Monday, April 26, 2010

Louisville Marathon Relay Team Race Recap!

This past weekend, I did the Louisville Marathon Relay as a team with Mandy and Melissa. This was my first time doing a marathon relay and also doing the Louisville race. I really had no expectations other than hoping I could run a decent pace for my leg. Actually legs. The relay consists of teams of 3 to 5 people that run a total of 5 legs of different distances. We had a team of 3, which meant some of us ran multiple legs. I happened to get lags 3 and 4 for a total of 9.3 miles, or a 15k.

My overall impression is that this race is pretty disorganized. That said, it was a fun weekend and a nice little break from reality. I warn you now: my recap gets a little long…

We couldn't find a lot of specific information on the website regarding how the relay would work or what to expect. We arrived at the packet pick-up and expo with lots of questions and concerns. Everything was answered for us by the lady at the relay team table. She explained how we would take buses to our designated transition spots and wait for our teammate to hand off the timing sensor. Seemed easy enough, although we would be separate the whole race without much of a chance to cheer each other on. The biggest issue was that they ran out of shirts. So, even though we registered 1.5 months ahead of time, they didn’t order the right amount of shirts. That was a bit disappointing, especially since we were team 01 out of 60 total teams. So, how could they not have our shirts?!? My other thought is that the math is easy: 60 teams x max of 5 members = 300 shirts. Seriously, this is not rocket science and for the price we paid to register, it would have been nice to have a shirt to bring home. They had us write down our names and sizes on a scratch piece of paper. Who knows if we’ll ever get the shirts or not…

The expo was okay. There were a good amount of vendors, but it was definitely cramped and hard to get around. The convention center downtown was massive, yet they seemed to stick the expo in the smallest room available. Also, the actual race merchandise was not that great. They had hardly any selection or sizes left and what was there was not that great of quality (i.e., screen printing on the shirts was not centered or was peeling, etc). So, not only did we not get a shirt as part of registration, we couldn’t even buy a shirt to bring home. Definitely disappointing!

The race was fun. The hills were killer. The humidity was stifling.

I boarded a bus from downtown Louisville and was taken to some neighborhood near the University of Louisville campus. The bus dropped us off around 7:30, which was the start time of the race. Knowing Mandy’s pace and the fact it could take her a good 10 minutes or more to get to the start line from way back in coral C (where they stuck all the relay teams), I had a good 1.5 hours to kill. The people were nice and we talked awhile before going in search of restrooms from hydrating all morning. Since we were in the middle of a neighborhood, there was nothing. No bathrooms, no port-a-potties, no water, no nothing except the curb and a row of houses. We hiked a good 2 miles round-trip to find a bathroom and ended up going in a building on campus. When we got back, someone had dropped water for the relay runners, but it was across the street and down a block from our exchange point, to no one saw it until later on. It was raining some, so I used a garbage bag to stay dry.

I waited for Mandy to hand off the sensor to me at mile 9.3. I would then run until mile 18.6 to meet Melissa who ran the remainder of the marathon. There were 15,000 runners and a much smaller number of relay runners. Thankfully, at our exchange point, they had spotters a few blocks back looking for relay team members. We had special bibs and a relay bib on our backs, too. The spotter would radio ahead and a guy with a bull horn would announce what teams should get ready for the exchange. That made the process a little easier because the race course was packed at that point. We saw the marathon and half-marathon elite runners come through, a few other super speedy people, and then the street was full of everyone else having a good time. So, it was good to have a minute or two to prepare to run.

Speaking of preparing, I should mention that I followed my normal half-marathon fuel/hydration plan for the race. Definitely not a good idea at all! I was dragging because there was such a large amount of time between when I actually prepared for the race and when I ran. I am not used to all the standing around in between. Also, the night before, we had a hard time finding someplace to eat. We ended up at TGI Friday’s. I haven’t eaten at one of those in years and didn’t want to risk ordering anything that might not be good for my stomach. So, I had a very light salad with minimal toppings. Definitely not my normal pre-race chicken or pasta with salad and bread meal. So, I could have prepared better food wise, although I think I did okay on water. I was pretty hydrated and only got a slight side cramp near the end of my legs.

