Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 4th Weekend: Run and fun recap!

Who doesn't love the fourth of July?  Beer, fireworks, festive colors, sunshine, running and live music.  What could be better?

I am feeling pretty happy at the end of this weekend and it included lots of really fun things.  I sort of decided that I am going to be totally killing it this whole summer and taking advantage of every moment of every day to do something fun and special.  I also want to work on my goals to be healthy, improve my running, and see as many friends as possible.  Happiness and positivity and empowerment are going to be what moves me forward!

My holiday weekend actually started on Thursday as I didn't go into the office that day.  I worked a bit from home, but also really was able to enjoy myself on Thursday.  I started the day with a workout in my backyard, where I did a modified circuit workout that I found online.  It consisted of 1 min. jump rope in between push ups, rows, dips, thrusts, planks, and weighted lunges.  I did it 2 times through and then again for 30 seconds of each one.

My friends met me at my apartment later in the afternoon and we all traveled together out to Stockbridge, MA to the Tanglewood Performing Arts Center to see the original JT in concert!  James Taylor plays annually at Tanglewood on the 4th of July and I have actually seen him before there at one of his shows.  Since I had been before, I knew that the lawn seats at the show aren't like normal lawn seats.  People for this thing go ALL OUT.  Full tables, candelabras, full course spreads of food, etc.

Although my friends and I didn't bring candelabras, we did have quite a delicious spread of food.

We had fun hanging out on the lawn until the clouds started to roll in.  It wasn't long before we could tell there was going to be a major storm and we started packing our things up to prepare for the wetness that was surely coming.

And then an hour before the show was about to start, they announced that the lawn was being evacuated because there were thunderstorms rolling in.  So, we packed up even more, and went to one of the emergency shelters where we waited out the lightning sitting on a little ledge of a building (and then went inside for a bit), and then returned to the lawn to watch the show in the downpouring rain.  I was literally soaking wet from the moment that the rain started because I was sitting (unknowingly) right under a part of the roof that collected the water and dumped it out.  So as soon as the rain started coming down hard, a full stream of water just started pouring on top of my head.  There may have been some screaming...

One of the things that I was thinking about as I listened to James Taylor while literally curled up in the fetal position under a makeshift roof of umbrellas trying to keep whatever parts of me dry I possibly could, was how much I have learned from running and fitness being a part of my life.

I've written before how I've had terrible luck with weather when it comes to some of my races.  My first sprint triathlon was through a thunder and lightning storm, my first 10K was through rain, and my first half marathon was through downpours.  However, you just have to keep moving on.  You can't control the weather on race day, so you need to learn to run in the rain.  Or the snow.  Or the heat or the cold or whatever other conditions race you.  If you wait for things to be perfect, you'll be waiting a long time and miss out on a lot of fun in the process.

So it's no surprise that since I was at this concert with my running buddies, we fought through the storm and had a fun evening with a great story and memories to take home.  It's also no surprise that as the storm rolled in, one of the major priorities was keeping the blueberry cobbler that Aubrey made dry and ready to be eaten!  And eaten it was...

The night even ended comically as the lawn where they had all the concert goers attend turned into a ginormous mud pile.  And while mud isn't new for Jess and I, it was not so good with my car, and the girls all ended up having to push my car out of the lot as we got stuck in the mud!  What a way to kick off the holiday weekend :)

Luckily, the next days were dry, and I met up with the girls again on the 4th morning for the Firecracker 4 road race in Saratoga!  This is a race I have run twice before, and it is a fun course through neighborhoods with a killer hill through unshaded roads at the finish.  Last year we were in the middle of a heat wave for this race, so this year's conditions were so much better.

Jess and I jogged from Aubrey's over to the start of the race, which was nice to help us warm up (although I will admit, I protested wanting to run there at first.)  I didn't sleep entirely well the night before and was crabby and cracky with my friends in the morning, not wanting to run to the start and just feeling a bit of a grump.  And when Jess suggested that we try to run the race at an 8:30 pace to finish in 34:00 minutes, I told her that she was insane and that there was no way that I could do it.  Jess, being the wonderful and motivating friend and running bestie that she is, told me that I could and that I was better than I thought but I did not believe her whatsoever and told her she could try to run that pace, but there was no way I could do it.

