Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Dream Half Marathon (TotR)

It's Tuesdays on the Run.  Today's topic is Dream Race, which would be a half marathon of course.   I really don't have a specific location for my Dream Half.  It could be anywhere.  It has more to do with other aspects.  In actuality, it's probably a combination of races I've already run.  Here goes...

Weather:     It would be a beautiful sunny blue-sky day.  A late start would be nice so I'm not staring into the sun when it rises.  The temperature would be 45 degrees with little or no wind and extremely low humidity. 

Course:     The ideal half marathon course would be slightly downhill (500 or so feet total) from the very first step to the last.  The pavement would be new and smooth without sewer caps or speed bumps.  Although slight curves are OK, there would be no sharp turns.

Scenery:     I would be surrounded by natural beauty.  This can be lakes, mountains, beaches, trees, fields or flowers.  I would not see one single automobile and no traffic control would be necessary.

The race course could go right along the beach...
Or it could wind through the woods...

Performance:     First and foremost, I would have had the most fun just doing what I love.  Breathing would come easy.  My GU packets will have opened easily and I would not have dropped any of my Salt Caps.  An average pace of 8:30, without any cramps or pain whatsoever, would make it even sweeter.

Post Race Food:    I would be served the best guilt-free grilled burger with cheddar cheese and honey mustard.  Oh yeah.  If finished off with a warm chocolate chip cookie, I'd be beside myself.  

Post Race Beverage:    An ample supply of margaritas would be provided and I would not have to drive home.  A live southern rock band playing in the background would be awesome.  Or, perhaps a little laid back chillin' beach music would be nice. 

The after party could definitely be here!

A girl can dream, can't she?

Who's in for the win?

Please visit our wonderful hosts:
 Ericka @ MCM Mama Runs,
 Patty @ My no-guilt life!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Viking Half Marathon

Half Marathon #35

At the very last minute, I decided to run the Viking Half Marathon in Greenwood, Mississippi.  The weather was predicted to be cool and it looked like a flat course.  The overwhelming pull was I felt it would be my last opportunity for a cool weather half.  Yeah...I live in the south.  This would give also me a new state. Woo-Hoo!

We have a big project going on at our house so I made the drive alone.  It was VERY long and VERY boring.  I barely made it to packet pickup Friday night at The Alluvian (which advertises itself as a cosmopolitan boutique hotel --- whatever that means).  Luckily, they had a cancellation and I was able to get a room without being excessively gouged.  I have to say, it was a very nice hotel. 

The movie The Help was filmed in Greenwood.  It is a quaint small town built along the river.  Some of the streets are still paved with bricks.  You'll see no tall buildings in this city!   There are many old fashioned storefronts and the race started right in front of the old courthouse.

I enjoyed crossing the bridge!  (Photo from Viking Half Marathon website)

The course began by winding around through the downtown area, which is not large by any means.  The brick streets were a little tricky.  You had to really pay attention!  We then ran through beautiful neighborhoods and a few times right along the river.  Crossing and re-crossing the river was my favorite part.  It was definitely a flat course.

It was a chilly 38 degrees and a little breezy at the start.  I began well, but in hindsight probably too fast.  Around mile 5, I got that "uh-oh I'm out of gas" feeling.   I slowed and kept running.  I hoped maybe I could pull out a couple of fast miles at the end.  That didn't happen.  My left foot cramped a while but it wasn't fatal.  I got my dreaded shoulder stitch (more accurately a sharp pain under my collar bone) for the entire last mile.  I'm very grateful it didn't start any sooner.  But, neither of those things affected my time.

There was little crowd support.  There were (what felt like) a hundred turns and the traffic volunteers and those manning the many water stops were just about all the Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah we got.  However, some were very enthusiastic.  One lady was in everyone's face yelling YOU BETTER MOVE IT.  Yes ma'am!  She was crazy scary.

