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Twenty Six Point Two

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” John Hanc

I tend to have my most motivating thought when I feel I can’t do something.

I trained hard for the Gate River Run this year. I normally just run the race for fun but I really had some goals this year. A few weeks before the run, I started having pain in my calf/ankle. I didn’t think much of it. I iced and tried to rest between runs.. I just wanted to get through the race. I had plans to run with my friend Keri and we were determined to PR. Unfortunately, just two miles into the race I could feel the burning in my leg. By mile four, I couldn’t take it anymore. I called it quits. I’ve never quit a race before and Keri wasn’t about to let me quit this one. She forfeited her PR (we were on PR target at mile five) and did a run/walk with me for the last four miles. Needless to say, she’s a good friend. I learned after that the arch in my left foot had collapsed and I had posterior tibula tendonitis. Thankfully, all I needed was arch support in my shoes and some painful, deep tissue physical therapy massages.

I wasn’t allowed to run for a couple of weeks while everything healed. Sitting around, moping over yet another injury, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I texted Keri, who was immediately in. What the hell were we thinking.

I hit the road once given the all clear and started with some easy four milers. Once things felt good, I sat down to make a plan. I considered having my running coach schedule my runs for me, but for some reason I really wanted to do this on my own. I took what I knew about half marathon training, read some online suggestions and consulted a friend who runs marathons and is an Ironman(woman). Thankfully, because my running coach is awesome, he occasionally chimes in regarding my schedule.

My much more experienced friends recommended the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon on November 8th. It’s apparently a big race with an excellent course. It’s also well supported by my running club, as a lot of people run the half, the full, or even just go up for course support.

So, the marathon training began. Halfway through training, a friend asked how many miles I will run in total. I realized I had no idea. I know I won’t end up running as much as experienced marathoners, but, I was curious. So, I decided to keep a running “diary” of sorts, logging my weeks. In the end, I am so incredibly amazed that I’ve made it. Two years ago I went through a major hip saga and wasn’t sure I’d ever run again, let alone run my first marathon.

Below is my weekly update, if you’re so inclined :)

5/18

14 miles for the week – 7 miles for the long run on Saturday. Track is hard and I feel slow.

5/25

15.35 miles for the week – 7 miles for the long run on Saturday

6/01

15.1 mile for the week – 8 miles for the long run on Saturday. 8 feels great!

6/08

15.62 mile for the week – 10 for the long run Saturday. 10 felt ok, but I pulled out of track early on Wednesday. Calf hurt a bit and I’m tired.

6/15

13.5 miles for the week – 7.5 miles for the long run Saturday. Sadly, I cut my long run short. I started late and had to get to swim lessons. It’s also HOT.. holy hell it’s hot.. and humid.

6/22

13.5 miles for the week – 9 miles for the long run Saturday. Long run felt so much better, but I did skip my Monday run, so I’m low on miles for the week.

6/29

20.5 miles for the week – 11 miles for the long run Thursday. Had to do my long run alone on Thursday before heading to Orlando for a conference. I’ve never run that distance by myself, so I’m pretty proud. I drove to my gym and ran loops from there so I had hydration and nutrition support. It was better to be away from home so that I wasn’t tempted to quit. Also ran an early morning 5k through Disney grounds, which was beautiful!

7/06

17.6 miles for the week – 12 miles for the long run Saturday. This is the furthest I’ve ever run for a training run. My friend Keri met me at 4:15am so that I could get the miles in before heading to swim lessons. I guess I’ve forgotten to mention throughout all this that every Saturday I teach swim lessons, 20 minutes away, from 8am-noon. This makes for a somewhat stressful run because I’m always worried about time. I always need to get back to my car, change, drive to the next county over and be in the water with a smile on my face. I usually eat a sandwich in the car and snack as much as I can between lessons.

7/13

21.1 miles for the week – 14 miles for the long run Saturday. Distance PR! We ran out at Nocatee and I needed to get an early start because of swim lessons (4am is becoming the norm). I woke up with a raging headache but was determined to get this run in. I popped two Excedrine, ate breakfast and drove out to Nocatee. I ran the first 4 miles alone, at 4am, in the dark, with my hair down because it hurt too much to put my hair up. By 5am, the official group start time, my headache was mostly gone and I could finally rock the much needed pony tail. The last two miles were rough.. but I survived.

7/20

14 actual running miles for the week – took Monday off because I just need a mental break. I failed to mention that I’m also training for a 12 mile swim throughout all this and my rest days are in the pool or in the ocean. I’m exhausted. I ran track Wednesday and hopped on a plane to Lake Tahoe Thursday for a family wedding. My plan was to run 15 miles, but between traveling, the altitude and the hills, only 10 miles happened. However, the weather was beautiful. I “made up” my miles with a 2 mile hike later that afternoon and a 5 mile hike the next day. Not an easy hike, either!

7/27

20.1 miles for the week – 10.36 miles for the long run Saturday. Oh, fail. I don’t know what happened.. but Saturday just failed. Everything hurt, I was stressed about time and we had 90% humidity by 5am.

8/03

19.75 miles for the week – 11.25 miles for the long run Saturday. Trying to stay positive. Not happy with my miles.

8/10

23 miles for the week – 15 miles for the long run Saturday. Took a break from swimming, which meant I ended up with actual rest days.. and what happened? A beautiful 15 mile run on Saturday! Started at 4am alone, as usual and got 5 miles in before people started gathering for the 5am group start. I had time to change my socks and shirt before heading out for the next 10. This was our St. Johns Town Center run, which is not my favorite, but I didn’t mind it today.

8/17

22 miles for the week – 12 miles for the long run Friday. Slight rest week to recover from last week, plan for next week and consider Saturday’s open water race. Had the Hammerhead 2.5 mile ocean swim Saturday, so I had to run alone Friday. A friend of mine was running 20 miles, yes, miles (before going to work, because she’s crazy), so I drove my car to her 10 mile turn-around point. This served as a big nutrition/hydration/wardrobe change stop for her and a good spot for me to run 3 mile loops. Maintaining nutrition and hydration has been a battle for me and running loops, simulating race water stops, has been beneficial. Nuun has been a saving grace for me.. It’s so much easier on my stomach than Gatorade, which sits heavy.

8/24

24 miles for the week – 16 miles for the long run Friday. Not only was this a distance PR but I ran it alone because Saturday I had a 6 mile swim (Up the River 2014). I felt absolutely amazing for the first 13 miles, which is really encouraging. I finally feel like training is starting to kick in and I’m a stronger than I have ever been before. At 13, I hit a little bit of a wall but realized I had only a 5k left, so I pushed through. By 14 I was really starting to feel tight and by 15 I was mentally wiped. The last mile was a run/walk and I shed a few tears of frustration. But, I reminded myself that this is an incredible achievement. I’d also like to point out that track practice has been amazing. I’m completing workouts and I’ve gotten so much faster (for summer tempts). My biggest motivation this week was a friend telling me at track that she’s noticed my improvement. Words can be so motivating :) Saturdays 6 mile swim was a breeze, so I’m looing forward to 12 miles in September.

