Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mercedes Half (WW # 133)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Rules can be found HERE.

Thank you for supporting the NEW Weekly Wrap

Mercedes Half Marathon
Birmingham, AL
February 11, 2018
Half Marathon  # 52

This was my third trip to Birmingham for the Mercedes Half Marathon.  Wendy did a great job recapping her race from a first timer's perspective so be sure to check that out.  We stressed over the Chicago snowstorm for a few days, but ultimately Wendy arrived after only a short delay. Next, we stressed over the 100% rain and thunderstorms race day forecast.

After brunching at First Watch, we went to the expo where we hung out while it rained.  I'm glad we were staying at the Westin Hotel as it connected to the expo site.  We had fun perusing the vendors, sampling the local craft beer, sipping Tailwind, and making silly photos.  Lots of silly photos.  My friend Valerie (#icecreamrunner) was due soon so we stayed until she arrived. was raining outside.  What else were we going to do?

Expo props...always fun.

In the late afternoon, we did a little sightseeing and previewed some of the course.  Yes unfortunately, the hills had not moved.  It was very windy atop The Vulcan tower...enough to make me weak in the knees.

When in Birmingham, you must visit
The Vulcan atop Red Mountain!

After attempting to eat at a restaurant near our hotel, we gave up as the wait times were ridiculous.  We dined at the Westin where I ate delicious chicken pot pie.  We were both happy with our dining choice.  Back in our room early, partiers that we are, we were nodding off before nine.  It had been a long stressful day of travel and weather worries.

In the hotel lobby...ready or not!
Race Day!  We checked the radar and it appeared we would run between storms.  HOORAY! Oh...wait. That means; humidity from hell.  {Cue deflating balloon noise.}  I mentioned to Wendy that I usually cramp in high humidity.  Why, oh why did I say that out loud?  We walked a few blocks and were in the starting swamp chute within minutes.  I heard someone calling my name.  Valerie and others were already there.

Wanting a 2:10 finish or less, I started conservatively.  My plan was to save energy for the large hills on the back side and push my pace on the downhills.  At mile two, it started raining.  The thing I stressed most over...felt fantastic!  It was brutally warm and swampy without the rain.  It didn't last very long, unfortunately.

The first five miles were all 9:xx and I felt on target.  Then, I hit the first steep hill at 8 o'clock.  I know because we ran by a church with chimes announcing the hour.  The humidity was brutal.  I took a walk break to regroup, let my heart rate settle and eat a GU.   For a hot minute, I felt a little defeated.  The crowd support is always phenomenal for this mid-sized race, reminding me of Route 66 in Tulsa.  Their cheering energized me and I managed to get my head back in the game.  Val and I swapped places over and over.   That big downhill section in mile 9 is so much fun!   I let it fly.

In mile 10, the cramps started -- even though I had taken salt caps, drank electrolytes, and eaten GU.  High humidity gets me every time.  And...I had already jinxed myself.  They started first in the feet (which I can handle) and then moved to my calves.  Every time I had one in my calf, I stopped in my tracks.  Literally.  On my Garmin, it appears I came to a screeching halt 5 times.  The last seize was right before the finish line.  Mere feet.  How comically awkward.  Total spaz.

I finished 28th out of 138 in my age group with a 2:15:23.  Would I have met my goal without the humidity?  Without the cramping?  I'll never know.  But, you won't hear me complaining with a top 20% finish in that muck. 

Nice air for an old lady.  In full disclosure:
 My calf cramped for 5 minutes after landing.

Valerie arrived shortly and Wendy wasn't far behind.  They had the usual fruit and hydration in the finishers area.  This race gives out a finishers award and this year it was a large wrap towel.  I ate a banana for potassium and after a few pictures we headed inside (thankfully, because -- more rain!) to the after party. They served a BBQ sandwich with coleslaw and chips.  Since we were in no hurry, Wendy and I kicked back, sang along with the band, and enjoyed the after party for a while.  I'm so happy my friend and co-host flew south to run this race with me!  Sharing this experience with her makes it even more special.  

