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