8/31

27.7 miles for the week – 18 miles for the long run Saturday. Wow. I never imagined I would run 18 miles. The group run was huge at around 160 people.  I started at 4am with 5 others, though I ran alone because they were all much faster (like 2 min/mile faster). We had an additional 60 or so show up at 5am. I decided to run a full 6 with the 5am group, so I wasn’t back in time for the 6am start. This ended up being the most amazing situation because as I turned the corner to head back to European street, 160 others came running toward me down King Street. I’ve never seen a sight like this. I’m usually running in the middle of the group.. just like in races. I’ve never been standing on the road when 160 suddenly came running toward me. This may sound strange, but it was a beautiful sight! My run went very well but I began to crash around mile 14, as expected. I pushed through and felt ok for miles 14-16. 16-17 everything started to shut down and the last mile was a run-walk… trying really hard to run more than walk. I’m ok with this. I’m not opposed to walking, especially when I’m officially past my distance PR. I was so happy to finish. So. Happy. I had breakfast at Cool Moose with friends afterward and recovered well the next day. My GI tract is unhappy, but I’ll survive. Ben and I leave Thursday for Portugal – training should be interesting. I’ve purposely scheduled a rest week, a least!

9/7

13 miles for the week – Just a recovery 3 Monday and then 10 early morning miles Thursday before heading to Europe. I should’ve gone to track Wednesday but I had so many things to take care of.

9/14

5 miles for the week – Woah. Definitely intended on running more in Portugal.. but at the same time I think I knew better. I’m not concerned with it, though. I am a wee bit disappointed in myself for not running today (Sunday), as I returned home yesterday. My only excuse for not doing my planned 8-10 today was sheer exhaustion.. aka laziness. I dealt with jet lag by sleeping most of the day.

9/21

24 miles for the week – 14 miles for the long run, which was done with a friend on Friday morning. Saturday, I drove to Charleston and did my 12 mile Swim Around Charleston. I loved and hated the swim. It was beautiful and such an incredible experience. If I ever do it again, though, I absolutely cannot marathon train at the same time. Because of running, my swimming really suffered. I survived, but it was painful.

9/28

24 miles for the week – 20 miles for the long run. Let me first say, I’m 6 miles short this week because I really needed a break Monday/Tuesday after my swim. But.. I actually LOVED my 20 mile run. I never, ever thought I would be able to say that sentence. I loved my 20 mile run. We ran through 3-4 different parts of town and watched the sun rise. There was a slight mist at times and plenty of people waiting at the end. This was a huge confidence booster!

10/5

21 miles for the week – 13.1 miles for the long run. Ran the Marine Corps Half Marathon as my long run/recovery run for the week. I felt like I could’ve PR’d but forced myself to slow down halfway to make sure I didn’t end up injured or too tired.

10/12

27 miles for the week – 20 miles for the long run. This 20 wasn’t as easy and fun as the first. I survived no problem but I didn’t enjoy it as much. I’m going to put blame on the miles accumulating on my legs. I’m supposed to be tired at this point, right? That’s why the miles drop a bit next week and then taper follows.

10/19

19 miles for the week – 14 miles for the long run. Got caught up in work this week and shorted myself on my weekday runs. Shame, shame. Felt pretty great dropping to only 14 on Saturday, though.

10/26

20 miles for the week – 12 miles for the long run plus a Tuesday run and a really awesome track workout.

11/2

8 miles for the week – Long run…? Ummm.. Had two great runs during the week and then went to Panama City for IMFL. The weather was so cold and windy and we spent so much time cheering for our friends competing that the long run just never happened. At least it was only supposed to be 8 miles. At this point, the only goal is to just keep moving.

11/8 – Race Week!

35 miles for the week – And, well, 26.2 miles for the long run!

Total Miles: 487.82

Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon – My first and definitely not my last!

Marathoner!

Marathoner!

Hello, beautiful race route!

Hello, beautiful race route!

I had SO much fun running this race. Don’t get me wrong.. 26.2 miles is grueling and there were parts toward the end that were physically awful, but I really had a blast. I don’t think I could’ve picked a more perfect marathon to be my first. The race is extremely well-supported and Savannah is a great city. It was also incredible having so many other PRS members out there running their first half marathons/marathons and PR’ing with some amazing times. The best part was how many PRSers were out there cheering. We had lots of people come up to Savannah to simply cheer us along. I saw them at mile six, twenty and at the finish line. THANK YOU!

Best pre-race idea

Best pre-race idea

Great Friends!

Great Friends!

I had three goals for this race: 1) finish 2) finish happily and 3) run somewhere around 5 hours. I definitely achieved 1 and 2..  not so much 3, as I ended up running 5:38. I was on target for sub 5 until mile 12. Then, I felt something funny going on with my lower back. By mile 14, my lower back was really tight and by 16 it really started to hurt. At 18 I had given up the thought of running close to 5 hours, which was fine with me because it was a pretty loose goal, anyway. I managed rather well until 20, when I need to start walking. I had stopped at every single medic tent for another application of Biofreeze but the only thing that felt better was walking. It’s a shame because mentally I was on par and physically, the rest of me was fine. I wanted to run.. but arugh.. my back. I pretty much walked straight through 22-24 until one of my teammates ran back to find me. He run- walked with me for a little bit and left me just before mile 25 when two of my other friends picked me up. They ran me into the finish. It felt so empowering crossing that finish line. Overall, I’m happy with the entire race and I know I smiled the entire way. While I don’t have an immediate plan for the next one, I know there will be more. I even know exactly what I’ll change about next time :)

Really great friends

Really great friends – Mile 25.5

collage1 collage2
Once upon a time someone told me I achieve all of my goals. Here’s to keeping that going…


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Swim Around Charleston

In 2010, Ben and I took a trip to Charleston, SC for my friend Rachel’s wedding.

Cheese

Cheese

Prior to the wedding, we walked around downtown Charleston and took in some views of the river.

DSCN0084 DSCN0087

Never did I imagine that I would swim in that water, alongside that pathway and right past that military ship.

Sometime time around early Spring I decided that I wanted to do the 4th annual Swim Around Charleston, a 12 mile swim from Mt. Pleasant to Charleston in the Cooper River and Ashley River. I knew some people who swam the event last year and just couldn’t make 2013 happen due to scheduling. I started off this year training pretty well, but with the addition of marathon training, teaching swim lessons, work.. and sleep… I definitely slacked on the training the last 5-6 weeks. No one else in my group was up for the swim the year and my kayaker friend backed out last minute, so I came close to deferring my entry until next year. But, alas, I decided to suck it up and make the trip on my own.

right to left

right to left

Saturday, the day before the race, we had a pre-race meeting. I woke up so sick that morning (thanks to Ben for giving me his cold) and drove the four hours to Charleston. I someone managed to sit through the meeting, though all I wanted to do was lay myself on the floor and sleep. After the meeting, I grabbed food to-go and ate dinner in my hotel room. I was in bed by 8pm. So much for enjoying the city.

I woke up Sunday feeling much better and ready to swim, but terrified. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much anxiety over a swim. Maybe it was the distance, maybe it was the fact that I knew I was low on energy from being sick, but I think it was just the concept of jumping into a new body of water. I know the St. Johns River – I know the way the water feels, I know the current, I know every single bridge and dock. I feel safe knowing everything. The Cooper and Ashley Rivers were completely unknown to me.

