A 5K, a Wedding, and Two Picnics

Friday afternoon as I returned to work after my lunch break, I passed a friend in the parking lot who said, “I’m so glad it’s finally Friday!”  Automatically I replied, “Oh yeah, me too!”  Then I thought, Well, when you work at a church, Friday is often like Sunday: it’s the day before everything gets crazy!  Now that it’s Monday morning, I can breathe and relax. 🙂

This weekend we kicked off the new school year in the life of the church with a bunch of awesome events that definitely kept me busy!  Saturday morning our church, in partnership with another church down the road, hosted a 5K.  We encouraged the youth group folks not only to run, but to dress up in costumes.  I couldn’t find a great costume, but I did find these fantastic purple “skapris” (oh yes, “skapris” are a skirt/capri combo) plus a purple sequin headband in the kids section at Target.  All I’m saying is that I looked pretty good. 😉

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I ran with my sweet high school friend Gena, and we rocked it!  I won my age group, and Gena placed second in hers (with a lot more competition.)  We had over 200 participants and raised a lot of money that is being donated to a couple local charities!!

Saturday afternoon, on our way to a wedding in Virginia Beach, we made a stop to visit our good friend Allison.  We ate lunch, watched the Virginia Tech football game, and so enjoyed catching up and laughing!

On Saturday evening we attended the wedding of my good friend and coworker Evan and his beautiful bride Kristina.  The day was perfect, the decorations and details were adorable, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people so excited to get married!  It was a sweet, joyful celebration.

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Just bein’ us

It was close to 1 AM when we arrived home from the wedding, and I had to be up pretty early for church, er, later that morning.  Rather than our usual three services (two traditional and one contemporary), we had one huge, blended service to bring everyone together as we kicked off the school year.  Even though I was operating on insufficient sleep, the morning was awesome!  I don’t know  how many people were there, but the sanctuary was PACKED, and we had overflow in our Welcome Center.  Some chose to sit on the floor with their kids.  The atmosphere was just relaxed and genuine as everyone came together as one community to worship God!

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After the service we had a picnic lunch, and people spread out all over the church grounds–inside and out–to share a meal with friends!

And because one picnic on a Sunday is never enough, that evening we had a youth ministry picnic at a local park to kick off the school year and welcome our new families.  I was unable to do a headcount, but I estimate we had 150-175 people (youth, parents, and siblings).  I felt a little bit overwhelmed…in a good way.  🙂

I am most definitely an introvert, so being in a crowd like this drains my energy.  As soon as everyone had eaten, I’d finished speaking, and we started to clean up, I was ready to lie down on a picnic table and sleep.  Hah!  It was awesome, though, and I am so excited to see what’s in store this year!

As great as the weekend was, I’m so glad it’s finally Monday!! (…aren’t you?  ;-))

What was the highlight of your weekend?

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Monument Avenue 10k 2013

On Saturday I went head-to -head with the Monument Avenue 10k, and… here’s how it went down:

Friday afternoon Gabe and I went to the race expo to pick up our numbers, t-shirts, and lots of free samples.  (Gabe is a girl, by the way, in case I don’t know you in real life :))  That evening I laid out my race outfit, just to make sure I had everything together.

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We had Gabe and her boyfriend Jeff over for a pre-race, pasta dinner (brown rice pasta for Andrew and me, whole wheat for Gabe and Jeff.)  Using a basic canned tomato sauce as the base, we sauteed in olive oil some mushrooms, garlic, onion (saving some without onion for me,) and ground beef, then added bay leaves, basil, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme and let simmer for a while.

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The pasta + salads + garlic sourdough toast made an excellent meal!  We ended up eating on the back deck because it was such a beautiful night.  It might be time to purchase some deck furniture…

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Yep, we set up four TV trays and took our kitchen chairs outside.  Hah!  A little ghetto, but it worked 😀

After loading up on carbs and getting a good night of sleep, it was race time.  The weather was absolutely perfect: mid 50’s and sunny.  To avoid traffic and parking issues with local races, my preferred method of arriving at the starting line is to drive close, and then bike a mile or two to the start.  It’s a good warm up, and it reduces the risk of arriving late due to traffic and/or parking (which I did once, and ended up running a mile to the start of a half marathon, which started while I was running there.  Stressful to the max.)  Anyway, we parked about two miles away, where Andrew was planning to spectate.  The course is more or less an out-and-back on Monument Avenue, and there’s a large, grassy median where Andrew stood so he could catch us around mile 2 and then again at mile 4.

Gabe and I met up, made our way to our corral, and before long we were running!  Our plan was to start slower than goal pace (which, to run under 50 minutes was about 8:03 min/mile,) then make up the time in the second half.  There’s a strong tendency on race day to get caught in all the excitement and start running too fast, so we had to make a conscious effort to hold back a little.  (Andrew’s thoughts on this plan?  “You should start running fast, run fast in the middle, and run fast at the end!” ;-))

We ran the first mile at an 8:08 min/mile pace.  Mile two was 7:59 min/mile.  When we passed Andrew we were going strong!

