Asheville Half: 2016 vs 2017

Last year Jewel and I ran the Asheville Half together. It was such an amazing race experience that we decided almost immediately that we wanted to run it again.  We even managed to recruit GardenerGirl and one of Jewel’s friends to run it with us. What a difference a year makes on a whole host of levels.

IMG_2309Let’s start with the temperature.  Last year it was 60+ degrees out we were in shorts and tank tops.  This year it was only in the 20s.  For this little asthmatic who already suffered in the cold and now has massive issues in the cold this didn’t bode well.  I gave serious consideration at not running at all, and then at mile 8 when I got cold, due to the wind, I gave serious consideration to dropping.   There were just not enough layers in the world to keep that wind from biting through me.

Then let’s talk about the race experience.  The race last year gave us quite a bit of swag.  We got gloves in our goodie bag and a finishers blanket. This year, when we could use the gloves we didn’t get any and instead of a blanket we got a metal finishers cup.  Honestly, the swag was on the reasons why we decided to run again.  Have to admit I’m a little disappointed this year.  Even the expo didn’t have nearly as many vendors as last year.  I know it seems petty, but come on now.

As for the running I knew I was going to be on the struggle bus.  Grad school has been sucking the majority of my stress bandwidth making my runs challenging. Combine that with the temperatures and all I wanted to do was finish in one piece.  My time this year definitely showed the impact that school and the temperature had on me as I finished nearly a minute per mile slower than I did last year.  Given that I gave serious consideration to dropping at mile 8 the fact that I finished at all is a miracle.

Even though it was cold I have to say that the spectator support was amazing.  While not IMG_2337nearly as many folks were out this year as last year, the ones that were out really brought their A game in terms of signs.  My favorites made me laugh which is always a good sign, especially when you are on the struggle bus.

There are two things I learned from this race: 1.) Cold weather is definitely off the table for me.  Anything over 4 miles in below 40 degree temperatures is just completely off the table.  I just can’t generate the body heat to keep me warm nor are my lungs happy.  2.) Road running is most definitely not for me it just doesn’t make me (or my body) happy.

 

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Flying Pirate: Double Dare Challenge

This past weekend was the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. Of course, me being me, I signed up to do the Double Dare Challenge which is comprised of the Flight Flight 5k on Saturday followed up the half marathon on Sunday.  I mean, if you are  going to travel over 5 hours to go to an event you might as well participate in the whole event.

Wednesday, prior to the race, I was speaking with Bourbon’s Mom.  I was musing how it was going to be nice to get some sun and beach time.  She looked at me and said wryly; “Have you looked at the weather today?”  Um, no.  She pulled it up on her computer screen.  What was sunny and 80 on Monday was now 50 and 40mph winds.  Are you fu*%& KIDDING me?  I’m sure the look that crossed my face was priceless.  Sigh, oh well.  Fiduciary incentivized exercise.  I paid for it, therefore I shall run it.  I guess I’ll just pack a few extra clothes.

IMG_8878Bourbon’s Mom and I drove down to Richmond where we picked up Luddite Runner.  Then we all proceeded to the Outer Banks.  When we finally arrived on Friday the weather guessers had gotten it right; it was WINDY.  Not just any wind, but take your breath away kind of wind.  The ocean was very angry.  The waves were pounding something fierce.  So much for a nice sunny, relaxing, beach weekend.  It could have been worse, there was a poor couple who had their wedding scheduled….outdoors…..

Saturday was the First Flight 5k.  There is a very good reason why those Wright boys picked that particular spot.  It’s windy as all get out.  We got to the start line and were freezing out behinds off.  I was acting like a complete fool just to get my muscles warm.  Hey, everyone is someone else’s weirdo.

We were all were doing the challenge, so the plan was to go out slow and just cruise around IMG_8920the 5k course.  That was the plan anyway.  We had elected Bourbon’s Mom to set the pace,  we were just following her.  Perhaps that was a bad idea.  Her competitive streak came out.  Luddite Runner and I knew the “easy peasy” day went right out the window.  We cruised across the finish in under 35 minutes.  Oops.

