The Dream Star's Corner

Dare to Dream...and DO!
walk. run. fly.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Break is OVER!

I am back to blogging after a much needed break that gave me the time and energy to plan a wedding and get married! Well it is done! 


We are indeed married! 

For the readers who are actually interested in the wedding, here is a very quick photo recap. I love my photos... so I am so happy to share them.

Dress: Enzoani Gianna
Make Up: Sydni Harris of Gypsy Sol Make Up Artistry






























Hitched!

 As newlyweds we have already ran in our first race together! On September 7th we ran in the Arlington 9-11 memorial 5k and it was a pretty amazing experience. 


He is totally into it! Watch out Usain.

It was a little more humid than we expected but it was a pretty flat course with one little hill right before the 3 mile mark. It was great running along units of fire and police officers. The entire experience was so motivating and really made us feel like we, as runners, were able to give back and say thank you in some way by participating. 


Team work at its finest

I signed up for the TCS Annapolis Half Marathon to get back to training and running more regularly and so far so good. I am on week #3 of training and all I can say is this is WAY easier than the craziness I took on last year (competing in about 8 races in one year...maybe more. I lost count). 

This will be half marathon #10!!! I am super excited... and in desperate need of a new medal rack, as you can see. It doesn't help that my husband keeps trying to add his medals to the rack too. 


We're gonna need a bigger rack.

Well, back to unpacking boxes and figuring out where all of his things and our new things will go... Newlywed life is good.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Year in Review!

Well, it's been two months since I last wrote something and here's why...

I've been busy...

doing nothing...

falling in love...

and getting engaged!


But let's back it up....after all, this post is entitled "My YEAR in Review!" This year I competed in A LOT of races. I pushed myself to many personal limits in endurance racing. My year started off with marathon training for the Rock n' Roll USA Marathon.

That's me in the front on the right leading the pack on a COLD 16 mile run
I suffered an injury literally two weeks after this photo was taken and I was sidelined for 6 weeks with a metatarsal stress fracture in my left foot. I got back up on my horse and ran a slow Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon but I went out there, fresh off of recovery with no real practice runs, I ran it and finished!


Shortly after, I went all in and trained and hit my goal time for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in April and received what is now my favorite medal out of the lot.


Next up was the Titanium Girl Challenge! I had to run in both the Iron Girl Half Marathon and the Frederick Half Marathon 7-days apart! I knew that if I pulled this off, I could literally do anything! But just before the Iron Girl, I started taking swim lessons to help me pull through my recovery from my injury. I also took up spin. With all three disciplines under my belt, I started to consider a triathlon. But first, I had to get through this challenge...and I did along with two other strong women who went on to run the Baltimore Half Marathon AND the Marine Corps Marathon with me.



At this point in my life, my training became more than a tool to stay in shape and push myself, it became my mediator and my counselor. I was in the midst of a break up and it left me feeling sad but I never felt alone. My training and my running partners were all there with me. When I woke up to run an early run, I took my worries and thoughts out there on the pavement with me and sorted everything out. I, in fact, came out of that situation as a Titanium Girl. It was more than just a running title... it best describes my persona for the rest of 2012.



With a healthy mind, body, and spirit, I lived my best life and took on triathlon training from May through August with fervor! I joined the local tri club, learned how to swim in open water, bought a bike, and trained with an old college friend for the Atlantic City Sprint Triathlon.



I also met a wonderful guy who took an interest in my athletic lifestyle and supported me in every way possible. He ran with me once a week and accommodated my busy training schedule to spend time with me. :)

I went on to complete the Atlantic City Sprint Triathlon and the Rock n' Roll Philly Half Marathon all in the same weekend in back to back races!!


I ran in some other half marathons to help me along the path to running 26.2 because a challenge isn't a challenge without a little bit of crazy challenge powder sprinkled on top. So, not only was I training for my first triathlon, I was also training for my first full marathon since I didn't get to run in the DC full in March.

I signed up for and ran in several races and relay triathlons to help me stay outside and on the pavement. The medals really added up!!

Ben Moore Memorial Half Marathon, the Baltimore Half Marathon, and the Half Full Tri Relay are just a few...

