Platte River Half Marathon Race Re-cap

The Platte River Half Marathon by far has one of the best post-race parties in town!  The race starts in downtown Littleton, south of Denver, and takes the Platte River trail north to finish in downtown Denver.  Before I get to the post-race party, let me recap the race.  This is a long one, as it felt like a long 13.1 miles.

Everything about this race is extremely well-organized.  When I got to Littleton at 7 am, the main RTD (light rail) parking lot was filled.  Just as the website said, volunteers in bright green shirts were directing traffic.  I managed to park in the overflow lot and walk over to the start line.  There was no porta potty lines, so I hopped right in.  I was cold so I took off (wearing all my layers) to do 2 easy warm-up miles.  By the time I returned to the start line, it was 7:45.

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The view from behind the start line.

I had 15 minutes to drop my stuff off and use the porta potty again.  I waited for the porta potty, but when it got to be 7:55, I realized I would not make it to the start and I decided to forgo the porta potty.  I got in line in the 1:55-2:10 corral and I was off.  The first two miles take you on a loop through the streets of Littleton before coming back to the start line and getting on the trail.  My goal was to work on starting a race slow, and the first few miles were certainly conducive to this!  Miles 1 and 2 were 9:17 and 9:12.

By the time we got on the trail, however, the crowds had not really spread out.  We were now squeezed together on a narrow bike path, and immediately came upon an aid station, which further squeezed us in.  I did not care too much because everyone had great energy and I knew eventually we would spread out.  Even though the course is along a bike path near a river, you are mostly running past industrial plants.  I was thinking there would not be much crowd support, but between the aid stations (exactly every 2 miles) and the multiple parks along the way, there was a decent amount of crowd support.  Miles 3, 4, and 5 were: 9:07, 8:59, 8:53.

Although I had told myself I would run the first 5-6 miles slow, by the time I hit mile 5, I realized, I did not have much kick left in my legs to pick up the pace.  And I was OK with that, given that I seemed to be running a steady race and could probably finish sub-2, which would be a great training run anyway.  Miles 6, 7, and 8: 8:57, 8:56, 9:01.

By the 8th mile, I was close to the park of the path I run my long runs on.  We were getting closer to the city and I was in my comfort zone.  My legs, however, were screaming at me and I started to feel slightly dizzy.  Fuel, right.  I grabbed some Honey Stinger chews from my pocket and kept going, hoping they would kick in and I would feel better.  They never did and I realized I was struggling to maintain 9 min miles, which are usually easy for me to maintain in a half marathon.  Miles 9, 10, 11: 9:03, 9:08, 9:19.

At this point the possibility of going over 2 hours crept up on me.  I can usually clear a half under 2 with no problem, but I was feeling pretty bad at this point.  I then decided I had put up a good fight and that the day just was not my day.  I stopped looking at the watch for the last mile on the trail.  Then the final mile of the race takes you into town by going up overpasses.  The beginning of mile 13 was terrible not only because of the first and only major hill on the course, but also because we were pushed into a small sidewalk.  Everyone around me was walking up the hill.  As tempting as it was, I could not let myself do that.  I did, however, feel my pace slip dramatically.  By the time I got to the top and started downhill, I did not even feel like I picked the pace back up.  Miles 12 and 13: 9:32 and 9:48.

I crossed that darn bridge/overpass and could see the finish line.  Just had to get there.  I knew David and the dogs would be there.  Crossed the line in 2:00:44, just over 2 hours.  At that point all I cared about was that I no longer had to run.  I could not figure out why it was such an off day for me, but I knew I pushed it and did the best I could.  I then recognized 2 doggies and a boy walking away from the finish line.  I think I started to run (2 steps before I caught myself) and then stopped and called after them.

David, having been to many of my races, was convinced he had missed me once the clock hit 2 hours and ventured into the crowd to find me.  No, I told him, I was just having an off day.  I was able to get in line for a large variety of food (fruit, burgers, mac ‘n cheese, etc.).  Then I had to collapse on the ground.  My quads were shot and getting down was tough. D made me eat some food and then I realized that I missed the beer line.  A beer was not necessarily the first thing I wanted, but they came in cute mugs.  I wanted a mug!

