Friday, August 26, 2016

Twin Lights Twilight Run (Highlands, NJ)

The Twin Lights Twilight Run in Highlands was the second leg of the #AP2TheLights adventure. 

If you didn't read about our super hot morning in Asbury Park, then go and read that first here. I'll wait. *attempting to whistle*

Are you all caught up now? Okay, good. ;-)

Carol dropped me off at home around 10 that morning, and with just over eight hours until the second race, I had plenty of time to get bagels and coffee, rest, hydrate like it was going out of style, and watch the Yankees honor the 1996 World Series team. 

Time seemed to DRAG that afternoon! I'm not a huge fan of afternoon and evening races as is (The New Jersey Marathon 5K proved that), but given that I ran one 5K that day, my adrenaline was high already. Eventually, it was time to get changed into my outfit for race #2 and go!

I decided on this shirt since I knew a lot of heart would be carrying me to the finish of this race. 

This race was WAY WAY smaller than that morning. There were only about 50 runners that night. Can we say "Group run?" Carol, who teaches spin (That's actually how we met last year) actually said it would be like a big spin class. Sure, let's go with that...

There was no advance packet pick-up for this race, so I made my way down to Highlands early to get my shirt and bib. I got my stuff, went back to my car, and got a pic with both bibs from that day. 
The proof that I actually was in for two races in the same day. ;-)

The other way that this race would NOT be like this morning was that the elevation was totally different. Asbury Park was flat and the Twin Lights is actually on the highest point on the East Coast. Well, glad I wasn't planning on breaking any kind of records that night...

Carol came down a little while later, and had her husband and son with her. We went through the Twin Lights Museum, since we had time to kill before the race. Soon enough, we were back outside, got a run down of the course, and it was race time...again!
Ready as I'll ever be...again!

Honestly, I was in disbelief that I was actually crazy enough to do this again on the hottest day of the year. I was in disbelief that I was doing it period. Still, I knew that I had no real time goals for this race either. Just get out there, enjoy it, and cross the finish in one piece. Simple, right? ;-)

The course starts on a downhill with very uneven pavement, with the terrain eventually flattening out before climbing back up. Still, I knew that I needed to take advantage of the downhill (200+ foot drop within the first half mile) and work speed in when I could...because we would be going back up this same hill at the end of the race.

I worked speed alright. A little too much, actually. My first mile was the fastest of the day, at 10:17. Then it all went down from there. 

The course was a direct out and back, so I knew the turn around would be coming up soon, but it was at that point I realized that this was NOT a full 5K. My Garmin had me at the turn around at 1.48 or so. Great...

The heat was kicking my butt again and then some. It was actually hotter in the evening than it was that morning, if that is even possible. The heat index was still in the triple digits, and I was really glad I took my Nathan with me that night too. I needed it!

I decided to pull back and take pictures again. I mean, this may never happen again, so I decided to enjoy it, at least a little. 

Yeah, it was a little hot...

 Leftover decor from the Clamfest the previous weekend.

 How can you NOT love a view of the Atlantic Ocean during a race?

While crowd support was smaller than in Asbury Park, it was still awesome! The residents of Highlands were great for sitting out in the heat to cheer us on, have hoses, and there was even one house where they were giving out water bottles! I love when residents get into a race too. It meant so much that day!

The uphills killed me. I trained in the hills quite a bit, but I think coupled with the heat, it was almost too much. I kept trucking along, and soon enough, we were back at the the Twin Lights, and the finish line was near. 

I saw Carol and her family (She is just too fast for me!), and they cheered me as I came in. I sprinted for it, leaped over the finish, and was so happy! I ACTUALLY DID IT! TWO RACES IN ONE DAY! On the hottest day of the year too! 

After crossing the finish, I stopped my Garmin and saw that the actual distance was 2.95 miles. So the course was short. By a lot. But I finished and that's what counts. My unofficial time was 37:50 for the 2.95. Pace was in the 12:50's, but I didn't care. I was so happy and proud of myself for finishing what was the toughest race day of my life. I finished what I started. What could be better than that?

Carol and I met back up and hugged as we congratulated each other. This day was amazing and I probably couldn't have done it without her. I just met her last year, and she has become one of my best friends. Runners and spinners make the best friends! =)

We did it! Two races on the hottest day of the year! I was feeling ALL the emotions at this point. (Thanks Carol for the photo!)

Before I left, I got a picture jumping in front of the lighthouse. I was jumping for joy at how amazing this day was! 

This needs no caption. ;-) 

After I left, I made my way to my favorite restaurant for a pulled pork sandwich, grabbed a six pack of Sam Adams Porch Rocker, and went home to eat and enjoy a beer. I went to bed at 11:00 that night feeling super happy and proud of what I did that day. I never thought something like this was possible, and I made it reality! Thank you everyone for your love, thoughts, likes, comments on all my posts leading up to and on that day! It made it that much more awesome!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Asbury Park Sheehan Classic (Asbury Park, NJ)

It's been almost two weeks since #AP2TheLights, and I finally have time to recap it all! Well, that, and it took me over a week to process all the emotions. 