Getting Ready

Because of the tides, our race didn’t start until noon. A shuttle took us from the hotel to the start around 10:15am. I met some wonderful people on the bus who chatted my ear off about other swims they’ve done, which helped me forget about my anxiety for a bit. When we got there, everyone immediately lathered up with sunscreen and grease while I just chilled and watched the water. We had plenty of time to kill. Eventually, I found my assigned volunteer kayaker, Leslie. This was Leslie’s third time volunteering; she was confident and knew what she was doing/where she was going… this was such a huge help for me. I handed Leslie my drinks, snacks and extra caps/goggles (changed both mid swim – goggles wouldn’t sit right and cap ripped when I readjusted) then lined up with everyone else for the start.

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bridge

And Go

This was an in-water start, so we were checked off as we jumped off the dock and waited in the water until the horn went off exactly at 12:00pm. The start was a little chaotic because I was trying to get off the feet of two women (later nicknamed by Leslie as “the twins”) and not lose my kayaker at the same time. Within 20 minutes, the group had spread out and we were already under the 1st of 5 bridges.

I felt great the first two hours. I forced myself into feeds that I didn’t really want to take at 12:30pm and 1:15pm. I had been warned over and over again about staying hydrated, so I tried my best to stay on schedule. I took my 3rd feed at 2:00pm, still feeling pretty decent. There was lots to look at – Charleston is beautiful from the water. We had a nice current pushing us forward and I had made it past the 1st check point 20 minutes ahead of the cut-off. Then, we turned the corner and hit he wind. The wind… the head wind that stayed with us on and off for pretty much the remainder of the swim. The wind made the water pretty choppy –  more choppy than any year before, per my kayaker. Due to chop, boat traffic and bridges, my next feed wasn’t until almost 3:00pm. By then, I started to get a little tired. When I say “tired” I usually just mean my arms.. at some point, they just don’t want to rotate anymore. I learned something during this swim though: if you’re thinking of taking a feed “soon”, just go ahead and take it now. You don’t know what conditions “soon” might bring and you might have to push the planned feed back further than preferred.

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houses

The Wall

That “I don’t want to rotate anymore” feeling came a little too early at 4:00pm. I had stopped for  3:30 feed and again at 4:00pm and told my kayaker I was done. She chuckled at me and moved me along for another 30 minutes. I gave a big heaping sigh at 4:30’s feed, but Leslie pointed out that “pink cap and the twins” (people who had been behind me for a while now) were still behind me and “paddle board guy” was not too far ahead. I was thankful for the entertaining nicknames and the reminder that I wasn’t the only one out there. I pushed it along to 5:00pm and caught up to paddle board guy (swimmer who had a paddler and a boat instead of a kayak escort.. what was that all about?). I thought maybe I had a surge of energy upon catching him, but it only lasted 10 minutes. With the final bridge in sight, I literally didn’t think I could continue. Each stroke burned, my arms were heavy and even my fingers tingled. My muscles were shredded and there was no racing anyone to the finish. I stopped a lot (non swimmers take note: when stopping you may not hang on to anything, you must tread). Paddle board guy had been swimming further out in the channel, so he had a nice current pushing him.. I chose to remain closer to the shore and he ended up pushing ahead. I didn’t care.. I just wanted that damn dock to appear. It felt like a complete “joke’s on you! haha!” situation where someone kept pushing the marina further and further away from me. How could I have the bridge/marina in sight for this long and not be there yet?

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Pruned to the Extreme

Finally, balloons appeared and I was yards away from the finish dock. In somewhat of a haze, I very (and I mean VERY) slowly moved one arm at a time until I was told my chip had registered (by the way, my sticker-chip wouldn’t stick to my silicone cap so I had to shove it in my suit.. awesome). Done. So incredibly done. Finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes, just under the 6 hour cut-off (the three people behind me made it as well). My kayaker then towed me back to the boat ramp where I could exit the swim.

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And it’s Done

Here is where my only real complaints about the race come in: since I was one of the last ones finished, there were not many people left at the marina. My kayaker and I had to pull her yak out of the water by ourselves after using our arms for almost six hours; there should’ve been help. The massage people were closing up shop and refused to help out the last few swimmers and the only food available was some fruit and cookies (maybe there had been more earlier on, I’m not sure).. more carbs would’ve been appreciated. With that being said, the race was incredibly organized, well run and very safe (important). At one point in time, there was a rogue boater coming at us full-speed. The Coast Guard went chasing after him, blaring their sirens and ordered the boat to maintain no-wake to protect the swimmers. It was great knowing the Coast Guard and local authorities were on the lookout the entire swim. Additionally, everyone I met was incredibly nice! The water was so clean and clear; it was beautiful.

Will I do this again? Probably not as a solo swimmer, but that’s just because I’m not committed to the training right now. I’m in for next year as a relay though, if anyone is interested!

 

– Race photos courtesy of http://www.swimaroundcharleston.com


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From Dirt to Dwelling

So, we bought a new home! Or, at least, we bought a plot of dirt.

Dirt!

Dirt!

We’ve been searching around the interwebs for homes for sale in various areas of town. On Sunday, July 6th, we drove around to scope out a few options. On our way home, we spotted a “model home” sign. Model home? Well, those are fun. At 12:00pm we walked into the home. By 2:00pm we were having lunch while pouring over floor plans. By 4:00pm we were making appointments to sign papers. Boom.

Exciting? Nerve wracking? Overwhelming? All of the above. We had been discussing upgrading to a new home after our wedding, but when the right opportunity arises, you just take it.

Things went smoothly for about a week or so. We had a pool contingency in our contract stating that if a pool didn’t properly fit, we have the right to pull out of the deal. Long story short, without getting into too much detail, we determined that a pool would not fit into our originally chosen lot, lot 26. After a notable amount of stress-inducing back-and-forth with the sales agent, we moved our future home to lot 9. Per the site plan, lot 9 offers us ample space to do as we please.

Now the fun begins! On August 22nd we spent 4.5 hours in the Home Gallery picking out floors, cabinets, sinks, paint, door handles and every single detail you can possibly imagine. We even spent a chunk of time deciding where every power and cable outlet would be placed in each room. Honestly, it was exhausting.. but so incredible knowing that we had the opportunity to make these decisions. I guess we can only blame ourselves if something is in the wrong place!

This week, we leave for Europe. While this is exciting in itself, what is equally as exciting is that when we return, we should see stakes on out lot, outlining the house. We might even be lucky enough to have a cement slab. Word on the street is that we will be able to close before the end of the year. While I have my doubts, I look forward to driving past on a weekly basis and, of course, blogging updates!

10/10/14 – Last week we received word that we have permits. And today – wood! Our house as been outlined for the slab, which will hopefully come soon.

10-10(1)

10/23/14 – We had our pre-construction meeting, which I’ve learned is just a review of everything we’ve already gone over. I’m glad this meeting occurred though, because there were a few errors (like where there should be hardwood and where there should be carpet). Afterward, we took a stroll down the street to go look at the cement slab that was laid a few days ago. We ended up with a pretty awesome surprise:

wood

Woah.. that’s way more than a cement slab. I guess we missed a step. We were quite surprised and excited to see an actual structure going up. We were told that we’re a little under 90 days out… suddenly everything feels like it’s moving so quickly.

