Sunday, December 30, 2012

A look back at 2012

Ahhh, 2012. 
You have been quite a year. 
I set some easy goals for 2012 and I set some hard goals. 
The easy goals, or goal (since there was really only one easy one), was to read at least 50 books.  Since I'm always reading at least one (and sometimes as many as 2 or 3) books, I knew I wouldn't have any trouble with this one.  I'm currently in the middle of number 67 for the year.  I may or not finish it by tomorrow night, but even if I don't, I still more than met the goal of 50.  Yay me!!  If you are interested in such things, you can go here: Books read in 2012 to see what I read.
The running goals were harder.  A lot harder.  So hard that I didn't meet any of them.  Not one.  Nada. Zilch. Zero.  
Which has me more than slightly disappointed in myself in some ways.  But in others, not so much.
Here's the run-down:
Goal #1 - Run (or walk) 1200 miles
As of right now (7pm on 12/30) I'm at 918 miles.  I may manage to get a couple of miles in tomorrow to finish out the year, but I'm not anywhere close to 1200.
But, even though I'm 282 miles short of my goal, there's a lot of goodness and awesomeness crammed into those 918 miles.
Those miles include 12 races - 8 5ks, 1 8k, 1 10k, 1 15k, and 2 half marathons.  Look at that - 12 races in 2012.  Totally unplanned, but pretty cool, right? ;-) 
Those miles include 60 (give or take a few) miles that totally changed my life - the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure.
Those miles include running with my best friends - Actually running together in snow, in drizzly rain, in the cold (someday we will run together when the weather is good!!) And more often, running together in spirit, motivating and supporting each other in the journey to the Disney Princess and beyond.
Those miles include the fastest mile I've run to date (8:55mpm)
They include the easy miles that flew by as well as the hard miles where I struggled for every step.  They were all good miles and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world.  I may not have achieved the quantity of  miles I wanted, but I definitely had some quality miles.
Goal #2 - Run a 5k in 27 minutes of less
My fastest 5k in 2012 was 29:37.  I don't know what happened to my speed this year.  Well, that's not exactly true - I know what happened to it - I didn't train for it.  I focused on distance, and it slowed me down.  I spent the spring training for a half marathon, the summer training for a 60 mile walk, and the fall training for another half.  Speed got put on the back burner.  So as the year progressed, my goal changed from 27 minutes or less to 30 minutes or less.  I may not be fast, but I got out there, I showed up 8 times, and I ran. 
Goal #3 - Run a half marathon in 2:10 or less
I ran 2 halfs in 2012.  One in April (2:26:55), and one in November (2:29:07).  I didn't come close to 2:10.  In all honesty, I didn't really think I would, not this year.  But I was still hoping to finish faster than I had before and to run the whole distance.  But I didn't get any faster and I didn't run the whole way. But I did finish. Twice. And that's saying something. 
So there it is. 2012.  On paper, it sucked.  But dig a little deeper and scratch below the surface, it wasn't quite so bad after all. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Tragedy

  1. I'm not a parent, so I can only imagine the depth of love that a parent feels for his/her child.  I was, however, a "pseudo-parent" (aka a nanny, babysitter, you pick the word)  for 2 awesome kids quite a few years ago.  And though I haven't been a direct part of their lives for a long time, I still feel a connection to those two, and yes, I can say I love them.  And I have parents and I know they love me with a deep and profound love.  So maybe I do have some small inkling of parental love.

    That being said, I can't imagine that telling parents their children were taken/killed/murdered because "God wanted another angel" would be the right thing to say.  (I don't know if anybody out there has said this in this instance, but I've heard it used before as statement of sympathy.)  It would take a profoundly religious person with an extremely deep rooted faith to find comfort in that statement.  - And frankly whose faith isn't tested and shaken by events like yesterday's?  

    I would think that statement would be met with "Doesn't God realize that I need my child? That my child needs me?  How could he be so utterly mean and selfish?"  That's how, if I were a parent, I would respond to it.   So unless you're prepared with valid answers to those valid, tough questions, I wouldn't try to comfort a grieving parent (or anyone for that matter) with the statement that God needs another angel.
  2. I did see this statement out there on Facebook on one of the many memorial/support for the families posts that are out there.  I don't remember what the original comment was, but someone posted a comment in reply that "Your God allowed this to happen."

    No.  God doesn't allow things like this to happen. To tie in with thought number 1 and to give a simple answer to those questions - Yes God knows you need your child and that your child needs you.  He is not, at least in this case, a mean and selfish God.  He is weeping and mourning with us.

    Yes this awful thing happened and it may seem like God did allow it happen.  He's God after all, He's all powerful, and He could have stopped it.  But God gave us humans a little thing called free will.  We are free to do, to think, to believe whatever and however we want.  Think about it, if God wanted to control us and to not allow us to do or think certain things, do you think He would "allow" unbelievers to not believe in Him?  In this instance God is a selfish and jealous God - He doesn't want us to believe in other gods or not believe at all.  But yet, He does - He allows us to.  He is not a giant puppet master up there in the sky pulling strings and making (or allowing) people to do certain things and not do others.  He gives us the choice.  He gives us the freedom.  He gives us free will.

    And unfortunately, there are people in this world who use that free will to do horrible horrible things.  I don't understand it; I can't even begin to comprehend why a person would do such a thing. But for some unfathomable reason, people do; this guy did.  And God, I like to think, doesn't understand it anymore than the rest of us do. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Race Report - Winter Series 5k

It's time again for the Charleston Winter Series - a series of 3 races in December, January, and February that area runners run so they can get an awesome hoodie stay in shape throughout the cold, wet dreary winter.  The first race of the series, the 5k, was Sunday afternoon.  It's the race where I set my PR last year and the race where I was hoping to set a new PR for this year. Key word in that sentence is hoping. 

The odds were stacked pretty highly against that happening - I haven't been training properly for 5ks, it was raining, I haven't been training properly, I wasn't hydrated or fueled enough, I haven't been training properly, I had on the wrong shoes, I haven't been training properly, I was tired and had the beginnings of a bad headache, I haven't been training properly (sense a theme there??)  So, I saved the PR breaking for another day and another race, and just ran. 

You would think that with the weather being grey, foggy, wet, and miserably rainy that there wouldn't be very many runners out there.  But apparently runners are a crazy hardy bunch, so it was the biggest Winter Series 5k ever.  While I had space to run and breathe and move freely, I was never very far away from (behind or ahead of) another runner.  There was a constant stream of runners all along the course.  Pretty cool.

I was thinking at the start that maybe the miserable rain would make me run faster. It didn't. I ran my normal slow-ish pace and got soaked.  I was running at about 10 minutes per mile the whole way (a smidgen slower on mile 1 since I had to stop and retie my shoe and on mile 3 when I slowed to walk thru the water stop).  Not too fast and not too slow.  Just right for me for the day.

Every time I run on this course I'm surprised by how fast the 1st mile mark seems to appear.  It gets easier and seems to be closer every time. (So I guess, even tho I can't go fast, my training actually has paid off in some ways...) 

So my last 5k of 2012 was wet, slow, and almost miserable.  And oddly enough, I loved every minute of it.

Race Stats:
Winter Series 1 - 5k

Finish Time:
31:26 (Garmin)
31:14 (official)

Avg. Pace per Mile:
10:06 (Garmin)
10:04 (official)

Overall: 269 out of 376

Race Report - Run Run Rudolph 5k

It's December, so that means holiday themed races.  Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, Jingle Bells, and all the trappings.  I chose the reindeer. Rudoph to be exact. 

