Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mollz Is Back And She's Better Than Ever

Remember how I was a cranky runner and super burned out the past couple months, and then had two great runs in a row last week?  Well, I had two more really great runs this week, and while I'm not totally back to my OMG I LOVE RUNNING stage, I'm a heck of a lot closer than I was before.

A long phone conversation with my favorite running counselor (my marathoner sister) helped me realize that I need to take a break from putting so much pressure on myself.  After months of being obsessive about mileage and pace and time, I lost the enjoyment of just running.  Heather telling me that it's okay to take a break was just what I needed to change my mindset.

I've thrown in the towel on running for the sake of logging miles, and went on my runs this week with a fresh mindset and zero game plan.  On Tuesday I went out solo with no mileage plan, no pace goals.  Just me and the road like the good ol days.

It was a perfect fall afternoon and I just ran around some of my favorite neighborhoods until I felt like stopping.  It really is a great feeling to look at your watch and not have a conniption when your mileage is a random, uneven 4.27.  Mollz Reality Check: 4.27 happy enjoyable miles is way better than running an extra unwanted .73 miles just to hit 5.

Yesterday Emily and I had plans to run after work and I was excited to get in some miles with my old running buddy!  It's been forever since we've ran together, but even so, our running buddy ESP is still alive because we ended up in matching gear:

As with Tuesday, I went out with no plan and no expectations and Em was on the same page.  We hit up the old trail that I used to run on when I very first started running.  I remember when I couldn't even run TO the trail without stopping!  I haven't been on that running trail since last fall and it brought back so many memories!

We took it easy and slow and chatted away the whole time.  It was the perfect fall weather and even though the three miles weren't as easy as Tuesday's miles, I had fun and enjoyed each step of the run! 

Aside from the amazingly perfect weather that fall offers, fall also means it's time to bust out some of my favorite running gear: reflective vests and headlamps.  Although we didn't bust out the reflective vests for our run yesterday, we did dust off the old headlamps.  Whoever invented those things is a genius.  I love my headlamp.

Since tomorrow is a race day (more on that in a minute) I was planning on doing nothing today.  However, Brie has recently decided to start being active (for more than a day) and has been consistently going to the gym (yeah Brie!) so when she asked me if I wanted to join her today I couldn't turn her down.  We did some ellipticizing and some planking and got in a solid sweat.  Never ever would I have thought that I would be posting about going to the gym with Brie.  Here's photographic proof that this part of my post isn't fictional:

Tomorrow is the Autumn Classic Duathlon, which is the same course as the duathlon I did back in May.  Except this time, there's a few things different in the equation: New bike & longer course.  The last du was before I even knew how to bike, so I'm excited to see how it goes with the new wheels.  I also opted for the longer course this time - a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run.  Just typing that out makes me nervous for tomorrow.  Time to go prep my gear and get some sleep!  Here goes nothin!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Race Recap: Rochester Marathon Relay

Time for my favorite thing - race report!  Today was the Rochester Marathon and three friends and I did the Marathon relay.  After being super burned out lately and sick of races, it was fun to do a race as a team and just have a good time.

For those unfamiliar with how a marathon relay works (Mom), you have a team of four and each runner runs one 6-7 mile leg of the marathon.  You tag your teammate at an exchange point and they take off for their leg.  And so on.

Best part of being on a relay team?  Picking a sweet team name and team outfit.  Our team name?  Not Fast, Just Furious.  Get it?  Like fast and furious....but we're not fast.  Our team uniform shirts were just as baller as our name:

We woke up at the crack of dawn this morning (actually, it was still dark) and all met here to get uniform'd up and head to the race together.  We got there at 6:30am and had just enough time for some team pics before half our team had to get shuttled off to their exchange points.

not fast, just furious ready to hustle!
I headed to the start line with Jenn, who was running our first leg.  I wasn't running until the final leg, so my plan was to hop in the car with Brie (whose mom was running the full and friend was running the half) and cheer on the runners until it was time to head to my exchange point.

running friends!
marathoners and relayers heading off! 
half marathon start - hey steph!
After we watched everyone start, we headed to the car to follow the half marathon and find friend DC Chris.  Kid was booking it and we almost missed him at our first stop.  Thanks to Brie's maniac driving we made it in the nick of time.  We stopped a few times and made it back to see him cross the finish line in 1:35 - sick.

