Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year in Review

Miles Run  =  1075
# of Days Run = 189
# of Races = 45

17  -  Half Marathons

My main goal was to run 14 half marathons in 2014 {17 --- Booyah}.  I had some really wonderful runs during the winter and spring (including 2 PRs -- whoop whoop).  I got a little cocky and decided to add a few in the summer.  Ugh!  In hindsight, I wish I had not done that.  I still don't think I've bounced back from the heat and humidity poop-fest. 

The Bling:
1 - 1st Place AG
1 - 2nd Place AG

Most Memorable:     REVEL Rockies
Why?     The scenery was stunning and it was an incredible downhill course.

Biggest Bust:     Run for Hope
Why?     It was sweltering and the race direction stank.  They only served water on course and I needed something for cramps!  The band and food vendors had already packed up when I finished and I was FAR from being the last one in!  I had to find someone to dig my finishers medal out of a cardboard box.   Also, without disclosing the fact, they decided not to give age group awards this year.  {What??}  Yes, of course I was first in my age group!

Can you see the humidity??

8  -  8ks and 10ks

Another goal was to run more 10ks this year.  It's not my favorite distance (but I do like an 8k -- I know, I'm weird).  I added a few...still not my favorite distance.  I did manage PRs on both the 8k and 10k distance.

The Bling:
5 - 1st Place AG
1 - 2nd Place AG

Most Memorable:     Fantasy in Lights
Why?   It's a beautiful twilight run through Callaway Gardens Christmas light display, with music!

Biggest Bust:     Vaughn Forest
Why?     I just didn't feel very good this day and the route was boring.

Jubilee 8k - A Good Race and Good Friends

20  -  5ks

I hoped for a 5k PR this year and came very close in the winter, but it just did not happen.  If there is a local (or not so local) 5k on the weekend and I'm not somewhere else running a half, I'll be there.  Although a 5k honestly feels like pure torture, they force me to run fast.  My speed tends to slow when running multiple half marathons.  If you do the math, I averaged a half every 3 weeks!   Eek!

The Bling:
2 - Overall Female
4 - Masters
5 - 1st Place AG
6 - 2nd Place AG
2 - 3rd Place AG

Most memorable:     Billy Bowlegs
Why?     This was a large June race at 10 pm in sweaty 90 degrees/100% humidity Florida.  Folks, I've never seen so much puke in a race!  I was actually forced to step in it as we finished on a high school track and someone had tossed their cookies in every lane.  I was very proud of my time in these conditions AND of my 3rd place age group award!  Most importantly, I didn't puke!

Biggest Bust:     Pig Run
Why?     I'm not even sure we received anything to drink afterwards.  Awful organization.

Cruising the Creek 5k

Did you meet your running goals for 2014?  Will you carry forward any that you did not meet?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Five Featured HALF Marathons (Friday Five)

I hope you are enjoying the Holidays!
I'm linking up today with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five.
My topic today is Five Featured Half Marathons 2014.  

Callaway Gardens  (01/14)

I've run this several times and it remains a favorite. The course is quite hilly and you are essentially running through the woods.  No cars. No crowd support. No signs.  No hoopla.  No after party.  It's just you, towering pines and beautiful lakes reflecting the sky.  The small ponds were frozen over this year as it was a crisp 28 degrees. This is a small event (I don't understand why!) and I was thrilled to place 2nd in my age group.

Biggest Loser   (02/14)

I had run a Biggest Loser half in Florida and heard they were having one in Alabama. I knew Mobile would be flat and hoped for an easy course.  Sadly, my brother was terminally ill and lost his battle with cancer just before this race.  I went ahead with it as the funeral was not for a few days.  I felt like doing something would be better for me than just sitting around (and crying). I traveled by myself and this race ended up being a wonderful emotional release for me.  It was a perfectly beautiful winter day.  I reminisced, shed my tears, and set a new PR.