We spent the rest of the day playing mini golf, seeing the sights, and trying (as best we could) to minimize the amount of extra time we spent in the wind. It was gorgeous, right up until you got out of the nice sunny (protected) car and had to be out in it.  We still managed to have a great time, even if it wasn’t sticking our toes in the sand and enjoying some sun.  Again, at least we weren’t the poor couple who had planned a wedding.

Sunday morning; half marathon day.  The three of us have done events together before.  The plan was the same as it always was.  Bourbon’s Mom and Luddite Runner would stay together running intervals.  I was going to run on my own.  The morning was practically a walking disaster.  First, we got on the shuttle bus and Bourbon’s Mom sat on her hydration pack hose soaking her rear. When she jumped out of her seat and into Luddite Runner’s seat she smacked the cup of coffee thereby soaking Luddite Runner’s thighs.  If that weren’t enough, we got all the way to the start line and I realized that I left my lucky tutu in the car.  Crap….

IMG_8954.JPGWe stood shivering together at the start line huddling between a truck and the tree line. It was in the low 40s and the wind was whipping already.  A local had told us on Saturday that we would be shielded from the wind most of the course.  We were all praying that was going to be the case.

We loaded into our corrals and I saw the 2:30 pacer.  Mentally all I wanted to do was finish. I wasn’t expecting much with the wicked winds (and the cold).  I had finished my last half in 2:28 so as long as I kept slightly ahead of the 2:30 pacer I would be ok.  As our wave was released I was having some issues getting Coconut to get a signal.  Apparently she didn’t like being that cold either. I wound up having to play catch up with the 2:30 pacer after convincing Coconut to get a GPS signal.  At least it helped warm me up a bit.  Now, I’m normally a warm runner.  Even in the dead of winter I will wind up taking my gloves off because my hands get super hot.  I didn’t actually warm up enough to take off my long sleeve shirt until after mile four.

I settled into a nice pace.  Running with my Spirit Human has done wonders for me.  She is so metronomic in her running.  My goal was to try to stay on that cadence as long as I could.  That being said, every runner has to have their own way of keeping pace.  Mine just happened to be this very cute pack of boys running with 30 pound weight vests about a quarter of a mile in front of me.  For six miles I kept up with them.  Then starting at mile 7 I began to reel them in.  As we rounded the corner for the Wright Memorial I passed them. I teased them a bit when I was running with them that they needed to run faster because I was using them as my carrot.  They laughed.  They were good humored about it.

IMG_8957The last few miles of the half are on dirt road and trail. Oh happy day!  This is where I picked up a runner named Jenny. She had been shadowing me.  As I stopped on one of the hills to mentally pull myself together she came up beside me and said, “Look you can’t quit I’m using you to pull me along.”  I laughed only because hmmm, I wonder where I heard that before.  For the next three miles Jenny and I stayed together(ish), pushing and pulling each other along.  Don’t know where she came from, but man she was exactly what I needed.

As I rolled down the hill towards the finish line I was stunned at the clock.  Wait, wha? I was so stunned that I didn’t even sprint through the finish after gaining the momentum from rolling down that hill.  2:21??? Seriously??? That’s nearly 7 minutes better than my LAST half.  How is that even possible?  I guess running with Spirit Animal and working my ass off at the gym (quite literally with all the glute and hip exercises I’ve been doing) really are doing me some good.

I gathered my medals and my hat I walked around to the finish to wait for my two amigas to come rolling through.  I huddled together with a couple of other runners waiting for their respective friends.  We were sharing mylar blanks in an attempt to stay warm.  April in the Outer Banks and we were freezing, who would have thought.

FinIMG_8961ally, the ladies came over the hill.  I started shouting.  I doubt they heard me but I was whooping and hollering and encouraging.  I saw the clock.  They shaved nearly 15 MINUTES off of their time from Disney.   I was SO damn proud of them.

The post race party was right next door to the finish.  They managed to grab some food (yet another race with no food options for me), and we all managed to snag a cider (yay! something I could consume).

We stood there shivering talking about the course (the IMG_8966supportive locals, the mimosas at mile 5.5, the cute pack of boys, etc) when out of the corner of my eye there they were.  The cute pack of boys. I sheepishly asked them if I could get my picture with them.  Hey, incentive is incentive.   We stood there for a moment talking about Spartan races, which courses we liked which ones to avoid.  It’s always nice to find common ground with strangers.