DC Chris in beast mode.

We watched some other halfers come in and since we had more time to kill before my leg, we stayed to watch the winner of the marathon finish.

This dude finished a MARATHON in TWO HOURS AND TWENTY SIX MINUTES.... that is faster than I can run a HALF marathon!!!  Crazy.

After watching the fastest man ever cross the finish line, it was back to the car to head to my exchange point.  I knew a few other people doing the relay who were running the last leg so I was excited to see some friends when I got to the exchange!

me and laura - team anchors!
Emily and Jenn showed up at the start of my leg so I was excited to have the whole team there as I waited for Fast Emily to tag me on my leg.  Timing worked out perfectly and we got to cheer on Brie's mom right before Fast Emily finished her leg.  Mrs. L was on MILE TWENTY of her marathon, and she still looked fab:

About two minutes later, Fast Emily came running through and it was my turn to run!  Photographer Brie missed our high five hand off, but she did capture my excitement when I headed off:

time to run a 10k!
I saw Mrs. L about a football field ahead of me and hauled it to try and catch up with her.  For a 51 year old on mile 20 of a marathon, she is FAST!  I knocked out an 8:30 pace for about a half mile (I don't think I've ever done that in my life) and just couldn't close the gap between us.  Since I still had six more miles to run and didn't want to collapse at mile 1, I threw in the towel and settled into my normal slow-poke pace.

The majority of my leg was on the canal which was nice and flat with some spectators here and there.  I don't know what it was about this run, but it was an AWESOME run.  I was feeling good and got completely in a zone right off the bat.  If you've been reading this blog at all for the past two months, you know that this has happened a grand total of one other time.  It felt good to be totally in the run.

I made a couple marathon friends along the way, but mostly stayed in my zone and enjoyed being alone.  Besides my crazy fast first mile, I stayed surprisingly consistent with my pace.  We had perfect weather and it was an all around great run!

best pace in a while - win!
As I neared the finish chute, the rest of Team Not Fast, Just Furious was waiting at the corner so we could run down the chute and across the finish line together.  And by run, I mean dead sprint.  I'm not sure who was the culprit that decided to set the sprint pace down the chute (obviously not me) but I think this is the fastest I've ever ran across the finish line.  I hope I look hardcore in the pics.

Not Fast, Just Furious finished in 4:43:46 and came in 131 out of 147 - not bad considering our name would indicate we might be last!

marathon relayers! + our little cheerleader :)
sweet medals
After we high fived and admired our pretty medals, I headed over to see Mrs. L.  On my way over I ran into Colleen who I used to work with at Loft so obviously we had to take a picture.  Colleen is also a non-runner turned runner and this was her first real race.  Way to go Coll!

live love loft
Mrs. L looked awesome and finished her first ever marathon in 4:31.  Beast mode.

Even though I didn't get to see her finish, I could see the excitement and pride on her face afterwards.  Such an inspiration!  This is the crazy lady that got me into running exactly one year ago... she ran a 5k, and then I ran a 5k.  She ran a half marathon, and then I ran a half marathon.  Today she ran a marathon...... umm does that mean I'm next??!

me and my running mom!
Once I was done admiring everyone's accomplishments, it was time for Not Fast Just Furious to go refuel.  Another awesome thing about relays is when your teammates love post-race eating just as much as you, there is no debate about what the plans are after the race.  Food, obviously:

so much meat.
Overall, I had a complete blast today and think I'm finally starting to get my spark back for running.  It felt great to be out there and was a ton of fun to do it as a team.  Thank you to Jenn, Emily and Fast Emily for making my first relay awesome, and congrats to DC Chris, Colleen, Mrs. L and all my HFM's friends on killing your races!  Gosh I love running! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Best Calves Ever

Two intense race weekends in a row make for a great excuse to have a lazy week.  Truth is though, I actually wanted to get some more activity in this week, but it was a crazy week at work sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day, ya know?

My legs felt surprisingly good on Monday after the Highlander, so Brie and I went out for an easy ride on Monday night.  I don't remember anything too eventful from the ride which might be a first.  We got in 11 miles and it was a successful recovery ride.  The end.