The after party was different with hot tamales and fried catfish, which was actually very good, among the typical fare.  Although I will probably never make that drive again, it was a well done smaller race and simply oozed southern charm.   If you are in the general area or need to run in Mississippi, it will not disappoint.

Compared to the ribbon, the bottle opener medal is quite small.

I ended with a 2:07:12 gun time finish.  Meh.  I admit for a while, I felt somewhat disappointed and frustrated. This one bothered me more than the last few. Yes, I completely understand some would be thrilled with that.   But, I'm simply comparing this to my own faster times from last winter.   It's a little hard to swallow that I continue to run slower.  I had loads of time to analyze this on the long drive home.

It boils down to one thing...I've run 7 half marathons in 70 days. {Holy Freakin' Cow.  How did I pull that off?}  Am I expecting too much out of myself?  Probably.  One of these days, I will pick a goal race, train like nobody's business, and smash my PR.  Until then, I own my multiple half marathon madness...my mediocrity...my middle of the road (pun very much intended).

Does anyone else experience pain under their collar bone?

How about half marathon madness?

Please visit Tara the lovely host of the Weekend Update and all the participating bloggers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HoHo (Squared)

When I started this blog, I promised it would be a running blog and nothing more.  Although I might touch on my own neuroses, the intent was to never get too personal or embarrass my husband and kids.  I simply wanted to document my races and possibly share some amusing stories about running.  And, yes, maybe whine vent a little when my running didn't go as planned.  I wanted to connect with, and learn from, other runners who shared my obsession.

Today, I take an exception to my own rule.  Today, I share that I am...

HoHo (2)      HoHo Squared       HoHo to the Second Power!

We have welcomed our second grandchild into the family.

It's a girl!!

I now have one of each.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On the Sixth Day...

I've been taking it easy since my last half.  Although I ran 4 easy miles the very next day, I decided to take some time off and skipped running for 5 whole days!  My hips were feeling a little "old and creaky".   I did walk my dogs one evening about 3 miles.  I take these mini breaks several times a year hoping that I am not forced to take The Big One.  I'd like to think I'm older and wiser and have learned my lesson.  {Um...yeah, let's go with that.}

Speaking of the dogs, we finally got around to using the Wisdom Panel DNA kits my kids received for Christmas.  We adopted both of our mixed breeds (aka mutts) from the humane shelter in 2008 and 2009.  The kits required us to swab their cheeks two different times and return both samples.  We should know what breeds are in their lineage in a couple of weeks.

Mini and Mojo love to walk!

On the sixth day, I ran.  It wasn't pretty.  I ran 7 slow miles in the warm, mid-day muggy, overcast gloom of Saturday.  I also developed a nice little side stitch at mile 5 to finish with.  I'm not going to lie, it was tough.  But, I had some new tunes on my iPod Shuffle and that always seems to help me push through it.

I can't run without this!

The rest of the day was spent working in the yard, buying a new dishwasher (I've been dragging my feet for months on this!) shopping for groceries, and cooking Shrimp and Cheese Grits for supper.  My husband and I watched Gone Girl that evening.  Was she messed up, or what?  I did not read the book and had no idea what to expect.

Sunday was TAX PREPARATION DAY {Blech}.  Appropriately, it was gloomy and rained most all day.  I got another 5 mile run in and thankfully it wasn't nearly as tough.   I did a few other chores and cooked a Boston Butt in the crock pot.

This was a quiet, race-free, catch-up kind of weekend, which I desperately needed as my running schedule will be crazy again soon enough.   I know there were many races this weekend and I can't wait to read all of the recaps!

Does anyone else take mini breaks?
Any other loyal iPod Shufflers out there?

Please visit my friend Tara who hosts the Weekend Update over @ Running N Reading!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Runfessions (March 2015 Edition)

My Runfessions

I runfess...I've gotten too comfortable with my route.  On dark weekday mornings, I run very early in my neighborhood.  I see very few (if any) cars.  I almost know exactly when and where they will pass.  The darkness helps as you can see the lights coming up from behind.  I run the same route much later on weekend days in broad daylight -- when other people are awake and going places.  However, I'll forget it's not that quiet weekday run and u-turn without looking!  Holy Moly.  After a few close calls, I won't make that mistake any more! 

