Thursday, January 29, 2015

Runfessions - January 2015 Edition

I'm linking up with Marcia today from Marcia's Healthy Slice and coming clean with my Runfessions.  After all, they are good for the SOLE.  (So corny, couldn't resist.)

I've been rather lazy in January.  After feeling exhausted at the end of the year, I decided to reduce my mileage hoping for a nice re-boot, so to speak.  I do feel much better, but I am also still running the lower mileage.  Yes, I ran two half marathons in January but the in-between mileage was certainly nothing spectacular.  It's simply time to get back to it. 

Just push it already !!
My finger is still hovering over that marathon registration BUTTON.   If I had someone to do it with, to keep me accountable, I think I'd have already registered.  It's not that I need someone to race with, heck the vast majority of my half marathons have been done solo (OK, and since I'm runfessing, sometimes I enjoy that solitude) but, it would just be nice in this instance to share the training and the journey.

How am I doing with my plan to incorporate strength training, you ask?  Absolutely horrible!  I've had a severe case of tennis elbow since the day after Christmas.  Something I thought would last a few days is still hurting.  It hurts to pick up the stapler on my desk.  What did I do to said elbow?  I have no clue.  But, whew!! -- thank goodness it's an injury that doesn't affect running!

Proceed with caution...

One last thing...I've gained 5 pounds slowly over a 2 year period.  I hear tell (thanks to Herbie on the Run) that an extra 5 pounds cause your half marathon times to be reduced by over 2 minutes.  Excuse me?  Well *ahem*, actually that sounds about right!  The first couple of pounds I chalked up to additional muscle (bahahaha) but now the others -- just, ugh!  Lower mileage is definitely not helping me here, neither are the Sweet Potato Biscuits I recently found in the frozen food section of Publix.

So tell me, what would you like to runfess?  I'm listening!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Bad Half (Tuesdays on the Run)

Today's Tuesdays on the Run topic is: My Worst Race and What It Taught Me.   Truthfully, it's hard to make me not like a race.  I may not like my performance or the weather but I usually love something (or sometimes everything) about a race. I had to do a little digging for this one.

The Bad Half

It's not because this half was in the middle of nowhere.  I enjoyed seeing the farmland, horses and cows.  After all, rural is my middle name. 

It's not because this half was hotter than Hades.  I've lived in the south all my life.  I knew a July race would be this way.

It's not because this half was incredibly small.  Small doesn't bother me at all.  I actually prefer that to those overly commercialized events. 

It's not because I had the worst calf cramps ever.  I've actually had cramps in several races.  It's almost expected when it's this hot and humid. 

It's not because my running buddy had an accident a few days before and couldn't participate.  I was disappointed and missed her, but that did not ruin this race.

Why Was It Bad?

1)  They only had water at the fluid stops, but did not disclose it.  With the excessive heat, humidity and my leg cramps, I desperately needed electrolytes.  Because I was expecting some heat, I thankfully carried one bottle of Gatorade.  I think it was empty by mile 3.
2)  The band had already packed up when I finished.  RD, I know you also put on a hugely popular 5k that is now over, but don't include a half marathon race if you don't intend to support it.
3)  The food venders were gone.  Hello!  I'm hungry!  Again RD, don't have a half marathon if you don't intend to see it through to the end.  I finally found an Italian Ice stuffed way down in a cooler.  Blueberry - Yippee (not).
4)  There was no one giving out finisher medals at the finish line.  Are you kidding me?  I had to find the RD who unceremoniously dug my medal out of a cardboard box.  I don't think I got any congratulatory remark.   A "Way To Go" would have been appreciated or how about "Thanks for Coming".
5)  They decided not to give age group awards as in prior years, but did not disclose it in advance.  Guess who won her age group?  Uh-huh, me.
6)  This race was just bad all the way around.  I've had other bad runs, but usually the after party makes up for it or the fun weekend you had in the host city.  I just simply could not find anything redeeming about this one.

What Did I Learn?

Well obviously, to never participate in this event again!  I will also not participate in races where they just throw in a half marathon as an after thought.  I will do better research before I hit that registration button.  That's what race recaps are for! 

And, that I am one tough cookie for finishing a race with debilitating stop-you-in-your-tracks calf cramps.