The 2nd annual Run Run Rudolph 5k and Other Reindeer Games in Huntington.  It's a fun little race.
I ran it last year and several people wore costumes (elves, santa, etc.)  So I thought I would do the same this year.  I have a lime green sparkly skirt that just cries out to be part of a costume.  I was going to be an elf, but then a shopping trip to Wal-Mart got me a really awesome Grinch t-shirt.  And the idea to be the Grinch was born.  Green sparkly skirt, red t-shirt with green Grinch, green hat.  Not a total grinch look, but close enough. :-) 

Saturday morning was wet, but warm-ish.  It wasn't pouring rain, but there were drizzles here and there.  I had a slight ear ache and was feeling tired, so I didn't have any big expectations for the race.    I also had another race the next day and that one was my "A race" for the weekend, so I knew I was going to take it easy at this one.  I've been running really slow lately, and knew this race wasn't going to be the exception.  I just wanted to go out and have some fun.

I took off too fast at the start, but settled pretty quickly into what I thought would be a good pace.   I felt ok until about the halfway point, and then started to tire.  It was a mental thing - the halfway point was right by what was the finish to the half I ran back in November.  So I kind of felt like I should've been done when I saw the football stadium.  But I wasn't done - I had about a mile and a half to go, in the opposite direction from that finish line.  But the brain, holding the power it does over the body, told me that I was tired and that the pace I was running was too fast.  It wasn't really, but I started to slow down anyway and walked a few short sections in the last mile. 

Somewhere about halfway up the uphill (not steep, but kinda long) at the end of the race, I started to hear the cheers from the finish line.  I don't care how tired you are or how bad you're feeling at the end of a race, those cheers, even if they're not specifically for you, really give you a boost and an added pep in your step, so to speak.  I crossed the finish line with a smile (maybe not literally, but I was smiling on the inside).
Race Stats:
Run Run Rudolph 5k, 12/8/12
Finish time:
31:41 (Garmin)
31:39 (Official)
Avg. pace per mile:
10:19 (Garmin)
10:12 (Official)
Overall: 132 out of 258 
Age Group: 10 out of 24

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Report - Marshall Half Marathon

I had big plans for this race, my third half marathon.  It was going to be the first half marathan that I ran the whole way, rather than using a run/walk interval method.  Based on the pace of my training runs, I thought it might be possible to run a PR.  But once again my plans were not to come to fruition (which seems to be a running theme for this year...  Mayhap I need to quit making plans...)

I woke up yesterday with a bad case of pre-race jitters, and spent most of the day with a feeling of "oh god what have I gotten myself into".  I was more nervous for this race than i was for my first half (this same race in 2011).  And I think it was because, having done this 2 times already (Nov. 2011 and April 2012), I knew just how long 13.1 miles is and how hard it can be to actually complete the race.  In my case, it's all mental.  I'd done it twice before, and that combined with a decently strong training cycle leading up to the race should have told me that I was totally capable of doing it again.  But thinking you can do it (and hearing from tons of supportive friends and family that you can do it) is very different from actually doing it.

So as I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I gave in to the voices of self-doubt in my head and nixed the plan to try to run the whole way.  I just didn't feel ready for that today, so I set my watch for 5 minute run intervals with 1.5 minute walks, and nervously headed for the start line.

The race rules say that ipods and headphones are not allowed, and last year I followed that rule, but noticed that quite a few people did not.  I had some trouble with the no music thing last year, so this year, I broke the rule and brought the iPod along (and once again, others did the same; I'm guessing there were more runners with than without).  My original plan was to only use it when I thought I needed the extra pep that the songs can bring. But as nervous as I was before the start, I knew I was going to need it for the whole thing.  I was busy getting it set to the right playlist and getting it zipped back into my pocket when the gun went off and it was time to run.

The first three miles were easy and seemed to take no time at all to run.  And other than my sunglasses fogging up every time I switched to a walk, I had no problems and was feeling awesome.  But by about mile 4, as I exited Harris Riverfront Park, my right hip started to feel a little sore.  It was also starting to get a little warm, so I stripped off my arm warmers, and kept plodding along.  At around 6 miles, the course enters a park and you have to run on a crushed gravel path/trail.  Normally, I love trail running, but there's something about the crushed gravel that makes this extremely difficult.  It was the hardest part of the course for me last year, and wasn't that great this year either.  Not long after the mile 9 marker, I exited the park and was back on the road - with a slight incline and a nice little jaunt through a slightly scary underpass/viaduct.  And then at mile 10, there's the dreaded (at least for me) wrong way turn, sending you away from the stadium and the finish.

And here's where the race kind of fell apart for me.  My hip which had been hurting since mile 4 really started to let me know it wasn't happy with me. And not to be left out, my left foot started to hurt and give me problems.  So here I was with 3 miles to go, physically tired and sore.  And I made the mistake of looking at my total time on my watch, and while I was under 2 hours at the 10 mile point, I wasn't far enough under to meet my time goal, so I kind of mentally gave up too.

In mile 11, I walked through all of one run interval and part of the next to give the foot, the hip, and the brain a little break.  Allowing myself to walk a bit extra took some of the pressure off and I was actually able to enjoy the last mile.  So much so that it didn't even seem like a whole mile. Ok, so maybe the marathoners coming toward me telling me I was looking good and almost done may have had something to do with it.  And the people along that last stretch who told me they liked my sparkle skirt/outfit certainly helped too.

2012 Marshall Half Marathon Medal

I crossed the last street and at the corner smiled and waved at my parents who were there waiting for me, and headed into the stadium.  I entered the football field to a yell of "Go Sparkle Skirt Girl!" and I picked up the pace and headed around to finish in 2:29 and change. (2:29:06 on the garmin, 2:29:22 officially).

I didn't run the whole way.  I didn't meet my time goal.  I didn't run a PR.  But I finished.  And even with though it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, I had fun.  I ran the best race I could.  And that in and of itself is a pretty big accomplishment.

Official results

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Race Report - Pumpkins in the Park 5k

I ran another 5k this morning.  Yet another attempt in my 2012 quest to run one in under 30 minutes.  I had been unsuccessful all year:
  • Flying Pig 5k - 32:51
  • CDR 5k - 31:29
  • Pumpkin Run 5k - 32:02
  • Spooktacular Scott Teays 5k - 31:06
I was beginning to think it was never going to happen; that I had given up speed in exchange for distance.  They say that long slow distance makes long slow runners.  Don't know about the long part (although I'm fairly tall, I think I'd be that way anyway, running or no ;-) ), but the slow part is pretty accurate.  I know, I know, speed and slowness are relative to the runner.  My slow is another runner's fast; my fast is another runner's slow. But however you look at it, as I've spent 2012 training for 2 half marathons (one in April, one in 2 weeks) and for the 60 mile Komen walk, my pace has slowed down and my 5k time went from 29:17 (my PR) in Dec 2011 to 32:51 in May 2012 (actually not my PW - that would be 36:something in Sept 2009). 

At the beginning of the year, fresh off the 29:17 PR, I set a goal for 2012 to get under 27 minutes before the end of the year.  I thought it would be easy. But as the year progressed, and reality set in, I've revised that goal - it now stands at finishing in under 29 minutes before the end of the year IF I could meet the goal of once again being under 30.  One minute at a time, right?

