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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/03/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 11 points
    Fellow Loopsters, I heard there was some sort of Loop comeback for Thanksgiving – and so here I am. Plus, Garbanzo’s threats in case of non-compliance are nothing to joke about. Blame it on his scary hirsute looks of late, I’m not taking any chances on upsetting him. But… how do you condense more than two years of absence in a format that’s vaguely interesting enough not to bore every reader to death?And that can be also enjoyed by analphabets worldwide? “Stuff yer bloop with pictures!” I hear you cry. So be it, that’s what I’m going to do, while keeping verbiage to a minimum. This also minimizes chances of any English language mistakes and ensuing jeers directed at the quirky European: Swiss Alps, Sep. 2018. Here he is - warts and all. Apparently, he likes eating. My latest bloop is from September 2017, I think. Since then, nothing too exciting has happened on the running front. If tortured, I would admit to (very slowly) completing a couple of really long races: a 200+ mile trail race in Switzerland last year; a race called Swiss Peaks, as beautiful as it is technical - it took me 5 days, 22 hours, 2 knees and at least 8 lbs. of raclette cheese to complete it. It was totally worth it, though. That hot raclette was to die for. Here are some other piccies - space fillers, nothing more. A friendly Swiss mountain dweller. Another trail running day in Mordor. Finishing a 360km mountain race will do this to ya. You've been warned. This year, instead, I decided to do the infamous Ronda dels Cims (Catalan for "Tour of the Peaks") in Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees, wedged between France and Spain.This was a 105-ish miles effort (albeit with an elevation gain and an average trail technicity I wouldn't shake a lightsaber at), and this time I only spent two sleepless nights to finish it. Good enough for the usual anonymous ranking, well behind ageing runners. But the place was wonderful - and so was the food. Watermelon is the way to go when everything else fails. Sweet, unforgettable, undersized finish line beer. Here's Miguel, my Argentinian pal. In September I DNF'd another attempt at the Swiss Peaks, but I'm totally ok with it. I suppose it's quite optimistic to tackle both a 105 and a 220-miler in the same summer at my age. I can't really tell you any more running-related stuff which would remotely interest you guys. I've had my share of small injuries, but luckily nothing too serious. The last few weeks have been rain-soaked and I've been trying to run nonetheless. I honestly can't remember a November this rainy, and I'm 50 now. Hopefully December will be better! Bloop ya later - and happy Thanksgiving to my US friends! Moose IMG_0429.heic IMG_0430.heic IMG_0435.heic IMG_0437.heic
  2. 11 points
    1) When given a gift don't look it in the mouth.... Ummm I don't think that's quite right... Friday's weather was supposed to be beautiful. Saturday's was to be super blustery. I did the old switcheroo on the training plan and ran 9 on Friday and 5 on Saturday. I ran Friday's 9 @ 9:39 on all of the surfaces. I found a dirt road that says private road/ Do Not Enter .... ( I'm sure doesn't apply to me, right?) that connects to a pine needle/ sand trail that connects to the huge shopping center that I live near. It was the perfect loop! Don't tell me that sign applies to me. Saturday as advertised was super windy and cold. I would've loved to have hit GP but the run ended up being 5.2 miles at 9:23. With the wind and dirt/sand that I ran on I'm okay with the pace. 2) Trail running with friends on a non-run day can be good cross training. Sunday is meant to be a cross training day - for me that usually means biking or rowing. But when the local running group said they'd be holding a group run Sunday morning on my favorite hilly trails I couldn't resist. The leader kept the pace to a really nice 13:30 average. It was super cold but I was happy to have some new friends for the morning. Crunchy leaves and all smiles. 4.76 miles. 3) There are more ways than one to skin a cat. <==What a weird phrase! Don't do that. That's just wrong. When I first tore my hamstring every PT would tell me to cross train. Do something other than run. 😠 Please tell me right now what doesn't use your legs?? Anyway I became pretty obsessed with CrossFit. I even tried out a free class. I ended up doing my own made up workouts because I needed to be super careful. Monday's 3 turned into 4 x 1 miles with kettlebell deadlifts, kettlebell thrusters (basically a goblet squat and then when standing up push the kettlebell to overhead), banded sidestepping (my PTs would be so proud), and jump roping. Each mile was faster than the previous which was completely unintended. -- 9:25, 8:46, 8:28, 8:24.There's something about lifting weights and then running that just makes me go faster. Maybe it's because I feel so light after putting down the weight? If you have never tried doing a workout like this I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is so much fun! 4) Liz's and Rob's stupid plank challenge may have fixed me. Remember my stupid lower abdomen/pelvis pain I was getting?? I was still having some of that when I was running long but Liz and Rob both decided that November would be GREAT for planking. (What is wrong with them??) Well, the 5 minutes of planking every.damn.day has cured/strengthened (knock on wood) my pelvis. Tuesday I ran 6 at a local park and stopped every mile for a standard, side plank or some variation. 6 @ 9:48. 5) It's okay with me if knowledgeable people at the gym give me pointers. Tuesday afternoon I met my friend at the gym. We walked on the TMs for 30 minutes and then hit the weights. Two guys decided that we could use some pointers. I think in this day and age that men might be afraid that they'll get accused of mansplaining or being chauvinistic. It probably took some for them to reach out to us about proper positioning. Leg press, calf press, bench press, squat rack, deadlifts, curls to overhead press. 6) My legs can do more than my brain thinks. After hitting weights so hard Tuesday I was pretty sure my tempo run was going to become a nice easy stroll. The stupid wind had kicked up to 17 mph just to add to the fun. I took off at a nice easy jog on the bike path and immediately felt my legs being poppy. What the what? You're tired....Nope. When the 1 mile warm up ended I pushed the pace and was rewarded with something in the 8s. According to Hal Higdon you should slowly work your pace down and finish the last 5 minutes at 10k pace. Well, I'm no savant when it comes to running certain paces or letting the pace drop slowly. Think football wide receiver and I'm just running full out. It was a 25 minute tempo and I ended up covering 3.1 miles with the paces being 8:16, 8:06, 8:02, .11 @ 8:01. 5.21 in 45 minutes. 7) TGIRDXDP! Thank God It's Rest Day Except for the Damn Planks! #NailedIt
  3. 10 points
    Boy, I wasn’t sure about this whole racing thing. I’ve been enjoying my leisurely solo jaunts around the block, the almost daily meanderings around the little suburban maze of my immediate ‘hood with the kids and Tucker, and proclaiming myself not a slave to any dangling carrots. Tucker is our 4 month old Shih-Tzu/Bichon Frise puppy, btw. Part of the family. Beloved by all of us. Not excluding yours truly who was very slow and grudging to commit to getting a dog (if I wanted more creatures to depend on me I would have had more children!) but now sees this white furball of barely 7 pounds as something to incessantly dote on. This is Tucker... he is spunky and wiggly. His favorite things to do are eat, run, and bark at the neighbor dogs being walked past our house as he watches from the window. He loves naps, cuddles, and bacon, in no particular order. He is also not shy at all with new people and will beg to be held and give puppy kisses. Especially if you have dog smells on you from your own furbaby! The farthest he has run is 3 miles. He is VERY happy to have the little humans home from school these days. But as for the dangling carrots, dang it, Dave. DANG IT! I’m out of shape for racing and not in the mood for it, either! But since you arranged the first of the series on my weekend off work, and I really have been feeling good on a couple of recent runs and- okay, fine, I’ll do it. The weather was perfect. Cloudy, just under 50 degrees. I started my 5-ish mile loop. Regardless which direction I go from my house, the first mile is mostly uphill, and no, there is nothing I can do to prevent that. Does it give me a slightly unfair advantage in a race? Maybe. But to be fair, the cooldown mile is usually solid downhill as well, soooo… it’s not like I get all the downhill back in the middle miles. I knew this “race” would be a little more challenging than a regular race. For starters, there are no rabbits. I tend to run much better with some competition. Second, I live in an area where there are lots of people out and about on weekends, adults walking their pets willy-nilly on either side of the street or kids riding bikes. This has increased a lot with the stay-at-home orders in place. Normally I just hope that I can hold that snot rocket back until I’m well past them, try to establish in my own mind that I did indeed apply deodorant before the run, and go about my merry way. Now though, nope. I’m getting off the roadway, and in the ditch if necessary, to get an acceptable distance between us. If I get any suspicious looks, whatever. Feel free to ask me what I do for a job and when I tell you, you will probably become a runner on the spot. One that’s fleeing me. Anyway. The warmup was slow and rusty. A couple people out and about. I stopped to chat/holler from a distance with a neighbor who was on the front porch. It’s nice how people go the extra effort to shout hello and ask each other how it’s going, now that the privilege of being social has its limits. I hope that goodwill continues. I ease into the first mile. By ease, I mean huff and puff. Holy crap, this is hard. Ugh. I am honestly relieved that I have to stop for a minute at the intersection because vehicles are turning in from a busy cross street and I am one to always yield to cars because well, I am a bug and they are the windshield. Getting back into a smooth pace was hard after that. Especially since I was hitting a slight ascent. Telling myself I just need to hang on until I hit the flat part, yes please. 7:15. Meh. Mile 2 was definitely the butter run, if there was any butter present, of this race. Because I haven’t gotten around to setting my new Garmin 235 to lap pace (because I haven’t raced and I haven’t cared about pace), I don’t have a good idea of what mile pace I’m running during each mile. So I was surprised when it came in at 7:08. Though I did stop to let cars pass me on both street crossings on the slight out and back portion to get to a full 5 miles on this not-quite-5 loop. And that mile had a lot of downhill so there’s that. And then because I haven’t raced in awhile and I might as well be a newb all over again, the third mile was painful. Obviously I started out too fast, surprise, surprise. I managed to hold on somewhat reasonably, even though another out and back at the end of the block meant that I was running the final .1 uphill. Came in at a hard-fought 7:23 and then a rather excruciating .1 in 45 seconds. There ya have it. Female, 35-37 AG, 22:30 if I calculated correctly (7:14, 7:08, 7:23 + the 45 seconds for .1 mile) Definitely unofficial with the stops and a net downhill BUT that’s the hardest I’ve pushed in a long time and was pleasantly surprised to not collapse in agony at that pace. Muscle memory is kind of nice, I guess, and all these junk maintenance miles have maybe been more maintenance and less junk. A post-race pic! I have also lost about 5-6 pounds lately, off of my “normal” weight that I’ve been at for years…thanks to work and a bit of personal stress/distress that’s a whole other bloop that will probably never materialize. But yay for the couple of seconds per mile for each pound less? I was so pumped about having had a decent workout that I ran extra (AFTER stopping my watch for awhile and wheezing out half a lung, lord have mercy) cooldown distance. Up a hill. Just because. And then back down. For 6 total! And because Tucker cannot bear it when I come into the house with running shoes on when HE didn’t get a walk or run yet today, I took him out for another 2 miles. Which I regretted because I wanted to trot along at a nice 10-11 minute pace, but NOOOO, the fluffball had other ideas. He stops abruptly. often, and without warning, but just for a couple seconds at a time. Otherwise, it's 8:30-9:30 pace, straining at the leash, C'MON MOM! I was tired. But a good tired. Thanks, Dave, for putting this together and maybe I’ll participate again in the future. On a weekend I’m not working, because 3 x 12 hour shifts back-to-back don’t mesh well with racing at all... Speaking of work, just going to mention a little. Erie has had 8 cases of covid-19 so far, 2 of which were transported by our ambulance service (neither of them my unit). So far, thanks to the utmost care whenever covid-19 patients are handled, those crews have not yet appeared with symptoms. Whenever specific symptoms are present, we suit up accordingly. We wipe everything down in the ambulance before and after every patient, every shift. Still, testing is scarce and we are not naïve about the fact that probably numerous covid patients have been in and out of our ambulances and will continue to do so, perhaps in much larger numbers in the coming days. Everyone at work is upbeat and strong, but we are wary. Things are made more difficult by the scarcity of masks and protective gear, both with 911 agencies and in the hospitals we frequent and transfer patients to every day. We work closely with the doctors and nurses and try to communicate as much as we can about which patients may be or could be infected. We protect ourselves as best we can. An unpleasant side effect is that we are seeing more alcohol and drug abuse, more volatile situations and scenes such as domestic altercations and attempts of harm to to others and/or suicides, which is as scary to first responders as potential illness (and far more likely to end badly). What can we say—this is our job, our calling. We would volunteer our services even if not hired to do so. I chose to do this work. I couldn’t stay home and pretend my kids matter more than other people’s kids when I have the training to do this and maybe make a difference. I worry more about giving it than getting it. I pray a lot. Thank you to all you folks who have been social distancing, supporting, thinking of, praying for people on the front lines. We are all in this together and we need you guys to do your part with staying home. Each person is "essential" in the prevention of this spread! I am grateful to have a job. Had I stayed where I was before, I would be laid off and not able to get unemployment benefits since I was part-time. I truly love what I do, and no less so because of this. This work gives me such purpose. My husband is in electrical service and repair, so considered essential as well. My scheduled shifts are nights from 5:30pm/5:30am so I am able to be here with the kids during the day. It's a little challenging to get them helped with schoolwork on top of working 45+ hours a week, but their teachers have been amazing with Zoom meetings and classes and the kids amaze me with their technological abilities (Zoom WHAT?). My heart goes out to all the folks who have lost jobs or are scared for their family-owned businesses- on top of fear of illness. These are hard times. I can’t even put into words how I feel about it, from every angle, and how it affects everything and everyone. But the human spirit is brave and hopeful. We'll get through this, and I pray we get to the other side of it as soon as possible. At least running is not taken from us. Like always, running helps and heals. I encourage it, or any outdoor physical activity, to other people regularly. Families of patients or people who ask what they should or should not do to prevent this. By all means, go outside. Your mental health is so important. The virus is far less likely to be outdoors than in any structure or building or vehicle. Shoring up your immune system with exercise and a good diet might mean the difference in fighting off the virus if you do get it. Keep running if you can! But far enough from others that a snot rocket doesn’t stand a chance of hitting them.
  4. 10 points
    I'm also here because the garbanzo'd one told me to. My year has been going pretty well. I finished my masters degree! I ran 8 half marathons this year. I paced 3 of them, and successfully paced 1 of them. I am now up to 68 lifetime pikermis! I haven't run a full marathon since 2016, but I am currently signed up for 2 (Illinois Marathon and Grandma's Marathon) and am in the lottery for Chicago and New York, where I will win -$500ish in entry fees if I get both. Ouch. Is anyone else signed up for a late April marathon who would want to be an accountability buddy? Back to the pacing - I've started pacing with OnPace, based out of the Green Bay area. They have been pacing the Zooma women's races and are quickly expanding. Through them, I'm excited to be pacing the Zooma Bermuda Half Marathon in February! Getting to Bermuda will involve me spending the night in JFK Airport... but then I'll be in Bermuda! I ran across Iowa in June with my relay team, Runderbolts and Lightning. We've run other Ragnar races together, and we get along really well even though we're from all over the place. I'm finding it hard to know what to write about...which means I should bloop more often. Catch you on the flippy floppy!
  5. 10 points
    Garbo said, "GO WRITE", so here I am. There was a promise of pie. *Looks hopefully in Dave's direction* I just noticed the thingie is called "Blog Entry". How dare it. This is a bloop. Anyway, I have not much to report. A few years ago I blew out my ITB and that was not fun. Then I got kicked off my first 50K for being too slow and that was not fun. I kept trying to run but it was just a cascade of injury, and that was not fun. I did run a bit when we lived in Canada and that *was* fun. There was this trail through the park down the road from where we lived. We lived on the edge of Mississauga, and the trail would take me over the bridge into Toronto. It was a great trail, with a river....not a huge river, but not a small stream either. There were some parts of the trail that were dodgy like they were going to crumble at any minute and you'd end up in the river. Stream. Whatever. Other parts were exposed and those were hot little suckers in the summer. One time I jumped over a stick and it wasn't a stick and it moved and I think my scream reverberated around the whole of Mississauga/Toronto. 😅 The trail, if you went far enough, would take you right along the back side of Toronto airport and I imagined if I were an evil person I could scale the fence and get up to some shenanigans. There were fun burned out trucks and stuff along one part where the fire department would practice. Anyway then came the inevitable injuries and thick, slick, compacted snow and ice so that was that. These days I bike...though who knows how long that will last as my knees have started complaining. Seriously, getting older is a pain in the ass. Anyway, I bike The Sufferfest, which, when done hard enough, is almost as good as running. Not quite, but it gets me closer than anything else. I did a Knighthood which was "fun". Holy cow it hurt like crazy and I cried but I'm a Knight of Sufferlandria now. It was so fun I did it a second time. Also, a couple of months ago I rode 100 miles with the husband for his birthday. We didn't think he'd be able to do it as he broke his neck back in June. But he was cleared to ride so off we went. About 10 miles in my brain told me that I'd been in the big ring for the past 10 miles, so how about I complete the remaining 90 in the big ring? So I did. That may have been the beginning of the knee issues but shhhhhh we'll just ignore that. Anyway, that's all I've got. Hope you are all having the time of your lives out there on the road and trail. Run a mile for me, because I miss it with a deep ache. Sigh, but Meh, what can you do? 🤷‍♀️ You just keep on keeping on doing what you can while you can. ❤️😘
  6. 10 points
    Last year I was a last minute substitute on the 100 on 100 team. After successfully completing my 16 miles I was so happy and excited that I volunteered to captain the 2019 team. We had ELEVEN individuals who wanted to be on the team! 11! That’s how much fun this relay is. I put out an email asking for 5 people to send me money to cover the entrance fee.... I received 6 payments. Derp. Suddenly we had more members than allowed. I tried to be brave and rationalize that it would be fine if I wasn’t on the team. “You’ll be in the middle of moving.” “You’ve got a 3 day race coming up in October so it’ll be good to save the cash.” My mind wasn’t listening to the BS. Sometime in May or June GonzoRunner said the Wife wasn’t going to be able to run due to the fact that she was growing a tiny human. I took her spot so fast . It was like a smash and grab job. I volunteered to pick up Gonzo from the Newark Airport on the Friday before the race. KRG was having a serious case of FOMO and messaged me and asked if there’d be room for her. “Absopositively!!” So our team was: Leg 1,7,13 - Mrs. Bear in the Big Brown House— ie. Paige - a last minute fill in for Amber. Paige is F-A-S-T! Leg 2,8,14 - was the new guy Mikey — as in “ask Mikey! He’ll like running up Killington!” - GonzoRunner Leg 3,9,15 - ApplePie Leg 4,10,16 - Bear in the Big Brown House - ie. Pat Leg 5,11,17 - SlowRunning Leg 6,12,18 - ME!! #1 Cheerleader/Domestique Extrodonaire - KeepRunningGirl I picked up KRG and GR from the Newark airport on Friday afternoon around 2:00. We promptly hit traffic. A 4.5 hour trip took us about 5.5. My dream of sitting on the beautiful deck of our AirBnb was dashed. SR was already at the house. Paige, Pat and AP were running late. We all met up at The Garlic for some pre-race fuel. I’m pretty sure GR was pretty tired of us saying “Remember when...” and then bursting into laughter, but he was a good sport about it. After dinner KRG cursed the AirBnb owner because they only had a Keurig machine with DECAF k-cups. Everyone went to sleep agreeing that we needed to get the start earlier than our prescribed 8:30 am start time. At packet pick up AP and I asked/pleaded to start at 8:00 rather than 8:30. We were told no due to congestion at the transition areas. AP being the rule breaker he is (drinking alcohol as a passenger in a moving vehicle ... oh wait! This isn’t breaking the law in Conneticut!! (Or DE, or 2 other states! Who knew!!) decided that we should just go out with the 8:00 am people. We got a group photo before sending Paige on her way. We didn’t make the rookie mistake that we did the 1st year and leave transition. We had GR in position before motoring off to cheer him on. Offered to ApplePie during his run: I’m hoping others will write their race reports (I’m looking at you SR, AP, GR and KRG!) so we’ll skip to my legs. I was running the same legs I had the previous year so I had a better idea what to expect. Leg 6 climb - 558 feet. You run up a smallish hill and then free fall down a WAY too steep hill just to climb back up. SR slapped the bracelet onto me and I was off. I was feeling good and knew just run the leg my way. I ran up the first hill and then had to brake down the back side because it was so f-ing steep! On the way back up the hill called the Big Dog Hill I ran when I could and walked when needed. I made up the time when the road flattened out. 9:17 pace for 5.58 miles. I’ve gotten somewhat better at running hills. I slapped the bracelet onto Paige and she was off! Waiting for Pat to come in....I swear my arms aren’t as big as they look...I think... Our usual waterfall picture The only way we are ever going to have a covered bridge picture unless SR gives up this leg. Leg 12 was as flat as Vermont can be 252’ elevation gain. I was worried about using the POP before SR came in. Last year I didn’t get a chance to use it before taking off and my colon is just dumb...really dumb. You’ve heard of stage fright, right? Well, my colon has racing fright. I managed to zip into the POP before SR came in. Only #1 successful. Sigh. SR slapped that bracelet on me and by now the band was squishy and slimy from the sweat. Ewww! I charged off, feeling good because I knew it was relatively flat - which suits me just fine! I had a few kills. I came on a runner who was obviously struggling . I got ready to pass her when a pickup truck pulling a full sized camper passed a slower car! He passed within 12” of us! The girl said if her heart was spiking before it definitely was now! It was so irresponsible of that driver. 5.12 @ 9:07 I got to transition just as the skies were changing. A few drops of rain had started to fall. The skies were rumbling. I slapped the band onto Paige and she was off on her uphill climb. Let’s just say poor, poor Paige...but she actually enjoyed it! By the time SR was on his final leg we were behind our expected finish time by 30 minutes or so. Race officials were at transition saying you wouldn’t be able to finish if our runner wasn’t in by 11:30. I threw out the suggestion that if SR was okay running his leg after we stopped and rehydrated him that we drive to transition and I would start early. The team was in agreement and SR said he was good with the plan so our van drove to the transition area 15 minutes before SR ran in. I asked KRG if she wanted to run with me. She jumped at the chance. We were so thankful that she had been there for us ALL damn day! It’s hard remembering that you need to refuel your runner midway. In the past Christine.Eliz and Jen.m.Yee have done this. KRG was most certainly MVP! KRG and I set off into the night after checking in and making sure the transition volunteer knew our plan. My colon was rearing it’s ugly head. I can’t even explain. If KRG wasn’t there I probably would have made a dash for the woods! Lol. On the uphills I made her walk and then on the downhills I’d pull ahead. I was SO happy when we hit the final turn into the Okemo parking lot!! KRG and I were chugging along when suddenly a van started to back up right into me! I slammed my hand on the rear of the van and yelled. Thankfully I didn’t get squished by them! We charged up to the entrance yelling out our team # “180 180!” because it was pitch black! AP, SR, GR, Paige and Pat all followed KRG and I into the finish. 4.89 @ 10:12 pace with 386’ of elevation. Best feeling ever! And yes, we’ve already signed up for next year!
  7. 9 points
    Woke up this morning at 5 am and fell back to sleep till nearly 8 am. Raining, cold, windy outside. No reason to bound out of bed, that's for certain. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do today for my COVID-19 entry. I had proclaimed a 10K as my intention but in standard fashion for myself, I questioned my abilities and desires. I messaged and texted with 4 different friends this morning to catch up and wait out the mist and rain that was supposed to stop around 10 am. It did and I got myself ready, still not ready to commit to a distance or pace or goal. I'll just putz along for a few miles and see what it feels like, I said in my head. I severely overdressed and had to drop my jacket and wind-pants by a tree along the path before I even hit mile 1. I had really thin compression tights under my wind-pants, luckily. Once I wasn't so blasted hot and sweaty, the run felt a lot better. It's 35F out and crossing over from winter layers to spring layers takes practice. I need a lot more practice. 😁 My local bike path was DESERTED. Not a soul the entire time I was out there. Social distancing was not a problem. I was thrilled that the path had melted down after the 2.5 mile mark where it turns east to Hartwick Pines State Park. The first 2.5 miles are kept cleared by the city all winter and that is such a great thing. At the turn around I walked a little and thought, meh, might as well work on my cadence and get the pace rolling a bit better. I was surprised at how good it felt to get moving faster. Kept an eye on my heart rate and didn't feel too bad. I had to stop and grab my jacket and pants on the way back and carrying wind pants while running with a jacket tied around my waist wasn't fantastic. Live and learn. I rounded the corner onto my street with 0.3 to go and then it got tougher. Pulled it off in the end and kept my pace where I wanted. My pace used to make me feel like I was never good enough. I'm out there, I'm trying hard, I put a lot into my running, and I'm totally good enough. I've definitely run faster in my life but that was then and this is now. The face of my watch made me laugh at the end... ELITE status. LOL! First time I've ever seen that in my life. 🤣
  8. 9 points
    I'm almost afraid to put this into writing... I'm running.... a lot (for me)... like 45 mpw.... this hasn't happened since March, 2017. I'm afraid if I start dreaming and hoping it will go away as suddenly as it seemed to come back. I wrote a training plan. I've been able to follow my training plan and even add on extra miles. Unheard of. I've had a mental mind shift too. I used to be afraid of big work outs. Long runs used to be my mental kryptonite. Now I look at them as an opportunity to become a stronger runner. Every mile makes me a better distance runner. Intervals were always my favorite. I still love them but Phew! They are hard! LOL Last week I had a 35 minute tempo run on tap. Instead of becoming paralyzed with the "What happens if I fail" fear I asked myself "will I still love myself even if I fail?" The answer: "Hell, yeah!" Who cares if I don't hit a certain pace! I'm running again! I set out from the park and did a 1 mile warm up and then picked up the pace. (I should have run it more as a progression run but I've got no discipline.) The first mile I felt really good. I was working but it felt manageable. 8:23 The 2nd mile I was working a bit harder. All of my biking and running in Florida the past few days was becoming apparent. I took 2 short stops to gather myself. The 2nd mile chimed in at 8:13. In the 3rd mile I made a U turn to head back to my car. Somehow knowing I have less than half of the workout to go puts a little pep in my step. 8:13 By mile 4 I was really feeling the burn so I backed off a tiny bit. 8:19 I ran another minute 41 seconds at an 8:11 pace. The cool down was a struggle for real! LOL I wanted 6.5 miles total so I slogged through 1.3 more miles at very uncomfortable 9:19/9:23 pace. So happy to have finished that run! And I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. Yesterday I ran 6.4 miles on trails and another 9.6 miles on the treadmill. This morning I ran with a lady my age from my new running group. We banged out 8 miles at a 9:19 pace. 45.5 miles this week. I'm dreaming of goals.... Please don't let this disappear.
