Category Archives: half marathons

Long Beach Half Marathon Training – Last Update!

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Here it is, dear readers: my last half marathon training update before the Long Beach Half Marathon in October!  I’m on track, and have finally settled into my training.  It hasn’t been easy, but I’m getting it done.

The tough part, recently, has been the heat.  It’s been friggin’ hot.  And while it’s true that I think anything above 75 degrees is hot, the past few weekends (when I do my longer training walks) we’ve had temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s.  I know this isn’t that hot compared to temperatures in some other places around the country, but when you combine the blazing sun with me walking pretty quickly you get an overheated Melody.  I’m hoping for cooler temperatures in the coming weeks since my long walks will hit 9, 11, and 13 miles.  I’m also hoping for cool weather on race day!

Here’s what I’ve done since my last half marathon update:

Six 3-mile walks
One 5-mile walk
Three 7-mile walks

Total: 44 miles

I’ll likely post about the half marathon after I’ve done my 13.1 miles in Long Beach.  I’m considering a switch to 10K races after that, for time management reasons – it’s kind of hard to scratch out time for the longer walks now that I’m blogging.  With a 6.2 mile race instead of 13.1 I would focus on speed, since the distance isn’t much of a challenge.  I guess we’ll see what happens – all I know is I’ve got to keep moving, one way or another.  Are there any other walkers or runners our there?  What is your preferred race distance?

Warm regards,
Melody

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Long Beach Half Marathon Training: Update #2

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Confession: My recent training efforts have been kinda lame.  I was hoping to have walked over 40 miles since my last update, but it was another spotty training month for me.  Phooey!  Heat, headaches, and neck/back spasms threw some wrenches in my training plans, but I did get some training in.

Here’s a breakdown of what I was able to do:

One 2-mile walk
Four 3-mile walks
Two 4-mile walks
One 30-minute workout in the pool
Total = 22 miles +

Fear not, dear readers!  I can successfully train for a half marathon in two months, and I’m just now approaching the “my race is two months away” zone.  I’ve got a date with 13.1 miles in October, and I’ll be ready…

This month’s iPhone photos – which I took on the walking trail – include pretty clouds, something serpentine, and yours truly haloed by the descending sun.  Cheese!

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Memorable experiences, aside from seeing the snake and seeing a bright yellow parakeet perched on a pine bough, include almost being attacked by a wild rabbit! (Any Monty Python and the Holy Grail fans out there?)

Okay, so it wasn’t as dramatic as the movie, but a wild rabbit did bound out of the brush to my right, dart directly in front of me, and then scurry under the chain link fence off to my left.  Sure, it only startled me instead of it latching onto my jugular, but I might’ve accidentally kicked it if I hadn’t stopped so quickly!

I’ll post one more pre-race update, in about a month.  In the meantime, Happy Trails!

Warm regards,
Melody

p.s. Want a chance to win some great prizes in my blog’s 1st birthday giveaway?  Enter here!

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Long Beach Half Marathon Training: Update #1

The good news: I’ve started my training!

The bad news: I didn’t get in nearly as many walks or miles as I’d hoped to during the month of June.

The birth of my newest niece (Little Bailey is adorable!) and the high school graduation of my second oldest niece (Congrats, Torrie!) kept me from walking one week, and illness kept me off the walking trails for another week and a half.  Luckily I still have plenty of time to get ready for the Long Beach Half Marathon that’s coming up in October.

Here’s a breakdown of what I did do:

Four 3-mile walks
One 4-mile walk
Total = 16 miles

While I was out walking I also avoided a swarm of bees, accidentally ate a few gnats, and saw some pretty plant life and birds.  I’m including a few of the iPhone photos that I took while I was out walking. I hope you enjoy them.

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This tree died after a fire about 3 years ago.  There are no leaves on it though it’s now summer…


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Just a photo of this plant may make those with allergies sneeze!


