Archive | April, 2012

Adventures in Pacing

24 Apr

This past Sunday, I crossed something exciting off of my “To Do List” – I ran a half marathon as a pacer. The race was the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, KS, and was expected to have an awesome turnout this year.

The pace group that I was responsible for leading was the 1:55 group. Stacy ran beside me as my co-pacer (she is a seasoned veteran at pacing) and together we had the energy and pacing skills needed to lead our group to their goal!

Smart Pacing

The pacers for this race follow a Smart Pacing strategy. This strategy helps you to run a smart race, and ensures that you don’t start out too fast. It also gives you some cushion on the hills.

I have used the Smart Pace Strategy in all of my recent races, and let me tell you – it works! If you visit the Smart Pacing website, you can learn more about the strategy, and how it can benefit you. There is also a link to Races2Remember, which uses the Smart Pacing strategy to create Pace Bands.

The Pace Bands are genius. They include a number of different races (13.1/26.2) and customize your pace band to that race. These people are SMART. And they know what they are doing. They will create a band just for you, and do it for you cheap. Please, give ’em a try for your next big race. You won’t regret it!

The pace band for my race is shown below.

And it fits to comfortably on your wrist!

Now look at the elevation chart for the race. See how this band compensates for the hills? And gives you warm up time, as well as the inevitable slow down time at the end of the race? Like I said, it is genius. And it will help you to run the way you should run.

The Race

Ok, now I will transition off of the Smart Pacing soapbox, and talk about the race.

Stacy and I lined up at the start, and met our group. We had such a fun assortment of people with us, and all were trying to achieve a goal of breaking 1:55. I love being around people who love running as much as I do, and they were certainly present in our pace group.

The stick is actually quite easy to carry!

The course was hilly, and had some questionable areas (i.e. running at least 5 miles on a sidewalk…..) but it was great overall. And most importantly we were able to keep our group together.

Around mile 11 Stacy encouraged everyone who was really feeling it to take off and finish out the race as hard as they could. We had one guy that wasn’t so sure about this, but after our encouragement he trusted that he could do it, and he ended up setting a BIG PR!

By the end of the race, Stacy and I were crossing the finish line alone. Our group had spread their wings, and flown to the finish. It was amazing to see.

Our official race time was 1:55:11. Best case, we would have finished in 1:54:59, but we stopped right at the end to cheer on some people that needed that extra encouragement (good for them, not so good for our final time).

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Pacing was a blast. And was everything I had hoped it would be! Nothing is more rewarding than MULTIPLE people coming up to you after the race, thanking you for helping them reach their goal. Everyone was so gracious, and so kind. They made the experience so enjoyable, and well worth the time I put towards it.

I hope in the future I am able to pace again (if that additional 11 seconds on my time doesn’t black ball me). I also urge everyone who has the opportunity to pace a race to snatch it right up! You will not regret it.

Have you ever ran with a pacer? Or as a pacer?

xoxo,

Ali

Birthday Blues

21 Apr

It is my birthday today, and I have a bad case of the blues. I am not ready to turn 26. And it seems God has not answered my prayers to have a 25 re-do.

I haven’t felt like this about a birthday since I was turning 22. At 22, I was panicking about graduating college and leaving that life. I also had major anxiety about where life would take me and what was ahead.

22 year old me thought writing on myself was super cool.

Coincidentally, I am freaking out about turning 26 because I am not where my 22 year old self thought I would be at this age.

When I was 22, I knew that by the time I was 26 I would have this fabulous lifestyle. I would be married, living in a beautiful home that I had purchased, driving my Acura, buying Jimmy Choo shoes once a quarter (yes, I actually thought I would be able to buy Jimmy Choo shoes once a quarter for the new season ahead), and overall be happy with all aspects of my life.

So what the hell was the 22 year old version of me thinking?! Although I do have a great life…I am not married, not a homeowner, still driving my 2005 Ford Escape (no offense Scapey! I still love you very much), and I am not an owner of Jimmy Choo shoes anymore. Why? Because I sold them on eBay to make extra money!!!

I realize that I have a great life, and I have accomplished many things. I have amazing family, awesome friends, a Boston Qualifying Marathon time, a good job, a solid clothing and accessory collection, and many other things. But I am still singing the blues today.

Cheers to a year that MUST be a good one.