Centerpoint  (03/14)

This smaller race always has a HUGE amount of crowd support.  Apparently, they must host a contest for the water stations because they all had really cute themes. There are plenty of people, signs, music, and other distractions on course.   The food afterward is small-town wonderful.  The route itself has a few rolling hills, but nothing really difficult. I set another PR here (my current one).

I'll be back !

Old.  Woman.  Coming.  Through.  Just.  About.  Dead.
Must.  Stop.  Watch.

Revel Rockies  (08/14)

I won this race entry from See Mom Run Far and had no time to prepare.  Even though I had problems running at altitude at the top, it was the best last half of a half I've ever run.  The course is now my absolute favorite, winding down over 1700 feet through the Colorado canyons. I love a good downhill run and this one did not disappoint.  I did have trouble walking for a few days, but it was well worth it.  We ran with a few deer and beside a rushing stream.  The scenery was breathtaking.  I would love to do the full marathon next time.  This was an inaugural race but very well done.  I really enjoyed the band at the after party.

I forgot to remove my calf sleeves.
(It was cold at the top!)

The Remaining 13...

I always say each and every race is memorable in its own way. Sometimes, it's the people you are with.  Sometimes it's the weather - good or bad.  Sometimes it's the race directing.  Sometimes it's just your own body complaining loudly.

First Light was for a wonderful cause.
Scottsboro was in the pouring rain.
Race for Hope produced awful cramps.
Divas was in the sweltering heat.
Talledega was a delightful fun surprise.
Nashville produced debilitating calf cramps.
Route 66 was run with huge blisters.

And, the humidity of way too many this year almost did me in...

There is not one I wish I had skipped.  Although many were deemed Dig Deep Days, I enjoyed them all.

Divas for a Day (utterly soaked in sweat)

Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five.  

What makes a race memorable for you?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

They Say It's My Birthday...

It's My Birthday
Yes, I Know...
So I'll Have Fun
Wherever I Go!

Wow, I truly appreciate that my parents always made sure I had a special birthday party with presents and a bakery cake, even though it was so close to Christmas!  They are always with me in spirit.

A special big ol' thanks to my husband who has tried his absolute darnedest to spoil me rotten from day one.  Love you, honey.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Traditions (Friday Five)

Tulsa, OK  -  Route 66 Half

I'm linking up today with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five. 
Today's topic is Holiday Traditions

I haven't posted anything about Christmas, so 
I thought I'd take this opportunity!   We have many
traditions but I only listed five (just following the rules).

Disney World 
Letters to Santa

My mother-in-law started this long ago.  After thanksgiving dinner, all of the grandchildren write letters to Santa.  The first few years they were thrown into the fire.  How else would they travel to the North Pole?  At some point, she realized she wanted to keep them.  She began making up an excuse to burn them later (too warm for a fire tonight kids!). We got them out this Thanksgiving and it was so funny to see what they had written when they were younger.  The kids now range from teens to thirties...and they still write their letters.

Candy Making Weekend

My two kids at home (teens!) help me make candy, cookies and other goodies.  Some years, I even let them invent their own.  Some of our favorites include White Chocolate PB Ritz, Puppy Chow, Candied Pecans, Honeycomb Candy, Peanut Butter Cornflake Balls, Haystacks, Chocolate Peanut Clusters, Yee Haw Toffee...you name it, we've probably made it.  Oh, and eaten it!

Ornaments from Travels

I started this on our honeymoon way back in the dark ages {wink-wink}. I buy an ornament from every place we visit.  It brings back wonderful memories when I see them hanging on our tree.  I've missed a few places because I just couldn't find one, or they looked so hideous I couldn't put them on my tree.  I do have standards, well somewhat. A few are scattered in this post.

New York, NY          Williamsburg, VA          St. John, USVI

Countdown to Christmas

We've had this chalkboard in our house forever.  It's pretty beat up, eh?  It is the exact same spot every year.  It's funny when your decorations find a spot in the house, they never move.  You can't change tradition, right?  My youngest is still in charge of counting down the days. 