I put all of my focus on getting in my long runs and resting my body as much as possible. This somehow worked and I pulled it off! I ran in my first full marathon and finished in 5:18:00.


Soon after, my beau and I went to New York City for a wonderful weekend and to support my best friend in the New York City Marathon. Then the storm hit...and we found ourselves cheering up a sad runner who couldn't run in the marathon due to cancellation. We made the most of it and made some memories.

After returning, we signed up for the Little Rock Half Marathon and have had a slow start to training. I wanted to just enjoy being in love and living day to day without a training schedule dictating my every move. Thankfully, the Little Rock Half has a generous window of time to complete the race so even if my significant other and I had to walk the whole thing hand in hand, we will finish.

But the biggest surprise of them all was the proposal that took place on Christmas Day! We are now planning a wedding for 2013 and I'm pretty sure that's going to take precedence over a race calendar. I've signed up for a summer duathlon to keep me on track with working out but that's about it. I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

Here are a couple of photos of some things that best summarize the year.




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

37th Marine Corps Marathon

I'm a MARATHONER! Another goal crossed off the list and another great race year in the books.

I earned 14 medals this year (awaiting RnR Double Encore medal)

The race took place on Sunday, October 28th at 7:55 a.m. in Washington, DC. The travel distance from Baltimore to DC isn't significant enough to require hotel accommodations so I chose to stay at my house. Saturday was a busy day but I knew it was important to scale back my "to-do" list and only focus on the important things. After all, my goal was to be in bed by 8 p.m. and no later than 9 p.m. Everything went as planned... I woke up and went out for an easy 2 mile shake out run. The weather was beeeautiful! Sunny, low 60s, slight breeze... perfect. And with the threat of Hurricane Sandy, I definitely wished that the marathon was taking place that Saturday instead of "storm chaser" Sunday.

I met with my family and handed each person their "Mission" sheets and went over all of the directions for the Washington Metro, the spectator points, and meeting me for fuel and hydration needs. After that, I had one last thing to do...one of the most important things... I had to go buy The Stick. I know..."how do you make it all the way to marathon day without owning one?!" I have no idea... I just managed. But every marathoner told me that having The Stick to push out the lactic acid right after the race was key so I went to the running store to buy one.

Boyfriend and I arrived around 6:05 p.m.... the running store closed at 6. DOH! But there were still people in the store. I whimpered, whined, and panicked and felt hopeless. I told my boyfriend that we should just go home...there's no way I'm gonna get in for The Stick... let's just give up. He insisted that we at least ask when the associate came to the door to let out the customer he was helping at the register. I stayed... and when I saw the associate approaching the door, I told him to let me do the talking.

When the door opened, I went into FULL GROVEL MODE... hands clasped, pleading inaudibly with pain and desperation spread across my face. It came out something like this "RUNNING-MARINE-CORPS-TOMORROW-FIRST-TIME-PLEASE-I'M-A-VIP-MEMBER-PLEASE-OH-PLEASE-LET-ME-IN-TO-BUY-THE-STICK-I-KNOW-WHERE-IT-IS-I'LL-BE-QUICK-I-PROMISE-PLEEEEEEEEASE"

That last "please" must've worked because dude let us in. lol I bought The Stick in literally 2 minutes and I was out of the store all before 6:10 p.m. haha! Thanks Road Runner Sports for your first class customer service! I sincerely appreciate EVERYTHING you guys have done to help me out :)

So with that done, I went home, ate my pasta, packed my bag and stopped myself from "nervous cleaning" so I could lay out my things and settle into bed. I tend to clean random parts of my house at odd hours of the night when I'm nervous about something - annoying. Well 4 a.m. came quickly! But not quickly enough. I felt like I never really fell into a deep sleep and my eyes popped open at 3 a.m. I guess that's why they say to make sure you get in most of your rest two days before the race because clearly you don't sleep very well the night before. I forced myself to stay in bed for the extra hour and proceeded to go through the morning ritual. I gave myself EXTRA time to have breakfast and do the thing we runners do before getting showered and dressed. So I waited...and waited...and nothin...

Some time ago, I went out for a 16 mile run without "going" and totally regretted it. So I was determined not to do that again - not on marathon day! So even if your nerves get the best of you, please make sure you go. I'll leave that there. I rushed to get dressed and reached for my Garmin only to realize it still said 9:27PM Saturday October 27... uhhhh what?!

