Gator Game and Some Calf Pain

Greetings from the friendly skies somewhere over the east coast!  Eric and I are flying back from our latest trip to Florida with the main purpose of the trip to get me to Gainesville for my first Gator game!  (Just kidding – I had some computer problems so this is a day later.)

Eric is originally from Jacksonville, which is 75-ish miles from Gainesville.  We headed down on Friday and made it the many miles south after quite a few plane delays.  (Let’s just say I could have woken up at 8am instead of 5am, which would have been much more pleasant.)  (Okay, just kidding, I couldn’t have…we spent two hours sitting on the tarmac, so I suppose I would have missed the flight if I slept in…fine.)

But anyway.  The Gators played Ole Miss on Saturday night.  We decided to attend this game (instead of a “big” game like Florida/Georgia or Florida/Florida State) because it fit best into our (okay, my) schedule.  At the beginning of the season, Eric said it probably wouldn’t be much of a game since neither team was anticipated to be that great.  That all changed when Ole Miss rolled over Alabama last week, and we thought we might get stomped.  Well, if you watched any part of the game on Saturday, you would realize that was not true and we actually picked the best game of the season (thus far) to attend.  Hooray!

The game wasn’t until 7pm, so we had plenty of time to prepare for the game.  We drove down to Gainesville with some of Eric’s friends and started the day off with some food.  Eric has talked about Satchel’s pizza ever since he’s been talking about pizza in Gainesville, so we headed there.  Both for the delicious pizza and the need for carb loading before a day of drinking.  The pizza lived up to the hype and I would like to eat it again, that’s for sure.


Pineapple, bacon, broccoli, and sausage.

Once we filled our bellies with pizza, we headed onto campus-ish area and parked in a parking lot run by the Boy Scouts.  It cost more than the neighboring lots, but we figured it was going to a good cause.  Our first stop was Tijuana Flats where we got 32 ounce Coors Lights, which the group decided we needed to chug because apparently another guy was alone in the bar next door.  I don’t chug much of anything, so that took awhile and I never ended up finishing it.  (The Beer Mile will never be my event, that’s for sure.)  I also took the opportunity to use a clean bathroom and put on temporary tattoos that I ordered.  SCHOOL SPIRIT. 


Gator tattoo!  (Not at the bar, obviously.)

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I went to Maryland, not Florida, for those who might be wondering.  They lost 28-0 to Michigan, so having a backup team is coming in handy this year.  Moving on, because that’s what we did next.

We headed to the bar next door where we had to pay cover (I don’t pay cover, that’s ridiculous) to get into a dirty bar.  For those who are familiar with Gainesville, it was called “Balls” and everyone was standing in the booth because it’s apparently too gross to sit in the booths.  But I guess pitchers of beers were cheap.  I was in the marching band all through college, so I never did the tailgate/drink a lot before games thing because I was too busy carrying around a trombone with a feather in my hat.  I also didn’t drink much in college, so there’s that.  (I know – I was so cool.  I had a good time.)  We hung out there for a bit with a bunch of Eric’s friends who I’ve met a few times before. Shots were handed out at one point, and I was a bit of a party pooper because shots are not my thing.  Luckily there was plenty of beer that was more like water that beer, so at least we were hydrated.


Parking lot with my Gator ticket!

Eventually the decision was made to head to a guy’s car where more shots were handed out (oh no no no) before heading to the game.  We walked toward the stadium and stopped to see the band, which brought back some memories, but we were obviously cooler.  Finally we made it into the stadium (aka The Swamp) and headed to our seats.  We were in the south end zone, which was pretty cool because we had a jumbotron behind us.  Perfect for a good shot of replays and for being close to the fireworks set off after touchdowns!


Stand up, trombones!


View from our seats!

As noted above, although I’ve been to plenty of college football games, I was in the band and probably had a different experience than the general fan.  (What did we do when we had to go to the bathroom?  Did we just not go?  You needed someone to help with the uniform, and I don’t think I remember leaving the game to pee…hmmm.  Anyone remember?)  Florida’s stadium is certainly much bigger than Maryland’s – and the stadium filled out with people!  (Over 90,000, yikes!  Maryland can apparently fit 54,000.)

The game was obviously a winner, as Florida steamrolled Ole Miss.  We had a good view from our seats and the weather was good for Florida standards!  I even put a long sleeve shirt on at one point, which is unheard of for Florida games.  I was warned about how loud the Swamp can get, and loud it was!  Watching the entire student section do the gator chomp is pretty cool, I must say.  We certainly picked a good game to go to – basically the entire stadium stayed until the end (minus the Ole Miss fans, ha!) which I haven’t seen in a long time.  Many of the fans said it was the best game they’ve seen at the Swamp – maybe I’m your good luck charm, Florida?  Just an idea.

