The week of 5 milers

My training the past week or so has been weird. We went on a little cruise so most of my runs were moved or changed in some way to accommodate travel weirdness.

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That’s the Miami cruise port behind us…note the huge/tiny ships!

Thursday before we left, I had the day off work so I enjoyed a little sleep-in before starting my run. This was a mistake. It was so hot outside! It was a beautiful 75 in the morning, but by the time I got outside it was in the 80s. Florida has no mercy. I had planned to do 7 miles with some speed-miles worked in, but it turned out to be a 6 mile horrible slog, punctuated by a creepy conversation with an old man who wanted to take me to lunch. Great.

On the cruise ship I got a nice little strength session in while Matt was taking one of his many naps. Cruise ships rock you to sleep so Matt takes like 80 naps when we cruise. I did lots of lunges and balance moves, which were challenging because the ship is constantly trying to tip you over. Fun!

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Our friends who joined us for the cruise! Matt’s best man and his wife. We’re all so sleepy, from sleeping so much.

On Saturday we landed in the Bahamas and we decided to take a driving tour of the island. There were lots of stops where we got to get out and explore, so it was a day full of walking, climbing stairs, and soaking up the sun. I should have worn my Garmin to track how much we walked!

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That’s me! I’m in the middle of the Atlantic!

Sunday was our day at sea, so I decided that would be the day to get in my long run. Thankfully this week’s long run was only 8 miles (cutback week, holla) because I had to do it on the treadmill. We were still docked in the Bahamas port for the first two miles of my run, but then we started pulling out and I could feel the ship moving beneath me! The gym was at the front of the ship with windows opening to the sea, so it almost felt like I was a little hamster on a wheel pulling the ship forward.

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View from my treaddy

The run was going to be 2 miles warm up, 4 miles at 9:40 pace, and 2 miles cool down. Well, after the first 9:40 mile I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to hold it, so I took 800 meter (half mile) breaks of easy-paced running. (I think this training plan I’m following is too advanced for me, so I’ve resigned to continue following it, but adjusting as needed for my current fitness.)

Running on a ship is no joke – the waters were rougher this day than they had been the whole cruise, and I even had to take my headphones out because I needed all my senses to help keep me balanced. I ran on the treaddy for an hour (about 5 of my 8 miles) and just called it quits. I headed up to the top deck to get a good view of the ocean while I stretched,  but once I got up there I realized I could have definitely completed my workout. Still working on my mental game.

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There was a small running track at the top of the ship, but it was only 0.11 miles long! So I would have had to run 88 laps to do my full run. No thanks. After stretching and cooling down a bit, I decided I couldn’t pass up a chance to run a few laps in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, with the sea breeze whipping me around and with such beautiful views, so I ran another half mile on the track.

It was SO FUN!!! On one side of the track I ran towards the front of the boat, so crazy amounts of wind pushed against me and it was a serious effort to move forward. Then the track turned left, and the wind tried to trip me by knocking my legs together. Then the fun part, running with the wind at my back! The wind was so powerful it was lifting me up and each stride carried me the length of 2 or 3! It felt like flying. It was so fun that I was giggling like a crazy person and it gave me the motivation to push through the harder side of the track just so I could get to the flying side again!

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So windy, so funnn

We made it home Monday afternoon after driving back up from Miami and we slept the whole rest of the day. Tuesday I was back at work and I was still so tired. Can someone tell me why vacations make you more tired??

Wednesday I got back out for an early morning run, and it was finally a run I felt proud of. Haven’t had one of those in quite a while so I really needed it. I left the house at 5:45 and I planned to do 5 miles at my easy-moderate pace, 10:45. It was cool and drizzly for the whole run so I never even felt hot, which is unheard of for running in Florida. My pace was nice and steady the whole 5 miles and I finished right on the dot with a 10:44 average. It’s amazing how good you can feel when you set an actually attainable goal. Lol. #benicetoyourself

I was reminded of a run 6 months ago that made me feel proud – a 4 miler at an 11:38 pace. Look how far I’ve come! Now I run 5 miles as my easy run, at a faster pace. Woohoo!

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Repeated cruise pic, don’t judge me. It makes me happy.

Friday morning I had my midweek longer run of 7 miles scheduled, but I took too long eating and getting ready to run, so it got cut short to 5 miles (do you see a theme?). I have again grown to love the well-lit quietness of my neighborhood in those early morning hours, so I spent these 5 miles running up and down every side street in our neighborhood. A little monotonous, but it got the job done in a very relaxing way.

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So this week held three 5-milers, two of which should have been longer, but there isn’t much I can do about it now. Training plans are hard to follow perfectly! I’m just proud that I have been consistent, because even if I’m not following the training plan exactly, I’m still getting out there and working my body as well as I can.

I believe we should all be easier on ourselves. Americans have this “toughness” mentality – we think we have to push-push-push in order to be the best. Well, I think it’s okay to take a rest. Take walk breaks. Take a nap instead of getting so stressed that you can’t be kind to your husband. Being a runner has taught me that it’s the built-up effects of lots of smaller efforts that make the difference, and rest is extremely important to keep you from getting hurt.

Now let the holidays begin! Good thing my mileage is getting higher and higher because that means I can eat ALL THE FOODS, right? 🙂

 

Fourteen miles through the old stomping grounds

It’s a foggy Thursday morning as I’m writing to you about Sunday’s run. One day I’ll be prompt enough to get the hang of regular blogging. Maybe. In other news, today is the first day of my little vacation! We are going on a cruise with some friends this weekend and I took an extra day off work before we leave. I went to sleep at 8:45 last night like a 70 year old, so I woke up at 6am feeling very refreshed! It’s sorta nice! I am so lame!