The rest of the week was interspersed with corporate America ruling my life (I really do love my job, honestly) and pretending that kickball counts as training.  Now that it gets dark out so dang early, working late really cramps my running style.  I'm just not ready to bust the head lamp out yet.  I did work up quite a sweat in kickball this week though, and even re-fueled pretty well if I do say so myself:

Want to hear something funny?  So I occasionally check out the number of hits the good ol' blog gets, and can see all the different traffic sources that lead people to my blog.  One of my favorite parts is seeing the search words that people type into Google that land them on my blog.  Most times it's some variation of "Molly's Miles," but sometimes there are some real wild cards in there that make me wonder how in the world that search term led my blog to pop up on Google...and then led someone to click it!  Here's one that popped up this week that is by far the best I've seen so far:

I just about peed when I saw that.  Don't ask me why someone was able to find Molly's Miles by searching for the "best calves ever."  Thank you Google, for thinking so highly of my calves.  My apologies, however, to the random Google searcher who came here hoping to find the best calves ever. Better luck next time.

After letting my prized best calves ever have yet another rest day, I woke up ready for some action yesterday morning.  I volunteered at a kid's duathlon that supported the charity I used to intern at.  It's the second year they've put this event on, and the second year I've volunteered at it.  And let me tell you, it's SO much more fun when you are actually active and think it's the coolest thing what these kids are doing.

ready to take off on the bike!
The kids ranged in age from 5 to 13.... I asked and I wasn't allowed to participate, even though I said I wouldn't take the award if I won.  Bummer.

Although, some of these kids were intense!  A handful of kid's had legit bike jerseys, and some of them could literally outrun me even if I was running for my life.  Watching them all cross the finish line was the best part of the morning.

There were a couple stragglers at the end who you could tell just wanted to be done.  One of the parents was yelling at their kid to keep running....the kid said mom can you run with me and she said no!  WTF?!  I felt so bad for the girl so I ran with her on her last lap...seeing her face when she finally finished was priceless.  Tip for parents: don't enter your kid in a race if you are not going to go out there and support them when they need it!  Fools.

After being inspired by kids a third my age, I came home and laced up my oops-you're-getting-kind-of-dusty running shoes.  It was PERFECT weather....I'd definitely categorize this as my first official Fall run of the season!

I didn't have any specific distance or time in mind, so I decided to head out on my trusty stand-by four mile loop.  It's easy to cut short if I'm not into it, and it's easy to add on if I'm feeling good - basically it's perfect for a noncommittal run.  

It felt good to be back on my old stomping ground (when was the last time I ran this route anyways???) and it was the first time in a while that I got out and ran because I truly wanted to -- not because I had to.  And man, I absolutely loved every single step of that run.  

I felt great and decided to extend my run a bit once I finished the 4 mile loop.   THIS is the feeling I've been missing for so long.....running because I am truly enjoying it....not because I have a race looming over my head and miles I need to log.  It was such a refreshing run....exactly what I needed right now.

And what better way to cap off a fantastic fall run than with a big ol' batch of homemade chili!

Two more weekends of races coming up, which means two more weeks of pretending to train.  I'm hoping to channel Saturday's run all week and take the pressure off myself to just have FUN with my runs this week.  Here's to a strong and fun end to race season!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Highlander Cycle Tour Recap

Hello from the other side of Bristol Mountain!  Bottom line: I survived the Highlander.  It wasn't pretty.  I was most definitely not chipper for all 40+ miles.  I had to dig deeper than I ever had before, both physically and mentally.  I swear I couldn't have made up all that went on yesterday if I tried....

The forecast called for rain, so coach Rob and I planned on getting to Bristol early so we could start the ride around 8am and hopefully avoid any inclement weather.

highlander 2012 here i come!
After picking up our numbers, pumping tires and doing a last minute gear check, we clipped in and headed off for the 41 mile Yodeler ride.  It was crazy windy, but the first few miles the wind was at our backs (unfortunately this was the only time the whole ride where we were graced with a tailwind).  We were bustin' out 19mph like it was nothing but a thing - life was good!

The first big climb is right around mile 5 and also one of the hills that I had yet to conquer fully.  Each training ride I'd get a little further, but I'd inevitably have to get off and walk up the rest of the way every time.  