So I set out this morning for another attempt.  It was a cool, damp, grey and kind of dismal morning.  But I did my best to cheer it up by wearing my super fun green sparkle skirt and some rather awesome black and white striped tights.  I was wearing fun clothes, therefore the race was going to be fun.  Who can have a bad day while wearing awesome striped tights?  Not this girl!

I was totally relaxed and had no real expectations for the race, other than to finish (finishing under 30 would just be icing on the cake; after so many "failed" attempts, I'd given up on pressuring myself).  The race itself was also fairly relaxed; it was a popsicle stick race so there were  no numbers and no chips - you just run and grab a stick as you cross the finish line. 

I found a good position for the start and started well, with a good, but maybe slightly fast, pace.  I took a peak at the Garmin and was kind of surprised at how easy the pace it said i was running felt.  But since i was only a half mile in, I slowed it down a tad.  Easy at mile 0.5 is not always so easy at mile 2.5.  But I kept it pretty steady, and felt really good most of the way - mile 1 was awesome (9:31mpm);  mile 2 was ok (9:41); I picked it back up in mile 3.  I was well on track for a finish in under 30, and maybe, just maybe, in under 29:30...

heading for the finish line
But with about a quarter mile to go, potential disaster struck - my shoe came untied.  Obviously, I had 2 choices - stop and tie it or let it go and hope i didn't trip.  Might not have been the wisest choice, but I chose the second.  I was so close to the finish and so close to my goal that I was just going to go for it with laces flapping.  But for safety's sake because of the flapping laces, I decided against the all-out sprint for the finish I had been saving up energy for and just ran to the finish at the same pace.  Didn't see the official time on the clock as I grabbed my stick, but I stopped the Garmin at 29:37!!

Happy finisher on the Capitol steps
Success!! Finally got my under 30 finish!  Without the untied shoe, I could probably have gotten under that even more elusive under 29:30.  But you can add up the if's all day (if I'd trained harder; if my shoe hadn't come untied, etc...) but they don't change the facts.  I ran the race i ran....

And it was awesome!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Race Report - Spooktacular (and slightly sparkly) Scott Teays 5k

For the last 8 or so weeks, I've been training for my next half marathon.  It's been a pretty great 8 weeks, with some really awesome runs.  I've felt great the whole time.  Until this week.  This week I felt a little burned out and just wasn't feeling much like running.  I skipped one day all together and shortened the other days by as much as half.  It wasn't pretty.  But tomorrow is a new day and a new week, and a new opportunity to run some good miles.   Now on to my race report:

I'd been looking forward to this little 5k, put on by one of the local elementary schools, for a couple of weeks.  Not because I was excited to run it.  Nope.  Because it was my first opportunity to wear my nifty green sparkly skirt.

I knew it was supposed to be chilly on Saturday morning, so on Friday night as I was planning the rest of my outfit, I decided I'd wear a long sleeve winter running shirt that just happened to be the same shade of green as the sparkly skirt. And I just happen to have a pair of grey running capris with green accents (same shade as the shirt.)  I was going to be sparkly and very very green.  After sending a pic to my far-away running buddies to confirm that no, you cannot have too much green, my outfit was set. 

Saturday morning was chilly but sunny - a beautiful day for a run.  I arrived at the race and got signed in and went thru all my pre-race rituals and headed to the start line.  Since the race was for a school to bring awareness on the need to fight childhood obesity and how to raise healthy kids, there was a 1k race for the kids as well as the 5k.  The kids raced first.  It's always so much fun to watch kids run.  They do it with such joy and excitement.

318 - Dad's birthday!

The kids' excitement rubbed off on me, and by the time the 5k started I was super happy and looking forward to the run.   I had a goal in mind, but wasn't taking the race too seriously - taking a lesson from the kids, I was out there just to have fun.  And I did.  I was wearing a super fun sparkly green skirt, it was a beautiful fall morning, my bib number was my dad's birthday (love it when I get numbers that have personal meaning) how could I not?

I kept a fairly consistent pace and was feeling good for the first 2.75 miles.  Towards the end of mile 3, I started feeling overheated (my nifty green shirt is way too warm for 50 degrees) and had to walk after one of the short uphill sections - my heart rate was higher than i was comfortable with (on this particular day being hot + hill, even a small one, wasn't a good combination for me).   It didn't take long for it to come down to a manageable, comfortable rate and I was running again, just a bit slower than before.

Greeted by Bree when I got home

I crossed the finish line to the cheers and encouragement of the kids.  It was so much fun to hear them cheering not only for me (who they didn't know) but for their parents, their friends' parents, or their teachers.  I heard a lot of "here comes so-and-so's Mom....  Go Mom!!)  and "look it's my Dad....  Go daddy!!" and "there's Mrs. whoever - go go go!!"  as I was cooling down and watching some of the people finishing after me.  There should be a kid cheering section at the end of every race !

This was the first race in a while where I was actually having a good time (the other 2 5ks I've run lately were both mostly miserable).  This race reminded why I do it.  It reminded me that running and racing can actually be fun.  I didn't meet my time goal, but I did run my fastest 5k of the fall season. And I had fun.  It was just the race I needed.

Race Stats: Spooktacular Scott Teays 5k
October 20, 2012

Finish time:
31:06 (garmin); 31:08 (official)

Mile 1 - 9:48
Mile 2 - 9:50
Mile 3 - 10:29
Mile 0.1 - 8:35

40th overall, 15th woman

Friday, September 28, 2012

Race Schedule for end of 2012 - early 2013

trying to keep get my scattered self under control and make a list of my upcoming races.  Just so I know when and where I need to be to run my little butt off.  :-)
  1. October 20, 2012  - Spooktacular Scott Teays 5k
  2. October 27, 2012 - Pumpkins in the Park 5k
  3. November 11, 2012 - Marshall Half Marathon
  4. December 8, 2012 - Run Run Rudolph 5k
  5. December 9, 2012 - Winter Series 5k
  6. January 6, 2013 - Winter Series 8k
  7. February 3, 2013 - Winter Series 10k
  8. February 24, 2013 - Disney Princess Half Marathon
Wonder which of those I should wear this in?????:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Race Report - Pumpkin Run 5k

So today was the Pumpkin Run 5k.  I'm beginning to think 5k's don't like me anymore. Or maybe it's that I don't like 5k's anymore - nah, it's not either one of those.  I could make excuses and say that I've been busy, I got sick, it was too hot, it was too rainy... blah blah blah.  

The truth of the matter is - I've been lazy, with the attitude of "it's 'only' 3.1 miles, it'll be easy".   Yeah, not so much.  To run that 3.1 miles at the paces my brain wants me to be able to run requires work.  Work that I have been too lazy for and have neglected to do.  And without the proper training and prep work, the brain may think I can run a 5k in under 29 minutes, but in reality the body says, "um  no.  How 'bout 32 minutes?"

I went to bed early-ish last night so I'd have plenty of rest; I hydrated well (lots of grape powerade and Mickey D's sweet tea - maybe not the best choices, but they're my favorites); I ate a good dinner.  The alarm went off this morning and I was up and out of bed and ready to run.  I was trying not to pressure myself into running at a certain pace or trying to finish in a certain time, but that darn under 29 minute thing has grabbed a hold of my brain and just won't let go.  I knew it was highly unlikely, but you never know, it could've been possible.  But today wasn't the day.