I runfess...I bought a running dress several months ago. {Ahem}  I don't think I need it.  I don't know why I bought it.  I seriously doubt it will be flattering.  Darn those race expos!   Have anyone else ever run in a dress?

I runfess...I have special names for the regular runners and walkers in my 'hood.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what I call the couple who will not acknowledge my greeting in any manner -- not even a glance my way.  But, Visor Lady and I waved to each other for years and finally met at a race last year.   I shared with her and her husband Early Running Man (who never runs with Visor Lady so I didn't know they were married) what my names were for them.  They both started laughing --- they've called me Runner Girl for years!  Bahahaha.  I'll take that!  Girl.  Awesome!

I runfess...One thing that has suffered since I've been running is my yard work (or perhaps Gardening sounds more sophisticated).  Years ago I created a tropical, rather whimsical, backyard oasis.  I wanted it to feel like I was on vacation every weekend.  I got the effect I wanted and practically live out there during warm weather.  But people, that oasis requires a lot of upkeep!   I always enjoyed the work, but there's just not enough time anymore.

Got anything you need to get off your chest?

I'm linking up with Marcia today from Marcia's Healthy Slice.  Make sure to stop by her blog!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hello Spring!

It's fantastic Friday and time for the Friday Five link-up hosted by the DC Trifecta.  

In warm weather, it's all about having fun in our own back yard. 
I will stay in my porch swing or on a float all weekend long.

Be warned...this is an absolutely run-free post!


Just making a little Vitamin D

Although beautiful, they smell like bleach

It won't be long until we have these Gladiolas

Wow, they are so loud right now!

When the kids were little, this was our Easter tree


What is your favorite sign of Spring?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Charms and Rituals (TotR)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I'm not a superstitious person.  Although I am wearing green today.

I'd love to come up with a magic lucky charm that I could believe in!   


This is so silly now, but for a while I actually tried patting the bobble-headed top of my first masters trophy before I left home for a race.  Nah, she didn't work.  Drats.

I wear shoe charms too, but it never even occurred to me to think of them as lucky (duh).  I just thought they were incredibly cute.


There are a few rituals that I do believe produce a better performance, at least for me:

Although I hydrate for several days, I limit my intake of liquid on race mornings.  When I wake, I drink 8-10 ounces of water.  That's it.  I learned too much liquid causes stomach sloshing which leads to a shoulder stitch {or to keep it real -- a horrible need to burp and can't}.  I even do without my beloved cup of coffee! 

I do eat but it's two hours before the event.  The shorter the distance, the smaller the breakfast.  To me, 5ks are very painful from the first step to the last.  I don't want to toss my cookies so I usually just eat a little yogurt.  For a half marathon, I'll eat a small banana and oatmeal or maybe a breakfast bar. 

I make sure my clothes are comfortable and have gone the distance prior to race day.  Yes, I've gone with "new and cute" and paid the price.  You'll often see me in the same bottom layer.  It all boils down to two things...good pockets and no lady chafing.    

What works for you?

Please visit our wonderful hosts:
 Ericka @ MCM Mama Runs,
 Patty @ My no-guilt life!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Montgomery Half Marathon Recap

Half Fanatics Info
I did it.  Booyah!  

I completed my streak of 4 half marathons in 21 days.  You can call me Jupiter {um...no just kidding}.

It looked like it was going to be warm, rainy and muggy for this race.  AND. IT. WAS.  It just sprinkled right before the start but -- Holy Humidity!  I'm so happy I did not run the full marathon that I considered for quite some time.  Whew!

It's natural to want to compare my performance to others.  I have to remind myself it's like apples and oranges. I know by running this many halves so close together I am sacrificing faster times (and possibly PRs).  I'm OK with that.  It's my choice and I love doing it. 