The Big Event
Monarch Mountain, CO

It is all about family.  We spend Christmas Eve at my in-laws, enjoying appetizers and exchanging gifts.  We play games and it gets loud and wacky...a very fun time.  When the kids were little, we watched for (and found!) Santa in the sky on the long drive back home. On Christmas morning we open stockings, see what Santa left and exchange gifts within our immediate family.  My DIL makes a wonderful breakfast casserole and takes that burden off of me (and I so appreciate that!).  I then host Christmas Dinner for my side of the family.  I took over for my Mother about 10 years ago, when it became too difficult.  We eat early, exchange gifts, and have a dessert course later in the afternoon.  It is a long, crazy, wild & wonderful two days spent with family.  My sister stays with us during the holidays and helps me stay sane...um, that may be up for discussion.

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five.  
What is your favorite tradition?  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas 5k (ish)

I ran a 5k Saturday.  It started well.  I really enjoyed mile 2, a delightful slightly downhill section.  I was feeling pretty good and setting myself up to have a great 5k race.  Until, that is, um...we got lost. Technically, I guess we weren't lost, but at the very least...confused.  The route was not marked well. There was a 12k and 5k running simultaneously and the timers just didn't use enough signs.   Perhaps they didn't think it was necessary?  The pavement was not chalked either.   The little pack of runners I was in actually stopped several times, threw our hands up, and said "which way"?  I'm serious.

Jenny deserves the
Spirit of Christmas Award

Our 5k ended up being closer to 3.5 miles or a 5k-ish, so to speak.  My friend Beth said it perfectly..."Hey come and run the Christmas On The Coosa Design Your Own Route!"  Naturally, we all complained loudly when we finally made our way across the finish line.   The timers said they announced before the race which turns we should make.  I don't live there and don't know the street names.   Oh, and we also found out they "didn't bother to measure the course".  Are you kidding me?

It wasn't all bad.  On the much brighter side, it was a beautiful sunny and chilly morning.  We received a fleece beenie instead of the usual T-shirt and *** wait for it *** I won overall female.  Overall Female.  Yes, it was a small race and there were faster females in the 12k.  But {hold the phone}, I'm not going to discount my win, as I typically would.   No!  I had to pass the second place female three stinking times.  Let me say, when you stop and throw up your hands in confusion you do tend to lose any lead you have.  I also stopped to tie my shoe!  (I forgot to check them before it started!  Duh.)

You know what?  I've run hard all year, by cracky, to the very edge of exhaustion actually.  I'll take that overall trophy, thank you very much!  Naturally, I celebrated with a peanut butter waffle.  Whoop whoop.

Has any one else ever run a poorly marked route?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Floundering Friday

No goals.  No races.  No specific training.  What in the heck is wrong with me? 

I can't decide what 2015 is going to be about.  And, it is racing here full speed ahead!  {Pun intended.}  I haven't signed up for one single race.  Not one.  Nada.  I haven't picked "the big one", signed up for a half marathon, looked at training plans, NO-thing.  I'm usually such a goal oriented person.

Doh...which way do I go?
It is prime racing season here in Dixie.  I trained the entire horrible sweltering summer just to get to Wonderful Winter.  There are opportunities galore during winter and spring...marathons, double half marathons, half marathon multi day series, or just the plain old half. 

I'm floundering.

Part of me wants to do back to back half marathons.  Part of me wants to focus only on my half marathon time -- I need a PR please.  Part of me says forget those half marathons and concentrate on the big daddy.  Decisions, decisions.  I must admit a teeny, tiny part of me just wants to stay in the bed!  {Dare I do all of them?  No?!?!}

I have one more half, which makes #17 for this year alone.  Yes, it makes me tired just thinking about it!  I'll be running with my sister.  She has suffered through knee problems, including a few surgeries, but is now back to running a little.  I'll do the half and she'll do the 5k.  I'm so proud of her for persevering.  I know it's been very tough and will continue to be that way.  But, she is determined to keep moving.  Good for her!

Back to my floundering...

