Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

Hello friends! It's been a long time and I'm sorry about that. I've been working really hard to get to the finish line of grad school, which has included a whole lot of travel, which didn't leave much time for blogging.

Last time we spoke I was gearing up for September and I had started a diet. Well, the diet died, mostly due to all the traveling I was doing. But 19.3 mile September happened.

It started with one of the most fun 10Ks I've ever run: The Roller Coaster 10K at Six Flags. It was a 10K at the park before it opened and then a free ticket to the park to ride roller coasters! And there was the run and ride option, where after completing the 10K, I rode a 5K in roller coasters. So much fun!

The following weekend I ran another half, part of my four season challenge. I was originally supposed to run this in March, but had hurt my knee so I ran the one in September instead. So much fun! I'd never run a color run before, and a color half was 13.1 miles of fun and insanity. Plus, it was through a beautiful Audubon center. This was definitely one of my favorites of the year.

This was the color catcher sheet I put in the sink while I rinsed all the color powder out of my clothes!

Thus ended September and October dawned...the start of the insanity that was the end of 2015. I had a commitment every weekend in October, it seemed like. I saw Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour as part of the month and I ran the Tyler Rose Half, which was gorgeous but was the start of some interesting knee problems I've been dealing with. But I finished in my best time since March and got a gorgeous medal.

The last week of October started 6 weeks of traveling where I would amass over 10,000 frequent flier miles. I traveled every week but Thanksgiving in November, but managed to run another half (#9 overall since I started running) and completed the Four Season Challenge.

I was supposed to run my 10th half at the end of November, running the same race I ran as my first half the previous year, but all my traveling had caught up with me and I had a nasty cold. Combined with the fact that the day of the race was cold and rainy and I still had one more trip to go on, and I decided not to risk it. It broke my heart, but I know it was the right thing to do in the long run.

My December race was my 10th half, which qualified me for Half Fanatics (Fanatic #13571 reporting!) and finished out Operation 2015. I did it! I ran at least one race a month in 2015.

So what is my goal for 2016 you may ask? Marathon training. I want to complete marathon training and start Goofy Training. Along with that, I want to get healthy: start some basic strength training and do some yoga on my non-running days to help improve my running. Eat better. I want to make sure I'm running Dopey in 2018 as my best me. I don't want to feel anymore like death than is natural after running 48.6 miles in 4 days.

What can I say about 2015? It was the year I fell in love with running. It was the year I ran a race a month, 9 half marathons, and 22.4 Magical miles in a 3 day weekend. It was the year I saw my first paper published and slept in the science building to finish some grant work. 

But it was also the year I said goodbye to my beautiful friend Sarah. I made new friends, saw firsthand the good humans can do helping humans, watched in horror at the bad we can do to each other, and earned over 10,000 frequent flier miles in 6 weeks. I laughed. I mourned. I cried because I was sad and because I was happy. I believed. I lost faith and found it again. I saw the beauty in a 10 mile run. I lived.

2016 will see the end of an adventure, a dissertation defended, and a PhD in hand. 2016 will see the start of my next great adventure, unknown just yet, but thrilling and terrifying all the same. I will laugh. I will mourn. I will cry happy and sad tears. I will lose faith and find it again. I will find the beauty in a 20 mile run. I will live.
2016: let's go.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hullo September! A better me, training, final race registrations...

Well, hey there! Yes, I know, I failed to recap my August race. And I don't even have a good reason about it. I did it. It was a 10K. I got the coolest medal ever. And then I took my training indoors to the elliptical to escape the end of the Texas summer.

That week, I also decided to start eating better and less. If you want to be technical about it, I went on a diet, but I'm sure a lot of you will tell me there's no need. Well, when I tried to put on a pair of shorts that Monday, they would have argued with you. And because I don't want to buy new pants (which incidentally is why I started running), I decided to start eating better.

It started small, switching out my random lunches of who knows what to a salad, a greek yogurt and something sweet. Then I switched the sugary snacks at my desks for fruits and other healthier options. Then I stopped eating donuts and whatnot for breakfast and instead enjoy a bowl of special K. And most importantly, I started using a calorie counting app. Because it seriously makes you think twice about eating that second cookie or slice of pizza if you have to write it down and see exactly how bad for you it is. 

It hasn't been about major lifestyle changes, because I know enough to know that that will not work long term. But it's about eating less and eating better, but still allowing myself some of my favorite foods every now and then, just in lesser quantity. 

So far it's been working...I'm down 4 pounds. And more important, I FEEL better. It may not be a noticeable difference on the outside, but on the inside, I can feel the good I'm doing. 