  9. 9 points
    Races: 7 (1 half marathon, 1 10K, 5 5Ks) Total miles: 458.7 Number of PRs: 3 (1 half marathon, 2 5k) Time seems to pass slowly and quickly at the same time! I think about all the writing I want to do, and in the blink of an eye, a month has passed and I've written no words - not on here, not in my journals, no where. But, as the husband and I have an unusually quiet evening, I figure it's a good opportunity to truly reflect on 2019. I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's easy to forget that 2019 overall was a pretty damn good year, and even the last part of the year came with a 5K PR. When I think about what I have discovered about myself - personally, professionally, and athletically - all I can conclude is that 2019 taught me that I am more. I am more than I thought I was capable of. I am more than a busy worker bee in the background. I am the future of public health. I am more than a middle of the pack runner. I am a competitor and my greatest competition is myself. I am more than a 10-minute miler. I can go faster, if I am brave enough to. I am more than a runner. I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a mother. January, February and part of March was as it always is in Kansas City. Cold, dark, and my least favorite environment to run in. In the depths of that awfulness, I found a radiating light - or rather a reason to enjoy treadmill runs - in the Peloton app. Taking Peloton's so-called 'Tread' classes with delightful instructors such as Becs Gentry, Olivia Amato, Matt Wilpers, and Jess Sims made miles tick by with a mental ease I hadn't felt in a long time. I got faster because they challenged me to be faster, and I rose to it. When spring arrived in Kansas City, I took their guided outdoor runs with me many times, because it's so much easier to do a tempo workout when you've got a friend encouraging you. April and May were complete chaos - getting married always brings a joyful and stressful disruption of life. I cried tears of stress, tears of joy, and tears of "it's okay, I just need to cry right now". I received a national honor for work, and managed a 7-minute PR in the half marathon on a tough, hilly course. Then I went and laid by a resort pool for a week. June, July, and August were just as fun. I took to running early in the morning and adjusting my work schedule so "early" was 6:30 and I didn't have to go to bed before the sun went down. I raced - yes, raced! - three 5Ks in three weeks, managing a PR at one of them. I logged miles purely for the joy of it. I joined a local running group for their Tuesday night speed sessions, and found new depths of speed and strength I didn't know I had. I ran by feel, forgot about the clock, and found I was faster than I thought I was. I started training for a marathon, not having a goal other than to finish and have fun. Okay, maybe I did have a goal in mind, but wasn't going to commit to it until I was more sure of my training. September came with some adjustments. I found I was tired, run down, and just a bit 'off' at the beginning of the month, which was all explained when I had four positive pregnancy tests. I made adjustments to the training plan, tweaked my diet, and continued training. Then the nightmare of October came, c-r-a-w-l-e-d by and left me devastated, hollow, and unsure of how to move forward. I felt stuck most of November, but signed up for a Thanksgiving Day 5K in the hopes that I would find something if I got out there and ran. I never wrote an RR for that race, but somewhere in the second mile I realized two things: first, mile 2 of a 5K is the loneliest mile and second, I need to do more core work if I really want to race well. I felt like I had nothing for December, but I signed up for a 5K last minute anyway because the race swag was a hoodie that said "Running with my Snowmies" with little runner snowmen on it. It's pretty rad, too. Just the right amount of weight and softness. In this 5K, I reaffirmed how lonely mile 2 is and how I really do need to do more core work. It was cold and dark at that race, so I started my watch and never looked at it again. I just ran hard. When it started to hurt, I tried to run harder. I crossed the finish line with no expectations, so was pleasantly surprised when I finished with another PR and a top 10 finish in my age group. I finished out the month with miles for Sara's brother Mark whenever it was nice, and tried to be thankful for everything in my life. It was a crazy year, and I learned so much. I made strides in my running, and began to find the types of training that allows me to thrive. I had life-changing moments and one that fundamentally changed who I am forever. I'm not sure what 2020 will bring. I've got some running plans, I've got some life plans, and I've got some career plans. But my goals for the year are focused on my whole-person health - mental, physical, and spiritual. There are no numbers tied to those goals, but I hope that the pursuit of them will allow me to become my best self. And if I can knock out three PRs again, well, that will be just fine, too.
  10. 9 points
    Some of the most amazing humans I call my friends I met through the Loop. Some I've still never met in person (KRG!) and some I've even vacationed to go see (Moose and Countess FiFi!). Life has been "interesting" the past 2 years but I have nothing epic to post pics of and most of you are friends with me on FB and/or follow me on IG so you see the high points. My big win for 2019 was a trip with hubby Chris to northern Arizona where we did all the tourist hot spots. He loved the Grand Canyon and I did as well but my bucket list check off was the Petrified Forest and that's my feature photo. As a forester and amateur horticulturalist and general tree geek, it was amazing! I tried running in Flagstaff while we were there and that was an eye opening experience! Altitude and dry air had me gasping. I had to take a break from regular running this past winter when life stress and obligations weren't giving me the rest and recovery I needed to run consistently at all. I ran here and there, 1 or 2 times a week but not much else. 2 months ago I started back up a plan and have had good success so far. I'm following a Rebuild program through Fitness Protection Program with Coach MK Flemming who is absolutely an incredible woman and provides the support I need right now in the right ways. If you follow me on Strava, you'll see my runs and that I'm using HR training. I love it and I love the lack of pressure to hit pace times. I just want to enjoy being out there and I'm succeeding in that goal. I stopped running remote trails in the spring after a pretty scary situation with a guy who had malicious intent. I'm not sure how to find peace in my mind and go back out there by myself and I have no friends who run trails here. I'll be 49 in January and I've been focusing on my mental and physical health the past year. I'm such a work in progress. I'm not sure what 2020 will hold for me but I know it'll be a good year. With my 50th year looming, I'm looking ahead to what the second half of my life should be. How do I want to live? What does that life look and feel like? Races/running goals for 2020: Kalamazoo Klassic in June in Kalamazoo, MI (10K and 5K combined) Winter is knocking loudly on the door at my house and I'm ready for cross country ski season! I'll keep my running going as long as I have decent footing for 30-45 minute runs before work but long runs get replaced by skiing once the trails are groomed and ready. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I'll do my best to be here more - you're good people.
  11. 9 points
    I have officially become a Loopster MIA. I’m not even lurking lately *hangs head in shame* both here and on Loopville. To be fair, what used to be the Loop is now like an empty ballroom after a big party… the majority of the people have disappeared for sleep, Uber, bigger parties elsewhere, or waking up on a friend’s couch without pants on, not remembering how they got there. Except for Dave lingering to drink a little more cake and punch and Gwen requesting one more song from the DJ and Sara dancing to it despite having run 3 marathons in the last week... Okay so maybe I lurk a LITTLE here and there… But I don’t run or race much anymore. I have my reasons, some which are sort of excuses and some that are just, well, reasons. First, I spent the summer and fall working toward a new career in prehospital emergency medicine. Took the 5 month class, passed the state and national tests, got the card pronouncing me an EMT. Needless to say, working in my previous job while going to class after work twice a week and every other Saturday plus studying in my free time... not a lot of time for running and racing. It was worth it, though. I applied to and got hired by the city's largest ambulance/paramedic service. After a few weeks of training, I’m now on an ambulance shift as the EMT of a crew (each crew of two on each ambulance consists of one paramedic + one EMT). I’m working nights, 5:30pm to 5:30am, but I actually love that shift and adapted to it well. The 12 hour shifts alternate every other week; 3 shifts one week, 4 shifts the next week. I never work more than 2 or 3 days at a time, with 2 days off inbetween each series of 2-3 consecutive shifts. I only work 7 out of 14 days and average about 44 hours a week which means the shifts are long but the days off are many. I also work every other weekend, which cuts into race opportunities. As for the actual job- I do love it. It’s challenging and stressful sometimes and definitely takes me out of my comfort zone regularly. Like driving the ambulance with a child in the back during a snowstorm. But it is never boring and I am always learning something new and I dig that. My partner is also great to work with; he’s a young paramedic with his sights on med school in the next couple of years. Translate: the little bit that I know and have learned pales beside this kid’s experience and education level. Second, life doesn’t get any slower or less crazy. My kidlets are now 9 and 12 (in a couple weeks), and my son has only about 3 more inches in order to meet my height, which at his current rate of rapid growth might be Christmas. At the latest, St. Pat’s Day. They have sleepovers and playdates and activities to get to… Boy Scouts and band for my son (trumpet) and cross-country for the mini-me and it’s a bit of a whirlwind at this age. Third, I lost my road mojo. I like running with the mini, who has her own Garmin now and usually insists on it being our only method of pace and time so she can dictate pace and call out splits. I try to run a few miles before or after running with her. I like running easy morning or anytime miles with a couple of girlfriends who run. I like occasionally running a leisurely 3-4 miles with Mr. Peg while the kids bike. What I don’t like anymore? Tempos, intervals, and long runs on the road. I know, I know. What the hell happened to me? I don’t know. Just that suddenly speedwork became a toothache ending in a root canal and long runs on asphalt starting feeling like a jury duty mandate or at the very least an invite to Aunt Gertrude’s knitting party. Even easy runs on the same old routes… elevator music. Where the heck was the joie de vivre that running used to pour into me? Turns out it was in the woods. A few weeks ago, I showed up to the Marilla Trail Race in Bradford, PA aka the hairy underbelly of the boondocks. Remote, beautiful, mountain vastness in the middle of an Indian Reservation. Driving to the race, my phone GPS completely lost its wits for the last few miles. I kept mine about me for once and followed cars that fit a gingerly guess at what a runner’s vehicle might look like. Not everyone has the 26.2 sticker, just saying, so consider this a PSA about how useful that is to suburban moms who have been away from Timbuktu for too long... Two of my friends showed up, Steve and Jessie. They are local trail runners who I ran with on my inaugural trail half marathon in September. <That race was only gently rolling and a good beginner course, but with plenty of singletrack to get me acclimated. I went into it dubiously, came out of it happy as a lark, and then wondered in the days after if my renewed excitement over running was just a momentary fluke. Anyway, I’d signed up for Marilla earlier this summer, lured by peer-pressure and promises of post-race beer and BBQ chicken. I cannot resist BBQ. Smoked meats are pure heaven for me, bringing the Germanic/Nordic hunter right out of my northern European blood. Wait, maybe this explains the trail thing, too? Steve and Jessie were there, too, but since I’d run a slower pace that I felt I could do on the previous race, I told them I would stay with them for a couple of miles and then speed up if I felt good. At this point, I’d also acquired my first pair of trail shoes, per the recommendation of Roger the Pied Pacer. And like the fool I can sometimes be, I ran them fresh out of the box without a single mile. Just two laps around my coffee table on the living room shag area rug, pronouncing the shoes “comfy”. (Turns out the shoes were one of the least problematic of any running shoes ever, including no hotspots, no blisters, and not a single tweak or pain over 14 miles in a drizzle. I know, there is a special place in Runner Karma Hell for this kind of benevolence bestowed by the running gods for my audacity idiocy). I could give you the play by play, but the short story is this: after the first 2 miles uphill and around a small mountain, the rest meandered up and down over trails covered in blankets of leaves, the occasional water, some mud, a fine misty drizzle, fall colors like a blanket shrouding everything, and a picture perfect finish around a reservoir and through a covered bridge to the finish. I ran the back half with a big negative split, felt better with every mile, and my heart sang the whole time, okay, maybe just the last 11 miles after that initial 500 foot climb. About 1800 ft of elevation gain total, so still not gnarly by most standards but definitely some climbing for a flatlander. I loved it. I finished 14 miles in 2:24, and was first in my age group. Small race, but thank God for small mercies. And one of my favorite race photos ever! Next up: Joshua Tree Half Marathon, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in- well, Joshua-freaking-Tree, California. I won’t go into all the hiking and scenery details, but we did plenty of that throughout the whole weekend and I’ll post pics at the end… This trip was with half a dozen or so runners from around here who know each other, run some together, and hang out frequently. We had flown into Las Vegas and prior to traveling farther west for the race, we stayed in a little town in Nevada called Pahrump. Like Pahrump-pa-pum-pum in Little Drummer Boy, not “Par-Hump” like my friend Dan -who is still a 12 year old- insisted on calling it. We visited Death Valley and hiked our butts off. The next day, we went to Joshua Tree and spent more time hiking. Joshua Tree is one of the half marathons in the Vacation Race Series, races with an emphasis on beautiful and unique places in the American West. Probably not one of the most scenic trail races on the list (since it's at night when it's dark) or one with the most elevation but likely one of the most unique. Oh, and the entire course is on sand. !!!!!!!! Our group of 5 (6 after meeting up with another friend who flew in from Colorado) chose to bury our heads in said sand prior to the race and instead of hydrating, getting sleep, and eating properly, we drank freely, hiked extensively, soaked in the hot tub late at night instead of sleeping, and stuffed our faces with junk food and the best Mexican in town 24 hours before the race. When in Rome. This is where the running gods decided the successful new shoe stunt could be properly atoned for. We got to the race in plenty of time to hang out, scout the area, and enjoy the sunset. At home, there was hail and freezing temperatures, but here we were in the middle of the Mojave desert with the sun sliding behind the golden mountains in the distance, enjoying our flip-flops and tank tops in 70 plus degrees. The race had 2000 runners, plus lots of friends and family, and many of them were camped near the race site. The entire race compound had a very Woodstock/Burning Man feel… California definitely has a few more Woodstocky people than northern PA… and there was music, some alcohol here and there, and the occasional slight whiff of cannabis. I think I would have made a good hippie. It got loud and crowded as race time approached. A few clouds decided to appear to make the sunset interesting. We donned our headlamps, wished each other beuno luck, and off we went. So the first mile or so was pretty magical, really. The race area was dazzling with fluorescent lighting plus two thousand runners streaming into the desert, all wearing headlamps. A quarter of the way up the initial incline, I stopped to look back at the ocean of runners behind me. With the red glow of the sinking sun still behind the runners, and the sea of bobbing lights... well, it was stunning. One of those moments you just can’t replicate. All hakuna matata in the desert here… Then the damn incline kept going. And going. Like so. The path went from hard packed sand to less hard packed sand. We were stirring up a fine, silty dust that started raining down on everyone and I now realized why I saw so many runners with a bandanna over their mouths. Not so different from running through snow at home in Erie, just a heckuva lot warmer. There were plenty of runners around at all times, I was never running completely solo. We finally made it to the top of a ridge with the rest of the race consisting of a few more rolling ascents/climbs before a final descent back into the valley. I settled into a slowish pace on the sandiest parts and tried to up the pace on the areas where the sand was packed. We passed the occasional house or cluster of houses up in the hills. I had to wonder what made people want to live out here in the desolation... yet… at the same time I saw the appeal of said desolation. Most folks had their porch lights on and were playing loud music and sitting out watching the runners streaming by. Around mile 8 at one of the highest and most desolate areas, the course passed one ominous looking house with weird lights where a lady was walking around in the yard in the dark, alternating screeching and laughing manically. It took a good 100 yards for the goosebumps to fade from that one. Although I preferred the crazy lady goosebumps to what came next: my stomach revolting. Yes, I know I asked for it. Travel, lots of alcohol, miles and miles on my feet, a huge Mexican meal the night before, junk food… and then I ask my body to run a half marathon on a tough course. It’s a wonder it took until Mile 8 for the gastrointestinal mutiny to begin. The next few miles are a blur of cramps and pain with every jarring step. I stopped at a port a potty twice, but nothing was far enough along to make an exit, just more cramping and distress. So this is the beginning stage of a Code Abby?! I walked a lot of times, but then would start up again determined to not have a completely dismal finish time. Because it was dry and parched and hot, I started pigging out on oranges slices at the aid stations. I took handfuls of them, slurping one at a time and tossing the peels along the trails. Guess what? Fruit doesn’t make GI issues go away AT ALL. I was miserable. There's photographic evidence of my misery. The end eventually came. Every step was jarring the pain and turmoil in my stomach, which was now feeling like a volcano in its last days before eruption. We started the descent into the finish. Unfortunately, about the time I expected I could let loose and maybe gain some time on a nice downhill, the trail got vastly softer. Like beach-sand soft. Oh boy. So even with the descent, which was very pleasant, the soft sand made running difficult. However, with about a mile to go, I had the finish to look forward to. I could see the lights of the race finish area from the top of the ridge, and as I got closer, could hear the usual cacophony of milling runners, music, and race announcers. GI distress is not pleasant, but there was at least one runner having a much worse day than I was. For about a quarter mile, a dude behind me and off to the side of the trail (for obvious reasons) was having the other kind of tummy trouble. Whenever he needed to upchuck, so to speak, he would loudly cuss. So it went like this: “F########ck!” and then … retching. A few seconds of silence, then: “F######ck”, puke, and…. rinse, repeat about 5 times. Kudos to the guy, he kept running tho. We were finally in the homestretch! The lights were bright and the music loud and they announced your name and where you were from coming into the finish. Because my stomach hurt and my ankles were wrecked from the sand and I was tired and ready to be done, I remember thinking, Yeah, you folks, I came ALL THE WAY FROM FREAKING PENNSYLVANIA just to run your freaking sandy, hilly, dusty race!!!! Cue sardonic smile. 2:21 finish time. All the very nice volunteers wrapped in three layers of scarves and mittens and sweatpants handed me a heatsheet and I realized that I was shivering uncontrollably. The temp in the desert had dropped from a pleasant 70*+ at race start to about 45* at the finish. Between the heatsheet, the beautiful medal, and the cup of hot chocolate, I was back to, Awwww, I love the desert and I love California! Best hot chocolate ever. And the medal glows in the dark. I reunited with the ones from our group who finished before me and we waited until everyone finished before wearily trekking back to the comfort and warmth of our beautiful digs. The rest of the weekend was spent doing more of the things we did pre-race: eating, drinking and hiking. And sunset chasing. Photo dump here: Also, I got to meet up with a friend and Loop Legend who was in Palm Springs the same day our group was: BANGLE! He even brought his stunt double aka brother. We got to catch up over food, beer and football... The entire trip was memorable and beautiful and a wonderful experience. The desert is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with its many faces; its changing landscapes, temperatures, colors. I hope I get to go back someday. Even though the race was challenging and painful at times, I still love the trails and I want more of them.
