Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Look Back (WW # 126)

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Although not without struggles, it has been an amazing year!  From new adventures to connecting with dear friends -- trying to whittle a year down into a summary post was not an easy feat.  However, reliving my 2017 memories has me excited to see what 2018 has in store.  Let's take a look back at the highlights...


The year started with a race-cation and PR at an unusually cold and windy Disney Marathon where I was elated to knock 13 minutes off my Chicago Marathon time from three months earlier.  After a respectable recovery period I returned to running.  However, a niggling foot pain sent me to the podiatrist where I found my foot was fractured in the base of a metatarsal bone.  Based on its remodeling stage, I was told it was at least four weeks old. Ergo, I had run the marathon with it broken.  {Shut the front door!}  This news was hard to fathom, but at least I didn't have much healing time left. 

I hopped on Sanity to ride it out -- pun very much intended!   I hit some major cycling mileage clocking 286 miles in February alone.  I didn't know it at the time, but this training would come in very handy later in the year.

Winter closed out with a fun girls weekend with Tricia who ran my local half marathon while I opted to drop down to the 5k.  I had just returned to running the week prior and wanted to play it safe.  I was rewarded with an age group win and felt I hadn't lost too much fitness.


We road-tripped out west to Colorado for Spring Break.  Not only did I get to spend a week snow skiing with PoPo and our youngest on beautiful Monarch Mountain (summit elevation 11,952 feet), we knocked a bucket item off the list by dog sledding through the San Isabel National Forest.  Being stranded on the interstate in a blizzard on the way home was simply the cherry on top of our memory sundae.

While at the beach in April, I ran the Coach Post 10k followed by our local Pancake 5k in May.  I also ran my first half marathon of the year.  Door County, Wisconsin is the farthest north this southern girl has ever been. Wendy and I tackled those unrelenting hills.  And while not running together, we finished with the same exact time -- to the second.   We had a blast sightseeing, eating the local fare, and jamming to the rocking band at the race after party.


June brought the Utah Valley half marathon.  I flew directly from a beach vacation to the mountains where I connected with a few blogger friends.   The beautiful net downhill scenic canyon course did not disappoint nor did the fun I had with my pals Judy, Marcia, Mary Beth, Zenaida and Teresa.

Since he missed our snow skiing trip, our college kid accompanied me to the Utah.  After the race, we stayed on in Provo to enjoy zip lining, the ski lifts at the stunning Sundance Resort, hiking and spelunking.   It was an amazing place to visit.

Although I had started water skiing back in April -- my earliest start ever -- the real fun didn't begin until summer.   I declared it the best summer on the lake.  Okay, okay.  I admit I say that every year!  But, the sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking.

I had been begging Wendy to come water ski with me and she finally relented.   After a few solo runs each, I suggested we ski tandem.  She was all in.  The fun just escalated from there and eventually morphed into our version of the old retro Cypress Gardens Water Ski Show complete with homemade flowered bathing caps and flags.  No telling what we could have come up with if we had planned it.  Trust me, the wheels in our brains have been turning ever since.

I took a running low-mileage season for the first summer in years opting to spend my time mostly cycling and water skiing. August was another high cycling mileage month of 210 in prep for a fall Century Ride Teresa and I were finally going to check off on that old bucket list.  Although it had technically switched over to fall, the Dam Century Ride was hotter than Hades.  But, who knew you could have so much fun sweltering on top of a bike (while obnoxiously singing loudly) for over a hundred miles? Even.during.a.thunderstorm.


After a second century ride, the very entertaining Glassner Autumn Challenge, it was time to focus on running again.  I returned to an old plan of using 5k races as speed work by running the Run For Autism, Cow Patty Trot, and Ryan's Run.  I also ran a 12k which was a new distance for me.  I loved everything about the patriotic Battleship 12k and felt my speed work plan was paying off.

I felt good enough afterward to throw in the Solider Half at the last minute where I reconnected with Teresa and followed that up two weeks later with the Panama City Beach Half where my Southern Sole Sisters joined in on the fun.  Little did Karen, Tricia and Teresa know they'd be going on a thrilling air boat ride and holding a live alligator. 

Needing a little half marathon redemption from a poor performance in sunny and hot Florida, I went back to the Gulf Coast the following weekend; this time to Biloxi, MS.  The weather was ideal and the MS Gulf Coast Half was a great way to end the year on a high note.

Did you check a item off of your bucket list this year?

