Monday, May 13, 2013

Every Day is Mother's Day

Well...not really. The title simply helps justify a Mother's Day-themed post written a day late.
My blog. My rules.
Life's all about balance. Today's example :
When you spend a couple of hours, on Mother's Day, running miles in these sorts of conditions :
that "partly cloudy" description was a lie. Unless sweat in the eyes counts as "clouds"
You have to balance it out with spending a greater or equal amount of time doing things like this:
bliss for the boys and their mama
I hope all of your Sundays were awesome. Next up : Balancing blog-posting laziness with...well...un-laziness. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

How To Go from 4:05 to 3:39 in 2 Months

It wasn't my intent to leave this half-written story for so long. Turned out to be really good timing, though, to have it ready to post today! If you don't know why, Google when The Boston Marathon is run. (or get your head out of the hole you have it buried in)

At no point during the four hours and 5 minutes I spent running The 2012 Jacksonville Bank Marathon did I think "I will learn to LOVE this experience for all it will teach me". But I totally should have. Because, without that mess of a race, I'm fairly certain I would not have run a Boston Qualifying marathon two months later. It forced me to go back to the drawing board and make some physical and mental adjustments.

I won't drag us all back into the December Debacle, though. I'd just like to share what I did for my 26.2 Miles on February 17th, ' seemed to work out okay.

Nutrition & Fueling: I belive it was Erin who shared some links regarding race day eating, a couple of months back. Until I started running long distances, I'd never had a problem with my intestines misbehaving. For example : I once ate a large burrito, enchilada, refried beans and rice about an hour before setting out for an evening run. (p.s. : that little tidbit falls under the "do as I say, not as I do" category, obvs)

Once I started spending more than 90 minutes on my feet, though, my previously brag-worthy, iron stomach turned into a big, dumb jerk. Through a lot of (mostly failed) experimenting and the aforementioned new fueling plans I was finally cautiously optimistic about not completely falling apart, GI-wise, during the race.

I ate less than 1/2 of a plain bagel at about 4:30 am, while waiting downstairs for my friends to join me on the shuttle. There ended up being some clock discrepancies, though. I waited for a couple minutes before boarding the nearest bus. (hooray for heated transportation!! It was right around 32 degrees) I sipped water, on and off, throughout the morning, but didn't take in any other calories.