The course was brutal. I have no other way to put it. I was mixed in with everyone until slightly after mile 10 and then I followed the marathon course while the half runners broke off in another direction. There were very few marathoners, but they all rocked. There was an older lady who was probably late 60’s or 70 just trucking along. I seriously hope that can be me someday. She was amazing and had an awesome pace!! Most of the course was through a very HILLY park. I am not sure the elevation map on the website was correct, and if so, it did not do the hills any justice. I feel like it was more mountainous than hilly. I have run some hilly courses and this one takes the cake (even over the IU Mini course)!! Also, as I began my legs, the rain stopped and the sun came out. On a normal day I would have been rejoicing. On a running day, I was less than thrilled. Sun after lots of rain = serious humidity. I think I almost died out there. Coupled with the fact that everything was blooming in the park, I swear I could not breathe. I usually never stop and walk. So, I am embarrassed to say I actually walked three times to catch my breath during my legs. The whole time I was thinking about how mad my team would be at me, but I just needed to walk for 20 seconds to get my breath. The worst was coming up to a T in the road where we had to make a turn and seeing the street sign: Longest Ave. Yep, you guessed it. The longest hill EVER! I was hoping in my wildest dreams it would be flat. But no, my worst nightmares came true instead.

There were water stations on the course, but they seemed to be far apart. Maybe it was the hot and humid weather that crept up after the rain ended, but I was constantly looking for water and felt the course could have used more stations. Also, the stations were handing out small plastic water bottles. Not very environmentally friendly at all! I was rather shocked. They were very hard to handle. One station gave me a bottle with the cap in place, so it was hard to undo and drink while running and I only took a few sips, so water and plastic were wasted. The next time, the top was removed and the water sloshed all over me as I tried to take it. It would be nice to have something more environmentally friendly in the future. I am not sure if those bottles were recycled or not.

Finally, I made it to mile 18.6 and handed off to Melissa. I was glad to be done. I was not proud of my pace at all given the fact I was hoping to use this as practice for some other upcoming races. However, I feel like I deserve a (very) slight break as I have not really trained in the humidity and weather plays a huge role in how I run. I haven’t been avoiding the humidity, but there have only been a few humid days. So, not much chance to practice or acclimate. I finished with a pace of 9:15.

After that, we boarded another bus to head to the finish line to meet up with teammates. We could run the last .3 or .4 miles of the race as a team. I found Mandy and we waited for Melissa. Thinking she had passed us and already finished, we kept walking closer and closer to the actual finish line. We finally saw her and jumped on the course (with security chasing after us) to finish the race. I ran with Melissa while Mandy braved the last bit in her flip flops after changing shoes when her legs were done. It was rather comical!

Post-Race Party
I don’t have much to say about this. We didn’t stay long. This is probably because the party wasn’t that great. Everything was really far from the finish and really spread out in this large park. There was also a huge volleyball tournament going on, so it was hard to tell what was part of that and what was part of the race. We got our medals and bananas and left. We had to check out of the hotel by noon, so that was also an issue. We were late, but they were nice not to charge us anything extra.

Like I mentioned above, the race atmosphere was great and a lot of fun, my overall feeling is that it was a bit disorganized. I hope they continue to improve it for next year. Given that it was a hilly course and I run a fair share of hills in races at home, I will likely give this race a miss in the future.

In general, we had a great time. We finished in 3:58:57. We were pumped to finish under 4 hours and also excited to learn we took 3rd overall out of the women’s relay teams. Not too shabby given the fact we all had admittedly less than stellar runs (at least not as good as we hoped).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Cubbies...

It is no secret that I am a Cubs fan. Yes, one of those fans that thinks every year that this will be the year. Every year I get so excited for opening day. Every year I love heading to Wrigley to catch a few games. Every year I love trying to catch the Cubs on the road at a ballpark I've never been too. Every year I wear my Cubs jersey with pride.

But this year has been horrid! Seriously, what is going on??!?!?

I was not happy when Andres Blanco was traded about a month ago. I still haven't figured out that trade. He was freaking awesome on defense and decent on offense. That is more than I can say for a lot of the current players. He did a lot of good things for the team last year, so why trade him? (Other than for cash consideration, although with Wrigley having the highest ticket prices and capacity crowds at almost every game, you would think they would be doing okay on cash flow...)

And talk about the players. I mean, our infield is pretty set, but we have some really new outfielders and a couple of new pitchers. I need to read up on them...