The weatherman is predicting slightly cooler temperatures coming to Texas and it's just in time! My first September race is just under 2 weeks away so it's about time to take my training back out into the elements. I'm hoping for Thursday morning if the forecast holds. 

I've finally registered for my December race! And I'll get to see a friend I met at my first ever race for the first time in over a year! I've also registered for my first virtual race. I'm usually not a fan of virtual races because to me, it's not the same and standing at the line and running with hundreds to thousands of others. But the concept of this one intrigued me: I have to run 200 miles in the state of Texas in six months. And with marathon training in preparation for Dopey 2018, I will be able to do that easily. Those will be the final races of 2015 and among my final races in Texas. With my tenure as a graduate student slowly coming to an end and with the defense of my dissertation slated for the spring, I will not be racing like I have this year. I plan right now only TWO races in my town and that's it before I move. 

Anywho, that's all for me for now. I'll be lacing up for #19point3September and then 13point1October soon enough. Back to talk about those later.

Until then, keep racing. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Operation 2015: A June and July Race Recap

Hey there readers!

Well, aren't I behind. I've run TWO races since we last talked. I'm blaming the grant. I know it seems like I've been blaming the grant for a lot lately, but now, the grant is over (YAY) and I can't blame anything on it anymore. Now I just get to blame things on my dissertation (see what I did there?)

So, in June, I ran the Jalapeno Half. It was the second race of the Four Seasons Challenge. You may remember that the first race, which I had run only a week earlier, went pretty terribly, so I was apprehensive about this. Plus, I'd never run two halves in back to back weeks. The good thing, though, was that I didn't really run the first one...

I drove up on Father's Day morning and someone was watching over me, because there were quite a few clouds. The venue was nice and I was feeling good. And my feelings turned out okay. It wasn't a PR or anything, but it was a much more respectable time than the week before. I had learned a lot from that race and wasn't afraid to make sure I kept my water bottle full at the water stations and take a second cup of water to dump on my head to stay cold. And that definitely helped.

This weekend, I completed my July race. It was a new distance, 15K, but for July in Texas, it was just the right distance. I'd never run a race with this production company, but I'm already registered for another race with them and am considering a third. I was not disappointed. It was a hot one to be sure, but this company were amply prepared to keep the runners cool with water, ice, cold towels and sprinklers. I never felt like I was going to fail. It was slow, to be sure, but it was hot. I ran in the shade and walked in the sun to keep from pushing too hard.

I'm still a little worried about a half in Texas in August, but I know that this production company will do everything they can to keep us safe and cool.

I'm working on getting back into my regular running routine. Here's hoping I can do it!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Operation 2015: A May Race in June and the kindness of strangers.

Well, it's been a while. Mostly because my May race for Operation 2015 happened last night. Yes, I know it's June. Yes I know I said one race per month. But I can't control the weather and my May race was unfortunately postponed due to flooding in Texas. And I made the call that an "Act of God" meant that my May race in June still counted.

Last night was my first ever night race. And it will more than likely be my last*.

To say it didn't go well would be an understatement. 15 minutes prior to start, it started pouring rain. Luckily, it was a passing cloud and the race officials just delayed the start a bit. However, it made the humidity a little terrible. Okay, a lot terrible.

Now, I've been doing better about running regularly since the last time I wrote on here. But, my long runs have been lacking due to time, heat, and feeling sick. So I knew making it 13.1 would be a challenge. But I didn't count on the challenge it actually turned out to be.

After mile 1, the humidity was too much. I had to stop running. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit so so so so badly. But I couldn't. Because this race was for Sarah.

Now, some of you may remember me talking about Sarah in my March recap. And those of you who know me may have known Sarah too. Long story short, I had a friend named Sarah who got sick earlier this year and died last Monday. She was 25, too young, and the funeral was yesterday. I couldn't make it to Virginia for it, so instead I ran for her.

But after the first mile, I wanted to quit. But I couldn't because I was running for Sarah. So I kept one foot in front of the other and found a group of walkers to hang with. Eventually, their pace was even too much for me and I lost them. For a while I was alone and it was dark and creepy and I wasn't enjoying myself AT ALL.

And that's when I was passed by Emily. I caught up to her and I asked her if she was walking and she said yes. And I asked if she wanted company. And thankfully, she said yes. And she and I kept each other going for the next 7 miles (or more). She was the only reason I finished. Someone made sure we found each other to get each other through.

I like to think that someone was Sarah.