And, that your tongue stays blue for hours after eating a blueberry Italian Ice.

Thanks to our hosts:
 Ericka @ MCM Mama Runs,
 Patty @ My no-guilt life!
Please visit their sites as well as the other participating bloggers!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Callaway Gardens Half Recap

It is always so pretty at Callaway Gardens.  It was a chilly 28 degrees but warmer than last year.  The sun was shining with little wind - just about perfect!  You begin by circling one of the golf courses.  Today, it was dazzling in the sun with a heavy coat of frost.  We were warned about icy bridges, but the ice was gone once I reached the first one.  There is a point around mile 4 that is just take-your-breath-away beautiful.  On one side is a large reflective blue lake and on the other are green towering pines.  You then cross over a lovely bridge.  It's moments like these I could care less about pace or finish times.  I am here.  I am healthy.  It is sunny.  I am outside.  It is spectacular.  It is why I do what I do.

This is a hilly course so the plan was to keep myself in check during the first easy miles so I could manage the hard ones later on.  Early in the race, I felt in control and my pace was conservative.  I usually calculate my finish time at 4.4 miles by multiplying my time by 3.  It gave me a 2:04.  Good enough!  Then... the big hills began.  I was so intent on climbing one long mountain hill,  I forgot to do my next calculation at 6.6 miles -- when I would typically double my time.  Around mile 8, I estimated it was now going to be closer to 2:06.  (I ran 2:07 last year so I feel good about it.)  But, I gave up on the math.  It was wearing me out as much as the hills.  This race is like childbirth.  You block out the tough parts and then do it again (and again).  I always forget how hilly it truly is.  In fact, it is THE hilliest of all my half marathons.  How do I forget that?

Yes, it feels tough, but I'm OK until mile 10.  Uh-oh!  What's that?  Oh, it's my left IT band singing the blues.  {The Thrill is Gone...The Thrill is Gone Away...}  Now why would it do that?  It hasn't sang in ages!  Also around this point, you turn into deep woods on a narrow bike path which is severely buckled.  It seems worse each year and is now a safety hazard.  There are so many tall humps - what feels like every few yards - and none of them are marked.  With it being sunny and deep in the woods, you've got that disorienting dappled light making them extremely hard to see.  It is during these miles that I lose more time, trying to be extra careful and stretching the old knee several times.  I do this weird high step march for my IT band/knee.  It's not an all-out stop but it's pretty close.  I had to do this at least 3 times, maybe 4.  This section might as well be on mountain trails.

A Beautiful Place to Run Even in Winter
For the last mile, you pop out of the woods and back on the road, which is still in the woods but the pavement is back to smooth and wide.   My finish time was 2:09:24 (unofficial chip - gun time was more).  Not what I was hoping for (is it ever?) but I relished every step, even the hurdles over the bad pavement and the ridiculous-looking marching steps to help my knee.  It's what I do.  And, I'll do it again and again.

The after party (very loosely speaking) is just Gatorade, water, apples, bananas, cookies and granola bars.  Sufficient.  It is held in their summertime circus tent.  I swear I kept getting a whiff of elephant poop.  It couldn't have possibly been us stinky runners...

An odd thing is they give no overall, masters etc. awards.  The winner, for example...they gave him an age group award and then made an after comment about his win.  "The first place male in the 30-34 age bracket is John Doe.  Be sure to congratulate John because he also won the race".  Weird.  Pull him out of age group and reward him for winning!!  Jeez

All this being said (I know I've gone very long for me!), it makes my 2nd Place Age Group Award all the more special.  Hard earned.  I realize my time would not even be anywhere near the ballpark of an award at a larger race.  But *ahem* I participated and therefore had the opportunity to place.  

So, I spent the weekend just doing what I do.

Did anyone else race or do something fun?  

I'm linking up with Tara @ Running 'N' Reading for the Weekend Update.  

Please visit Tara and all the other participating bloggers!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Things About Me

It's Friday and time to link up with the DC Trifecta.  Thanks to Eat Pray Run DCYou Signed Up For What?!, & Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five.  Please visit their websites and check out all of the other bloggers who participated.  You'll probably find some you'd like to follow.