Post-game, we headed back to Jacksonville.  Eric slept the entire way, so thanks again to his friend for driving!  Whew.  I think it’d be fun to go back to Gainesville on a non-game day to see more of the campus and such.  Mainly because I’m nerdy like that, but that’s okay.  Go Gators.

the beach

We did other fun things in Jacksonville, like seeing Eric’s friend’s new house and their growing little baby.  I made jokes about writing our names in the sand at the beach, so we headed to the beach on Monday before we left.  The water was actually pretty warm – next time I need to bring my swimsuit to get in some final rays before summer escapes!  We collected some pretty shells and walked along the beach as the tide came in.  The houses along the beach were ridiculous, and I looked them up on Zillow – I don’t quite have $6.5 million to spent on a beach house, so I guess our 550 sq. foot apartment will have to suffice for now.  (Some day……… my dreams.)  It’s still nuts to my Chicago-raised self that people can go to the beach March-October-ish.  Maybe I should escape New York before winter hits…


Gatsby at the beach (in Eric’s shoe…)


Jax Beach!

the running

Running in Florida isn’t so bad if you can deal with the heat.  Luckily, we had pretty cool weather while we were there.  I ran on Saturday before the game – eight miles that left me drenched from humidity.  My calf has been tight lately, but it tends to loosen up and I felt great at the end of my run, even dropping a 7:29 mile!  It sure feels good when that happens.  Someone also honked and waved at me – it wasn’t any of Eric’s friends, so any readers in Jax??

I wanted to do a five mile run on Sunday, but it turned into a disaster that I cut short after four slow miles.  My right calf felt really tight and wasn’t loosening up at all.  My form was totally off, which I take as a cue to not run.  I made it back to Eric’s dad’s and decided I needed a few days off.  I’m walking a little funny which is no good, but hopefully a few days off and some major foam rolling when we get back to New York will help.  The good news is that my groin feels good, so just have to get over this little bump in the road.  Definitely looking forward to running this marathon and then taking some time off to get healthy.  One step at a time.

Are you into college football?  Where’d you go to school/who is your team?  Maryland is leaving a bit to be desired, so thank you Florida for filling that void…

A Variety of Runs Lately

Sometimes you just don’t feel the urge to blog.  Or maybe sometimes you feel like you don’t really have much to write about.  Or you really just want to sit on your couch and watch marathons of Law & Order: SVU or Say Yes to the Dress instead of writing about training for a marathon.  It’s the same thing, right?  Okay, maybe not.  (Also, someone please tell me that wedding dresses don’t all cost $2,000+ because TV skews your thoughts on reality…)

Although I haven’t been talking about running, I have been running – just in case you were all concerned that my groin pain flared up and I was staying silent due to injury.  (I’ve done that before, multiple times.  It’d be a good guess.)  This round of marathon training has been a bit of an ego check for me, and that has certainly remained true as the mileage keeps climbing.  I’m still focusing on keeping my groin in check while secretly wishing I could just fly.  I’ve experienced a variety of runs lately and it makes me have the feels.  A wide range of feels.  Marathon training is a bit of a roller coaster…

the worst run

Last Thursday, as in two Thursdays ago, I had the worst run I’ve had in years.  Years upon years.  It was four days after the Sioux Falls Half, which I ran at a solid effort, but nothing overly aggressive.  We flew back from South Dakota on Monday, which is an all day adventure, then I worked Tuesday and Wednesday.  Since I was also working Friday-Sunday, Thursday was really my only day to run that entire week.

Nurse life can be equal parts training-is-really-easy and how-am-I-supposed-to-train-like-this.

With little to work with, I decided that an easy ten mile run would be a good idea.  A little distance without being nuts.  Three miles into my out and back, I had no idea how I was going to make it.  I made myself run one more mile out, then I struggled the entire way back.  As in, I forced myself to run a half mile at a time (at 9:00 pace, oof) then allowed myself to walk for a minute.  I honestly would have just walked all the way home, but that would have taken almost an hour and I’ve got things to do.  (Non-blogging things, apparently.)  I wasn’t so upset about the time on my watch as I was how I felt overall.  A 9:00 minute shouldn’t feel so tough, but maybe I just wasn’t recovered from the half a few days before.  I mostly wished I could have cut the run super short and had a better run in the following days, but my work schedule just didn’t allow for that.