Hopefully after finishing my last half for this year, I'll have a wonderful moment of sparkling clarity.  If not, I may need something to push me one way or the other.  Maybe someone should physically or emotionally, or how about virtually, kick me in the rear end.   Any takers?  Anybody?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Run for the Redfish Recap

This was the half I was going into with "no expectations".  My oldest son enjoys this half and we don't get the opportunity to do many races together, so of course I said YES .  Well let me just sum it up in one word:  FOGGY.  And of course, fog = humidity...my nemesis.  Ugh!  It was too warm as well.  Had I not looked at the calendar before leaving home, I would sworn I was running in August. The fog never lifted.  Not. All. Day.

Our view.  Can you see the water?  I promise it's there!

I'm glad now I planned to run this one for "fun" because my performance suffered.  Had this been a goal race for me, I would be devastated.  {It's disappointing enough as it is.}  The route is out and back right along the beach with very few hills.  I actually started out on target but by mile 8, I was completely zapped.  Done.  Over.  The Fat Lady Sang.  That's what the humidity does to me.  Thankfully, I was able to keep the cramps at bay.  That's the other thing I typically deal with in these conditions.

The weather is no fault of the race itself.  It's a very well done smaller race with plenty of nearby parking and easy packet pickup.  I can't complain about a flat route with stunning ocean views.  The after party is hosted by Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.  I mean, come on, it doesn't get any better.  They served Landshark on draft and seafood gumbo.  You get a very nice long sleeve tech shirt and the entry fee is nominal, compared to others.

Looking for my lost shaker of salt...

Shirt Front
Shirt Back -- Even Better
Oddly, there is  little crowd support.  There are people at the finish but really not on the course.  I saw a few chalked messages but that's about all the Rah Rah we got.  I'm OK with that.  I supposed one reason could be because it's in a tourist town.  Also, we were told they are not allowed to close the roads.  So within 2 weeks I ran completely opposite half marathons.  Ultimate spectators to none.  No cars to honking drivers.  Hilly to flat.  This was a completely different experience, and I have no problem with that whatsoever.  That's what makes each race unique and challenging in its own right.

All in all, we had a fun trip.  We finished, although both slower than we should have (me 2:09 and he 1:59).  We'll definitely repeat this one.  I think it's become a tradition.  I got a little Christmas shopping done, we watched the SEC championship game (RTR) and ate delicious seafood.  {Let me just say, eating Oysters Rockefeller and listening to geriatric karaoke are an unbeatable combination.}

Does anyone else have problems running in humidity?  Or, is it just me?  I'd love to hear from you!

Don't forget about the Giveaway Hop.  You still have time to enter and win!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Favorites

HAPPY FRIDAY.  I'm linking up today with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five.  Today's theme is Friday Favorites.   Actually, Friday itself is a favorite {Captain Obvious} as I'm usually getting excited about racing the next day.  But other than Fridays, these are just 5 oh so random favorite things.

j/fit Foam Roller 

Thanks to this, my geriatric issues are all but gone!

Southern Comfort Eggnog

Hello Christmas.   I'm glad you're here...just for this reason alone.

Justin's Maple Almond Butter on Keebler's Cornbread Crackers

I'm addicted.  Enough said.

Warm Doggies

Unconditional Love  x  2

Paradise in a cup.  My favorite mug too.

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five.  

Please tell me!  What's a random favorite thing of yours?  I'd like to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An A-Okay 5k

I ran Ryan's Run Show Your Team Spirit 5k on Saturday morning.  This run is held in honor of a young man who died in 2010 at the young age of 24.  He was a huge college football fan and loved this time of year.  This race is held on the day of our state's big rivalry game.

The lone female
I've participated in this race several times and the course is, quite honestly, not a favorite. It's an out and back route. You basically climb up slightly for a while and then down, down into a hole. At this point, you turn around and have to dig yourself out of said hole.  After the Route 66 half on Sunday, I had only run once this week (4 miles) just to make sure my geriatric body still worked.  Meh...sort of.