Sunday’s run started with two Reecy miles around the dark and sleepy neighborhood. We took it very easy so I’d have good energy for the rest of the run. 14 miles was a distance PR for me! Yay for training for a new distance, where every week brings a PR! I decided to bring Reecy around for another loop of the neighborhood because we were going so easy and I thought she could do it, but she threw up about half way around. Lol. She’s a big baby! So I cut through the neighborhood to bring her home earlier. She did about 3 miles total. More out of shape than I thought! Poor bb.

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mom lemme go.

Running from my house, down to UCF, around Gemini Drive which circles the campus, and back to my house is 10 miles, so I figured that was a nice brainless route for the day. It’s a pretty nice route and I’ve avoided it since the first time I ran it because school has started, but I was pleasantly surprised to find NOBODY on campus at all! Maybe that has something to do with it being 7am on a Sunday on a college campus, who can say. 🙂

I left my neighborhood and headed south towards the Econ Greenway rather than running on University. The greenway is quieter, prettier, and has 97% less chance of cat calls. I kept a steady pace all the way down to Rouse Road, making a quick pit stop in the YMCA, and then turning north on to Rouse to get up to University. I’ve never run up Rouse before because I always thought it was a little sketchy, but it was surprisingly bright and pasture-lined! White fences, rolling green hills, you know – basically everything my dreams are made of.

Up to University, made another pit stop at a gas station to refill my water bottle. Everyone I met when I asked for water was sooooo nice to me! Usually you get some sideways glances because you’re breathing heavy and you’re dripping with sweat…it’s not cute. So I hope they all feel blessed this week because Jesus said they would be.

With a climb up Orlando’s only natural hill and across the gigantic Alafaya traffic light, I was in UCF. I saw a runner here or there in the distance, briefly wondered about how fun it would be to have a running buddy, *so lonely* and marveled at a woman pushing a jogging stroller, and then I realized I had some pain in the top of my hamstring. Uh oh. I spent a few minutes being deliberate about my form and my stride hoping that the pain would shake out. It did a bit, but not as much as I’d like, so I stopped in the shade of a huge bush to stretch.

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The Reflection Pond! Many a post-exam nap was taken here.

After a few minutes I moved along, staying conscious of my form – leaning slightly forward so my foot lands underneath me rather than reaching out in front, core pulled in, shoulders relaxed, head and neck not doing anything weird – and it seemed to help my legs relax a bit. I put in my headphones at this point because I was 9 miles in and needed some musical motivation. UCF was a desert land and I didn’t see anyone until I got around to the Arena. I made another pit stop at Dunkin Donuts to refill my water, and again was met with the sweetest girl who asked if I was on a run! Maybe she’s a runner too; I should have asked her to be my best friend.

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UCF Arena on the left, Barnes and Noble to the right (obv) and pretty main street which leads down to the stadium.

Heading away from DD, I changed my plan of running around the campus to running through the campus. It’s been a while and it’s always fun to see the campus when there are no students around, plus new buildings keep popping up out of the ground, like daisies, and I like to keep up with the updates.

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Building where 87% of my classes were held.
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Boardwalk I’ve always loved. Looks creepier than it is.

Happy and full of reminisced memories, I climbed the hill out of UCF and came back down on to University Boulevard. That downhill feels nice on the legs and it’s fun to look fast while so many cars are passing! Jus-bein-honest. I thought my run would end up being too short, so I swung to the right and headed towards Matt’s office, which has a cute little lake-side pathway in the back. It’s covered in spongy mulch so I thought it would give my legs a break from the concrete, but it just ended up being more work. It was worth it though because I came across a cute little family going for a Sunday walk, and their little boy shouted at me “IS THIS WHERE YOU EXERCISE???” and everyone laughed. Then I told him I spotted a huge turtle a few yards behind me, and they all got very excited. I hope they found it!

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Creeper smiley eyes, sorry. V tired at this point. Too tired for appropriate smiley eyes.
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Not the same turtle, but maybe they are brothers.

I finally made my way around the lake and headed back home on University. Another water stop in a First Watch cafe, another super sweet girl who gave me a huge glass of ice water. At this point I had about a mile and a half left to run, but I was still 4 miles away from home…nooo! I called Matt twice but he was still asleep. As I kept running I thought about my options…we have some friends nearby who would surely be in church at that time, but if I needed them I would call them. Thankfully I didn’t need to, because Matt woke up and called me riiiight as I hit 14 miles. I told him “I just ran 14 miles, I don’t want to run anymore, can you come pick me up?” And he laughed and said he was on his way. 🙂

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SAW THIS GATOR. ANY TIME YOU SEE A GATOR FROM FAR ABOVE IS A GOOD TIME.

I’m proud of myself for keeping a pretty steady pace throughout the run! Those treadmill miles earlier this week must have taught my legs something. Today I’m thankful for such a good long run, wonderful water angels, and a supportive husband who lets me have this very weird hobby. And I’m happy to say that we made it to church, though we hobbled in 15 minutes late, we still made it!

Cookies and Beach Adventures

Good day my small but fine collection of faithful readers.

Since I somehow went almost a week and a half without posting, I will just give a quick recap of my runs for this week and dump some of my pictures, and then I’ll get on to my big long post about this weekend’s run in the next post.

Thursday I put in four miles on the treadmill at the gym. A little boring, but not horrible. It gave me some practice running at a steady pace instead of fluttering around like a butterfly the whole time, and I felt the effects of that practice on my long run on Sunday.

Friday morning I set my alarm for 5:00, hoping to be out running by 5:30. I had 7 miles planned – two warm up miles, then miles 3, 5, and 7 at sub-10:00 pace. My fancy Runner’s World plan had a shmancy track workout on the menu, but it was complicated and it scared me. I have found that speed workouts always scare me. It’s just nerves – speed work pushes you past your limits which is never comfortable. I just did my own simpler version of speed work this time around, and I’ll work my way up to the fancy one…maybe. I didn’t actually get out the door until 5:45, so i had to adjust the run down to 6 miles.