  12. 9 points
    Dear diary: I have a confession. Emily Sisson is a runner. A runner who just finished 10th at the 10K world championships. A runner who ran a 2:23:08 marathon debut at London this year, finishing sixth and ahead of her training partner, Molly Huddle. A runner who was the 2015 5k national champion. A runner that we in the Running World refer to as "Fast." And I broke her. It started out innocently enough. The day is October 25. It's a glorious morning at the track. Just a few people are here. A sprinter running repeats on the back straight. The shot put boys sunning and playing handball. I'm in lane 9, minding my own business. And then emily sisson flies by. She's in lane 1, being paced by her hubby. They're running mile-and-a-half repeats. He leads her out for a mile or so and then falls off, leaving her to finish. If you've never been a few feet away from a world-class runner in full flight, you don't know what it's like. So fast, smooth, graceful. A gazelle in motion. She's pushing really, really hard. I realize it must be because of me. I'm in lane 9, running 13:10 pace. Even though the distance around lane 9 is much longer than lane 1, I'm keeping up with her. If keeping up means I'm running about a lap every time she runs a mile. She is clearly annoyed that the old guy is dusting her doors, if dusting her doors is an actual phrase, and I'm fairly certain it is not. She pretends never to see me, although I'm sure she's watching out the corner of her eye. Between the 1.5 mile repeats, they pause for water (sissies) and talk with her father-in-law, who doubles as coach, race photographer and bodyguard. Maybe that's tripling. Please note that although she keeps pausing between repeats, I continue on my way, never stopping, never wavering from my 13-minute march, never going fast enough to get a ticket in a school zone. She, on the other hand, is uncorking a pace that only a few people on the planet can maintain. So I'm calling it even. Mile and a half after mile and a half, she hammers. I'm certain it's because my 13:10 has forced her into pushing her pace to the limit. I want to tell her it's not a competition, it's only an exhibition, please no wagering, but Letterman hasn't been on the air in a long time, and it feels like the father-in-law will shoot me if I try to come within a couple lanes of her. Do starter's guns hurt? It's a joy to watch her blur go by again and again. No crowds, no glory, just a runner suffering on a lonely community college track in Arizona on a hot, windy day. So THAT'S how these people get to be so fast. By running fast. Who knew? And then, my 4 miles are over. She takes off on a cooldown run somewhere off the track, likely to Flagstaff and back. And that’s that. I can sense I have pushed her to her absolute limit. She posts a video later in the day of the workout. I feel honored I was able to help her out. And then. FOUR DAYS LATER on the same Instagram account, she posts that she is being forced to pull out of the USATF 5K Championships in New York because of a "small flare-up" getting back into training. Coincidence? I'm guessing not. Never race before the race, Kermit the Frog once said.* And clearly my relentless 13:10 pace forced her to maintain a level too high. She wasn't at the track today for her Friday session. I hope the father-in-law doesn't find me. And that was the day I broke Emily Sisson. Thanks for listening, diary. I feel better. I hope I never run into Sara Hall in Flagstaff ... (frame grab stolen from em_sisson on instagram since i figure she's already suing me anyhow.) *awaiting wikipedia sourcing on quote
  13. 9 points
    I had a few good years. Lots of age-group awards. I qualified for and ran both NYCM and BOS. Running has pretty much sucked ever since. The last five years have looked like this: Illnesses: pneumonia, bronchitis, arthritis in the big toe Injuries: ITBS, stress fracture near the arthritic big toe joint Surgeries: toe nail removed (because there was a bit of mold growing under the nail!), nasal septum surgery (which did NOT help with my snoring) But the really weird thing is that every time I recover, I keep on running. You'd think I'd give up, even though I can't seem to get ahead of the injury/illness/random surgery game. Last week was my first run after the stress fracture, and my husband Bruce said "I'm really proud of you" -- for running one whole mile. Seriously? That was the easy part. The hard part was NOT running for six weeks. I turned 65 this year. Maybe I should expect these things. But I don't feel 65, especially when I'm running. Maybe I'll write more later. Right now, I'm heading out for a little run. - Emma the Unlikely Runner
  14. 8 points
    I remember the day well. My normal route at the time took me along the bike path for a bit then out to the water before turning back past the kid’s amusement park along the Keansburg boardwalk and finally wound its way through the meth soaked part of town on the way home. On this day though, I was stretching it out. I was taking a few extra turns through the neighborhood to get an extra mile in and make it my first longest run ever. To this point my running was a consistent 3 mile loop in cotton sweats and the socks and undershirt I wore to work. My last cigarette was by necessity the one on the drive home from the train station lest The Wife find out I still smoked, so my lungs were nice and fresh from their 12 minute break each and every time I laced up and headed out the door. But if you’ve ever smelled Raritan Bay or a leaky basement drug lab on a hot summer night, my Camels really couldn’t have made things any worse. I remember I planned it for a weekend because I was expecting to be wiped out from the extra effort. 4 miles may as well have been 40, and immediately upon deviating from the normal route my body began its protest. Knees burned, lungs felt like they were breathing gasoline, teeth tingled. But I survived and at the end of it I looked down at my iPod with the Nike Plus foot pod add-in and saw I had done 4.08 miles. I’d gone a full third longer than I’d ever done before. And I immediately wanted to go further. I felt like I’d just learned a new language and been rewarded with a first class ticket to that tongue’s native land. I thought about signing up for a race and maybe entering the NYC Marathon lottery and seeing if there was a cross country league for adult alcoholic chain smokers. I’ve been thinking about this run lately because there’s a new 4 mile loop I’ve been running, and one day I happened to end it on 4.08 miles. As I panted and wheezed from a distance that was not that long ago just a pre-workout warm up I thought about how far I’d come. This distance once made me feel like I had all the potential in the world. Now it reminded me of the fitness and abilities I once had. I had quit smoking long ago but was still breathing just as hard. I had plenty of time to think about this as I stood in the prickly shrubbery to maintain the necessary six feet of social distance while waiting for the dipshits walking their rat dog to casually stroll past on the sidewalk. It dawned on me that the original longest run ever had happened during the similarly apocalyptic Great Recession, and I was then too figuring out how to live with a new human (Wife then, Son now) and wondering about the permanence of my employment. And all of this got me thinking. What has really changed? All the years of 60 hour and 60 mile weeks, learning how to feed this new person in my home, speedwork and coupon clipping and long runs and office politics and seemingly endless fucking planks had gotten me where, exactly? I live in fewer square feet and still feel in over my head domestically and worry about my job and still might puke after 4 miles and HOW MANY GODDAMNED KALE SALADS DOES IT TAKE TO GET RID OF LOVE HANDLES?!? How have I come so far and gone nowhere? Then I remember the highs. Crossing the line in Chicago. The first time I did a 16 x 400 workout and didn’t have to stop. Getting into NYC. Running in a lead pack for the first time (yeah fine it was a dinky 5k in Bumblefuck, GA - back off Jack). Writing my best man toast for my brother’s wedding while on a 10 miler the morning of. Maybe none of it matters and we’re all just going to end up back where we started. Who knows. Futile as it may be though, there’s at least something in the effort, even if it's only a dream. I'm going back to the ones that I know, With whom I can be what I want to be. Just one week for the feeling to go And with you there to help me Then it probably will. - from With You There to Help Me, Jethro Tull
  15. 8 points
    Today marks my 3 year anniversary of running the Boston Marathon - 4/2017 I was super pumped to have qualified and been able to run that race. Having never thought of myself as an athlete I was in awe to be starting among these finely chiseled runners. After 2 years of injury hell I finally turned a corner in November. It was like someone unlocked the door and I got to emerge from injury jail. I asked my husband for 1 of 3 races for Christmas -- Shamrock 1/2 Marathon, Revel Mt Charleston or the Sugarloaf Marathon. He signed me up for ALL 3! I was super nervous to train for 1 marathon let alone 2 fulls and a 1/2 in 2 months! I secretly (probably not so secretly) hoped to BQ. I built from approximately 25 miles a week (and ALL sorts of varied cross training...just ask anyone who follows me on Strava 😂 -- #sorrynotsorry) up to 50 miles per week with nary a whisper from my hamstring. Everything was going amazing! I had 2 x 200 mile months and then the stupid COVID-19 pandemic started. I'm not going to lie I checked and rechecked Revel's website a million times. They were confident the event would take place and then the state of Nevada outlawed any large gatherings. Ugh. Cancelled. Shamrock's decision was written on the wall, but race organizers didn't want to admit it. With 25,000 runners, a destination on the East Coast and a huge beer tent as a draw there was no way this could be held. Cancelled. My last hope was Sugarloaf. The marathon takes place in Maine in the middle of May. No one is in Maine and it's super small. My only thought was they wouldn't let anyone from NY or NJ participate. Nope. Dave messaged me: Cancelled. Not going to lie I didn't take Revel's cancellation well. Shamrock's was expected and Sugarloaf's was a sucker punch. I had all of this training and no where to go test it. I very quietly decided to go out on the morning of 4/4 to run my own marathon - the same day I should have been running Mt. Charleston. I went to a local park that has a trail around a lake and a somewhat quiet road that I could make a roughly 3.5-3.75 mile loop. The park has a port-a-potty in case I needed it. My car became my aid station. I ran with my handheld the entire time. It was never an issue. I don't know why I don't carry that thing more often! MY rules were: 1) Don't turn off my watch at all -- unless I am refilling my handheld and grabbing a Gu. I reasoned if I was in a race I wouldn't have to stop at all. I could just walk through the aid station. 2) Employ a run/walk routine so that I didn't feel the effects of actually running a full marathon. As I pulled into the park a fine drizzle was coming down...of course. Sigh. I used the port-a-potty before I started running and was good for the rest of the time. I jogged out of the park and up the road and felt good. Ran down to the stop sign/railroad tracks and turned around. Entered the access road of the park and settled into a 1.2 mile run/ 1:00 walk ratio. As I entered the trails for the loop around the lake suddenly my heart rate spiked and my breathing became very labored. I tried to push through, but I ended up stopping and...stopping my watch. Ugh! It was a mini freak out breakdown, but within 30 seconds I had given myself a stern talking to and got going again. I looped around and stopped at my car to grab a gel since I would be out in the middle of a loop for the 5 mile mark. At 10 miles I realized I was already tired but knew from running this same exact route 2 weeks prior that I was fine to carry on. Every loop I passed by a goose who must've been sitting on a nest. I would get about 5' away from her/him each time. We just gave each other a nod. On the other side of the street there were some geese who were not sitting on a nest who would hiss at me so I would hiss back. After one of the times filling my handheld I realized it was leaking and spilling everywhere. In 1/2 a mile I had lost approximately half of my fluid. I stopped my watch and got the lid on correctly and kept on going. I totally misjudged how much fluid I would need and really had NONE to spare. (I took gels at 5, 10ish, 15ish, 21ish) My pace with the run/walk was awesome. I'd average high 8s while running (not including walking minute) the roads and mid 9s while on the trail. When I finally got to my last few miles I knew I had a walk break coming up at 25.5, but had enough in the tank to push through. My final mile was on the road and my fastest of the day. Final time 4:09:12. (Lapsed time with aid station breaks and 2 "unauthorized" stops 4:15:18.) Elevation gain of 373'. Roughly 7.5 loops. I ordered myself a custom finisher medal from NJ RD who does woodworking on the side. Have to say I love it!
  16. 8 points
    Early last month when I was laying out my training plan for Sugarloaf (at the time it was either that or Salisbury, MD the first week of April), I put a half marathon down for the last weekend of March anyway. As it happened, there weren't any races nearby and I wasn't in a position to travel then. So, I was going to do a solo run. Then all this really weird stuff happened and now over half the country is on lockdown. Everyone's races everywhere are cancelled. Well, thought I, why not invite Loopsters all over the world to join me in my virtual race? So I posted the idea in Loopville and asked if anyone was interested. And here we are. Typically human, we've found a way around this disaster. Typically runner, we've found a way to run in the middle of it. In my AG, I'm solidly in one of the "at risk" populations. Not like the immuno-suppressed or otherwise physically compromised (thank goodness for that), but as an old guy I'm supposed to be more careful. I also thank goodness that my job can be done remotely and I'm not financially affected, either (so far, anyway - no one knows the future). But back to the virtual racing, treegirl, Northern Lass, NavEng, and cummingsb all volunteered to help with ideas and acting as RDs for what's turned into a monthly series (seems to me Eliz was the first to suggest that - she's so cool) of virtual races. We plan to go on as long as the normal races are verboten. Before I get to my race yesterday, I want to quickly recap the week leading up. Since this was part of my as-of-today-still-scheduled marathon in Maine training plan, I did not put any time for tapering, meaning I was not going to be fresh on Saturday for this 13.1. I think if I'd have had a "real" race that I paid money for I would have taken at least Friday off, but I didn't, so... Friday 3/20 - 6 slow miles, 9:06 pace. Felt sort of so-so, but better than on Thursday. Saturday 3/21 - 15 miles, 9:10 pace. Had a serious Code Abby just about half way. I was in a wooded area that was way too small and way too open for the sort of stop that can be done in the woods. Made one stop to will things to stop, then gingerly started again through a neighborhood I'd never run through before. Then I saw a Road Construction sign and hoped against hope that the construction was significant enough that there'd be a port-o-place set up for the workers. THERE WAS!!! Made my business and made it home clean. Monday 3/23 - 8 miles with 6 tempo @ 8:01 pace. Still feeling more tired than I think I ought to, but I keep telling myself that it's the right kind of tired and not being too old or getting sick. We'll see. Tuesday 3/24 - 7 miles, 9:09 pace. Nothing to write home about. Wednesday 3/25 - 11 miles with 4 x 2400. I finished this one averaging about 7:50 pace compared to my hope of 7:30-40s, and never really feeling very good. (see the note about Monday) About a mile into the second 2400, I approached an intersection as the light was changing. The traffic is pretty light almost everywhere because of Covid, and there was a one woman in a car waiting. After the light changed, she continued to sit there, no doubt texting (maybe just day dreaming, I don't know). Anyway, I decided at the last minute to go ahead and slip in front of her. That turned out to be the same time she noticed that her light was green and decided to go. She saw me in time to not run me over, but she wasn't happy and let me know. The words were lost in my running and her car's engine noise, but I'm pretty sure I got the gist. No doubt I was in the wrong and had a couple of other choices I could have made that would have been safer. My bad. Thursday 3/26 - 8 miles, 9:29 pace. Pretty hilly but this was more slow from Wednesday. Friday 3/27 - 5 miles, 8:57. Much better. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Although this was virtual, so more of a time trial, this was my first race since last October in New Hampshire. Like I've mentioned before (and a coupe of times here already - sorry) I've been feeling kind of tired. I didn't really know what to expect out of myself. I've had some decent tempos and some good long runs, but running GMP for 13.1? Mostly I didn't want to die and have to Galloway my way back home like last spring, when I totally crapped out at Mile 10. At least the weather was going to be better. Cool and breezy, maybe some rain although it looked like there was a several hour window between storms that I could my miles squeeze into. Also, I noticed that my supply of Hammer Gel was gone. Ordered more but it won't get here for a week or so. Did you know you can't get it on Amazon? Anyway, I dropped three Starbursts into my shorts pocket and hoped the sugar would be enough. And Starbursts are practically the same as Sport Beans, right? Besides, it was only a half. I started with about 400 yards of easy jogging to get the legs loose and stretch the old diaphragm, the set off at what I thought/hoped was a pace I could do for a couple of hours. I was also hoping that it would be around 8:15 per mile, and hoping that if it wasn't I wouldn't panic. Mile 1 - 8:27 - Not bad. First mile doesn't really count and I felt less than terrible, so that was encouraging. Mile 2 - 8:36 - This gained slightly more elevation than Mile 1, so call it even. Mile 3 - 8:44 - More climbing but also some down, so I was a little bummed to have dropped off. Passed four guys out running on the bike path and greeted them. They were appropriately distanced, so I didn't curse them silently, which is what I do now (despite my best efforts not to) when I see runners being Covid-irresponsible. Miles 4 - 8:29 - Felt like I was getting into a flow, so I guessed that 8:30-ish was going to be the pace for the day if I didn't die. My dream had been 8:00s but there was no way for that. Ate a Starburst. Mile 5 - 8:37 - Kind of disappointing since this one was all down, if only a little. But I was getting almost half way, which was encouraging about being able to finish. Mile 6 - 8:31 - The route I run through this area picks up on a bike path through the metropark that parallels a small tributary of the Rouge River. It gets pretty full when there's a good rain and we'd had a good rain the night and morning before. At about 5-1/2 miles when I'm supposed to pick up the trail, there is a small bridge over the stream. And yesterday it looked like this: Most of the year there's lots of space between the water and the bridge bottom. And on the other side... So I had to back track and take to the side of the road for the three miles I was on the park, as there were a few more places where the river had overflowed its banks and covered the bike path. Fortunately, it has a very wide shoulder and of course next to no traffic these days. Passed a few more runners, walkers and riders, all keeping good personal spaces. Mile 7 - 8:35 - I don't know if anyone remembers from a few years ago, but during that one bad winter I ran on this road regularly for my Saturday long runs because of the wide shoulder and the fact that they keep it well plowed, no matter how much snow there is. There's that one hill that I hate so much and it was about half way through this mile. Maybe because I was on the road instead of the path, it didn't seem to terrible. Of course the ride down the other side was lovely. I glanced at the watch to see where I was half way through and was just over 56 minutes. 1:52-ish if I can hold this. Mile 8 - 8:40 - Only mile of the day that was totally flat and it didn't do me any favors. Physically, anyway. I was happy to be only 5 miles from the finish. I wouldn't say I was confident just yet, but I had hopes of holding my pace another 5. Then I forgot that I'd missed my second Starburst. Sugar! Sugar! Mile 9 - 9:10 - This one hurt. There's a little climb to get out of the park and back to the neighborhoods. Not big, but enough to remind me that I hadn't rested at all this week. I think the sugar rush hit me after I got out of the park, so the second half of this mile, which had a slow descent was decent (see what I did there?). Mile 10 - 8:23 - There's that point in a longer race when you feel tired like your feel when you're doing a lot of weekly miles and you still have to run 8-10 on a weekday, so you just go out and run and the pace is sort of automatic. I lost myself in this mile and my legs were surprised to find a gentle downslope. And they liked it. Mile 11 - 8:45 - Or maybe not. But surely I could do 2 more miles. Last Starburst. Mile 12 - 8:36 - A little better. And I was on the home stretch, over the freeway and around the mall. Mile 13 - 8:09 - Like a horse getting close to water. This was the only time I really pushed it. After the miles piling up lately, it was nice to have something to give at the end. .1 - 0:45 Not a dream race, but solid pacing and just about what I was ready for I guess. Things are awfully quiet out on the street now. So, there's my entry to the March Covid-19 Races Series. How was your weekend?
  17. 8 points
    It occurred to me as I was driving an ambulance, my hands trembling from the rapid descent after a spike in adrenaline: I enjoy my job because it’s a lot like running and racing. Just a bit prior, I was on my knees in a crowded, semi-lit living room, surrounded by 3 firefighters, 2 paramedics, and 1 other EMT with the same title as myself… hovering over the exposed chest of a male in his 60s who was sprawled supine on the floor. My palms were face down over his sternum just above the xiphoid process, where beneath lay that precious pump of the human body: the heart. A heart that had stopped working. Cardiac arrest. It is controlled chaos. The area around the patient looks like a tornado went through a medicine cabinet… used needle catheters, wrappers, packaging, medical bags with contents spilled everywhere, oxygen tanks. I am doing chest compressions, taking over for the firefighter who had been doing CPR upon our arrival. He is now ventilating the patient via bag-valve mask, a breath every 5-6 seconds. The medic in charge of the scene is reading the cardiac monitor and calling out instructions. One medic is inserting an IV, pushing meds. The other EMT is holding the IV bag and handing over supplies. Another firefighter is speaking with family, getting information and medical history. There is sobbing, wailing, from one or two adult daughters, or perhaps a wife? I am too distracted to really take note, but I see glimpses of them in the shadows as they helplessly watch, as they call his name over and over, entreating, willing him back. Push-push-push-push-push-push… I have never done CPR on a human before, but the EMT training in class comes back. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead and I hate that I didn’t take off my uniform parka; it is very warm in this crowded room. There is a hot spot forming at one place in my palm from it rubbing against one of the defibrillator pads with each compression. I feel calm. Acutely aware of every sound, sight, smell in the room, in ice-cold clarity, but at the same time, it seems as if I am in a dream. A trance. I am compressing, hard and fast, using my shoulders to drive the clenched palms downward. 20 thrusts, 50 thrusts, 100. You lose count. You just keep going. Someone asks me if I want to switch out yet. I shake my head and say another minute. Push-push-push-push. The monitor is showing the pumping of the heart; right now, we are contracting this man’s heart for him. Nowhere nearly as well as the healthy, functioning heart will do on its own, but enough to keep oxygenated blood circulating in vital organs. And most importantly, oxygen to the brain. The medic calls for a pause to check. CPR stops. The AED is analyzing, seeing if there is a shockable rhythm to deliver a charge to. For a second, everything halts, and I swear every person there held a breath at the same time. If nothing has changed, we have to go back to CPR, maybe another shock/charge, back to begging the body to respond. And then. The zig-zag blip across the screen. The medic reaches down and checks the carotid pulse. “We have one!” he says, and instantly radios headquarters to let them know we have a converted arrest. All 7 first responders gathered around let out a collective sigh, sharing quick nods of relief. It is a team effort. I feel tears pricking the back of my eyelids. Except there’s no time to waste now as the patient is packaged and carried out to the ambulance. Just because he has a pulse again does not mean he’s out of the woods. The family realizes that we stopped CPR, but that he is alive, and they are expectant and hopeful. We transfer the patient into the primary unit’s ambulance, and two medics hop inside with the second EMT driving. They head out with lights flashing, while ventilating and monitoring the still-critical patient. (FYI, Paramedics are amazing. They are the doctors of pre-hospital medicine, they are the kings of the emergency scene). I follow in my unit’s ambulance. I look down at my hands and realize that I am shaking. The entire time on-scene, I felt dead calm. Now I’m climbing back down the adrenaline ladder and it hits me like a tidal wave. There was the déjà vu, the familiarity. This is like running a marathon. The fear going in, the trepidation and nerves. While racing: the cold, calculating focus of doing what needs to be done, the almost trance-like state. The final suspense, the push to the finish, the physical demand. Then the relief, the accomplishment, the completion. Followed by the emotion, trembling, the wide-eyed coming out of the fog. A converted arrest feels like a marathon PR. Maybe even a better feeling, since you helped give life back to a person whose name you don’t even know. And then because the EMS gods are like the running gods in that they are unpredictable and ruthless, our unit got called to a second cardiac arrest on the same night. I go nearly 3 months without witnessing one… then I help work 2 of them in a 12 hour period. When it rains... As the assisting unit, we show up after CPR had already been initiated by the first-in unit. We assist with extrication and transport, this one being about 25 minutes from the hospital. At the hospital, I am on the side of the stretcher, feet on the lower rails a couple inches off the ground as two medics are wheeling myself and the patient into the ER. My one hand is holding onto a top rail to keep my balance, the heel of my other hand is used for one-handed CPR. As once again, I hover over a heart not my own…pushing, willing, hoping. It is strange how we humans are so connected. My own heart is exerting, doubling down, pumping harder… in order to help save the heart of another. An entire team awaits, swarming around us. A nurse takes over the chest compressions. I stand back, walk out, joined by the remainder of the teams. Our work is done. Once again, the shaking, the coming down from adrenaline. It is morning, nearly 12 hours in, at the end of my shift. I am suddenly exhausted. More so than I have ever been at the end of a shift. Today, the heel of my hand is tender and bruised, my shoulders and upper arms sore. Before we leave the hospital, we are informed. We couldn't save this one. Too far gone before anyone arrived, but there’s a duty to act and to always try. This is more of a race DNF feeling, the one where the outcome isn’t what you wanted. It hurts. You feel sad. Just like marathons gone awry though, you have to remind yourself you did what you could, you gave it your best. It is the unfortunate nature of cardiac arrests, much like races: perfect outcomes are more the exception than the rule. The variables are many and the margin of success is small. There are boring shifts of medical transports and helping Grandma up after she fell off the toilet. There was that time driving to Pittsburgh in a snowstorm with a two year old in the back of the ambulance, going to Children’s. There are end-of-shift calls that force you to clock out two hours late from a 12 hour shift. There’s vehicle maintenance and rig checks and supply restocking. Holding puke bags for vomiting patients. Cleaning blood off the stretcher. And charting, oh the endless charting. There’s a lot of mundane stuff as well as challenges taking you out of your comfort zone. In just a couple of months, I've been on a maternity call where a baby was born, a shooting with multiple gunshot wounds, a pedestrian struck by a car, several overdoses, and now two cardiac arrests. I've never missed the office job. And yes, I still run sometimes, too. Planning on gearing up for a spring race, and maybe some trail running and an ultra this summer. My focus has definitely shifted now that I work more and am focused on furthering training/experience in that field. But you cannot ask more from your life’s work than to have it give you purpose. And in the same way running helped shape me, fill me, and give me purpose, well, this is no different. A time on a clock or a heartbeat on a screen. You are fortunate indeed if you are able to do the things that make you glad to be alive.