 

Overall, I’m exceptionally pleased with my results.  I learned some valuable lessons between my last half and this one.  I put Tailwind into my hydration pack (made a HUGE difference.)  I packed a Picky Bar; you know, because otherwise I would miss second breakfast.  I also learned some valuable lessons on course this time, but the most valuable lesson of all was just how much I really truly do love dirt.  This is my second to last road race I am registered for.  I don’t think I will be registering for any more.  I run happiest both mentally and physically on dirt.

I am exceptionally pleased with my time.  I’m exceptionally please with my pacing. I’m still slow, but I’m making progress every race.

IMG_8974

 

Asheville Half Marathon

The Asheville Half Marathon is run entirely on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate; which, if you have never been to the Biltmore needs to translate to hills and lots of them.   What this also means is that you’d better start working your glutes for the first 6 miles are nothing but up, up, up.

I went into this race with the attitude of “I just want to survive.” After Disney I had a case of monkey-ebola-SARS-pox (aka: bronchitis) that put me on my rear for almost two weeks.  I was even still coughing up “hair balls”.  There is also the added bonus that Asheville sits at an elevation of 2000+ feet.  For a “flat lander” like myself that’s high.  Survival was my only goal.

Jewel and I were incredibly lucky that we snagged one of the last rooms on the Estate IMG_8533itself.  This was probably the best decision that we made regarding this trip.  Being able to roll out of bed and be at the start line made a HUGE difference.  We got to get up at 6, have coffee, relax, eat breakfast and still have plenty of time to get to the start.  We didn’t have to fight with a shuttle bus or deal with the 3 mile drive onto the grounds.   It meant that our mood was relaxed and playful at the start vice stressed out.  Ok, MY mood was playful, Jewel was still focused on the 3:30 sweeper.   On the flip side it also meant that we could take our time at the finish line celebration tents (see: I could get a massage) without having to worry about missing the last shuttle bus back off the grounds.

It’s an intimate race with a little over 1900 runners.  This meant that the start line nor the course were crammed full of people.  It was bigger than a trail race, but much smaller than most road races.  I actually liked the size.  There were only two spots were you got any kind of log jams and they were at both U turn sections of the course.

I started the race with the 2:30 pacer.  I figured after Disney I wanted to at least try to keep that overall time goal.  However, between with monkey-ebola-SARS-pox and the elevation I figured I was being exceptionally ambitious.  Slowly, though, I wound up pulling away from them.  I realized that most likely they would catch up to me, but I wanted to go at my pace up the hills (aka; mountain pony) and not theirs.

As I said earlier the first 6 miles are nothing but up.  It was the kind of up that every time you came around the corner you were really really hoping that you were finally at the top.  We just kept climbing and climbing.  Some of the volunteers started teasing us saying that
we were almost there (we weren’t).  Two things went in my favor regarding hills; 1. I have mountain pony gear and 2. We’ve been doing LOTS of squats lately at CrossFit.   Do you know what waits for you at the top of 6 miles of pain?  This.

IMG_8544At the house you run the U shaped drive way and I saw the the 2:30 pacer was right behind me.  Let me tell you, this little asthmatic runner found gears she didn’t know she had on the downhills.  Can’t.  Let.  Her.  Catch.  Me.

What goes up must come down, which was wonderful.  Once you got through the first half of the course the rest of the course was flat.  I actually liked the gravel and dirt running we did on parts of the course.  It gave my knees and legs a break. Especially after all of the up followed by all of the down. Lots of road runners who spend no time on trails were NOT happy campers.  I just chugged along happy as an overheating clam.   Yeah, it got HOT.  Really hot.  I was taking water from the aid stations just to throw on my face. (Note to self: DO NOT think about how hot it will be at the Outer Banks race in a couple of weeks.)

First the up hills. Then the down hills.  Then the heat.  If that weren’t enough the course designers then threw something awful at us.  At mile 10 they threw us down a 2 mile double back after we saw and ran past the finish line.  All of us were falling apart mentally.  There were several folks who wanted to short the course and we warned them there was a timing mat at the 15k mark.  Again, I really wish they would just lollipop us over on the western side of the estate.

