Friday, December 27, 2013

Goals for a new year - Planning for 2014

I set a goal to read 60 books in 2013.  I started reading 63, completing 60 of them.  (I just started #64, and I'm pretty sure I'll finish before the end of the year, probably before the end of this weekend, so I'll finish 61.)  If you're curious, you can see the list of what I read here: 2013 books

My 2014 reading goals are:
  1. Read 65 books
  2. Finish reading Les Miserables
  3. Finish reading East of Eden
I don't remember setting any definite running goals for 2013.  If I did, I didn't write them down anywhere or make any kind of record of what they were. So, in the course of the year, any that may have been thought about got lost in the shuffle of life over the year.  And that was bad.  Well, not exactly bad, but not good either. 

Everything just kind of floundered.  I ran, but not that much. Certainly not any more than the bare minimum needed to get to the finish line of my races.  I didn't push any limits; I gave in to excuses. Which led to a yearly mileage of just under 700 miles, dropping out of 2 races I registered for, getting slower instead of faster as the year went on, and zero new PR's for any of my races.

Sooo... That's all going to change in 2014.   I am hereby declaring 2014 to be the year of the PR.

My running goals for 2014 are:
  1. Run at least 1000 miles over the year.
  2. Get a PR in the 5k (under 29 minutes by or at the Winter Series 5k in December)
  3. Get a PR in the half marathon (under 2:25 by or at the Marshall Half in November)
  4. Get a PR at the Dirty Dog 15k (under 2:25, in May)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finding Christmas

“Yeah, there's a lot of bad 'isms' floatin' around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it's the same - don't care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”

– Alfred, “Miracle on 34th Street”
"You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle."
- Kris Kringle, "Miracle on 34th Street"
Charlie Brown: “Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don’t understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.”...

Charlie Brown: “It’s all wrong.”  Lucy: “Look Charlie, Let’s face it. We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate you know.”
– “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming! They're just waking up, I know just what they'll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry, "Boo Hoo." That's a noise... “ grinned the Grinch, “That I simply *must* hear!”  So he paused - and the Grinch put a hand to his ear. And he *did* hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low... then it started to grow.   But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other... it came just the same.

 “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
– Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”


Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus: “Sure Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them. And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men." – Luke 2:8-14
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Race Report(s) - My Double Race Weekend

December 7 & 8 was a busy busy weekend in Melissa world - Christmas decorating at the parents' house, candlelighting at the cemetery where my grandparents are buried, pouring rain, snow, and... oh and 2 races.  Here's how they went:

Race #1 - the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis (Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013)
Costumes were encouraged for this race (like I need any encouragement...) so as soon as I registered I started thinking of what I could do.  Found a pretty awesome pair of nutcracker socks, and knew that's what I had to be (Santas and elves are so overdone ;-) )  I bought the socks, I had the blue sparkle skirt, I had a red shirt...  All I needed was some embellishments and I was set.  

As I sewed my stars & stripes onto the shirt, I was a little nervous. The shirt is very warm and can only be worn to run on really cold days or I get overheated.  Early December weather can be anything around here, so it was a toss up on what we were going to get. But I only have the one red shirt and with Christmas coming my budget is allotted to other things (presents galore!!) and buying a new one wasn't in the cards.   So I sewed it all on and hoped for the best.

Turns out it being too warm wasn't something I needed to worry about. After pouring the rain all day on Friday, race day arrived with a temperature of 30, with a "feels like" of 24.  (Luckily it dried up fairly well overnight, so there wasn't a lot of ice to worry about).  I was one chilly nutcracker waiting for the start.

Originally, I had a time goal for this race, but once again I was highly optimistic when I set it and with the training I had gotten in, I knew I wasn't going to be able to meet it.   So I set it aside and just ran easy, walking every so often, and just planned on reaching the finish line.

Even though I had ditched my goal, I still hoped to finish in a "decent" time (which for me right now is under 32 minutes.  I'm a speed demon, I  know ;-) )  But with the easy pace and the walking, I was slower than I wanted to be.  The time on my watch was a bit of a disappointment, so I decided that for my next race, I was gonna do better, I was gonna be faster.

Race Stats:
Jingle Bell Run 5k, 12/7/13
Finish time: 33:46 (garmin); 33:57 (official)
Pace: 10:49mpm (garmin); 10:56 (official)
Place: 133 out of 285 overall, 68 out of 194 women, 17 out of 50 age group

Race #2 - The Winter Series 5k (Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013)
The weather reports throughout the weekend mentioned that there was a possibility for snow during the night on Saturday.  I don't remember any mention of any accumulation, so I didn't get concerned.  But Sunday morning I woke up a bit earlier than I had originally intended and looked out the window to a world of white.  Snow covered the lawn, snow covered the street. An almost pristine blanket of white (marred only by some doggy footprints). A 4-5 inch think blanket of white.   While it was beautiful, it had the potential for making the drive to the race an interesting proposition.

So after clearing off my car and shoveling the driveway, I spent the rest of the morning with one eye on the Weather Channel (forecast called for some freezing rain) and one eye on the race director's Twitter feed to see if the race was still on.  It was - the temperature had warmed up just enough that the rain was just plain rain.  The roads were still a bit covered but not too horrible. (They were just right for the yearly "let's put the xterra in 4WD to see if still works OK" test. (for the record - it works just fine. got me out the neighborhood))

It rained on the drive in to town, it rained on me as I went in to sign in for the race, it rained on me as I went back to the car to hang out until race time, it rained on me as I headed back inside to turn in my toy donation and wait some more.  I was convinced it was going to be a cold, wet race.  However, it slowed to a fine mist by start time.  And I had on my too warm running jacket (thinking it was going to be as cold as the day before; it wasn't) and I was hot, so it ended up being a not so cold damp race.

After the day before's disappointment, I had changed my goal for this race to simply be "better and faster than yesterday."  I was going to run every step and I was going to finish faster and stronger.  And I did.  I admit there were points where my brain told me I needed to walk. But running is a mental game and I convinced myself to keep running by telling myself I could walk when I got to point x and then constantly moving point x further and further along the course until I got to the point where I might as well just run to finish. 

As I rounded the last corner I saw a woman who beat me the day before running not too far ahead.  I saw her up there said "she's not gonna beat me again."  So i tried and tried to catch her.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't and she beat me again (not by much, but I never did catch her). 

