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 you...at 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 toddler...it 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?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Girls and Gators (WW # 122)

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Good food, good friends, good conversation!
This week three of my friends, fellow bloggers and southern sole sisters met in Panama City Beach to run the half marathon.  My co-host Tricia drove over with Teresa and they arrived Thursday evening.  We enjoyed a delicious late dinner of grouper tacos at Shades.   We frolicked on the beach early Friday morning before heading to the airport for Karen.  

This pose led to a recreation of Charlie's Angels...
Once snagging Karen, we hit up famous Thomas' Donuts for breakfast and returned to the house to kick up our feet a while on the deck in the sun.  The warm sunshine felt fabulous but also gave us a hint of what race day would be like {cue ominous music}.  I threw out a few suggestions for an afternoon adventure and we decided on an air boat ride.  Karen and Tricia had never done one and although Teresa and I had -- I thought it would be an enjoyable experience for all of us.

Hello, little fella!

Part of the air boat adventure experience is to view the gators they have in captivity and also have the opportunity to hold one.  I think the gator I held in the past was smaller.  This one freaked me out a bit but I put on a brave face.   We boarded the Swamp Vette and were delighted to find a very colorful, entertaining, salty, barefooted boat captain we later nicknamed "Cooter".

Ready to fly.  Ear protection is required!
Let me say Cooter gave us more than we bargained for, staying out long after our time was up.  After thrilling us with a few 360 degree turns in the main channel and taking the air boat right over mud, limbs and the channel's edge, we went deep in to the brackish tidal creeks to see if we could find any gators in their natural habitat.  The water and it's reflection as it winds between the seagrass is amazing.  

The reflections in the tidal creeks were amazing!

After viewing the nesting areas of a couple of their resident very large gators (one over 15 feet), we eventually spotted a gator in his habitat.  In fact, Cooter got in the water to rustle him out of hiding for us.

Cooter...just doing his thing.
Cooter insisted that finding any gator on December 1st was a true miracle in itself.  We also saw bald eagles, ospreys, and surprise -- several dolphins at play.  Keep in mind, we were not in the ocean. These dolphins would have to travel 14 miles to return to their necessary saltier water.  

The gator we found was 3-4 feet long.
After our incredible experience, we went to packet pickup and enjoyed carbo-loading with a mid afternoon pizza and a Starbucks pick-me-up in beautiful Pier Park.  We were determined to return to the house to capture the sunset.  Barely making it time, it did not disappoint!  And here's where I'll leave you...

You'll have to tune in later for the race recap and post race shenanigans!

And that's a wrap!
Have you ever been in an air boat?

Have you ever held an alligator?  Would you?

Have you visited the Florida panhandle?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ryan's Run (WW # 121)

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I spent the early part of this week resting after running my first half marathon in over five months.  By Wednesday, I was ready for some sunrise progressive miles.

Here comes the sun...here comes the sun...and I say, it's all right!
[The Beatles]

On Thursday morning, I ran a few more simply for holiday stress relief.  I also couldn't pass on the beautiful fall morning.  And truth be told, I wanted to earn my mother in law's sweet potato casserole. With its layer of crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping, it's might as well be dessert.

Burning off the crazy...and the sweet potato casserole.
Saturday I participated in Ryan's Run.  It is run memory of Ryan Colburn who loved the Iron Bowl rivalry. The swag was great!  A football T-shirt, a camouflage hat, a water bottle, a first aid kit, and a USB car adapter were in our bags.  I've run this race several times and knew about the "gently rolling hills". {Never believe that description!}  Recently returning to using 5ks as speed training, I was ready to go to work!

Great swag for a local 5k!
I heard someone say at the start that there were no age group awards.  {What the what?}  Well, that took the pressure off.  I decided to run solid regardless of speed and not let the hills get the best of me.  In mile 2, I developed a side stitch which lasted until the end.   I only get these after running a long distance race.  After last weekend's half marathon, it came as no surprise.