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What was great about this race was that it started and ended near light rail lines and they gave all participants a voucher to get on the rail back to the start.  I did not use mine, however, because David was able to drive me back, on his way to run errands.  Nonetheless, I appreciated that they did that!  I got to take the dogs home and a hot shower never felt so great.  I put on my race shirt and medal and lay on the couch before heading out to get some good Mexican food.

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I love the design on both the shirt and the medal. Even though it wasn’t my race day, I am totally looking forward to doing this race again!

On our way out, the hail started and I was sure glad we had a nice, sunny morning in the 50s. Perfect for a race.

Trails, Grass, and Races

I am trying to count the number of good, fun things that happened this weekend, but there are too many to count!  I guess Friday night started with us signing the lease to our new tenants in Boulder.  We cleaned out the garage of the new place and we were officially done there!  It was a little bittersweet, but we decided to celebrate with pizza.  We had been wanting to try a place called Hops and Pie in Denver.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was 8:30 and we were starving.  The place was packed and a table would be at least a 45 min wait.  I would have eaten my shirt by then.

So instead of the hip new pizza and beer joint in town, we opted for the old school Italian place up the street, Carl’s Italian Restaurant (I can’t even find a website for it!).  It reminded me of older restaurants my grandmother would take me to in Pittsburgh.  I got a calzone smothered in marinara and mozzarella and was content.

The next morning I had plans to meet Cassie for a run at Red Rocks Amphitheater.  Neither of us had run the trails around the theater before; we just showed up and decided to look for trails.  As a result, we ended up not really know where we were going.  But we did run 4.5 solid, hilly miles together.  And I got to know that Cassie is really sweet (which you can totally tell from her blog anyway, but this solidified it)!  We forgot to take pictures, so you may call this a blogger fail OR you may note that we were just so happy to be out running trails that forgot about silly things like taking pictures to prove that we did it.

I came home and found David and the dogs were hard at work on the lawn.  We had plans to lay sod that day.  While I was out running, he made two trips to Mile High Sod Farm  to get the sod.  We prepped the soil and we were ready to go.  Shrek and Zoe(y) supervised.

1962682_823550051007543_683667192556343328_nNote: I was still wearing my running clothes here.  As will be important later in the story, I went straight from running to lifting, raking, shoveling, sweating for four hours.  I drank some water, but barely ate at all aside from a few pieces or granola bar and some tortilla chips.

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By mid-afternoon, the lawn looked like this:

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We spent another hour cleaning up (ourselves, the yard and the house, which had tracks of mud throughout) and then I took an hour nap.  I woke up in time to clean up some more and make some quick tacos to eat before friends came over to play some games.

They left by 10, which gave me plenty of time to sleep well before my race on Sunday morning.  The race was awesome and amazing and very well-organized.  (I will have a full re-cap of it soon).  However, I did not run nearly as I expected.  I think my full day of activity on Saturday, which included only snacking throughout the day and then eating a few tacos at dinnertime contributed to my tired body on race day.

I spent Sunday afternoon/evening on the couch with the dogs and the rolling pin and foam roller.  Even today, I woke up walking like I had run a full marathon the day before.  This was much, much different than the Canyonlands Half in Moab a few weeks ago where I ran a solid race and felt great the next day.  Oh well, lesson learned (I hope!).  I am just hoping that one bad training race does not equal a bad race in four weeks!

 

Introducing Zoe

Hi!  My name is Zoe (or Zoey, my parents still haven’t decided). I am a female stray from Kansas who made my way to the Boulder Humane Society. They say I am two years old, but my parents are skeptical and think I am younger.  I will go to the vet soon to have him determine how old I am.  We think I am part German Shorthaired Pointer, Labrador, and maybe some blue heeler.  Once I go to the vet and know how old I am, we will see if I grow anymore.