Thank you, my friend!

The thing I find so addictive about running distance races is this:  You never know what you'll get on race day.  It's the challenge of facing what the day brings; somehow digging deep to make it work; doing what it takes to cross the finish line (even if you're stopped short with cramps).    If it were effortless, I have no doubt I'd lose interest.

After 52 half marathons, this race still remains a favorite.  The course itself is entertaining, winding around the downtown area plus showcasing different outlying neighborhoods.  The direction and amenities are top notch.  Let me add, in past years it felt more like a winter day.

And that's a wrap!

Have you ever been to Birmingham?  Visited the Vulcan?

Anyone else cramp in humidity?  I'd love to ear your solutions!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rain, Rain Go Away (WW # 132)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Rules can be found HERE.


Thank you for supporting the NEW Weekly Wrap


My plan for the week was to rest and taper before the Mercedes Half Marathon.  By contrast, I did not taper before my last two half marathons as I was building my mileage.  I decided not to skimp on Monday's typical strength training.  But, Tuesday's four mile run was at a super easy effort.  Even so, I could still feel the extra hilly tempo run from Saturday.  That gave me more reason to take it easy for the remainder of the week.

Wednesday was cross training day.  As per usual, I called up the FunkyTown channel and got to work. The tunes had me happily pedaling and singing and not wanting to stop when I reached my planned shorter session of 45 minutes.  I had a stern talk with myself and stopped at 52 minutes.  And more likely -- whatever song I was enjoying must have ended. 

Friday I ran my last few miles before the race.  I took them as easy as I could.  I did a quick yoga routine that evening and called it done.  Que Sera Sera.
With heavy rains and flood watches in the forecast, I knew this race would be what my newbie runner self used to call a Dig Deep Day.  Wendy stressed over being unable to get out of Chicago due to snowfall. Thankfully, she made it.  So I would not let my mind consider the fact they might call the race off due to predicted thunderstorms.   That won't happen.  No way.  Not going there. 

We are ready!  And apparently...FREE.
And that's a wrap!

Do you always taper before a long distance race?

When is the last time you ran in heavy rain?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Am I Content?

Am I Content?
The question today...
If I thought for a minute
I think I would say

Am I Content?
Sometimes, I'd say yes
I'm happy in life
With family, I'm blessed

Am I Content?
When I am running
The answer is yes
If the sunrise is stunning

Am I Content?
When I am skiing
And the lake is a mirror
Sky's reflection appealing

Am I Content?
Other times I'd say no
Because I like challenge
And new ways to grow

Am I Content?
No, I'm still going
Outside to find fun
Adventures not slowing

Am I Content?
No, I'm not dead
There are places to go
Thoughts to be said

Am I Content?
I guess you could say
I am very  much content
If I can still play

I'm linking with my buddy Deb Runs for Wednesday Word.

Please visit Deb and the other participating bloggers.  It's fun!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hello, February! (WW # 131)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Rules can be found HERE.


Thank you for supporting the NEW Weekly Wrap 
and making Wendy feel welcomed.  
If you haven't read the updated rules, please do so.
There have been a few changes.


In January, my running miles ended up higher than they have been in a long time.  I guess two half marathons in one month helps with that.  I was consistent all month with my weekly cross training; really enjoying my indoor cycling on the mag trainer while pedaling to 70's funk.  My strength sessions were consistent as well.  However, I still only run three times a week.

This was a typical training week for me.  It was pretty stressful at work coupled with a week of poor sleep, however.  Which...who am I really is nothing out of the ordinary.   Although it was very cold, I was rewarded with a pretty sunrise on Tuesday morning's usual progressive run [10:13, 10:11, 9:53, 9:46, 9:05]. 

