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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bournemouth Half Marathon Race Recap

I can't believe I am actually (and willingly) sitting down to write this recap before the Nike Run to the Beat Recap. (Maybe because I have all sorts of angst towards that race and everything I want to say about it sounds like bitch bitch bitch whine whine whine. I probably can't even write it at this point.)

Anyway, on Sunday, the 6th of October 2013, I ran the inaugural half marathon of the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. (There was a 5K and 10K on the Saturday, and a half and full marathon on the Sunday).

Alex and I pre-race! Note to self, race in obnoxious shorts more often!

I didn't have many expectations for this race. Sure, it would be great to PR. But inaugural races could also be quite messy. And I didn't run anything over 6 miles since Run to the Beat. So my expectations were quite low.

And damnit, if my expectations and goals were high I probably would not have PRed, but by golly I did!

Here are the Spark Notes :

1. My previous PR from Brighton was 2:24:45. My shiny new PR is 2:21:07.

2. I am the queen of positive splitting.... But we already knew this.

3. The course was gorgeous! I think this has been my favourite race so far. We ran along the beach side for probably 50% of the race, and also ran around 2 piers. The finish area was packed with amazing spectators.

4. The course was also mostly flat. One short-ish hill around mile 8 I think (you can see a dip in my splits where I walked up 2/3 of the hill. No shame.)

5. This was by far the best I have felt during a half. I remember hitting a wall in Brighton at around miles 7 and 8. And Run to the Beat was just one big freakin' wall in general. But this time, the miles flew by and I felt strong!

Here are the not so Spark Notes :

In Type-A fashion, I had everything set up and packed the night before. I had my obnoxious Lululmeon shorts set out. I had my yummy chocolate Gu in my race belt. I had my 2 water bottles washed, filled with water, and put in the fridge overnight. And in the fridge is where they remained for the entire race. Oops.

Yes, I forgot my water. Fun fact about me : I am the thirstiest person alive. If there is not water within grabbing distance I am panicking. That's just me in normal day to day life, yet alone when I am running.

I didn't panic. I didn't even say anything because I didn't want Alex, his parents, or the dog (yes, the dog came to cheer me on... Or play on the beach... Whatever.) to panic either. I just stayed positive and hoped that there was enough water on the course. And spoiler alert, there was plenty of water along the course. That's definitely a first!

See, does he look worried to you?

I listened to some pump up music at the start and decided to get comfy (as comfy as standing and stretching can be before you run 13.1 miles) since I was in the 2nd to last corral. However, I didn't even get a chance to see how many minutes it took me to cross the start line since I passed it so fast! I've never started a race so freakin' quickly before! Or on time! This was already proving to be a fantastic race!

The first few miles were actually quite spectator-less. I was very sad because I basically thrive off of spectators energy and enthusiasm. I kept thinking that if this was going to be what it was like for the entire race than I was screwed.

My goal (as always) was to start off slower than I thought, but also to not look at my Garmin. I turned the face of my watch to the inside of my wrist so I couldn't even sneak a glimpse. I did actually sneak a glimpse just at the 2 mile mark where I saw a sub-10 minute mile. 'Turn it the eff down, Taylor' is actually what I said in my head except with a more colourful word.

There was an 'out and back' I believe around mile 3 or 4, which a lot of people didn't like because I guess that makes it more daunting seeing people running the other way with no immediate turn in sight. I actually really like it because it makes the course seem more energetic and lively.

I saw the fam at around mile 4. I felt pretty okay since we just passed a water station. I annoyingly kept the water bottle in my hand from water station to water station in fear of needing water. I also wanted it in case I wanted to spontaneously take a Gu but didn't have water. (Although I ditched that idea at about mile 8 when I realised the water stations were actually quite frequent).

Obnoxious shorts, coming through!
Mile 6 was around the time we started running along the beach. It was amazing. The sun was shining, but at no point did I feel overly hot or sweaty. It was quite sunny and I desperately wanted my sunglasses, but I never got that uncomfortable 'I'm hot, I'm sweaty, I wish a cloud would permanently block the sun' feeling. It was amazing. And this is where I noticed the biggest difference in this race. These awkward middle 'you're only halfway there but not quite in the double digits yet' miles flew by.