But I was ok with that, because I knew I had tried my best and I had done what I could with what I had at the time.  And I had run every step and finished faster and stronger than I had the day before.

Race Stats:
Winter Series 5k, 12/8/13
Finish time: 32:26 (garmin); 32:46(official)
Pace: 10:39mpm (garmin);
Place: 298 out of 401overall

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Obligatory Things I'm Thankful For Post

It's that time, that day, when it seems everybody everywhere is making a public declaration of what they're thankful for.  It's Thanksgiving, it's what you do.  Personally, I'm thankful for a whole lot of things every day of the year, but my thanks giving is usually silent, private, and personal - a prayer here, a thought there.  Or it may come in the form of a smile or a nod, a pat on the back, a hug, a wave.

Here's a list in no particular order of some of the things I'm thankful for this day and every day:
  • a roof over my head
  • warm fuzzy blankets to curl up on the couch under
  • a good pair of running shoes
  • books and the written word
  • a loving family
  • my husband and all the little ways he shows he loves me (McD's sweet tea in the fridge when I get home from work being just one of the many)
  • my furry four-legged "child" - my fuzzy shadow,  my constant companion
  • my best friends
  • all the people in this world who do all of the not-so-little things we often take for granted - those who grow and raise the food we eat, who make our clothes, who keep us entertained, who keep us safe from harm, who heal our hurts and calm our fears. For those who teach, and those who lead.  For those who work to keep our lights on, to keep our homes warm, to keep our roads safe.
  • And for the countless others I've forgotten

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cherishing the Memories - St. Paul Lutheran Church 1892-2013

As I sit here tonight, I have a lifetime of memories of my childhood church swirling around in my head:
  • Moving through the ranks of the Christmas program as I got older - from an angel, to a shepherd, to a wise man, and then finally, finally being old enough to be Mary.  (and there was one year when I was the star of the show. Literally - I was the star of Bethlehem)
  • Climbing the forbidden ladder to the bell tower to see if there was a bell. (Answer: No; weren't any bats either)
  • The beauty of the Christmas Eve candlelight service and the awe I felt as the candlelight spread through the sanctuary as we sang Silent Night. (and then there was year when an usher backed into the candles in the window and set his coat on fire...)
  • The older gentleman who was always a word behind during the prayers, the creed, etc.
  • Lib Slater "stepping" on my foot with her cane every Sunday.
  • Hugs from Harry Young.
  • My brother getting his finger stuck in the end of his shepherd's crook during one of the Christmas play rehearsals.
  • The way the purple choir robes clashed with the red carpet in the sanctuary
  • Emelie Knudson singing "Were You There" during lenten services.
  • Mrs. Casto's nursery school - with the yellow chair you sat in when you were bad and the old-fashioned bathtub full of pillows that you could lay in during nap-time if you were good. (and to this day, I still follow her instructions and don't stack blocks higher than I am tall)
  • Flo Williams and her magical sauce that was spaghetti sauce one day and hot dog chili the next (and sometimes it was "Sloppy joes" too)
  • Drinking orange kool-aid from the big red & yellow McDonald's coolers
  • Seeing my Dad preach one Sunday and proudly and loudly announcing "That's my Daddy" as he stepped into the pulpit.
  • The pride and wonder I felt the first time my brother presided over communion and led a service as a Pastor  (didn't make any announcements that time, but felt it just the same)
  • Brennan Dettinger, who was maybe 3 at the time, drawing a picture of a skeleton to put on the Sunday School Christmas tree. When asked why a skeleton, he responded, "that's the Holy Ghost"
  • Andrew Weirick carrying a pumpkin that was as big as he was and saying "heavy..." in a deep dramatically strained voice
  • Christine Weirick drawing me pictures on the bulletin pages (note to self - find those!)
  • Taking Christine to Mrs. Casto's nursery school and telling her I went there too. She looked at me and in four-year-old wonder asked "was she old then too?"
  • Eating cheerios and drawing my own pictures on the paper my dad kept in his suit pocket to keep me occupied throughout the service.
  • Straining to catch a glimpse of my mom as she processed (prosessed??) in and out with the choir (I may have even waved as she passed by our pew)
Until this morning, I hadn't been to church in.... well, in so long that I can't remember how long it's been. I may not have gone to services but the church, St Paul Lutheran, I knew, was always there, waiting for me to come to my senses, return to my roots, and come back home. Until today.

Today was the last service. St. Paul as a separate unique entity has officially closed. The building will be sold; the congregation merging with another. While I know I should be celebrating a new beginning and be looking forward to the church opening new doors and windows now that the old ones are closed, it's hard. It's not always easy to celebrate a new beginning when your heart is breaking from the ending.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Race report - Marshall University Half Marathon

2 years ago, in November 2011 (for those you who are math impaired, like me ;-) ) this race was my first half marathon.  Today, it was my 6th.  It was the race that started the "half madness" so I like to go back and do it again (this was the 3rd time I've run it; did it in 2012 too).  It's a nice flat little race at a beautiful time of year.

Although this morning, it didn't feel like it was going to be a beautiful race.  A 7:00am start time means an early wake-up call. 5:00 is way too early for this sleep-loving, evening running gal.  My plan was to leave the house by 6, thinking that would give me plenty of time for the drive, to park, and to get to the start line.

I seriously miscalculated that one.  The drive seemed to take forever and then to make matters worse, I couldn't find a parking place.  At 6:50, I was fighting back tears as I searched in vain for a space.  I asked a couple of race volunteer intersection watchers if they knew where I could park.  They pointed me to the Pizza Hut lot and said a lot of people seem to be parking there.  I pulled into the lot and got the last spot. It was now 6:55 and I was frantically getting ready, pinning my bib on as I walked/ran/busted my butt to get the start area.

I made it in time, but my head was not in a good place. I was frustrated and slightly panicked.  Running the first few miles I was just unhappy and not feeling good at all.  I thought about giving up at the 3 mile point.  But I didn't.  I pushed on and roughed it out.  Hit the 5 mile mark and checked my overall time, and was surprised to see where I was. I thought "hmm, I may be able to make this a decent race after all."  I was slower than I needed to be for my "ultimate OMG it would be totally awesome if I could finish in this time" goal, but I was right where I needed to be for my more realistic "this is what I know I can do" goal.