Once the race started and we locked in a pace, I was actually feeling pretty good and we finished the first mile at around 8:20 I think?  Which I was totally shocked at when I saw the clock time and proud of myself because I felt good.  We kept the pace for the 2nd mile and I was again, pleasantly surprised, thinking maybe Jess was right and maybe I can do more than what my mind thinks.   It was a great feeling and I was so thankful to have Jess as a running partner.  And right about the time I was having those gracious thoughts, my abilities as a running partner were put to the test as Jess said to me, that she was having trouble breathing.

Now, I can easily count many, many runs where Jess as literally gotten me through with her motivation, encouragement, can do attitude, and sometimes even physically helping by blocking the wind and cold and letting me draft off of her.  My abilities as a runner have grown so much from having her as a friend, partner, and coach.  I felt like such a doofus now that she was calling on me for help and I had no idea what to say.  I felt like I should have something smart or brilliant and was racking my brain for things that help with breathing.  I suggested water?  (I have no idea...) and we walked through the next water stop we saw.  Although I was impressed with the pace we were keeping and wanted to see how much I could push it, there was no way I was leaving Jess at this race.  This wasn't a marathon or something I was doing for a time, it was just a fun fourth of July run.  I was wearing a tutu for pete's sake!

So we walked through the rest of the water stops and I did my best to help encourage Jess through the run, however, the best I could think of when it came to helping with breathing was to say, "Um... do you know lamaz from when you had your kids??"

Seriously.  That is what I suggested.

Way to go, Katelyn.  Friend of the year award right there :)

Anyways, Jess is badass and doesn't quit or give up, despite the breathing problems, and we ended up finishing the race at 36:31, which is a 9:08 pace.  I would have been impressed with this pace no matter what, but was really happy with it considered we walked a number of times throughout the race as well!  Plus, the time that I ran the race in last year was 40:40 and in 2010 I ran the race in 49:16!!!  That is definitely cause for celebration if you ask me.

Aubrey, who is still recovering from an injury, came out to cheer us on as well.  She was even able to snap some photos of us finishing, which always are pretty awkward, but fun nonetheless.

I really surprised myself at this race and it reminded me to continue to push myself and that I can do better than what I think.  So, with that thought, it is officially my goal to try and break 2 hours in the Palio half marathon in September and break my time of 4:37 for the Kansas City marathon in October!

Following this race, we realized that it was Friday, so our usual Starbucks Friday, had to go on.  It is our tradition to get coffee after the Friday runs that we do and we usually always read the horoscope in the Daily Gazette newspaper.  I never read my horoscope except for on Fridays and we usually always laugh about how inaccurate or accurate they are.  We went to Bread Basket in Saratoga instead of Starbucks and in addition to my coffee, I ate this incredibly delicious egg white sandwich on a homemade english muffin (which I totalled at 9 Weight Watchers points... 4 for the english muffin, 1 for the egg whites, 3 for the cheese.)  Yum!

And, there was a newspaper laying around, which I assumed was the local Saratoga newspaper so I grabbed it and read our horoscopes.  After reading them aloud, I realized that it looked very similar to the Schenectady horoscope section and then realized that it was actually a Schenectady Gazette.  Now, this might seem sort of not a big deal, but it totally freaked us out that there was a Schenectady newspaper just laying on the table next to us at the coffee place we went to in Saratoga, on the day we usually always read our horoscopes together in Schenectady.  It was pretty eery to me and the girls so it was cause for a photo.

After breakfast I came back to Albany where I had a relaxing day at home, before later returning back to Saratoga for a last minute decision to join some friends going to see the Phish concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center that night!  One of my friends ended up having an extra ticket to the concert, and although I am not super familiar with Phish music, I've been to two of their concerts before with this friend.  He always has great seats and the concerts are always a blast.  My friend and his wife are two of the most lovely, welcoming, and hospitable people I know.  Their house is always doors open, with tons of fun people stopping by before the concert and delicious food to go around.

