Saturday, March 11, 2017

Focusing in on Lent

So it is Lent, and this year I decided to forego wine and beer for Lent. Definitely a sacrifice, but one I decided to do to try to refocus my nutrition and finally lose that 5 lbs. that crept up on me last year when I was working full time. I've been trying to get rid of those last few pounds since last summer, but it really hasn't budged. I figured it was time to quit the empty calories of alcohol for a bit to help speed things up. So far, so good.
I just barely squeaked in with my WW weigh in last month, too. Maybe it is because February is a short month, or because we were so busy skiing and doing other things, but I just didn't make it in to the WW meeting room until the last day of the month! I was only .2 off of last month's weigh in, so better than I expected (especially considering that most ski days have us eating out both breakfast and lunch!). Crisis averted on that front. It should be easier to get in to the meeting room in March, assuming that ski season winds down, although with a predicted nor'easter coming next week, who knows? I'm definitely ready for winter to take a hike so I can get back outdoors for running.
Lent has also got us eating more fish. Our local little fish market just reopened for the season, and recently we tried the arctic char for the first time. What a delicious fish! It looks like salmon, but the flavor is more mild and it is buttery tasting. I baked it with just a bit of cooking spray on it, and it came out amazing. Our kids wanted seconds on it. It was that good. I'm looking forward to trying other new types of fish over the next month or so and seeking out new recipes to try. I really love fish, so I don't mind having more of it this season at all.
Spring is coming fast, and a bit of sacrifice now is worth it to feel strong and healthy for summer. Focusing now for fun later. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

State #34, Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, Myrtle Beach, SC, Part 2

Race morning brought temperatures in the 30's here in Myrtle Beach! Ouch! Definitely not the weather I was expecting for this one. Thank goodness I thought to throw one set of long running pants and a long sleeve half zip in my suitcase, and good thing I picked up those cheap gloves at the expo yesterday. Yikes!
Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete were troupers getting up at the crack of dawn with me to get me to the starting line by 6 am. This was an early start, for sure, and for two retired folks who are used to getting up late, they were rockstars! 
We made it to the parking area at Broadway at the Beach by 6 am, and after sitting in the truck for a few minutes (to avoid waiting around in the cold too long), we headed to the starting line. I made a detour for the porta-potties before heading to the corral. Pete & Linda took their signs to line up near the starting line with hopes of seeing me run by.
Starting line up. I love the guy giving the thumbs-up on the left.
The corral entry was lined with metal barriers along the sidewalk, producing a narrow walkway for runners to enter through. This was all backed up with runners, so to avoid being late and shuffling along in the hordes, I chose to walk around this area to an open field and jump the barrier in to the wider line up area. As I was heading through the field, the starting command went off, and I panicked a little bit, but others around me assured me it was just the start of the wheelchair division. Whew! I didn't think we had cut it so close. 
The line up was packed with runners, and I couldn't get up to the 2 hour pacing group, so with only a few minutes to spare I snapped a couple of starting line photos and hoped for the best. I decided to stay near the left side of the road, figuring that was the side my aunt and uncle would most likely be on based on the way they walked over from our parking spot. At the starting command, a song about South Carolina blared from the speakers, and we were off.
Starting line selfie. Not my best smile.
As expected, Pete and Linda were up ahead on the left side with their cute signs. I gave them a wave and made my way the best I could through the crowded street. This race was very tight which always makes for difficult running. I kept getting stuck behind slower runners or trying to find a way to weave my way around others. It was really slow going until about mile 4-5 which is pretty unusual, but this being the 20th anniversary of the race, perhaps the registration was more crowded than usual. 
The race moved along well. The first two miles led us from the Broadway at the Beach area through a small neighborhood and out to the commercial route 17. This road was your typical beach thoroughfare, lined with restaurants, tourist trap shops, retail shopping, grocery stores, bars and everything else you can imagine. I chatted with a guy who was running the full marathon...he complimented me on my crazy hat. I told him it was so my aunt and uncle could pick me out of the crowd. I told him to look for them at the finish line with their signs. We followed this route until we got to about mile 6, where just past the airport we turned right in to the Market Common neighborhood. 
Market Common was a combination of high end stores and restaurants along with condos and single family homes. There is a nice walking/running path that winds throughout along with small ponds and a playground. It was a fun space to run through, checking out all the good shops there. When I come back to Myrtle Beach sometime, I will head here for some shopping and good eats. It was a cute little area.
As we made our way out of Market Common, we crossed route 17 and entered on to Ocean Drive, the road that parallels the beach area. It was lined with hotel after hotel. Unfortunately, at this part of the run (mile 8) the wind was against me, and the shadows of the hotels made for consistent shade, and I started to feel really cold. I removed my gloves at mile 4 but now it was time to fish them out. My fingers were getting numb. There weren't many spectators along this stretch despite the overabundance of hotels. I'm sure the cold temperatures and early morning start time kept some folks away. 
This was my hardest stretch of the race, due to the cold, long distance (miles 8-11) and undulating rises and dips in the stretch of roadway. Even though this race is pretty flat, those small inclines and declines make a difference when the wind is in your face. I could feel myself slowing down a bit, but I tried to push on as much as I could. 
The fun thing about Ocean Drive was looking at the cute swimming pools of the hotels, amusement park, water park and catching glimpses of the ocean in between the tall buildings. It seemed to take a long time to get down this road, but once it was done, the finish line wasn't too far away. 
We turned left off Ocean Drive on to 10th Street South, back through a neighborhood area that led back to the more commercial Broadway at the Beach surrounding. As I neared the finish line, I looked for Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete. I crossed the finish line with a net time of 1:54:17, well below my goal of 2 hours. Hooray! Just past the finish I spied my aunt and uncle with their signs. They are the cutest spectators ever!
My fans! Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete with the signs my girls made.
We met up and walked back to our parking space, and we traded stories about all we had seen both as a spectator and a participant. They were so amazed at all the people and set up and activity that surrounded the event. It really is a huge undertaking! I stretched and then we headed for home so I could shower up before hitting breakfast. 
We went to a place called Johnny D's Waffle House that was awesome! In addition to their eclectic waffle menu, they had all kinds of other breakfast stuff, and I ended up with a California eggs benedict, featuring avocado and tomato. Yum! 
Dinner at the Roadhouse.
Later in the day, Aunt Linda and I hit Talbots to cash in on their 25% off sale. That was fun! I scored a pair of light pink pants, a flowered shirt and two oxfords for work. Yay! Their collection this season is really cute, by the way! We stopped at World Market and a junky tourist shop for other souvenirs to take home. I took a nap in the afternoon after all that excitement and then we topped off our wonderful day with dinner at Uncle Pete's favorite place--The Texas Roadhouse. That was my first time there, but the steak tips really hit the spot after a big morning workout. 
Race t-shirt backside, number & finisher's medal.
I am so grateful to have participated in the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon and to have spent such terrific time with my relatives. They are fabulous people, and we don't get to see each other nearly often enough. This trip solidifies that I need to get down here more often for more fun! Maybe I will have to repeat this race another year, and maybe Aunt Linda will try the 5k so I can go cheer for her. Thank you, Pete and Linda for an awesome weekend! State #34 is in the books!

