Happy Thanksgiving!

November 30, 2014

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family and/or friends. We had a lot of fun this week. My oldest sister and brother in law came into town for the week and my other sister brought her friends for Thanksgiving. My dad bought Just Dance 2015 for us which is so much fun. We watched the parade, hung out, danced, played different sports (which I found out I am very bad at sports), and ate lots of delicious food. I'm sharing a few things I am thankful for:

1. My family
I am thankful for my family who is very close, supportive, and loving! They are always here for me and support me. I love each of them so much.

2. My friends.
I'm thankful for the friends I made at small group this past semester. One small group, one of the girls led us through yoga. Another small group, a few of the girls cooked and we got to eat dinner outside on a picnic bench. I enjoyed the time of worship and a devotion.

3. My health. 
I have been sick on and off for the past month and realized how thankful I am for my health. I haven't been able to run or workout (in five weeks!) and I definitely miss it. I can't wait until I can enjoy running again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Week Recap: Month of October 20th- November 23rd

November 23, 2014

These past few weeks went by super quickly. I had originally planned on taking two weeks off after the marathon and then starting back easy. That was what I did last year and I figured that would work again. However, after the two week break I got sick with a minor form of bronchitis. I always have TMI on the blog, my bad. Anyway, that just showed that my body really needed the rest. I'll catch you up on everything that has been going on since I haven't blogged about it!

First, my sister uploaded her race reports and I promised to share. Her pre race report + her race report can be found by clicking on the links and it will take you to her blog.

At the end of October, my oldest sister came into town for a week and that just happened to be the weekend I was racing. After the race, we went out to church and had girls night. 

These last two weeks, the temperatures dropped to the high in the 40s. I love winter since I can wear layers, scarves, and boots! Plus, it meant having an Iphone photo shoot with my sister for updated social media profile pictures ;)

My second favorite hobby is shopping. I have done a lot of shopping these past few weeks. I am not working with a coach and that means I have extra money to spend. But I do miss my coach. I bought a couple new sweaters, a top from Anthropologie, a poncho and new light-wash jeans. I ordered a couple of the items and can't wait until they come in.

One Friday night my mom, sister, and I went to the mall. We found the most comfortable scarf at American Eagle. We bought three of them then wanted to buy another for our oldest sister but it is sold out. Bummer! It is super comfortable and I have gotten so many compliments on it.

I am no longer sick- yay! So, I started back with some easy workouts at the end of this past week with:

Thursday: 30 minutes cycle
Friday: 50 minutes yoga
Saturday: 2 mile run
Sunday: Rest day

My next race is in February. I plan on running 2-3 miles every other day until I can build back up to longer runs. I don't really have to start training until January so I have the next five weeks to get back in shape. I also have a training plan printed out to follow once I am in shape.

Random photo: my sister and I made french toast for breakfast one morning and it was delicious.

Last weekend, my sister Liz came into town to celebrate our dad's birthday. She was here for two days. Last Monday after I got out of class and finished work I met up with my mom, Kathleen, and Liz for a(nother) shopping day. 

Look pumpkins, take a picture of me squatting by them!

This week I have classes on Monday and Tuesday then I have the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving break! My sister is bringing some of her intern friends to our house for Thanksgiving and my oldest sister is coming with her husband. I am looking forward to this week!

Hello, off season!

November 18, 2014

I'm baaaaack. It's the off season and I have been enjoying it a bit too much. I decided to take a month off completely. Besides a short three mile run and a 20 minute bike, I have not been pushing anything. 

This past year of racing has been great! I raced 2 10ks (one on my own), 2 half marathons, 2 triathlons, and a marathon. Training has been tough. I didn't take any long breaks from training besides for five days after getting a stomach virus (TMI). I trained for long hours and sometimes twice a day.

I am looking forward to going to nursing school which means I need good grades. These past few weeks have been busy with tests and projects as the semester is coming to an end. Even though I am itching to get back out on a race course, I know this was a smart decision to take time off.

But that doesn't mean I am not already in denial that I have nothing to upload to Training Peaks...

Here's to the off season!

The Best and Worst of Racing

November 6, 2014

I am linking up with Jessie's blog who I found from Erin. Jessie is hosting a link up with the best and worst categories of racing.

Best (or Worst) of My Racing History

Best Finisher's Shirt
The best finisher's shirt is the one I got from a 5k that was cancelled. It was tech cloth, grey, not fitted, and super comfortable. Most of my finisher's shirts are fitted for girls and those aren't my favorite.

Worst Finisher's Shirt
I'm not sure if I have a worst finishers shirt but there is one I don't really wear. I got it at the Scallywompus 20 mile race I did last fall and it's brown. It's not horrible but brown is just a dark color for a t-shirt.

