Backing Up.

Yay – I finally brought my camera into work with me, so this blog is complete with PICTURES! First off, thanks to everyone for your kind words and comments regarding Sarah’s accident. She was at my house last night, and I am happy to report that she is healing quickly and getting back to normal. On that note – always remember to buckle up!

Let’s go back – before Meltdown Sunday occurred – because I haven’t gotten to write about Homemade Meatballs Friday or Strides-of-March Saturday yet! Whew, we need to catch up…

Friday night, Casey and I had Lindsey and Wes over for dinner, to enjoy a pre-run carb-fest. Here’s a shot of our pretty, clean dining room (before it became a wedding invitation war-zone.) We got our dining room table from my aunt (who works at C&B) as an early wedding present – I love it!

I prepared some healthy (of course) and delicious appetizers for us to snack on while dinner cooked, and we wiped this platter clean in no time. Our feast included sliced carrots, cucumbers, orange and green peppers, and a few crackers – all dipped in yummy hummus and a new super-low-calorie black bean dip I discovered at Bigg’s. All served on my fancy maple leaf platter!

I left the dinner menu in Chef Malone’s hands, who went above and beyond this time, cooking up delicious whole-wheat spaghetti, topped with giant slow-cooked meatballs in tomato sauce – made from scratch! The dinner was delicious, and I ate enough to feed a small country. You can’t really tell from the picture, but that is a gigantic serving platter. And yes, it was cleared completely (and almost entirely by me and Casey!).

But we needed all that fuel for a good reason. Saturday morning we got up bright and early (6am!) to prepare for the morning run. One of the best lessons I learned from last year’s training, was to try to combine long-runs with races as much as possible. That way I can focus on the timing chip on my shoe and the goodies at the finish line, rather than the daunting total mileage I’m attempting to move my body. For me, it is most effective to finish with a race, so that when I’m done, I’m really done. But you can also start with a race, and then tack on extra miles to the end (like I’ll be doing this Saturday!).

This week’s scheduled long-run was 17 miles (gulp), so I planned to run 10 miles (two laps around Lunken), and finish with the Strides of March 10K. We got up, got fueled, and started our pre-race runs around 7am – a solid two-hour window before the race started. Here I am (give me a break – it was 6am) with my favorite pre-run snack – a PB2 and jelly sandwich!

Casey and I set out in opposite directions around the 5-mile trail, so that we could pass each other mid-way and give a few well-deserved high fives! I finished my two laps with about 30 minutes to spare, and waited for Casey to finish (he had to pre-run 15 miles!) so we could quickly down some Gu and get our numbers on for the race. This was the Nutrition Council’s biggest turnout yet – over 700 people! Let me tell you, 700 people is a lot of runners to cram onto a narrow bike trail. Unfortunately, we got stuck towards the back of the pack at the starting line, which made moving up through the crowd very difficult. Our first mile was slow.

Casey sacrificed his finishing time (as he is much faster), and offered to run this one with me, knowing I’d need some support in those last few miles. Good thing he was there – I definitely needed him! I felt really rough at first – the soreness of having already run ten miles had started to sink in during my cool-down, and my legs weren’t too happy to discover that our running for the day wasn’t actually over. Around mile three, I settled into a decent stride, and I was able to sprint the last 1.5 miles as fast as I could go – a 7:45 pace – insane! The last bit was awful, and I slowed down towards the finish line, but I made it across (and threatened to puke everywhere), and I was really proud of myself. My official finish time was 52:35 – that’s an 8:29 pace for 6.2 miles! Not bad considering it was actually miles 10-16.2 for me that day.

Once I recovered, I was able to enjoy what I had wanted most – SOUP! (You all know about me and soup.) The main reason I signed up for this race was that the Nutrition Council provided delicious, healthy homemade soups at the finish line. I had both tomato lentil and carrot ginger, and neither disappointed. I didn’t care that it was almost 80 degrees and I was drenched in sweat – bring on the soup! Here we are in all our soupy glory, happy to be 16 miles closer to the marathon.

When I got home, I indulged in a gigantic bowl of chocolate banana oatmeal, and decided to take advantage of a beaaaautiful day. I thought my legs felt fine despite the long run (I think in hindsight they were numb), so I went for a long two-hour walk with Lindsey, walking and talking and catching up. Overall, I probably ran/walked at least 22 miles on Saturday, and when I laid down on the couch that night – oh man did I feel it. I was really sore, but really happy to have had such a great run with Casey, a fun walk with Lindsey, and a beautiful sunny Saturday.

Check back tomorrow for a long-overdue blog about my newest toy!