Monthly Archives: November 2013

Getting Started with Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

A great day to spend with family and friends, this Thanksgiving was also about getting started getting startedwith a few things around the house.  It’s a lovely day, in the mid-30s but not very windy with beautiful, clear skies.  Perfect Turkey Trot weather!  Doug and I started the day with a big group run on the Boardwalk that finished with a delicious breakfast buffet and lots of friends.  With no set course or distance, runners and walkers were able to go as far as they wanted, or stay as close to the food as possible, and I ran a nice little warm up before getting started with a four mile race pace run that went really well.  Light gusts of wind were nothing compared to last time out there, making my run very consistent in both directions and me a happy trotter.

The Turkey Trot also kicked off my attempt at the Runner’s World Holiday Streak.  With the goal of running at least one mile every single day between today and January 1, 2014, I should be able to make it.  It’ll be pretty bad news if I can’t manage to find ten minutes to jog a mile during each day.  This Boardwalk run was a great opportunity to get started looking for things on ‘the list’.  ‘The list’ refers to the ten things I need to find for entries into RunChat’s Holiday to Holiday Scavenger Hunt, and I got four checked off.  Pictures of a Port-a-Potty, a body of water (the Atlantic Ocean), inflatable decorations and a mile marker got my search goingetting startedg and I know I’ll wrap it up before the hunt ends on Christmas.  (As a side note, I don’t usually run with my phone/camera and I did not find it bouncing around in my pocket enjoyable.)

Two other things I’ve started aren’t particularly running related.  Saturday is GoRuck Light and I’m starting to get all of my gear in order.  Even though it’s only a five hour adventure, I’m packing like it might never end.  With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, stiff winds and the potential to get wet, extra socks a plenty are definitely getting stuffed in.  Peanut M&Ms, a few protein bars, an ample supply of water and two bricks will accompany the socks in my Echo, though I’m sure I’ll find a few other things to carry, too.  I’ll be reviewing the event just like I do all of my races, so stay tuned this weekend to get all the details.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book, but I’m fixing that by getting started with a brand new one this week.  The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts is the story of a horse headed for slaughter who was rescued and inspired a nation.  I’m about twenty pages in and really enjoying it.  A true story, Letts has so far done a great job developing the story with historical details and building attachment to the few characters I’ve been introduced to in those first few pages.  I look forward to reading more and learning all about this surprising animal.

Now it’s time to watch a little football while getting started with dinner.  Have a wonderful holiday!

Meredith

What have you started lately?  Are you reading something good?

Virtual Racing, Maybe?

I recently started to learn about running virtual races.  There are several companies that manage them, with Jost Running and Will Run for Bling seeming to be the frontrunners.  I wasn’t quite sure how they worked, or if it would be something I might want to try, so I did a little research on good old Google.  In addition to finding the two companies I mentioned above, I saw lots of positive reviews and learned that all of these virtual races are closely associated with charities.  I am, however, still on the fence.

Virtual racing goes like this: register, print a race bib, pick a course of the desired distance and time yourself during the designated race week.  Sending a photo and/or your time back to the virtual racingrace director is optional, but as long as you registered, you are mailed a medal a week for two after the ‘race’.

Virtual racing sounds great.  Cheap, no travel, no traffic to run through.  Unfortunately, to me, those are the things that make racing racing.  I enjoy racing for lots of reasons, but a big part is the excuse to travel, which is why I love my Run 50 Half Marathons in 50 States goal.  Racing is also a great way to put myself in a no excuses situation where the crowds, the competition and the beautiful courses help push me along and I wonder if I’d have the same drive with virtual racing.  Yes, I would have a race bib, and it would be nice to know that by using my own GPS watch, I wouldn’t have to run one step extra, but that’s actually a part of racing I enjoy.  I like challenging myself to not take extra steps, cut corners and have a good strategy.

