Saturday, January 27, 2018

Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon

I heard about the Maui Oceanfront Marathon when I did my race at Lake Tahoe. The race director for that race also runs the MOM. He made it sound really cool- you run along the West coast of Maui, during the coolest month of the year, and you can see whales!

Since I'm working in Hawaii for 6 months, I wanted to do a half marathon while I'm here, and the Maui race seemed perfect! My co-worker Lacy was running the full marathon, so we planned a weekend getaway to Maui from the Big Island.

All of the hotels near Lahaina were super expensive, especially during race weekend, so we ended up booking at Hakuna Matata hostel. It ended up being perfect, because the finish line for the race was literally right outside our front door!

Lacy and I picked up our races bibs on Saturday, got dinner and watched the last half of the Pats game at Down the Hatch, and then walked around downtown Lahaina for awhile. We went to bed super early, around 8pm, because Lacy had to wake up at 3am to take the bus to Wailea for the start of the marathon. The half marathon started in Lahaina and was an out-and-back, so it was easier for me. I got to sleep in until 5:30 and just walk out the door!

The weather was nice and cool in the morning, and we had beautiful views along the coast. I didn't see any whales though! but Lacy said she saw lots of whales on the marathon course. I loved the rolling hills and ocean breezes along the route. It didn't get too hot until the last 2-3 miles, then it started to get sunny and humid.

My training for this half marathon was a little different. I've been doing Crossfit 4-5 times a week, so I was only running once on the weekend, with maybe one shorter run during the week. Other than that, I'd been weight lifting, doing HIIT, and running sprints of 400-800 meters at Crossfit. So I wasn't really expecting to run a fast race. I thought I'd just have fun and try to keep a consistent pace. But I did notice during my training runs that I seemed to be able to hold a faster pace (when my quads weren't sore from squats and lunges, lol).

I started the race at a smart pace. I didn't want to start out too fast. I felt like I was holding back a little, but I still ran the first mile in 9:04! That ended up being the slowest mile of the entire race- good race execution. I'm always happy when I finish faster than I started! From there I was holding an 8:45 pace pretty consistently. I was feeling pretty good until the last 3 miles. Then I started to get tired and it was more of a struggle to hold the pace, but I knew I could break 2 hours and maybe get a PR!

The last mile I was pushing as hard as I could. I knew I was definitely going to get a sub-2, and that was super exciting! but I also knew I was close to my PR. I was getting overheated on that last mile, but I wanted to finish strong! I started to feel nauseated the last half a mile, and after I crossed the finish line I threw up from over-exertion (just a little bit!). But overall it was a great race and I felt great!

I ended up finishing in 1:54 exactly, which is my second best time ever! I missed a PR by 26 seconds, but I had a great run and did better than I expected!

Mile 1:   9:04     slowest mile
Mile 2:   8:44
Mile 3:   8:46
Mile 4:   8:37
Mile 5:   8:56     slow
Mile 6:   8:38
Mile 7:   8:41
Mile 8:   8:47
Mile 9:   8:31     fast
Mile 10: 8:42
Mile 11: 8:39
Mile 12: 8:44
Mile 13: 8:21     fastest mile

This may have been the most consistent pacing I've ever had during a race! Most of my miles were between 8:37 and 8:47.

Official Time:     1:54:00     8:43 min/mile pace     3rd place in Females 30-34

Oh yeah, I also got third place in my age group! I wouldn't have even known, except I was talking to a guy at the finish line, and he said, "I think you may have placed. Not too many girls around your age finished before you." So I went and checked the results and was shocked to see that I got third out of 24 in my age group! I got a really cool award.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year in Review: 2017

Where did 2017 go? It seemed like it flew by. I had a lot of goals for 2017 that I didn't accomplish. I don't know where I put my list, but here's what I can remember:

1. Read 12 books - I only read 10. I was actually ahead of schedule, until I moved to Hawaii at the end of August and basically stopped reading after that.