Today's topic is Five Things About Me.  Here goes nothing...

I  AM  A  ...

1)  Water Skier

We had a river cabin (shack really) when I was growing up.  My sister, brothers, and cousin were all attempting to ski.  I was absolutely terrified.  My mother eventually bribed me that if I tried, she would take me to Six Flags -- just me and a friend, no siblings!  That did it.  I got up on the first try, and never looked back.  I was 10 years old.  She made good on her promise.  Hands down, it will always be my favorite thing.  Unfortunately, it is a seasonal activity and also one where you are totally dependent on someone else.  Bless my husband for dragging me around the lake countless times when I know he would have rather been doing something else.  Oh, and it's one excellent thing to look forward to in the sweltering southern summer.

It simply gets no better than this...

2)  Wife / Mother / Grandmother / Daughter / Sister / Niece / M-I-L / D-I-L / S-I-L / Friend

The labels that need no explanation but are truly the most important. 

3)  Pianist

I took lessons from age 5 on up and graduated from the National Piano Guild.   And no, I don't even know what that means.  In my youth, I wanted to play for the symphony when I grew up.  {Bahahaha}  Oh my, how things change.  Over the years, I've played for churches and weddings but never a funeral.  Now I play only occasionally during the year, but I will play during the holidays.

Good and Bold

4)  Coffee Lover

Want to grab a cup?  Just ask.  Starbucks, quaint local coffee shop,  home brewed Keurig, or heck -- even work coffee.  It doesn't really matter.  Speaking of Keurig, does anyone else like Dark Magic?  Problems are solved and plans are made over a cup (or two) of coffee.

5)  Person Who Runs...

After running 7 years and completing over 125 races so far, I still do not call myself a Runner.  I don't know why.  (This drives my kids insane --- oh, maybe that's why!)  Perhaps because it's a title I reserve for the elite, even though it is the activity I most identify with and I'm utterly lost if I can't do it.   I once thought if I raced a certain distance, or reached a certain milestone or pace, I would earn that title.  I RUN.  Yet, I am still not a Runner.  (However, whatever you NOT call me a jogger!)  I probably need professional therapy...or maybe just good friends and a good cup of coffee!

Tell me something about YOU!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Update

Well, it's Monday...and that's all I can say about that.

I'm linking up with Tara @ Running 'N' Reading for the Weekend Update.

On Friday night, a friend asked if I was running the 5k in a neighboring town the next morning.  I had thought about it during the week, but wasn't planning on it.  I'm trying to be smarter about my running this year and not run so many races {yeah, right!}.  OK - I agreed.  I needed to work on my speed anyway.

It was about 40 degrees, which is perfect running weather in my book.  I've run this course before and I am amazed the city allows us to run through the cemetery.  That seems somewhat odd, but I love it!  You enter the cemetery on a wide winding uphill path which turns into a wonderful downhill trek as you exit.  I averaged an 8:29 pace which is a little slower than I prefer (last year I ran 8:20).  My last mile was 8:09 and where I'd like to be for the entire race.  I was 4th out of 25 in my age group.  (I would have placed first had I been in either of the 2 younger groups right below mine, but I just have to let that stuff go...else it will drive me nuts!  That's just part of it.)  Hats off to the very competitive and very fast ladies in my bracket!  You rock.

Anyway, it was a very nice race.  Several of us hit the local Starbucks afterward...always a favorite.  Good friends, good coffee and good conversation...that's the best part.

Sunday, I did a "short" long run of 8 miles as I'm gearing up (or down?) to run a half this coming weekend. It's one of my favorites - Callaway Gardens - but it is very hilly.  I'll have to pace properly and be quite conservative in the beginning in order to manage the bigger hills, which start about mile 6.  My fingers are crossed that I can beat my time from last year. 

 Did anyone else race this weekend?
Have you ever raced through a cemetery?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Friday Five: What's In My...

Happy Friday everyone!  The topic for today's DC Trifecta link-up is "What's in my gym bag?".  Um, nothing...I don't go.  {Yes, I intend to do strength training at the gym this year, but I've got tennis elbow so bad right now it hurts to pick up my cell phone.  Ugh!}

For years, I spent my lunch on the treadmill at the Y.  This topic would have fit perfectly then.  But nowadays, I do my running outside.  So I decided to alter the title of this post to the much more appropriate --- What's In My Mailbox.