$2 jacket from Goodwill, warm bus, very special self portrait
I'd cut up some Shot Bloks into easier-to-gnaw pieces and stuffed them into a ziploc. Those, plus one Clif gel would be my race fuel. I decided not to carry a water bottle, as there were plentiful stops along the course. Also, with the cold weather, I didn't see myself needing a ton of hydration.
I had a few pieces of the Bloks every 45 minutes, saving the gel for the final few miles. The amount and choices were happily perfect! There were a couple moments where I felt dry-mouthed and wished for water, but it didn't take long before I had cups available to me.
The only other, minor problem was the cold + chewy fuel combo. My face was so cold, it was really hard to chew those gooey bits. I'm sure the specatators were treated to a really special show every time I fought through that process. I've checked the race day photos and have yet to see any depicting that hideous scene. Either the photographers didn't catch it or they're kind editors.
The Early Miles: I'd made myself some little pace stickers, but they ended up under my arm warmers. I quickly realized they were going to be more of an annoyance than anything, so I kinda forgot about them. (until they pulled arm hairs. Then I remembered them)
I've gotten really good at starting longer races nice and easy. This one was no exception. The only glitch was, again, the cold. We'd been waiting in the corral for so long, that I could no longer feel my feet. It's real tricky to run a pace based on feel when you can't, stinking feel anything.
the freezing, lonely corral
With friends and family choosing to run the Marathon Relay, I had The Best Start, Ever (TBSE) as I got to run my sissy's portion, with her. We marvelled at our Frozen Feet Syndrome and smiled. A lot. Having her with me totally erased any nerves or jitters. I've never felt so comfortable, mentally, at the start of a race.
My goal for the 1st 3 miles was 9:00, 8:30 & 8:00. Actual : 8:56, 8:29, 8:00. Pretty good, huh? After that, I'd planned to clock in the next 10 somewhere near a 7:50 mm pace. Miles 4, 5 & 6 : 7:53, 7:51, 7:49. I tried to keep calm as I realized how amazing I was feeling, and the 3:35 pace group was behind me! That 7:49 mile felt ridiculously easy and I entered the beach (after cheering on my relay-ing friend, Kim) with a huge, euphoric smile on my face.
I underestimated The Beach.
looks so harmless, doesn't it?
I live in Florida. I've run on sand and dealt with chillier temps and wind, near the water. I was unprepared, however, for the endless, sand-filled gusts that were attacking us. While I knew that pushing hard and keeping my effort steady was the way to go, I was already realizing the unexpected toll it was going to take on my legs, later in the race.
Miles 7-9 were supposed to be at that 7:50 pace, but the sand slowed me down to 8:05, 8:24 & 8:11. I was already a bit ahead of where I needed to be to qualify for Boston, but I'd become attached to the idea of staying ahead of that 3:35 group. (I still know I'm fully capable of a 3:30 marathon. There. I've said it.) Moving on...
Leaving the beach was blissful, but I had to rally to shake of the fatigue those wind-filled, sandy miles had left me with. Luckily, neighborhood/crowd support was in full force in that area of Jacksonville. I maintained my form for my new, adoring fans. 
Mile 10 was a comfortable 7:52. The next stretch was a bit quieter, specator-wise. I was happy to have completed double digits, but was still too far away from the halfway point to really feel comfortable, yet. I ended up zoning out, a bit, as is my habit and ran 11-13 in 8:01, 8:06 & 8:07. I crossed the 13.1 mat ahead of my goal, but just barely.
I was still feeling infinitely better than I had been in the December marathon. I also decided it was time to turn off my brain, for a bit, as it was starting to let some negativity creep in. The ipod was switched on and I took a quick, mental break.
The 3:35 group passed me, and I was okay with that. They were still in sight. I knew I was slowing, but it wasn't considerable and I knew I had some time banked. Miles 14-16 : 8:04, 8:06, 8:11, 8:23.
uh-oh. Double-digits left to run, and my pace was creeping up. When mile 17 clicked off at 8:30, I had to start working so much harder, mentally, than I had the entire race. I reminded myself that I still felt good. (I really did) I was fatigued, but not sore. My stomach issues were non-existent, the sun was shining and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.
I peeled off my gloves & ear warmers with the hopes that I'd see The Husband or other friends, along the course and could toss them.
I glanced at my watch and saw an 8:4x, right after that 17th mile. UGGGHHH!!
I came around a corner and had caught up to a handful of marathoners (with the 1/2 marathon & relay being on the same course, you never know how fresh-legged the folks around you are) and an awesome realization hit me. I recognized the running form directly in front of me. It was a friend from my running group with whom I am extremely comfortable following.
That ended up being the relief I never knew I needed, but that showed up anyway. Mile 18: 8:17.
We wordlessly took turns leading, with brief water stop walks thrown in. He was starving and fading and I was running a marathon faster than I ever had. Not the best setup for teamwork, but it worked for us. While the next few miles were slower than I wanted, I fully believe they would've been even slower had I not been running with Josh.
Miles 19-22: 8:32, 8:32, 8:28, 8:35
By this time, I'd lost a glove, so I tossed the rest of my gear. (very sad about the loss of my favorite arm warmers, btw). I took my final gel, washed it down with some freezing water and just. held. on.
Around this point, I took my turn in the lead and Josh faded back. He never passed, again, but I knew he was close. I also knew I just needed to keep my remaining miles under 9 minutes/mile to finish under 3:40.
Typing this now, that seems SO easy! That morning, though, I was feeling tired enough to be ready to actually fall asleep. On my feet. It's hard to describe that type of fatigue, but it took everything I had, mentally and physically, to push through it. I drew on some of the thoughts I described in this post and kept telling myself it would be over, soon.
It felt like I was pushing hard enough to see 7:00 on that trusty ol' Garmin, but instead the final miles were pounded out in : 8:42, 8:39, 8:48 & 8:49.
There was a bridge. Hard doesn't begin to describe that climb during the last mile. There was panic at getting that far and seeing 3:4x on the finish clock. While that would have been a huge PR, for me, it was definitely not what I wanted to see. I also lost an earbud to the wind and was momentarily devastated at the lack of music drowning out my "Let's STOP RUNNING!" thoughts. Coming off the bridge, though, I saw two beautiful sights :
1. The Finish Line, adorned with pink balloons.
2. The girl in front of me pumping her fist across that Finish Line.
Why was that was beautiful? Because I knew she was in my age group and that she had just qualified for Boston.
I was close enough to see that I was going to do the same.
The last .36 (by my watch) : 7:45 pace (2:48)
I stumbled across and crashed into my poor husband who was trying to record the moment on his phone. Needless to say, that didn't work out so well, thanks to my ill-timed attack. I took for granted the fact that he, my sissy and my friends would be waiting. I'd completely forgotten the setup at this race that doesn't allow family/friends to be at the actual finish. Those sneaky guys had gone out of their way to be where they were. I'm so thankful, but totally not surprised.
I still love them
The bottom of my foot hurt pretty badly, as seems to be the norm when I wear the Pure Flows. The good they do outweighs that minor problem, though, so I stand by my decision to wear them for the marathon. Some overly attentive medics (maybe they read this post?) immediately showered me with ice and kind attention.
I was dazed and unable to form complete sentences, but I was done. Not only was I done, but I had shaved off almost 19 minutes from my best marathon time and had succeeded in qualifying for The Boston Marathon.
The day was still so beautiful, so I wasn't even a sweaty mess. I stretched...painfully, and grabbed my drop bag. Catching up with everyone was frenzied but ecstatic. Phone calls were made, hugs were plentiful and I even became BFs with Joan Benoit Samuelson! (well...we waved at each other, anyway)
There was quite a bit of re-fueling, that day, in the form of water, free beer, bananas, an entire pizza and a milkshake. In reality, I had no appetite. My brain tells me I need to replenish, though, so I do it. I actually didn't have much of an appetite for several days, later.
One marathon = one pizza
looked so tasty! Only managed a few sips. :(
P.S. I'm currently watching the race I hope to be running on this same day, next year. That's about the coolest distraction, ever, right now. ;)
For now, this is what I've got for you. I've had so much more to share, since then, but wanted to get this out, first. Thank you for waiting and reading!! 