The race started right at 8:00.  Temps were somewhere in the 60's, skies cloudy - nice running weather.  I started off at a nice comfortable pace (a little over 10mpm, which was too slow for under 29 goal) and I kept it up for the first 2 miles.  Felt good and was having a really good run for most of those 2 miles.  But somewhere towards the end of mile 2, my stomach started to hurt.  It wasn't bad at first, but the farther I ran, the worse it got.  My pace slowed and I started to run/walk.  (Which took me down mentally - I really don't like to walk in a 5k.)  Eventually I started running without walking again, and I even attempted a fast finish to try to stay under 32, but didn't quite make it.

Part of me is disappointed in my time (32:02 on my garmin, 32:05 officially) but another part of me is just happy that I had the opportunity to run and that I finished.  Trying to make that second part stronger than the first, but it's difficult - I want that under 29.  I want it bad.   I'm confident that I'll be able to do it someday, and someday soon.  I've got 4 weeks until my next 5k.  I'm putting my laziness on the shelf and I'm going to work and train so I can get there and give my best honest 100% effort in the attempt.

Of course, I'll be training for my next half marathon at the same time.  Can I effectively train for both the speed of the 5k and the distance of the half?  Good question....  I'm sure there are some running experts out there that say it's a bad idea to try.  But I'm a rule bender.  And I have a feeling that I'll gain some speed as a side effect of the strength and endurance i'll be building as I train for distance.  I  may not make the under 29 at the next 5k, but I'm thinking (wishing? hoping? dreaming?) that I'll do it before the end of the year.

Pics of today's race, taken by the Herald Dispatch
Gallery: Pumpkin Run 5K - The Herald Dispatch
(I'm in the middle of the 9th picture in the gallery.  ;-) )

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cone Fest 2012

Spend most of the day today at a slalom skateboarding event

Joseph Kyle Smith ripping through the cones
Roller Girl Leah Devine tries out the course

Lucas - gonna be a force to be reckoned with as he gets older
Dennis Blevins and Joseph Kyle Smith go head to head

Marc takes a run on the course
All pics taken be me at the Kentucky Fried Cone Fest at Ashland Kentucky's Poage Landing Days

OBX 2012

My yearly beach vacation ended yesterday.  We (me, my husband, and my parents) went to the Outer Banks for the second time.  Love it there.  The weather was mostly perfect - sunny and fairly warm; a couple of days were a bit cloudy with a chill in the wind, but nothing too bad.

Our week in pictures:
Cool and cloudy Sunday morning

Monday run on the trails in the Nags Head Woods

Roanoke Sound at the end of Roanoke Trail in Nags Head Woods

Corolla Wild Horse Tour on Tuesday

Horses on the beach at Corolla

Empty beach on Wednesday Morning

Feet in the sand on Thursday
Dad fishing on Friday morning

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Taking a moment to give some birthday shout-outs to 2 very important women in my life...
(September 7 is a big day for birthdays in my family.)

Gramma modeling her awesome hat
Happy 90th Birthday Gramma!
Mom & Patty
Happy Birthday Mom!
Shhh... She's 64, but I didn't tell you that!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Race Report - Charleston Distance Run 5k

CDR 5k - September 1, 2012

I had big plans once again this year to run the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run. But once again, "stuff" happened and I wasn't able to train the way I needed to to cover the distance or the dreaded Capitol Punishment Hill (I've also heard it called "the Hill of Death"). So I signed up for the 5k again this year.

I had no motivation or discipline on the running/physical activity front in August. Except for the Komen walk, I didn't do much - I skipped runs, I skipped strength workouts. I justified it by saying my body was worn out from the walk. Sounded good, but wasn't exactly true. I was just being lazy.

I went into the 5k yesterday with a ridiculously optimistic goal of finishing in 29:30. That comes out to an average pace of about 9 1/2 minutes per mile. A pace I think I managed to come close to on only two one-mile runs since my run streak ended on July 4. I wanted to push myself and see what I could make my body do. I wanted the race to feel hard.

I got what I wanted. It was hard out there.

Saturday morning at 6:45am, the weather app on my phone said it was 75 degrees with 97% humidity. Can we say "sauna"? It was pretty nasty - the air was soupy and steamy. Thankfully it was cloudy, so there was no hot sun to have to deal with too.

I lined up at the start, not realizing that I was too far back and had some walkers around me that I would have to worm my way around once the cannon went off. It was past the mile 1 mark when I finally cleared the crowds and felt like I had some room. I checked my watch at mile 1 and saw that my pace was slower than I needed for my goal. Which caused me to take off faster than I could really handle. By the time I reached a water station, I had to slow down to walk and gulp down the lovely cup of ice water I was given. I usually don't stop for water in a 5k, but this time I was way too hot, totally soaked with sweat, and needed that drink.

Once I was done with the water, I started running again, at what might be considered a "comfortably hard" pace. I pretty sure at this point my goal was toast, but I thought I might be able to manage a course PR and beat last year's time. It wasn't long before "comfortably hard" became "hard hard" and I had to walk again (goshdarnit - i hate walking in a 5k!) for a few seconds. I started running again. But walked again at the next water station where I just kind of blindly grabbed a cup.

I started drinking and realized I had yellow gatorade (lemonade? what flavor is yellow gatorade anyway?). Whatever flavor it is, a past bad experience with stuff causes me to feel sick everytime I drink it. Needless to say, i usually don't drink it. I was running again but the gatorade started doing it's evil work. I had to slow down and take freqent walk breaks so I wouldn't throw it back up.

In the midst of all the slow downs and the walking, I had given up looking at my pace and just concentrated on the mileage and how much farther I had to go. I knew I was slower than I had wanted to be, but didn't want to know just how slow. I was pretty miserable and just wanted to be done. But I did tell myself that no matter what, once I entered Laidley Field there would be no walking... (the street leading up to it was another story, but once I went through that gate it was running all the way.)

So I ran around the track, on the inside lane to make it the shortest route to the finish that I could. I heard them announce my name (they pronounced it right!), which gave me a teeny bit of a kick to push for the finish a bit faster, but there was no sprinting to pass the people in front of me. I rounded the last corner and saw the time on the clock, and felt slightly disappointed  to see that I was over 30 minutes (by almost a minute). I stopped my garmin at 31:29. My official time is listed at 31:28. 2 minutes slower than my goal, and about 1 minute slower than last year.

I'm slightly disappointed that I didn't meet my goal or beat last year's time. But at the same time, I'm surprised my time was as "fast" as it was, given the way I felt and how much I thought I walked. From what I've heard from other runners and read in the paper, the heat/humidity took a toll on everyone. Even the winners were slower than they expected due to the conditions.

All in all, I'm just happy that I got to run and that I finished.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Day 3 recap

Sunday, August 5
Day 3: The End of the Journey

After the night of too much chaos and too little sleep, I woke up early on Day 3 to the sounds of the neighbor’s ringing alarm clock. And I woke up with another headache. I tried the “mind over matter” method and tried to talk myself out of feeling sick. It was working just fine until I took a drink from my water bottle - warm, left-over from the day before tri-berry nuun – not pleasant. (I used to like tri-berry nuun; but now, unfortunately, I’ll never look at it in the same way again.)