Friday, March 3, 2017

State #34, Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, Myrtle Beach, SC, Part 1

I arrived in Myrtle Beach last night after leaving for the airport straight from work. My flights were fine, and I easily met my aunt at the baggage claim in the airport. Easy trip! That's always a good start. 
My uncle was waiting in the car to pick us up curbside, and we were off to their house. They only live about 15 minutes or so from the airport, so that was good. I arrived around 9:45 pm and we were at their house in no time. We chatted about everything...running, Myrtle Beach, family, work, and before we knew it, it was midnight! I never stay up that late!
The next morning we took it easy, getting up around 8 am and relaxing over coffee and breakfast. Linda and I headed out to the grocery store, as I planned to cook dinner for them pre-race. Whenever possible, I prefer to to be in control of my pasta meals. If I can have whole grain or whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs, then I'm good. So tonight dinner was on me. 
Race number, t-shirt and race map.
We met up with Uncle Pete after the grocery run and all headed to the sports center to the marathon expo to pick up my number. The vibe there was festive and upbeat. I got my number and t-shirt and along with the t-shirt the race directors gave out Myrtle Beach Marathon socks and sunglasses. Cool! I like this race already. We perused the vendors, and I ended up purchasing a cheap pair of cotton gloves. The race morning temperatures were going to be in the 30's! Not what I was expecting. Good thing I threw in a pair of long running pants and a long sleeve half zip just in case. We also took a look at the race route map, and then took a ride along the route so I could see where I'd be running. We drove along some commercial areas and some residential areas and finished up along Ocean Drive that runs along the beach. It was a nice route, and I know it will be a great run.
We went to lunch at a place called Mrs. Fish. We had a nice fish lunch (I had salmon), and they told me that Mrs. Fish was a favorite local place that was no frills but good food. Yes and yes. After lunch we drove down to the beach for a short walk. What a lovely beach it is! You can see beach for miles and miles. The tide was out, so the beach was extensive. We walked a little bit just taking in the sound of the waves and the views. It was lovely.
We headed back to their house and relaxed for a bit, and then I worked on getting dinner ready. We had a super meal of pasta, spaghetti squash, meatballs and salad. It was nice to have a home cooked  meal together. So much better than eating by myself in a restaurant somewhere. Luckily everyone enjoyed my cooking. 
My distinguishing hat. 
After dinner I got my running gear ready for the morning. My aunt found some ribbon I could pin on my hat to make me stand out more in the crowd so they could maybe spot me easier tomorrow. I might look silly, but it will be fun.
What a great first day in Myrtle! Good night!

February or May?

I meant to post this last weekend, as it was the last weekend of February and the temperatures in Connecticut hit 70 degrees! I was lucky enough to be able to get two back to back delicious outdoor runs in on February 25th and 26th. In fact, on the 26th, I wore short sleeves and my running skort. Bare legs in February. No joke! I loved it. Every minute of it.
Celebrating bare arms and legs in February!
Although I should really be tapering more for my half marathon in Myrtle Beach next weekend, I just couldn't help myself getting out in to the spring-like air. In my defense, I held myself to 5 milers only. No need to push too much. 
As a complete 180 to the outdoor running on Friday and Saturday, our family went skiing on Sunday for our usual weekly ski outing. The conditions weren't the greatest after the very warm temperatures, and after two runs, our youngest had tumbled hard a couple of times and was ready to pack it up for the day. I ended up hanging out with her in the lodge until my other daughter's lesson ended. Just as well, I certainly didn't need to catch an edge and fall and injure myself. 
I'm looking forward to my next race next weekend. I'm running the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon the first weekend in March, and as a bonus, I get to visit with my aunt and uncle who live down there. I haven't been down to visit them yet, so I'm really looking forward to it. We haven't seen each other since Christmas. It will be another terrific trip that combines running and family. Can't wait!