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Miles 1 and 2 were with Reecy around the usual neighborhood loop. She was pretty rusty at behaving on the leash since it’s been about two weeks, but it wasn’t her worst. I dropped her off after mile 2 and headed out of the neighborhood and down to the Econ trail. This meant that my first fast mile had me running up an overpass, but I don’t even remember it so it obviously wasn’t terrible! Overpasses are the only hills I’ll ever see in Florida so I try to embrace them as they come.

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These “fast” miles were medium-hard effort. Not the crazy 9:30 pace prescribed on my plan as my “tempo pace,” but definitely harder than my usual easy pace. By the end of the fast mile I wanted to slow down but I didn’t feel like I needed to walk to recover. I didn’t take any walk breaks in the whole 6 miles which makes me proud! Just a couple water fountain pit stops.

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Fall in Florida means our trees try really hard to be pretty for just a few minutes!

Saturday I took the day off to recover from the harder effort and to give my body some rest before my scheduled 14 mile long run on Sunday. I got to spend the day with my mom and sisters baking cookies and eating lunch on the beach, which involved a very squishy baby pit-bull who was discovering the ocean for the first time! *57 heart eye emojis*

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COOGIES
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Beach lunch may be sandy, but still so fun. (Sorry for cutting off your face, mom.)

When we were growing up, my mom used to always say “sisters are forever friends.” It was one of her catchphrases that she said so often we’ll never be able to forget it. She would force us to talk about our problems, apologize, and forgive each other. It was horrible. But I’m so thankful that she worked hard to teach us because now my sisters are my best friends. We have to work really hard to keep it that way, but it will always be worth it.

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Sisters are forever friends because they have to apologize for judging you.

How is your November so far? Started doing any Christmas-ey things yet?

Runners: do you get nervous before your speed workouts??

October By the Numbers

October is over. Which is amazing, because the only good thing about October is my bestie’s birthday, and then the rest of the month is full of spiders and ugly zombie billboards on the highway. Though this year it did have a perk for me: my sister and I got to see Taylor Swift on the 31st! Woohoooo! 1989 is everyone’s jam.

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Dressed as Olaf. How can you not love her?

A lot of good running-related stuff did happen this month so I thought I’d recap it in a quick lil list:

October By The Numbers

1 – half marathon! My second, and I’m much happier with my performance though I still feel like I can improve a LOT on how hard I push myself in races.

2 – giant batches of homemade cookie dough I devoured. Actual baked cookies hardly happened.

4 – runs with Reecy

77.11 – miles run

9,002 – calories burned. HAAAYYY!

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5,475 – times I have run past my coworker’s house. I just learned that we live in the same neighborhood, and his house is right on my way out of the neighborhood, so I can’t NOT pass his house on my runs. It’s a little weird because now my eyes are unable to not look at his house every time I run by.

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creeper status

Returning to Training

My last run of October was an interesting effort. I inadvertently took the week off after Cocoa Beach, minus a little run/walk catch-up with an old friend from high school. I had some workouts planned, like another attempt at Barre Revolution (which they wouldn’t let my sister and me take because we weren’t there early to sign consent forms…erg), and a short run which was replaced by a waxing session (I like to think of bikini waxing as a supplement to marathon training. Because really, if I can do that to myself, I can endure anything.) Anyway, finally Saturday morning I got to run down a quiet country road in Tarpon Springs.

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I trespassed upon this adorably tiny island. When I was crossing the bridge I heard a splash that sounded suspiciously like an alligator, so I didn’t spend much time there.

My legs were okay and wanted to go faster but my lungs were not having it. I was definitely feeling the effects of taking a week off.

There is a duck/chicken/pig farm on this route and it always makes me smile! This time I heard the ducks squawking from almost a half mile away, all mad about something. My duck-whisperer sister would probably know.

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Angry ducks.
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Sup.

There were a few hills after the farm and I was struggling a little bit. The pace wasn’t too hard, but I felt like I was having to teach my legs how to run again. That sounds dramatic after only a week off but that’s how it felt. Lol.

There are HUGE houses on this road – like the kind of houses that have a separate 6 car garage and another separate boat garage. I passed this weird Coliseum-type house and wondered why in the world someone would live inside a circle. Where do you put the couch?

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House? Library? Observatory? I don’t know.

Then I hit a massive hill, which I was oddly able to power up quite easily. I guess Cocoa Beach didn’t challenge those muscles. After the hill I forced myself to keep jogging until the end of the road to bring me up to 4 miles, but really it came to 4.5 miles which was a nice surprise. I was still nearly a mile away from Matt’s parents’ house and I didn’t want to run anymore, so I walked the rest of the way home and talked on the phone to my Momma.

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My childhood summed up in a picture. But in Kentucky, not Tarpon Springs.

I recovered with my feet in the pool, overlooking this gorgeous view:

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I’m following a pretty rigorous training plan from Runner’s World to help me get faster. I had to jump in around week 8, so I’m easing myself in to it this week. There are actual speed workouts for me to follow! I’m pretty excited about it. It’s nice to have the next two months to just train and not have to think about a race for a little while.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Race Recap!

9 minute PR! Beautiful beach breeze! A dog in a Jeannie costume! Photobombing road signs!

The morning started out quite early since we had an hour drive to Cocoa Beach. My best friend and her husband drove up from the other side of the state the night before, to wake up at 4:30 AM and come cheer me on (I can’t even talk about it. They are such good friends. It makes me emotional.)

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | Casi Runs
Good morning from Cocoa Beach, Florida!