The first race I ever registered for was a half marathon.  29 of them later, I never got out of the habit of that weekly long run.  My distance typically varies from 8 to 13 miles depending on the date of the next half.  {It will soon exceed that when I start training for my first full marathon.  Eek!}

My neighborhood traffic is light and there is a city park connected to one end.  I'm lucky I have such a nice place to run.  I can loop back to my house at any time just depending on how often I need to access my supplies.  And if truth be told, how many times I want to climb The Hill leading back to my house.


1.  Water - I usually have at least one 16 ounce bottle.

2.  Gatorade - I usually have one 16 ounce bottle of Gatorade Endurance mixed up.  I like to practice drinking what is typically served on race day.  I also like the extra potassium and sodium in the endurance formula.

3.  GU - My favorites are Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel.  I feel better if the GU has no caffeine kick.  Oh, how I wish they would leave it out of the Salted Caramel.

4.  SaltStick Caps - I added these over the summer when I was experiencing painful calf and hamstring cramps during races.  I continue to use them in a lesser quantity now that it's gotten colder.  I'm really not sure they help, but I'm afraid not to use them.

5.  Various -  If the weather changes, you may also find my gloves, outer layers, ear warmers, arm or calf sleeves, hat or any other item I've discarded during my run.  You may also find a handheld bottle than I'm trying out and decided I simply cannot carry.   And, well...the mail.  It's still there because I haven't cleaned it out since my last long run.   

Is there something you can't do without?
Are there any other mailbox runners out there?

& Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

First Light Half Marathon Recap

Bienville Square

This is a favorite course.  I've run it several times now, at different events with slight variations.  I hope to return to Mobile in April for another half.  It's flat.  I'll even admit it's too flat, as you don't get any down hills to take advantage of. 

You get to run under huge oaks draped with Spanish moss.  The trees literally hang completely over the wide streets and form a beautiful canopy.  If you are looking for true Southern charm, this race delivers -- from the graceful antebellum homes and cottages to the Azalea Trail Maids in their hoop skirt dresses welcoming you to the finish line at historic Bienville Square.  In addition to the usual race fare, they served red beans and rice with cornbread!  (I ate as if I'd been locked in the attic for a week!) 

Last year, I ran 2:02:07.  I've had some not-so-good runs lately, so I was praying for a 2:05 or less.  Given my recent struggles, I knew this would not be easy but hopefully still attainable.  As luck would have it, I left the porta-potty facilities with only one minute to spare (did all the rest of you still in the line start late?).   I quickly scooted into the very back of the crowd at the start line, forgetting this was NOT a chip timed start.  Uh-oh.  That cost me precious time.  Being in the back, the first miles were crowded and I did nothing but dodge and weave until I decided to go with the flow.  By doing that, I was just adding distance and I needed to hang back for a while anyway.

My favorite spectators.  Look, they are holding hands!

I really felt good and strong the whole race. I could breathe!  Some of you know I don't do well in high humidity.  I did not get utterly wiped out as the humidity was only 66%, plus it was a perfect 42 degrees.  Yay for me!  At the half way point, I calculated I should come in under 2:07.  I worked hard to shave a little off in the last miles and I finished in 2:05:49.  No, not my best time -- but I'll take it! -- with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  It's the best half I've had in a while.  In addition, the last mile was my fastest.  I always feel good about a race when I can do that.  Some lady even accused me of drafting.  {What??}


I'd like to mention that this race benefits the L'Arche Mobile community.  Each wooden "medal" is hand crafted by adults with intellectual disabilities.  I think this adds a wonderful touch!

Bienville Square
What I didn't realize is that they awarded 5 deep in all master level categories.  Yep, I was 5th Female Grand Master and was not present to collect my award.   Ouch!  That really hurt...  However, I found out the race directors mail all uncollected awards.  How very nice!

I want to give a huge shout out to the police officers working that last mile, and their accompanying group of spectators.  Y'all were awesome with your over-the-top enthusiastic cheering and high fives!  It made a huge difference! 

