Monday, November 3, 2014

The New Challenge (P90 Masters)

Remember last year when I started the Raise The Bar Challenge just as #HellMonth was beginning at work?  Yeah...I did something similar this year.  On September 29th I started a second round of Les Mills Pump.  After about 2 weeks of feeling completely unchallenged by the workouts, I switched gears and moved over to the P90 Masters series, an at home boot camp-style workout.  P90 Masters consists of 7 DVD's used over the course of the 90 day challenge.  It also happens to be the precursor to the wildly popular P90-X workout, so needless to say it's definitely a big, sweat-inducing challenge - which I'm all for.  I'm not kidding...some of the workouts have left me lying on the floor of The Cave in a puddle of my own sweat!  I'll get into the specific workouts in a future post, but let's just say these make Pump look like a walk in the park.

I wasn't quite in the same shape I was last year when I began my challenge.  I sort of let myself go a little a lot after the Pewaukee Triathlon so I have a little more work to do this time.  I'm also not being quite as strict about the nutrition program as I don't have a beach vacation/black-tie wedding looming on the horizon.  Instead of eating clean 7 days a week, I'm allowing myself one cheat meal (and the occasional after work cocktail).  That cheat meal seems to do wonders for keeping me on track the rest of the week.

It's worth being good so I can be bad!

I'm not going to post Day 0 and Day 30 progress pictures at the moment, mostly because I'm really not in the mood to crop/blur my face, but so far, I'm down about 3 pounds (stress can really wreak havoc on weight loss), 3.5% body fat, and I've lost about an inch and half off my waist and hips.  I'm also finding that I feel much stronger in general, which is never a bad thing!  Hopefully now that life is slowly returning to normal, I'll see the weight and fat loss pick up a little bit.  Maybe I should schedule a beach vacation for a little extra motivation?

Have you ever tried an at home workout program?  If so, what was it and did you love or hate it?  If not, what would you like to try?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Please Pardon The Interruption

Yes, I know it's been just over a month since my last post, and I'm sorry about that.  For some reason, this year's #HellMonth at work was a lot more brutal than the previous 9 I've been through and I've pretty much been in Survival Mode for the last 30-something days. Every area of my life paid the price, not just this space. 

But it's over now (at least until next year) and I'm ready to start living my life again.  In the coming days/weeks, I'm hoping to post about the boot camp-style workout program I'm doing, some recipes, some hiking photos (if I can get out and actually go hiking), and of course, bunny pictures!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Operation: Renovation

Because life isn't crazy enough already, Mr. R&R and I had our bathroom renovated over the last few weeks.  Notice I said had it renovated since neither of us are exactly the handy type.  This project has been scheduled for quite a while, and I knew going in that it was going to make things a little crazy, but I think I seriously underestimated the level of craziness that would be involved.  Fortunately, I really hated the old bathroom, so it was worth two and a half weeks of inconvenience to get rid of this:

Oh yeah...there was gold-flecked tile on every wall, a toilet that the previous owners sawed off to fit the tank under the counter, a vanity cabinet that looked like it was spray painted by a drunk frat guy, light fixtures that my sister once described as "early brothel", and a floor that was so beat up that I couldn't get it clean anymore. It all had to go!

First, and foremost, Mr. R&R and I had two new roommates in our bedroom for the duration of the project since all the pounding/sawing/banging and the dust would not be good for them. 

They moved in on Sunday, September 7th and they were not happy about it.  Many disapproving rabbit looks and much sulking occurred since they don't adapt well to change.  

We also had to relocate all our 'stuff' to the basement bathroom.  While I'm grateful beyond words that I don't have to go to the gym or my mom's to take a shower, I also deeply dislike having to duck down in order to get my head under the shower head - and I'm only 5'4"!  I feel extra sorry for Mr. R&R who can barely stand up straight in that tiny little shower stall.

Anyway, the contractor arrived Monday morning and demolition began.  I worked from home (read: was sequestered in my bedroom with 2 rabbits, 1 laptop, and a mountain of work to plow through).  It turns out that the only time I could really tell that anything was happening downstairs is when they were sledge hammering out some tile and the bathtub.  This made me feel better about having to leave Walter and Spot home alone during most of the rest of the project. (Note: I made arrangements to bring them to work with me on the days that the new tile is installed if they didn't do well with that sound.  It turns out, our bedroom must be pretty sound proof because they slept through most of it.)