We were out the door with coffee in hand, expecting no traffic at 5 AM on a Sunday morning…but alas. We came across a standstill on our way out of Orlando. Turns out there was some huge drag racing event at the racetrack, and all these tuner cars were VERY SERIOUS about getting there early! I did not know such a thing existed on such a large scale. But it only held us up for a few minutes, and thankfully we were on our way.

My mom stayed in Cocoa Beach the night before because she: 1) is contractually bound to cheering for me at every race, and 2) Cocoa is one of our usual family vacation spots so she jumped at the chance to have a little hotel stay. So when we arrived in Cocoa, we got to go straight to her hotel and use a real live bathroom before they dropped me off to get on the shuttle. I grabbed my bib and hopped on the last shuttle (oops), which took the runners 5 miles south to the starting line.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | Casi Runs
Everyone on my shuttle made a bee-line to the boardwalk to watch the sun rise over the ocean!

Cocoa Beach was the setting of the 60’s show I Dream of Jeannie, so the race was celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary by having runners dress up as Jeannie! There were over 100 runners in genie costumes. Not sure how comfortable that was, but it was cute to see!

I headed to stand in the porta potty line, which was moving at an acceptable pace (thumbs up to CBHM for having a massive amount of porta potties) when gradually my line started moving slower than all the other lines. Not just in my head, either. The runners in the front of the line kept opening the door to this one potty and acting weird and then pumping hand sanitizer on to their hands and getting back in line. Turns out there was a huge turd ON THE SEAT. HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? It made for some huge laughs when I told my people on the ride home. *cries laughing forever* *we are so mature*

Around 7:45 the national anthem was sung and the race started! I placed myself way at the back of the pack because I didn’t want to be tempted to go out too fast! There were almost 5x more runners than my last race, so I crossed the start line 5 minutes after the gun. I planned to run Miles 1 and 2 as warm ups and keep a steady pace of 10:45 for the rest of the race, and pick it up as much as possible for the last mile. I definitely didn’t go out too fast! In fact, my first mile was about 30 seconds slower than planned, but I’d rather it be too slow than too fast. I tried not to weave in and out too much and instead just waited for openings when they came. The good thing about starting at the back is you get to pass people all race instead of being passed the whole time!

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | Casi Runs
Lots of my friends!

The map showed the course going straight up Highway A1A but it faked us out a few times by doubling back into parking lots. Kind of frustrating but the nice thing about it was seeing all the runners before and behind you! Sometimes on straightaways it’s hard to remember how many people are doing this with you.

There were musicians near every water stop and they were really entertaining! The first one we saw was a woman singing 80’s pop tunes, no big deal, but then the music changed to dubstep and she started playing the TRUMPET, to DUBSTEP. It was awesome. There were also Jeannie look-alikes holding the mile marker signs, and random facts about I Dream of Jeannie posted on signs every so often.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | Casi Runs

I thought I would see my people around Mile 3, but I must have read the map wrong because I didn’t see them until Mile 5! I was so happy to finally see my husband and my best friends that I teared up a bit. It is soooo encouraging to see people you love when you’re doing really hard stuff! I saw Matt with his first sign which said “You Are Legend….(wait for it!)”

Miles 3-8 had more of an 11:00 minute average than a 10:45. I tried to check my Garmin a lot and keep it around 10:45, but apparently I need more practice with that. Lol.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns
Yaaaay my people!!!
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PHOTOBOMBED BY A POLE

At Mile 8 there was a hill I felt I needed to walk up to conserve energy, but when we drove by it later I laughed out loud because it was literally nothing. My mental game is SO GREAT.

Saw a little family of three extremely old golden retrievers at this point, which made me smile like a loon, and then we passed a spectator family with two kids that were running around like little spazzes, which was simply a little insulting. Stop having energy when I have no energy, okay?

Then we crossed on to the beach! I was excited to run this whole course, because the whole area of Cocoa Beach is special to me, but we spend most of our time on the beach when we stay here so I was excited to finally get to run the beach. Of course, none of it looked familiar, because it all looks the same at 8 AM, but it was still nice! We trudged across the thick sand to get to the packed sand, which the race directors assumed would be very hard, but the tide wasn’t as far out as they thought and so the sand was still a little squishy!

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THIS IS SO FUN THIS ISN’T GONNA HURT AT ALL

Running on the beach sounds like a great idea, and it feels great on your face and it sounds great in your ears and it’s beautiful to your eyes, but it just hurts your legs SO MUCH. This stretch was from Mile 8.5 through Mile 11 but it felt like a lot longer than that. My pace was a full minute slower than usual. The first woman to cross the finish line at this race also said she slowed by a full minute on this section, so I don’t feel as bad. 🙂

I got to see my people again on the beach section! Matt was there with his second sign which read, “…DARY! LEGENDARY!” and Megan and Patrick were there screaming and taking a video, and they ran with me for a little bit before saying goodbye. Then a few minutes later I spotted my mom standing there with her doggy Pepper, so I stopped to give her a hug and get some encouragement, and a puppy kiss of course, and then I was off.

The beach section went on and onnnn and I kept having to remind myself to focus on the present mile because all I wanted was to see where people were turning off of the beach and back to the road. Finally I got to the turning point and all the women around me sighed with relief. That beach was brutal!

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns
Much focused. Very run.

The last mile was a part of the course we’d already run. Ya’ll know I sort of hate repeating loops, and after running 11 miles, I hate it the same amount. It felt so much longer than the first time we ran it. I picked up the pace as much as I thought I could sustain (so like 10:30) and tried not to take any more walk breaks! I focused on reeling in the runner in front of me and that trick really works! I passed some women that I had been leap-frogging the last few miles. I held on, and then I saw my mom and Pepper again, so I walked to talk with her for one minute and she told me the finish line was just two stoplights away!