I glanced down at Coconut on the way back up the double back.  Not only was I still in front of the 2:30 pacer, but holy crap on a cracker I might actually break 2:30.  While it wasn’t enough to put me back together after my mental collapse it was enough to light a small fire under my ass for the last quarter mile up hill section towards the finish line.

I flew across the finish at 2:28.  Um.  Um.  What the what???  I was shocked. I still AM shocked.  Some how, some way, I managed to cut 4 minutes off of my Disney time.  How in the WORLD is that possible???

I stood at the finish line waiting for Jewel to cross.  I almost walked away thinking that he was going to be coming across at 3:00 or so.  I looked up at the 2:40(ish) mark and I saw his hat.  I did a double take.  WHA???  I started shouting for him to trot the downhill.  Nope, not Jewel.  He started waving like the Queen Mother as he was crossing the finish line and saying thank you to the spectators.  BWAHAHAHA.  Jewel definitely knows how to cross a finish line in style; I’ll give him that much.  He cut nearly 20 minutes off of his Smokey time.  I’m so unbelievably proud of him.

IMG_8555As I stood, ok ok lay in a heap, in line for the PT to work on my knees (they were on fire) Jewel went back to the room (again the benefits of staying on the grounds) to shower and have his reward chocolate milk.  Having the PT and the massage folks there was AWESOME.  They were able to work the pain out of my knees (from tight muscles) and I was able to walk nearly pain free back to the room!

After I took a quick shower we decided we were going to do Mount Mitchell again.  Except this time we were driving almost all the way to the summit.  Reward for a job well done!

I would totally do this race again.  We are talking about it for next year.  If I had to give them any feedback it would be to give us a lollipop on the west side of the grounds vice doing the double backs.  Have I mentioned they were awful?  He he.

Run Disney Part 2: Princess Half Marathon

Another 0300 wake up came and instead of bouncing out of bed I rolled off the couch cushions on the floor. One of the girls, Patient 0, had gotten the flu and I was not about to share a bed with her. My lungs hurt, my body hurt, and all I could think was sonofabiscuit. I was going to will my way through this thing if I had to. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Bourbon’s Mom was

 even sicker than I was, Patient 1, and was also struggling by hacking up a lung. I just kept repeating ‘I am NOT getting sick’ in an effort to make it so and downing Airborne and Emergen-C.

After getting dressed, loaded on the buses, dropped off, and going through security I said good bye to the other girls, including Patients 0&1 and made my way towards my corral. The initial plan had been for Patient 0 to catch up to the other 2, as she is normally the faster runner (who forgot to submit her time) but given her state we weren’t even sure if she was going to make it. (Spoiler alert; she does.)

Unless you are in one of the first corrals expect a walk. A very LONG walk. Must have easily covered a mile or more just to get to my corral. I stood in there stretching and talking to the other girls and I saw the 3 hour pacer. No. Just no. Last half I finished in 2:51. I need to stay in front of her. I saw 2:45 in the next corral up. Mentally I took note. Must. Catch. Them.  Corral A started and I broke out my inhaler. The girl next to me started to chuckle. “You too?” We laughed and started swapping stories about  running with asthma. I think the folks around us were a little horrified. Hey, when you are a platypus and you find another platypus you stop and chat!

running with asthmaWe finally crossed the start line around 6 and I just put one foot in front of the other. For the first several miles I was passing a ton of people. I checked my pace on Coconut and, no, I wasn’t going out too fast. I just kept chugging along.

All of the walkers on the left could have pissed me off, but rather than even waste energy on that I just moved off into the dirt. Not only is it what I like running on better but it also had the added bonus of letting me not have to weave around people. Weaving is bad. It wears you out and adds to your miles. Did I mention how much I prefer riding in the dirt?

That’s probably one of the biggest take always for me this weekend. I much MUCH prefer the dirt. Mentally this weekend has been exhausting. Running on pavement doesn’t leave me at peace the way running on dirt does. Yes, I can go faster on pavement, but wow I didn’t remember/realize the true difference until this weekend.

