Blog Archives

I’m a marathoner!: Charlottesville Marathon 2012 recap

So I guess I’ll start from the beginning: the day before the race I arrived in Charlottesville to my boyfriend’s apartment on Friday afternoon and wanted to keep it low key. I felt pretty good, not too nervous! I told Matt that I was actually nervous about the fact that I wasn’t MORE nervous – trippy, right?  I went out to dinner on the downtown mall with my parents who got into town that night, had some basic spaghetti and meatballs, and then went back to Matt’s apartment where the plan was to watch a movie and do some last minute prep. Unfortunately (or perhaps luckily) I was already getting pretty tired, so no movie for me and by the time I laid everything out for the next morning, it was bed time around 9:30pm. I slept surprisingly well, waking up at 3:15am (an hour before my alarm) at was sort of annoying though. Even though I managed to fall back asleep, it was one of those light sleeps where I would wake up every 10 minutes worried I’d miss my alarm. By 4:15am, I was up. 6-7 hours of sleep the night before a race, nice, I’ll take it!

5:15am: all bundled and ready to head to the start!

After splashing water on my face and started to change into my race clothes, I comprehended the fact that I was going to try to run a marathon… today… like, in 2 hours… All of the training I did had been amazing, even with the minor road bumps, but now that it was going to be race time, yikes! That’s a whole other story. It’s one thing to follow a training plan, but another thing entirely to take everything you’ve learned, worked for, and built up to and put it to the test in one big, important, publicized 26.2 mile run. I reminded myself to just go out there and have fun. Start out easy so you don’t burn out, and dig deep at the end, you have prepared for this and you can do it. After eating my pre-race bagel, half a banana, and guzzling water, it was 5:15am and time for Matt to drive me over to the start! The 3 minute drive from Matt’s apartment to the race start goes on the race course, which looked strange with all the cones and arrows set out in the darkness and no one around. I’ll be running here in a few short hours, literally on this very road, I told myself.

Waiting for the start at Main Street Arena was nice and peaceful. I was able to drink some water, look at the course map one more time, listen to some music, and use the bathroom. The course start was only about 20 yards from the arena, so everything felt very put together and I wasn’t feeling nervous about something going wrong. At 6:15am, 15 minutes before race time, I had a chocolate Gu. I was already pretty awake with all the adrenaline and nerves, but the caffeine in the Gu really helps. The weather was absolutely perfect, I thought it might be too cold, but at the start it must’ve been upper 30s (which sounds cold, but it perfect when you’ll be running for a long time). I had capris, a short sleeve shirt, and a long sleeve shirt on top, which I would end up shedding by mile 1.5 anyways. The race was apparently capped at 3500 runners for the marathon, half, and 8k combined, but it didn’t feel like that many people at the full and half marathon start at 6:30. I was expecting not to even cross the start line for maybe 15 minutes due to all the people in front of me, but I was crossed about 4 minutes after the gun (for non-runners, there is a chip in the bib with your number on it, that chip records each racer’s individual time, so when I cross the start line, my chip time starts, which is why it’s no big deal if it takes me a few minutes from the gun being fired to crossing the start line, because my official time won’t start till I do!)

Miles 0-2: It was happening, the race had started! I felt calm and collected. There were lots of people passing me as I took it easy with my pace, but 80% of them were running the half marathon, so there pace would generally be faster anyways. I just held true to my own pace and reminded myself I wasn’t trying to win the race. Mile 1 came up fast, 11 min/mile flat. I was hoping for 10-10:30 min/miles, so this was a perfect warm up pace. We passed by the Rotunda on the left, which I had seen hundreds and hundreds of times, but others around me were seeing for the first or second time and admiring it. I smiled as I realized how luckily I was to go to school here and how much I missed it! Onto Rugby Road, another familiar place, a route I had walked and ran along countless times. Everything looked so pretty at sunrise.