10/26/14 – Only 3 days later and we have an enclosed house with a roof. This was the first time we got to walk around the inside and go upstairs :)

Boom

Boom

Kitchen

Kitchen

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Backyard

Backyard

11/2/14 – We sold our house! We put our house up for sale on Tuesday and had people come by to look at it Wednesday. They put an offer on the house Thursday and we signed the contact Friday. Holy cow – the very first people who saw our house one day after we listed it.. bought it! Granted, we still have inspection, etc… but still! Very exciting. Also, our new construction home has shingles on the roof :)

11/10/14 – Pre-drywall meeting ALREADY! This is flying by quickly. By the time I got to the house tonight, we had all our HVAC, plumbing, electric, cable and internet set up. During the meeting I had the opportunity to point out a few things that were incorrect/missing: our gas line exited on the wrong side of the house, we were missing the hose bib in the front in the front and the TV jack in the family room needed to be moved down to 60 inches. Otherwise, everything looked great!

11-26 exterior pre stucco

11/29/14 – Things are flying and I’ve been slacking. We now have interior drywall and exterior stucco. Today, they’re supposed to be working on interior paint. All the things that needed to be corrected a few weeks ago have been fixed. We added a small issue with the patio fans being too close to the doors, which was also fixed. In theory, we close December 30th :)

11-26 drywall

 11/30/14 – The thirty day countdown! Today’s visit unveiled a home with stucco and molding around the windows, interior paint and interior doors/closet doors.

Stucco

Stucco

Kitchen

Kitchen

Doors!

Doors!

12/7/14 – Cabinets, countertops and tile, oh my! Didn’t have a chance to visit the house in an entire week and we were very happily surprised to see the changes that had been made. I love, love, love my curvy kitchen sink and our squared bathroom sinks. I’m also in love with our kitchen/master bath counters :)

Hi :)

Hi :)

Kitchen Sink

Kitchen Sink

Kitchen!

Kitchen!

Master Bath

Master Bath

Doors to Master

Doors to Master

Master Sinks

Master Sinks

12/14/14 – By now, every day has the most amazing changes. Between the two of us, we can only make it out to the house about two days a week. I wish we could be here daily. This Sunday we had some appliances, faucets, wood stairs, light switches and plates, exterior paint and our fireplace wall (soon to be stoned). Only 16 days until closing and we close on our selling house this week!

12-14 fireplace 12-14 hood 12-14 house 12-14 stairs

12/21/14 – Nine days! We spent over an hour today just staring at our place. I can’t believe we went from the plot of dirt, to a slab, to some wood, to what we have today. Our wood floors are in and most of the “crud” has been cleaned up (windows, bathtubs, etc.) – it’s amazing. We have all our carpet upstairs, light fixtures, door knobs, plants outside.. anything you can think of. We’re missing a few minor things and there are some minor touchups that need to be done. We have a walk through Tuesday to go over things room-by-room. Then, there’s just one week left for all the final touches. Can’t wait :)

Foyer/Dining

Foyer/Dining

Foyer/Library

Foyer/Library

Fireplace

Fireplace

Ovens!

Ovens!

The only down side today…? Our fridge was stolen. Yep, you read that correctly. Our fridge.. was stolen. A few months ago when talking to our salesperson about coming by to see the house weekly, he let us know that once the appliances went in, the doors would be locked. He said it’s common for people to steal appliances from construction sites. I thought, “Well, that sucks.” I never thought it would happen to us. They think maybe a window was open, because there was no damage to our door. Our neighbor also had their fridge stolen, but their door was broken down. My guess (as well as the builder’s), is that it’s an inside job by one of the contractors. Our fridge will be replaced and we will cross our fingers that it doesn’t happen again in the next week. We should be fine once we occupy the house. It’s not the end of the world but you still feel violated, you know?


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2013 Year in Review

2013

2013

We rang in the New Year quietly at home and just a few days later I was off  to run Ragnar: Miami to Key West

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar'd

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar’d

I opted out of February’s Donna this year due to my hip, but we still made it out to cheer

Cold!

Cold!

For Spring Break, Alex came to visit!

<3

<3

And T:E Girls partied at One Spark

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And rocked it out at the gym

TE

In April, Ben and I hopped on a plane to spend a few days in Santa Barbara and Malibu for my cousin’s wedding

Cheese

Cheese

Malibu Beach

Malibu Beach

Wedding!

Wedding!

In May, we started enjoying Florida’s beautiful beaches again

Date Night

Date Night

By June, I was back in the open water

Duval Ocean Swimmers

Duval Ocean Swimmers

And finally able to run again by July (see: #hipsaga2012)

July 4th 5k

July 4th 5k

CROME (formally known as Timed Exercise) also took to the beach this summer

TE1

TE2

Midway through July we ran away for a week on the Allure of the Seas with my family for my dad’s 60th birthday

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

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Come August, I swam my second Hammer Head 2.5 Mile Ocean Marathon and place 2nd in my age group

Running to the finish

Running to the finish

And Hannah came to visit before shipping off to college :)

So proud of this girl

So proud of this girl

In September I joined JumpingFish for Up The River – Downtown – a 10k/6mi river swim escorted by 45 kayakers/boaters!

river1

Source: Jacksonville.com

river2

river3

Soon after I spent a weekend in NYC with friends. We ate cupcakes, ran through Central Park and celebrated Lindsay’s upcoming wedding

nyc nyc2

October brought several events including my second Siesta Key 5k Swim with a 4th place finish

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

My 30th Birthday

Thirty

Thirty

My first GORUCK

Damn good heart if you ask me

Damn good heart if you ask me

One Team

One Team

A trip to Virginia with Ben for Sarah’s wedding

Sarah and Andrew :)

Sarah and Andrew :)

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

And my fastest 5k ever!

29:33

29:33

In November I traveled home for Lindsay’s wedding and to see some of my favorite people

Eric!

Eric!

And on Thanksgiving morning I ran the Subaru 13.1 in 35 degree temps (Florida?!?) – this race was iconic for me because it was the first 13.1 after all my hip issues. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to run the distance again. I ran it thanks to my wonderful PRS group.. I even PR’d by a minute :)

2:20.29

2:20.29

Before we knew it, it was December and time for my second GORUCK.

GORUCK Light Class #153 - Jacksonville Beach

GORUCK Light Class #153 – Jacksonville Beach

I also ran a painfully difficult soft-sand beach 5k, but had a ton of fun AND placed!

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

The next day (Sunday 12/22/13), Ben and I went to the beach, like any other Sunday. It was incredibly warm and beautiful for just three days before Christmas.. but that’s Florida for you.

Little did I know...

Little did I know…

Little did I know that I’d walk to the water with my boyfriend and walk back up the beach with my fiancé :)

Yes!

Yes!

The next couple of days included engagement excitement and Christmas

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

We rang in the New Year with a simple dinner and home before midnight (noticing a NYE theme here..)

