entered God's Country on Saturday mid-day occurred when we checked in to the race's host hotel (The Summit). I had booked one of the last rooms available, which was a King Sized suite. Not realizing the play on words when I first booked the room, it became very clear when Michelle and I walked in. Tupelo's one claim to fame? The birthplace of The King, Elvis Presley ... and the hotel room decor proved it. From the photos of Elvis framed on the wall, to the 1960's style red double garden tub ... everything screamed 'Graceland South.' It was special, to say the least. But I must admit, the accommodations were very nice and the hotel's staff was VERY hospitable. We couldn't have asked for better treatment from any 5-Star Resort.

I checked in to race HQ and picked up my bib number (#209), chip, and race shirt on Saturday afternoon. The shirt is a pretty cool and funky orange / yellow tie-dyed pattern with a skull and crossbones logo on the front with the race name and year. Michelle and I then drove to the race start to get the lay of the land, and headed to the shopping Mecca of downtown Tupelo. After Party City and the Dollar Store had properly been perused, we went back to the hotel for the complimentary happy hour with mediocre white and red wine and then to probably the worst spaghetti dinner I have ever eaten (Vanelli's Restaurant). Bedtime came earlier than anyone should ever go to bed, but I was knocked out by 8:30pm ... which proved to be vital for the 3:30am wakeup call the next morning.

The race proved to be even more interesting than Tupelo itself. After hearing the call at 3:30am to get out of bed, I dressed, taped, Vaselined, and ate a banana and bagel. Michelle dropped me off at the race start for 4:30am on a pitch black country road with about 600 racers who slowly gathered to a huddle on the street with no official mat or starting line. The starting siren went off just a few minutes after 5am. It was beyond dark as we ran down dark, hilly, and winding Mississippi back roads. Since the sun wasn't yet out, the temps stayed cool for about the first half of the race. However, the heat quickly took over shortly after I hit the midway point at mile 13 and turned around to do the 'back' portion of the out-and-back route. I completed the first half in 1:58:20 ... I had been pacing myself well. Not too fast, but not too slow. The second half was slow, hot, and torturous with rolling hills. I, however, met some very nice runners from Florida and Minnesota as I made the trek back to the starting / finish line.

I must say that the volunteers on the route handling water stations may have been sparse, but they were VERY helpful when passing out fluids. One volunteer was handing out Gatorade when I asked if he had water. When he said he didn't in his hands, I took a Gatorade and kept running. Twenty seconds later, the same volunteer came running up behind me to catch me to hand me water. Talk about going above and beyond. I was very impressed after this effort was put forth.

The highlight of the entire race in my book is the finishers' medal. As you can see from the picture (right), they stick to a skull and crossbones theme 100% ... and it totally works. The slogan "Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead" is fitting with the heat, and makes for a lot of fun. I can say that this is the coolest medal I have, aside from Mardi Gras Marathon 2009. And I think with a finishing time of 4:27:20, I totally earned my jolly roger.

Thankfully, Michelle was a God-send and drove from Tupelo back to New Orleans after the race. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for a post-race lunch once my adrenaline had calmed, and I literally ate an adult entree (pot-roast, mac & cheese, fried apples, hash brown casserole) a kid's entree (cornbread dressing and kernel corn) and a caramel ice cream sundae. Talk about the meal of champions.

Overall, it was a good experience. I don't know if I will do it again, but Tupelo is certainly something that I am glad I have done once. I would recommend it for any maniac that thinks 26.2 miles in a Mississippi September sounds like fun.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Cult

I joined a gym last night. Well, technically I didn't join the gym, I just acquired my card to latch on the employer provided membership ... so now I get to work out for free at one of the nicest athletic facilities in the city. However, while sitting in the lobby of the fitness center, I filled out the required paperwork and watched my fellow gym bunnies / rats come and go. Seriously, I felt like I was about to be served a Dixie Cup of Kool Aid with special 'ingredients.' Had that happened, I am most certain it would have been sugar free.

I'm not sure how much I will use the gym for workouts, knowing that my exercise of preference is running outdoors. Now that the weather is going to be getting nicer and nicer, it’s going to become more difficult to pry me away from Audubon Park. Although, I do want to try taking up spin classes or maybe some kickboxing group workouts. Whatever I decide to do, I have to increase my strength training to slim down and build muscle. Yes, running is making me lose weight, but it looks flabby and is equally unattractive. As my grandmother always said, 'Nobody wants to ____ a fatty.' (Ok, She didn't really say that... but I would love her even more if she did.)