Miles 3-6: This part of the course was an out-and-back on Old Garth Road, which is miles of beautiful farm land and gorgeous houses. I mean it was seriously breathtaking with the sun just coming up and dew still on the grass. Since it was an out-and-back, one half of the road was people running up to the turnaround and the other half was the faster people already coming back. It was cool to see all the super lean elite athletes already coming back the other direction who were already miles ahead of the rest of us, going toward a Personal Record (PR) and a Boston Qualifying time. Even though it’s something I’d never be able to do, it still brought great pride to be running on the same course, the same distance as these athletes.

Miles 7-10: Mile 7 was the turnaround point and also a nice easy slight downhill. Heading back toward the center after a turnaround is always a nice feeling, it’s like you’re done with that part of the course, time to move on! There were tons of people around at this point, since it was full marathoners and half marathoners, but I really only saw one or two marathoners around me (the bib colors were different, so you were able to tell who was doing what). I was feeling nice and strong at this point. I took another Gu at mile 8, since I decided to take them every 4 miles (I took a chocolate at mile 4 and vanilla bean at mile 8), and was just trying to let gravity work as I strode down the hill and reminded myself repeatedly to hold back so that I’d have enough energy to keep going later on.

Happy I found my loyal fan club at mile 12!

Miles 11-13: Still feeling wonderful and was glad that at I got into the double digit miles. I reminded myself that I did 12 mile “easy long runs” all the time, and this was a piece of cake. No huffing and puffing, no intense sweating, just moving and breathing. As I got farther into mile 11 and closer to the UVA grounds, I got more excited because my fan club was going to be stationed at mile 12 as their first spot to cheer me on. As I came up a little hill, I could see the adorable signs my mom made for me and another big sign that said MARATHON MOLLY in bright red. It was my mom, dad, Matt, and his mom Kathy! I was so happy to see them! I handed off my long sleeve shirt, slowed down to a walk and told them I was feeling great. It was a great mental boost to see my loved ones!

Another nice slight downhill where I could just relax and let gravity do most of the work. It was the final stretch for the half marathoners and the course was about to split. As we got to the end of the hill and rounded a corner, you could see the split. To the right, the half marathoners finish line, where 80% of the runners up ahead were going with great determination, and to the left big signs that said MARATHON ONLY and a trickle of runners jogging at a steady, controlled pace – we still had a ways to go. We were halfway done, but pretty soon it would seem like we were only barely starting the race…

Miles 14-17: The course was now sparse, not many runners around at all. The closest runner I could see was about 50+ yards in front of me, and another one 50+ yards in front of him. This would be the test of mental strength and pacing, I thought, but at the same time, it would feel more like just a regular solo weekend run, so maybe it would be good and help me relax and take my mind off the race. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, time started to stand still. I no longer felt like I was seeing mile markers at the same speed I was before, even though I was running at the same pace. This part of the course was the second out-and-back section, but it was so much different from the first because the amount of runners had just gone from the thousands with all the half marathoners at the beginning to maybe a hundred by the time I was running there and all of the faster runners had been long gone. I had run much farther than this on many occasions, but I was feeling like the miles just weren’t coming up fast enough! This was about the time I turned to my iPod to think about something else and get myself pumped back up. I also was becoming aware that there wasn’t any way I would finish in the time I had hoped for. I had a pace band on that I ripped off so that I wouldn’t have to be bothered by the fact that I wasn’t going to finish that fast anymore.

Somewhere around mile 17 did I start to feel like I should’ve been at mile 22 or something. The second half was significantly longerrrrr than the first half of the race. As a co-worker told me the day before the race, “a marathon isn’t like two half marathons back-to-back… it’s like three,” and wow, he was turning out to be exactly right!

Mile 19 - pointing to where it hurts, the quads!