When we hit this climb, I was determined to push as hard as I could to make it the whole way.  A little more than halfway up, I got out of the saddle to climb but instead of making it easier, my legs felt shot and it turned out to be a bad decision.  I immediately sat back down, tried to pedal, and then stopped.  I took a second to regroup and Rob kept encouraging me to keep going.  I clipped back in and with zero momentum, I dug deep and pedaled my butt off up the rest of that hill.  At the top my chest was burning and my legs were toast, but it was an awesome feeling.  First major climb - success!

I was feeling good, and was pumped to have one conquered hill under my belt.  Andddd then it started to rain.  Not just like, a little drizzle rain.  Like bust out your umbrella and rainboots rain.  Right as the rain hit the wind started to pick up too.  And of course it was either a headwind or a crosswind - no tailwind anymore :(

rain rain go away

Riding in the rain wasn't as awful as I expected, although my brakes definitely got a workout because descending on wet rainy roads is terrifying.  My top speed of the day was 39mph and I just about pooped my pants when I saw that flash on my Garmin.  

Right as the rain was letting up it was time to tackle Miller Hill.  Climb #2 that I had never completed without walking.  About a quarter of the way up, I was already in my lowest gear and seriously doubting that I would make it halfway.  My legs burned with every pedal stroke and I'm pretty sure that if a cross wind came through it would have toppled me over because I was just barely teetering up this thing.  Mentally, I had to dig for every single piece of motivation I've ever used in order to keep going.  With my mind working just as hard as my legs, I made it to the top of Miller Hill.  Success!  

We took a second at the top to hydrate and also say hello to some friendly Bristol residents:

cows. welcome to bristol.
Around mile 20ish there was supposed to be an aid station.  The way it was set up, you rode about 1/4 mile off the main route to the stop.  We didn't see any signs where we expected the aid station to be, so we kept riding figuring it had to be there somewhere.  Well, we ended up riding down about a mile long massive incline and sure enough - no aid station.  Now we were at the bottom and totally off course.  Awesome.

We started to ride back up, but going straight vertical with no momentum is pretty much impossible unless you are Lance Armstrong.  So, for the first and only time of the ride, I walked.  Even Rob walked his bike up this climb, which made me feel a-okay with walking at that point.  

Turns out, we had been standing right at the entrance to the aid station but didn't even realize it because the 30mph winds blew the sign away.  Cool.  For the record, walking up a hill in cycling shoes will give you killer calves.  

After our little off course trek, we had a nice stretch of (relatively) flat road, and no rain and little wind.  It sucks that the skies were gray and gloomy because how awesome would these views be with sunshine?!

As we approached mile 30, I started to get nervous because this part of the route was all new to me.  Our longest training ride capped at 31 miles, which meant the the last 10 miles of the course I've never ridden before.  I had no idea what to expect.

Of course, this is right about when I started to bonk and hit a wall.  I'm really bad with trying to figure out nutrition on the bike and usually forget about it all together until it's too late.  Not only was I lacking carbs and energy at this point, but it also began to monsoon.  I use the word monsoon with zero exaggeration - I've never seen it rain this hard in my life. 

This picture does little justice to the amount of rain coming down.  It got about 57 times worse after this.  The winds along with the monsoon made for an extremely miserable climb that lasted about 15 minutes - sad thing is, we only traveled about 1.5 miles on that climb.  I downed a gel at the top of the hill and we kept on pedaling; this was getting ridiculous.  Although I felt a little tired, this was most definitely the hardest part mentally.  I love a good hurricane-style rainstorm, but I sure as hell don't love it when I'm IN it on my bike.  There's no way that was safe.  No way.

The worst weather ever finally let up around mile 38... oh what perfect timing since we were almost done.  We took a pit stop real quick to pee and hydrate, and this is pretty much how I was feeling at this point:

just having a great effing time.
By the time the storm passed I was cold and tired and soaking wet and ready to be done.  We rode those last few miles so fast and even passed a bunch of people on the way back - sweet!  Nearly four hours later, we were back at Bristol Mountain, with 43 miles successfully completed.

ride elevation - woof.
After we racked our bikes, we walked (I more like waddled) into the lodge to get our swag bag and meal ticket and to change into dry clothes.  After wringing out my clothes in the sink and bundling up in a hoodie, it was time to refuel.
obviously my favorite part of any athletic endeavor 
While I was a little disappointed with our swag (no tshirt? no bike socks??), I guess this made up for it:

highlander wine? don't mind if i do!
I rounded out yesterday with the longest, hottest shower I've ever taken, followed by the best most comfy nap ever taken in compression gear.