Anyhow, back to my comrades at the gym ... I am guessing it’s a lot of people who take working out to one extreme or the other. Either they work out every day and are health nuts, or they come to the gym as a social outing (or to pick up on younger, more attractive people). I am somewhere square in the middle. I don't want to gym it just to get ripped (also unattractive in my book), but I am not going to be the sleaze that stands by the towel bin asking people to buy tickets to my gun show. However, if someone rich and attractive wants to pick up on me ... I won't be opposed.

So we'll see how the gym experience works out. At least its free and I don't lose anything if I don't go. If I do drink the Kool Aid, I'm hoping its Grape.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Early Fall in NOLA

The weather Gods have been smiling kindly upon the Crescent City for the past couple weeks. The premature fall-like weather has been a welcome change to a usually hot, muggy, miserable month of August. A trough of wind shear has settled over the Gulf Coast and has not only brought drier air with it, but has warded off tropical weather (ie Hurricanes) from even approaching the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, the weather was so amazing, I ran 13 miles and didn't think twice about it. The temperatures and lack of humidity were so enjoyable, I was sad to see the run come to an end. I did two laps around Audubon Park, St Charles Avenue from the park to Jackson Avenue and back ... and then did an additional lap around the park just for funsies. With the Tupelo Marathon on Sunday morning, I should be in the middle of a taper this week ... but it's just so hard to resist a run with this weather.

Let's hope high temps in the 60's are on the horizon. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, Its Off to Run I Go!

I bought my plane tickets to travel to the Walt Disneyworld Marathon / Goofy Challenge this morning! Southwest's 'DING!' feature donged this morning, and let me know that flights opened up through Mid-March. I immediately logged on and booked my tickets to fly down on January 7th and back on January 11th of 2010. Its VERY exciting to have everything booked for the trip!

Also, I decided that since I will be there anyway for the Goofy Challenge (Half Marathon 13.1 Miles on Saturday / Full Marathon 26.2 Miles on Sunday), I should go ahead and be Dopey by doing the Family Fun Run 5K on Friday morning in Epcot. It was 95% at capacity, so I registered to get that 4th medal, and additional pin, and even more bragging rights.

Soon after booking, I told a coworker who used to work with the Disney Marathon Series ... and she told me that I won't be able to walk a week later. I doubt that will be the case, but if it is ... the pride will be well worth the soreness. I can't Freakin' Wait!!!

Six Inches, or a Footlong?

Since I have started running, my body has undergone numerous changes. Of course, there are the visible changes from loss of weight (another topic for another day) ... but the more shocking evolvement has been less noticeable to the undiscerning eye. Most notably are my eating habits. I've gone from the fat kid who would devour a Chic-Fil-A value meal in 3 minutes flat, to someone who can devour it in the same amount of time ... and then get sick from it even faster.

I often times feel like a pregnant woman with the way my cravings hit and what they consist of. Now, since I can rule out pregnancy for oh-so-many reasons (the whole 'male' thing aside), I can only attribute these food yearnings to my change in lifestyle. Most recently, a craving of note is broccoli. I cannot get enough of the deep green flowery vegetable. And we're not talking broccoli cooked in to submission with butter, and then covered in cheddar cheese sauce. No, I crave barely steamed broccoli with a light dusting of salt. Usually this craving is paired with a desire for a protein like grilled chicken or beef... but it’s the broccoli that takes precedence. I literally traveled to a late night grocery store several weeks ago to buy frozen broccoli ... and only frozen broccoli. I did receive odd looks from the cashier, but a man's gotta do...

The bulk of my dietary expenditures has been going to a fast food chain of late. However, it isn't the McDonalds or Wendy's of the world that have been getting my dining dollars. While I LOVE some greasy fast food, it doesn't love me (at least, not anymore) ... My affair is with an establishment that asks the age old question 'Would you like a Six Incher, or a Footlong?' Subway has emerged as my go-to spot for a quick meal whenever I am not mooching off my parents. Recently when asked what I like most about my new job, my immediate response was 'There's three Subways within walking distance of my office!' I have even scoped out a Subway near my house that stays open until 10pm. The late night guy that works there is even starting to memorize my order that never changes (footlong Italian Herb and Cheese, American Cheese, Roasted Chicken, Tomato, Mayo, Tony Chacherie's Seasoning, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and a Coke Zero 20oz Bottle). I have been known to eat this twice in a day, and for 15 days in a row without regret. Overboard? I think not. I can never get enough of a good thing ... or Eating Fresh.

I won't even go in to my snacking preferences of boiled egg whites, grapes, raisins, bananas, etc. The fact that I eat this healthy in everyday life is shocking (and frustrating to my mom who can't cook for me anymore), but I am loving it. Don't get me wrong, I still eat what I want when I want it ... but what I want isn't what it used to be. Then again, neither am I.