By lunch time on Day 1 the old vanity cabinet, toilet, mirror, and a large part of one of the walls was gone - and there was a whole lot of plaster dust in the air.

By the time the contractor and his assistant knocked off for the night, I was amazed.  What had been a  hideous, but functional, bathroom 8 hours earlier was now nothing more than an empty shell - and there was plaster dust EVERYWHERE in the rest of my house!

Over the course of the next week, the new bathroom slowly began to take shape.  It was fun stopping home at random times during the day and coming home at night to see what transformations had occurred.

A glass block window was installed - replacing a regular window that had to be covered at all times to prevent the neighbors from getting a show every time either of us took a shower.

Plumbing was replaced/updated.

A curved bathtub was installed (and mortared in 50 lbs of concrete) and cement board and drywall were added as well.

Both Mr. R&R and I welcomed the weekend.  It gave us a chance to clean up some of the plaster dust mess and spend lots of extra time with our fuzzy little roommates.

Mom and Dad will regret letting me out of my pen!

If anyone needs me, I'll be in my greens

Week 2 brought lots of cosmetic changes.

Tile and the accent row went up and the drywall was textured and painted.

At long last, the vanity cabinet, quartz top, hardware, medicine cabinet, and toilet topper were put in place.  The bathroom was done and we could move out of our "Bathroom in Exile"!

There were a few bumps along the way, the rest of my house required extensive cleaning to get rid of all the plaster dust (that crap coated everything), but it was definitely worth it.  The bathroom is beautiful and the finished product has exceeded every expectation I had!  (Although I'm sure Spot would tell you that it's the worst thing ever since he's not allowed to take up residence behind the toilet for a while!)

Have you ever done any major renovations?  If so, was it worth it in the end?

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Little Piece of Paradise

Mr. R&R and I just returned from an absolutely wonderful, relaxing, and very much needed trip to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.  I thought I'd share a few photos from the trip - although I didn't take very many. So, grab a seat by the fire, crack open a beer (I recommend an Appalachian Trail Pale Ale from the Nantahala Brewery), and enjoy!

We rolled into Louisville, KY in the midst of a rainstorm that can only be described as 'biblical', checked into our hotel, and met up with my lovely friend April for dinner at a nearby brew pub - since Mr. R&R and I were slightly terrified of ending up like this car!  

By the time we parted ways with April, I already felt at least 50% less tense/up tight when I left home that morning.  In my opinion, hanging out with friends is one of the best ways in the world to de-stress!

The next morning we were up bright and early and back on the road.  Over the course of the next several hours, we worked our way through the rest of Kentucky, Tennessee, and finally into North Carolina.  I was so excited when we checked in at the rental office, stopped at the grocery store, and finally navigated the winding road up to the cabin.

Over the next few days we hung out on the porches reading books, hiked, kayaked, and caught up on lots of lost sleep!

Hiking the Road To Nowhere Trails:

Hiking in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest - complete with 400+ year old trees:

Kayaking on Fontana Lake and the Nantahala River - followed by a short swim in some of the warmest, cleanest water I've ever experienced!  I didn't even care that record-sized fish have been pulled from that lake and there were a couple of little bitty fish hanging out where I jumped in!  (Thanks to Mr. R&R for the pictures since I didn't take my camera and/or phone out on the water.)

And of course, there was plenty of beer-drinking, book-reading, barbecuing, and staring at the beautiful view!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Running With The UltraMarathon Man

Say what you will about social media, but if it wasn't for Twitter, I would have never known that Dean Karnazes, better known as the UltraMarathon Man, was going to be leading a 5k fun run at the North Face store about 15 minutes from my house last Wednesday night!

In addition to being one hell of a runner, Dean is also the author of 50/50, Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss, and one of my all time favorite books about running, UltraMarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner.  Obviously, there was no way I was missing a chance to run with this guy!

"If you can't run, then walk.  If you can't walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up."

