Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things I Believe Thursday XVI

I believe that I'm retiring Things I Believe Thursday. Blogging is a spontaneous stream of consciousness for me and putting a requirement on myself just doesn't work.

Generally, when someone tells me to do something, I resist it. If they keep insisting, I resist even more.

Myself telling myself to write something every Thursday doesn't really work out so well.

So, regular feature attempt FAIL. Ah well.

Moving on...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Report: Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon

People often give me crap for being a pessimist. But here's how I look at it: when you have high expectations about things and then they don't go as well as you'd hoped, you'll be pretty disappointed. However, when you have low expectations and then things turn out even just ok, you're thrilled. It's just easier to be thrilled than to be disappointed, wouldn't you agree?

My expectations for this race were low. Very low. Given that my training plan was basically the easiest plan you can do and that I missed two long runs during the most critical weeks of the plan, I think that my low expectations were more than justified. 

So, you can only imagine how over the moon I am over what actually happened yesterday. The running Gods smiled down upon me and I somehow managed to pull out a 1:51:52 - a big time PR - besting last year's time of 1:59:05 by almost 9 minutes! (Is that right? My head hurts too much to figure out math right now... at any rate, that's a lot of minutes!)

Not much about the race itself changed from last year, so I'm not going to write up a full race report. Expo, course, and finish, were all basically unchanged. If you want to know more about them, check out last year's report. Instead, here are some highlights (note: none of these pictures are mine - they are courtesy of Greg, Gretchen, and Sheila).

Race Outfits 
Because we know it's really all about the clothes.

Generally, I am not the type who likes to wear extra stuff when I run. However, since the race was actually on St. Patrick's Day this year, Sheila convinced me that we should wear tutus. We got ours from Amazon and they were surprisingly comfortable for the duration of the race. In fact, I forgot that I had it on until spectators (usually little girls) yelled, "I love your tutu!" I also made an interesting observation in that the further up Greg and I worked in the pack, the fewer people were wearing any kind of festive gear. Apparently serious runners don't wear tutus. Guess I missed that memo.

The rest of my outfit included a Lululemon Cool Racerback in Gingham Frond, Lululemon Run a Marathon Crops, arm warmers, neon green Reebock socks, and my pink Brooks PureCadence. Oh yes, and how could I forget my BIC Band in sparkle apple green? Sheila borrowed the lucky Lululemon Stay on Course tank that I wore to this race last year. I told her that if she wore it, it would help her get that sub-2.

Well, it didn't rain. But it was cold. Very, very cold. During the first 6 miles of the race, we were thankfully sheltered from the wind by various object (trees, houses, etc) but during  miles 7, 8, and 9 we were on Fort Story and the wind was just terrible. I actually had goosebumps throughout this portion and felt genuinely cold and as a rule, once I get going into a run, I am NOT cold. Ever.

I look happy, but I'm freezing to death.
Thanks to a lack of planning and communication, I had a hard time finding Jason after the race. Therefore, I was standing at the finish area for at least 20 minutes without the benefit of a jacket and I got very very cold very very fast. Sheila and her guy Roel found me first and Roel immediately started taking off his coat and wrapping me up. Apparently, my lips were blue.

So yeah. It was cold. Thank GOD it didn't rain because I probably would've gotten hypothermia!

The Run
The plan for this race was to stick with Sheila through mile 3, then take off with Greg in hopes of a sub-2.

Somehow, we all started in Corral 2. I have no idea how this happened. Sheila and I both put our expected finish times at 2:00; Greg put his at 1:50. While respectable, these aren't super fast times and with 10 corrals, I was really surprised at our placement.

The worst moments of the race were the delayed start. We all stood shivering and huddling in our corrals while the announcers repeatedly apologized for the delay while they "cleared the course." I'm not sure what the total delay was, but it was somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Personally, I just wanted to start running because I was freezing to death. As a result of the standing around, I'm pretty sure my legs were tighter and I couldn't feel my hands for at least the first 2 miles and no, I'm not exaggerating.