Miles 18-21: Finally I was past the turnaround and getting closer to my next fan club sighting at mile 19. As I came to the bottom of a slight hill, I could see my parents, Matt, and Kathy up ahead from the signs they were holding. I held my pace steady, focused my mind, and made it to them. This time I didn’t stop running though, since I had just run up a hill, my legs needed to keep moving or they would stiffen up. This time it was a smile, and a comment on how I was mentally feeling great, but my legs (my quads mainly, and sometimes my calves) were feeling very sore! I was basically running alone at this point, so it was so nice to see my family at that time. As I pushed on, I was approaching mile 20, time for another Gu, and only a 10K (6.2 miles) to go, no stopping now. I spotted my parents again, they were alone this time and managed to catch me! It was basically just us 3 and a race volunteer up ahead directing me in the right direction. My parents were able to refill 2 of my Fuel belt bottles with water, and I was so surprised to see them there it took my mind off the race if only for a moment. The race volunteer wished me luck, and my parents said they would see me at the finish. Wow, the finish…

Mile 20 - scarfing down an energy gel

Miles 22-24: This part of the race was 2 miles of flat bike path alongside the Rivanna river, which despite my whole time in college at UVA, I had never seen. Matt said he had been there once to go fishing with a buddy, but he didn’t mention how gorgeous it was! There were people walking along the trail, some confused by us runners barely moving along, and others genuinely impressed when they saw our race bibs. There was a girl around my age about 100 yards in front of me, and a woman a little older than my parents a ways behind me. Besides those 2 runners, there wasn’t anyone else in sight except for a man I came upon toward the end of the trail and passed. I tried to spend these miles reflecting on the scenery, looking at the river and animals around me, but even this 2 mile section felt like it was 4 miles long. Pretty soon, I could see the end of the trail and two race volunteers up ahead, directing the girl a ways in front of me to the left up a hill and toward the next part of the course. She stopped to walk because it was a steep, gravel incline. I tried to keep running but when I realized my “running” would’ve been the same speed as speed walking, I gave my legs a small rest and walked as quickly as I could up the hill. Mile 24 was spray painted on the trail in front of me. I am going to make it, I really am, I thought to myself. Even if I trip and re-sprain my ankle at this point, I could hobble to the finish line from here. At the top of the hill was a water station, where I stopped again to drink some water. The hilliest part of the course was coming up, and was right around the corner. I walked and finished my water, looked up the hilly road I was about to ascend and wait… 25! Was that the 25 mile marker? Oh no, I was slightly delirious… that was a “Speed Limit 25” sign… not quite to mile 25 yet…

Miles 25-26.2: This time I passed the real 25 mile marker. No, SERIOUSLY, I am going to MAKE IT. It was some sort of inverse property effect – I was becoming more confident the more physically worn down I was getting. A race volunteer was up ahead directing me to make a sharp left turn. I took my headphones out and asked her, “how much farther?” she said I was so close, only 2/5 of a mile left. I did the math in my head, 0.4 miles. That means I was 0.2 from 26 and then only 0.2 left. My head was racing with thoughts, alternating between, “I can’t believe it,” “this is really happening,” and “I am going to do this, I really am.” I passed the 26 painted on the ground and I could make out the finish chute ahead. I passed the last intersection where a cop pointed me up the last incline and said, “there is the finish!” and a kind woman who was spectating looked at me and beamed, “congratulations!” I smiled and thanked her, but wait… I hadn’t finished yet! Oh, but I was GOING TO FINISH. That preemptive ‘congratulations’ was enough for me to dig deep, take my mind off my tired legs, speed up (even if only a tiny bit) as I raised my hands in the air and passed the finish line with my fan club looking on and cheering so loud and proud!

I finished!

I felt great. All of it was worth it. I was bummed with my time – I was hoping to finish in 4 and a half hours, but finished in 5 hours and 4 minutes (an 11:44 min/mile pace). I couldn’t believe I went over 5 hours, but that feeling of regret was short-lived at the moment when my family and friends were there hugging me and congratulating me. I felt amazing! I had finished a marathon! Matt’s sister Jenna pointed out that my legs were shaking. I looked down and she was right. I was smiling and shaking! I guess that’s what happens when you just stop running after hours and hours. My muscles were still moving even though I had stopped! I don’t think I stopped smiling for half an hour after that as I got my chocolate milk, some pizza, and finally sat down to rip my shoes off. Not much damage was done to my body either. No chaffing anywhere, only 2 (one was really big on my toe) blisters on my feet, no lost toenails, no blood. I only thought I might throw up at one point during the race but that was because my belly was so full of Gu, water, and Gatorade that I stopped taking any Gu after the one at mile 20. Of course my legs were sore, but all things considered, I had finished in one piece and felt good!