I do think virtual racing could be a great training exercise.  Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to get out there and go, especially as the cold (and rainy, today) weather rolls around.  To compete against people, even if we’re in totally different place, running at different times would likely get me to turn on my afterburners.  I have a few concerns, too.  These events aren’t regulated, so do people go out more than once during race week and only submit their best time?  I’d like to think not.  Knowing that running on the road/street/sidewalk/trail is totally different, and a distinct disadvantage, to running on a treadmill, fairness is a small concern, too.  The real question is does it matter?  Am I really out there to compete against other people or to improve myself?  The answer is yes.  I want to get better, but comparing myself to others in my age group is not only how I know if I’m getting faster, it’s how I judge my performance.

All virtual racing I’ve been able to find benefit a charity, or charities, which isn’t something all normal races do.  I really like that aspect, but I wonder if I’d just be paying for a medal.  Without the funny signs, water stops and Finish Line, I might have trouble feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

Meredith

Have you run a virtual race?  Did you like it?

Good Speed Work, Good Week

Good speed work topped off a week that hadn’t gone so well and I’m glad I ended on a good note.  In spite of the 20 mile an hour head wind for my 800M repeats yesterday, they cheered me up a bit after Friday’s disastrous run, which I needed heading GoRuck Light week.

Friday’s bad run left me feeling pretty bummed out, and I spent the evening thinking about resting instead of doing five plus miles Saturday.  Maybe my body was trying to tell me something?  Getting back in the gym before my usual seven day post-half marathon rest period was up didn’t give my body the opportunity to recover as long as it normally does, and I thought if it asked for a little more rest, I’d oblige.  Unfortunately, with the Eagles and Hokies both off this weekend, I didn’t have any sports to look forward to and knew I’d just sit around feeling crappy about running if I didn’t get a good one in before Monday.  I decided to wait until seeing how I felt Saturday morning before making a final choice.  If my legs didn’t feel fresh when I woke up, the run was out.

Luckily, my legs felt surprisingly good Saturday morning.  Not what I was expecting after a pair of rough days, but the speed work was in.  I hit the Boardwalk and started to warm up with a slow jog that felt fine, did some calf stretching and gradually picked up the pace for another 1.5 miles before starting my first 800.  I was happy just to have a pain free warm up, but as I ran that first 800, everything gelled and it felt great.  A light tailwind helped me a bit for the first two repeats and I turned around to head home with the next four.  The wind was gusting, and when you’re already running hard, the wind is even worse than it would normally be.  My visor was blown off once all the way and I caught it the second time it tried to get away, but feeling like you’re running into a wall gets old quite quickly.  I worked very hard to turn in splits that were a minute per mile slower pace than they had been in the other direction, but as I ran an easy cool down mile, I was really happy.  My legs were tired from good speed work, not from soreness, and powering through a tough workout almost made me forget completely about Friday’s terrible ten miler.

Good speed work yesterday morning was a great rebound from Friday’s awful outing and put a positive spin on a less than stellar week of workouts.  Tomorrow kicks off Thanksgiving week, which features a 45 minute tempo run tomorrow, a Turkey Trot on Thursday and GoRuck Light on Saturday.  I know it’ll be better than last week and I’m ready.

Meredithgood speed work

What are your Thanksgiving plans?  Are you doing a Turkey Trot?

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Run

It’s Fit Friday and it did not go well.  I usually try to find the positives in a less than good outing but today was just a total loser.  Hopefully, I’ll finish up the week tomorrow with some really good speed work to get me back on track for GoRuck Light week to kick off on Monday.

Let’s review: I had a good run Monday, but sometime after it, tweaked my back a little bit and was quite uncomfortable most of the night.  It loosened up as I moved around Tuesday morning, and I decided to give my scheduled stretching training a try.  It wasn’t too bad, squat clean thrusters and ring dips were fine, the only time my back acted up was during push-ups (why?), so I took it easy on those.  At that point, so far so kind of good.