Bye-Bye 2013

Bye-Bye 2013

And started 2014 with friends at an extremely rainy Gator Bowl

We managed to have fun anyway :)

Mid field, 6 rows back – can’t complain

It was seriously an exciting year and we have so much to look forward to in 2014! My calendar is already filled with a trips to Atlanta/Blue Ridge, Islamorada for venue shopping, a one-week south Caribbean cruise with friends, Lake Tahoe for a wedding, Portugal/England with Ben as well as things like the Wolfson’s 55 relay, Gate River Run, Hammerhead Ocean Marathon, Siesta Key 5k swim, many 5ks and fall running :)

One last thing

While it’s important to focus on the good in life, I had one very sad event this year. On 12/1/13 my sweet Alley girl went missing. We have absolutely no idea how she got out of the house and we don’t understand why we didn’t see her lounging around in the sun within two days. She has literally up and vanished. My loving girl is 14 years old and I worry about her every single day – she’s been my devoted snuggle friend for over 11 years. My heart is broken and I just wish she’d find her way home.

Love this pretty girl

Love this pretty girl

The silver lining in this tragedy, is that while trying to find Alley, we rescued an 8 month-old feral kitten. We weren’t sure what to do with her at first, because she was a bit insane (which earned her the name “Ninja”). But she’s pushed our way into our hearts and our home, so we think she’s here to stay.

Not such a ninja anymore

Not such a ninja anymore

All we have to do is convince Savannah

She's still undecided

She’s still undecided


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GORUCK Light Class #153

December’s GORUCK was supposed to be my original GORUCK, but I got antsy and did October’s GORUCK first. I’m glad I’ve done two because they were so incredibly different from one another. The people were different, the cadre was different, the messages were different- an overall new experience. However, both were excellent.

GORUCK Light Class #153 - Jacksonville Beach

GORUCK Light Class #153 – Jacksonville Beach

Our class was unusually small. I’m not sure what happened because I know we had a lot more people signed up. Many people started backing out a few days before and others just didn’t show up that morning. We ended up with only sixteen people and I think eleven of us were girls. This Light was notably “easier” than my last one. I don’t know if it’s because we had a different cadre, because I knew what to expect or because Garet went easy on us for being a mostly female group (I hope not!)

Unlike my last Light, this one started at 7:00am, so we got to ruck during sunrise.

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I felt a bit better prepared this time since I sort of knew what to expect. I chose to wear pants instead of shorts; my shorts were fine last time but I chose pants a) just in case it was a bit chilly and b) because last time my knees got a bit raw during the “Tunnel of Love” (no ToL this time). I also tied my hydration hose to my ruck strap (with a rubber band), which kept it in place, so I didn’t have to keep reaching back to find it. And finally, I was more prepared with the fact that I would have no concept of time and no idea when the event would be over.. last time around, this lack of awareness made the event seem like it was going on forever. This time was much better.

Garet doing his thing

Garet doing his thing

Oh, pushups..

Oh, pushups..

Inchworm pushups

Inchworm pushups

These had a name...

These had a name…

Took us a few tries

Took us a few tries

Embrace the suck

Embrace the suck

Garet, our cadre, was kind enough to hold off ordering us into the 65 degree water until the sun was fully up, but that doesn’t mean it made getting in any easier.

Rucksack trust fall

Rucksack trust fall

Holy cold

Holy cold

Garet also made sure we remained very, very sandy.

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies

He let us wash off, then said, "Just kidding"

He let us wash off, then said, “Just kidding”

Of course, since this was a Light, we sang quite a bit.

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And when we didn’t sing well enough, we were punished.

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These were pretty uncomfortable.

Luckily, we were spared any real weights this time around. No 120 pound sand bags or a couch… but we were given kegs to toss for a few miles, and then returned them to the convenience store where they originated

Matt, cadre in training

Matt, cadre in training

Most of our singing was done in front of the homes of GORUCK employees and military vets.

Good morning, GORUCK staff!

Good morning, GORUCK staff!

It’s all fun and games until one of your teammates gets out of the water without his team. Then it turns into very cold and wet pushups.

Waves make it a bit difficult

Waves make it a bit difficult

TL

TL

Garet's Class #153 Gift

Garet’s Class GRL #153 Gift

At first, I was a little bit bummed that I didn’t have Jason, my cadre from last time. But by the end of the day, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to ruck with Garet. He’s a really nice guy and extremely funny. He kept us laughing the whole day and really took the time to get to know us.

Though this Light was much more lighthearted than the previous one, what we lacked in buddy carries, excessive singing, and extra weights, we made up for in miles. Nine miles, actually. My legs are pretty sore the next day as are my shoulders from PT. Or, as Garet called it, Asian Calisthenics (complete with Asian elevator music).

A good time had by all, I’m sure. I made some new friends and enjoyed everyone I rucked with. I was inspired by some people who rucked with us despite dealing with some physical challenges. Some people are truly amazing!

The big question is:

What Next?

 

Special thanks to Jim for shadowing this event and taking pictures.


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Walkin’ on Sunshine with GORUCK Light

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This past Saturday I completed my first GORUCK Light. Although I “knew” what to expect from talking to others and stalking the internet, I didn’t really “know” what to expect. It’s safe to say that no one does, regardless of what kind of background you have. You don’t know what to expect until you’re actually in it. I had a hard time finding a blog for a newbie, like me (especially for a Light). Hopefully, this helps a bit.

Who and Why

“Who does these things?” is a common question I’ve encountered. Well, anyone does them.. I highly recommend that you’re in shape, can run/walk a good 6-10 miles, carry a decent amount of weight and you’re a team player. “Why?” is a more difficult question to answer. I can’t really say “why” other than “because.” This is a challenge – it’s a bit of a physical challenge but it’s more of a mental challenge. It’s also a team challenge – can you take one for the team? Can you take several for the team?

This particular GORUCK event was a fundraiser for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, which serves to help families tackle childhood cancer by providing comprehensive financial, emotional and practical support. It’s an incredible organization and I am proud that we were able to contribute to the cause.

Prepping

I can’t say I did any extra preparation for this. My regular weekly schedule of Timed Exercise (EDIT: now called CROME), running and swimming was plenty. The only “extra” I did was a walk or two with my rucksack – mostly so that I could adjust straps and weight and figure out whether I could get away with a sleeveless shirt.

You need: a rucksack (preferably a GORUCK), a hydration system (no, not water bottles.. an actual hydration system like a camelbak), bricks (2 or 4; you must wrap your bricks completely in duct tape to protect the inside of your ruck… google videos), your ID and emergency cash. That’s really all you need for this event. Optional would be snacks and a waterproof case for your phone/keys.

Pool noodle pieces used to raise bricks/take up space without adding weight

Pool noodle pieces used to raise bricks/take up space without adding weight

As girly as this sounds, I struggled with what to wear: capris or shorts? I went back and forth on this for days and tried to google what other women have worn… I came up with nothing. Here’s some help for future GORUCK newbies: it doesn’t really matter. I went with shorts because the idea of wet capris/pants made me cringe. A few other girls wore shorts, a few wore capris and two word ankle-length tights (tucked into socks, which apparently helped keep sand out of socks). My shorts left me with some raw knees from crawling in the sand, but otherwise, I was very happy in them. Obviously, it was a warm day.. I can’t speak for cold events. I opted for a short-sleeve shirt (yellow in all the pics) to protect my shoulders from my rucksack. I quickly learned that nothing will protect your shoulders, FYI. Some girls ended up in just sports bras, some girls wore long-sleeves for protection from the sun.