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Yellow, blue and chain link make for an interesting visual combination…


I should be reporting in with significantly higher numbers next month – something more like 48 total miles.  Please wish me a healthy month and many miles walked!  I’ll provide another update in August…

Warm regards,
Melody

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A Photographic Tour: New Orleans, Louisiana

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I traveled to New Orleans in Feburary 2010 to participate in the inaugural Mardi Gras Half Marathon (which took place a few weeks after the actual Mardi Gras), and am SO glad I did.  What a city!  New Orleans is truly a feast for the senses. There’s plenty to see and do, and good God – the food is incredible!  I can’t wait to return, and hope to make it back to the Big Easy soon – very soon!

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See & Do

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Though New Orleans at large still shows some residual effects of the havoc wreaked by Katrina, it’s business as usual where tourism is concerned and I saw very little evidence of the hurricane in the areas I visited.  I was happy to support the city and its inhabitants with my tourism dollars.

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I read someplace that New Orleans is the “most foreign” city on U.S. soil, and I agree – it’s certainly unique.  I was utterly charmed by the architecture – from large, stately homes in the Garden District, to the ornate railings lining the balconies in the French Quarter.  A sense of history saturates New Orleans – and visual reminders of days past are plentiful.  The streetcars rumbling through the city were particularly pleasing, as were the plastic Mardi Gras beads dripping off many of the city’s trees – a reminder of their famous yearly party.

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Historic Final Resting Places

Somber but beautiful, New Orleans cemeteries are worth a visit – particularly the older ones.  Instead of being buried underground, the deceased in New Orleans are interred in above ground crypts.  Why?  The water level in the area is so high that coffins often float if buried.  These stone resting places are an interesting glimpse into the past and are yet another reminder of how New Orleans is undeniably unique.

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Go Wild!

If you want to get out of the city, try the swamps – there are a number of tours you can take.  I took a swamp tour, and really enjoyed the scenery – including beautiful moss-laden trees.  We even saw an alligator or two, though it was a bit cold/early in the season.  Folks that go on swamp tours during the warmer months are sure to see many more gators!

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Sightseeing By Foot

If you’re a distance walker or runner, please consider doing the marathon or half marathon – it’s a great time!  With bands dotting the course, and incredible sights to see all along the 13.1 or 26.2 miles, this race is a winner!

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OMG – the food!

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My mouth is watering just remembering some of the scrumptious things I ate in New Orleans.  I was lucky enough to eat at a wide range of eateries during my stay – from Emeril’s restaurant (great food and service!) to a place with a decidedly more “dive bar & grill ” kind of feel (had a shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich), and I enjoyed them all.  I’ll share five of my eating experiences in pictures below.  I hope to eat at all these places again next time – yum!

If you want a light breakfast to start off your day, don’t go to the Fleur de Lis Café in the French Quarter.  My breakfast was beyond hearty and massive, but it was perfect for my last meal in New Orleans, since I’d be eating little and sporadically while flying home.  The ladies working at the Fleur de Lis charmed me with their southern accents – and I fondly remember being called “baby” in a way that wasn’t demeaning or condescending – just friendly and kind.

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New Orleans is known for their muffalettas – Italian sandwiches with marinated olive salad, salami, ham, and cheese on a round sesame loaf – so I visited Central Grocery, where the sandwiches originated.  I bought half of a muffaletta and some iced tea, and had a picnic outside.  Though the olive salad mixture was a bit strong for my palate, I enjoyed the sandwich once I’d taken most of it off. (I know that’s probably sacrilege – sorry!)  I was happy to have tried a true New Orleans original.  Oh, and I love the bag I bought at Central Grocery!

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The Acme Oyster House was recommended to me, and my meal there was what I ate right after walking the half marathon. I had grilled oysters, hush puppies, jumbalaya, and pecan cobbler.  Ravenous and eager to eat just about anything, I was thrilled when the food turned out to be truly delicious.  Acme tends to have a line, so be prepared.

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Another edible treat that New Orleans is known for is the beignets.  A pastry made from deep-fried dough, and liberally coated in Confectioner’s sugar, beignets are both messy and delicious.  Perhaps the best-known place to get these goodies is Café Du Monde, and their French Quarter location is open 24 hours a day!

