Monday, November 18, 2013

Race Recap :: I'm a MARATHONER!

Wow. I can't believe I am saying that. I'm a marathoner.
I had such an amazing weekend and an amazing race!!
Here's my race weekend recap of the Richmond Marathon!
Goodie bag from my sweet running friend/all around BFF Sara!
Friday morning we left around 8:30 for Richmond. I was both excited and nervous that this weekend was finally here.  The weather was beautiful as we drove up 81 and then hopped on 64 over to RVA.
My brother, James, had flown in from Austin on Wednesday and he had a rental car to return so we picked him up at the airport when we got there and then headed to the expo.
The expo was held at Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond right near the Diamond. It was pretty crowded inside, which made me get even more excited!
James and I had bibs 5103 and 5133, which we think is funny since we registered together, but oh well. 
After we got our bibs we walked through the expo and bought a couple of things - Richmond-y shirts, stickers, running shirt, arm band, some gloves for the start, etc. I love attending the expos. There is always so much to look at, some fun things to try out, fun headbands, noisemakers for spectators, free food, etc!
We walked around for about an hour, then had some lunch.
 At 2:00 James and I went on a free course tour on a charter bus. Two guys that "work", I suppose, for the marathon (and have run it 5-6 times) led the tour and were really funny.  They knew a lot about the course, the race, and the city of Richmond so I learned a lot.
I also saw this sign, which made me giggle:
"Marathon Day Special: But two 10 milers and get the third for 38% off!"
Next we headed to the hotel to chill out and watch Pitch Perfect, which is slowly becoming a pre-race tradition, before going to carb load at dinner.  We ate a favorite near my Dad's house, Joe's Inn, and had a really nice dinner.  Steven finally made it down from PA around 7:45 just in time for some chicken parm!
Bedtime was early - around 10:30 - but I knew I needed plenty of sleep! Race day was awaiting!
I woke up at 6:00 and had my belvita breakfast biscuits.  I got these at the Runner's World Half and they're so delicious! They also don't upset my stomach, which is obviously important before a big race.
Started our drive downtown and...POURING RAIN.  I was a little bit upset because all week long the forecast was perfect for running.  I don't mind a little rain when I'm running, but y'all it was POURING. That's not so fun.
I arrived at the Marriott downtown around 7:00 to meet James.  We walked around inside to stay warm and to use the restroom one last time before the race started.