I saw the fam again at about mile 7 and I still felt really good. Apparently I missed a real comedy moment not even 2 minutes prior where Finlay (our dog) pulled Alex's mum and sent her tumbling to the ground. It was really nice to see them so many times throughout the course!

We left the beach area and faced the only hill of the course. I took my second Gu at this point because I was half power walking half trying to get my breath back. It was absolutely disgusting (and for the record, I'm pretty good with Gu. I only really have the chocolate outrage ones now because those are the ones I can tolerate best). I couldn't water it down no matter much I tried. It literally felt like someone put a massive dollop of frosting on my tongue. It sucked.

The good part was that the top of the hill had lots of volunteers who were motivating everything to get going again. It was fantastic. And then we were back on the beach again! I could run on the beach forever I think!

This is a terrible picture from the start of the race, but look at what I'm wearing compared to the guy behind me! Emphasis on WE'RE RUNNING ALONG  A BEACH!!!

I knew I slowed down a bit from the beginning (see, queen of positive splitting) but I knew it wasn't as drastic as when I slowed down during my first half marathon. Mile 10 is when I realised a PR was definitely manageable. And I told myself that if I had a chance to PR and didn't fight for it, I would be super pissed off at myself.

The last 5K was another out and back, and we actually got a glimpse of the finishing line at around mile 10 as well. It was another one of those moments that other runners got really annoyed about but I absolutely loved. Only 5K to go! I can do that in my sleep!

I focused on not going too fast, but staying on target for a PR. I had a 3rd Gu with me just in case I needed more umph, but as my last attempt at taking a Gu was dreadful I decided the time it would take me to choke it down would be too costly. Slow and steady wins the race, people.

The turn around point could not come soon enough. I remember feeling so happy. Yes, this was in fact the final stretch and it was the best I've ever felt.

With less than one mile to go we ran onto the second pier (I can't remember where the 1st pier was... oops!). I looked at my watch for one last time and unless I went tumbling from the pier to the ocean I was definitely going to PR.

The finishing area was packed with the best spectators ever. I didn't even look around to find the fam; I knew if I saw them I would start crying.

Finish line... taken after I finished!

The best thing I ever did was train myself to run on tired legs. I can't sprint at the best of times, but I turn into Usain Bolt (yeah, I wish) when I see a finish line. If any finishing pictures were taken that day I do not want to see them, because I sprinted my way past a number of people to get my glorious time of 2:21:07 and then burst into tears. Happy tears, of course!

Awesome bling!

Not even a month prior to this race, I ran the Nike Run to the Beat half in 2:31:47. Did I really take 10 minutes off that time??! Yes, yes I did!

And when we got home, you would think that Finlay just ran a half marathon instead of me....

Pooped pup....

If anyone is looking for a good race in the south of England, I would definitely recommend this one! I plan on running it again next year!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recent Reads Of Summer

Right, so part of my internet and general happiness hiatus also included a tiny reading hiatus. I haven't been reading at the pace that I normally do, but I've still managed to squeeze in a few reads before bed time!

Here are some of my recent page turners!

1. Winger by Andrew Smith - Probably my favourite book in a long time. It's so normal. And hilarious. It kind of reminds me of the male version of Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld but without the socially awkward main character. I originally saw the book on this list and I'm so glad I bought it! It's about a high schooler at boarding school and his life in a crap dorm, on the rugby team, and being 2 years younger than everyone in his grade. Really easy read, and includes cartoon that the main character draws himself to narrate his life!

2. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close - Again, a book that is so completely normal. (My taste in books goes one of two ways : the completely normal lives of people or dystopian over the top plots.) I enjoyed it  mainly because I could totally relate to the characters (mostly the 20-something and wtf am I doing at my job aspect of it) and it was such an easy read! I'd definitely recommend it if you want a girly read and you're going through a quarter life crisis! (And even if you're not, you'll still like it!)

3. Gone Series by Michael Grant - Right, so I basically plowed my way through this series. Six books in total. I was completely hooked. Mostly I just wanted to know how the hell it was going to end! There were aspects of it that totally annoyed me; there were so many useless characters that I just wanted to write out of the book! But in all honestly, I liked the concept of it. Basically, everyone over the age of 15 goes 'poof' one day and they can't escape this dome that traps everyone inside. If you like this type of genre, I think you'd like this series. However, be warned that all of the main characters are 14 years or younger. It's an immature read at times, but I think overall I was able to look past it.