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns
I promise my feet leave the ground when I’m running.

There was a wall of spectators down the finisher’s chute. It was really motivating, but embarrassing because I hate when a lot of people are suddenly staring at me, but also super fun to hear all the shouting. Though I was so focused that I hardly heard the shouting. At the last second I finally saw Matt and Megan and Patrick out of the corner of my eye, and then I was blinded by this pink shag carpet:

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns
Much brighter in full daylight, and also imagine tons of screaming people and the exhaustion after 13 miles.

I gave it my best kick in the last 100 meters, which ended up being around an 8:30 pace, and then I was through the finish line!

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns

I finished 8 minutes faster than my last half marathon time! Officially 2:29:35. Number 660 out of about 2800 runners. I liked this race because I was never running by myself. I also paced the early miles better and fueled really consistently which definitely helped avoid hitting the wall like last time. I’d like to be faster than 2:29, but today I realized that I’ve only been distance running for six months! I can’t be too hard on myself.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns
Hello beautiful.

For their inaugural race, the Cocoa Beach Half Marathon was extremely well thought out and very organized. Lots of water and Gatorade at every stop, TONS of volunteers, and really fun entertainment along the course! I’m so thankful for a great race experience. It gave me the hope I needed to press on with my marathon training through the end of the year!

Getting ready for the Cocoa Beach Half Marathon

Hello and happy Saturday!

Reecy and I are enjoying the morning on the couch and we just saw a huge spotted Great Dane walking down our sidewalk! He lives on the street behind ours, which I have been avoiding for about a year now because he hangs out in his human’s garage on a very long chain and he likes to lunge out after Reecy which always causes a bit of a fluster. But he’s so beautiful, so it was fun to see him again anyway. 🙂

In other dog news, yesterday’s run spotted SO MANY PUPPIES. One puppy chased/tripped me and he was so squishy and didn’t really know how to use his legs yet. His owners were also walking a husky on a long, thin retractable leash, which I didn’t see until it practically clotheslined me… Then there was an iconic moment where I saw a little curly white guy standing on the side of a hill with the sun setting behind him and gleaming through his fur. It was picturesque and a little magical. The Econ Greenway Trail is the place to be at sunset if you’re obsessed with dogs.

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns


Today is the day before my Cocoa Beach Half Marathon, so you know what that means: you get to look at pictures of my stuff! It’s like I’m giving you free permission to snoop on me. I think that’s the appeal of blogging and reading other people’s blogs…it satisfies our nosy sides. I included tons of links in case you like something. Snoop away!

Pre-Race Essentials

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns

  • My favorite sunscreen – super moisturizing and absorbs quickly, and has never failed me yet!
  • Covergirl waterproof mascara – cause I like to look pretty okay?
  • Body Gliiiiiiiiiide – I’ll put this around my waistband, bra straps, bra band. Any skin that could possibly feel bad after 2 hours of sweaty running.
  • Vaseline – I put Vaseline on my eyelids and outside corners of my eyes. Maybe weird, but my skin gets so sensitive to the salt from my sweat, especially after I’ve wiped at them a few times during a run. I have found that putting a thin layer of Vaseline in the “eye cream” zone keeps my eyelids from screaming at me!
  • I forgot to put deodorant in this pic, but let’s get real, there’s no way to not stink after a long run. Though deodorant does keep the armpits from chafing.

The Outfit

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns

This outfit is basically exactly the same as my last race, just in different colors.

  • UA Bra – here. Seriously the most wonderful bra ever for D-cups or smaller. Super soft, doesn’t dig in anywhere, and dries really quickly.
  • Old Navy tank – last season but similar here and on sale! Cool and breezy, dries quickly, and doesn’t sag down to your knees when it’s soaked. What more can you ask for?
  • Capris from TJ Maxx. I would link some similar ones but TJ or Ross are really the only places to find compression pants for under $20.
  • Asics Socks – similar here. Still have never had any problems with these. I especially love the tab on the heel that prevents any slippage.
  • Brooks Ghost 7 – here. I actually just bought a new pair of these, but I’m sticking with the oldies for the race because they’re not broken in yet.

Racing Must-Haves

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns

  • Nathan handheld water bottle – lesson learned. I do every long run with this so not sure why I thought it was a good idea to do the last race without it. It’s snug around my hand so I don’t have to hold on to it, and I don’t even realize it’s there. It holds my Nuun tablet, ID, and maybe a bag of chews or my headphones if I don’t want them in the Flipbelt.
  • Brooks “Run Happy” visor, because it reminds me to smile at people or else look like a huge contradiction. I’m all about things that force you to be kind. Haha.
  • FlipBelt! Woohoo! Can’t lie, it’s easier to run with no belt at all, but the Flipbelt is way better than holding my phone in my hand for two hours, and it can stash more food than I was stashing in my Nathan bottle.
  • Plantronics wireless headphones – charged and ready to go.
  • Nuun tabs in triberry – planning on keeping Nuun in the bottle for the whole race, and taking water from water stations if I need it.
  • Gu Energy gel in strawberry banana
  • Honey Stinger chews in pink lemonade
  • Garmin Forerunner 220 – my one true technology love. Other than my iPhone. And my Mac. It’s a close call.

Post-Race Essentials

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon | CasiRuns

  • Orlando City sweat towel because, represent!
  • Sockwell compression socks. Seriously look how cute they are! And the brand name is Sockwell!!! I can’t handle the adorableness. Compression socks feel so gooooood after a long run. It’s like a hug for your legs. I’ve never seen ones in cute patterns like these – usually they are solid, neon colors.