2. Pull-ups - I know I had some goal for pull-ups, I think it was maybe 5? When I had a pull-up bar hanging in my doorway and I was practicing for a bit every day, I got to the point where I could do 3 or 4 chin ups. Now I can barely do one. I recently started Crossfit, so maybe that will change.

3. Handstand - For awhile now, I've wanted to be able to do a handstand. I would practice intermittently, get slightly better, then regress. I recently learned how to do a tripod headstand, and I'm able to hold that pose for up to 30 seconds, so it's a start. I need to be more consistent with practicing, but it isn't always easy to find a place to get upside down.

My other goals escape me for now; I may update this if I find my list or remember more.

Life Events 2017

Feb-June - Worked in Lynchburg, VA. It was great because I got to live at home, save money, and hang out with my old friends.

March - My 30th birthday
April - Tristan and G's wedding
June - Katherine and Spencer's wedding.

July-August - Time off in Maine and Virginia

End of August - moved to Hawaii
September - December - Started my job on the Big Island of Hawaii
December 1-15 - Two weeks off to explore Oahu and Kauai

Moving to Hawaii was a scary step for me. I hesitated to move so far away from family and friends. I mean, I did it before when I moved to California, but somehow Hawaii seemed more remote. After all, it's a small group of islands in the middle of the Pacific. There isn't exactly anything else close by.

It's different than I thought it would be. In the towns where I live and work, there are no beaches. I live in the middle northern part of the island in Waimea, so it's a 20 minute drive to the coast. I work in Honokaa, and although it's close to the coast, there are cliffs and no accessible beaches except Waipio Valley, which requires either 4WD or a steep hike. I enjoy living near the mountains with cool breezes and less humidity, but I'm over an hour away from either of the islands bigger cities, Hilo and Kona, so getting to Target or a decent grocery store is a bit of a hassle. I also bought an old beat-up island car, which has been less than reliable.

But, I've been able to see and do a lot of things on the island that I wouldn't have been able to find out about without local guidance. I've done a (free!) night swim with Manta Rays, kayaked with spinner dolphins to the Captain Cook monument, saw the active lava flows at Kalapana (like got within 10 feet of hot lava), jumped off of South Point, went to Green Sands Beach, bought lots of produce from the Hilo farmer's market, and rode a horse at the Paniolo stables.

There are still some hikes I want to do, beaches I want to go to, and places I want to see (including the telescope at Mauna Kea!) so I've extended my contract until March. I am starting to get a little bit of island fever, since some things are just hard to get done on an island (like mailing Christmas packages and getting mail), but I want to explore this island a little more before I leave in March. Then my dad and brother are coming to visit for 10 days in March after my contract ends, so I'm super excited about that!

2017 was a great year that went from being totally in my comfort zone (at home in VA with family and friends) to something totally new and different (new job in Hawaii, where I had never been and knew no one- except Cat who works on a different island). I'm thankful for the opportunity to see so many cool places, but I wonder how long I'll have the desire to keep traveling, because I miss everyone back home a lot when I'm gone. I can't wait to see what 2018 holds, because I have no clue where I'll be or what I'll be doing after March!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Summer Reads 2017

I've enjoyed reading a few good books this summer, and thought I'd post a mid-year review!

First up: The Mysteries

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – by Joel Dicker

In the first mystery novel I read this summer, a young writer investigates a murder that took place 30 years ago. The victim was a 15 year old girl and the suspect is the writer's friend, a successful professor and writer himself, who apparently had an affair with the girl 30 years earlier. In the small town of Somerset, it seems like everyone has some secrets to hide, and there are many surprises as the author digs up what happened all those years ago. 