Side note, I still have not finished The Host. I cannot get into it. Has anyone read it before? Is it just really slow to get into?

What have you read recently that you enjoyed or would recommend? I have loads more books on my list; I'd love to hear what's on yours!

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Next?

Lets catch up, shall we?

It has been a while since I typed something that hasn't been oh woe is me, and I'm finally at a place where I don't feel like that either.

Ultimate Birthday Margaritas definitely help.

So what's next? What have I been up to these past few weeks months that justifies my hiatus?

What's next in....

1. Running - This week was the first week I ran. I mean actually ran. Like I used to. And it didn't feel like work. I also got moved up a group in the running club a couple of weeks ago, meaning I'm one step closer to the sub 3:00 marathoner group! Let's be honest, that's not happening. But I can dream, right?

I'm glad running has made me happy again, because I have a hefty (for me) race calendar for the rest of the year. In less than a month I'm doing the Nike Run to the Beat half in London, which I am super excited about! It's going to be the biggest race I have ever participated in!

I also signed up for the Bournemouth Half (inaugural race, and also includes a marathon, 10K, and 5K! I love marathon festivals!) and the Great South Run, which sold out before I was able to sign up for it last year and I'm so excited to take part this year!

What's next in....

2. My career - Sooo... I quit my job.

I quit my job before I had another job to go to. And I wouldn't change anything about that incredibly risky decision.

I remember I was so excited to get a big girl job in England. After months of not being able to work, I finally felt like things were coming into place.

And then it became quite obvious that it was not the role I thought it would be. But I thought I could stick it out for a bit. (Side note, it totally reminded me of Selena quitting her job. So weird that I remember that, but the post really stuck with me!)

And then it just got worse. And don't judge me, but I was actually crying every morning before work just dreading the day that hadn't even started yet.

It didn't just happen over night; I didn't just wake up one morning and say 'I hate my job'. It's definitely been a long time coming.

But after much help from Alex and his family, I put my notice in. I had already passed my probation period, so unfortunately for me I had to give one months notice. Ugh. But my last day is August 30, so I'm nearly there!

And in case the anticipation is killing you, I do have a new job to go to now!

More on this topic later.

What's next in.... 

3. My life - Alex and I bought our own place! Like actually bought! As in, we have a mortgage!

We're moving at the end of the month, and I couldn't be happier!!

More on that later as well; I just wanted to let you guys know!

See, I wasn't lying when I said exciting things are happening on this side of the pond!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Number 23

(I've been starting all of my blog posts with 'sorry for the internet hiatus' or 'I know I'm in a blogging lull', so we'll just skip that and cut to the chase. Exciting things are happening on this side of the pond and you'll find out about it soon enough!)

Today is my 23rd birthday!

I used to hate my birthday; I'd rather celebrate another person's birthday any day. But since turning 20 I've actually come to enjoy it!!

Last year, I wrote 22 things I have learned in 22 years of being on planet Earth.

This year, I'm writing another 23 things!

Here we go!

1. If you don't love what you're doing, don't do it - Job related woes... Seriously, what have I been thinking?! More on that later.

2. It's okay to be a crazy cat lady - I miss my cat. And I'm getting a cat in the near future.

3. It's also okay to be a crazy dog lady - Which I am as well.

Follow @heytayk on Instagram if you love Labradoodles!

4. Run with other people or with a club - I used to be a total solo runner. Now I dread running by myself!

5. Tea is amazing - Enough said.

I love this picture!

6. Scuba diving is possibly even more amazing - Also enough said. I want to be certified NOW.

7. It's okay to sit in bed and read all day long - and finish the book in a day as well....

8. It's also okay to sit in bed and re-read the same books you've already read all day long - See #7. 

9. Good pickles (gherkins?!) are SO HARD to find in England - Seriously, it's okay to sell pickled eggs and pickled onions in this country, but I have not found good PICKLES. (Except by getting a boatload on my Subway sandwich.)

10. Finding out one of your fave stores ships abroad (for free!!!) may not be a good thing - Lululemon... you will be the death of me and my bank account. Side note, if you didn't know Lululemon was sold in the UK, now you do! You're welcome!