Next up was Wednesday morning, and when I woke up with a lot of stiffness in my lower back, I knew it was all downhill.  The ouchy back led me to skip my three mile race pace run and take the day off.  I pushed the three miler to Thursday and had a nice rest day.  Disappointingly, I don’t think it did much good.  Yesterday’s three mile race pace run was harder than it should have been after a mile warm up.  My legs felt anything but fresh after the day off and there was a nasty breeze, though in the end, the outing wasn’t what I would call horrible.  I put together a fast run with a negative split and even though it didn’t feel great, I wasn’t unhappy.  Ready to go for today’s long run.

The run started with a complete lack of motivation on my part.  I had absolutely no desire to go out and run for 90 minutes.  I forced myself into compression capris, a tank top, shoes and went anyway.  The first mile and a half were alright, I felt a bit better than I had yesterday, but it was a lot hotter than expected.  A little cloud cover at the beginning was totally misleading because by 20 minutes in, the sun was alexbaring down on my overly clothed body.  Ensue heat related misery.  I tried to take a shady route, but, to my dismay, lots of leaves were already down and shade was hard to find.  By mile four, my legs were tightening and starting to get grumpy.  Oh, and I was hot.  And I didn’t want to be running in the first place.  I felt like this wasn’t Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, it was Meredith and the Unseasonably Warm 75 Degree, Over Dressed, Unhappy, Sore Legs Run Day.  One hour to go and I was hot, in pain and desperate to be done.

When the halfway point rolled around, I was the closest I’ve ever been to bailing on a long run.  Rather than quit completely, I compromised with myself and settled on doing ten miles. Even though it meant I still had 30 minutes to go, I figured I was more (by two minutes) than halfway through this horrible adventure and I might as well do something serious.  Well, you guessed it.  Miles 6.5 through ten were terrible, horrible, no good and very bad.  I took the shortest route I could to run by home and ditch my shirt as quickly as possible at mile seven, grabbed too much water, and between miles seven and ten stopped to stretch at least five times.  Not that the stretching did any good.  I was pretty sure I was about to tear, rip or have a calf, quad or glute fall off at any second.  I ‘accidentily’ missed the cycle at a light so I could stand there longer and was severely irritated by the water sloshing around in my tummy.  All wonderful.  I hit the stop button as soon as it beeped for mile ten and honestly contemplated calling a cab to take me the half mile home.  I didn’t.  The walk was slow, very slow, and I stopped to stretch my angry legs while yelling at myself for about five minutes, even though, again, it did little good.

Finally arriving home, I fell onto my miracle working foam roller and got some relief.  I have never fought so hard through a run, and it’s reassuring to know I won’t, hopefully, have to do it again any time soon.  Enough complaining, Saturday is speed work and I really want to finish the training week on an up note before Sunday’s total rest day of recovery massage and foam rolling.  Time to get my head in the game for tomorrow!

Meredith

How do you deal with a bad run?

Fall 2013 Three Weeks To Go

Three weeks to go in Fall 2013 Race Season and I’m about ready for them to be over with.  I’ll be taking a nice long four week break from serious training after my next two events before rolling into hard training for the Shamrock in March, and I’m pretty sure the break is going to feel great.  I had so much fun doing no pressure, whatever I felt like workouts last week that I can’t wait to do it again.

Before I finish up the final three weeks of Fall 2013, and get to come down from this training cycle with some fun, I do, however, have two more events to run through.  The first is Virthree weeks to goginia Beach’s GoRuck Light on 30 November, and while I’m not doing anything beyond my usual running and lifting regimen for it, I am using it as an overly hard cross training day in my Surf n Santa 10 Miler prep.  A four to five hour ruck hike covering seven to ten miles should easily earn the overly hard name tag and a rest day will follow it.  After enjoying both the GoRuck and a rest day, I’ll then roll into 10 Miler race week to finish out the Fall 2013 Race Season on 7 December.  I have 11 days before either of the gun goes off at the first of these two events, and that means two more weeks of training that kicked off today.

A forty minute tempo run got me back into serious training mode after enjoying last week’s play time so much.  Even with a more focused approach to today’s run, it felt good and was surprisingly easy after having been sore all weekend.  I broke it up into 15/15/10 minute sections and peaked at 22:30 at a 5K pace that I carried through three minutes that weren’t nearly as hard as I thought they would be.  It’s nice to know I can take a few beatings in the gym without losing my running legs entirely, and makes me feel a little more confident about participating in a four plus hour physical and mental ass kicking one week before Surf n Santa Race Day.

