Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thankful for: Babies, PT, and Fun

Just in time for Thanksgiving I bring you a few things I am thankful for this year:

1. I'm thankful for babies because as of 19 November I am a first time AUNT!! My sister has a perfectly healthy 6.5lb, 19.25 in baby boy. Both my sister and the baby are doing awesome. My Mom is with her, and Dad is on the way. I cannot wait to see the little guy in a week or so when they come through here!! Do you think this Christmas is too early to buy him goggles and running shoes?? ;) I am ready to hold and kiss my little nephew!

2. I am thankful that physical fitness is an important aspect of Army life. This week at work was a full one. I had every commander's favorite, the Quarterly Training Brief (QTB), but thanks to a lot of hard work from everyone involved, we hit a home-run. Now, the big task is making sure those training events we've planned actually come to fruition! I'm pursuing fielding and funding a unit team for the Texas Independence Relay as a way to encourage and have fun with fitness. Weekly, on Thursday mornings, we do "combat PT" (PT=physical training)--we wear our fatigues and do various events that mimic similar movements we'd have to do in much more intense situations...but it's also combined with some of your typical exercises. This Thursday we had our big water cans, a stretcher, and sandbags. Those three items, especially when mixed with lunges, result in some soreness, but all good. I'm pushing good PT with my unit because healthy, fit, and strong Soldiers are confident and prepared for duty. It's a growth project for all, that is for sure!

3. I'm thankful for opportunities to have fun all the time! Today was the Ft. Hood Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K. I participated and probably felt some of the most leg fatigue I've felt in a race yet! I was doing okay and in the lead till about mile 2 and then I got passed and couldn't regain the lead. It was about then that those lunges and last weeks 1/2 Marathon made their presence known!! I still ran a decent 21:24, but I definitely know that with fresh legs I can get this near or below 21. I'm not that fond of 5k's really. In my opinion, they are too short--not that I should be able to run them well, I just don't enjoy them. I enjoy being able to get into the groove of a run and hold it for a while instead of just go all out hard like you have to for a 5k. I still placed first in the 18-28AG and 2nd OA female. The BEST part about the Ft. Hood Race Series is that they've gone from about 85 people participating in February to 250+ out there today!! They have been doing a great job of putting on events and improving from event to event. They have a Jingle Bell 5K on 20 December, and I'm not sure if I run it, but if I don't, I'll support as part of the bike crew. Members of the Team Army Cycling Club help "sweep" the course and make sure runners are good to go. I may do that this next time. These races are free too, so of course that's a huge plus! :)

4. What else am I thankful for this year? It would take to long to discuss each, so here is a little snapshot: A GREAT family, finally finding a church, great friends (CW, BB, TT, SO, KG), furry friends like Davey and Annie, mentors and leaders that build me up and encourage me, a good job, a fun hobby, good books, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, cooking, connecting with friends: email, blogs, Facebook, haha! This is just a TINY list...but you get the point.

So, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, take some stock in what you're thankful for this year. Just the fact that you have internet access, can read this, and probably are an American indicate that you have countless blessings for which to give THANKS!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rocked, thankfully no roll!

Last weekend at the San Antonio Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon was a blast! I got to travel down to San Antonio with a good friend who was going to race her first 1/2 Marathon and meet up with a college friend who was running the 1/2 Marathon as well just a few weeks after tackling a 50 mile race!! We made it down on Saturday and perused the expo, ate lunch on the Riverwalk, and then just relaxed before the race. Sunday morning meant an early wake up and drop off at the start line area. We beat the major crowds, so that was good...but it was COLD for this Texan...easily upper 30's/low 40's. We waited as long as we thought was prudent to take off the warm top layers and get to our race gear...then we huddled for warmth before the start! Finally, we made it to our separate corrals. I had put my predicted race finish time as, what I thought, was an aggressive 1:37. Thus, I was seeded nicely in corral #2 out of around 32!?! So, that was nice and meant I hardly had to wait to long after the race started to make it across the start line (individual time doesn't start till you--with your timing chip attached--make it across the start line timing mat) and it meant I didn't have to deal with an extremely crowded course to get through. I wanted to make sure I didn't go out too quickly, but keep a good pace. Miles 1-5 went super fast. I reached the 5K mark I was feeling pretty solid and the pacing was good. Mile 5 had the only noticeable "hills" (inclines) that I had to work past. In the first 5 miles I passed several women with the "Military" tags on their backs. Didn't know if they were 1/2 or Full Marathoners, just picked them off. I had my speed belt with two bottles of NUUN. I took my first GU Roctane at 4.5 and my second one at 8.5. Mile 6 was a lot of downhill, and I took advantage of it, and all the downhills. Flat and fast for the most part. Lots of spectators at various locations. I was feeling really great and often had to slow a little cause I knew holding 6:50's wasn't going to get me to the finish without some significant slow down in the last few miles. But, I was feeling great. Never needed anything from the aide stations with what I had. I wore a short sleeve shirt with arm warmers and my BT shorts and throw away gloves and my Newton racing flats. I threw my gloves at around 3 miles. When I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:11/12 something, I knew I could finish strong. All race I knew it was going to be a PR, I just didn't know how much. From 8 forward I kept telling myself, keep the pace, keep the cadence, good form, good turnover. And I just kept going. Mile 12 was actually a little tough and I could feel some of the juice going, but then I saw another military gal ahead of me, and I was going to pass her. In the last 1/4 of a mile, I did. There was a hill going up to the last turn for the last 200m and I was afraid she'd catch me on it, but she didn't and when I saw the finish I pushed it in pretty hard and I was done! Ended up being just 24 seconds from taking the 1st overall place in the women's military division...but 2nd/305 is pretty amazing for a girl who hated to run just a few years ago.

The post-run organization was insane, but I guess it's the inaugural race bugs to work out. We were pretty happy: Friend on the left beat her goal of 2hrs for her first (sub 1:52 in fact--she picked up the sign as "I conquered this", my other friend finished despite having a bum knee from her 50 miler, and I can't believe I can run that fast! It was a fun, fast course!

Then, before taking off I took a picture with the HEB Buddy. HEB is a Texas grocery store that is quite popular, and is HQ'd in San Antonio. One of my brothers worked there in high school and really loved the experience and would like to work at much higher levels within HEB someday. He misses them all the time, so I took a picture with the HEB Buddy just for him! :)

I wonder how fast I could do a marathon now? :) But, more importantly, it is very evident that my cycling fitness needs improvement so that I can hold a post-bike run at a pace much closer to my open run time than what I've done thus far. I have the speed, I need the endurance.

But, that's the end of the "big" races for 2008. I may do a couple of 5Ks and a 5 miler, but now I'm back to some base building and preparation for my '09 adventures! Thanks for all the encouragement and support. I know I post what may seem like "bragging rights" here...but it's more of a rejoicing what has been, and it couldn't be done without the blessings God gives me physically (for without Him I am nothing) and the love and support of my family and friends!