So I pulled myself together, put the rubber to the road, and got serious.  Miles 5 to 10, usually the hard part of this race for me, felt strong and almost easy.  At mile 10, I checked my time again, I was under 2 hours.  Still on track for that goal.  But miles 11, 12 and 13 were hard.  I struggled a bit, but made myself run the full run interval and only walk when the watch told me to.  I knew I wouldn't make the "OMG this is awesome" goal, but a PR could have been a possibility.   And if not a PR then a faster time than last year.  And I knew I couldn't do either if I walked more than I was scheduled to.

At PR time, I was passing my mom at the corner outside the stadium.  At least year's time, I was crossing the finish line.  Yep I finished in almost exactly the same time (almost to the second) as I did last year.  What can i say,  I'm consistent. :-) 

I did meet that "this is what I know I can do" goal, because it's what I know I can do.  It's what I trained for; what I worked so hard to achieve.  I had some doubts at the start and for the first few miles, but I put the saying "never judge a run by the first few miles" to the test and proved it right. I adjusted my attitude, got my head in the right place, and ran the race I knew I could run if I just put my mind to it, quieted the doubts, and did it.  There's a great satisfaction in that.

Race Stats:
Marshall University Half Marathon
November 10, 2013
13.1 miles
Finish time: 2:29:42 (garmin); 2:29:53 (official)
Pace: 11:24 mpm (garmin); 11:27mpm (official)
Place: 833 of 1,099 overall;422 of 624 women;76 of 110 age group

Monday, October 7, 2013

Race Report - Rock 'n' Roll Cleveland Half Marathon

Half marathon number 5.  Yep, the girl who swore she was never meant to be a runner has now run in and completed 5 half marathons.  It's crazy.

My friends and I are always on the look out for races that look like fun and have cool medals (yes, sometimes, it is all about the bling), and we found this one way back in the spring.  Becca and I signed up for the half marathon, and when they announced that there would be a mini-marathon, Jen signed up for it.  After I registered, I told myself I would train my little butt off so I could run a PR.

As training progressed and as I gauged my fitness level, I pushed the PR goal back to my November race and switched my focus to just beating the time from last year's Marshall half.  I was optimistic that I could do it, but I knew it was going to be tough.  I also knew that conditions would have to be 100% perfect on race day for it to be a possibility. 

Race day came and as it turns out, conditions were not 100% perfect (are they ever?)  6:30 in the morning and it was already 72 degrees and muggy. (I believe my words as we left the house were "holy humidity batman!")  And as it was "that time of the month" I was feeling a little sluggish and achy.  But it was a race!  I was with my best friends!  I was happy! (really I was)

how can you not be happy and having a good time when you get to do things like this at the race expo:

Or when you wear fun socks, arm warmers, and a sparkly skirt like this:

You can't!  Especially if you're running with friends (with equally fun sparkly skirts):

Jen ran the mini
Becca and I ran the half

I started in corral 8 with Becca so we could give each other moral support as we waited for the start.  She tried to get me to start in my correct corral, but I was sticking with her to help eliminate the pre-race jitters I always get when I'm by myself at a start line (mission accomplished!)  Once the gun/air-horn went off and it was our turn to run, I stuck with her for little while.  We got separated about a quarter mile in due to the crowds and my faster pace (don't worry I didn't ditch her - it was our plan all along to run our own races).

A little past the mile 1 marker I saw another familiar racer running strong on the opposite side of the course.  I dodged and wove (weaved?) my way across the runners to give Jen a pat on the back and was off on my journey.

To be quite honest, I don't remember much about the race other than I was hot, tired, achy, and starting to get hungry.  I was so focused on just putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the finish line that most everything else faded into the background. 

What I do remember:
  • I ditched my time goal after mile 5 because I knew it wasn't going to happen. 
  • I  made sure to grab a water and/or gatorade at every aid station to stay hydrated (and the gatorade tasted much better if I poured the water into it). 
  • I took a strawberry banana Gu at an aid station to try to stave off the hunger - it was a bad flavor choice, but the little bit that I did swallow made me feel better and more energized (note to self - check out other flavors.)
  • I walked way more than I wanted to
  • I  kept looking for Jerry (the amazing guy from the Komen 3-day who would pop up at various points on the course to shout encouragement to the walkers).  He wasn't there, but there was a different guy providing encouragement and reminding us that we were strong and could do this.
  • I had a race angel: I was struggling at mile 13 and walking toward the finish line, when another runner (who had already finished) ran up beside me and said "you don't want to finish this walking; it's only a tenth of a mile. Come on let's run. you're strong; you can do this!"  I responded, "yes I can.  I can do this!"  As I ran away from her I heard her say "Yes you can! Go for it!"
And I did.  I finished running.  It wasn't a strong run or a fast sprint, but it was a run:

As I crossed the line, I heard a "GO MELISSA!"  from the crowd - My friends were there waiting for me!  Such an awesome feeling - my very own cheering section! (such a small thing, but when you're used to being at races on your own, it's a nice change).

I got my medal, a bottle of water, a bottle of gatorade, and a chocolate milk (i'm not normally a fan of milk, but that was the best tasting ever), and joined the girls on the sidelines to wait for Becca to finish.   She too finished strong and had her own race angels to get her through the day.   And Jen finished her 3.5 mile mini with a new found (or maybe re-found) confidence in herself.

So all in all, it was a good, but tough, day for all of us.
Happy finishers
Race Stats:

2013 Inaugural Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon
October 6, 2013
Time:  2:52:43 (Garmin); 2:52:41 (official)
Pace: 13:03 mpm (Garmin);
Place: 4305 of 5044 overall; 2566 of 3140 women

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Addendum to Color Vibe Race Report

More Pictures!!! 

Being rebellious - Touching the "Do Not Touch" sign
I'm out of control...

Covered with color

Race Report - Color Vibe 5k

Way back in April, one of the girls in my office had the idea of a group of us doing this race together. So we gathered a group of about 20 of us and for 5 months, while we waited for race day to finally arrive, we plotted and planned how Team Commercial could make a big colorful splash at the race:

Team t-shirts in Commercial Insurance orange logo- check
Orange sparkle skirts from Sparkle Athletic - check
Colorful sunglasses, socks, bandanas, and other accents - check

We were ready to go!

A group of us met at the office and walked over to Magic Island to join the thousands - Yes thousands; it was insane the number of people (reminded me of the Princess Half with all the tutus and costumes in the corral) - of runners, walkers, and color lovers.