Can you tell this was an out and back course?

I ran the miles progressively.  Given the layout of the course and the side-stitch, I was happy with my official time of 28:10 and 9:05 pace.  Although higher than I'd like, it is my reality and I will continue to chip away at it bit by bit.  It turns out the information about the awards was wrong and I was grateful for an age group win.

This Sarah Maire Design Studio jacket was perfect for
standing around in the chilly post race weather.

Sunday, I ran 9 miles in preparation for my upcoming half marathon on the beautiful panhandle coast of Florida.  I finished up my holiday decorating as well.  I'm glad to have that behind me so I can enjoy it as long as possible -- or until the family finally persuades me to take them down in January.

I collect ornaments when I travel.  The lighthouse is from
my trip with Wendy to run the Door County half marathon.
I made the glass ornament in Tulsa while there for Route 66.
Making glass was very cool -- or very hot, actually.

And that's a wrap!

Is your racing season over or just beginning?

When do you take your holiday decorations down?

Friday, November 24, 2017

November Runfessions

It's the last Friday of the month and you know what that means...

It's time for Runfessions!  Let's get to it.

I runfess...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed spending time with their families.  I did.  But, yesterday would have been my Mother's 88th birthday.  So my first confession is that I felt a little melancholy all day.  It was odd since her birthday usually doesn't affect me that way.  Maybe it was because it landed on Thanksgiving this year.  Anyway, I feel better now that it's the sunshiny day after.

I runfess...

When the pre-vet college kid arrived home for Thanksgiving break with three dogs in tow...I was almost wishing the holiday break was over.  But seriously, this foster dog is the sweetest (unfortunately abused) boxer!  I think I'm in love.  {Hmm...I wonder if he'd make a good running partner?}  That being said -- there is pure craziness at our house right now with five dogs underfoot.  FIVE!

I'm not a "big dog" fan, but who can resist this face?

I runfess...

It is taking me longer and longer to read the Weekly Wrap.  Perhaps it's my age and my tired eyes at the end of the day?  Perhaps it's my slow ancient laptop {Ahem--Christmas suggestion}.  Regardless, I hope those of you who link will continue to do so.  Also, it brings me joy to see we still have newcomers!  Nothing beats this community of strong, like-minded active women!  Just know I will get to your post as I enjoy reading each and every one and keeping tabs on your running and other activities.

I runfess...

The Christmas decorating has begun.  Once again this year, when I realized how few available weekends are left between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- it became a necessity.  I am enjoying unwrapping the ornaments I picked up on my travels and those that were gifted to me this year.  It brings back such special memories of the racecations and other fun I had throughout the year! 

This came from a wonderful ski trip to Colorado!
I also ran at 8000 feet of altitude.  Whew!

I runfess...

No Black Friday shopping for me.  Heck, I don't even like shopping the other 364 days of the year.  My credit card is a Tinker Bell (got to love those Disney Dollars) and it's best to keep her hidden in a dark wallet.  She lives to spread her pixie dust and spend my money.    However, I may release her to do some serious Amazon Priming a little later today.  I further runfess...I release her often for race registration.

What would you like to Runfess?

I'm linking with my friend Marcia today from Marcia's Healthy Slice.
Please stop by and join in with your own Runfessions!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Soldier Half Marathon (WW # 120)

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The sole purpose of this linkup is to
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Soldier Half Marathon
Fort Benning, GA
November 18, 2017
Half Marathon  # 47

Last year I thoroughly enjoyed the 2016 Soldier Half Marathon and vowed to run the marathon this year. Well...that didn't happen.  Other plans were made and revised.  Life happened.  Injuries happened.   I am a little disappointed as this was the last year they'll offer the full distance. Originally scheduled to run Vegas, I doubted I'd be able to fit in this half.  But when Vegas didn't happen, I thought...maybe.  Throw in the fact I found out my southern sole sister Teresa and her Major Hubs were going to run it and that "maybe" became...well heck yeah!