  18. 8 points
    I had my first physical therapy appointment this morning and while there my doc visited me to give me good news. My posterior tibial tendon is not dislocated! It is still torn and I do still have to wear a boot for at least six weeks, but surgery is no longer in my future. I’m so relieved and so much more hopeful 🙂
  19. 8 points
    This past summer I really, really wanted to start building up a good base again. The idea of the 3 x 13 Trailfest series scared me. The problem was that I really had no idea how to train for the back to back days plus add in the fact that my body was still being a jerk on some days. I managed to be super consistent with some form of exercise. Biking became my go to if I thought I'd do more harm than good by running. And some of my results this summer were excellent -- PR on my summer 5k trail series. I really wanted to see if all of my running in the summer heat and humidity had paid off. Mind you I did virtually NO speed or interval training other than my 5k series and the 5 mile race back at the beginning of August. I ended up signing up for the Atlantic City Half Marathon against my better judgement. It's my local race but every time I've ever raced it in the past a major storm with 20-40 mph winds blows in. By the time the race date had rolled around my training from mid August to mid October had been sub par and super light on mileage. One week I ran S-I-X miles. Ugh. And then the ideal race weather that had been forecasted changed to forecast a storm blowing in on race day. Double ugh! But I'm smarter than I used to be. I knew I had just managed to run 39 miles in 3 days and I'm fairly good at racing a half marathon. And weather can’t be changed. What's the worst that could happen? I have to walk it in? BFD. I get to do this. Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was still good. The weather app showed rain starting at 10:00 (2 hours after the start). Perfect. I stretched and rolled. Drank my coffee and had some gluten free oatmeal with peanut butter. Drove the 30 minutes to the start and arrived by 7:15. Found some meter parking 1 block from the start. Score! Used the bathroom at Bally's Casino with success. Wahoo! LOL Found a hallway by the front doors to do some more stretching. Finally at 7:45 I went out onto the boardwalk to line up. The starting corrals were in front of the next casino so we had to fight through the spectators to enter from the rear and then I had to weave up to get to where I wanted to start. Hmmmm....good question...where did I want to start?? My secret goal was that I wanted sub 1:54. A sub 1:54 would give me a qualifying time for NYCM. My qualifying time used to be a 1:49 which I was within 50 seconds of getting before my injury, but time marches on and I will have a new and improved AG for 2020. I made it up to the 3:55 pacer -- an 8:58. I needed an 8:42 pace. I figured it would be a good place to start given my lack of speedwork. The gun went off and we started down the boardwalk. Immediately someone caught their foot and went down. Running the boardwalk is akin to running on the trails. The boards are warped and not even, some were super soft and felt almost rotted and then there are the dreaded popped nails. Thankfully the dude tucked and rolled and got back up. There was no easing into pace. The pacer immediately dropped into the 8s. I did my best to keep up but I was working and this was within the first 1/2 mile. I put my best poker face on and reminded myself that I'd warm up and things would get easier. We made a left and headed down onto the roads. Speaking of warming up I was warm....already. I had decided to wear shorts, my green heavier tank and a thin windbreaker. I hate being cold, but I also know I get hot fast. In the pocket of my jacket I had 3 gels and in the back pocket I had my car key. Before we even hit the first mile I was unzipping the jacket and tying it around my waist. I know better. Ugh! Mile 1 - 8:36 By mile 2 I knew the pacer was going WAY too fast. Her watch chimed and she yelled out the pace is to fast! I look down at my watch and see 8:15. LOL The pace group slowed, but I figured at this point I've pretty much shoved all of my chips in to the pot and it was too late to change my bet. Mile 2 for me chimed in at 8:28. The race runs up onto an elevated highway before going down into a tunnel. My GPS signal was lost down in here and from that point on I'd hit the mile markers before my Garmin chimed. We ran all along the north end of the island, behind casinos and around some townhomes. Cheering is minimal. Flop, flop, flop went those damn gels against my legs. I finally grabbed the pocket and shoved it into the front of my shorts. Miles 3-5 were 8:31, 8:26, and 8:14. At some points you'd feel absolutely no wind to the point that your sunglasses fogged. Being as I run around here all the time I knew that meant as soon as we turned the wind was going to be full on in our faces. At around mile 6 I was running close to this little boy. He was 9 years old and crushing it. Solo, no parent. Flop, flop, flop went the car key against the back of my leg. I shoved that into the back of my shorts. So I want to make sure you get the picture. Green shirt, yellow jacket tied around my waist with a pocket full of Gu shoved down the front of my shorts and another yellow pocket with car key shoved down the back of my shorts. I'm sure I'll be getting a call from RW to model soon. Ha! I took a Gu at mile 6 and then walked through a water station to get a bit of fluid. I was definitely riding a line of how much longer I could keep up this pace. 8:39 At mile 7 we headed back towards the boardwalk. I mentally was talking to myself -- "when you get to the boardwalk you know all you have to do is a bit past the finish line and then run to the turnaround to head for the finish." Miles 7 & 8 -- 8:43, 8:33. The Gu kicked in and I did feel a little better, At mile 9 we cruised past the finish line so I knew I had approximately 2 miles to run before I could turn around. So close, yet so far away! You can do this! No, I can't. Yes, .... oh look there's my bike friend!! My cycling friend always escorts one of the lead runners. Today he was leading this beautiful looking strong woman into the finish line! I yelled out to him but I don't think he heard me. Mile 9 - 8:31 I grabbed some water, gatorade and/or a gel from the aid station. I took I few bites of gel and sipped some water and willed myself to keep going. Mile 10 & 11 -- 8:37, 8:42 Finally the turnaround was just ahead. Thank the Lord! A guy behind me kept yelling, "Water! Where's the water?" I thought he was kidding because we had passed an aid station not too long ago. Apparently he wasn't. I think he had a full breakdown on those poor volunteers. I'm hoping he was running the half and not the full because if he was running the full he was in bad shape for 14 more miles. It was hot(ish) and humid(ish) so maybe that's why he was struggling? As soon as I hit the turn around I was playing mental math -- if you run 10 minute miles that will give you a finish time of xx.... was the NYCM qualifying time a 1:54 or 1:55?? I just couldn't think. My right quad was seizing up and we were now running into the wind. I was leap frogging a couple who were running and then walking. I did manage to pass them for good at some point. Mile 12 -- “This is stupid. I hate racing. I'm never running another full because a half is so freaking hard!” 9:00 Just keep running and don't think. There's Bally's. You can stop when you get there. The 9 year old came flying by me into the finish. "Go, little dude!" Mile 13: 9:06 Oh my gosh the finish line!! Then I heard someone yell, "Go, Gwen!" I tried to figure out who it was but all I knew was it was a tall, thin man in a Boston jacket. My oxygen deprived head would not let me figure out who it was. According to Garmin my last .1 was at a 7:33 pace. I couldn't believe it -- 1:52:46. I got it! I staggered over to massage guy and had him massage my poor right quad. and then I grabbed all sorts of food. I came across tablets where you can check your time. Punched in my number and let out an audible gasp when I saw I came in 2nd out of 99 in my AG. Oh my gosh! Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and give it a go. Yep, awards were in the pouring rain. Didn't care one little bit! (As for the guy who cheered for me at the finish it was the guy who leads the track workouts I have attended. Lol)
  20. 8 points
    I’ve always loved camping. Particularly backpacking. Putting everything you need to survive on your back and walking into the wilderness for days or weeks at a time is tremendously freeing. You’re no longer bound by calendars and emails and due dates; when your next food and shelter are not guaranteed the volume on those alarms and LED notifications is turned down considerably. And few things bring me the same joy as the horrified look on the faces of people I encounter after walking out of the woods, my unwashed state being evident to them long before they make visual contact. It’s actually one of the few times I will go out of my way to talk to strangers. Watching them have the internal debate on whether I’m a murderous hobo or harmless vagrant tripping balls while fighting to suppress their gag reflex is the highlight of rejoining decent society after a week of digging tiny holes in the ground to poop into. I never thought I’d get The Wife camping. Any time I would raise the prospect of a trip she would voice concerns about the lack of showers and indoor plumbing. It wasn’t until our trip to Grand Teton National Park that her views began to change. We were deep into Cascade Canyon, just after a pop up storm had rolled through and the concussive force of the thunder ricocheting off the canyon walls had loosened some fillings. She was peeing under a tree while I kept a lookout for the bear whose scat was still steaming just a few yards away. “It that rain or piss on your pants there?” She checked. “Not sure. If it’s piss does that mean it’ll keep the bear away?” Now I wasn’t sure. I checked my watch and knew it was getting close to the time we had to turn back to the trail head, and figured her patience for urinating on herself would become a more limiting factor than impending darkness. Yet when I turned back to make this suggestion, she was already heading further up the trail, deeper into the canyon. Later, over beer and nachos we happily recounted the day’s highlights. Despite the shared awe at the experience, there was a hint of lament in her voice. “I wish we could have made it to Lake Solitude. Or at least seen the backside of The Grand.” I resisted the urge to make inappropriate grand backside jokes. It was a family bar, after all. “I think we need a tent if you want to do that.” “So maybe next time we bring one.” Our first camping trip was a single night at a state park in Georgia. We planned a little 7-8 mile out and back hike to our campsite as an intro to backpacking. The forecast called for overnight temps in the 50s, however it was already below freezing by the time we finished dinner. The snow started just as I’d finished gathering firewood, which drove The Wife from the fire ring to her sleeping bag before I finished the kindling teepee. So I refilled our water bottles from the creek, filtering it obviously because safety first, and joined her and The Dog in the tent. “This water smells like someone farted in it.” “Well, I did see a guy hiding behind a tree and laughing at me as I was filling the bottles.” “Screw you. It stinks, I’m freezing, and it’s snowing. You told me it would be warm.” “It could be worse, there could be bears. You have a warm dry sleeping bag. Dog is clearly happy.” “She just farted.” “You sure it’s her and not the water? And at least there’s no bears.” “Maybe it was bears farting in the water.” Before I could answer, I heard something outside. We both paused for a moment, until we realized that the snow was now rain. Cold rain. “Well if it’s raining that means it’s getting warmer, right?” Silver linings, my friends, silver linings. We played rummy 500 in the tent for a bit, and I resigned myself to the fact that this would be our last camping trip. Amazingly, when we planned our next big vacation to the Grand Canyon, The Wife wanted to backpack rim to rim to rim and hit part of the Tonto trail through the Canyon’s interior. Our itinerary included about 50 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing with a pack, plus another 40 miles of day hiking excursions. To get into backpacking shape, we made a few more trips to the local wilderness, stretching out our mileage and nights each time. And each time, and I mean every single time, it rained. We had everything from the kind of light mist you can never wipe off your glasses to “why are those animals pairing up” levels of rain. The ever present stink of wet dog made us long for mere fart water, and we took to viewing mud as a condiment at mealtime. Our last shakeout trip was to be a 4 day, 3 night trip to the Smokies with some serious climbing. The only moisture we encountered on day 1 was from the streams we crossed climbing our first peak, and the clear sky and elevation gave us the kind of sunset that makes you think there’s no way random collections of atoms could have assembled in this beautiful an arrangement on their own. We went to bed happy and optimistic, and awoke in a heart pounding panic as the inevitable thunderstorm rolled over the mountains. Somewhat deflated, we went through the well practiced routine of dodging raindrops while making breakfast and packing up camp and hit the trails. As we traversed the rolling terrain of the Smokies our comfort was soon being challenged by both precipitation and perspiration, and it wasn’t long before everything we carried was soaked. We stopped for lunch only after we realized the rain was never going to let up enough to not have soggy peanut butter and nutella tortillas. “Well, it probably won’t rain in the desert, right?” “If it does they get flash floods and we’ll die. So with our luck, it’ll fucking rain.” The Wife wasn’t in the mood for light-hearted banter. We were sitting on a downed tree at the junction of 2 trails, and as I tried to think of something encouraging to offer my eyes absentmindedly scanned the surroundings. My train of thought soon followed my gaze, wandering off track and getting lost in the forest. I had spent most of the day trying to keep dry as much gear and clothing as I could and worrying The Wife was going to have a breakdown on her umpteenth day of mother nature’s waterboarding 20 miles from the nearest roof. So this was the first time I was noticing the beauty of the lush deciduous rain forest, from the smokey fog (ooooohhhhh NOW I get it) blanketing the peaks to the prehistoric sized ferns to the rainbow of caterpillars and salamanders and flowers. I’d never seen snails the size of a fist before, and I had forgotten how soothing the fat pit pats of monsoon raindrops hitting millions of leaves could be if you just listened to it. The Wife, meanwhile, had yet to notice any of this as she tended to blisters from where her socks had filled with silt through her “waterproof” boots. We continued on, hiking up the stream where the trail used to be, towards Mount Cammerer. I had stopped trying to avoid big puddles and continuously fussing with pack covers. Those efforts were as futile at trying to light a cigarette in a hurricane at the bottom of a pool. I was focused on the bears and the wild turkeys and the dozens of temporary waterfalls and cascades we now had the opportunity to hike past. I didn’t even mind that I had to slurp most of my lunch tortilla. The Wife was pretty pissed about it though, since she’d somehow gotten nutella smeared on her glasses when her tortilla disintegrated and couldn’t wash it off. One of our favorite backpacking rituals is afternoon coffee. We pick a scenic spot to stop, I whip out the camp stove and we brew up some thoroughly shitty instant coffee which is usually improved orders of magnitude by the setting. At the top of Cammerer is an old fire lookout tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps which we had picked as our afternoon coffee stop. But I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. As we made our way to the summit ridge, we were more and more exposed to the wind, which allowed the rain a better angle to get under our hoods and sleeves and make sure we stayed well hydrated. It also didn’t help with stability as we had to scramble over the slick boulders which now constituted the trail. But The Wife is just about the most stubborn living creature on the face of the Earth, and she had made her mind up that she was getting to the top of this damn mountain. So we did. To our expected disappointment the lookout tower was locked, and while I was pretty sure I could break off the rusty padlock with no more than a heavy lean I was also sure, being in a National Park, that would be some kind of Federal crime. Not that I expected surrounding rocks and trees to turn into Federal agents and haul my ass off the mountain in an incredible waste of resources, but in these Orwellian times I didn’t feel like tempting fate. So we sat on an exposed rocky ledge and caught our breath from the climb. “I don’t think I can light the stove in this” I said, half expecting her to start sobbing. Instead, she started taking off her raincoat, which was even more alarming. “...honey…” “Make the coffee.” The calmness with which she delivered this direction, standing at the top of a mountain in a monsoon holding her raincoat in an outstretched hand, was absolutely terrifying. It was like when little Danny rounds the corner on his Big Wheel and sees the twin girls in The Shining. “Make a shelter with this and the rocks and make the coffee.” “But its pouring, put the coat back-” “I’m already soaked, what the hell’s the difference?” She had a point. So I fashioned a little shelter and lit the stove to make our afternoon coffee. The black gold did wonders for body and soul, and we began laughing to ourselves at the absurdity of our situation. The lower level clouds had thinned just enough to give us a view of the neighboring peaks, and we had fun retracing our path up and over the distant trails. We decided to make a second cup, and while the water was boiling we heard some other hikers making their way to the summit. As they approached we could hear them complaining about the rain and the wet rocks and the wind. So I shouted over to them asking if they wanted a cup of coffee. This stopped them in their tracks, and the looks on their faces made it clear they had thought they were alone. “Wha… what are you guys doing up here?” “Having coffee. Want a cup? We have plenty.” They looked at each other as if I had asked in Aramaic, then back at us. “Reeeeeeeally warms you up!” I prodded. Still nothing as they tried to retreat as far under their hoods and rain suits as possible. “Dude, it’s a monsoon, you’re gonna get wet. Have a cup of coffee!” The Wife likes to call dumbstruck strangers dude for some reason. They finally gave a feeble “no thanks” and retreated down the mountain, glancing back at us as though we were the hypothermic phantasm of some CCC workers who died building the lookout tower back in the ‘30s. Rejuvenated, we continued to brave sideways rain, what we later learned were hurricane force winds, a change in campsite due to bears ransacking some tents, and rodents getting into our bear bag and eating our final day’s breakfast. No one tells you the mice are way worse than the bears, but they are. Our last morning hiking down off Mount Sterling we passed through more lush rainforest, this time accented with countless rainbows from the beams of sunlight finally breaking through the dewy canopy as we raced towards sustenance. We stopped at the first place we came to, which unfortunately was a McDonald’s, and ordered half the menu. We apologized for paying with the damp crumpled legal tender we pulled from muddy cargo pockets and sat in the puddles we were making in our booth to wait for our food. After a couple of minutes, the cashier came over with a cookie and an apple pie and asked if we wanted them. We politely declined, but she insisted. “We got these ready by mistake ‘cause we screwed up another order, they’re just gonna go to waste. They’re free, y’all sure you don’t want ‘em?” We were starving since a squirrel had pilfered our oatmeal, so we shrugged and accepted. A few minutes later, she came back. “We also got a coffee order wrong, y’all want these coffees too?” We were in the middle of a sugar high, so we again shrugged and thanked her for screwing up. After devouring our golden arched cornucopia of saturated fats, we sat back, slightly ashamed at the calorie count, and joked about how many years we’d just taken off our lives. We were getting ready to leave when the cashier came over once again. “Man, it is just not our day. Made these two ice creams by mistake, y’all want ‘em?” We tried to decline, but she insisted they were going to be trashed anyway and left them on the table, telling us to chuck them if we didn’t want them. After the requisite “well if they’re just going to go to waste” justification, The Wife started in on the chocolate cup as we made our way out to the car. “Ugh, it’s like I’m eating all my calories for the month in one sitting.” That’s when it hit me. I looked at The Wife’s nutella smeared glasses. I picked at the dried mud crusted in my beard and for the first time was aware of just how bad we smelled sitting in the confined space of the car. “She thought we were homeless.” “Hurmph?” “Don’t talk with your mouth full. The cashier, she thinks we’re homeless, that’s why she kept bringing us food.” The Wife looked back into the store, and it dawned on her too that we were and had been alone since we arrived. There were no other orders to screw up. Touched by her kindness and embarrassed that we were sitting in a car that still had a temporary license plate and an REI warehouse of new(ish) camping gear in the trunk while accepting free food, The Wife ran back in to stuff the Ronald McDonald House collection box with whatever money we had on us. Sated, amused, pruned from head to toe, and with a tiny measure of faith in humanity we hit the road. “So what’d you think? You ready for the Grand Canyon?” "Only if it rains."
  21. 8 points
    Hi folks. I think most of you know me, but maybe you've forgotten all about me. Nah, no one forgets Apple Pie! 😁 A quick recap: I ran on and off for most of my life. I was on the cross country team, but to be truthful that was more kicking my own rear end to get in shape for wrestling season each year. I was never at the front of the pack, but never really bothered about not being there either. In 2010, after not running for a few years, I was sitting on my couch feeling kinda sedentary & lumpy when I decided out of the blue that I should run a marathon. Did some research and concluded going from zero to my first 26.2 with the body that was staring back at me in the mirror in less than 18 months was unwise. But 18 months later, I was crossing the finish line of the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. That was pretty cool! 👍 Shortly after that I found the Loop. That was 2012. I grew as a runner, largely through sage advice from Loopsters. I went to Loopfests in Rehoboth, Erie, Shamrock, & Philadelphia, and ran races with a smaller number of Loopsters many times, and even got a handful of them to travel to Vermont each year to run a 100 mile relay race. Each year was better than the previous through 2015, when PF reared its ugly head (foot?) and although I kept running for another year, it ultimately sidelined me for a good portion of 2017. That sucked. ☹️ But last year, I slowly, very slowly, made my way back and 2019 has been my best running year in quite a while. I'll go over 700 miles for the year and my pace is occasionally below 10:00/mile. I ran the half marathon in Atlantic City in the spring with a bunch of Loopsters. My time wasn't impressive (2:31) but I didn't really care because it was the first half I'd run in almost 3 years (and I ran with a ear infection and a sinus infection! 😮). I saw it as a starting point. Which is exactly what it has been. I ran 2 other halfs this year! I have days - like today - when I feel all discombobulated and slow and fat, but the majority of my runs are enjoyable. And I like the trendlines: more miles per month, more miles per year, slightly faster paces as time goes on. I see lots of good stuff ahead for me. I feel like this year has been a turning point, where I am - dare I say it - finally running regularly again and not dealing with any significant injuries. Its tough to be out, but when you come back it sure feels so good. So for those that are injured, hold out hope. You can do it. Running can be frustrating. But the effort pays off in the end! I look forward to seeing some of you in 2020! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and have a wonderful Christmas! - Apple Pie
  22. 8 points
    I guess I’ll try writing a race report. This will be the first race report since I wrote about my first marathon a little over a year ago. Yep - Marshall was my first and I did a second at the end of March this year. It was the Carmel Marathon and it didn’t go as well as Marshall. I went a little more aggressive and blew up around 20 miles like so many do. Enough about that. So not long after Carmel, I decided that I wanted to do a 50K trail race. For years, I’ve been far more into trail running than road running despite the fact that I almost never run on trails. My so-called excuse was that I spend so much time running already that I can’t really justify spending more time driving at least 25 minutes one way to the nearest trail. Trails appeal to me for a lot of reasons. The scenery obviously, but I’m also not ashamed to admit that running long is more interesting to me than running fast. That explains my lack of speed workouts generally, but trails give you the excuse to go slower. You’re supposed to walk the uphills and the technical stuff on trails, right? So I decided that I’d run one of the closest trail 50Ks to where I live. It’s called the Rough Trail 50K and it’s in the Red River Gorge here in Kentucky. How “Rough” could it be, right? I signed up in April and kind of put it in the back of my mind because it was a November race. Sometime early summer, I mentioned to one of my running buddies who does a lot of trail races (he’s done Western States and the Vol State 500K and he’s done Rough Trail twice) that I’d signed up. His response - “You’re making a mistake. You need to do something that’s easier than that one for your first”. A real confidence booster, right? Well he probably had a point. Although I’ve randomly done some trail running, I hadn’t done any in quite awhile and had never done a trail run longer than 10 miles. So one of the ways I started training in late spring was to start limiting my runs to a heart rate lower than 140. When my HR gets to 140, I start walking or at least back off. When it drops below, I start running again. I figured this would mimic the constant shifting from run to walk you do on trails where the terrain is a bit technical and more importantly it would boost my endurance. So basically, all of my running the last 6 months or so has been slow. I’ve not done a single interval, tempo or anything that closely resembles speed. Eventually, I got around to asking my trail running buddy if he would take me out to “the gorge” to do a practice run and show me around a bit. Our schedules finally synced up sometime in August and I headed out for what was essentially my first trail run. (Just throwing in a couple random pictures from the gorge that aren’t me since the race hasn’t posted the photos yet) Well….he’s supposed to be a buddy, but I think he tried to kill me. He basically took me on a section of the course that had most of the big climbs. It was a run that was about 12 miles and it took me 3 hours. And it left me broken. As in, I couldn’t run for 5 days after that because my legs were so sore. And I went out and tried to run every day. I immediately considered dropping down to the 25K option. There was a 10 hour cutoff in the 50K and I’d just managed to only run about a third of it in 3 hours. As it turns out, he is a good friend because that run put the fear of this race in me. I started going out to the gorge anytime I could find someone to go with and I started driving to a more local trail for 10 mile runs on the other weekend day each week (and some Friday afternoons). I upped my road running as well and turned in a 250 mile month in September. The most I’d ever done before that was just under 200. Over 100 of those miles were on trails. I kept it up into October culminating in a 16 mile run that covered the last half of the course and was very similar to that first trail run...only longer. I’d made a lot of progress. I wasn’t even sore the next day and I was able to run. I had one more taper 10 miler on an easier section of the course and the hay was in the barn. I can’t say I was confident, but I felt better about my chances than 2 months prior. I’d essentially run the entire race course at least twice at that point on various runs. But still, I hadn’t had a run longer than 5 and a half hours, and I was figuring at that point I was going to shoot for 8:30 in the race. So I might be 3 hours into uncharted territory. I made a race plan that essentially had me holding myself back for the first 17 miles. That first part has most of the easiest sections whereas the majority of the big climbs were all in those last 14 miles. Two days before the race, a running acquaintance of mine - Marcelo - messaged me and asked if I wanted to carpool. I agreed and I told him that I was aiming for 8:30. He said he was too, so now I had someone to run with as well. Race day was pretty cold. And that’s a good thing for me. It was going to be about 23 at the start and climbing into the 40s. I decided on shorts, calf sleeves, two short sleeve running shirts and a very light jacket with gloves and a buff over my ears. I ended up being comfortable the whole day and never took off the jacket. Don’t worry, I don’t remember many details about the race, so this will wrap up pretty soon. And anyway, running and racing to me is more about the entire journey and not the single day of running/racing. The race started and I was mildly successful at holding myself back during that easier first half. Well….maybe not so much! I did keep the effort where I felt it needed to be, but I was going quicker than I figured in my planning. At the first aid station at 8 miles, I was already about almost 30 minutes ahead. At mile 13, that was now about 45. I was 50 minutes early at that 17 mile aid station. So I’d pretty much failed in holding myself back, but I was feeling pretty good. So that is where I figured the real race would start. There’s about a 7 miles stretch to the next aid station and it had a lot of climbing - including one of the biggest climbs leading right up to the aid station itself. Marcelo had dropped back around mile 18 and said he'd catch up. I didn't see him again until about mile 25. I ran most of that time alone with nobody passing and nobody to pass. When I got through that section, my cushion was now up to 53 minutes over my plan so I’d basically held even with the plan. I wasn't gaining on it anymore, though and was also starting to feel the miles and hours in my legs and pretty much everywhere else. From that point, there are two other aid stations in fairly short order. I gave back about 10 minutes of my cushion in that stretch as I just really didn’t feel like running on the easy stuff anymore. At the same time, though, I also started thinking about the chance to break 8 hours. Here is a photo from around that time: By the time I got to the 27 mile aid station, I was feeling a little better. I’d had some food at the previous two and maybe that was working its magic. I also chatted for a second with a running friend who was working the aid station and that gave me a boost. I was a bit disappointed that she didn’t have the shot of Fireball she told me earlier that she’d bring for me (for the record, I don’t like Fireball at all but it was something fun to think about). Or maybe she’d already drank it herself. At that point, the 4 miles left felt doable. Never mind that the longest climb of the race starts at mile 28. (Trail running tip that I learned - At that last aid station, I asked one of the aid station workers to fill one of my bottles with coke. Do not do that. Within about a minute of running, the shaking caused the carbonation to activate and the bite valve popped open and coke started spraying out a little bit. I stopped, took off the cap, chugged half the bottle and poured out the rest.) The last 4 miles was pretty uneventful. Marcelo didn't stop at the aid station and left me on the downhill. I got to the last climb and I worked my way up in the fastest time I’d ever climbed it. I caught and passed Marcelo at the start of the climb. When I got to the top, he was nowhere in sight. At that point, it gets a bit difficult mentally because the climb is over, but you still have to drag yourself along for 2.5 miles on flatter stuff to the finish. I was doing math at that point and figured I should be under 8 hours. But it would be kind of close. I got to mile 30 and then to mile 31 and I still wasn’t quite sure where the finish was. I started wondering if I’d taken a wrong turn. In training, I’d just take the trail back to the parking lot, but the finish was in a slightly different place along a trail I’d not used. As it turns out, Marcelo did actually take a wrong turn at the top of the climb and ended up running an extra half mile. By the time I got to 31.3 miles, I was starting to get nervous about that sub 8. But that’s about the time I spotted the finish line chute about 15 feet above me around a curve. Finish time 7:53:20. I was 60th overall out of the 140 registered. Honestly, it went about as good as it could have. Garmin says it was 6900 feet of elevation gain. Strava says it was somewhere around 6,000. Not sure why they are never closer. The race says 6500, so maybe that’s what it was. It was 2 plus hours longer than I’d ever run. Sure there was a fair amount of walking during the uphills and technical sections, but I never stopped moving forward except to grab food and fill up my water bottles at the 6 aid stations. Nutrition and hydration weren’t ever an issue. I basically drank Tailwind most of the day and had a little bit of aid station food each time to supplement. I think I had a few brownies, some mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a small pickle and some potato chips over the course of the race. There were rumors of grilled cheese sandwiches at the last aid station, but they must have been gone when I got there. I was kind of stiff and sore that evening and more so the next day, but nothing too bad. The day after I went for a 2 mile walk, but I was still a bit too sore to run. So the question in my head now is what next? I’ve considered doing the Atlanta Marathon Loophest next spring, but I’m not sure I want to do another road marathon right now. And the failed spring marathon this year is in my head. Training goes so well in the cold months of winter and then the race ends up being warmer than you’re used to. Fall races seem to be the opposite. I also REALLY enjoyed this race. Despite the fact that it was supposed to be a mistake as my first, I think it was tailor made for me. I’m sure better trail runners than me would disagree, but I thought there was a lot of the course that wasn’t runnable and I kind of liked that. I’ve looked at a couple of spring trail ultras but haven’t pulled the trigger on those either. I’ve got to make up my mind soon because races that I do have to be in cooler months. So that means mid-April or earlier. And that means training starting real soon.
