Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I think it's safe to say that we all - myself especially - have a lot to be thankful for. I try to keep these things in mind year-round, but it's not always's easy to lose sight of things and to start to take some things for granted.

The hubs and I got up this morning and participated in the Turkey Trek 5k in Albuquerque's Nob Hill. It was our second year doing this race, but it was a new course. While the race was even more well-organized than it was last year (which was surprising because I thought last year was run very well), the course was a slight disappointment - a less than 1 mile stretch along Central that we looped, which includes a pretty significant hill that you hit twice. The hill, I can handle...the loop, I can handle....passing the finish line 3 times and not being able to go through it - that's kind of rough. It was a great day though - about 30* when we started, clear, perfect weather and a huge crowd (probably about 800 people) with spectators along the street. This leads to the most important thing I'm thankful for today - my ability to get up and run or do something active every day. I realize that there may come a day at some point where I don't have that luxury and I need to take advantage of this while it's here.

We were there with the group of friends that I met initially through Albuquerque Fit, most of whom are helping out with the No Boundaries program that Fleet Feet - Albuquerque sponsored this year. They are an amazing group of people who have pushed me through so much stuff - not just running stuff, but life stuff too. Francine, Denise, Cindy S., Kayleigh, Randy, Leisha, Cindy E., Rona, Bobby, even Terie was there in her boot to watch us and cheer us along. I don't normally mention people by name in my blog, but these friends are wonderful and I wanted them to be mentioned. I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to know this group of people and that they've put up with me through a lot of stuff over the past year. It's been hard between work, studying and a different training schedule but I couldn't have done any of it without them.

The hubs - Mike to those of you who know him in real life - ran this race too and he kicked ass, as usual. We got to warm up together and I realized that it was the first time we'd ever run was nice. I liked doing it, but I also like knowing that we can go out separately, have fun and that he'll be at the finish line cheering for his super slow wife 15-20 minutes after he's done. Our families didn't come to this race since it's a holiday and they're all doing a lot more cooking than we're going to do, but they were there in spirit. They rock though...there's been plenty of times they've dragged themselves out the door - or even across the country (or in my dad's case, across an ocean when he came to watch me in NYC - he was working in London) to spectate a race. There's also the other friends who don't run and think I'm nuts (Alicia, I'm looking at you) but they listen to me go on and on and on about stuff they probably don't understand and/or have no desire to know about. Finally, it's for these people, the people who deal with me and my "obsession," that I am thankful for.

And my finish time? 38:20...about a minute slower than my PR, but I'm damn happy with it. I ran the entire thing with the exception of ~20 second walk breaks at the two water stops. This is the most I've ever run consecutively and I'm planning to build on that and to work some speedwork into that in 2010, along with marathon training for Chicago now that I got the hubs roped into that. :)

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone. Eat too much, take a nap, plan out your Black Friday shopping trip and remember the importance of the day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Little Different, A Lot New - Bikram Yoga Review

This is late and I apologize for the delay. Last Wednesday (11/18/09) I attended my very first Bikram Yoga class at Hot Yoga in Albuquerque. The studio is on Central, just a little bit west of I25. I'd noticed it because the side of the building facing Central is nothing but windows, so you can see inside as you drive by, but I didn't realize it was a Bikram studio until I was doing some research on yoga studios in the ABQ area about a month ago. While I've done hatha yoga before - and absolutely loved it - I'd always been intrigued by Bikram, even though I generally (okay, always) hate the heat. For those of you that don't know, Bikram is done in a room that is heated to about 105 degrees and consists of 26 poses done over the course of 90 minutes. Under normal circumstances, that doesn't sound like fun to me, but I'd like to think I can keep an open mind about things and I've been wanting to try this for a few years now.

I got to the studio about 20 minutes early because I wanted to make sure I understood what to expect and how and where to set up my stuff. Luckily, I was able to meet the instructor before class began and she gave me a high-level overview of what to expect and made it very clear that I could leave the room if I felt uncomfortable at any time. Yes, the point of the class is to push your limits, but it shouldn't make you sick or anything like that...after reading some pretty negative reviews on other studios around the country where students weren't allowed to leave the class once it began, I was relieved to hear this.

The room is hot and humid - you'll sweat a ton doing this - but it's not unbearable. It wasn't the relaxing yoga that I was hoping for...instead, I got a serious workout from it, but I really enjoyed it and felt my muscles working. I can understand how people can hurt themselves though if they don't know their's very easy to stretch too hard in that kind of heat and I can see how you may pull something. We only did a handful (3-4) familiar poses, but I still got a great stretch. I'd gone in with some upper back pain that'd been around for a couple of weeks and my left hip had been screaming at me since my run the night was gone when I walked out.