This race was a struggle for me mentally. This was my second morning of getting up at 0300, getting on the bus, standing in the corral for over an hour, etc. It’s all just draining. The good news is that along parts of the course there are plenty of spectators.

cheer sign

cheer sign

Then there were parts of the course where there was not a soul. Mentally I was struggling. Mile 9-11 were especially hard. I was in pain. I just wanted to stop and walk. I knew though if I did that getting going again was going to be hard.  I just kept counting the miles. Digging deep when you are in a dark place and running solo is not easy. Guess it’s a good thing I’m stubborn.

Mile 12 had an overpass. Now granted I train on hills with way more incline than that. I eat hills like that. Yesterday after all of the concrete and pavement my hip flexor was just miserable. I broke down and walked the incline. Probably my lowest point in the race. The last full mile was run in Epoct and had a ton of turn arounds. When you’re in pain making those sharp U turns hurts even more.

Making the sharp S turn towards the finish I looked down at Coconut for the first time since the first mile. My jaw fell slack. I was going to finish sub-2:45. By a lot!!! I crossed the line in 2:33. That’s an 18 minute difference off of my last half time.

Now, I know full well that my next race will be right back to me being at the bottom of the pack. For now, though, I will cherish my top 20% in my age and top 22% overall placement. I’m also going to enjoy my 11:07 pace. That’s not bad. I still have a great deal of work to do, but it’s progress.

First race of the season. Check.

First double back race. Check.

First step towards the Endurnace Challenge Utah 50k. Check.

Lots of bling? Check!!

running medals

http://classic.avantlink.com/affiliate_app_confirm.php?mode=js&authResponse=2f8ba9d8cf1132c95c2a44cdd451e497fb4d12cd

Everyone has a story: Don’t be an asshat

Something has been stuck in my craw and I need to get it out. Last week, I had the distinctive displeasure of hearing someone say that they dated someone who ran eight half marathons (said with disgust) and how they could have saved themselves a great deal of time and money had they known that because why run eight half marathons when you can run a marathon.   This is someone, hereby known as Negative Norton, that I had respected right up until that point. What kind of asshat cuts down someone like that?  Eight half marathons is a huge amount of effort, training, and dedication.  Hell, ONE is a huge amount of effort, training and dedication.

Negative Norton then went onto say how people who walk marathons get the same medal as the person who ran the marathon; so, don’t be a walker.  While I can comprehend the point they were trying to make (albeit badly) about effort; maybe the person who walked the marathon couldn’t walk a year ago.  Oh, and by the way, Negative Norton, shows what you know, winners get fancy plaques and sometimes checks not just a finishers medal.

Then this week NavyMom posted; “Okay finished my long run…yes roll your eyes you 10 milers my long run is only 5 miles …”  Immediately, a large group of us jumped in to cheer on her effort.  This is someone who until recently has struggled to get one block due to her near crippling nerve pain and she just went 5 miles!   This is an effort that should be celebrated not cut down.

When did it become ok to cut others efforts down? When did it become ok to cut our own efforts down? That person who “just” ran a 5k might have “just” finished chemo.  That person who “just” ran a 10k may have mere months ago “just” weighed 100 pounds more.  You never know what obstacles that person had to overcome in order to conquer that distance.   There are visible challenges, but more often than not they are invisible ones; PTSD, diabetes, anxiety, asthma, etc.

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Still damn proud of it & no one can take that away from me.

While yes, there can be only one prize winner; every single person who crosses that finish line has overcome some challenge at work, at home, and/or within themselves.  That is something that no one can ever take away from you unless you let them.  Don’t be an asshat to anyone else either. Cheer on their efforts because you never know when it will be you struggling to crawl across the finish line.

2015: The Year of the Sine Wave

“If you have a body and move it regularly for physical health and mental sanity, suck it up you’re an athlete.” Sally Bergesen.