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Willie Mae’s Scotch House has been an institution in New Orleans for decades and with good reason. The fried chicken is amazing!  It’s so good that when the restaurant was damaged by hurricane Katrina, and was in danger of not re-opening, volunteers banded together to help rebuild and restore the restaurant.  Having seen the restaurant on one of the food channels, I planned much of my trip’s sightseeing schedule around when I could go to Willie Mae’s.

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Suggestion: Do some research on Willie Mae’s before arriving in New Orleans.  Long lines and a long food wait can be avoided by getting there right when the restaurant opens, and I seem to recall them only accepting cash and having somewhat limited business hours.

That said, all my Willie Mae’s Scotch House planning and preparation was worth it.  I usually only eat chicken breast (without bone or skin) and I ate everything they brought me, including the skin.  It was fantastically good fried chicken!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my trip to New Orleans.  I wholeheartedly recommend that you visit and explore this incredible city if you have the means.  A trip to New Orleans will feed both your body and soul…

Warm regards,
Melody

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11th Half Marathon, Here I Come!

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Though I’m not overly enthusiastic about exercise by nature, I have somehow evolved into an endurance walker.  I completed a full marathon in 2005, and have gone on to complete ten half marathons since.  Goal-oriented, I find I’m the most consistent with exercise when I have a race to train for.  Whatever keeps me moving, right?

I usually participate in two half marathons per year, and really outdid myself with four last year.  Sadly, I haven’t done any yet this year.  A chaotic and energy-sapping start to the year has kept me off the walking trails, and I’ve decided it’s time to get back on track.

How best to motivate myself?  Sign up for a race!  I recently registered for the Long Beach Half Marathon, which will take place in early October.  And though I usually train for a half marathon in two months, I’m giving myself four months in order to regain my base mileage before going out on longer training walks.

I’ll be posting a training update here each month, and will include the miles I’ve walked as well as some photos I take while out on my walks.  I’ll follow up with an after-race post featuring my newest medal.  And ooh, I love earning medals!

In honor of my newest half marathon training season, here are some basic endurance training tips!

Tell everyone you know that you’re training for a race. This will help keep you accountable, and may help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like training.  I’m using this tip right now!

If you’re a newbie, consider training with a group. I did my first few events with Team in Training, and I had a great experience each time.  Not only do groups like this educate you and help you successfully complete your event, you’ll have a lot of fun and make new friends along the way!

Build slowly. Make sure you have plenty of time to train, and increase your mileage gradually.  Taking on too much too soon can be a painful experience, so be kind to your body and give yourself a realistic amount of time to properly train for your event.

Stay hydrated. Don’t head out for a walk or run without water or sports drink handy – especially during the summer.  I have three different hydration belts that I use, depending on how long my walk will be.  Really long walk?  I use the belt that holds two bottles.  Walkers can also use a Camel Back hydration system.

Petroleum jelly & Body Glide are your friends. Blisters and chaffing are a major hazard for both runners and walkers.  I coat the bottoms and sides of my feet with petroleum jelly before heading out on long walks, and love that the side effect of my blister prevention technique results in softer feet!

Don’t forget to pack some snacks! You’ll need to fuel your body during longer training walks or runs, so find a form of nutrition that works for you.  I’m not a fan of the gels and gummy products geared towards runners, so I opt for real food that can be eaten relatively easily while still walking quickly.  On race day I usually eat Fritos (good for carbs & to replenish salt), peanut M&M’s (protein and sugar), and candied orange slices.

Please let me know if you have any half marathon-related questions – I’d be glad to clarify or elaborate. Wish me luck!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Remarkable Women Series: Carie Quigley is Racing for a Cure

Carolina Elizabeth Quigley, better known as Carie, wouldn’t call herself an athlete but is an athlete nonetheless.  Active since she was a child, hiking and swimming in her earlier years, Carie also has a history of helping others.  From humanitarian trips with her youth group to helping raise awareness and money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, Carie has always been ready to lend a helping hand.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Carie is a charming mixture of a Southern gal with deep roots and an independent and modern woman who’s frequently on the move.  She’d much rather drink a beer than a mint julep, and is far too practical and capable to get the vapors.  Sometimes serious, often goofy, Carie is helpful, kind, and fun, and is a great friend.