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

And that's a wrap on 2017!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Holiday Greetings (WW # 125)

It's been a year of highs and lows
Of great friends and broken toes.
New adventures, I'm thrilled to say,
gave me many reasons to play.

At this time I wish for you
Health, happiness, prosperity too.
And from my street to yours I'll say

Have A ...

Merry Christmas Day!

Although I'm taking a break this week, I've opened the link for you to share your posts.  Next week, please feel free to link your yearly recaps right here on the Weekly Wrap.  These can either be in lieu of your normal weekly post or in addition to it.  

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bling in the New Year

This year will soon be over.  Since I have already participated in the last race of 2017, it's time to recap the year in medals.   Let's Bling in the New Year!

The Marathon

My year began with The Big One; the marathon distance.   This was my second Disney Marathon attempt.  I trained hard to earn this medal and to receive a shiny new PR.  Even though I knew from experience the course would measure a half mile too long {argh!} I still shaved over 13 minutes off my best marathon finish time. 

The Half Marathons

Compared to previous years, I ran a very low number of my favorite race distance this year.  I did manage to run five...making my all time half marathon count now 49.  I happily added two new states; Wisconsin and Utah.  All of my half marathons were shared with great friends.  That is what makes these medals even more special! 

My first half was in Door County, Wisconsin.
I shared the 10th anniversary of this race with Wendy.

My 2nd half was in Provo, Utah.  Another 10th anniversary
race, this net down-hiller was shared with a group of Blogger Friends.

The patriotic Soldier Half was on a beautiful fall day in Fort Benning, GA..
I shared my third half with Teresa.

The next half in sunny Florida was way too hot!  But, enjoying
the weekend with my Southern Sole Sisters made it worthwhile.

Back to the coast to meet Tricia for the final half.
The conditions in Biloxi, MS were ideal.

The 12k

I had never run a 12k so The Battleship 12k in Mobile was an automatic PR for me.  I really enjoyed both the distance and the theme of this Veteran's Day race.  It was a perfect way to celebrate the holiday weekend and a bonus to be able to tour the USS Alabama. 

The 10k

This has never been my favorite distance and I only ran one this year.  I happened to be on the coast in April and decided to participate in the local race that weekend.  I was completely humbled by my finish time. But given the fact most people ran the 5k, it was good enough for an age group medal.

The 5ks

I ran a few good 5ks this year, and one really soul-searching awful one.  It is rare to receive a finisher's medal for a 5k around here.  In fact, this may be the only year I ever have.  But, I'm always very appreciative to receive any memento or award.

The Century Rides

These 100 plus mile cycling events were a new experience for me.  In my opinion, riding all day on a bike is definitely worthy of a medal.  Although I didn't receive a medal after completing the Dam Century Ride, I received two for the Glassner Autumn Challenge.  I guess that makes up for it.

Do you have a favorite memento from 2017?

Do you expect a finisher's medal for a 5k?

Thanks to our wonderful hosts: Patty @ My no-guilt life! 
Marcia @ Marcia's Healthy Slice
Erika @ MCM Mama Runs 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

MS Gulf Coast (WW # 124)

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Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon
Biloxi, MS
December 10, 2017
Half Marathon  # 49

After the heat, lack of hydration and ensuing poor performance at the PCB Half Marathon, I was feeling...meh.  Don't get me wrong, I had a blast with my Southern Sole Sisters.  But race-wise?  Not so much.  While in PCB, Tricia mentioned she was running the MS Gulf Coast Half the following weekend. I didn't think much about it then but after receiving a mid-week email from the Battleship12k with a discount for this race, an idea formed.  I threw it out to PoPo who seemed interested...or at least didn't say "NO".   I put my head down and slogged through the rest of my week with my idea on the back burner. 

The decorations at the Beau Rivage were spectacular!
Saturday morning (you know, the day before the race -- that's how I roll), I threw the idea out again.  It was a go!  I was still able to register online with my Battleship 12k discount code, I booked a room at the Beau Rivage ($100 cheaper than mid-week!) and we threw some clothes in a bag.  I sent Tricia a text we were headed her way.  We initially experienced traffic issues due to our overnight snowfall, but once we were out of town the trip went smoothly.

The view from our hotel.

Packet pickup was quick and easy, although we found it irritating to pay for parking when we were only inside a few minutes.  We then dropped by the campground where Tricia and my running buddy Valerie were staying.   They had graciously invited us to dine with them.  But, we had stopped in Mobile for a late lunch so we just hung around the campfire for a while.  We certainly appreciated their hospitality.