Best Finish Line
The best finish line was at the Windcrest Freshman triathlon this past summer. It was my first triathlon and they race directors cheered everyone across the finish line. When I came in they said, "Sara Hoffman just finished her first triathlon" It was very exciting! 

Best Overall Swag/ Gear
The Rock n Roll series wins at best swag. I haven't been to any race expo that has as much stuff as them. So much free food!

Best Crowd Support
This one goes with the next category. While it may have been the hottest race, the RNR marathon had the best crowd support. There were so many people along the streets cheering runners on.

Hottest Race
The Rock n' Roll 2013 marathon was the hottest temperatures I have raced in. It was 87 and humid. The whole time I was grabbing wet towels to wrap over my shoulders, pouring water all over myself, trying to stay cool. My shirt was soaking wet and scrunched up. It was gross.

Coldest Race
At the Alamo 13.1 in March, it was so cold and windy. I don't even remember how cold it was I just remember it was great racing temperatures (I got a PR) but afterwards I was shaking.

Most Beautiful Course
Pretty much every race I have done these past couple of years have been great courses. Most of them are run downtown along the river walk and it is very pretty. Some races are along paths on hiking trails.

Hilliest Course
I haven't done any crazy hilly courses but the new route for the Alamo 13.1 this past spring had quite a few hills. I train in a pretty hilly area so I didn't think too much of them except that it was a bit challenging while others thought they were awful.

Flattest Course
The flattest course was the 20 miler. It was along a path for ten miles out and ten miles back that was flat the whole way.

Most Disappointing Finish
This picture always reminds me of how disappointed I felt at the Cocoa Women's half marathon finish. I was in a group of women leading the race and some how we all missed directions and got lost. I was on track for a PR finish (which I still got on my Garmin) but because of getting lost I ran the distance then had my dad pick me up and drive me to the finish line. I was so upset.

Best Finish Line Food
This is a hard one since I don't really eat finish line food.. the Cocoa Women's half had chocolate covered fruit and chocolate chip pancakes so that probably wins.

Coolest Medal
I have two medals that I think are cool. The first is from a duathlon I completed in 2012. The medal is lined with bike gears. I didn't do the bike portion of the race (only swim + run) but they had a cool idea! The second is from the RNR half marathon I did in 2010 and it is sparkly. Nothing is better than sparkly.

IMFL Day 3: Anna's Ironman Day

November 4, 2014

Saturday morning was the day Anna has been looking forward to all year- Ironman day. I will let my sister recap her own race at her blog (and share the link when she does!) but this is race day coming from a spectator's view.

We got up early on Saturday morning and the weather was completley different from the past couple of days that we enjoyed. It was freaking freezing! 45 degrees, strong winds. We bundled up in multiple layers.

My parents, sister, and I ran over to the race start afraid of being late when we heard a man say "the swim part was cancelled." We thought he was joking because he laughed afterwards so we kept jogging down to the beach. More and more people were talking about the swim cancelled and then we realized it wasn't a joke. We made our way through the crowd down to the beach to where Anna was standing with her husband. The wind was strong and created rip currents. One man jumped into the ocean but he didn't make it very far with the current being too strong and not being able to make it past the breakers. It was disappointing for Anna and I know it was disappointing for others as well.

The race officials said they would wait an hour and continue with the bike and run portions. So, we waited. After an hour it was time for Anna and her group to mount and start the 112 mile bike ride. My dad had the Ironman tracker app downloaded and a race map printed off so we could calculate when we could see her during the race. We ran all over Panama in hopes to catch her at different points of the race which is the best way to support someone in my opinion!

 waiting for Anna's group to start

Once she was off, he calculated about 3 hours before we could meet her at mile 40 of the bike. We went back to the condo, ate breakfast and warmed up, took a quick nap, then jumped in the car to drive to mile 40 of the race. 

Crazy story time. My family and I planned ahead and parked our rental car in a Walmart parking lot since they closed off our condo's driveway. We woke up a bit late from our morning nap and had to run half a mile to get to the car. There was a lot of traffic. After about fifteen or so minutes we found more traffic where cars were stopped by police on the road so biker's could make their way along the race route. We followed what other people were doing, parked our car along the road, ran some more, and literally a few seconds later Liz screams, "there's Anna!" Perfect timing! If one thing went differently we would have missed her.

"WOO! Go Anna!!!"

After that we had another three hours to wait for her to come back from the bike. During this time we ran back to the condo, ate lunch and grabbed more layers as it was really cold. My dad continued to track her and we left an hour early so that we would have plenty of time to see her come in. We didn't want to miss anything. 

She finished the bike still smiling, made her way into transition, and got changed for the run. Now it was time for her to run a marathon. After biking 112 miles. Completely normal. 