Before Carie was my friend, she was my coach.  In 2005 I raised money for and trained for a marathon with Team in Training, the fundraising organization that’s tied to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Carie, the team coach, and her mentors helped guide me through a successful season: I fundraised, walked 26.2 miles, and crossed the finish line of the Honolulu Marathon that December.

I really enjoyed the Team in Training experience, and volunteered as a mentor for “Coach Carie” the following season – raising even more money and completing the Mayor’s half marathon in Anchorage, Alaska in June of 2006.  Carie’s wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and dedication has ensured that several dozens of people, myself included, have had successful seasons with Team in Training – bringing a cure that much closer and raising awareness in the meantime.

Carie’s connection to Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a connection of the heart.  Her beloved mother, Byrn Burch, died from acute myelogenous leukemia in October 2002 – within a week of the diagnosis.  Rather than letting the subsequent grief immobilize her, Carie took action and has become one of Team in Training’s greatest assets.

She’s served as a participant, a mentor and a coach.  She’s fundraised for and completed 17 endurance events for Team in Training and LLS, and has raised over $45,000 in the process!  Being the humble person that she is, I had to pry that number out of her, but I think it’s important to show what one person can do – and has done – to help others.

In addition to Team in Training events, Carie participates in other endurance events, too.  Remember that athlete thing I mentioned?  Here are her overall event tallies:

Full Marathons: 18
Half Marathons: 39
Triathlons: 8
Hikes:  2   (Grand Canyon & Yosemite)

Carie’s marathon-related goal is to walk a full marathon in each of the 50 states.  She’s completed 10 so far, and has 40 to go.  I know she’ll get there, too.  She’s dedicated, determined, and keeps putting one foot in front of the other.

Carie’s next endurance event with Team in Training will be the Mayor’s Marathon in June 2011.  If you’d like to support her fundraising efforts by making a tax-deductible donation, perhaps in honor of or in memory of a loved one, please visit Carie’s fundraising website here.

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Top: Carie on the course in San Diego
Middle: Carie and her mother, Byrn
Bottom: Carie finishing the Wildflower long course  (half Ironman distance)

In closing, I’d like to say this to my Remarkable Woman friend:
Keep up the great work, Coach Carie!  Go Team!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Self-Portrait Friday: 9/10/10

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Welcome to this week’s installment of Self-Portrait Friday!  I suppose you’ve noticed that my self-portraits don’t always feature my face.  This is deliberate, and I’m doing it for a few reasons.  Not only do I think you’d soon grow tired of seeing me (Her again?!), I also like playing with the concept of a self-portrait – stretching the boundaries a bit.  So this week an inanimate object is taking my place in my self-portrait.


Has anyone ever told you that you resemble Mickey Mouse?

This week’s self-portrait relates to the half marathon I walked last Sunday.  This medal, which I earned for walking 13.1 miles in and around Disneyland, identifies me as a half marathoner and an endurance athlete.

It identifies me as a crazy person that will train for months (two, for this race), walk many miles in training (thank goodness for the “company” of my iPod!), and also identifies me as someone who will get up really early (at 4:15 a.m.) to gather with thousands of other crazy people before the sun rises on race day.  Yep – nutso!

Why do I do this?  As you may remember from a past blog post, one reason I do these races is to stay physically active and to keep me motivated regarding exercise.  However, I also do it “Because I can.”  I’m well aware that I’m blessed to be healthy and mobile, so I’m getting out there for the sheer joy of being able to set a goal, train, and complete these long walks. I should, I can, and I do.

What activities or hobbies in your life illustrate an aspect of you?  Please share in a comment, if you’re so inclined.

Weekend Activities & Another Way to Lend a Hand

I’m off to Santa Barbara this afternoon, and will be volunteering as a crew member for the Avon 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer that’s taking place on Saturday and Sunday.  I’m not walking the miles this time, but am happy to supportthose who are.  These fantastic walkers, including my friends CQ and MV, are logging major miles this weekend to help fight breast cancer.  I hope you’ll join me, the walkers, and the other crew members in thinking pink!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…

Warm regards,
Melody

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Melody Nuñez – Endurance Athlete?!