Monday, March 18, 2013

Quick PSA

Whole, entire posts (including recap(s)) coming soon! Couldn't let this important reminder wait, though.
When you head out for a long run, don't leave your water bottle on your kitchen counter. Excessive thirst and desperation may force you to drink out of a gas station bathroom sink. Don't let this happen to you :
For some reason I was really nauseous the next few miles...
Hope everyone is well and taking the time to appreciate cold drinking water from a clean, reliable source, today.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I've been staring at this blank page since I raced my way to a Boston Qualifying time. It's not that I was unsure what to say, there's just too much I want to share. (and probably very little that any of you will actually care to read). I've realized I'm going to have to split it into 3 parts.
First: I'm going to have to get some feelings out of the way. They were/are integral and important.
Second: The Figures and facts. (mile splits, fueling, etc) It's not interesting to everyone, but I love to have it to look back on. Also, I've made poor Mike wait long enough.
Third: The actual race specifics. It's an awesome and fairly unique event. It deserves it's own story. This will likely not happen for a few months, though. I think, once Summer descends and my racing season ends for a while, I'll take that time to go back and share some recaps (expos, crowd support, after parties...that sort of thing)
See why this has taken so long? That took up a ton of space and it was only a boring intro!
note to moms: step out from behind the camera sometimes. Your children get frustrated when these are the only types of photos they can find with you in them
In 2004, my dearest friend (who was also nice enough to have birthed me) found a lump in her breast. She's a semi-professional worrier, so I definitely took it seriously, but didn't panic. She was active, ate healthy, had recently lost a bunch of weight and our family doesn't have a history of breast cancer.
I, heavily pregnant, joined her and my dad to hear the results of the biopsy. After what seemed like an eternity, they emerged from the office in tears. They were emotional wrecks (naturally) and started spilling out the bad news. 
For some mysterious reason, my every emotion, (even the pregnancy/hormonal ones!) were pushed aside and I just started getting down to business. I'm sure they didn't fully appreciate my immediate barrage of questions and detailed plans of attack, but it sure helped me deal. It was in that moment that I realized my role. I needed to be a source of strength. No, crying and showing raw emotions are not forms of weakness. For me, though, I couldn't break down in tears with them AND sort through how we were going to deal with Breast Cancer. I needed to be tear-free and business-like.
Weeks later, my mom and I attended a seminar at the local hospital. The volunteers were explaining various options for headgear during chemotherapy (wigs, scarves, hats) and ways to apply makeup when you've lost all of your eyelashes. They showed a video of heartbreakingly beautiful women, like my mom, who had suffered so much and were dedicated to helping others try to keep their spirits up. It was totally random, but I felt the tears coming. I waddled (still pregnant) to the bathroom and sobbed 'til I puked. My mom never saw, though she may have suspected. We finished off the class, laughed and played with the makeup samples and wigs and left feeling simultaneously devasted and hopeful.
 She's not called Grandma, she's "Buddy". Oh, and she loves babies.
In January 2005, I delivered a beautiful baby boy and my mom started down a long, hideously awful road of chemo and radiation treatments. We threw her a Hat Party, brought her popsicles when it was all she could stomach, scoured the surrounding cities for some sort of air freshener that was "Nothing" scented. (she became hyper-aware of smells and it further nauseated her) She was so physically weak and battered, but still so very "mom". Everything about her personality remained. I will never forget that. Wouldn't it have been so much easier for her to have just broken down and turned into a whiny jerk?!

"silly, Buddy, it's okay!" "I'm bald, too!"

During one of her follow-up Oncology appointments, the doctor (a runner) stressed to my mom the importance of physical fitness for recovery. At that time, my mom was in no shape to even walk for any length of time, but it turned on a switch in my brain.

Soon after, I started turning my (kinda) daily walks into attempts to run. I knew nothing other than the fact that I could move my feet faster than I previously had, without dying. Also, I loved it.  I kept the new hobby mostly between The Husband and myself, though. (my sissy recently mentioned this in one of her brilliant posts. Yes, my mom's illness and recovery had awakened a desperate need for me to keep my body moving. No, I didn't feel it appropriate to be all "Listen, mom, I know you can't even roll over without pain, but I found out I love to run!" Not good timing.