I’m hoping these three weeks fly by, and with two fun events to look forward to as Fall 2013 winds down, I expect they will.  Tomorrow I’ll be in the gym for a strength training session and then it’s a short race pace run on Wednesday to keep my last three weeks of Fall training moving.

Meredith

What’s finishing up your Fall Race Season?  Have you participated in a GoRuck event?

No Watch Workout Recovery

Recovery Week for Savannah was supposed to be like every other half marathon recovery week.  A whole lot of nothing for seven total rest days.  Not a problem.  Except this time.  I felt great after four days off and was so itchy to get back to doing something that I just had to work out Thursday morning.  Oops.

I had thought about going for an easy three or four mile recovery run at work Thursday morning, but didn’t really feel like running.  In addition, I realized I didn’t have my running shoes and it was a little cold for barefoot on the beach.  Great!  I was in the mood to lift anyway, since I hadn’t done it over 10 days.  Well, I managed to pick a terrible day to go back to the gym.  Dropping in with my 9am friends at North End Crossfit, we powered through a brutal workout full of squat cleans, kettlebell swings and double unders that I knew would leave me in rough shape Friday morning no matter how hard I worked.  Welcome back.

Not only did I get what I expected yesterday morning, it was worse than I thought.  I stretched and rolled a bit first thing to loosen up before spending the rest of the morning stiffening right back up.  By early afternoon, I desperately needed to recover more from Thursday’s workout than I did from Savannah, so I decided to have a workout recovery play day.  I had to get my muscles moving and it really didn’t matter how.  I was free to do whatever I wanted for as long, or as short, as I wanted.  In all of my excitement, I opted for an easy workout recovery run of roughly three miles.workout recovery

It was really nice to have a no pressure run in front of me, and with no better time to pull out a new pair of shoes, I did.  While lacing up my shiny new runners, I also decided to run without my watch for the first time in a very long time.  I took off sans watch on a route I know is three miles at a very slow recovery pace that felt plenty fast enough.  My legs weighed about 200 pounds each, they were sore, my back was sore, my shoulder felt cruddy and not even super cushy shoes could make my body want to work hard.  It was a strange feeling to be running without knowing how fast I was going or how far I had gone, but it was very nice not to care.  I started to loosen up about a mile in and just jogged all the way home to stretch and roll lots more.  Running without my time and distance measurement device was a great way to clear my head, give my body a break and did me a lot of good.

Today was another no watch workout recovery play day and I did a tough Crossfit workout with my North End buddies that made me, especially my legs, feel much, much better.  It’s back to training for the Surf n Santa Monday, but I think I might try the whole running without a watch thing a little more often.

Meredith

Do you run without your watch?  When and why?  Do you like it?

Chicken Noodle Soup Time

Chicken Noodle Soup is my go-to when it’s cold and windy out.  It’s been cold and windy here in Virginia Beach this week, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip some up.  I use chicken breasts, rather than a whole chicken, in this recipe for two main reasons.  The first is that using only the breast meat lowers the soup’s fat content.  The second is time.  It takes a long time to cook a whole chicken, pull the meat off the bones and otherwise disassemble an entire bird.  I like this recipe because it’s fairly quick to make, and spending over two hours making chicken stock is totally contradictory.  My Warm Up Chicken Noodle Soup includes chicken and noodles as well as carrots and potatoes to make it a bit heartier, so give it a try today to keep winter’s cold at bay.