I pushed ALL the buttons and nothing happened. NO TIME! I rushed and was dressed and out the door around 5:40... a little later than originally planned but whatever. I told my boyfriend about my Garmin. I couldn't believe that it crapped out on me on the morning of the most important race EVER!! He did something to it and reset it. It came back on like new and said it had 99% battery life. SCORE!

I made it to the Largo Metro Station around 6:15 but unfortunately, our train didn't leave the station for almost 20 minutes :( While riding all the way out to Arlington, my nerves got the best of me. I was jittery, couldn't focus on the conversation my boyfriend tried to distract me with, and I just felt so overwhelmed. It was nervous energy, anxiety, excitement, and everything in between all wrapped into one. It was terrible...not fun but scary.

We finally made it out to the Pentagon stop around 7:30 and I started freaking. I kept murmuring things to myself like "should've left earlier...should've left from New Carrollton...I'm gonna miss my pace group...I have to pee!...I don't have time to pee" I was so in my head and I regret that. I wish I took the time to enjoy the entire experience but I was really anxious and freaking out. We saw a bunch of people running off to the side of the road and going in the trees and hey, I'm not too proud for that. Off I went, I found a tree, popped a squat and felt like a brand new person. :)

All of the anxiety was gone. I was having fun and stripping down. I laughed as other runners opted to do the same thing and actually heard what my boyfriend was saying to me. The "voices" were gone. I noticed the weather was great! Low to mid 50s, cloudy, no rain, and slightly breezy. I stripped off my last layer, kissed him goodbye, and took off looking for the 5 hr pace group. This is as close as I got.

The balloons signify where the pacer is located among the sea of people

There was a massive sea of people around me and I knew I had no chance of getting to the pacer so I had to remember the times that I read from the Clif Bar Pacers bracelet. I knew that if I maintained an 11:27-11:30ish pace I should make my lofty goal of a 5 hour marathon. Now mind you, I chose this goal 2 days before the race. I knew I could run around a 5:15 marathon but wanted to push myself a little to see what I could do. However, I also had to respect the distance and the course...it was a learning experience after all.

Finally happy and excited before the race!


The race started and the excitement was immeasurable. I was so pumped that I had to pull myself back a few times by telling myself to slow down. I was itching for a run but now was not the time to break out a 9 min/mi pace when I still had 26 miles to go. I started getting anxious about pacing myself so I found a Marathon Maniac to kind of pace off of. I figured they were more experienced with this distance than me so why not follow a pro? I remember the pacer telling me at the expo that he planned to walk some of the hills. So around mile 2 when we ran into a massive hill, a lot of people stopped to walk - including the Maniac. I followed suit. Eventually, around mile 3, I found my pace. I kept with it and stayed pretty consistent for the first 16 miles. It's at that point where I met up with my mom, my dad, and my boyfriend as they cheered loudly with signs and cowbells. I was handed a new Camelbak bottle with gatorade in it and some gummy bears. I took off running and saw them again on the course as I turned at the end of the road.

Then around the Smithsonian, things started to go south. My left quad began to twitch...yes, the entire muscle began twitching and feeling tight. I stopped on the side of the road, in front of the Washington Monument to stretch it out and massage it a little bit. That seemed to stop the twitching but the soreness was still there. I figured it was part of the experience so I kept running. Around mile 21, both quads were twitching. I stopped to stretch the right one but again the tightness persisted.

I ran in the MCM 10k last year and at this point, we were on the 10k course so I knew what the course looked like from here. I knew the last 6 miles wouldn't be easy but I tried my best. I ran a consistent 11:30 min/mi pace up to this point but now I was finishing each mile in the 13s and 12s if I was lucky. Around mile 22, my Garmin died. Like gray screen of death - died. I still don't know why that happened.

By mile 23, I hit the wall. I was running and all of a sudden both quads started jumping and twitching so I stopped running and decided to walk. I began walking slower and slower then the soreness and annoying aches turned into cramps in both quads. As soon as it happened, I knew what I needed and I had NO WAY of getting it - SALT!