More babies...more life stuff...lots of time off running, but I re-discovered a passion for it a couple of years later. Short story long : My mom is cancer-free and I've proudly called myself A Runner for about four years. Seemingly unrelated until you toss in the Marathon I just ran.

If you haven't yet clicked on the link, it's a race to "Finish Breast Cancer". 100% of the profits go back into local breast cancer research and support. When picking my races for this year, it was hard to argue with the merits of that one. Since it'd be my third one in five months, though, I expected to just run it "for the cause". Once I fell soooo short of my lofty goals at this disaster of a marathon, though, I was dead-set on running these 26.2 miles in less than 3 hours and 40 minutes.

his Game Face is so much cuter than mine
I took the no-brainer route and decided to run this race For My Mom. Only, I didn't actually tell her I'd be doing that. To set a nearly 20 minute PR goal, tell her about it and then tell her how I failed would've been disappointing (for me), to say the least.
As I mentioned, all the numbers and race details will be included in the next post. Here's a sneak peek, though : For the majority of the race, I was ahead of the 3:35 pace group. When they passed me, and the miles started getting oh-so-dark, I started down the cowardly route.
I told myself it was okay to not Qualify For Boston, as I'd still have my fastest marathon finishing time, ever! That thought was thoroughly destroyed when I remembered My Reason, My Why, My Motivation for this race. Those frightening, surgery and misery-filled days flashed before me.
My mother had gracefully survived a Life-Threatening Disease and I was whining about keeping up my pace for 30-40 more stinking minutes?!
So I pushed on, without crying. All that strength that magically came to me when my mom was fighting this disease, returned.

I thought of Elaine, another very dear-to-me woman who fought (and fought. and fought) and did not, in the end, survive Breast Cancer. I started to choke up and instead smiled when I realized that, if she were alive, she'd be running this race with me. That type of crazy would be right up her alley.

At mile 24, I thought of Sandy. She, too, was taken by this disease. Instead of running, though, she'd very likely be praying for my soul, assuming I'd lost my mind by paying to run 26.2 miles. That, too, chased away tears and brought a necessary calm.

At mile 25, I was basically a robot. No emotion, no thought other than "You have NOT come this far to FAIL!" Then I saw The Dreaded Bridge and nearly lost it. I was desperately conjuring up images of my mom, my family, the tearful, joyous finish line I'd been imagining all year. That Bridge? It was winning.

Then I saw her. The lady on the left side holding a black poster with white lettering. She wasn't jumping up and down or shaking maracas, like the other spectators. She was simply looking right at me and smiling.

As I begged and pleaded for my shaking legs to make that final ascent, her poster lit those things on fire.

"I'm a Breast Cancer Survivor. Thank You For Running For Me"

We both had sunglasses on, but I like to think we made eye contact. I wish I could've thanked HER. I flew down that bridge and crossed that line while the clock still read 3:39xx. But the tears didn't come. The strength and basic lack of emotion stayed with me. Mostly I was in disbelief. It wasn't until several days later, much like the random sobfest with my mom, that it happened.

I was looking at my race photos and pulled up the Finisher's Certificate. For some reason, when I saw my name, followed by those final numbers, I just sat there and cried. (and cried. and cried) I finally realized that I set out to run a Boston Qualifying Marathon, for my beautiful and amazing mother, and had actually done it. It hadn't just "happened". I FREAKING DID THAT!

I'll never know why my mom was spared when others weren't. All I know is that I'm beyond grateful for every single day I have with her and I'll never be able to thank her enough for inspiring me to conquer seemingly impossible challenges.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Interrupt This Running Blog

To bring you...
Some of my more intuitive readers may have wisely realized that this activity cannot take place in Florida. Indeed, wise friends, we took the boys for a long weekend to North Carolina. The two youngers have never tried any sort of snowy sports, so we figured it cheapest best to start them out on tiny, East Coast mountains.
Never ceasing to amaze, though, they took to skiing and snowboarding like ducks to water...or maybe penguins to ice blocks....whatever. They were naturals.

oh. They were really cute, too.
Bonus: The Oldest is big enough to wear The Husband's gear!
Middle-of-the-night road trip, followed by an entire day on the slopes should have led to utter exhaustion followed by complete meltdowns. Our children surprised us, once again, by being totally compliant, sweet and in total enjoyment of every second of the day.