In typical Rabbits and Runs fashion, I got out of work late, rushed home to change into my running clothes, and floored it out to The North Face.  In my haste, I realized (as I was parking my car) that I had left my Garmin at home. D'oh!  I freaked out for about 30 seconds, but then I remembered that I had borrowed Mr. R&R's arm band so I could keep my phone on me during the event ( or it didn't happen), so I quickly downloaded a pace/map app and made my way to the store.  There were about 25 or so people milling about and chatting and then someone noticed a man, wearing a backpack, running toward us. It was Dean!  He was much shorter than I expected him to be, but holy hell was he fit!  (Duh, Mary...he's the UltraMarathon Man).  He's also crazy young looking.  He'll be 52 in a few weeks, but he looked to be in his mid thirties.  Perhaps running 100+ miles at a crack is the Fountain of Youth?

While everyone was getting ready to run, he talked a little bit about what his next race was going to be, about how excited he was to be back in the Midwest, and asked for a show of hands of how many people in the group had ever run a marathon - there were quite a few.  When he asked for a show of hands from people who'd run an ultra marathon, it was much smaller, but there were still quite a few. (I think this was his way of assessing how fast he would be running.)

After that, it was time to run!  I hit "go" on my newly downloaded app and took off with the group.  It was pretty easy going as we wound through a large parking lot and out onto a busy street.  Once we crossed the street, we were on a pathway I'd forgotten existed.  It was still near a busy road, but there was a nice, wide chunk of grass between us and the road, so the exhaust fumes weren't too bad.  Dean was telling us that when he ran across America, the worst part of running through cities was getting stuck at traffic lights.  Around half a mile in, I fell into step next to him and asked him what was the most interesting city he ran through on that adventure.  He thought about it for a moment and then told me about a little town in New Mexico called Pie Town.  Apparently the only major business in this town is a factory that makes organic pies and as Dean ran through, the employees lined the sides of the road like an aid station, but rather than holding out cups of water and Gatorade, they were holding out pies!  I'm not one for solid food while running, but I can imagine that if I was running 40-50 miles a day for two and half months straight, pie would start to look pretty darn good!  My next question was: Which one was your favorite?  He said that by the time he got done running and was ready for pie, that his crew had eaten all of them!

After our chat about pie, I dropped back a little so someone else could talk to him for a while.  The 1.5 mile turnaround came quickly and we headed back to The North Face.  I was running near the front of the pack, and I could tell that Dean was running with the back of the pack.  I honestly think he made a point to run with and talk to everyone there.

When we got back to The North Face, he graciously posed for pictures before heading inside for an autograph session.  

When I got to the front of the line, he asked me how I got started running and when I told him that my husband had started running and I decided to give it a try, he thought that was pretty cool.  The poster he autographed for me says:

Rabbits&Runs and Mr. R&R,

Long may you run, together.


I love it!  I'm planning on framing the poster and putting it up in The Cave.  I headed home tired, sweaty, and really happy.  If he comes back next year, I'll be bringing my battered copy of UltraMarathon Man for him to sign.  

"If you can't run, then walk.  If you can't walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up." - Dean Karnazes

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Taking A Step Back

After my somewhat lackluster training for and performance at the Pewaukee Triathlon, I've officially decided to take a break from triathlon and training in general - which means I will not be racing at the USAT Sprint National Championships next month.  I agonized over this decision, but between being drastically unready for the swim (750 meters in frigid, filthy, choppy as hell water) and generally feeling burned out on all fronts, it seemed like the only logical option.  Once I made the choice, I actually felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, which tells me that it was the right choice.  I'd been driving myself crazy trying to keep all the plates spinning(work/training/home/friends/etc) and I was starting to resent the training, rather than relishing it, and I was feeling like I was in serious danger of permanently breaking up with triathlon.  Instead, we're just "on a break". 