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I am a pretty calm dog, but I do like to play rough a lot!  Shrek has increasingly started playing with me more  and more.  When I play, I act like an uncoordinated puppy.  I don’t bark much. The television kind of freaks me out, so that is the only thing I bark at.  I am learning how to walk better on a leash, so I don’t pull everyone with me when I see a bird and a squirrel.  10012559_823549917674223_2825469252083643070_nThat is all about me for now.  Have a great day and I am sure you will see a lot more of me soon!

Month Before Marathon

It is now exactly one month before the Colorado Marathon and I have no idea how I feel.  This week has been very light in training.  I want to keep my legs rested and feeling good for the Platte River Half Marathon this Sunday. I am not racing this half this close to a marathon.  But still, I want it to be a solid run that makes me feel confident about my training so far.

As I mentioned, last week, my legs and hips and glutes were sore and tired.  I needed some solid rest and easy run days.  I would probably have taken these days easy regardless of the half.  So I will see how this race goes and see how I feel.  Also, next weekend, we are headed to Pittsburgh (for our wedding celebration with friends and family back home) and we may actually drive there (with the dogs).  This will take up a lot of my time and probably cut into my running, but I feel much better keeping the new dog with us, than leaving her here with a new stranger.  Why is it that, without fail, a month before my marathons, I just start to feel completely burnt out, tired, and have important life events that get in the way?

Anyway, this afternoon I headed over to Runner’s Roost to pick up my race packet for the race.  I love when packet pick-ups are in running stores.  There is so much energy in the store and everyone is excited about the race.  I wanted to be friends with everyone in the store!  However, I am not that outgoing.

While I was in line, two guys who work for The North Face approached me to ask how I like the North Face shoes I was wearing.  I have had these Ultra Kilowatt trail hiker shoes since the fall. I really like how they fit and feel and told them so.  I also took the opportunity to point out that some of the material was wearing down.  I told them that I mainly wear them around town and on light hikes, so this was surprising. They agreed it was and one of them took pictures of my shoes (on my feet, in the store, in line to pick up my race packet).

What the new shoes look like:

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Mine after 6 months of light hiking and wearing around town:

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A little worn out where the material meets the rubber on both sides.  In this shot, it is easier to see on the right shoe but it is happening on both shoes.

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A close up of the hole that is forming.

Now don’t get me wrong: this is not something I would complain to manufacturers about, as it is a symptom of wear and tear.  However, these guys were nice and asking for feedback and I wanted to be honest.  I just thought they were showing wear and tear earlier than I would have liked, especially since I was not wearing them most of the winter.  The soles still look 100% new. Anyway, it was a nice interaction and I love when people really care what the consumer thinks of their product.

And let the weekend begin!  I have a fun excursion planned for tomorrow and then a race on Sunday.  Anyone else have a race this weekend?

 

3 Excellent Things in 4 Hours

Monday was one of those whirlwind days when, at the end of the day, you look back and are so amazed at what happened.  I had a string of three excellent events that occurred over the course of about 4 hours.  They were all fantastic.

Before I tell you what they were, I need to give a bit of background information.  Without going into too much detail, two weeks ago I left my job.  In short, a series of poor management decisions and a very frustrated employee (me) who could not access any of the resources and supervision I needed to succeed contributed to me leaving.  I feel much better being away from that situation. I have moved on and not looked back.  [On a side note, I felt awful when you guys commented about my awesome 16 miles, which I was able to do during the week because I was not working.  I was not yet ready to talk about it in a public setting.]  

So this brings us back to Monday afternoon. The first  of three excellent things was that I had a phone conversation about an awesome professional opportunity.  I was really excited about this and the woman I spoke to was as well.  During that time, the position was offered to me.  Nothing is final yet, but that felt great.  I needed to be able to connect with someone who shares many of the same passions and values as me.  And I did.

Immediately after getting off the phone, I needed to hop in the car and drive up to Boulder to show our apartment there to a potential tenant.  We had placed an ad on Craigslist the day before and had a lot of interest.  One person stood out from the others, so I showed it to her first.  When I met her (and her adorable dog!), I knew this was a solid person who would make an excellent renter.  We left it as she would let me know by mid-week if she wanted it.  Within an hour, I checked my phone and she had emailed me to let me know she wanted it and could move in the next weekend.  So that was the second of three excellent things.  I feel much more comfortable knowing we found a solid person to rent our place to.