Despite not feeling my hands, the first three miles felt almost casual. We were those  annoying people who laugh, joke, and take photos while running.

At mile 3, Sheila told us to go for it. We high fived and with that, Greg and I picked up the pace slightly. My right thigh, still sore from too many lunges a whole week earlier, started to feel tight but I wasn't going to stop or slow. Everything else was great: the appendage-that-shall-not-be-named was a non issue, my cardio felt awesome, my stomach was fine. Greg and I passed the time by goofing off, singing, telling dirty jokes, etc. Greg even updated his Facebook with on-the-run photos, for which I admonished him, "You know, we are  running a half marathon right now!"

Throughout miles 4-9, we somehow maintained a pretty much on-the-nose 8:30 pace. I was thoroughly impressed with us, especially considering that I am generally the world's worst pacer. So Greg and I had a the following conversation about who was in control:

Me: Greg, how are we doing this? We are rocking this. Thank God you're here to.
G: What are you talking about? I'm pacing you!
Me: Nuh uh. I'm pacing YOU.
G: But are you?
Me: I dunno. Who is in charge right now?
G: You are - or am I?
Me: Alright seriously, who is running this show?

We never agreed on who was in charge.

At Mile 11, my legs really started to ache. I know that I had not stretched enough in the corral... I had been so cold that I spent most of my time huddling with Sheila and wishing we could just start running.

At 11, Greg and I had dialed things up. His goal was to PR, meaning he needed a 1:52:00 or better. Considering our pace to that point, I knew that I was going to PR no matter what so when my legs really started to sing at Mile 12, I told him to kick it and that I would see him at the finish - I didn't want to be the reason he didn't get his own PR that day.

The last mile was tough for me. I was hoping to get the same boost that I got last year once the spectators started to cheer, but it just didn't happen. I wanted to tear it up as soon as I hit the boardwalk but my legs weren't going to allow me to go any faster than I was going. About 20 feet from the finish line I spotted Greg waiting just on the other side for me and I finally found a tiny bit of reserve in my legs, propelling myself over the finish and immediately giving him a huge hug. We had done it - we had both PRd.

My splits:

After leaving me and my slow legs, Greg really kicked it. His last mile was a super speedy 7:18 and he finished with a time of 1:50:41.

Sheila also totally rocked it - her first half marathon and she got a 1:59:30! I'm so proud of her.

Lucky Lulu strikes again!

How did this happen?
I still kind of feel like the entire race was a dream. The fact that my right calf has been howling at me all day is the only thing telling me that yes, in fact, I did run a half marathon. And not only did I run it, I kind of totally kicked its a$$.

Being me, I've been trying to figure out how I did this. By all accounts, this should not have been a PR. Three months ago, I was still run/walking. Even before the injury, when I thought I was in the best shape ever, I was not running this fast. My training for this race was not nearly as intense as the plan that I followed last year. But here I sit with a 1:51:52 (official time) half marathon and the best news is that the appendage-that-shall-not-be-named does not hurt. Not one little bit.

So how did this happen?? A few theories.
  • First and foremost, running with Greg. Not only at the race, but also during all of those training miles. Running with someone else just makes it that much easier. Though Greg definitely has far more stamina than I do, I think that we are both in the same pace boat (which is why we can never agree on who is running the show) and are very good for each other as running partners.
  • Cross training. Running just 3 days a week and with low mileage to boot, I have to attribute my speedier pace to the miles of biking and swimming. 
  • Pure dumb luck.
I guess I should just stop theorizing and take it and run with it, right? 

Actually, this one is my photo
and my metal! =)

Sham-Rocked It

Full race report later. Until then...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Richmond Rave: Proper Pie Company

Today I made the observation that although I am chronically early to everything in real life, I am chronically late when it comes to blogging. Maybe someday I'll get ahead in the virtual world but for now, I'll just roll with it.