  23. 8 points
    I started keeping a journal when I was 19. I wrote almost every day for the two years of my LDS mission, and about every week or so for several years after that. Sort of like my running, there were some pretty significant gaps from then until ten years ago when I started this marathon thing and found the Loop. Since then I substituted my bloops for most of what I would have written in the journal. The vast majority of that writing is about running, and not so much about the rest of my life. But the point of journal writing is to leave a record of yourself, and that's a big part of me, even in this, my advanced stage of life. One of the things that drove me to be so prolific (I went months of writing every single day of marathon training) was the positive response from the Loop for it. Sharing my new experience of running and racing marathons with a supportive community was exciting and validating. I'd spend a good portion of my runs thinking about what I was going to post. It made for a heightened awareness of my efforts in training as well as the sights and sounds of the world around me. I have a fair level of (although not professionally diagnosed, Dr. Google seems pretty clear) ADHD, and knowing I was about to "report" on those miles helped me stay much more focused. No lament here about the death of the Loop as it was, or nostalgia about the way it used to be. But there's no doubt that seeing just a few posts here and there besides my own has reduced the incentive to put it all out there, as it were. If no one but me is interested, why go to the effort? A big part of the fun was the post-posting interaction. Did I write something funny? Who laughed? Was I going through a tough stretch and got some much needed encouragement from runners who were going through the same or had gone through it? Did a workout or a race go especially well and dozens of comrades gave me kudos? And that's just about the running. The good will, condolences, virtual hugs, tension-relieving jokes, cheers and advice extend to whatever part of my life I cared to share. Those are all still there and appreciated just as much, just from a much, much smaller group of friends on this forum nowadays. But, it's been ten years since I started here. Since I'm old already, things don't change for me as quickly any more. And I no longer have things like searching for romance, expecting and raising children, buying that first home, new jobs, finishing my education, and all those other things that shift our circle of acquaintance and the activities that fill the days of a lot of my old friends from the Loop. It's been joyful to watch your lives unfold. Great memories for me. My rotating desktop picture right now is a shot of ten people, most of whom had never met before the day it was taken. But you'd never know it looking at the smiles, shoulders leaning into one another with familiarity, arms congenially on shoulders, a few glasses raised in a spontaneous toast to friendship. A couple of them I've never physically seen again, but count each one as a warm and good friend. I've seen them gain friends, spouses, children, grandchildren. I've shared joy and heartache, triumph and defeat. We created something very special on the Loop. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Since most of them (unlike myself) have moved on to Crossfit and/or babies and/or world traveling, or just receded away from online blogging, our little corner of the internet has gone kind of quiet. I'm not complaining (OK, maybe a little). Nor am I announcing my own departure from the Loop. Just reminiscing. The point is, if there is one, I'm still here. I plan to keep writing here and leaving this bit of myself as a record that, "Hey, world, I existed." Thanks for reading. I'm enjoying a well-deserved break from marathon training at the moment. Still need to decide on a spring race. Still thinking about Atlanta since there will be Loopsters there. And the Olympic Trials. But it's March 1, which makes for a tough training environment here in the frozen tundra. Not that Michigan is the worst place in the country to run in the winter, but it can be messy. Of course, I have a treadmill in the house now, so ... Anyway, then next fall will be another BQ attempt. I'll try to pick an easier course next time. Think I mentioned the local 5K that I often run in November. I have a string of AG wins there and it supports the school where the boys ran. Then Connor got this new job and he starts in a week and a half and I'm helping him move 1600 miles to Tacoma, WA. Leaving on Friday to load the truck and drive it west. That's the day before the 5K, so I'm a scratch for 2019. Now I'm thinking about finding a race in the PNW while I'm there, because running.
  24. 8 points
    The short: Mother Nature didn't want the Plaza 10K runners to have it easy this year, so she gave us 71 degrees with thunderstorms in the area and a dew point of 68. Historically I haven't raced well in these conditions, so I lined up ready to give it my all and to be thankful for whatever that was, without any specific time or pace expectations. I ran by effort and ignored my watch, and although I had an idea where I was at since the race had a course clock at the 5K mark, I was thrilled to see the finishing clock in the 36s as I came down the final stretch. My official time of 36:52 is 18 seconds off my PR, which I ran in 56 degrees on the same course last year, but it almost felt like a PR because it was much faster than I thought I would run in the weather we had. It is by far the best I've raced anything in temperatures over 70, and it felt so good after a disappointing 5K in similar conditions the previous weekend. My official results are here, and my Strava activity of the race can be seen here. I remembered not to stop my watch for once! On my drive to the race, Psalm 23 popped into my head The long: I had a hard time getting pumped up for this race because of the forecast. I was still feeling discouraged from the Brookhaven 5K, and the weather conditions were shaping up to be nearly identical for this race. I thought my fitness was there, but I didn't feel good about showing it in crap weather - plus optimism and denial hadn't worked the previous weekend! I was at this race solo, so this was my race day pic! However, as always I got excited when I got in the race environment and began warming up. This race is very competitive, so as usual one of my goals was to place as high as I could. My other goals were to get the best out of myself that day, and to not be afraid to hurt. The race started and I settled into the effort level that felt maintainable for 6.2 miles. Several women went out ahead of me, and I began setting my eyes on the ponytail closest to me and working towards it. I latched onto men here and there to help pull me up to the next ponytail. I passed Chander, who I ran most of Grandma's Marathon with, shortly after the mile mark and encouraged her to work her way up with me. The familiar course was comforting, although I caught myself thinking, "I remember how much cooler it was last year" a few times. Mid-race focus I was nearing a woman and feeling strong when we passed the 5K clock in 18:24. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or to breathe a sign of relief, since the pace felt hard but it also felt do-able, whereas the previous week I'd been nearly dead after racing a flatter 5K in 18:23. That gave me a nice boost and I accelerated past that women, encouraging her to work with me to catch the two ponytails ahead of us. A couple of my male pace buddies around mile 4 After that point I worked with a couple of men for the second half of the race. The effort was hard but I kept telling myself just to stay with them; they would get me in the 36s. Although I didn't have a time goal when I started the race, I sure had one after I saw my 5K course split, and that was to run something starting with a 36! I knew that wouldn't be an easy task, because the final 2 miles of this course have a lot of uphill and I've always positive split on it. Also, my coach told me that humidity affects us most in the second half of a race, which seems like a good explanation for why I positive split everything in the summer even though in general I consider myself a good negative splitter... I started to hurt really bad with 1.5 miles to go, but I was gaining slightly on a ponytail about 30 seconds ahead and wouldn't let myself give up, just in case! Running near the men helped a lot, but as they sprinted in the final 0.2 I didn't have much left to give - by that point I also knew that I wasn't going to move up or get caught in my female position. As I came down the final stretch, I saw that I was going to make it in the 36s and broke out in a smile! I remembered to not stop my watch right at the line in hopes of getting good finishing photos! The woman who won my age group was from Flagstaff, AZ Post-race, I ran an 8 mile cool down with great company, which has become tradition for this Sunday race that always coincides with marathon training (probably because I am always marathon training, bahaha!)! I felt pretty good on the slow cool down until we climbed a massive steep hill in the final mile, in search of Sharon's car... The race took about 8 photos of us finishing our cool down, hah! The more I reflected on my race, the better I felt about it. The woman who won the race last year in 34:36 ran 35:24 this time for second place, and she is in top shape preparing for the Twin Cities Marathon. Another fast female who ran 35:09 last year finished in 36:09 this year. I finished in front of a women I've never beat before, who ran 36:10 last year and 37:27 this time. Thinking about it that way, I felt that being 18 seconds slower than my 2018 time was perhaps equivalent to a 30-40 second PR, and this was sure a better checkpoint than my race the weekend before! Pretty happy with these grade-adjusted paces except for mile 6 and the final 0.24 - those show I didn't have much left to give! I wish mile 4 was instead mile 6 I wrote about my Plaza 2018 race here and my Plaza 2017 race here. Clearly I need to keep running this race every year, because I have never come away thinking it could have gone any better. I'm thankful I returned for the Plaza 10K magic in 2019. Psalm 23:1: The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want... 23:6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. My course 5K splits were 18:24 and 18:27! Post-race brunch company Hahaha!
  25. 8 points
    It's 7:02 and I just hopped off my friend's Vespa at the entrance to the park. I run to Lakeside for bib pick up. The lady tells me, "It's 7:04." FuckFuckFuckFuckFuck. The race starts at 7:10 sharp and I'm still a good 10 minute walk from the start line and my left shoe is on wonky. My hair is stupid from squishing my ponytail into the helmet and my hat is in my hand. What does a ten minute walk translate to in running? I find out soon enough when I hear the horn blow and I'm still a few hundred feet away. I stop to retie my shoe and then pick up the pace to the start. I wasn't going to actually race this race. My lungs have been crap. I'm 30 pounds heavier than when I ran this series two years ago. I've been injured all winter. But I'm going faster than I thought I could and feeling okay. The back of the pack is already gone and they are starting to take down the cones at the start as I fly through. I start my watch. 9:05 Huh. I didn't think I could run this pace right now. It feels sustainable. Is this comfortably hard? I don't remember anymore what that feels like. I don't remember what I'm supposed to feel like racing. I wonder if it's my muscles or my mind that are out of practice. This feels good and I decide to try to stick with this pace. So much for not racing. I come up to The Hill and I still feel okay. I'm picking off people at the back and getting picked off by faster people who were late like me. I focus on my effort. This is the hardest part of the race. It's so easy to burn yourself out on this hill and it's only halfway through the first mile. I'm working but I'm not burning. My lungs aren't on fire. I think to myself that I may have just pulled off that whole "equal effort" thing that they are always telling you to do on hills but I never seem to be able to do. I reach the crest and start to gun it on the downhill. I refuse to look at my watch just yet. I don't want to feel like I should be doing anything more or less. I'm working but I'm not burning. I know I used to push it so much more but I just don't feel ready. I don't think I'll be able to keep it going. I'm not there yet. I get to the mile marker and peek. 9:23 Okay. There was The Hill. Shake it off and get back to pace. Mile 2 is some downhill and some rollers. I'm still feeling good and fast. I think I can ride it out at this pace. I glance at my watch 8:50. Holy shit. I haven't seen an 8 on my watch in forever. A little voice whispers that two years ago I was flirting with the 7:50's at this point in the race but I let myself let that go. Those aren't my paces anymore. I haven't put in the work for those paces and I'm so much heavier now. I let myself accept that I am working on both things but neither one is immediate. I hold on and click off the mile at that pace. Mile 3 starts on the big downhill. Here is the best part of the whole park. It's the payoff for The Hill and all the rollers. I fly and I start to get to that edge but I know I don't have the discipline to hold it. I let myself fly while I prepare myself for the next part. It's the worst part of the race. It's flat and wide and there's nothing to look at. I tell myself that I can not hold whatever pace I am at once I get to the flat and I need to be okay with that. I need to know it's coming and not see my slowing pace as a failure. I am on a downhill. I should be going faster here than there. I steal one glance at my watch. 8:19 Oh it feels so amazing to feel my legs move this fast. I let myself just enjoy it while lasts. If I could close my eyes and just feel it, I would. But I get to the bottom and the hard part begins. Every race in this park ends after this section and years of conditioning have taught me to hate it. This is where you hurt. This is where you struggle. This is where you do everything in your power to hold on. This is where your lungs burn and your legs scream and you have a million arguments with yourself to just keep going, keep pushing. I don't think of the distance. I know I'm slowing but I don't look at my watch. I set my eyes on each bend in the road far out in front of me. Three turns to the finish. Two turns to the finish. It's just after that last turn. I hear someone come up behind me and I let them kick past me. Don't chase them. You're not there yet. Just keep this pace. You're doing well. Just hold on. I cross the finish line at 28:18. And I'm so happy and proud of myself. I check my watch again to make sure. My running has been so discouraging lately, I had no idea I could actually push myself. Immediately I know that I'll be back for the rest of the series. Immediately I know that I want to find that edge again between as fast as I can and faster than I should have. Immediately I know I want to remember how to burn.
  26. 7 points
    Double social distancing RR Last week – This was the weekend I was supposed to run the Asheville Marathon. As with every other race for the foreseeable future it was cancelled. I seriously debated over if I would run this virtually or not. Running marathon distance is hard enough in a real race, I wasn’t sure if I could even do it on my own, and I also wondered if it might be a bad idea considering how hard running that far can be on the immune system. I didn’t fully commit to doing it until I was actually running. Once I got going I felt pretty good, and I just kept going. I did stop my watch when I had to wait for lights and for a couple bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, after one of the lights I forgot to restart it until I got to the next light, so I lost a full mile on my recorded distance. I was running a route I have run probably hundreds of times, so I know I covered the full distance. I had some support from a Team in Training coach, though we maintained safe 6+ foot social distancing, I wasn’t fully solo. I ran it super easy, and I ended up barely being sore, so I feel like I didn’t risk my overall health too much. Timewise it was really slow. Initially I thought it was my second slowest marathon but later I realized that didn’t take into account losing that mile. With time for that additional mile it would be my slowest though I don’t know what my time really was. It’s all unofficial anyway so it doesn’t matter. All that matters is it didn’t cause me to get sick. Finishing my marathon. This week - Today I ran the 10k in the Loopville COVID19 race series. I ran this at a harder pace. Between being just a week after running 26.2 miles and the fact that it was 70* and 80% humidity it was a hard pace but mostly pretty slow compared to what I have been able to do in 10k races otherwise. I ran this at Forest Park in St. Louis which made the social distancing part difficult. Here, as in many other places the parks are fairly busy. I was mostly able to maintain distance by occasionally leaving the path as needed when people didn’t move over or when I was coming from behind them. It wasn’t perfect though, so I guess I (or they) lose points for that. I really need to get back into some speedwork. I just turned 37. I hope I still have PRs in me. Bonus Izzie pic - That darn ribbon was teasing her...but she did successfully catch it.
  27. 7 points
    As a Goal Person, I have to tell you that I LOVE resolutions. I love them so much, I usually have one round in January and another at my birthday in July. I don't sweat it if they don't happen in the time frame I want (yes, rock climbing has been on the list since 2016) but I always do more than I would have otherwise. And many, many resolutions have inexplicably stuck, like waking up early to run. So 2019 was a pretty bad year in a number of ways and a pretty good year in others. My back went out over and over and over again, I missed countless races, I got so slow, NYRR dropped me back a corral, I (hopefully temporarily) screwed my career over misplaced intentions, but I also met someone I am crazy about, improved my snorkeling a lot, ended something really toxic, started therapy, and made a few new friendships. I think I'm actually pretty proud of myself because even when things were bad, I didn't fall apart. I didn't even realize how bad my running had gotten until I had to review my times when NYRR made their decision. Even though I hadn't PR'd at all and I only really raced a few times between injuries, I still felt good about most of my races. That said, I am glad to see 2019 go. I love new beginnings. I love when it's time to reassess and plan ahead. I really think this is going to be a great year so here goes! My goals for 2020: 1) PUT IN THE WORK - I haven't felt like I have done this in so long so here I am, starting where I'm at and focusing on the process not the product. 2) Learn to swim - This has been on my list for ages but this is when it's going to happen. It will help my back, give me a means to cross train, and build fitness when I can't run. I found a master's swim thing I may join too. Adult Freestyle class begins Monday 3) Finish a training plan - I don't care if I PR. I don't care if it's for a 5K or a full. I just want to commit to the plan and execute it without getting injured or distracted. 4) Bring my lunch more often What are your resolutions, Loopsters?
  28. 7 points
    We always think of the coming year with what we need to do more of, get better at, etc. Aren't we just telling ourselves we didn't do life well enough this year? We weren't successful enough this year? Think about what you did this past year. You ran, maybe you did some strength work, maybe you went to yoga, maybe you learned to meditate. You juggled the needs of your job, kids, school, parents, loved ones, neighbors, etc. You did enough. You are enough. Think about the coming year differently. What did you really enjoy that you want to do more of in 2020? What were you successful at that you want to do more of in 2020? If you didn't do something that you really wanted to, don't focus on why you didn't do it, focus on how you can do it in the future. Maybe it's not possible in 2020 but if it's something you really want to do, make a plan for it. Prioritize at least one thing you want to have happen in 2020 that is deeply important to you but not because society says so. Because YOU say so. 1. what I really enjoyed and will do more of in 2020: hikes with Chris and Lucy the dog 2. what was I successful at and will to do it more: listening and responding to what my body and soul needs (and ignoring what societal pressures tell me) 3. what I didn't do but will do: trail race with friends There's probably a lot of little things in there you can add to each of the 3 but dig deep and see what you can come up with that speaks to the work you did in 2019 and the knowledge that what you really want is important. Yes, I realize many of you here are in your heads saying "I didn't train hard enough; I didn't run fast enough; I didn't get enough sleep; I didn't....." Whatever. You can't fix what happened but you have to move your mind to place of acknowledging that battering yourself for not being enough is getting you no where. Be proud of whatever you did in 2019.
  29. 7 points
    I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. I just get distracted easily these days. I’m still doing the thing. I still wake at 4 and run until I don’t want to. I still train for races, though maybe 1 or 2 a year instead of 5 or 10. I still love the woods more than the roads and still love the dawn more than dusk. I still consider the loop the reason I’ll always run. It’s the same old me. Now, where’s my pie? -me
  30. 7 points
    My friend Cathy and I have been talking about doing the Grand Circle Trailfest for almost 2.5 years. The Grand Circle Trailfest is 3 days of racing roughly a half marathon each day. Each day you run just outside of a National Park -- Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon (Horseshoe Bend). Three years ago I sent Cathy the promo video for this race and she was excited as I was! We were all set to sign up and then I had the whole hamstring tear. Fast forward 2 years and I told her I felt I was ready to do this. At some point this past winter/spring I was at her house (in CT). We realized from a logisitics point we would have to fly to Las Vegas on Tuesday to pick up our bibs on Wednesday to run the races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Does it make sense to go to work on only Monday?? I tossed out the idea to Cathy about leaving on Sunday and flying to Los Angeles for a quick trip to California. A quick text to Bangle and suddenly we had great Pacific Coast accommodations. Now all we had to do was train for 3 back to back to back half marathons that were at 4500-8000' elevation .... at 11' sea level! 😳 And then Cathy fell down her stairs and messed up her knee 2 months before race day. And then I got hit by a car while stopped at a red light on my bike 8 days before race day. I think the driver looked left to make a right on red and just rolled right into the back of me. All I know is that I felt my bike being pushed so I turned around and there was a minivan running into me. The next thing I know I'm laying in the middle of the street slowly being pushed forward as my top lip is dragging against the pavement. Thank God the driver jammed on the brakes when he heard me yell. He was horrified and kept stammering on about how he could've killed me and that he would pay for my bike. I had to calm him down. Did an overall scan of my body -- bleeding lip and one severely jacked up pointer finger. Phew! I can still run Trailfest!Priorities! In the next few days I would find the handlebar had gone into my left hip and I had a bruise on my right thigh and knee from the crossbar and pavement. Could've been so much worse. Cathy and I flew into LA on Sunday morning. Had a great lunch with a view of the Pacific Ocean, watched some football with Bangle and had a fun dinner prepared by Mrs. Bangle. The next day Cathy and I drove up to Santa Monica, found the original Muscle Beach where Cathy convinced me to climb the rope and enjoyed the sunshine and sea breezes. BTW Don't climb a rope with sandals. You end up with rope burn on the top of your foot. Bangle took us on a driving/hiking tour of his hilly running route. The next day Cathy and I headed via airplane to Las Vegas so we could pick up our sweet ride to drive to Kanab, Utah (the Trailfest headquarters). We nicknamed the Jeep -- Prince Barney. We tried to hike out to a slot canyon on Wednesday but gave up after 1.7 miles of crazy sand. (3.4 miles round trip) We did a self guided driving tour instead. We woke up bright and early on Thursday to drive to Bryce Canyon. It was FREEZING! 23*!! Thankfully Trailfest has bag drop at the start of all races so we had warm clothes that we shed right before the race start. Immediately the race started out on a slight uphill. Within 15 seconds my heart was beating out of my chest because of the 8000' elevation. I came to a stop and said to Cathy gotta walk, sorry. It got better as we went. I could cruise all of the downhills with a little pitter patter run and then run up a part of the uphill and then switched over to a walk. The view at the top of the first climb was stunning. Bryce is known for these rock formations called hoodoos. Honestly the first day Cathy and I just kept taking picture after picture. We were given a challenge by the RD to take a jumping picture. Challenge accepted! There was some really amazing ridge running. After the aid station there was a crazy zigzag climb up the side of the mountain. It just kept going. Every uphill climb I pushed really hard. It was fun! Cathy and I stayed together until mile 11. She kept telling me to go so on a downhill section I just kept my pitter pattering little feet moving. We had to run through a very rocky, wide, dry river bed to finish. It was pretty uncomfortable. I ran/walked into the finish at a pretty good clip. My finish time was 4:15 with all of the photo taking. 13.90 miles with 1900 feet of climbing. Immediately at the end of the finish I felt horrible! I'm still not sure if I had elevation sickness or caffeine withdrawal (no coffee in the morning). I ended up getting sick on the side of the road. It took a good 3 hours before I felt semi-ok. We drove the scenic drive through Bryce after the race. Indescribably beautiful. My pictures do not do it justice. The next morning I stretched and rolled and felt pretty good. We headed off for a trail just outside of Zion National Park. The first 3 miles there was a nice downhill that got your legs warmed up. The elevation was only 4500-5000'. Oh so much better! Our view on the road: After an aid station at 3.2 miles we headed off onto the canyon rim. The views were beautiful and so different from the day before! Today's RD challenge was to hula hoop on the rim. I didn't see the hula hoops so I stuck with jumping. One lady told me I was crazy because I was so close to the edge. I'm assuming she meant crazy awesome! At around mile 6 Cathy told me to go. Her knee was really bothering her. After making a friend and getting them to take my picture I headed out solo to finish the race. While not as scenic as Bryce I absolutely loved, loved, loved the middle section of this race! I could have run there all day long! Soft dirt and sliprock (which isn't slippery) everywhere. I must've passed 50 - 100 runners. The climb up out of the canyon on the dirt road was a grind. I played frogger. I ran on the flats and slight downhills and caught so many people just walking. I'd eye someone walking the uphill and run until I passed them. 13.85 in 3:13 with 1500’ feet of climbing. Cathy looked super strong running into the finish! We decided to refuel at a great little outdoor cafe before heading into Zion. Hands down the best food we ate. (MeMe's Cafe) If you have never been to Zion National Park GO!!!!! It is outstanding, amazing, fantastic, stupendous! On the way out of the park we stopped to see a buffalo/bison that was hanging out with a person. Apparently his mom died so humans had to raise him. On our 3rd and final day I was mixed with sadness that it was our final day and fright (my quads were barely functioning!) The course we ran was on a Navajo Indian reservation in Page, AZ. We look sleepy but ready to go. Within 3/4 of a mile we came up to Horeshoe Bend! It was just beautiful! But in the shade it was absolutely freezing! I was worried about cutoffs. We had to make it to the aid station by 10 am so we quickly got on our way. As you can see the course was not super friendly to very tired runner legs. It was a combination of red sliprock that had a very rough surface and sand. I pushed Cathy so we could make the cutoff. I know she probably had several choice words for me, but I knew she didn't want to miss the cutoff and I wanted to finish together. I The views along the Colorado River were stupendous! Bouldering/ rock scramble climb: We finally made it to the aid station and were able to continue on. (The shuttles in the morning were delayed -- as they were the 1st day -- so the cut off time was extended.) Immediately after the aid station we descended down into the Waterholes Slot Canyon. The slot canyon was beautiful! Went from wide to narrow. When the sunlight shown down and hit the rock it was fantastic! We climbed back up out of the slot canyon and had about 3 miles left....in the sand on (what I would call) a fire road. It was hard! But oh so beautiful! I did not want the epic trip to be over, but the sand made me want it over! Lol. Yes, this is a climb up a sand dune! No matter how hard I tried to capture the beautiful colors in the distance I could not do it. It was like a pastel painting. Cathy and I decided to run 30 seconds and walk 30 seconds for the last mile and a half. It would cut down on the time we were in misery! Hah! A fellow runner asked if he could hop on our Conga line and we said sure! 11.25 miles in 4:02 with 1300’ of climbing. Our plan was to head into the Garnd Canyon but we were much farther away from the rim than expected. We ended up taking Prince Barney on some dirt roads near the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We Thelma and Louise-d around on those roads seeing how fast we could go! It was hilarious! That night we went for our last dinner at the Iron Horse (ate ther 3 times because it was convenient). If you saw us trying to walk/run across the street you would have died laughing! The next day we had booked a tour guide to take us to White Pocket, Wire Mesa (slot canyon) Trail and a quick trip to see the Paria. Quintessential mid-west picture: White Pocket: Because I hadn't climbed enough in the past 3 days! Wire Mesa Slot Canyon: Petroglyphs in the Canyon: Bee hives: Paria (type of mountain): After our tour it was time to head for the airport in Las Vegas. I took Cathy on a quick drive down the Strip and then it was wheel up. It was hands down one of the best experiences I've ever had! My tips for doing a trip like this would be to go someone who has the same idea about the vacation as you. Are you racing the races? Are you there for the scenery? After the race are you going to want to sleep or are you going to go sight seeing? Cathy and I had pretty much discussed all of this beforehand and I couldn't have imagined doing it with anyone else!
  31. 7 points
    I think I might be falling in love with running again. Actually, with exercise in general. So, I guess with me. I'm falling in love with me again. Running has really sucked for a long, long time. And you know how that goes - it sucks, so you listen to excuses to not do it. Then it sucks more, so you avoid it more, and so on. Sprinkle that with back problems every time I started making progress and just life in general. Whatever, I talked about all of that on my last bloop. I kind of knew that I needed to go to the gym to work on my back problem but I found it really hard to actually do. I wanted to want to go to the gym again. I wanted to enjoy my time there. But I just couldn't get it started. I couldn't make myself want it bad enough. Discipline is a muscle and mine was just as soft and flabby as my ass. And running was a struggle. I went from being down to run whenever, for however far and whatever pace my RBs were going, to struggling to keep up, struggling to enjoy myself and struggling to not stop. I missed it and I'd get these little gems here and there - runs that reminded me of how running used to be - before it would go right back to sucking. I honestly thought about leaving running behind. Deciding that it was something I had done while I did it but that time was gone. Maybe I would revert to my old insomniac smoker self. Maybe it was time to box everything up and look for the next phase of life. Then I had a parting of ways with someone and literally that day, that moment, it all came back. All I wanted to do in the whole world was to go for a run. And it felt good. And I went to the gym and it felt like home. There was no more trying and wanting to want, it was like I stepped back into myself. I reverted to my larky athletic self. I feel optimistic about the future again. I don't care so much about pace atm, I just want that feeling. When you’re running and just running and your body is digging it and the endorphins are flowing and the miles are ticking by and all is right in the world.
