Sunday, May 15, 2016

Gateway to the Smokies (WW # 41)

Welcome to the Weekly Wrap!

https://hohoruns.blogspot.com/p/weekly-wrap.html


This linkup is hosted by yours truly and my good friend Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin.    The purpose of this link is to connect with and support other active women. You can summarize your whole week or just a small portion of it.  It's up to you!  Race recaps are also encouraged!  {See rules}  We are thrilled at the success of the Weekly Wrap.  Thank You!  The support and camaraderie are truly priceless.  Please return later in the week and interact with new linkers.   It's an excellent way to make new friends and gain invaluable support, all while holding yourself accountable!  Don't forget to comment on each blog that you read and remember to support your hosts.  

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M  - 5 Progressive Miles (10:36 / 9:57 / 9:31 / 9:24 / 8:46)
T   - Strength Training
W - 4 Miles Easy (Average 9:39)
T  - Light Strength Training
F  - Rest
S  - 13 (Half Marathon)
S  - Rest (Yard Work)

Total - 22 Miles



PoPo had a last minute opportunity to play in a golf tournament in Knoxville, TN on Saturday and he wanted me to go with him.  So, I immediately went into Find A Race overdrive.  Although I would have to drive 85 miles on race morning I couldn't pass up the Gateway To The Smokies half marathon. 



I knew it would be hilly, but you know how I love a scenic race!  It would also add a state I didn't have: NC and would be half marathon #42.  I decided to throw this idea out to a fellow blogger buddy and she wonderfully decided to run too!  Eek!  Yes, I was finally going to get to meet my dear friend and staunch supporter -- the inspirational and motivational  Karen from Running Over the Hill.

Thankfully, the drive over on race morning was quick and easy -- all interstate.  I got to watch the sun rise and cast a beautiful pink glow over the Smoky Mountains.  It was stunning.  When I arrived in Waynesville, NC it was a clear and cool 43 degrees.  {I love you Mother Nature!}  After a little texting, Karen and I decided to meet inside the courthouse where they allowed us to use the restrooms.  {Let the yacking commence!}  She thoughtfully picked up my packet the evening before.  One very useful item in our packet was a big box of Epsom Salts.  How nice!




I had no plan other than try to properly manage (i.e. don't suck on) the ups and make up time on the downs.   This would be my 4th half marathon in 42 days.  Not my best streak...but still.  I didn't have hopes for setting any kind of record.  Finishing would be nice, though.  Karen and I decided to start together and just see how it went.  It was nice to chat for the first couple of miles.  Although, I'm afraid she probably needed an interpreter for my slow southern drawl.

I ran decent during the first half, even with the crazy hills.  I won't bore you with the splits. You can imagine with this elevation chart, they were all over the place.  I was a little surprised by the route itself.  It wound around the shady, quaint town and neighborhoods for most of the race.  There were a few rural miles, but not many.   It was very scenic, just not what I expected. You could see the Smokies in the distance and I could hear the babbling brook that was rushing through town.  That's one of my favorite memories.


In the latter half, it got tough!  The hills seemed much steeper.  It had also warmed considerably and it wasn't as shady in the rural miles.  (When I returned to my car it was 73 degrees!)  We did an out and back lollipop.  On the loop, there was a dog pacing each group around the loop.  He'd finish with one and start with another when he returned to the start of the loop.  He was so cute and loving every minute of it!  That's another favorite memory.

Sadly, I developed calf and foot cramps.  I'm not sure why I'm being plagued more often with these.  I thought I had the problem resolved by taking SaltStick capsules.  Toward the end, it seemed every time I'd get a good pace going on the downhill, I'd get a cramp and have to walk a bit.  Ah, well.  You never know what you'll get on race day, as I always say.   You do your best with what you're given.



I finished with a hard fought 2:14:04 (unofficial -- hope it's 2:13:59 #petty).  [Update: It was 2:13:59 -- Yes!]  Garmin gave me credit for climbing 839 feet.  Fitbit gave me credit for climbing 108 floors.  I admit at first I was disappointed with my performance.  After realizing how tough this course really was, I've cut myself a little slack.  It helped to be awarded with a second place age group finish. [Update: I placed third.  The red ribbon confused me and we couldn't hear the announcer.]  Congratulations to Karen who placed in her AG too, but I'll let her tell you about that!