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Why are so many other people in the photo looking at the camera?  Because Andrew was yelling, “Goooo!  You’re running so fast!!!  Run faster!!!”  😀  My mom and Walter came to cheer us on too, and we saw them at the halfway point!  It’s always so great to have people rooting for you!

We ran mile 3 at an 8:04 pace.  Somewhere in the next mile, Gabe told me to run ahead.  I yelled at her to stay with me, but at some point I looked back and couldn’t find her, so I kept going (we talked about this scenario before the race… it’s what she wanted. :))  Soon after that I passed Andrew again and gave him my best, “I lost Gabe!” face:

IMG_4314Some people look really attractive when they run.  I’m not one of those people.

Mile 4– 7:57 pace.  Mile 5– 7:47.  At this point I had made up the lost time from the start and felt confident that, unless something crazy happened, I’d break 50 minutes!  My legs and lungs still felt strong.

Mile 6 I ran in 7:31, and the .2 home stretch took about 1:37, which means…

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I BROKE 50 MINUTES!!

Kind of crushed it, in fact 🙂  My official time was 49:00.  My average pace was 7:52 min/mile.  I was ecstatic (still am, really.)  Gabe finished in 50:41, which was a PR for her, so we were both very pleased.

It was a fantastic day, and I am so relieved to finally break that darn 50 minute mark.  Time to set some new goals and keep running!

Race Week Workouts + Thoughts on Yoga

Tomorrow is race day–time to see if all my training has been enough.  To be honest, I am not feeling entirely confident I can achieve my goal of breaking 50 minutes for the 10k.  I know I put in some great training runs, but I started a little late, and my legs have felt achy in the last week.  I’m going to do my best to push the doubts out of mind and just go for it tomorrow!  I can break 50 minutes.  I can break 50 minutes…

The week leading up to a race is tricky in terms of workouts.  I try to strike a balance between working out enough that I don’t lose any physical fitness, and resting enough that I don’t wear myself out before the race.  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run- 30 minutes, easy

Tuesday: Weeding the yard (Don’t even try to tell me that’s not a workout.  It’s like doing squats for two hours [we had a lot of weeds ;-)] )

Wednesday AM: Run-30 minutes, easy

Wednesday PM: Yoga- 60 minutes (more on this later)

Thursday: Walk-30 minutes

Friday: Rest

In the few days leading up to a race, I’m pretty sure resting is more beneficial than any workout!

About that yoga.  Andrew and I have started taking a class at our gym on Wednesday nights (we’ve been about five times so far.)  Prior to this, I’d taken a few yoga classes here and there but always preferred a good 30-minute run to an hour of thinking about breathing and trying not to laugh.  A few years ago, in an attempt to be proactive about relaxing and controlling stress, I bought a yoga DVD.  I did it a few times in my living room, but I’d always fast forward through the 5-minute “warm-up,” which consisted of lying on my back, breathing, and thinking, “I don’t have time for this…”  In retrospect, I think I may have been missing the point. 😉

Recently we decided to give it another shot (Andrew had never been to a class or fast forwarded through a DVD.)  After a few weeks of consistent yoga, it turns out we really enjoy it!  That doesn’t mean we are good at it (we are not,) but we do find it rewarding, and it actually is a very good workout.

While we are becoming more comfortable with yoga, we still have a long way to go–I know; it’s not really a destination, but we’re definitely newbies.  Inevitably during each class there is at least one situation that makes us giggle.  It usually happens when the teacher gives an instruction that, whatever she meant to say, arrives at my ear sounding like this:  “Lifting your right leg to the side, wrap your left arm around your ankle twice, right arm on blue, left foot green, and lean back.  Breathe.”  😉

Without fail there is also always some instruction given for which I think, “I must have missed something;  it’s impossible to look at the ceiling from my current position.”  I come out of the position to look at the instructor and discover that, yes, yes it is possible to look at the ceiling from that position.

Additionally, Andrew and I are potentially the two least flexible people on the planet.  This week in class we did a lot more stretching/flexibility positions than usual, and it was painful–not so much physically, but painful how bad I was! (I know, that’s not really what yoga is about.)  At one point she instructed us to sit with our legs in a wide straddle and lean to the right.  I thought, “Lean to the right?  Or lean over my right leg?  For you it’s the same thing, but for me the two are very different.  I have like a 90-degree angle going on…”  I was thankful that most people in the class could bend over and touch their faces to the floor so they couldn’t see me essentially sitting up straight. 😀

The verdict:  We are sticking with it.  At the very least, it is a great means to improve our poor flexibility!

With that I am off to rest…well, not workout, anyway.  I am going to the race expo this afternoon with my friend Gabe to pick up our numbers and race packets (and get free samples!  Gotta love race expos :-D)

Anyone else racing this weekend?

Weekend Highlights

We had a very full weekend here, and while I know this post is a little late, I wanted to write about some of the highlights.