Due to the time zone difference, this race required a crazy early wake-up call.  Even so, I prefer sleeping in my own bed.  I arrived one hour beforehand.  I would need to find parking, go through security, register and get my swag, stand in the restroom line, walk back to the car, go back through security, and get to the start line. These logistics are what make me nervous -- never the race itself.  Let's just say there was a bit of a fiasco at registration which left me with little time to spare.  I was glad to get a hat because I forgot mine!

The swag included a poster, awesome moisture-wicking hat,
and a women's cut technical T-shirt.

I connected with Teresa and Hubs and we lined up in the middle.  It was about 40 degrees but would warm up quickly.  I had a throwaway long sleeve T-shirt on; split up the middle for easy removal.  Teresa and I ran together for a bit.  Knowing the famous Drill Hill began in mile three, I wanted to run easy until I crested it. Surprisingly, it was not the same big hill as last year.  In fact, the course was different in the early miles. No worries -- they threw in a suitable replacement hill.  Although it was much longer (a full mile up) it didn't seem as steep.   The Drill Sergeants were there to help us to the top.  One fell right in step with a guy to my right.  I'm happy it was not me.  I giggled at his choice of words and kept running...a bit faster!

While running the few miles on base, I heard what sounded like gunfire a couple of times which was a bit unsettling.  You have to remember this is a true military base.  Their training would not stop for us.  I am very appreciative of the many, many soldiers who worked this event.   My favorite segment was the big down hill.  Yep, those Drill Sergeants were there too!

Being my first half since June, I had no expectations of being anywhere near a PR.  After a year with various injuries and time off, I ran the Battleship 12k last weekend at a 9:31 pace and hoped that would translate to a solid effort below a 10:00.  It did.  My average pace was 9:51.  Sadly, the altered course measured a quarter mile too long so my official time will not reflect it.  {Pet Peeve -- don't get me started!}  I actually don't know my official time as I didn't check at the race and they haven't been posted. 

The start and finish runs through the Avenue of Flags.
Overall, I was happy to run strong with no cramping or other issues.  It was a gorgeous fall day.  You know I'm solar powered -- I was happy to be outside doing something active.  The miles passed quickly and pleasantly, if you can call those last few miles of any half  pleasant.    Even though some of it was due to the added distance, it was still a little hard to swallow being over 8 minutes slower than last year.

Moving on...

National Infantry Museum's entrance.

The post race party was nice with plenty of food and drink options.  I saw people lined up for massages as well.  I only ate a banana and pretzels as I planned to visit with a family member for lunch.  We hung out a little while and took a few pictures but Teresa and Hubs also had to leave in order to check out of their hotel.  I'll let Teresa tell you about their experience, but let me say I'm very proud of both of them.  They nailed this race as part of their marathon training!

There is something about this race that I love.  Perhaps it's the zero traffic.  Perhaps it's the fall foliage.  Perhaps it's the beautiful wooded roads that take you up to the base and back down.  Perhaps it's getting a glimpse of base life.  Perhaps it's the motivating Drill Sergeants.  Perhaps it's the winding trail beside the river during the final miles.  Perhaps it's the Avenue of Flags.  Perhaps it's the impressive National Infantry Museum.  Perhaps it was just running with friends.  Perhaps you could say it's all of the above.  Whatever the case, I'll be back!

And that's a wrap!

Have you run a race on a military base?

What do you think makes a great race experience?

What are you training for?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Battleship 12k (WW # 119)

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My original plan was to be in Las Vegas this weekend, but that sadly didn't work out.  Since PoPo had taken time off work as well, we decided to visit Mobile.  We started with massages at the Battlehouse Renaissance Spa and later the best grilled oysters ever at the Oyster House.  We topped off our delicious meal with a specialty concoction that was a slice of Key Lime pie blended with ice cream, tequila and triple sec.  We split it... I swear.