I started to cry. Not like a little teeny lonely tear out of the side of my eye kind of cry but a I've just been robbed and I don't know where I am and I'm scared kind of cry... it was a cry of hopelessness. I just felt empty and hopeless. The first thought was "my legs stopped working! I'm not going to finish! I need new legs!"

Yep... I didn't know it was possible until now but yes, you tend to think some really crazy things during a marathon. It breaks you down to this emotionally raw state of solely having the desire to fulfill basic needs. I think God was there with me (well I did pray before the race) because as soon as I looked up, I saw some spectators on the corner giving out PRETZELS!! I perked up and hobbled over and took two big handfuls of pretzels and in an ugly slobbery cry, I said "THANK YOU!! I NEEDED THIS!"

Before I could swallow the first pretzel, I felt better immediately. I wasn't sure how long it was going to last so I started running a little to make up for lost time. At about mile 24.5, my boyfriend called me to ask me how it was going (I had in my earphones for my iPhone and I could take calls really easily) and at that point, the Marines gave us Dunkin Donut munchkins as promised so I was chomping on my munchkins and talking to him and telling him "This is hard!" He proceeded to give me a pep talk at the same time that a spectator heard me say that. She told me "You're doing great! Less than 5k to go! Keep going!" My boyfriend said some positive stuff too but her words stood out a little more. With a mouthful of munchkins I said "MMKAY!" and got back to running. I didn't stop from that point on. Everything hurt but I didn't stop. My ankles, my knees, my quads, my arms all hurt but I kept running. As we got closer, I took in the crowd, the signs and the sign that I was waiting for: MILE 26!

I blew a kiss to that sign and kept on plugging along. I had no idea what time I was going to finish and at that point, I really didn't care. I just wanted to finish! As I turned to go up the final hill to the finish line, I saw my dad and my boyfriend on the left smiling and waving. I smiled back and kept my head down. I had to climb that hill with every ounce of what I had left in me. I did it and finished in 5:18:25 (chip time).

I received my beautiful medal from a brave Marine who saluted me and thanked me for running. It was an awesome experience and truly made me feel like I can do anything. Period. No "ifs", "ands" or "buts"...
I CAN DO ANYTHING. 



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hoping for a DNS for Hurricane Sandy

The Marine Corps Marathon is this upcoming Sunday and instead of anticipating a great race, being on pace, timing my fueling correctly, etc, most of us are worried about THIS! 


As someone on Facebook wrote, "Ok! Who transferred their bib to Hurricane Sandy?" Even though a lot of us are tough endurance runners who ain't afraid of getting a little wet, it's still kind of a blower knowing there's a chance that you may not run your best race after training for months. 

But for someone like me who isn't fast and really just wants to finish, this is really a matter of not wanting to be outside running in crappy weather for hours on end. Times like this, I wish I ran a little faster. But I will have the greatest support system out there with me: My Mom (Food & Recovery Officer), My Dad (Official Photographer), and My Loving Boyfriend (Clothing Officer). I've given each person a mission to help me get through this day and to involve them so they don't feel like they're just waiting around to chauffeur a cranky runner in a few hours. 

But back to the weather. As any dedicated runner should, I've painstakingly analyzed and obsessed over glanced at a few weather sources online to get a better idea of what to expect on Sunday. Accuweather and Weather Underground are both providing hourly predictions that show a 0% chance of rain during the marathon and some slightly windy conditions with lots of cloud cover. It's the Weather Channel that's giving us the blues with their 90% chance of rain and 26 mph winds. They are the more commercial of all of the sources so perhaps they're attempting to excite people and get us all worked up over nothin... either way, I can take the rain, but I'd much rather not run for 5 hours in crappy weather.

So here's hoping Hurricane Sandy DOES NOT START for the Marine Corps Marathon.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Baltimore Half Marathon Race Review

I ran in the Baltimore Half Marathon on Saturday (October 13, 2012) and had an awesome time!



Packet pick-up was moved to M&T Bank Stadium but last year it was at the Convention Center. Another group beat the organizers to booking it, so the packet pick up had to be moved. Getting in and out was easy and for once, I actually bought some stuff! I wanted to buy a few things to commemorate my last time running in the Baltimore Running Festival (for now) so I picked up the RUN BMORE Under Armour tank top and the Run Baltimore tech tee at the expo. The  race tee was purple this year (looks blue in the photo).