snow angels
I know you were dying to know what my feet looked like when not clad in running shoes
On the off chance you stopped by my blog to get your much-needed fix of my awesome running tales, there was a bit of that on this trip, too. After our free!! hotel breakfast, I hopped out for a short, hilly jaunt. It wasn't quite as cold as it had been the previous day, and the overnight rain had washed away any snow. It was still lovely to be in new surroundings, enjoying the beautiful area and the feeling of the cool air on my cheeks.
one of the pic-worthy spots on my route
I spotted an enormous hill, just off the main road, and decided to attack it. First, though, I pulled out my phone to take a picture from the bottom. I've always seen photos of hills with a caption that reads something like this : "This picture doesn't do it justice" or "You can't really tell how tall it was from this picture".
Mentally scoffing at those who'd gone before me, I positioned myself just right to photographically capture a true depiction of the mountain I was about to conquer.
Listen, you can't really tell from this picture how high that thing really was
I made it just over halfway up before gasping and panting my way (carefully) back down. My poor, sick lungs were just not ready for that sort of challenge. That yet-to-be-recapped Marathon did a number on me!
We took our sweet, sight-seeing time back to Florida. The trip was long enough to squeeze in just about everything we wanted to do, but short enough to where we weren't aching for home by the end of it.
pausing the rock-skipping to pose for mom
How was your weekend? 



Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Race That Got Me To THAT Race

I want to tell you all about yesterday's marathon. In order to get us all caught up to that point, though, I feel like I need to recap The Melbourne Half Marathon, first. It was really one of the key components to my race, this past weekend. Also, I started this blog to have a place to tell my running stories.'s another one!

I ran this half marathon, last year (pre-blogging days) and ended up with a disappointing (for me) finishing time. The course was very cool and challenging, though, and the city put on a great weekend of racing . When registration opened for the 2013 event, I signed up immediately. I wanted more pizza and free beer after the race redemption!

Fast forward a few months:
Minus the whole Jacksonville Bank Marathon debacle, my running and training had actually been going very well. I'd kinda tapped into a new Racing Mentality during The Shoelace Fiasco Race and felt like some really good racing experiences were about to be in my life. I got a teensy bit greedy and decided to try to double-dip with this race. I hoped it'd be a good gauge for some accurate goals for my upcoming marathon, but I also wanted a new PR.

Spoiler : It was both!

Here's the thing. Every time I sit to write this recap, it gets longer and longer. It was my 9th half marathon. It shouldn't have been such a big deal. But it was. It was a game-changer, for me.
a couple of options for Game Faces, on race day
Overly dramatic? Of course!

Do I care? Nosiree

I fully acknowledge that plenty of magical factors were in place, this particular morning. The weather was optimal, for a road race. I was un-injured and very healthy, all around. The course contains two big bridges, but was otherwise flat and well-marked.
note: anytime the course map directs you over a big, blue area...assume you've got a bridge to climb
The Husband and boys were there to cheer* and I even had some friends from the running group to hang out with before we all started the race. Again, it was a pretty perfect setup. Here's the big difference between this race and all the others, though :
I set goal paces for every mile and forced myself to hit them*. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? You set a goal, and don't allow yourself to do anything other than reach that goal. In the middle of a tough race, that sort of logic starts to make less and less sense, though.
Number One: Racing Strategy finally "clicked" in my slow brain.
Number Two: It. Was. Easy.
I'd probably get a lot more admiration for reporting back that I struggled mightily for 13.1 miles, but managed to eke out a PR. Yes, it was hard work. However, it felt good enough that I started getting emotional at mile 5, because I realized, without a single doubt, I was going to blow last year's finishing time out of the water. That's how good this race felt.
Another indicator: My final mile was the only one where I slipped off the Goal Pace Wagon...because I couldn't slow down. It was my fastest. I was that really annoying person who sprints by the tired finishers, with tear-filled eyes, head held high and a huge smile.
I crossed the finish line, finally securing a shiny PR, and felt like I could've gone and run the entire course, again.
me and my (always faster) friend, Jennifer. No, I don't normally race shirtless. We can discuss, later.
By this point you're probably wondering why this post isn't titled: The One Where I Brag and Annoy Everyone.
My intent is, of course, to not do either. It was just an "a-HA" race, for me. I share in the hopes that it can help/inspire and also explain why I had the aggressive goals I did for my marathon.
1:39:28 Chip Time (1:44:36 in 2012)
(1:38:36 Garmin)
3rd F35-39
30th Overall F
98th Overall
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting, too, even if it's only to yourself. Knowing that there are people to share this kind of stuff with makes it that much more awesome, to me.
*In the extended recap, there would be details about vomiting children and how hard The Husband worked to keep everything together, that morning. I'm so thankful for him.
*Also included in extended recap, would be those actual mile splits and plenty of other race details




Sunday, February 17, 2013

Short and (really) Sweet Sunday

So, the good news is : I managed to get a 19 minute PR (personal record) in my 3rd marathon, today!!