Overall, this was an experience that I couldn't have made up if I tried.  I'm so glad that I actually trained (and trained properly) for this, and that I had Rob with me the whole time.  There is NO way I would have made it the whole time without him!  I'm proud of myself for how hard I was able to push physically and how much I was able to dig mentally.  I suppose it's the crazy tough experiences like this that make you appreciate what you are doing and your ability to do it.  Of course it's easy to say that now that I'm on the other side of it :)

kicked bristol's butt!
Highlander 2012 was one for the books that's for sure.  Will I be back for Highlander 2013?  You betcha!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Who Needs Toenails Anyways?

So tomorrow is the Highlander and I think it's safe to say that I will be well rested for it.  How well rested you ask?  Well, the last miles I logged were five days ago - at the half marathon.  I was sore for a day or two...and then just decided eh, I don't feel like moving this week.

The only time I even broke a sweat this week was at kickball.  Yeah, we get that into it.  I wish I could say I logged some good miles running around the bases, but kicking just isn't really my forte and I rarely see first base.  Although I somehow still manage to sweat like a man.

sweaty kickball armpit
In case you're wondering, because I bet you are, we won our game.  Say hello to my team:

In other completely not running or biking related news, let's talk about toenails for a minute.  I think feet are stupid and ugly and I think that 99% of the world would agree with me on that.  However, I've come to realize that us runners have no shame or filter when it comes to the gross body functions/body parts that we discuss.

So with that disclaimer, my poor little feet have fallen victim (again!) to losing a toenail.  This is the THIRD time I've had a man down, and I just about had a panic attack the first time I realized my toenail felt like a loose tooth.  Apparently, it is a common thing that happens to distance runners.  Wikipedia told me that so naturally I feel better about my not-so-crazy ailment.

The hills must have done a number on my feet on Sunday and sure enough, my nail met it's untimely death in the middle of the week.  

Sorry for the graphics, but someone's gotta give my poor little toe justice.  I didn't even have a panic attack with this one, I seem to have my routine down quite well now for when a toenail decides to jump ship.

Toenails are overrated anyways.  One less nail to paint now which means less nail polish I'll have to buy.  Right?  Right.  

Don't worry, I'll keep you up to date on the status of my poor lil toe and the new baby nail that will hopefully be born soon.  Because you obviously came here to read about my feet, right?

Anyways, rain is in the forecast tomorrow morning, which means I'm slightly freaking out about the ride.  Riding in the rain terrifies me.  Terrifies me.  Time to start channeling my inner Chrissie Wellington.  I wonder if Chrissie would approve of a pre-race pizza dinner.  Hmm...

See ya on the other side of Bristol Mountain tomorrow!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Oak Tree Half Marathon Race Recap

Another day, another notch in the race belt!  The 2012 Oak Tree Half Marathon is complete and was a blast (...for the most part)!

Since my run training has been less than stellar, and my pre-race preparation for my past few races has blown, I was really serious yesterday about prepping myself the best I could for today's race.  My awesome prep included:

a few easy bike miles to get my legs moving
hydration hydration hydration! 
and of course carbs!
I got all my gear layed out and prepped last night and slept surprisingly well for the night before a race.  Besides the seven times I woke up to pee... I really was serious about hydrating yesterday!

This morning I woke up ready to go and was even early getting out the door.  It helped that Steph was meeting me in the parking lot of my apartment to carpool so all I had to do was walk outside :)  Rob and our friend Katie came to cheer us on - Katie was supposed to run the race with us but is recovering from a sprained ankle, so she wore the cheerleader hat today.  It was nice to have two sideline supporters!