Irene, Me, Cathy and Jenny  (All Age Group Winners)

I held back a little on the first mile because I knew mile 2 was tough, tough, tough.  Mile 3 would be the easiest but I couldn't be too exhausted after mile 2.  It all worked pretty much according to plan. There was a Big Dude Stranger who had the smoothest, most effortless-looking stride.  I paced those awful mile 2 hills with him, step for step. Thank you Big Dude Stranger.  Sorry I passed you toward the end.  My overall 5k pace was about 8:40 which is still not close to where I want it (darn you mile 2!).  Happily, mile 3 was right on target so I felt pretty good about the race.

The Most Important Thing...HAVE FUN!

It was a beautiful chilly morning, I placed first in my age group, won a $50 door prize to an eyewear shop (new sunglasses maybe?), hung out with my running buds, and ate a peanut butter waffle afterwards with Team WH. Oh, and our football team won the game later that night.  Does it get any better?

I'm headed to Florida for my next half this Saturday with no expectations other than to have fun.  Do I dare run without my Garmin?  {Eeeeekkkkk!}

**  Wait  **    Don't forget to enter in the Holiday Health & Fitness Giveaway Hop


Friday, November 28, 2014

Giveaway Hop -- Holiday Health and Fitness

It's the Holiday Health and Fitness Giveaway Hop hosted by runawaybridalplanner and suzlyfe.  {Thanks for hosting!!}

Wrap around wrist or hand
The theme of this giveaway is Health and Fitness.  To assist with all of your physical activities, and to hopefully help you stay active through the holiday season and beyond, I am giving away a runningluv "catch what runs" hand towel.    "Its a towel that wraps and a tissue that tucks into a sweatband around your wrist or hand."  

I like to use it wrapped around my hand.  I no longer have to use my gloves to catch what runs or drips.  It is easy to wear, comfortable, lightweight, and incredibly absorbent.  They come in a variety of colors and the wrist wrap comes in fun prints too.  The best part is they can easy slip on over your gloves!  I have used a similar product but feel this one absorbs so much more.

Check out the runningluv website for a peak at their colors and prints, or for more information.  runningluv has also been gracious enough to offer free shipping if you'd like to go ahead and place an order.   These would make excellent stocking stuffers for the active people in your life.  Just use code HOHORUNSFREESHIPPING. 

Enter my giveaway below. The winner will be announced on December 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you and please take the time to go to each blog participating in this hop!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Route 66 Recap)

Center of the Universe
The Route 66 Half Marathon is in the bag.

Did I run the time I wanted?  No, not even close.

Was it a great race experience?  Absolutely!

The Good

First and foremost, my youngest son and I had a wonderful visit with my sister. One of our highlights was visiting a glass factory to make our own hand blown Christmas ornaments.  We also visited the zoo and the Center of the Universe, among other things.  It was a whirlwind long weekend.

This race is very well done and the expo does not disappoint.  There were many vendors but the venue is large enough that it doesn't get too crowded. I picked up a really cool item that I'll be giving away in December.  Be sure to check back on the 1st.

Tulsa truly supports their race and the spectating is greater than any I've seen.  I lost count of the trios, bands, combos, drummers, soloists, or other musical entertainers.  Some people were just blasting music through their stereo speakers.  There were so many folks outside...in the yard around fires, lounging on sofas pulled out to the curb, at the street handing out Jello shots, ringing cowbells, holding signs, or just shouting words of encouragement. I even saw one lady showing off her lassoing skills. {Was she a cowgirl from days gone by?}  Thinking back, I did not have to weave around one single parked car either. Thank you city officials!

Glass Making
The Bad

I have mitral valve prolapse.  I've known about it almost 20 years now. Typically it's a none issue and not even worth a mention.  I've learned over the years how to manage it.  It very rarely bothers me, but occasionally it shows itself...like it did about mile 4.  My heart rate was bouncing all over.  So, I slowed considerably and even walk a bit to get it under control.  At this point, I knew there would be no sub 2:00 and shifted focus.  Maybe I could still make it in under 2:05.  Just a little hiccup in the race, right?