I can't say enough about the friendly race volunteers and race direction.  There were very few spectators because all the people in the town were manning the countless turns and intersections!  We hung out at the finish a little while.  They served fruit, bagels with cream cheese, cookies, etc.  There was a very kind older lady giving massages and she sweetly spent a good bit of time trying to work the knots out of my calves and feet.  Sadly there just wasn't enough time to spend with Karen as her hotel checkout was looming.   She is a refreshing, perky delight.  And, that's my most favorite memory!  I can't wait to see her again later this year when we'll have more time to spend.


Are leg and foot cramps a problem for anyone else?

Tell me about your week!

And that's a wrap!




112 comments:

  1. Isn't Karen the sweetest? I'm so glad you got to meet her, too. Now I've got to figure out a race where we can meet! :-)

    Thanks for the linkup, and have a great week!

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    1. P.S. Congrats on your AG place!

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    2. Come run Richmond in the Fall! Maybe I will be back in running shape by then lol

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    3. I'm so glad Karen agreed to go on this crazy adventure with me! I thought she was kidding when she said she'd be there. LOL.

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  2. I would love to do this half and with Karen? Bonus! I cannot wait to meet you 2 in December!

    Congrats on a tough race and the AG award!

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    1. I predict non-stop talking and adventures in December. And oh yeah, there's a race too. How fun! Gah -- this one was tough!

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  3. Awesome that you got to meet Karen! Congrats on your AG award on a tough course. That elevation map looks crazy! I love the image of the dog pacing runners around the loop, as well as everyone in the town being out and helping. Sounds like a great race!

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    1. The elevation was as crazy as that chart looks. But, it was so pretty and well done. Plus, the sun was shining. You know I can't hate on that!

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  4. Another podium!! You are amazing!!! You pick the toughest races in terms of elevation, holy smokes. I love it when I get to meet fellow bloggers! That's odd about the cramps - does salt stick just have salt or does it also contain potassium and magnesium? You may need a bit more of those minerals to help prevent cramping.

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    1. Looking back, this is the most UP I've ever run in a half. Crazy. Yes, the capsules have potassium and magnesium plus other minerals. They aren't just sodium. They seemed to work so well at first.

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  5. Yay for an impromptu race and for meeting Karen. I thought that was her when I first pulled up your post. My blogger identification skills are getting sharp!
    I did a hilly race this weekend and I didn't enjoy all the ups and downs so I know how you feel. Congrats on your AG award. You rock!

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    1. I'm just not good at running up hills, even though I live and run in a relatively hilly (a.k.a not flat) neighborhood. But there are hills...and then there are HILLS, if you know what I mean.

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  6. Every once in awhile, I have terrible foot cramps after a long run and even during the last miles of a marathon). Dehydrated maybe? Your race sounds so fun with the scenery and meeting up with Karen. Congrats on your time!

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    1. I drink often and stick mostly to Gatorade. So, I just don't know. The foot cramps are manageable because you get to step down with your foot, which feels good when they are cramping. The calf cramps are what stop my in my tracks. Yikes.

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  7. That elevation chart is serious! Great job, hills like that are so hard. The scenery looks amazing! Congrats on your 2nd place finish too!

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    1. Well, at least they did not describe this course by saying it had rolling hills. They laid out the elevation chart and basically said come run in the Smokies. I knew going in it would be a tough one.

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  8. Great job in that race, especially with that intense elevation! I'm so impressed how you an just decide to run a half marathon at the last minute like that. Have a great week!

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    1. Obviously, I don't set any kind of PR when I do last minute races. One of these days, I need to train for a specific race. But I enjoy the experience so much, it's hard to pass on an opportunity.

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  9. Ha! It's crazy how we runners are always on the lookout for races when traveling. I do the same thing. Drives my husband nuts! Congrats on your hilly 13.1!

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    1. It's the first thing I do. It makes so much sense to run a race if you are already going to be in the area anyway. I'm justifying it as cost savings. Sounds good, right?

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  10. The heat did me in for my race; Thankfully I don't get cramps. I was definitely disappointed with my finish time, but I'll delve into that more when I do a recap.

    I think you're trying to meet up with us all before dec. :) How fun that you got to race with Karen!

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    1. Yeah, that heat can be such a game changer! I think we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. Didn't we just finish a half marathon? Kudos to us!

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  11. That's a tough race to do at the last minute! I bet those hills are to blame for your cramps. How fun that Karen did it with you!

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    1. The hills could be causing the cramps, but they don't always. I think that's what is so frustrating -- it's not black and white. If I knew the exact cause, I'd take care of it.