To that end, I've given myself the rest of July and all of August to focus on getting the rest of my life back on track - and swim/bike/run because I want to, not just because I'm supposed to.  As of today, I haven't swam a single stroke or even looked at my bike since the tri, but I have been running - and running well.  In the two weeks since the race, I've run something like 25 miles, and I've loved every single one of them.  It's definitely turning out to be a "running year", but I am starting to think about getting back in the water and back in the saddle in the next few days. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Gotta Get Up and Tri (Pewaukee Triathlon Recap)

"Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame 
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean your gonna die
You've gotta get up and try, and try, and try"
~Pink~'s been almost a month since I posted.  I wish I could tell you that it's because I was busy training my ass off so I could absolutely kill my second triathlon, but that's not the case.  After Rock 'n Sole, I realized that I had a measly four weeks to get my butt in gear for tri season.  I hadn't been in open water since last July and I hadn't been outside on my bike in weeks, and I whatever passion I had for the sport was deep in hibernation - basically a recipe for triathlon disaster.  I don't think I can adequately recap the race without explaining some of what's been going on for the last month, so grab a snack and a drink because this is going to be a very long post.  (If you want to skip straight to the race recap, scroll down to the bold "Race Recap" below and start there.)

My first attempt at an open water swim just plain sucked and I honestly didn't want anything to do with open water after that.  I was about ready to hang up my wetsuit and give up on triathlon all together, when Yada Yada invited me to join him for an open water swim at a lake near his house on July 3rd (11 days out from the race).  I wasn't sure it was such a good idea, but I figured I had nothing to lose.  All I can say is: WHY WASN'T I INTRODUCED TO THIS LAKE SOONER!  Unlike 'The Flea',  this lake doesn't allow motorized boats, there are basically no weeds, and the water is actually warm!  For the first time ever, I enjoyed an open water swim!  It was a huge win for me, no matter how slowly I was swimming.  I started to believe that the Pewaukee tri was possible (we'll talk about USAT Nationals another time).  

After the swim, Mr. R&R (who had gone for a 3 mile run while we swam), Yada Yada, Texas, and I went for dinner and drinks.  Over dinner, Yada Yada expressed some concerns that the bike course had been changed since last year and he was wondering what was in store for us.  That was an easy one to solve: I invited Yada Yada to join my tri team for our course preview on July 6th

The Guiness Brownie didn't suck either!

I dragged myself out of bed far too early on the last day of the long weekend and hauled myself and all my tri stuff out to The Flea.  While I was waiting for Yada Yada, I set up my transition area in the back of my car, said hi to the Iron Cheerleader, and signed the team's waiver promising I wouldn't sue if I drowned/wrecked my bike/got hit by a car.  

Transition in a Toyota

When Yada Yada arrived, he hadn't realized that it wasn't just a bike preview, but a preview for the whole race!  He was nice enough to wait around while I did the swim.  Oh the of the guys paddled a kayak about 200 meters offshore and we swam for it.  It wasn't a good swim, but I've had worse.  I think my favorite moment was swimming past the Iron Cheerleader (who was swimming at the back of the pack on purpose) and we had a laugh about not getting in a fight this year.

Once I was back on dry land, Yada Yada and I hit the bike course.  We intentionally rode slow (and believe me when I tell you that Yada Yada can kick my ass around the block on a bike) and tried to get a feel for what was going to work best on race day.  We opted to ride the run course as well since he didn't have running shoes.  At the end of the day, I wasn't sure that I could have a great race, but I was convinced that I could get through it in one piece.  

In the week leading up to the race, I ran, I rode the trainer, I did a brick workout, and I managed to squeeze in one more open water swim in Yada Yada's practice lake - oh and Texas decided to race for the first time in several years!  The successful open water swims combined with the course preview rekindled a little bit of the triathlon flame in me and I was ready to do whatever I had to do to get through the race. 

It's like a hamster wheel - with a movie in front of it

Race weekend came fast.  I decided to pick up my packet on Friday night to avoid the crowds and that plan definitely worked out well.  My mom came with me (since she's never seen a race expo/what I do leading up to a race) and we were in and out of the expo in under 10 minutes.  That left plenty of time for me to show her where to park/catch the spectator shuttle, and stops at the market for rabbit greens, and a stop at Sports Authority so I could replenish my Roctane stash.  Saturday was all about taking it easy, guzzling water and Gatorade, and packing the colossal amount of stuff required for the next day.  Of course, falling asleep wasn't easy, so I got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep before my alarm went off at Stupid O'Clock (3:45am).