Becca and I packed all our stuff back into our lovely pink duffle bags. (Why is it that the stuff never fits back in the same way?) As we started to attempt to figure out how to take the tent down, some of the youth corps came by to help us, so we got that taken care of way faster than we would have on our own. We headed off to grab some breakfast (I opted for OJ and cereal to eat on the route). We dropped off our bags so they could go on the truck to be transported to the closing, and headed out onto the route. Unlike the day before, when we were some of the last people to leave camp, this time we were some of the first, heading out just after they opened it.

Woo hoo! We were off and ready to walk! I was feeling a bit tired and a little weak, but was determined that I was going to walk as much as I could. Becca’s foot was still a little sore, but she was also determined. It was kind of a cloudy morning, with skies threatening rain, which was ok – without the sun, it didn’t seem quite so hot. Not long after leaving camp, we found Jerry, still yelling out encouragement. It was great to see him; poor guy was starting to lose his voice, but he was still out there doing his best to put a spring in our steps and help us along.

As we walked, we noticed that some of our fellow walkers were out there with their feet bandaged almost completely, wearing flip flops and hobbling along. We decided if they could walk, we could walk. We got to talking about all the support and community involvement we were experiencing and how unexpected and overwhelming it could be. We had no idea just how overwhelming until we got to the Cheering Station…

We could hear them before we could see them – clapping, shouting, thanking the walkers for walking. And then we could see them. We paused in awe for a moment - ok so, we had to wait for the light before we could cross the street – but the sight of all those people was still awe-inspiring:

There must have been 100 people – families with small children, elderly people in wheelchairs, even a few dogs. It was incredible. All of the “thank yous” and the cheers and the encouragement brought tears to my eyes. It was too much. I didn’t deserve all of this; all I was doing was walking (and not even walking the whole way); there were so many more people who did (and do) so much more…

As we walked, we kept hearing rumors of a big storm heading our way. One guy said the rain was 10 minutes; the next guy said 30 minutes away. We didn’t know who to believe. We got to Pit Stop #2 and sat down to rest. I grabbed a couple of snacks because I knew I needed to eat something, but nothing tasted right. It wasn’t sunny, but it was humid and I was feeling really hot. So I suggested to Becca that we go sit in the air conditioned bus for a while so I could cool down. Not long after we got on the bus, it started to rain. And then they tell us that they were shutting down the course, making everybody get on the bus, and bussing us all to lunch (it was only about 10am). I did not want to ride the bus again. I wanted to walk, goshdarnit. But they kept saying how they were closing the course and we had to ride the bus. So we did.

We got to the high school where they were having lunch and before they let us off the bus, a 3-Day Staff member come on with an announcement. Because of the weather, they were closing the route and keeping us all at lunch for an hour and a half to two hours. I lost it. All the emotions and the frustration in myself that I had been trying to hold in just exploded. I wanted to be walking. No, I NEEDED to be walking. I needed the physical outlet to clear my head and deal with all the emotions and chaos in my head. I knew that being closed up in a building with all those people (again) was not going to be good. Poor Becca. Here I was bawling my eyes out; I was sure she didn’t have the faintest idea what to do with me.

But I was wrong. She called Keira. And Keira came to the rescue with a nice comfy couch for a nap and a pizza for lunch. I hadn’t eaten much of anything for almost 2 days, and the only thing I thought sounded good was pizza. And let me tell you, that was the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had. After eating, I curled up under a blanket on the couch and promptly fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was out, but it was long enough for the movie that we started watching on TV to be over and the next one to be well into the story. I woke up feeling refreshed, hungry again (I ate another piece of the yummy pizza), and ready to finish the walk. Becca had also napped a bit (but not as long as me) and had taken a shower, so she too was ready to walk.

We checked out the map and the route cards and tried to figure out the best place for Keira to drop us off. We followed the route markers (a little different experience in a car ;-) ) and rejoined the walkers a little way past Pit 3. The sun was out again, I was back in mental control, I was rested, I had food in my system; it was now a great afternoon and those last miles went by way too fast. We passed a couple houses that were handing out water and beer. Yep, they had beer. A little further on, they had wine. Yep, wine. Hey, it was the end of a long, hard weekend, it was time to celebrate.

Before we knew it, we were done – the finish line was in sight. Well, not really. What as in sight was the gauntlet of the Safety Crew, Youth Corp, Crew members, and staff (and I’m pretty sure Jerry was in there too).

High fives everywhere, so many that I didn’t have enough hands to get everybody. More cheers and congratulations and “thank you for walking”s. It was pretty awesome.

We got through all of that part of the celebration and continued on to the finish line. All of a sudden, Becca lets out a gasp and an emotional “oh my gosh!” I wasn’t quite sure what she saw, but looked where she was pointed as she said, “My family…” Then I see them. Her Mom and Dad had driven up to see us finish the journey. What an awesome surprise! (Way to go, Mom & Dad Burton!!)

We were still reeling from the surprise of seeing them, when we realized we still hadn’t crossed the finish line! So we went on crossed the line – WE DID IT!

Maybe we didn’t walk every single step of the 60 miles, but it was still an incredible journey. Maybe we didn’t find a cure, but, if the “thank you’s” we received over the weekend in all their various forms are any indication, we made an impact.

I know it made an impact on me. It was an emotional, awe-inspiring, overwhelming, faith-in-humanity-restoring 3 days. And even after writing, all these blog posts about it, I'm still trying to process the experience. It’s kind of funny, because if you look back at the first post I wrote not long after the event, I said I didn’t think I’d do it again. But now, only 3 weeks later, I’m thinking that I might want to. Maybe not for a couple of years, but I think I just might want to do it again…. We shall see.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Night 2 Recap: It was a dark and stormy night

Night 2: It was a dark and stormy night
Saturday August 4 to Sunday August 5

I don’t know how many of you have spent any time in a tent, but if you have, you know that a tent that is closed up in the hot sun is not a pleasant environment. It gets miserably hot, stuffy, and just yuck. Those little vents are not near sufficient to keep the thing cool. Even stripping off the rain fly and leaving the thing open to air out for couple of hours didn’t do much to cool it down before bedtime. And with the forecast calling for severe storms, we had to not only put the rain fly back on, we had to add a tarp over top to make sure we stayed nice and dry. Unfortunately, keeping out rain also means keeping out air. We did leave the door open so there was a little bit of airflow, but not enough. Needless to say, it was a struggle to fall asleep. At some point I had to strip out of my t-shirt and try to sleep in just my sports bra.

I just about fallen back to sleep after my wardrobe change when I heard the pitter patter of rain hitting the roof. So we zipped up the door and laid back down in our pink sauna and tried to sleep some more. It may have just been minutes, it may have been over an hour, not sure, but it didn’t seem like long before thunder started to roll. And following close behind was the blast of the air horn and the words, “Get up leave your tent and head for the Rec Center. Do not bring your stuff, you will be coming back” repeated over and over. We scavenged around our tent for our shoes, raincoats and flashlights and headed out to join the midnight mass exodus from the sea of pink.

We headed all the way across the camp to the Westlake Rec Center. I walked in the door and my first thought was air conditioning! Yay!! And seeing the line for the bathroom, my second thought was “toilets that flush! Must use them!” Since the majority of people around were women, and the line to the men’s room seemed non-existent, Becca was like “let’s just use the men’s”. So we did. Upon opening the door, we discovered that we weren’t the first to have that idea, because there was a line there too (just way shorter than for the women’s room). As we came out, some poor guy was asking, “how many people are in there?” Oops.