Let’s Go

We met at the roundabout at One Ocean in Neptune Beach, Florida at 12:00pm. Everyone stood around for a bit, getting to know each other before Jason, our Cadre, came to spread his Peace and Love. We had our rucksack check and were reminded of a few life lessons. Our main theme for this event was: It could always be worse. This was in honor of our fundraiser. The struggle families go through when a child is diagnosed with cancer is far worse than anything I have ever had to endure. No matter what you or I might experience in life, it could always be worse.

It could always be worse

It could always be worse

"You will smile," he said, "Whether on your own or because you are made to...."

“You will smile,” he said, “Whether on your own or because you are made to….”

And then we got wet.

One Team

One Team

Actually, let me point out that originally, we entered the water as a giant, clustered mess; we were quickly lectured on teamwork and punished with heart-shape inchworm push-ups:

Damn good heart if you ask me

Damn good heart if you ask me

Up... down... up... down...

Up… down… up… down…

After about 20 rounds, we were sent back into the water, where we entered as a team… for sure. A few flutter kick later, we exited the water and began the true torture of the day: singing.

I’m Walkin’ on Sunshine

Just typing the words makes me shudder. Every time I hear a tune from a car driving by, I think it’s THAT SONG. This song was chosen via vote on our FB page… it sounded like a good choice at the time. I hate this song. Everyone hates this song. So. Annoying. We lined up in our two “army thingies” (rows) and began singing. We were awful. Everyone was off beat, half of us got the words wrong even though someone had printed out laminated lyric sheets (brilliant) and we were barely audible. I’d like to say that all changed pretty quickly, but it took us a long time to get it right. We sang it over and over and over again… and our cadre was unimpressed over and over and over again. Eventually, a bunch of tweaks earned us the opportunity to move along. We sang this song hundreds of times throughout the day.. in front of Poe’s Tavern, in the courtyard near Lilly’s, in front of beach goers, life guards, Joe’s Crab Shack, Lynch’s , various homes up and down 1st Street, and finally at the Team House.

Sing louder he said, so apparently I did. Also please note, our straps were "taken away" so we held our rucks

Sing louder he said, so apparently I did. Also please note, our straps were “taken away” so we held our rucks

Serenading a lifeguard

Serenading a lifeguard

Serenading the Team House

Serenading the Team House

Casualties, Sandbags and a Couch

Throughout the day we carried each other, we carried sand bags and we carried our rucks. We carried our rucks without straps. We carried each others’ rucks. We also carried a couch. Yes, a couch. A few classes back a discarded couch (throne) was picked up and carried by the team and an ambassador was chosen to sit on the couch… while it was carried. It’s not unusual for a class to come across random, heavy things to carry. I knew this; I saw the pictures. I did not know, however, that Jason had held onto said couch and kept it in his backyard. Halfway through our walk, when we picked up 5 sandbags and 2 water jugs; we also picked up the couch.

Fact: water makes rucksacks heavy

Fact: water makes rucksacks heavy

Casualties being carried

Casualties being carried

Casualties & no ruck straps

Casualties & no ruck straps

While being carried is better than carrying, it's quite uncomfortable

While being carried is better than carrying, it’s quite uncomfortable

What happens when you don't sing together

What happens when you don’t sing together

p.s. these suck - especially when your cadre is spraying a hose in your face

p.s. these suck – especially when your cadre is spraying a hose in your face

Challenge for the girls - carry the 120 lb. sandbag up and back in under 3 minutes(we did it in 2)

Challenge for the girls – carry the 120 lb. sandbag up and back in under 3 minutes (we did it in 2)

Lots of casualties - it was a nasty war

Lots of casualties – it was a nasty war

Flutter kicks

Flutter kicks

Flutter kick w/ ruck passes

Flutter kick w/ ruck passes

Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love

Never been so happy to see a house - the Team House - our finishing point

Never been so happy to see a house – the Team House – our finishing point

We're done! As long as we can sing one last time, we're done!

We’re done! As long as we can sing one last time, we’re done!

When It’s All Said and Done

I had a good time. Obviously there were a few parts that sucked and by the time 5 hours passed (total time was 6.5) I was ready to go home, but I had a good time. I’m sore (very sore) and bruised (very bruised) and pretty tired.. but I would do it again. I’m proud of myself not because of the physical parts but the mental parts. When someone needed to be carried, I carried them. When someone needed me to take weight, I took weight. I think I handled my turn as Team Leader rather well. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t complain and encouraged others to do the same. We all got along really well and no one argued; it was refreshing, actually, considering what I observe at work on a daily basis. These are people who work hard. These are people who don’t complain. These are people who acknowledge that it could always be worse.

GORUCK Light Class 117

GORUCK Light Class 117

Light patch - never sold, only earned.. special edition patch for the Jay Fund

Light patch – never sold, only earned.. special edition patch for the Jay Fund

Pro Tips & Things to Remember

*Join the FB event page so that you know important information beforehand
*Pack what you’re supposed to pack, but remember that your rucksack will be passed around and carried by others; if you pack extra, your team carries extra (i.e. I ended up with an 8 brick rucksack)
*It says bring a hydration system, so bring a hydration system. Water bottles are not a hydration system.
*Follow directions, people. Wrap your bricks!
*Don’t plan on anything the rest of the day. You have no idea how long your event will last. Your Cadre can keep you until he decides you’re done.
*Just suck it up. It could always be worse. Be a team player.
*Light does not mean easy. They say it on the website and they mean it. Light just means less hours… it in no way means easy.

Extra Inspiration

We were lucky enough to have Frank join us for this event. Frank’s 6 year-old daughter has been in remission for a year and a half. Frank’s family has benefitted from the amazing Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, so he decided to ruck with us. Shortly into PT, Frank had a hard time keeping up. H’s a boxer and teaches kids to box every week.. but this was a different kind of conditioning for him. He pushed hard through the Tunnel of Love with cheers from our team and then found himself short of breath and I think a bit panicked. But Frank was reminded that quitting is not an option. Our Cadre reminded Frank that there are people in this world who deal with much more difficult things in life and they aren’t able to just up and quit. “Like my daughter,” was Frank’s response. Frank, like his daughter, is an inspiration. Frank stood up. Frank got in line. Frank finished the challenge. Frank earned his patch. Thanks for joining us Frank!

No man left behind

No man left behind

Please take the time to donate a monetary gift, frequent flyer miles or give the gift of volunteered time to this important organization: More information here

*Pictures courtesy of Jo, who shadowed our class (public album on FB) – thanks Jo


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Aspirations

In case you missed it, this month I participated in Up the River Downtown. It was such a phenomenal event that came together perfectly. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt so alive the entire swim. We’ve spent the last few days talking about incredible plans for next year. And then, today, Diego’s video came out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N6PHkm7zs-Y

Diego brought his GoPro with him during the swim. I didn’t think much of the camera while we were out there, but watching the video has inspired me all over again. I want to do more. I spent the day thinking about some of the things I’ve considered doing lately and now I really want to do them. Some things I’m already working toward… but 2014, I’m looking at you, kid.

On My Way

1) Sub 30 5k. I want to break 30 in a 5k. I am so close to this goal.. it’s right around the corner. I’m running on the track once a week and I’ve been feeling great. I need to run throughout the rest of the week, which I promise to do… soon. And then I just need to find a 5k when I’m actually in town. (December 2013 edit: I did it! 29:33 at the Evergreen Pumpkin Run) (February 2014 edit: Love to Run 5k 28:59!)