Race Recap
My first order of business when the alarm went off was to hit 'Go' on the coffee maker before stumbling off to the shower for a quick wake up call.  I shimmied into my tri clothes, hauled all my stuff out to the car, and strapped my bike to the back of the car.  I rubbed some bunny ears for good luck, grabbed my coffee, and Mr. R&R and I were on the road by 4:30am.  I listened to a few of my favorite "power songs" while sipping on coffee and trying to force down a Clif Bar.  We parked about half a mile from transition and walked down.  I know we could have parked closer, but last year I found the walk useful for burning off nervous energy, and it did the job again.

I found my spot in transition (in the middle of nowhere - next to a dude who couldn't follow simple directions and rack his bike correctly), got my stuff set up, went through body marking, and met up with Mr. R&R to hand off my transition bag (couldn't keep it in transition due to the lack of space), and wiggled into my wetsuit.  Before I knew it, it was time to head for the beach.  I ran into Yada Yada, Texas, the Iron Cheerleader, and a bunch of other people that I trained with last year.  All the chatter was enough to distract me from what I was about to have to do.

I went into the water next to my teammate, P, and quickly lost sight of her in the sea of bright pink swim caps.  I swam out about 50 yards before the choppy water started to become an issue.  I was getting nauseous/sea sick from it!  I flipped onto my back for a little bit and it was marginally better.  I ended up spending most of the swim on my back because every time I rolled over and tried to swim properly I felt like I was going to puke.  I definitely wasn't the only person having issues since lots of people around me were backstroking as well.  I was very happy to see the beach come into view.  I stood up, put my goggles on top of my head, and stripped out of the top half of my wetsuit on the run up the beach, across the street, and into T1.  Swim/Run to T1: 12:43

I finished stripping off my wetsuit, rinsed my feet, threw on my sunglasses, bike helmet, and bike shoes, and ran my bike out to the mount line.  T1 Time: 3:18 (much faster than last year).

I mounted my bike and tried to get comfortable for the hills and bumpy roads ahead.  Maybe half a mile out of T1 I realized that my Garmin had messed up and wasn't providing me any feedback.  Thankfully I was on one of the few flat sections of road, so I was able to stop my watch and reset it so that I had data for the rest of the ride - it wasn't perfect, but it was better than nothing.   The first half of the bike course was rough.  There was a pretty strong headwind, I was constantly shifting into my grandma gear to get up the long, steep hills and Texas came blowing by me - even though her wave started after mine (she's a really good rider).  I ate a Roctane around Mile 8 and started feeling much better.  I was able to shift into much bigger gear and started grinding up the hills with a little more gusto.  Along the way, I passed my friend A (we exchanged encouragement and complaints about the hills) and a little while later, I passed my friend D (we both concluded that we're doing the duathlon next year).  I went flying down my favorite hill and topped out at just over 31mph!  Finally I was cruising downhill on the way back to T2.  I gulped down another Roctane and some water about half a mile before I hit the dismount line. Official Time: 1:00:25 (Both rides I've done on the course show it being 16 miles long, but officially they're claiming it was 14!)

I dismounted and did my best to jog my bike back to the rack.  I re-racked my bike, switched  to running shoes, reset my watch for the run, and hauled ass out of T2.  T2 Time: 2:47 (again, much faster than last year).

Coming out of T2, there was only a 5k run left and I was feeling good.  My legs were turning over nicely, I was breathing easy, and I spotted Texas just ahead of me.  It was time to run her down.  I caught her and chatted for a moment (she had a rough go of the swim) before I pulled in front of her.  A little while later, my teammate P caught up to me (she really had a freakin' asthma attack during the swim and was still clicking off 8 minute miles!).  She put me in her rearview mirror and I just kept moving at my own pace.  Every so often I'd glance down at my watch and I was shocked to see how well I was running considering how tired I was.  I slowed down through the water station, drank one cup of water, and dumped another over my head to cool off.  The first two miles was an out and back, so I was able to see how much time I had gained on Texas, A, and D (who must of met up with our teammate C along the way) - I wasn't unhappy.  Around mile 2.5, my pace started taking its toll and I started to struggle a little - and go figure, the last bit of the run was up a nasty, steep hill.  I gave in and power-walked up it.  I hit the top and started running again. I could hear the finish line.  I took the last turn and sprinted downhill to the finish.  I remember hearing the Iron Cheerleader yelling, "Go get it, girl!" and seeing my mom and Mr. R&R cheering like crazy.  Run Time: 30:09