The race course was out and back. As we were waiting and cheering for others I realized I forgot her jacket, pants and protein bar that she asked for at the end of the marathon soooo we had to run back to the condo (told you we were there a hundred times) to grab it. I'm pretty sure we ran close to ten miles all together on Saturday.

Apparently they had a ton of people cheering and shouting at the areas closest to the finish line but when it got to the back end there was no one cheering. When she got to the 13.1 halfway point, my dad asked if she needed us to go to the later miles to help support her which she said "yes, if you can." So, we ran over a mile back to the car and made our way to the back end of the marathon. 

We got to the back end and it was sad. It was dark, cold and no one was cheering. People needed some enthusiasm. As we waited for Anna, Liz and I decided to play music and dance and sing for all the runner's. We played all sorts of music. We changed the words to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off song. One part I made up was "you look good in spanks, that's what people say, mmmhmm." It was fun cheering for them and a lot of them started laughing and thanking us. You're welcome runners!

We saw Anna approaching and cheered for her. This part of the out and back course was perfect for spectators (aka pretty much only my family) in that we could see her multiple times as she passed the road twice, then we crossed the street and saw her twice. That's kind of confusing for those who have no idea what the course looks like so I'll put it in a simple way: we got to see Anna four times during the later miles, more than we thought we would.

She was doing great! Smiling all along the way. A lot of people were walking but she kept her pace and kept running. Honestly, a marathon is hard in itself so I have no idea how she was able to bike 112 miles before.

As she passed us the fourth and final time that we would see her, it was time for us to head back to the finish. She only had 4 miles left. Less than an hour later, Anna was finishing the marathon. I was screaming "You did it Anna you did it!" One last high five down the finisher's chute.

A little over 14 hours later, she completed the course. I am so proud of my sister! She has been my role model for years. I look up to her as she chases after her goals which makes me even more inspired to chase mine. With the horrible race conditions of wind and cold temperatures, everyone competing that day should not even doubt they finished an Ironman and earned their Ironman titles.

You go Anna. YOU ARE... AN IRONMAN.

IMFL Day 1 & 2: Traveling and the expo

November 3, 2014

This past weekend I got to travel with my parents and sister as we headed to Florida to watch my oldest sister, Anna, complete her first Ironman! Let me back up and say that Anna has been training hard for the past year working with a coach as she prepared for her Ironman. She completed a half Ironman last October, her first marathon in the Spring of this year, and had a successful year of training and racing. She went through looong training weeks, some up to 16 hours. We were all looking forward to watching and supporting her through this next challenge!

On Thursday we spent the day flying to Panama City Beach, Florida. Anna and my brother-in-law had gotten there a day earlier. When we landed we went to the condo to see Anna. We stayed at the beachfront Shores of Panama condominium. When we were arriving there was apparently an undie run going on (one word: weird) and lots of athletes practicing on their bike or running the streets. Later, we walked to the expo/race start which was less than half a mile away. This ended up being the perfect location because we ended up running back and forth between the race area and the condo a hundred times.

laughing because it was so sunny I couldn't open my eye

The weather was perfect. Sunny and around 75 degrees. The expo closed early so we walked along the beach back to the condo. 

Later in the evening we went to the grocery store then out to dinner. We ate at a seafood place that I give a 2 out of 5. Anna and I shared shrimp and scallops with sides of a baked potato and corn. The seafood tasted like frozen food. Which it probably was. 

On Friday we woke up, ate breakfast, and helped Anna get her Ironman gear organized. We went back to the expo so Anna could set up her bike and place her special needs bags where they needed to go.

It was so fun walking down the streets as all the athletes were either walking towards the expo or doing their training for the day. My family and I spent a couple of hours at the expo dropping off Anna's gear, looking at all the booths, taking free samples, and making signs for Anna. My mom, Liz, and I bought t-shirts that say "Ironman support crew."

This is tacky, but when we saw this ^^^ we couldn't figure out what it was. We said it out loud and immediately covered our mouths. AHH. Haha!

When we finished at the expo we went back to the condo. The afternoon was pretty busy: we ate lunch, took a nap, walked along the beach, met up with Anna's husband's family. 

Later that evening, Anna had to get ready for race day. My dad, sister, and I headed out to find a place for dinner. We walked across the street to a pizza place (no more seafood!) and it was pretty good pizza and breadsticks. We walked along the streets to check out different stores and found ourselves at a different condo that was having a "haunted hallway" since it was Halloween night but we skipped out on that. It was back to the condo for an early night's sleep since we needed to be up around 6am (4:30am for some of us. not me). 

It was a pretty busy two days but not as busy as race day... coming soon. 
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