I was not happy with Zambrano moving to the pen. What?!?! I about fell out of my chair when I heard that. Again, what?!?! I had to double-check at least five websites to make sure I was reading it correctly. My gut is saying that this is not going to be a good thing. Going from pitching on Opening Day to the pen in less than three weeks has got to kill any confidence he has left. At the same time, I am hoping maybe he gets a good kick in the butt and takes his pitching up a notch. Either way, I miss him on the mound as a starter. He is, admittedly, my favorite player. His is the jersey I wear proudly. People often ask my why I like him. I think it is because he is a lot like me. I am definitely passionate about my work (for better or worse) and he is the same way. You have to love that about him even on a bad day. I am anxious to see how this all works out...

Then, the record. What is going on this month? The Cubs always do horrible in April. Every year I repeat to Todd and our Cubbie friends that the Cubs will suck in April, play only decent in May, and when it warms up in June and July, they start to play like a real team. Seriously, this is the trend...every year. I think people think I am crazy, but it always happens. Maybe it is because of all the Latin players on the team. They are not used to the cold. I should do some statistics on this to prove my point some day...

My biggest frustration is Marmol. I have been saying since last year that he should not be the closer. Yes, when he is on, he is on fire. No questions asked. But, when he is off, he is way off. In my opinion, the Cubs need a consistent closer. Marmol does not fit that role. He does much better as middle relief. I think he doesn't feel as much pressure and performs better. Whatever the case, we definitely need someone else to close...

Alas, no matter my disgusts, I am still working planning my first trip to Wrigley at some point this spring. I mean, it is baseball, my favorite sport. And it is Wrigley, my favorite field. And, well, the Cubbies will always have my heart - win or lose, for better or worse, and in sickness or health (hopefully health as there was way too much DL action last year). *Sigh*

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meeting Lily

Got to meet my new niece this weekend. Lily Addison was born on Tax Day 2010! This is significant since my brother is a CPA. She is adorable and soooo tiny! She is only about 6lbs right now after losing some of her birth weight. But, she is a good eater, so she will be chubby in no time! The funny thing is that despite being tiny, she has some huge feet. Newborn onesies are big on her, but the baby socks are already too small! Hilarious!

She is a sweet girl. And she is spoiled. But she doesn't know that. Yet. ;)

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Yep, four eggs today. So cool! The momma bird (definitely a robin) is also here. Incubation begins and chicks should be here in a few weeks!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three eggs!

Yep, came home to three eggs in the nest today! I love nature at work!

I am expecting one more egg tomorrow and then incubation begins!!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Two eggs!!

I checked on the nest today and there were two eggs, not just one!!! Some quick googling on robin eggs leads to some interesting facts. Robins typically lay four eggs. The momma bird lays one egg per day and then incubation begins after the last egg is laid. The incubation period is 12-14 days. Assuming these are fertilized eggs, we should have little birdies in a few weeks. I wonder if there will be three eggs tomorrow?!?!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A little birdie told me!!

We have a robin's nest on the window ledge of our home office. Only one little egg. No sign of the momma bird yet. The funny thing is that I was just looking at this window a few days ago thinking about cleaning the windows from the inside and outside. I even opened that window and the nest wasn't there, so it was built in a hurry.

We are going to wait a bit to trim the bushes and put mulch around this area to see what happens. Maybe some birdie pictures soon?!?! It will be fun to watch and we have a great vantage point.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

One week home

I think Murphy is happy to be home. He missed his sister and they are now inseparable yet again. (Note: when they are not happily napping together they are usually beating each other up.) Also, while he was gone, Murphy had to stay in a kennel for several months. I think he is happy to get his soft spot on the bed back. He keeps wanting to snuggle on our bed instead of stay in his dog bed. At this rate, we may need to upgrade our queen to a king! :)

He's pretty much been his normal self - destroying the backyard, wanting to retrieve anything, and eating up a storm. When he was gone we hardly spent any money on dog food. Now the expense is back as he will eat 8 or more cups of high performance dog food daily.

Follow-up to I got swabbed!

You might remember back in early March when I got swabbed for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. The drive was held at IU for DKMS and the spotlight was on Lindsay, a college student at Duke diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I just wanted to follow-up on how Lindsay is doing. She is a family friend and while I have never met her, I have met her parents and our mothers are childhood friends. The good news is that a match was found for Lindsay. Not from the IU drive, but that doesn't even matter! Someone else on the donor registry was a match and she all ready went through the stem cell transplant a few weeks ago. She is doing well and hopefully on the road to recovery. She has to be watched closely for the next several months and doesn't have to go through chemo anymore!