Total Time: 1:49:23

I met up with P in the finishing chute and hung out while Texas, A, D, and C finished and we had a mini-reunion of sorts, which was kind of awesome.  It was nice starting and finishing with so many of the same people that I trained with last year.

I made my way through the chute, snagged a bottle of water and a few cookies, and went in search of Mr. R&R and my mom.  I still can't believe that they willingly got up before dawn just to support my insane pursuit.

My mom headed out, and Mr. R&R, Yada Yada, Texas and I made our way back to transition to collect our stuff before heading out for a well-deserved breakfast...and of course, a huge cup of coffee!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Take It To The Bridge (Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon Recap)


My little bout with the plague left me unable to run for a week prior to the Rock 'n Sole half marathon.  I did everything I could to try to go to the start line healthy.  I slept 8+ hours a night, tried to eat well (even though nothing really appealed to me), I drank more tea than the Queen of England. It wasn't enough.  I felt a lot better by the end of the week, but I still had a horrible cough and couldn't really breathe through my nose, but there was no way I was throwing all that training (and all that money!) away by not starting.  I knew that there was no way I would reach my original goal of setting a new PR, so I needed a new plan - but let's back up a little before I get into the race itself.

Mr. R&R and I opted to pick up our race packets on Thursday night in hopes of avoiding huge crowds and long waits.  We easily found parking (in an area of the city with a notoriously bad parking situation) and were directed to the expo by a friendly, well placed volunteer.  The expo was large, full of interesting vendors, and very well organized.  It's probably one of the better race expos I've ever been to.  We stopped off on the way home for dinner, and I did something I rarely do in the days leading up to a race - I had some wine.  Let me tell you, it was the best my throat and head have felt in a while!

Friday morning brought a new challenge: a mandatory company breakfast.  I was not happy about that.  I'm a complete nut about controlling everything I eat the day before a race to minimize the risk of food poisoning or stomach problems during the race.  It's not like I could exactly skip it, so I spent most of the day feeling like I'd eaten a vat of grease.  After work I headed home, laid out all my race stuff, ate dinner, checked the weather obsessively, and called it a night by about 10pm.

4:30am came very quickly - especially since a coughing fit woke me up around 2:30 and it took an hour to get back to sleep.  Once the alarm went off and I was up for good, it was the usual routine: shower, get dressed, stuff a baggie of cough drops in the back pocket of my top,  grab small amount of coffee and a Clif bar to consume in the car, and get going.

We arrived at the starting village about 40 minutes before the gun went off which left us just enough time to drop our gear at bag and tag, stretch a little, and work our way into the starting corrals.  I was in Corral J based on the estimated finishing time I submitted at registration and Mr. R&R was in Corral I, so we confirmed our post-race meeting spot, wished each other luck, and went our separate ways.  The race was huge and the corrals were really crowded.  I did my best to tune out everything around me and try to get in a racing mind frame even though I wasn't really sure how it was going to go.  I had revised my goals from: run a PR to a few more manageable goals: a) finish the race b) don't wind up in the med tent and c) do not let the 2:15 pace group get in front of me. I even amused myself by assigning the c-goal the hashtag: #YouHadOneJob.  At 7 A.M. sharp the gun went off and the crowd began to move forward.  It took about 4 minutes for my corral to reach the starting line and as soon as my foot hit the chip mat, I hit start on my Garmin and started running.  The first 2 miles were a little uncomfortable since they were punctuated by coughing fits, but somewhere just after the Mile 2 water station, something incredible happened: all the congestion in my head and chest cleared and the coughing died down a lot!