This race gives me hope that if I work hard and smart, maybe I can return to lower finish times.  It was definitely motivating and a much needed confidence booster.  I may never get times I want, but I'm still out there.  I'm able.  I'm going.  I'm doing.  As long as I can feel good and can find the air in a race, I think I'll be OK.  

Running 'N' Reading

                           I'm linking up with Tara @ Running N Reading
                              for the Weekend Update (first time ever!)

                                Did anyone else race this weekend?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Five Things About My Favorite Place

TGI Friday (finally).  It was a long post holiday, five-whole-days, crazy busy week.  Whew.  Today, I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five. 

Today's Topic:  Five Things I Like About My Favorite City.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Arghhh. OK, I confess.  I could not choose a favorite city.  Every time we travel somewhere, it's always my new favorite city.  I love to GO and DO and just couldn't pick one city.

Being a little bit of a rule breaker anyway, I went with my favorite place instead.  It's our tried and true...the one place we've visited more than any other (except for the beach and that doesn't count) --- Disney World.  Yes, I know it's not technically a city, but still a very magical place all its own.  It is also Disney marathon weekend and thus this post is somewhat appropriate. 

 Five Favorite Things at Disney

1.  I always enjoyed just sitting on a bench and people-watching (aka resting) while one of my kids napped in the stroller.  For years, we communicated by Walkie-Talkie, life before cell phones people!  On one particular occasion, I heard the hubs voice coming across the Walkie Talkie.  He was talking to a stranger and proceeded to threaten to kick said stranger's boo-tay (I cleaned this up) over at Peter Pan because he was talking inappropriately on our channel.  The hubs was just protecting our kids from bad language I guess.  Hee hee...oh, the irony!

Frontier Land
2.  On one trip, I found the best coffee float at a food stand just to the left of Cinderella's castle in Liberty Square.  With a Tollhouse cookie, I was in heaven.  I must also mention, the margaritas at EPCOT's San Angel Inn are the best I've ever had.  It's also the only thing that made my 2012 Achilles pain utterly and completely disappear, at least for a little while anyway.  Do they use magic tequila?

3.  I'll ride anything.  Hands down, my all-time favorite is Tower of Terror.  It's the best ride ever, but followed very closely by Expedition Everest.  The scariest?  Dinosaur!

Bad Donkey!
4.  My youngest child was absolutely terrified of the costumed characters. So naturally, we attended a character breakfast.  He couldn't eat for fear the characters would come to our table.  What happened?  Eeyore the donkey walked over, bent down to interact with him and accidentally popped him forcefully in the head with the huge, hard snout of his costume.  I don't think he has ever forgiven us.  And, I have it all on video!

5.  The very FIRST race I ever signed up for was the WDW half marathon.  I'm not sure anything else but Disney would have given me the courage and motivation to hit that registration button.  Up until this point, I was a mostly treadmill runner (except for a weekend run with my dog).  I had no idea what I was doing!  Eek!  Bib?  Timing Device?  Corrals?  Huh??  At the very last minute I ran a local 5k just to get an idea of what to do.  I'll be forever grateful to Disney for starting me on this crazy, wild, addictive journey called running.

Newbie - - Overdressed!
Ahhh....the smells, the music, the memories.  I can hear a little snippet of of a song or get just the smallest whiff of something and be instantly transported to a very specific location in a Disney park.  I could go on and on....but I'll stick to my five. 

What is your favorite place?

Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Back to Normal (Tuesdays on the Run)

This is the MOON
(It's still very dark)
After too much fun, food and frenzy over the holidays, it's now back to normal (yep, whatever that is).  At least, back to training and focusing on my 2015 wishes (aka goals - but not resolutions!).  I'd thought I'd share pictures of my normal early morning run. 

What I Will Strive For In 2015...

Run My First Marathon --  After 28 half marathons, it's just freakin' time.  I'm not getting any younger here.  Enough said.

Run a Half in a New State  --  I love my half marathons.  I also love to travel.  This one is a no-brainer.  You get to kill two birds with one stone.  Fun!  {Umm...not the killing birds part...}

Run A Double or A Series of Half Marathons  --  If I double up and run a Saturday and Sunday half, I would go up a Half Fanatic moon level.  If I run 4 within 9 days, I go up yet another moon level. Jupiter and Mars, here I come! 