The Asbury Park Sheehan Classic was the first leg of this crazy adventure on August 13.

The race theme is tye-dye, but we all know I don't do anything by the book. ;-)

My friend Carol was awesome and let me ride down to Asbury with her that morning. Well, she's awesome for doing this with me anyway, but this made her double awesome. ;-) We left my house at 7:30, and got to Asbury about a half hour later. We picked up our shirts (Tye-dye for the win!), put them back in her car, went to the restroom in a hotel (Yay for a "real" bathroom), and made it to the start line pretty much right after the gun went off.

Oh yeah, did I mention that this was the hottest day of the year? Well, it was. Temps were well into the 80's, with heat index in the 90's. The forecast was high in the low to mid 90's, with heat index well into the triple digits. At that point, I decided all time goals were going out the window. The focus was to enjoy the race, take pics, and have enough left in the tank for the Twin Lights Run that night.

Carol and I split up at the start. She's a MUCH faster runner than me, and I didn't want to hold her back. I wasn't going for speed, but endurance, especially with the heat. I got a pre-race selfie, but had no time to post it that day, so you get a blog-sclusive. ;-)

It was hot already. This was going to be a rough 3.1, but that's what you get for running in August...

The course is a double loop, with a boardwalk finish. If it's one thing I did NOT focus on it was loop training. Can we say "Ugh?" Anyway, after I hit the start mat (which was almost 2:00 after the gun went off), I started my Garmin and it was go time at last!

My plan was to run as I felt comfortable, take pictures, enjoy the course, and finish in the upright position. I still went out a little too fast, with a first mile of 11:02. I should have paced it a little better, especially with the heat, but oh well. Live and (maybe) learn.

I did not negative split this race at all, as I was taking pictures and soaking it all in. Literally and figuratively. There were more people with hoses out than I've ever seen at a race, and there were water stops about every half mile. I took advantage of all of them, plus I was running with my Nathan handheld. I trained with it in the heat, so I learned my lesson from Union Beach, and raced with it. 

The first loop was done, and I saw chalk drawings from Lululemon in Shrewsbury, along with a "WTF? Where's the finish?" On the hottest day of the year, along with the double loop, I'm pretty sure this was the consensus. (Unfortunately, I did not get a pic of this. Fail.)

I hit my second mile in 12:28. This was where I started to pull back, partially because of the heat, but also because I knew I had another race to run in nine-ish hours. I just kept moving, knowing it would be over soon.

After a few more pics on the second loop, it was time to give it all I had to finish, Third mile was done in 13:14, which wasn't too bad given the picture stops and the heat kicking my butt. I still managed to pull out a sprint to the finish, and had the last tenth and change at 1:12. Race #1 of the day was done! My Garmin had me at 37:55 for 3.14 miles, but that had a lot to do with weaving in and out for the first half mile or so. Still, I was happy with that. I was WAY off a PR, but I wasn't in this to break any land records or anything. I had a good race given the conditions, and enjoyed the course. Loops aren't as bad as you think they are at first, plus the scenery was awesome!

Some of the musicians on the course. I was running at different points with one earbud so I could soak it all in!

 I tried to get a selfie with The Stone Pony Summer Stage, but it didn't happen. Next race, I guess. ;-)

After I got my medal and some water, I found Carol, who killed it and finished about 10 minutes ahead of me (I told you she was fast!), got a picture together (not the best), and made our way back to her car so we could head home and get ready for race #2: the Twin Lights Twilight Run!

One down, one to go! =)

The most awesome race shirt and bib ever! 

 Closeup of the finisher's medal!

I got my official time a few hours later. It was actually two seconds faster than my Garmin. I came in at 37:53 (12:12/mile). Not too bad given how hot it was and how many times I slowed down or stopped for pics. It's not always about MAKING good time, it's about HAVING a good time. It may have been hot, but I actually enjoyed this race!

Overall, I would give this race a 10 out of 10. It was super organized, awesome shirts, finisher's medals, and some of the best course support I've ever seen, both with volunteers and spectators. Plus, the course is flat, which is a plus! I will be back in 2017 for sure! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fitbloggin' 2016: Lessons Learned...and Relearned

Hey, everybody! I can't believe Fitbloggin' was already a month ago, and I'm JUST writing about it now! Since the conference was small, and others have done better about recapping it than I possibly could, I'll just leave you all with a few lessons I learned during the conference.

It's okay to NOT do everything.

This was a lesson I learned during my first Fitbloggin', and I kept to it this year. I went to a lot of the "big" events (keynote, morning panel, receptions), but as far as the sessions, I kept them to what I wanted the most. I took some time for myself too, and skipped one session for some downtime in the pool, and another to go to the NCAA Hall of Champions. Oh yeah, and skipping boot camp for a run on a too fancy for me treadmill. For my third conference, I did the least, but got the most out of it (except for being a consistent blogger apparently; that's still a work in progress).

Branching out is cool!