Basics
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutesWarm Up Chicken Noodle Soup
Difficulty: 3

Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 large, peeled and sliced carrots
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieceswarm up chicken soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces dry pasta of choice
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
1) Chop onion, peel and chop carrotswarm up chicken soup
2) Heat olive oil in large stockpot
3) Add onion, carrots, potatoes, oregano and basil
4) Stir and cook until onions are transparent but not browned
5) Add chicken broth and chicken breasts
6) Cover and bring to boil
7) Reduce heat, add salt and pepper
8) Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes
9) Return to a boil and add noodleswarm up chicken soup
10) Simmer uncovered until noodles are cooked, roughly 15 minutes
11) When noodles are cooked to taste, remove chicken and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces
12) Return chicken and any juice to pot
13) Add any additional desired seasonings and let stand for 5 minutes before serving

Note:  Add an extra cup of water or replace water entirely with additional two cups of chicken stock to make soup brothier.

warm up chicken soupThis Warm Up Chicken Noodle Soup is a quick and easy soup recipe that’s great for any season.  I like to make it in bulk and freeze a bunch for the future while making a couple single servings for lunch over the next week.

Meredith

What’s your favorite cold weather recipe?

Shamrock Strategerizing

Strategerizing is not a real word.  It is a made up word that is a part of my lexicon and is just a little more fun than saying strategizing.  Meriam-Webster’s dictionary defines strategy, a noun, as 1) a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time and 2) the skill of making or carrying out plans to achieve a goal.  Strategizing is the process of determining or planning a strategy or strategies.  This is very serious stuff done by military operations, professional sports teams and investment gurus.  I’m a goofy age group runner and since strategerizing is a lot more fun than plain, old strategizing, it’s what I do when I develop a plan.

I’ve written about race planning in lots of pre-, post- and recap race entries, but I haven’t practiced it much.  Just this weekend, I faced the realization that if I’m really serious about getting below the 1:40:00 mark in March’s Shamrock Half Marathon, I not only need to get faster but develop a solid race plan that works for me in any race situation.  Begin the strategerizing.  First was to determine the things I would need to incorporate in my plan, things that would help me perform better, run fewer race miles and feel great at the Finish.  Luckily, I have the Surf n Santa 10 Miler in three weeks to give me an opportunity to try new strategery out.

Training.  Nothing can beat solid training on Race Day.  I’m going to really push my speed work for the next three weeks, and after a post Surf n Santa rest period, put a lot of emphasis on it prepping for the Shamrock.  My long training runs will be a great chance to practice running negative splits, which are the second thing I need for Race Day.

Negative splits.  I’m a very steady runner.  I’m great at settling into a pace and sticking with it until the Finish Line is in sight.  I’ve thought about trying to run negative splits before, and actually did in Savannah.  I was surprised how good it felt to pick up the pace at Mile 10 and really think I can improve with this.  My long runs before Surf n Santa will all be run faster for the last third and when prepping for the Shamrock, I’ll really work to determine where I feel best increasing my pace.

Proper pacing.  Running cross country in high school, I was shamrock strategerizingnotorious for coming out of the gate much too strong and fading at the end.  Everyone knows that’s a recipe for disaster.  In order to correct this issue, I pay a lot of attention to my starting pace.  Unfortunately, in my last two half marathons, this has been too slow.  I can definitely blame some of the slower speed on weaving through traffic, but I need to settle right into my first half pace as soon as I can.

Avoiding traffic.  The easiest way to avoid getting stuck in a Start Line bottleneck is to make sure I’m in the correct corral.  As any racer knows, this can be difficult.  While I might be honest about my expected Finish time, some of the other people hanging out in that corral aren’t.  It doesn’t help either when the corrals aren’t monitored and anyone can hop into any corral they want.  Key points here are for me to be right at the front of my corral and stop weaving.  In both Philadelphia and Savannah, my race was 13.3 miles because I was all over the road running around other participants.  In the future, I’ll stop weaving and change my pace, a little, to slip through holes between people.

Tight turns.  I did a very good job of this in Savannah after a terrible corner performance in Philly.  The Surf n Santa has more turns than the Shamrock and will help me get more practice managing my run and dealing with corner traffic.  It definitely can’t hurt to make this something automatic that I don’t have to think about on the course.