The other good news : Ha! I totally tricked you, didn't I?! You thought the good news was going to be followed by bad news. Nope. All good.

my only remaining arm warmer. boo.
That time, on that watch, qualified the owner of that arm for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
More details than you'll ever want to read are on their way...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let Me 'Splain

...No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

from where most of my daily speech is derived
For every day that passes, without a blog post, the stories just start to build, exponentially. There are so many mundane, boring cool things I want to share! The longer it takes, though, the longer the blog-in-my-brain gets. No one wants to read the accumulation of the last two weeks. Right?
Tangent Alert!!
I should take blogging lessons from family members. For example: The Husband. Short, sweet, and to the point. Or I could make my posts extremely clever and awesome,  like my sissy's.  My Aunt, however, is an actual, real, live author so I have marginal chances of competing with her witticisms. Maybe I'll just be more like my dad and take a never-ending hiatus...
Anyway... here are a couple of quickie highlights. I sincerely hope to re-cap a couple of things, at length. I'm generally pretty good at following through with those threats plans.
I had a really, really, REALLY good half-marathon!!
ignore creepy background guy...and my frizzy hair
I made a 10-foot ReptileFriend on my latest trail run!!

I would've totally befriended the 4 ft gator, too, but the big one had already started eating him
I started working, part-time, with a company I love, doing work I love even more!!
Pretty much sums up "win-win"

I'll be running my third and (hopefully) fastest Marathon, this Sunday!!
I don't have a photo to include with this. It hasn't actually happened, yet. This is the race, though. I was part of the marathon relay, last year, and stupidly decided to run all of those miles by myself, this time. Woo hoo!!
We'll all catch up, soon. You bring coffee or tea (your choice) and I'll bring the ice cream.  
What flavor would you like?




Friday, February 1, 2013

Me + Jeff Gordon = Twins!

Fraternal, obviously.

This is really just a recap of a 5k. The title makes it sound much more exciting, though, doesn't it?! C'mon...would you have been just as excited to read a post called "I Ran a 5k. Read All About It"?

Didn't think so.

This was my first year racing in the Daytona 5k. My brother-in-law's wife picked it out for us, and I'm a pretty easy sell, when it comes to races.
in case you were picturing a scary Race Boss-Lady. She's actually very lovely, all around
The race starts on the Daytona International Speedway. It loops around the inside track and finishes on the track. So, the runners are pretty much. somewhat similar to? exactly like the drivers who race on the same Speedway!
Also, the race coincides with the Rolex 24, an actual Nascar race, so there were even die-hard fans camped out on the infield to complain about us waking them cheer us on! The concept was pretty cool, but it made for a stressful (for me) parking situation. The Husband drove me, my dad and the boys to the race and handled the poorly-marked signage like a champ.
Once parked, my dad and I managed to find a set of port-a-potties with NO LINE and we all hopped on the well-manned Tram to get to the packet pick-up area.
It was just under 50 degrees F, which made me ridiculously happy. It's so rare that we Floridians get to race in conditions like that. My high hopes for a PR inched up a notch higher.
Our goody bags contained a ticket to the Rolex 24, a couple of race flyers, a shirt and the standard biofreeze sample. I managed to end up with a tee shirt, instead of a tech shirt. This has happened to me before. Not a big deal, but I hadn't complained about anything since the Parking Problem, so I thought it was about time. The race wasn't terribly well-advertised, so I wasn't expecting much in the way of "swag". Despite this fact, over 800 people still showed to up run. Those kinds of numbers are pretty high for our area!
t-shirt proof
(I'm still pretty sure some of the participants were Nascar fans who may have wandered away from their campsites and ended up on the track.)
some other cuties who wandered onto the track
We found my brother-in-law (Alan) and his wife (Kristi-Anne) (pictured above, for reference) and pinned on our bibs without much time to spare. She'd drawn the short straw and would be pushing their toddler in the race. Alan would get to show off and beat us all, as per usual. This would be my dad's first race in over a year, due to persistent (and REALLY annoying) injuries so we were all pretty ready to start running. There was no time for a warm-up and no water to be found. (too soon for another complaint?), so we hurried over to where we thought the start would be.
There was an enormous mass of people that prevented us from even seeing where the start line was located. We saw one guy point in a vague direction and crossed our fingers that we'd see a timing mat, at some point. My dad, Alan and I saw people moving and assumed the race had started. Unsure if it was chip-timed at the finish AND start, I began weaving like a crazylady. The menfolk followed my lead and we eventually made our way out of the throng of racers.
While I don't love that sort of cluster at a start, I do have to admit it was pretty fun to pass that many people, once we got moving.
About 1/2 mile in, my BIL passed me and I focused on keeping his back in sight. I figured my dad was probably using me as a visual pacing reference, as well. I was feeling very strong, very much in control of my breathing and very confident with him about 30 feet in front of me.
And then I heard it. The annoyingly familiar snap-flop sound of my shoelaces, all willy-nilly and free, slapping the pavement.
"Aaaaahhh! Are you kidding me?!" 
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Brooks : I will give you ten, crisp dollars to fix the laces on these shoes.
Sincerely, Aggravated Consumer
In answer to your question : Yes. I always double-knot my shoes. These laces are notorious for coming undone and it was my own fault for not remembering that.
I made the agonizing to decision to step out of everyone's way and re-tie the shoe, as I felt it actually slipping off. While I had no qualms about finishing shoe-less, I would've felt awful about someone tripping over it. I didn't stop my watch and saw, later, that I lost over 25 seconds double-knotting (again!) the stupid shoe.
I re-focused and re-passed a lot of the racers who'd sped by me while I was crouched in annoyance. Alan, however, was merely a speck in the distance. Undeterred, and knowing I still had a decent chance of placing in my age group, I pressed on. 
Then, just after the 2nd mile marker, you'll never guess what happened! (those of you who already know the story, don't spoil it for the others, please)
The same, double-knotted, stupid, stinking, good-for-nothing laces came undone. Again. I'm still not at the point where I can think about it and laugh. It was really, really, really annoying and frustrating.
In a longer race, I could've made up the time. Not so much in a 5k.
This time, however, there was no way I was tying those things again. My gait was wonky, as I fought to curl my speedy foot inside the rapidly loosening shoe, but by golly I was not stopping. As if to taunt me, the laces themselves flew up and smacked me in the calf, repeatedly.
"Yoo hoo. We're untied and flopping about wildly!" the jerks teased.