There were a lot of first-time attendees as well as vets to the conference. I decided to keep to my old friends for the first part, and spent the second half of the weekend with new peeps. I got the best of both worlds, and had a blast with people I may not have met or chatted with otherwise! Plus, I may not have had the best chicken Caesar salad ever! ;-)

Love myself where I'm at right now.

My journey has had a lot of ups and downs. I've struggled with self-love a lot, and one of the biggest takeaways was that I need to love myself as I am right now. I may not be perfect, but that's okay. At this point, I don't care what anyone else thinks (although there are some whose thoughts I need to take into consideration). I am the best version of ME, and as long as I love myself as I am, then that's all that matters.

I am NOT a dancer.

I do Zumba every year at Fitbloggin', and that meets my dance quota for the year. I have zero rhythm or coordination. I think I'll stick to running and spinning. They require none of the above. ;-)

Climbing ALL the stairs does not suck that much.  

After a 20+ minute wait for the elevator on Thursday night, David and I took the stairs back to our floors. I did 12 flights and he did 18. He's a stair racer, but I held my own with him! ;-) It was fine, and I got to my room faster than waiting for the elevator!  

Thanks David for letting me use the pic! ;-)
This year's conference may not have been the biggest, but I still loved every moment of it! It was awesome being among my tribe, and some of the best moments happened outside of the scheduled activities! I can not wait to do it all over again next year, whenever and wherever it may be! 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Playlist Thursday: Go For It

Hello, world! This month is already flying by! We're already halfway through August! CRAZY!

My split 10K, better known as #AP2TheLights is only TWO days away! So, I decided to throw together this awesome playlist of tunes that keep scream "Go for it!" All three will be on the iPod for Saturday, and I will be letting the iPod decide my race music since I got sick of putting together playlists. ;-) 

For those who are unfamiliar with Playlist Thursday (either through Pavey or myself), here's the format:

Something Old: Songs that are at least 5 years old. (I know that isn’t too long to be considered old, but music turnover happens quickly.) Something Current: Songs that have been released within the past year. Something to Consider: This is the wild card category. Feel free to list any song: old, current, guilty pleasure, underground, whatever.

Here's what I came up with:

Something Old

Song: We Weren't Born to Follow
Artist: Bon Jovi
Side Note: This song was on the album "The Circle," and was actually the 2009 World Series promo song. It has recently become one of my favorite songs to run to. The song is pretty much about doing what you think is right, no matter what anyone else thinks or what life seems to throw at you. I have recently started to come into my own, and plan on staying on that path. I was NOT born to be a follower! 
Quotable: When life is a bitter pill to swallow, you gotta hold on to what you believe. 

Something Current

Song: Iconic
Artist: Madonna feat. Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson
Side Note: If you can get past the intro by Mike Tyson (which doesn't really bother me), this song is really awesome. This has a good electronic beat, and great lyrics. For me, I believe that this song is about showing the world what you're made of and being your own version of an icon. Otherwise, what's the point of life? 
Quotable: Just shine your light like a beautiful star.

Something to Consider

Song: Warrior
Artist: Havana Brown
Side Note: This song is amazing. It is one of my favorites, and I listen to it at least once a day. This song just screams " Fight on and kick ass!" Personally, I feel that one can never listen to too many songs about being your own version of awesome, and this is one of them.
Quotable: Gonna dance, dance, dance to the beat of my drum, like a warrior.

There you have it! I plan on making Saturday rock, and hope that these songs will be part of my races! No matter what, these songs have been awesome motivation for me!

Monday, August 1, 2016

August Goals!

Hi, everyone! I can't believe we're at AUGUST already! Where is 2016 going?! 

I decided that since the last few months have been going in a direction that has been less than stellar (nothing terrible, but not my best), I decided to get back to making monthly goals!

1) Read one book. I love reading and have found several self-help books that I want to read. This month, I decided on You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Because who doesn't want that from life? 

2) Limit coffee out to three times a week. This has started to get out of control. Again. All those stops to Dunks and Rook (now that there's one so close), plus my Friday Starbucks run really add up. So it's time to rein it in! I'm not counting freebies into this total, since I have a few coming for my birthday, but it's time to limit the amount of coffee I drink out, which will help me drink less overall.

3) Eat more fruits and vegetables. This has been a downfall of mine forever. I haven't been eating the best, and it's time to eat more colorful again! I plan on making fruit my sweet treat, plus more veggies at dinner time. Hopefully, I'll start to feel better as a result.

4) Blog twice a week. One of the sessions I went to at Fitbloggin' was how to be a consistent blogger. I don't see myself as one of those people who blogs every day, as I simply don't have the time or a consistent schedule. I decided twice a week is a good start. I can come up with lots of stuff to write, especially with two races coming up!

5) Write down a daily positive. This is more for me than anything. I won't post this, but keep it in a journal and look back on it on the 31st and see that life isn't as bad as it seems.

As for a reward? A new Alex and Ani bracelet! I haven't bought any since Christmas. I'm due for a new piece. ;-) I was going to make it a Momentum bracelet, but decided on one as my reward for completing #AP2TheLights, which is the big goal for the month.

Have a happy August, everyone!