If you decided to go, a few tips:
- Wear as little as possible. I wore spandex shorts and a running singlet.
- Bring a towel to throw over your'll need it and it'll reduce your chance of slipping on your sweat-soaked mat.
- Bring a bottle of water and hydrate well before, during and after the class.
- Know your limits before the class. You'll feel like you can twist yourself up like a pretzel, but if you normally can't, don't try it now. It's an injury waiting to happen.
- Go in with an open mind. It may not be for you, but give it a shot and make the decision after the class is over.

This is something that I think I'm going to stick with. I'm not sure I'm going to dive into a monthly membership just yet, but I think I'll go here and there when I have the time. It was fun and definitely not your every day thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Now What?!

Well, I'm *kinda officially* a CPA! I got my last score online on Friday night (Yikes, Friday the 13th!) and I PASSED! I'm still in a little bit of shock, but I'm so excited about it! It's been a long, crazy journey and I'm so glad it's over.

15 months of studying
12 months of testing
6 actual exams (for a 4 section test)

It won't be official official until I get sworn in by the state, and that won't be until May, but this is close enough for me. :)

But with this, I'm kind of left with a feeling of "what now?" My race is exam is over. Those are the two things that took up the majority of my time. I've been kind of bumming around the house with no direction for the past week or so.

I'm feeling a lot better now, so I'm going to start running again on Tuesday with the Fleet Feet group. I'm also going to give Bikram Yoga a try sometime this week to see how I like it (report to come, I'm sure...I don't like the heat very much, but I've been intrigued by this for years). And I'm going to take the big plunge...I'm going to go see the graduate advisor tomorrow to see what I need to do to finish up that half a Masters of Accountancy that I have. I hate the idea of studying and tests all over again, but even more than that, I hate paying student loans on something that's not finished. Hopefully there's not much left for that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1 City, 5 Boroughs, 26.2 Miles - NYC Marathon Race Report 11/1/09

I am in love with New York City. Not the kind of love that you want to wake up next to every morning for the rest of your life, but small doses here and there is just fabulous. My friend moved to the city a couple of years ago and this was my second trip out there - although this trip was completely different from the last, I feel like I was able to get much more intimate with the city and learn a lot more about it in the short time I was there.

To get to the start (which is on Staten Island), I was assigned to the 8.00 ferry from Manhattan. The hubs, my dad and I left the hotel around 7.15 on Sunday morning to walk over there,
ensuring I'd make it to the ferry early and hopefully onto an earlier boat. Although I was expecting 44,000 runners - the largest crowd ever for this race - I was surprised by the sheer mass of people waiting for the ferry. There were thousands of people waiting, and this didn't include the thousands that had left earlier or who had gone over on busses or from New Jersey. Luckily, because we'd arrived early, I was able to say good bye to my spectators and get on a ferry around 7.45. (Please note my rockin' sweats and very excited and awake expression. I just love being anywhere surrounded by tens of thousands of people at the crack of dawn.) I noticed on Saturday that a cough I've been dealing with for about a month (allergy-related) had gotten worse, and now I had a sore throat to go with it. During our walk to the ferry on Sunday, it seemed to be even worse, but that just wasn't the time to worry about it! I decided to ignore it for the day since it wasn't terrible and make a doctor's appointment for when we got back home to see about getting an inhaler or allergy pills or something. Considering this happens every year, I was tired of dealing with it.

Everything started moving really fast once I got on the ferry. We were shuttled to Fort Wadsworth, I checked my bag at the UPS truck in my start village and the next thing I knew the cannon was firing (seriously, how cool is that? They start the race with a cannon and not a wimpy little gun) and a crowd of people were running across the Verrazano Bridge above me (it's really hard to see, but there are tons and tons of people running on that bridge).

The wave starts were great, and honestly, with 44,000+ people running, I don't see any other way to do it. <---- That is all that I could see as I was walking to the starting line. A sea of people and porta-potties. As soon as we turned the corner, though and saw the actual "start" line, the crowds lightened up and it was easier to move.

The course starts with a ~250 ft climb up the Verrazano Bridge, the steepest climb on the course, and I was glad it was in the first mile. It wasn't a hard hill by any means, considering the excitement of the race and the fact that I did all my long runs (15-20 miles) on hilly courses, but it was enough of a reminder that you've got a long way to go and not to kill yourself just yet. It was after getting to the top of this hill, and somewhere about halfway on the way down, that the entire right side of my body decided to revolt. About 2 1/2 miles into the race. It started with the plantar fasciitis in my foot, which had been flaring up for about a week, but had never bothered me during a run before and eventually travelled up into my right hip (also not weird, but it usually waits till after I'm done) and my lower back. I knew I'd be seeing the hubs and my dad at Mile 8 and again at 16, so I'd just ask them for some Tylenol then.