This was a page turner, and I liked the book until the end, when there's one big plot twist that's a little too far-fetched. You also have to suspend some disbelief at Harry and Nola's relationship - a 32 year old and a 15 year old falling in love over the course of three months that summer? But it did keep me guessing and I didn't figure out who murdered Nola ahead of time. Rating: 3/5

A Study in Charlotte - by Brittany Cavallaro

This was a young adult novel, and a fast easy read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! The two main characters are Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, and Jamie Watson, a descendant of John Watson. The two teenagers meet at a prep school and become involved in a murder investigation when they become suspects in the case. There are elements of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories that I loved, but Brittany also manages to create two unique characters that are fun to get to know! 
Rating: 3/5

Everything I Never Told You - by Celeste Ng

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this sad story. I thought it would be more of a mystery, but it was mostly about the struggles of a Chinese American family living in small town Ohio. Lydia was the daughter of a white mother who was always trying to stand out, and a Chinese father, who was always trying to fit in. As the favorite child, Lydia experienced undue pressure from both of her parents, and living up to the impossible standards led to a series of events that ultimately resulted in her death.

I found some parts to be an insightful look into racial issues, the struggles of fitting in, standing out, pleasing family, and living up to expectations... but ultimately it just seemed so melancholy and depressing. I couldn't figure out why the the parents couldn't communicate better- with their children and each other- and how they could make so many assumptions about each other, without spending the time to get to know one another's true feelings. In the end, it was a bit frustrating. Rating: 2/5

Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger

This is a coming-of-age story along with a mystery. Frank Drum recounts his experiences in the summer of 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, when he was 13 years old. That summer, death visited Frank's small town in many forms: Accident, Suicide, Murder. Frank has to grapple with the aftermath of these tragedies, and in the process learns about faith, grief, hope, and responsibility. This isn't a thriller. It's a story about family, brotherhood, wisdom, and the grace of God. There are some beautiful moments, especially between the brothers, Jake and Frank. Rating: 4/5

The Life We Bury - by Allen Eskens

This was probably the most fast-paced out of all the mysteries, but the most straight-forward crime. However, unlike a lot of other thrillers which have some implausible twists, this mystery made sense. Even though I suspected the culprit long before I found out who it was for sure, I still enjoyed reading the book. Joe Talbert, the main character, interviews Carl Iverson, a convicted murderer, and cannot reconcile Carl's heroism in Vietnam with the despicable acts he supposedly committed. I wish Joe and Carl had more interactions in the book, but I really enjoyed seeing Joe and Lila's relationship develop. This book was fun, intense, and I couldn't put it down! 
Rating: 3.5/5

The Silence of the Sea - by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

This book is a top-selling Icelandic crime novel, but I think it may have lost something in translation. The story tends to drag a bit in places, and the dialogue's a little stilted. It's a creepy mystery that vaguely reminded me of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, as the characters begin to disappear off the yacht. The ending could have been better. Rating: 2.5/5

Next: all the other books I've read so far this year

The Little Paris Bookshop - by Nina George

This book looked so cute, but it ended up being sappy and overly dramatic. There were some great quotes about reading, but the book itself lacked personality. I almost didn't finish it. As one reviewer on Goodreads said, "This novel just did not work for me. I thought it was disgustingly sweet, poorly plotted, filled with cliches and bad dialogue, and I could not finish it fast enough." Rating: 2/5

The Nightingale - by Kristin Hannah

The first half of the book was kind of boring and lacked character development. I felt like I didn't really know Isabelle or Vianne at all. About 150 pages in, the sisters get more involved in the war effort, and then the book started getting better. The ending was really sweet and touching. Rating: 2.5/5

The Book Thief - by Markus Zusak

This book, like The Nightingale, takes place during World War II, but rather than focusing on occupied France, the Book Thief is set in Germany and follows the story of a young girl, Liesel, who is growing up under Nazi dominance. I loved Liesel and her friend Rudy and all of their adventures together. I could have done without the parts that were narrated by "Death"; and the way the author separated out some of the text into little blurbs with a heading was just unnecessary. I liked that it was more a coming-of-age story than simply another historical fiction novel about WWII. Rating: 3/5

A Man Called Ove - by Fredrik Backman

This was such a sweet story about a grumpy old man. Ove lives in Sweden, has a short fuse, and is rather set in his ways; but there's so much more once you get to know him. I don't want to give anything else away, but this is a must-read! I loved it. Rating: 5/5