We entered the gym, which seems like a fairly large room, but with close to 700 people inside, it’s not so much. It was loud. Every noise seemed to echo. Becca and I found a spot on the floor at the far end near an emergency exit and tried to get comfortable. We sat with our backs against the window for a bit. But gym floors are hard on the poor tail bone. So I laid down, switching between my back and my side when the floor got too hard and uncomfortable. 

There were sounds of conversations all around.  I could hear people telling their experiences from the day, the stories of why they were walking, and about the people they were walking for.  I lay there thinking about the 3 women in my family who have had breast cancer - my grandmother is a survivor, a great aunt is a survivor, and a cousin passed away after a long battle that began with breast cancer.  Sitting in the gym and throughout the weekend, listening to the people tell their stories of how breast cancer has affected their families - multiple family members battling it multiple times - I couldn't help but feel oddly blessed that my family has been left relatively unscathed.  I know that seems weird to say (and I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words here) given that my 3 went through the hardship and pain and struggling and fear of the disease, and 3 people having to deal with that is 3 too many.  But it has been only 3.  And God-willing, it will remain only 3.  I don't want someone at some future walk to be talking about someone in my family when they're telling the story of a mother of 3 children under 8 who fought and won a hard battle with breast cancer, only to be told a couple of years later that she had it again.  I don't want my brother, or one of my cousins, to be the guy in the pink bodysuit and tutu walking for his wife.  I want my cousin's 8 month old daughter to not have to ever, ever worry about breast cancer.  With those heavy thoughts running through my mind, I think I may have dozed a bit.

But not for long, because I was soon awakened by the annoying squeak of shoes on the floor, people cheering, and an out-of-tune version of the National Anthem. The safety crew was killing time by putting on the “the 3-day Olympics.” Amusing for some, slightly annoying for others – I just wanted to get some sleep.

At about 2am, after almost 2 hours in the gym, we got the all clear to head back to our tents. It was still raining but supposedly the storm was over. We took another opportunity to use the lovely indoor plumbing, and headed out into the rain to our tent. There were a few tent casualties in the form of some empty ones blown over by the wind. Thankfully our tarp stayed on and seemed to have served its purpose. As we unzipped the door, there was a really spectacular flash of lightning and another roll of thunder. We tried to pretend we didn’t hear it, and Becca was sure they were going to make us go back to the gym. But supposedly, it was just “cloud lightning” and was staying high enough in the air that it wasn’t a threat.

So we climbed into the tent to find it mostly dry and cooler. Yay! We climbed back onto our pool float air mattresses that felt as soft and comfy as feather beds, and were soon sleeping the rest of the very short night away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A house full of books and "nothing" to read....

"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink"
          - Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Books, books everywhere and not a word to read"
          - Lament of a Book Lover, Melissa Schwarz Fuentes

I have a definite First World dilemma this evening.  I can't find anything to read.  I have a box full of new books I'm taking to the beach with me, 2 bookcases full of books, a big plastic tub full of books, and who knows how many books stashed away in other locations.  But I can't find anything that I want to read.

Or that I want to read right now.  The books in the box I'm saving for the beach, so I don't want to read any of them now.  The big tub is full of books that have been previously read and are waiting to find a way to a new home; some of them I enjoyed, others not so much, and I don't feel like re-reading any of them.  The bookcase in the office is full of books I read and enjoyed and may someday read again. But none seem appealling today.  The bookcase in the family room is full of my much loved favorites. Here's where you find the books with the broken spines, the dog-eared pages, the wear and tear of multipe readings.  I could read some of them again.  However...

My brain is going through an attention deficit phase right now.  I can't seem to stay focused  (Look!  Squirrel!!) on anything for very long.  (the above paragraph took way longer to write than it should have).  So while I love and adore you Diana Gabaldon, George R.R. Martin, Stephen R. Lawhead, J.K. Rowling and company, you all write very long books that are parts of rather long series.  And it's impossible to stop with just one of the series; you read the first and you're sucked into the story (I really need to vacuum) and have to read them all.  And my brain is not in any position (the dog is snoring, while laying on her back) to fully appreciate any of your fine works.

oh oh oh, I just rememberd, hanging around here somewhere is a compilation of short stories, edited by Mr. Martin, and containing a story by Ms. Gabaldon.  Short stories may just be the thing...  Now if I can only find it....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Day 2 Recap

Saturday, August 4
Day 2 – “One Bad Day”:

Saturday morning I woke up to the sounds of fellow walkers stirring, that and a really annoying, old-fashioned ringing alarm clock (the kind with bells) from a nearby tent. I had been fighting a headache all night, and unfortunately, my hopes that it would be gone by morning were quickly dashed. I took some advil and headed off to the lovely port-a-potty line. Now we all know port-a-potties are never pleasant, but with my headache, this trip was just too much. I held my breath and fought off the nausea as best as I could. I remember heading back to the tent, and telling Becca that my trip to the potty was not a good idea. Then fortunately there was an empty Ziploc baggy next to me, because the next thing I know, I was using it as a barf bag. Sorry for the image, but it is what it is.

Again, I was playing the hoping game and hoping that it was a one time thing, so I took a drink of my water and laid back down. And once again, hope was not on my side. Ziploc baggy #2 was put into use. And not long after, baggy #3. (Thank you to our tent neighbors for giving us a couple of bags!). At this point, we decided that I should probably head over to the medical tent.

As we walked over, I couldn’t help but start to cry because here I was, sick, maybe not able to walk, and ruining Becca’s weekend. Being the great friend that she is, Becca of course reassured me that I wasn’t ruining her weekend and that everything was going to work out. We got to the medical tent, and the lady doing triage (all those years of my mom’s nursing career I picked up a few terms ;-) ) took one look at me and said “Are you ok?” I shook my head at the same time Becca said, “no, that why we’re here.”

She took me back, took my vitals, asked a whole bunch of questions, and told me to lie down on the cot while she got a doctor. The doctor came over, asked me a bunch more questions, took my vitals again, and gave me “the look” when I told him I hadn’t eaten yet. (ok here’s the deal – if I had eaten, I would’ve just thrown it up anyway, so it would’ve been pointless at that point.) He then proceeded to tell me that I looked “uncomfortable, but not toxic.” Which I suppose was a good thing. He said I was probably slightly dehydrated and that I should lay down for as long as needed to. He offered me some medicine for the nausea, but at first I didn’t want it. I eventually ended up taking it, and it did wonders. After about 20 more minutes I was feeling better and ready to give the day a new start. So with the instructions to “drink, drink, drink, and when you feel like you’ve had enough, drink some more.” I headed off with Becca to the breakfast tent. Still not sure of how my stomach would react to food, I drank some orange juice and took a bowl of Trix cereal with me as we started to walk.

In addition to my issues, Becca was fighting a sore foot, so the day wasn’t starting out well for either of us. As we exited camp Becca told me the story of her friend Pam, who had passed away from breast cancer. Pam’s philosophy on life was you’re allowed to have “one bad day.” You can scream, you can cry, you can feel sorry for yourself, but only for one day. And this was our “One Bad Day”.