I joined them for dinner and then we went over to the concert where we danced the night away and I enjoyed my second concert of the weekend -- this time from the 4th row and from a much dry-er position :)

One of the things that I love about going to the Phish shows is that there is absolutely no judgment from anyone in the crowds there.  You don't dance to look cute.  You don't dress to impress.  I just totally dance as if nobody in the world is looking at me, because in reality, nobody there cares.  Everyone is doing the exact same thing and just totally free and enjoying themselves.  Granted, some of the people probably are so carefree because they've maybe taken some sort of mind-altering substance... but, even for people like myself who are not into drugs whatsoever and have never have been, it's just a really fun show.  I love the carefreeness of it and how everyone is just totally in their element.

Also, I looked at this show a little differently because before the concert, I met some of my friend's friends who actually do the lighting for this and other shows.  I have never really paid too much attention to the lighting in detail at concerts.  I mean, it always is impressive, but since I was sitting so close and had just met these people who do this for a living, I really watched the lighting a bit and how much it impacted the drama of the songs and enhanced the show.  It was incredible and something I have never thought about much before but was totally blown away by.

I ended up staying in Saratoga at my friend's house on Friday night because although drugs aren't my thing, I do like to have a drink or two and safety first people, don't drink and drive!!

Saturday morning I returned to Albany where I had another relaxing day at home, and spent a couple hours at the pool at my friend's apartment complex, before then spending the evening seeing the show "Hands on a Hardbody" which is the play being performed in Albany's Washington Park this month.  The city puts on free performances every summer and it is always one of my favorite things to do.  This was actually the kick off show of the season and I had never heard of the play before but it was pretty good!

Although even if the show wasn't good, the performance is free, outside, and you bring a picnic and hang out with friends, so it's not a bad evening at all!  I always donate money when they come around and ask for donations because it is such a wonderful thing that the city does, the shows are always so well put together, and I love being able to see the plays at Park Playhouse every year!

This years show, although the title couple imply a somewhat sexual theme... is actually about a contest in East Texas to see how long people can keep their hands on a truck, and whoever lasts the longest wins.  It is about a lot of different people coming together, all wanting to win a truck for different reasons, and their personal determination, willpower, and interactions with one another.  The score for the show was actually done by Trey Anastasia -- the lead singer of the band Phish.  It was a very Trey filled weekend for me!

On Sunday, I slept in and then headed out to the Corning Preserve in Albany where I completed my first double digit run since the Paris Marathon!!  I didn't actually have 10 miles on my agenda for this weekend, but going double digits again has been looming over my head, I had nothing else to do today, and my race on Friday left me feeling like I need to challenge and push myself more.  It was tough and warm, but I got myself through it by A) Preparing.  I had a good night's sleep, I ate a decent breakfast, hydrated, brought water with me for the run, wore sunscreen, etc.  B) Broke it into two smaller 5-mile runs mentally and C) Continually reminded myself of all the reasons why I run.  Why it is important to me and why I am a better person because of my running.  It felt great to finally accomplish a 10-mile run for the first time in months and I am excited also about the additional food that you can eat when you start running big like that again :)

Both on Saturday and Sunday I had for breakfast/lunch a breakfast burrito that I am now totally obsessed with and might be my new favorite weekend meal.  I scrambled one egg and some egg whites and put it into a burrito with cheese, tomato, and avocado and then even used my panini maker to toast it up. Both days I had it with a side of fresh fruit and I was left feeling so full and satisfied for hours.  YUM!

The rest of my Sunday was spent preparing myself for the week ahead.  I am still trying to take advantage of alllll the summer, fun things going on this time of year so I have a busy week planned with lots of evening activities, my morning runs of course, and then that little thing called my job :)

You guys might also be wondering how my "one week" of eating healthy went.  Well, I successfully finished one week of keeping with my Weight Watchers points and not going over.  I feel good about the choices I made, and I resisted a lot of temptations multiple times throughout the week -- that in past weeks, I totally would have given in to.  I haven't weighed myself since December so I have no idea how it impacted numbers wise, but I feel good about myself and that's what matters most.  My pants still don't fit, as it's going to take quite a few more weeks to get back to where I want to be, but my mind game worked and I have one week under my belt and am going on week 2 of counting my points.  I've got a couple more weeks where I have a lot of control over my diet due to being in Albany.  I see a lot of craziness in my future so I am hoping to get a few solid weeks going and a good rhythm under my belt.

Hope you guys have a great Monday!

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