Here is to running a smarter race and not breaking down halfway through. My goal is to really enjoy this race and come away feeling proud of the effort I gave. Hopefully I’ll have a happier recap for you in a few days! See you on the flippity flip!

12 miler gone bad… (The Importance of Sleep!)

So much for having one last strong long run before my race. Here’s how my “12 miler” went:

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Matt was supposed to pick me up at the end of my run, but I had to call him to pick me up half way through.*sad face* Each mile was almost a full minute slower than the one before.  I remember thinking at mile 0.5, “wow, I shouldn’t be breathing this hard half a mile in!” but I pushed those thoughts away because I knew I had 11 more miles to run. I deliberately ran the first mile very easy, and I kept the pace around 11 minutes for miles 2 and 3, so I definitely didn’t go out too fast, and I tried to push through the pain but unfortunately things never got easier. I felt woozy after about 5 minutes of running and I had to keep taking walk breaks to shake off impending blackouts!

Sometimes bad runs just happen, and you can’t get too upset about them. You just have to learn from your mistakes and adjust your plan for next time. This time I’m pretty sure the mistake was lack of sleep! We were out laaaaate Friday night for my bestie’s birthday dinner, up early Saturday morning, and then up late again Saturday night watching our show. I always underestimate the importance of sleep. It’s boring, it seems like a waste of time, and my back starts hurting if I lay in bed for too long. I hate sleeping in too late on a Saturday morning because it feels like half the day is wasted! (Who cares if I was just going to move to the couch and watch Netflix, that’s not the point.) But yesterday’s run had perfect conditions: low humidity, cool breeze, sunny but not scorching, slow and easy beginning miles, so the only culprit I can blame for my crappy run is Sir Sleep.

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While you are asleep, your body releases a hormone called human growth hormone (GH). In kids it’s responsible for growing little bodies to full-size, but in adults it is responsible for repairing bones and muscles, and regulating sugar and fat metabolism. This study recorded that the highest concentration of growth hormone is present in the blood during the first few hours of deep sleep, and at high concentrations again during every deep sleep cycle. When I’m not running, I can survive happily on 6 hours of sleep, but I’ve been putting my body through a lot the past few months. It’s logical to think that as I’m packing on the miles I should be more intentional about getting enough sleep.

Maybe it will help to start looking at sleep as a vital part of my training, equally important as strength training and stretching. Thank you to my mom for her genes and her prayers because I have never struggled with poor quality sleep. Just quantity! I’ll probably have to start scheduling it in to my calendar like I do with everything else…I already have an alarm on my phone telling me it’s time for bed every night. Such a nerd.

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Cocoa Beach Half Marathon – Last week of training!

Hello 🙂

Welcome to today’s blog post, brought to you by a delicious bowl of macaroni and cheese, which I will not be sharing with you. Lethargy is the name of the game today since I was up til 3:00 in the morning last night like some kind of hoodlum.

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This will probably be my last training recap before the big race day! I’m really looking forward to another race, which is amazing because I was a little worried about running two races so close together. The first week or so after Volition I was dragging myself through runs, but the love did finally come back! I hit some faster paces this week which is encouraging! Tomorrow I have my 12 miler and then I’ll be taking things really easy until the race on Sunday.


Sunday – 10 miles

I wrote about that run in my last post. It was a really nice and relaxing run, despite smashing my iPhone, and I held an average of 10:31 per minute in the last 5 miles! That was a happy little surprise as most of my long runs average an 11 or 11:30 pace!

Tuesday – 4 miles + bum and hip strength

I found a group of runners on Meetup.com called Central Florida Women Runners and they happened to have a run planned on one of my favorite routes. Meetup.com is an awesome website to find groups of people doing things you like to do – I follow updates from a stand up paddle boarding group, and I follow a few different running groups. I have been sifting through e-mails waiting for my schedule to match up with one of the runs, and finally this one popped up. This particular group is women only, which was nice because I’m hoping to make some good running friends!

The way this running group worked is everyone meets up at a specified location and the group coordinator tells you what course to run, and then everyone can just choose their own pace and distance. At the end, everyone posts on the Meetup page to say they arrived back safely. There were 5 of us at this run. We could run alone or with a buddy, as long as we kept someone from the group in sight so no one was truly ever alone.

I walked alone for a little while as my Garmin was trying to connect to a satellite (which took forever, and then it told me I was running an 8 minute mile, so it must have been having a bad day) and then a girl named Marla was walking beside me. I asked her what she wanted to run today and she said “slow and easy, 45 minutes-ish.” Turns out our “slow and easy” pace is about the same, so we ran four miles together. I got to hear a little about her life as an archaeologist (COOL), we talked about races we’ve run or want to run, we talked about how the trees in Florida try to change colors but it’s nothing compared to Canada (where she’s from) or Kentucky (my only experience with actual seasons). The miles flew by and I felt strong the whole time, though I could tell I was pushing a lot harder than I would have if I ran those 4 miles alone. Being with another person takes away all your walk-break excuses!

For strength training I did lots of lunges with Matt’s 10 lb dumbbell, clamshells, and a variation of donkey kickbacks. I should probably do a post explaining these because bodyweight exercises have such non-helpful names.

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Thursday – 5.78 miles

Thursday I had a bad day at work so I was really craving a run to get all the crap out of my head and emotions. That turned in to nearly six miles at a 10:41 average pace! Is this my new normal? I was a little worried 3 miles in because I made my usual mistake of starting out at what felt easy to my fresh legs (which is alway a lie), around 10:30 per mile, but I was able to sustain a 10:45ish pace the whole time. I need to practice running my first mile slooow, as that always gives me the strongest and happiest runs. I make a point to do so for my long runs, but it’s harder to remember for the mid-week longer run.