I could have run this race and been by myself (alone in the sea of thousands) the whole way, but what fun is a group event if you leave the group behind? So I walked with most everyone else (the guys decided they would run); even though we tried to stay together, we did end up getting split up. Two or three of us here, three or four of us there, we ended up spread out pretty equally along the route.

But the need to run overtook me at about 2.5 miles in and I ran the rest of the way, crossed the finish line, and headed back along the course to find the group and finish again (not really, but almost).


So why was this race called the Color Vibe?  Because they shower you with purple, pink, yellow, green, and blue colored powder at color stations along the course and while waiting for the start and after you finish and walking back to your car (even if you have to run to beat the street sweepers to get a little extra green).

It was a really fun way to spend a morning, and if a color race comes to your town, do it.  It's awesome.

The Color Dance Party
Race Stats
(Officially, this was an untimed race, but being me, I had to wear the Garmin anyway, so here are the details, for the record, if you care.)

Color Vibe 5k, September 28, 2013
Distance: 3.04 miles
Finish Time: 54:29 (17:57 mpm)

Part of the team (That's me w/ the scarf & orange sunglasses)


Part of Team Commercial


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Race Report - CDR 5k

When I woke up this morning, I wasn't at all sure how this day would go.  Coming off of a week with some not so great training runs (didn't get all the miles in that I had hoped for and the miles that I did get in were hot and hard).  A while back I had set a goal pace and finish time, but was feeling really optimistic when I did it.  I didn't think I could hit either.  I've run this race that last 2 years, and both of those race days were hot and humid, which made for some pretty miserable runs.  I've always finished, but it's always been a struggle. With the tough week I had and the anticipation of the heat/humidity run killer, my expectations were not at all high.

First thing I did when I got up was check the temperature and humidity, so I could decide if I wanted to wear a t-shirt or a tank top.  I chose the tank.  Orange tank, blue sparkly skirt, green cap, and I was dressed and ready to go in my Goofy-inspired attire.

I got to the parking lot, pinned on my bib, performed my car door lock ritual (for some reason I have to keep checking to make sure my extra car key will in fact unlock the car), and got my ipod situated.  I started to walk away from the car and realized I had lost one of the pins holding on the bib.  Not good. I looked on the ground; didn't find it.  I looked in the car; didn't find it or another one from a different race.  So I rearranged the remaining three pins so the loose corner would be in a less annoying spot.  Before heading to the start, I thought I'd check around the car again.  Guess the light was better this time, because there it was.  Bib repinned on all four corners and I was ready to run.

I lined up near the back of the middle of the 5k-ers, and took off nice and slow when the cannon went off.  I wasn't in a hurry, and I didn't fall victim to my usual race day rush to keep up with everybody else.   I took it easy and slow.  It felt great.  At the one mile point, my pace was a little slower than my goal, but I didn't obsess about it and just ran.  As the crowd thinned out I started to speed up a bit.  Still felt really good - no heat/humidity issues, no stamina/endurance issues.  I was cruising along to a negative split at mile 2. Awesome!  Haven't done that in ages.  Since I was still feeling good, I sped up a little more for mile 3.  Easy peasy run to another negative split. Wow!  Entered Laidley Field with plenty of energy for a nice speedy lap around the track to the finish line (only a tenth of a mile, but it was a negative split too). OMG! I met my goal finish time, pretty much down to the second. Score!

If I had had a plan (other than a time goal), it would have looked a lot like what I ran - starting slow, keeping it easy, getting faster as I went, and feeling awesome at the finish.   It's been a long time since I've had a 5k feel easy; if I've ever had one feel easy.  This wasn't anywhere close to PR time-wise, but I'm still putting it into the Personal Best category*
*aside - I'm such a West Virginian that I spelled that phonetically as "catergory", before proofreading. ;-)

Race Stats
Finish Time: 32:34 (Garmin); 32:32 (official)
Pace per mile: 10:25

(in case you're curious, my goal was a pace of 10:30 per mile, with a finish time of 32:30)


Definitely feeling the runner's high today, and I have high hopes that my goals for my fall half marathons might not be quite so far fetched after all.   Running this year has been a struggle but lately, during the month of August, I've been having some really good runs and running is finally starting to feel fun again.  My mindset is changing back to "I get to run x miles tonight" instead of "I have to run x miles tonight."  And that's a good thing.

What made the change? I think part of it is I got new shoes.  And by new shoes, I don't mean a new pair of the same model shoe in some new exciting color (the new ones are a kind of boring grey). I went to a running store, talked with a run shoe expert and I switched to a totally different shoe.  I went from the neutral Nike Pegasus (which unknown to me) caused my feet to tilt inward, to the Nike LunarGlide.  It's a stability shoe that keeps my foot flatter.  I get more power when I push off every step, which means less leg fatigue and just an all 'round better feel. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Running Races in Costumes

I've got 3 "special" races coming up in the next few months.  They're special because I'll be running them in costumes.  Yes, costumes.  Nothing outrageous or crazy. But definitely fun.

What are these fun costumes you ask?   Here they are (still in the planning stages for couple of them, but the main parts are there).

Race #1:  The Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon in Cleveland, October 6, 2013.

Race #2: The Disney Enchanted 10k, February 2014
(still needs buttons and a belt buckle)
(and the sleeves match better inside out)
(doesn't really look it, but that hat is perfectly Dopey purple)
Race #3 - Disney Princess Half Marathon
Belle - before the ball, apparently known as "Provincial Belle"
(need to find something other than Gramma's antique handkerchief to use an apron)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Race Report - Biggest Loser 5k

A week ago if you had asked me what my plans were for today I would have told you - Nothing much; some laundry, watching the start of the Tour de France, hanging out at home.  But on Wednesday, I saw a small ad for a 5k at the bottom of a website. Since I was at work, I didn't check out the link and went on to what I was actually searching for (lots of happenings at the  US Supreme Court in the HR world this week), but I did make a mental note to check it out when I got home.  And I did, thought it looked like fun, and registered, just a couple of hours before online registration closed.

So that's how I came to run the Biggest Loser 5k this morning.  I've been running, but not really training, and definitely not training to run a fast 5k. But my thoughts were along the lines of "I'm planning on running at least 3 miles on Saturday anyway, might as well do it with a bunch of other people."  A t-shirt, a medal, and the camaraderie of other runners are worth the race fee any day.