Those are the five key elements of my plan and now that I’m done strategerizing, I’ll put it into practice during my Surf n Santa 10 Miler prep.  It’s a shorter race, at only ten miles, but I’m setting a goal of breaking 1:17:30, which is a minute, or six seconds per mile, better through ten miles than my half marathon PR split (1:18:30).  It’s three weeks away, and I’ll use my next few long training runs to decide where I should pick up the pace to finish faster than I started.  With strategerizing wrapped up and a solid plan in place, I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Meredith

What helps you perform best on the race course?

Rock n Roll Savannah Race Review

After spending two and a half days in Savannah, it was finally time to race Saturday morning.  My Rock n Roll Savannah finish time of 1:43:54 beat my 1:44:00 goal, and even though it was 21 seconds slower than Philly, I’m really happy with it.  Not set on hitting a new PR with this race, I wanted to work on my strategy a little bit and really wanted to finish under 1:45:00, with sub-1:44:00 as a nice treat if I got it.  I knew I could come in under 1:45:00 if I ran a decent race, but I was curious to see if I could run the first ten miles at normal race pace, then kick it up for the last 5K without fading at the end.  I also planned on making sure I hugged every corner.  After running 13.3 in Philly, where I had taken a lot of wide turns trying to get around slower runners, I wanted to avoid that extra mileage (and time) in Savannah.  Race plan in place, I hit the hay Friday night relaxed and ready to run.

Doug and I both woke up Race Day at 3am with sore lower backs from three days in a too soft bed.  Neat.  It was back to bed until I rose from a restless sleep at 530 and climbed out with a ‘where did this come from?’ grumpy right ankle and slight headache.  With a big sigh, I figured this was not going to be my day and started the morning without much enthusiasm.  Looking out of the condo onto Oglethorpe Square, it was brightly lit with the headlights of cars full of runners heading to the start and my level of enthusiasm marginally increased.  I pinned on my race bib, had some breakfast, fueled up with a GPS E2 and slapped a smile on my face before heading to the start.

Walking to the starting line, my back loosened up and I walked out of throck n roll savannahe tightness I had in my ankle, but my head was still not quite in race mode.  I hoped the half mile trip would wake me up and get me pumped to run, especially as we approached the crowd.  The walk had been a little chilly, but once surrounded by the massive crowd of runners, they helped keep us warm as we wove our way to the correct corral and I started to get ready to go.  Getting into the crowd and seeing the Start line improved my attitude even more, and passing lengthy rock n roll savannahPort-a-Potty lines, even though there seemed to be plenty, made me thankful I didn’t need to use one.  I hopped into my corral, which wasn’t too crowded, with plenty of time to move around, loosen up and chat before the National Anthem was sung and the elites were off.

Two minutes later, I crossed the Starting Line myself and started to get my cold muscles warm.  Less than a mile in, we were sent straight up and over a big old bridge, and it didn’t feel very good to be running up a hill without a little more time to warm up.  Ugh.  My resurgent enthusiasm started to wane again as I clocked a slow first mile.  Happily, my legs finally got going and I settled in as we leveled off after coming down the bridge’s other side and I started to enjoy the beautiful course.

The first water stop was at Mile Two, and it took me a little off guard.  Narrow streets, water stations on both sides, cheering volunteers and lots of runners made for a very tight squeeze that dramatically slowed everyone down for a little longer than I liked.  I eventually got through and resumed my first ten mile race pace, but this was an issue at most of the water stations throughout the race.  Miles Two through Four were more about fighting through traffic than anything else.  With long straightaways through some industrial areas, I could see turns coming a ways out, preparing myself to stick with the plan and take them tightly.  I did take the turns tightly, but picked up almost a tenth of a mile of extra mileage running all over the road weaving around other runners and was looking at a watch that said 4.04 when I ran by the four mile mark.