I had another 4 miler planned for Friday, but Friday morning I got dressed and stepped out the door to run and I just didn’t feel right about it. There were creepy Halloween decorations in the neighbor’s yard, and I heard a dog barking and then running to the end of his chain, which was odd because there are no chained dogs near our house. I just had a bad feeling, so I went back inside.

Tomorrow morning, dark and early, I’ll be doing my second-ever 12 mile run. Long runs are my favorite run of the week, because they’re slow and relaxed and they make you feel really hardcore. And the nerd in me loves setting out all my running supplies and calculating how many chews to eat and when to drink my Nuun. 🙂 Now to figure out my route!

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Training – 2 weeks left!

Good morning!

The Chicago Marathon is today!!! I hope all the bloggers I know who are running have a great race! I’m tracking one of them on the Chicago Marathon website. IT’S SO COOL. I will definitely run Chicago one day. Half of my dad’s family lives up there, so I will force them all to come cheer for me. 🙂

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This is a screenshot of what the tracker looks like. Very cool. The runner guy moves along the map in real/slightly delayed time!

So, two weeks until my next race! I originally wanted this to be my first half marathon, but it didn’t really work out that way. It means more to me emotionally than the Volition race. My family goes to Cocoa Beach at least once per summer, usually several times per summer. We’ve been relaxing on that beach for over ten years, and the race actually starts (or finishes, not sure) at the park where we always park our cars. I love the whole town of Cocoa Beach – it feels like vacation to me!

Today’s Long Run – 10 miles

I started out the morning with some yummalicious French press coffee, English muffin with butter and cinnamon sugar, and a little bit of water. I hydrated a lot yesterday, so I wanted to see how the pee situation would change if I didn’t drink my usual large glass in the morning. (Spoiler: it worked. I didn’t have to stop mid-run to pee. Though I wouldn’t recommend that for summer runs.) My back was aching because of Mrs. Flow so I was hoping some exercise would shut that right up (it did.)

Reecy and I headed out the door for the first two miles. Our neighborhood loop is almost perfectly 2 miles, and it’s well lit so it was a good way to get some of the miles in before sunrise. The past few months I’ve avoided this route because I was bored of it, and also because you run in to a lot of middle/high schoolers waiting for their bus who stare at you awkwardly, but I have enjoyed it the past two weeks. Reecy was great on the leash. She heard a few dogs barking here and there but she listened to my “leave it” quite well this time. I’m so proud!! *mom face*

I tried to keep a very easy pace so I would have energy to run the whole run without walk breaks. The first mile or so of every run is deceptive because your legs are fresh, and I usually go out too fast even though it feels “easy.” Today I kept it around 11:30 for my warm up mile, and 11 minutes for the second mile. Turns out it is impossible to run with a dog without taking a hundred pit stops, but it’s okay. It’s worth it to run with my buddy.

I dropped her off at the house at the end of the 2 miles and I got my supplies all together for the next eight.

Cocoa Beach half marathon CasiRuns
Didn’t even use the BodyGlide today but it’s still the best invention in the world. Everyone buy some.

My FlipBelt came in the mail and I finally got to use it for a run! I wore it around SeaWorld yesterday but I didn’t really need it, so today was the true test. It does everything it claims to do – it didn’t bounce around, nothing fell out, it was super comfy. It did ride up just a little, but that’s because I have a large bum. It stayed in place once it wasn’t fighting with the booty. I loaded it up with the chews, the gel, my driver’s license and a $5 bill, a tab of Nuun which I never drank, and my phone, which is regrettable as you’ll soon find out.

Out the door again for the long leg of the run, I had a goal of keeping sub-11 minute miles and also a semi-goal of not walking. I go easy on myself with taking walk breaks because I’d rather walk for a minute than throw up, or pass out, etc. But I am being stricter with that rule than I was last training cycle. Saying “don’t cheat yourself” usually does the trick to keep me pushing through. It’s basically me saying to myself, “sure, you can take that unnecessary walk break, but are you going to be disappointed when you can’t run the entire race next time? Yes. So push through it.”

Here comes the frustrating part of today’s run: I’m a few minutes in to Mile 3 when Matt calls me to tell me that LiveTracking isn’t working on my Garmin. Boo. But before he can even say those words to me, I dropped my iPhone right on the sidewalk. Now, I’ve dropped my phone 6,844 times, but this must have been juuust the right angle to shatter the screen into a big ugly distracting spider web that catches your fingers when you scroll. I had the initial huge disappointment that inevitably comes when you smash your phone (every iPhone user knows how it feels. FIX THIS, APPLE) but then I was just angry! Angry at Matt for calling me while I was running, angry at Apple for making very breakable products, but mostly angry that my shiny toy was now broken. I let myself feel the emotions for a bit but as I was powering up a hill I reminded myself that a cell phone is just not a good enough reason to be angry at your husband. I decided at that moment to let it go, like Elsa, who doesn’t have a cell phone, but it’s impossible not to mention her in this sentence. Thank you to the hill on North Econ for making me tired enough that I was forced to let go of my anger. 🙂

After that episode, miles 3 through 5 were uneventful, though I did very much appreciate the cooler temperatures. At one point I could literally see the edge of a cloud of mist and I kept my eye on the edge until I passed through it. Then I saw some fluffy friends so obviously I had to take a picture:

Cocoa Beach half marathon CasiRuns
They were barking at me. But I love them.

This part of the trail is not as popular so it’s not as nice as other sections, but it was so beautiful today! Those yellow trees are my favorite.

Cocoa Beach half marathon CasiRuns

At Mile 6 my legs started giving me 10:20 and 10:30 miles, which is faster than my usual long run pace of 11-11:20, but I felt good so I just held on to it. I had a pretty steady pace hovering around the 10:30 mark all the way to the end of the run! I’m so happy! I’ve only done one speed workout but I’ve done a lot of strength work recently, so I guess it’s paying off (also running some really slow dog-miles and cell-phone miles early this morning helped a lot. Ha.)