I lined up at the start line and was feeling a bit claustrophobic because the corral was really narrow and crowded.  There were a lot of runners there, but not quite so many that they needed a corral or a wave start, but that's how it was done.  They also had pace groups. Once I saw that, I had the plan to stick close to the 10:30 group, but with the way the corral was angled, I wasn't in the same wave as the guy with the sign.  By the time I got started, they were just far enough away that I couldn't catch them. 

And of course, my trying to catch up with them means I started out too fast and wasn't able to keep up the pace.  Between the fast start and the heat, I ended up having to slow down (and walk some as well).  But all in all, I did pretty well for running a race on a whim.  There was a time, not so long ago, that I couldn't even run 3 blocks, let alone 3 miles.  And to run a 3 mile race without really training for it, that's saying something.  I've come a long way in my running journey.  And it's not over yet.

Race Stats:
Biggest Loser 5k, June 29, 2013
Overall Time: 34:00, 10:46mpm
Splits: Mile 1 - 10:21, Mile 2 - 11:00, Mile 3 - 11:10, Mile 0.16 - 9:22

Enough about me, let's talk about the race. The Biggest Loser people put on a good show.  A nice packet pick-up/expo with some seminars if you're interested and stuff to buy (t-shirts, stickers, stuff like that). And the race itself - motivating atmosphere, balloons, music, contestants from the show participating and keeping you entertained before and after, a decent race shirt, and a cool medal.  It was well organized and well done.  I don't want to sound negative about my town, but I don't think we did the race justice.  I don't remember seeing it advertised or promoted; maybe I missed it, but I don't think it was.  And it should have been.  It was a good time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eating my words

I know I've said multiple times and in multiple places that 2013 was the year.  It was the year that I was finally going to make the commitment to run the 15 miler at the Charleston Distance Run.  It was the year that no matter what, I was going to run that race. No matter what, I was not going to give up and give in and run the 5k instead.

Well, maybe not no matter what.  There is a very small list of things that would make me change my mind.  And tonight, in a conversation with Marc, one of the things on that list happened.  The "if you run the 5k, I'll run it too" thing.

Promise or no promise, I just don't think I can pass up the opportunity to run a race with Marc; the opportunity to have a partner who can help me train; someone to push me and make me find the faster runner I know is in me, but can't seem to find on my own; to have someone there with me to help me attain that ever elusive 5k PR (I can't let him beat me!) 

Nope, I just can't pass that up.  No way, no how. So once again, in 2013, I'm eating my words. Only this year, they taste pretty good.  Unlike past years, where they've tasted like disappointment and defeat, this year, they taste like opportunity, potential, and victory.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Un-Race Report - Dirty Dog 15k Trail Run

It rained on Thursday.  And with that rain, our crawlspace flooded for the third time in as many weeks.  I was totally frustrated and fed up and ready to quit.  As we worked to clean out as much of the water as we could between storms, I started to seriously consider withdrawing from the race.  But then I thought more about it - a day on the trails might be just what I needed to clear my head and relieve some of my stress. So I decided to give it a go.

Friday morning, I'm laying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off before I get up, and I'm sure I hear rain on the roof.  Rain that could possibly be re-flooding the crawlspace.  Rain that would definitely be muddy-ing up the trails.  Once again, the idea of withdrawing reared it's ugly head.  Turns out it was just the sound of the fan in the hallway and not rain, but I still thought about withdrawing.  I'm slow enough right now when it's dry - the thought of how much mud and slippery trails would slow me down even more was just downright depressing.  Again, I gave it some thought and the stress-relieving, head clearing positive aspects of a day on the trails (even wet, muddy ones) won and I talked myself into running anyway.

It's now Saturday morning and the big question of the day is "to run or not to run?"  For some, it's a silly question.  Most race days, for me, it's a no brainer.  But this one, this morning, was different.  I didn't wake up all excited and pumped to get to the race.  Ordinary race days I hop out of bed and get dressed in a flash and I'm ready to leave early.  This race day, I dawdled; I procrastinated.  I started putting on my race outfit, thinking that if I could just get dressed, I might feel more like running.  Nope. Not even my lovely, fun, inspiring, green sparkle skirt could shake my "don't want to run today" blues.

There was a small part of me that wanted to run.  But unfortunately, that part of me wasn't strong enough to beat the part of me that didn't want to run.  It couldn't overcome the fear of slipping in the mud, sliding down one of the steep sections of trail and breaking some bone on one of the big rocks.  It couldn't overcome the major feeling of unpreparedness that comes from the lack of motivation to train that's been plaguing me all spring. It couldn't overcome the mental hole I've fallen into the past week or so.

Running is a mental game.  If my head were in the right place, I could overcome all of that and run this race anyway.  But today, it's not.  It's feeling too many doubts. And the Dirty Dog is not a race to run when you're doubtful.  It's too hard of a course to not take seriously; you can't just wing it.  You have to be all there; you have to go all the way and give it all you've got and then some.  And today I just don't have it to give.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Toughest Race I'll Ever Love...

Is it "wrong" to wear a sparkle skirt to a trail race called the Dirty Dog?   Don't know, but next week, I'm doing it anyway.

Yes, here I am again, one week away from the Dirty Dog 15k trail run (see my thoughts from this day last year: 2012 Pre-Dirty Dog post .)  I don't know what it is about this race, but it's one of my favorites.   It's hard; I struggle and fight for just about every step; it's made me cry.  But I keep signing up to do it again.

Once again, I'm not ready for it. But I'm gonna do it anyway.  If nothing else, it'll be a nice walk in the woods.  

I'll be there, probably finishing close to last, bringing a little sparkle to the woods in my green sparkle skirt.  Because every race, even ones with dirty in the name, needs a little sparkle.