Heading into Historic Downtown at Mile Five, scenery improved and cheering sections became a little more frequent, but I was also greeted by some side stitches.  Working through those while maintaining my ten mile pace, I held in close to the corners as we twisted through WP_20131109_014.jpgrock n roll savannahvery scenic streets to Mile Six.  Around the 10K mark my shins and knees started to get a little grumpy, but passing the relay exchange and 10K sign, my watch indicated I hadn’t picked up any more extra mileage in the last two miles.  I was succeeding at taking tight turns, which WP_20131109_014.jpgWP_20131109_014.jpgmade me feel a little better, and at the halfway point I got a chance to complain about my now aching ankle when I passed Doug.  Halfway there and it could have been much worse.  I was on pace where I needed to be, even if it was a hair slower than I wanted to be, and I knew I even if I didn’t run the negative split I planned to, 1:45:00 was definitely within reach if I stayed in tight on the corners.

This middle section was also the prettiest part of the Rock n Roll Savannah course for me, running on a street lined with beautiful old homes under a canopy provided by trees draped with Spanish Moss makes you forget about your irritated shins a little bit.  Crowds were pretty big here, and fans could see runners on both sides of the street as we ran down one side of the grassy median and up the other to hit Mile Seven.  To this point, all of the bands had been excellent, but a hearing the Eye of the Tiger from the Mile Seven band was exactly the pick-me-up I needed.

Passing the Mile Seven marker, I could feel my legs getting a little tight and pulling over to stretch sounded great.  I didn’t have time for that, so I focused back on the scenery and enjoying my run while pushing through the next mile.  It was straight sailing past more scenery and another lush park to Mile Eight and I thought ‘Already?’  Even with my aching lower body, the first seven miles had flown by thanks to great scenery and fun crowds.  During the long Mile Seven to Mile Eight straightaway I picked up a little more extra mileage running around other participants, but at this point I had come to terms with running further than I wanted to.  I had been doing well keeping my corners close, and thought about my plan to run a negative split but with the way my legs felt, wasn’t sure with five miles left to go I could do it.

Another long stretch greeted runners through from Mile Eight to Mile Nine and I could see the return portion of the course dotted with the leaders.  At the Mile Nine marker, I noticed quite a few runners heading to the course side Port-a-Potties, which I had actually noticed for the entire first half of the race, too.  A lot of people had to use the course side restrooms, so it’s a good thing there were plenty of them.  After running by the potties, I lost sight of the next long straightaway I’d face as we made a hard turn at Mile 9.5 to pass another green park and reach another rocking band at Mile Ten.  My plan was to hit ten miles in under 1:20:00, and at 1:19:20, I did.  Sticking with the second half of my plan, I settled right in to a 20 second per mile faster pace past the Mile 10 mark and was surprised by how good it felt to increase my speed for the last 5K.  Lots of turns, which I successfully hugged, a quicker pace and plenty of cheering people in their front yards kept me distracted and made this mile go by quickly.  Another hard turn at Mile 11 and I was headed to the Finish at a pace I knew I could maintain all the way through on legs that, for having felt cruddy the at Mile Six, felt really, really good.  A quarter mile later, I hit the long, straight return portion of the course I had been watching the race leaders on roughly twenty minutes before.

At Mile 11.5, where the half and full courses split, a gentleman who I imagine had been running near me most of the race, wished me luck as he turned onto the full course and told me he “love[d] the way I ran”.  I’m guessing he had noticed my steady pace through the first rock n roll savannahnine miles and the drop in pace at mile ten.  Whatever he meant, I was flattered and it definitely gave me a little boost to head home.  The hills I had been waiting for hadn’t shown up yet, and I thought that meant I was in the clear.  Unfortunately, those hills were right there in the last two miles.  Though they weren’t very big, and I passed plenty of people while climbing them, they did bring my pace down a little bit.  During the almost two mile stretch from the half/full split to the 13 Mile mark, I picked up another tenth of a mile running all over the road, weaving past runners in front of me and I rock n roll savannahpassed it with 13.09 on my watch.  Making the turn to the Finish, my legs still felt very good and I ran out the last two tenths of a mile hard, crossing the line breathing easy with a smile on my face and 13.29 on my watch.