Me and my parents at the finish (my mom made me the cutest signs!)

Me and Matt at the finish

On one hand I’m glad I walked as much as I did on the hills and that I was cautious with my pacing, and on the other hand, I wish I had been able to get the time I wanted to. It may sound silly to some, but I was (and still am to some extent) embarrassed about my finish time. I didn’t want to post a picture of me coming through the finishing chute because you could see that the clock said over 5 hours on it. I have to keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t and couldn’t be ashamed of the fact that I finished a marathon, because… I FINISHED A MARATHON. As some friends reminded me, “You were a winner as soon as you started the race” and “You’re a marathoner! Nothing can change that, ever!” Not to mention, another reminded me that I went into the race with a lot of adversity, dealing with a cold and fighting an injury. I had also been warned repeatedly by all sorts of people that the Charlottesville course is not a good one for first-timers, nor is it a good place for runners trying to get a best time. So the fact that I did this course as my FIRST marathon, after spraining my ankle a month before the race, and getting a cold the week of the race, and finished the race, I think I have a whole lot to be proud of.

So what’s next? My mom asked if at any point in the race I felt like I thought I couldn’t do it. The honest answer is no, not really actually. It was more of the opposite, the closer I got to the end, the more my confidence built up that I was actually going to finish. Would I run another marathon? Yes! I knew by mile 25 that I wouldn’t rule out another marathon and a little after that I knew I’d definitely want to do another one. I now have my baseline time to beat, and next time, it’ll be a flatter course! When will I do another marathon? I’m still deciding. I want to give myself a week to relax and recover before making any commitments. I am looking into doing a Richmond race in November (known for being nice and flat), but whether I’ll do the marathon or the half marathon is to be decided later! For now, I bask in the glory of what I have accomplished!

Thank you to everyone who supported me through all my training, and of course, thanks for reading my blog! I’ll be writing about my rest and recovery, as well as what my future marathon plans are as soon as I know!

It was all worth it!

Week 16 + taper + birthday

For my first week of the taper I had a pretty decent week of running, although my pacing was feeling strange, like I just couldn’t get the rhythm down ever since hurting my ankle, but at least I was able to get my week day runs in. On Friday, I drove down to Charlottesville after work for the beginning of my birthday weekend. Since Matt and I have the same birthday, it makes celebrating together extra special. This year was the 5th birthday that we’ve spent celebrating together, since the first one was when we turned 20 together, wow!

This was the e-card I made for Matt, sweet right?

On my birthday I woke up early to find it pouring down rain so I decided I’d have to do my 12 mile run inside on the treadmill, which I wasn’t looking forward to because the treadmill gets so boring. I had bought some more KT Tape Pro, and I decided to basically tape everything that hurt or could possibly hurt as a precaution. I taped my left ankle, my right hip, and my right outer knee (the parts that had been hurting from the extra impact). I actually felt really cool with my pink and green tape, and felt like I looked all hardcore and intense, like a real athlete!

After one boring mile on the treadmill, I decided it was just way too hot in the gym to be inside and there was no way I’d be able to do 12 miles like that, and plus I needed to stop being a baby and shying away from the rain. So I went back to Matt’s real quick to grab my sunglasses and Fuel Belt, and off I went in the rain for the last 11 miles of my run. The rain was bad at first, making it hard to see and making me wish I owned a hat! But after the first 5 miles outside it stopped and the cool air was perfect to run in. I was really glad I decided to move outside instead, sometimes running in the rain is really invigorating.

My favorite part of the Melting Pot experience!

That night the celebrations began! Matt and I had dinner at the Melting Pot, which he had never been to. It was delicious cheese fondue, followed by salad and then an entree of all sorts of meat (steak, filet mignon, shrimp, BBQ chicken, and lobster tail), and finished off with my favorite, the dessert course. Flaming turtle chocolate fondue with delicious treats to dip in it – Rice Krispie treats, graham cracker-covered marshmallows, Oreo-covered marshmallows, pound cake, cheesecake, brownie, strawberries, and banana slices. Mmmm! That wasn’t the end of it though – on Sunday I had two more celebrations, including the famous brunch at Boar’s Head Inn with Matt and his family, followed by going back home for a family birthday dinner and my mom’s famous chocolate cheesecake for my birthday cake. It was a gourmet, chocolately, delicious birthday that’s for sure.