Hopefully throughout this day I will snap out of it. But if not, there is always tomorrow…which thankfully is just another day! And my first adventure in pacing a half marathon.

Thanks as always for listening to my rambles, and especially for listening to this cry – baby post.

Wishing you an awesome weekend ahead!

Ali

If only I smiled like Zeddie.

19 Apr

WARNING: This is a low self esteem post…

I wish I was as photogenic in my race photos as Zeddie Little is in his.

Oh Zeddie........

Zeddie looks happy, and effortless.

And then there is me……

I'm pretty sure those people in the background are judging me.

I look tired, and miserable. Also equipped with freaky legs.

As a note to myself – always look for photographers in races. And have a freakin’ smile on your face!!!

That is all for now.

-Ali

Running for Others

17 Apr

I have always been a supporter of running your own race, and not letting other people get in your way. When I run races to race, I get in my ‘Me’ zone, and only focus on myself. This might sound selfish, but it is what allows me to be the best I can be, and I always tell people to follow this mantra.

The next 6 weeks however, I will be completely changing my mindset on running for myself. And I will only be running for others.

It all begins this weekend when I run the Kansas Half Marathon as a pacer for the 1:55 group. Being a pacer means so much to me, and has been a goal of mine for the last few years. I get to wear a special shirt, hold a stick for 13.1 miles, and lead a group of runners to their goal pace alongside Stacy. What could be better than that?

The next race I run will be the Chicagoland Marathon on May 20th. I am running this marathon with my dear friend, running buddy, and accountability partner, Diana.

The purpose of this race will be to get Diana into the 2013 Boston Marathon. I have NO doubts that she can do it. And I cannot wait to run next to her when we cross that finish line under a 3:45. Diana and I have had the BEST coach (ahem Stacy Scalfaro), and we will reach that goal come race day.

Diana and Stacy supporting me through my first marathon!

The last race on the list that I plan to run for someone else is the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. I will be running this race with my BFF, Nicole.

Nicole will be getting married one week after the race, and we plan to kickoff the wedding festivities with a half marathon. Nicole’s goal will be a PR, and I will be there to help her achieve this. After all, I am the Maid of Honor, it is my duty to keep the bride happy and make sure everything is perfect (and what could be more perfect than PR’ing right before you get married?!?!).

We climbed a mountain together, a PR should be a piece of cake!

Although none of these races will be ran to achieve a time goal of mine, I couldn’t be more excited to run them. Over the next 6 weeks I have the opportunity to help others achieve some major goals. I also get to be there right next to them and see that accomplishment on their faces when they do.

Running for ME is fun, but I think running for others will be an even better experience.

More details to come on all of these races….

XO,

Ali

Rockin’ the Parkway – Race Recap

15 Apr

Rock the Parkway half marathon is a race I have wanted to do for the last few years. And yesterday, I finally ran it!

I had planned to run this race as hard as I possibly could. My overall goal was running this thing under 1:40, however I thought it would be awesome to run it under 1:36:30 (my 2011 best).

As race day approached, the weather forecast looked worse and worse. Come race day, the high was mid 70’s, with high chances of thunderstorms, as well as high humidity. Obviously these details weighed heavily on my mind…BUT I was still ready to bust my booty and run as hard as I could!

Race Day

Saturday morning, Stacy and I left for the race. Stacy was a pacer for the 1:55 group, and I planned to run with the 1:35 pace group. The pacers use a Smart Pace Strategy, therefore I knew it would be a good idea to try to run with them. They would get me to the finish, and help me run a smart race.

Ready, Ready, Ready, Ready, Ready to RUN!

Awesome medals...that I was scoping out pre-race.

Obviously I was here very early...before anyone had even lined up for the start!

The first 6 miles, I was rockin! I felt good, and was truckin right along with my pace group. Then mile 7 hit…and I thought I might DIE. I started to lose my pace group, and also lose my mental strength.

The next few miles were TOUGH. I wanted to stop, I wanted to walk, I wanted to crawl on the curb and see if I could find someone to drive me to the finish (for real, no joke). But I didn’t. And I found my “dig deep” surge that I really needed.

I managed to finish the race like I started…STRONG. I gave that last mile everything I had in me, and didn’t give up until I crossed that finish line.

My final finish time was a 1:38:24.