Rock n Roll Savannah was another all around fantastic Rock n Roll experience, I was very happy with my run and learned a lot about how I need to run my next race.  Even though I didn’t feel great, had grumpy legs halfway through and picked up an extra two tenths of a mile, I accomplished what I set out to.  Hitting my goal of running faster than a 1:44:00, successfully clocking a negative split and taking every turn tightly left me feeling very positive about breaking 1:40:00 at the ShamrockCompetitor Group, Brooks and the City of Savannah did a wonderful job putting on a race doused in Southern Charm that I would love to be a part of again.

Meredith

Savannah Eat-a-thon 2013

The Savannah Eat-a-thon 2013 is what I like to endearingly call my Rock n Roll Savannah Vacation.  During the course of this trip, I managed to run a half marathon (1:43:54), sleep, act like a tourist, learn a little history and relax while I spent three and a half days on the Savannah River coast.  It also seemed like I ate.  A lot.  Savannah has plenty of local fare to explore, and I made a pretty good effort to check them all out.  It would take me weeks to review each one in depth, so here are my short and sweet reviews of the edibles I enjoyed in southern Georgia.

B&D Burgers – No food, just drinks.  With a massive outdoor projection screen showing football, the atmosphere is distinctly sports bar.  The menu offered a wide variety of gourmet burgers and a large, quality selection of beers, it’s a great spot for any gamWP_20131108_004e you want to see.

The Coffee Fox – I’m not a coffee drinker, and I ate breakfast (Honey Nut Cheerios) at the condo, but Doug is.  I tagged along for his morning wake-me-up and enjoyed the laid back, coffee shop vibe.  The sticker covered wall was fun to read, this was one of my favorites.  Free Wi-Fi had laptops dotting tables, a large selection of caffeinated beverages and pastries including Quiche and delicacies such as vegan brownies, is sure to satisfy any morning or afternoon coffee craving.

The Crab Shack – I did review this one in depth, check it out here.  Out on Tybee Island, it’s a touristy but lovely spot that offers fresh seafood and is home to rescued birds, a large troupe of alligators and a handful of fat cats.

Goose Feathers – Savannah Eat-a-Thon continued even after the race, and this petite cafe was crammed full of runners when we arrived.  The staff was clearly prepared for the post-race rush and worked quickly.  The food was delicious, the service smothered in Southern charm and, quite honestly, I wish Goose Feathers was in my backyard.

Molly MacPherson’s – Hands down the best chicken pot pie I can recall having.  Ever.  Sorry, Mom.  An excellent selection of European beers and every Scotch you’ve ever heard, or not heard, of compliment a menu full of hand-me-down family recipes.  Swatches of Tartan that decorate the wall and flags of Scotland billowing from the ceiling give the casual establishment a wonderful feel that can’t be missed.

Moon River Brewing Company – Covering half a block in food service space, Moon River offers a full fledged on-site micro brewed heaven of a menu.  Two main floor bars, an upstairs and a beer cellar basement provide space for dinner or private parties and an outdoor area mean there’s a spot of anyone.  With a beer to satisfy any palate, a dinner menu with a something for everyone and pre-race pasta dinner specials, we enjoyed our beverages and cleared the large portions from our plates as best we could.

World of Beer – No kitchen, so no food here either.  PLENTY of beer to make up for it, though.  A mind boggling menu of beers from anywhere you can imagine, a radio pumping out classic rock and a pair of cornhole boards downstairs make World of Beer a fun stop for any alcohol aficionado.  Upstairs a row of TVs lining the walls mean this is also a good place to catch a game with a bunch of buddies.  Of course, before sampling too many of their myriad choices, make sure you eat something, perhaps at one of the other restaurants listed here!

Your Pie – Pizza, beer and gelato make their homes here.  Each personal 10″ pizza is completely customized with fresh ingredients and a choice of white or wheat crust.  Offering a decent selection of beer beverages and a variety of gelato flavors make Your Pie a great place to satisfy a just about any craving you can have.  Like Goose Feathers, having one of these in my backyard wouldn’t be too bad either.

There you have a summary of Savannah Eat-a-Thon 2013.  A wonderful foodie experience, a great town full of Southern Hospitality and a little racing makes me want to back as soon as I can.