The Ugly

I was soon feeling better and started increasing my speed. {Good, OK-I'm feeling strong.}  At some point in mile 6, I realized both of my feet were on fire.  Holy moly, the balls of my feet are blistering. Really?  The Feetures socks I've trained in, with no problems whatsoever, are failing me.  Really? Me--who is not a half newbie (this was #26) and obsessively tests every piece of clothing, especially socks.  Really?  I briefly considered taking them off, but felt it was too little too late.  Without socks, my feet would just blister in other places anyway.   I also knew stopping for Band-Aids would be useless.  So, out came the mantras and the "It's a Dig Deep Day" attitude.  I ran with the hand I was dealt.  For 6 plus miles I ran on blistered feet. Yep, one is quarter sized, the other more like a half dollar.  I'll spare you the pictures.  And yet, somehow, some of the last miles were the fastest of the day.

I'm not making excuses.  Not at all.  It is what it is.  It was what it was.  And I loved every stinking painful minute of this race.  It flew by quicker than any other I've run.  One thing I've learned is that you run with whatever circumstances you get on that particular day.  It's part of why I love it so much.  It's never the same.  If they were all easy what would be the point?  I have no doubt I would lose interest. 

It's what you do with the bad and how you handle the ugly that makes a good race experience.  I ended with a hard-earned, scratching-and-clawing-for-every-step 2:08 plus change.  You move forward.  You finish. You learn. You do it again.

Here I come Run for the Redfish...only I'll be wearing different socks!

Has anyone else had an epic sock failure?  Does anybody run with MVP?  I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Favorite Holiday Foods (Friday Five)

Happy Friday everyone.  The holidays are approaching at full speed.  Here in the south, it's all about the food.  We eat relatively healthy year round and therefore splurge a little bit during the holidays.  These recipes are not diet or low anything.  Just keep your portions small and enjoy. These are the 5 most requested items by my family.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I'm not a big fan of traditional pecan pie...too much syrup. But this is a thin pie with chopped pecans and chocolate chips.  It has more of a brownie type consistency.  It is curl-up-on-the-couch-with-the-pan-and-a-glass-of-milk good.  (And darn worth those 5 extra miles I'll need to run!)

1 thin unbaked pie shell
2 large eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkle the chocolate chips into your pie shell and freeze for 1 hour.  Mix all other ingredients together, pour into pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until pie is set (no jiggle in the middle).  Do not over bake.  Cool before cutting.

Spinach Surprise

If you try any recipe, this is the one.  {I promise!}  Even people who are not spinach lovers (and I have quite a few) love this.  It is the most requested item.  It's a cheesy, spinach and rice casserole served hot.

2 10 oz. packs frozen chopped spinach
2 packs Uncle Ben's Brown & Wild Ready Rice (cooked per directions)
8 oz. (2 cups) Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)
1/2 stick butter (melted)
2 T chopped onion (optional)

Thaw and drain spinach.  Press spinach between paper towels to remove excess liquid.  Mix all ingredients and bake in greased casserole dish (square or round) at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. 

Fire Crackers

This recipe made the internet circles a while back. If you haven't tried this, you'll be amazed these crackers remain crispy. Basically, it's marinated Saltines crackers.  They are great for dipping in anything, or all by themselves.  Perfect for a hungry crowd that can't wait.

1 16 oz. box Saltines
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups light olive oil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Lay and stack (on their sides) as many crackers as possible in large plastic container with lid.  Mix remaining ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds.  Pour evenly over crackers, keeping mixture stirred.  Close container and flip 5-6 times during day to equally distribute the liquid.  Store in clean container or zip lock bag.

***   I did not include the recipes for the last two as they seem fairly common, at least here in Dixie.  However, if you are interested please just let me know. 

Pineapple and Cheese Casserole

This is made with pineapple chunks, cheddar cheese and sugar then topped with buttery crushed Ritz crackers.  It is baked and served hot.  Scrumptious.