I Still Do

I Still Do (song)

Verse 1
Dark shirt, long sleeves
Your eyes on me
We're with all of our friends at a party
But for us, it's just you and me

Blond hair, blue eyes
Your laugh, your smile
I'm hanging onto every word you say
Because you've captivated me for awhile

You had me hooked from the very first day
Knew it couldn't work, but I just couldn't stay away
Why'do you have to look so good in you navy blue?
You know it makes me want you
And I still do

Verse 2
Still have that shirt I wore when you kissed me
When we were both a little tipsy
How I wish that you even missed me
Like I miss you
Cause I still do

Still have that feeling when I see you
With your crew cut, wearing dark blue
How I wish I could be with you
Like we were then
Can we pretend?

Alternate Chorus (which one is better?)
After all. this. time.
You still have me hooked, like the very first day
I've lost. my. mind.
Knew it couldn't work, but I just couldn't stay away
After all. these. years.
You still look so good in your navy blue
And after all. these. tears.
Why do I still want you?
Cause I still do

After all this time
You're still on my mind

Bridge option 2
I keep seein’ you around town
Having to pretend
I don’t feel the same way now
But I can’t quite forget

I see it in flashes
All the things we did
Now those memories are ashes
But I can’t quite forget…

Alternate verse
Breathe in, breathe out
Don’t go too far now
I’m holding my breath
Feeling your hands
Pulling me close
Don’t let me go

…But you let me go

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wilmington Half Marathon

When I moved back to Virginia in the fall, I wanted to try to do as many half marathons as possible in nearby states. I needed a Delaware race that sounded fun and was within driving distance. I discovered that Delaware is a very small state, with many fewer races than Virginia, so there's not a whole lot of choices. But when I read about the Wilmington Half Marathon, it was everything I wanted!

It's only a 6 hour drive from Virginia, and about a 7 hour drive from Massachusetts, so I thought it would be a great place for me and my parents, sister, and nieces to meet up for a running weekend! I also liked the fact that it started on a riverfront and that part of the race was run through parks and along the river.

My family and I rented a townhouse right on the riverfront across from the Tubman-Garrett park where the races started. My nieces ran the kids run on Saturday afternoon, and then my mom, Leslie, Allison, and Kyle ran the 5k that evening. The only downside was that it was raining on Saturday afternoon, so the kids complained about being cold and didn't want to hang out or do any of the activities at the park. 
Lilli was the only one who really ran. Izzy cried, but was dragged along by Kyle and Allison, and Karsyn cried and had to be carried.

The next morning, Tristan and I ran the half marathon. I walked across the bridge to the start and met Tristan there. I literally left the house at 6:50 and the race started at 7am. It was nice not to have to worry about driving and parking! Tristan, on the other hand, couldn't make it to my house because of the road closures, and couldn't find parking, so she drove back to her hotel and walked half a mile to the start.

We actually started behind everybody else, because we were in line for the port-a-potty when the race started. We were in the back of the pack with a guy that was jumping rope and a guy that was juggling while running the half.

After trying so hard to break 2 hours in the Flying Pirate half and not succeeding, we just wanted to have fun and enjoy this race. And, surprisingly, I LOVED this race! Wilmington is not the best city. There seemed to be a lot of homeless people and run-down areas. But the race course went through 2 parks, along a river (my favorite part), over a suspension bridge, and through some nice neighborhoods. The weather was perfect- cool and breezy after all the rain the day before, and the sun came out at the end. It wasn't flat, but the hills weren't crazy either - and I've found that I actually prefer some rolling hills over a completely flat course.

So I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty and pleasant the race course was, and I think it's been one of my favorite half marathons so far! (Along with See Jane Run and Richmond). Besides having to run for a port-a-potty at mile 7 (only the second time I've had a bathroom "emergency" in 25+ races), the race was pretty uneventful and we kept a pretty steady pace.

Sunday was also Mother's Day, so when we got back to the townhouse, Kyle and Allison and I cooked lunch for my mom and then we rode bikes and went for a walk along the riverfront. All in all, a great weekend!