So, today I am going to write a pie-themed entry, even though I am one day late, as yesterday was Pi Day (3.14). In honor of the day, I did this:

But before that, I went to Proper Pie Company for lunch with my good friend Danielle. After all, is there a more appropriate day on which to eat pie for lunch?? I think not.

But first, a confession: this wasn't the first time I'd been to Proper Pie. Marcey and I went there post-Love Rox 10k and I had every intention of writing a Richmond Rave soon after. Obviously that didn't happen but I took lots of photos that day, so the photos that follow are from then.

Now that all disclosures have been taken care of...

Proper Pie Company is a tiny, delightful little shop in the Church Hill neighborhood in Richmond. Right now, Church Hill is the up-and-coming, hip neighborhood of the moment and lots of restaurants have been popping up there. I've heard great things about all of them, but Proper Pie was at the top of my "To Try" list for the simple reason that I. Love. Pie. Especially pie crust. When I'm making a pie at home, it takes every ounce of my self control to not just stand in the kitchen and eat the entire pie crust as I press it into the pie plate. When I eat pumpkin pie, I eat all of the pumpkin filling out of it and then enjoy the pie crust on its own. 

Yes, I know that's weird. But seriously, Pie Crust = <3

Anyway. Proper Pie Company is a Kickstarter success story. Started by Nikki and Neil, Proper Pie Company features pies in the style of New Zealand and Austrailia - in Nikki's own words: "It’s a hand-sized, hand-held, handmade meat and/or veggie pie that can serve as a snack or a meal." Basically, it's a hand held piece of heaven. Aside from the savory NZ/Aussie style pies, Proper Pie Co also sells a slew of sweet varietites and the menu changes daily - announced via Facebook and Twitter, of course.

Daily menu board
The space itself is small but wide open with a retro vibe. The walls are a minty green that I asssociate with the 50s and my grandmother's kitchen and the counter is gleaming silver. As you wait you get to see all the non-stop pie-making action going on in the kitchen. I myself was transfixed by one of the chefs making the crust (of course).

I believe that is owner/founder/chef Neil at work!
When Marcey and I arrived on a rainy Saturday at 1 pm, there was quite an insane line.

Luckily it moved very quickly. It seems that Proper Pie is mainly meant to be a grab and go kind of place. There are no servers and very few seats - just a 2 bar areas (you can see one in the above picture on the left - 6 seats; the other faces the front window and is another 6-8 seats) and two 2-person tables along the wall. In the case of all the seating areas, you are likely to be surrounding by/jostled by people standing in line, so don't expect a quiet kind of lunch. Even when Danielle and I went yesterday, the place was crammed full by 12:15.

Anyway, enough about that. On to the truly important stuff: PIE.

It was very difficult to choose what kind of pie to get. Savory or sweet? Traditional mince and cheese or the New Zealand favorite, Chicken and Kumara (the NZ version of the sweet potato)? Apple Cheddar, Chocolate, Lemon Meringue, or Strawberry Rhubarb???? Each time, I have decided to be completely gluttonous and get a savory and a sweet. In all honesty, the savories are on the small side, so I feel completely justified in getting both. 

Marcey & I got (starting in lower left corner, working clock wise):
Sausage Roll
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Apple Cheddar Pie
Mince & Cheese
Let me tell you folks, every bite of each of these pies was pure heaven. As we ate, Marcey and I paused after every bite and had small respective foodgasms. "Omigod this is so delicious!" "Seriously, is this not the  most amazing thing you've ever eaten?" "Oh, this place is BAD NEWS for me. BAD NEWS." "I don't want to keep eating because I don't want it to be all gone, but I can't stop!"

Danielle and I had a similar experience yesterday - even though I told myself I should be adventurous, I couldn't help but get the mince & cheese again, along with a slice of strawberry rhubarb. Danielle was the daring one - she got the chicken and kumara (which she said was delicious) and a slice of chocolate pie.