Thank you so very, very much to everyone who made my birthday super special! First and foremost my mom, for birthing me! My dad, my brother, my Aunt Katie and Uncle Matt and my 3 sweet little cousins, Grama, Poppy, Grampa, Eileen, Mimi, my sweet boyfriend and his family, and my great friends who I got to have board game night with last week! Thanks for making my golden birthday amazing, I love you all so much!

So as the taper continues and the nervousness starts to set in as I have less than TWO WEEKS till the marathon, I must remember all of the work I’ve put in to get this far and how much I’ve been preparing for the day.

Week 15

The beginning of this week was totally… strange. All of the sudden it seemed like, I was extremely tired, really moody, and reeeeally hungry. I tried running on Tuesday (at 75% reduced mileage as suggested since I was out for a week with 4 weeks till the marathon), which didn’t go as well as I had liked. By Wednesday, I was in 100% mood-swing-engaged mode. I just didn’t know why I was so out of whack. Was it the time change? The move? The new (really long) commute? The fact that I wasn’t able to run last week and was off schedule? It ends up, I wasn’t going crazy, but I am experiencing exercise withdrawal. Yes, it’s a real thing (I didn’t realize it before now)… I’m about to get really science-y:

In 2006, a doctor went out to discover “whether withdrawal of regular aerobic activity provokes depressive mood symptoms and fatigue, and to what extent reductions in fitness levels contribute to the development of these symptoms.” It turns out that “fatigue and somatic depressive symptoms emerged after 1 week of exercise withdrawal and subsequently predicted the development of cognitive-affective depressive symptoms at 2 weeks…” And here is where I had my A-HA moment: “Depressed mood and fatigue are commonly observed in individuals deprived of usual exercise activities, and the increase in fatigue may be partially mediated by reduced fitness levels. These findings may explain mood changes in response to short-term exercise withdrawal such as injuries and recovery from medical procedures that do not require full bedrest.”

Well, that explains all of my symptoms at the beginning of this week… I was out for a week with an ankle injury after 13 solid weeks of marathon training, which ended up being a big, big break in my routine for my mind and body that hit me all at once this week, leaving me feeling insatiable, cranky, and tired. This week also gives me a little bit of (possible) insight into a phenomenon I’ve read about called “post-marathon blues.” If you google it, you will get a tons of hits, like this or this one for instance.

Luckily by Thursday I had a great run, no ankle brace, just KT Tape, and even though the run was short, it was reassuring and good for my confidence. Then on Saturday I had my long run – originally (pre-injury) I would’ve done 20 miles, at 75% reduced mileage I could perhaps do 15 miles. But it was really hot out and I was still easing back in, having only run twice in the past 2 weeks, so I was did 12 miles, and there was no ankle pain, YAY!

It was a mentally tough run, but I did it and didn’t have to stop at any point except for a water refill and bathroom break. And the best part was that at mile 11, Matt joined me for the last mile 🙂 he didn’t like how slow the pace was, but hey, I had been running for hours, so he could go my pace for a mile! It’s definitely harder with his longer legs and he was all fresh, whereas I had just run 11 miles! Even though 12 miles is on the “shorter” end of my long runs, I decided to do an ice bath afterwards as a precaution, and even managed to stay in for 20 minutes, eating pizza, listening to music, browsing Facebook on my phone, anything to pass the icy time.

And now, there are 19 days left until the big day. The last three weeks is all about the taper – so my mileage goes way, way down, but I keep running 4 times a week – this is so that the body has time to recover from the  high mileage before going into the race. Getting excited now!