Race Day!  This race is point to point from Gulfport to Biloxi.  The race shuttles were boarding in front of our hotel which made for easy race day logistics.   After arriving at the start, we were allowed to stay on the bus for a while since it was cold -- 32 degrees plus wind.  {What a difference a week made on the Gulf Coast!}  After a porta-a-potty stop, gear bag check and an "I'm in an ugly gold sweatshirt" text, I connected with Tricia, Valerie, Jenny and Katie.  We enjoyed a nice sunrise.

Me, Tricia, Valerie, Jenny and Katie

I hoped to run solid with a negative split and knew the cold temperature should work in my favor.   After the best rendition of the National Anthem I've ever heard, we were off.  Wow!  The first two miles were crowded; perhaps my own fault for starting too far back.  Watching the sun rise higher and higher over the Gulf was priceless.  I'm glad I had brought my sunglasses, just in case.  I never wear them while running, but this time they came in handy.

The timing plate and still camera around mile 7. 
Running into the sun the whole time!
As I often do, I zoned out and can't tell you much.  I ditched my sweatshirt after a few miles and when I dropped a glove while opening a GU, I let the other one go as well.  Thankfully, my top had thumb hole sleeves.  I didn't drink at each station because it slows me down.  They weren't in every mile but were plentiful.  My mantra was "make it count" and my only goal was to stay in the 9's.  A few times I went over a bit; mile 1 due to crowding, mile 9 due to veering off to a side street aid station, and mile 12 due to a steep highway ramp.  Breathing the cold, crisp air was a gazillion times better than last weekend's scorcher and I was able to remain strong to the end.

Not my pic...but this was our view for much of the race.

The course was mostly flat with the Gulf on our right and beautiful old antebellum homes dotting the resort-town landscape on our left.  Sadly, you could see where homes were missing due to Hurricane Katrina's wrath.   In mile 12 we started up our only hill; a long curved, banked, concrete highway ramp going up, up, up.  My left ITB was not happy.  We turned around and came straight down on the other side where I picked it up as fast as I could.  I spotted PoPo standing on the corner at our hotel a block before reaching Biloxi's MGM Baseball Stadium for the finish.

Hey, PoPo!
A few years ago I would have been disappointed with my chip time of 2:09:14.  But the older it's-always-something me appreciates the effort it now requires to obtain it.  I ranked 14 out of 78 in my age group. My last mile was the fastest.  I'm thrilled anytime I can do that.  It validates a well paced race effort and enough gas in my tank for a kick.

Trying to not let the gun time clock click over to the next minute.
The after party was an awesome venue with food and drink everywhere.  I drank a chocolate Core Power protein shake and sampled Chicken Alfredo, Seafood Gumbo, and a BBQ Sandwich.  I needed my warm jacket and spent an excessive amount of time locating the gear bag truck...more due to my foggy post race brain than race direction.  Sadly, that left no time to find my buddies since we had a hotel checkout deadline.  I was pretty bummed about that.   We brunched on the beach before heading home.

This is definitely a race worth repeating! 

And that's a wrap!

Have you run a race in Mississippi?  If so, which one?

Have you visited Biloxi?

Are you ready for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A New Adventure

For the Tuesday on the Run topic, we were prompted to discuss something new we tried in 2017.  Ooooo!  I did something new!  And something pretty epic, or at least it was in my eyes.

This year I cycled not one but two century rides.  If you need a little clarification, century rides are organized cycling events in excess of 100 miles.  Let me tell my slow cycling speed, they are an all day affair.  Century rides are not races.  There is no competition for the fastest time; no age group awards.  However, their completion comes with a load of bragging rights.  I hope you'll humor me... 

Rest stop at mile 70.  ONLY 30 or so miles left!

My buddy Teresa and I had talked smack for a while about doing a Century Ride (or even the metric distance which is 67+ miles).  We just couldn't seem to nail down a date that worked.  Then miraculously, a ride that wasn't even on our radar popped up just days before the event back in September. Teresa was free that weekend so we took the plunge.  At the time, my personal cycling distance record was 65 miles.  Meh...a mere technicality.

Riding out the storm.

The DAM Century Ride was the perfect choice for our first attempt.  It was small, low key and the organizers and volunteers made us feel at ease.  In fact, we had our own personal SAG vehicle.  We pedaled, we sang, we sweated profusely, we talked, we ate, we cursed, we were caught in a thunderstorm.  As my youngest often proclaimed when he was a was the best day ever.

Sweet success!