This brings me to the third of three excellent things.  By that point, it was 5:00.  David was still at work and we had dinner plans with a friend in Boulder at 6:30.  I had a solid hour and a half to kill in Boulder.  I could have gone for a run, but instead I decided to check out the Boulder Humane Society and see if they had gotten any new dogs that met our criteria.  The good thing was that the Humane Society is right across the street from David’s office.  In case I saw a potential dog, he could hop right over and check it out.  I really thought I would not see any dogs of interest and would be out of there after ten minutes of checking out the dogs.

But then in the back, I saw one little (well, medium-sized) pooch who just seemed perfect.  There were no papers available at her kennel, so I had to ask about her at the front desk, all the time worried she would get snapped up.  From the information they provided (age, good with others, history, personality, possible breeds, etc.), she seemed perfect.  Her size and coat were great, too.  By this point, before I was even in a room with her, I was texting D telling him to come.  I then spent about 15 minutes in a small room observing and playing with her.  She was calm and only a bit stressed about being locked in a room with a stranger.  Once D arrived, we took her on a walk on the property.  We decided she should come home with us.

The problem was that we had dinner plans and did not want to leave her alone in the car. I offered to put a hold on her and then come back up the next morning with Shrek so we could introduce them on neutral ground. But the hold process scared us (we wanted to make sure she did not get away!), so we decided to take her.  We then met our friend and had dinner outside  where we could keep the dog on a leash.  It was almost warm enough to justify outdoor dining.  I barely remember what I ate or what we talked about, I was so overwhelmed by the events of the day.

I know you want to see a picture and hear more information about the dog.  Not to leave you all in suspense, but we decided we want to wait until the weekend before we officially ‘announce’ our new dog.  Although we are pretty sure she is a great dog, we want to be cautious and take a few days to solidify our decision.

So that has been what has been keeping me busy lately.  I think a trip to the dog park and a little hike is in order now.  Little girl has a bunch of energy!  Oh and of course, I ran 3 miles with her yesterday. That was a test she needed to pass.

Garden: End of March Update

Even though I just posted about my garden last week, I want to do an update on here for, at the very least, my own record.

The majority of the work we have done so far this past week was on the backyard.  Although we have a substantial patio and the garden beds take up some room, we have plenty of room for grass.  Except there is very little grass.  So this past weekend we got busy tearing the dirt and grass up to prepare it for sod.  Growing up in Pennsylvania, I am used to spreading grass seed and watching it grow, but here in CO, things are dry and the soil is not as rich.  Sod is abundant and fairly cheap, so that is what we are doing.  We hope to have the lawn prepared by next weekend so we can get sod and lay it then.

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Shrek makes an excellent supervisor.

Aside from the lawn, we are starting to see some green in the garden beds!  The only thing I planted outside was spinach, which does well in cold weather.  It needs to be planted early because once it gets to be July here, it will be too hot for spinach.

IMG_0363After I saw the spinach, I kind of freaked out because I am afraid the frosts that we have over the next month will affect them.  I did some research and was assured that it should be OK.  Whew.

On a non-garden related note: the dog search.  I have mentioned that we have looked at all the shelters around and are trying to find the perfect dog.  We do have some specific requirements in mind, but none are too difficult to match.

Here is some background: after we lost Lemon in September, I said I could not handle another purebred dog at this point.  Lemon was a great dog and I have a major soft spot in my heart for greyhounds.  But she was only 6 and a half when she passed.  I grew up with mutts and they lived to be 15.  Shrek is a 10-ish year old mix and he is still going strong.  As much as I want to give all the retired racing greyhounds in the world a home, I just cannot do it right now out of fear of health problems related to purebred dogs.

So…David and I have agreed on a medium-sized mixed breed.  I would love something that had some whippet/greyhound in it, but they are difficult to find.  We want something that is on the skinnier side and can be picked up if necessary (like going up/down ladders in Utah canyons) and weighs around 40 pounds.  Also, I am insisting on short fur for both allergy purposes as well as cleaning the hard wood floors.  It also has to be a nice/friendly dog that is probably 1-3 years old and, if not already trained, trainable, athletic but also lazy when alone in the house, and that it gets along with dogs and kids.