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  12. I am so glad we got to meet! I do wish we had more hang out time, my brain was going over all the things I wish we had time to talk about and then we got there and it was boom, boom, boom.
    The second half I just burned out lol I wish I was in better shape and could have kept up. I hope in Dec. I am!!
    I still have not seen results I have no idea what place i have in the AG - I still think it is nuts I got anything lol

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    1. It was awesome to meet you. How I wish I could talk and run! LOL. You seemed to do it effortlessly! I do like this kind of race -- scenic, low-key, and small town! You don't have to worry about big race logistics. I can't believe how well you did after nursing that foot for a lot longer than you ever intended!

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  13. Oy, that heat would have killed me. Nice job on it though. I haven't had cramps during a race, but my calves cramp at random times and today I had a cramp in my hamstring that made me jump up from our table right in the middle of lunch. I'm sure that looked odd to the rest of the patrons LOL.

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    1. I think the inner thigh cramps are the worst! Have you experience those gems? OMG. I had a horrible calf cramp the day before the race. I should have known what would happen.

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  14. That's one heck of an elevation chart! Oh my. I run with calf sleeves all the time to try to keep calf cramping at bay. I've had problems with knots later on after runs, and I hope the compression while running helps control it.

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    1. I've never really like running in compression sleeves, but do like to wear them after a race and while I'm sleeping. But, I may have to do it anyway. I just can't imagine wearing them in the heat and humidity of summer though.

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  15. Epson salts is a nice thing to put in a race packet. That’s a new one that I haven’t seen before, but I like it! That is really cool about the dog pacing people! Great job placing in your age group! That elevation is crazy!! I'm thinking (haven't committed yet) about running the Route 66 marathon in Tulsa in November...you should add that to your list! :)

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    1. I've never seen Epsom Salts before! The company was local. That dog was so happy running with everyone. He scared me at first when he ran up along my side. But, he was friendly. I've done the Route 66 half twice as my sister lives in Tulsa. I've contemplated the full. But, not this year.

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  16. What a great adventure!!! I sometimes notice calf cramps (late in a half marathon), but usually only 1)a hilly course or 2) on the rare occasion where I've had to walk several times.

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    1. I don't think I realized how warm it had gotten during the race because it had started out very cool. I didn't drink enough. I'm sure that contributed to the problem.

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  17. Wow! Your time is impressive with that elevation! Congrats on your AG placement! So cool that you got to meet Karen. I love how blogging brings us all together.

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    1. I thought Montgomery was hilly...HAHAHA. I think I have a new appreciate for that course now. I really enjoy meeting fellow running bloggers. Immediately, we have so much in common.

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  18. Whoa that elevation! I bet the scenery was spectacular. Congrats on the AG award!

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    1. Serious hills on this one. Watching the sunrise on the drive over was awesome. And the race was pretty too.

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  19. How much fun that you got to meet Karen. I was so surprised when I saw your picture on IG ! For the moment, I rarely have problems with cramping, so I can not offer any ideas or advice.

    Have a gray week, you rock with all the racing you are doing !

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    1. I'm pretty happy if the cramps just stay in my feet and don't move up to the calves. It was such a treat to meet Karen. I couldn't believe she agreed to run this!

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  20. Wow! That looks like a tough one and that 2:14 is amazing with all that climbing! Thanks for hosting!

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    1. My official time was 2:13:59. It's funny how that one second makes it all feel a little bit better! HA. It's the most UP I've run in a half.

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  21. Congrats on a race well run!

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  22. That course elevation looks wicked. Congrats on managing the course and placing in your age group. That's exciting and best of all meeting a blogger buddy.

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    1. The elevation was wicked! It was so fun to meet Karen!

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  23. Wow! Talk about hills! That elevation looks intense. Way to go, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you got your 2:13!

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    1. This was the up-hilliest race I've done. I think I'd rather stick to the downhills.

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  24. Congratulations on your race and AG victory! With all those hills, you finished in a fantastic time! I haven't dealt with foot or calf cramps while running, hopefully it didn't make the latter half of the race painful for you! You guys look great in that picture!

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    1. I wish I knew the magic cure for cramps. I think the hills had something to do with it.

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  25. Congrats on that age group finish! That does sound like a tough course.

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    1. The race was quite small, but I was still surprised to place in the AG on such a tough course.

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  26. Congrats on your AG!! That's awesome!!! Sounds like another great week!! xo

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    1. Thanks. It was a small race -- but I'll take it. It's nice to be rewarded after such a tough race.