  32. 7 points
    I know every summer we all talk about it being hot and humid. And every year this is true, but this summer in NJ and Delaware it has been an inferno. For the past 5 days the temperatures have been well over 100* and yesterday we had feels like temperatures of 113*! Seriously this is not Atlanta or Orlando. I’m back at my free summer 5k trail series. The 1st race we had really nice temperatures of 82* and lowish humidity. I saw lots of the regular people there - the guy who my husband loves to hate, his wife, the young high school girl who always goes out way too fast and then sounds like she’s having an asthma attack, the guy who started the series, etc. I believe there were roughly 150 of us. The course starts on the road and quickly goes to grass, back on the road, to a dirt road and field before heading into the woods on single track. Last year I was close to beating the guy who my husband loves to hate. I was within 30-60 seconds of his time. At the start of the race I had no time goal. I was just going to put in a solid effort. When the race started I couldn’t believe how easy the pace felt. I kept waiting to blow up and have to walk. Never happened. Finished in 25:28 - 30 seconds off my fastest time last year. I ended up passing the GMHLTH in the first 1/2 mile and never saw him again. Last week for the 2nd race the temperatures soared. Earlier in the day it was a feels like temperature of 108*. I told my friend that the race was all about survival. All we had to do was get around the course. Temperatures had cooled to a pleasant 98* by race time. Lol. Somehow I still finished with a time just 15 or so seconds slower than the previous week- 25:45. This first week I finished 6th female and last week I was 5th. The really great thing about this race is that it caters to everyone— super fast track kids to people who have never run a 5k. The series has 3 more weeks. They give out prizes for top 3 overall and then 3 deep in each age group. So far I’m 4th overall and 1st in 50-59. The ladies ahead of me in the OA category are 3 minutes faster each race. I’d need one of them to miss a race to move up in the OA category. My training for the Trailfest has been going pretty well. I managed 33 miles outside last week in the Hell’s Kitchen Inferno. And this morning I somehow knocked out my 10 miler in the feels like 100*. As long as I stay under the trees or in shade I seem to be okay but the minute I step in the sun I die. I’m going to go for a fast 1/2 marathon either before Trailfest or after. Looking at AC 1/2, Cape Cod 1/2 or ?? I also keep eyeing up marathons. I know. Dumb to even think about another one yet, but I’d love to get a qualifying time for Chicago to be able to run next year. Really hard making plans when I have no idea what my current pace is.
  33. 7 points
    I normally don't do monthly reviews, but May was just such a special month that it deserved it's own highlight. And, the reason why I don't do monthly reviews is because it takes me a good 4 weeks to write one (I started this June 12th).I entered the month of May with high anticipation, lots of exciting things on the calendar. I was nearing the end of the best half marathon training cycle I'd ever had, and also nearing the end of 10 months of preparation for the biggest event of my life thus far: getting married.The wedding was probably a really great representation of me & the hubs. There was chaos and stress leading up to it, then a delightful & casual rehearsal dinner, a quiet & simple ceremony (with a few goofy moments) and then a reception that can only be described by the shrugging emoji. I learned that I am a terrible party planner and that I should just hire someone to do something on that scale in the future. <-- Hopefully I'll never have to do that again. So many friends and family helped out and I am forever grateful that they put up with me that weekend. If you want to see more wedding photos, check out the blog our photographer did. After the excitement of the wedding weekend, I came back into the office to catch up on emails, and found out I had been selected for a major national honor: the inaugural 40 Under 40 in Public Health list, selected by the de Beaumont Foundation. The list recognizes leaders in public health who are strengthening communities with new ideas, creative problem-solving, and innovative solutions, and I am so proud to be included in this year's list. The list of leaders and their accomplishments highlight the kinds of solutions and innovations that will be needed to improve the health of communities across the country. It's a thrill to be included among a group of public health professionals who embody the values to collaboration, creativity, and innovation that are so critical to advancing the field and improving health. All the honorees. Can you find me? I had to keep it a secret for a whole week, and when that announcement was finally made, I was able to turn my focus to the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Half Marathon, which I wrote about earlier. I smile thinking about how I smashed my previous PR by 7 minutes and now am hungry to do more, when less than a year ago I was questioning whether I ever wanted to do another half marathon. Funny how a little success after so much struggle can change things. All that hard work and it was finally time for my new husband (!!!) and I to go on our honeymoon. We spent a week at El Dorado Royale resort, nestled along the Carribean Sea between Cancun and Tulum, Mexico. This is absolutely a #nonsponsored recommendation, but we had a delightful time, the food was delicious and we felt so rested after that trip. Or, we would have, had we not been flying home the night a mile-wide tornado hit the area, left a shit ton of debris on the airport runway, and caused us to spend from midnight until 4 am in the Wichita airport. A 5AM arrival when you should have gotten home at 10PM the evening before isn't exactly restful. But I digress. Mother nature strikes again. Here are the two best photos that represent what we did on our trip: dressing up for dinner and lounging by the pool. That was May. I've decided it's my good luck month, because it's also the month I met my husband, got engaged, and even set on the path that lead me to my current career, hitting grad school on the way and, most relevant for this blog, running. I told my husband that I just might get an emerald birthstone ring, because this month has given me so much over the years. I still have 3 5k's to write about from June, so based on the timing of this, expect those in August 😂
  34. 7 points
    There were no tanks or flyovers, but I tried to show I was Keeping Bangle Great by doing my annual 4th of July 5K, here in beautiful Redondo Beach. This would be my 17th year doing this one. In keeping with my current blasé attitude toward racing, I was not super excited and didn't have any special goals. Since I seem to continue to get slower as I age (go figure!) it gets a little depressing to find a consistent goal (like sub-20) getting further and further away. So I don't stress it - vow to do my best and chase easier targets. Today I had several, in the person of club teammates. Coach Ed, as usual, was a good one. Now that he is 67 I have been able to beat him the last few times. He always starts fast, so I try to chase him down over the first two miles and it gives me a good visible target to keep me going. Another one is 33 year old Evelyn, who is bouncing back from pregnancy. At top shape she beats me, but right now we are about the same speed and have been training together. Then there is 65 year old Mark, who narrowly beat me last year, which bugged me because I didn't think he had the speed. He doesn't do any speed work at all - just runs. But danged if it doesn't work for him. This is me and Evelyn before the race. As for time goals, I hoped to break 21. I planned to get out under 7 and try to run 6:45 pace. I did 21:13 last year in this race and 21:14 in my last 5K in May, so I aimed to beat those. The day dawned with a heavy marine layer - so it was cloudy and a little humid, but not too hot. Maybe 60. There were literally hundreds of teenagers warming up in packs as all the local high school teams turned up. Over 2,100 participants, with a huge amount of slow joggers and walkers. I felt sluggish warming up, as usual, and positioned myself about 6 rows back from the start. Just after the gun a couple teenagers went down in front of me, but I avoided disaster and got around them. I eased into pace and my rivals all shot ahead. I've gotten pretty good about starting slow. Maybe it's age, but I don't let adrenaline bolt me out at 6 minute pace anymore. 7 minute pace felt hard enough already thank you very much. By the time we cleared the first two crowded turns after 1/4 mile I could see Ed at least 50 yards ahead of me. Then the course is a steady uphill for about 3/4 mile, so I tried to relax, stay steady and not burn out. The racing would begin in mile 2. I got to one in 6:57. Happy with that, and I wasn't hurting too much, so it was time to start pushing. Another teammate had been running with me most of mile 1, and this was a guy I should be beating, so it kind of irked me enough to shift gears. I could see my 3 rivals up ahead, and oddly they were all very close to each other, about 50 yards ahead still, but I was closing the gap. As we got over the hill I started to pass more people and gain confidence. Mile 2 rolls through 3 little up and downs - just enough to make you suck wind on the ups. I was gaining on my peeps and feeling like I was on track, but it was definitely hurting. Ah, yes, the 5K burn in the chest. Embrace it before it sinks into your legs... There is a sharp U-turn on this out and back course at the half-way point. I passed Evelyn just before the turn, and then passed Ed just after the turn. But Mark had pulled a little ahead and was obviously running a little stronger than the others. I knew that barring disaster, I had the others beat. About 1/4 mile later I caught Mark and gave a little hand wave. And that little SOB starts chatting like its a fun run. "Hey, how's it going..." Grr. I was non-verbal and just trying to breathe at this point. I tried to move on by and keep racing and that jerk just stayed with me as we continued to pass other people. Dammit. Hit mile 2 in 6:47. OK, I'll take that. Mile 3 is mostly downhill, so I was hoping I could drop that down closer to 6:30 and still break 21. After cresting the last hill and re-gaining my wind, I tried to push the gas a little more on the down. But there was little left in the tank. And Mark kept hanging on. A couple times I thought I lost him, but I'd turn and look and he was right there tracking off of me. OK, fine, I should be able to out-kick him at the end (I said to myself). The downhill was not as helpful as I hoped and I was just trying to hang on and get to the finish. We turned the corner and kicked the last 1/4 and damned if he didn't move ahead and dust me. Kudos to him. That's him in the white. Mile 3 was only 6:50, although I managed 6:20 pace for the last sprint. My time was 21:23, just missing my goals. But still, not too far off, right? I am 57 now... Ended up 6th in my AG, 185th overall, with an age-grading of 73%. I can live with that. I held out hope that my chip time might beat Mark, but no, he beat me by one tenth of a second! Well, I beat the others anyway, and I'm still injury-free and grateful for that. In other news, I decided to sign up for a trail marathon in October; Skyline to the Sea near Santa Cruz. It's through a redwood forest and mostly downhill. And I will get to run with Loop Superstar Mild Sauce, which was enough reason for me to disavow my promise of no marathons until next Fall. Besides, it's just a trail run, not like a REAL marathon, right? I can go slow and not worry about speed and just have fun. But I will have to bump up my summer mileage. Next week I'm off to Kentucky for a week to experience real summer heat and humidity. NOT looking forward to that. The running part I mean. Life is good.
  35. 7 points
    The traffic girl on the morning news is always crying for the weatherman to forecast afternoon highs in the 80s. What's wrong with her? End of Week 3. Feels like I'm starting to settle in to a nice training rhythm. Hitting all the miles, dialing in on GMP better. This is how it's supposed to work. Forty miles total. Tempo Monday - Cloudy. 71o. No wind. Four miles that I ought to be able to run at 8:00-ish easy. And I probably could have, except I started out at 7:36. I've also learned over the years that once I start, it's hard to slow down. I guess that's why I need all these weeks to try and get it right before race day. That also would explain why it's so common to crap out before reaching the end of a marathon. Anyway, 7:46 followed by 7:48, and then I was dead. So I walked a couple hundred yards, wondering what to do about the rest of the workout. Then I ran 7:32, showing I likely could have muscled through another mile at 8:00-ish and it would have been a good day instead of a failed tempo. Maybe I'll remember that this week. Tuesday Recovery - Cloudy. 76o. Nice breeze. Averaged just about 9:00, faster on the front end than the back due to the wind and the slight downhill on the way out. Felt sort of OK, which is about what I expect the day after a tempo that was harder than it was supposed to be. Wednesday Intervals - Clouds and sun. 79o (ick!). Moderate wind. Was going to do these 6 x 800s on the track, but when I got there and saw the crew working on the new turf, I also saw some other official-looking guy who informed me that the track was closed for the construction. The crew was there last week, but this guy wasn't. So I pretended I wasn't planning on running there anyway and talked to him about how it was good there were added two lanes to the track as well and that I was happy to do my workout on the streets. Does that make me a liar? So, half a dozen half miles at 7:24, 7:19, 7:25, 7:32, 7:28, 7:15. Eventually those should be down under 7:00 pace, but this is good for now. At least I finished them all on schedule, unlike Monday. Thursday Recovery - Rain and 64o. Windy. Felt better than Tuesday, no doubt because the temp was more runner friendly. I said rain but it was pretty mild. I wore my hat but didn't really need it. 6 miles @9:00. Friday Miles - Sunny. 78o. Breezy. Much better, despite the heat. 8:40 average for 6 miles. Saturday Pace Run - Sunny. 65o. Almost calm. Nothing like an early morning run. By early I mean about 7:00 AM. Sun's up by then, but it's still nice and cool. Couple of easy miles followed by 4 at something close to GMP, but without stress. If that's slower than GMP, so be it. Should be 8:30, plus or minus. 8:24, 8:27, 8:20. 8:12, 8:29 (so I did an extra - sue me). Not perfect, but in the neighborhood, and I felt strong so it worked. Spent the rest of the morning working on T-Rex's new fan belts. The power steering one was easy, but the A/C and alternator was a pain. The adjustment was too well hidden to get any leverage on it by hand, and no room for tools. So I spent two hours trading between a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a tie rod end puller, rotating it a quarter-turn each time until I could get the new belt on (after I just cut off the old one). As always, I saved over $100 and I have more time than money, so ...
  36. 7 points
    Here is some music while you read. (And if you like that, you can read this) After 3 marathons in 13 months, I've decided to take it easy for a while. No more marathons until Fall 2020 (probably...); No halves until December. Just some 5Ks and a 10K and running what I feel like. So that means I'll still do track workouts on Wednesdays, because I like to run fast, and long group runs on Saturday, because I like to be social. But nothing longer than maybe 12 miles. And no pressure if I want to skip some days. But I'm feeling fine, with no injury problems, so I'm still running 4-5 days a week, and enjoying it. I'd still like to run a fast 5K, under 21. And my one goal for summer is to run a mile under 6:00 in our August mile race. So I'll be doing the speedwork. I did run a 5K a few weeks ago, and couldn't motivate myself to do a race report. Because it was nothing special really. Same race I do most years. I ran pretty much exactly as I expected. Goal was to be under 7:00 pace, and maybe break 21 (6:45 pace). Plus I had two rivals from my club, Coach Ed and training buddy Bart. As expected, I beat Ed, but couldn't catch Bart. Splits were 6:56, 6:47 and 6:53 for a 21:13. Felt good through 2, but had nothing left to chase down Bart in mile 3 and faded. Here I am finishing up. So, I was pleased but not excited. Work to do. Next race is July 4th on a slightly hillier course, and I'll see if I can go faster. I hope you all enjoy your summer running!
  37. 6 points
    Covid-19? Over-training? Some other virus? Mental fatigue? Disappointment at my race being cancelled? Whatever it was, my last good run was on April 1. Since then, I've run 8 times. 7 of them were awful. Slow. Tired legs. Gasping for air. Listless. Dragging. The day after doing 6 x miles (total 11.5), I was scheduled for 10. That was the morning I got the email cancelling Sugarloaf. So I did 7 instead. It wasn't great, like normal. It was slower than most runs lately. But the 6 x 1 was my hardest so far, so I gave myself all the slack for going slow. But the next day was supposed to be 6 and I'm usually much better two days after intervals. Nope. I did 5 and just didn't care. I'm not one to judge, but the parking lot at Home Depot seemed awfully busy for "essential, life-saving" traffic. Saturday was going to be to be first 16 miler of 3 I had planned. Instead, it was another 5. I was dragging. No way could I have run 16 miles that day. Why though? Sunday rest. Monday, 4 replaced 9 (w/ 7 tempo), and wasn't any better. The tiniest bit faster, but no more energy and no more mojo. Every single step I had this thought: Maybe I should just take the rest of the spring off and put on 10 quarantine pounds. There's something wrong with me. Of course I decided to keep going, because I'm stubborn like that. I also hate to change things and running is what I do. I'll just keep going slow and either get sick if I'm going to be sick from Mrs. Dave bringing home a dose of C-19 from the hospital, or I recover from overdoing it the last two weeks of training. 10K. Just as slow as before. Just as tired as before. Since the 16th of March, I've been able to work from home. A huge blessing that I know not everyone has. But this week my client had declared a mandatory shutdown - all employees required to take a week's vacation. My company helped us out with 3 days of training and workshops, leaving me with just 2 days to cover with PTO. Those were Monday and Tuesday. I finally dismantled the old swing set in the back yard. Fixed T-Rex's bicycle (with a tire tube at curbside pickup at Target - felt a little guilty about that, since it wasn't really "essential"). T-Rex and I watched all the Harry Potter movies. Last week I finished the last crossword puzzle in my 200 puzzle NYTimes Sunday crosswords book. Cold turkey is hard. Wednesday was almost 70 degrees. First time it's been that warm this spring and the 4 miles that day were especially sucky. Still no change in my mojo. Mother nature pulled a 180 on Thursday. 30 mph winds. 30 degree temps. Snow flurries. I told Mrs. Dave that I was going either 4 or 10 or something else. No idea. I think it speaks to her current level of stress that she didn't care. Not only how far I was going, but where. How long I'd be gone, was I bringing my phone. Nothing. See you whenever you get back. Ran 8, and it was not quite as bad as before, except for being blown nearly to a standstill when I was going west and the fact that somehow the wind was from the SW when I started and the NW when I finished, so I pretty much had it in my face 3/4's of the time. I just took Friday off. No reason. The training I was in went long and I just wasn't feeling like a run afterwards. Maybe it was a bit of inspiration. Maybe I needed that day, along with the other recent days of easy slow running. The first mile came in under 9:00 - the first time in a long time that mile 1 has been there. That was followed by a bunch of 8:30s that felt buttery smooth. About 4 miles in I passed three people doing yard work. As I approached, one of them - older, looked like one of the others' dad - said, "Good Lord!" That confused me since I didn't know this guy and it wasn't like I'm famous or was running 5 minute miles. "You run right by my house on Levan." Levan is a street in my neighborhood. I guess it would have been the neighborly thing to do to stop and chat a little, but how do you stop when you're in the middle of the first good run you've had in almost two weeks and the sun is out and it's 53 glorious degrees? I waved and said something short and friendly that I can't even remember now and kept running. Ran on the street where we had our first house when we moved to Michigan 25 years ago. There used to be a kid at church who got married and moved a few houses down from there. Hadn't seen or heard from him in probably ten years. There he was, in his driveway, working on the suspension of a BMW. I had to stop then. Hated to break my stride, but this was pretty extraordinary. That was a couple of minutes. To my surprise, when I started up again, I still felt great. In fact, I felt great the whole way back home. Did have to stop at a traffic light once for a few seconds. There was no cross traffic and normally I'd go before the light changed, but there was a cop car sitting there as well and I didn't know how understanding he'd be. 10 miles @ 8:30 pace (8:31 to be precise), with the last mile at 7:59. Such a good, good run. Feels good to be back. Especially since I've decided to do a double in a couple of weeks for the April Covid-19 Race event. Going to do a 10K on Friday or Saturday, then a half marathon on Saturday or Monday. I'm calling it Dave's Double Dog Dare Distance Challenge. Let me know if you want in. Maybe we should age grade it to make it a real race.
  38. 6 points
    Its not going to surprise any of you, that the most important part of any race is getting in your training. (putting hay in the barn, etc.) In preparation for this race, I was doing interval training on Tues and Thurs with my 2 grandsons Benjamin (7 y.o.) and Oliver (5 y.o.) Our daughter's (and grandson's) house is about 150 yards away, and the school we went to is another 150 yards. The 3 of us ran to the school, took a short breather, and did our first lap of the track (it used to be the teachers parking lot) which is about 100 yards. At the end of the lap, the both said they needed a little rest, but after about 20 seconds Oliver started walking back towards the track, and then he was running. So Benjamin and I had to start running again. The 2 of them were laughing and loving it, and at the end of that lap, they needed another rest, but again after about 20 seconds, Oliver started walking back towards the track, and then running, so again Benjamin and I started running. We did 5 laps like that, and then started running back towards their home. Benjamin said next week we have to do more laps, and Oliver said we should be doing at least 10, so I have that to look forward to. After stopping at their house, I continued on my little 3 mile circuit down by the river. On race day (Sat) I got out at 8:00 because it was only raining a little then. (the weather man said heavier rain) was coming. Anyways it was a great run, on very quiet and deserted streets. Thank you Dave, this was a great idea.
  39. 6 points
    I'm pleased to report that my strategy of "To hell with it, I'm running through it" has been successful. Since 12/1 I've been running every other day, just about anyway. I've piled up 97 miles over 5 weeks, just being careful with easy runs of 4 to 6 miles. Got up to 7 twice now. The foot/ankle pain has slowly faded since I hurt it 11 weeks ago. Six weeks of not running didn't do much, but 5 weeks of running seemed to let it heal a little faster. Or at least didn't setback the healing process. Today's run I didn't feel it for much of the run. Toward the end I felt some, but not enough to really affect my stride. So I'm happily adding miles to my schedule. I had got quite out of shape and it was frustrating feeling so slow and winded. But lately it's getting easier. I still feel slow and out of shape, just not as much. I managed to gain ten pounds, so I need to work on dropping that now too. But it's a new year, time to start stretching myself a little more. Because I have a half marathon coming up in 8 weeks and I'd like to at least make a decent showing. Right now I have a goal of 8:00 pace and sub 1:45. With luck I'll regain some speed and be able to do better than that. But the main thing is to have fun and stay healthy. I was back East for ten days but got lucky with good weather and managed to get all my runs in on beautiful days in the 40s and 50s. Even wore shorts for most of them. Life is good.
  40. 6 points
    Somehow, another year passed! I learned a great deal on this journey around the sun. I ran 3853.6 miles this year (3854 per Strava), which was a significant yearly mileage PR, surpassing the 3047 I ran in 2018 and the 3043 I ran in 2017. I didn't check my yearly mileage until December 31, because I am already too obsessed with all numbers running related, but I knew I was in for a yearly mileage best since I've been running my highest mileage ever and haven't taken any time off. Before 2017, I never ran anything remotely close to 3000. My top 9 2019 photos on my running Instagram account I ran my first 400 mile month (December) and my first and second 100 mile weeks in the fall, although each was on the rolling 7 and not a Monday through Sunday week. I ran my first ever 90 mile week in February. Through this I learned that I really LOVE mileage! I ran PRs in the full marathon at Indy Monumental, in the half marathon twice (at the Indy Women's Half then at the White River Half), and in the 5K at the Panther Run. I ran 3 full marathons: the Chisholm Trail Marathon on March 24, Grandma's Marathon on June 22, and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 9. Although Chisholm Trail was my slowest marathon in a few years, I was very happy with it off of the limited post-injury training I had, and that I was able to run it at all. Grandma's was my second fastest marathon at that time (now my third fastest), which I was also very happy with off of a fairly short training cycle. Indy is my current PR, which I was of course happy about but I also sure wished I could have found 68 more seconds there. I set 3 Missouri state records: age 38 half marathon, age 38 10 mile, and overall female 2 mile. I'm not particularly proud of the times I ran in any of these races, but lucky for me no woman my age in this state have run faster on a certified road course. I won overall female in 5 races: Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon, Sweatfest 2 mile, Sweatfest 10 mile, Panther Run 5K, and White River Half Marathon (I was overall person in this one). I podiumed/finished in the prize money in the Chisholm Trail Marathon (3rd female), at the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon (4th female), at the Brookhaven 5K (6th female), and at the Indy Women's Half Marathon (3rd female). I ran 11 races total. How you finish in races is heavily influenced by which races you choose, and I recently have gravitated towards races that I likely will not win, because I run faster within competitive fields. I primarily think of the women I'm running against as people who can help me meet my personal goals, and not as my competition (e.g., I don't care too much what place I get, but want to hit my time goals). Especially in my 2:46-2:47 marathons, I wanted every woman around to run 2:44:XX! In the non-numbers realm, I am proud that I came back from an injury (more here) and developed a lot as a person, including growing a greater appreciation of the process in running. I continue to find such thankfulness that I get to do this, and that God has given me this passion that brings so much joy to my life in many different ways. My biggest success of the year is probably zero injuries, and also zero injury scares! I didn't need a single ART session or any treatments this year despite running the most I ever have. I actually feel much better currently running 80-100 mile weeks than I used to running 50-70 mile weeks just a couple of years ago! I continued coaching a few running friends free of charge. While I don't have any formal coaching training, I've learned a great deal through my own experience and reading, and I don't want others to repeat my mistakes. I also love helping others - and of course I love being in the middle of all things running. Two of my proteges ran marathon PRs, and another ran two super solid marathons only 6 weeks apart, including one overall female win. I had so much fun seeing their achievements across training cycles. Running gives me so much that I am happy I can give a little back! I have a lot of running dreams and goals for 2020, but if I can accomplish the goal of continuing to run healthy that will be the best achievement I can dream of. Races are amazing experiences, but being able to go outside and run freely every day, sometimes twice, is unmatched. My 2018 highlights are here, and my 2017 highlights are here (this one also lists my mileage totals from 2010-2016). May God bless your 2020! Garmin stats 2019 Race Recaps: 3/24/19 - Chisholm Trail Marathon 4/13/19 - Rock the Parkway Half Marathon 5/25/19 - Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon 6/22/19 - Grandma's Marathon 7/13/19 - Sweatfest 2 mile and 10 mile 8/31/19 - Brookhaven 5K 9/8/19 - Plaza 10K 9/28/19 - Indy Women's Half Marathon 10/5/19 - Panther Run 5K 11/9/19 - Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 11/23/19 - White River Half Marathon
  41. 6 points
    Hey there Loopsters! Hope you all had a good holiday and are excited for what 2020 has in store for us. 2019 was a good year for me in a lot of regards. I changed jobs and as a result, am in a much better work environment. I like what I do now, feel appreciated, and have much less stress. Can't ask for much more than that, right? Because I have more time - and more importantly, because I've been healthy - I had my strongest running year in a while. On Saturday, I went over 700 total miles for the year! Much better than the 504 miles in 2018 or the 223 miles in 2017, and a little better than the 630 miles in 2016. My high was 1,117 miles in 2014 so I have something to shoot for in the coming year. I made some progress this year getting faster. In the first few months of 2019, my average pace for all distances was 10:15 to 10:20 per mile. I track it by month and it goes up and down based on the length of runs in each month. By the end of the year, I was down just below 10:00 pace. In fact, every one of my runs in December was at 9:59 pace or below! So that was pretty cool and made me feel good. Being an engineer, I obviously like the numbers that I keep track of, but the best thing about this year is the amount of joy running brought me. After a few rough injury-plagued years, running has been so much fun for me this year. Lots of runs where I finished with a smile. Lots of runs where I was really glad I ran. And even those runs where I had no energy, I was content that I was able to run as far as I did. I look forward to 2020 as a continuation of the progress I've made this year. I'm picking out a few half marathons to do. My wife is talking about starting to run (she's a biker, not a runner) so that would be awesome to do some running with her. I expect my pace to continue to drop. And my total miles to increase. Sounds pretty good. So bring on 2020!