Funny story: the other night we were at a shelter looking at an Australian cattle dog mix.  The volunteers took us into a small room and told us the dog is high energy.  Then they brought him in, let him off the leash, and left us alone in there with this little guy.  Well, the poor little guy was so excited to be in a new place, he was jumping off the walls!  He could not sit still, he was jumping on the desk in the room, nipping at us, trying to chew a live electrical wire, and going after David’s crotch. Five minutes later, once we were sure that this was not the dog for us, no one was coming back into the room.  They left us in this tiny room with this hyperactive dog!  I had to finally grab his collar while D escaped left to find a volunteer to rescue us.

I am perfectly capable of training a dog and spending the time and effort with it to get it calmed down, but this dog was way too high energy.  Let the search continue…the right pooch is out there for us somewhere.

Colorado Marathon Training: Week 11

I write from my couch where I am exhausted after a long stretching session.  I was going to run 10-12 miles today, but I had to cut it short since my glutes were screaming at me.  Apparently, my stretching has not been quite as effective this week as it could have been.  My legs feel beat up all the time.  My hips are extremely tight and I need to do some serious stretching.  I think I see a rest day in the near future…I also am signed up for another half next weekend and I want to cut back some miles this week to feel fresh and rested for that race.

Total Miles: 43

Monday: 3 easy miles

Tuesday: 16 miles
This was a fun long run!  I ran 4.5 miles to meet a friend to run through two of Denver’s parks.  We ran a 7.5 mile loop.  She went home and I ran 4 miles home.

Wednesday: Rest day
Opted for barre class instead of a run.  Not quite a full-on rest day, as my abs and legs and arms were sore for three days!

Thursday: 6 easy miles
It actually hurt to begin to run following the barre class from the previous night, but then as I got warmed up, the legs felt much better.

Friday: 8 tempo miles
It was pretty windy and I ran around the lake 3 times. My splits differed depending on which direction into the wind I went, but the overall effort was the same.

Saturday: 3 easy miles

Sunday: 7 miles
As I said earlier, my legs were tired and sore when I went out for my afternoon run.  After about 5 miles, I came across a new dog shelter that David and I had not checked out. (We have actually been to 5 different ones over the past week!). I called him and told him to come meet me there. I got in about 2 more miles waiting for him and then we went in to look at the pooches. Great dogs, but we are very picky, apparently, when it comes to finding *our* dog.  Then he drove me home and I have been couch vegging ever since.  We also went for an hour walk this morning and I did a lot of work in the backyard, so it has been a long, productive day.

Trying Pure Barre

I think the title of this post should be “I am incredibly sore from last night’s workout.”  I went to a Pure Barre class for the first time last night and my abs and arms are screaming at me today.

It was actually sad that I ended up at Pure Barre because my neighbor (yes-I am making new friends in my new neighborhood!) and I had planned to attend a cooking class she had found at a local cooking store.  The class was on the cheaper side for cooking classes and included a great menu (wild game).  We were excited about it!  That excitement, however, diminished when she got an email on Tuesday saying it was cancelled.  They had no word about if it would be rescheduled.

Since we had already planned something that night, we decided to look for an alternate class.  We looked into sip and paint classes where you paint a painting and drink a glass of wine.  This is a brilliant idea and neither of us had tried it before.  Sadly, the classes for Wednesday night were either sold out or we did not like the painting scheduled for that night.

I suggested a barre class.  She had done one years ago and liked the idea; I had never done one and wanted to experience it with someone else who was new.  I found a Pure Barre studio not far from us and we scheduled a class at the same time the cooking class would have been.  One thing I noticed when scheduling the class was that all the classes appeared the same; there were no levels like many yoga studios have.  This was the first sign that this class might be difficult.

When we got to the studio, the woman at the desk identified us right away as the new people.  As we filled out paperwork, she explained the weights and balls and bands we were going to need, and that was it.  We were off to the studio.  The music came on and it was FAST.  I had to look at what everyone was doing, as I was lost.  I guess I was expecting an uptempo yoga class, but this was fast and intense.  We started with a 90-second forearm plank!  I was sweating within two minutes.