2) GORUCK. I saw an ad for GORUCK a while back in some magazine somewhere. I didn’t think much of it. Then, I saw someone with a shirt, which inspired me to search the website. The final push was seeing photos pop up on facebook. I visited the website again, found the next available date for a GORUCK Light (December) and registered. Rucksack, bricks, gloves and hydration purchased, and I’m on my way. Even better – an October date opened up, so I get to check this one off my list even sooner than expected. Then do it again in December with a good friend :) (December 2013 edit: DONE and DONE because I actually did an October and December event)

I’m Coming For You

1) Thirteen point one. I want to run a half marathon again. I went through #hipsaga2012 last year where I dealt with a bunch of fancy medical terms for torn tendons in my hips. I stopped all running for what felt like years, did a bunch of rehab and strengthened my core. Part of me feels like running this distance is out of the question, simply because of the training. Part of me feels I can do it if I do right. Am I motivated enough? Maybe. Some days I still feel a little pain/tension, some days I don’t. We’ll see. (December 2013 edit: DONE! Subaru 13.1 and even with a 1 minute PR) (October 2014 edit: 26.2 training and completed 1st 20 mile run. It’s happening. Savannah 26.2)

2) Swim Around Charleston. I wanted to do this 12 mile swim last year and couldn’t find the time. This year, I have an obligatory trip to NYC. I really want to do this next year. The relay is an option, but I want to do it on my own. I’ll need a support boat with a crew member (any volunteers?) and I’ll need to swim more than I did this summer.. but swimming distance has never been much of a problem. Just the idea of this swim is SO exciting. I really hope I can make this happen. (October 2014 edit: DONE! 12 solo miles in the Cooper and Ashley Rivers in 5 hours and 53 minutes and SO EXCITED!)

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And that’s all for now. I’m hoping for a cruise in March/April and have a trip to Portugal planned for late summer/early Fall… but I can’t exactly call those aspirations, can I? (October 2014 edit: these happened too :) )


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Up the River Downtown – 6 Miles in the St. Johns River

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I love this city.

Really.. I’ve liked it for quite a while now… but lately, I just love it. I remember having a conversation with my mom about Jax shortly after I moved here. I complained that I felt like something was missing and this just wasn’t the city for me. We concluded that Jacksonville was missing heart, missing a center. That conversation today would be the exact opposite. This city as heart. It has soul. It has a community – and I love it. I just needed to find it all.

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Today, I participated in an incredible community event… a first timer. Up the River Downtown was intended to be a river advocacy swim with a few swimmers and a few crew members. We swim in the river all the time and wanted to do something a “little bigger” to show everyone that our waterways should used for recreation. Our river is not dead and should not be ignored. We are so lucky in Jacksonville to have both the ocean AND the river. We also decided to raise money for the local Special Olympics Swimmers, because, well, they’re pretty darn awesome.

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Well, our “little bigger” turned into the largest in-and-on-the-water event in the St. Johns River. We had 10 swimmers, I’m guessing 15-20 crew members (SJRK boat, pontoon, SUP), two dragon boats (about 20 people each), and the Jacksonville Fire Association’s boat with fire fighters (who had a water spout going at some point). We all started at Jacksonville University with the plan of swimming about 6 miles down to the Riverside Arts Market.

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We knew we were having a bunch of people joining us at the nearest public boat ramp, Arlington Boat Ramp. As the days grew nearer, we expected quite a few people.. we started calling it the “flotilla”. We did NOT expect forty-eight kayaks to join us. As we passed the boat ramp, we took a hydration stop. It was incredible looking around at all the people surrounding us in the river. Usually, we just have 2-3 kayaks. At one point during the swim, I took the opportunity to turn around and look behind me… it was such a beautiful sight. I really wish I had a camera (Diego had his GoPro.. hopefully a link to the video will be coming soon!) I’d like to send out a huge thank you to the volunteer flotilla – thank you for joining us and thank you for staying behind us, and allowing only the crew kaykers to remain up front; this kept the swimmers safe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

9/17/13 EDIT: Diego’s video has been posted! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N6PHkm7zs-Y

Photo taken by Jacksonville.com

Photo taken by Bruce Lipsky @ Jacksonville.com

Source: Jacksonville.com

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The swim was incredible.. from Jacksonville University, past the Arlington Boat Ramp, past Exchange Island, under the Matthews Bridge, Under the Hart Bridge, under the Main Street Bridge, Under the Acosta Bridge, under the railroad tracks and to the Fuller Warren Bridge/Riverside Arts Market. A little over six miles. The water was warm (88 degrees) and a little choppy between near the Hart Bride (as usual) and yes, there was algae (light speckles, not much more than we have seen in the past)… but we could not have asked for a more perfect day.

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Thank you to Megan for being our social media person (pretty last minute) – you were amazing. Thank you to the hundreds of people who met us at RAM. Thank you to my little swimmers who came to watch me swim :) And thank you, thank you to everyone who donated under my name/sponsored my swim – the Special Olympics Swimmers thank you too. Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for getting Honda to be my official sponsor :)

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Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish

JU

Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish

boats

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Roger - leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3

Roger – leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3


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2013 Hammer Head Ocean Marathon – Race Recap

Happy open water anniversary! This race in 2012 was my first open water race as an adult, so this year marks my one year anniversary. Every year they offer a 1.25 mile option and a 2.5 mile option. I choose the 2.5 mile option… obviously!

6am felt especially dark this morning.. maybe just because it was a Saturday and 6am should never be seen on a Saturday. As any swimmer is able to do, I was in my suit and out the door by 6:10am. Before heading to packet pickup, I stepped out onto the sand to watch the sun start to rise.

So lucky to live here

So lucky to live here

Pic courtesy of Candice

Pic courtesy of Candice

Packet pickup was super easy. No markings this year, which is like sweet sorrow. I don’t exactly love the permanent marker on my body for days, but it’s also something that you earn and lets others know you competed. The shirts look the same as last year, which is fine. I was disappointed with the caps, though. The caps are clearly recycled from other events.. some people even had caps that said 2003 on them. Really. This is the 8th year for this event; by now they should have someone funding caps that at east have the name of the race on them.

shirt

What I do love about this race is that it’s local; it’s great to hang out pre-race and catch up with some people I haven’t seen in a while. Our Duval Ocean Swimmers (DOS) group all found each other pretty easily. Two school busses drove us south to the start line (start area.. can’t exactly say there was a start line). I remember having a somewhat unexpected start last year and this year was even worse. Upon arriving at the beach, half the swimmers hopped in the water to warm up… which kind of makes me chuckle, because there was no way anyone could possibly have time to properly warm up. You’re racing 2.5 miles and you’re going to warm up by swimming 100 yards? Whatever helps their psyche, I guess.  Anyway, suddenly a bunch of people started yelling for everyone to get out of the water because we were going to start soon… and a few seconds later everyone was yelling while running back into the water to start. No megaphone, no countdown, no gun start…. just hey, wanna go? Ok sure. It’s ok, though.

