As most people know, I lived in Montgomery for just over 5 weeks. It wasn’t long, and it went by quickly. While I missed friends back in New Jersey, I had an enjoyable time in Alabama.
I kept busy, so I wasn’t doing “tourist” stuff every single day. Both my husband and I were able to get out, and we visited a few different cities, including Birmingham, Atlanta, and Pensacola.
Even though we were busy, we managed to travel on the weekends and went to quite a few places. We wanted to make the best of the month and who knows when (or if) we will be back.
Here are a few highlights of what we did do.
We visited the Wright Brothers replica. There is a full-scale replica of the first plane the Wright Brothers flew right off the highway.
It was great to see that as well as all of the planes on display at the Maxwell Air Force Base.
When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago, we relaxed and hung out with personal friend Laura. Laura has been a friend of mine for years, and it was so great to see her again.
In Pensacola, we chose to visit the Naval Aviation Museum. Can you tell we can never get away from planes? My husband was more fascinated with the engines of planes.
One of my favorite parts we saw were visiting the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. It’s a large cave with a lot of different rock formations.
The opening of the cave measures of 25 feet high and 126 feet wide!
There are some of the most beautiful formations ever created including one of the biggest stalagmites in the world.
Finally, we also made a quick stop to the wildlife preserve: Tigers for Tomorrow in Dekalb, Alabama. It’s a nonprofit wildlife preserve which cares for over 160 rare and exotic animals. Many people don’t know, but back through high school, I had an interest in wildlife conservation and looked at colleges focusing on zoology. My interests changed, but it’s still important to me.
The trip was no vacation but it was a breath of fresh air from New Jersey. We saw new places and tried new things. Of course, we ran races too:
As most people know, my husband ran his first marathon last weekend. For his first blog post, he decided to share his recap of the race. Enjoy!
As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work. Going into the marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train, running wasn’t my main focus. In fact, I hadn’t committed to the marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior. I finished 20 that day. I knew I could finish a marathon, but I wanted to finish it under 3 hours. I heard the Mercedes marathon was a good full and it fell on the end of my course so I thought it would be a good idea to do.
The night before, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get cheese but garlic and oil based. I like to feel full but not overwhelmed. We went to bed at 8 pm and were up at 4:15 am. I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast. We walked to the start after Hollie needed to go to the car twice in the morning for random things including running shoes. I guess she is not into barefoot running.
I don’t like big races and would rather do a small 100 person one. The bathroom situation and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor which had zero line. We got to the start about 10 mins before and chatted with Miles, and exchanged race strategies. My goal was to go out in a 7 min pace and pick it up to break 3 hours. I was told this was a bad strategy given the heat conditions and it was my first marathon.
Since the half and full marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the start, my wife was dancing to rap music. I don’t understand why they play rap music at starts but it’s another reason I don’t like big races. Unlike Hollie who talks to everyone she knows and dances at the start line, I like to stay focused.
The race went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off as expected. It was rush of people as expected. I told myself to chill and relax. I came through the first mile in 6:40.
I was already getting hot and anticipated I might need to delayer to my top. Between mile 1-2, I moved my race bib from my shirt to my shorts because it impeded air flow. I don’t know how I didn’t fall.
The next few miles clicked along, and between miles 2-8, I kept an even pace between 6:50-7. I run with a stopwatch with no GPS, so I went based in mile markers. My goal to the halfway was to remain relaxed and not to pick it up. The heat wasn’t affecting me as much as I anticipated but I also ran a half marathon while deployed in 90 degrees (literally 90 degrees).
At mile 10, many half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the half. I hit the halfway point in 1:30.40 which was exactly what I planned. Even though that was “the plan,” I was worried because it was slower than 3-hour pace and my hamstring was tight.
The marathon course is a double loop of the half, and we started back around for round 2. Excitingly enough, we ran the exact same course twice. I looked up at the first hill and saw two runners about 2 mins ahead and thought they were probably at the 3-hour pace. I caught them about 3 miles later. I ran between 6:20-6:40 for the next few miles based on hills.