The instructor eventually came around to us to help us with form and explain things better to us.  Everyone else in the class seemed to know what they were doing and we were a bit lost.  The good news is that 55 minutes later, we were still alive.  We walked out of the studio feeling beat up, but in a good way.  The instructor then told us that they have more of an intro class that is free and offered on Saturday mornings.  If only we had known!

I was surprised that only half of the class utilized the barre; the other half of the time we were doing core work with the weights, balls, and bands in the center of the room.  The music was fast and we did a lot of “pulses” to work our muscles.  Throughout the class, I felt like I was getting some really good, intense stretches in that felt great on my tired, marathon-training leg muscles.  Overall,  pretty positive experience, but I am glad I had a friend there.  It would be intimidating to go by myself.  The basic class on Saturday may be more useful for me next time :)

If you had to choose between a cooking class, sip and paint class, or barre class, which would you choose?

My Backyard Garden

Yesterday I mentioned I was busy this weekend gardening.  Cassie, who lives in eastern Colorado, asked what kind of gardening I was doing.  It was a fair question and made me laugh since we just had a snowstorm on Saturday.  I am excited to begin to document my adventures in backyard gardening, so I thought I would begin with this post.

I am so, so happy to finally live in the same place for the entire summer (I have moved a lot) so I can create a garden!  One of the biggest selling things about this house was that the backyard had beds already and it was just waiting for me to come and start my garden.  I have worked and volunteered on a number of different farms, but I have never had my very own gardening space.  Now look at what I have:

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Please ignore the big white bag of weeds.

David and I spent some time preparing the beds this weekend, which meant weeding, wedding, and more weeding.  We have a total of five full beds and 2 smaller (half?) beds.  Plus, we have containers for herbs and other things.

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The five beds. If you look closely, you can see the two beds on the far left have smaller beds right next to them.  I call these the half beds.

The woman who lived here before us must have been artsy and created these containers for herbs.  I am so glad she kept them here for us!

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I will certainly be using these containers, though I may not plant the herbs according to what is written.

In addition to weeding the beds, this weekend, I also started some indoor herbs and lettuce that will be transplanted outside once the final frost is done.  Here they are in the windowsill of my office.  And Shrek just had to get himself in the picture, even if he is outside and I am inside.

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The next thing we need to work on is grass for the backyard. Unfortunately, right now it is more dirt than grass.

Who has a garden or a garden plot?  Any good gardening tips?  

Colorado Marathon Training: Bust

I hate that I am always so self-critical of my training posts.  I should be better at celebrating what I do, instead of focusing on what I did not do.  Oh well.  Last week was a challenging week in many ways, but it was good.  Overall, I needed to recover from the half marathon without over-doing it too much and I had a lot of non-running distractions going on.  Running was not a priority.  That being said, though, I had two excellent runs that just left me feeling great and on a high, so I guess that is good?  I have a long run with a friend planned tomorrow, so I will be picking up the mileage this week.

Total Miles: 26

Monday: 3 easy miles

Tuesday: Nothing

Wednesday: Nada

Thursday: 12 easy miles.  
Beautiful day, I felt I could keep on going, if the sun was not about to set.

Friday: 8 tempo miles
I was planning to make this an easy run, but I was just feeling the need to work hard.  Before I knew it, I had 8 miles completed at a solid tempo pace.  Boom.

Saturday: 3 miles
I was planning on more, but my legs weren’t feeling it, it was snowing, and I just needed an easy jaunt around my little lake.  Over and out.

Sunday: Rest
We had a bunch of paining, organizing, gardening, moving stuff around-type house day.  We then went to shelters and looked for a dog.  Shrek needs a buddy, even though he is indifferent to most other dogs.  We found a few great ones, but not ours.  It was a draining experience and it wore me out.  I was so tired, I needed a few late afternoon power naps.  I really think my body needed time to recover from the half marathon.

Aside from the snow this weekend, I am loving that spring is here!