So slow.  So painful.  Hopefully different than how the marathon will be…

Thursday, September 17 – 8.01 miles in 1:10:07, avg pace of 8:46

a confidence boosting run

After the three said days of work, I did my long run last Monday.  Still building mileage, I planned on 17 miles by doing loops of Central Park because nothing beats spacing out and just running, even if it includes some hills. Loops on loops, let’s go.  It was 10:30 before I got myself out the door, so it was a little warmer than I would have liked, but definitely not the 90 degree days of the summer – thankful for that!  I told myself to keep it at an easy pace, but I ended up in the low-8’s and feeling good.  A total 180 from the above run, so maybe I just needed a little more rest.

I took a full bag of chews (Power Bar Energy Chews), stopping a couple times to eat them and drink some water.  I felt good without getting too hot or tired, and the miles clicked off.  Sometimes the hills of Central Park can be rough, but sometimes I like them because it mixes it up on my legs and lets me set mini-goals for myself throughout the run.  I threw in some miles on the bridle path, and then I remember that I don’t really like running on the bridle path – concrete is more my thing even though maybe my joints would like me better if I liked dirt more.  Who knows.

It’s always nice when a long run feels on the easier side, and that it was.  The last mile was a little more painful only because I was really ready to be done running and wanted to be at the water fountain that served as my end point!  I’m not quite sure I’m ready to take on another nine miles after this run, but it’s a good building block.

Monday, September 21 – 17.03 miles in 2:17:47, avg pace of 8:05

the run with friends

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a long run with friends, and I always forget how much I like them until I’m out running with other people.  It’s also been awhile since I’ve been off from work both Saturday and Sunday and  stayed in NYC for an entire weekend off, so that was exciting in itself!  Eric and I had a wedding to attend (in the city!  so nice!), so life is grand.  We had dinner and drinks with the bride and groom on Friday night, as well as other friends and family of theirs.  Abbe was in attendance, and we set up to run on Saturday morning.  My plan was to do a cutback week and run 14-15 miles, and she had 20 on the docket.

Saturday morning, she ran a couple miles before meeting up with me, and we were on our way!  We did the lower loop of the park and then headed to the West Side Highway for some out-and-back fun.  It was a cool morning (HOORAY!) and the park was packed – definitely a good thing to get out and head to the less crowded west side.  We kept the pace easy and life was grand.  As we headed south on the WSH, we ran into Bojana and Brian doing their own 20 miler, so we joined in for the few miles they had left heading north.  I forgot how much fun it is to run in a group and how mixing it up and talking with different people really moves the miles along.  I commented on how much I missed that feeling and how that’s what really makes you love running – it’s definitely an individual sport that’s more fun with friends.  (I started running in junior high and high school, so my foundational years were spent in groups!)

We parted ways with Bojana and Brian, continuing our journey north to the Little Red Lighthouse.  It was getting a little warmer as the morning warmed up, and you’re in the sun quite a bit on the west side.  We took advantage of the water fountains quite a bit and pushed our way through.  Abbe cut to head east with about 1.5 miles left for me, and I picked up the pace as I headed home.  I realized at this point that I would hit 16 miles for the day, which didn’t seem much like a cutback week, so I added on an out-and-back to get me to 18 miles.  I’ll cut back next week!  I picked up the pace for the final 3.5 miles and finished feeling pretty good.  My legs were tired and I could tell my groin was getting a bit cranky, but all was well for a total of 18 miles.

I’ve missed regular group runs and how much more enjoyable they make running – gotta get on that.

Saturday, September 26 – 18.25 miles in 2:36:47, avg pace of 8:35

Pretty sure it was my 18 miler back in March-ish that ended my spring marathon hopes.  I hobbled around for the days after and had a lot of trouble actually walking on my left leg due to groin pain.  I’m happy to report that my groin feels the same it’s been for most of training – comfortably uncomfortable.  It’s not painful at all, but noticeable at times and I can feel it getting cranky at times.  I feel like keeping my runs in check on pace and not pushing much has helped, and fingers crossed it stays that way for another month-ish…

So overall, a wide variety of runs lately, each one getting one step closer to the big marathon day.  I guess the bad runs make you appreciate the good runs even more, but they certainly are tough to push through.

And proof that I don’t always wear running clothes (or scrubs…) and that I can dress nicely now and then…a photo from the wedding on Saturday night!



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