Thursday Night–(I know, not technically the weekend… but close enough.)  Andrew’s church league basketball team progressed to the championships last week, and the final game was Thursday night.  The guys played well…and won!

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Our good friend Kevin, who lives in Dallas, was in town for a meeting that day, and he was able to make it to the game and cheer on the guys.  We enjoyed visiting with him for a while after the game!

Friday–My alma mater, James Madison University, played their first and only game in the NCAA tournament.   They got their butts whooped, as expected, but I was still excited that they made it to the tournament.  There was a small part of me that held onto hope that maybe, just maybe, they’d be the first #16 seed to beat a #1 seed 😉

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I was really excited, okay?

On Friday night we took a youth group trip to Jumpology–a new indoor trampoline gym in town.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

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The room was essentially wall-to-wall trampolines, plus areas for basketball, dodgeball, and a foam pit.  It was quite a workout!

Saturday– Yesterday I recapped the 5k I ran with my brother; you can check it out here. The short version:  we kicked butt.

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In the afternoon, our friend Andrew came over to watch the VCU basketball game.  Unfortunately, no havoc was wreaked.

Later in the afternoon I helped with a youth group service project.  Once a month we help wheelchair-bound adults with disabilities (residents of the Virginia Home) enjoy an afternoon of bowling.

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Everyone–youth and bowlers–had a great time!  I love to see how excited they are, not only when they do well, but simply to be there bowling.

When I arrived home, I found that Andrew had been hard at work in the yard and made some awesome progress on the garden:

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Doesn’t it look great??  We cannot wait to start planting.

Saturday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over to watch some more basketball.  With JMU out of the tournament and VT not in the tournament to begin with, we were not particularly interested in any one game other than for the sake of our brackets, but we had a great time hanging out!  Amanda and I have been friends since college, and for a long time would say, “We need to go on a double date!”  When the four of us finally hung out a couple of months ago, we realized just how similar we are, and now we get together often.  We laugh a lot, although I think it often centers on how neurotic Amanda and I are 😉  Regardless, we are very thankful for these “new” friends in our lives!

When Amanda and Diron left, we continued watching TV, and I fell asleep on the couch, as often happens (I think I inherited this ability from my grandmother.)  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or how interested I am in what’s on TV–the couch + the sound of the television are my personal recipe for sleep.  Andrew finally turned off the TV, and the instant the sound was gone, I sat up straight, opened my eyes wide, and said, “We should go to sleep!”  Andrew started laughing and said, “Oh you think we should?  You think we should go to sleep now?”  😀

Sunday– We had a pretty typical spring Sunday until the evening when…it snowed?

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It started sticking to the ground in the middle of youth group, so I decided to send everyone home early just to be safe.   I know everyone is saying this, but I am very ready for spring to actually be spring.  Snow is great–in January–but I am so ready for warmer weather.

Even so, a blanket of white was not a bad way to end a great weekend!

 

DSF Rebel Run 5k

On Saturday the high school I attended held a 5k to raise money for their athletics program.  I don’t run many 5k’s, but with the Monument Avenue 10k a mere three weeks away, I figured I could use it as a practice race as well as a chance to do some speed work.  Plus, the school’s athletics program is definitely a cause that I support!  (I ran cross country and track in high school.)  I talked my brother into running with me, as he is training for the same 10k and also benefited from this school’s athletics program.

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It was quite chilly standing around before the race started, but once we started running we warmed up pretty quickly.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of how fast I could finish the race–the last 5k I ran was almost a year ago–but I decided to aim for an 8-minute mile pace.  Unfortunately, my Garmin watch broke that morning as I was putting it on, so rather than knowing my minute-by-minute pace, I had to rely on a regular stopwatch and how I felt (I know… horrible.)

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Has anyone had a Garmin break like this before?  The rubber holding the metal piece just tore, so there was no way I could wear it!  Does anyone know if Garmin can/will replace that segment of the watch?  I was pretty bummed.

The course itself was a nice trip down memory lane–we ran through the neighborhoods by the school where we used to do our cross country practice runs.  Ross and I maintained a steady, but quick pace, and judging by the mile-markers, we determined we were running just faster than goal pace.

As we emerged from the neighborhood and approached the school grounds (probably a quarter mile from the finish), we gradually passed two high school girls.  Moments later they passed us, having clearly picked up speed and decided we were their “don’t let them beat us” people (Runners, you know what I’m talking about.)  Ross, sensing a challenge and being competitive to his core, asked if he could take off toward the finish.  He passed the girls quickly, and I was not far behind.  I heard them mumble something as Ross passed, and then again as I did.  Sorry, girls. 😀

My official time was 23:47–a personal best for me!  (Hey, I said I ran cross country in high school… I didn’t say I ran it well.)  My average mile pace was 7:40, and of that I am pretty dang proud.

The race provided some good quality time with the bro, boosted my confidence for the upcoming 10k, and made for a generally pleasant morning.  I just may incorporate more 5k’s into my life from here on out. 🙂

Do you run 5ks regularly?  What is your favorite race distance?