I had such a great experience at the DAM Ride, that I did another century ride a few weeks later.  The Glassner Autumn Challenge was a much larger event.  However, it was more difficult to complete without a friend pedaling and singing by my side.  I can admit to a lot of soul searching during this ride as there was plenty of time for thinking. 

Who knew Elvis worked Century Rides!
The Glassner Challenge went overboard with their rest stops.  The food and entertainment were much needed and welcomed breaks from pedaling in the unrelenting deep south heat.  At the Elvis rest stop, the rock band was so good I didn't want to leave!

This rest stop was truly an oasis!
Looking at this pic, all I remember is -- I was roasting.

I was awarded with two medals at the finish line; one for participating at any distance and one for being a Centurion.  I decided they were worthy enough to hang with my marathon and half marathon medals.  'Cause let me tell you, 100 miles is a freaking long way.  On A Bike.  In The Hellacious Heat.  {See?  Still bragging!}

This ride is definitely worth a repeat!

Have you ever thought about riding a bike for 100 miles?

Tell me something new you tried in 2017 or plan to try in 2018.

Thanks to our wonderful hosts:Patty @ My no-guilt life! 
Marcia @ Marcia's Healthy Slice
Erika @ MCM Mama Runs 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I Survived PCB (WW # 123)

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PCB Half Marathon
Panama City Beach, FL
December 2, 2017
Half Marathon  # 48

I was honored to have Tricia, Teresa and Karen join me for the Panama City Beach Half Marathon. After the previous day's Airboat Adventure, carbo-loading pizza and early bedtime -- we were ready.  We made the short drive to beautiful Pier Park and snapped a few pictures. The race started smoothly with rock music thumping from the speakers.  A male runner somewhere behind me kept shouting "Spring Break 96" during the first mile and that struck me as pretty funny.  I could only imagine his 40(ish) year old running self was much different than the rowdy young man that visited in 1996.

Let's do this ladies!

At the 1st aid station, there were no cups ready.  Huh?  Even though it was hot with full-on sun, I didn't need anything yet.  But when the 2nd one had no cups ready -- my heart skipped a beat.  When I got to the 3rd and saw I'd have to stand in line and wait, I panicked. {And...I may have said something ugly to the volunteers.}  In the next mile, I crossed through traffic to get a cup from a stocked station ready for our return journey on the opposite side of the road.  At the next station, they were dipping cups into the huge coolers (and not waiting on the stupid slow spout).  Finally! 

Little did I know this would be the minor problem of the day.

You see...

They ran out of water.
It was broiling hot.
I thought I was dying.

Shortly after the turn around point and high-fiving my Southern Sole Sisters who were looking strong, I switched into survival mode.  I was roasting.  The aid stations were out; their empty coolers underneath the tables. My heart rate had gotten extreme so I did run/walk intervals for a while with my new friend Tammy from Tennessee.  That helped.  There were a ton of cyclists supporting the course and they graciously offered runners a drink from their own water bottles.  I didn't partake but saw many that did. 

Dude, take a picture of my shirt!!

I did eventually drink water and Gatorade in the final miles, but it was too late.  When I saw the female runner down, my finish time didn't seem to matter any longer.  After another ambulance passed screaming toward the next victim...the true perspective kicked in.  Just finish healthy.

Official time 2:17 and change
It takes a lot  to make me unhappy with a race because it is what I love to do.  I take the risk of not carrying my own fluids.  And, this unexcused debacle did not detract from the fun I had with my Southern Sole Sisters.  That's the true pleasure in running...sharing the experience and the fun.

The emerald water, white sandy beach views were spectacular (no, it is not all condos).  Also, this is one of the most festive finish lines ever.  The announcer enthusiastically called out my name as the rock tunes were blaring and I had my fists pumping in the air Arsenio Hall style.  {I didn't buy that pic!  You're welcomed.}  A very sweet volunteer followed me making sure she got a picture of my shirt -- front and back.  And who can complain about the after party at Margaritaville?  Not me!

Ready for Margaritaville!
We survived!  And jumped!

After delicious food, celebratory toasts and chillin' just as long as we could on the deck of Margaritaville, we headed to the house so we could get the obligatory jump shot and still not be late for our afternoon leg massages and pedicures.  They were pure heaven.  Afterward, we returned to the house to capture another sunset and had a late dinner at Salty Sues.   I think we were too tired to remember a picture.

No filter.
And that's a wrap!

Have you ever participated in a race that ran out of fluids?

What is the hottest race you've run? 

Would you wear matching shirts?