If I had to describe 2015, I would describe it as a high frequency, high amplitude sine wave.  There were a significant number of ups and downs but a constant movement forward.  The ups and downs were hard to take, but forward is always a must; and my forward led me to the point where I had a couple of epiphanies.

img_7726My first came out on the trails earlier this year and that is; I am a runner.  All of my life running is something that I had a love/hate relationship with. Even when I was a child and my cousins would do races on my grandparents farm; I always came in dead last.  This year, though, I had a moment where I realized just how much I loved it.  Granted, I will never be Sally Bergesen or Anna Frost, but I love to run.  It’s the absolute best part of my day getting out on the trails and clearing my head.  One of the biggest lessons I learned this year was that when I cut the cord and stopped running with music out on the trail I actually started to run better.  My running became more present and more focused.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still slow, but I’m happier.  On most days, anyway.

I realized I am not EVER going to be a fast runner.  What I do have, though, is endurance.  There was a quote by  Gunhild Swanson, the oldest finisher of the Western States 100 that encapsulates my running style perfectly; “I can’t out-sprint them, but I can certainly outlast them.” The hike up Hurricane Hill with my brothers where they dubbed me ‘Mountain Pony’ made this crystal clear to me.  I may not get there very fast, but I can go all day long.  I think this is why I’m actually excited about the Utah 50k with my brother.  He’s the fast one in the family and likes to rib me constantly. Perhaps this is where the tables are turned and Big Sister gets to have the last word.

Second, is a more recent realization and one that I am not 100% comfortable wearing just yet, but that is;  I am an athlete. I remember the first time that word was used referring to me.  I was attempting to do kettlebell swings at CrossFit and one of the coaches said to me after I made a minor correction they wanted in my swing form; “Excellent correction, I see you are an athlete.” No, no.  Really, I’m not.  When I hear the word athlete, I think of my idols; Amelia Boone, Sally Bergesen, Anna Frost, Rose Wetzel.  In my mind those are athletes.  They are powerful, graceful, strong, and fast.  Definitely not words I would describe myself, especially in the graceful category.  Yet, somewhere along the line it had snuck up on me and bit me in the ass.

Huh.  Maybe nearing 40 I’ve finally figured out how to operate the controls of this body of mine.  I say this and then I look down at the scar on my left knee  acquired from landing Superman style not once, but twice, during a trail race.  Then again, maybe not.

 

2016 Big Hairy Ass Goals

TerrifyingI saw this posting on social media and I immediately smiled.  It succinctly sums up 2016 for me.  It is going to be terrifying and amazing, but mainly terrifying.  That my friends is exactly what I wanted it to be.

This past year has been a pretty big year in the changes department.  I’m only now starting to truly realize just how big those changes are.  Just in mileage alone I had a 290% increase in miles over 2014.  I weigh 30% less than I did last year.  I’ve halved my clothing size and I doubled my half marathons (to two).  I even ran my first Spartan Race.  As the weight has come off and my fitness has improved my goals have grown.  I want to continue to push myself to be the very best version of myself I can be.  With that in mind I sat down and laid out my 2016 goal (and races);

My big hairy as goal is to complete every race (12) that I have entered.  Let’s be honest, that count is accurate as of today most likely it will only go up because, apparently, I’m an addict.  Now, some of these races are freaking HUGE in distance (like my 50km), some are HUGE mentally (like any of the Spartans), and some are going to be HUGE physically (like the two races at altitude when I live at sea level.)

As such, I’ve also set out this summer to start running/climbing/training in the mountains; well, what we out here in the mid-Atlantic like to call mountains.  I’ve already booked my campsite to enable me to climb Mount Rogers.  I’m also looking to climb Spruce Knob.  I’m going to start spending as much time as I can out in the mountains to try to push myself and my training.  Ok, plus I really love it out there so there is always that perk…..but I digress.

I’ve also set the goal to do the Maryland portion of the AT.  One of my co-workers who also has set some massive goals for 2016 needs to get some mountain miles in too.  We are currently working the logistics for us to be able to knock that portion out.  Who knows, maybe that will lead me down the 10 year plan of finishing the AT one state at a time.

Finally, my goal for 2016 is to run happy.  That may seem silly, but it’s taken me a very img_7726long time to say “YAY! RUNNING!!!” I’m going to continue to cross train for that specific reason.  I never ever want to get to the point where I hate running again.  Granted, I have places that I love to run more than others (dirt vs. pavement, parks vs. city), but I still find that lacing up is the best part of my day.  From the grin on Perry’s face I think it’s his favorite part of the day too.