Watergate Salad

This one is pretty old.  It is pistachio pudding mixed with pineapple, pecans, marshmallows and cool whip.  Served cold.

Do you splurge during the holidays?  What is your favorite treat?

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ready or Not...(and Harvest 5k)

I ran the Harvest 5k Saturday morning.  On my training schedule were 3 miles at half marathon pace and I thought a 5k fit well enough.  Sadly, there was a poor turnout.  This is a very nice, easy route.  They have lots of door prizes and they give the cutest tiny tractors as awards.  It was pretty cold and maybe that kept people from participating.  Unfortunately, I did not run what I consider to be my normal cold weather (as-good-as-it-gets) 5k pace.  I'm not sure why

Chris, Beth, Jenny, Me and Kitty
We think our tractors are sexy (thanks to Mr. Chesney!)
I try very hard not to be that runner. You know the one who is never happy after a race. The one that complains loudly about how awful they ran, and listing all the reasons why, and usually all the while kicking your tail.  I want to say, "Please just stay home"!  But I must confess...I go there sometimes in my head.  I love to run.  I love to race.  But I think I put too much pressure on myself to reach certain time goals.  I try my best to keep it all in perspective and remember, every race cannot be a PR!  {Repeat Often}

Half Fanatic Trio 
(Me, Valerie & Jenny)

It was fun to meet and chat with another half fanatic, Valerie.  We compared races and our upcoming schedules.  There are not many of us around these parts.  I was testing out my new half fanatic buff and she spotted the logo.  It was also very good to see my good friend Jenny, also a half fanatic, back after her short hiatus.  {Go team WH.}

Well, I'm headed off to Tulsa this week for the Route 66 half marathon.  Ready or not, here I come.  If I base my projected finish on my last few races, my time will not be what I want.  I'm not being negative here, just realistic.  My secret "don't-want-to-say-out-loud-goal" is to run a sub 2:00.  It very well may not happen as I feel my speed is just not there right now.  Oh, I'll try, because it is not impossible.  However, everything would have to come together perfectly...birds must sing, angels descend, and the running fairy must sprinkle me with a full sack of kick-butt dust.  However, I am feeling really good after Sunday's last long 12.7 mile run, so -- maybe.

My secondary, and probably more realistic, goal is to beat my last year's time.  A 2:05 or below will do.  Regardless of my finish time, it will be a great trip.  I get to spend time with my sister and my youngest son is going along.  We'll have loads of fun torturing hanging out with him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Thankful For My Followers Giveaway Hop hosted by Runaway Bridal Planner and co-hosted by MCM Mama Runs.

I hope you will stop by my blog again and again.  I appreciate my readers and followers and love to read your comments

In case you are wondering, I used an Microsoft Excel formula to scientifically and randomly choose the winner.  (Yes, I'm so old school!)

And, the winner is...Megan @ Shaping Up To Be A Mom.  Megan won a sparkle skirt from Sparkle Athletics.  She has been notified but if she does not respond, I will choose another winner on Thursday at noon.

WAIT--WAIT.  Not so fast!  Another hop is starting soon!  Please come back December 1st through 15th for the Holiday Health and Fitness Giveaway Hop.  This time, I will be giving you multiple opportunities to win.  Please be sure to visit my blog and follow the links to all of the other bloggers who participate in the hop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Running in Cold Weather (Friday Five)

TGIF!!  Initially, I was not going to join in on this topic.  As a southern gal I thought I would have nothing useful to say.  I'm so very impressed by those of you who really live in cold climates and continue to run outdoors.  But, I got to thinking...cold is relative.  No, we typically don't get anything colder than mid 20s, but that is cold compared to our horrible summer weather.  We get the occasional ice storms (hello - last year) and the very rare snowfall.  So I decided I'd throw in my 2 cents (or 5 cents as the case may be).