I finished. It was ugly, it was near the time limit, and I was second to last. But I finished without cutting any corners or giving up. And that's what counts right?

I may never night race again*, or at least not in Texas in June. Definitely not a good idea. This week I have to recover as much as possible and get my legs ready for my June race, which is next Sunday. Not ideal, but we'll make it work.

Run on.

*The only exception to me saying this will be if I ever find myself able to run the Wine & Dine at Walt Disney World. I would make that work. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Operation 2015: When you just want to run away

Hi friends,

It's been a while since I wrote anything on here. I am still on my journey for Operation 2015, but lately, training has been getting harder and harder to find time for in my schedule.

So the last time we talked, I had PR'd my March race.

Well, while I completed my April race, it was a complete disaster. I wound up walking most of it because I have had sporatic training, at best, since Disney. But I finished, so there was that.

This month was supposed to be a 19.3 mile May, but I intentionally skipped a 10K last weekend because when I woke up on race day I didn't feel ready (amongst other things). But I have a half at the end of the month I can't skip. I'm already nervous about it because it's a night race, which is new territory for me, but to think that I'm also going back to being under trained is terrifying.

So what happened? Well, to be honest, I think it was the combination of several things. The first is that Princess Weekend was what I started running to accomplish. It was the BIG GOAL. And now I have no BIG GOAL. I mean, yes, I have races for the rest of the year I'm registered for, but they're not as exciting or BIG as Princess was. And another Disney race just isn't in the cards right now.

The second is that from the moment I got back from Orlando (and I mean the moment...I was fielding phone calls in the airport), all heck has broken loose at school. My labmates tried to run samples while I was gone and they did it wrong, which made the bosses mad. Then when I helped them straighten everything out, we accidentally contaminated the samples. Which made the bosses mad. Then I went back to my project and all my samples were contaminated in a different way. Which made the bosses mad. That happened the FIRST weekend in March. And since then, I've been trying to find the source of this contamination and get rid of it.

And it. Has. Been. TERRIBLE.

When I've needed the run the most, I haven't been able to take it, because grad school guilt is a very real thing and how can I take an hour to go for a run when I could spend that hour in the lab trying to make this better and make my deadlines.

Which has proven a terrible decision. Because not only is the run important for all these financial commitments I've made, it has proven important to my sanity. The stress of everything I've been dealing with has been almost more than I could bear with no outlet for this frustration in my science. I've wanted to run away for the past few days.

So now I'm trying to get back in it. I've gotten a weekday running buddy again, so hopefully the accountability will be helpful. I also have started a reward system for my training runs. I collect Disney Tsums and completing a certain number of runs every month lets me buy the ones I want from the new monthly collection the following month. I've also started using the Nike app to challenge my friends to a monthly mileage goal. Hopefully at least one of these things helps.

13.1 mile May is going to happen. Then we have another 13.1 mile June. And in July, a 15K and a new kind of training I'll talk about later. Just know I'm going to hopefully push myself a little further to meet a new goal I've made for myself.

Until then, keep running. I know I'm going to try to.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars Teaser Trailer #2 Analysis (Because I'm a Geek!)

Hey there Geeks! Are you geeking out over the new Star Wars trailer as much as I am? I hope so. After the first teaser trailer came out, I was hesitant to let myself get too excited, but this one…I couldn’t convince myself to not get excited. So let’s look at this thing shot by shot so that maybe you can understand why my geek meter is spiking at off the chart levels, shall we?

Maybe it was the atmosphere in which it was introduced…presented in the context of all the new info we got at the Force Awakens panel, but something about this was amped up. So we open on a desert planet we learned is not Tatooine. It is Jakuu (I may be misspelling that).
 And as the camera pans across the desert we see a downed X-wing, which I admittedly missed first time watching.
But behind that X-wing there is a downed Star Destroyer. Which begins to make me wonder what this universe is like 30 years post-fall of the Empire. There was an interesting question to JJ Abrams during the panel about what the world was going to be like. What the mix between the shiny world pre-Empire we saw in the prequel trilogy and the dusty dirty Rebellion world we saw in the original trilogy. The rubble still there 30 years later suggests to me that things may not be better.