Official Time: 2:05:11

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Flying Pirate Half Marathon

Tristan and I decided to run the Flying Pirate half after hearing from our friends that they enjoyed it last year. We thought the Outer Banks would be a fun weekend trip too!

We got there Saturday and had time to relax by the beach and the pool. Our hotel was right on the beach! It was warm, but still the off-season, so we had the beach and the pool mostly to ourselves. It was so peaceful.

For dinner, we went to Goombays, which I highly recommend if you're in the Outer Banks! I got the jazzy chicken, which came with a pineapple coconut sauce, fresh salsa, roasted vegetables, and rice, and everything was amazing!

One thing that was nice about the Outer Banks was that it seemed like everyone catered to the runners. At both lunch and dinner, the servers asked us if we were running the next day. And our hotel opened their breakfast bar up early (at like 4am) for the runners, which is the first time I can ever remember that happening at a hotel!

It had rained overnight, and was still damp and drizzling the morning of the race. Luckily Allison was with us and dropped us off at the start with 10 minutes to spare, so we didn't have to wait around in the rain. It completely stopped raining after the first mile, but remained overcast for the rest of the race, which was nice because it was already getting humid.

The race was a smaller one. We ran along the Sound and behind quite neighborhoods. There weren't a lot of crowds, but Allison was waiting for us at several points along the course to cheer us on! Tristan and I probably started out a little too fast and we were already getting tired by mile 4 or 5.

At mile 8 or 9, we ran past the Wright Brother Memorial, which was probably the most memorable sight of the course. At mile 10, the course turned into a packed dirt and/or gravel trail through the woods, with quite a few ups and downs. They were small hills, but at that point in the course they seemed hard!

Tristan and I were still pushing the pace, because we were so close to 2 hours! But with the hills and dirt trails on the final miles of the course, we just weren't able to make it under two. At least we finished strong, feeling like we gave it everything we had! I felt like I was pushing myself hard the entire race, and I honestly don't know where I would have been able to run 37 seconds faster!

So even though we missed a sub-2 again (by what feels like the hundredth time!) we're proud of our effort on what turned out to be a tougher course than we thought!

Official Time: 2:00:37

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Chocolate Half Marathon

This weekend I ran the Love Chocolate half marathon in Savannah, Georgia! It was a smaller, cheaper race, but I wanted to run a race in Georgia early in the year before it got too hot. I had my favorite running buddy, Tristan, with me, so the miles went by pretty fast. I hadn't run very much in the past two weeks, so I was worried that I would have to stop and walk. But with Tristan by my side, we were able to run the whole way! I always enjoy races much more when I can run with a friend!

We ended up keeping a pretty consistent pace, with an overall average of 9:33 per mile, and finished in 2:06:30. I'll take it!

The day before the race, we explored downtown Savannah. We got coffee and croissants at Cafe M, a cute little french restaurant by the river. We walked along River Street, and stopped in at the outdoor market there, where I bought a canvas for my house. Then we headed over to Forsyth Park, where we walked around and enjoyed the sunshine.

We went on a tour of the Mercer House in the afternoon, which is right by Forsyth Park. It has a pretty interesting history, being that the story Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was set there. However, the tour itself wasn't that great, because we only saw four rooms and didn't even get to go upstairs.

After lunch, we headed to a wine bar where you can swipe a card and choose your own tastings by the ounce. It was really cool! I've been to a restaurant in California where they did beer tastings by the ounce (Blast 825 Taproom), but this is the first time I'd seen it for wine! We got dinner at Kayak Cafe and headed back to the room for an early night before the race.

After the race, we spent the day at the Tanger Outlets. The Nike Outlet had some great deals and I got a few new running shirts and a pair of pants. There were a lot of other good stores, too.

On Sunday we drove back! I loved Savannah. The weather was gorgeous (albeit a little hot for a February race), and we had fun exploring Savannah and shopping at the outlets.

Official Race Time: 2:06:30