After spending so much time in the medical tent, we were some of the last people to leave camp. The last walker into camp in the evening gets special treatment, but apparently the last to leave in the morning gets nothing. Oh well. One of the drawbacks to being at the far back of the pack is you miss out on all the fun support from the sweep buses, the music, the motivation from the crowds… Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, there were other walkers around, the safety crew was still there, and there were still plenty of signs and support from the community around:

It just didn’t have quite the same vibe as the first day. But it could’ve just been me. Could be I was having trouble because I still wasn’t feeling all that great and my head wasn’t in the game where it needed to be. We walked to Pit 1, grabbed some snacks, filled our water bottles (yes I was drinking), and sat down to rest for a bit. We didn’t get to stay long, because the pit stop was close to closing and they were encouraging us to move on or get on the bus. Since we weren’t quite ready to give up, we didn’t want to get on the bus, so we hit the route again.

I don’t remember much about the walk from Pit 1 to Pit 2 other than it seemed endless. Pit 2 was supposed to be at mile 7.something, and only 3 or so miles from Pit 1. But that was the longest 3-ish miles I’ve ever encountered. Another group we passed were tracking the miles somehow and when we supposedly had 2 miles to go until the pit stop, we had already gone 7.5 miles for the day. So somewhere, somebody’s miles were wacky. Now I know what the pin I saw the day before meant – it said “are those real miles, or Komen miles?” These were definitely some Komen miles. And they were tough. Mentally and physically.

We got to Pit 2 and Becca went to medical to see what they recommended for her foot. But there was only one “medical professional” (for lack of a better term) there and she was pretty backed up. So we decided that we would take the bus to the lunch stop and get her foot looked at there. And since it was hot we thought a nice break in some air conditioning would feel really good. I definitely needed a rest in cool spot because, while I felt better than earlier in the day, I still didn’t feel all that great.

We got the lunch stop, grabbed our lunches, and looked for a shady spot to camp out and eat. I tried to eat my sandwich, but the bread just wasn’t appealing (neither was the swiss cheese or the slightly wilted lettuce.) So I ended up just eating the ham out of it and a bag of potato chips, which equals not enough food, but it was the best I could make my stomach do. Again, the medical peeps were kind of backlogged so Becca still didn’t get her foot looked at. As we were sitting there, me feeling slightly sick, Becca with a sore foot, we decided that maybe our best course of action would be to get back on the bus and ride it to camp instead of walking the rest of the day’s miles. That way we could rest, get something better to eat, she could get her foot taken care of, and we could start again fresh the next day. We would rather miss some miles on Day 2 then not be able to walk at all on Day 3 and miss out on the closing ceremony and the awesomeness of the end.

As we sat on the bus waiting for it to get the “ok” to head to the camp, I started feeling like I was letting everybody down. I felt like all the people who had given me donations and who were rooting for me expected me to walk the 60 miles, not wimp out and ride a bus. This was the 3-Day WALK, not the 3-Day RIDE. People were counting on me to walk the whole way for their friends and family members who had fought the hard fight of breast cancer. I was counting on me to walk the whole way. And here I was, being a wimp and sitting in a bus. I cried. I didn’t want to let anybody down, but as much as I might want to walk, I knew deep down it was a bad idea for me to try. Even though I knew I needed to take care of me, I was still so disappointed in myself. I was definitely not a happy camper.

As we got off the bus at camp, I expected the camp workers to check us in with little fanfare and head back over to the real walkers, to the ones who deserved the congratulations. But no. As we stepped off the bus we were greeted with the same cheers and smiles and shouts as the walkers. We were given the same hero’s welcome as everybody else. I was surprised and it definitely brightened my spirits and made me feel better. I even managed to not feel like an imposter as we posed for our picture with the day 2 banner.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the massage chairs; since there was no one else waiting, there was no 7 minute time limit and we sat there so long, the chairs ran through their whole cycle and turned themselves off. Nice. Then we moved into some other not quite as comfy camp chairs, talked with one of the crew members about some running races, and took a few little cat naps. Also nice. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to just sit and do nothing without having to worry about what wasn’t getting done. I had nobody who needed anything from me, nothing that I had to do, nowhere I had to be. I was free to just sit and be. Ahhhh…. Felt good.

Eventually we headed to the dining tent to get some dinner. The choices were slightly better this time – grilled chicken, roasted potatoes and some kind of vegetable (I can’t remember what it was now). I actually managed to eat. (ok so maybe not the whole plate, but I did eat all the chicken and some of the potatoes and veggie (now that I think about it, I think it was a salad)).

After dinner we hit the showers, which once again were nice and cool and refreshing. We were hanging out in our super hot tent, when we hear a crew member outside saying: “The weather report for the night is calling for severe storms. Be prepared; if you hear an air horn, leave your tent and your stuff and go to the Rec Center.”

And that warning was just the start of an interesting night; a night so interesting that it deserves its own recap post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Komen 3-Day Day 1 Recap

Friday, August 3, Day 1:

The day started bright and early. Ok, that’s a lie. It wasn’t bright; it was still dark, since Becca and I had to get up at O’dark thirty (as in 3:30am.) And considering we didn’t get to bed until 12:30 the night before, it was a little tough. But excitement won the day and we were both up and ready to go. For some reason, we decided we needed to be at the opening ceremony location by 5:00am, which turned out to be way early, but ended up being ok.
We're so happy we glow. ;-)
We hung around and watched the people while waiting for the opening ceremony.

And what an opening ceremony it was. I think I started to cry as soon as it started. Dr. Sheri Phillips (check her out here) is the spokeswoman for the 3-day and just the sound of her voice (not to mention the things she said) had the tears flowing. Her voice and the banners indicating all the reasons we walk made for quite the emotional ceremony.

The banners
And then, right before we started to walk, they raised a flag. A flag that contained the names of all the walkers’ friends and loved ones who have been lost to breast cancer. Yep, you guessed it, more tears.

The flag
And then we were off, walking along the lake shore and past (and under) the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame and out into downtown Cleveland. The first miles seemed to go by really quickly. And without our trusty Garmin watches to track our mileage (and the lack of mile markers) we had to rely on the route cards to tell us how far we’d gone. Which to be honest, drove both of us nuts. I, and from the sounds of things, Becca does, too, really like to know how far I’ve gone and how long it’s taken me to do it. But I digress. Before we knew it, we were at Pit Stop #1, where I ate my bagel breakfast and topped off the water bottle before heading out to walk some more.

We walked through some really pretty sections of Cleveland’s metro parks, along the shores of the lake.
The Cleveland skyline
And we walked through some really gorgeous neighborhoods with some totally awesome houses. One of the parks held Pit Stop 2 where we grabbed a snack, refilled our water bottles, took a potty stop, and headed back out on the route, where we walked, and walked, and walked some more.

Lunch was in a pretty little park with plenty of trees for shade. It felt really good to sit down for a bit and rest the sore feet and legs. I was starting to get a little tired, but not too bad. We relaxed for a while and then decided it was time to head out again. We were in yet another pretty Cleveland park, with a pretty little creek. Since I take after my Dad, I tend to take pictures of creeks, so here it is:

The creek in the park where we had lunch
After lunch we started to move a little slower. Except for the big hill that had everybody scared. They were offering rides to the top, but we decided we would walk it. And it was just the push we needed to put the pep back into our steps for a bit. We charged up that hill, and managed to keep the momentum up for a little while after.

But then, we started feeling the heat again, and the pain and stiffness in our joints started to catch up to us. We slowed down a bit. Thankfully there was a lot of roadside support in the form of sprinklers, popsicles (Koolaid brand, Grape flavor, won the prize for the favorite with Becca and me), sweep vans driving by with music and bells, safety crew with bad pirate jokes, and Jerry.