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  27. I gotta remember this race next year - I love Gatlinburg anyways & it looks like a few of my favorite bloggers go to it :)

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    1. As you know, this whole area is so pretty. I was just happy to be there. And, to meet Karen!

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  28. How much do I love that you AND Karen are such BAMRs that you can bust out a hilly half on a moment's notice? LOVE that you two got to meet and super love that you both scored AG awards. Own every bit of that awesomeness! Epsom salts sounds like a divine race packet goodie. Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. I can't believe Karen agreed to meet me at this race. It never hurts to ask, right? Oh, you can bet I'm keeping my AG award.

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  29. congrats on a great race! sounds like so much fun!

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    1. I always enjoy a scenic run no matter how tough it is.

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  30. Congratulations on Half marathon #42 and on the AG placement!! It sounds like a very scenic and fun race! and you got to meet Karen! How cool!!

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    1. Thanks. It was well worth the trip to meet Karen and run in the smokies!

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  31. I love that you and Karen got to meet and hang out! I think it's just the best when we get to meet our online friends for real. That race looks pretty cool and you did great. Nice placing! Even though they are more challenging, I think hilly makes for less boring and sometimes better views. I am coming right up behind you and will be running my 40th half on June 5. It's funny, not really funny, that the distance really hasn't gotten any easier yet, for me anyhow. Have a great week HoHo!!

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    1. Yeah funny how that distance never feels easy. You would think after the number we've put in...

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  32. Since you don't want to stop running half marathons, I think you need to come up North!! There are loads to run before Dec.

    Congrats on a ag award in a tough race.

    My next half is May 29 and it's my 20th. I need to catch up....

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    1. I'd love to come up North and run. I got this little race called Chicago I'll be running in October. I hope I'll be recovered enough to have a good race in December!

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  33. I'm impressed! I ran RnR Nashville a few weeks ago and the total elevation was 650ft and I finished 2:18. Granted, I ran the first 6 with a friend, but I'm not sure I could have done a 2:14 on those hills. Great job! Looks very pretty. I may have to check it out. We love traveling to the Smokies... might give us another excuse next year. ;) Have a good week!

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    1. Oh yeah, I've run in Nashville too. It was tough and probably in my 5 top hilliest courses run. Definitely keep this one in mind if you'll be travelling in this area.

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  34. Wow how amazing to be able to find AND run in a race impromptu....that is quite impressive.

    WOWSERS those hills!!! that would have totally scared me ;(...way to go!

    AND and age group..you rocked!

    I hope your leg cramps feel better. I don't have that issue (knock on wood).

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    1. At least cramps do not linger. You may have some soreness, but once they are over...it's over. I actually didn't have any soreness which I attribute to the sweet lady who worked out the kinks for me.

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  35. That looks like a super tough elevation profile. I'm so impressed that your first thought was what race could you find. I might do that for a 5K, but never a half marathon!

    And I love those medals! Congrats!

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    1. I try to stay half marathon ready. Granted, I won't set a PR this way but I enjoy the experience so much -- that's OK.

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  36. I'm sorry your race was plagued by cramps, I hope your legs are feeling better! That looks like incredibly difficult elevation and placing in your age group is such an accomplishment! I wouldn't be disappointed with your performance at all, you did great. So exciting you got to meet your blogger friend

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    1. The great thing about cramps is that they don't linger. I just wish I could figure out how to keep them at bay during a race.

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  37. That is awesome that you got to meet Karen - she seems like the sweetest woman ever! The hills on that course look terrifying. Way to push through and add another state to your list! Congratulations on your AG placement!!!!!! I am sorry to hear about the cramps but you handled them like a boss!

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    1. Karen is a gem. It was so nice to finally meet her. This is the hilliest (UP) race I've ever run. Maybe the cramps where a by-product of that.

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  38. Congrats on your AG finish on such a tough course! I love that there was someone to try to work out your kinks at the finish line. Definitely a nice perk after all of those hills!

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    1. That lady spent so much time with me. After working my calves, she just snatched off my shoes and started working on my feet! I finally had to get up so someone else could get turn.

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  39. Awesome! Congrats on your 4th half in 42 days and also an AG award finish! Way to push through a tough course with lots of elevation change and so nice to meet up with another blogging friend!

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    1. This one was tough, but I fully expected that. It was such a nice small race with beautiful views. All the townsfolk were so friendly too.

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  40. Super job on such a hilly race! Congrats on the AG place! It's always cool to finally meet up with blogger/social media friends! Sorry to hear about the foot/calves cramps.

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    1. My favorite thing about this race was meeting Karen. At this point, I'm used to the cramps unfortunately. I just wish I could figure it out.