Ironic Spoiler: I didn't fall. That happened the next day, with my laces firmly intact.
My watch showed 21:55 when I crossed the finish line. Being on the Official Racetrack, and all, I figured that was probably as accurate as a 5k was going to get. There weren't too many women in front of me, so I was pretty happy.
Not a PR, thanks to the unruly laces, but good enough to garner me:
6th Female, overall
1st Female, 35-39
44th, overall
My brother-in-law also finished 1st in his division and my dad, 5th. My sister-in-law, in an effort to end the protests of my stroller-bound nephew, flew through the race with a sub-28 minute finish!
me and my fastie daddy. Kinda posing...kinda trying not to roll down the steep bank
Alan & I, awkwardly proclaiming our results...and trying not to roll down the steep bank
The kids race started right on time, which is always awesome. The folks in charge forgot to bring ribbbons to hand out, though. Not quite so awesome.
The Littlest, powering through the Finish
The Middlest, leading a cutthroat pack
We found some other runner-friends and caught up during the awards ceremony. After I fought my way through the paparazzi, though, to head to the car, I was very sad to discover all the post-race goodies had been packed up and taken away. Missing out on bagels and bananas may have been more upsetting than the lack of a PR, for me.
In Summary:
  • I'd recommend this race. It's a fun and unique experience with a good-sized turnout and smooth organization.
  • Don't try to park where you see the giant, well-light "Competitor Parking" sign. It's not meant for you. Drive down the road until you see a small arrow and confusing rows of vehicles.
  • I can't guarantee you'll get a tech shirt. If you do, can I trade you?
  • If you see me, on the racetrack, steer clear. It's very likely that my shoelaces are untied and I don't want you to trip me us.
  • If you see a dark-haired girl, with a adorable-yet-vocal toddler in a jogging stroller, steer clear of her, too. She may run you down in an effort to finish and free him from his restraints.
  • When you finish the race, make a beeline for the food tables and just start grabbing. That stuff will be gone before you know it.
  • If you get tired, these guys know the perfect place to relax and reflect on the race
Somewere out there, a jealous Nascar fan is dying to have that white paint all over their backside
Ever been to a Nascar race?
Do you have any tricks for keeping laces tied?



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pride Cometh After A Fall

I was going to recap yesterday's 5k. I'll still do that this week. Today's initially innocuous run just took precedence in my tiny brain, though. Fair warning: there are some gross photos and fairly raw emotion included. Drama? Yes. Long-Winded? Mmm. Hm. Tempted to keep reading? Probably not.

If you prefer to spend your time reading something funnier, lighter and more intelligent, please visit my sissy's new blog and enjoy this post.

Having not run more than 17 miles since my mess of a marathon in December, I planned to knock out a solid 20-miler before this much-anticipated event. Training has been solid. Other than some overall fatigue, I've been feeling great. So, when preparing for this morning's long run, I set a goal.

Keep it easy, but finish with an average pace you'll be happy and confident about. That actual number's not important to the story, but I had a small range in mind.

Unfortunately, even after a relaxing night, good sleep and plenty of hydration, I woke up feeling pretty groggy and un-motivated. Coffee helped and I was out the door with little trepidation. It was (Florida) cool, very damp and foggy. The morning was still dark, quiet and almost silent. Everything was shrouded in creepy, heavy mist and it was too early for even die-hard dogwalkers to be out.
not quite as dark as this run ,but you get the idea

A lot of my runs begin this way. Normally I enjoy the peace. It's a chance to clear my thoughts, plan my week, set small goals and focus on happy moments my family and I have spent together, recently. Today, though, the dark miles passed very slowly, both physically and mentally. Yesterday's race was taking it's toll on my legs and I ran out of happy-go-lucky way too quickly.