Great Smoky Mountain Half

I have this amazing friend, Jewel, who has been working his ass off to get in shape. Over the course of the last year he’s dropped 75 pounds. Several months ago I challenged him to push himself and walk a half. I knew he could do it. I saw the numbers he was putting up. He registered and this weekend not only did he finish but he CRUSHED it.  

The morning started off a little rocky. First, I had forgotten to take my asthma meds and we had to turn around and go back to the hotel. (I was wondering why I was so wheezy.) Then we got on the shuttle bus to the start line and our bus driver got lost. When we finally got to the start line even getting a group photo wasn’t without its drama; Jewel accidentally punched me in the eye. (I wonder just how much was an accident, I am kind of a pain). Not a good way to start the race. 

We started across the finish line together. Then we started to spread out a bit. C runs faster than both of us so she led the pack most of the way. I just wanted to stay as close to my training heart rate as I could to see how far I could go without walk break. Jewel just wanted to finish. 

Around mile 4 I got hungry. Not sugar low, but hungry. I hadn’t eaten since 0500 and like a Hobbit it was time for second breakfast. Luckily, I had remembered my Picky Bar.  Yay food! 

 At this point I was in front of C as she had made a brief stop at mile 3. I just kept trucking along. Slow, but steady. She eventually caught back up with me. That speed demon. 

The road was miserable to run on. It was banked like this \ or like this / the entire time. My legs never hit the pavement at the same length. I’m used to uneven trail surfaces but this was so much worse.  I never have issues with my hips, but by mile 7 I was in so much pain. Poor C, who had had stress factures in both of her hips (thanks Army), was absolutely miserable.  Lots of folks out on course were all in pain for that reason. 

  Around mile 8 we popped over the river and onto a concrete path. As much as I hate running on concrete, due to its lack of give, I was thrilled to finally running on something semi level. I just kept plugging on. Around mile 10 one of my favorite Biker Barre songs came on and it gave me such a boost. 5k away and I knew I’d be ok. 

Sprinting across the finish all I wanted to do was see my friends cross. I got my medal and turned around. C had been right behind me. I waited. And waited. Watching the clock I began to get really worried. Where was she?!

  
Finally!!! Apparently, her hips pain was nearly unbearable. I had never been happier to see her cross. 

We got her medal and then waited for Jewel. As we saw him come down the finishing chute we began to hoop and holler.  He finished! He finished strong!!! I’m so proud of him. 

 

My final results? Chip time; 2:51:59.5 pace 13:08. Overall finisher 914/1215 (75%) Gender 527/918 (57%) Division 97/135 (71%) 

Last September I finished my first (barely) at 3:16:14 with a pace of 14:58. In March I finished in 2:53:17 with a pace of 13:12. I’m making progress. It’s still slow, but I’m thrilled.

  

Officially gone crazy pants

This week has been a VERY big week for me.  First, I had a discussion with Sainted Mary about lowering my goal weight by 5 pounds which she agreed to.  More importantly however, I have committed myself in writing via money/cash/dollarswhat/dinero for wait for it; over 69.3 miles of running.  What the wha????

See, yesterday I dropped into the mail my EX2Adventures Fall Backyard Burn series registration. Of course the 10 mile option.  Duh.  I do oh so love running with the EX2 crew.  The added bonus is that I’ve really been knuckling down on my heart rate training (for a later entry)  which means hopefully I won’t be dragging my tush around Fountainhead…again…..I’m not doing all 6 of their races as I will be completing the half marathon with Jewell for one of them, but yes, indeed, I signed up for the other 5.  Mildly crazy, but considering that I did their spring series not completely off my rocker.

That was only the foreplay though to the real show this week;

I GOT INTO THE GLASS SLIPPER CHALLENGE!!!!!!

After many fits and starts (and a quick sprint to my car to use my phone to register) both C and I got into the Run Disney Glass Slipper Challenge.  What is this challenge?  It is a 10k on Saturday with a half marathon on Sunday.  Yes, you read that correctly.  19.3 miles in two days.  I’ve officially gone crazy pants.  On the upside, running in Florida in February will be much better for this asthmatic than running in DC in February.  Yes, yes, because THAT’S why I’m running and it has nothing to do with being a crazy pants.  Nope, nope.  Nothing to see here. Move along.