Right around that point is where we began the climb onto the race's big landmark: The Hoan Bridge. And I definitely took it to the bridge.  I slowed a little, but never stopped running during the long climb to the top.  The view from the top was magnificent.  The sun was sparkling on Lake Michigan, there was a light breeze (which really helped dispel the reek of the sewage treatment plant under the bridge!), and I was feeling really good as I knocked back a GU at the water station and started back down the other side of the bridge.  I ran down the bridge and onto Lincoln Memorial Drive, riding a downhill and GU Roctane high through Miles 6 & 7 - two of my fastest miles of the race!.  Even the climb up Lafayette Hill, which I've never voluntarily run up before, wasn't too bad. I still prefer running down it, but there was a small sense of satisfaction knowing that I didn't walk a single step of that hill.

There's a saying in distance running: If you feel good during a race, don't worry, it'll go away. The high I had been riding bottomed out.  Mile 8 was a death march. I thing I spent a little too much energy climbing Lafayette Hill and I had to walk about a tenth of a mile to get my breathing back under control.  The only thing it made that mile even remotely tolerable was that I was running through an area where I trained for most of my first marathon, so it gave me something to think about other than how crappy I was feeling.  The water station in Lake Park was a welcome sight as I slammed another Roctane and turned back out onto Lincoln Memorial Drive.  This little section of road will always hold a special place in my heart because it will always remind me of the final few miles of my first marathon - it was the final stretch to "home".  The Roctane kicked in and I rode it, another downhill, and a bunch of  happy memories all the way to the 10 mile marker.  This was my fastest mile of the race at 9:37.

At Mile 10, the Roctane began to wear off again and the usual aches and pains of double digits started.  My legs were tired, my knees were starting to ache, and I was getting hot spots on both of my feet. The bullshit voice started making lots of noise, begging me to walk for a while, but I ignored it.  I was moving pretty slowly, but I was still running.  At about Mile 11 I could hear the 2:15 pace group coming up behind me.  I muttered something like "Oh, hell no!" as I knocked back a regular GU and reminded myself: #YouHadOneJob.  I decided right then that there was no way in hell that I was letting them get in front of me.  The pretty views from Lakeshore State Park were lost on me as I went way down deep inside myself as I pushed through the final miles.  We exited Lakeshore State Park onto a service road behind the Marcus Amphitheater and I could hear the finish line.  That lit a fire under me and I took the final turn and began sprinting to the finish line.  I crossed the finish line in 2:14:03.  Not bad for a sick girl...and the course measured .13 miles long by my Garmin!

I collected my medal, a bottle of water, and a banana before collapsing in a coughing heap on the grass.  Once I managed to pull a very sticky cough drop out of my pocket, I was back on my aching feet and went in search of Mr. R&R who finished in a fantastic 1:59:15.  We collected our gear from bag and tag, checked in to see how Yada Yada and Texas had fared, and began the painful, but very much worth it, creep back to our car.

All in all, this was a fantastic race.  The course was truly representative of the city since it wound through so many neighborhoods (Third Ward, Fifth Ward, Bayview, Eastside) and it was very well staffed with volunteers.  The water stations were spaced about every 1.5-2 miles, which was just about perfect and they were long, which went a long way in preventing traffic jams as long as you didn't try to hit the very first table.  There were also lots of enthusiastic spectators lining most of the course - including a guy who had his golden retriever standing on its back legs high-fiving runners as they came by.  Best. Race. Spectator. Ever.  Rock 'n Sole was also a very big race.  There were almost 3600 runners in the half marathon and another almost 2000 in the quarter marathon. There was also a 5k with nearly 2000 participants that started about half an hour after the half and quarter marathons. The first 5 miles were pretty congested as almost 6000 people poured through old, narrow streets and onto the Hoan Bridge.  Once the half marathon and quarter marathon split from each other it loosened up a lot and although there were always other runners nearby, I didn't feel like I was dodging around people like I had for the opening miles. The post race food options left a little to be desired (especially considering the hefty price tag on this race) and the location of bag and tag was a little ambiguous, but the only major change I would make would be to start the quarter marathon after the half marathon to ease some of the congestion.  Overall, I would definitely run this race again - and I'm already seriously considering making room for it in my 2015 schedule!