The PoPo to my HoHo

On Veterans Day, we spent the morning at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.  Touring the battleship was a very fitting way to honor the occasion.  What the servicemen did on board was simply amazing.  Very impressively, she suffered no enemy damage in her nine battles during World War II.  We spent the afternoon in the French Quarter relaxing outdoors and watching cyclists coming into the finish of the Gears and Beers Century Ride.  Oh yeah -- it’s now on my must do list!  We dined that evening at Bluegill.  {Just so you know...my alternate post title was "We Ate Our Way Through Mobile".}

Sunday, I ran the 3rd annual Battleship 12k.  I've run several half marathons in Mobile and enjoy their flat, scenic courses.  This course was point to point from Spanish Fort to Mobile, ending at the USS Alabama. I assumed it would be mostly flat with maybe a few bridge inclines. Having never run a 12k, this would be an automatic PR.  Just getting my mileage back on track, I wanted to use this race as a steady training run.  I chose a patriotic outfit and was ready to go!

Race day began at 61 degrees with low hanging clouds and misting rain.  I stayed in a nearby hotel and walked to the start line.   The course was truly a straight shot directly over Mobile Bay.  I lost count of the bridges but at least most inclines were not too steep.  I began very conservatively and picked it up during the last mile and a half,  happy to run it as my fastest. -- even with the steepest bridge.  As we turned into the park for the finish, we were handed an American flag.  I thought that was a special touch.

Immediately following my finish, harder rain started falling and the temperature began dropping.  I scarfed down water, banana, chocolate donut and coffee.  By this time, my lips were blue from the cold and I could barely speak.  I spotted some familiar faces (it's nice to have people to chat with when you are away from home!) and stood in line for the shuttle that would take me back for probably an hour.  Freezing.  A hot shower never felt so good.  Oh, we dined at Ralph & Kacoo's on the way home.  More grilled oysters.  And shrimp and grits.  What can I say?

I'm sorry this seems rushed, but I was on a deadline for the Weekly Wrap!

Good luck to all the ladies running in Las Vegas right now as this post goes live!

And that's a wrap!

Do you like point to point races?

Have you visited Mobile?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cow Patty Trot (WW # 118)

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My body is definitely feeling the affects from four weeks of increased training mileage. After pulling the plug on the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, my goal was to complete another double digit run this weekend (I succeeded!).  I will taper this upcoming week while possibly running the Battleship 12k in Mobile and hopefully feel good enough to run the Soldier Half Marathon the following weekend. 

This ghost was HUGE!

My weekday runs were completed after work.  I've been struggling with getting out of bed for my dark early miles and hope the time change will help. My evening Halloween run was one of hard effort but quite enjoyable as all the decorations were out, inflated, lighted and ready for the kids to Trick or Treat.  

I didn't know Chick-Fil-A had a girl cow!
Saturday, I continued my quest to run 5k races to help improve my overall speed.  This weekend's selection was the Cow Patty Trot.  This race was once well attended but not having the event for a few years took a toll on their participants.  A mere handful of people showed up and thus I won overall female.  My time was not speedy (3 minutes slower than my best at this race), but I did manage one mile that started with an 8...barely.  It's been a while so I'll take that as a victory in itself.  I could feel the high humidity in the air and the last mile was all uphill.  It took everything I had to not let the 2nd place female overtake me.  After the race, she thanked me for pacing her to her fastest time ever.  That made my day. Even when you think you are not at your best, others are still watching. 

That would be a cow bell award!

Sunday morning's double digit run was summer like.  Per usual, I put my watch on its heart rate screen and ignored my pace.  I felt pretty strong until mile 10 and that's when it got tough.  It was just so darned hot!  But, I was pleased to get 12 miles under my belt.  I'm so happy I remembered to DVR the New York City Marathon before my run.  Shalane's win was incredible.

And that's a wrap!

Have you ever won an "unusual" award?   What?

Did you watch the NYC Marathon?

What's next on your schedule?