The white banner right beyond the traffic light is the starting line for the marathon.
The race started promptly at 8:00 am.  We were in wave 4 and we started slowly walking forward - I thought we were just moving up to the line - but no, it had started! We were off to run 26.2!!
My race day goals in order of importance:
2. RUN the whole time
3. Finish under 5 hours
Miles 1-4: These FLEW by. I feel like I blinked and I was already at mile 4. The first 2 miles it pretty much poured, so I was soaking wet, but there's not much you can do about that!
I usually take Gu every 45 minutes, but I obviously need water.  I wasn't running with my water bottle because that's just one more thing I would need to worry about and I wanted my hands free.  The race had water & Powerade very 2 miles, so I planned to take Gu every four miles. Not exactly 45 minutes, but it worked.  I was maintaining a consistent 10:30 mile, which is right where I wanted to be.
Miles 5-8: After mile 4, I knew I was going to see my family & Steven at mile 7 so I had something to look forward to. The race had official "party zones" where a lot of spectators could hang out and there was music and refreshments.Coming down the hill (in the second picture) I could see all of the spectators and I got super pumped. Sort of sped up, but then slowed down because I didn't want to miss my family.
I saw my Mom first and got so excited!! She handed me a Gu, I waved to Steven & Jason who were trailing a few steps behind (traffic issues) and then a couple steps ahead my Dad was waiting to snap some pictures.
 Feeling good!
 Lots of runners!
James at a different part of the course - he was ahead of me a bit so my family missed him at mile 7.
At mile 8 I took another Gu and took a swig of Powerade to start replacing some electrolytes. We ran along the riverside, which was sooooo beautiful.  Even down there, where I thought there would be no one to cheer us on, there was still some groups of people! It was awesome.  We met our first "hill" which a lot of people walked up but I powered on through.  The good thing about training in Blacksburg is that the hills don't scare me! :)
There was a lady handing out pretzels in a bowl at the bottom of the hill -- I love that lady.
Miles 9-12: These weren't too bad. I was feeling a little sore, but my breathing was perfectly normal - could have held a conversation- and still holding that 10:30 pace. Overall feeling good about how the race was going.  I didn't have my music in because the spectators were SO awesome and I got a boost just from hearing them cheer us on.  It was fun to just listen to the sounds of the race course.  Not to mention there was also 28 bands and DJs along the course!!  Another Gu at mile 12 and my next "goal" was to see that halfway sign!
Miles 13-16: I saw the 13.1 sign around 2:20 so I was feeling good that I would finish under 5 hours.  However, I really had no idea how the last 10K was going to go because the longest I had run was 20 miles.
I knew I was going to see my family around mile 16 so I was pushing through the drizzle and the rare quietness of the bridge back into the city to see them.  We ran over several bridges, which was pretty neat to look over and see the James River, but this one in particular was quiet other than the sounds of the cars in the other lane.  Some of them would beep and cheer us on!
I saw my family a little beyond the 16 mile mark.  Dad handed me a Gu and I was on my way.
Miles 16-20: My next "goal" was to see that 20 mile mark.  I knew that I could make it to the 20 mile mark because I had done it in training.  I didn't take a Gu at mile 16 like planned because my stomach was feeling a little weird.  It had a lot of Gu and fluids rollin' around in it.  There were several junk food stops along the way and with them were some little cups of Coca Cola.  I took one of those to help soothe my stomach and that seemed to help a lot.
Mile 17 had the first wet washcloths. These were awesome! It felt so good to wipe my face and my neck with a cool, wet washcloth.
To be honest, around mile 18 I was feeling a little rough.  I don't know if it was the rain or what, but I was feeling a little tired. I took my Gu at mile 18 instead of 16.
Finally I saw mile 20 and I knew it was starting to get real. The end was near.
Miles 20-24: At mile 20 I told myself I only had a 10K to go. Basically only 6 miles and that was like ONE length of the Huckleberry Trail, which is where I did a whole lot of my training.  One length was nothin'.
My pace slowed a little bit in these 4 miles to around 10:40-11:00.  The thing hurting the most was my FEET. The bottom of my feet were screaming at me, but I ignored the pain and kept myself focused on the goal.  I took my last Gu at mile 22. This was the only time I stopped running, to take water and Powerade after my Gu (which I took on the run right before getting to the water/Powerade tables).
Once I passed the 21 mile mark, I told myself, "Okay, I can count on ONE HAND the number of miles left...YOU CAN DO THIS!"  There was also more wet washcloths in this stretch. Soooo nice.
After that it got easier and easier to convince myself to keep going. 4 miles - that is nothing. That's an easy run. 3 miles - a 5K to go...I've run a million 5Ks...I CAN DO THIS!
Not to mention all of the signs along the course. Those kept me REALLY entertained. So many awesome signs.
Miles 24-26.2: When I knew I only had 2 miles to go, I got so pumped.  I picked up the pace a little bit knowing that this race might be my only marathon and I wanted to make it count.  The last 2 miles are pretty much all downhill and that always encourages me to pick up the pace.  The crowd was really supportive around this area, encouraging us that we were already there...we had it done...our medals were waiting.
Somewhere between mile 25 and 26 (don't remember a lot about this point) we made a right hand turn onto the final stretch.  This final stretch was DOWNHILL...and I don't mean a gradual decline, I mean there were people falling on their faces because it was steeeeep.  Anyway, I can hardly describe the feeling that I felt making that turn.  The metal side gate things were up, keeping spectators back, they were cheering and yelling and I felt ON TOP OF THE WORLD. I was a half mile away from my biggest goal.
My Dad was halfway down this hill taking pictures, of course, and I think my face really captures how I feeling.
James coming down the hill, SO hardcore:
 He was about 10 minutes ahead of me
 So happy to see that finish line

I was so happy to see that finish line that I came barreling down at a 8:50 pace.

James finished in 4:30:12
I finished in 4:40:37
I met all 3 of my race day goals and WE'RE MARATHONERS!
 Legs/feet are on FIRE but so relieved to be done!!!

The race finished right on Brown's Island, which was a beautiful place to relax, drink some FREE beers, stretch, eat and talk about the race.
I was so happy and thankful that my family and Steven were there to support me, along with all of my friends who were texting me!!

Overall, I am very impressed with this race.  Sports Backers and everyone involved did a WONDERFUL job with this marathon! There were record numbers of runners in all three races, amazing support along the course, and really there is nothing to complain about.
Still TBD if this is a one and done type of thing or if I will run another.  Training takes a lot out of you, so it wouldn't be anytime soon.

Either way, I'm a marathoner!!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Things I Learned Training for a Marathon // I'm off to RUN RICHMOND!

Y'all it is OFFICIAL. I'm headed to Richmond for the marathon!!!!
cue nerves and excitement and anxiousness and every emotion ever
I am so excited that this weekend has FINALLY arrived.  I signed up on May 17th and have been thinking about it ever since.
I've not only run a lot but I've learned a lot.