We hit the road at 7am and made the half hour drive to Geneseo.  We picked up our packets and went back to the car to stretch, foam roll, and of course take a pic since the start time wasn't until 8:30.  

ready for half marathon number two!
At 8:20 we started walking up to the start line... about 6 minutes later, before we reached the start line, we heard the gun go off.  Hold was not 8:30 yet!  Did this race just start without us?? Why yes, yes it did.

have a good race, all 300 of you with the head start.
Nothing like starting a race on your own after the gun goes off.  We were busting out like an 11 minute pace trying to play catch up and then realized that hey, this could be kind of fun being the last ones.  Let's go with it.

We had a fricken blast the first 6 miles - the volunteers were all super friendly, and it turns out when you're the last ones people feel bad and cheer extra hard.  We loved every second of it.  Our plan going into the race was to have fun and I wasn't worried about any sort of time goal.  It's amazing how much fun you can have when you take the pressure off yourself!  And when there is an accordion player jammin out on the course for you:

another perk of being last: being able to stop for a picture and not worrying about anyone passing you!
The course itself was really challenging with a lot of rolling hills.  Downhills weren't even that exciting because the second you had a downhill there was another uphill coming.  About half the course was on pavement and the other half was on dirt/gravel roads.  At one point the Jason Aldean song Chillin on a Dirt Road came on my playlist and I thought it was really funny.  Get it?  Because we were on a dirt road?  Oh the irony. 

I felt like we were running through the zoo because we were in the middle of the country - we saw a hawk, a cardinal, horses and sheep.  The sheep even posed for a picture for us.  I told them to smile for Molly's Miles.

Aside from the zoo of animals along the course, there were very few people besides Mr. Accordion and a banjo bluegrass band:

nothing says Geneseo like a banjo band
There was a good number of water stops along the course which was awesome because it was SO HOT out.  Not only was it brutally hot, but there was almost no shade along the course and we ran into the sun most of the time.  On the plus side I've got a nice tan now.

A litte after mile 6 things started to go downhill for Steph.  She hit a mental wall and couldn't snap out of it - I tried talking and singing but I don't think that helped.  She told me to go ahead, but I wasn't here to set any records so I stayed right along with her.  

There was a lot of walking after mile 7 and I tried really hard to get Steph to run a bit, but she was having a really tough time getting out of her own head.  I really wanted to keep running, but there have been plenty of runs where Steph stuck with me when I was having a shitty run, and I know how much of a difference it makes to be with someone when you're really struggling so I walked and stayed with her.

I still managed to have my own fun though and took in the scenery of the slow miles and jammed out to some country music from my playlist.  I was still having a blast!  Mile 11 marked the infamous mile-long hill of the course and we power walked up that thing like it was nobody's business.  

the hill had a name.  we kicked tom jerris's butt.
Once we got to the top it was the home stretch from there.  We ran the final mile stretch and actually passed two people on the way to the finish.  Is it weird that I was kind of sad that we didn't finish last?

A long two hours, fifty nine minutes and 28 seconds later - we were crossing the finish line!  

For such a challenging course, I had a great time and felt awesome the whole three hours.  I was surprised with myself at how great I felt both physically and mentally.  Steph and I were joking afterwards that it's a darn good thing that when we have crappy runs they never happen at the same time!  Thankfully one of us is always on our game and can get the other one through the tough run!

new addition to our medal collections!
oak tree half marathon 2012
So because it's the Oak Tree half marathon, the winners of the race apparently get an oak tree plant and a sweet little head wreath thing made from an oak tree or something.  When we took the above picture with the sign, one of the volunteer ladies asked us if we wanted to take a picture with the winner's loot.  Um, heck yes I do.  You don't have to ask me twice to pose with an oak tree head wreath!

After pretending we were Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan winning the race, it was time for my favorite part of any long run:

We got the best pizza I've ever had and I ate that whole slice in about 37 seconds.  I didn't really fuel well during the race and only had one gel, so I was starvin and ready to eat back all my calories for lunch.  

Overall, I had a ton of fun at this race and would definitely do it again.  It was nice to finally be on the other side of a crappy run (sorry Steph!) and be the one to keep someone else going.  Usually it is Steph keeping me going!  I felt great the whole time and guess that my biking has given me more endurance than I had thought!  I'm 98% sure this is my last half marathon of 2012, but with me you never know!  All I can say is that Oak Tree 2013, we will see you next year....and we will be starting with the gun this time :)