Luke is doing voice over at this point (at least we assume it’s Luke…I think it does sound an awful lot like Mark Hamill) talking about how “the Force runs strong” in his family. His father has it. 
Now I think this is a very interesting choice of words. I don’t know what they mean. But he says has. Not Had. Has. Perhaps they were just trying to stay with the original wording of this line (Luke says the exact same thing to Leia in Return of the Jedi when he reveals that they are brother and sister). But I don’t think JJ Abrams does anything on accident. I believe that Anakin is dead. But it is still odd to me that Luke would say has, not had, when he father has been dead for 30 years and he burned his remains. (Unless of course they’re taking from the Hand of Thrawn books and have cloned him…wouldn’t that be something).
 “I have it.” Luke continues and we are met with a shot of a hooded figure we assume is Luke based on the robot hand, which looks like it’s a little worse for the wear, missing the flesh covering it had in Return of the Jedi and looking more like the mechanical arm Anakin received at the end of Attack of the Clones. But the presence of R2-D2 makes me believe that this is Luke. At first watch, they want you to believe that this is a volcanic planet, but I actually think it’s more of a campfire. Either Luke is living on Jakuu or he has returned to Tatooine and is living the life Old Ben used to live.

”My Sister has it. You have that power too.” Luke continues and this is one of the most interesting shots in the trailer for me. Because they want you to believe this is Leia. But unless this is a flashback…the hands on the right are not old enough to be Carrie Fisher’s hands. But I do believe the hands on the left to be Daisy Ridley, whose character Rey we learned during the panel is an independent woman who is a scavenger on Jakuu. I’m still holding out hope that she is also a Skywalker (well, Leia’s daughter). She looks enough like Natalie Portman that I will be terribly disappointed if she isn’t.

Next shot. We are treated to some footage of the new X-wings and Poe Dameron as pilot. It was said in the panel that a certain princess has sent him on a mission. I suppose it is possible he is the Skywalker child. But given the backstory we had on Daisy Ridley’s character, she just seems the more likely candidate in this typical story.

Again we see the world’s most ridiculous lightsabre design.
 And then Rey and Finn are running away from something exploding. I think this actually comes after a later shot in the trailer. In the panel they said that Rey meeting Finn on Jakuu is what kind of kickstarts her story.

Also, I couldn’t help but think of another Star Wars outfit when I saw this full shot of Rey’s costume:
I still say this is Adam Driver’s character. Because the only other cast members are ladies. And it doesn’t look like a lady’s body to me. Maybe I’m wrong. I wouldn’t mind being wrong (GIRL POWER).
This is an interesting shot I didn’t notice in detail when I was first watching. This appears to be the Empire. I mean, I know it’s the Empire, storm troopers, but look at the stage. There are still ranks amongst the Empire. The Empire isn’t dead. But I also don’t think the Empire is necessarily beaten down. And are they based on Hoth?
Tell me she doesn’t resemble Natalie Portman. Do it. I dare you.
The shots before this one are actually pretty interesting. It appears that TIE fighters are firing on other TIE fighters. And right before Finn removed his helmet, there was a bloody handprint on it. If I had to hazard a guess, Finn is about to defect. Wind up on Jakuu. Meet Rey. Set things in motion.
Yeah the Empire isn’t dead.
 Now is this the same baddie we saw before with a ridiculous lightsabre? Or do we have more than one?
BB-8!!!! I want one.
 This is the scene I was referring to earlier. I think Finn takes Rey’s hand and then they run away from explosions.

The Millennium Falcon is alive and well and flying through the bowels of another crash landed ship?
Hey there boys. Yeah you’re home.
So what did you think? What am I wrong on? Watch it yourself and Sound off in the comments below!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Operation 2015: Like Running in the Rain (or A PR, a Dedication, and a 13.1 mile March)

Good morning readers!

Well, I'm another month closer to completing Operation 2015!!!

In case you missed them, in January I did a 16.2 mile race weekend running a 5K Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday. It was my first ever 5K (so automatic PR) and a new PR for my half.

In February , I ran all three races in the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend for a total of 22.4 miles. It was my first ever Disney event, but will not be my last.

Now, for March, I ran a half marathon yesterday.

Flat Addie
I had so much fun running in the really simple sparkly skirts that I made for Disney and they had little to no impact on my performance, so I've decided to take some of the RawThreads tees I've purchased in the past couple of months and pair them with skirts for all my races for Operation 2015. This race, I chose to be Mulan, mostly because of the "Warrior" shirt. I needed the strength of a warrior since I had been sporadically training since Disney and because I was dedicating this run to a friend who is very sick. She is a warrior.

This was another race with firsts for me, as it was the first time I had run in the rain, really. I usually don't train if the conditions aren't ideal as far as weather goes, which is probably a mistake, but this race was to start and occur in the rain.