The crowds were indescribable. It was nothing like anything I'd
ever experienced before. I think I had a perma-grin on my face through Mile 18 just because the crowds were so amazing. The noise they made got to be too much at times. It blew my mind that people got up and out of their houses on a Sunday morning just to watch a bunch of crazies run by them. Bands were set up throughout the course and at one street corner you'd hear hard rock, and at the next you'd hear someone playing a cover of a Beatles song, while at the next, it'd be a Reggae band.

I eventually got to the Queensboro Bridge, linking Queens to Manhattan, at Miles 15-16 which I'd been warned was terrible. It's not quite the same incline as the first bridge, but it's a long, steady hill on a bridge inaccessible to spectators, so you're all alone. I've heard people describe it as the place where they've really questioned themselves and their ability to finish and I knew that I couldn't allow myself to get to that point that early in the race. By this point, my legs were feeling the work I was putting them through, but again, the incline wasn't too bad. It was easy to ignore everything going on around me and focus on all the training I'd done leading up to this - most of which was worse than what I was going through at that moment. Coming off the bridge, which is pretty quiet without the spectators, you burst onto the street in Manhattan and into the screaming crowds. It was amazing.

The rest of the race was really good. I missed the hubs and our dads (by this time, my father in law had joined up with them) at Mile 16 by mere minutes and expected them at 20, hopefully with my Tylenol for my foot/hip pain. 20 comes and goes and they're not there...I wasn't worried about any of this because I knew they were using the subways and were on their own, so I expected us to disconnect at some point. Finally, at Mile 22, I see the hubs and our dads in Harlem.

The end of the race is kind of a blur. I didn't really start falling apart until the last 4 miles or so, and even at that, I hesitate to call it "falling apart." It was harder once we got into Central Park, it seemed like it was hill after hill after hill, and even though I know they weren't steep, they were just at a very unwelcome time. When I got to Mile 25.5, I pulled off my headphones (I'd resorted to them around 22) and forced myself to run the last .7 miles to the finish line. People around me were screaming, crying, stopping to take pictures. It was the happiest group of people I'd ever seen. With Abba's "Dancing Queen" blaring from the speakers (my friends from many years ago will understand the significance), I finally stepped across the finish line.

After getting my medal, heat blanket and posing for a quick picture, I began the looong walk to claim my bag and exit the park. In all, after getting my bag and then going to meet the hubs and our dads, it was about an extra mile tacked on. Ouch. All I wanted to do was lie down! But it was all worth it when I was met by the hubs and a little blue Tiffany's box holding the necklace I had been unsuccessful in buying the day before at the expo. :) Between the walk to meet everyone and forcing myself to walk all over the city the rest of that night and the next morning, I can honestly say that I haven't been very sore. For Denver last year, I was severely sore for about a week.

To sum it up, this was an amazing race. I'd hoped to not repeat races so I can experience as many as possible, but I think this one may have to be a repeat. I know that I'm leaving out so much for the sake of not going on for hours and hours, and I'm a little out of it so I may come back to edit later. Which leads to this...that cough and sore throat? It turned out to be the beginnings of H1N1. Yep. Hooray. I've been camped out on my couch ever since we got home Monday night (it hit while we were traveling home). The hip thing comes and goes. I'm going to keep an eye on it because it's been around for a while now but it generally goes away on its own. I think my foot is going to require a follow up with the podiatrist. It feels good now, but it didn't feel good for a while.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased. It's not a PR but I'm not out there to win anything...this is all for fun and time doesn't matter as much to me as it does to other people. Yeah, I had a secret time goal that I didn't meet (no, I won't tell you what it was), and who knows...maybe if all these random pains/flu things weren't happening, maybe I'd have met it. But what makes me really proud is that 1) I ran way more than I did in Denver last year. I stuck with my 5 min run/1 min walk intervals until Mile 17.5, where I switched to 4 min/1 min and stuck with that pretty closely until the end. 2) My pace was really consistent. I don't set my watch up to show me my pace so I don't obsess about it, so I have no clue how I'm doing while I'm running. All I can see is elapsed time and distance, but I don't take the time to figure out my pace.

So, what's next? I'm not sure about Phoenix RnR. I just don't know if I have it in me for another marathon in 2 months (I think...ask me when I can get up off the couch without losing my breath). I have some friends going out to Long Beach to do that half in February, but it's not a good weekend for us. I'm trying to convince the hubs that Chicago would be a lovely trip for his birthday - which just happens to be in October. ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rome was not buit in a day

nor was it built by someone with H1N1. Race report coming this week sometime...lets suffice it say that I survived. Not sure if I'll survive the swine flu though. I feel to sleep some more.