  42. 6 points
    A year ago about this time I was having a new pain in the side of my knee. I was in the middle of the last race of the year - a 6 hour loop run - when it started. At first I thought, great, I broke my knee and all those “running is bad for your knees” people were right. Of course, I reported right to Dr Google and the online experts who told me that no, my knee wasn’t broken. Just IT band issues, which were a result of weak hips and glutes. So I had to focus a little more on all those things I should have been working on all along. It seemed like I could walk forever, but a couple miles into any run and the pain would return. It was a long winter, and it seemed like running and racing would not be enjoyable in 2019. It really was a long winter, too. There was no January thaw, which typically brings everything to mud for a few weeks before we get buried in snow again through February and March. So I got some snowshoes. These allowed me to keep walking while giving me a hard workout. It was the first time I realized that I didn’t have to complete all workouts with just running in order to gain fitness. I became well acquainted with my 0.9 mile loop around the field behind my house. There is a small wet spot in one area that is a little tough to navigate, but that’s all part of the game. As winter came to a close, I was able to incorporate some running intervals on one of the slight inclines of the loop. I learned a fun new way to burn the quads. Cool Tools Snowshoe Course English’s Ridge Rumble I signed up for the local April 50k in November and was seriously thinking about dropping out, but of course I’m cheap, so I didn’t. As we got later in the winter, I continued to do mostly walking on the trails and roads, but included more short running breaks as the snow started melting. In the past I always considered walking as a way of quitting during a run when it became too difficult. But I learned how to walk hard up the hills, especially on the trails, to allow me to run the flats and downhills faster without redlining and burning up too soon. The IT band wasn’t fully there yet, so I had the plan for the race of walking the first two 10-mile loops, and run-walk the final loop. It appeared to have worked, as there was no pain throughout, and I was able to finish strong in just over 7 hours. This gave me a little confidence going into the rest of the racing season and a strategy for training for and running the ultras I had planned for 2019. And it seemed that I was learning to walk pretty fast. Still some fresh mud on the trail Table Rock Trail Challenge The Table Rock is our local last runner standing event that I didn’t have the speed to compete in, but it is a fun one, especially watching the fast runners at the finish. In this one, the RD reduces the time to complete each loop, making for a pretty dramatic finish. I got 18 miles in before being dropped. A good way to get dropped is to start the lap you know you won’t be able to finish in time, and walk the second part of the loop. You don’t look like a quitter this way. Candlelight 12 Hour In December of 2018, I signed up for the Candlelight 12 hour race, and marked it on my calendar for July 27. I also had a work trip to Japan to make over the summer, so I planned it to arrive back home on July 20, giving me a week to prepare for the race. Halfway through my Japan trip, I got the email from the RD with race instructions for the event that starts on JULY 20, the evening I arrive back to the US. Good planning, Pierce. There’s no way I was going to finish this. It turns out, however, that jet lag is a pretty good race strategy. Landing at 2:00 pm and getting home at 3:00, I turned around and took the 1.5 hour drive up the thruway. Armed with no food or drink (really relying on the aid station here), lots of lube, little round band aids, and a headlamp with half-charged batteries, I started circling the 1 mile loop at 7:00pm with no expectations. There were 4 well-spaced small hills on the loop, and they gave me the perfect run-walk cadence to take me through the night without stopping. I ended up 3rd place out of 90+ runners. 55 miles. I have no idea how that happened. By far my best race performance to date, maybe to never be duplicated. I had a nice nap that day. Award for Champion Old Dude Green Lakes Endurance Runs 100k Before the 12-hour race happened, this was to be my target race for the year. But a hard effort 3 weeks earlier didn’t set me up to run well here, so I just started nice and easy and tried to beat the cutoffs. I surprised myself again by not really tiring and finishing my longest distance to date. Like every training run and race this year, I kept a steady rhythm of running and walking by feel and finished in 13:13:37, 7th out of 15 finishers. Coffee cups and pint glasses are all I need Navarino 12-hour Run By far, my favorite event of the year was my solo 12-hour run on labor day weekend. I had been trying to think of ways to give a little while doing a very selfish thing, so I thought I’d do a Facebook fundraiser for the children’s hospital. I used the loop behind my house that was my snowshoe workout the previous winter. I didn’t consider how many local and Loopster folks would respond to this, but it turns out I have some pretty good friends. We made a nice Happy Gilmore check for the hospital and all those little heroes there doing things much harder than I did that day. State of the art lap counting system. 54 golf balls & 48 miles of solitude The Navarino 12 hour course Morgan Hill Meat Grinder I have never run a marathon, and can still say I haven’t, since this took me well over 27 miles to complete (some of the markings got me confused easily). Lots of climbing and stream crossings and beautiful views took me away from any thoughts of fast times. Instead, keeping to my run-walk by feel method had me sufficiently spent at the gorgeous local state park. 6:16:22. Clark 6-hour Classic Back to the race and course that started the IT band issues as well as this great journey that was 2019. A 1.7 mile loop where I picked out my walking spots in the early going gave me another solid finish. 29 miles and 14th place out of 70 runners. Six events longer than the marathon distance and not a hint of any injuries made 2019 one of the best ever. Keeping up with the strength work and maybe adding some regular hill and speed work may make 2020 even better.
  43. 6 points
    I was really excited to run the Jolly Holly 5k this year. I signed up as soon as registration opened up. The last time I ran this race was November 27, 2015. I ran it one month after running my BQ (PR) marathon at Steamtown and 1 week before my PR half marathon at Rehoboth. It was a great race where I PR'd my 5k with a 24:02. 2015 was such a good, great year!! The Jolly Holly is held the day after Thanksgiving at 6:00 at night right before the Christmas parade. For Thanksgiving this year we had 11 of us at our house. It was fantastic! I really don't like cooking but as I get older I'm so so thankful that my kids, their SO, my parents and my son's girlfriend's family are able to join us. Everyone brought food, desserts and drinks to share. Laughter and love was plentiful. The next day (which would be race day) I woke up with vertigo. I kept thinking it would go away. I have some strange reactions to food and alcohol. I did some research and found vertigo can be caused by allergies so I popped some Advil and Mucinex and hoped everything would clear up. As the time to the race got closer the vertigo dissipated by my stomach was still really, really angry with me. I almost pulled the plug on going to the race because I felt so awful. I decided to go and just log the miles that were on my training plan. I drove down to the start and picked up my bib and shirt and my friend's bib and shirt who was home sick. Did a little bit of jogging around. It was cold! Jogging around was the only way to stay warm!. The next thing I know I'm doing some accelerations. I said to myself "Looks like I'm racing this thing." I lined up about 4 rows from the front. It's a small race. Many people were dressed in holiday outfits. I was right next to a dad in a Christmas sweater with 3 girls in Christmas tutus. They did a countdown and we were off. The course starts out in a park and does a quick steep climb in the first 1/4 of a mile. My calves thanked me for warming up because they would not have been happy with the steep grade if I hadn't. Since it was cold I was breathing through a buff to try to keep the air warm (so as not to set off my weird allergy attack from breathing in cold air while running.) After the climb we head straight down the main street of town for about a mile. The road felt like it had the slightest of inclines and we were running into the wind. I got hot fast! I unzippered my jacket a bit and decided I wanted cool air to breathe more than I wanted to not have an allergy attack so I lowered the buff to my neck. I passed the Christmas sweater dad in the 1st mile. Mile 1 came in at an 8:01. Ugh. I thought that was really far off of my 2015 effort. We made a U-turn and now flew back down the street. It was noticeably easier. The buff around my neck was making me too hot. I ripped that thing off and put it around my wrist. I thought "Well, now I'm committed to having no buff to warm my breathing." If you live with me and have seen an allergy attack you would've been telling me to put it back on. A lady on the left side of the street yelled out my name. Awesome! Gave her a little wave. I passed by a slowing female. Yippee! The 2nd mile chimed in at 7:45. By this time my stomach was absolutely killing me. I made a conscious decision to slow down because I was SO uncomfortable. Mile 3 is special. The course makes a right and goes down a hill for one block where volunteers tell you to make a sudden left onto the sidewalk because the street at the bottom of the hill is open to traffic. So you are literally flying down the hill in race mode when you have to suddenly apply the brakes to make a left and jump up on a curb that has a HUGE hump in it. I managed to navigate the hill, curb and hump. In the next block the course makes a left to go back up the hill. At this point I know we race past the finish line and back to the park for a little out and back. My mind was screaming, my stomach was rebelling and I thought for sure my left leg would be hurting in the morning. Shut up and go! Down the hill into the park I'm dying but I keep going. I catch one of the cute tutu girls and push past. It felt like we ran FOREVER to the turn around cone. Finally I see it. Now it's back through the park and up that little sadistic hill to the finish. A volunteer tells me I'm looking good. I'm thinking surely he's lying. Mile 3 comes in at 8:08. I will my body up the hill and into the finisher's chute and stop my watch. I'm sure it will say a time of 24:30 or so. I'm disappointed. The volunteer reaches over very cautiously to grab my number. I think I must look like I'm close to puking. I wander down the street to get my breath back and finally check my Garmin. Whoa.....24:12 10 seconds off of my PR that I ran right after I qualified for Boston. Holy sh!t... I ended up 5th female and 1st in my AG. That night when I went to bed I laid down and immediately "ACHOO!" I kept sneezing for the next 48 hours, but it was worth it.
  44. 6 points
    Delayed write-up and post due to crappy life in the beginning of October. (Subject of another post for another day.) I love running this 5K every year. The start is less than a quarter mile from my house, it’s a certified course, there’s a lot of runners around the same speed as I am, and it supports a scholarship for a student at the local high school. I was nervous about the race, more nervous than I should have been, but I was training well for the AC marathon, and thought a PR (and possibly a sub-20) could happen, so was putting unnecessary stress on myself. In the back of my mind I thought there was a chance to place overall too. The opening ceremonies started promptly at 8 (the race at 8:30), so we woke up, took care of DD, had a good cup of coffee, and walked up to town for the ceremonies. The race is in memory of a high school student who died years ago. He was very active in the school and participated in both cross country and marching band, so the marching band takes the opening ceremonies very seriously. A very moving rendition of Amazing Grace was played, followed by the National Anthem, and then speeches were made by the student’s family. After that , there was about 15 minutes until the start, so I went for a nice warm-up run. Fall had arrived the week before, so I was expecting a warm, but cooler-than-I-trained-in weather for the race. I wore a light jacket over a tank top and shorts for the walk up, and quickly removed the jacket- best part of having a stroller – holding all the extra clothes I always wear. I planned on a mile warm-up with some strides at the end. About halfway into the mile I was pouring with sweat. Apparently, it was an incredibly humid morning. I finished my planed warm-up, and got back to DH, who was running with DD in the stroller so I could race hard, gave them both a kiss and lined up towards the front of the crowd. Several hundred high school students run, and they all want to be on the line (and all sprint the start too fast anyway), so I lined up behind a majority of them (as do all the other non-students). The starting gun sounded right on time, and all the kids not paying attention screamed and started sprinting. Happens every year and is quite funny. 😁 We took off up a slight incline and ran the straight shot to mile one – 6:26. Right on my target, but knowing the course, I knew mile 2 would be slower. Plus, I was hurting. The course is a triangle, mile 1 up one side (slight uphill), mile 2 wanders some, but is basically the hypotenuse and is more steeply uphill than mile 1, and mile 3 comes back down the other side to the point of the triangle and is a nice downhill, but a little steep in places (there is also a surprise uphill with half a mile left if you are not familiar with the course – DH was very distraught over this the first year he ran it). There’s a U-turn at 1.25, and I just barely got to see DH and DD as we made the turn off the main street to start the hypotenuse, that was a nice distraction. I found myself as 5th female, but I wasn’t going to be able to change that. We started up the biggest incline and mile 2 clicked off at 6:31 – not bad for the uphill, but my legs were done, and I was overheating (I should have been in only a sports bra, which is how I prefer to run). I reached the peak and made the turn for home. I cruised the downhill, but couldn’t pick up much speed, and the little uphill took any speed left out of my legs. Mile 3 passed by in 6:37. It’s an awesome slight downhill for the last quarter mile, so the sprint home always feels fast – the last 0.1 flew by at a 5:42 pace! Based on chip time (20:22), I was 7th woman (crossed the line in 5th though), and first in my age group- so I snagged the best race prize ever – a cupcake from the local bakery!! I am always on a quest to break 20 minutes – my unofficial (non-certified course PR is 20:12) and my previous best on a certified course was 20:31 – SOOOOOO, BRAND NEW SHINY CERTIFIED COURSE PR!!!! YAY! 😀 Maybe with cooler temperatures and less humidity with a little more 5k centered training that sub-20 will be mine! (working on it for a Turkey trot)
  45. 6 points
    It's been 3 months since I've posted on here. Since then I trained for a marathon. And I didn't get hurt. But it was summer (so, a little warmer than usual around here). And I wasn't really motivated. Because you see, it was a trail marathon. So when I didn't really get enough miles in, I shrugged and said, eh, no matter. It's just a fun run in the woods. Time will be ridiculously slow anyway, so, whatever. So I enjoyed running and didn't push it when it got hard, and (not coincidentally) stayed healthy and happy. I maxed out at 17.5 miles and 42 mile weeks. The race was the Skyline to the Sea Marathon. It starts at the top of the hills outside San Jose and runs mostly downhill to the ocean near Santa Cruz. It's all trails, mostly single track, and all shady and beautiful through a redwood forest. I'd been wanting to run this one for years, but needed the right motivation. It came when Mild Sauce agreed to meet me there and accompany me on this little run through the woods. So I found myself in another part of the world, and I found myself behind the wheel of a large automobile, and I found myself on a beautiful trail, with a beautiful girl, and I asked myself, well, how did I get here? It was a seven hour drive, that's how. Got to Santa Cruz Friday night and scouted the local establishments. Found one up to the Sauce's standards. So we had a couple beers Friday. Saturday was open so we explored the area with a long cliffside hike. Then of course we had to ride the circa 1924 Giant Dipper. A must for any Santa Cruz visit. Sunday was race day. We had to ride the bus over an hour to get to the start. The bus driver took the loooong way around and up the hill, but we managed to arrive in time to pee and get our bibs. Then the race director talked to us in the parking lot and pretty soon said 3-2-1-go! We were still a jumbled mass in the lot and casually headed over to the trail. There were only 130 people, but the race got to the trail in 50 yards so it was a little crowded, but amazingly most of the fast and slow people were in the right place so it worked out pretty well. It started out with a pretty steep downhill and I was full of energy so I may have gone out too fast. Saucy said so anyway. What do I know about trail running? I felt easy and was enjoying cruising along with a group at a pace that seemed effortless (about 9:00). But of course with an expected five hours ahead of us, I probably should have backed off. Same as it ever was. But it was fun. And beautiful! The course did not disappoint! Huge trees, narrow trails with rocks and roots, bubbling streams, water flowing underground... Here are some shots from the website. So I cruised along. Saucy stayed nearby and by the time we reached the first aid station at 6 miles we had separated from the others and were mostly just running alone, the two of us. The shade kept it cool, despite temps near 80 in the area. The next section was mostly uphill for 4 miles and we did lots of walking. Then it would be mostly down the rest of the way. But, boy, those downhills were getting to my quads! Not just the steady decline, but stepping down over roots and rocks constantly was even more jarring. Sauce led the way most of the rest of the way, and I was working to keep up. Although she stopped and walked whenever I asked, I still felt the pressure to keep going, because it was a race, after all! I had a goal to break 5 hours, because, why not? And it seemed like it would not be easy. Gotta keep pushing! We hit half way in right around 2.5 hours. But mostly downhill now, right? Well, yes, but, those quads... We got to an aid station at 15 and I was spent. And then there was more uphill... My God! What have I done! Well, no matter. It's just a fun day in the woods, right? We walked and talked. When we reached downhill I ran, but it was steep, and my legs were not functioning properly. I tripped about ten times but never went down. But the later it got, the more nervous I was about it, so I slowed over the hard steps, just putting more pressure on my quads. I was getting more tired and between the shadows and my bleary eyes I knew I was one step away from disaster. And there were some steep drop-offs close to the trails' edge! But I persisted. At one point about 17 I slipped on a rock and landed on my butt and felt dizzy, so Sauce gave me her stashed rice krispy bar. Apparently I wasn't fueling properly. Me! Shocking! I never eat enough. It helped. But after that there was even more walking. Oh well, walk in the park. Enjoyed the beauty. At about 20 we reached a wider trail that was groomed. Basically a dirt road. So I was able to settle into a shuffle that didn't tax my legs as much and we started making better progress. That lasted 3-4 miles until the last aid station where they said the last 2 miles were mostly uphill and sunny. Ugh. But we were going to make it. Had to walk the ups, but then we finally heard the finish line cheers, and cruised down a steep hill (OW!!) and to the finish at last. 5 hours and 15 minutes of fun. Would have been good for a 3rd place age-group medal last year, but only 5th this year. Darn ten-year categories. All the winners were at least 5 years younger than me. But the finisher medal and shirt were quite cool. The post-race spread was NOT impressive, sadly, but we went out later for pizza and beer to celebrate. My legs were thrashed, but I never fell, and I had a fun time with a buddy cruising through a beautiful place. I can check trail marathon off the list. Now I'm recovered and I have a 5K, a 3 mile turkey trot, and a 10K on the calendar in the next 4 months. Next long one is a half in Atlanta 3/1. No more marathons until next Fall (Chicago is the plan, lottery permitting). Meanwhile I'm going back to enjoying my runs with my local group and running for fun.