Also, if you were at the drive, you may remember a book that could be signed for Lindsay. Well, she did get that book and her family read through all the well wishes. They are thankful for all of the support and positive thoughts!

Monday, April 5, 2010

How to recover after a race??

I am not a good judge of how long to rest after a big run. In fact, I probably need some schooling on how to recover after a race. I've read you should take a week off. I've also read a day for every mile of the race. But, rest days are boring! I just can't sit still and sometimes going for a run is just easier. I know, I know. I should probably cross-train for a few days and rest my legs. But, it is so nice out and I sit in a windowless office all day long, so the thought of going to the gym or doing any type of exercise indoors does not appeal to me at all. I want to be outside whenever possible after work!!

Even though it was probably not the best idea after running a half marathon two days ago, I went for a very slow run around my neighborhood tonight. I thought about going to the gym, but I had meetings all day and didn't even get lunch (I took my lunch to a meeting, but it was 2pm and I was starving, so I threw all professionalism out the window at that point). Plus, after work, it was raining and my two dogs were outside at home. To avoid a total disaster, I knew I needed to get home to let them in before getting any more wet and muddy. So, I bypassed the gym and headed home. It was about 7pm when the rain subsided, which was not convenient to head back into the gym. Driving to the gym, getting in a working, and then getting back home takes about twice as long as just heading out my front door for a run. So, I went out for a 3 mile run and kept a slow and steady pace, around a 9:10 mile. It felt okay, but I definitely felt very tight. My knees are a little sore, but not painful. What does hurt is my lower back. It was bad after the race and felt a little better yesterday, but it is still a little bit bothersome. I am not sure if it is from all the hills or what, as my back is usually not a post-race issue.

In addition to running, I have been walking my dogs a lot in the last couple of days. They love to walk around the neighborhood and act like they own the place. Their little tails are way up in the air. It was so nice yesterday on Easter Sunday that we took three walks! We covered at least 6 miles throughout the day. Tonight after my short, slow run, we walked about 2.4 miles at a pretty decent pace. It's nice to get in a little extra walking workout in the evenings thanks to the dogs.

I am planning to run tomorrow night, but do plan some cross-training and rest for the remainder of the week. I need it, especially if I want to be ready for my other upcoming races! What do you do after a race to recover and how many days do you rest or cross-train? Help, comments, and suggestions are welcome!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Murphy is home!

Murphy is home (for good) from hunting training boot camp. Poor baby is so skinny, so I'll be sneaking him so extra treats. Lucy is very happy he's home, too. Only downside: he is blowing his winter coat, so in less than 24 hours my house is covered in a layer of Murphy hair. Thank goodness for my Dyson!

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

IU Mini Marathon Race Report

This morning was my first race of the spring running season. In retrospect, I probably should have started out with a 5k or 10k, like most logical runners. For some reason, I decided my first race should be a half marathon. I think I'll rethink that for next spring.

Leading up to the race, my training runs were just okay. I never felt great about any of them. In fact, several were a struggle as I dealt with side stitches. I am not sure why they continue to reoccur. I normally drink and eat the same things when training as I would for racing. I always make sure to drink large amounts of water and eat tons of bananas. I decided earlier this week that I either have a hydration issue or some undiagnosed stomach issue. Since I can control the hydration, I went into the race fully hydrated and hit almost every water station on the course. Literally. I think there was one about every 1.5 miles and I hit all but 2. I think it helped. I had some minor cramping, but none like on several previous training runs.

So, the race was okay. I finished in 2:03:06. I m a little bummed to not have finished with a better time. I started off so well. This course is hilly. The hilliest race I have ever run. And it's not like you run up a hill and then get a downhill. No, that would be too easy. It is run up a hill to a pretty flat area and then run up another hill. There were very few downhills. I did awesome on miles 1-10. I kept telling myself to keep my pace and not worry about the people around me. Let them pass me. Just keep the pace. I ran an average 8:40 pace per mile during that period. I felt great and had no problems. It was a bit windy, but other than some serious hills, I was on my way to finishing in under 2 hours and possibly evening setting my half PR.