But now I have a top to match my Team Sparkle skirt! And that's the most important thing...

11. If you don't like heels, don't wear heels! - Easy enough lesson right? Wrong. I always end up heels in hand in the middle of a night out. I've vowed never to wear heels again. I like flats. Judge me.

12. Don't roll your ankle, fall over, and cry in front of the sub 3:00 marathoners in your running club - Now I'm not saying that I've personally done this (yes I am), but just don't do it. Awkward!

13. Always go 'Ultimate' at TGIFridays - Margaritas the size of your head. It's worth it.

14. Going to a concert by yourself is actually fun - No shame here. Thought I was going to look like a doughnut sitting by myself, but actually had a grand old time.

15. Don't eat olives before you run - I learned the hard way.

16. Germany and Belgium are amazing - Travel there. You won't be sorry.

17. Egypt is also amazing - I'd go back to Sharm El Sheikh in a heartbeat.

Not in Sharm... but still a great experience!

18. Don't feel bad if you don't know what you want to do with your life - Just be happy! Things will fall into place!

19. If you want the polka dot trousers, just buy the polka dot trousers - Don't let thoughts like 'are these weird?' or 'will these make me look stupid?' stop you. Just buy them! Everyone loves polka dots!

20. Just because you don't know how to iron doesn't make you any less of an adult - I refuse to iron. I just do.

21. Salt and Vinegar flavour works for everything - Crisps, chips, peanuts, rice cakes. Who woulda thought?! 

22. Wear sparkles often - See Team Sparkle skirt above for prime example.

23. Sing Taylor Swift songs all day every day - 'I don't know about you but I'm feeling 22' (not anymore, oops!)

See you in a year for 24 more life lessons from an older and wiser Taylor!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Remember When Surveys Were Cool?

I don't know where this 'old school blogging' thing came from, but I kind of like it! I actually think it's more like old school MySpace survey posting, but that's okay. Remember when that was cool?

I saw this one from Meghan and thought why not! I'm a massive fan of useless facts anyway.

Here are my ABCs!

A. Attached or Single? I'm married! 

B. Best Friend? I have the 3 best friends who are far far away in America.

That's actually only 2 of them. I couldn't find a non-embarrassing pic of the 4 of us! Oops!

C. Cake or pie? I'm going to say cupcakes. I know, I really like being difficult.

D. Day of choice? Saturday, duh!

E. Essential Item? I'm sad to say this, but my iPad is incredibly essential.

F. Favorite color? Lime green

G. Gummy bears or worms? Sour worms for sure!

H. Home town? Boca Raton, Florida. If you watch Glee, it's the city where Sue Sylvester says she has her vacation home in.

I. Favorite Indulgence?  I could eat chips/fries all day everyday. And salt and vinegar crisps/chips. And bread. And just food. Seriously, I love food. I'd rather savory food than sweets any day.

J. January or July? January makes me sad because Christmas is over and normal life starts again, so I'm going to say July.

K. Kids? None.

L. Life isn’t complete without? People who make you smile. 

M. Marriage date? If you're from America, I got married on 2/8/13. If you're from the UK (or everywhere else in the world), I got married on 8/2/13.

I love this picture even though I look squinty.

N. Number of brothers/sisters? 1 older sister

O. Oranges or Apples? Both!

P. Phobias? Needles! They're my absolute worst fear. I often start crying just thinking about them.

Q. Quotes? “If you can't laugh at yourself, life’s gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like.”

R. Reasons to smile? A fantastic run, getting an awaited package in the post, being with people you love, 3 day weekends, going home from work on a Friday night.

S. Season of choice? Late fall / Early winter

T. Tag 5 People. I tag you, you, you, you, and you! 

U. Unknown fact about me? I spent my childhood obsessing over Nsync, and specifically Lance Bass from Nsync. Spoiler alert : He's openly gay now.

V. Vegetable? I really love asparagus. And edamame! Is that a vegetable?

W. Worst habit?  Saying "um" a lot.

X. Xray or Ultrasound? I've had a million x-rays.  

Y. Your favorite food? Spicy buffalo wings with a side of curly fries.

Z. Zodiac sign? Leo! 

Your turn! Tell me some of your ABCs and then do it for yourself!