I was pretty happy with my entry this year as compared to last year. I’m much better prepared now to deal with the crowd (not getting kicked in the face or ribs) and handling the incoming waves. I made it out and around the buoy pretty easily and started my 2.5 mile swim north. I stayed with Jim and John for about the first mile and then lost John.. still had sight of Jim, though he stayed pretty shallow and I stayed pretty deep. Thankfully for the rest of us (and bad for him), he opted to wear his white DOS cap instead of the race’s green cap – he stood out very easily. Around the time that I lost John, though, I started to zone out and I think I forgot I was supposed to be racing. We reached the 1.25 mile buoy (halfway mark), I looked at my watch, saw 39 minutes and thought, “Oh… shit.” Too slow. I wasn’t sure I had the mindset to pick up the pace, but then I saw Jim….. :)

Jim was pretty far in front of me, but I had my mark. When I was a competitive distance swimmer in school, I survived by finding my mark and hunting them down.. or finding my mark and pulling one more black line ahead of them every flip turn. Finding Jim was the kick I needed, especially when I realized we still had at least 25 minutes until the last buoy. I could catch him in 25 minutes. So, I put my head down, stopped sight breathing (time waster) and went on my hunt. It did take about 20 minutes for me to finally reach him, and thankfully he didn’t put up much of a fight. I blew past Jim, found Vedad just before the last buoy and raced home. Sorry Jim ;)

I had total sea legs when I finally hit the sand and had to walk a few steps before picking it up to run to the finish. Candice snapped a pretty good photo… I almost look like a runner!

Running to the finish

Running to the finish

I finished in 1:19:38, which left me second in my age group. I was 12 minutes behind first place, but 7 minutes ahead of third place. Keep in mind this is a small race. We stood around for a while, watching everyone else come in. We cheered for our friends who won their age groups, took a team pic, ate some bananas, etc,

DOS

DOS

And then it came…. the storm we’d been avoiding all morning. Honestly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Rain came, we headed out for breakfast and then home for a nap!

Pic courtesy of Jim

Pic courtesy of Jim

…..it’s now the next day, and all the little zaps and stings I felt during the race have proven to be sea lice. I really hate sea lice. Where’s my cortisone? *itch* *scratch* *cry*

Next Up

Up the River Downtown on September 7th. JumpingFish has organized a 10k swim from Jacksonville University to the Riverside Arts Market/Fuller Warren Bridge. We’re swimming under 5 bridges with close to 30 kayakers, St. Johns River Keeper’s boat, the Firefighter Association’s boat, dragon boats, SUPs and plenty of land support. Come out to RAM just before noon to watch us arrive at the docks. It’s sure to be a great event! In addition to raising awareness for our river, we are raising money for Special Olympics – the goal is to send their best swimmers to Nationals. If you’d like to donate a few bucks, you can do so here: http://events.jumpingfish.net/sponsor/

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Happy Swimming!


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Going the Distance

I have been a complete slacker in the water this year and it’s about to catch up with me. I’ve been loyal to T:E and I’m running once, maybe twice a week (listen, it’s hot, I’m busy and I’m worried about pushing my hip too far)… but swimming? Oops.

Last year I had a YMCA membership and did a decent job with weekday swims, but I don’t have a membership there anymore because of T:E, so I’ve only been in the water on SUNDAYS. Yep, once a week. Jacksonville is a funny place when it comes to public pools. In south Florida and in Tallahassee, it was easy to find inexpensive, outdoor, public pools. My options in Jacksonville? Brooks YMCA (indoor, crowded, expensive and a little on the gross side) or UNF (indoor, parking’s a pain, and lane space can be limited with all the other activities going on). I really despise indoor pools, especially in the summer. I very recently learned that some of the local high schools let you swim for free, outdoors, but the ones close to me don’t have a pool and driving time puts a major dent in my workout time…. and time is seriously lacking in my schedule.

I’m thankful for my Sunday swims with Duval Ocean Swimmers. We’re swimming our usual 1.1 or 2.2, depending on the current, every week. It’s just not enough for what I really want to do with swimming.. I can tell it’s not enough by a) the way I feel on the way back of the 2.2 and b) how difficult it is to keep up with people I could coast with last summer.

DOS 8-3-13

DOS 8/3/13 – Hannah came to visit!

Like I said, it’s all about to catch up with me.

Hammerhead Ocean Swim 2.5 Mile

I’ve committed to the Hammerhead Ocean Swim 2.5 mile option next Saturday, August 17th at Jax Beach. We meet at the lifeguard station and are bussed south to the start (either 1.5 o 2.5 miles); we then swim North with the current and finish back at the lifeguard station. Last year, it felt like the longest swim every because it’s just a straight swim north. I’m ready to swim 2.5 miles no problem; not sure I’m ready to race 2.5 miles, though.

Up the River – Downtown 10k

Three weeks later, I’m joining our JumpingFish crew for the annual Up the River event. This year, we’re swimming 10k (yes, 6.2 miles) from Jacksonville University own to the Fuller Warren Bridge/Riverside Arts Market. We are swimming under five bridges: Matthews, Hart, Main Street, Acosta and touching right at Fuller Warren. Joining us will be kayakers, paddle boarders, dragon boats and the St. Johns River Keeper flagship. We’re not only advocating for our river, but raising money for the local Special Olympics swimmers. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here (even just $5 is awesome): http://events.jumpingfish.net/sponsor/ Please choose Stephanie, obviously ;)

Up the River Sponsorship

Up the River Sponsorship

I’m super excited for this swim. I’ve swum under all the bridges except the Matthews, so I’m happy to check this one off the list. I’m excited about the fantastic group of swimmers will be in the water and I’m even excited about the distance. Thankfully, this is not a race, just a group swim. I know I can handle 10k in the water, but I’ve never done this distance open water and I haven’t done this distance, period, since I swam competitively (ah hem…12 years ago). Everyone and anyone is welcome to head out to the Riverside Arts Market to watch us come into the docks. There will be a big announcement on the main stage and some media present. I don’t know our exact launch time yet, so I don’t know our arrival time yet. But you can follow me on Twitter and I’ll post the info as soon as I can. I’m assuming it will be somewhere around 12:00/1:00.

Siesta Key 5k

And finally, October 5th I return to Siesta Key for the 11th Annual Daiquiri Deck Tropical Splash Open Water Swim. I could have chosen the 1 mile, I could have chosen the 1.5k, but of course I’m in the 5k. It’s the day before my 30th birthday and will literally be my last swim in my 20s. Might as well go out with a bang, right? Again, the distance is no issue.. but racing the distance is a different story. This race is also full of USA competitive swimmers.. aka KIDS.. who kicked my ass last year. This race is totally worth it, though. I’ve traveled the world and Siesta Key is seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Last year, we took a boat out to a sand bar party and watched the sun set. I can’t wait to do it again.

Course Map

Course Map

Last Year

Race Start – Last Year

It is what it is for this year. I’m looking forward to all three swims and going to take what I can get. My dilemma really sits with 2014. The number one road block is swim lessons. I love teaching lessons, but really need to scale back next summer if I want to train more and race more. I also need to commit to a pool.. just suck it up, pay the membership and swim. I need to balance T:E with swimming and somehow fit running in there too. If only I could commit to 4:45am wakeup calls. Ha. Did that for too many years.

Happy swimming!

 

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