Read about my previous Dirty Dog adventures here:
2011 Dirty Dog Race Report

2012 Dirty Dog Race Report

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Race Report - Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Hope & Faith, my trusty Komen shoes
ready to carry me through another event
 Last August, I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk for the Cure.  It was an incredible experience.  I don't remember the exact figures, but all along the walk course they had signs and posters with Breast Cancer Facts that included staggering numbers of women (and men) who are diagnosed with breast cancer every minute and the sobering and equally staggering numbers of people who die from breast cancer.
With those numbers in mind, I signed up to run today's 5k Race for the Cure.  Whether walking 60 miles, or walking or running 3.1 miles, the goal is the same - to help find the Cure. 
Because Everyone Deserves A Lifetime.
Now let's taking a moment to move away from the charity and the symbolism of the event, and get down to the run part.
I wore my "Hope & Faith" shoes not just because they are symbolic of the BC fight, but because I needed a little of both if I was going to have a decent run today.  I've been spending a lot of time going slow and utilizing the walk/run method on my evening runs.  I've been lazy when it comes to my long runs and cutting them short or skipping them all together (which means the Dirty Dog in 2 weeks is going to be an interesting experience (like always), but we'll take it one race at a time and save that one for later. :-) )  So I figured going into today that I was going to be slow and that I would probably have to walk. 
I am so far from my 5k PR right now that it's kind of depressing to think about and I know I want to work this year to meet or beat it.  But something that I also know is that it'll take most of the year to get there.  I knew I wasn't going to do it today.  In fact, I knew I wasn't even going to come close.  Today was a "I just want to finish" kind of day.  I guessed that I would finish in around 32 minutes.
It seems the gun going off was a surprise to most of us at my section of the start line.  None of us were really paying attention to the fact that it was almost time to start and then BANG! off went the gun.  The slower, unhurried start was just what I needed because I didn't take off too fast, but was able to start at a nice comfortable pace.  And it ended up being a nice comfortable pace that I was able to easily sustain for the whole race.  I had stop twice in mile 2 to stretch out a sore & almost cramping left calf/shin, but didn't have to walk, which was a happy surprise.
I reached the finish line in 32:52, close to my predicted time.  My mom commented that I finished right were I wanted to.  Not exactly.  I want to be faster.  I want to be finishing somewhere in the 29's. But I did finish where I knew I could considering where my fitness/endurance is at the moment.  And I'm ok with that. 
That was a hard lesson for me to learn last year, but this year I am more accepting of the runner that I am at any given moment.  Doesn't mean I'm not going to keep pushing and training and trying to get better, faster, stronger.   No, it means that when I look in the mirror, I'm going to see me now, as I stand today, in this moment, in this run/race and not be so hard on myself in comparing that me to the me that I want to be but am not yet.
Race Stats:
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k
Finish Time - 32:52 (garmin); 32:58 (official gun time); 32:48 (official net time)
Pace - 10:31 (garmin)
22 of 39 in age group
449 of 594 finishers

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Race "Report' - Joker Run

Today was a first in my racing "career". 

A couple of weeks ago, riding on the racing high that resulted from the Princess Half Marathon, I registered myself for a bunch of races - the Cleveland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in October, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in May, and the Joker Run (4 mile) in March.

March 24, to be exact.  Today.  Right now, as I type this; well, 10 minutes from now.  But instead of standing nervously at the start line waiting for the crack of the gun, I'm sitting at my dining room table.  Yes, today I have my very first DNS (did not start).  I'm sitting this one out because I'm not prepared. That's my excuse anyway.  That and the weather.   The thought of running a race I'm not prepared for, in the cold rain, just was not appealing in the least.  If it weren't raining, would I be there?  Good question.

Whatever the answer would be, I can tell you one thing.  On the running front March has been a gigantic, huge, complete and utter fail.  Due various excuses, some legitimate, most not so legitimate, I have run a whopping 3.5 miles.  So sad.  So ridiculous.  So unnecessary. So downright lazy (at least for the days I skipped due to those not so legitimate excuses).

But the time for beating myself up about it is over.  It's time to get back at it.  It's time to renew my commitment to fitness and to running.

I've already made a start - I started the Insanity program.  And insanely, I'm actually liking it. (I have discovered that exercise videos and DVDs tend to bore me and get on my nerves. But not this one. At least not yet.) 

I'm almost done with Week 1 and though the workouts are hard, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when they're done (a feeling that was lacking with other video workouts).  In just a few days, I can already see a difference in my flexibility when doing the stretches.  My muscles are sore and feeling stronger.  

I'm hoping that Insanity will increase my overall strength and endurance and make me a stronger runner.  I'm going to have to modify the 60 days it's supposed to take to finish the program, because if the last few days of just Insanity are any indication, I'm not going to be able to do it and run on the same day.  So I'll be alternating days, running one, Insanity the next.

I have big goals for this year (some time soon, I'll tell you what they are) and if I'm going to accomplish them, I need to work.  And work hard.  No more excuses.  Just commitment.  Commitment to a better, stronger me.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Race Report - Disney Princess Half Marathon

I don't usually like to focus on what a race or run was not, but in this instance, for this race, I think it's important.  This could have been a different race.  I could have started in an earlier corral; I could have finished with a faster time.  BUT - that was not what this race was about.  This race was not about me.  It was not about running by myself.  It was not about fast times. It was not about rushing to the finish.  It was not about the quest for a new PR. 

Well, you ask, if it wasn't about those things, what was I running the race for?

For moments like this:

And this:
And this:

Moments that I would have missed if I'd run alone. Moments that I wouldn't trade for all the PR's and fast times in the world. This race was about good times; it was about friends; it was about support and encouragement; it was about fun; it was about finishing with a triumphant smile.
It started as a dream - I don't remember how I heard about the race but when I did, I thought it would be fun to try to do it someday.  In November 2011, at one of our regular girls' weekends, I made a "wouldn't it be cool if we could all go to Disney and you all could cheer me on as I run the Princess race."  As I know I've mentioned before, that statement planted a seed and grew in a way I never imagined it would - it went from friends cheering me on to friends running with me. We set a goal to do the Princess in 2013.  And before we knew it, race day was upon us.
Jen = Jessie
Becca = Jasmine
Me = Tinker Bell
The day started not-so-bright and early, with a bus to catch at the lovely hour of 3:00am.  Although it seemed ridiculously early, it was the perfect time  - we got on the bus and got to the start area with none of the issues I've heard rumors that later buses experienced.  (Big thank you to Shannon Roberts for the tip!). 
Before we knew it, it was time to head for the corrals.

hanging out before heading to our corrals

Sign on the way to corrals
corral E was the place to be

At a little after 6am, Fairy Godmother said the magic words, the fireworks went up, and we were off!  The first few miles felt easy and seemed to fly by.  We were just about at the 3 mile mark when we saw the race leaders flying by on the other side of the course. They were almost done, we had basically just started.  Jen put it all into perspective though - they may have been fast, but they were running the same race we were. It's the same start line, the same finish line, the same race.
And then we entered the Magic Kingdom.  And saw the castle.  That beautiful, wonderful, awesome castle.  I don't know how many miles we could see it, but the excitement of approaching it and running around and through it was enough to make us forget that we were running in a race, forget that our legs were getting sore and tired. We were in Disney! That's all that mattered.