Jerry was a Walker Stalker Extraordinaire. You never knew where he would show up along the route. But he was always somewhere with a big smile and encouraging words.
Me and Jerry
We hit Pit 3 and were really excited that we only had 4 miles to go. Little did we know that that 4 miles was longest 4 miles ever. We had another conversation about not having our Garmins, or some way to measure the miles. I suggested we could count our steps, but that was quickly shot down. So we just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Then we saw this:
Westlake was where camp was, so we knew we had to be close to the end!

We walked a bit more, saw the arrow that pointed the way to camp, followed it, and the crowd of walkers ahead of us, and headed into our home away from home.

We did it! The hard part of Day 1 was done! Now all we had to do was find our bags and our tent. Finding the bag was easy. The tent was a little more difficult.

We told the lovely lady handing out the tents our tent number and she says “our tent angels have been putting up tents in section B all day, so yours is probably already up.” So we take her word for it, don’t grab a tent, and head off to find our spot. After roaming through a sea of pink tents for a while, we get to the marker that says B64, where our tent was supposed to be. The lady was right. Most of the tents in section B were set up. There were only 2 empty spots. It was just our luck that ours was one of the empty ones. Sigh. Becca grabbed a “tent angel” and asked if he could get us a tent. He said “sure” and promptly disappeared. He was gone for quite a while, and just as I was about to give up on him and go get a tent on my own, he showed back up with a tent that he kindly set up for us. We got our stuff situated in the tent and then headed off to explore the camp and get our phones charged.

I was starting to feel really crummy from the heat – the sun was really beating down. So at this point, all I really wanted to do was sit down somewhere and rest. We found the Bank of America tent and found a place to sit. In some totally awesome massage chairs. They massaged your back, they had foot/leg massagers that worked all the soreness out of your feet and calves. They were 7 minutes of heaven on earth – so nice that we waited around to get another 7 minutes. I think I need to buy one, they were that good.

At this point, it was dinner time, and we were starting to get a bit hungry. Unfortunately for me, dinner consisted of spaghetti with tomato sauce or “macaroni & cheese” which was more like an alfredo sauce. Tomato sauce and heavy creamy cheese sauce - two things that my stomach cannot handle when it’s hot. I tried to eat, but knew if I pushed it I’d end up sick. So I grabbed a can of coke and a couple bags of potato chips and decided to hope that breakfast had some better options.

By this time, we were ready for the showers. We grabbed our stuff and headed off for the shower line. Thankfully, the sun was starting to go down, and it was cooling off a bit. I was kind of afraid that I’d up having to take a cold shower because of all the people. But as hot as I had been all day, a cold shower really didn’t sound all that bad. Turns out the shower was refreshingly cool and was rejuvenating. I left the shower feeling better than I had all day.

We headed back through the sea of tents to our little home away from home, checked in with family, and laid down on our sleeping bags. I spent a few minutes listening to the entire life story and medical history of the lady in the tent behind ours, but was soon falling asleep. Before 9pm. It had been a long, long day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The one where i walk for 3 days...

I have so much to say about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day that I don't know where to start.  I don't know if i should do one big post or a bunch of little posts.  I did a little "cheater" post over on my 3-day blog to give readers a teeny tiny view of some of the support that went along with the weekend.  You can read it here. But that post in no way gives an accurate portrait of the event.  It was bigger.  Way bigger.  So very big.  Huge. (Did I mention it was big?)

The weekend as a whole:
It was a weekend of some pretty strong emotions in a volatile environment.  By that I mean you could switch from smiles and laughter to tears in 2.7 seconds.  Case in point:
This guy is wearing a pink bodysuit and a tutu.  Pretty funny.  And then you read the banner - he's walking for his wife.  Didn't get his story so I don't know if he was walking to honor her as a survivor or in her memory.  Either way, you smile and then you start start to imagine the hurt, the sorrow, and the pain that he experienced and the tears start to flow.  There were approximately 650 walkers, each, like the pink bodysuit guy, had a story - a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker who fought the disease; some won; some lost; some still fighting.  Everywhere you turned, you would run an emotional gauntlet. Smiles, tears, laughter, tears, laughter, smiles, and tears.

I was once again struck by the prevalence of breast cancer.  Yeah, I know, it was the whole point and the purpose of the walk. But still it hit me.  Each walker had a story. So did the people living along the route - we passed so many houses with posters saying "a 4 year survivor lives here" or "My grandma is smiling down on you from heaven" or something along those lines.  Seeing that brought home the reason why I was walking - for my friends and family and all of the people who have struggled with, fought, and won or lost the battle with breast cancer; for those we know, and for those we don't; I walked for everyone.

And everyone (almost literally) went out of their way to give support to the walkers.  As I mentioned in my other post, random people on twitter would post encouragement.  Random houses along the route would have pink ribbons hanging from the trees. At least once a block, a sprinkler would be strategically placed to provide a nice cool spray to walk under.  More often than the sprinklers, there would be coolers of water, baskets of candy, kids handing out popsicles, people with an encouraging word.  Random cars would toot their horns and give a wave.  Support vans and safety crew would have great peppy upbeat tunes to quicken our steps.  

And then there were the cheering stations, the first one on day 3 in particular.  I swear there were 150 people lined up along the sidewalk, clapping and cheering and saying "thank you" for walking. 
I think this was the beginning of my emotional breakdown (more on that in another post).
It was just so totally incredible that these people would go out of their way on Sunday morning to come down to cheer for us.  Families with small children.  Elderly people in wheelchairs.  Even a couple of puppy dogs.  It was great, but at the same time it was overwhelming and made me cry.  (another example of how the weekend was an emotional roller coaster.)
So to sum up:
Do I feel like the bad ass hero rock star people say I am?
Not really.

Let's break that down into sections. 
1.  Do I feel like a bad ass?  I would feel more like one if I had walked all 60 miles.  Don't get me wrong, I don't regret choosing to not walk all the miles on days 2 and 3 - circumstances dictated that it was the right decision to make at the time; continuing to walk would  not have been good for either of us, and I feel we made the right choice. Yeah, I admit, I wanted to walk more of it than I did. But in looking at the parts that we did walk, Becca and I have concluded that we walked between 40 and 50 of the 60 miles. Not too shabby. Farther than I've ever gone in a week, let alone in 3 days.  And while this wasn't about setting a mileage record for me, it was one. And the runner/athlete in me can't turn off the part of my brain that remembers stuff like that.  So in that regard, maybe I do feel a teeny tiny bit bad ass. ;o)

2. Do I feel like a hero rock star?  Nope.  I just feel like me.  I'm just a regular, ordinary girl who decided to try to help solve a big problem.  I'm just a small small drop in a big big bucket.

Would I do it again?
Right now, I'm thinking no.  Walking it was definitely (at least at this point in time) a once in a lifetime thing for me.  It's a big commitment that I'm not ready to make again for a while, if at all.

If I did, what would I do differently?
I'd go about fundraising in a different way.  I'd leave some room in my bag and take along some food and drinks that my body could actually eat, drink, and process so I'd be healthier and better fueled.  I'd take music with me, because when there was music involved, we forgot the pain and discomfort and walked just a little bit faster, a little bit livelier.

Pay it forward
While I feel like I don't want to walk the 3 day again, I do think it would be fun to go and be a "walker stalker", repaying some of the wonderful and amazing support I felt to future walkers.  It would be cool to follow the course, stopping at strategic points to provide encouragement.  Something to think about.

Stay tuned for a day by day recap.  :o)