But, I wish I didn't feel the need to explain my times to people expecting me to do better.  {I just ran a half last week and the week before that...and...and}  When I do this again (notice I didn't say IF), I'm stamping my forehead DON'T ASK -- I'M STREAKING.  Or perhaps a T-shirt that says, "When's The Last Time You Ran A Half?"  OK - Enough of that.

I'm Ready!

Considering the course and the HUMIDITY, I was pleased with my 2:07:20.  This is a tough course with the first 2 miles straight up hill.  They roll along and then make another strong appearance starting around mile 10. The hill at mile 10 is so steep, very few people run the whole length.  I tried not to think about how muggy it was, how heavy I felt, and just run as strong as I could, saving a wee bit for the last couple of miles.  I felt like I accomplished that.

I caught up to my friend Valerie about mile 2 and it was nice to run together and chat for a few miles, until we couldn't talk at all.  I actually stayed with or just behind her until mile 12.  She gave me that extra incentive and I was able to kick it in high gear in front of the beautiful state capitol building running down historic Dexter Avenue, an awesome downhill section. {Thanks Valerie!}.  A few times I actually fought back tears just because I freakin' love doing this, felt strong and, yep, it looked like I would come out on the other side of this streak healthy. A WIN.

Valerie and I are working hard at mile 3!  If we keep our eyes closed...we can't see the fog, right?

I'll Nutshell The Race For You:

Thumbs Down...

Packet Pickup Disorganized
Holy Humidity
Long Course (13.32  ugh - again?)
Started Late  (Due To TV Coverage)
Difficult Course
Tiny Finishers Medal
Few Food Choices

Thumbs Up...

No Body Issues
Course PR by 4 minutes
Nice Finishers Ribbon
Good Tech Shirt
Visited With Friends
Completed My Streak

The last time I ran this half, it was held in October but the weather was identical.  They moved the date hoping March would be nicer.  That did not work.  This is the race where I cramped all the way to my rear end.  This is the race where they pulled me into the medical tent when I came across the finish line in so much pain.  I guess I can thank my SaltCaps for this one.  I'm very grateful to replace a bad memory with a much better one.

Did Anyone Else Race This Weekend?  If Not, What Did You Do?

Please visit my friend Tara who hosts the Weekend Update over @ RunningNReading

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Day

Happy Friday!  Today's topic on the DC Trifecta linkup is A Day In The Life.  Wow, you are going to be so impressed...NOT.  I picked a typical workday.  (Weekends are a little more exciting around my house, I promise.)

Is my breakfast
a Rorschach Test?

On running mornings, I get up around 5:30.  My typical weekday run is 4 to 5 miles in the 'hood.  I don't eat anything beforehand but may take a few sips of juice to put something in my very empty stomach.  My post run breakfast is usually low sugar peach oatmeal topped with blueberries and milk.  I don't drink my first cup of beloved coffee until I get to work.

I shovel these all day long!

My kids get themselves to school (Hooray) so I just have to get myself together.  Using the bathroom counter as a barre, I stretch while drying my too thick hair (because it takes so darn long!).   I work in a specialty line of financing that is quite stressful.  But, it's not exciting...your eyes can glaze over.  It's OK.  Mine do.

Throughout the day, I eat something every 2.5 to 3 hours to keep my blood sugar regulated.  If I take a lunch break, I run errands or will occasionally meet a friend for food or coffee.  This is super exciting stuff, eh?

This is part of my
HoGa routine.

I usually cook about 5 nights a week.  Everyone sits down together and catches up.  Some nights we'll eat at a nearby Mexican restaurant or I'll pick up Thai food on my way home (red curry chicken with broccoli is my favorite).  Once I get home, I do not like to go back out.  I'm home.  I'm done...at least mentally.

After cleaning the kitchen, I do the laundry.  I also read a few blogs and watch a little TV.   Before bed, I foam roll, stretch, and do a few exercises --- what I like to collectively call HoGa.   I'm in bed fairly early as 5:30 rolls around again quickly.