WEAR GLOVES.  Obviously, they keep your hands warm but I'm going down a different road here.  The cheap knit ones are ideal for wiping snot.  Yep, I said snot and I own it!  You can also easily throw them in the wash.  If you are like me, once it gets below about 45 the nose just turns on like a faucet.  Be forewarned.  If you see me at a race, don't stick your hand out for a high five or fist bump.  And, don't ask me to bring you a cookie afterwards!  {Just sayin'.}

COVER YOUR EARS.  I don't necessarily have to cover my entire head.  You might need to, but I was truly cursed blessed with 6 heads of hair.  As long as I have a thick wide headband over my ears, I'm quite toasty.  I would definitely cover my entire head is if it was snowing or sleeting.  And, unless I had already signed up for a race, I'd probably be on the treadmill that day anyway.

WEAR COMPRESSION.  On very cold days, put on a base compression layer.  It is amazing how the "squeeze" factor keeps you so much warmer.  The top should be of the turtle variety so that your neck is protected as well.  Add compression sleeves or socks under your compression pants if you need extra warmth and maximum squeeze.

USE HAND WARMERS.  If it is incredibly cold, and especially during long runs, hand warmers work wonders.  However, if you have Raynaud's like me they won't do one darn thing for your fingers...hence the name HAND warmers.  Will someone please invent FINGER warmers?  I am known to pull just my fingers out of my gloves (keeping the gloves on) so I can fold them over the hand warmers.  And no, mittens don't work in a half marathon when you need your fingers to open a GU or operate your shuffle, etc.

WEAR A FLEECE VEST.  When it's frigid, I wear a fleece vest over my compression top.  I really don't like the feeling of being too constricted.  A vest will keep you toasty while leaving your arms to swing freely.  L.L. Bean is my favorite brand.  They normally have good pockets too for all of your other necessary junk.

Please, I'd like to hear your tips for staying warm!

Thanks to Eat Pray Run DC, You Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

*** WAIT -- WAIT ***   There is still time for the Giveaway Hop
Last chance!  Winner will be announced 11/18.  Click HERE to enter.

Monday, November 10, 2014

10k On A Whim

Me, Chris and Beth
Saturday, I woke up and decided to run a 10k (after telling myself all week that I would not).  On my training plan was 5 miles at half marathon pace, so I thought...oh heck, I might as well.  I'd get to hang out with my running buddies which is always the best part anyway!  I had run a 10k the previous weekend which had left me feeling deflated. I was tired and sluggish during that race.  I just wanted to run this one strong, not truly race it, and feel good throughout.

This was a wacky sock themed race for a local school's baseball team.  I managed to locate what I thought were wacky socks.  But, my tie-dyed socks ended up being ultra conservative.  I've never seen so many wild and crazy socks!  My goal was to rehearse my half marathon pacing, making sure to go out slowly for the first few miles.  The course had a substantial hill that I would have to properly navigate twice, as the 10k was a double loop of the 5k.  I wanted to practice my strategy for that as well.

My first mile was SLOW because I used it as my warm up mile.  I did not warm up beforehand as I should have, after running out of time in the potty line!  The 2nd through 5th miles were progressively faster but I did not average them, as a whole, any faster than my half marathon pace.  I never truly "raced" until mile 6, where I kicked in at my normal 5k pace.  I felt great the entire run.  NO, it was definitely not my fastest 10k and therefore I didn't feel as if I was dying the whole time.  I did what I set out to do.  Mission Accomplished.

Guess what?  As an ADDED BONUS I won first place in my age group.  Yeah, admittedly, there were only three of us (ha ha!) as the overwhelming majority of participants ran the 5k.  But, you know...the first rule of placing is to just show up.  Sunday, I did a slow 12 miler and felt good during that as well. 

I now feel somewhat better about my upcoming half marathon (less than 2 weeks away).  IF I can stay healthy, IF I can pace correctly, IF the weather is not brutal, IF I am well rested, IF I am well hydrated, IF I can fuel properly, IF I can keep the cramps at bay, IF-IF-IF...maybe just maybe... we'll see.

Does anyone else practice strategies at races and not really race them?  I'd love to hear from you!

Also, don't forget the GIVEAWAY HOP.  There is still time to enter and WIN!