But despite the rain, we were off before we knew it (almost literally, the gun went off with little to no warning from the race officials. It was very disconcerting, but I tried not to let it affect my game. I made it out of the start and was actually moving at a fairly good pace for me for the first few miles.

My book group ladies braved the rain to cheer me on, first at mile 4. It was still raining then, but I was determined to keep going...just being mindful of slick spots and puddles.
I'm in red behind the full gear Army guys...if they could do it, so could I, I said!
Around mile 5, the hills kicked in. No matter how many local races I run, I never am ready for the hills. Hopefully some crosstraining in the next few months will give me the strength to be able to tackle them a little more capably. To give you an idea of the hills I was contending with, once again, my phone said I had climbed 10 flights of stairs at the end of the race!

I saw my book club ladies again at mile 9. Unlike races past, I could still see people in front of and behind me, which was comforting. It helped me know I was still following the right path and that I wasn't going to be swept. As I approached mile 10, I reached familiar paths and I knew the finish line was only a 5K away. I was going to finish. For myself and for Sarah.

And there I am coming down the bridge and across the finish line. At the crest of that hill, I stopped walking and started running (I'd been walking exclusively since between  miles 10-11). I looked at Sarah's picture on my bib and I told her this was for her and I ran toward the finish and the clock that was showing 2 minutes less than my PR. "I have to make it there before it hits 3:19" I told myself. I needed that PR. 

And I did. I finished. I dedicated it to Sarah. And I ran a new PR.

Operation 2015 will bring a 10-miler in April. Hopefully with some consistent running and cross-training, it will be a great race!

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Addie Got Her Groove Back (We're Hoping)

So, following the PHM weekend, I didn't really run. My normal run days are Tues/Thurs/Sat (or Sun), and Tuesday of that following week, I was traveling and Thursday and Saturday/Sunday, I was trying to control the fires that had been started in my absence. (Figurative fires, not literal ones). And well, all of that served to be the old man from The Emporer's New Groove (with me as Kuzco).

Unfortunately, I couldn't throw my work out the window. Much as I REEEEEALLY wanted to. So the following week, Tuesday I was still working through work fires and then that Thursday, it had iced overnight and, even though school was delayed for three hours, I still had to get to school for a meeting and wound up slipping and falling on my way to school. And I landed on my knee. I could barely walk, let alone run and it caused me to defer one of my two March races. It was disappointing because even though I hadn't run, I wanted to run it. I was hoping it would give me my groove back. And get me back to running. 

But it turned out to be for the best, because I would have driven 2 hours away to run in a cold rain for 3 hours. I probably would have caught pneumonia. Not that I'm happy I banged up my knee trying to get to work in ice, but it may have been for the best. Except now I'm registered for a race a year from now, and having plans that far out in advance is very difficult right now. Especially since this time next year, I'm hoping to defend and be job searching and trying to graduate. 

So I didn't run The Color Half, I deferred the start of the Four Seasons Challenge, and I didn't run the following Tuesday as my knee was still a little sore. But then last Friday, I finally went out and hit the pavement. And while my knee felt fine, my breathing could not get under control. I could barely maintain my 3:1 run/walk intervals. So I think I've lost some speed. 

Sunday, I was going to go again. But when I woke up Sunday morning, my body just didn't want to put in the 4 miles. So I stayed home instead. And I began to worry a little bit, because I'm registered for another half this coming weekend. I talked to my online princesses and found that a lot of us are feeling the same way after running Disney, one of the women even likening to Olympic athletes who get depressed after the Olympics because they train so hard for so long for what is a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. And I really think that might be part of it. 

Even though I'm registered for a plethora of other races, as part of Operation 2015, I began running specifically for Operation Sparkle. And now that it's over and done, part of me is over and done. I've decided to listen to my body though. I know that with school/work, I can quickly get burnt out, so getting burnt out with running is not something I want to have happen. 

Instead of looking back at the runs I've missed since Disney, I'm focusing on the runs I have ahead of me. I want to run Tuesday and Thursday in preparation for Saturday. And I've decided to have some fun with all of my races this year, and "RunDisney-bound", as I'm calling it. 

I got some RawThreads shirts in mystery packs this month and last month, and I've decided to run in them for my races this year and make little coordinating skirts to go with them. Nothing nearly as fancy as the costumes from PHM weekend, but still cute. The skirts were so easy to run in and so lightweight and fun, I figured I might as well feel fabulous as I run. 

So now, I'm just looking forward to this weekend (and weather watching like hawk, hoping the rain forecast for Friday and Saturday changes). And hopefully, it will give me my groove back.