That extra .05 could totally take off 2 minutes, right???

Check out 8, 9, 10, 11....obviously I was havin' some issues!

This time met my goal of breaking 1:40, but did not meet my goal of breaking 1:36:30. Therefore, I was let down.

Let down but still with a BIG smile on my face!

I appreciate everyone who so kindly tells me that the weather sucked, and that on a good weather day, I could have met my goals. I do believe that the weather slowed me down, but I do not believe that it would have helped me meet my big goal. Truth is, I probably didn’t train like I needed to, and I will be the first to admit that.

Next year, I plan to run Rock the Parkway again, if it isn’t too close to BOSTON (I say that in all caps because I am so freaking excited already). And next year, I plan to ROCK it even more than I did this year. The course was awesome, and the organization of the race was great. Anyone looked for a great Kansas City race needs to add Rock the Parkway to their list.

Thank you for all of your support before and after race day. It meant SO much, and I cannot wait to return the favor to all of you when you are working hard towards something!

XO,

Ali

PS. Not sure if you remember that I was running this race VIP status (bc I registered late and did anything I could to get in the darn thing), but I wanted to show you the amenities that came with VIP racing. I do not have a photo of my VIP parking spot, because I could not ever find the VIP parking lot.

Here are some additional photos for your viewing pleasure…

The VIP parking pass, that was never put to use

The VIP tent.........

OK, this might have made it worth the $150 registration fee.

 

Race Day is Upon Us…

13 Apr

WOW, I cannot believe it is already time to run Rock the Parkway half marathon!

I have been preparing for this race since January, with the hopes of running my little heart out. I never officially made a training schedule for this race, but I believe I kept myself on a pretty solid mental plan throughout.

With all the preparations I made for the race, I had planned on having a good day. But now, I am starting to freak out a little bit. I am NOT trying to make excuses, I am only talking through my pre-race anxiety on this post 🙂

There are two main things I am freaked out about…

1. Weather

Take a look at the weather forecast for tomorrow (source: Weather.com).

This weather is no bueno when trying to run a super fast race. I start at 7:30am, and it will be hot even then. It will also be windy, with a 60% chance of storms. I won’t even think about the humidity yet…

2. Asthma

I have been running with asthma my entire life. I don’t know what it is like to run without it. Usually I can get by just fine, but every once in awhile I struggle. Right now, I seem to be struggling.

I am not sure if it is the change in seasons, or the warm weather, but I am a wheezin’ machine. I actually heard myself wheezing this morning after walking up stairs. Which is totally awesome considering I have to run a half marathon tomorrow.

Because of this current breathing situation, I will be forced to run with my inhaler tomorrow. The thought of having to give myself puffs of an inhaler while running 7 minute miles makes me cringe. But hey, I have done it before – and can do it again!!

………………………………………………………………………

So here is what I need from you all…I need you to give me some encouragement. I also need to hear some inspiring stories of people running great races in hot weather while not being able to breathe.

I am counting on you all…please don’t let me down!

And by the way, TGIF!!!!

xo,

Ali

Counting my blessings

3 Apr

Last Friday morning, we had the quite the scare on our run. As Stacy, Diana and I were running through a neighborhood, a big truck going way too fast in a residential area almost hit us.

It was terrifying. The driver of this truck was obviously not paying attention, and veered straight towards us into our running lane. We were forced to jump off the street into the grass, and stood there shocked and in disbelief at what almost happened.

Obviously, this startled all three of us. For the rest of the day, none of us could shake the feeling of fear that was hanging on from this awful moment. However since this scare happened, I have began to count my blessings again.

When I was a little girl, my Grandmother and I used to count our blessings together, and send blessings to those we love. “God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, God bless brother”, etc. Somewhere through the years I lost sight of the many blessings in my life. But now I am beginning to realize again how important it is to count our blessings, and send them along to others.

Life gives us lemons often, but are these actually just blessings in disguise? I think back to our terrifying encounter last Friday morning. It shook me up, but it also prompted me to buy myself a running light to wear in the dark. I always thought they were silly and annoying, but now I realize that they could save my life.

Going forward, I will begin to count my blessings more often. I will also find the good in the “lemon” situations, and know that there is a reason for these things to happen.

I ask you to join with me. Count your blessings, and send them to the other people in your life that need them.

XO,

Ali

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