Sunrise happened and helped my mood, immensely. And then it didn't. Oddly, for me, I felt very lonely. While most of my runs are solo, I was suddenly craving company. There were overwhelmingly ugly feelings of jealousy towards my running buddies I knew would be enjoying their miles with friends, today.
where were all these guys when I needed them?!
Then my phone rang. Sometimes, while "in the groove", the distraction can be a slight annoyance. Today's call was perfectly timed, though. My dear, sweet husband wanted to know where I'd be so he and the boys could come offer "on-course" support. We picked a place and I hung up with a smile to replace my former, sour frown.
Miles 8-14 were mostly a blissful blur. I threw in a challengingly faster mile, turned on my audiobook and looked forward to seeing my guys in a short while. The weather prevented me from even working up a real sweat. My legs were getting achy and fatigued, but in a good and normal way. The city was wide awake, finally, and the bevvy of new activity around me was a welcome distraction.
When I came up to The Husband and Middlest, sans vehicle, I realized they'd be hoofing it with me, for a bit. That brilliant idea was such an awesome surprise! Middlest rode his scooter (not so fast!) in front of us, and The Husband and I caught up on fun stories while he tried to slow his (much fresher) legs. After a couple sips of water, I left him with my half-full handheld as it was getting annoying to carry. With less than five miles to go, and the temperature being so lovely, I'd be fine without any more fuel.
They honked, waved, cheered and drove back home. I returned the wave and rallied my heavy legs to finish this run strong.
Quick disclaimer : "strong" and "fast" are not interchangeable, in this particular context. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of running my long days at an easy pace.

I'd gotten about a quarter-mile away before I tripped on a minuscule crack in the sidewalk.
My body went flying and skidding. As was the case with my last fall I simply didn't have any spare energy to try to stop the crash. I slid on my palms, scraped my arm, hip, knee and hand.
Two things registered, immediately.
1. OW!
2. There was a line of cars waiting to pull into the church entrance where I was hideously sprawled and a dozen or so congregation members, in the parking lot, staring at me in horror.
Fact Number 2 got me to my feet faster than I could've ever imagined. I surveyed the important damage (Garmin ok? Ipod still as intact as ever?) ,while I ran away from the humiliating scene. My body, while bruised and stinging, was still moving as it should be. That fact, along with the realization that my phone was in the handheld water bottle I'd sent with my husband, forced me to continue this run I so desperately wanted to abruptly end.
When I reached the 16th mile, and remembered that the next few stretches would be full of tall (Florida) hills, I finally paused my watch and fully stopped to survey the damage. I guess I was hoping that it was much less benign than I thought it was? I stopped the exploratory searches when I saw this:
spoiler: I survived and took pics after the run
While I now, rationally, realize it's simply a scraped knee, at that moment it was enough to drive me to actual tears. Frustration (why does this keep happening to me?!), Embarrassment (which isn't an emotion I generally succumb to), Exhaustion and Defeat overwhelmed me. Glancing up the steep hill, I saw people coming, so I slowly and sadly stumbled on. The thought crossed my mind to ask them if they had a phone so I could call my husband for a ride. By the time I reached them, though, my stupid crying fit was over and I'd decided to keep running. My pace was abysmal, my spirit was dead and my freaking bruised hands hurt like a b*#)%!
With everything now aching, inside and out, I shakily managed to switch my ipod back on to drown everything out with some music. When it started filling my ears, brain and heart, it was like a switch was flipped within me, as well.
I picked up my head, focused on the wisdom of Van Halen ("Right Now? It's Everything!") and my form, and destroyed the next hill.
Now, well into the seventeenth mile, I stopped looking at my watch but remembered my earlier goals for this training run. My legs started churning out beautiful-feeling movements but my breathing stayed soft and easy.
When Dave Grohl started singing about his "Hero", there wasn't a doubt in my mind he was referring to me.
Thinking back to my very first 20-miler, and the overwhelming sense of emotion and pride I felt when I knew I was going to finish it strongly, I started to get choked up, once again. That run had been prior to my injury, . While I'd managed to heal and get my fitness to a place where I could giddily complete my very first marathon, I'd very rarely felt "back", during my subsequent runs.
Here's the thing about running. It can, without warning or provocation, turn into an absolutely spiritual experience. It's not something you can plan or force. Some miles, some races, some impromptu jaunts with friends, just totally morph into something that cannot be explained without sounding like a complete dork. This, obviously, doesn't stop me from trying...

When I finished today's 20 miles, and realized they were, overall, even faster than my pre-injury ones(complete with fall and blubbering like a baby!), I couldn't decide whether I wanted to holler, cry (again) or just let my proud smile overtake my tired face.
So I did all three.
bruised & bloodied hip
curious about how I managed to scrape the palm AND back of the same hand