I think I have everyone beat on the Boring Scale.  
Tell me about your more exciting day!

Thanks to the lovely ladies with the DC Trifecta!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thinking Out Loud


Today I'm linking up with Amanda @ Running With Spoons for Thinking Out Loud.
Please take time to visit Amanda and the other bloggers linked up on her site.

Well, let's see.  What is rattling around in my brain today?

Saturday is my 4th and final half marathon in my self imposed series of 4 within 21 days.  I'm already worried about my post-race gloominess.  I love to race and I'm going to have withdrawals!   There is not even a local 5k on the horizon.  Now, what am I supposed to do with myself?

I organized this streak just to move up a moon level in Half Fanatics.  Guess what? Nobody cares about my moon level!  This is simply to satisfy my "slightly obsessive", goal-oriented self.

Jupiter, here I come!
Speaking of Half Fanatics, I'm confused.  They call it moon levels, but the levels are names of planets.  For example, I'm currently a Saturn and will move to Jupiter after Saturday.  After that, the next level is Mars.  Those are names of planets!  Why are they making this so confusing?

Well, I did it.  I threw my name in the lottery for the 
Chicago Marathon.  I'm leaving this one to fate.  If I don't get in, I'll choose another race for my first marathon.  GO BIG or GO HOME, as they say.   The only thing going for me is this would be a big inconvenience as far as timing and travel goes.  So, for this reason alone...I may just get in!

I wish there was no Spring Forward.  I do not like running in complete darkness in the mornings. 

 Did anyone catch the premiere of the new A&E series The ReturnedEerie.  I can't wait to see the next episode! It is airing on Mondays after Bates Motel, another favorite!

Well, that's what I've been thinking.  What about you?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tuscaloosa Half Marathon Recap

This week is a wrap.  Now it's time for the Weekend Update hosted by Tara @ Running N Reading

My third half marathon (within 14 days) is complete.  One more to go.  Overall, it was half marathon #33.

"Can I get fries with my vinegar,  please?"
I had the worst week imaginable with two unexpected long road trips, the last one on Thursday.  I was either driving or sitting in a hospital.  We all know how nutritious vending machines are.  I arrived home around midnight and was up early the next morning for work.  That's not the way you want spend the Thursday night before your Saturday race!

Friday, I ate my favorite pre-race lunch.  My cup was half filled with malt vinegar to give the fries a good soaking.  Don't judge me -- you should try it!  I did eat a small cheeseburger too but it was quite mangled by the time I took this picture. 

I was sleeping like a rock when my alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. Saturday and I left home 10 minutes later than planned.  When I turned on the GPS (with the address still stored from last year's race) I realized it was 15 miles further than I thought.  Oops!  I would have to speed - a lot!  Thankfully, no ticket.  When I arrived, it was 23 degrees.  It was so nice for Winter to stick around.  Heh-heh.  No worries, there was no wind and it warmed up quickly.

I had planned to meet fellow blogger Tricia from Miss Sippi Piddlin before the race.  By the time I got my packet, visited the porta-potty, returned to the car, and arrived back at the starting line -- I had 3 minutes to spare.  I decided I would hang out at the finish line afterwards and look for Tricia there.  This is the stuff that makes me nervous, never the race itself.  I dream about not making it to the start line on time!  I'm lucky I remembered to tie my shoes.

Roll Tide Roll
I was a total zombie during this race, worse than my normal zoned-out state.  Here's a few things I do remember:  1) Early on, a guy passed out just ahead of me and a group had already stopped to assist.  2)  There were a few substantial hills in the first miles.  We ran this course in reverse from last year and I knew where they'd be.  3)  About half of this race is through the University of Alabama campus.  When we ran by Bryant Denney Stadium (Roll Tide Roll) I looked up to the most beautiful cloudless azure sky and saw a small white airplane flying overhead.  That was my takeaway mental pic {Snap}.  I always have one from each race.  Sometimes, they are oh so randomly odd!