Around miles 16-18, I slowed down for the next few miles because I was nervous to hit the infamous wall marathoners talk about. I kept an easier pace going up hills and passed a few more people. I had begun to pass a lot of people. That’s motivating in any race.
Personally, I never felt as though I hit the wall. Around mile 20, we hit the downhill with a minor headwind.
Once I got to mile 23, I did the math and realized to break 3 I would have to run 7-minute pace exactly. The next three miles I ran in 7:03, and when I got to mile 26, I knew it was extremely close, and I had to go. I would regret running above 3 hours. My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.
When I rounded the last turn, I could see the finish line reading 2:59. I picked it up and ran as hard as possible and finished in 2:59.45. I guess I ran by my wife screaming but I didn’t notice because I was staring at the finish.
After I crossed the line, I felt my legs cramping and kept walking. I chugged a Powerade and ate half of the Orange supply.
I know I’ll a do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train. I had a good experience with the marathon and while I prefer it over the half marathon, I still like 5-10ks better.
Hollie told me to ask some questions at the bottom so:
What do you remember about your first marathon?
Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative?
Last week was a solid week of training. My easy runs felt good and I had two quality workouts. Since the Mercedes half marathon was more of a workout, I recovered quickly. Not that I’m complaining…
Easy 60 minutes at McAlpine Park in Charlotte
Easy 60 minutes
Easy 60 minutes
12X2 minutes with 30 seconds rest
Easy 70 minutes
Easy 60 minutes
2X4 mile tempo (6:42 pace)
I didn’t race this week and I probably won’t next week. Due to weather, February is typically a “drier” race month in New Jersey. I’m happy to get a couple of quality weeks of training under my belt as well. My next major race is the Shamrock half marathon in about a month. That will be a race to hopefully test my fitness. Incase you are interested, I wrote about my 2017 Spring Goal Races here.
Speaking of New Jersey, I’m having a hard time adjusting back to the climate. When I left, we hadn’t had a lot of cold days and now running in the 20s feels difficult. It’s quite a shock from the drastic humidity of Alabama. So if you see someone running around in a parka, it might be me.
While visiting Atlanta, I wanted to check out a new diner. It’s for the blog right?When asking for recommendations, the Marietta Diner kept popping up, so I decided to check it out. After running the
When asking for recommendations, the Marietta Diner kept popping up, so I decided to check it out. After running the Polar Bear 5k, I arrived around 11 am. Every parking space was filled, and I thought it might be a long wait because there were several parties waiting outside. Luckily, they had a small booth for two, and we were immediately sat.
The Marietta Diner has the stereotypical shiny and metallic exterior. It’s all chrome. The inside is massive, and it’s one of the biggest diners I’ve ever been too. It is clean, and despite being busy, no one was sitting on top of each other.
The waitress was kind. She refilled our drinks, and our food was brought out quickly. Even though it was so busy, we were in and out of the Marietta Diner within an hour. The speed was impressive!
Coffee: B The coffee was good, but there was nothing unique about it. I could have used a larger cup. Luckily there was plenty of whipped cream.
The Marietta Diner has every option you can imagine in a diner. It would fit right in in New Jersey. Someone mentioned their Greek food was good so I decided to order a Greek omelet. I was surprised the Greek Omelet didn’t come with Gyro, so I added that too.
The omelet came with hash browns and a biscuit. The biscuit was delicious. There was nothing unique about the hashbrowns. The Omelet itself was good except I found they didn’t add a lot of Gyro meat. I thought they had forgotten it at first! The food was good but I do wish there was more gyro meat in the omelet.
The dessert case looked like one of the best dessert cases of any diner. I’m not usually a person who orders dessert at lunch, but I could not pass up their red velvet roll. There was a lot of frosting and the cake was moist. The red velvet roll was great, and despite leaving stuffed, I was glad I ordered it.