Another progressive four happened Thursday morning [10:01, 9:47, 9:35, 9:15].  These weekday runs I feel I could do in my sleep.  For curious minds, I don't eat anything.  I drink a few sips of water before heading out and I take nothing with me.  I do not stop unless a rare traffic issue forces me to -- like someone backing out of a driveway.   In winter's cooler temps, I am comfortable with this routine for up to 6 or 7 miles.  Anything longer and I'll eat a few bites of yogurt and stash a water bottle on my route.  Summer is drastically different. But, I'll save that for another post.

This side-tie, thumb-hole athletic top was in
my latest Stitch Fix box.  I like!

I'll be running the Mercedes Half Marathon next weekend with my ho-cost Wendy so I took one last opportunity to run a few hills on Saturday.  After one warm-up mile, I concentrated on running 7 hilly miles at a steady pace (averaging 9:40).  I've talked often about living in a hilly neighborhood and having the ability to run extra hills whenever I need.  Here is what that looks like. 

Since I've been busy building my running base for the last few months, I opted not to taper for my last two half marathons.  This time, I have decided to taper and rest in hopes that the Mercedes hills don't have me begging for mercy.

And that's a wrap!

How do you get your hill training?

Do you always eat before a run?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Coffee Talk (February)

My back porch was as far as I ventured
outside on our January snow day.
Welcome to Coffee Talk!

It's time for the monthly Ultimate Coffee Date and, as luck would have it, time for the Friday Five.

I enjoy these monthly coffee chats.  I've brewed an extra dark coffee in my mug, added a splash of coconut creamer and I'm ready to catch up.  

Let's chat about whatever randomness comes to mind... 

Here are the five things I'd tell you over coffee:

Over Coffee...

I'd admit to you that I drink too much of it.  Or, at least what I thought was too much.  Lately, I've tried to skip my afternoon cup and just stick with my morning two mugs.   And then this articles pops into my inbox.  Take a look at the nine reasons coffee is good for you.  Most astonishing to me are the supposed benefits of drinking 4 cups, or even 6 to 9 cups, every day.  {Gulp}  I think I'm going to Starbucks this afternoon!

Over Coffee...

I'd show you the muscle under my should blade that I keep pulling.  This time, it was trying to wrestle the heavy zippered mattress cover off the mattress.   I know it will be short lived, but that makes it no less aggravating.  And, can someone tell me why those covers are so hard to remove anyway?  After all that -- the coffee stain (from a travel mug thrown in a tote bag and plopped on the bed) didn't come out anyway.  

Say hello to Big Dog the white boxer,

Over Coffee...

We have a new, old, Big Dog.  After this foster dog visited so many times with my son -- and his home visits with prospective families never went well -- we decided to keep him ourselves.  We have no idea what his name is as he was picked up by animal control in another state.  He looks mean (or sometimes sad) but truly is a big ol' softie.  The foster organization named him Casper.  Pacer?  Fartlek?  Tempo?  Miles?  Any suggestions?

Over Coffee...

I'd ask if you have your year all planned out.  Then, I'd confess I still haven't decided on the location of the marathon I'd like to run this year.  I've got a couple of irons in the fire (pick me, Mr. Lottery, pick me!) and am anxious to have answers.  .Another option is a downhill course in the canyons of Colorado.  I hope by our March coffee date, I can tell you which race I chose...or which race chose me. 

One cannot have too many of these...

Over Coffee...

I'd report that I'll be running another half marathon next weekend.  Wendy and I are joining forces at the Mercedes Half Marathon.  I began stalking the weather this week and saw snow in the forecast. Seriously? Again?  Poor Wendy!  I insist she come to the sunny, warm south to race and -- BOOM -- snow.  Surely it will change.   Surely.

Well, that's about all the randomness I can think of.

What would you tell me over coffee?

I'm linking with the lovely Coco and Deborah!
Be sure to stop in for coffee on Saturday and chat.

I'm also joining on the Friday Five 2.0 linkup
Stop by and see what everyone is talking about.