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I’m a half marathoner – a walker – and have walked over 867 miles in the last three years.  It’s not spectacular in the grand scheme of things, given that there are many athletes out there doing much more, and faster.  However, it is a personal victory for me, given my lifelong struggle to find a physical activity that I love.

I’ve loved to dance since I was a child, and was actually able to fulfill some of my high school P.E. requirement with the dancing we did in my musical theater class, but straight athletics left me cold.  Sports?  Ick.  Running? Double ick!  And since I’m often on the plump side, and need to be physically active to maintain general health, it’s been a battle.

My dear husband is one of the lucky ones.  He loves to exercise, and enjoys the gym. I, on the other hand, would happily fill exercise time with other things if I could, and loathe the industrial, sweaty gym.  Am I driven away by sensory overload?  Too many strangers packed into one place?  Probably.  If I have to exercise I’d much rather be outside, which is why I’m so glad to have stumbled upon distance walking.

My interest in endurance events was first piqued in late 2004.  I’d received a flier from Team in Training, an organization that trains people for full and half marathons, triathlons and century rides, and raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I could walk a marathon in Alaska in June 2005?  Cool!  What a great way to challenge myself and help others in the process!  Though I wasn’t able to walk the marathon in Alaska in 2005, I did train for and complete the Honolulu Marathon in December of 2005.  I was hooked, and had such a great time working with Team in Training that I volunteered as a mentor the following season.  I finally got to Anchorage, Alaska for a race, and while I ended up walking the half marathon instead, it was an incredible experience nonetheless.

Having walked that first half marathon, I realized I was on to something good.  Walking a half marathon was a lot more fun than walking a full, and training took a lot less time, too.  I wasn’t as sore after the race, either.  Since that first half in 2006 I’ve gone on to walk 7 more half marathons, and have set a goal to walk at least 50 half marathons in my lifetime.  And while I’m sure I’ll walk the 26.2 miles of a full marathon again some day, the 13.1 miles of a half marathon are perfect for me now.  I’ve walked two half marathons this year, and have three more coming up before the end of the year.  Oy!

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One of my favorite training tools is my exact number of all the miles I’ve walked (dating back to the beginning of my walking career in 2005, and including treadmill miles), it’s good enough.  It shows that I went from zero to 867+.  It shows that though I was a bit reluctant participate in anything athletic, I’ve finally joined the ranks – even if I’m on the fringe.  I’m an endurance athlete, and I’ve got the gear, the medals, and the worn-out shoes to prove it!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Welcome to my blog and website!

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For those of you who don’t know me personally, my name is Melody M. Nuñez.  I’m a writer and an artist, and am very excited about my new blog.  My blog will be focused on writing, art, and life in general, as my tagline says.  My future posts will likely include the following – and more!

  • Updates on my attempt to find a literary agent for my collection of illustrated short stories, and posts on the twisty-turny road that leads to getting a book published
  • New photographic images
  • Preparation for and participation in National Novel Writing month this November (Yep, I will write a 50,000 word novel in one month!)
  • Photos of new collages or mixed-media projects I complete, some with before and after photos
  • New articles and creative writing (including haiku!)
  • Self-portraits (I will be participating in self-portrait Friday, posting new images every other Friday)
  • Posts on the odds and ends in my life – books, travel, walking half marathons, movies, baking (I will include photos & recipes), particularly good meals, volunteerism/charitable opportunities, my pet rabbits (Cypress & Pinto), and anything else that strikes my fancy…

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog.  You may subscribe now by using the feature on the upper right side of this main blog page, or on the separate subscribe page accessed from the menu at the top.  Also, please invite your friends and family to subscribe, too, if you think they might be interested.  The more the merrier!

Before I sign off, I’d like to publicly thank my wonderful husband, José B. Nuñez, for all his help with the renovation of my website, and with the launch of this blog.  He put in an incredible amount of time and effort, and I’m beyond appreciative.  I’m blessed to have such a helpful, talented, and supportive husband. Thank you, José!

Thank you for stopping by, everyone, and please come back soon!  My next post will appear on Tuesday…

Warm regards,
Melody

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