For my coffee, omelet (with Gyro) and red velvet roll it was $29. They charged $5 for the limited amount of Gyro meat I received which was not worth it.
Overall/Would I come back?
I liked the Marietta Diner, but their menu is overpriced. When I go back to Atlanta, I might go somewhere else. To pay nearly $20 for an omelet is worth it to me personally. I would stop in for cake.
Summary: Atmosphere: A Service: A Coffee: B Food: B Dessert: A Cost:$15-20 Overall: B
Questions for you: What is your favorite type of Omelet? What’s your favorite post-race treat?
While living in Alabama, I committed one a runner sin. I was underprepared shoe wise for 6 weeks. While I could have gotten a pair of shoes I’ve already run in, I decided to try the Saucony Freedom. Before leaving, I had tried them on at work. They seemed like they would be a good shoe for me.
This is the first model so there is nothing to compare it too. I have run in multiple other Saucony shoes including the Kinvara, Zealot ISO 1 and 2, Ride 9 and Triumph ISO 1 and 2.
The Freedom uses Saucony’s signature Everrun material. It is the first of the line to use the Everrun at the forefront of the shoe. What does this mean for me? As someone who strikes extremely far to the front, there is plenty of cushion up there too. There are actually very few shoes with a full length cushioning in the forefront too (most shoes have a lot of cushioning in the heel and it tapers to the front).
Just like the Saucony Triumph and Zealot, the Freedom uses the ISO fit. It fits more like slipper than an actual shoe. I find the ISO fits my foot better but the shoe does run short. Typically I wear a size 10 but I found the 10.5 to be the best fit. I even contemplated doing an 11 or a men’s size 9 because I could use more width. I would recommend going up at least a half size if not more.
This was definitely interesting. I could feel the extra cushion in the forefront immediately. My first run in the shoe was an easy 7 miler. It felt comfortable the moment I put it in on. It was soft, yet responsive and the extra cushion for my metatarsals was immediately noticed.
More cushion in the forefront
Cost ($160 makes it one of the most costly neutral shoes on the market)
If you want the short recap I can tell you the following:
I was getting over a cold, it was the most humid half marathon I’ve done, and it wasn’t a goal half marathon.
But why have 20 words when you can have 1000?
As I mentioned in my training log, initially the Mercedes half marathon was meant to be a goal race. After looking at other options, my coach and I decided to target the Double Bridge 15k. What was not exactly public knowledge, was my husband was training for the full marathon. Since we were driving back to New Jersey afterward, one of us had to be in somewhat good driving condition. Too bad, of the two of us, he still felt 10 times better post race.
Targeting the Double Bridge 15k the week before ended up being the right move for me. I was feeling better that day, and despite being windy, the weather was much better. I came down with a minor cold a few days before the Mercedes Half. It felt as though I was breathing through a straw.
With that all of that said, we got to the race start around 6:30 am for the 7:03 start. We chatted with my friend Miles. My husband located bathrooms and we were able to go and drop off our bags. The race director began with a countdown followed by a frantic “go go go.” It felt as though we were starting a local 5k, not a major (and incredibly competitive) race. The full and half ran the same course. Both miles and my husband were running the full, so we all started together.
Since we had run part of the preview run, I knew the course well. The first mile was flat and I found myself trying to get into a rhythm. People were running by me already, and I felt discouraged. I hit the first mile in 6:34 and didn’t feel good about it. I thought: “this is going to be a long race.”
The second and third mile were more hilly. Runners were going by me left and right. Negative thoughts immediately crept in my head.
Had I taken the race out too fast?
Was I just bad running hills?
Do I not handle heat well anymore?
I hit both miles in 6:27 and felt a little better about it. I changed my mindset to running my own race. All I thought was, LOLZ you can make it to the end. Nothing can surpass the regression miles of Shamrock 2016 (or so I thought).
The next few miles were a bit of a blur. Both mile 4 and 5 went by without any major excitement. I grabbed the course Powerade at every stop. I ran both miles by myself in 6:42. In a half marathon, I usually take whichever electrolyte fluids they have, and I was thankful for Powerade at every stop.