The sky is just beginning to lighten over the hill

Incorporate Strength Training --  I do not like the gym.  I am horrible at strength training, or cross training, or anything but running!

The city park in my neighborhood...just getting light.

Run a Sub 2:00 Half  --  I was 53 seconds from achieving this in 2014.  While running 17 half marathons, there was not enough time for quality training in between to work on speed.  Also, this goal - at least for me - depends heavily on the weather (I need low humidity).  So, maybe...  A girl can dream, can't she?

This my first Tuesdays on the Run link up! 
Thanks to our hosts:
 Ericka @ MCM Mama Runs,
 Patty @ My no-guilt life!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Foggy and Slow

I guess it is oh-so-appropriate that my first race of 2015 and my last race of 2014 were pretty much the same, well except for the distance.  I am not even going to recap the Biggest Loser half marathon on 12/28/14.  There's really not a lot to say.  FOGGY and SLOW pretty much sums it up.  You can throw WARM in there if you'd like.  (My sister was able to run the 5k, which was awesome after all the trials and tribulations with her knees.  Yea!)

So yep, the 5k+1 race I did yesterday was the same.  I don't have the correct words to communicate how frustrated I am.  I just know that so many runs have been like this lately that it has greatly shaken my confidence.  I've mentioned this in previous posts.  My time is not close to where it was last year, especially at the half marathon distance.  I am not talking about winning or not winning awards here, I am just comparing my own times...just me, myself and I.  I keep telling myself it's just the humidity.  "Without all the moisture, you'll be OK."  Will I?  I'm not so sure any more. 

At the Biggest Loser finish line

Reality check -- what if it's not the humidity?

Am I racing too often?  Probably.  Although it will be difficult, I intend to do less racing this year.  Quality over quantity, right?

Am I getting too old?  {Gasp}  Oh, please let this not be the case!

Am I training incorrectly?  Maybe.  I tried a few different things this year, including weekly speed work, but it didn't seem to help.  One of my goals this year is to add strength training. 

Am I being whiny?  Umm....yes I am.  I'll put my big girl panties on and shut up.  I know I should be grateful (and am!) that I CAN get out there and run at any speed.  So many others cannot run one step. 

Should I just accept slower times?  NO.  I don't think so!!  If I don't at least try, what's the point? 

If I only close my eyes, the fog will disappear...

So after my little whiny hiney fest, I feel better.  Thanks for humoring me! 
Give it to me straight.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Wishes (Friday Five)

Happy New Year! 

It's time to look ahead.  I'm not a big fan of making New Year's resolutions.  Life tends to interrupt the best laid plans, so I'm just calling them wishes instead.  Luckily, my rule book allows me to amend my wish list as necessary!  Yes, I make my own rules.

Run My First Marathon

After 28 half marathons, it's just freakin' time.  I'm not getting any younger here.  Enough said.

Run a Half in a New State

I love my half marathons.  I also love to travel.  This one is a no-brainer.  You get to kill two birds with one stone.  Fun, fun. fun.  {Well, not the killing birds part...}

Run Double Half Marathons or a Series of Half Marathons

If I double up and run a Saturday and Sunday half, I would go up a Half Fanatic moon level.  If I run 4 within 9 days, I go up yet another moon level.  I know it may sound silly, but it is something I'd like to achieve.  Jupiter and Mars, here I come! 

Incorporate Strength Training

I do not like the gym.  I am horrible at strength training, or cross training, or anything but running!  I need to try something to see if it helps me be a stronger runner.  (See Wishes #1 #3 and #5)

Run a Sub 2:00 Half

I hesitate to even put this out there.  I was 53 seconds from achieving this in 201453 seconds!  I realize that by choosing to run 17 half marathons last year (plus 28 other races), I forced this goal aside.  Seriously, there was no time for training between each half to work on my speed.  I also realize, at least for me, it depends heavily on weather conditions (low humidity PLEASE for heaven's sake) and the course itself.  So, maybe just maybe...  A girl can dream, can't she?

Mar on the Run! for hosting the Friday Five. 

I'd like to hear what your goals are for 2015!   
Will anyone else run their first marathon?