Then came mile 11. It started sprinkling around mile 9 and continued to get harder until it turned into a total downpour and rained the entire rest of the race. My legs started to feel the effects of all of the hills. I did a lot of hill training to try and prepare for this and I have run this course before, but I forgot how horrible the hills are! So, my legs felt like lead weights, it was raining cats and dogs, and the winds were gusting up to 30 mph. I also started to get some side stitches and had to stop several times to stretch them out. I definitely lost focus. I averaged a 15:00 min pace on this mile.!?!?! It did me in. I was thinking about giving up, kicking myself for not wearing my running hat, getting mad because the last aid station only had Powerade (which I hate) and I was really wanting some water. Looking back, I would have pushed myself more had I realized how horrible I was running. I just felt so bad at the time. Had I kept closer to the pace, I would have definitely finished in under 2 hours. Ugh! I am so mad at myself even still as I write this blog.

Somewhere just after mile 11, people started pushing each other along with cheers and complements for getting up the hill or running in the rain. I jumped over a puddle because my shoes were water logged and so heavy on my feet. Water in Bloomington does not drain off the streets when it rains, so I am not sure why I was trying to jump puddles. Anyway, the older guy next to me laughed and started making fun of me. He asked what a little water hurt at this point. I started laughing and I guess he got me to lighten up a bit and not focus so much on how bad I felt. At that I point, minus a few quick stops to stretch my side, I did miles 12 and 13 at a 9:20 min pace. I was never so happy to cross a finish line in my life. I was soaked, cold, in pain, and disappointed with my time. But, my friend Mandy greeted me at the end. She ran the earlier 5k and waited around about 1.5 hours to see me finish, which was really encouraging! I was actually bummed thinking no one would be there at the end and then she caught me right away and got some pictures, too!

You can see my decline on the chart below. The little circles show my pace at different points in time, which you can't see. But, you can see my steadiness throughout the race until the very end when I hit mile 11. Dang, I am still mad about that. (I forgot to turn off my Nike+ at the end and it is usually off about .25 miles, so that is why the miles are slightly off.)

Some interesting things I saw along the way:

  • A guy wearing those shoes that look like your foot and are supposed to simulate barefoot running. I have seen them before, but never actually saw someone wear these in a race. They don't look that comfortable to me. I stick with my cushioned shoes!
  • After that, I saw a guy running barefoot! Yes, completely barefoot. I can't even imagine. Part of the course was on the shoulder of the bypass (a major road through Bloomington) which is all rocky. Then we ran through campus and by tons of construction zones where the roads were cracked and uneven from all the equipment. Then, through the rain puddles on the road. No way. Even if it is scientifically better for me to run barefoot, I choose to stick with my cushioned shoes again!
  • A police officer staring down a female runner in a white t-shirt. He was working at one of the intersections and she was a bit ahead of me when she passed him, so I saw the entire lookdown. This, of course, was the part of the race where we were totally soaked and you could see right through her shirt. It was rather funny.
  • A guy in a banana suit. Everyone gave him high-5s along the route. Also pretty funny.
I don't have a lot of pictures from the race, but here is one Mandy took as I headed towards the finish line. I think you can even see the downpouring rain in this picture. Give me cold weather, snow, slush, heat. Anything but rain. It is so uncomfortable to run in sopping wet clothes.

Congrats to all my friends running the 5k and half! Everyone did great despite the conditions!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Work: Total Classic

Some days, I get to the point where I want to throw the towel in. I was explaining to a friend last week some of the "normal" things I deal with on a daily basis. The friend was shocked and was also immediately reminded of the movie, The Office. Yep, that movie is my life in a nutshell. I think it is especially challenging to work in HR as people expect you to just know everything and be able to fix it all even if it is not an HR issue or not even related to the job. Plus, they expect you to remain nice. Trust me, I normally put on my happy customer service face deal with it, but some days you just can't be nice anymore.

Here is a classic email exchange with co-worker from today. The sad thing is this happens multiple times a day every day. It gets old.

Co-worker 1: I am getting this system error, what should I do?

Me: Yes, I know this is a problem. Email co-worker2, let her know about the error, and wait for a response from her as she handles that piece, not me.

Co-worker 1: Okay, well, I'll copy you, too.

Me: Whatever.

Co-worker 2: Here is what needs to be entered into the system. If you keep getting the error, notify the system team. Thanks.

Co-worker 1: What should I do?

Me: Umm, enter it and if you still get the error, report it to system team email address for correction.

Co-worker 1: I got the error again (insert screen shot of said error), what should I do?

Me (losing total patience at this point): As I mentioned in the below email, report the error to the system team by email. I cannot fix this error for you.

TPS reports, anyone??