A special shout out some friends that did marathons this weekend! Asta completed the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and Nicole finished the LA Marathon (her first!) – CONGRATS LADIES! 🙂

Week 10 + 5k race

I had a good week, but a great weekend! On Friday, I got to have dinner with my lovely friend Emily, and then we hung out with our buddies Cody, Dan, and Ted – these are friends from high school, some things just never change! Then on Saturday, I ventured out to run 17 miles. I was nervous… I had skipped my 13.1 miles last weekend because of my injury, so I didn’t know how that would effect me, but luckily, I was still able to just bust it out. Did some pre- and post-run Panera bagel again (mmmm!) and also alternated with Peanut Butter Gu and Chocolate Outrage Gu. The Peanut Butter is a new flavor and apparently people were going NUTS for it so I thought I’d love it, but I wasn’t that into it! Luckily I only bought two packets and not an entire box (like I did with the chocolate, which is still my favorite!) My pacing has actually gotten a lot better than it was just recently. I was able to stop being so excited about running for hours and hours (HA!) and slowed it down to make sure I wouldn’t burn out before the end. So the pace I did, 11:17 min/mile, which is still a liiiiittle quick for this long run (which you run slower than the runs during the week), is much closer to how I should be training. 🙂 And yes, I ran for over THREE HOURS, woah! I could’ve watched all of Titanic in that time, sheesh!

Since Matt was coming into town Saturday night for a surprise birthday party of some mutual friends (HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVEN AND BRIAN!), I didn’t have much time to really rest up, relax, and most importantly… nap, after the run. I had to go pick up my race packet for my race the next day (more on that in a minute), shower, paint my toenails since they were looking particularly “runner”-like… So we went to the surprise party at a bar nearby which started at 6pm, and by 8pm I was exhausted. It was so much fun to see all my old college friends again and hang out with them, and also earn back all those calories I burned on my run by eating mozzarella sticks and a chicken club sandwich (yum yum, bar food)!

On Sunday morning, I did a race called Love the Run You’re With 5k, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day! It. Was. Cold. Like much colder than I imagined it was going to be – oh, and windy. (I got there at 8am and the race started at 9am.) BUT, it was a great time, and I also GOT a great time! I got a PR (Personal Record) in the 5k of 26:05 – which is the fastest I’ve EVER gone. To put it in perspective, my previous PR was 29:31 and the first 5k I did back in like August 2010 or something was around 32 minutes, something seconds. So for 3.1 miles, my time has gotten dramatically better! The course was what I’d call flat (others might not, but considering what I’ve been trying to train on for Charlottesville, it was flat), so I was putting forth the amount of effort I do on a hilly route but ended up going much faster since it was so flat and even some downhills (oh, the perks of training on hills). So even though I was skeptical about racing the day after a 17 mile run, it went well for me! I also lucked out and got to meet two online-running buddies in person for the first time, YAY! It was great to meet you guys, Max and Steph, I hope we run into each other again soon at another local race 🙂

The blanket that all of the race participants got, so cute!

—-

As it is Valentine’s Day weekend, it is worth mentioning that I had a great Valentine’s weekend with my boyfriend Matt. Since we live in different cities, we can’t celebrate on Valentine’s Day (but who wants to celebrate on a Tuesday anyways anyways haha), so we celebrated this weekend when he came into town.

In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I present to you a throwback picture (you can click on it to view it larger):

This is Matt and I at a Valentine's date function in college in 2008 when we had just started dating - our first picture together

...And this is Matt and I (in basically the same pose) on this past New Year's, welcoming in 2012!

I normally wouldn’t be lovey-dovey on my running blog, but I will make an exception for Valentine’s Day because I happen to have the sweetest boyfriend in the world – I am seriously one lucky girl. Matt, I love you so much, Happy Valentine’s Day, and here’s to many more to come!

Week 6 + Week 7

So this week’s post is a 2-for-1, with both weeks 6 and 7, because I was away on vacation for a long weekend and was being technology-free for the most part! This was the first time in my training that I’ve had to modify any of my workouts (not counting my lack of crosstraining) – which is pretty impressive given that things were bound to come up sooner or later.