There were photo ops with characters all along the course, but in the interest of time and attempting to avoid the possibility of getting swept, we didn't stop for many.  I did a few "run-by" photos tho.
Evil Queens and StepSisters

Buzz and some lovely ladies I don't know
Aladdin, dude from Mulan, Flynn Rider
Mrs. Incredible
There was one, however, that we had to stop for.  In FrontierLand, we found Jessie.  Since Jen was dressed like her, we had to stop for the pic.  Jessie was so excited when she saw Jen, she started jumping up and down.  Definitely a cool moment.
The miles from Magic Kingdom back to Epcot were a bit harder - we were tired, we hurt, it was humid.  It was a struggle, and at least for me, it became a fight for every step.  But we did it.  Soon we saw the "golf ball" as Becca's 2 year old son calls it, and we knew the finish couldn't be too far away. 
Crowds of spectators with "go random stranger" signs motivated us just enough to know we would finish.  A "great job girls!" from a sorority sister's mom handing out powerade at mile 12 was encouraging.

And then, there it was.  Mile 13 and the finish line.  We did it!  Half Marathon #1 for Becca and Jen,  #4 for me, was done.  We started, we finished!  We are Princesses! 
We are Half Marathoner Princesses!

And now for the nitty gritty - not so magical or fun details:
Physically, this race was hard for me.  I don't know if it was the lack of training (weather and other factors kept me from doing enough long runs for this one), the temperature and humidity (what training I did do was in wintry, cold conditions), the roads seemed oddly angled, the crowds (constant weaving in and out of runners and walkers), or a combination of all those (ding ding - we have a winner!!), but it was painful.  My hips and knees started hurting early.  My feet joined the soreness party somewhere around mile 9. Not sure if it was the length of time on the course that was causing my issues or if it was just a bad day physically.  I don't know if I had tried to go faster and run/walk it at my normal half marathon pace if I would have felt better, or if that would have been worse.  But a few extra sore muscles were more than worth it to be there with Becca and Jen as they ran in and finished their first half.

To run in Disney World with 2 of my best friends was an incredibly awesome experience.  Thank you to Becca and Jen for coming on this journey with me.  Can't wait to do it again! 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Evolution of a Runner

Me:  "I'm not meant to be a runner."

There was a time, in the not so distant past, that I would say that statement.  And I would say it often.  My  husband would try to get me to run with him, and I would go out for a short while and come home with some kind of ache or pain.  And I'd give up.  I tried running when we lived in the apartments in South Charleston. I tried running when we lived in our condo in Hunters Ridge.  And each time, I'd last about a week or two and give up, with an adamant declaration of "I'm not meant to be a runner."

And then one Sunday afternoon in March 2009, I was home alone and bored.  It was a beautiful day and I didn't want to waste it sitting around inside.  For some reason, and to this day I don't know what made me decide to do it, I thought I'd go for a run.  I was Forrest Gump.

"That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run."   - Forrest Gump

I put on some old running shoes and headed out the door.  I made it just past the neighbor's house before I was out of breath and winded.  I remember thinking, "Really? That's all the farther I can run? I can do better than that!" So I tried again.  And again. And again.  I made it around the neighborhood loop, alternating between running and walking from property line to property.  I don't know how long it took me, and at the time I didn't know how far it was.  But it seemed to take a long time and it felt really far. (And the hill - it about killed me.)  But I wanted to do it again.

I don't know why that particular run on that particular day was any different than all the other times I had given running a try.  But something about it awakened the competitive spirit in me.  I wanted to be able to do better - to run farther and be faster.  So I kept running.  There have been highs and lows and times when I felt like I should give up.  But I kept running.

In the almost 4 years between that March Sunday and now, I've kept running.  I've struggled and I've triumphed. I've good runs and I've had bad runs.  And I've transformed.  To date, I've run in 18 5k's, 1 4.5 mile trail race (walk), 2 8k's, 2 10k's, 1 8 mile trail race, 2 15k trail races, 3 half marathons, and 1 virtual half marathon.  The girl who swore she wasn't meant to be a runner became a runner.

"Now for some reason, what I was doing seemed to make sense to people...  Somebody later told me it gave people hope.  Now I don't know anything about that but..."  - Forrest Gump

Somewhere along the way, and I really don't know how this happened, I also apparently became an inspiration.  That's not a designation I'm particularly comfortable with, because I don't feel like I've really done anything particularly inspirational, other than just run.  I just know that I made one "wouldn't it be neat if..." comment.  And that comment started a whirlwind of change in three of my best friends.

Like me, these women never thought they could run, never thought they would ever want to run, and never thought that they ever would run.  In short, they felt they weren't meant to be runners either.  But, a change happened, and three more "I'm not meant to be a runner's" became runners.


As I sit here counting down the final 2.5 weeks until I get to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with two of these women, I am amazed.  Amazed at the transformation in them; amazed in the transformation in me.  I have more self-confidence. More courage. More strength. More determination. More everything.

Who would've ever thought that something that boils down to simply putting one foot in front of the other could be so powerful? So life changing??

Me:  "I AM a Runner."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Race Report - Winter Series 10k

This is the second year that I've participated in the Winter Series races.  While it's been a little chilly for some of the races, it has never been what I would call wintry.  Until today.  Today the Winter Series lived up to its name. There was snow.  And ice.  And cold.  And did I mention ice?

I knew conditions were going to be a bit sketchy when they issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the weekend.  It snowed most of the day yesterday and this morning there were some flurries with off and on light snow showers.  But the road in the neighborhood was clear, and I really wanted my purple hoodie.  I figured it couldn't be too bad out there so I put on some warm clothes and hit the road for Kanawha City.

I got there early, got signed in, got my hoodie (which I just might be wearing as I type this report - love these things!), and waited for the race to start.  The part of the course you could see at the start looked bad - snow covered with slushy parts.  I had a feeling the race was going to be interesting.  Since I had strict instructions to stay upright from my Disney Princess running partners, I ditched any time goals I had and set my sights on just finishing. And on not falling.