By the halfway point, I was overheated. I wasn’t in danger, but I also knew, it wasn’t my day. It was hot, my body wasn’t feeling great, and my coach had it marked as a workout, to begin with. Why was I freaking out for a race, I knew wouldn’t be a PR?
With that, I just focused on each mile I was in. The middle miles ran through Highland Park. It was hilly, and it felt like we just kept climbing. I ran my slowest mile (7:01) followed by my fastest mile (6:22) down the hill. By the time I knew it, we were at mile 10. I caught my friend Dani, who was running the full marathon. We ended up running the last 3 miles together which made the time go by faster.
Mile 11 and 12 entered back into the city of Birmingham. We ran right by my hotel, and I visualized napping and eating hotel stale hotel pastries. I ran both miles in 6:44.
There was some headwind, but it was circulating hot and humid air. The half and full marathon divided and runners were sent to opposite sides of the road based on their distance. Dani and I were still running “together,” just separated by a median. During this time, a group was holding cups, and I thought they were holding more powerade. I had seen someone up ahead grab it and so when they offered me the cup I didn’t turn it down.
Only to realize I had grabbed beer. I wasn’t terribly upset, but I didn’t drink the entire cup and proceeded to the final mile. It was more shocking because it was not what I was expecting.
Just after the 12th mile, I noticed someone on the ground surrounded by medics. It was scary to run by, but the medical staff had everything under control. During that time, I looked up and noticed a woman within .1 of me. For the last mile, I focused on a woman in front of me. I was outkicked in the final .1 at the Double Bridges race the week before (for the win) and I didn’t want it to happen again.
Despite being exhausted, I powered to the end. I crossed the last mile in 6:37 and the finish in 1:27.01.
It’s hard to feel satisfied with this time when I know I’m in better fitness. I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October (Runners World Half). While I ran Dallas in 1:23.44, I was fully tapered for that and training indicated I should have PRed.
Unfortatently, I have also dealt with weather or my body doesn’t feel good on race day. These are the periods that make training difficult. I’m not devastated or even upset about the Mercedes Half Marathon. I gave it everything I had for the day. I am, however, longingly hoping for PRs that I’ve been working hard for.
As I mentioned, my husband ran his first marathon at Mercedes in a time of 2:59.45. He met his goal to break 3 hours in nonideal weather conditions. He’ll have a full recap next week.
Questions for you: Have you ever been to Alabama? Have you drank beer during a race?
I actually did at Shamrock last year (on purpose).
Thinking out loud, as someone in their mid-twenties, I can tell you I didn’t always love myself. In college, in suffered from anxiety and over committing to everything. I compared myself to everyone and everything. I didn’t appreciate things about myself that looking back I wish I would have! This doesn’t just include sports but life as well. I never took the time to step back and reflect with what I loved about myself.
Valentines Day is a beautiful celebration of love. You cannot possibly love others if you don't love yourself.
Here are a few ways to embrace and love yourself:
Show gratitude for who you are now. As humans, we are always growing and learning more about ourselves. We are striving to do better and to be better. Take time to reflect on where you are now and how far you have come. Never discount the small achievements.
Do something everyday that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming but do something each day that you know will make you happy. Is that reading a few blogs? Is that painting? Is it running? Make sure to make a little bit of time for just you each day.
Give yourself an honest chance. If you believe you will fail, you will. Believe in yourself. It’s that simple. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned and am still learning. To have success, you must believe you will.
Distance yourself from things that make you unhappy. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is life is too short to do things that make you unhappy. That could be things, people or activities but if you are constantly around things making you miserable, you cannot love and appreciate yourself.
Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? Confidence is key.
Valentines Day doesn’t have to be a Hallmark holiday or celebration of giving or receiving gifts. It’s a celebration of love whether it is loving yourself, your family and friends or significant other.
We all have someone to love, and it starts with ourselves.