Apparently, zombies have no sense of time.  It. Flew. By.  {Huh?  Mile 9 Already?  What?}  I felt my left IT band pulling on my knee a few times.  Each time, I immediately shortened my stride.  It never became an issue.  Both feet tried to cramp but I managed to keep that at bay too.  Again, no complaints with the old body.

Last year, the course measured long.  I was hoping with this year's changes it would be shorter.  Nope.  My 2:05:31 finish was actually at a faster pace than last week's 2:04:48.  But, when you get 13.3 for distance - what'cha gonna do?  My last mile was the fastest and I'm always pleased when that happens.

Most of the race was on one coned-off lane of very busy roads.  You had to stay inside the cones and therefore had no way to run the tangents.  I must say we had excellent traffic control.  Thanks TPD.

I was stuffing my face with a Chik-Fil-A chocolate chunk cookie when I spotted Tricia.  Because of her gorgeous curly red hair, she was easy to find.  She was running with her friend Leah and they both set PRs!  How awesome is that?  A huge congratulations to both of them!  It was fun getting to know Tricia and Leah, who just started running in August!  I'm sure with us being southern gals, we will run another race together.  Check out Tricia's blog, I'm sure she remembered the race (ha!) and will have a great recap.

Leah, Tricia, and Me

The post-race festivities seemed well endowed.  After visiting with my new friends, I needed to get on the road and was happy with a cookie, banana and chocolate milk.  I could hear a band playing and saw BBQ and beer among many tents.   We were given a short sleeve tech shirt.  The shirt, bibs and string bags were nicely blue & green color coordinated but the medal (although quite large and wonderfully Bama themed) didn't go with anything else.  It doesn't matter, it just seems odd.

I liked this race - what I remember of it - and it was great to meet new friends.  Other than a long course, I have no complaints.  I would definitely do a three-peat.   I can't say the physical fatigue of my half series has affected me greatly, but probably a little.  My time may have been better had it not been for a stressful week, but then again...who knows.  I DO KNOW I was happy to be outside in the glorious sunshine, running and breathing in that cool fresh air, and having a break for a short period of time.  I'd call that a win any day!  I was 6th out of 43 in my age group.  I guess that's OK too.

Camo Yurbuds
My original plans for Sunday were to do as little as possible.  That didn't happen.  It was a beautiful day and I could not stay inside.  I ran 4 easy miles and finally remembered to try my new lime green camouflage Yurbuds.  I'm a convert!  The sound quality is excellent and made me wish I could run longer.  They also stayed put.  I later spent several hours in my back porch swing.  Heaven.

Has anyone else run a race and not remembered it?  
Please tell me I'm not alone!

Don't forget to visit my friend Tara and the other linked bloggers at Running N Reading!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Friday Favorites

TGIF.  It's time to link up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five.  Today's topic is Favorites.

This was my very first running apparel purchase. I was training for a half marathon and the weather was turning cooler.  I needed something better than my ratty gym shorts. At the time I was appalled by the price, but they ended up being a great investment.  You'll find them in most of my cool weather race pics Still Today - Six Years Later.

I noticed my feet cramped when I ran double digits so I purchased this pair of socks.  That's a very tight compression band around the arch.  I wore them religiously and still do quite often, especially in cold weather.  I later bought another pair but they gave me huge blisters.  Go figure.  This pair I treat like gold.

This is my current favorite second breakfast each day.  Zone Perfect Bars have more protein than some other brands.

I love arm warmers.  I'm not a fan of racing in long sleeve shirts if I can help it.  There are so many cute patterns to choose from.  I've got two more pairs ordered right now.  Don't tell my husband.

Have you tried the new Triple Zero line by Oikos?   Finally, a Greek yogurt that's not too sweet.  It's my typical afternoon snack.

So tell me -- do you have any tried and true favorites?
Is anybody racing this weekend?