  46. 6 points
    Still deciding which was harder. Didn't do the Baconator Awards last winter. I suppose they'd run their course and it was time to move on. As for myself, I wasn't anxious to repeat the previous winter's torn meniscus so I skipped doing any runs that might have been bacon-worthy. I'll probably do the same this year. Since I bought that dreadmill for Mrs. Dave, she hasn't used it, despite getting all the way through a Couch-to-5-K program over the summer. Not that there was any "anti-D" pressure from me. Really. With the New Hampshire Marathon on Saturday, our travel plans had us leaving Thursday afternoon, as soon as I could get home from a half day at work. So, Wednesday's intervals would be my last before race day. It was wet. Rain. Cool. Not "almost snowing and totally miserable" rain and cool, but you know what? I don't have anything to prove. I can run whenever, wherever and however I want. I've run in all kinds of conditions and will do so again, when I feel like it. This week, I didn't. That's how Wednesday's intervals also became my very first treadmill intervals. As part of the family room decor, it sits in a corner facing a blank wall. Not much of a view. But I can mount an iPad if I want to watch something. I've been listening to a Daniel Silva book, so I blue toothed my phone to a speaker and listened while I ran. Not sure I trust this thing 100%, either, but I used the numbers that were there. Easy jog for 1.5, then 2 x 1.5 @ 7:30 pace. The run was good. The book (House of Spies) is excellent. We drove through Ontario and stopped for the night in Syracuse at a Tru hotel. I'd only seen a couple of things about this place, but they're by Hilton, and new, so we figured it'd at least be clean. I walked in the front door and my first thought was, "Disney!" They were missing Mickey and all the other characters, but the layout and color scheme was exactly what I'd expect to see in the Magic Kingdom. Mrs. Dave had gone ahead while I parked the car, and when I opened the door to the room, she said, "Disney!" But, it was new, clean, nice and had the normal sort of hotel breakfast in the morning. We'd stay there again. It was five and a half more hours to our hotel for the next night, in Tilton, NH, about 20 miles south of Bristol. Once you get to Albany, you leave the interstate and it's smaller roads most of the rest of the way. Driving through the Green Mountain National Forest was fun. The colors at the higher altitude were amazing. I'd have taken pictures but I was driving. We listened to the new Malcolm Gladwell book, Talking to Strangers. Highly recommend all of his stuff. Makes you think differently about your whole life and the world we live in. After we checked into the hotel (Super 8 - quite a bit older than the Tru, but good enough and the most reasonable place within 50 miles) we drove the 20 miles to check out the course, pick up my bib and eat. If you're into big city marathons, this isn't for you. There were 160 finishers this year. The "expo" is in the basement of the local middle school and isn't an expo at all. They have registration tables, shirts and generic bibs from RoadID (not even the name of the race on them). That's it. But the volunteers are all friendly and know what they're doing. There were some travel mugs fr swag, but I don't need a travel mug. We drove the course, which reminded me of how tough things were going to be. This is not an easy marathon (if any of them are easy). The elevation change from the start to the highest point is only 286 feet, but almost none of it is flat. 1,100 feet total, some of it really steep. I'd looked at a pacing plan from findmymarathon.com, but it was too complicated. On top of that, I've made no secret of the fact that this summer has really messed with my head as far as training goes. The early October race date meant no 3-4 weeks of cooler fall weather to give me confidence at then end of all the miles. Race day weather was going to be perfect - 40o at the 9:00 AM start and 60o at the finish, with lots of shade. I had no idea what kind of effort I could sustain over 26 miles. I'd 2, maybe 3 runs in decent conditions. So, I decided to run on effort - I've done a few marathons before, so I think I know what "too fast" is by now, since I most often start out exactly like that - and see what happened when I got to the top of the hill at the half. A good plan if I could execute it. I will also say that if you're looking for a beautiful time and place to run a marathon, Bristol, NH in early October should be near the top of your list. We paid the $8 each for the pasta dinner, sponsored by the local Masons. I'm not one myself, but despite all the conspiracy theory based books I've read and History Channel specials, I have no issues with them. This group seemed pretty harmless and they put together a nice spread of spaghetti and 15-20 different sauces, plus bread and salad, with cookies and cake for dessert. We talked to a few of the other runners and then went back to Tilton for the night. Tried to go to bed early, but couldn't sleep. So I did an extra crossword and finally turned off the lights at 11:00. Then I spent the next four hours tossing and turning - I assume from nerves, no matter how I tried to convinced myself that I've done this too many times to be anxious about running a marathon, I couldn't get more than a few minutes of dozing at a time. Seriously, what was wrong with me? I did manage to stay in bed until 6:30, so even though it wasn't a good night's sleep, I was at least physically rested. I hoped, anyway. Bagel with PB and a banana for breakfast, then off to Bristol. As forecast, the sky was clear, there was a gentle breeze and it was just under 40 degrees. Cool. With Mrs. Dave as my private gear checker, I stripped down to just my shorts and t-shirt and waited for the nation anthem to finish. There was one guy in a catsup bottle costume. I hate costumed runners because they always seem to beat me. There was a banana guy at New York and for the first 8 miles all I heard was, "Go, Banana!" Then he dropped me and I felt annoyed for 18 miles. They had B-tags for timing, but no starting map, so timing was based on the starting gun. Not really an issue with 160 marathoners. There was also a 10K that started with us, but there was no crowding and I never had to weave around anyone. And the 10Kers turned around at 3.1, so things got really spread out after that. Mile by mile: Mile 1. 76 feet of climb. 8:48. Running through a small New England town for a half mile and then you're pretty much in the country. No pressure. Easy to start. Don't get excited. Don't work. Also, no cheering crowds except for the few volunteers at the two intersections we passed. Mile 2. 87 feet of climb. 8:44. What looked like a 10 year old brother and sister pair about 30-40 yards ahead made me think for a second I should be going faster, but then I remembered my normal crash and burn marathons and stayed with the easy effort. We hadn't gotten to the hard part yet. The first few miles are supposed to be easy. Mile 3. 51 feet down followed by 81 up, then 50 more down. 9:00. This was a pattern I'd see a lot. 7:30 pace on the down, but close to 10:00 going up. Newfound Lake to my left was beautiful in the morning sun. The wind from it was pretty chilly, but not enough to make me regret leaving the gloves with Mrs. Dave. The 10K leaders were heading back our way. They were pretty spread out, too (only 99 runners). The first woman was in 3rd place overall (she ended up 5th OA). Impressive. Mile 4. 89 feet up. 9:15. I was pretty glad to see the end of that first 4 mile long sustained climb. I had my eye on a couple of guys in front of me, but it was too hard and way too early to try catching them. Maybe I'd have something left in the tank for the second half. Mile 5. 90 feet down. 8:24. Hammer Gel #1. There must have been someone behind me also named Dave, because there was a SUV with 3-4 people all shouting, "Go, Dave!" I didn't have my name on my bib or my shirt and I didn't recognize any of them. They leap-frogged around the whole course, yelling for Dave. Eventually, I'd still see them but they were waiting instead of cheering, so I must have left the other Dave behind. Mile 6. 8 up, zero down. 8:51. I think I was a little disappointed with that. I knew I hadn't done nearly enough hill work over the summer, since hills are sort of hard to come by in L-town, but I had hoped to get farther than Mile 5 before I felt it in my quads this much. But I also remembered that my plan was ultra conservative on the front end, so this mile was really still a recovery from the first 4. I've learned that this is WAY too early for me to push the pace, even if I don't like it. Mile 7. Up 12 and down 9. 8:40. Did I mention that the road was open? Not much traffic and not many runners. No need, really. One of the two guys I'd been following had come back to me. He walked through the water table at Mile 6 and stayed with me for just the next half mile or so. Mile 8. Up 21, no down. 9:08. The other guy I'd been following made a pit stop in Mile 8 and I went past him. I knew there was a big hill coming near the end of this mile. Mile 9. 110 feet climbing, 122 feet falling. 9:23. The hill at the end of Mile 8 and the beginning of 9 was pretty nasty, but Mrs. Dave had driven around and was cheering there. She'd also apparently recruited the course volunteers to cheer with her, because the whole group was yelling for me. One of those downs that doesn't feel good, either. One where you have to spend more energy trying to slow down and not fall flat on your face. Pit stop guy caught back up to me as we made a sharp left and fell off the edge of the cliff. We ran together for just a little bit. Enough to find out he was there with his wife and they were from Florida. He was having as much trouble with the hills as I was. He thought maybe he'd have to drop back and run with his wife later. I lost him on the next big hill, which came immediately after reached the bottom of that one. He was about 6'3-4" with really long legs. When I slowed to maintain my effort level (that turned out to be barely a fast walk by the top), I lost him. Mile 10. 129 up and 119 down. 10:27. I've run 10 and a half minutes miles in marathons before, usually most of the last 6-10 miles because I've gone out faster than I should have. Mile 10 was a new thing. Made me reconsider my life choices. There's always some point in a race where I wonder if I'm really cut out for this marathon thing. At least this time I had a legitimate outside reason for it. This was the steepest and highest climb of the day. I ran until it didn't seem wise to do that, then I speed walked until that was too much, then had a final stretch of power walking to the crest. Holy moly, I was so happy to have that done. Mile 11. 25 up, 31 down. 8:45. This restored my self esteem. 8:45 was pretty close to what I had wanted to do for the first half of the race anyway, and being able to do this after the first 10 was reassuring. If we thought Bristol was small, Mile 11 ended in the town of Hebron (pop. 602 if you include East Hebron). Mrs. Dave had made it there and I got another little boost. She's an incredibly enthusiastic cheerleader. Mile 12. Up 46, down 49. 8:47. With a pair of reasonably flat miles together, it seemed like I might finally get into a little groove. Mile 11 started a 6 mile out and back section that included the half way point. Saw the leaders start coming back, so they were about 5 miles ahead of me. There were a few quiet shouts of encouragement back and forth along this part, but most people seemed to be feeling like I was - not much energy to make any noise. A slight nod, a barely audible, "Good job," was the most we could manage. Mile 13. Up 30, down 12. 8:43. Groove gotten into. I mis-remembered where the turnaround was, though. I thought it was right after the half (no mat or sign or anything, btw), but it wasn't. This was good news and bad news. Good news in that after I got to the final climb at the turnaround, there would only be 12 miles to go instead of 13 and also that I had 3 solid miles of not climbing very much. The bad news was that I had another 100+ foot climb before I could turn around for those last 12. Mile 14. 19 feet descending, 112 feet ascending. 9:41. With no marker for the half, I glanced at my watch (I really need a name for this thing) and saw I was at just a few seconds over 1:58. Not exactly on target, but if I could make it through this last pull, I had an outside chance at my A goal (BQ of course), and a solid shot at B (sub-4). So I worked a little more than on some of the others, although there was a short section near the top where I had to go to the speed walk. I was still feeling pretty good, and figured if the worst I did was 9:41 the rest of the way, it would be a good day. I was not going to do the math, though. Mile 15. 18 up and 107 down. 8:08. If only I could do that for the next 12 miles. Sadly, while the bulk of the ups were over, there were still a few nasty little climbs to go, and no more triple digit descents. Maybe one day I'll do one of those Revel runs that drop a few thousand feet from start to finish. It was also nice to see that there were people behind me. I wasn't DFL! Just kidding. I was working hard enough, but really felt pretty good for 15 miles into a marathon. And I was running downhill mostly and that was awesome. Mile 16. 13 up and 42 down. 8:34. I will admit I was a little disappointed that this mile wasn't closer to 8:00, but that was just the mileage talking. While the weather was perfect for a marathon (still sunny and beautiful and in the 40's at that point) and I'd had a good summer of work, I wasn't ready for all those hills. Even if it was downhill the rest of the way, the next 10 miles were going to take all I had. Mile 17. 58 feet climbing, 46 falling. 9:00. Those 58 feet came all in a really, really short distance and took all the wind I'd gathered in the previous 2 miles out of my sails. Still, it could have been worse. And 9:00 miles were certain to keep me under 4 hours. Came back through Hebron and got more cheers from Mrs. Dave, et. al. I'd been thinking about making a pit stop for a few miles, but it hadn't reached the point of urgency (all gas), so I kept skipping the POPs, including this one. But I did have to think about where the next one might be, and that was distracting. Mile 18. 74 feet climbing, 49 going down. 10:02. This was a stretch of 2 miles with the hardest hills since the half. And Mile 18 is a terrible time for a serious climb. I seem to remember the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon having it's most serious climb at about Mile 18. That was an awful race. I hadn't planned on needing to drop to the walk strategy up this one, but it was a lot steeper than I'd expected. A woman who'd been in my running neighborhood for a fair amount of the race came up behind me going up one of the hills. I'd catcher her going down, but when I slowed on the next one, she'd power up and pass me again. Mile 19. 51 feet up, 36 down. 9:32. One. More. Hill. That wasn't entirely the case but there was a drop down to the lake shore and things were pretty flat for the next four miles. Running right next to the lake I spent most of my time looking at the water - so clear and clean - and wondering if it was too cold for me to swim. At least, plunge my head in it fr a few seconds. It wasn't hot at all, but who's brain is coherent at Mile 19? Not this guy. Interesting about this small race, the water/Gatorade cups weren't all the same. Some of them were styrofoam, which you don't see a lot anymore. Of course the problem with styrofoam cups is that they don't smash like you need them to in order to drink while running without it all going up your nose and over your face. So I walked for a few steps to get some G into me and dowse my head with water. Mile 20. 11 up, 61 down. 9:11. This was also about where the Wall was. I didn't hit it too hard, but things were becoming a real struggle and would be for the next few miles. Normal. Mrs. Dave had started passing me on the road and stopping to give me some more cheer and takes pics. It was more than awesome to have her there every few miles with a smile and a yell. I'd brought my phone in my SPIBelt since they didn't have tracking and we weren't sure about vehicle access to the course, and here I decided it was bothering me, so I tossed it in the car. Mile 21. 2 up, 10 down. 9:53. Those are Marshall elevation numbers. This would have been a sub-9, but the urge pee I'd had for most of the race had finally reached the don't-ignore-me-anymore stage, so I grabbed the water/Gatorade combo like at the last table then ducked into the genteelly labeled "Marathon Restroom." LOL. So I lost a minute there, and when I came out I found my long legged pit stop friend from Miles 8-9. He was solo, so I guess he was still feeling OK. I pulled up even with him but he dropped off again pretty quickly. I saw my other friend from Mile 18 ahead, but I couldn't close the gap on her. Mile 22. 0 and 4! 😯 9:04. This may have been the toughest mile of the day. Totally flat for once and I just couldn't make my legs go any faster. They let runners who didn't think they could meet the 5-1/2 hour cutoff start early and there was a girl with two guys I'd seen coming back ahead of me on the out and back section who were obviously part of that crowd. They were having a great time, though - walking and running whenever they felt like one or the other. Who knows what they had in their "hydration flasks". Mile 23. 41 up and 29 down. 9:31. Another stupid hill. Passed another guy from earlier in the race with about 5K to go. I offered to have home come in with me but he was hurting too much. There were a few more ahead of me and if I could stay with it, I thought I had a chance to catch a couple. That's always good motivation when your legs are dead and everything hurts. The watch had me at 3:29. Not enough time for that BQ (unless I could run 3 miles at 7:00 pace - ha!), but sub-4 was pretty secure. Mile 24. No climbs and 10 feet of drop. 8:40. The drop came right at the end of the mile and just before the start of the (finally!) last hill. Mile 25. 39 for the final climb and 73 down into town. 8:48. This thing was pretty mild compared to the rest of the day's work, but it was another of those short and steep ones that had me speed walking the last bit. This time, though it wasn't as part of my strategy. I just couldn't keep a running pace. But I did manage to pass a woman with pigtails right at the top of it. There were two more ahead I could see. One was the woman who dropped me up the hills earlier (I recognized her red backpack in the distance) and another in black who'd passed me up one of the steep hills in Mile 9 or 10. Maybe. Remember the first few miles that were all uphill? We were back on that same road going the other way, so the course really gave it back when we needed it. Mile 26. No up. 88 down. 8:10. That "no up" is according to the Garmin numbers, but I'll tell you the truth that there was a little bump right at 26 - maybe 30 feet? We went up a cross street to finish in the school's athletic field. That final little insult let me pass that one more woman. Mile 26.2. 20 feet, all down, including a crazyass drop from the street into the parking lot. 7:02 pace. I could hear Mrs. Dave well before I could see her. Have I mentioned how awesome she is? The clock still had "3" at the beginning. Forgot about pictures and was totally looking down at my watch (need a name!) when I crossed the line in 3:56:40. Mrs. Dave reminded me that I haven't broken 4 hours since Marshall. FIVE YEARS AGO! And there's no comparison between the two courses. If I'd chosen a different course, the 2021 BQ ticket would have no doubt been punched. So I'll take the sub-4 and the moral victory, and plan another assault for next autumn. This was a fine marathon. Small of course, and all the things that come (and don't come) with that. Lots of elevation changes, so don't come here if you're looking for an easy race. Accommodations might be an issue, but that can be worked around with a little creativity and flexibility. It's a summer tourist area just a couple of hours north of Boston, so there are plenty of options, especially since the summer is over. Now for some pics. Flat Dave ready. It was pretty chilly at the starting line. There's pigtail woman. Didn't know I'd be seeing her again at the end. There's tall pitstop guy. Cruising and feeling pretty good. That lake was gorgeous. Did I mention my 2nd Place in the 60-69 AG? Guy in the yellow hat was 1st in 3:42.
  47. 6 points
    I read a piece of advice on tinamuir.com about writing a letter to yourself providing the advice you would tell a friend if they were having pre-race nerves. So, this is my letter to self. The letter is regarding an upcoming local 5K this weekend that I set as a pre-marathon goal race. The pain of a 5K is some kind of special, and I always get more nervous for them than anything over 10 miles. Plus, in the back of my mind, I want to place well, and maybe PR, and maybe break a time barrier that has always been slightly out of reach…, and so I spiral down the mental path of too much pressure about a race that should just be a test of my ability at this specific point in life, AND more importantly should just be FUN!! Dear Sandibeach, It is so exciting that your race is finally coming up this weekend and you can see how well your training is working! You’ve worked very hard to regain all the running fitness (and then some) that was focused on other, more important things last year. You are now in the best running (maybe even any) shape that you have ever been in! Yay for that no matter how fast you can race a 5K! 5Ks are difficult and its hard to make even small gains in time for the short distance, but you can feel the fitness in yourself. You’ve seen the increases in pace over the last few weeks with the added 5K specific workouts. I mean you ran a 6:36 mile as the final mile of a 4-mile tempo run without being at max effort. That felt pretty awesome, didn’t it?!?! Less than a year ago you couldn’t run a single mile under 7 minutes, let alone one after three other hard miles. Just look how far you have come in one year! Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and don’t worry about who is going to show up, and whether there is a chance to place overall. These things are out of your control, so stop wasting energy on them. The race is your opportunity to see just how far you’ve come and provide an idea about how far you can go. Push yourself to see what you can do, no need to waste energy on strategies to compete with other people, as that will not necessarily show you all that you can do, but will allow others to control you and your race. The goal should be to execute your race for your best time, and the race results and the items out of your control will fall where they will. Don’t doubt your abilities. You can do hard things. The race will hurt, but you can push through. Embrace the hard to see how far you have come and discover the impacts of the training plan. Think of the training plan as the hypothesis of a big science experiment and the race as the results of that experiment. After the race, you can draw conclusions and develop a new hypothesis/training plan. You would be selling yourself and the training plan short if you don’t just go out a run the best race you can run. This is your chance to show off the abilities of the plan and the work you have put into following the plan. The race is the finish line. The hard part is done, and now is the time to SHINE, celebrate, and feel the results of the work payoff. Go out there, be smart, and run the race that the training has made you capable of and that the conditions of the day will allow (whatever the results may show)! Sincerely, Your BIGGEST fan!
  48. 6 points
    I was the official tagger alonger at this year’s 100 on 100 this past weekend a few weeks ago. It’s really hard to describe and I always sucked at writing about Loopmeets so I’ll just tell you a bit about it. This year the team was fivestarks, Apple Pie, the incorrectly named Slow Running and Pat representing the OG, and Gonzo Runner and Paige bringing in some fresh (and very fast) blood. Fivestarks had made arrangements to pick Gonzo Runner up from Newark Airport on her way to Vermont. She graciously offered to let me start my tagging along there. It was a nice ride up. I love hanging out with these two and usually catch about half the NJ references. I haven't seen Gwen since the NJ half and Steve since Peachtree last year so there was a lot of catching up. I was supposed to be studying a little on the drive (more on that later) but I wound up chatting with the two of them with my book open on my lap the whole way up. You would too if you had been there. I’ll briefly recap race day but for the most part if you weren’t there, it’s your own fault for missing it. Wake up early. Drive. Hop out of the van to cheer. Drive. Hop out of the van to cheer. Snacks. Drive. Cheer. POP stop. Repeat until well into the night. Of course, along the way, everyone is joking around and having fun. I found out that I am incredibly bad at recognizing our runners from far away. I also found out that Paige, who is married to Pat, is crazy fast and completely fearless. She stayed out running during an electrical storm that had us all hiding in the van and, I suspect, other teams packing it in for the day. My favorite part of the day happened at night when fivestarks suggested that I run the last leg with her. I haven’t run in weeks because my back went out again and, on a good day, I’m a lot slower than her so I was a little nervous. Plus I was in very retired running shoes and a bra bra not a sports bra. BUT how many times would I be able to run through the backroads of Vermont in the pitch black with fivestarks? (Okay, technically the answer is probably annually but hush) So after a bit of finessing of the situation and deciding that I was not a bandit – I was a pacer – ignoring the fact that that pace is slower, we were off. Two things – Gwen is really fun to run with, she kept us on a nice clip without it ever feeling too hard or making me feel like I was holding her back. And it was dark. Like pitch black. It was kind of fun on the uphills because getting to the top would be a happy surprise. The downhills were fun too until I’d shine my headlamp out to take a peek and then get intimidated by how steep the hill was. I’m going to abruptly leave off there because I have more to tell about. Edit: I am captaining the 2020 team and I have to admit that after a few years of doing this with various people on the team, it really sucks that there are only six spots. I know we say this every year, but can't we have two teams? Please? Maybe a 12 person van with two runners out at once? Or two mini vans but our runners run together so we can still all mix in together? I'm just saying... So, I am studying to take my GMAT so I can start my masters this spring. I’m excited and scared and I’ll probably have to rent out my place and live someplace cheaper while I’m doing it. That part sucks but I am looking forward to a change of pace. I pretty much have to relearn algebra and geometry and even a lot of basic math for the test. It’s taking all of my time just keeping up with my prep class so I am going to defer NYC this year. I was behind on training anyway because of my back and don’t feel like I have anything to prove by gutting it out again this year. Edit: I was really happy about this decision until I was helping my RB strategize meeting up with her people at the finish, etc. Now I'm a little sad that I won't be running it but not sad enough to want to go into it undertrained. Am I soft? Maybe but I'd rather not kill myself trying to finish and then have to come back mentally and physically in time for Atlanta. So, I'm just going to focus on Atlanta. I have some more plans as far as school goes but I don’t want to say anything about it yet. Speaking of training. I just haven't had it since 2017. I really need to just commit myself and BE CONSISTENT but between injury, life, depression, weight gain, weight loss, falling off the smoking wagon, depression, getting back on the wagon, trying to maintain actual real life relationships with other human beings, and all the other things, I just haven't had a good season. I know that those are all just excuses but it doesn't help me get past that either, ya know? Sometimes I look back and remember 2017 fondly - waking up before dawn every day, running while the sun came up, that feeling of being on top of things, of accomplishing things, seeing my paces drop, seeing speedwork and hill work and running on dead legs pay off, and I think about how much I want to be back there. But then... I think that that was all I had then. Running could be the most important thing because it was everything. Do I really want to be back there? Really? But if not that then what?
  49. 6 points
    We got a kitten and he is the cutest! We took almost a week to settle on his name: Nugget Theo Ibbetson. "Nugget" from gold nugget (my husband and daughter love the show Gold Rush), and also because it sounds good with our other cat's name, Bandit. Theo because he was named Theodore at the shelter we adopted him from. Scroll down through excessive kitten photos for the running update I'm excited about. I had a monster workout this morning, and it was a success! When I saw it on paper, I wasn't sure I'd be able to hit it, but I knew that if I did it would be a huge confidence boost before Grandma's Marathon. It was also essentially my last chance for a huge confidence boost, and my last chance to make big fitness gains, being 2 weeks out from my race. No pressure! The goal was 6 miles at 6:15 pace, 1 mile at sub-6:00, 5 miles at 6:15, 1 mile at sub-6:00 (with 2 warm up and 3 cool down miles). I have never run a workout like this before, and mainly I was worried about the sub-6:00 mile in the middle. I knew I'd be able to run it because I've regularly been running 6 miles of tempo work at sub-6:00, but I did not know if I'd be able to come back from it and continue at 6:15 for so many more miles. But you never know until you try, so I tried! My splits are below. I ran to 13.11 to see what my half time would be, since I knew it would be faster than my bronchitis half 2 weeks ago. I was right where I wanted or a shade under for most of the workout, but I couldn't quite get down to sub-6:00 on the final mile...darn those 5 seconds! I was still quite happy with this, because I ran my second fastest half marathon ever in a workout, by myself, in 95% humidity, with no aid stations, and certainly with different pacing than I'd have used in an actual race. It was a good reminder not to drop too fast of a mile too early in a race! It was 65 degrees, so about as good as you're going to get in Missouri in June, but the humidity was pretty brutal at 95% and I could squeeze sweat out of my hair and clothing afterward. My friend Rebecca ran a shorter faster workout on the same course I was on, so at some points I got to chase after her, which was helpful. I wore the outfit I plan to wear for Grandma's, although I think will wear my Nike Vaporfly shoes for the race and did this workout in New Balance Zantes. This is the one and only run this year that made me think perhaps my Big Dream Goal is possible at Grandma's, but one is better than none, right?! 2 weeks to go! Our favorite post-long run pose Better together Fast braid for Rebecca, sweat soaked bun for me No stops, because race clocks don't stop!
  50. 6 points
    I ran this about 3 weeks ago and now am just finally writing about it. I awoke to overcast skies, but not so overcast that I was bothered. After all, the weather had been predicted to be sunny that Saturday with a high of 80 degrees. It had been a pretty good training cycle. I survived the early winter months with my discovery of Peloton Digital's on-demand treadmill workouts and surprised myself with how much I was able to push the pace. By the time regular outdoor running was bearable for me, my average easy run pace had slipped into the sub-12's, which was a pleasant surprise. I suppose that is what happens when you take classes where standards are generalized and the trainer has no idea of who you are or what you personally think your limitations are. Always aiming to be the perfect student, I often tried to match what the instructors were suggesting, although as I got more comfortable with myself, I would be more humble in some of those runs. In other runs, especially the outdoor ones, I was less humble. Or perhaps I was simply realistic. This is the advantage to being told to run by perceived effort, rather than a specific pace. More often than not, my perceived effort resulted in a faster pace than I would have otherwise set for myself. I managed two long runs of 10 miles, whereas previously I had only gotten 1 of these in. This was in spite of catching my annual spring cold, and missing nearly an entire week of running due to wedding (!) planning. I've never had a perfect training cycle for any race, but I've never been more pleased with how this one went. The race was set inside a state park, along trails that I regularly ran when I was marathon training. I was pretty excited to run these trails again, as it's been forever since I've ran them. Back to race morning. I found myself among the lots and lots of runners who thought arriving in the car around 6:30 would be plenty of time in advance for a 7AM start. So, when I finally parked around 6:50, I had just enough time to connect with a friend who was also running, wait in line for the porta-potty and then head to the start line. By the time 7AM rolled around, it was starting to noticeably sprinkle, and I was wondering how in the heck this race would go. My friend is considerably faster than me, so we started in our respective pace groups. I found myself falling in step with a group of 3 ladies, one of whom regularly paces half marathons. They were going at a pace that felt comfortable, yet slightly challenging, so I quietly shadowed them and by mile 3 or so, the rain had stopped and I eventually joined their conversation. As each mile ticked off, I checked my watch, pleasantly surprised at how good the reported pace felt. The course was rolling hills and the group was running by feel, not by pace, and I enjoyed this approach, keeping an even effort. Mile 1 - 10:40, Mile 2 - 10:53, Mile 3 - 11:08, Mile 4 - 11:38 The next few miles were one of the tougher sections of the course - with some nasty hills. Hills are the one thing I'm good at though, so while the ladies slowed to a power walk (even effort), I stubbornly bounced up the hill, considering that this may bite me in the ass later. I also figured this meant that eventually, the ladies would catch up with me again. Mile 5 - 11:37, Mile 6 - 11:22, Mile 7 - 11:43 Now, I have to say, the nice thing about corporate challenge races is companies get points both for having participants and for having spirit squads. So, during what may have been a very lonely race, it was filled with people who were cheering and encouraging you on, and that really makes a difference. By Mile 8 or so, the ladies had caught up with me again, and we enjoyed the downhill after all the climbing. I was really enjoying the race, chatting with people I didn't know about anything and everything. By mile 9, it was just me & the pacer (who's name I wish I could remember), as the hills had caught up with others. It was also around this time that I started to recognize that, if I keep this up, I will get a massive PR. Mile 8 - 11:03, Mile 9 - 11:06, Mile 10 - 11:10 As the race continued, we encountered the gradual uphill that had been our initial downhill. In running, what goes down must go back up, and we were paying for those nice, easy miles at the start. My quads were protesting, my hammies asking me 'WTF?' and I was thankful for my new running buddy who was encouraging me to keep my head in the game. About this time, the forecasted rain made its appearance - in full force. We are talking soaked to the bone, water dripping off your elbows and race hat, rain. But, we pushed onward (and upward), climbing to the finish and encouraging other to give it a solid run (neither of us were down for much more) into the finish Mile 11 - 11:03, Mile 12 - 11:41, Mile 13 - 11:26 I stopped my watch, looked down and was instantly happy: 2:26:34. A 5 minute improvement on my unofficial PR and a 7 minute smashing on my official PR. After the race, while it was continuing to rain harder and harder, I stretched and guzzled chocolate milk & water under one of the parks' shelters. When it became evident the rain would not let up any time soon, I slowly started walking to my car. Thanks to the hard work of Mythbusters, I knew it would be pointless to try running to the car, as I would get just as wet. I had brought a clean shirt to change into, but recognizing just how wet I was, I simply took my race shirt off in addition to my sopping socks and shoes, and placed my windshield sunguard on my seat, and drove home half dressed. <-- probably an unnecessary detail, but it's important for me that you know that I was so drenched that I didn't want to keep the wet shirt on or put on a dry shirt. *shrug* Wish I had photos, but sadly, there are none.
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