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  41. Way to go with the hilly race, and congrats on the AG award! I love the scene with your medal picture. So pretty!

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    1. I stopped at several scenic overlooks on my way out of town to get that shot. It turned out great!

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  42. Wow! Congrats on your AG on such a hilly course! So impressed that you could just go do this on a moment's notice!

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    1. I try to stay in half marathon shape for that purpose. I know it's not going to get me a PR, but I enjoy them so much!

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  43. Love the pic of your medal with the mountains as a back drop!!! Way to place in your AG too!!!( and for surviving the hills of TN! )
    You rock!!!

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    1. I stopped at several scenic overlooks on the way out of town to get that shot. I also got some very cool ones with a rushing river too (with kayakers on it) but felt it didn't really depict the mountains as well as this one.

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  44. Someone giving massages at the end of a race? Yes please!

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    1. That's actually pretty common. Sometimes the line is too long and not worth the trouble.

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  45. what a tough course and you rocked it!

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  46. I love how you turn a last minute golf outing into a great half marathon! Look at the Fitbit floors! That is an amazing finish, my calves would be hurting too!Awesome job on the age group award! :)

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    1. Oh yeah, Fitbit thought I was doing some serious stair climbing. That's the most feet ever recorded on any Garmin device I've ever owned too. Whew. It was tough.

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  47. Wow congrats on another half and quite a hilly one! And 2nd place on your age group - that's AWESOME! I think it's great you're able to contact a fellow blogger buddy to run with you. Even better is while your husband golfs, you get to run :)

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    1. In full disclosure, I was third in my AG. The red ribbon confused me! What else was I going to do while my husband played golf? LOL.

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  48. Congratulations & what a beautiful, but hill course!! Awesome AG finish as well!! thanks for hosting the Link-Up.

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    1. I was very surprised by the AG placement. It was a small race though.

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  49. Congrats on a great finish... from the elevation chart it looks pretty tough. I think the smoky mountains are so scenic. How funny about the dog pacer.

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    1. That dog was loving every minute of his race. The people at the water stop on that loop were talking about how he had been around and around and around.

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  50. Your weekly link up is getting huge. That is awesome though, you guys are awesome bloggers I am thrilled about your success in this!
    Great job in your race. I've visited the Smokes once and oh my gosh it's beautiful there, I can only imagine how awesome it would be to run there too!
    Awesome run, great job!!!!!
    I think when you run a lot, (I say this speaking as someone who used to do many frequent races and marathons.) foot pains and things are just a part of it. Though I've heard cramping is caused by not enough salt, I've never had that before so I can't say for certain if it's true or not.

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    1. I'm very honored at the success of our little WW. That whole TN/NC Smokies area is beautiful! I thought the cramping was a salt issue, but taking salt is not working as well as it once did. It could be a combo of things, I guess.

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  51. This does sound like a great race and getting back from the Smoky's myself, I know the views were amazing! That is some kind of elevation you should be very pleased with your time, we walked up the trail to Grotto Falls over 1.6 miles with a 450 gain and it left us both huffing and puffing at just a walk! Great job and I'm so glad you were able to sneak in another half!

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    1. The hills were insane. I'm thankful we had cool weather for a little while. It helped during the first half. I was grateful to have witnessed the sunrise on my drive over to Waynesville. Pink and stunning against the Smokies.

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  52. Congrats on finishing Half-Marathon #42 HoHo, plus the 4th marathon in 42 days!!! So very awesome! Congrats on conquering the elevation of the course and your AG win! Sometimes it takes us a bit to look back and say "you know what, this was so not easy and I did pretty good!" You are setting the standards high HoHo! Way to Go!

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    1. I appreciate the kinds words. I think at the time it feels like such a struggle -- but when you look back, you get a better perspective.

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  53. That looks super hilly! Congrats on the finish time you wanted nice job on the those hills despite the foot cramp. I get calf cramps sometimes when I swim.

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    1. Odd -- I get cramps when I swim too, usually in my feet. But they get pretty severe.

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  54. This looks like a cool race! Congrats on your AG place. Also, so glad you and Karen finally got to meet in person!! Yea!

    I have dealt with cramping in the past during long races - particularly if it is hot. Most recently, I had cramps in both of my adductors during my 50K from like mile 21 to 24 or so. So painful to run through!

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    1. It seems as if there is always a challenge -- whether it's the weather, the course, or your body. It's how you manage that counts because no race is ever perfect, at least for me.

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