My long run for week 6 was only 9 miles (compared to 11-12 miles in weekends past) because it was “cut-back” week – yay! Luckily this run coincided with a vacation I was taking with my boyfriend and his family. My boyfriend Matt and I drove (8+ hours) on Saturday, so I moved my long run to the next day. I probably should’ve run outside since it was so nice out – but for a few reasons I decided to just do it on the treadmill. For one, it was SUPER flat where I was, so it wouldn’t have given me any benefit to go outside. Usually I like my long runs to be outside so I can work on real hills, and not just the incline on the treadmill – but in this case, it didn’t really matter.

Me, Matt, Zach, and Caitlin on the beach!

Also, I wanted to do my run indoors because for once I actually got to go to the gym with people – Matt and his good friend Zach and his girlfriend Caitlin! This literally never, ever happens! All my training I’ve always had to do alone, so I was excited about that – they were so awesome and did some cardio and then a lot of circuit work and weights while I ran. By the time they went to the snack bar to wait for me, I only had about a mile and a half left. It was really nice to do my run with people, even though they didn’t literally run with me.

The best part (besides from a few of the post-run Buffalo wings I stole from Matt at the snack bar) was that after we all left the snack bar, we were walking down the stairs to leave and Zach says to me, “man, I bet your legs are sore!” but Matt thought he was talking to him, and since he isn’t a gym-goer, he replied, “yeah, a little bit.” It gave us all a good laugh since I was the one who had just ran 9 miles! It still makes me laugh just thinking about it, and I hope Matt won’t be embarrassed that I’m calling him out (too late now!)

Ahhh, vacation!

For week 7, I started a little off-schedule since we left North Carolina on Tuesday morning to head back to Virginia. Technically, I could have fit in my 4 mile run at some point on Tuesday night, but instead ordered pizza with Matt and watched ‘Unstoppable’ on TV (that movie is intense, holy moly!) – I was still in vacation mode.

So I decided to do Tuesday’s run on Wednesday and Wednesday’s run on Thursday (and not worry about the 4 miles that were schedule for Thursday). I figure it wouldn’t be worth doing the 4 miles on Friday the day before my longest run to date.

Since I would be running in my marathon town of Charlottesville on Saturday Sunday, I packed quite literally every possible variation of running clothing and accessories that I could (but of course managed to somehow forget a sports bra even though I had 5 different shirt and jacket options, 2 pants options, and 2 sock options. Matt took me to Old Navy to buy a new one, he saved the day!)

Saturday in Charlottesville there was a winter weather advisory and it was talking about traveling with caution and watching the icy trees and power lines. I decided I didn’t want to be involved in that.. so I switched my run to Sunday.

14 miles, that’s 0.9 miles farther than my longest run ever (a half marathon, 13.1 miles). I was nervous/anxious/excited. Sunday morning I woke up around 8:30am and IT WAS SNOWING! But luckily it wasn’t slick outside and the snow wasn’t sticking to much of anything, but still, I have never run in snow before. By the time I was all fueled up on Bodo’s bagels and Gu gel, it was mostly just cold rain. It was definitely a scenic run though with all the ice/snow on the trees, and even though it was around 35 degrees out, there were a lot of people out running, which I don’t get much of where I live. Charlottesville is my Graceland, as Matt would say. I ran in a few of my Christmas presents as well – my pink Lululemon shirt from my boyfriend’s family, my wool socks from my parents, and my sunglasses from my Grampa (mostly to keep the rain and cold air out of my eyes). All in all, I was proud to get 14 miles in in 2 hours and 30 minutes – extending the amount of time I spend running is amazing, I never could’ve done this a year ago – I only stopped once at the Aquatic Center on campus to go to the bathroom real quick and refill my water bottle (around mile 6), but didn’t lose any time.

Things I learned on my 14 mile run today: (1) I need a new running playlist, (2) I need some more water bottles for my fuel belt, and (3) I am much better at snot rockets out of my RIGHT nostril compared to my left. Amazing knowledge.

Sunday morning before my run!

And congratulations to my sweetheart who started his last semester of grad school this past week! Way to go Matt!

We woke up at 7 am to leave NC... Matt wasn't thrilled. But we DO love coordinating in our red coats 24/7.