5 things I learned while training for Richmond:

one :: training is time consuming
I definitely didn't stick to my training plan as well as I could (or probably should) have, but to be honest there just isn't enough time in the day! If I weren't in school or working then I would have no trouble but, alas, that is life.  Long runs took a lot out of my weekends, too, between prepping/running/recovering. Sundays were pretty exhausting.

two :: training is expensive
Once you get into the meat of the training and running really long runs then you need to invest in some fuel. I don't know how many trips I made to buy Gu...the smarter thing to do would have been to buy it online in bulk but did I think of that before this week? No I did not.

three :: training is the real race
Yes, race day is going to be great and that is the ultimate "goal" in this whole scenario, but I truly feel that training and logging all of the miles is the true test.  The race is the reward for all of the hard training.  For example, going out on that 20 miler by myself when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch food network...that was the true test for me! Getting my butt out of the door. I wish I had gotten a medal for that.

four :: training requires equipment
Asking for a Garmin for graduation was the best decision ever.  I could not have done this training without it (well, I could have, but it wouldn't have been as simple) and I am so grateful for high-tech gadgets we have these days.  Even if I do feel silly sometimes standing at the end of my driveway waiting to locate satellites, I am so thankful to have something to keep me on pace.  Now, if I can only remember to search for a satellite wayyyy in advance of the starting gun, I will be happy :) worst nightmare...
five :: training is not possible without support
I could not have trained for this marathon without the support of my friends, family, and supporters on my blog/twitter/instagram.  I have received so much encouragement from everyone and that is what will get me to the finish line.  Knowing that there are people who believe in me.
I also could not have done my 18 miler or 20 miler without Steven & my mama! The best pit crew there is.
Lastly, I wouldn't be doing this race if it weren't for my big brother.  He not only was the one to sign me up, but he's running it too and I am SO proud of him.  He ran his first half in March and is gearing up for the full on Saturday with me. He's a champion.

I've learned soooooooo much more than this, such as Tri Berry is the only good Gu flavor and no matter how big my knees look Pro Compression socks are my friend, but that's all I have to share today.
Even though training was tough, I don't regret a single moment. I'm ready to RUN RICHMOND!

Off to run 26.2!!
follow me on instagram to stay in the loop: @sarah_ryan3

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You Veterans!

 God Bless America and all those who serve to protect it.
I am especially grateful for our veteran, my big brother:
Also my Dad who is a veteran!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Wedding Weekend at The Homestead

On Saturday morning my mom & I hopped in the car and started heading on our "journey" to The Homestead to celebrate the marriage of our dear friend Courtney to his now wife Emily!

Courtney has been friends with my older brother basically since we moved here some 14 year ago.
James & Courtney are the two standing

Anyway, I call it a journey because we made a couple of stops before actually arriving at our destination.
The first was our request from the groomsmen - a box of Carol Lee Donuts. If you've been to Blacksburg, you can understand their need.  If you haven't, make sure a trip to the shop is on your to-do list if you're ever in town. SO. GOOD.
Our next stop was dropping off my first unit in Roanoke. I've been working on that baby for a while -- felt so good to turn it in! It was a 1st grade math unit.
Our third stop was to find gas. In Sketchville, Virginia I might add.  PSA: Iron Gate, Virginia is scary larry central. Beware.
After finally finding a station without a line of cars & one that you can actually swipe your card at the pump, we were on our way for real.

Approximately 2 hours from leaving our house we arrived at the beautiful Homestead in Hot Springs, VA.

Been around since 1766. Sooooo beautiful - especially in the fall!

Found James as we walked up and then headed to the Jefferson Bar to watch the Hokie game (sad day) after checking in.
Donuts in hand :)

After lunch & catching up with friends, we did some exploring.
Found the Crystal Room where the dinner & reception would be held. There was a smaller foyer area above/next to it where the cocktail hour was held.

The ceremony started at 5:30 in the Grand Ballroom. It was absolutely beautiful!
Then it was on to the cocktail hour, dinner & dancing!
Caught up with James during cocktail hour. I don't know if you can see his boutonniere, but it's baby's breath...which I love! I was so happy to see so much baby's breath everywhere. 

I though my Lilly dress was perfect for the occasion & it was super comfortable!

The next morning we had the most amazing brunch in the world. Chipped beef, biscuits, hash browns, bacon, grits, fruit, the whole nine yards.  Definitely capped off a great wedding celebration!

I definitely would like to find my way back to The Homestead at some point in my life. Beautiful history, architecture and there is tons to do! We didn't get to make it to the natural hot springs but it's definitely on my bucket list :)

Congratulations Courtney & Emily! We love you!

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