It's a very good thing that Proper Pie is located in Church Hill and not right next to my place of employment. If it was, I'd want to be there every single day, working my way through the menu. 

So, do yourself a favor - get to Proper Pie Company PRONTO. And then get a savory and a sweet. Trust me, you won't regret it. And at an average price of $5 for a savory and $5 per slice of sweet, it won't really break the bank either. 

The lowdown:
  • Parking is on the street and because of the wild popularity of the shop, it can be tricky. But you should be fine... just bring your parallel parking skills.
  • Proper Pie takes credit (on an iPad - so hip) and cash, so no worries about having to stop by the ATM.
  • Seating is incredibly limited and even when you get a seat, if it's busy you won't be comfortable. If you plan to try to eat there, I would recommend getting there a tiny bit before they open at Noon to ensure a spot at one of the bars. The tables are just impossible if there is a line - people will be standing on top of you.
  • Check out their Facebook and/or Twitter posts to get the pies of the day before you go. 
  • Be ready to stand in line, but don't freak out if it is long. The line will move quickly - the pies are pre-made, so they are grabbed out of the case and handed over in a matter of seconds. 
  • Be aware that once you have it, you will have to go back.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Que Sera, Sera

Oh, hi. It's been a while... but I'm still kicking. I've been absent from the cyber world (and hardly functioning in the real world) for the past two weeks or so, and I apologize. I'm sure you were all tired of hearing me whine about my stupid foot, and honestly, so was I. So here is the one and only mention of the foot for this entry: it feels 99.9% normal 99.9% of the time now and I think everything is going to be fine.

So... the Shamrock Half Marathon is in just 3 days. As usual, I feel like the world is conspiring against me when it comes to race day. I woke up this morning with a runny nose and scratchy throat and have commenced the popping of Airborne and allergy medicine. I'm hoping it's allergies and not the beginnings of a cold, but the fact that I am completely exhausted after sleeping 9 hours doesn't really bode well.

Oh, and then there is the weather forecast.

Why am I not surprised??

Apologies in advance to the thousands of other people running the Half or the Full that day. I know it's going to rain only because I am participating.

Aside from that craptastic weather forecast and a potential cold, I'm feeling pretty good about the Half. About two weeks ago, while I was benched, I decided that just finishing this race on my feet was going to be an accomplishment.

Whatever will be, will be.

That attitude has been very freeing. I've had some good training runs since being "unbenched" including a 10 miler last weekend that surprisingly didn't feel like death. In fact, I felt great for the duration. It was a huge boost to my confidence. Even better, a-certain-appendage-that-shall-not-be-named didn't hurt during or after or even the day after. At all.

Meanwhile, Sheila (who is running the race with me - it's her first half) and I have been plotting our race ensembles. Normally I do not like to dress up for a race, but Sheila insisted that since the Shamrock is actually on St. Patrick's Day proper that we need to be festive. I hope that it isn't raining too much, because I am actually really excited about our get ups which won't really survive the rain.

The plan for race day is that Sheila, Greg, and I will all start together in Corral 2. We'll stick together at least through mile 3, when the course splits off from Atlantic Avenue onto Shore Drive which is basically a big ugly highway. Sheila is having IT band issues and is afraid to push the pace too hard, but as always, I stick with my running buddies for at least a little bit when we do a race together. At Mile 3, Greg and I are going to put the pedal to the medal as much as possible for the rest. If Sheila feels good, she'll come with. If not, I will be there screaming for her at the finish.

With perfect conditions in a perfect world, I'm sure I can PR on Sunday, but that's not my goal. I just want to finish respectably and not broken. Considering that I missed a full 10 days of training during the most intense period (including 2 long runs), the finish itself will be quite an accomplishment.

Really, I just want Sheila to do well. It's her first race, and I want it to be a good experience. So this one is for her... with my race, que sera, sera.

I just hope the rain holds off.