Shamrock 2015

IMG_5812After months and months of training it was finally here; Shamrock!!!  For me, it Sunday morning started at 3am.  Then 4.  Finally at 5 I said fuck it and got out of bed and made coffee.  I knew as soon as I started putting one foot in front of the other I would be fine, but until that point in time I was going to be a complete mess.

I had picked the perfect hotel as our start corral was literally one block from the start line.  This made life incredibly easy.  Although, as we weaved our way between the port-a-potty lines I joked that we could have paid for our entire weekend hotel costs by selling access to our bathroom.

C and I had not actually run together in our training.  With her being in Colorado and me being here this was going to be a real test of our ability to stay together.  We agreed before we crossed the start line that our strategy was going to be run a song walk a song.  While it isn’t as accurate as the 4 min on 2 min off that I had been training for; the interval timer wasn’t working so we decided this was our best back up course of action.  It actually worked out great!

half wayThe course itself was absolutely gorgeous.  It was basically a lollipop shape.  This gave us an awesome opportunity to see the elite runners coming back (already) when we weren’t even at mile 4 yet.  Having spectator supporting (which I didn’t get at Diva’s) was awesome.  As we began to pick the miles off we fell into a rhythm that was very easy.  We crossed the half way mark at 1:18 which was 40 minutes faster than any other 10k I had done.  I said as much to C.  There was a runner in front of us who said, “Whoever said that congratulations!”  I was tickled pink. IMG_5804

Running on Little Creek/Fort Story was just gorgeous.  Both in terms of the nature scenery and, well, the Marines that were out on course.  Hey, I can appreciate both, right?  Even on base there were plenty of spectators, signs, and support.  Of course, when we saw the light house we had to pause for a quick ‘runfie’.  Hey, how often do you have an opportunity to take a great picture like that?

IMG_5808Coming off of base  I spotted a guy approximately in his 70s carrying a full sized American flag.  As we caught up with him I tapped him on the arm and asked him if he had run Diva’s in the fall.  He said he had and in his red white and blue tutu.  I smiled at him and told him I remembered him.  I asked him if he had served in Vietnam.  He said he had.  We wished him luck.

We both we remarking how great we were feeling as we crossed the 10 mile marker.  Then we came out of the protection of the woods and rounded the corner onto Atlantic Avenue.  The air got very cold and very damp.  My lungs immediately started giving me the warning that they were not happy.  Rather than risk doing something stupid, I took another shot of my inhaler.  That made all the difference.  We laughed as we ran in front of our hotel jokingly whining about “can’t we just stop and go get in the hot tub now?” Passing the hotel we knew that we were getting very close to being done.

We both agreed that we were going to run the boardwalk.  We broke our run a song, walk a song rhythm to get a quick breather in before we made the zag onto the board walk.  Rounding the corner it was there right in front of us; THE FINISH! Ironically one of the songs that I hear in barre class started playing; Chambermaid Swing.  I started to smile and sing; “Pulse, pulse, pulse, and tuck, and tuck”.  It really gave me a swell of happiness knowing that all of the work I have been putting into this particular moment was worth it.

C and I grabbed hands about 150 feet from the finish line.  We started together and PRwe were going to cross together.  We opened up our stride and sprinted it all the way to the finish.  WE DID IT!!!  While my body was aching my mind was perfectly clear something I didn’t have the last time.  My rhino horn didn’t hurt even though I didn’t tape my feet; those Altra Running shoes are awesome! We reached our goal! We crossed sub-three hours! I couldn’t have been more pleased.   A PR for both of us!

Overall, this experience blew my first half marathon out of the water.  The volunteers were awesome.  The spectator support rocked.  There was still plenty of water left on course even when my slow fat butt went by.  While there wasn’t anything other than a banana available for me to eat at the finish there was plenty of food for everyone else a rarity when you are slow.   These guys know how to run a race!

While training through the winter was rough I would most definitely do it again.  I’ve set my sights on completing my Washington 10k in less time than 1:18.  Guess this means more time at Biker Barre for me! Onto my next goal and my next race EX2 Aventure’s 10 miler in two weeks!