That night I had to decide on what to wear so I laid out my latest tech shirts and went to twitter to get some help. I settled on the blue TEAM FIGHT shirt. Speaking of TEAM FIGHT, if you haven't made a tax-deductible donation yet, please head over to my site and do it now, pleeeeease!

The morning of the race, I slept in until abou 7:30ish and took my time at home. One thing that I LOVE about this race is the late start time. The half marathon starts at 9:45 a.m. while the full marathon starts at 8:00 a.m. Unheard of, right? Gotta love the nice cool autumn temps. I left home around 8:45 to get to the BWI Airport light rail. I was the only runner on the platform and couldn't figure out why. It was around 9:00 a.m. but I thought I still had plenty of time to drop off my things at bag check before getting to the start line. I started to SWEAT at 9:10 a.m. as I then realized that the light rail must have been running on some sort of delayed weekend schedule. :(

After many silent prayers, the light rail FINALLY arrived. I boarded and the bout of panic soon left me. I prepped my music, fueling, etc and packed away my things in my running bag so when we arrived at the Hamburg Street stop, I just sat there... looking over at Runner's Village...first noticing the various colors of balloons... then thinking "I think the Runner's Handbook said something about different color balloons... something about baggage check having a green bal--- OMG! I GOTTA GET OFF THE TRAIN!" lol

I jetted off of the light rail before the doors closed. Last year, I got off on the Camden Yards stop and went to bag check from there. I don't know if bag check moved or what, but it was RIGHT...THERE! Right in front of the Ravens Stadium - I don't remember it being that close last year. Anyways... So, there I was, racing over to bag check with one other lady behind me who then told me that she was following me. We laughed at how we're half crazy for doing all of this so close to the start time. Bag check was easy... then I jogged behind some other "purple bib" people to the start line.

I made a point to stop at one of the hotels to use the facilities. I had the entire bathroom to myself because at this point, it was around 9:50 a.m. - yep the race already started! But I was in the third wave so I still had a little time. I sprinted to the start line and made it just in time to hear "Wave 3, please approach the start line. You will be starting the race in a few minutes." Wooo! I made it!

I ran a smart race. I KNOW how hilly Baltimore is. I ran in this half marathon last year and I ran the organized 20-mile run which includes part of the BRF marathon course.  This was a taper run for me so I had nothing to prove. I hung back and tried to keep an easy pace around the 10:30 min/mi mark while trudging up hills doing an 11 - 11:30 min/mi pace.

Baltimore's Hills!!!
I knew that the course didn't cut you any slack until AFTER the 11.5 mi mark - a lesson I learned the hard way last year. It's at this point where most people start to walk, stretch, massage out cramps, etc. I chose to walk for a few minutes around mile 6 (on St. Lo Drive) and around my favorite spot on the course, around mile 10.5 when I stopped to take a photo of the singing "tigers"!


These wonderful folks dress up in tiger costumes and cheer on runners while playing Eye of the Tiger in the background. Their dedication to cheering us on while wearing those awesome costumes is so amazing.

I let 'er rip around mile 12 and ran the last mile at an 8:55 min/mi pace! IMPRESSIVE! A lot of people ran out of steam at this point and honestly, I think I could've given a little more for the other miles. I had a lot left in the tank by the end, but I was pleased to beat my time from last year by 3 minutes.

I earned the Baltimore Half Marathon medal that reads "What Hills Don't Kill You Make You Stronger" and no truer words have been spoken. :) I also earned the Maryland Double medal for running in both the Frederick Half Marathon back in May and the Baltimore Half Marathon.



I wanted to pick up one last momento to commemorate my semi-retirement from the BRF. I look forward to enjoying some hot coffee and hot chocolate all winter long out of this nice mug. :) 



I had a great day and actually talked to a few folks who asked me about the MD DOUBLE medal.  Several of them said they will consider the challenge next year! I will be out there... cheering them on with all three of my medals hanging around my neck while holding a sign that reads "I got mine, now go get yours!!!" 


Next up, Marine Corps Marathon!!!  

...but whose counting?