As it turns out, the start line was pretty much representative of the entire course. The conditions the whole way alternated between snow covered ice and slush (with some clear spots scattered here and there; but those were few and far between.) I started slow, and kept a nice but careful pace until just before the 2 mile marker.  That's where I started slipping and sliding.  With thoughts of "stay upright" running through my head, I switched to a walk at that point.  I played it safe the rest of the race: running when I felt safe and steady on my feet; walking when I didn't (which, unfortunately for the part of me that wanted to finish fast, was most of the time).

While I'm not very fast right now (even on good weather days) I know that I'm capable of going faster than I did today.  But instead of feeling down as person after person went by me, I told myself to run (or walk) my own race and that Disney was way more important than today.   It wasn't worth it to run hard, fall, hurt myself, and not be able to run in 3 weeks (just 3 more weeks!!)  So I kept myself occupied by singing along with my Disney playlist and focused on staying upright.

You  might be thinking, after reading that last paragraph, that I had a bad day.  But I didn't.  I didn't wimp out and stay home (as I have done with more of my training runs lately than I really like to admit.)  I braved the elements.  I stayed upright.  I got 6 more miles into the bank for Disney Princess training.  So it's all good.  :-)

Winter Series Race #3 - 10k
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013
Finish place - 271 (according to my popsicle stick)
Finish time - 1:17:42 (garmin)
Avg Pace per Mile - 12:32 (garmin)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Race report" - Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Virtual Half Marathon

My plans for this weekend started to take an interesting turn on Wednesday evening.  My Pennsylvania running friends, Becca and Jen (the ones I'm running the Disney Princess Half with in 6 weeks.  Just 6 more weeks!!), were planning on getting together to run their first 12 mile training run on Saturday morning.  An offhand "wish you could run with us!" got me thinking.  At first I figured there was no way - While Pittsburgh's not far away, it's not close either, and I just didn't think it was feasible to spend seven-eight hours total in the car just to run a few miles.  But they had their 12 miles, and I was planning to run the Sandy Hook memorial miles this weekend so I had 13.1 to do. 

And what's more fun than running long runs with company?  Not much. 

And spending time, even a small amount, with two of your best friends is priceless.

So the thought just wouldn't leave my head.  Thursday morning was spent figuring out how to work in a quick trip to the 'Burgh while still managing to get all the stuff that I needed to do done.  By the end of my lunch hour on Thursday, the plans were made.

Sometime on Friday, Becca started to get all philosophical on us.  The following (and I hope she'll forgive me for quoting her without asking first) are her very well-spoken thoughts :
"We are also (I think unless someone tells me differently) counting this toward our sandy hook half marathon. I think this is the perfect run for that because it will be hard for me and Jen at least so it's perspective setting to think about all of the pain that was created that day when we are feeling the pain from the long run. 
On that note I'll go philosophical for a second. Everyone has days that aren't great and we sometimes have some physical pain or mental anguish but events like that remind us that in the grand scheme of things days like that really aren't as bad a they seem at the time. Life can change in a second. Whatever our personal struggles are we should look to find the positive in each situation and enjoy what is there because tomorrow you may long for the troubles of today."
With those thoughts in mind, we set out Saturday into the foggy slightly chilly morning to run our miles.  We ran along and across the river(s), through the city streets, and all around.  At about mile 7 (the furthest I've run at one time since November), my legs started to hate me - they were definitely starting to get cranky and achy. I was feeling the pain of distance, and so were Becca and Jen.  Our mantra became "this pain is temporary" as we fought our way through the miles. But fight we did.  And we finished.
The women who started this run were not the same women who finished it.  Jen & Becca were only setting out to do 12, but Becca and I decided we would add the extra 1.1 to get us to the full half.  (And yes, Jen you ran the 13.1 too.  You stopped your watch for a bit, remember?)  We started as runners.  We finished as half-marathoners. 
It was hard, it hurt, there may have been some tears. But we were strong and persevered.  I think we had 26 angels helping us along.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Race Report - Winter Series 8k

My first race of 2013, the Winter Series 8k, went way better than I thought it would.  (good sign for the rest of the year?? let's hope so!)

I had a rough December on the running front (rough as in didn't run a step for the last 2 weeks of the month), so I knew this was going to be a tough race - a 2 week backward step in fitness level was definitely not ideal for going into a race.  If I learned anything in 2012 when it comes to racing goals, it was that I can't expect fantastic results from work I didn't do.  So my only goal was to finish in an upright position.

Before the race, Marc and I were discussing my finish time.  He predicted 48 minutes (which, at one time, actually was my goal).  But knowing where I was with my fitness/running ability, I figured it would, on the highly optimistic side, take me 53 to 55 minutes, but in truth I was really expecting it to take an hour or more.

While waiting for the race to start, I must've changed the settings on my Garmin 4 times.  At first I was thinking I'd attempt to run the whole way.  Then I changed my mind and decided I needed to set run walk intervals.  Then I thought, "no, it's a relatively short race I don't need intervals I'll run the whole way."  Then I thought, "I'm not ready to run straight through; I think I'll end up with a faster time if I run/walk."  "I can run this sucker!"  "If I want to finish, I need to run/walk."  It was like I had the little angel and devil on my shoulder arguing in my ear...

I ended up with a run/walk interval of 4:1, and it was the perfect choice.   I could run hard without the feeling like I was making a huge mistake, because I knew the rest period would be coming fairly soon.  I recovered well on the walks. But even with the walks, I still got tired and had to slow down the runs for the last 2 miles.

I left the watch on the interval time screen, so while I was running I didn't know exactly how long it was taking me.  I had no clue how fast (or how slow) I was actually going, and believe it or not, it felt good.  No pressure to pick up the pace to finish under a certain time.

At least not until I was in sight of the finish line and the time clock.  When I saw what the clock said, I was shocked.  I was under my "highly optimistic" possible finish time!  In order to keep it that way, I dug deep and sped up just enough that I crossed the finish in 52:32 (garmin time)!! Yes!!  A great way to start my racing year!  Here's hoping for more good things to come!

Race Stats:
Winter Series 8k
Finish time:  52:32 (garmin); 52:35 (official)
Pace per mile:  10:34mpm (garmin)
Place:  278 of 366