Matt just bought a new road bike so he was going to meet up with me on the trail to ride next to me for a while, but we ended up just missing each other several times. I saw him on his bike in the driveway as I rounded on to our street. Very sweet of him to come ride with me, for as most of you know he does not know what 7 am looks like. The good news is that he loves his new bike and now he’ll have more fun riding to work with a fancy new toy.

Cocoa Beach half marathon CasiRuns

Important Run Stats:

Distance – 10.02 miles
Time – 1 hour 53 minutes
Dog sightings – 5 (including Reecy)
Bunny sightings – 2 small-eared brown ones. Adorbs.
Calories burned – 1,160 *fist pump*
Bowls of cereal consumed so far today – 3
Percent probability that Reecy will cuddle with me since we ran together – 74% more likely ❤
Time right now – 6:28 pm
Time it feels like – 11:28 pm

Thank you for paying attention to my extremely scientific and important running statistics, there will be a pop quiz on those later.

Two Weeks Left

Two weeks really means one week left, since the week before a race is a taper week. So, ONE WEEK LEFT of quality workouts to get in before I start resting and preparing for the race. How’s that for this week’s motivation?

Running with My Little Brown Dog

This morning I had a dream that I was running my second half marathon and it was going swimmingly. I felt great, I didn’t have any crash and burn episodes like my first half marathon, and I felt like I was going to finish fast and strong. The weird part was that the race went through some old abandoned buildings and finished in a small warehouse thing…but anyway, it ended with me only cutting off like four minutes off my first half marathon time!!! It was so frustrating when I woke up. I’m hoping to cut off like 20 minutes, not four! I think my brain was processing the fact that at 5:00am I decided to push my speed work to this evening…lol. I know that if I run a smarter race I’ll be able to lose about 20 minutes, and that’s at my current fitness without the speed and strength work I’m planning for this month.

So anyway, on to the main topic of this post: my favorite dog! Meet Reecy, as in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which is what she looked like when she weighed 5 pounds.

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Reecy!

I brought Reecy along for a run the other day, for the first time in a while. She’s been looking a little puffy lately and she has started getting in to the trash, so I figure she needs some exercise in her life to tire her out. This is how she usually spends her days:

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How am I supposed to motivate myself at 5am to go running when the alternative is cuddling on the couch with this warm curly bean??

She has a very hard life full of sleeping on the couch and barking at cats out the window.

running with your dog CasiRunsWe recently took in a lost dog that was roaming our neighborhood (we never found the owners…very sad. Took him to a no-kill adoption shelter.) and he was SO SKINNY that it made us realize that Reecy has been packing on the pounds lately! I used to bring her on a lot of my runs before I started training so we fed her accordingly, but when I stopped running with her we forgot to adjust her food. So she’s on a diet now.

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Sad because diets are hard. Just kidding, this was because there was a bad storm outside and she is scared of thunder.

Now that I’m used to doing longer runs it’s not so stressful to think about bringing Reecy along with me. She’s very easily excited so if I am stressed out, she won’t behave well on a run. Dogs feed off of whatever energy you’re giving out. I am easing her back in to some mileage – dogs are natural runners but you do have to build their fitness just like a human’s. Otherwise their pads could get worn or they could pull a muscle or something (not likely at my speed, but you know.) I started by bringing her on a 2 mile loop she has run lots of times. I figured she would be comfortable on a route she knows and would have less excitement to distract her from the job of running.

A little dog knowledge – dogs need physical and mental challenges to stay calm and submissive. If a dog is misbehaving, you should check to see that they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation! Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer,  is an advocate of giving them jobs to drain their energy.

Reecy is generally very well behaved; the only issue we ever have with her is that she gets over-excited when someone comes to the door or comes in the house. She loses her cool completely and she can’t obey any commands. She’s also extremely smart…it’s shocking how many words she understands. Sometimes it feels like she can follow a conversation. It’s a little trippy.

Running with me helps take care of her physical energy, but she still has a lot of mental energy just bouncing around in her head which we are trying to figure out how to challenge. Lately she has been getting in to the trash, or tearing up something left on the coffee table. When I take her on a run, I focus on teaching her to “heel” and run right next to me. I don’t allow her to pull ahead of me on the leash. For one, it’s super annoying because it messes up my arm-swing. But it’s also important because it teaches her that 1) I am the pack leader and she has to submit to how fast I want to go or where I want to turn, and 2) it gives her the mental challenge of remembering to stay beside me. We learned this method from Cesar, and it works well when done consistently.

Another “job” I give her is carrying her poo bag when she fills one up, which she does like clockwork about 5 minutes in to every run. Ha. I tie off the bag, then tie it to a hook on her collar. The effect is immediate – it’s like you can see her straighten up and get serious about doing a job. It’s so great! *heart eyes*

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Such a good fitness partner.

One of the main reasons we even got a dog was so I’d have a running partner to keep me safe as I wander random parts of Orlando in the dark hours of the morning. (The other reason is that I’m pathetic without dogs.) She’s done a good job of protecting me over the past three years. We have some good stories of how she reacts when someone (Matt) breaks in to the house (or opens the front door too quickly) and she can sound pretty intimidating.

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Impossible to get a non-blurry pic.

I’m hoping to keep bringing her on my shorter runs, and if she gets good at heeling I’ll bring her on longer runs. I know that the more consistent I am, the better she will be. It will be fun to have her with me on long runs some day.

We want to get her a backpack so she can carry more weight and have a more substantial job to do than carry poo bags. This will be especially helpful for camping and hiking trips! She could pack her own toys and food.

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Do you run with your dog?

What’s your best dog-running tip?